Tag Archives: Veterans Day

Op-ed: Honoring our city’s veterans


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMAN ERIC ULRICH, CHAIR OF THE COUNCIL VETERANS COMMITTEE 

On Veterans Day, we recognize the many contributions veterans have made and continue to make to the American way of life. It’s also important to take stock of the unique challenges facing veterans and identify meaningful solutions to help those here at home and the thousands of men and women already on their way back from service.

After World War II, American GIs returned from overseas battle scared and in need, but were welcomed with open arms and robust programs to help with college tuition, health care and housing. We invested in our veterans then and their hard work contributed to an economic boom that lasted decades. Caring for our veterans was a top priority — it was good for them, good for the nation and simply the right thing to do.

But today’s soldiers face a daunting reality much different than their grandparents’ time — the VA is failing, jobs are limited, and new and unique challenges push back against their successful transition to civilian life. Given these realities, a far more aggressive and wide-ranging approach is needed to assist our men and women in uniform.

Smart policy starts with connecting vets to high-quality health care and well-paying jobs. Our GIs put their lives on the line every day to defend our freedom. When they come home, we owe them and their families the peace of mind that comes from knowing they have access to quality medical care.

This issue is largely the responsibility of the Veterans Administration, and Congress must be the watchdog, but locally, we can leverage and empower hospitals and direct providers to bridge the gap in care when VA services fall short.

While the civilian unemployment rate continues to decrease, recent research shows that close to 12 percent of New York City’s veterans are unemployed. This is a sad scenario faced by many who cannot find job opportunities commensurate with their talents and military experiences.

Despite these obstacles, we can incentivize businesses with tax credits to hire veterans and by strengthening vet preferences in the city’s hiring process. Creating a pipeline with the city’s trade unions can also place veterans in lucrative apprenticeships that pique their interests and speak to their skills.

Equally important, we need to help those veterans living on the street. Although numbers are improving, the veterans’ homelessness rate is still inexcusably high and something we all see on a daily basis walking the streets of this city. In 2009, the VA pledged to end veteran homelessness, but there are local polices we can pursue to achieve this goal. For instance, reinstating a priority for veterans in the NYCHA selection progress would provide housing for those in immediate need.

Carving out a minimum percentage for veterans’ units in current inclusionary housing mandates would also help combat homelessness.

In January, I was appointed chair of the New York City Council Veterans Committee. My thoughts immediately turned to my grandfather and great-grandfather, who both served in the military, and to the thousands of my constituents who also answered the call of duty. As a nation, we have no higher responsibility than to honor their service and sacrifice. New York City once led the nation on this important issue and we can lead again, and it starts with not only our words but also with our deeds.

Let us recommit ourselves to serving those who served and helping those who protect our freedoms that we so often take for granted.

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‘Thank you and God bless you for your unimaginable courage’: Veterans Day essay winner


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kezia Dickson

One Corona student has stood out from the rest for an essay that came from the heart.

Kezia Dickson, an eighth-grader at I.S. 61, won the inaugural Veterans Day essay competition for students in New York’s 14th Congressional District.

Dickson was recognized on Nov. 5 by U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley for placing first with her 500-word essay out of more than 800 students who participated in the competition. The contest was open to students in grades five through eight. The top essays from each grade were also given congressional recognition.

“Our Veterans Day essay contest was a wonderful opportunity to encourage our youth to reflect upon our nation’s history and salute the members of our armed forces for all their sacrifices,” Crowley said. “Kezia’s essay perfectly captures what it means to commemorate the holiday and underscores the importance of paying tribute to the men and women who protect the freedoms we’ve fought so hard for. “

Dickson, who hopes to one day work in politics, said that when she was writing the article, she wasn’t thinking about winning the contest, but about her uncles and cousins in the armed forces.

“First, I thought it was a joke because when I first wrote the essay I wasn’t doing it for the contest. Veterans Day is something that is really important to me. When I wrote it, that was right from the heart,” she said. “It really meant a lot because I know a lot of people don’t know what Veterans Day is so when I saw that someone took what I wrote to heart and took it seriously it made me feel like I was saying something that really meant a lot.”

The congressman awarded Dickson with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol and also presented her with a statement that will be entered into the Congressional Record in honor of her essay.

