There are a host of local resources that are available for our American heroes.
The borough is fertile ground for those who wish to connect with their fellow veterans, said one local veterans advocate.
Pat Devine, a longtime member of Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Board and Community Board 10, said community-based veterans groups often serve as a gateway to give ex-servicemen and women the help they need in terms of obtaining benefits and medical services.
These posts, whether they are American Legions, AMVETS, or Veterans of Foreign Wars, do more than many realize, he said.
“A lot of people don’t know where to go, and the posts are the starting points,” said Devine, adding “Veterans posts are there as a social outlet…and there is a structure in each of the posts in the area where a veteran can come to a meeting and be directed to the right resources.”
Just in CB 10’s service area, said Devine, there are nine posts and veterans organizations:
•Theodore Korony American Legion Post #253 in Throggs Neck
•Silver Beach American Legion Post #1371
•Throggs Neck Memorial American Legion Post #1456
•Lawrence F. Keane American Legion Post #1498 in Pelham Bay
•Co-op City American Legion Post #1871
•Samuel Young American Legion Post #620 in Waterbury-LaSalle
•Vietnam Veterans of America Post in Co-op City
•Leonard Hawkins Post #156 on City Island
•AMVETS Post #38 in Throggs Neck
There are many throughout the borough, though the greatest concentration is the eastern part of the borough, said Devine.
There are a total of 18 American Legion posts in the borough, with roughly 2,000 members, and 5,000 when auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion units are included.
Community boards are also likely to become important focal points for distribution of services to veterans, said Devine.
Veteran subcommittees at local community boards are being created to help get the disseminate information to veterans that they can use, he said.
“That is something that is going to be a citywide initiative through the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs,” said Devine. “The idea is to use the planning board to be the contact for veterans benefits.”
On the borough level, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has a Veterans Advisory Board that meets monthly. Its chairman is Joseph Mondello.
The James J. Peters Veterans Administration hospital is the borough’s VA facility, and is located in Kingsbridge.
It is there for medical treatment for the body and mind.
“It is a good system, if you want to go through it,” he said of all the services. “And that is the problem: if you are not hooked in or take the initiative, you can fall through the cracks.”
Devine had strong words of support for the work that Senator Jeff Klein does on behalf of veterans.
Among the programs and events that Senator Klein offers, according to his office, is Bronx H.I.R.E., a joint venture with the Bronx Chamber of Commerce that helps veterans connect with good paying, local jobs.
The next event for this program is Wednesday, November 18 at noon at Maestro’s Caterers in Morris Park.
Senator Klein also hosts an annual Valentines for Vets celebration at the James J. Peters VA and a pre-parade breakfast for the Throggs Neck Veterans Parade.
He has inducted several veterans into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame, including most recently Analiza Benjamin, a Captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve and North Bronx Healthcare Network senior associate director for nursing administration.