The borough resident enlisted in 2010, eventually serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for seven months. Back in the U.S., Leone realized the difficult position many veterans find themselves in upon returning home. For women, the challenge is often amplified.
“Coming home was a little bit difficult, but I had a lot of family and friends that were able to support me and that got me through it,” Leone said during the council meeting. “But not everyone is that lucky, and that’s why I’m here to talk to you tonight.
“There is a problem sweeping across this country and that is the rise of homeless women veterans.”
Leone cited statistics that show there are approximately 4,300 homeless, female veterans, with more than half unemployed and nearly 70 percent single mothers. She told council that current outlets and programs within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs do not always support female veterans upon their return home. Issues include restrictions on how many kids female vets can bring with them and unsafe conditions in group homes.
“There are over 500 homeless veterans within the state of New Jersey, which is not broken down by gender … and there are only 10 slots, just10, for transitional housing for homeless women veterans, and none of them accommodate children,” Leone noted.
“This is simply not acceptable. We can and must do better for female women veterans.”
Leone is running for Ms. Veteran America 2020 and is currently a top-25 finalist. The competition supports the nonprofit Final Salute Inc., whose programs include housing, children’s services and employment help.
Part of the Ms. Veteran America competition involves raising awareness and funds for Final Salute. More information can be found at https://www.finalsaluteinc.org/Home.html.
During the council meeting, the borough passed a resolution awarding the contract for a water main replacement to Core and Main for $257,885. According to Municipal Clerk Dwayne Harris, the project had two bids, with the losing bid actually being the lowest. Harris said the water meters proposed in that bid were not compatible with the current system.
The resolution moves the project forward, with phase one of what will be three phases over the next three years, according to Harris. As previously covered by The Sun, the borough was aware last year of upcoming work to the water system.
As mandated by the state, municipalities that have water meters in towns other than their own are responsible for testing and/or replacing those meters every 10 years. According to the borough, Berlin Borough is responsible for a total of 2,489 water meters in municipalities other than their own, such as in Voorhees Township and Berlin Township.