Monday, March 4, 2019

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Veterans’ Service Officer (VSO)

The Veterans’ Service Officer (VSO) serves veterans and their dependents in recognition of their service to our nation. Responsibilities of the VSO include educating veterans and their dependents about the benefits available to them, dispensing state sponsored veterans’ benefits under M.G.L. Chapter 115 and assisting veterans and their dependents or survivors in obtaining state and federal benefits or entitlements which they have earned.

In addition to my responsibilities to the veterans of Franklin, I serve as the Veterans’ Service Advocate for Norfolk County and as the VSO for the Town of Avon. Norfolk County is the only county in the Commonwealth to have an individual dedicated to Veterans’ Services. Through an agreement between the Town and the County, I am able to continue to support the VSO’s in the 28 cities and towns of Norfolk County while primarily servicing the Franklin veterans’ community.

As our veterans and their dependents/survivors age, there are more demands for benefits provided by the Commonwealth’s Department of Veterans’ Services and the U. S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs. During the past year, there has been an increase in the number of Franklin veterans who have recently completed their military service.

It is very important that veterans and widows identify themselves on the town census. This information enables the VSO to identify services available to them. I sent a letter to every veteran and widow identified on the town census earlier this year. As you see in our contacts this year, the mailing generated a significant amount of interaction for the office.

Fiscal Year 2018 Office contacts for the VSO were:

  • Walk-Ins 469
  • Appointments 403
  • Incoming Calls 1,406
  • Outgoing Calls 701
  • Actionable Email 184
  • Total contacts: 3,163

A 26.4% increase over FY 2017!
Franklin veterans, dependents and surviving family members received over $4,503,000 in compensation and pension payments from the VA in FY 17.

I participated in many civic events during the year at schools and civic groups. The VSO is always willing to attend an event to speak about veterans, veterans’ benefits, the military experience or to support a patriotic event. I invite other veterans to attend such events. If you are interested in attending any event, please contact my office. I also work with Boy Scouts and other students who are interested in community service projects when they are available.

Franklin Veterans’ Council
The Franklin Veterans’ Council meets on the Third Thursday of the month, 7pm, at the Franklin Senior Center. Dates, times and meeting locations are posted on the Veterans’ Services web page. All veterans and any interested individual or organization are welcome to attend. This group serves as a communications outlet for veteran and military related events and activities in the community as well as an opportunity for veterans to obtain information about state and federal benefits and changes. The Council is chaired by the VSO.

Franklin Veterans Memorial Walkway
The Franklin Veterans’ Council formed a subcommittee, the Veterans Walkway Committee in 2016. On October 25, 2017 Dale Kurtz, representing the committee, made a presentation to the Town Council about constructing a Veterans Memorial Walkway on the Town Common. The Town Council unanimously approved the project on November 15,

The Veterans Walkway Committee has sold bricks through the VFW Post 3402 to fund the project. Bricks will continue to be sold until the walkway is filled with veterans’ names. Funding was also provided by a grant from the State Department of Veterans Services through the efforts of our state legislators. This committee has done a tremendous amount of research and work to ensure that we properly recognize those veterans from the Town of Franklin who died during our nation’s wars from World War I through today. Construction is scheduled to start in September 2018. The goal is to have the new walkway dedicated on Veterans’ Day 2018. For information about the walkway, please contact the Veterans Services Office.

Veterans’ Day Luncheon
The Franklin Veterans’ Day Luncheon was held on Friday, November 10, 2017 at the Franklin Elks Lodge #2136. Franklin High School Select Chorus led us in the National Anthem and provided musical interludes during the program. American Legion Post 75 presented the colors and we were led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Lisa Plante, Post Chaplain Robert Markunis, American Legion Post 75, provided our invocation. State Representative Jeffrey Roy provided brief remarks for the audience. The VSO provided information about new and existing programs for veterans. Honorably discharged veterans may now shop on line at the Post Exchange, Veterans may also obtain a Veterans’ ID Card (VIC) at The announcement of the Franklin Veterans Memorial Walkway was the key topic of the program.

Memorial Day Breakfast
Our deceased veterans were remembered at The Franklin Memorial Day Breakfast on Friday, May 25, 2018 at the Franklin Senior Center. Franklin High School choral group led by Olivia Goliger, Franklin Music Teacher, led us in the National Anthem and provided musical interludes during the program. American Legion Post 75 presented the colors. John Hefele, American Legion, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and Bob Gardner, Franklin veteran, provided our invocation. We remembered the 45 veterans listed on our War Memorials who died during our nation’s conflicts and the 65 Franklin veterans who passed since our last Memorial Day. “Taps” was played after our moment of silent remembrance.

