Ron Griffin to Retire as Veterans Service Officer
Ron Griffin emailed town officials yesterday to confirm his long planned, and much deferred, retirement as the town’s Veterans Service Officer, leaving huge shoes to be filled.
First and foremost, I want to thank Ron for his exemplary and expansive service to the Town of Medfield, its veterans, and really, by his extension of the scope of the VSO work, to all of our residents. It has been one of my great pleasures to see how he used that VSO position to make so many things happen to honor the veterans, but also to involve so many facets of the town in the process. Thanks to Ron the Blake Middle School students now meet annually with veterans, Medfield Foundation volunteer of the year honorees receive flags flown over the Capital, the town this year is honoring Vietnam War vets, and the town now celebrates all veterans on Veterans Day with a breakfast in their honor served by the Medfield High School students from their Warriors for Warriors club. Also, through his Legion connections, housing for veterans is now being explored at the Legion. Ron is clearly a leader of both vision and action.
The defeat of Ron’s motion to amend the Veterans Service Officer budget at the annual town meeting (ATM) was the low point of that meeting. That was when I first learned that the Warrant Committee was not supporting that funding request, and the issue had not been discussed by selectmen. In hindsight, I wish I had added a plea for support on its behalf, since the expanded position could have coordinated with Medfield Youth Outreach and the Council on Aging to serve those most in need in Medfield (see Ron’s proposal below).
Below are Ron’s email, and then Ron’s previously presented plan for the expanded VSO position. Maybe a future town meeting, as a tribute to Ron Griffin and his extraordinary service to all Medfield residents, will enact his recommendations:
April 27, 2017
Dear Selectman Pete Petersen, Mike Marcucci, Gus Murby and Town Manager Mike Sullivan
In October of 2015 I submitted my intention to retire at the end of that fiscal year. I gave advance notice so as to give the town time to prepare a solution to the states full time service officer requirement and to find a suitable replacement. When neither was accomplished by the end of that fiscal year, I agreed to continue in my position until December 2016 with the understanding that the town would be able to find a replacement and achieve state compliance by that time frame. Now the 2018 fiscal year is approaching and to the best of my knowledge there has been no advancement by the town to fill the position nor actions planned to secure compliance to the State’s General Law.
This places me in the intolerable position to abandon my post, which I will do at the end of this fiscal year.
As the position of Veteran Service Officer carry’s with it appointments to the Memorial Day Committee and Committee to Study Memorials, I am resigning from those committees as of July 1, 2017.
As the town moves forward to find solutions to serve it’s veteran population I fear it will encounter difficulties. If the town tries to fill the position and not also meet compliance with State law, the appointment will be rejected by the State. In addition the state might freeze certain Veteran reimbursements through the Cherry Sheet until the town is in compliance. The State is under some pressures to take actions on the few communities that are not in compliance with State Law in providing Veteran Services. I fear Medfield will become the example used to prod other communities into compliance. I also fear that the veteran community statewide along with the media, will strongly vocalize and condemn the town for its non-actions to bring the town into compliance with the state law. I also fear the Town of Medfield will be depicted as hostile community to veterans. This will greatly sadden me, as I know the Town of Medfield is one of the most supportive veteran communities in the state.
It is also possible that none of my fears will materialize. However it is these undesirable real fears along with a strong concern to insure that the valuable services provided by this office continue without interruption that has motivated me to continue my duties throughout this past fiscal year.
Please understand, I regret the actions I am taking now. I trust you can agree that I have done all that I could to insure that an orderly transition of my position was achieved.
Until then, I remain at your service.
Medfield Veteran Service Officer