By County Executive Ed Day
Memorial Day is without question the most solemn holiday of the year, paying tribute to those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
When the Civil War ended in 1865, it claimed more lives than any conflict in American
History and the tragedy soon morphed into tributes for the fallen soldiers with towns and cities decorating graves and saying prayers which continues to this very day.
As a military dad, I know the stakes are high for the men and women who chose to serve. Unfortunately, with less than 1% of the population in the military and the total number of veterans shrinking every day as we lose more of our greatest generation of World War II veterans, the general population doesn’t see this patriotism with their own eyes or rarely knows someone who exemplifies it.
For as long as we all shall live, it is our responsibility and our obligation to remember and honor these fallen Americans because without them we wouldn’t have the freedoms we live, breathe, and enjoy. In addition to truly remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, we must honor them day in and day out by always fighting to ensure their fellow brothers and sisters have resources to make their eventual return from service an easy transition which includes making sure they have everything from good health care to solid employment.
We are continuing our efforts to work with other agencies and organizations to provide our veterans with whatever they need. Our Veterans Services Agency and Department of Mental Health work collaboratively with BRIDGES in West Nyack to operate the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support program. This program provides Veteran-to-Veteran support for veterans who understand the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.
Our Veterans Services Agency also stands ready with their highly trained and professional staff to assist veterans with finding, applying for, receiving, and maintaining veteran’s benefits. We know this can be a confusing and frustrating process and the VSA works to maximize the receipt of veterans benefits while eliminating frustrations.
Just a few months ago VSA Director Susan Branam helped a veteran more quadruple his monthly financial assistance, to offset the cost of a home health aide. This is just one story of many exemplifying how our VSA goes above and beyond for veterans making sure they get the care and services they rightfully deserve.
We are always here for our veterans but must not, and will not, forget those who wrote a blank check to Uncle Sam for an amount up to and including their life. This Memorial Day we honor and mourn the more than 1.3 million members of the military who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Let us never forget that while Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer for many, it is so only because of the sacrifice of those who fought and died preserving our freedoms.