Continuing the mission: Serving veterans as they have served us

On November 9, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

And Honoring Somerville’s Veterans of the Year
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By Joseph A. Curtatone and Somerville Commissioner for Veterans’ Services Bryan Bishop

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries and letters to the Editor of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

With the approach of Veterans Day each year, as we remember and honor the sacrifice and service of all veterans, we are often also reminded of the range of challenges facing many of our Veterans as a result of their military service. From employment needs and transition to civilian life to physical or mental wounds, those who serve often carry extra burdens. We are reminded of the nearly 20 Veterans a day that take their own lives, Veterans dealing with the horrors of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, mental and emotional disabilities, and physical disabilities that can have an adverse, long-lasting effect on both Veterans and their families and friends.

This Veterans Day – as we do each year – we renew our commitment to ensure our Veterans and their families are honored and receive the support, benefits, and services to help them address their unique challenges. Each of our Veterans has served us; now it is time for us to serve them.

To identify our hometown heroes and better serve them, the Office of Veterans’ Services will soon officially launch the new SomerVets program. This program not only identifies our Veterans but it will also reconnect our Veterans to local, state, and federal services and will provide helpful information on a multitude of Veteran events in Somerville and the surrounding areas.  Beginning in January, each Veteran who registers for SomerVet will receive a photo identification card that recognizes them as a Somerville Veteran and lists the branch of service.  Each registered Veteran will also receive a SomerVet Challenge Coin in honor of their service to our country.

Our outreach will extend beyond identification through SomerVet to much-deserved special awards and recognition. Service is such a big part of Veterans life, and we know that, for many,serving doesn’t end when they return home. They continue to serve by getting involved in their communities. Somerville is fortunate to have many Veterans who have become mentors and role models in our communities. To honor their continued service and dedication to our community, the City of Somerville Office of Veterans’ Services has for the first time named two local Veterans as the 2017 Veterans of the Year.

2017 Veterans of the Year: Officer Devin Schneider (Army) and Sean Horgan (Marine Corps)

This year we recognize and honor Army Veteran and Somerville Police Officer Devin Schneider for his exceptional dedication to duty as well as his acts of going above and beyond what is expected when he encountered a sick, homeless Veteran under a bridge in Draw 7 Park.  Officer Schneider acted compassionately and immediately got the Veteran to the West Roxbury VA Hospital for treatment. He even raised funds to help him in the short-term until he could return home to Pennsylvania. Officer Schneider’s acts of kindness and generosity embody the spirit of a Veteran, and we’re proud to call him one of our own.

Our second Veteran of the Year honoree is Davis Square resident and Marine Corps Veteran Sean Horgan. Sean is involved in an organization called Team Rubicon that unites the skills and experiences of military Veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams to areas in need of disaster relief.  Sean recently deployed with Veterans from Massachusetts to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Sean is a prime example of a Veteran who continues the mission upon returning home. We thank both Sean and Office Schneider for their service to our City, the Commonwealth, and the Nation.

The spirit of serving that is so well epitomized by our two Veterans of the Year serves in large part as our inspiration and motivation for serving local Veterans through the SomerVet program outreach and special recognition, not just on Veterans Day but each and every day.  Let us always remember to honor, support, and thank our Veterans and continue the mission of serving them just as they have served – and are still serving – us.

 

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