Martin C. Evans

Vets Hammer Mangano for Yngstrom’s Ouster

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2011 at 12:15 am

Saying politics rather than qualifications led to the ouster of Veterans Service Agency director Pat Yngstrom, veterans from across Nassau County plan to descend on the Nassau County Legislature in Mineola at 10 a.m. today (Feb. 28) to voice their displeasure.

Veteran leaders said Yngstrom had run a competent agency that has aggressively helped veterans identify and apply for unclaimed benefits, and which has successfully organized volunteers and solicited donations to help veterans get needed services.

Veteran leaders say competence within the agency is crucial to helping the thousands of troops who are battling PTSD, joblessness, family problems and other challenges after returning to Long Island from Afghanistan and Iraq.

One vet leader, who asked not to be identified by name, expressed dismay at the thin resume of Mangano’s choice for Yngstrom’s replacement, Michael Kilbride, and wondered pointedly whether Kilbride’s family ties to Republican Party boss Joe Mondello is the real reason for Kilbride’s sudden ascension.

Kilbride has no college degree and no management experience, according to his resume. He worked under Yngstrom as a veterans claims counselor, a job he has held since the mid-90s. Before that, he served a single enlistment in the Marines, during which he served in Desert Storm.

In contrast, another counselor in the agency is a bilingual graduate of Texas A&M and former Army Ranger with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, who was hired two years ago to run the agency’s jobs program. The counselor is working on a masters degree in public administration at Baruch College.

But an aide to County Executive Ed Mangano, Brian Nevin, said the executive chose to oust Yngstrom because Mangano does not consider Yngstrom to be a competent manager.

Nevin forwarded to Newsday what Nevin said was a transcript of a Dec. 15, 2005 e-mail to Yngstrom from John W. Kavanaugh, an American Legion officer who oversees the Legion’s claims handling operation at the Veterans Administration office in downtown Manhattan.

In the e-mail, Kavanaugh said paperwork Yngstrom’s office had prepared on behalf of veterans was so filled with errors that it was slowing American Legion claims processors who worked on them in the VA’s Manhattan office.

“We are e-mailing your office almost daily with questions, corrections and omissions on the submissions,” the e-mail read. “Another concern is the responses are not timely…”

Nevin said no other member of the agency staff had expressed interest in the $82,000 per year job, and that Mangano had not searched outside the agency for a possible replacement because he wanted to encourage the staff to seek promotions.

Nevin dismissed assertions that political connections helped win Kilbride the job.

“That is a complete fabrication,” Nevin said.

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