ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - The Eugene C. Allen American Legion Post 141 conducted its annual Veterans Day service today in Atlantic Highlands Veterans Memorial Park, First Avenue in the borough.
(left to right). Theresa Brown, Dave Carr and Paul Bishof
After prayer offered by Post Chaplain Wilbur Bishof, Post Commander Peter Doyle read from the American Legion Officer's Guide to Ceremony Service. Touching on themes that resonated with the assembled veterans, he spoke of the commitment that veterans have made beyond their military service, their dedication to community and the education of the young.
A handful of citizens attended the ceremony under sunny Autumn skies at the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month -- 11 a.m. November 11, the time and date that the Armistice ending World War I took effect in 1918.
Mayor Fred Rast
Former Mayor Peter E. Donoghue
Mayor Fred Rast and former mayor Peter E. Donoghue, both post members, also read excerpts from the service guide.
Post members laid a wreath in memory their comrades who have died.
Peter Doyle speaks to the audience.
Wilbur Bishof (center) spoke to the crowd about the "A Vet is a Vet" bill in the legislature.
Commander Peter Doyle reminded the assembled crowd that they have freedoms hard won by the blood of soldiers. He urged those assemble to publicly share their feelings on issues of the day. After several long seconds, Wilbur Bishof spoke up and told the audience about his concern about the lack of legislative support for a bill again making its way through the statehouse.
The so called "A Vet is a Vet" bill would right an wrong in New Jersey, according to Bishof. Currently, New Jersey affords tax credits and job preferences to those veterans that served active duty under certain dates and under certain conditions. Efforts over the last decade have failed to bring the matter up for a vote in the Assembly and Senate. Over the years, sections of the bill have been advanced through committees but never voted on by either the full Assembly or Senate.
For example. Assembly Concurrent Resolution 98:
This concurrent resolution proposed a constitutional amendment to permit certain disabled veterans to receive civil service preference. Currently, only disabled veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces during the time of war may receive civil service hiring preference. This amendment would permit all disabled veterans, including those who did not serve during a time of war, to also receive such preference. To qualify, the veteran must have become disabled while performing active service in the military. Wartime service would still be required for veterans who are not disabled.
Testifying before the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee in June 2008, Al Bucchi who is Legislative Director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said, "New Jersey is one of the unique states that only recognizes certain veterans, where the Federal government has a broader sense of who a veteran is. So this basically tells a veteran, “You’re recognized by the Federal government. You’re also recognized by the State of New Jersey.”
Committee Chairman Assemblyman Jack Conners commented, "Mr. Bucchi is absolutely right. We’ve been working on this subject matter for many years now -- I guess at least the eleventh year of discussing the subject of what we call a Vet is a Vet, and that is recognizing every single -- that a person who has put on a uniform in the State of New Jersey -- recognizing them as a veteran.
"However, we have a situation out there where, unless you were -- I guess post-Vietnam. You may not be considered a veteran if you did not serve during very, very specific dates, that we indicate, for a minimum of two weeks in different battles, and conflicts, and things like that. And as a result, there are actually some people -- soldiers out there who actually wore a uniform for 20 years. They’ve retired. They’re not considered a veteran. There are even some people out there who are 100 percent disabled, and we don’t consider them a veteran in the State of New Jersey -- or at least consider them a veteran in terms of certain benefits."
The proposal never made it on the ballot.
Mr. Bishof urged everyone to contact their legislator to move on the "Vet is a Vet" bill
Marvin Marino was at the Normandy invasion during World War II.
Joe Freitas (center) listen to the speaker along with Councilmembers Jack Archibald and Jake Hoffman.