BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – There are more than 100,000 military veterans in the Buffalo area, and on Veterans Day, Western New Yorkers stepped up to help veterans find jobs, adapt to civilian life, and heal the wounds of war.
Many of those veterans came home bearing the visible scars of war, but many more are living with wounds we can’t see.
At the Response to Love Center on Kosciuszko Street, local officials paid tribute to veterans, while announcing a partnership with AMVETS Post 24 to help unemployed veterans find jobs, and those with jobs to get better ones.
“They will learn how to write resumes,” said Sister Mary Johnice Rzadkiewicz, Response to Love’s executive director. “They will learn that they can go for job placement, they will learn transition from military to the civilian life.”
While the unemployment rate for veterans has been steadily falling, Sister Mary Johnice and the AMVETS say we can do more.
Rep. Brian Higgins has been working in Congress to get more job training for veterans, “We are learning that these veterans have a special contribution to make, and we as a nation have an obligation to facilitate their smooth transition.”
Across town, the shelves are growing bare of clothing and other necessities for veterans at the VA Medical Center on Bailey Avenue. Volunteers from the Disabled American Veterans Roll of Honor, Chapter 120 Auxiliary have been overseeing the clothing room at the VA.
“The patient comes in and he doesn’t have pants on, or socks on. We need to make sure they leave with dignity, and they have those items,” said Cheryl Lepsch, the DAV Auxiliary’s Commander.
So the DAV Auxiliary is collecting clothes, toiletries, shoes, and coats for the veterans getting medical treatment at the VA Medical Center.
“Everything that comes into this room has to be new,” stressed Lepsch. “Because obviously it is a hospital, we cannot accept anything used. So all the clothes that you would see in this room are brand new.”
The exception, said Lepsch, is slightly used winter coats because they have a severe shortage. Only 4 men’s winter coats were hanging from the coat rack.
For those veterans bearing the invisible scars–such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD–Iraq War veteran Corinna Buccilli said, every little bit helps.
“That is where we wind up with the people needing these things. Because they are in this treatment to try to get a grasp on their life again, so that they can find a way back home,” added Buccilli, a member of DAV Roll of Honor, Chapter 120.
If you would like to donate new clothes, shoes, toiletries–or money to buy them, you can call the Auxiliary at 695-6867, or the VA’s Volunteer Services at 862-8672.
Call 4 Action is also stepping up to help veterans, joining the Veterans Financial Coalition, to protect veterans from scams and financial exploitation. The coalition is comprised of 8 consumer protection stalwarts, and if you need help you can Call 4 Action at 879-4900, or click on the Call 4 Action link on this website.