Dan Hust | Democrat
Sullivan County Veterans Service Agency Officer Howie Goldsmith, left, and Director John Crotty are ready to assist veterans at the Government Center in Monticello.
Vets unaware of entitlements
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO “Veterans benefits,” says Sullivan County Veterans Service Agency Director John Crotty, “are the best they’ve ever been.”
Problem is, too many veterans never take advantage of them, he adds.
“I just find it astonishing how many people… have never used their benefits and have talked themselves out of it,” Crotty says.
Some don’t think they’re eligible because they never served in combat, others believe the process might be cumbersome, and still others just never bother.
“There are a lot of preconceptions that keep people from coming in,” Crotty acknowledges. “But it’s the rare veteran who is not eligible for something.”
And veterans don’t even need to worry about filling out the paperwork. All they need to bring is their discharge papers (and even without them, agency staff can assist).
“Nothing comes unless there is an adequate application,” says Crotty. “Well, that’s what we do here!”
Young or old, possibilities abound:
• Education up to $16,000 a year for tuition, plus a monthly stipend and coverage of textbook costs
• Home loans the Veterans Administration (VA) will cosign a primary residence mortgage with a set interest rate
• Medical broad benefits which Crotty says are his “first choice, even though I have an excellent plan with the county”
• Disability compensation up to $6,000 a month for service-related injuries
• Pensions to prevent veterans’ income from falling below federal poverty levels
• Burial plots and markers for vets themselves are free in the Sullivan County Veterans Cemetery in Liberty, with room for spouses
That’s just a start, says Crotty, whose staff is available 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday inside the Government Center in Monticello or via 807-0233.
“There are lots of opportunities to make life easier, more affordable,” he confirms. “Just give us 15 minutes.”