A Vietnam veteran and activist is urging area veterans to push for changes in the state regulations covering how they receive services.
In particular, Nick Haupricht, chairman of Remembrance, Inc., says a state law requiring veterans to show residency in a county for three months to receive services is unfair.
By comparison, someone receiving general assistance only has to show proof of one month residency.
The law has been in effect since 1994.
“The state rules are outdated,” Haupricht said. “You see media coverage regularly about how these new generations of veterans are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and other health issues, yet they are not being taken care of. We need to have professional doctors in the offices to make determinations of the veterans needs.
“I want people to contact the Ohio Department of Veterans Service office in Columbus and tell them to get up to date.”
In Lucas County, expenditures for veterans services have been less than the budgeted amounts for the years 2007 through 2011, Haupricht said, citing figures he said were provided by the county.
Ohio law requires county boards of commissioners to levy up to 0.5-mill on the assessed value of property to fund the operations of a veterans service office.
Jason Brown, deputy director for the Lucas County office of Veterans Services, said the three-month requirement was adopted after some veterans “bounced” between counties.
“Unfortunately some vets were a little less than honest in their dealings with the different counties and that made it very difficult for some of the smaller counties in particular to take care of the vets they are actually responsible for,” he said.
But the residency requirement doesn’t create road blocks for veterans in need of service because if a vet registered in Lucas County would move to Cuyahoga County, for example, the Lucas County office would still be responsible for providing him service for 90 days.
“We `own’ that vet for 90 days,” Brown said. “That vet could move to Cuyahoga and still call us for service.”
Brown said his office is open to ideas for getting the word out to vets and promoting its services.
Figures compiled by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio show veterans service offices in many counties routinely expend less than their budgets funded by the millage.
“Our service officers bring in about $35 million to Lucas County,” Brown said. “They’re working with vets to file for federal benefits. That’s our main focus.”
Citing the Lucas County figures, Haupricht said about $1.15 million in unused funds were returned to the county general fund between 2007 and 2011.