Burlington County’s outstanding record of honoring and supporting veterans and their families was recognized by Gov. Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs on Nov. 11 when the county was presented a New Jersey Governor’s “We Value Our Veterans” Community Award.
The award recognizes communities, businesses and academic institutions that honor the “sacrifices, patriotism and bravery of New Jersey’s service members.” It was presented to the county by Murphy and Brig. Gen. Lisa Hou, Adjutant General of the New Jersey National Guard, during a Veteran’s Day ceremony at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel, Monmouth County.
Burlington County Commissioner Tom Pullion attended the ceremony and accepted the award on behalf of the County. Elizabeth Verna, chair of the Burlington County Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, also attended, along with retired Col. Michael Warner, BMAC’s vice chair; BMAC Trustee Stevie J. Stevenson Jr. and Evelyn Rosado, director of the Burlington County Division of Military and Veterans Services.
“Burlington County is home to more than 30,000 veterans. It’s because of their dedication, bravery and sacrifices that we enjoy the many freedoms that are the hallmarks of our great democracy,” said Pullion. “While we cannot ever fully repay our veterans for their military service, our County takes great pride in our efforts to let these men and women know how special and appreciated they are.”
To qualify for the We Value Our Veterans Community Award, the Burlington County Military Affairs Committee applied to the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs detailing both programs and actions taken by the County to honor and assist veterans.
Many of the programs are coordinated by the County’s Division of Military and Veterans Affairs, which works closely with local veterans’ organizations and officials at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to keep veterans and service members informed about initiatives and events that might benefit them. The county unit also advocates for county veterans and assists them with casework related to their benefits.
So far this year, the unit has helped county veterans obtain more than $10 million in compensation and benefits.
“That’s an extraordinary record and these county employees deserve our thanks and appreciation for the jobs they perform every day for our veterans,” Pullion said.
Other programs detailed in the application included the Burlington County Service Medals presented to veterans who were honorably discharged and now reside in the community, and the county’s cemetery care program, which maintains veterans’ gravesites in over 96 cemeteries throughout the county and places new flags on the graves before Memorial Day.
The Burlington County Sheriff’s Department also provides veterans with free photo ID cards identifying them as having served in the nation’s armed forces, and the County Animal Shelter waives adoption fees for veterans and services members through its Pets for Vets initiative.
Just this week, the Burlington County Commissioners also unveiled a new online map detailing veteran-owned businesses located in the county.
“These services are among the small ways we as a county try to say thank you to our veterans and to let them know how welcome they are here. The same applies to our active-duty and reserve service members and their families,” Pullion said. “This award reflects all those efforts. We’re incredibly honored to receive this recognition, but we’re even more proud to be the home of so many outstanding men and women of our military. And we have vowed to continue to look for ways to expand our county’s services for these heroes.”