By Janee Law
Town of Huntington and Suffolk officials kicked off the first-ever Veterans Service Day last week. The event, which is promised to be held on a monthly basis, saw 20 organizations dedicated to servicing veterans gather together under one roof in Huntington Station.
“Instead of making veterans travel to get the services, we should get in our cars and travel to the places in the local communities where veterans are,” Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone said. “This is a model, and we need to be doing more of it. I truly give credit to the Town of Huntington for taking the lead on this, and I’m proud to say Suffolk County will partner with them to do everything that we can to support our veterans here in Huntington and across the county.”
Held at the Huntington Opportunity Resource Center (1264 New York Ave), veterans had the opportunity to go from table to table, seeking out different services, which were being offered by veteran service providers, human services providers and other nonprofit agencies. Services included peer-to-peer support, housing opportunities, food, counseling, suicide prevention, health and wellness and more.
“[When talking] about the vision for the resource center, it was about every year doing a little bit more to change people’s lives and today it’s about veterans’ services,” said Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards, who organized the program with Beth Murphy, of Suffolk County Veterans Services, and senior deputy commissioner of Suffolk’s Department of Labor; and Carol Rocco, Huntington’s coordinator of veterans’ services.
Edwards continued, “For us in Suffolk and the Town of Huntington, it’s serving those that have served.”
Bob Santo, who served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam from 1966-1970, and who is a past commander of the American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244, said the event was a great toward providing a way for veterans to navigate the services available to them.
“You don’t often see a scheduled gathering of services providers for veterans all under one roof,” Santo, of Huntington Station, said.
Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, Councilwoman Susan Berland and Suffolk Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) also attended the event.
Petrone said to initiate a program that will assist veterans on a monthly basis is a dream come true.
He said veterans are “people who embrace you. They’re people that protected. And they’re people that really care... It’s our job to make it easier for them and to provide an opportunity to have them come in and look at all the agencies that are here today.”
Veterans Service Day will be held at the resource center, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., on Oct. 14, Nov. 4 and Dec. 9.