A former Army infantryman and veteran who spent 16 months in Iraq from 2006 to 2007, Ryan Lennon recently stepped into his new role as Veteran's Service Officer for Lexington and went before the Board of Selectmen earlier this week to share his plans for aiding the town's veterans.
Lennon explained his main duties are to assist Lexington veterans with “state and federal benefits or any other issues” so Lexington veterans and their families can understand, “all the rights they are entitled to” as far as medical, financial, records, burial and other services.
Lennon explained that Massachusetts State Law Chapter 115 (the Massachusetts Veteran's benefits legislation) has had an increase in use of 50 percent since last April, and he foresees this increase continuing for several reasons.
The first reason, Lennon explained, was due to elderly WWII and Korean War veterans reaching their twilight years. More recent veterans will also be entering the system as younger veterans return home from duty in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, many new claims will be coming in due to the fact that many reservists and National Guardsmen were called up for active duty in these recent conflicts who wouldn't normally of been entitled to such benefits.
Currently, Lennon is in charge of 23 active cases in town, but is also helping Bedford after the recent loss of their Veterans' Services Officer a few weeks ago. Lennon went on to detail a cost analysis of his services and concluded that Lexington disperses approximately $5,500 per month for veteran's services.
Lennon also explained that one of the initiatives he is spearheading aside from his day-to-day cases will be trying to replace some old Civil and other war headstones that have depreciated over time.
Lastly, Lennon explained that the big veterans event he has planned for the fall will be the Veterans' Breakfast, which will take place at on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 3. All area veterans and their friends and family are encouraged to attend.
Lennon also urged veterans, or a friend or family members of veterans in need, to contact his office at 781-861-0194 during normal business hours, or email him at Rlennon@lexington.gov. For more information on Lexington's Veteran's Services, visit the town website at http://ci.lexington.ma.us/veterans/veterans.cfm.