Warren and Washington counties are teaming up to hire a veterans “peer to peer” support coordinator to improve interactions with veterans in the counties and direct them to the services they need.
The counties are working together to hire a “peer-to-peer” veterans counselor who will be able to help those who served get help with employment issues, health concerns or other problems. It’s a joint project of the veterans services offices in each county, as well as the bi-county Office of Community Services.
Denise DiResta, Warren County’s director of veterans services, said the funding for the program comes from a state grant and will allow a “direct connection” to veterans at events or in face-to-face meetings to assist them however needed.
She said the hiring of the coordinator will allow more proactive, in-person interaction with veterans and the counties’ veterans services offices, supplementing existing county and U.S. Veterans Administration resources, instead of waiting for veterans to reach out to seek services.
“It’s a win-win to have someone out there making face-to-face contact with veterans or their surviving spouses throughout the county,” DiResta said. “If someone is having a hard time finding a job or housing or has a mental health issue, this person will help.”
Washington County Veterans Services Director Ken Winchell said Washington County planned to get a panel of veterans together for recommendations as to how best to use the position. Saratoga County has had good success with a program funded through the same grant program, he added.
“I think this is something that Washington County has been missing for veterans services,” he said. “We’re super excited to get it started.”
The Office of Community Services for Warren and Washington Counties, which provides assistance with mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment resources, will coordinate some aspects of services for veterans through the new bi-county position.
Robert York, the office’s director, said the goal would be to hire a veteran who is a peer to those who would be helped.
“We were very excited and fortunate to have been selected by the state as one of the counties to receive this funding,” he said. “I think it’s a great fit and will work very well in our two counties.”
Warren County supervisors were optimistic the new worker will improve the assistance that can be provided for veteran and set the stage for more joint efforts between the neighboring counties.
“I’m very encouraged we are doing this as a collaboration with Washington County, it’s something we should be looking to do more often,” said Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Claudia Braymer.
“I think this will be wonderful,” added Hague Supervisor Edna Frasier, chairwoman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors Health, Human and Social Services Committee.
The part-time position, which has yet to be filled, pays $21,684 annually for 20 hours of work a week. The counties hope to have the position filled by this summer.