GENESEO – Saturday’s veterans services fair and workshop brought services and benefits that local veterans are entitled to from as far away as Buffalo right to rural vets backyards in Geneseo.
Jason Skinner, Director of Livingston County Veterans Services, said that the idea for the fair started when one local vet had to move into a nursing home because he could not access a location of the U.S. Veterans Affairs.
“We couldn’t get people seen,” said Skinner. “We were talking to a veteran in Groveland who needed to start using a wheelchair. This was a big change and couldn’t access some parts of his home like his downstairs bathroom, which only had a 20-inch door. Now the VA will help modify veterans homes in cases like this, but they’re in Buffalo and we just couldn’t get them to come out and he still had to go into the nursing home. Unfortunately in rural areas there are a lot of older homes that are built this way. So we thought, ‘why not bring the VA to the vets?'”
But Saturday’s event didn’t just bring out the VA. A total of 10 organizations tabled and talked to veterans about what services are available to them: the VA, Veterans One-Stop Center, Veterans Outreach Center, VA Health Care, Blue Star Mothers, American Red Cross, Livingston County Office for the Aging, Livingston County Veterans Services Agency, National Warplane Museum and Geneseo VFW Post 5005.
“We talked to Congressman Collins and he was not only happy to co-host this event with us but a big part of getting all of these organizations here,” said Skinner. “We are thrilled by the turnout. Veterans have trickled in all day.”
Collins made an appearance at the event, meeting representatives from each organization and several veterans. Members of the VFW had serious concerns about a bill that was proposed in Congress to require military recruits to may $100 a month, which is intended to fund the ‘GI Bill’ that pays college tuition for members of the military. They asked Collins to help kill it.
“That will never happen,” said Collins. “People put in ridiculous bills in all the time for who knows what reason. Our Congress would never do that. Don’t worry about it.”
Collins met with several vocal local vets, including recently recognized NYS Veterans Hall of Famer Dennis Staley, of Geneseo.
NYS Assemblyman Joe Errigo was present at the fair to talk to representatives of the many organizations.
“I’m very supportive of our veterans,” said Errigo. “If it weren’t for our veterans, we’d be in dangerous hands. I’m really proud of the kids who volunteer and I think they do a great job.”
Livingston County Sheriff’s Captain Norm Zeh and Deputy Brandan Flickner were present at the event as an extra security measure.
The National Warplane Museum said that they are happy to support and host the event.
“The national Warplane Museum welcomes all opportunities that enable our veterans to be better served and recognized,” said Dawn Schaible, Media Relations Director for the National Warplane Museum. “We are happy to partner with the veterans office of Livingston county and provide a fun, historical venue for our veterans to have the access and assistance provided for them here today.”