Veterans Day to Me
By Kezia Dickson

Each day millions of people in the armed forces risk their lives in order to protect us. They put losing their family, friends, and life behind just so that they can protect us. These people show unexplainable bravery and courage. I can’t even imagine putting my life on the line to fight in a war where I may possibly die. When I sit down and think about what these people are doing it blows my mind. I find it so honorable and breath-taking that someone would put themselves in such danger for strangers. That is why when Veterans Day comes along I make sure to do something for those members of the armed forces. This holiday is just a chance for me to say, “Thank you and God bless you for your unimaginable courage and kindness.” I can’t even go on to think about the struggle and pain some of these family members may feel each day as they don’t know if their husband or wife, son or daughter, mother or father is still alive. Just let alone going to sleep without having that type of awareness is hard. Sometimes us Americans take things for granted, especially, our freedom. Most people fail to understand that the freedom we have doesn’t come for free. Sacrifices are made and people end up dying in the process. Veterans Day is very important to me. For some it’s a day where you don’t have to go to work or school. For me it’s a time of reflection and renewal. To know that somebody’s husband/wife, son/daughter, father/mother is dying just so, that I can have my freedom makes me take a step back. It makes me think twice about the actions I’m taking and the things I’m doing right now. I just begin to say to myself, “Is the things I’m doing now worth someone’s life being lost?” I appreciate these members of the armed forces with the deepest gratitude. They’ve helped save my life and protect other millions of Americans. In my family, I have uncles and cousins who have served and are serving now. I understand what they do is very hard and it takes mental, emotional, and physical strength to go through with it. They go through so many obstacles but, they seem to never give up. They make me proud to call myself an American. It is their bravery and audacity that keeps America living. What they do is just unbelievable. Basically, Veterans Day my time to say, “Thank you for saving my life and thank you for your service.”                  

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Queens discounts for veterans and military


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

VFW veterans

BY MICHAEL SHAIN 

Just in time for Veterans Day, a string of Queens businesses are offering discounts for those who served selflessly in the military.

”It’s a way for us, as Queens residents, to say thank you to our veterans who put on the uniform for their country,” said Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, standing in front of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 885 in College Point.

Nearly 30 merchants and professional service firms have signed up to be the first to offer discounts, according to the Queens Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsored and organized the project.

The businesses range from restaurants to law firms to real estate offices to martial arts studios located from one side of the borough to the other.

“So many of our members were eager to participate in the Queens VETS program,” said Jack Freidman, the executive director of the Chamber.

Vets can participate in the program by filing out a short form available at Assemblyman Simanowitz’s district office (15906 71st Ave., Flushing, or call 718-969-1508). A valid military ID or service record is required to qualify.

Vets will then get a membership card that can be used at business around the borough for discounts.

“This isn’t just limited to Chamber of Commerce members,” Simanowitz said. “We want every business in the county to join this program.”

The program is modeled on one started in 2011 by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick.

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Aging vets selling Middle Village building after nearly 40 years


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

One local veterans’ organization is about to lose a big part of its history.

The St. Margaret’s Post 1172 Catholic War Veterans (CWV) is selling its building on Metropolitan Avenue near 73rd Place, which has housed the organization for nearly 40 years The Courier has learned.

The decision to sell the building came after an overwhelmingly popular vote by members. People at Post 1172 said they decided to sell because attendance is down at meetings and events due to age-related problems and because the cost to maintain the building is not worth it.

Although the organization has about 80 current members, fewer than 20 actively attend meetings, which are on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. The building is not otherwise in use.

“It’s happening throughout fraternity organizations. They’re just impossible to keep up,” said Paul Cuskley, second vice-commander of the New York CWV.

Post 1172 was chartered in 1947, following World War II, with 15 members. The organization was named after St. Margaret’s Roman Church in Middle Village, because it is the closest Catholic parish.

The institutions are not associated, but members of the organization met at St. Margaret’s Church before they bought the current building in 1976, a representative for the organization said.

In the past, about 45 members would show up to meetings regularly and the building was open a few days a week. But most members are World War II veterans, so many are very elderly and can’t physically attend.

Although active membership is down, the veterans still hold many events. They visit the veterans’ hospital in St. Albans and a Catholic veterans’ cemetery on Long Island. They also visit memorials on Veterans Day, attend patriotic events and sponsor youth programs in local schools.

The organization hired Macaluso Reality to sell the building. Post 1172 leaders said they want to find a place in the community to host the twice-a-month forums.

“Personally I would miss it. I’ve been going there since it was purchased, but we don’t want another major war to get our membership up,” said a spokesperson for Post 1172. “Nothing would change, except for the location.”

The money from the sale of the building will be donated to charity, the spokesperson said.

