Veterans don’t have to look very far for help

Ryan Pardo and Caitlin Lavorgna visit at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Front and Spruce streets. Thousand of veterans visit each year. Charles Mostoller/METRO
Ryan Pardo and Caitlin Lavorgna visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Front and Spruce streets. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro

Whether they are veterans recently returning from battlefields in the Middle Eastern desert or drifting aimlessly through deserted streets, city, state and federal governments make resources available to help them reintegrate into the communities they served to protect.

In an office just outside the City Hall courtyard, a branch of the Philadelphia Veterans Advisory Commission is available to help. PVAC is directed to consult with government and nonprofit agencies that distribute veterans’ benefits and to advise veterans of entitled benefits.

The office is a conduit. If a veteran is in need of assistance, officials point them in the right direction.

Wanda Pate-Dennis, veterans coordinator for the Veterans Advisory Commission, works with more than 50 organizations.

For veterans just coming home, “The most important thing is for them to know that there are resources and benefits for them and that we can help them get to those resources and benefits.”

For veterans who are homeless, the office can help seek out shelter, as well as alcohol and drug treatment programs, or connect with the federal veterans affairs organization.

“We count on veterans organizations who are providers of these services,” she said.

PVAC is composed of seven members appointed by the mayor and City Council president.

Ari Merretazon, who represents Pointman Soldiers Heart Ministry, maintains that only an independent Veterans Affairs office with a full-time director can appropriately serve the veteran population.

Merretazon, 66, said PVAC has not had a regular public meeting since 2009. The group said they do meet regularly, but not in public.

He points to state law that instructs each county to host a Veterans Affairs Office, which includes a county-appointed director, and advocates for veterans and distributes grant money that the state makes available.

“We need an advocate and facilitator at the city level to make sure that veterans who are supposed to receive benefits receive those benefits,” he said. “The PVAC can only advise.”

David Kamioner, executive director of the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House, said the Veterans Advisory Commission office “acts as a clearinghouse,” and members wade through the bureaucracy to get help to veterans.

“[Wanda Pate-Dennis] knows where those bones are buried,” he said.

Pate-Dennis said while her office doesn’t have a director, it can get things done, and that’s all that matters.

“We’re not saying we’ve conquered, we’ve got the battle done,” Pate-Dennis said. “This is an ongoing fight. This is an ongoing charge toward making sure that every veteran knows there are resources.”

The following are resources for veterans to utilize:

City: Contact Wanda Pate-Dennis at the Veterans Advisory Commission office at 215-686-3256.

State: Career Link for jobs, unemployment benefits and veterans help. Contact Karen McFadden at 215-560-5465, ext. 241

Federal: Social Security for entitlements to benefits. Contact Edward Lafferty at 866-398-1456, ext. 29305.
Sen. Pay Toomey’s office for federal entitlements. Contact Imani Johnson at 215-241-1090.
Veterans Affairs regional office for all veterans compensation and services. Contact Robert Constantini at 215-307-5923.
Veterans Affairs Medical Center for all medical entitlements. Contact Fern Billet at 215-823-5913.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Local

NYPD arrest man after finding body inside plastic…

Police said they found a man stuffed inside a plastic container in a Brooklyn home. Authorities arrested Joshua Simser, 24, in connection to the death

Local

Queens pub offers 'Munchathon' 4/20 menu

New York doesn't permit recreational marijuana usage — at least not yet — but that hasn't stopped one Queens bar from getting into the spirit…

Local

Borough prez Eric Adams defends Brooklyn's honor after…

"F--k Brooklyn," shouted Toronto Raptors' general manager Masai Ujiri shortly before facing the Brooklyn Nets at Saturday's playoff game.

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.