By Allison Collins
SIDNEY – Thanks to the efforts of recently elected Sidney Town Councilman Frank Selleck and other area veterans, the NYS Division of Veterans’ Affairs Office in Sidney will reopen Wednesday, Feb. 7.
The office, which has experienced ups and downs, including its most recent shutdown due to state mandates in May 2017, offers counseling services to veterans and their dependents in the tri-town region.
State, town and village officials, veterans and veterans benefit advisor Pam Tanner gathered in the relocated Sidney office, now in the town building off Division Street (formerly the Mirabito building) for a Wednesday morning open house. Tanner, who managed the Sidney office when located in the Civic Center, will oversee the site.
Selleck said, upon entering his term as town councilman, reinstating the Sidney veterans’ office was foremost among his priorities.
“It was my goal to get this back here as quick as I could,” Selleck said. He added that, after the Town of Sidney relocated its offices in October 2017, it “made sense” to offer Tanner a workspace therein. Tanner’s office will be open Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mark Lee, board member and past commander with American Legion Post 183, of which Selleck is a member, commented, “Frank really pushed for this.” Lee noted that other members of the local post also lobbied state officials for the office to reopen following the state’s budget-driven decision last May.
Lee said reestablishing a support system for veterans in Sidney will mean access to services otherwise unavailable.
“It’s the closeness,” he said, “because a lot of seniors can’t or won’t travel, so this is a convenience for a number of veterans in our area.” Lee added that the office will serve veterans of Delaware, Chenango and Otsego counties.
Sidney Town Supervisor Gene Pigford reiterated the office’s expected impact, saying, “This will make it a who lot easier for (veterans) in our town to find services.”
Selleck, who noted the veteran population in Sidney and surrounding towns is significant, said Tanner will offer counseling and “point veterans in the right direction as to where to go for health and burial benefits.”
According to NYS Division of Veterans’ Affairs literature, veterans’ offices work to “inform members of the armed forces, veterans and … their families (about) … education, retraining, medical and other rehabilitative services and facilities; provisions of federal, state and local laws and regulations; employment and re-employment services; and other matters which may apply to them.”
Calling Tanner “one of the best veteran counselors,” Sen. Jim Seward, R – Milford, said reopening the Sidney office better ensures “all our veterans are receiving … counseling and all the benefits they’re eligible for.”
Sidney Mayor Andy Matviak said, “This is something our community needs and we’re glad the town was able to provide a location for the veterans’ office.”
For more information, call 1-888-VETS-NYS, visit veterans.ny.gov or stop into the Sidney office beginning Wednesday, Feb. 7.