May 7th NYC Vets Newsletter- Special Memorial Day Issue

May 18, 2007 | Things to Do

This Newsletter Includes the Following Articles:
· VA Veterans Pride Initiative
· VA Home Loan Update
· VA Lists Top Reasons Troops Seek Care
· GAO: New VA Benefits System Moving Slowly
· Postal Employee Back Pay
· VA Rejects Proposed Fixes for Case Backlogs
· President Orders Single Disability Rating System
· AMVETS: Washington is Worst for Vet Claims
· 2007 Cold War Medal Act
· DFAS Returns to Web Home
· Staten Island Project Home Front
· Manhattan Vet Center Needs Your Help
· Veterans of Modern Warfare
· Tamburri Post 917 Summer Picnic Raffle
· Memorial Day (In Flanders Fields)
· * Memorial Day Events within NYC *
· My Final Thoughts

VA VETERANS PRIDE INITIATIVE: Wearing earned medals reflects the deep pride veterans have in their military service and reminds all American citizens of the sacrifices our veterans have made. Veterans are again being encouraged to wear their wear their medals or miniature replicas on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day. Information about the Veterans Pride initiative is available on the VA Web site at: http://www.va.gov/opa/veteranspride. Veterans can also obtain information on how to replace lost or mislaid medals, how to confirm the decorations to which they are entitled, the manner in which they should be displayed, and the precedence by service of how they should be worn. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 27 Apr 07]
VA HOME LOAN UPDATE: Since its implementation in 2004, many veterans have misunderstood the VA Home Loan Increased Entitlement. The Veterans Benefits Act of 2004 increased VA home loan eligibility. Veterans who qualify for the home loan benefit may obtain a no down payment home loan of up to $417,000. Qualified veterans purchasing a home in the high cost areas of Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands may obtain a no down payment home loan of up to $625,500. There are five easy steps to a VA loan:
1. Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE): http://www.homeloans.va.gov/
2. Decide on a home and sign a purchase agreement.
3. Order an appraisal from VA (this is done by the lender). Ordering an appraisal can be done via the Internet using TAS (The Appraisal System) at: http://vip.vba.va.gov/
4. Apply to a mortgage lender for the loan.
5. Close the loan and move in.
[Source: American Legion Weekly Update 10 Apr 07]
VA LIST TOP REASONS TROOPS SEEK CARE: Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans no longer in the military are most likely to seek care for musculoskeletal diseases, mental health disorders, and symptoms without an immediate known cause, such as rashes or dizziness, new statistics show.
The numbers, provided to the Government Accountability Office by the Department of Veterans Affairs, include 229,015 service members who served in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003 who have left the military and had a medical appointment at a VA facility. A total of 636,306 service members who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have left the military.
The numbers show that 54 percent of those who served in combat and left the military were reserve or National Guard troops, but they represented 51 percent of those who sought care. Sixty-six percent of those who visited a VA facility served in the Army, 12 percent served in the Air Force, 12 percent were Marines and 10 percent were in the Navy.
The numbers also show that more veterans requested treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in specific geographic areas. For example, 1,026 veterans asked for help for PTSD symptoms in upstate New York compared to 49 in Grand Junction, Colo. Those numbers are important because even as the VA struggles to get mental health care to rural areas, its resources are stressed in other regions. A total of 39,243 veterans asked for treatment for PTSD.
The statistics also show that 88 percent of those seeking treatment were male, 97 percent were outpatients and 92 percent were enlisted. Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars represented 4 percent of the total number of vets using VA health care, which is more than 5 million.
The top reasons for seeking treatment were 37 percent for mental disorders, 43 percent for musculoskeletal injuries — usually back or joint problems — and 34 percent for symptoms without an immediate known cause. [Source: Military Times, 20 April 2007]
GAO: NEW VA BENEFITS SYSTEM MOVING SLOWLY: After a decade of work and multiple reviews, the Veterans Benefits Administration appears to be moving forward on replacing its disability compensation payment computer system. However, only 50,000 of 3 million veterans have found their way onto the new system.
“After more than 10 years of effort, including the recent management, organizational and process improvements, VBA has developed critical functionalities needed to process and pay certain original compensation claims using the replacement system,” states the Government Accountability Office in there report. “But it remains far from completing the project.”
The VBA decided in 1996 to replace the system that makes sure veterans get their monthly retirement paychecks because the same “antiquated” system had been in use for 40 years. Originally, the organization expected to complete the project by 1998 but that didn’t happen because it had a poor software development team, a lack of structure and no project manager, according to the report, titled: “Progress made in long-term effort to replace benefits payment system, but challenges persist.” At one point, the VBA asked the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute to determine if the project was worth completing at all. The institute determined it was, but advised that VBA needed to go through the process slowly and manage it better.
The new report states the VBA is doing some things well, such as creating a new governance system for senior management. That change came after a previous report said the VBA needed a project manager for the system, as well as better software developers, which they now have. But they’re not tracking and reporting in-house costs while they work on the project.
