By Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, 11th District
Veterans Day started out as a commemoration of the end of World War I, which was supposed to be “the war to end all wars.” Sadly, a century later, violent conflicts continue every day around the world as we face ever-changing enemies who constantly evolve their ways to threaten our safety, peace and security.
The recent 10th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is a reminder that we will always need brave military men and women who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedoms we enjoy, whether it’s the right to choose our representatives, as we did this week, or to stand on the street in protest, or simply to spend a peaceful day with our family.
Everything we enjoy as Americans comes to us thanks to our brave veterans.
Every day of the year, and especially on Veterans Day, we must remember that.
For the past four years, I have had the privilege of representing Monmouth County in the Legislature, including Fort Monmouth, until its unfortunate closure.
There are an estimated 484,000 veterans in New Jersey, and I have confidence that each one of them has the full support of New Jersey government.
If there’s one thing we can agree on without partisan dispute, it’s that the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is beyond reproach in how it helps our state’s veterans return to civilian life, whether it’s connecting them with their federal benefits, helping them find a job or making sure their physical and mental health are secure.
Our state operates three state-of-the-art nursing homes that serve nearly 1,000 veterans and a network of Veterans Service offices to help with employment, education, housing, burial and health issues.
It maintains three major war memorials that will ensure that the memories of our fallen heroes survive for eternity.
As a human services professional, I am proud to see New Jersey become a national model for preventing suicides related to military experience.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has found it could forestall problems by meeting with soldiers before and after their deployment.
New Jersey’s hotline, 1-866-VETS-NJ4, provides peer counseling by those who have served in war for current military personnel, veterans and their families.
The purpose of this innovative, proactive approach is to make sure extraordinarily brave men and women don’t take their own lives.
It has worked so well that the program is now replicated at Fort Hood in Texas, the Army’s largest stateside community.
Some want to expand it further to make it a nationwide service.
We intend to repay the debt we owe to everyone who has put on a uniform and the families who stay behind.
New Jersey is second to none in the way we support our veterans.
As our world has become more turbulent, in terms of armed conflict, terrorism and natural emergencies here at home, there is an increased need for our military, such as the National Guard, which is always involved in emergency management when disaster strikes.
As we navigate these difficult economic times, when there are fewer jobs for everyone, it will become increasingly difficult to make sure our veterans continue to have the access to jobs, health care and support that they and their families deserve for sacrificing so much for our freedoms.
As we honor veterans today and as we continue to hope and pray for the end of war, we cannot lose sight of the price they paid, the sacrifices they made and the debt we owe them.
Please take time out of your busy day to thank a veteran for his or her service — after all, he or she took time out of his or her life to protect you and yours.
God bless America.
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