Tag Archives: veterans

90-year-old Mets fan, WWII vet honored at Citi Field


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky

BENJAMIN FANG

A veteran’s service to wounded soldiers earned him recognition with his favorite team.

Longtime Mets fan Leonard Merer, 90, was given a New York State Senate proclamation on the night of his birthday, Aug. 4, by state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky. The Mets selected him as its Veteran of the Night.

Merer was a medic during World War II. His notable service included tending to the many casualties in Normandy after D-Day.

For his service, French President François Hollande recently awarded Merer the Insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

 

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Queens man realizes two dreams through film, serving country


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of American Heroes Channel - Discovery Communications


When filmmakers Brian Iglesias and Anton Sattler released their documentary “CHOSIN,” on the Korean War’s Chosin Reservoir Campaign, they had high hopes for the film.

In addition to positive reviews, it has received several recognitions, including Best Documentary Feature at the GI Film Festival and Best Documentary Feature from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation in 2013.

But the most important approval was from the men whom the pair interviewed for the documentary.

“That review meant more to us than anything else we’ve gotten,” said Sattler, a Jackson Heights resident who co-produced the documentary with Iglesias, who also directed the film.

They were prepared to remake “CHOSIN” following two private screenings they had for the veterans, but the men gave it a thumbs-up.

Four years following the documentary’s debut, the pair is trying to reach a larger audience and share the battle’s story with more people.

This Memorial Day, on May 26, at 9 p.m., “CHOSIN” will premiere on the American Heroes Channel (AHC) and help launch AHC Films, a new outlet for independent nonfiction filmmakers looking for a television home for documentaries.

“We are proud to kick off AHC Films with the critically-acclaimed documentary, ‘CHOSIN,’ giving viewers an amazing, first-person account about a historic battle, and shining a light on the true meaning of honor and solidarity,” said Kevin Bennett, executive vice president and general manager of AHC.

“It premiering on Memorial Day has huge significance for us,” Sattler said. “It will be seen by a larger audience, and the story will be told and these men [will not be] forgotten.”

The idea for “CHOSIN” and Sattler and Iglesias’ filmmaking partnership came out of the battlefield.

The two were brought together by their shared passion for film and service fighting for the country.

Both men served in the U.S. Marine Corps and were deployed to Iraq. After 13 years of service, Iglesias, who lives in New Jersey, joined the reserves and currently holds the rank of major. Sattler, following six years of active duty, transferred to the reserves, where he is presently serving as a major with Marine Corps Public Affairs, NYC.

Sattler, who’s had family members serve in the armed forces, knew at a young age that he wanted to join the military. The Sept. 11 attacks occurred around the time of his college graduation, in 2002, and he enlisted after finishing school.

A film studies major, the Pittsburgh native wanted to pursue moviemaking after his service.

A mutual friend introduced him to Iglesias and about 24 hours after they met, they decided to launch a film company, Veterans Expeditionary Media, and 30 days later they started filming “CHOSIN.”

They were on the road for eight months, visiting 27 cities in 14 states, where they interviewed 185 veterans who survived the battle.

The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, which took place over 17 days in 1950, is one of three pivotal battles taught in boot camps, according to Sattler.

“The odds were stacked against the Marine Corps,” he said. There were news reports saying the troops were going to be destroyed, he explained, but they fought their way out.
Many of the men didn’t even go through boot camp because of post-WWII cutbacks, according to Sattler.

The brutal battle was not only fought in subfreezing temperatures and on rugged terrain, but it also pitted 15,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines against 67,000 Chinese troops.
Sattler and Iglesias felt it was pivotal to tell the story of Chosin and its survivors because it shed more light on the battle and the entire Korean War.

“Hollywood for the most part hasn’t paid attention to Korea since the 60s,” Sattler said.

Their film is the first feature-length documentary on the Chosin Reservoir Campaign.

They also felt it was vital to capture the survivors’ stories while they were still alive.