Rather than pop all the records over at once, the VBA is entering new veterans into the new computer system, or Veterans Service Network, while monitoring the system to make sure there are no delays in payment. However, auditors also stated that the VBA needs to create ways to measure customer satisfaction to make sure payments reach veterans on time. The new system encompasses five software applications, and the GAO said VA is hardly ready to handle all of the more than 3 million veterans eligible to receive benefits. The VBA agreed to follow the GAO’s recommendations.
“VA is eager to move to a new automated system that will streamline its benefit claims processing function in a manner that is accurate and timely to serve our nation’s veterans,” wrote R. James Nicholson, secretary of Veterans Affairs, in a response to the report. To view the entire report, go to: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07614.pdf. [Source: Navy Times, 28 April 2007]
POSTAL EMPLOYEE BACK PAY: As many as 100,000 National Guard and Reserve members who worked at the U.S. Postal Service between 1980 and 2000 could be eligible for thousands of dollars in compensation because they were improperly charged for military leave, under a new policy. The Merit Systems Protection Board decision greatly expands the scope of a larger back-pay issue that ultimately could cost the government a billion dollars, said Matthew Tully, a New York attorney who is representing affected employees pro bono. Previous rulings have held that between 150,000 and 200,000 Guard and Reserve members who worked for executive ranch agencies between 1980 and 2000 are eligible for back pay because of an erroneous leave policy.
In a March 7th 2007 ruling, Miller v. U.S. Postal Service, MSPB said Reservists who worked at the Postal Service also are covered because that agency used the same policy. Tully said, “Next to the Defense Department, the Postal Service is the largest single employer of Guard and Reserve members. Complying with the decision could cost the Postal Service upwards of $200 million. They’re probably going to have to jack up the price of stamps 3 or 4 cents just to pay for the outcome of this decision.”
The Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Postal Service could appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, although that court in 2003 issued the landmark decision that employees were entitled to back pay because federal agencies improperly charged Reservists on military leave for days they were not scheduled to work at their federal jobs.
The policy, which was changed in 2000, had charged reservists for every calendar day they were on military leave, instead of charging them for the actual workdays they missed. Reservists who used their military leave because they were charged for weekends or other days they weren’t scheduled to work had to use their own vacation days or take leave without pay to complete their annual training. [Source: Military Times article, Apr 07]
VA REJECTS PROPOSED FIXES FOR CASE BACKLOGS: Four No’s was the response from the VA to four bills pending before Congress to reduce the 600,000-case backlog of veterans’ benefits claims.
That means “no” to HR 67, sponsored by Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., that would allocate $25 million a year — about $1 for each living veteran — to improve veterans’ outreach programs, and would give grants to states to pay for education and training programs for state and local veterans’ agencies.
This also means “no” to HR 1435, sponsored by Rep. Joe Baca, D-Cal., which orders a three-year, five-state test in which benefits claims that are not complete would be referred to a county or municipal office for help developing the claim
And it means double “no” to two unusual bills that would radically change the veterans’ claims process. One, HR 1444, would provide a $500 monthly stipend to any veteran who appeals a benefits decision and it takes more than 180 days for a final decision. Sponsored by Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., the proposal would allow a veteran whose claim is denied to keep the accumulated payments. A veteran whose claim is approved for a benefit of more than $500 a month would receive the difference, said Hall, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs disability assistance and memorial affairs subcommittee where the four bills are pending.
The second unusual bill is HR 1490, sponsored by Reps. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Fred Upton, R-Mich., which would automatically grant disability benefits claims filed by combat veterans as long as they met minimal requirements, with payments set at the median level for the disability.
On average, it takes the VA 177 days to process an original claim and 657 days to process an appeal, Upton said. “This delay deprives many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan of much-needed income at a time in their lives when they are not only learning to cope with a disability but also transitioning into civilian life,” Upton said. Ronald Augment, the VA’s deputy undersecretary for benefits, said the VA opposes the four bills, even though the agency shares many of the bills’ goals.
Hall’s bill to provide a $500 stipend for delayed benefits “would create an incentive to submit claims of dubious merit,” Augment said. And, for veterans whose claims are questionable, it creates a reason for the veterans to delay supplying information and evidence so they can get more money, Augment said. “A claimant’s cooperation with VA can reduce the time it takes to resolve a remand claim. Inversely, a claimant’s lack of cooperation can delay the resolution of a claim.”
The Donnelly-Upton bill presents a similar problem, Augment said. “The VA is concerned that a presumption of service connection creates an incentive to file invalid claims, especially when benefits would be paid without appropriate claim development.” Even if the VA audited 25 percent of all file claims, “an unscrupulous claimant would still have excellent odds of obtaining and retaining benefits,” Augment said.
The VA opposes the bill giving grants for veterans’ outreach programs because it doesn’t give enough flexibility to reach veterans in small, rural communities, and because the VA is expanding its existing outreach program, he said. Paying county and local veterans agencies to help process claims, the idea in HR 1435, would take money that ought to be spend by the federal government and apply it to local programs while raising questions about who, ultimately, is responsible for the claim, he said.
