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VSA and Jordan Health partner up to reach more veterans

James Brown
U.S. Navy veteran Raymond Lott says Monroe County's Veterans Service Agency changed his life.

Raymond Lott served in the U.S. Navy over 35 years ago. He said the things he experienced then as a teenage sailor traumatized him for years.

“At sea, we had to pick up body parts from jets colliding ... things like that, and it stayed with me,” Lott said.

Lott said he turned to alcohol in an attempt to numb the pain, until a fellow veteran told him about Monroe County’s Veterans Service Agency. The agency is committed to providing quality services and resources to veterans and their families.

“I was able to get the medical attention that I needed for my psychological and medical conditions from being in service,” said Lott. “My life has changed, I’m much happier now.”

Historically, veterans were left to fend for themselves upon returning home from years of service, and many are still unaware of the medical and financial resources and support that are available to them. The VSA is now partnering with Anthony Jordan Health Center in Rochester to reach those veterans who, like Lott, may not be aware that these services exist.

“The greatest tragedy I see in the community is when I meet a veteran who, for the last 30 years, has been struggling with an illness without the health care and compensation that they were due because they didn't know that they were due it, they did not know how to apply for it, or couldn’t navigate the system,” said Veterans Service Agency Director Nicholas Stefanovic.

Jordan Health Center serves over 30,000 patients and many are veterans. The county says this makes the health center the best location for this type of outreach. 

County Executive Adam Bello said a representative from the VSA will be at Jordan Health Center every Thursday to provide information and assistance to veterans and their spouses.

“Our veterans need our help, they've earned the help, and it's time for us to be in the community to link them with that,” Bello said.

Racquel Stephen is a health and environment reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.