LOWVILLE — Lewis and Jefferson counties have again agreed to combine efforts to provide services to their residents, this time veterans.
According to Lewis County Executive Ryan M. Piche, after a change in the staffing situation at the Lewis Department of Veterans Affairs, the two counties have agreed to implement a plan to help upstate veterinarians together.
Mr Piche said at the time of the change there were only six active cases with the local department and a number of Lewis County vets who were already traveling to the Watertown-based department.
Most of the work done by Veterans Services staff is done over the phone or online, Piche said, but in order to accommodate services that must be done in person, office hours will be in Lewis County on Wednesdays and Fridays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the County Courthouse, 7660 N. State St.
“We’re going to do it, see how it goes and if we want to bring it back in-house, we can do it in the 2023 budget,” Piché said. “But I think it will work very well.”
Noting that the Jefferson County office has “more staff and resources than we (Lewis County) can provide on our own,” Lisa R. Virkler, chair of the health and human services committee of the Lewis County, said she was “excited to see how the partnership will benefit veterans in Lewis County.
The collaboration is the result of ongoing discussions between the two municipalities to combine their service efforts where it makes sense since the merger of their weights and measures departments in 2017.
The contract between the two counties with the final amount Lewis will pay Jefferson will be presented to the Lewis County Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.
Jefferson County Legislator Anthony J. Doldo, chairman of the Jefferson Health and Human Services Committee, said the North Country has ‘more veterans per capita than anywhere in the state “, which makes providing “robust services…an honor”.
Although the change took effect on June 1, the public announcement of the change came on Thursday morning in the form of a press release issued by Mr. Piché.
The office connects veterans to their benefits, including retirement, health care through the VA system, and GI Bill opportunities, as well as assisting with accessing records and informing about other resources at levels local, state and federal.
During Lowville office hours, appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are also welcome.
For more information, call the Jefferson County office at 315-785-3086 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or the Lewis County office Wednesday or Friday at 315-377-2065 or email at [email protected]