WXXI AM News

Monroe County Veterans Service Agency wants to help more veterans access benefits

Mar 27, 2018

Sal Gallo at podium
Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

The County of Monroe is urging local veterans to visit the Veterans Service Agency to make sure they’re receiving the entirety of their benefits earned during service.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo announced that the county VSA filed 986 claims approved by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017. That’s an increase from 716 filed in 2016.

Those are record numbers for the county, and those over 900 claims brought $4.24 million to local veterans, on average about $5,000 per claim.

Dinolfo is asking local veterans to continue to visit the VSA and make sure they are getting all of the benefits they’re entitled to; she says sometimes veterans are too humble and might not inquire about what they're owed.

"I got to tell you it’s not about deserving, it’s about earning, they have earned these benefits. I promise our veterans, come here, if the VA determines you are eligible for benefits you have earned those benefits. Period."

Sal Gallo says this is absolutely true. The Vietnam Veteran says many veterans may feel like they’re not deserving of the benefits they’re eligible for, much like he did when he was first discharged.

"I was wounded in Vietnam and my mother would say, "Salvatore, you need to get checked out, you certainly deserve something for the wounds and the experience that you experienced in Vietnam." And I said "Oh ma, please it’s a couple of scratches, I feel embarrassed to even consider this."

Photo's from Sal Gallo's time in Vietnam
Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Gallo did finally go to an agency, then in Buffalo, and ended up getting retroactive benefits, enough money to take his family to Italy.

Consultations are free and last about an hour. You can contact the VSA by phone at (585) 753-6040 or drop into their offices at 125 Westfall Road. More information can be found on their website as well.