Jerry Donnellan, Director, Veterans Service Agency, NY Vets/RockVets Newsletter - Some items this month include an Editorial on VA Choice Program; Tax Exemption; 
Folds of Honor Scholarship; Upcoming Events; and Employment Opportunities
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RockVets Newsletter

March 2015
Volume 6
Issue 3

Editorial by Jerry Donnellan

Maybe Secretary McDonald Misspoke Here Too?                                                                          

VA Can't Be Managed:  Veterans Choice Program ID Cards

I have worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) since it was the Veterans Administration. Most people don't know the difference, which is part of the problem. Most folks who aren't veterans assume that if a veteran doesn't feel well she simply goes to the VA and is taken care of at no cost. Well, that just isn't the case unless you have been wounded or injured while in the military - and that's only care for the specific wound or injury. The average veteran who would now wish to enroll in the VA Healthcare System must have a combined household income below $55,000 and, if they qualify, there would still be a need for co-payments.

Not long after Vietnam I applied for a small grant to widen doorways and put grab bars in my shower. After a good deal of waiting I received a letter back advising me that I would have to go to a VA Hospital for an examination, to verify the fact I was still missing my right leg. Go ahead and laugh - I've gotten a lot of punch lines out of that over the years, but it's true. It points out the lack of care or conscientiousness on the part of the System.

Finally in 1989 during the first Bush Administration, the then Veterans Administration evolved into the Department of Veterans Affairs and became Cabinet level. Mr. Derwinski was appointed Secretary. At the time we all felt good. We thought it was a step up. We had a place at the table. A very well-credentialed former Congressman from the Midwest with a great resume was now at the President's table and speaking for us. Unfortunately nothing changed. Not even the initials VA.

I was fortunate to have a chance to meet Mr. Derwinski shortly after he was appointed, and he asked quite openly what things, did I think, could be changed to help. I suggested having the Department of Defenses computers linked to the VA computers so they could speak to each other. Reason being, when a person left the military, their records could automatically and instantaneously be transferred to the DVA. That way if the individual chose to or needed to use the VA, he/she would already have a file in place. 

That didn't happen. Maybe they're waiting until they get new computers - after all, it's only been 25 years. We know the technology exists. We know that suggestion would make things a good deal easier and faster, yet after further requests of the same nature, nothing has happened.

In the same 25 years, the number of veterans has dropped in half, and the VA Budget in real numbers has doubled. So in simple terms the VA has twice as much money to handle half as many people. Here again, the problem is the general public doesn't pay any attention to the VA until every couple of years when the VA stumbles onto 60 Minutes – then there's a flash of attention. Politicians wrap themselves in flags. People get fired. Folks run around like the Three Stooges. Maybe even the Secretary is replaced. Then everything goes back to what passes for normal.

About a year ago, everyone was focused on the VA in Phoenix where supposedly veterans were dying, waiting for medical care -- their names on long waiting lists. DVA Secretary Eric Shinseki is a decorated war veteran with an impressive resume, who rose to the rank of General and finally Army Chief of Staff. Despite his connections and accomplishments to his credit, Shinseki had to ultimately fall on his sword.

Secretary Shinseki was replaced by Robert A. McDonald, West Point graduate as well as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Proctor and Gamble. In his tenure there, he raised Proctor and Gamble's market share worldwide by a substantial margin. Again, obviously a very well-qualified individual. Secretary McDonald’s solution to the current problem was to issue the veterans Temporary Choice Program ID cards, so that if the veteran couldn't be seen in a timely manner, or if a VA facility was too far, or if he had trouble contacting the VA, the veteran could then use this card to go to a private facility.

(See details of the VA Choice Program here:

It sounded like a reasonable solution but as usual, the devil is in the details. A few weeks ago I got my Temporary Choice ID card. On the front of the card in big letters it says, "THIS CARD DOES NOT PROVIDE PRE-APPROVAL. VETERANS MAY BE LIABLE FOR COST OF CARE THAT IS NOT PRE-APPROVED." So the reality, if I understand it, is that if I can't get through to the VA and get an appointment, then I can go to a private doctor, but only if I can get through to the VA and get it authorized, which would probably be more of an endeavor than waiting for the VA. It's kind of like losing an argument with your wife and then going to your mother-in-law for a second opinion. You're not going to win this one! 

