A Column of News & Comment by Senator James L. Seward

On Veterans Day, Americans should pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by our veterans.  Whether combat veterans or Cold War veterans, all who served need to be given proper praise for a job well done.  Our veterans have faced hardships that a non-veteran could never fully understand.  Some have faced death in defending our nation’s freedom.  Veterans possess the core American values of loyalty, duty, respect, honor, selfless service, personal courage, and integrity.

We need to teach our children the true meaning of Veterans Day and the best way to do so is for adults to set a good example.  We must keep the torch of memory alive and never forget the sacrifices of our veterans.  We must get American military history back into the classroom and the home.  The youth of today have to learn about the heroes of yesterday.

Veterans deserve to know that we appreciate their service.  We must let our veterans know that we truly believe America is better because of their sacrifices.  Take the time to thank a veteran, not just on Veterans Day, but any day that you get the chance to meet a veteran.

I have consistently worked to protect the rights and benefits of our brave servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedoms and keep our families safe.  In recent years, I have focused on programs and laws that will help veterans find employment following their service to our country.  Several laws to reduce taxes for veterans and improve healthcare have also been enacted.

I was pleased that the 2019-20 state budget continued to fund a number of important initiatives I have long supported, including Helmets to Hardhats; the New York State Defenders Association Veterans Defense Program; and Military Families Advocacy Project.

The budget again increased funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer-to-Peer Support Program (Vet2Vet).   The Dwyer Program—named for an Iraq War Veteran who lost his life as a result of his struggle with PTSD— started in 2012 in four counties and has continued to expand to now include two dozen counties.  It uses a unique and confidential peer-to-peer counseling model to empower veterans and their families and to create a local network of support for our servicemen and women.

These programs provide valuable services to veterans from mental health counseling to job training and many other needs. Often, veterans require specialized assistance and these initiatives are proven winners when it comes to aiding our servicemen and women.

This is also a great time to read about some of New York’s prominent veterans who are enshrined in the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame.  The hall of fame honors outstanding veterans from the Empire State who have distinguished themselves both in military and civilian life.

This year’s honoree from the 51st Senate District was Sergeant John Every of Bloomville.  John is a decorated combat Marine who displayed superior bravery and courage while serving in the United States Marine from 1948 to 1952.  Enlisting as an eighteen-year-old, Private First Class Every was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines as a mortar gunner.  During the Korean War, Every assumed a pivotal role with the 7th Marines landing at Inchon and fighting to the 38th Parallel.

At home, Every is a dedicated community leader; serving as a Town of Kortright councilman for 25 years, scoutmaster, and county fire marshal.  He was chief of the Bloomville Fire Department and captain of the Emergency Squad, retiring after 55 years of exemplary service.

Every continues to support his fellow veterans holding leadership roles with American Legion Post 1379 and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6292 in Stamford.  Currently, he is president of the Northeast Chapter of the Chosin Few.

You can read more about John and the rest of the hall of fame inductees online, at https://www.nysenate.gov/initiatives/honoring-our-veterans.