FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 11, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG HONORS BRAVERY AND SACRIFICES OF NEW YORK VETERANS AND SERVICE MEMBERS
Mayor Announces New Job Training Program for Veterans and Launches the Second Phase of the Supporting our Troops Care Package Drive
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today hosted a breakfast at Gracie Mansion in honor of the bravery and sacrifices of veterans and members of the Armed Services. The Mayor welcomed the crew members of the newly commissioned U.S. Navy ship, the USS New York, which was commissioned at Pier 88 on November 7 in New York harbor. At the breakfast, Mayor Bloomberg announced a new Department of Small Business Services job training program for veterans. Starting in December, SBS will offer specialized training in healthcare jobs for veterans through the City's Workforce1 Centers throughout the five boroughs. The Mayor also announced the beginning of the second collection of the Supporting our Troops initiative, which aims to send care packages to thousands of New York City residents serving overseas in the United States Armed Forces. The second phase of the initiative features donation boxes at select public schools to encourage students, parents and faculty members to donate requested items and to volunteer in packaging the goods, with the assistance of American Recreational Military Services (A.R.M.S.) and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). The Mayor was joined at the breakfast by New York City veterans and service members including Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshal US Army Sergeant Major Kenneth O. Preston, US Navy Commander and Captain of USS New York Curtis Jones, US Air Force Reserve Chaplain and Captain Rabbi Tracy Kaplowitz, President of the United War Veterans Council of New York and Veteran's Day Parade organizer Vincent McGowen, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Paul Rieckhoff, Mayor's Office of Veterans' Affairs Commissioner Roger Newman, Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford, Homeless Services Commissioner Robert Hess, and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
"Today, we celebrate the generations of brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to defending our country and our freedoms," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We owe them more than we can ever say. That's why we're working to give all veterans better access to financial assistance, career training, housing, and medical and rehabilitation services. And while we never can fully express our gratitude, we are determined to continue honoring those who have stood up for us and answered the call of duty by building a city and nation they can be proud of."
"Veteran's Day recognizes the invaluable contributions of our fellow citizens who volunteer to risk their lives in defense our liberties," said Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Roger Newman. "But our gratitude is not just limited to Veterans Day. New Yorkers can thank current and former service members through small acts such as volunteering their time at a donation or letter drive, volunteering to work with senior veterans or offering a simple thank you to the veterans in your lives whose work continues to affect us every day."
Mayor Bloomberg announced today that this December, the Department of Small Business Services will launch specialized training services in the healthcare sector for veterans. This sector-based job training and placement program aims to place veterans in the healthcare profession as certified nurse's aides, medical assistants, emergency medical technicians and counselors and/or social workers. The training programs will be funded in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. By the end of the year, Workforce1 Centers around the City will be able to assist veterans interested in applying for the training program.
Mayor Bloomberg also announced that during the second phase of the Supporting Our Troops initiative, collection bins have been placed in select public schools across the five boroughs and at Gracie Mansion where New Yorkers and visitors can donate items most requested by service men and women. The items will be placed in care packages that will be sorted and boxed by volunteers from NYC Service, the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs, American Recreational Military Services and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America from November 19 - December 4, 2009 at Veteran's Memorial Hall. The first phase of the Supporting our Troops initiative was held this summer. Close to 290 volunteers helped to package and send 300 unit care packages and 1500 individual care packages to New York City troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. New Yorkers who would like to participate in the Supporting our Troops initiative can visit www.nyc.gov for more information.
At this morning's breakfast, Mayor Bloomberg welcomed US Navy Commander Curtis Jones and the crew members of the newly commissioned USS New York. The USS NEW YORK (LPD-21) arrived in New York City on Monday, November 2, 2009 and was formally commissioned as a United States Navy warship by the Secretary of the Navy Raymond Mabus at the Intrepid's Pier 86 on Manhattan's West Side on Saturday, November 7, 2009. Seven and a half tons of steel from the World Trade Center was melted down and used to construct the bow of the ship. A tribute to the heroes of 9/11, this 25,000-ton amphibious surface ship is one of the most technologically advanced vessels ever constructed and will be used to transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies. The USS New York and its crew will leave New York City for its new homeport in Norfolk, Virginia on Thursday, November 12, 2009. In November 2007, Mayor Bloomberg visited the USS New York while it was still under construction in New Orleans, and in its mast he placed a special coin struck in honor of NYPD Detective and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant James McNaughton, who was killed in Iraq in August 2005.
The Mayor also announced that this year, Michael Handy who served as Executive Director of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs from 1993 until his death in 2003, was posthumously named Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, an honorary title for his tireless efforts on behalf of New York City veterans.
Currently, there are approximately 240,000 veterans and approximately 6,000 reservists, active duty and National Guard members living in the five boroughs. Since September 11, 2001, 88 New York City residents have lost their lives in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Following the breakfast, the Mayor marched in this year's Veterans Day Parade, which honors the New York City uniformed personnel and public servants who have served in the United States military, as well as the veterans community that provides assistance to the veterans of New York. Mayor Bloomberg also attended the Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony at the Eternal Light Monument in Madison Square Park, which commemorated the historic signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918 that officially ended World War I. Mayor Bloomberg placed a wreath at the base of the monument, which was followed by a 21-Gun salute and the playing of Taps. The ceremony honored veterans who gave their lives in support of the nation.
Stu Loeser / Evelyn Erskine (212) 788-2958