Veteran Service Commission assists county’s veterans

SIDNEY — The Mission of the Shelby County Veteran Service Commission is to provide eligible veterans and their families with the benefits to which they may be entitled to under federal, state, and local law, in accordance with established policies and procedures.

The Shelby County Veteran Service Commission provided temporary financial assistance to those veterans or their dependents who have demonstrated a financial need due to illness, injury, lack of employment, or an unexpected hardship.

Executive Director Chris North submitted the following report:

In 2022 we provided 284 veterans/dependents/widows with $149,851.10 in financial relief to include, rent, mortgage, food orders, utilities and much more. We also provided 656 veterans transportation to and from VA appointments and Community Care appointments. We provide them curbside service for every appointment. We also maiontain a handicap accessible vehicle.

Our in-house food pantry provided 295 veterans/dependents/widows with food. We allow those in need to use our pantry once a month.

Our office sent Veterans Affairs over 1200 forms to assist veterans/widows with healthcare, disability, grave markers, non-service-connected pension, survivors’ pension, burial benefits, education, vocational rehab and employment, homes loans, life insurance and DD-214’s (discharge papers).

Along with all the benefits we connected veterans to, we also were able to assist them in acquiring retroactive payments in the amount of over $1,000,000.00 tax free money. The significant of this money into the pockets of over veterans/widows bring so much joy to the claimant and our office. This is work we strive to do daily, and it is nice to succeed in doing so.

This year we invested $40,000 on outreach. Outreach programs included, commercials, ads in the Sidney Daily News, ads on Facebook, benefit workshops, Christmas hams (300), program and giveaways at the Veterans Day at the Shelby County Fair and so much more.

Our Silent Watch this year was humbling to all our guests and those who stood watch. This event is a way to bring awareness to veteran suicide and is an annual event we do every September. If this is something you would love to be involved in, please reach out to us in September 2023.

2022 we kicked off our first ever Hometown Heroes Banner Program and what a success it was. We were able to honor over 140 veterans on numerous light poles throughout downtown Sidney. This allowed our community to see who the veterans were that served for their right to freedom.

It was amazing to walk around downtown and see all the banners. We are currently taking applications for the 2023 program. We are evaluating the possibility that all banners be hung at Custenborder from Memorial Day to Veterans Day. Allowing the community to walk around and see all the banners in one location. We are very excited about this year’s program.

Unfortunately, the year wasn’t all exciting. Our office lost a very special veteran, Commissioner Thomas Kinninger U.S. Army. Tom served on our board for over 16 years. He was a community leader and loved to help veterans. He will be missed by so many.

In closing, we look forward to helping more veterans to benefits they earned. Help them us help them by reaching out to all the veteran you know and letting them know we are here to help them. “Vets Helping Vets!”