Tomorrow, November 11, we celebrate Veterans Day, and many of us will hopefully invoke the accolade: thank you for your service. Our military personnel pay a steep price to serve their fellow citizens. The task of being away from loved ones must be excruciatingly difficult. And they are always in possible harm's way, ready to defend us. However we do it, whether through a verbal comment acknowledging their commitment, attending a veteran's memorial ceremony, or a parade, we should always express our gratitude.
There is also one more feature of self-sacrifice on the part of veterans that needs emphasis. They volunteered to serve and protect, but no one forced them and that is possibly the most essential characteristic of their decision to serve. It is extraordinary selflessness, especially at a time when the military concedes facing declining enrollment.
However, there is another way that we can show our respect and a helping hand, yes, an outreach to our soldiers.
I suggest that we, as citizens, support programs and laws that give military personnel a special status while still serving or even after they leave the military and begin adjusting to civilian life and probably a new career.
Through my years as a legislator, I have remained a steadfast supporter of our service personnel. Yes, let's praise them on Veterans Day, but let's keep them in the forefront of our thoughts every day.
That's why I have supported various proposals that help military personnel and veterans.
Several of my efforts include the following:
Housing. Senate Bill No. l564. This bill authorizes the purchase and rehabilitation of homes for homeless veterans. Veterans who have fallen through the cracks still merit our attention and concern. This bill provides a safer, more stable environment, gives them a sense of ownership and removes a visual blight in a neighborhood.
Employment. Senate Bill No. 2764. My bill, VETeach Pilot Program, would facilitate teacher certification for veterans. The education profession is in dire need of qualified, committed teachers and veterans often leave the service appreciating values that include hard work, dedication and creative thinking. Our veterans can serve as a new pipeline to help fill the teachers' gap given a chance. My bill affords them the opportunity.
Business Support. Senate Bill No. 2583. This bill establishes the Veteran-owned Business Contract Financing loan program in New Jersey's Economic Development Authority. It would provide low-interest loans to veteran-owned businesses that have secured a public contract but lack the financial resources necessary to perform the contract. There is no reason we shouldn't provide a boost to veterans who have shown initiative by starting a business and will hopefully add to our economy by creating jobs in the future.
Finally, I and my colleagues in the 7th Legislative District have sponsored an Operation Yellow Ribbon Supply Drive and will continue to do so in the future. Operation Yellow Ribbon is a New Jersey nonprofit that organizes and collects supplies for military personnel in harm's way. Sending care packages is one way to boost the morale of the brave men and women serving overseas in our Armed Forces. That is why we have partnered with Operation Yellow Ribbon to collect the items they need the most. We are eternally grateful for their service and sacrifice, and this collection is just a simple gesture to show that appreciation.
Let's not forget: Remember our veterans on Veterans Day and every day, while ensuring that we give them a nation that they are proud to have so devotedly served.
That's my take, what's yours?