New Greenfield veterans agent ready to help
Greenfield Veterans Director Tim Niejadlik
Tim Niejadlik, the new Veterans Director for Greenfield, is flanked by Laura Tnorne, Veterans Services Assistant, left, and outgoing agent Charles Loven in the Greenfeild Offices on Main St.
GREENFIELD — The town’s new veterans services director says he is ready to continue the work soon-to-be- retired Director Charles Loven has been doing for about 80 veterans living in Greenfield and Leyden.
Tim Niejadlik, 49, of Belchertown said he has the experience of managing veterans services in Holyoke and is taking the next few weeks, while Loven is there to work with him and answer questions, to get up to speed in Greenfield.
“The two cities are different in terms of demographics,” said Niejadlik. “Holyoke is bigger, but there aren’t as many veterans there. I do what is required by law, which is the same in both places.”
Niejadlik served as deputy director in Holyoke for two years and as director there for the past year.
He said he grew up in Belchertown, attended Western New England College and served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 20 years.
He served in Iraq from 2006 to 2008.
Niejadlik said veterans should not worry about him taking over as head of Greenfield’s Veterans Resource and Referral Center at 114 Main St. He said he has no plans to make major changes, unless they are required by law.
“I am going to continue to help veterans, their spouses, and their independents,” said Niejadlik. “I have to follow state and federal law when it comes to finding veterans their benefits.”
The town spends about $700,000 each year on veterans services and is reimbursed 75 percent of that by the state and federal governments.
Niejadlik said the veterans programs he will be working with and referring veterans to in Greenfield are the same as they are in Holyoke, so he is very familiar with them.
He said his biggest challenge will be learning the town’s software, which is different from the software he used in Holyoke.
Niejadlik said he will continue to spend a good amount of time with widows and widowers who are dealing with their deceased veteran’s grave markers, pensions, and other issues.
“Actually, a lot of our veterans are self-sufficient, but when they are gone, their families have a tough time,” said Niejadlik. “A lot of times it’s the people they leave behind that need the most help.”
Niejadlik said most of the time he is referring clients to other agencies that can help them.
“My goal is to find a way to keep veterans, their spouses, and their dependents in stable homes,” said Niejadlik.
He said veterans services in Greenfield work with Franklin Hampshire Career Center to help veterans find jobs.
Niejadlik said he will also be working with veterans to find them housing, food, fuel assistance, health care, both physical and mental, “welcome home” bonuses that they might be entitled to and education and skills training.
Mayor William Martin said he does not expect the Greenfield program to change under Niejadlik’s direction.
“We will still be looking at every way to help our veterans,” said Martin. “We don’t want them to just settle for what they might get through the VA. We go looking beyond to see if there are other agencies that might be able to provide them with more.”
Niejadlik said he hopes to expand outreach in Greenfield so that all veterans who deserve help will get it. He said that would include outreach to veterans who are currently on public assistance or are in nursing homes.
“We want veterans to know that there’s a place to come,” he said. “We want to reach everyone who deserves help.”
Niejadlik said all veterans services asks is that veterans do their part, whether it’s looking for a job or something else, and that they abide by the rules.
“I’d love to see any vet or member of his or her family stop in and say ‘hi,’” said Niejadlik. “I have brochures here that could, at least, start explaining to them what they need to do and where they need to look.”
Some of the agencies and others Niejadlik will be working with include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, WestMass ElderCare, the Social Security Administration and Department of Transitional Assistance, Medicare and Medicaid, the American Red Cross, Holyoke Soldiers Home, and several homeless shelters, housing authorities, nursing facilities, and state legislators.
He said some of the benefits veterans may be entitled to include annuities, burial benefits, pensions, widow’s death pensions, survivor benefits, bonuses, housing assistance, disability compensation and career counseling.
For more information, call Niejadlik at 413-772-1571. Niejadlik is in the office Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Loven will also be there through much of September.