Vet2Vet Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Utica, NY (WIBX) - The official Grand Opening of the Vet2Vet program brought many local officials out to support the Veterans initiative, including State Senator-Elect Joseph Griffo, Assemblywoman-Elect RoAnn Destito and Utica Mayor David Roefaro.
Michael Sportello, Vet2Vet Coordinator said the program has been operating for three months now but the official kick-off at the Veteran's Center in Utica represents a more aggressive effort to go after Vets who need help. He said, "Some of the services that we provide are simply helping a Veteran with readjusting back to civilian life. Also, helping them with their benefits--whatever they need. They might just want to come sit down and talk and have a cup of coffee. And, the nice thing about our program is that we're not just another program on top of other programs, but we're a program that assists all the programs that are out there."
Sportello said Veterans can stop by the Central New York Center for Veterans on 726 Washington Street in Utica for assistance. The group is also looking to the public to donate their time, through volunteering or by donating any house hold item to help further the cause of the program. "All these individuals who have given service particularly during these challenging times deserve our attention and resources to help them make a transition back home. And, to those that are here that are struggling, we need to be supportive. So, programs like this I think are just extraordinary," said State Senator Joseph Griffo who spoke during the opening ceremony.
Sportello said Veterans can call the Vet2Vet Program at (315)724-7770 to learn more about the group's ability to meet their needs. Program administrators are there during normal business hours 5 days a week. Due to Vet2Vet being a pilot program, Sportello's position will no longer be funded after this year and he said, "I'm going to have to raise funds to stay employed." What that means for the future of the program is unclear but Sportello said the Ribbon Cutting ceremony was to signify that the program is still moving full steam ahead.