The VA was not alone in opposing the bills. The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Paralyzed Veterans of America in their testimony before the disability assistance subcommittee also noted some of the same issues. [Source: Military Times, 17 April 07]
PRESIDENT ORDERS SINGLE DISABILITY RATING SYSTEM: President Bush has ordered the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to carry out key recommendations from an interagency task force, including developing a common disability rating system that would make it easier for injured combat veterans to receive benefits.
In a statement, President Bush said he has given Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson 45 days to report back on how the task force recommendations can be implemented.
The report also recommends the screening of all Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans for possible traumatic brain injuries, better coordination between the VA and Defense Department for patients being transferred between the agencies and better treatment options for veterans in remote areas far from government facilities. The task force also recommended improvements in separation counseling, especially for National Guard and reserve members, and expanded programs to help veterans find post-service employment.
Formed in the wake of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal over the treatment of outpatient combat veterans, the interagency group was charged with finding low or no-cost ways to improve federal programs that would not require congressional action. Two other government commissions are looking at the same problems — without the cost and jurisdictional restrictions — and Congress is working on its own ideas, including putting more money into the 2007 emergency supplemental appropriations bill to improve health care and disability claims processing for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
On March 29, 2007 The House of Representatives passed a comprehensive bill to improve care and benefits and try to smooth bumps in the transition to veterans’ status, but the bill has yet to be taken up by the Senate. Aides said instead of passing a separate bill, Senate leaders are planning to include their ideas for improving the treatment of combat veterans in the 2008 defense authorization bill, which the Senate Armed Services Committee will start writing later this month.
Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, the former chairman and now senior Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said tackling the disability ratings system is a daunting but important issue. [Source: Air Force Times, 25 April 2007]
AMVETS: WASHINGTON IS WORST FOR VET CLAIMS: The worst city in which to file a veterans’ benefits claim is Washington, where 63 percent of claims take longer than six months to resolve, according to a major VSO.
AmVets, a 60-year-old group that helps veterans with about 24,000 claims a year, says a survey has shown veterans in Fargo, N.D.; Boise, Idaho; and Providence, R.I., have the fastest service, with only 6 percent to 7 percent of claims taking longer than six months to resolve.
Washington may be the worst, but other major cities also are slow. In Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Montgomery, Ala., AmVets says about 40 percent of the claims take longer than six months to process. One reason for the differences is that the number of people assigned to process claims in some VA regions does not match the claims caseloads in those areas. For example, VA workers in Hartford, Conn., handle 92 cases a year, while workers in Augusta, Maine, handle 57 cases a year, AmVets officials said.
The Bush administration has proposed hiring 450 additional claims processors to try to reduce the backlog, but AmVets officials have warned that more people will not solve the problem and, unless the caseloads are more evenly spread, will not eliminate delays for some people. AmVets is pushing the idea of allowing electronic claims filing and other efforts to use technology to help process claims. [Source: Navy Times, 20 April 2007]
2007 COLD WAR MEDAL ACT: On April 12th, 2007 Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY); Susan M. Collins (R-ME) and Representative Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ) announced they are re-introducing legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives to establish a military service medal to honor Cold War Veterans.
The U.S. Senators announced that the Cold War Medal Act of 2007 would establish a military service medal to honor all Cold War Veterans who fought for our freedom and served their nation admirably during the Cold War.

Senate bill S.1097 would amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who served honorably during the Cold War era.

The Cold War Veterans Association (CWVA) asks all Veterans and supporters to contact their Senators and Representatives to co-sponsor and support the inclusion and passage of The Cold War Medal Act in the 2008 NDAA.

For more information about the Cold War Veterans Association, contact Sean Eagan at: Sean.Eagan@Gmail.com or visit their website at: www.ColdWarVeterans.com. [Source: I-Newswire, 13 April 07]
DFAS RETURNS TO WEB HOME: The Defense Finance and Accounting Service are returning to its original World Wide Web location on May 1. The DFAS Web site will shift to: www.dfas.mil from its current location within the Department of Defense domain at: www.dod.mil/dfas.
DFAS officials believe the change will make the Web site easier to find for its customers and partners. The information available on the site, which includes topics such as military and civilian pay, retiree and annuitant pay, and vendor pay, will remain current and relevant for the site’s visitors. Visitors who have book-marked the old site address at: www.dod.mil/dfas to access the DFAS site should update their Web browser bookmarks with the new address.
