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News Release

April 1, 2011      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

Dutchess County Celebrates National County Government Month
“Serving our Veterans, Armed Forces and their Families”

Poughkeepsie... Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus has declared April to be National County Government Month (NCGM) in Dutchess County. The theme for this year’s celebration of NCGM is "Serving our Veterans, Armed Forces and their Families."  NCGM is sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo) to raise public awareness and understanding about the roles and responsibilities of the nation’s counties.

“Ensuring our local veterans and their families get the benefits they are entitled to has long been a priority focus for us here in Dutchess County.   We are very proud of our local veterans and armed services members and we have many programs in place to serve them,” said County Executive Steinhaus.  “National County Government Month is a perfect opportunity for us to remember all that our veterans have given in service to our country and for veterans and their families to learn more about the programs and services Dutchess County has to offer.”

In 2010, Dutchess County Veterans Services served over 10,200 veterans and their families, an increase of 9% over 2009.    This year, in January and February alone, Veterans Services had more than 1700 contacts with local veterans and/or their families helping them to access benefits or services or answering other questions. 

Dutchess County Veterans Services Director Nelson Eddy Rivera (USN, ret.) estimates there are more than 20,000 veterans in Dutchess County.    He wants them to know Dutchess County’s Division of Veterans Services is there to assist them.  “There is no greater honor for me than to help one of our veterans get the benefits they are entitled to or the services they need,” said Veterans Services Director Rivera.   “They have given so much to our country, it is a privilege to be able to serve them now.”   

Some of the services and programs the Dutchess County Division of Veteran Services can provide assistance with include:

Assistance in filing claims and referrals for:

  • Medical Benefits
  • Home Loan Guaranty
  • VA Life Insurance
  • Non Service-Connected Pension
  • Educational Benefits
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Service-Connected Disability
  • Illnesses associated with exposure to Agent Orange
  • Persian Gulf Hazards
  • Veteran Status for Merchant Marines

Survivor's benefits:

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Death Pension
  • VA Life Insurance Claims
  • Completion of Annual Eligibility Verification Reports

Assistance in applying for the following New York State benefits:

  • Blind Annuity
  • Real Property Tax Exemption

Dutchess County Veterans Services can also assist with:

  • Filing of Discharge Papers with County Clerk
  • Replacing Military Records (Discharge Papers)
  • Application for Medals (NYS & Federal)
  • Assistance in upgrading or correcting Military Discharges

Other successful Dutchess County veterans outreach programs include:

Veterans Appreciation Day  
This event is held annually each November as a tribute to Dutchess County’s veterans.   This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, November 5th at the Wallace Center at the FDR Library in Hyde Park.   Hundreds of veterans and their families attend this event each year to get information from local, state and federal veteran resource organizations.    The highlight of the event is the Medal Presenation Ceremony when veterans are presented with long overdue medals and certificates earned during their service.    “This event is truly one of the most inspiring events to participate in,” said County Executive Steinhaus.

Veterans Resources Forum
Held for the first time last summer, this informational forum is designed for veterans 60 and older with full time active duty in the military, their spouses and/or their caregivers to learn how to make the most the of their veterans’ benefits.     Last year’s event, held at Castle Point, attracted more than 225 participants.    Veterans Services will host a similar forum later this year in another area of the county to continue their outreach.

Return the F.A.V.O.R. Veteran Discount Card Program
Last month, Dutchess County Bradford Kendall announced the "RETURN THE FAVOR" Discount Program.    The program provides veterans with an I.D. card, identifying them as a qualified, honorably discharged veteran of any of the U.S. Armed Forces.   The F.A.V.O.R (Find and Assist Veterans of Record) card entitles veterans to a variety of discounts from local businesses.    Veterans simply have to bring their Military Discharge papers (DD214) to the Division of Veterans Services and they can then get their official discount card at the County Clerk’s Office.    Since the program inception less than two weeks, more than 300 veterans signed up for the card.

“We encourage all residents to celebrate this year’s NCGM theme of “Serving our Veterans” by taking the time to say ‘thank you’ to a veteran.   And just as we do all year long, we especially encourage all of our local veterans to contact our Division of Veterans Services to see how we can assist them in getting the benefits they have earned for their honorable service,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.

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