Wednesday night, February 3rd, Soldiers' Angels Jo Lombardi and Marie Wheeler-Nicholson attended the Town Hall Meeting at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale hosted by WABC-TV Eyewitness News team. Eyewitness news broadcasts from NYC to the tri-state area and reaches millions of viewers daily.
The focus of the Town Hall forum was Veterans affairs it was encouraging to see the veterans community so well represented and able to have their issues heard. The Directors of Veterans Affairs for Suffolk County and Nassau County were in attendance, as well as the Director of the VA Hospital in Northport. A few vets that were having problems with the VA system were able to get direct support from these community leaders after the forum.
There were a lot of important issues raised and it was a good opportunity for our community to share information and network with other support organizations. A sample of issues discussed were homelessness, suicide, ptsd counseling, unemployment, multiple deployments, the wounded, isolation, agent orange and the toll on families in our military community. The lack of media coverage on local VA standdowns was brought up, and the eyewitness news team really seemed to want to help. The news team were very attentive and professional. They also met with everyone who wanted to talk to them directly for over an hour after the forum was over.
Jo and Marie had a chance to meet up with Steve Maiela, founder of Transitioning Veteran and Susan Cohen from The Soldiers Project. Carlos Espinoza, the Executive Director of Semper4Soldiers, is new to the network of Long Island Veterans' support organizations, and is eager to join forces to help our veteran community. Laura Blandy from the Phoenix House was getting the word out about addiction services for veterans as well.
Many other community leaders spoke to the News team, among them Steve Clark, founder of 9-1-1 Veterans and Peter S. Kim from Veterans Across America. A Touro Law College Dean, Professor and representatives were there to inform the community of their new 'Veterans' & Servicemembers' Legal Advocacy Clinic', which provides FREE legal counsel. Just about every VFW and American Legion chapter were in attendance.
Jo came prepared with fliers promoting the Soldiers' Angels Blood Drive on Saturday, Feb 13th at the East Farmingdale Fire Dept. We also handed out Soldiers' Angels brochures, thank you for your service cards and networked. Jo did a good job addressing the audience and explained who Soldiers' Angels were and the programs available. She took the opportunity to hand newscaster Diane Williams a Soldiers Angels coin and brochure in support of Diane's son, currently attending the United States Air Force Academy.
Local Soldiers' Angels volunteers were also there-the Sietz Family are Marie's friends from Islip who have a son currently deployed with the Air Force. They are proud Blue Star parents, and we thank them for their support.
The segments WABC-TV Eyewitness News aired on our veteran community can be found on their website. Don't forget to visit the American Airpower museum located on New Highway in Farmingdale NY. Their volunteer staff are a wealth of information on World War II history and the World War II planes located in the hangar.