County hires new director of Veterans Service Agency

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Earl Schmidt addresses the Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday after he was appointed to serve as new director of the Veterans Service Agency, replacing Paul Fulcomer, who is retiring.

ALBION – The new director of the Veterans Service Agency in Orleans County served 23 years in the military, including combat in both the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.

Earl Schmidt of Ridgeway has worked the past 3 ½ years as an accredited veterans’ service officer with the Niagara County Veterans Service Agency. He will start on Dec. 7 as the director in Orleans County.

The County Legislature appointed him to the job today. He will succeed Paul Fulcomer, who has served in the position for 13 years.

“I wish to continue what has already been started with the Veterans Service Agency and I wish to strengthen it,” Schmidt told county legislators today.

Schmidt served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army National Guard for 23 years, retiring as sergeant first class; reconnaissance platoon sergeant. He earned 17 medals including a Bronze Star.

He is active with the American Legion as a service officer, the VFW and sits on the VFWNYS Department service officer’s committee as well as a member of the Iraqi Afghan Veterans of America.

Schmidt, during his comments to the County Legislature, recited a quote from Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1865: “Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Schmidt said Lincoln’s words “are the backbone of all that I do.”

He will make helping veterans access their benefits the focus of the Veterans Serice Agency. He said the rules and regulations change frequently, and he is happy to help veterans work through the bureaucracy.

“There are benefits they may not even realize,” he said. “The laws change on a fairly consistent basis. My goal is the maximum benefit in the shortest amount of time.”

Schmidt and his wife Catherine have four children. He was welcomed today by legislators, including Legislature Chairman David Callard, who said the new director is a great addition.

“He’s very passionate about veterans’ issues and I’m sure his energy and dedication will make an immediate impact for our Orleans County veterans’ community,” Callard said.