Long Beach City Council members joined residents and members of the Joint Veterans Organization, American Legion, American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post at a Veterans Day Ceremony at City Hall on Sunday.
The annual ceremony is the city’s way of publicly thanking the many veterans who bravely served the country. Local troupes of Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts were also in attendance, and showed off their handmade signs expressing their gratitude.
Earlier this year, the City Council established the Veterans Help Center, a new city department with the goal to provide veterans and their departments with information and access to the resources they need and deserve.
“Navigating the bureaucracy can be difficult, to say the least, so we need our veterans to know that they are not alone,” City Council President Anthony Eramo said. “Working alongside Long Beach’s great organizations, such as the VFW, the Veterans Help Center continues to ensure that our veterans receive the benefits they deserve. If you are a veteran, or know a veteran that is in need of any kind of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the center.”
Vincent DiSalvo, a veteran of the Vietnam War and a 42-year resident of the city, heads the office, which coordinates with agencies on the federal, state and county levels. Residents who visit the office, which is open in City Hall on Wednesdays between 1 and 4 p.m., may receive information concerning a number of issues, including PTSD, financial assistance and health care benefits. Appointments can also be scheduled by phone at (516) 705-7288.
“As members of the armed forces sacrifice so much to protect our country, I believe that supporting important services like the Veterans Help Center is the least the city can do to show our gratitude,” Council Vice President Chumi Diamond said. “We thank all members of the military and the many veterans who serve our community, including Vincent, who has stepped up for fellow veterans by volunteering his time to help those who so greatly deserve it.”
The department worked with City Council members to honor veterans who served during the Cold War by approving an amendment to the City Charter that provides a tax exemption to property owners in our city who helped keep the peace between the United States and the Soviet Union.
City officials said the exemption, which equals ten percent of the assessed property value insofar as it does not exceed $4,000, applies to property owned by veterans who served in active military service to the United States during the Cold War (between Sept. 2, 1945 and Dec. 26, 1991), and were released from service with an honorable discharge or conditions. Additionally, Cold War veterans who have a disability connected to their time in active service may be eligible for an additional exemption on qualifying property as long as it does not exceed $20,000.
Additionally, the Veterans Help Center worked with Walgreens and Duane Reade to allow veterans who are currently enrolled in the Veterans Administration Health Care System to visit their local stores to receive free flu shots. Veterans are invited to fill out a registration form and present it to a local Walgreens or Duane Reade pharmacist with a VA and photo ID cards.
With the free flu shot, Walgreens will automatically update VA health care records. The Walgreens in Long Beach can be contacted directly at (516) 897-7901. To find a location near you, call 800-WALGREENS (800-925-4733) or visit www.walgreens.com/findastore.
“I’m proud to serve as an advocate for veterans, their spouses and their dependents,” stated Vincent DiSalvo. “My goal is to inform individuals of the services that are available to them and do what I can to make it easier for them to receive whatever benefits they are entitled to.”