I would like to start off by wishing everyone a very Happy Memorial Day! This weekend when you are enjoying your family gatherings, BBQ’s and road trips please stop for a second and remember all the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom. On this Memorial Day I ask you to also think about all of our current veterans who have bravely served our great nation.
Did you know that Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day? Decoration Day started after the American Civil War as a way to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. By the 20th century the holiday was extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Today we know the day as Memorial Day.
On this Memorial Day I want you to remember these facts. There are currently 233,000 veterans living in New York City. Of those, 40,687 are homeless. Eight thousand-six hundred of our city’s veterans are unemployed. Twelve percent of all veterans in this country are unemployed and 29 percent of all young veterans returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq are unemployed. Over the next decade, over 100,000 veterans will be returning home from war many of which will be returning to our great city.
After bravely serving our great nation, no veteran should be left behind! We owe it to our veterans to do a better job ensuring that when they return home there are adequate services to ensure a smooth transition. Whether that’s ensuring job placement programs, career re-training programs, educational programs, housing assistance programs and medical programs such as treatment programs to address PTSD, our city must never forget our veterans.
We have come a long way in how we take care of our veteran’s but more can be done. When you see your elected officials this weekend at a Memorial Day parade tell them to make sure that they fund programs that help veterans transition back to the home front. If you see a veteran this weekend thank them for their service to our nation and say a prayer for those who did not return home.