Anyone using the old address will be redirected to the new address automatically. This redirect service will be available for the foreseeable future. This change affects the DFAS public Web site only. Other DFAS-sponsored online applications, such as myPay, remain unaffected and can be accessed at their current online address. [Source: Air Force Retiree News, 27 April 2007]
STATEN ISLAND PROJECT HOME FRONT: Staten Island Project Home Front is a non-profit organization that sends packages EVERY SIX WEEKS to military troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. We need your help as we are currently looking for Donations and Volunteers to help. Staten Island Project Home Front is Tax Deductible 501(c)(3) so any monetary donations are tax-deductible. Please send any donations to: Staten Island Project Home Front, Inc., 471 Bement Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10310. For more information on donations or to volunteer, please contact: Deborah Parsons (718) 273-2624, Loretta Giamboi (718) 356-7371, Michele Fortunato (718) 605-3716 or Donna Briggs (718) 981-3189. [Source: Bobby Tamburri]
MANHATTAN VET CENTER NEEDS YOUR HELP: The Manhattan Vet Center, located at 32 Broadway, 2nd Floor is asking for help in purchasing Metro-cards for those veterans that use the center. Please help by either donating the money to purchase the Metro-cards, or donating the Metro-cards themselves. If you can help the Vet Center and/or would like more information, please contact Jack Maloney at (212) 742-9591 or e-mail him at: Jack.Maloney@med.va.gov. [Source: Manhattan Vet Center]
VETERANS OF MODERN WARFARE: Veterans of Modern Warfare is a new veteran’s service organization dedicated to serving our nation’s most recent war veterans. Supported by the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), membership to VMW is open to current active duty service members, National Guard, Reserve and Coast Guard service members as well as any veteran of the Armed Forces who has served since August 2, 1990.
Currently, Veterans of Modern Warfare is in the process of forming chapters across the United States and they are currently forming a chapter in New York City. For more information on Veterans of Modern Warfare, visit there website at: www.modernveterans.com/vmw.html. For more information about joining Veterans of Modern Warfare in the New York City area, please contact Mr. Mike Porcaro at (718) 830-0037.
TAMBURRI POST 917 SUMMER PICNIC RAFFLE: Dear John R. Tamburri Jr. Memorial Post 917 members, family and friends. For $5 dollars a ticket, $25 dollars for a book of 5 – the GRAND PRIZE is a 42” Flat Screen Plasma Television. If you are interested in participating in this raffle, please e-mail Bobby Tamburri at: VetScoop@aol.com. Please let him know how many tickets you would like and how he can get them to you. The drawing will take place on August 18, 2007 at the Marine Corps League, 46 Ontario Ave, Staten Island, NY. The winner does not need to be present. [Source: Bobby Tamburri]
MEMORIAL DAY: Memorial Day, perhaps more than any other holiday was born of human necessity. Deep inside all of us lays a fundamental desire to make sense of life and our place in it and the world. What we have been given, what we will do with it and what we will pass to the next generation is all part of an unfolding history, a continuum that links one soul to another.
In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
This was the poem written by World War I Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada ‘s First Brigade Artillery. It expressed McCrae’s grief over the “row on row” of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders’ battlefields, located in a region of western Belgium and northern France. The poem presented a striking image of the bright red flowers blooming among the rows of white crosses and became a rallying cry to all who fought in the First World War. The first printed version of it reportedly was in December 1915, in the British magazine Punch.
McCrae’s poem had a huge impact on two women, Anna E. Guerin of France and Georgia native Moina Michael. Both worked hard to initiate the sale of artificial poppies to help orphans and others left destitute by the war. By the time Guerin established the first sale in the U.S., in 1920 with the help of The American Legion, the poppy was well known in the allied countries — America, Britain, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — as the “Flower of Remembrance.” Proceeds from that first sale went to the American and French Children’s League.
Guerin had difficulty with the distribution of the poppies in early 1922 and sought out Michael for help. Michael had started a smaller-scaled Poppy Day during a YMCA conference she was attending in New York and wanted to use the poppies as a symbol of remembrance of the war. Guerin, called the “Poppy Lady of France” in her homeland, and Michael, later dubbed “The Poppy Princess” by the Georgia legislature, went to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for help. Following its first nationwide distribution of poppies in 1922, the VFW adopted the poppy as its official memorial flower.
However, a shortage of poppies from French manufacturers led to the idea of using unemployed and disabled veterans to produce the artificial flowers. In 1924, a poppy factory was built in Pittsburgh, Pa., providing a reliable source of poppies and a practical means of assistance to veterans. Today, veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities and veteran’s homes help assemble the poppies, which are distributed by veteran’s service organizations throughout the country.
Donations received in return for these artificial poppies have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers and orphans over the years. The poppy itself continues to serve as a perpetual tribute to those who have given their lives for the nation’s freedom. [Source: VA]

MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS: The following is a list of events that are taking place throughout the five boroughs (with some outside NYC) during the month of May (and some for June). This list is not all inclusive and other events may be taking place throughout the city. Any other events will be posted separately. Please pass on to others. (This list was put together by Joe Bello)
May 4, 2007 – MOPH DINNER/DANCE: The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Colon-Rivera Memorial Chapter 3-NYC cordially invites you to attend: “Salute, United We Stand” 12th Annual Dinner-Dance honoring Veterans and Civic Leaders who make a Difference. This event will take place on Friday, May 4, 2007 from 6 PM to 1 AM at the Holiday Inn Embassy Ballroom, 440 West 57th Street in New York City. For ticket and Journal Information please contact Tony Rivera Jr., Event Chairman at: Phone/Fax: (201) 585-8026 or e-mail him at: captaintony@nj.rr.com.
