I am always awed by the people I meet and stories I hear each year at the various Veteran’s Day celebrations I attend throughout Rockland. As a veteran myself, Veteran’s Day has always had a profoundly personal meaning to me, and that is why I have always championed veteran causes in Rockland County for decades – first as a resident, and later as a Legislator.

One of the ways the Legislature honors our County’s veterans is to provide annual funding to the numerous veteran’s organizations in Rockland. These funds are utilized for “patriotic observances” by each individual organization throughout the year. Some groups hold parades, and others key events, all of which bring together veterans and nonveterans alike to remind ourselves of the incredible service our neighbors have given to this country.

On Sunday, I took part in a ceremony held on the courthouse lawn honoring Robert Young, Sr. Mr. Young was selected as the Rockland County Veteran of the Year not only for his service in the Army and 26 years in the Army Reserves/National Guard, but for the incredible support he has given to Rockland veterans for decades. He has been involved in numerous community organizations that assist seniors and veterans, and for over a decade has taken it upon himself to visit with sick veterans each week.

Over the years since I served during the Korean War period, our nation has gone on to fight wars in different theaters across the globe. In each one, Rockland residents served with distinction and valor.

Unfortunately, as time has progressed, life has become more difficult for our veterans, particularly those of recent wars. Employment and mental health issues are the most predominant challenges facing our returning soldiers. We were reminded of the latter recently, when a veteran of Afghanistan tragically lost his life due to PTSD and the other issues that too many veterans in our nation face.

Veteran’s Day in this era is a reminder not only of past service, but of future needs. Much has been said and written about the needs of veterans; much more is left to be done for them. I am heartened by the incredible work of the Rockland County Veteran’s Service Agency, which assists Rockland’s returning soldiers as they reorient themselves with civilian life. We must all work to ensure a better present – and future – for all of America’s veterans.

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