WINTHROP – The demand for services from the Veterans Service Office goes up and down, lately it’s been up and the Veteran’s Agent wants to make sure there is enough money in her budget to meet the demand.
Tuesday night the City Council voted to transfer $80,000 from the town’s free cash fund to Veteran’s Service Office to help fund benefits for Winthrop veterans no matter what war they served in. Veteran’s Agent Roseann Trionfi-Mazzuchelli told the council there are about 1,800 veterans in town at the moment and 15 are now receiving benefits from the town. Yes, the veterans could seek benefits from the state, but the town of Winthrop would be billed for those benefits plus an additional 15 percent. Trionfi-Mazzuchelli explained that when the town gets paid for a reimbursement it can take up to a year to get the funds. That money goes directly to the town’s general fund, not the Veteran’s Services Office.
The department’s budget is just under $100,000 and about $64,000 is needed to pay out benefits. Trionfi-Mazzuchelli said the average payment to a veteran is $800, but some may get $200 a month and others $1,000 if dependent children are involved. She added that her department also covers widows and children of veterans.
“(The veterans seeking services) are reflective of recent wars and there are several older veterans,” Trionfi-Mazzuchelli said. “Young people can’t get their foot in the door (for a job). Others can’t work because they are in a (medical) clinic. Right now I have two who are depressed and have PSTD.”
Trionfi-Mazzuchelli, who has been the veterans agent for a year and a half, said the town is mandated to pay benefits to vets, if not the town will be found as non-compliant. She is paid to work 30 hours a week but admits she spends more time on veterans issues because she wants to. It takes her three hours to work with just one veteran whether they are seeking housing, a job, food, transportation, medical benefits and more. She suggested that Veteran’s Administration be turned to for health care.
Trionfi-Mazzuchelli hopes the additional funding can get her department through the next 10 months.