Category Archives: Veterans

Town loses stellar VSO, Ron Griffin

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Ron Griffin to Retire as Veterans Service Officer

Ron Griffin emailed town officials yesterday to confirm his long planned, and much deferred, retirement as the town’s Veterans Service Officer, leaving huge shoes to be filled.

First and foremost, I want to thank Ron for his exemplary and expansive service to the Town of Medfield, its veterans, and really, by his extension of the scope of the VSO work, to all of our residents.  It has been one of my great pleasures to see how he used that VSO position to make so many things happen to honor the veterans, but also to involve so many facets of the town in the process.  Thanks to Ron the Blake Middle School students now meet annually with veterans, Medfield Foundation volunteer of the year honorees receive flags flown over the Capital, the town this year is honoring Vietnam War vets, and the town now celebrates all veterans on Veterans Day with a breakfast in their honor served by the Medfield High School students from their Warriors for Warriors club.  Also, through his Legion connections, housing for veterans is now being explored at the Legion.  Ron is clearly a leader of both vision and action.

The defeat of Ron’s motion to amend the Veterans Service Officer budget at the annual town meeting (ATM) was the low point of that meeting.  That was when I first learned that the Warrant Committee was not supporting that funding request, and the issue had not been discussed by selectmen.  In hindsight, I wish I had added a plea for support on its behalf, since the expanded position could have coordinated with Medfield Youth Outreach and the Council on Aging to serve those most in need in Medfield (see Ron’s proposal below).

Below are Ron’s email, and then Ron’s previously presented plan for the expanded VSO position.  Maybe a future town meeting, as a tribute to Ron Griffin and his extraordinary service to all Medfield residents, will enact his recommendations:

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April 27, 2017

Dear Selectman Pete Petersen, Mike Marcucci, Gus Murby and Town Manager Mike Sullivan

In October of 2015 I submitted my intention to retire at the end of that fiscal year.  I gave advance notice so as to give the town time to prepare a solution to the states full time service officer requirement and to find a suitable replacement.  When neither was accomplished by the end of that fiscal year, I agreed to continue in my position until December 2016 with the understanding that the town would be able to find a replacement and achieve state compliance by that time frame.  Now the 2018 fiscal year is approaching and to the best of my knowledge there has been no advancement by the town to fill the position nor actions planned to secure compliance to the State’s General Law.

This places me in the intolerable position to abandon my post, which I will do at the end of this fiscal year.

As the position of Veteran Service Officer carry’s with it appointments to the Memorial Day Committee and Committee to Study Memorials, I am resigning from those committees as of July 1, 2017.

As the town moves forward to find solutions to serve it’s veteran population I fear it will encounter difficulties.  If the town tries to fill the position and not also meet compliance with State law, the appointment will be rejected by the State.  In addition the state might freeze certain Veteran reimbursements through the Cherry Sheet until the town is in compliance.  The State is under some pressures to take actions on the few communities that are not in compliance with State Law in providing Veteran Services.   I fear Medfield will become the example used to prod other communities into compliance.  I also fear that the veteran community statewide along with the media, will strongly vocalize and condemn the town for its non-actions to bring the town into compliance with the state law.  I also fear the Town of Medfield will be depicted as hostile community to veterans.  This will greatly sadden me, as I know the Town of Medfield is one of the most supportive veteran communities in the state.

It is also possible that none of my fears will materialize.  However it is these undesirable real fears along with a strong concern to insure that the valuable services provided by this office continue without interruption that has motivated me to continue my duties throughout this past fiscal year.

Please understand, I regret the actions I am taking now.  I trust you can agree that I have done all that I could to insure that an orderly transition of my position was achieved.

Until then, I remain at your service.