May 4, 2007 – Sgt. Eddie Ryan Fundraiser. Your presence is requested in helping to sell out the main ballroom of the Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle, NY to attend a celebration and fundraiser for Sgt. Eddie Ryan, who was wounded in action. This event will take place from 4 PM to 12 AM. ALL proceeds go to help pay for the much needed therapy Eddie is receiving but the government isn’t paying for. The owner of the Greentree Country Club (www.greentreeclub.com) is donating this night and is not making a dime off of this. If you would like more information about this event, contact Bill at: medbill@hvc.rr.com. For more information about Eddie, please visit: www.helpeddieryan.com.
May 5, 2007 – Staten Island Veterans will dedicate “Vietnam Veterans Plaza.” This event will take place at 10 AM at the corner of Martling’s Avenue and Manor Road. This location is adjacent to Staten Island’s Vietnam Memorial. All veterans, family and friends are invited to attend.
May 10, 2007 – New School University presents: IRAQ and the Lessons of Vietnam. This event will take place at 7 PM at the Swayduck Auditorium, 65 Fifth Avenue. Admission is $5 dollars. A conversation with preeminent historians of the Vietnam War, Marilyn B. Young and Lloyd C. Gardner, editors of Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam, as they draw out the connections and the many lessons that went unlearned by U.S. foreign policy makers. Jan Barry, founder and first president of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), also joins the panel, and Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, moderates. Sponsored by the New Press and the International Affairs program at The New School.
May 11, 2007 – The 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines Alumni Association is having its Golf Outing 2007 at Cherry Creek Woods, Riverhead, NY. If you’re interested in volunteering or in Sponsoring, visit: www.marines2-25alumni.org or contact john.farley@marines2-25alumni.org.
May 12, 2007 – The Catholic War Veterans (CWV) Post 1934 will dedicate a Veterans Memorial at Pouch Camp, 1544 Manor Road, Staten Island. This event will take place at 10 AM. All are invited to attend.
May 17, 2007 – The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VISN3) invites all Women Veterans to participate in the 16th Annual Women Veteran’s Spring Health Conference. This conference will take place from 9 AM to 2 PM and will be held at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center, 800 Poly Campus, Brooklyn, NY, 2nd Floor Assembly Room. The conference will feature several workshops and panel discussions. Seating is limited and Pre-registration is required. Any interested Women Veteran’s can call either Kathleen Mertz at: (718) 836-6600, ext. 6793 or Karen Faber at (212) 951-3314.
May 18, 2007 – Please join Ilona Meagher, author of: Moving a Nation to Care: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and America’s Returning Troops for a conversation and book signing at the NYC-Greenwich Village Barnes & Noble, located at 396 Avenue of the Americas at 8th Street, Tel: (212) 674-8780. Time is TBA.
May 19, 2007 – Bronx Veteran’s and Family Day. Please join Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. and other Bronx elected officials as they salute our veterans, past and present as well as the families of our fallen hero’s with this Veterans and Family Day. This event will run from 10 AM to 2 PM at Pelham Bay Park, Bronx (Behind the Veterans Memorial). There will be Resource tables for veterans as well as fun activities for the whole family. There will also be a BBQ, Music and entertainment and games, as well as a chess and dominoes tournament. This is a public event.
May 19, 2007 – Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Queens Chapter 32 invite all Veterans, Spouses, or eligible dependents of any conflict to its 16th Annual Queens Veterans Information Day (VID) at the Lost Battalion Hall, 93-29 Queens Blvd, Rego Park, NY (Located North side of Queens Blvd, between 62nd Ave and 62nd Drive.) This event will run from 10 AM until 3 PM and will provide veterans and their eligible dependents with free assistance with filing compensation and pension claims with the VA. Also, information will be available on VA benefits, health care, document retrieval and job opportunities. It is preferred, though not required for veterans to bring their discharge papers. For more information call (718) 830-0037.
May 19, 2007 – The 13th Annual Great Kills Armed Forces Day Parade (Staten Island) will step off promptly at 11 AM at the corner of Durant and Cleveland Avenues in Great Kills, with the reviewing stand near the Great Kills train station. Formation for the parade will start at 10 AM. Please call (718) 317-6220 if you want more information or your group would like to participate in the parade.
May 19, 2007 – Please join in the Street-naming ceremony at 12 PM honoring Captain John J. McKenna, USMC who was killed in Fallujah, Iraq. The ceremony will take place on the corner of Greenwood Avenue and E. Second Street, Brooklyn. The USMC, VFW, Catholic War Vets, NYS Trooper Honor Guards, the Boy and Girl Scouts, and the NYPD Pipe and Drum Band will be in attendance as they enshrine this Brooklyn patriot’s name on Capt. John J. McKenna Way.
