Above: Gottheimer speaks during today’s Veterans Day Service in Bergenfield
BERGENFIELD, NJ — Today, Wednesday, November 11, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) honored Veterans Day and all those who have served, delivered remarks at Bergenfield’s Veterans Day Ceremony with Bergenfield’s leadership, the Veterans Committee, Bergenfield Disabled Veterans, and Bergenfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6467, and advocated for better care for North Jersey’s veterans.
Gottheimer spoke alongside Bergenfield Mayor Arvin Amatorio, NJ Assemblyman Chris Tully, and Bergenfield Councilman Rafael Marte. The ceremony included speeches from veterans and a ceremony by the Bergenfield Police Department color guard.
“One of my bedrock responsibilities is to always have the backs of those who’ve had ours. There is nothing more solemn, nothing more sacred in the oath that I’ve taken,” Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) said today. “These are not red or blue issues — they are red, white, and blue. 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. After sacrificing and struggling for so much, our veterans and their families should never struggle to get the care or recognition you so rightfully deserve.”
During this Congress, Gottheimer has helped lead several initiatives to fight for North Jersey’s veterans:
- Gottheimer successfully fought so that North Jersey veterans would finally be able to receive referrals for health care services at the Newton ImageCare Center — much closer to home for veterans in Warren and Sussex Counties — 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 veteransto be eligible to receive referrals for care at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.
- 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.
- Congressman Gottheimer co-sponsored and helped pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, bipartisan legislation 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. This bill was signed 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.
Below: Gottheimer today at the Bergenfield Veterans Day ceremony.
Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
Thank you to everyone for being here today as we honor the brave men and women who have proudly served and protected our 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 liberties, and the greatest democracy the world has ever seen.
There is no commitment more sacred than the one our nation has to those who have served – and to always remember those who, as Lincoln said, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”
Lincoln also reminded us to always honor all those who, as he said, “bravely bears his country’s cause.”
As an elected official, one of my bedrock responsibilities is to always have the backs of those who’ve had ours. There is nothing more sacred in the oath I’ve taken.
That’s why on this Veterans Day, I ask that every American pause for an extra moment, remember how blessed we are to breathe the air of freedom, and to remember that our generation stands on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. It’s something that can easily be overshadowed by our daily routines, and the rancor of social media and cable news. But we must not let it.
As we work through these difficult times of economic turmoil, uncertain futures, and a health crisis, it is more important than ever to look after our veterans, and thank them for the sacrifices they have made.
When we see a veteran, or a first responder, we should always thank them for their service — and ask 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.
When you stand with and get to know our veterans, and hear their stories, you get a better understanding of what they have sacrificed to protect our nation. Regardless of party or political views, this is something each and every one of us can do – not just on Veterans Day, but every day. You see, the battlefield doesn’t require allegiance to party. It demands allegiance to country, to fundamental values, to the fifty stars.
For me, in my capacity as your Congressman, I’m especially lucky to have spent time with so many of our bravest veterans, like the Bergenfield VFW here today. It’s an honor and privilege to be able to thank so many veterans across the Fifth District for their service.
In Newton, we just celebrated Wally Atchinson’s 104th birthday. Wally was among the fourth wave of troops during D-Day.
It is our duty as Americans not only to honor these men and women, but to do everything we can to fight for them when they return, to ensure they have the care they need, the benefits they were promised, and the support we all owe them.
As many of us have learned, this pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities in our nation’s health systems, and we must do everything in our power to make sure that all Americans — especially our veterans — get proper care.
That’s why I was proud to announce that after working with the VA Community Care Network, eligible North Jersey veterans are now able to receive referrals for community care at ImageCare Centers across the Fifth District, allowing for faster care, shorter travel times, and improved access to the benefits they fought for and deserve.
Since I took office, I’ve been fighting for expanded access to services for local veterans and to protect them during this pandemic, especially ones in State run veterans home in Paramus.
I will continue to fight to expand oversight and transparency –– especially as we enter Flu season and a second wave of coronavirus.
That’s why I pushed to get 56 health care workers from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs To support the facility and coordinated top infectious disease doctors to come consult with the facility’s medical staff.
To hold those accountable, I asked the facility’s CEO to resign and am proud that leadership at the state-run facility has now changed. I have also reiterated the need for the State Legislature to investigate, and will continue to fight to expand oversight and transparency into state-run veterans homes.
This Congress, I helped lead bipartisan legislation to address the staff vacancy crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs — especially in veterans’ mental health care and I will continue to work across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats to improve benefits and care.
I’ve been proud to work across the aisle in Congress on ways to improve veterans’ benefits and care. Earlier last year, the House passed The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act – bipartisan legislation I cosponsored 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. I was pleased that this bill was signed into law and these veterans are getting the benefits they deserve.
I also work every day to ensure that our armed forces and active duty have what they need to combat terror.
Our fight for our democracy and our veterans is far from over, and there is much more to be done. I want to impress upon everyone here that my door is always open for any issues that you may have. After sacrificing and struggling for so much, you and your families should never struggle to get the care or recognition you so rightfully deserve.
So, on this Veterans Day, I salute you and I thank you for everything that you have done, because 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.