BATH – As a 20-year U.S. Army veteran and Greenwood Central School graduate, Gary Smith brings strong support for the needs of military veterans in his new position as Veterans’ Service Agency (VSA) director.
Smith was appointed Monday by the Steuben County Legislature, after working for more than a year with Dan McCrae, who retired at the end of the year.
With tours of duty in Kosovo and throughout the Middle East, Smith knows the transition from the military to civilian life can be a difficult time for veterans and their families.
“If we just look at the local level we have a terrific resource in our own back yard in Steuben County with the VA Medical Center and our Veterans’ Service Agency that is dedicated to them,” Smith said. “As an agency prepared to assist veterans and their families, we are continuously learning, training and modernizing to help our vets navigate in a more efficient manner through an intimidating process through the system to get benefits they may be entitled to.”
As the new VSA director, Smith plans on a “boots on the ground” approach, teaming up with veterans agencies to meet the needs of veterans scattered across a county the size of the state of Rhode Island.
“It may be easier for some veterans to meet in a place closer to them, rather than traveling to us” Smith said. “ After the initial meeting, most everything else in the claims process can be done over the phone, e- mail or the mail. We hope this might alleviate some stress from some of our less mobile clients.”
For more information on the VSA and services, please call (607) 664-2198.