City Opens Veterans Transition Center

The city has opened a new veterans center to provide services to Newarkers who have served in Afghanistan, Iraq as well as other conflicts throughout the world.  Check out the full press release after the jump.

The G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center of Newark is a non-profit office, which provides and coordinates a vast array of services and support to veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Currently operating from a centralized location in Newark City Hall, The G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center provides veterans with support for VA enrollment, mental wellness, securing employment, education advancement, and financial support, among other things. The center’s opening is unique, as it is the first-ever partnership between a municipality and a non-governmental organization (NGO) to support veterans and address their issues in the nation’s history.

MAYOR BOOKER OPENS G.I. GO VETERANS TRANSITION CENTER; FIRST-EVER PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP TO CARE FOR VETERANS

City Hall-based center will help returning vets get jobs, benefits, and health care; program aimed at veterans back from Afghanistan, Iraq, and all wars

Newark, NJ – November 17, 2008 – Mayor Cory A. Booker, New Jersey Deputy Commissioner of Military and Veterans Affairs Col. (Ret.) Stephen Abel, G.I. Go Foundation Executive Director Jack Fanous, and representatives of Newark veterans’ organizations formally opened the G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center of Newark at a City Hall Rotunda ceremony today.

The G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center of Newark is a non-profit office, which provides and coordinates a vast array of services and support to veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Currently operating from a centralized location in Newark City Hall, The G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center provides veterans with support for VA enrollment, mental wellness, securing employment, education advancement, and financial support, among other things. The center’s opening is unique, as it is the first-ever partnership between a municipality and a non-governmental organization (NGO) to support veterans and address their issues in the nation’s history.

“What we achieve here with this partnership will do more than honor our veterans for their service – it will manifest into action the words of Abraham Lincoln more than 100 years ago, in his Second Inaugural Address: ‘Let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.’ It speaks to who and what we are as a society,” Mayor Booker said.

Deputy Commissioner Abel said, “We are living in different times from previous wars. We face significant challenges in our cities, state, and nation, because of the economy, in trying to care for our veterans. We have a forward-looking mayor in Newark, who, instead of cutting programs, is working with the community to better serve our veterans. I commend the Mayor, the Municipal Council, and the G.I. Go Fund for its work.”

Paul Rieckhoff, the Director and Founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said, “2009 is a critical time for the 1.8 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are returning home. We must turn the page on the shameful way the Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home. The G.I. Go program is a great program and I’m grateful that the City of Newark is leading the way and setting the pace that other cities across the nation should follow.”

The center offers a variety of programs to veterans, including a Mental Health Wellness Program for veterans and families, an Employment Assistance Program, an Education Advancement Program, and assistance with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ VA Navigator Program, so veterans can receive all the benefits to which they are entitled.

“When veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, they face a challenging transition from military to civilian life. They need to know that there are people back home who care for them and are doing all that is in their power to make their transition as smooth as possible. The City of Newark is lucky to have a Mayor who is willing to lead, not just by words, but by action. Caring for our veterans is not only our obligation and our duty, but it is our pleasure,” Mr. Fanous said.

The G.I. Go Fund has already scored successes in its work to help veterans, Mr. Fanous added. These include pushing for state legislation passed earlier this year that bars employers and municipalities from laying off employees who are serving on active duty under Reserve or Guard commitments. The organization also serves on Senator Robert Menendez’s Veterans Outreach Committee. In addition, Senators Menendez and Frank Lautenberg routinely refer many veterans who are in need of assistance to the G.I. Go Fund. The organization was also presented with the Certificate of Pride in Public Service by Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System Director Kenneth H. Mizrach on May 23, 2008.

To reach out to veterans, the fund uses unorthodox methods that have great impact on today’s returning warriors. “We don’t simply give lectures in a hall,” Mr. Fanous said. “We host outreach events at outings like barbecues, professional sporting events, and recreational activities. This attracts veterans to the outreach and motivates them to find out about available programs and enroll in the VA Health Care System.”

At the ceremony, Mayor Booker and other dignitaries also saluted Newark residents and municipal employees who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces. “We are proud of the members of our municipal team who have served our country in uniform and continue to serve as members of our municipal team,” he said. “They have put country and community first. They are heroes and role models for our nation and our city, and their sacrifice and commitment inspires and motivates us to follow their example.”

The Center operates out of Room B-28 in City Hall, at 920 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey 07102. For more information on the G.I. Go Fund, cal (973) 802-1479 or visit their web page at www.gigofund.org.

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Newarker, PCA Elder, Business Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s