By Dan Wing
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council has declared 2014 as the “Year of the Veteran” in Philadelphia, aimed at helping, highlighting, and supporting Veterans. Sunday night, three members of the City Council joined the leaders of area Veterans’ Agencies for a kick off ceremony at the National Liberty Museum.
Proposed by Council members David Oh, Mark Squilla, and Jannie Blackwell, the idea behind the year of the veteran is to make sure that Veterans are getting access to the services they need, and to make sure those services are also being supported by the city. Councilman Oh says it’s important for governments to take a step back, and make sure they’re giving our nation’s veterans everything they deserve.
“Freedom is not free, comes at a terrible price, and for those that pay that price on all our behalves, we certainly should never shirk from out duties in honoring, remembering, and ensuring that we remember those now, in the past, and in the future,” Oh said.
Councilman Squilla says it’s sad to see some veterans suffer, and that these men and women deserve much more.
“We have a lot of people suffering that were veterans. That come back, they don’t have a place to stay, they don’t have a place to live, they don’t even have anything to eat. And it’s up to us to care of them. They gave their lives for us. They gave their time, and their duty, and it’s up to us to make sure that we take care of them,” Squilla said.
Two of the biggest events to mark the year of the veteran will be the first annual 5k “Bridge to Opportunity” Run over the Ben Franklin Bridge on May 10th, and the Veterans Wheelchair Games in August, which usually draws more than 600 competitors. Many more events will be coordinated with the One Book, One Philadelphia program, which aims to get all Philadelphians to read and discuss the same book. The book chosen for this year is “The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers, which gives a very honest view of war and the return home from an Iraq War Veteran.
More information about all of the “Year of the Veteran” events can be found on the Veterans Multi-Service Center’s website – www.VMCenter.org.