In advance of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, Pike County Veterans Affairs Office announced that the Pike County Administration Building, at 506 Broad Street in Milford, will be illuminated green November 1st through the 13th as part of Operation Green Light, a new national collaborative initiative between Pike County, the National Association of Counties (NACo), and the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers.
Director of Veterans Affairs Jesiah Schrader said, “Operation Green Light’s mission is to show support for veterans of all military conflicts, as well as raise awareness about the unique challenges faced by many Veterans and their families and the resources that are available at the county, state and federal level to assist veterans and their families.”
The new national collaborative is spearheaded by the National Association of Counties and the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers, building upon the successful efforts of the New York State Association of Counties and the NYS County Veteran Service Officers’ Association in 2021.
Schrader encouraged residents and businesses to participate in Operation Green Light by changing one light bulb in their house to a green bulb. He said, “This can be an exterior light that neighbors and passersby see, or an interior light that sparks a conversation with friends.”
While this event is focused around the week of Veterans Day (November 7-13), participants are encouraged to continue shining the light year round.
“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for this country. There is never enough that we can do to recognize their sacrifices,” said Commissioner Matt Osterberg.
Veterans Affairs Office Update
At the November 2, 2022, Commissioners Meeting, Schrader provided an update on all that the Veterans Affairs Office has accomplished since he stepped into the director role this past May.
Over the last six months, the Veterans Affairs Office has assisted more than 300 local Veterans as walk-ins and by appointment. In those visits, the office was able to:
- File 40 VA Compensation Claims (both new and with increases to current ratings)
- File 10 VA pension claims
- Process 50 county death benefits
- Process 30 tax exemptions for disabled veterans
- Obtain 3 veteran temporary assistance grants of $1,600 each to assist Veterans’ financial needs)
- Collaborate with local nonprofit organizations to assist one veteran at risk of homelessness find temporary services until permanent affordable housing was available (within 3 weeks)
“The total monetary amount that we have brought back in the past 6 months was over $500,000 in compensation and pension claims with retro payouts of almost $100,000,” Schrader said.
In addition to filing claims, the office building has undergone renovations to modernize the building, including an addition of a digital conference room for veterans to attend virtual meetings.
Schrader also announced that a Deputy Director position was created within the department, and an individual has been hired to fill the position effective November 7, 2022. This individual will undergo training to become an accredited service officer by year end. Schrader communicated that the creation of this new full-time position will help to accommodate the influx of veterans with their individual needs. The Deputy Director will also allow the office to perform more outreach, while still maintaining a physical presence in the office.
“I am glad to be here and thank the veterans and families for their understanding during the transition process. I look forward to continuing to work with the Commissioners to better assist veterans in the County,” Schrader concluded.