Gottheimer honors veterans, fallen soldiers, all who have served with Wreaths Across America
VERNON TOWNSHIP, NJ (Sussex County) – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Saturday delivered remarks at the National Remembrance Ceremony for Wreaths Across America at Glenwood Cemetery.
Each December, on National Wreaths Across America Day, service members are remembered and honored by wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 2,100 locations in all 50 states. The original event began in 1992 with a small group adorning wreaths on graves at Arlington.
Saturday marked the seventh annual Wreaths Across America Ceremony held at Vernon Township’s Glenwood Cemetery, which is home to more than 200 veteran graves.
“We are here today to honor our veterans and commemorate those we’ve lost, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We’re here to teach the next generation the meaning of service and sacrifice to our country,” Gottheimer said. “That is why Wreaths Across America is so important. It ensures that we, as a nation, will never forget. We will never forget the sacrifices that veterans have made for us, especially the 34,000 veterans right here in New Jersey’s Fifth District. It is our duty as Americans to preserve these stories, to do everything we can to fight for our veterans, to ensure they have the care they need, the benefits they were promised, and the support we all owe them.”
Gottheimer was joined by Justine Van Blarcom, the local Vernon Wreaths Across America coordinator; Vernon Mayor Howard Burrell; and the Sussex County Sheriff Honor Guard; among others.
During this Congress, Gottheimer has helped lead key initiatives to fight for North Jersey’s veterans and active duty service members:
- Gottheimer helped cut through red tape and bureaucracy so that Northwestern New Jersey veterans would finally be able to receive referrals for health care services at local ImageCare Centers — much closer to home — instead of having to drive more than an hour to the East Orange VA Medical Center for services like MRIs, mammograms, ultrasounds, and cancer screenings.
- Gottheimer also successfully fought for North Jersey veterans to be eligible to receive referrals for care at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.
- Gottheimer is continuing to work with New Jersey’s VA Director to lower wait times and drive times for veterans; boost access to closer doctors, hospitals, and other facilities; create a female veteran-focused clinic in New Jersey; and increase mental health care access in Newton and Bergen.
- Gottheimer voted to pass the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 202, which includes a 3% increase in military pay for all military service members. The bipartisan bill also includes key provisions authored by Gotttheimer to help National Guard members quarantine safely from COVID-19, to address foreign terrorist organizations’ use of online social media platforms, and to to publicize lead water testing results at K-12 schools on military bases
- The House passed Gottheimer’s bipartisan legislation to invest in filling the more than 49,000 vacant positions at the VA.
- The House passed Gottheimer’s bipartisan legislation to increase investment for the Veterans Health Administration to specifically hire more mental health professionals.
- Gottheimer cosponored and helped pass H.R. 299 – the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, on a 410 to zero vote, to extend disability benefits covering medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure to those who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam, known as “Blue Water” Navy veterans. The President signed this bill into law this Congress.
- Gottheimer has led calls for an investigation at the state-run Paramus Veterans Memorial Home since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. After learning of the outbreak occurring in the state-run facility in April, Gottheimer worked to help get New Jersey National Guard strike teams into the facility within hours. At his urging, 56 health care workers from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs were sent to support the facility. Gottheimer also coordinated top infectious disease doctors to come consult with the facility’s medical staff. Gottheimer asked the facility’s CEO to resign and leadership at the state-run facility has now changed. Gottheimer has also reiterated the need for the State Legislature to investigate, and he is continuing to fight to expand oversight and transparency into state-run veterans homes.