Rep. Pascrell Hosts 14th Annual Veterans Resource Fair
HALEDON — U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08), a veteran of the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, was joined today by special guest Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Joseph Bucco of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, veterans from throughout northern New Jersey and various service providers at the Haledon Boys and Girls Club for the Congressman’s 14th Annual Veterans Resource Fair.
Various government agencies were on hand including the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, along with veteran support groups including suicide prevention professionals from the Lyons Veterans Administration. Representatives from William Paterson University's Small Business Development Center were in attendance to assist veterans interested in starting their own business. VA Medical staff were also on hand to take blood pressure readings and give flu shots free of charge.
“When I first arrived in Washington, I made it a priority to enact legislation that would require the VA to inform all veterans of the benefits they earned,” stated Pascrell, who authored the Veterans Right to Know Act which was signed into law in 2001. "My concern about veterans’ benefits is not new. During my fifteen years in Congress, I have fought to ensure that veterans in Northern New Jersey and throughout the nation receive the benefits they were promised and deserve. I am honored to be joined by Lieutenant Colonel Bucco and all of the program participants who all share one common goal - to provide better services for those who have served us in the United Sates military."
In his remarks, LTC Bucco stressed the importance of the three priorities U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki established upon being sworn into office, including the elimination of veterans homelessness by 2015, eliminating the VA claims backlog and to complete those claims at a 95% accuracy rate.
"I commend Congressman Pascrell for his commitment to our veterans and making sure they receive the services they earned through their bravery," said LTC Bucco. "There are always veterans that I run into that don't know what services are available to them, so the sooner we can get them into the system the sooner we can start to take care of them with VA healthcare and any other benefits they are entitled to."
Tony Vancheri, the President of the Paterson Veterans Council who served as a combat medic in the U.S. Army, explained the importance of today's event for veterans returning from combat.
"Many veterans come home from combat looking for jobs, housing and trying to get their lives in place, so events like this today are necessary for them get the information they need," said Vancheri.
Among the services provided to veterans at today's event include the Passaic County Veteran ID Program. Passaic County Clerk Kristin Corrado explained that the county issues identifications to all veterans within Passaic County which entitles them to discounts at businesses ranging from large retailers to local restaurants, service providers and even programs at William Paterson University.
"It's a way for us to thank them for their service to our country, and I think they appreciate the fact that we recognize them," said Corrado, whose office issued over 3,000 identifications since July 2011. "With over 20,000 veterans in Passaic County alone, it's a win-win for the veterans and the businesses."
Rep. Pascrell fought the red tape and bureaucracy for over three years to bring the first veterans’ outpatient clinic to Passaic County. This desperately needed center was built on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson and opened in August of 2004. This facility provides services ranging from general healthcare to nutrition counseling, mental health services, and social work to thousands of veterans annually.