“Decades separated us but there was a ‘two-way rifle range,’” Sattler said, describing the experience of interviewing the men. That ability to relate, he said, helped them with in reaching out to the veterans, he added.

The result was a documentary that tells not only the story of one conflict, but also of “the human experience of going off to war,” Sattler said.

Along with the AHC Films premiere, Sattler and Iglesias are bringing the story of Chosin Reservoir Campaign to a younger audience with a graphic novel, now available in a digital version and soon-to-be print version, and an animated adaptation that is currently in the works.

The filmmakers hope if the stories are engaging enough, maybe younger people will watch the documentary and want to learn more about the Korean War.

 

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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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Vets honored in Douglaston ceremony


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

DSCF0258

American Legion Post Post 103 in Douglaston hosted a Veterans Day ceremony on Monday, November 11 that included participants (left to right) Michael Proto, Tom Dinegar, John Block, Jerry Vilbig (bugler), Reverend Lindsay Lunnum, Reverand Monsignor Anthony Sherman, Reverend Dr. Linden DeBie, Sebastian Dagostino and Robert Anastasia.

 

 

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.

 

 

Voters say yes to five out of six proposed amendments to NY State Constitution


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Together with casting their ballots for a new mayor, voters gave the go-ahead to a proposal that could allow up to seven casinos to be brought into New York State, along with four other amendments.

On the back of the official ballot for the general election, voters were given the option to vote for six proposals that would each be an amendment to the Constitution.

The first proposal on the ballot was an amendment that would allow the government to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State. These casinos would be constructed in order to stimulate job growth, increase aid to schools, and allow local governments to decrease property taxes through gained revenues from the sites. This proposal was approved through 1,309,187 voters or 57 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results.

New Yorkers also gave the thumbs up to the four other amendments that followed it on the ballot.

The second proposal, which took in 84 percent of votes in approval, was the proposed change that would allow disabled veterans to received additional civil service credit. Proposal number three, receiving 62 percent of yes votes, would allow the exclusion of indebtedness contracted for the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities. Proposal number four, gaining 72 percent of votes, introduces a settlement in a dispute between the state and private entities over who owns certain land within the Adirondacks. The final proposal, getting 53 percent of yes votes, also dealt with the Adirondacks, allowing the state to transfer the title of an amount of land of Adirondack Park to a private mining company, which would then transfer the same amount of land to the forest preserve.

Of the six proposals, the only one to be voted no was the amendment looking to increase the maximum age to which certain state judges may serve. According to unofficial results, 1,258, 283 voters, or 61 percent, were against the change.

LIC photographer to be honored by towns he helped liberate during WWII


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Troy Benson / War photos by Tony Vaccaro

ALAN CAPPER

“I was one of those American soldiers who was put off the landing craft too soon when it was still over 10 feet of water. All around me men were drowning before they could get to the beach. We were carrying packs weighing 45 pounds, and a rifle weighing another 10. I sank to the bottom, but fortunately I was physically strong enough to keep bouncing up from the bottom to grab some mouthfuls of air, and then a huge wave hit me and I was pushed to the beach. I was in France. It was D-Day 6th of June, 1944.”

Tony Vaccaro, the great photographer who was featured in LIC Courier in July, is about to leave his home in Long Island City to return to Normandy, this time to be honored in some of the towns he helped liberate. In addition, there will be a major exhibition of his war photography at the International War Museum in Caen, one of the cities that was the subject of some of the fiercest fighting of the war. Already honored by both the French and German governments for his work, this trip will return him to places where he witnessed absolute horror — and much valor with his comrades in the 83rd Infantry Division.

He is also being taken back on the Queen Mary by a French film company, Sundeck Films, which will make a documentary about Tony’s return to Normandy, and will use some of the crossing to interview him in detail about his war experiences. The film will be shown on French television in 2014.

During the war, Vaccaro was on a journey that would take him from the beach to 40 miles from Berlin in the ruins of the Third Reich. Getting off the beach and driving through Avranches to St. Denis and then the liberation of St. Malo was the beginning of a series of liberations of villages and towns. The Germans fought hard and it was a long and painful road with many losses.