May 20, 2007 – Harlem’s legendary 369th Veterans Association will hold its 40th Annual Veteran’s Parade at 1 PM sharp in Manhattan. The parade will start at 61st Street and Fifth Avenue and continue to 86th Street and 3rd Avenue. The reviewing stand will be at 69th and 5th Avenue. For more information, please call (212) 281-3308.
May 20, 2007 – All are invited to attend the St. Alban’s Memorial Day Program sponsored by the St. Albans VAVS Executive Committee and presented by the USO Troupe of Metropolitan New York. This event will take place at 2 PM at the St. Albans Primary and Extended Care Center, Linden Blvd and 179th Street, St. Albans, NY. See a live Rifle Firing Squad and hear our Bugle Taps. There will be free refreshments served after the show.
May 23 – May 30, 2007 – Fleet Week. The 20th Anniversary of Fleet Week officially begins on May 23rd with the Parade of Ships up the Narrows, passing under the Verrazano Bridge. Several ships will be docking in Staten Island for the week. Please check www.fleetweek.navy.mil for updated information.
May 24 – May 30, 2007 – Fleet Week Public Ship Tours will be held each day at the Stapleton Homeport in Staten Island and in NYC. Times are TBD. Please check www.fleetweek.navy.mil for updated information.
May 24, 2007 – The Manhattan VA Medical Center, located on 23rd Street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan is having a Memorial Day Observance Ceremony in the Atrium at 11 AM. Light Refreshments will follow. All are invited to attend.
May 25, 2007 – The New York Council, Navy League is sponsoring a Commanding Officers Reception at the New York Athletic Club at 6 PM. All the Commanding Officers of all the ships as well as the Senior Officers of the Northeast Region will be present. The cost is $50 dollars, which will be collected at the New York Athletic Club. If you are interested in attending or would like more information, please contact Ralph Slane at (917) 301-3666 or e-mail him at: INTREP1660@aol.com.
May 26 – 27, 2007 – The US Air Force Thunderbirds will perform at the 2007 Bethpage Federal Credit Union New York Air Show at Jones Beach, NY this Memorial Day Weekend. Also this year, the US Navy’s newest multi-role fighter, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet will perform, as well as the US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt and, making its first appearance at this years show, the B-1B Lancer bomber. The Thunderbirds will stage from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, New York. Although the following dates have been approved, they are subject to change. Show starts at 10 AM and ends at 3 PM. For more information concerning this event, please visit: http://www.jonesbeachairshow.com/. [Source: BFCU]
May 27, 2007 – Join the Lexington Council, #293 (Knights of Columbus) and St. Stanislaus Memorial Post #1771 (American Legion) for the 7th Annual Greenpoint Memorial Parade (Brooklyn) honoring: All Military Veterans, living and deceased, the 90th Anniversary of the Start of WWI, the 20th Anniversary of Fleet Week and Cpl. Jason Dunham, USMC of New York – Awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor Posthumously for actions in Iraq. The Parade starts at 9 AM from Driggs Avenue to Java Street (former St. Alphonsus School Hall). 9:45 AM – Memorial Mass at Polish-Slavic Center, 176 Java Street. 10:45 AM – (Java Street and Manhattan Ave) Parade continues from the Polish-Slavic Center to Nassau Avenue to McGuinness Boulevard. Memorial service, Flag Raising and Taps will take place at Father Studzinski Square (Driggs Avenue and McGuinness Blvd. For more information, visit: http://www.greenpointveteransparade.org/.
May 27, 2007 – The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day will be having a Memorial Day Parade (Queens) starting at 2 PM (Rain or Shine). The route will begin at 26th Avenue on College Point Boulevard in College Point. If you are interested in participating, please call Fred Mazzarello at (718) 939-3393.
May 27, 2007 – Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade (Queens). This parade starts at American Legion Continental Post 1424, 107-15 Metropolitan Avenue. The step off is at 12 PM. The parade will head down Metropolitan Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard for about 1.25 miles. It will end at Remsen Park on Woodhaven Boulevard. For more information contact: (718) 835-1587.
May 27, 2007 – The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade (Queens). This parade will begin at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park at 1 PM on Grand Avenue and 72nd Street. The route will take the parade down Grand Avenue until a right on 61st Street. The parade will then make a right onto 56th Road, where it will merge into Clinton Avenue and continue back to Grand Avenue. The parade will end at Grand Street and 69th Lane. For more information, please contact Marlene Sommella at (718) 672-8333.
May 27, 2007 – Veterans for Peace (VFP), VVAW, IVAW and the ALB, along with Military Families Speak Out and 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows are having a Memorial Day Ceremony at the NYC Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 55 Water Street (Manhattan) at 12 PM. The ceremony will be followed by a procession through Battery Park, with flowers to the waterfront in honor of those who have died in war. For more information, please call (212) 726-0557.
May 27, 2007 – PBS’s National Memorial Day Concert remembers the sacrifices of America’s Veterans. The 2006 National Memorial Day Concert will be broadcast live on PBS from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol starting at 8:00 PM ET (check local listings).
