Some Sullivan veterans not happy with pending office relocation


Goldsmith, white shirt,
several other veterans, packed the legislature’s committee room on Tuesday

MONTICELLO – A plan to move the Veterans Service Agency out of cramped quarters in the Sullivan County Government Center to a nearby building in Monticello isn’t going over well with some veterans.  They spoke out during Thursday’s County Legislature Executive Committee meeting.
Howard Goldsmith, chairman of the Sullivan County Veterans Coalition, told legislators he thinks they aren’t listening.  He said having everything in one building for the veterans is one-stop shopping.
“They make a trip out of this,” Goldsmith said.  “They just don’t do the Veterans Service Agency.  They might go over to the Board of Elections. They might go over to the DMV.  They might do two or three actions within this building.  And it makes their life that much easier.”
Deputy County Manager Dan Depew said the benefits of having the VA in much larger, more comfortable quarters at 518 Broadway, about 600 feet from the lobby of the government center, would far outweigh what he said would not be noticeable hardships.
Depew noted that currently, veterans either park in the lot across the street from the government center, creating potential danger, or in the parking lot at the rear of the center, requiring a walk of 100 yards or more, even from the handicapped spaces, to the back door.  The new location has its own off-street parking close to the door. 
“They’d be able to park to come into the VA, be able to sit with a VA counselor in a private setting which they can’t do now and they’d be able to do that with just walking about 15 feet from their car to the building,” Depew said.  “So, there’s a lot of things they’d gain in the big picture.  And also, it forces our veterans’ agencies to use the technology that they currently have to improve their communication with the various agencies the veterans currently need to work with.”
One example raised by veterans during the meeting was a veteran going into DMV to get a veteran license plate but needing a copy of his discharge from the VSA.  Depew said that would simply be a matter of requesting a digital copy via existing technology.
Legislature Chairman Louis Alvarez, a veteran, suggesting bringing all sides together, including legislators, veterans and the VSA, for a joint meeting.  That will happen at the next scheduled VSA meeting on June 7.