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October 4, 2021 - 11:27pm

Genesee County Veterans Service Agency director seeks qualified person with passion to serve others

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee County Veterans Service Agency.

joyce_1.jpgOver the past nine years, William Joyce has built a reputation as the go-to guy – the person with the knowledge and skill to provide answers and direction to former armed forces members in his role as director of the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency.

Joyce, (photo at right), who served in the Army for 40 years, retiring as a sergeant major following tours of duty in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, not only assists county residents, but on a regular basis is called upon to help those across New York and in neighboring states.

While he said he’s not retiring as the GCVSA leader in the next few months, Joyce said he is thinking about it and desires to impart some of his wisdom and know-how to a veteran willing to serve the agency in a part-time role.

“I want to teach what I have done – the broadcasting and the networking that I’ve done – to teach he or she what I do,” he said.

Unfortunately, he told the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee this afternoon that he hasn’t been able to find someone eligible and qualified yet to be his right-hand man or woman.

Joyce, responding to a request for an update on the part-time position from Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, said he had two applicants but they didn’t meet the qualifications, and he hasn’t had any more applicants since.

“It’s still being advertised, but they’re not knocking down the door to get in,” he said.

The county has put out the call for an assistant since June, County Manager Matt Landers said, adding that the prospective employee must be a veteran and meet other criteria. The 19 ½-hour per week job is in the county’s budget.

“We have a succession plan in place but so far, no luck,” Landers said.

Recently, Joyce was elected president of the Western New York National Cemetery Memorial Council, which is set up to raise funds and solicit donations in support of the cemetery, which is located at Route 77 and Indian Falls Road in the Town of Pembroke.

Joyce said that 638 burials have been performed since the cemetery’s opening last December.

He reported that the council, a nonprofit organization, established the “Avenue of Flags” in which families donate their burial flag of a veteran to be flown at the entrance driveway on 26 flag poles (also donated) from May through Veterans Day each year.

The WNYNC is one of only three VA National Cemeteries authorized for this display, Joyce noted.

“What better honor can you give veterans who are coming in for their last services to have their interment flags of veterans that passed and are buried there?” he said. “It’s an awesome sight and pictures don’t do it justice.”

Joyce reported that the Veterans Service Agency office had 4,464 contacts and provided 5,521 client services over the past year, and completed 136 veterans’ property tax exemptions. He said the latter number is bound to increase due to the returning active duty reservists/guardsmen.

He said the agency’s relationship with the county’s Department of Social Services is working out as DSS referred 58 people to the agency, resulting in 25 veterans and/or widows gaining access to federal benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“This results in a greater reduction in the cost of local Medicare benefits,” he advised.

In another development, he reported that 48 veterans have graduated from the Veterans Mentorship Program, a restorative justice program for those who have been in trouble with the law.

“If there’s a veteran that has been arrested for drugs, alcohol or driving while intoxicated, they have a choice to attend a special treatment court and they have to go through a program (which lasts up to a year),” he said. “If they graduate successfully, they can come out with a lesser charge than what they originally were charged with.”

He said the program has been very successful as indicated by a large number of graduates who now have become mentors to others.

The agency’s office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For an appointment or more information, call 585-815-7905.

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