“I know that some of my comrades felt that the French people were resentful of them, and did not like them as a result. I had the good fortune of being able to speak French, and therefore to really understand them. I like the French people very much and was glad to be there.”

As the war progressed, its grimness did not recede. Vaccaro was in his foxhole when a shell burst nearby, killing two colonels.

“I always dug my foxholes deeper than most,” he said. “I had worked on the family farm and knew how to use tools, and even when the ground was hard in winter I still dug deep. It probably saved my life.”

After the fall of Paris, the drive into Germany began. Vaccaro was involved in the Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s last great offensive and all the vicious smaller battles on the way. He recalled the moment when he killed his first German soldier.

“The impact on me was enormous. I cried, and just took off and ran for 100 yards or so. It was an awful moment, but after I composed myself I was reminded of why I was there, and that if he had shot first I would have been dead.”

The photographs that he took have formed the basis of a book published by Taschen, “Into Germany-1944-1946,” and the basis of an exhibition, which has been seen in Germany and many other countries. Elements of this will be included in the exhibition in Caen.

In January 1945 Vaccaro and three other soldiers were lying in the snow on the outskirts of a small village in Belgium, the scene of heavy fighting. They were tense, expecting more conflict at any time. Suddenly, through the mist a shape emerged. It was a single German soldier coming towards them. Their fingers were on the triggers ready to kill him when the soldier, not knowing they were there, threw his rifle into the snow, shouting in German, “I am sick and tired of this bloody war!” Within seconds he was captured by the group, and was much relieved to be so.

“The German spoke for all of us,” recalls Vaccaro.

This return with honor to Normandy will bring back many memories, but Vaccaro will bring to his audiences the humanity and nobility that makes his photography great.

 

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Vets get valuable info at forum


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Army veteran Henry Dumas knows the importance of military benefits.

The Queens native served in Korea, Germany and Panama. When he returned and needed a job, Helmets to Hardhats, which finds constructions jobs for veterans, helped him. Now he wants a house and hopes the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) can help with that.

“I have been thinking about it for a while and it would be good if the VA could assist me in doing that,” Dumas, 36, said.

Dozens of veterans attended a forum at Maspeth High School on July 15, which Congressmember Grace Meng and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley organized, to learn about available services and benefits.

“When you are physically separated from family, from jobs, it’s hard to come back,” Meng said. “And to have to get readjusted to society it’s something that’s very difficult for them. We want to make sure that our veterans are taken care of.”

The forum featured a lecture by Edward Perry from the VA’s New York office. Perry explained how former military personnel can apply for compensation. He also described stipulations for the VA pension and touched on veterans’ life insurance, home loans and the eligibility details of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Various veterans’ groups also gave out information about their programs, ranging from assisting with unemployment to equal rights, education and legal services.

The Allied Veterans Memorial Day Parade Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale took time at the event to honor Crowley with a plaque. She was able to get funding to save the group’s parade several months ago.
Crowley said she hopes the forum can become an annual event, something Dumas agreed with.

“These things should happen more often,” he said. “There are benefits that are available to us and veterans should know about them.”

 

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Glen Oaks elementary school donates to military veterans


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A Glen Oaks elementary school has donated $1,000 to military veterans.

Youngsters at P.S. 115 presented a check to Services for the UnderServed (SUS) on Friday, March 15. The funds were allocated for SUS programs that support the country’s veterans.

“It really touches an old man’s heart,” said Howard Wheeler of Elmhurst, who served 22 years in the U.S. Navy. “It means so much to us that you all, as young as you are, have the mind to think of others than yourself.”

The pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students raised funds through a bake sale and a school dance. They then worked with AmeriCorps, a federal government program focusing on community service, to connect with SUS.

“It’s an extraordinary gesture on their part,” said Kevin Burke, the school’s parent coordinator. “These children are our future. It’s very important that they recognize the history of our country and know there are people that commit themselves in protecting our country.”

