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Suffolk, Brookhaven approach shared service agreement to aid veterans amid budget woes
Suffolk’s Veterans Service Agency will open an office in Brookhaven Town Hall, subject to approval of a shared service agreement at next Tuesday’s town board meeting.
“We’re dealing with very difficult financial times in government . . . and we have to get creative about how we’re going to deliver services,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said during a news conference Monday in Farmingville.
No service is more important than taking care of veterans, he said.
Brookhaven Town Hall has one part-time employee working in its veterans services office, but town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine says that person will be laid off when the county office moves in.
“We’re looking to enhance and provide services for veterans returning home from a long, hard war,” Romaine said.
The county veterans service officer has more certifications and will be able to provide counseling, identify eligible benefits and legally take power of attorney and represent veterans, officials said.
Brookhaven will pay the county $25,000 annually for the part-time employee.
“We have a very simple philosophy in Suffolk County when it comes to serving our veterans: If it’s good for the veteran, we do it,” said Thomas Ronayne, director of the county’s veterans service agency.
Former Vietnam veteran Joseph F. Masturzo, 59, of Stony Brook, who repaired submarines from 1972 to 1975 while in the Navy, attended the news conference.
“This is a great thing because I had to do all the research myself when I got out of Vietnam for my benefits, and anything they can do to educate the guy coming home to make it better for them is a good thing,” he said.