Category Archives: Veterans

Instructional videos to assist veterans

Videos to assist veterans

MCLE_logo MCLE joins Veterans Legal Services in educational initiative–series of training videos

Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc.and Veterans Legal Services are pleased to announce an online initiative to assist veterans and those in the legal profession and elsewhere who strive to serve veterans in their transition to civilian life. We recognize the difficulties combat veterans from the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan theaters often face upon return and that these difficulties often involve legal issues. Fortunately, in the Commonwealth, there are individuals and groups, private and public, who will “walk the walk” with veterans to assist them with legal problems that bear on employment, housing, education, finances, medical care, and criminal law.

To help educate and train those in the legal profession and others who seek to help veterans, we are making available a series of brief training videos addressing common issues experienced by military veterans returning to civilian life. Other videos will follow throughout the year. We hope that veterans and those who advocate for them find this series helpful and instructive.

If you are interested in assisting veterans or for more information, contact Veterans Legal Services at lynn@veteranslegalservices.org.

Watch NowThomas R. Capasso, Director, Probation Records Unit,
Office of the Massachusetts Commissioner of Probation

Sealing of Massachusetts Criminal Records »
Recorded Thursday, October 20, 2016 (18:21)

A primer on how to assist veterans in sealing, and in some cases unsealing, their criminal records, this training video addresses both court and administrative processes and references the following essential forms:
How to Seal Your Adult Convictions (G.L. c. 276, § 100A)
How to Seal Your Juvenile Record (G.L. c. 276, § 100B)
How to Seal Your Adult Non-Convictions (G.L. c. 276, § 100C)

Watch NowHon. Raymond G. Dougan (ret.)
Boston Municipal Court

Credit Card Debt »
Recorded Tuesday, January 11, 2017 (12:15)

Veterans returning from overseas duty are finding that they must cope with an increasingly cashless society where credit card debt can quickly become overwhelming. In this training video, Justice Dougan addresses veterans who may have defaulted on a credit card obligation and who need to know what events and procedural choices await them and what options and benefits they enjoy.

Watch NowT. Keith Fogg
Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at Harvard Legal Services Center

The Tax Man Cometh and What To Do About It »
Recorded Monday, February 27, 2017 (9:41)

In this informative training video, Professor Fogg discusses where veterans with civil tax matters can get help. He describes the various phases of controversies with the IRS – from initial IRS examination to litigation in the U.S. Tax Court to the collection phase – and then explores the different options available to those who are not able to pay the full debt owed. He also discusses the consequences of failing to file tax returns and how veterans may be able to take advantage of the IRS’s Innocent Spouse Relief provisions to be relieved of joint-and-several liability for taxes in circumstances such as divorce.

Watch NowDonald R. Lassman, Esq.
Law Office of Donald R. Lassman, Needham

Bankruptcy Primer for Veterans and Their Advocates »
Recorded Wednesday, June 14, 2017 (10:47)

In this informative training video directed towards veterans, their advocates and attorneys, Attorney Lassman provides a basic primer on personal bankruptcy. Addressing five main questions of interest, he (1) summarizes the primary reasons individuals file for bankruptcy; (2) after identifying alternatives to bankruptcy, explains how federal bankruptcy protection can help provide individuals with a fresh start; (3) highlights the various warning signs that suggest bankruptcy may be imminent; (4) clearly and succinctly describes the bankruptcy process, the steps involved, and a typical timeline; and (5) concludes with suggestions on how and where veterans can get help.

Kingsbury Pond Grist Mill Memorial Bench Dedication 6/3

Gristmill water wheel

Grist Mill Memorial Bench Dedication

On Saturday June 3rd, the Kingsbury Pond Grist Mill Committee will host a ceremony to dedicate a memorial bench to Medfield citizens who were lost while serving our country in armed conflicts and remain “missing in action”. The granite bench is located at the grist mill site on Spring Street (Route 27) in Medfield. Design and installation of the bench, and preparation of the site, were done by Tyler Hatch of Boy Scout Troop 89 as part of his Eagle Scout project. The bench site, which overlooks Kingsbury Pond, commemorates two Medfield residents who served during World War II.

Richard Werner lived at 67 Harding Street and graduated from Medfield High School in 1941.  He joined the Army Air Force in 1943 and advanced to the rank of staff sergeant, manning a turret gun aboard a B24 Liberator. On May 22nd 1944 while on a bombing mission in southern Italy, his plane developed engine trouble and departed its squadron’s formation, presumably to attempt an emergency landing. Neither the plane nor its crew were ever seen again. Richard Werner was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. The square at the intersection of Harding and West Mill streets was dedicated to him in 1994.

