William McGroarty, Director of the Brookline Office of Veterans’ Services thanked the Board of Selectmen and the town for their support of the returning veterans over the last year at the March 27 Selectmen’s meeting.
“I have been doing this with the veterans for about 15 years now and I told members of Town Meeting that this has been the most satisfying year,” McGroarty said.
The jobs program, which the Selectmen approved last year, was championed as a big success. “What we did was, we targeted our young men and women returning from the current wars who were in school and we gave them an opportunity to work for the town.”
McGroarty said that this program helped both the veterans and the town alike. “These young men and women with incredible skills are self-motivated, built nations in Iraq and Afghanistan. So when you bring them to the wire closet and say, ‘can you fix this? You have two days,’ they come back at lunch and ask ‘what can I do next?’”
The head of the I.T. department for the town especially used the services of veterans from the program.
“For a lot of these young men and women, it’s another job on the resume. It’s another local reference. It’s a big boost in extra training skills,” McGroarty said.
The town has also been able to help veterans who have returned with forms of PTSD. A young man had been trying to get help for six months who came to the Department of Veterans’ Services and was able to receive the proper help he needed. This man was in danger, and told the VA that he needed help.
“They told him to come back on Monday and that is inexcusable,” McGroarty said. “With the help of the SAVE team, we got him to the hospital in West Roxbury. They gave him sleeping pills because the guy couldn’t sleep at night. Once he was able to get some sleep, it made his anxiety manageable and it scaled down. But you have to get to sleep in order to do that. But he couldn’t see a doctor for six months. That is ridiculous.”
These issues of crisis are not uncommon.
“There have been several instances like this,” McGroarty said. “A young woman showed up at my office with half a tank of gas, an 8-year-old in the car, $50 in her wallet and nowhere to live. With the help of the state, we could find her a place to stay that night and emergency housing the next day.”
McGroarty said that the ability for veterans to access benefits is becoming increasingly difficult over all, but the town has helped many returning veterans. McGroarty asked for level funding for the next year. “It’s kind of like the DPW predicting snow. I can’t accurately foresee any amount, but I think we can make it on level funding.”
The Board of Selectmen offered praise to McGroarty for cutting through some of the bureaucratic red tape that prevents many veterans in the Commonwealth from getting the services they need. The Board reviewed the Veterans’ Service budget and approved the level funding.