The National Memorial Day Concert features uplifting musical performances, documentary footage and dramatic readings that honor all Americans who have served or made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is the nation’s premier Memorial event, using the powerful medium of television to reach out to millions and it provides an outlet for loved ones to remember, grieve and begin to heal. For more information about the concert, please visit: http://www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert/.
May 28, 2007 – The Col. Edward O. Gourdin, VFW Post 5298 will be having its annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony at 9 AM in Laurelton, Queens, NY. The parade will start at the intersection of Francis Lewis Blvd. and Merrick Blvd. The parade will march down Merrick Blvd. to 225th Street; turn left at 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue where there will be a Memorial Day ceremony with local elected officials and others. For more information, please call (718) 525-7655.
May 28, 2007 – The Soldier’s & Sailor’s Memorial Association will host a Memorial Day Ceremony at 10:30 AM at the Soldier’s & Sailor’s Monument located on Riverside Drive at West 89th Street (Manhattan). For more information, call Dr. George Chall at (212) 580-0745 or email: ssmassn@msn.com.
May 28, 2007 – Kings County Memorial Day Parade. Brooklyn’s parade is in its 140th year – the longest continuous running parade in the nation. It kicks off at 11 AM on 3rd Avenue and 87th Street, runs to Marine Avenue and then up to 4th Avenue and over to John Paul Jones Park for a ceremony to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. This year’s theme is: “We will always remember.” Former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Goldin is the Grand Marshall. The ceremony in John Paul Jones Park includes a wreath laying, flag raising, 21-gun salute and Taps. For more information, call (917) 873-1508.
May 28, 2007 – The Glendale Memorial Day Parade (Queens) will be start at 11 AM from the corner of Cooper and Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood. The parade marches to Cypress and Myrtle Avenue in Glendale. Pat Toro is this year’s Grand Marshall. For more information, contact Julius Landherr at (718) 366-0121.
May 28, 2007 – USIVO Memorial Day Parade (Staten Island). The 88th Annual USIVO Memorial Day parade steps off promptly at 11:30 AM at the corner of Hart Boulevard and Forest Avenue near Silver Lake. The reviewing stand is near the intersection of Forest Avenue Shopper’s Town and Hamlin Street. Please call Fred Black – (718) 987-3826 if your group would like to participate in the parade.
May 28, 2007 – The Pelham Memorial Day Parade will be held at 11:30 AM, Monday, May 29, 2005 in Pelham, Bronx. The parade begins on the esplanade, proceeds along Wolfs Lane and finishes on Fifth Avenue near Veterans Memorial Park where a ceremony will take place. This year’s parade honors Vietnam Veterans. Call Ken Kraetzer at (914) 450-9554 for more information.
May 28, 2007 – American Legion Inwood Post #581’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade (Manhattan) will step off on Broadway and Dyckman Street in the Inwood section of Northern Manhattan at 12 PM. A wreath laying ceremony will take place at 12:45 PM at the flagpole in Inwood Hill Park on Seaman Avenue and Isham Street. Prior to the parade, at 9:30 AM, the annual memorial mass will take place at Good Shepherd Parish, proceeded by a wreath laying ceremony at the 9/11 cross and memorial, which is located on the corner of Broadway and Isham Street. Your presence would not only be a tribute to our fallen service members, but to their families and all veterans. For more information, please contact Thomas Hoare at tchoare@msn.com or (212) 567-1501.
May 28, 2007 – Far Rockaway American Legion Memorial Day Parade (Queens). This parade kicks off at 12 PM at Beach 129th Street and Rockaway Beach Blvd. The parade ends at Beach 94th Street. Contact the Daniel M. O’Connell American Legion Post # 272.
May 28, 2007 – The City Island Memorial Day Parade (Bronx) will be held at 2 PM and runs all the way down to the end of the Island. For more information, please call (718) 885-0639 on either Monday or Thursday.
May 28, 2007 – Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade (Queens). The Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade will start at Jayson & Northern Blvd. (Great Neck) at 2 PM and proceed west to St. Anastasia’s schoolyard until 4 PM. The route is approximately 1.5 miles long. The closing ceremony will take place at 4:30 PM in St. Anastasia’s schoolyard and free hot dogs and cold beverages will also be served at St. Anastasia’s schoolyard. The 24th Annual Memorial Day Interfaith Service will take place around 10 AM followed by the wreath laying ceremony at the flag and memorial at the corner of Northern Blvd. and Alameda Avenue. This year’s theme is “Stars and Stripes.” For more information visit: www.memorialdayparade.org.
May 28, 2007 – The New York Philharmonic has announced the details of its free Memorial Day concert, presented annually for the last 16 years at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. For the third straight year, Xian Zhang will conduct this concert. The program includes Dvorak’s Carnival Overture and Brahms Symphony No. 1. The doors will open at 7 PM and the concert begins at 8 PM. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is located at Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street. For more information, please call the Cathedral’s Visitors’ Center at (212) 316-7540.