Ron Griffin
Medfield Veteran Service Officer

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March 22, 2017 Subject - VSO Job description expansion - Office of Veteran and Community Services I am very aware that the following is not within the context of my responsibilities and has not been solicited. However, it is being offered with the intent of advancing the town toward compliance with State Law requiring the Town of Medfield provide full time access to Veteran Service Officer services. I fully agree that the current Medfield veteran population is in rapid decline and not large enough to warrant full time services, however the law uses town population to determine the requirement. Last year I submitted a budget for a full time position and I have done so this year as well. So I would like to offer rational to expand the duties of the VSO, while preserving its primary function. I met with Warrant Committee member Tom Marie to discuss my 2018 budget proposal and essentially had this same conversation. The VSO Position administrative overview The veteran Service Officer must be the primary function of the VSO position, however others duties may be assigned. The VSO position must be occupied by a veteran. The VSO position requires subject knowledge and certification on general areas specific to veterans and their families. Providing knowledge and information the VSO identifies benefits and guides clients through various matrices toward acquiring them. The pathway mostly consists of benefit explanation, developing the correct documentation and delivering it to the correct resource. The VSO does not determine, deny or ratify benefits and is non judgmental in offering assistance to any individual. However, the VSO does administer Massachusetts Chapter 115 benefits. Expanding VSO duties Where much of a VSO’s expertise is in subject explanation, documentation development and resource identification it is probable that these skills can be used on other non veteran related programs needed by the town’s citizens. Generally NEEDS based programs do not require unique expertise and many community programs may only require the dissemination of information. Needs based programs already exist that are managed by various town departments, sometimes under-utilizing the expertise of the person managing them. All to often, citizens are denied assistance because they simply do not know it exists. Often our citizens most in need of services are the least able to acquire them on their own. Because discussions about these services are provided in a confidential private setting, there is little visibility that these assisting services ever took place. Generally the community population who are not exposed to these services are seldom aware of the their need nor of their importance. Each of you probably have had an experience with one of our citizens who had an issue and had no idea where to turn for help. My experience is that generally what is missing is an understanding of the problem. Yes, occasionally our bureaucratic systems do error and when they do, it is usually very difficult for an individual to correct. In today's society, little can be accomplished without computer knowledge and internet access. Paper forms are now restricted and agency's often defer to web based solutions. More often computers are the decision makers and generating correspondence while the human analysis works to understand the computers choice rather than applying a solution. Often agency's do authorize electronic access to their systems that help identify individual issues. There is a BOLD line that separates assisting in a situation and owning that situation. I do not propose that this position administer any benefit (other than Chapter 115). That bold line is too easily crossed due to a natural compassion that develops with the client. While it is appropriate to provide guidance toward appealing undesirable results, it is not appropriate to participate in the appeal as that would require specific professional expertise. Development of VSO knowledge and skills can easily take more than a year. Knowledge development of non Veteran needs assistance will be substantially less. Identification of non veteran based services can be developed independently, but the following programs are offered as potential candidates. Non- Veteran Needs based services already provided by Medfield (The following is a collaboration list identified by Dawn Alcott, Chelsea Goldstein-Walsh, Cheryl Lavallee and Ron Griffin) Assistance with filling out applications: SNAP (formerly the food stamp program) Mass Health Other health insurance through health care connector SSI/SSDI when appropriate Department of Mental Health Department of Developmental Services SHINE (Medicare) Fuel Assistance Assistance with locating food resources: SNAP Medfield Food Cupboard A Place to Turn Natick (individual or family can go every 2 months for 2 weeks of food with a new social service referral each time…we have many families involved in this United Way program and we do their referrals every two months) Abundant Table Home Delivered Meals (if over age 60) (this is common when a senior is in the home of a family we serve) Assistance with financial help SMOC Housing Home Committee Angel Run Fund (we screen many referrals for ARF…usually 2-5 per week) Fuel Assistance (as SMOC representative for Medfield Community both MYO and COA do applications for residents) Assistance with obtaining basic necessities (clothing, furniture, etc.) New Life Home Refurnishing: (Furniture Resource)Must be referred by social service agency. That agency coordinates client visit on their behalf. This is a once in a life time referral…so it is a thorough and complete as possible process. Dress for Success Boston: (Clothing) Social service agency referral needed. A woman returning to the work force or changing careers can get one interview suit/outfit and an additional outfit following hire. Other agencies: ARC of Southern Norfolk County (for respite funds to hire caregivers and other programs) I hope you will consider the information provided as an opportunity to better utilize the VSO position to better serve all of our citizens. Ron Griffin Medfield VSO20170322-rg-veteran and community services position march 2017_Page_2