State Representative Jeffrey Roy joined us and made a few brief remarks. Ed Geoffry, age 101 who served in Europe from 1941 to 1946, honored us by attending our breakfast. Natalie Webb and Anna Dixon each read a short article about one of our fallen heroes who will be memorialized on our Veterans Memorial walkway. Natalee wrote the articles which were published in the Franklin localtownpages newspaper. Plaques to be placed in the Memorial Walkway were on display for our guests.

Missing Man Table
The Missing Man Table was re-introduced to our Memorial Day ceremony after years of absence.I would like to explain the meaning of the items on this special table. 

The table is small symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his or her oppressors. The table is round to show that our concern for them is everlasting. The white tablecloth represents the purity of their response to our country’s call to arms. The Bible represents faith in a higher power and the pledge to our country, founded as one nation under God. 

The single rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. The rose also reminds us of the families and friends of our missing comrades who keep faith awaiting their return.The vase is tied with a yellow ribbon, a symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing. The black napkin stands for the emptiness these warriors have left in the hearts of their families and friends. 

The candle symbolizes the everlasting hope for a joyous reunion with those not accounted for. The American flag reminds us that many of them never return and have paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure our freedom. A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. 

The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait. The glass is inverted to remind us of their inability to share in this ceremony. The chair is empty. They are not here. Please remember those who have served and are currently serving our nation in harm’s way.

Vet Ruck New England
In August, a group of veterans from Warrior Thunder conducted a 200 mile ruck across Massachusetts to raise funds for the prevention of veteran suicide. That was 10 miles for each veteran suicide each day. I joined the group as they entered Franklin and walked with them to the Town Common where a brief ceremony was held to recognize their event and to provide some well appreciated refreshments. 

As I continued the walk through Franklin, the walkers commented on how nice Franklin looks and how warm the reception had been. They made comparisons with other towns and were very appreciative of the support they received here. Thank you to all of the town’s people who provided water, refreshments and donations to the walkers. They had started their walk in Pittsfield two day earlier and completed their journey the next day in Plymouth.

Veterans Call
I started a new program on Franklin Local TV, “Veterans Call”. The program is for and about veterans and airs on Franklin “All Access TV”. If you have suggestions for the show, please contact the Veterans Office.

Chair of Honor
The Chair of Honor resided at the Franklin Senior Center most of this year. It will rotate through other town buildings and schools through the next year.

Other Events and Activities
I co-hosted a Women Veteran’s Coffee Hour on February 24th at the Victorian Rhapsody Coffee Shop. I was joined by the Raynham and Norton VSO’s and representatives from other state and federal agencies. It was a good opportunity for women veterans to talk about their service and to obtain support for various benefits. For the past five years, I have worked with the Neponset Valley Rotary Club in hosting a veterans’ networking breakfast. We held this event on February 21st in Dedham and had over 20 veterans attend.

I coordinated a Vietnam War 50th Pinning Ceremony with Congressman Kennedy’s office in March. The event was held at the Foxboro VFW. The Congressman provided 62 lapel pins to Vietnam Veterans.

Community Support
Veterans’ Services thanks these faithful supporters:

  • The Franklin Garden Club for the care and maintenance of the Veterans’ Memorial on the town common.
  • Elks Lodge #2136, BPOE, for their continued support of Franklin’s veterans including the sponsorship of the Veterans’ Day Luncheon, and the veterans’ fuel assistance program. Elks Lodge #2136 conducts numerous events during the year in support of our veterans in local VA facilities.
  • VFW Post 3402 for their assistance with the placement of flags on the graves of our deceased veterans for Memorial Day, their donation of poppies and their ongoing
  • support and attention to Franklin’s veterans.
  • American Legion, Edward L. Grant, Post 75 for their support of our veterans and their participation in our Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day events. Post 75 visits local
  • private medical and VA facilities to support and recognize our veterans.
  • The Friends of Franklin Elders for their support of the Memorial Day Breakfast at the Senior Center.
  • The staff of the Franklin Senior Center for their daily support of the Veterans Service Office and for their valued support of the Memorial Day Breakfast.
  • Franklin High School music department for the support of our events.
  • The citizens of Franklin for your support of our veterans and active duty service members.

Although, federal and state definitions of veterans are very specific as to time and component served for qualification for benefits, I hold to this definition of a
A veteran is someone – whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve, served one day or twenty years – who at one point in their life wrote a blank check made payable to the Government of the United States of America for an amount of “up to and including my life.”

Thank you for your service.

I am honored to serve Franklin’s veterans and their families.

Respectfully submitted,
Dale L. Kurtz
Veterans’ Service Officer

You can read the full Annual Report for 2018 online

The archive of prior year annual reports

The Veterans Walkway on the Town Common was opened on Veterans Day, November 11, 2018
The Veterans Walkway on the Town Common was opened on Veterans Day, November 11, 2018

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