November 25, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
36°F

Fewer veterans in Medina County seeking aid

MEDINA — The number of veterans seeking emergency financial help has returned to pre-recession levels, according to Medina County Veterans Services.

“We’ve seen an increase in vets going back to work, not only in Medina, but throughout the country,” said Ed Zackery, director of the agency.

Zachery projects about 1,100 veterans would request help this year — about the same number as last year.

But those totals are down nearly 27 percent from the average of 1,500 assistance requests received in 2008 and 2009, during the worst of the recession.

Veterans Services provides temporary emergency financial assistance to veterans and helps them file claims and fill out paperwork to receive benefits.

Although the number of veterans seeking financial assistance is decreasing, Zackery said the number of veterans — especially young ones — who are filing claims for benefits is increasing.

Zackery said that many veterans find it difficult to file for benefits for which they are entitled.

“I think the trend is with anyone in the military, your mindset is that you can do anything and you don’t have problems,” he said.

But that attitude is slowly changing, he said, “because we’ve had a war going on for 10 years now and they’re starting to see ‘we do need assistance and we do need help.’

“There are a lot of federal programs geared at getting vets back to work so we’ve seen the veteran unemployment rate in Medina County go down.”

Last year, Medina County veterans received $41 million from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Zackery said.

About $20 million of that money is in the form of checks sent to veterans as compensation or pension, he said. The rest of the money was spent on medical care for veterans and education services, which equaled $16 million and $5 million, respectively.

The money received by the county from the DVA steadily has been increasing since 2007, Zackery said.

“To bring $20 million back into the county and distribute it among veterans here — that’s huge,” he said. “It saves the county and the state a lot of money by using the VA, so we try to get as many vets using the VA as we possibly can.”

To contact the Medina County Veterans Service Office, call (330) 722-9368.

Contact Michelle Sprehe at (330) 721-4048 or msprehe@medina-gazette.com.