But it gets better. The VA just put out a Press Release stating, "Far fewer veterans use Choice card and private healthcare than expected." In the story in The Washington Post, that seems to vindicate the VA and was saying in effect that veterans really didn't want to go elsewhere, when the reality is this Temporary Choice card might as well be your American Express. (See The Washington Post article here:

Please understand, 98% of the folks who work in the VA are good, caring wonderful people - many working very hard above and beyond what they need to do, but the overall System simply can't be managed. I don't know who they're sizing up for Secretary McDonald's replacement but perhaps they should look at his cousin Ronald because he seems to have no problems serving millions of people without too much agita!  But maybe it's just that things are easier for redheads!        

Jerry Donnellan, Director, Veterans Service Agency of Rockland County, New York   

 E-mail: / Website:  /  845-638-5244





North Rockland Approves Veterans Tax Exemption

The veterans' community was well represented for the public hearing on this legislation on February 24th, 2015 and the North Rockland School Board adopted the provisions of Section 458-a of the Real Property Tax Law.  This law will grant a partial exemption from taxation for school district purposes, of certain real property situated in the school district, and owned and used as the primary residence by eligible veterans (Alternative Veterans Exemption.)

1). The Basic Exemption - Tax exemption of 15% of the assessed value of the property, not to exceed $12,000 or the product of $12,000 multiplied by the latest state equalization rate for the assessing unit, whichever is less.

2). Combat Zone - An additional tax exemption of 10% of the assessed value of qualifying residential property of veterans who are documented to have served in a combat zone, not to exceed $8,000 or the product of $8,000 multiplied by the latest state equalization rate, whichever is less.

3). Disabled Veterans - In addition to the above exemptions, where the veterans received a compensation rating from the Veterans Administration or Department of Defense based upon a service-related disability, the qualifying residential property will be exempt to the extent of the product of the assessed value multiplied by 50% of the veteran's disability rating, not to exceed $40,000 multiplied by the latest state equalization rate, whichever is less. 

The original legislation was passed and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and stated that School Districts now may offer property tax exemptions to veterans who served during wartime.  

Along with North Rockland, Clarkstown and South Orangetown School Districts have already approved the Veterans Tax Exemption Law.  The other Rockland towns will also hold public meetings on the issue.  If you are aware of when your school district will schedule these meetings, please let us know, so we can pass the word about it.  

E-mail: or call the Veterans Office at 845-638-5244.


Folds of Honor Foundation

Folds of Honor Foundation - Scholarships to Spouses or Children of Military Veterans 
Application Deadline March 31, 2015

Immediate-use scholarships awarded to spouses or children and step-children of military veterans, who are currently attending, or have recently been accepted into a four-year or two-year degree program, at an institution of higher education or a vocational program.  In order to be eligible, the student must obtain a 2.5 average.

There are also future-use scholarships awarded to the young children of service members and invested by the Folds of Honor Foundation (FHF) on their behalf.  Eligible applicants are infants up to, and including, students enrolled in the 11th grade.  Scholarship funds are disbursed to the post-secondary educational institution at their time of enrollment.  In order to be eligible for either one of these scholarships, the veteran has to have at least a 10% service-connected disability.  For each year of higher education or a vocational program, the Foundation awards $5,000.00 a year.  The ending date for the program this year is March 31st, 2015.  For year 2016, the program begins on January 1st, 2016 and runs to March 31st, 2016.  

To register for these scholarships, call: 877-634-4704 or 918-274-4700.  

Also, check out the Folds of Honor Foundation website at:



Korean Veteran Offers Easter Dinners to Disabled Vets

Richie Jarcho, a Korean War Vet, has supplied 60 Thanksgiving Dinners to disabled needy vets from his own refrigerated truck.  He has also helped the veterans at Homes for Heroes. 

Richie would now like to provide Easter dinner to needy, disabled veterans. 
If you or someone you know can benefit from this, please contact Richie Jarcho at 914-924-3249.


Rockland County Department of Health

Rockland County Department of Health - Healthy Neighborhood Program

The Healthy Neighborhood Program is a free program for low to moderate-income families and seniors. Program staff visit your home, look for health and environmental hazards, and offer the following free products and services (as supplies last):

  • Test smoke detectors, change batteries, and replace and install new smoke detectors as needed
  • Test radon levels in your home
  • Check carbon monoxide levels in your home and replace and install carbon monoxide detectors as needed
  • Provide products which can help reduce the frequency of asthma attacks, such as mattress and pillow case covers, and low fume house cleaners and detergents
  • Check your home for sources of child lead poisoning including peeling, cracked or chipped paint, and provide referrals to programs for help to make your home lead safe.
For more information and to set up an appointment, call the Healthy Neighborhood Program at 364-3292 or 364-3290.  Follow them on Twitter: @rockhealth
Facebook:    Visit their website:


"Carry The Load" Relay

"Carrying the Load in Restoring the True Meaning of Memorial Day:"  On Tuesday, April 28th, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Congers Station in the Hamlet of Congers, there will be a "Passing Of The Flag / Hosting Station" for Carry The Load Relay. For 2015, Congers will be an "official" stop on the CTL Relay map. Carry The Load is a National Relay that starts on April 28th in West Point and ends on Memorial Day, May 24th, in Dallas, Texas. It lasts for 27 days, covering over 2000 miles, with thousands of walkers participating, who are Carrying The Load in Restoring The True Meaning of Memorial Day.