 

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A thank you on Veterans Day


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

World War I fighting ended at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). Years later the day was officially named Armistice Day by a Congressional resolution in 1926.

It was the hope of those who created Armistice Day to honor veterans and their service that World War I – The Great War – would in fact be “the war to end all wars.”

Armistice Day became Veterans Day officially in 1954 after the staggering casualties resulting from World War II. Sixteen and a half million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.

There have been other wars since then, still requiring great sacrifice from our veterans. Too often, that sacrifice is the ultimate sacrifice.

Thus, we take time on Veterans Day to honor our veterans’ sacrifices in the hope that we may find a way to “end all wars.”

We solemnly ask you to take a moment and say a prayer for every one of these brave men and women who died so that we may continue to live free.

And please say a special prayer for those who continue the fight, and for those who are fighting to reacclimate.

As this new generation of vets returns home, they, like those who have served before, face many challenges as they readjust to civilian life.

But there is hope and there is help.

The caring professionals at the Veterans Crisis Line are specially trained and experienced in helping veterans of all ages and circumstances. Many of the responders are veterans themselves and understand what veterans and their families and friends have been through and the challenges veterans of all ages and service eras face.

Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 890,000 calls and made more than 30,000 life-saving rescues.

If you or someone you know is a veteran in need of assistance, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255.

The staff of The Queens Courier would like to send our thanks to all of our country’s veterans of war for their contributions and service to our nation.

Veterans Day is the one day a year set aside to honor military veterans, past and present – but we feel that should be every day.

For all those who came home – and for those who didn’t – we say THANK YOU.

Join us in remembering and honoring our country’s heroes today by tweeting us your Veteran Day pictures (@queenscourier) or posting them on our Facebook page.

 

 

Saint Pancras School students salute local veterans


| mchan@queenscourier.com

addabvetweb

Saint Pancras School students saluted local veterans with personal hand-crafted cards thanking them for their dedication and service to the country.

First and second graders at the Glendale school crafted their cards as personal thank yous that were hand-delivered to veterans in the VA St. Albans Community Care Center by State Senator Joseph Addabbo on Wednesday, November 9.

The creative and colorful construction paper cards were dedicated to the veterans’ sacrifice and service from World War II to the current deployments to the Middle East.

“Each year, to honor the many brave men and women from Queens who have proudly served in the military and in our recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, my district offices support several youth groups to work on some great morale-boosting, holiday-themed projects designed to either applaud those now serving their country far from home, or to salute our heroic veterans housed in the VA St. Albans Community Care Center,” said Addabbo.

The vets were moved, yet delighted, he said, to receive the hundreds of heart-felt tokens of gratitude from the students remembering their service during Veterans Day.

St. John’s University honors Queens veterans


| nkarimi@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Nargas Karimi

They gathered to pay tribute to those who served.

            On Friday, November 11, 150 Queens Veterans attended the annual St. John’s University (SJU) Veteran’s Day Ceremony at St. Augustine Hall.

            “The last 10 years, in an effort to bring more awareness to our students that it’s Veteran’s Day, we started with inviting various units in Queens, such as the American Legion, the American Vets, Jewish War Vets and Catholic War Vets, and we built a list of about 300 people,” said SJU Vice President for Community Relations Joseph Sciame.

            “I’ve been deployed to Iraq three times and was there for a total of 32 months. I just got back home in June,” said veteran Jonathan Blake, who’s also in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/11/2011: Jury Acquits Assemblyman of Conspiring to Take Bribes


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Jury Acquits Assemblyman of Conspiring to Take Bribes

William F. Boyland Jr., a Democratic assemblyman from one of Brooklyn’s most prominent political families, was acquitted on Thursday of conspiring to take $175,000 in bribes in return for using his influence on behalf of a health care organization that runs hospitals in Queens and Brooklyn. Read More: Wall Street Journal

 

Barbara Sheehan sentenced to five years in prison

After dodging a murder conviction for the death of her husband, Barbara Sheehan has been reportedly sentenced to five years behind bars on a second degree weapons charge related to the case. Sheehan, who faced up to 15 years in prison prior to her sentencing, was acquitted of murder after a jury determined she acted in self-defense when she shot her husband, Raymond, a retired NYPD sergeant, 11 times on the morning of February 18, 2008. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Queens Councilman Pleads Guilty To Charges Stemming From 1996 Larceny Case

Just two days after winning re-election, a City Councilman pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a 15-year-old larceny case. Queens Councilman Ruben Wills admitted to stealing items and damaging a Manhattan office building in 1996. The case will be closed without jail time or probation if he does three days of community service and pays $2,500 in restitution. Wills said the incident arose from a business dispute. An outstanding warrant was issued for his arrest after he missed court dates. Read More: NY1

 

10th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony for American Airlines Flight 587 on Saturday

Saturday, November 12 American Airlines Flight 587 10th anniversary memorial ceremony

Beach 116th Street, Belle Harbor – 9 a.m.

