NUTLEY, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — The scandal in the Department of Veterans Affairs has stunned the nation. An investigation found that at least 40 veterans died while waiting for doctors appointments in Arizona.
Now, a New Jersey town has come up with a solution aimed at saving lives.
“I was already engaged at the time, and not knowing if I would make it back or not,” Vietnam veteran, Michael Slomkowski said.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, Slomkowski and other veterans are haunted by war.
“I got used to the firing of weapons on an everyday basis,” Daniel Jacoby said.
In Nutley, the only local Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Office in New Jersey is working to bring those veterans together.
“It helped me 100 percent. Got me all of my medical stuff,” Daniel Fasanelli said.
Fasanelli lost his vision because of agent orange. He said that he couldn’t get the help he needed from the Department of Veterans Affairs on his own.
Close to 200 veterans have come to the Nutley office since it opened. They receive help ranging from assistance with medical benefits to transportation.
“We actually help them apply for VA benefits, we take them to hospitals. Imagine this, there are doctors in town who have stepped up pro bono to give medical service to our veterans,” Nutley Commissioner, Steve Rogers said.
Rogers, a former Naval Intelligence Officer, said that he opened the one-stop service center two years ago, long before the national scandal, because vets were complaining.
Rogers hired Iraq veteran Daniel Jacoby to run the program at no cost to taxpayers. Jacoby is also a health investigator who has doubled up his responsibilities.
“I wanted to start doing the fighting for them. They already did the fighting for me,” Jacoby said.
The office’s motto ‘No Nutely vet gets left behind’ applies to widows as well. Rogers brings them flags every month.
“The widows, many of them thought they had gotten forgotten,” Rogers said.
The office has become so popular that other towns have reached out to see how they can share services or even start a program of their own.
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