BRONX, NY – State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), in partnership with Congressman Joseph Crowley, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, and Councilman James Vacca, hosted the 9th Annual Veterans’ Breakfast on Sunday at Villa Barone Manor.
Lieutenant Colonel Ron Watson, the Grand Marshall of the Throggs Neck Veterans’ Parade, was recognized along with 99-year-old Nicholas Calabrese, who received the Lifetime Service Award.
Joseph Byrne, US Marine Corps; Irma Gallagher, US Army; William Hyland, US Army; Frank Morales, US Army; and Marshall Siciliano, US Army were awarded posthumous honors for their service to our country.
Close to 400 veterans gathered for the patriotic program, which included a presentation of colors by SUNY Maritime College’s Color Guard.
Senator Klein also presented the family of the late Peter Rosario Nelson with re-issued military medals that he earned during his service in the Vietnam War. The Nelson family had contacted Senator Klein and expressed the importance of giving Peter’s grandchildren his medals to carry on his legacy. Senator Klein was able to have the following medals re-issued: Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze service star, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with Device (1960), Expert Marksman Badge with auto rifle bar, and Marksman Badge with rifle bar.
Senator Klein also announced that he secured $15,000 in funding for the Bronx Veteran Mentors, a group which helps veterans who seek treatment for mental health and/or drug related issues as an alternative to incarceration. The veteran mentors, who understand first-hand military experience, help provide veteran participants with a true support system.
Attendees donated deodorant, socks, T-shirts, energy bars, and more to be shipped to the troops in partnership with Cathy Priano and Theodore Korony American Legion Post #253.
“Our 9th Annual Veterans’ Breakfast honors the great sacrifices our servicemen and women have made for our nation. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who bravely served in our military and must pay tribute to them. I have spearheaded a number of programs to help our veterans, such as the Veterans Tax Credit legislation to help provide jobs for our veterans returning from overseas by offering incentives to businesses as well as our Bronx HIRE program which helps veterans find job opportunities within the community. I am also very proud to have secured state funding for the valuable Bronx Veteran Mentors program which significantly helps our veterans in need and provides them with the tools needed to re-enter civilian life,” said Senator Klein.
After the breakfast, Senator Klein and the veterans gathered to march in The 32nd Annual Bronx Veterans’ Day Parade in Throggs Neck.