Menendez Meets with NJ Veterans to Discuss Key Issues Affecting the Community

Menendez Meets with NJ Veterans to Discuss Key Issues Affecting the Community

Health care, benefits, jobs, veteran-owned small business, housing among issues raised during roundtable discussion

 

NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today met with local veterans and leaders of veteran service organizations (VSO) and non-profits serving veterans to discuss the issues affecting the community in New Jersey.  High on their list were health care, benefits, jobs, veteran-owned small business, housing and veteran transition from service to civilian life.
 
“Our nation owes you more than we could ever repay.  Our veterans have made unimaginable sacrifices in defense of our freedom, but as I frequently say, showing our gratitude for your service is about more than national holidays and parades.  It’s about providing our veterans with the opportunities and benefits they’ve earned and need to succeed,” Sen. Menendez told the group.  “In recent years, we’ve passed major pieces of legislation that I’ve been proud to support, but laws are only as effective as their implementation. And unfortunately, we have our fair share of challenges on that front.  I’m also always looking for new ideas about how we can better honor the service of veterans like you.  That’s what today’s roundtable is all about—getting your input and your feedback.”
 
Menendez Meets with NJ Veterans to Discuss Key Issues Affecting the Community
 
New Jersey is home to 355,766 veterans or nearly six percent of the state’s population, according to 2017 statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the last year the data was available.   
 
Among those attending today’s roundtable discussion were: Col. Jeff Cantor, founder and CEO of the N.J. State Veterans Chamber of Commerce; Francisco Cortes, president of N.J. State Veterans Chamber of Commerce; Alexa Modero, founder and vice president of Backpack for Life; Capt. Jean O’Brien, co-chair of the VA Community Veterans Engagement Board overseeing the state’s northern 14 counties; Cheryl “Kit” Turner, founder and president of New Hope Village 4 Veterans, Inc.; Kellie Donovan, executive vice president of Soldier On; James Fanous, founder COO of G.I. Go Fund; Bill Thomson, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national council member; Robert Newell, American Legion state commander; Fred Smith, N.J. Disabled American Veterans state commander; David Pearson, assistant director of Catholic Charities; Bradley Christensen, Newark Liason Office of the N.J. Dept. of Military and Veteran Affairs VSO; State Sen. Vin Gopal, Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee chairTina Mikes, field rep of Soldier on; Alex Manis, CFO of GI Go Fund; Lucy Del Gaudio, veterans advocate.
Sen. Menendez has a long, established history fighting for veterans and programs that support them.
 
The senator voted for the VA Mission Act of 2018 that created the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Care Program, which allowing veterans to seek care in their local community when it is in their best interest, and continues to monitor the law’s implementation to ensure it achieves its stated goal of expanding veterans’ access to health care.  He has also cosponsored the Deborah Sampson Act to address gender disparities at the VA and expand access to women’s health; the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act to reduce suicide rates and improve mental wellness; and the Burn Pits Accountability Act to evaluate exposure of U.S. servicemembers and veterans to open burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals.
 
Sen. Menendez was an original cosponsor and helped pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to expand access for thousands of Vietnam veterans serving on bays, harbors and territorial seas to treatment for Agent Orange exposure.  He has cosponsored the Military Widow's Tax Elimination Act to ensure surviving spouses receive full benefits under the Survivor Benefit Plan, and Retired Pay Restoration Act to allow more than 625,000 veterans with service-connected disabilities to receive both military retired pay and full disability compensation.
 
The senator cosponsored and helped pass the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act that expanded G.I. Bill benefits, and authored a provision to establish a pilot program to develop a mobile app for the Transition Assistance Program to help returning vets find jobs.  He signed appropriation letters requesting robust funding for VA homeless programs, and supported a first-of-its-kind partnership between the American Legion and the City of Hoboken to build a new residential units for homeless vets, which opened earlier this year.
 
 
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