P.S. 115 plans to hold another bake sale at the school on April 22.

“It’s a very, very selfless act,” Staff Sergeant Nicole Robinson of the Army Reserves said to the students. “You guys are future soldiers for change. You did a very good thing.”

 

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Veterans on the ground after Sandy


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF TEAM RUBICON USA

After reading a Time Magazine article last year on Team Rubicon USA, former United States Army Captain James Eisenberg and his brother Josh, also a former captain, enlisted immediately.

Team Rubicon, a non-profit group that organizes veterans to respond to natural disasters, deals with crises both domestic and international. It was formed after the deadly earthquake ripped through Haiti in 2010. “It brought teams of veterans to disaster situations and capitalized on military veterans’ ability to use teamwork and crisis management skills,” said Eisenberg. “At the same time, it gives veterans returning from recent combat a needed presence in their life.”

While a string of tornadoes touched down in the Midwest, Team Rubicon members swept through the region, cleaning out debris and assisting families who lost their homes. When Hurricane Irene brought floodwaters into New Jersey and New York, Team Rubicon drained basements and removed damaged and dangerous appliances.

When Sandy stormed New York City, Team Rubicon members deployed into the field, tracking damage and reporting their findings back to the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM). Shortly after the storm broke, teams in the Rockaways began rescue and repairs.

“[Veterans] have the skill set that’s well suited to serve in disasters,” said Sergeant Matt Pelak, Team Rubicon’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. “We wanted to take the desire to serve that veterans have and allow them to continue to serve,” said Pelak, who served in the Army in Iraq and is currently a member of the New York National Guard.

House by house, members dug out basements, getting rid of sand and tearing out compromised structural materials. They repurposed a device generally utilized in combat to track terrorist organizations and used it to monitor residents whose homes needed to be repaired, quickening their response to those in need.

Pelak said his group of young, motivated and capable volunteers were some of the first people to respond to the disaster in the Rockaways. After long days on the ground, members retired to a Brooklyn warehouse where they slept in sleeping bags for several weeks. Pelak said it’s veterans’ specific training and resilient work ethic that makes them optimal volunteers after a natural disaster.

“We come in quick with people who can live in the field and are capable of getting things done,” said Pelak.

Over Team Rubicon’s several-week stint in the Rockaways, which ended on Monday, December 3, nearly 200 volunteers joined their efforts. The outfit set up a center in the hard-hit zone, teaming groups of civilian volunteers with a skilled veteran and giving them the tools to go out into the field.

“It’s hard work and veterans want a challenge,” said Pelak. “They’re out of the military. They want to feel like they’re doing something with their lives and like they have a purpose.”

Returning soldiers seek employment at veteran job fair


| RubenMuniz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Ruben Muniz

Veterans recently suited up, got their game face on and sprung into action.

A job fair for military veterans was held at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale on Friday, June 8. Over 90 companies and organizations were in attendance as well as State Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller.

“Veterans have a lot of hurdles to jump over once they return,” Addabbo said.

The job fair comes at a time where many veterans are struggling to find employment. The unemployment rate for all veterans is 7.8 percent, below the national average of 8.2 percent, but nearly 13 percent of returning soldiers find themselves without a job,

“The transition from military to civilian life is challenging,” said Chris Bliss, a U.S. Army veteran who served overseas in Bosnia and Iraq.

Bliss was recruiting at the fair for NYC Business Solutions, a city government initiative offering free services for new small business owners.

“Life goes on after the service. You have to find a job,” said Bliss.

Ellis Gomez, a U.S. Navy veteran originally from Puerto Rico who has several years experience in the Navy as an electrical technician as well as degree in electrical engineering, said it has not been easy to land a job in this economy.

“[The job market] has a lot of ups and downs,” Gomez said, who was one of more than 100 vets at the fair.

U.S. Army vet and Queens resident Louis Goagioa felt that the discipline and humility of veterans gives them an edge in the job market.

