A trained nurse, Danny Osten brought experience as the Pennsylvania veterans services coordinator for the American Legion in Wormlesyburg and a risk management and quality assurance coordinator for the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center in Franklin County to his role as the director of veterans affairs.
Now, he guides Cumberland County veterans to benefits for which they often don’t know they qualify.
He was appointed to the position of director of veterans affairs by Cumberland County commissioners in December.
Q. What issues are you seeing as the most common issues affecting veterans in Cumberland County?
A. I would say that easily the most common issue I come across is the fact that veterans are not aware of the benefits that they have earned, particularly among our older veterans. Another “best kept secret” is the role that service organizations such as the American Legion and VFW have in local communities. Everything from financial assistance, home maintenance help, rides and everything in between is available at many local posts.
Q. What are some ways the office of Veterans Affairs can help veterans?
A. By guiding the veteran and their families through the process of applying for their benefits. Every veteran should talk with a veteran service officer to discuss eligibility for VA programs.
Q. Gazing into a crystal ball, what are some issues that you see becoming more important to veterans in the next few years?
A. I think the largest issue will be the continued aging of our veterans, particularly among the Vietnam-era veterans. A very large number of them had been exposed to dangerous herbicides during the war, and those effects are very prevalent in that population.
Q. What are your goals for the office of veteran’s affairs?
A. In the past, most of the veteran services offered in Cumberland County were done in the office. My initial goal is to build a network of outreach visits throughout the county, particularly in the rural areas. This will make it much easier for veterans to have access to a veteran service officer without having to leave their communities.
Q. How can the public support veterans and programs for veterans?
A. The public has always been a huge support system for veterans and the active military. If you look at history, the outcome of WWII is vastly different without the men and women that worked in the factories at home. The public can give support by helping to organize veteran events, support their local service organization posts through donations or participating in fundraising efforts. If they have a neighbor or family member that is a veteran and they are having difficulty, work with them to get help. Offer rides for aging or disabled veterans; if a veteran is home alone on the holidays, invite them to join your gathering. There are many small, everyday things that would make a big difference in the life of these veterans. Most importantly, let them know that they are not alone; we are all in this together.
Email Tammie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.
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