Local Veterans Honored by Bronx Chamber of Commerce

Yesterday the Bronx Chamber of Commerce held a Veterans Recognition Luncheon in which they honored Bronx veterans who, not only served their country but serve their communities.

“We are proud to salute our heroes, and thank them for their heroic service. We must continue to give back to those who continue to protect our country.” said Joseph Kelleher, Chairman of The Bronx Chamber of Commerce. In attendance was Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Micheal Benedetto, and Senator Gustavo Rivera.

“There is no better way to say thank you to our veterans other than giving them meaningful employment. This year we go one step further, in not only recognizing the commitment of our veterans but by working to find them good paying jobs through our first ever Bronx H.I.R.E. veterans job fair.” said Senator Jeff Klein. H.I.R.E. (Help Identify Real Employment) is a program by the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and Senator Klein that connects workers with specialists who will work one-on-one to determine skills, industries, and positions that match the potential job seeker. Later in the day, the Chamber held a Veterans Job Fair.

An advocate of veteran affairs, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto spoke about the work he has done to help veterans. This past June, the Military Families Act was passed as well as another policy that allows veterans in New York to pay in-state tuition regardless of where they came from. “My proudest moment was to become Chairman on the Committee on Veterans Affairs. We owe our veterans the opportunity to become productive members of society with a good job geared to the skills that they have.” said Assemblyman Benedetto. “We have to do more to protect our veterans, particularly in areas like mental health and advancing methods to treat PTSD.”

Also in attendance was Commissioner at the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, Loree Sutton. As a veteran herself, Sutton relayed the struggles of veterans. “We as veterans carry stories that we cannot carry on our own. The needs of our veterans, their family members, and civilian counterparts all come first.” said Sutton. “We live in the land of the free because of the brave.”

The Honorees:

20141119-_IGP8873Ty’Keivius O.Curry is a Sergeant First Class in the Army. “People ask me, ‘Why do you serve?’. Thinking back to my childhood, I was raised by a single parent. My mother struggled but she never let us see her struggle. I joined the military to help her not have to struggle anymore but I stayed in the military because I love it.” Sergeant Curry explained to the crowd. Enlisting in 2001, he attended training at Fort Benning, GA and became a Healthcare Specialist at Fort Sam Houston. Serving two tours in Iraq, Sergeant Curry is currently an Army Recruiter at the North-Bronx Army Recruiting Center. He is also enrolled in the Masters of Science Psychology Program at Grand Canyon University.

20141119-_IGP8921Gonzalo Duran is a native Bronxite who served 8 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and served one tour in Iraq. After being discharged he fell into a rough transition period, a struggle that many veterans face. After completing two internships with the Bronx Veteran Affairs and Labor Department, Gonzalo began Devil Dog USA Incorporated as a local resource to veterans. “The harsh reality is that there are still over 250,000 homeless veterans nationwide, veteran unemployment rate is at 9%, and there is a suicide rate of 22 per day.” Laying out the issues that still face veterans, Gonzalo’s organization works to provide veterans with employment, food, education, and community activities. “We at Devil Dog USA Incorporated work to combat those numbers by facing them head on.”

20141119-IMG_4830Sal Conforto emigrated from Italy over 40 years ago and served as a Military Police Officer in the U.S. Army. “When I came here I was 13 years old. My father said that the difference between Italy and America are the opportunities.” Heeding this advice, he has maintained a drive and passion to improve his community and the lives within it. Sal has spent four years as the treasurer of the Morris Park Community Association, is the founder of the Americans Civics Institute, and continues to organize food drives with the Morris Park Kiwanis Club. Citing his life motivations is his wife and wanting to honor his late daughter, Maryann, saying, “Ever since that day, I have tried to do good works in my daughter’s memory.” Earning his law degree at age 64, Sal Conforto is founder of the online publication, The Bronx Chronicle.

The Bronx Chronicle staff would like to congratulate Ty’Keivius O.Curry, Gonzalo Duran, and Sal Conforto both as veterans and for serving their communities.


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