Tioga County commissioners reach out to Korean War vets

WELLSBORO – The Tioga County commissioners are “making a concerted effort to enroll Korean War veterans through the county Veterans Affairs office.”

“We want to reach out to Korean War vets to acknowledge their service, and to make them aware of the services offered here,” Commissioner Mark Hamilton said.

Commissioner Roger Bunn, a Vietnam War Navy veteran and member of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania’s veterans committee, noted that July 27 will be the 60th anniversary of Korean War Armistice.

“I want to say thank you to all who served in Korea,” he said.

Bunn went on to read the names of 11 Tioga County military who made the ultimate sacrifice there.

They are: Keith Brown, Richard Confer, John L. Confer, Richard C. Haines, James D. Warriner, Jack L. Lawrence, Charles E. Weimer, Antonio R. Lindy, Donald B. Cole, Donald J. Jeffers and Robert R. Mase. “The average age among them is 20 years, 6 months,” Bunn said.

Veterans Affairs Director Tim Cleveland, a National Guard veteran who just returned from another tour in Afghanistan and also is an Iraq War vet, told those in attendance at the meeting that for fiscal year 2013, which ended June 30, his office had obtained $2.1 million in benefits for Tioga County veterans, and that doesn’t count the month of June because those figures are not available yet, he said.

“I have been a service officer here in Tioga County since 2006, and we have grown each year,” he said, adding that 41 of the 67 counties in the state have hit the $1 million mark in benefits.

“Our services are free, so we spread that word we are there to assist you with your claims process,” he added.

The office also includes Assistant Director Paul Shaw, a Vietnam veteran, who ran the office while Cleveland was on active duty in Afghanistan, and Megan Wood, an intern in the work study program as a service connected vet dependant.

Cleveland also noted recently passed “important legislation” including the designation of veteran on driver’s licenses so the state can notify people of benefits that have become available.

“So that will be a great thing plus the mandated training for all county directors takes effect next month,” he added, making a more level playing field, he added.

“In the last several years the state has made a big effort to get help to veterans,” Cleveland said.

In 2012, the total benefits disbursed in the state was $108.7 million, he said.

Commissioner Erick Coolidge noted that the benefits obtained with help from the Veterans Affairs office has been a “godsend” to many.

“One man was living out of a car, and Tim was made aware of it and found he was owed a significant amount of back pay and now has different surroundings, justly. Why shouldn’t we make every concerted effort to supply that revenue?” he said, thanking Cleveland and his staff for a job well done.

The Veterans Affairs office can be reached at 723-8141.

Commissioners also:

Approved three applications for county aid, including $6,259 for guardrails in Richmond Township, $3,175 for anti-skid and salt in Elkland Borough and $1,944 for sluice pipe in Deerfield Township.

Created an effective safe parenting program, designed to deal with adults in families dealing with drug and alcohol issues. This called for a full time nurse, caseworker and case aid. But since we have a full time nurse in our program we can utilize her and then hire an assistant caseworker and save some money,” said Tioga County Human Services Department director Max Harrison.

The next commissioners meeting is 7 p.m. July 23 at the Clymer Township building.