Affordable housing at the Legion

Selectmen were informed yesterday that the Legion is looking to build affordable housing for veterans at its current location, and as a byproduct of the affordable housing project, to get a new facility (a copy of the email appears below).

I suggested to Ron Griffin that I would like him to follow up on my past suggestion to explore the possibility of adding onto the Legion’s land some of the adjoining town owned land, where the town both has an interest in developing more affordable housing and may well have no other possible use for that land.  That town land could perhaps allow the number of affordable units provided to be increased.

 

Legion

From: Vet Ron G HM [mailto:rgriffin@medfield.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 5:47 PM
To: Pete Peterson ; Mike Marcucci ; Gus Murby
Cc: Mike Sullivan
Subject: American Legion discussing 40B units

 

Hi Pete, Mike and Gus

I wanted to inform you that the American Legion is discussing with developers Ralph Costello and  Mike Larkin to build 40b rental units on their property on Peter Kristoff Way.

Preliminary discussion, is for the Legion to receive a new building on the existing property in exchange for 40B rental units to be developed on the remainder of the 2.5 acre piece of property.  Some of the rental units would be reserved for low income veterans or their surviving spouses.

The current Legion building has turned into a money pit of needed expenses.  We have been trimming operational costs for the building for the last few years but heating and cooling this metal building with limited insulation is overwhelming.  We now have major roof, sewer and parking lot maintenance issues pending.  We’ve patched our patches with more patches.

Our goal is to have a two story building with a function hall on the first floor and in the basement the members rooms.  We hope to offer Medfield, an attractive location to hold functions larger than 40 people but less than 140.  With limited building overhead costs, we hope to be financially able through function rentals to support the many programs that the Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion support through out our community.

We also understand that this project might meet the towns Safe Harbor requirement for 2018

I provide this infromation as Executive Board Chairman of American Legion Beckwith Post 110, Medfield Ma. and very close acquaintance of Medfield’s Veteran Service Officer.

Ron Griffin
Medfield VSO

Veterans Day Breakfast – Wow!

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The Medfield veterans were poignantly honored on Veterans Day with the now annual Veterans Day Breakfast at The Center, thanks to soon to retire Veteran Service Officer Ron Griffin, which included entertainment by the Singing Trooper, Dan Clark, in the bottom photo.  Dan Clark is one great, professional, polished show, that would be well worth viewing the show on Medfield TV (click here).

All Viet Nam veterans were thanked and honored by a reception line composed of ten town officials for their service with a Presidential Proclamation, a pin, and a sticker, as part of the 50th year celebration of the Viet Nam War era veterans – about forty Viet Nam veterans were specially honored.

Service to the veterans was provided by the students from the Medfield High School group Warriors for the Warriors, seen standing in the top photo.

Veterans Day

Veterans breakfast

Medfield’s Veterans Service Officer Ron Griffin started and has put on a breakfast for veterans on Veterans Day at The Center for several years, and he is kind enough to include the selectmen.  This morning Richard and I attended, along with Senator Jim Timilty and Representatives Shawn Dooley and Denise Garlick.  Shawn brought along his two young sons, one of whom sat on Shawn’s lap during the speeches.

Ron Griffin arranges for MHS students from the student lead group, Warriors for the Warriors, to act as the servers at the breakfast, and this morning there over 20 student servers, as well as Ron’s colleagues from the Town House, Mike Sullivan and John Naff assisting with the cooking.  John brought along his two daughters to help.

