On Thursday, Nov. 11, we celebrate Veterans Day, and it is one of the most appropriate times to offer a heartfelt thank you to our veterans for their service and sacrifice. I confess that when I hear someone else say "thank you for your service" to a current or former member of our military, a touch of pride and gratitude wells up.
And as appropriate as this Veterans Day is, I want to share a message that extends beyond a typical one-day celebratory moment.
After the parades, honors, speeches, and receptions are over, our current and discharged military continue to live their lives. And our thanks to them and those coming after them should not end only with warm words.
That is why, during my tenure, I have stood unflinchingly behind our veterans and sought to create deserved opportunities for them. I used the word "deserved" because these efforts are not gifts. They earned these accommodations. And it is these programs that can help veterans long after Veterans Day 2021 has passed.
To put it simply, I believe veterans deserve something special for their service, and that's why I have worked on the following legislation:
- Senate Bill 59 Provides certain employment protections for National Guard members employed in New Jersey.
- Senate Bill 60 Establishes the "Military Pro Bono Program" to provide pro bono legal representation to active-duty service members and veterans of military.
- Senate Bill 61 Concerns professional licensing and application fees for spouses or dependents of active-duty members of the United States Armed Forces.
- Senate Bill 453 Exempts disabled veterans from certain fees at state parks and forests.
- Senate Bill 717 Provides gross income tax deduction to certain surviving spouses of veterans.
- Senate Bill 961 Sa (1R) Establishes annual grant program to recognize institutions of higher education that offer a comprehensive array of veteran programs and services.*
- Senate Bill 1746 Authorizes grants to purchase and rehabilitate abandoned homes for homeless veterans.
- Senate Bill 2736 Provides gross income tax credit to certain totally and permanently disabled veterans for rent constituting property taxes.
- Senate Bill 3338 Requires Dept. of Military and Veteran Affairs create Bereavement Counseling Program for family members and volunteer caregivers of certain veterans.
- Senate Bill 3339 Requires Office of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman to submit an annual report to veterans' facility oversight boards.
- Senate Resolution 96 Honors life of Tuskegee Airman James A. Cotten.
- Senate Resolution 109 Recognizes service of New Jersey Army and Air National Guard members who were mobilized to Washington, D.C., after attack on United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Don't look upon these veterans-related bills as a laundry list of effort but rather what they truly are: a range of legislation that continues to honor and assist long after our annual Veterans Day celebrations are over.
In addition to our public policy efforts, our public service efforts must match that commitment to our veterans. I am guided by the idea that service is the rent we pay for living on this earth. That is why I hold monthly “Serve with Senator Singleton” events to bring together people of different backgrounds, ages, and perspectives for a common purpose – to be of service to their community.
In honor of Veterans Day, I am partnering with Veterans of Foreign War Post #3020 for our November community service event where myself and a team of volunteers will donate a few hours of our time to help this organization. And next month, we’ll be partnering with Wreaths Across America to honor fallen soldiers at Beverly National Cemetery for the holiday season. I humbly ask that you consider donating a wreath, as donations are needed. Each wreath is $15 and can be purchased here:
When I think of our veterans, three words come to mind: "respect" and "thank you" for what you have always done: keeping us safe.
That's my take, what's yours?