Vets changes discouraged March 1, article
DAV doesn't keep private data
This proposal was put together with great thought and care for the county veterans. At the time of the initial proposal, the current veterans service officer, Matthew Peters, had announced his intention to run for the District 2 County Commission seat. There was concern among veterans organizations and individuals about what would happen to our county veterans' access to accredited services which are clearly needed if Peters left.
All of the other veterans organizations (to my knowledge) operate with volunteers. Since the Veterans Administration general counsel will not issue accreditation to volunteers there was fear that there would be no accredited service officer in Hernando County. Upon consultation with Disabled American Veterans State of Florida in Gainesville, we set forth the proposal now being discussed.
Chief Procurement Officer Russell Wetherington accuses the DAV of clear violation of the law in regard to client confidentiality. The Disabled American Veterans conform to all Veterans Administration standards in regard to federal health privacy laws.
If Mr. Wetherington had taken the time to visit the local DAV, he might have observed that the two current service officers have their own offices and that all interviews are private unless the client asks to have another party present. If Mr. Wetherington had given me the courtesy of a telephone call, he would have received correct, accurate information.
The DAV does not under any circumstances accept, keep, or maintain federal health privacy information. What the DAV does do is review records claimants bring in, make copies as appropriate, send in the copies and return all originals to the claimant. The only claimant information kept by the DAV is that which is stored in our secure, password protected computer system which only service officers have access to and to which passwords are routinely changed to protect claimants' information.
The DAV offers veterans help with all forms of VA related matters. We open our doors at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and there is no sign-in sheet posted until we open. No veterans are left waiting or wondering when they will be seen. Every veteran who enters our chapter whether or not they are a member are given service as soon as possible, usually not more than 30 minutes after arriving.
Mr. Wetherington suggests the DAV is not capable of handling a greater number of claimants. Last year, the two part-time chapter service officers met with and assisted over 700 claimants.
The DAV offered its assistance to the commission because we believed we could do at least as well and most likely better and at less cost. This issue seems to have become politicized, either by one of the commissioners or their staff, and has brought discredit upon the DAV and the service officers who take great pride in the job we do, the people we help, and the friendly personalized service we offer.
David Parker, commander, DAV Chapter 67, Brooksville
Plenty of help is available
Years ago, the Legislature passed House Bill 292 to allow county veterans services for each of its 67 counties with credentials from the state of Florida. Hernando County has an interesting history with these services, both with appointments for political prizes and for appointments allowed for the dedicated commitment of service personnel eager to be available to assist veterans with VA compensation and benefits.
These services are funded by commissioners whose sense of patriotism is front and center because House Bill 292 is an unfunded mandate. The county is served as well by volunteer service personnel.
Debbie Gould Avery serves on Saturdays at VFW Post 9236 on Shoal Line Boulevard in Hernando Beach. John Houyou serves VFW Post 10209 off Anderson Snow Road in Spring Hill. Manas Miller serves American Legion Post 186, and David Parker and Steve Grecco serve at Disabled American Veterans Cada Haddon Chapter 67 in Brooksville. Ken Allen assists the veterans in the Brookridge community, and I have been assisting for 20 years with paperwork for veterans at the Veterans Advisory Council on Lamson Avenue.
Any person familiar with criteria in the law guiding veterans' claims can sit with a claimant to help them submit not only the proper issues but claims on the proper VA forms.
I still remember Joe Robosco in his 90s assisting veterans at Marine Corps League Detachment 708. Erin Stacy is well-known for assisting veterans for commendations and medals and checking on claims in progress at the 5th District Congressional office.
Help is everywhere for anyone. Search the field.
Deron Mikal, Spring Hill
Simplifying can help save money
County staff's work productivity can be increased by improving how, when, where and by whom routine tasks are performed.
Steps in tasks, for example, can be eliminated or the order of performance changed. Storing equipment and supplies at or near the usual place of use saves time and effort for fetching. County government thereby could function with less staff and this would help budget balancing.
James A. Willan, Brooksville
Does DeWitt have better ideas?
We are not sure why Dan DeWitt is having problems about people in gated communities. We could add some extra sarcastic possibilities, but we'll leave that to your readers.
We've paid the maximum into Social Security. If you figured the net present value of all our payments, I'm not sure we will ever receive the value of our investments. If the government chose to use this money unwisely, we're not certain that we should take the hit. We pay $5,000 a year in part B Medicare premiums. While that is probably less than we could buy the same coverage on the open market, Medicare is not necessarily free.
Mr. DeWitt, we're not sure where you are going with your columns. If we gave up our Social Security payments and Medicare coverage, it might change our lifestyle. If it did, we would probably look for other sources of income to make up the loss. Maybe that would involve work, I don't know. For the sake of discussion, let us say we would be willing to give up all or a portion of Social Security and Medicare, but we would not give it up for nothing.
What are you willing to offer in return, if anything? Please offer more than we owe to you. By the way, we are grateful for living here in the U.S. and the opportunities an American society has provided us.
Linda and Terry Sutton, Weeki Wachee
How to solve every problem
Dan DeWitt's business, financial and planning acumen enables him to distill complex local, state and national issues into easy solution sets. Such insights, knowledge and wisdom shown in his columns under serves his talents. Dan DeWitt, at a minimum, should put his resume in for the position of Hernando County administrator where he can walk the talk and lead us of our collective malaise.
Dan's column on gated communities is a case in point. The leading 13 paragraphs inform and educate the reader on the county's Republican/Democrat demographics; that receiving benefits from Social Security/Medicare from your payroll tax contributions is an argument (i.e. subordinate to fact), that gated communities could not exist if it were not for Social Security/Medicare benefits and that gated community residents are an ungrateful bunch (though this ungratefulness may exclude Liberals-Democrats and some independents).
So let me get it straight. Our local and perhaps national economic shortfalls could be abated if only we were more grateful; if only there were fewer or no gated communities and if only a segment of our population would cease its criticism.
Thomas Deutschle, Weeki Wachee