Morris County opens veterans center in Morris Township

Vietnam Veteran Joseph Kotch performs the Missing Man Ceremony with Elaine Martin narrating, in Morris Township, June 6, 2018.
Vietnam Veteran Joseph Kotch performs the Missing Man Ceremony with Elaine Martin narrating, in Morris Township, June 6, 2018.
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From the Morris County Freeholders:

A new Morris County Veterans Services Office and Veterans Administration Clinic in Morris Township officially opened Wednesday in a ceremony that included the unveiling and dedication of a POW/MIA Chair of Honor for the county.

The Morris County Board of Freeholders and representatives of the Veterans Administration and officials of the veterans’ group Rolling Thunder Inc., and other military veterans participated in the opening ceremony held this afternoon.

Morris Freeholder Director Doug Cabana addresses grand opening ceremony of Veterans Service Office and Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, June 6, 2018.
Morris Freeholder Director Doug Cabana addresses grand opening ceremony of Veterans Service Office and Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, June 6, 2018.

“This is all about making sure we provide quality services for our veterans here in Morris County, to ensure they have a place to get the services they need and the medical care they deserve,’’ said Freeholder Director Doug Cabana.

“My wish is that all of our heroes come through the doors of this center and feel the respect and gratitude we have for their service, and know there always will be a cup of coffee and a warm smile for them from someone who is there to help.’’

The new Morris County Veterans Services Center/VA Clinic is in a dedicated section of the Morris View Healthcare Center, at 540 W Hanover Ave.

It is three times larger than the county’s former Veterans Services/VA Clinic quarters in the nearby county’s Human Services building, where the veterans’ clinic shared space with other county agencies.

The new center has a meeting room for use by veterans or staff, and provides a space where veterans can congregate and socialize while waiting for their appointments. There also is much more room for enhanced programs, and allows for the addition of two staff members with bi-lingual capabilities.

Plans call for improved building access for clients, especially those who are disabled, and additional handicapped parking.

A grand opening ceremony was held for the new Veterans Service Office and Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic by the Morris County Department of Human Services on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.
A grand opening ceremony was held for the new Veterans Service Office and Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic by the Morris County Department of Human Services on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.

The larger space will allow the county to increase partnerships with community organizations who serve veterans and offer easy links to a wide array of services in one location.

As part of today’s event, Rolling Thunder Inc. held a “Missing Man Ceremony’’ and unveiling, and dedication of a Chair of Honor, “which calls attention to soldiers who have been killed in action, held as prisoners of war, or whose remains have not been recovered.”

Representing Rolling Thunder were Gus Dante, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran, who is the organization’s government affairs representative; Joseph Kotch, U.S. Navy Vietnam War veteran, who served on the group’s governing board; and Elaine Martin, national secretary of the group’s POW/MIA Chair of Honor Committee.

The moving ceremony centered around a simple round table, with an empty glass and plate, white tablecloth, burning candle, red rose in a vase with a red ribbon, all set for a returning serviceman or servicewoman who has not come home.

Formed in 1995, Rolling Thunder is a non-profit organization with more than 90 chapters throughout the nation.  Its mission is to bring full accountability for prisoners of war/mission in action (POW/MIA) of all wars, and to remind the nation about these veterans, through actions and watchwords: “We Will Not Forget.”

Also participating in today’s service were the Morris Choral Society and St. Virgil’s Choir; Morris County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard; Rabbi Mendy Herson, executive director of the Chabad of Somerset, Hunterdon and Union counties, and the Jewish Center of Basking Ridge; Faith Noah of Bugles Across America; and bagpiper Andy Kerr of Rolling Thunder.

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