It is wonderful for both the veterans and the students that they get to share time together.  Ron also has veterans speak to the sixth graders each year.

The above photo of the Veterans breakfast is from last year.

veterans luminaries

The luminaries for the veterans occurs at sunset this evening at Baxter’s Park, to complete Medfield’s Veterans Day events, thanks to Michelle Doucette.

Vets & forced arbitration

From the American Association for Justice –


WHILE SERVING OUR COUNTRY THEIR RIGHTS ARE DENIED

#RestoreVetsRights

This Veterans Day, we honor the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women of the U. S. Armed Forces by issuing a call to preserve and strengthen laws promoting their financial security by stopping forced arbitration. Take Action

When members of the military are serving our country, they should not be burdened by financial stress back at home, but their financial security is threatened by forced arbitration – an injustice that corporations bury in the fine print of financial documents to ensure they will never be held accountable in a court of law if they violate laws like the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) can put control back in the hands of America’s service members by eliminating forced arbitration in financial disputes and restoring their ability to defend their rights in court. Contact the CFPB asking it to ban forced arbitration in consumer financial services and products. Take Action

American Association for Justice, 777 6th Street NW, Suite 200 | Washington, DC 20001 | 202-965-3500

Boys State & Girls State

20141030-legion-boys & girls state At the Legion last night twelve of the seventeen MHS seniors who spent a week last summer at the Legion run Boys State and Girls State, held at Stonehill College in Easton, recounted their experiences to the crowd of over a hundred in attendance at the Legion’s monthly dinner meeting. Each of the dozen students spoke about what the experience had meant to them, and each was remarkably eloquent, poignant, or in turn funny.  The experience had clearly made strong positive impressions on each student, and for some it had been life changing.  More than one student recounted the benefits to them from meeting others from backgrounds so disparate from what they have know in Medfield.

Boys State and Girls State are the Legion run opportunity for high school students to learn about the American political and governing processes by actually taking part in mock government elections and functions, as well as taking courses.  The students are divided amongst separate towns, elect their own leaders from amongst their own members, and deal with legislation.

20141039-Legion-Boys & Girls State-2Last summer the students also got to participate in the actual political process, as some researched and took a position against the then pending legislation in the Massachusetts legislature that would have allowed cell antennae to be located virtually anywhere regardless of local zoning.  The students submitted letters against the legislation to the legislature that Representative Shawn Dooley said last night helped to put a face on the opposition and to defeat that legislation.

Medfield’s Legion sends more students to Boys State and Girls State than any other city or town in the state.    Around 700 students in all participate.  Karl Schwartz, past Legion Commander, recounted that when he took the program on 17 years ago no students were being sent by the Legion to participate, and that the program has been gradually built up over the years.  Today the students compete for the slots, as the demand to participate exceeds the monies  available to send students. 20141039-Legion-Boys & Girls State-3

Veterans Day luminaries at 5PM


The American Legion Auxiliary is selling candle lit luminary bags to honor living veterans and in memory of those veterans who have passed away. The bags will be displayed in Baxter Park on Veterans Day (Tuesday, November 11, 2014) and lit at 5pm along with a short ceremony. [Bags will be displayed at Noon, lit at 5pm and removed after 9pm]
All proceeds from this fundraiser will be used to support Auxiliary program for veterans and their families, the Stephen Hinkley award, and Girls State program. Some veteran programs we support annually are Christmas Gift Shop at West Roxbury VA (give wrapped gifts to veteran patients that they can give them to their family and a gift for the Veteran, Coffee hour at VA (free coffee and treats on a Wednesday morning), HomeStart (Homeless Veterans transitioning into homes).

Please forward the bag inscription and payment to American Legion Auxiliary, c/o Michelle Doucette, 17 Pleasant St, Medfield, MA 02052. Bags are $6 each or 2 for $10. Checks can be made out to ALA 110. Luminaries can also be purchased at the American Legion. Please order bags by November 8th – after that date please call 508-359-2290 for availability