Opinion: Middlesex County’s Commitment to our Veterans

riosby Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios

It is now the middle of summer, long past Memorial Day, beyond Independence Day and months before Veterans’ day. People are enjoying their vacations or looking toward Labor Day, and may not be thinking of our nation’s veterans. But do we really need a holiday, or any particular reason, to honor those who have fought for our country?

When we consider these brave men and women, we must remember that they have served and sometimes died to protect all of us. The most we can do to repay their sacrifices is to make sure that life in the US remains worth fighting for and protect them in return. This is why the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and I continue to focus on programs that provide for veterans, especially those who are homeless or disadvantaged.

Recently, the board participated in the groundbreaking of a new housing project in Edison. Kilmer Homes includes amenities like laundry facilities, appliances, and access to education. Here, we and our partners hope to create a safe and productive community for homeless veterans, families who may be in danger of becoming homeless, and all those needing a place of their own.

We are also very proud of the county’s veterans service program, which works with federal, state, local and non-profit groups to provide different forms of aid to our veterans.

The program was the sole recipient of the 2014 Meritorious Service Award from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, an honor we are truly thankful for. Seeing the program in action, however, is even more gratifying. 18 months ago, the program branched out to form the Veterans Housing Assistance Program (VHAP).

So far, this program, the only one of its kind in the State, has helped over 65 veterans and their families with housing assistance, employment, and follow-up case management. The knowledge that our initiatives are working and creating a better life for veterans is what keeps the programs going. It is my hope that they will continue to grow, and that our educational outreach, along with our resident’s support will create a safe environment for America’s heroes, and truly make our County a better place to be.

May God bless our veterans and may God bless the United States of America.

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