Douglas MacKeachie moved to Medfield from New Jersey during the 1930’s and resided at 72 Elm Street. He was Vice President in charge of purchasing for The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P. In 1940 he went to Washington to serve as Deputy Director for Procurement and Distribution at the War Department. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was made a colonel in the Army and put in charge of the General Purchasing Board to handle war supplies. This position was based in Great Britain. Military flights from the U.S. to Europe routinely used the route with the shortest distance over water, between Brazil and West Africa. Colonel MacKeachie boarded such a flight on a B-87 Liberator, January 17th, 1943 along with 12 fellow U.S. military personnel and 13 members of the Royal Air Force. The plane was reported missing three days later on January 20th having gone down 800 miles off the coast of Brazil. On February 4th a life raft was found by the USS Kearney with the remains of a body later identified as the pilot. The next day a second raft washed up on a beach in Brazil, also with the remains of a single body along with six life preservers. Several items belonging to Colonel MacKeachie were found on that raft though the remains were not his. It was presumed that all aboard the flight succumbed to hunger and thirst. Colonel MacKeachie left a widow and daughter back in Medfield. He was 42 years old when he was lost. The bridge on Elm Street near his former home will be dedicated to him in the near future. Both the Werner and MacKeachie families have been invited to attend the dedication.

The ceremony will begin with a procession from the parking lot of St. Edward the Confessor church to the Kingsbury Pond Mill. Transportation will be available for those not able to make the walk (which is about 100 yards.) The public is invited to attend. The procession will begin promptly at 3:00pm on Saturday, June 3rd. Those planning to join, are requested to gather at the church parking lot no later than 2:45. The ceremony is expected to last approximately 45 minutes and will conclude back in the church parking lot.

George Dealy gdealy@gmail.com

 

Schedule of Events for Kingsbury Pond Grist Mill Memorial Bench Dedication
June 3rd, 2017
2:30 – 3:00: Gather at St. Edward the Confessor Parking Lot to assemble for procession
3:00 – 3:15: Procession from St. Edward to Grist Mill
3:15 – 3:20: Welcome & Introductions (George Dealy}
3:20 – 3:25: Blessing (Father Culloty)
3:25 – 3:30: America the Beautiful (Medfield High Vocalist) & Presentation of Flag (Boy Scouts)
3:30 – 3:35: Tribute to Richard Werner
3:35 – 3:45: Tribute to Douglas MacKeachie
3:45 – 3:50: Taps & Dismissal
3:50 – 4:05: Procession back to St. Edward

VSO – more data

This was part of the packet of information the Board of Selectmen received for tomorrow’s meeting –

ron griffin 2

Email received from Ron Griffin on 4/27 /17, regarding appointment of a town Veteran’s Services Agent –

 

Hi again ….

I forgot to realize that you do not have background information on this topic.

I do not support the hiring of a full time Veteran Service Officer. This would be a waste of taxpayers money, especially knowing the veteran population is in rapid decline. However it is the law.

There are many ways that Medfield could comply with the law without hiring a full time person. Medfield has had time to even submit changes to the Law. The law ties this requirement to the towns full population not the veteran population. At the time 50+ years ago, when the law was made, the veteran population might have been a significant percentage of the towns population. Now it is perhaps 2%.
Other towns have hired full time employees whose primary function is providing veteran services but a secondary function as Chief Procurement Officer (Westwood). Others may have multiple responsibilities in the town, senior outreach, Volunteer coordinator, payroll, etc. etc. Some towns share a veteran service officer. A good example of that is Needham, Wellesley, Wayland and Weston which together hire two full time VSO’s that are shared by all four towns.

In Medfield’s situation, the towns of Sherborn, Millis, Dover and Norfolk have populations under 12,000 so they are not required to provide full time services so there is little incentive for them to share expenses. Walpole has a full time VSO providing additional services to the community and has no incentive to join with Medfield.

It is a requirement that when towns pool resources that they share a common boundary.

So for the better part of five years I have supported the idea that the town should look to hire a veteran with other credentials desirable for the town, especially when filling any  employment position in town. I have always agreed to step aside should that opportunity present itself.

So when others view this issue, they will conclude that the town has had the time but not the interest. By continuing my employment I have enabled the town to ignore the issue. ( I was already the VSO when the town was served notice that they were non-compliant) I hope this has been helpful.
Ron

Town loses stellar VSO, Ron Griffin

ron griffin 2

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:

==================================================

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.