May 31, 2007 – NYC Council Veterans Committee Hearing. The City Council Veterans Committee, chaired by CM Hiram Monserrate will be holding a hearing. The topic of this hearing will be Intro. 463: “A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to allowing applicants who have completed six years of honorable part-time service in the United States military reserves to qualify for appointment to the New York City Police Department.” This hearing will take place at 1 PM in the City Council chamber. (Manhattan). All are invited to attend and testify. NOTE: This hearing may be cancelled or changed – Read Final Thoughts.)
June 14, 2007 – The Army’s 232nd birthday (Flag Day).
June 14, 2007 – The USS THE SULLIVANS (DDG-68) will be docking at the Staten Island Homeport, 355 Front Street to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her commissioning there. Ship’s tours will be conducted June 15 and June 16. If you would like more information regarding this event, please contact Lee Covino at (718) 816-2034.
June 18, 2007 – The Manhattan Vet Center presents the 24th Annual “Hidden Client Conference.” This year’s title is: “PTSD Re-Deployed: Our Continued Commitment.” This event will take place at the Hunter College School of Social Work (129 East 79th Street -Lexington & 79th Street) and runs from 9 AM until 4 PM. Registration starts at 8:30 AM and the Registration Fee is: $20 NASW Members, $25 Non-Members, $10 for Students, Retired and those who are Unemployed (Unemployed Veterans FREE). This year there are two Keynote speakers: Trish Wood, author of “What Was Asked of Us” – an oral history of the Iraq War and Miklos F. Losonczy, MD, PhD., Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences for the Veterans Administration-NJ Healthcare System. The workshops will take place after the keynote speeches and in the afternoon. For more information, contact Jack Maloney at (212) 742-9591.
June 24, 2007 – HOPE & POSSIBILITY 5-mile race. Calling all New York City Veterans! Join us and walk, run or just cheer as members of our Achilles FREEDOM TEAM of Wounded Vets join us for this race. We will also have members from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical, and Balboa Naval Hospital along with wounded veterans that are already out of the hospital, and either retired, or back to active duty! This will be an awesome event! After the race we will have an awards ceremony near the Start/Finish line at the Disability Awareness Pavilion at approximately 11 AM. For more information regarding this event, including registration, please visit: http://achillestrackclub.org/hopeandpossibility/index_NY.html
June 24, 2007 – Rolling Thunder Inc., Chapter 1 NY invites all to its “8th Annual Veterans Recognition Day in the Park.” This event honors all those who served our country and remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those still missing – POW’s and MIA’s. The event will take place from 11 AM to 11 PM, Rain or Shine at the Asser Levy Park Bandshell, Surf Avenue & West 5th Street in Brooklyn, NY. This location is near the NY Aquarium and is easily accessible via Public Transportation. There will be a Motorcycle Run departing at 10 AM (with NYPD escort) from Staten Island to Asser Levy Park. Registration starts at 8:30 AM in Eltingville Transit Center Park and Ride, 87 Wainwright Ave, Staten Island. For more information, contact Lee at (718) 447-4484 or e-mail: LTCAnderson12@aol.com.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: As always, I hope that you are all doing well. As you can see from this newsletter, this is once again going to be an extremely busy month. It took me long enough getting these events listed together and with all the events this month there is something for everyone! I am sure that it will be strange having a Fleet Week without the USS Intrepid. As I stated last May, if you post these events elsewhere (online, newspaper, etc.) please give me credit for putting it together.
As I continue to say all the time, veterans must continue to stick together and fight to help each other and those who will return home looking for services and help. I am sad to announce that Harold Gates, the lead lawyer for the City Council’s Veterans Committee was fired by Speaker Christine Quinn this past week. Needless to say, this is a blow to the community as Harold was an individual who truly believed in helping veterans and we now have no idea what will happen next. We veterans cannot afford to lose our allies in our fight to get the Mayor and Speaker to do the right thing for veterans. So thank you Harold for the gift of friendship and for all the great work you have done for the veterans committee. For those of you who didn’t know, Harold had been the lead lawyer for the committee for over a year and not only was he was a great person to work with, he is a good man who should have been shown better. If you wish to write to Mr. Gates, you can e-mail him at: HGATES2000@hotmail.com. I wish Harold nothing but fair winds and following seas. As for the City Council hearing on May 31, 2007 I am assuming it is still on unless told otherwise. I will update as I receive information.
Lastly, be aware that sometime this month the Mayor is expected to unveil his plan on housing homeless veterans. So be on the lookout for that. So on that note, please pass this newsletter on to others and if you have any comments, complaints, suggestions, need some information or would like for me to put something in the newsletter, please e-mail me at: bjoe7@hotmail.com. Also, PLEASE – if you haven’t already; join the yahoo group that I created. I promise that you will not get bombarded with e-mail. The site is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NYMetroVets/. Next month will be the last newsletter until September (Summer Break). So take care, stay safe and I look forward to seeing many of you this month…
Joseph Bello, NYC Veterans Advocate