Military service: Franklin County’s tradition

Franklin County has a long history of military service, a tradition that goes back to its founding 230 years ago. Even before it became a county, Chambersburg’s early settlers marched off to war, determined to help their adopted country win its independence.

That long history of sending its sons and daughters into the U.S. military began early during the American Revolution, continued throughout the 18th, 19th, 20th and into the 21st century.

In return, Franklin County Commissioners extended their gratitude to these servicemen and women and their families by providing programs and services through the Franklin County Office of Veterans Affairs.

READ: Boosting funding for local veterans

County’s VA

Franklin County Veterans Affairs is dedicated to serving the needs of the more than 13,000 veterans who call Franklin County home through benefit coordination, outreach and advocacy.

Staff services include:

  • providing information on federal, state and county benefits and resources;
  • assisting with benefit claims submissions and appeals;
  • arranging temporary support for veterans;
  • offering healthcare information and enrollment assistance; and
  • providing information and support for justice-involved veterans.

Franklin County pays burial benefits for war-time veterans and their widows as well as for the installation of a standard government headstone or marker. The county also supplies flag holders and flags for the cemetery plots of the county’s deceased war-time veterans.

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In addition to these services, Franklin County Veterans Affairs offers a number of outreach initiatives with the goal of improving the quality of life for veterans and their friends and families.

Programs helping veterans

  • Franklin County MilitaryShare: Franklin County MilitaryShare is the department’s newest program, thanks to a partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Franklin County MilitaryShare provides fresh, nutritious food, free of charge, once a month to Franklin County families with at least one member who has served, or is currently serving, in the armed forces. Distribution occurs from 10 a.m. to noon on the first Thursday of each month at 425 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. Participation in other food assistance programs does not prohibit individuals and families from taking advantage of Franklin County MilitaryShare. READ: Franklin County Veterans Food Distribution Program Sees Steady Growth
  • Operation Save-A-Vet, Save-A-Pet: This service dog program focuses on helping Franklin County veterans with service-connected disabilities lead happier, healthier and more productive lives. Service dogs have proven to be highly valuable in assisting veterans with a variety of disabilities, including diabetes, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, stability and traumatic brain injuries.
  • Operation Rucks to Reins: Operation Rucks to Reins provides a form of equine-assisted therapy that incorporates horses and horse care into a veteran’s therapy regimen. Rucks to Reins utilizes the expertise of Franklin County’s Penn State Extension staff to offer participants a three-component program that includes ground lessons, therapeutic riding and therapeutic driving. Veterans are able to develop a number of physical and relational skills in a non-threatening and motivational environment.
  • Focus Photography: The Focus Photography Program assists veterans who are affected by anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions as a result of military service.
  • We Support You Scholarship: This scholarship program provides financial support to local veterans’ dependents. To be eligible, applicants must be high school seniors residing in Franklin County who plan to pursue a course of study at an accredited higher learning institution and who are in need of financial assistance. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and participate in both extracurricular and community service activities. Scholarship applications are available from high school guidance counselors and on the Franklin County website in the first quarter of each year.

Saying ‘thank you’

“We can never say ‘thank you’ enough to our veterans and their families. These programs are our way of expressing our gratitude for the sacrifice these individuals have made on behalf of our country,” said Franklin County Commissioner Chairman Dave Keller.

All outreach programs are funded solely through grants, community support and donations to the Franklin County Veterans Affairs Outreach Fund. Donations can be made by dropping off or mailing a check, made payable to Franklin County Veterans Affairs, Attn: Outreach Fund, to the Franklin County Veterans Affairs Office at 425 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, PA 17202.

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