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Veterans One-Stop Center urges more opportunities in new year

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Veterans' advocates are hopeful that 2016 brings more opportunities for those who have served in the nation's military, and are looking to transition into civilian society. New York's Lieutenant Governor recently paid a visit to a downtown Buffalo center that offers numerous services under one roof.

Earlier this month, Kathleen Hochul visited the Veterans One-Stop Center of Western New York, located on Main and Bryant in Buffalo, to learn more about the services the center has offered since opening its offices in April 2013. Those services include help with job searches, legal assistance, housing help and family counseling.

The One-Stop Center is a collaboration of the Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition and Goodwill Industries of Western New York which is supported by numerous public and private partners. Its purpose is to host many services, easing what can be an overwhelming experience for veterans who are just out of the military and looking to convert to everyday life.

"A program like this in Buffalo, it's so important for veterans to know," said Lt. Governor Hochul. "There's many aspects of the challenges they face, whether it's legal, whether it's housing, whether it's a job, whether it's counseling for their children or for themselves after they've been through traumatic experiences, it is all right here under one roof." 

Counseling is not done on site, but the One-Stop Center links veterans and their families to those who provide it. Alex Lauer, Director of Engagement and Development, says there's more stress in the lives of children when dads or moms - and sometimes both - are activated for duty. It's even tougher when neighbors or classmates cannot relate to the experience of being a military child.

"In Western New York, without an active duty base, a guard or a reserve family... a lot of times a child may be the only one in a school district that has a parent who is serving, and they're the only family in the neighborhood who understands what words like deployment mean, ot TDY (temporary duty assignment), those sorts of things," Lauer said.

Hochul, while praising the One-Stop Center, told WBFO that New York State has been a national leader in veteran affairs. For example, the state requires that on project contracts, at least six percent of businesses involved must be veteran-owned. By comparison, the national minimum is three percent.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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