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Acacia Network Celebrates Vets

Bronx Times

Acacia Network, a chain of Bronx-based health care providers, counts 34 veterans among is 8,000 clients and several more among its staff. And on Veterans Day, Acacia’s management held a ceremony to honor every single one.

Acacia’s commemoration was held on Friday, November 10 at its Casa Promesa, a long-term care facility for people with HIV/AIDS on Clay Avenue and East 175th Street. Active members of the armed services presented Acacia’s veteran clients with medals, and First Sergeant Dennis Kea, a retired Army officer who runs Roosevelt High School’s junior ROTC program delivered the keynote address. The program concluded with the hanging of a memorial wreath in Casa Promesa’s lobby.

Client Robert Garcia spent three years in the Army and was one of the veterans honored at the ceremony.

“It was great,” he said. “It was uplifting, and it really gives encouragement.”

The ceremony was overseen by James Dike, a Vietnam veteran, licensed social worker and Acacia’s director of outreach for the past 18 years.

“In terms of the response and patriotism (from clients and attendees), I see they’ve really embraced our veterans, both staff and clients.”

The ceremony is an annual event, and Dike said an important one was well.

“As a veteran myself, and being in my field of social work, I felt there was a need to recognize the veterans we service.”

Guillermo Noreaga, Acacia’s director of social services said the annual recognition was useful for boosting clients’ morale.

“This is always a good event,” he said. “It’s very important for ego development.”

In his keynote speech, Kea talked about the history of the Veteran’s Day holiday, traced its history back to Armistice Day, which celebrated the end of World War I.

He brought members of the Roosevelt Junior ROTC to help pay tribute to Acacia’s veterans. Kea also had a message for the civilians who attended.

“My request to you,” said Kea. “Is when you see a service man or woman, say ‘thank you.’”

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at wweisbrod@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.

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