In continuing with the theme of military and veterans care, the state’s Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee met at the Pennsylvania Military Museum on Tuesday to hear about programs and services offered to commonwealth veterans and their families.
Members of the House committee include Rep. Will Tallman, R-Adams; Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence; Amy Brinton, minority executive director; Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny; Rep. Stephen Barrar, R-Delaware, who also serves as committee chairman; Rick O’Leary, majority executive director; Rep. Rosemary Brown, R-Monroe; and Rep. Karen Boback, R-Luzerne.
“As a veteran myself,” Barrar said, “I’m proud of the work we do to assist the veterans of Pennsylvania.”
According to Brig. Gen. Jerry Beck, deputy adjutant general for state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation with a veteran population of 953,404 — behind California, Texas and Florida. At almost 27 percent, veterans 75 and older make up the largest age group, with 55 to 64 coming in second and 35 to 54 coming in third.
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Programs for blind, paralyzed and disabled veterans exist through the Office of Veterans Affairs, Beck said, and 76 veterans’ representatives positions cover all of the commonwealth’s CareerLink centers, according to Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development Michelle Staton.
The Pennsylvania War Veterans Council continues to push for increased funding for veterans outreach, PAWVC Secretary Kit Watson said. Butler County Director John Cyprian said county directors must now be accredited by a nationally recognized veterans’ organization within one year of appointment.
“Whenever we deal with veterans,” Sainato said, “we want to make sure it gets the top priority.”