MONTOUR FALLS, N.Y. (WENY) -- On Thursday, April 18th, Kristine Gardner, the Director of Veterans Services for Schuyler County, was dismissed from her position. Gardner was given the choice to resign or be terminated after being told she had not fulfilled her duties.

"I am very hurt that I lost my job. I loved my job and did not see this coming," Gardner said. After serving the agency for 11 months, she was unexpectedly informed during a meeting on the 18th. When she asked for specific reasons, she was given no further explanation. "No, unfortunately," Gardner recounted her conversation with Sean, "I asked if he could provide an example, and he said he couldn't speak on that."
During a regularly scheduled Council of Governments meeting, the topic of Gardner’s forced resignation was brought up. Carl Blowers stated, "We can't discuss a personnel situation in public." When pressed by an attendee about when the public would be informed, Blowers concluded, "There is no reason that will ever be necessary."
Prior to her dismissal, Gardner had raised questions about how funds were being allocated in the county's Dwyer Fund Program, a state-funded initiative for non-clinical peer support projects for veterans. Veteran Rick Lewis, who serves on the Council of Governments, expressed his concerns about the impact of Gardner’s departure on veterans' services in Schuyler County. "There are 1,500 veterans in Schuyler County, and we bring in $13 million from claims processed through this Veterans Service Office. Right now, there are 210 claims in process for Vietnam veterans with cancer from Agent Orange and other causes. To have her pulled out and bring all that to a screeching halt is beyond comprehension," said Lewis.
In a Zoom interview with WENY News, Gardner shared that the news was shocking and painful. "I have turned that office around. My predecessor saw a lot of potential in me that I hadn't seen in myself. I just hope the county realizes that they are not only hurting me and my family by taking my job, but they are also hurting the veteran population," Gardner expressed.

At the meeting, WENY News and other attendees pressed county leaders for an explanation regarding Gardner’s termination. The leaders responded that they were not obliged to disclose why Gardner was let go and could not comment on personnel issues.