Above: Gottheimer speaks during today’s Veterans Day Service in Lodi.
LODI, 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 a ceremony in Lodi to unveil a new Military Memorial and to honor the 100th birthday of local World War II Army veteran Marian “Ted” Perz, and advocated for better care for North Jersey’s veterans.
Gottheimer spoke alongside Lodi Mayor Scott Luna, Council Member Joe Leto, Deputy Mayor Vincent Martin, Director of Bergen County Veteran Services AJ Luna, Police Chief Donald Scorzetti, Deputy Chief Luis Franco Jr., Lieutenant Anthony Mobilo, former Chief of Police and Borough Administrator Vincent Caruso, and American Legion Post 136 Commander Francis Carrasco.
The ceremony included the unveiling of a new Military Memorial to honor 65 Fifth District veterans, as well as Gottheimer presenting World War II Army veteran Marian “Ted” Perz with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol building. Perz fought in the Pacific theatre in Okinawa and is celebrating his 100th birthday today.
“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 for 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 veterans to 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 a Veterans Day ceremony in Lodi wishing happy 100th birthday to World War II Army veteran Marian “Ted” Perz.