Haddonfield Commissioner and veteran Frank Troy met with officials from other municipalities, organizations and Gov. Phil Murphy on Veterans Day to receive the We Value Our Veterans community award from the New Jersey Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.
The borough achieved 150 points – five more than required to receive the award – based on various initiatives created to more often engage with and recognize the veteran’s community. Commissioners learned of the program a little more than a year ago, and though they attempted to earn it last year, fell short by 30 points.
“Some of the (items on the list) they had in place just couldn’t be done by the time they needed to approve it, which was around late October,” Troy said.
Some of the things the borough had already put into practice included honoring veterans quarterly at council meetings, remembering prisoners of war and those missing in action on National POW/MIA Recognition Day in September, and having a blue star memorial outside of borough hall.
Over the past year, the borough also made veteran resources more accessible on its website, under the veterans information tab, which links to mental-health resources and veterans organizations and gives a shout out to veteran-owned businesses in Haddonfield.
Newer programs included the Project Poppy art installation at the high school run by veteran and American Legionnaire Post 38 member Joe McElroy, and freshly hung military tribute banners throughout the month of November, initiated by Haddonfield Memorial High School senior Kelsie Meeker, who partnered with Post 38.
“It didn’t take a tremendous amount of additional work on our part (to add the new initiatives), so to speak,” Troy noted. “I think it was just a matter of articulating some of the things we’re already doing and putting some other items in place, which makes good sense.”
The high-school tribute banners appear on Kings Highway and have been met with great success.
“From a veterans’ standpoint, I think it’s nice to be able to walk down there with your family and have them see a picture of you and have your friends see a picture of you in ways that they may not ordinarily see you,” explained Troy, whose family ordered a banner for him.
“I think the feedback of it and the reaching out from the entire community was extremely positive.”
To learn more about the award, visit https://www.nj.gov/military/community/award-grant-charitable-programs/wvov/