There will be a moment of silence at 9:16 a.m. at the time of the crash, followed by a reading of the victims’ names. The ceremony will be held at the memorial site, which was unveiled for the fifth anniversary. More Event Details: Queens Courier

 

Stalled Road Construction Keeps Forest Hills Residents From Getting Sleep

Forest Hills residents are complaining they cannot get any sleep because of the noise stemming from cars driving over a work site on 71st Avenue. Read More: NY1

 

City surrenders in long battle to turn historic St. Saviour’s site into Maspeth park

The city has given up its long fight to acquire the land where a historic Maspeth church once stood and turn it into park space. But the city and now looking into purchasing a City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) are smaller parcel of land from the nearby Martin Luther School as an alternative to the St. Saviour’s site. Read More: Daily News

 

Woodside monument honoring World War I heroes gets face-lift for Veterans Day

The majestic statue that stands at the foot of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Woodside was created to honor local soldiers who paid the ultimate price in World War I. The female figure, sword in one hand and shield in the other, stands sentry over the tiny plaza in the neighborhood formerly known as Winfield. Read More: Daily News

Help our vets when they come home


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Serphin Maltese

By Serphin R Maltese

I just returned after an exhilarating experience …a heart-stirring Veterans Day Parade and ceremony in hometown America.  My hometown happens to be right here in Queens County.  This past Sunday, November 6 we celebrated the third annual Middle Village Veterans Parade and it was bigger and better than ever.

We’re patriotic Americans in Queens, probably the most diverse county in the country, and we show it through our many parades and ceremonies on all the patriotic holidays, hosted by our veterans’ organizations and posts in every community.

But needless to say that’s not enough.  At a time when our courageous men and women in the military are serving in foreign lands and laying their lives on the line, with many making the supreme sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re considering cutting costs and benefits to the detriment of those brave veterans and our military personnel.

While proposed plans for charging enrollment fees and reducing and canceling enrollment in VA’s health care priority categories have been scrapped, the real threat remains and we have to be vigilant and protective on all levels of government.  We owe our vets nothing less.

During the Veterans Parade, watching both marchers and spectators was heart warming for all participants, young and old alike.  If only we could maintain that enthusiasm, excitement and pride all year long.

Unfortunately, even as our military men and women continue to fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have to remind our fellow Americans that not only have our vets endured similar hardships away from home and loved ones, but have also lost valuable years to secure additional business experience – earn longevity credits in professions, unions, workplaces, pensions and benefit plans.

We can’t make whole the veterans who have lost limbs in action, but whenever possible, the least we can do is try to make our vets whole in these critical economic benefit categories.

  • FAMILY SUPPORT, including credit and home mortgage counseling, family survivor benefit plans and support groups.
  • EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS, including tuition assistance and scholarships for them, their spouses and children.
  • LICENSING BENEFITS, including Veteran Exam Credits and extended age and time deadlines for professional licenses.
  • TAX AND FINANCIAL BENEFITS, including tax relief and credits and extension of filing deadlines, re-employment protection and hiring preferences
  • CITY, STATE AND FEDERAL EMPLOYEE BENEFITS, including health care and life insurance benefits.

To those naysayers who may say “That’s too much” or “Too expensive” or “That goes too far,” I ask how far did these vets go to protect our country, our families and our liberty.

Let’s face it, flying and waving flags on two or three national holidays a year isn’t enough of a payback for those who didn’t serve for any material or financial reasons.  More than 42 million men and women have served in our nation’s armed forces since World War I.  They put their lives on the line for you, your family members and our nation out of a powerful sense of duty and patriotism.  Most of them are gone now.  Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day dedicated to remembering all Americans who served in WWI.  President Woodrow Wilson had proclaimed November 11, 1919 as the first Armistice Day to be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.”

We can never truly repay the debt owed those veteran survivors of our nation’s conflicts.  On Veterans Day 2011, as we celebrate and congratulate those veterans who served their country and lived, let us fill with pride and honor them with the gratitude and support that they so truly deserve.