RELEASE: Ahead of Veterans Day, Gottheimer Honors Veterans, Highlights Mental Health and PTSD Resources in North Jersey

Nov 10, 2022
Press

LEONIA, NJ

Getting the Backs of Those Who Sacrifice for Our Freedom

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Above: Gottheimer speaking with veterans at the Bergen Equestrian Center.

LEONIA, NJ — Ahead of Veterans Day, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined the Man O’ War Project at the Bergen Equestrian Center to honor Veterans Day, recognize all those who have served and sacrificed for our nation, advocate for better care for North Jersey’s veterans, and highlight new, cutting-edge mental health therapies for veterans.

At Bergen Equestrian Center, the Man O’ War project has developed and implemented Equine-Assisted Therapy as a widely used alternative treatment for many people struggling with mental health, especially for veterans. The project was the first-ever university-led research study to examine the effectiveness of equine-assisted therapy in treating veterans with PTSD.

“To all our service members, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for putting your life on the line to defend our freedom, our families, and the greatest democracy the world has ever seen. To all veterans and active-duty service members, know this, after sacrificing so much, you should never struggle to get the care, resources, or recognition you have earned,” Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) said today. “These are not Democrat or Republican issues – they are principles of the nation we live in, the one you protect. I’ve been proud to work across the aisle in Congress on ways to improve veterans’ benefits and care. Of course, our fight for our democracy and our veterans is far from over, there is much more to be done, and I will never stop fighting for our veterans.”

In Congress, Gottheimer led legislation, which was signed into law, to extend the Suicide Prevention and Resilience Program for National Guard members, veterans, and their families. 

In recent weeks, the Problem Solvers Caucus — co-chaired by Gottheimer — officially endorsed the VA Zero Suicide Demonstration Project Act. This bipartisan legislation will improve suicide and mental health care for veterans by launching the Zero Suicide Initiative Pilot Program at the VA — to test the Zero Suicide Model at five VA centers, with innovative care that has proven successful in decreasing suicide rates.

Gottheimer and the Problem Solvers Caucus also worked to pass the bipartisan PACT Act earlier this year, and get it signed into law to help veterans exposed to burn pits and toxic substances — covering Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan-era veterans. This law includes Gottheimer’s provision to direct the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to examine the connection between toxic exposures experienced during service in the Armed Forces and mental health outcomes. 

Last week, Gottheimer held a ceremony to recognize the heroic service of local North Jersey veterans and honor them with Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pins and long overdue replacement service medals.

Gottheimer was joined by Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, Bergen County Commissioner Chairwoman Tracy Silna Zur, Strategic Advisor to the Man O’ War Project Anne Poulson, Co-Director of the Man O’ War Project Dr. Prudence Fisher, Co-Director of the Man O’ War Project Dr. Yuval Neria, Director of Bergen Equestrian Center Anna Gassib, New Jersey veterans, and Columbia University Irving Medical Center doctors.

Watch video of the event here.

Below: Gottheimer in Leonia ahead of Veterans Day.

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Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Thank you for welcoming me here today, ahead of Veterans Day, as we honor the brave men and women who have proudly served and protected our great nation. 

To all our service members, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for putting your life on the line to defend our freedom, our families, and the greatest democracy the world has ever seen.  And, of course, we should also remember today, and every day, the brave service members who made the ultimate sacrifice.

When we see a veteran, or a first responder, we should always thank them for their service — and teach our children to do the same. For what they did to allow our businesses and families to prosper, to practice the religion we choose, to speak out freely on the street corner. They deserve our respect and gratitude. You see, the battlefield doesn’t require allegiance to party. It demands allegiance to country, to fundamental values, to the thirteen stripes and fifty stars.

There is nothing more important in this job than my responsibility to have the backs of those who have served our great country – including when they come home, whether that’s finding a job or getting medical care at the VA.  Today, as part of that care, I want to focus on continuing our vital work to address PTSD and combat veteran suicide.

To all veterans and active-duty service members, know this, after sacrificing so much, you should never struggle to get the care, resources, or recognition you have earned. It is our duty as Americans not only to honor these men and women — all soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen and women — but to do everything we can to fight for them when they return, to ensure they and their families have the care they need, the benefits they were promised, and the support we all owe them. These are not Democratic or Republican issues — they are principles of the country we live in, the one you protected, the one we salute the flag every day. 

I’ve been proud to lead in Congress the fight for care for our veterans.  And I’m proud to be here to support the important work happening right here: the groundbreaking research on how equestrian therapy can help veterans overcome trauma.

Just one soldier or veteran lost to suicide is too many. And we know that PTSD is an incredibly disabling condition that can stop our veterans from leading healthy, productive lives.

Our veterans deserve the best care after putting their lives on the line.

That’s why I led legislation, which was signed into law, to extend the Suicide Prevention and Resilience Program for National Guard members, veterans, and their families. And, just two weeks ago, the Problem Solvers Caucus — which is a bipartisan group I co-chair in Congress, made up of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans — officially endorsed the VA Zero Suicide Demonstration Project Act. This bipartisan legislation will improve suicide and mental health care for veterans by launching the Zero Suicide Initiative Pilot Program at the VA — to test the Zero Suicide Model at five VA centers, with innovative care that has proven successful in decreasing suicide rates.

The Problem Solvers Caucus also worked to pass the bipartisan PACT Act earlier this year, and get it signed into law to help veterans exposed to burn pits and toxic substances — covering Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan-era veterans. This law includes my provision which directs the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to examine the connection between toxic exposures experienced during service in the Armed Forces and mental health outcomes. 

These are not red or blue issues — they are red, white, and blue — and we need to work on them together.

I want to impress upon everyone here that my door is always open for any issues that you may have. 

So, ahead of this Veterans Day, I honor you, I honor all our veterans and your families, and I thank you for everything that you have done.

Here in the greatest country in the world, we will always take care of our own. That’s the only way to ensure that our best days will always be ahead of us.

God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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