Chris Gerrior: Acting as a ‘conduit’ for local veterans
When Americans agree to serve their country, their country also makes an agreement to serve them when their time in the military ends, Tri-Town Veterans Agent Chris Gerrior believes.
Sworn in last week and replacing retired longtime veterans agent Barry Denham, Gerrior helps provide service to those who served in his new role with Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester.
Gerrior, a Rochester native who graduated from Old Rochester Regional High School in 1993, spent 24 years in the Navy before retiring three years ago.
His new post, which is open only to veterans, requires the ability to talk to people and perform administrative tasks, which he said is especially important
Although many benefits are available to veterans, Gerrior said they might not be aware of them. Gerrior said he serves as the “conduit” between the veteran and the available programs.
“A lot of this is helping people file for different benefits,” he said, adding that veterans “have a lot more needs than is recognized.”
Available assistance varies, Gerrior said, depending on the veteran’s situation.
Some veterans have significant financial needs and require help with basics, such as providing food and shelter. Others may be able to avail themselves of other benefits they may not even be aware of. The GI bill benefits can be used in some cases to fund the education of a veteran’s child or spouse, for example.
Vocational rehabilitation programs may also be available. Disabled veterans can also qualify for a reduction on their tax bill. They may be able to purchase a home with no money down.
In addition to helping streamline services, Gerrior said he hopes to devote significant time to outreach.
Some veterans only reach out for help when they retire, for example, and health care support becomes critical, Gerrior said.
But he welcomes all ages to call.
“I’m definitely a generation X-er,” Gerrior said, referring to those born between 1965 and 1980. “I’d also like to make millennials more aware so they don’t have to wait until they are older” to take advantage of benefits. Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996.
No matter what their age, Gerrior said veterans in the Tri-town area should give him a call.
“If you are a veteran and live in Rochester, Marion or Mattapoisett, I would love to talk with you and possibly make you aware of something you might not have known about,” he said.
Gerrior can be reached Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. at Mattapoisett Town Hall. His services are available to all Tri-Town veterans, although his office is in Mattapoisett. His phone number is 508-758-4100, ext. 7.