Vets’ vans need to work to complete their missions

HUDSON–Twenty-two veterans in Columbia County recently had to reschedule medical and other appointments, and two ended up in the emergency room, because both vans used by the county’s Veteran’s Services Bureau to transport their clients had broken down.

Gary Flaherty, executive director the veterans bureau, included those facts in his report to the Human Services Committee of the county Board of Supervisors, which met Wednesday, July 15.

Mr. Flaherty told the committee that two days earlier “I searched around the county looking for someone to lend us a van.” He said the bureau was using a borrowed van, and as of Tuesday afternoon, one vehicle was back on the road. But mechanics suggested the other van might not be worth fixing. Fortunately, the fixed van was “the most important,” he said, explaining that it is big enough to carry people in wheel chairs. Mr. Flaherty said that the repairs will strain the bureau’s budget.

Supervisor William Hughes (D-Hudson 4th Ward) suggested that the next time the bureau needs to borrow a van, Mr. Flaherty might consider asking Coarc.

Mr. Flaherty also reported:

  • He has helped perform some rituals at veterans’ funerals
  • Pilots of planes that sprayed Agent Orange on Vietnam are now eligible for Agent Orange victim benefits. Mr. Flaherty hopes that sailors serving on ships off the Vietnam coast while Agent Orange, a defoliant known to cause a range of human health problems, including some cancers, was being used will also become eligible for such benefits soon, even if they never set foot in Vietnam. Currently the only sailors eligible for such benefits are those whose boots touched Vietnamese soil or whose vessels traveled on rivers inside Vietnam. Mr. Flaherty said the toxic effects from exposure to Agent Orange extended to service personnel serving at sea along the Vietnam coast.

Also at the July 15 meeting the committee:

  • Approved Kevin McDonald as administrator of the Office for the Aging. Supervisor Hughes said people have been “pleased and happy by Kevin’s mentality”
  • Filled four vacancies at the county Department of Social Services (DSS) vacancies that have occurred because of resignations. A social services investigator, after three months on the job, “didn’t feel he could do it,” according to DSS Commissioner Kary Jablonka. And a caseworker left to work for a hotline position, which Mr. Jablonka said was a good stepping stone for career advancement.

The next meeting of the County Human Services Committee will take place Wednesday, August 19, 5 p.m. at 401 State Street.

 

 

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