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Dauphin County wants to help local veterans find the services they need
Patriot-News - 8/10/2022
Dauphin County will illuminate buildings in shades of green in honor of military veterans during the first week of Nov., as the board of commissioners approved a resolution supporting Operation Green Light.
The initiative is intended to literally and figuratively cast light on the plight of veterans in counties across the country who are having a hard time connecting with benefits after serving their country.
Wednesday morning, Dauphin County Board of Commissioners Chad Saylor and George Hartwick explained how Operation Green Light can connect all 17,000 veterans living within the county with much-needed services.
“This past year, 300 veterans walked in to get some assistance, over 2,000 phone calls to the office. And the result has been more than 2.5 million in benefits have come to veterans through the operations of our veterans affair offices,” said Saylor.
“And yet it is sad to think that there are a number of veterans out there who are not getting those services because they are not aware of it or maybe there are hurdles for them,” said Saylor.
Some of those hurdles range from veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, or being homeless, according to Hartwick.
“There’s a 42 percent higher suicide rate for veterans, there are veterans who are on the streets that are homeless. We at Dauphin County have taken up a number of initiatives to find alternate ways to support individuals even as they make difficult decisions as they’re struggling with PTSD,” said Hartwick.
The program will provide veterans and their families with benefits in healthcare, transportation availability, and employment opportunities, according to Saylor.
Hartwick said the program will be a more proactive method towards communicating with veterans while also showing appreciation for their services.
“We have 17,000 veterans in Dauphin County out of our 280,000 residents. We want to do outreach to every single one and ensure that they have the ability to understand what benefits they’re eligible for and how we can assist them and support them in receiving the benefits,” said Hartwick.
Dauphin County is the second county in Pennsylvania to pass the resolution supporting veterans, according to Hartwick. Carbon County commissioners approved a resolution for Operation Green Light in July.
Hartwick said he wanted to implement Operation Green Light in Dauphin County after it first got underway in New York.
“Because it was so successful in raising the awareness and seeing veterans be more connected to services, the national association felt that we should adopt it as a national model,” said Hartwick.
With Operation Green Light launching nationwide, counties will literally shine green lights from their county buildings from Nov. 7-13 (Veterans Day is Nov. 11). Dauphin County is starting to plan where the lights will be located and is encouraging businesses and residents to participate.
For veterans needing assistance, please contact the Veterans Affairs office at (717) 780-6356 or (717) 780-6357. The Veterans Affairs office also serves walk-ins upon appointment. Visit the Dauphin County Veterans Affairs office website for additional resources.
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