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Onondaga County increases Veterans Services staff as need goes up

Onondaga County lawmakers this month approved a new staff member for the Veterans Service Agency. an increase of returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan is putting more stress on the agency.
On a typical Friday, Veterans Service Agency Director Corliss Dennis helps families of veterans in  the small office on the 13th floor of the Syracuse Civic Center.  She  also answers the phones and deals with walk-in clients, as well as other administrative duties.  So a new assistant director will help ease the workload in this  agency which Dennis describe as

"We're here as a one-stop kind of customer service for them," said Dennis. "We inform them of what type of benefits they me be entitled to, then we point them to the right avenue to acquire those benefits."

Dennis says their biggest customers right now are often older vets who come upstairs after getting information on other benefits on another floor of the Civic Center.  But she would like to get more of the younger vets from recent wars to register with the county.

"A lot of these veterans when they come home, the military has given them a lot of information.  They haven't listened to half of it.  They're confused about the other half of it.  And they don't know there's a time limit to a lot of things as well," she said.

Dennis says there are many medical, education and employment  benefits vets don't know about.  
"If you were a truck driver in the military, the military down at the DMV, so that you don't have to take this tests, they're waiving those CDL fees and things like that.  A lot of our veterans don't know that," said Dennis.

Long-time Onondaga County Legislator William Meyer has been appointed to the new position.