“Veterans are much more coachable. They are ready to learn at all times,” said Goagioa. “It’s been more than difficult for veterans [to find a job]. It’s disheartening.” Addabbo stressed the importance of taking initiative to help veterans.

“We do a lot for our veterans, but we can still do more.”

Queens celebrates Memorial Day


| brennison@queenscourier.com

DSC_8357

Thousands of Queens residents lined the streets this weekend to celebrate the troops past and present who have fought to protect the country.  Check out the photos from every parade.

Click here to see all the pictures from the Whitestone Veterans Memorial Day Parade.

Click here to see all the pictures from the Maspeth Memorial Day Parade.

Click here to see all the pictures from the Little Neck Memorial Day Parade.

Click here to see all the pictures from the Laurelton Memorial Day Parade.

Click here to see all the pictures from the Howard Beach Memorial Day Parade.

Click here to see all the pictures from the Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade.

                                                           

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Long Island City experiences new real estate boom 

 

Long Island City is undergoing another real estate boom, buoyed by a new batch of residential towers, hotels and high-profile property deals. Local real estate experts said they believe the momentum — with an influx of waterfront high rises and almost 20 hotels — is due to the once industrial neighborhood’s soaring reputation and an improved economy. Read more: [New York Daily News]  

 

A rookie and veteran, both from Ladder 163 in Queens, set to be honored at FDNY Medal Day

Firefighters at Ladder 163 in Queens have double the reason to celebrate at this year’s FDNY Medal Day ceremony. Two of their members will be cited for going above and beyond the already-dangerous call of duty as a New York City firefighter. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

Residents Flock To Rockaway Beach For Memorial Day Weekend

For early risers, Rockaway Beach can be almost a private playground on the sand and in the water. “You want to beat the crowds because it’s harder to get some good long rides in,” said one resident. “I’m still learning and I have a lot to learn but at least I’ll have some space.” Read more: [NY1]

 

Vet: US wishes I’d die

While Americans spend today at parades and ceremonies honoring service members killed in the line of duty, one Queens veteran believes government bureaucrats can’t wait for him to die. Frank Bari, a 62-year-old lawyer, has been waging an eight-year legal battle with the Veterans Administration over his claims that he was left permanently disabled by the Agent Orange that was sprayed on him while he served with the Coast Guard in Vietnam. Read more: [New York Post]

 

Jackson Heights man inducted into state Veterans Hall of Fame 

A Queens man who coordinated the largest air rescue behind enemy lines in American combat history has been posthumously inducted into the state Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame. George Vujnovich, a retired small business owner from Jackson Heights, was awarded the Bronze Star in 2010, 66 years after the conducting the rescue. He died in late April at the age of 96, shortly after state Sen. Jose Peralta informed him of the induction. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

NYC Honors Military Members Who Gave Their Lives

Events are going on around the city and the country Monday to honor those who died in service to the nation. Mayor Bloomberg paid tribute to the nation’s fallen at a ceremony at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Upper West Side. Read more: [NY1]

The challenges returning veterans face


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the IAVA

When Anthony Pike returned home from his first tour of duty in Baghdad in 2004 nothing was waiting for him.

For years he had worked in community affairs and wrote articles for newspapers while in the Marine Corps. He expected to work in journalism back at home, but instead he couldn’t find work anywhere and ended up taking a job hanging flyers and posters.

Many young returning vets find themselves in a similar situation after serving their country, according to Pike.

“It’s frustrating,” he said, adding that he finally became a membership coordinator last year for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America [IAVA]. “There’s no reason why a combat medic who served in Afghanistan shouldn’t have a certification to be an EMT.”

Pike, 30, of Astoria, said returning vets face the problem where employers don’t hire them, because they don’t have the academic documents to verify their abilities.

“It’s an epidemic,” he said. “It’s part of the reason why military unemployment is higher than civilian unemployment.”

