Friday, July 20, 2018
Our Forgotten Veterans
A few months ago, Lehigh University's Dr. Stephen Thode chronicled his difficulties in obtaining a simple ID card, known as a VIC, from our Veterans Administration. That's nothing. Freddie Ramirez, Jr., is Director of Northampton County's VA office. It took him six years to get another kind of ID card from the VA that is supposed to give him access to VA buildings and their computer system. The VA managed to screw up his name and the card does not work. But it does have a nice plastic cover.
Executive Lamont McClure said we need to do a better job for our veterans. He gave an example. A few weeks ago, county officials were set to release a homeless vet who has a substance abuse problem. Allentown Rescue Mission was willing to accept him, but he had no way of getting there. Neither the judge, prosecutor or public defender had any idea that the county has an agency that could have helped him. The public defender dug into her purse for a $20 and was about to give it to this fellow until someone pointed out that the county could help. And it did, with vouchers so this gentleman could get where he needed to be.
McClure believes the County needs to do a better job of making people, especially those in the criminal justice system, aware of what the county can do to help veterans.
Lori Vargo Heffner drove this point home at yesterday's Human Services meeting, and in the coming weeks, I will spotlight what the county is doing to help our forgotten veterans.