Here is how the relay works for the Congers Station Stop...
On Tuesday April 28th, the relay will begin in West Point, walking and passing the flag every 3-6 miles all the way down Route 9W, until they come to Old Haverstraw Road in Congers. The walkers will come down Old Haverstraw Road and make a left onto Lake Road heading down into the town of Congers. The Flag will get handed off at the Congers Train Station area to the next walker Carrying The Load. Congers Station is right next to the train tracks in the center of Congers. The event in Congers Station will go from around 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. -  the actual handoff in Congers will happen around 7:00 p.m. or so.

At the Congers Station Hosting Area, (host to all of Clarkstown and welcoming surrounding area) there will be beer/soda/hot dogs/hamburgers, games for the kids, a band, etc. The goal is to get as many people in Clarkstown and Rockland at the Congers Station event, to build awareness of the charity and the true meaning of Memorial Day. In turn, this supports those families whose loved ones not only have been lost, but those who also serve, not just in our military but here on our homeland, such as all of our first responders:  Police, Firemen, Volunteers, and so on.

The next day, Wednesday, April 29th, at 10:00 a.m. has asked Congers to walk the leg from Grand Central Station to the handoff station at Ground Zero/World Trade Center.  It is 3.3 miles and this walk is with as many who choose to join and can do the 3.3 miles (slightly more than walking Rockland Lake) ... so please, have your kids, friends, family, anyone come out to join if they can. While Congers was invited to be the hosting station, walking the leg into Ground Zero/World Trade Center is open for anyone to join us. It's a great way to show kids the true meaning of Memorial Day.   For further information, contact Sean Magee at  

You can learn more about this organization by going to
or by clicking on these you-tube clips. 



Upcoming Events

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015:  Project Healing Waters, run by a not for profit, will be giving a demonstration at the New City Veterans Clinic on March 11th, at 6:00 p.m.  This program teaches veterans to fly fish. If anyone is interested, please contact the New City VA Clinic,  345 North Main Street in New City, New York  10956 - Telephone: 845-634-8942.

March, 2015:  Dan Masterson, a professor at Rockland Community College, will be conducting a free writing workshop for veterans in March in New City. Anyone interested, please contact Dr. Barbara Smith at 914-737-4400, ext 3426.
Saturday, March 22nd, 2015:
The Pearl River St. Patrick's Day Parade will take place on March 22nd.  As always, our veterans' groups will be participating.  The parade kicks-off at 1:30 p.m.  

Sunday evening, March 22nd, 2015:  The Jewish Film Festival begins with the movie “Above and Beyond” by Nancy Spielberg, about the Jewish World War II veterans who helped get planes, pilots and equipment to Israel and to create Israel’s first Air Force, thus saving it from Arab attacks in 1948.  The Jewish War Veterans, Rockland/Orange District Council, have been asked to provide an Honor Guard for the opening ceremonies.  Rabbi Sousson, Chaplain at West Point will be Guest Speaker and will explain about the Jewish vets role in this enormously important task and the Michal for Israel.  
Saturday, March 28th, 2015:  At 1400hrs. T he Bob Hope Division will present the “Manhattan Dolls” who will  do a live song and dance show for the patients at the Montrose Nursing Home, 2090 Albany Road, Route 9, Montrose, New York  10548.  The veterans can use your help in moving the patients in their wheelchairs, so they can get to the show.  For further information contact Chip Hayes via e-mail:



Leadership Rockland Seeks Veterans For Program

Leadership Rockland, Inc. is accepting applications for the next Class of 2016 which runs from September, 2015 through June, 2016. Deadline for submitting applications is April 1, 2015. Applications are available online at:

Leadership Rockland offers existing and emerging leaders an educational experience focused on the infrastructure of Rockland County, New York – presented by leaders in government, business and non-profit sectors.  The organization, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the 2015 graduating class this June, has 600 alumni, including Sheriff Lou Falco, Chris Jensen, hazardous materials coordinator at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, both active and retired members of Rockland police departments and many others engaged in service to their community.  Leadership Rockland hopes to tap into the leadership potential of veterans of all ages, but especially those who have served in the post-9/11 era who are returning to the community with experience, insights and energy to share.

