Today, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) was honored to join with the U.S. Army Reserve and Hackensack UMC as they joined forces to form the first-of-its kind partnership Operation Hackensack SMART, which will provide high-quality, individualized specialty medical training for service members to improve their knowledge, skillsets and increase soldier readiness.
“In Bergen County, we strive not only to serve our military and our 30,000 veteran residents, but to be a leader in getting the backs of those who got ours. Our country needs to do more to serve the military, and that’s why I’m so thrilled that Hackensack SMART is planting a flag here in the Fifth District of New Jersey to make sure that our service members get the best treatment,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
Below: Congressman Josh Gottheimier (NJ-5) speaking at the Operation Hackensack SMART Partnership Announcement Event.
Congressman Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery can be found below:
Good morning. It’s an honor to be here in Hackensack to congratulate Hackensack Medical Center and the US Army Reserve on unveiling this new newly forged – and important – partnership.
In Bergen County, we strive not only to serve our military and our 30,000 veteran residents, but to be a leader in getting the backs of those got ours. The CBOC here in Hackensack serves 60,000 appointments for primary health care annually. And thanks to the leadership of our country executive Jim Tedesco, we’ve made eliminating veteran homelessness a top priority.
This hospital also has a time-honored tradition of supporting our U.S. service members and veterans. In addition to being our area’s largest employer, it’s a vet-friendly employer that participated in the VetFriendly 50,000 jobs challenge. Today’s partnership further highlights that strong commitment.
Hackensack SMART is exactly the type of civilian-military cooperation we need to see more of in communities around New Jersey and across the country. It takes advantage of the latest training, medical techniques and technologies to take care our troops. We should all feel very good about that.
And, as someone who cares deeply about how our taxpayer dollars are spent, one of the best parts is that Hackensack SMART does this at no additional cost to the government.
While Army Reserve medical teams at bases in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and South Carolina have faced hospital closings due to budget constraints, here in New Jersey we’ve found a cost-neutral solution to training.
I want you all to know that to me, there is no commitment more sacred than the one our nation has made to those who serve and have served in the military. In Washington, I will continue to do everything I can to stand by you who have stood by us through your service. We must stand by you at every step of service.
That’s why I already passed legislation through the House aimed at making it easier for post-9/11 veterans to get a job at the VA.
Because we’ve all seen headlines about the problems the Veterans Administration is facing: keeping our veterans waiting too long to get care, struggling to fill vacant positions.
Too many at the VA are on the brink of retirement. In 2015, the Government Accounting Office found that 42 percent of the Veterans Health Administration’s senior leadership was eligible to retire.
I also joined with Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, whose District is just West of here, to encourage the VA to promote in-person mental health services at the new CBOC in Newton. And one of my very first actions in Congress was to urge the Administration to lift the hiring freeze at the VA.
Our country needs to do more to serve the military, and that’s why I’m so thrilled that Hackensack SMART is planting a flag here in the Fifth District of New Jersey to make sure that our service members get the best treatment.
Starting today, twelve US Army Reserve Soldiers and two active duty Air Force personnel from the 87th Medical Group stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will begin their inaugural rotation.
Again, I am proud to be with you all for this historic occasion. Please know my doors are always open to you, and I will do everything I can in Congress to have your backs.
My grandfather, served during World War II. His favorite quote was from General Patton: “We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” Very Jersey, actually.
Thank you to all of those in the Army and at Hackensack-Meridian who led and got everyone out of the way to make the Hackensack SMART partnership happen. I’m so grateful.
Thank you again for having me here, and thank you for your service. We live in the greatest country in the world and with steps like these our best days will always be ahead of us.
God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.