Ever since the COVID pandemic, support from the Buffalo regional Office has declined. This office currently conducts all Appeal Hearings and uploads all types of claims directly into the VA system. This cuts down the claim time and a more effective and less costly way of submitting claims of all sorts.
The office has an established and continues to have a contractual relationship with DSS. This is assisting more and more veterans and their families. The veteran is applying to DSS for benefits and DSS is referring them to our agency to establish eligibility for federal benefits first. This is a substantial cost savings to the county. We have had 39 referrals and 21 veterans and/or widows who have qualified for federal benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This results in a greater reduction in the cost of local Medicare benefits.
Over the past year, this office had 1452 contacts and has provided 5321 client services. We have completed 106 Veterans’ property tax exemptions. This number will increase due to the returning Active Duty Reservist/Guardsman.
Continue supporting the “Western New York National Cemetery” (WNYNC) located at NY Route 77 and the Indian Falls Road, Town of Pembroke, Genesee County by keeping in contact with our Federal, State Representatives and Local Legislature and providing assistance in preparation of the VA Form 40-10007(Pre-Need Application).
The WNYNC has been opened, and had the first veteran burial on 18 OCT 20. They have been holding burials M-F ever since averaging 4-6 per day. The first section for In-Ground Burials of Cremains, Section 10, is at its capacity, and they are now conducting in ground cremains burials in Section 9. There have been 1,207 internments as of this date.
With the Assistance of the County Legislature, a line number in VSA department budget to support the Genesee County Volunteer Honor guard in purchasing their dress uniforms in order to support the WNYNC and presenting the honors in identical uniforms.
A surrounding county Honor Guard also been established to render honors, counties so far that are participating are, Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, and Erie counties. Monies are available from the Niagara County VSA for a Volunteer Honor Guard, but there is no Volunteer Veteran group organized to support the honors as of this report.
The WNYNC held its 1st Annual Memorial Day ceremony on 29 MAY 22 and had a large attendance received a great reviews from the participants.
The “Burn Pyre” at the WNYNC has been constructed and the First Annual Ceremony for destruction of unserviceable Interment Flags will be held on 12 NOV 22.
The Avenue of Flags first year was well received by the families and friends of Veterans arriving for the final honors of Veterans, over the seven(7) months of displaying the flags on the Avenue, over 278 flags were repaired at no cost to the WNYNC Memorial Council by a private individual. The Avenue of Flags is on display every year from Memorial Day through Veterans Day.
Continue and improve the Veterans Mentorship Program by increasing the number of Mentors. This has been in existence since 2009. We have graduated 49 veterans to date with no repeat offenders. Continue to gain knowledge of what is available to veterans and their families by attending Service Officer training offered by the National Association of Veterans Service Officers and the New York State Veteran Service Officer Association