The program, which consists of 11 daylong sessions over a 10-month period, engages and challenges its participants to examine issues and seek solutions. Topics include Leadership Skills; Historical Rockland; Environment; Multicultural Communities; Education & Developing Human Capital; Economic Development; Criminal Justice & Public Safety; Healthcare & Emergency Services; Art, Culture, Media and Communications; Politics & Public Policy; and Making an Impact.

Acceptance into the class is competitive. The $1,100 tuition for the ten seminar classes includes all materials, a continental breakfast and lunch, bus transportation when necessary. Please contact the Program Administrator at 845.598.7006 for information on scholarship opportunities.  "Our goal is to attract and nurture exceptional leaders and to provide opportunities and structure for a continuum of professional development activity which will enhance their knowledge of Rockland County" said Jan Degenshein, Chairman of the Leadership Rockland Board of Directors.


Employment Opportunities for Veterans

Fesco Fence 
This is an upscale fence contractor in the tri-stat area, who also does sales and installations for a Major National Home Center.  They are hoping to hire some returning veterans.  For further information, contact Allen Sterk, Director of Project Management via e-mail:    

Bus Drivers Needed
Gary, a disabled veteran from Student Bus Company of Orangeburg, is hoping to hire veterans for some available positions with the company. If interested, please call Gary at 845-359-9200. 

CBS Corporation
CBS is seeking to hire veterans for various positions. There are a few based in New York City, which include a Senior Financial Analyst, an Account Executive for New Business Development, a University Finance and Accounting Recruiter, and a Junior Publicist.  Other positions are available in Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  If you are interested in these and other possibilities at CBS Corporation, please contact  David Orozco | Talent Acquisition Specialist-Military & Veteran Recruiter | CBS Corporation | 1345 6th Avenue, NY, NY 10019 - 212.975.1595 -   | CBS Corporation.

If you're looking for work, I can help! My name is Jennifer and I work for RJ-Staffing in Rockland County, NY. We have many job opportunities available and would love to speak with you if you're looking for work! Please contact Jennifer directly via e-mail at: or telephone: 845.624.6175. 

Freelance Technicians 
Located in New York City Metropolitan Area
This opportunity is perfect for someone interested in additional work during after-hours particularly on weekends and for student Veterans.You must be responsible, reliable, have a neat appearance and professional attitude.
Scope of Work includes:
- Assist in the loading of trucks
- De-installation / Re-installation of Servers/Networking
- Network Cabling a Plus
- Work with a team of two to three people
- Capable of lifting up to 75lbs with another person
- Experience in a Data Center Environment
- Willingness and Ability to travel.
For further information, contact:   Christopher Page / Veteran Hiring Program Manager
Target State  / via e-mail:  / telephone:  862-215-5020


RockVets - A Project of New York Vets ©

We would like to keep you up-to- date on events and matters of interest to veterans and will be sending these newsletters regularly. If at any time you no longer wish to receive them, please send a note to e-mail: or click the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of this page.  Your e-mail address will immediately be deleted from our newsletter mailing list.  If you find any of this information useful, please pass it along to others.  If you find mistakes, just know that we're trying to keep you amused!

RockVets - On the Internet and Airwaves

You can find information, useful links, and view our webpage at

Previous copies of our newsletters are also available on our website at: 
or visit our facebook page:

On the first Friday of each month, just after the 10:00 a.m. news- break, RockVets has a live call-in talk show on Rockland County’s local radio station – WRCR 1300 AM, hosted by Jerry Donnellan. We encourage you to call-in and ask any questions you may have relating to veterans or the military. This is also a good opportunity to promote any upcoming events for your organization that would be of interest to the veteran/military community.   The call-in number is 845.362.0013

The show is also live on the internet at: So please listen in, and call if you have questions or information to share.

The next radio broadcast will be on Friday, March 6th, right after the 10:00 a.m. newsbreak. Once again we appreciate the support of the Marine Corps League – Rockland County Detachment.

If you have information that can benefit the military and veteran community, or would like the community to know about an event your group is hosting, please send it to us so we can publish it in the next newsletter:

Veterans Service Agency of Rockland County, New York

If you plan to come to the Veterans Service Agency office, please call to make an appointment so we can give you the time you need - 845.638.5244.

Jerry Donnellan, Director
Veterans Service Agency of Rockland
20 Squadron Blvd., Suite 480
New City, NY 10956
Phone: 845.638.5244 -

We are here to care for those who have worn the uniform - no matter where or when you 
served this nation.  Thank you for your service.

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