I wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family a Happy Memorial Day. Today is more than just the unofficial start to summer – it’s a day to acknowledge those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Certainly the holiday has become a much enjoyed opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones at home or at the shore, and that’s a good thing. Given the frantic pace of our modern world, any excuse to be with family is a good thing. But I believe we must not lose sight of Memorial Day’s true purpose.
As President of the New Jersey Senate, I have the good fortune of being able to make every day a chance to do something to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty and to care for those left behind. I’m proud to say that we have advanced dozens of bills during my more than 5 years as Senate President that I believe make a difference in the lives of our military families who have an all-too-familiar connection with this solemn day.
The Military Dependents Scholarship Fund Act, sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan and Senator James Beach provides college scholarships to the spouses and children of those killed, missing in action or disabled in Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn.
Last year we fought to put millions of state dollars into the budget to save the Vets4Warriors program, to try to put an end to the silent killer plaguing so many of our veterans, PTSD and depression related suicide.
We have also moved bills expanding access to job training, healthcare and housing assistance to veterans and their families, all in an effort to pay back the debt of gratitude our state and nation owe to our troops.
While we all hope to avoid adding any more names to the heartbreaking list of those lost in combat, we know the United States military stands ready to answer the call when asked to protect our freedoms and way of life. Those of us at home must stand ready to honor that service, especially – but not exclusively – on Memorial Day. With that always in mind, I extend my sincerest thanks and deepest respect to all of those who have served and are serving our country.