Veterans Day: One day for some, year-round for many

Among those receiving honors at the Veterans Day ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at Vincent United Methodist Church was John Edgar Lewis Sr. Behind the honoree are, from left, Nutley Councilman Steven Rogers, Nutley Mayor Alphonse Petracco, Councilman Mauro G. Tucci and Assemblyman Ralph Caputo.
Among those receiving honors at the Veterans Day ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at Vincent United Methodist Church was John Edgar Lewis Sr. Behind the honoree are, from left, Nutley Councilman Steven Rogers, Nutley Mayor Alphonse Petracco, Councilman Mauro G. Tucci and Assemblyman Ralph Caputo.

NUTLEY, NJ — Veterans spanning the decades and wars between World War II and the war in Afghanistan were honored and remembered in numerous events last week in Nutley.

Veterans Day is always a somber yet somehow uplifting affair here in this patriotic American town. Every year, veterans and numerous groups supporting them — including the Nutley mayor and Board of Commissioners — gather to offer words of thanks to the hundreds of veterans who are Nutley natives.

Included in this group of Nutley veterans there are survivors of World War II, along with members of the U.S. Armed Forces from every war and conflict that has taken place since then.

The events officially kicked off on Sunday, Nov. 8, when more than 200 residents packed the Nutley High School Auditorium to honor veterans. On hand were vets from many wars, there to support one another and bear witness as Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers presented medals to many who served in wars. This was a moving and very personal service, offering thanks to the many Nutley veterans who still reside in town.

On Nov. 11, which was officially Veterans Day, Mayor Alphonse Petracco and other elected government officials honored veterans both alive and deceased at Vincent United Methodist Church in Nutley. In spite of rainy skies, the support for local veterans was strong.

In Nutley, the annual holiday is not the only time veterans are honored or given assistance. Rogers said he recently worked with one Vietnam vet, who needed help quickly, saying, “He had no affiliations to the (Veterans Administration), yet we have been able to get him enrolled into the VA, get him 80-percent service-connected disability and compensation, and thousands of dollars in equipment from the VA, all free of charge.”

Rogers added, “We also found a 100-percent disabled service-connected veteran with no family around here, who was taking a bus for three hours both to and from the VA, causing massive discomfort pertaining to his issues and consuming most of his day for a single appointment. Now, by providing him with proper transportation, he only takes 30 minutes to go to and from the VA.”

In Nutley, post traumatic stress disorder cases abound in veterans, and though it may be more than 50 years after his service, one World War II veteran needed a leg up, according to Rogers.

“We had a World War II merchant mariner who was for many years left unappreciated for his service to the country, as a civilian hired by the military to transport troops, weapons and supplies to the European theater,” Rogers said. “After 65 years of not being given credit for his life-risking missions, we provided gratitude for his service by awarding him the Nutley Distinguished Service Medal.”

If you are a veteran and in need of assistance, contact the Nutley Military Veterans Affairs Bureau, a local service center that offers many services, including basic health care assessments, employment assistance, legal guidance, counseling and other services and benefits through the Veterans Administration. These services are available to all Nutley veterans, and members of all branches of the U.S. Military and Coast Guard, both on active duty and those in reserve.

For information, contact the Nutley Department of Public Affairs Military and Veterans Affairs Bureau at 973-284-4976 or email djacoby@nutleynj.org.