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]
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.”
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.”
In January 2009, President Barack Obama took office with 142,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. Today, there are zero. Our combat mission in Iraq has ended and the Iraqi people now have full responsibility for the security of their nation. Obama has kept his word and brought the war in Iraq to a responsible end.
Iraq still faces challenges in the coming years, but as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated, “Iraq is equipped to deal with them.” Obama remains committed to Iraq’s long-term security and to the success of our service members when they return home.
While the war has ended, we should pay tribute to the service of our military men and women – especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice or were injured serving their nation. We should also honor the sacrifices and commitments made by their families here at home.
Now, as thousands of New Yorkers are returning home from Iraq, we must once again reaffirm our commitment and responsibility to support service members and their families by providing quality health-care, access to education, training to re-enter the civilian work force, job placement services and encouraging companies to hire our troops and put them back to work.
The promise to end the war in Iraq was not a political promise – it was and is a promise made by our Commander-in-Chief to protect our nation. Today we should be proud of our troops and our president, and stand united in moving forward as one nation.
Congressmember Bob Turner and other officials recently hosted a Veterans’ Small Business Forum at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The event, which took place on Saturday, December 10, provided information to veterans about creating and expanding small businesses.
“I am honored to have been able to co-host this event,” Turner said. “Events like this will help veterans gain the knowledge and learn what tools and programs are available to help them create and grow their businesses.”
The forum, hosted by 11 New York representatives, featured a panel discussion with business experts from national and local small business development organizations, government agencies and universities. It provided insights for veterans on small-business opportunities, business expansion and management, as well as financing options such as the Surety Bonding and the Patriot Loan Programs.
“Our veterans are some of the most highly-skilled, well-trained individuals in the world. It is in the best interest of our nation and our economy to help them transfer their discipline, adaptability, and drive into the business world,” Turner, a veteran himself, continued.
Putting America’s veterans back to work has been a top priority for Turner, he explained. He recently voted yes on HR 2433: The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. The bill includes provisions expanding education and training, improving the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), facilitating seamless transition, and translating military skills and training for veterans.
“Our returning soldiers have the skills necessary to start and grow a business. It is our job to ensure they are aware of the programs that are available to assist them. These men and women have been the leaders of our military, now they will be the leaders of our economy,” Turner said.
For more information about programs available to help veterans with employment and training you can visit http://www.dol.gov/vets/ and http://va.gov/.
The third annual Queens Veterans Day Parade drew 800 local veterans and their supporters to Middle Village this past weekend to honor those who served in the Vietnam War.
Veterans from the Vietnam Veterans of America, Queens Chapter 32 and the North Shore Marine Corps League were joined by several community leaders and organizations on Sunday, November 6 for a parade and ceremony at Christ the King High School.
During the only Veterans Day parade in Queens, the community cheered on their Vietnam War vets, some of whom recall the criticism at home for serving in the then very unpopular war.
“It was great to be appreciated, but look how long it took,” said Pastor Toro, Jr., of Ridgewood, who was honored as one of the Grand Marshalls and is the president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Queens Chapter 32. “I am standing up here for all the Vietnam War veterans. We have their backs.”
The ceremony capped the afternoon parade that had various groups march 10 blocks from Metropolitan Avenue and 79th Place to the high school.
School groups such as the Sunnyside Drum Corp. and the Sacred Heart Twirlers and many more supporters joined the Queens veteran groups as they marched. Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley and Peter Vallone Jr. were also on hand to salute the veterans at the parade.
David Hills, a Marine from Forest Hills, stood on the sidelines with his wife, cheering on the classic cars, bag pipe music and his comrades who marched in the parade.
“It’s the biggest parade I’ve ever seen. It’s very nice,” said Hills, who is a member of the North Shore Marine Corps. As he watched, a committee member thanked him for his service with a handshake.
“It’s terrific,” he said of the acknowledgment. “We really appreciate it when they say that.”
The annual Queens Veterans Day Parade started three years ago out of a need from the community to salute their troops closer to home.
The parade was sponsored by the Catholic War Veterans Post 1172, Middle Village Chamber of Commerce and the Middle Village Property Owners and Residents Association.