The RockVets Newsletter serves as a community resource for getting the word out about events of importance to veterans and the Rockland community at large. Information about health programs available to veterans, legislation affecting them and employment opportunities is included. The Rockland County Veteran Service Agency distributes the newsletter to more than 1,000 subscribers to alert them to noteworthy programs taking place over the next few weeks.
"We're trying to get as much information out there as possible for as many people to see,” said Jerry Donnellan, the agency’s director. “We're going to have a tremendous number of people turning up in the VA's office in the next three to five years. You have all these men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan that are going to be coming home, plus veterans from my generation turning 65 that aren't working anymore and will be looking for help. It's important they know where to turn."
Donnellan said that as time has gone on, the public seems to pay less and less attention to veterans, and the newsletter, which has been published for three years, is also a way to make sure people remember about them. The newsletter helps draw veterans to the agency because they can go online and see what the office does before actually stopping in.
"They are like I was 40 years ago: skeptical of anything that looks like government," he explained. "They're more at home on the Internet, where they can poke around and find out information on their own. Then, hopefully, they'll come into the office. We want them to know this isn't some sort of scam. We don't want them to think we're just government types."
He said it is important to reach a wider audience.
"It doesn't strictly go to vets,” said Donnellan. “It keeps others aware of veterans and the issues they're facing. It helps bring awareness to those who aren't vets."
Here’s a rundown of what is included in the current newsletter.
The Hudson Valley Nam Knights already began collecting for the needy for the holidays. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 20, members will be at Pearl River Shop Rite asking for food and cash donations for People to People. This past week, they collected new toys for less fortunate children.
Also on Saturday at 4 p.m., the Nam Knights will join law enforcement officials, family and community members to remember the police officers and Brink’s guard killed in the 1981 Brink’s Robbery. The memorial service will be held at Brink’s Memorial Park by the New York State Thruway entrance at Mountainview Avenue in Nyack.
Chapter 120 Military Order of the Purple Heart wants to partner with other veterans groups to send care packages to troops. According to Commander Howard Goldin, they are gathering items for the 411th Engineer Brigade from New Windsor. Men and women from Rockland County are in that unit which will be stationed in Afghanistan until May 2013. A list of requested items such as granola bars, individually wrapped candies, mac & cheese, DVDs is provided. For more information, contact Goldin at email@example.com or 845-371-7605.
By October 31, veterans who want to attend the Veterans Day Brunch must RSVP. United Hospice of Rockland hosts the annual brunch as a tribute to veterans. It takes place n Nov. 13 at The Crowne Plaza, in Suffern starting at 8:30 a.m. To sign up call 845-634-4974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The newsletter notes mailing deadlines for cards, letters and packages to reach troops by the holidays are as soon as November 13 for parcel post and as late as December 17 for express mail.
Looking ahead to November:
On Thursday, Nov. 8, Recycled Rides’ gifting of two vehicles to a local veteran and disabled veteran happens at Nanuet Collision Centers at 12:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 9, is the 21st Annual Rockland County Marine Corps Birthday Luncheon at Platzl Brauhaus in Pomona. Cost is $38 per person and guests are asked to bring an item to send to Marines stationed abroad such as baby wipes, CDs, batteries and shaving cream. Contact 914-403-7850 for more information.
On Sunday, Nov. 11, the Rockland Veterans Coordinating Council Ceremony and Veteran of the Year Recognition takes place at 12 p.m. at the Rockland County Courthouse in New City. Eddie Frank, former president of the Vietnam Veterans of America #333, will be named Veteran of the Year.