NUTLEY, NJ — The Nutley community showed its support of the veterans who have served this great nation, especially those who reside in the township, with its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Friday, Nov. 11.
A highlight of this year’s ceremony included the presentation of the 2022 Veteran of the Year honors to Vincent DeNotaris, who was recognized for the counseling and support he lends to the veterans of Nutley and surrounding communities.
Daniel Jacoby, director of the Nutley Military & Veteran Affairs Bureau, referred to DeNotaris’ devotion to veterans as “unstoppable.” During and beyond the worst part of the pandemic, DeNotaris never skipped a beat when it came to checking in on veterans to make sure the isolation didn’t worsen their situation.
“He is always available and will pick up the phone for any veteran in need,” Jacoby said.
Humbly accepting the honor, DeNotaris said serving fellow veterans is a passion; he doesn’t do it for the recognition.
“I am on a rescue mission for our veterans,” he said. “They need to be assisted with adjusting to civic life again (and) hear validation of their trauma and the experiences they had in defense of our country. I thank Nutley for letting me do this.”
Following the ceremony, veterans and community members took part in the town’s second Veterans Day Ruck March 5K through Memorial Park. This 5K march, which mimics “true military fashion” as participants carry a 22-pound weighted rucksack or backpack, raises awareness for those veterans struggling with mental health. The weight is a symbol for the 22 veterans a day on average who take their own lives.
“Fortunately, here in Nutley, we haven’t had those incidents, and that is largely in part to the work of what Vincent does,” Department of Public Affairs Director and Nutley Commissioner John V. Kelly III said during the ceremony.
Participants were encouraged to replace the 22 pounds with 22 canned items to help stock the shelves at the Nutley Family Service Bureau’s food pantry, which benefits veterans and other residents in need.
Following the 5K, the community was invited to take part in the veterans dinner at the Nutley Health Department.
Established in 2012, the Veterans Affairs office — a division of the Department of Public Affairs — works closely with the township American Legion and VFW posts to service the needs of all veterans living in the township.
Photos by David VanDeventer