The Bronx veteran community is getting ready to wave their flags and pay tribute to vets across the borough.
The 35th annual Bronx Veteran’s Parade in Throggs Neck kicks off at noon on Sunday, November 10, at Lafayette and East Tremont avenues and marches via Randall Avenue to Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park.
This year’s parade—sponsored by the Veterans Day Parade Committee of Greater NY—commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the American Legion, which was founded after WWI and the 244th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
The streets will be lined with brand new American flags as well as service flags representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guards and POW (Prisoner of War).
The grand marshal for the parade is local Roberto Oviedo, who served as a legal support specialist in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993 and conducted security operations during the Gulf War in 1991-92.
Following an honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps in December 1993, Oviedo pursued a career in law and worked for several law firms. He is currently an NYPD detective working for the Community Affairs Bureau at the 44th Precinct, serving as a liaison between the community and NYPD.
Oviedo also serves as the first vice commander of the Throggs Neck American Legion Post 1456.
“It’s truly an honor. When I graduated high school, my mother gave me two options: join the military or get out and get a job,” said Oviedo, who grew up in the Patterson Houses on Morris Avenue. “I chose to become a U.S. Marine Corp.”
As the grand marshal, Oviedo is looking to shine awareness on veteran and NYPD suicides, as he marches down the parade route distributing suicide prevention hotline bracelets.
“We all know that 22 veterans [of all eras] a day commit suicide. We want to let these veterans know that there is help and there is someone to talk too, and there have also been 10 NYPD officers who have committed suicide,” Oviedo said.
To help veterans coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Oviedo and his wife established the organization, Creating Pets and Vets.
“We saw that providing service dogs to those [qualified] vets that have PTSD or even Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - will help them with both mental and physical illness,” said Oviedo, who has a service dog that was honored.
Oviedo also spearheaded the creation of the first Bigs in Blue program (Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America) at P.S. 218 in the south Bronx and expanded across the city. The organization is a one-to-one mentoring program connecting youth with police in communities throughout the nation.
According to Ron Watson, retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps who served 22 years on active duty, there will be 10 honorary grand marshals – veterans that have passed away within the past year.
Additionally, the parade will include the NYPD, color guards, the NYPD Band, NYPD Marine Corps Association, the NYPD Explorers, bands, schools, and the American Legion Units.
Following the parade, community members and businesses that made a donation to the flag fundraising effort will be recognized.