Although he didn’t engage in battle, when Pike came home, he began suffering from nightmares and had problems adjusting, others issues vets have to deal with.

“I try to separate the two,” said Sean McCabe, a vet from Ozone Park. “Instead of waking up every day thinking someone’s trying to get you, coming back home is a relief.” McCabe, 28, said he was never diagnosed, but he faced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], in which sufferers have vivid memories of traumatic experiences. He credits his wife and his daughter with helping him overcome it.

“My wife has been the best,” McCabe said. “I could be in the darkest tunnel and she’ll walk out with me on the other side.”

He said many employers are also afraid to hire workers because they misunderstand PTSD, and the slim working availability makes him want to return to action.

“Not a day goes by where I think I wouldn’t mind being back there,” McCabe said. “I miss my guys and I was good at my job.”

To help vets get jobs and back to society, Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder has drafted two bills.

Bill 9969 would enable veterans to take civil service exams at discounted rates, giving them access to more jobs; Bill 9872 would allow for military service to be deemed eligible credit for a high school diploma.

“In these tough economic times we got to give every person the opportunity to succeed and get back to work, especially the vets who put their lives on the line,” Goldfeder said.

McCabe, who supports Goldfeder’s bills, said there is a “positive shift” and pointed to the work of the Wounded Warriors Project and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, organizations dedicated to helping veterans acclimate to civilian society.

“It’s really come a long way, there is still more to do,” McCabe said. “But they’re making their way.”

Congressmember Bob Turner helps secure military headstone for World War I veteran


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Congressmember Bob Turner.

Private First Class William Henry Hogan no longer lies in an unmarked grave.

Thanks to Hogan’s hero — Congressmember Bob Turner, who took the reins in hunting down lost records of the World War I veteran — the family is now at peace.

“It became an emotional thing,” said grandson Michael Hogan of Glendale. “Here is a World War I veteran buried in an unmarked grave with no recognition. That shouldn’t happen to anybody that serves.”

Before his father, William John — also a war vet — died in 1987, Michael inherited the desire to track down and confirm his grandfather’s military history.

“Right before my dad died, we were talking about how there was no marker on my grandfather’s gravesite in New Hampshire. My dad said, ‘We need to fix that.’”

But the military records were lost, and Michael said his attempts to unearth the documents were unsuccessful.

“I thought this would never come to. I pretty much had written it off,” he said.

First, Michael said he contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs National Personnel Records Center (VA). He said they informed him that a fire in 1973 at a St. Louis storage facility destroyed 80 percent of all records and that they could not find anything on his grandfather.

He then contacted the VA Hospital in the Bronx where his grandfather resided upon his passing. The hospital told him that those records would be in storage “somewhere in New Jersey.”

Finally, Michael called Turner, who dug up the records. Turner then contacted the VA to confirm Michael’s grandfather’s service and secured him a military headstone. Michael discovered his grandfather had in fact served in France around 1917.

“When Congressmember Turner personally broke the news to me, I got all choked up. It was a very emotional moment for me,” Michael said. “It was a moment of happiness, joy and tears because I thought this would not come about — especially when I was told by the National Public Records that they couldn’t find anything. I knew my grandfather would finally be getting recognition.”

The icing on the cake, Michael said, was that his and his father’s birthday had just passed.

“Congressmember Turner gave us both a great birthday gift,” Michael said.

Right around the holidays, Turner presented Michael with a folded American flag from the VA — usually given to families of deceased service members at military funerals — and a certificate of honor for his late grandfather.

“William Hogan deserves proper acknowledgement for his service to our country,” Turner said. “Michael’s commitment to his grandfather is a testament to all veterans that their service will never be forgotten.”

The new and officially acquired military headstone was installed at St. Joseph Cemetery in Bedford, New Hampshire at the end of December — granting the long-time wish of three generations of Hogans.

“I didn’t know my grandfather because he died before I was born,” Michael said. “It brought him to life for me. That was the gratification — it brought him closer to me. Right now, my father and grandfather are both probably looking down at me smiling.”