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New Veterans Affairs office more accessible, officials say

By Dwayne Parker, Reporter, DParker@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 29 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 30 2012 05:32:14 PM CDT

After cutting a red, white and blue ribbon on Monday, the new Berks County Department of Veterans Affairs is officially in business.

READING, Pa. -

After cutting a red, white and blue ribbon on Monday, the new Berks County Department of Veterans Affairs is officially in business.

"It's going to be a great facility," said James Lindsey, 13th District commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars of Pa.

The previous Veterans Affairs office was located in the Old Heim building in Bern Township, but when word came that the building would be demolished, officials settled on a location near South 8th and Cherry streets in the BARTA Transportation Center.

"I think it is a great improvement from where they were at. They will get a lot more access to veterans," said Joshua Foreman, veteran.

"It has meeting space. It has areas to meet individually with veterans and with the service officers," said Commissioner Christian Leinbach, R-Berks Co. "Our veterans deserve service from this county. They served us. Many of them have given everything."

In addition to the free, below-ground parking, the facility will also be more accessible to disabled veterans.

"I'm over 65, so I can take my bus, my Medicare card, and get on the bus right in front of my house, come here, do the services, and get right back on the bus and go home," Lindsey said.

The new facility will be called the Etchberger Center, named after Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger, from Hamburg.

Etchberger was tragically killed in Laos, near Vietnam, while trying to save his comrades.

In 2010, Etchberger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama.

"His name [Etchberger's] will be a beacon to veterans looking for services in this county for decades to come," Leinbach said.