A Letter from Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno

This Veterans Day, I would like to remind everyone to remember and honor all of those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, in both combat and supporting roles. New Jersey is home to more than 420,000 veterans who have served all over the world to protect our great nation. These brave men and women are the greatest members of their respective generations.

As the Chair of the New Jersey Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force, I know how vital our military installations are, not just to their home communities, but to the entire State. Together, New Jersey’s military installations and activities directly and indirectly support more than 73,000 jobs and add $6.5 billion to the Gross Domestic Product.

This week, I took an important next step in protecting our military installations from the possibility of closure or mission loss. On Tuesday, I signed an Executive Order to appoint an Ombudsman to oversee our strategic plan to keep our military installations open and economically viable. In the face of potential federal budget cuts or a future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, no military installation is safe, and the time for action is now.

As the proud mother of a recent graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy, I have made it a priority to work on the issues that matter to veterans. Since taking office in 2010, I have participated in more than 90 events that salute our veterans and their families.  Earlier this month, I celebrated with the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation at their 20th Annual Salute to Patriotism Gala. We raised more than $265,000 for veterans at that event alone!

I urge you to take some time this holiday season to give back to these service members who have sacrificed so much. In this newsletter, you will find information on a few of our recent events with veterans’ organizations.

Taking care of our veterans is not a partisan issue; it is a responsibility that we all share.
Kim Guadagno
Lt. Governor
Keeping New Jersey’s Military Installations Open and Viable
From Left to right it is Bill Linderman, Peter Cancro, Linda Kellner, Lt. Governor Guadagno and Maj. Gen. Clark Martin.

On Wednesday, Lt. Governor Guadagno signed Executive Order 192 to appoint Maj. Gen. Clark W. Martin as New Jersey’s Military and Defense Economic Ombudsman, a position outlined in the New Jersey Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force report released in July. This Executive Order also extended the Task Force until December 31, 2017 or the end of Governor Christie’s term. 

Martin, a retired Air Force Major General who served as the Commander of the New Jersey Air National Guard for 23 years, will spearhead the State’s efforts to fortify and ensure the economic vitality of New Jersey military installations in preparation for potential federal budget cuts or a future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. Along with his extensive military experience, Martin co-founded the Trenton-based government relations firm MBI-GluckShaw in 1991.

“When it comes to federal cuts, especially in the age of sequestration, no military installation is off limits,” said Lt. Governor Guadagno, who heads the Task Force. “That’s why it is critical that we have someone with strong business, government and military experience to develop a strategy for keeping New Jersey’s military installations open and viable. Maj. Gen. Martin has incredible breadth and depth of experience in each of these areas, and I am honored that he has agreed to serve in this crucial role.”

The Task Force was created to protect the State’s military installations – its largest single employer – from sequestration and the looming possibility of future BRAC rounds or mission loss to other installations. Extending the Task Force and creating the Ombudsman were recommendations made by the Task Force in its final report.

Housed in the Business Action Center, and reporting to the Lt. Governor, the Ombudsman’s duties include, among others:

  • Reporting on and recommending strategies and best practices for economically fortifying our military installations and improving New Jersey’s defense industry.
  • Supporting all efforts related to the creation of a defense industry cluster.
  • Identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to our military installations from an economic perspective, and to New Jersey’s defense industry.
  • Providing recommendations on significant economic development projects that would support New Jersey’s defense industry.
  • Working in coordination with any retained consultants devoted to advocating for New Jersey and its military installations.

Press coverage about the Task Force report can be found HERE and HERE.

CONNECTING VETERANS WITH JOB TRAINING

In October, Lt. Governor Guadagno joined Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Harold J. Wirths for the grand opening of the Sansone Military Training Center located at Sansone Auto Mall in Avenel. The new 7,500 square foot facility is designed to offer military service members, veterans and their spouses the opportunity to explore employment in the automobile industry.

“While we have always made it a priority to help our veterans, it is important to remember that those who stand behind our heroes at home are heroes in their own right,” said Lt. Governor Guadagno. “We sincerely hope that this program becomes a model for future endeavors. Sansone and the Town of Woodbridge are to be congratulated for their efforts and we look forward to seeing all the good that comes from it.”

On-the-job training will be available in sales, service, facility maintenance and office-related positions. This month, American Legion Post 471 in Iselin will host a hiring event to match current and former service members and spouses with jobs, internships and training at Sansone Auto Mall.

Giving All Veterans a Dignified Burial

During the summer, Lt. Governor Guadagno joined New Jersey’s Mission of Honor (NJMOH) on two occasions to inter the cremated remains of 20 veterans at Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

“These brave soldiers gave everything in the service and defense of our great nation, both in times of war and during peacetime.  Today, we give them what we can – the honor of their names and the dignity of a full military burial,” said Lt. Governor Guadagno. “Regardless of when they served, or where, we benefit from their patriotism and courage. Thanks to New Jersey’s Mission of Honor, we will never forget these veterans.”

NJMOH is a non-profit that works with hospitals, funeral homes, crematoriums, veterans’ homes and other organizations to identify and inter the remains of veterans that have been unclaimed since cremation. NJMOH has reunited more than 250 veterans’ remains with their families and interred 188 veterans’ remains. 

The Lt. Governor applauded NJMOH in a recent op-ed available HERE.

For a full list of veterans interred by NJMOH, or to learn more about getting involved in its efforts, please visit the organization’s website at: http://www.njsmissionofhonor.org/.

 
DRESS OUR VETS CLOTHING DRIVE

Last spring, Lt. Governor Guadagno joined women legislators and veterans groups to launch the Dress Our Vets initiative, a drive to collect new and gently-used professional clothing for women veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce. 

Donations came from all over the state during Women’s History Month from participating women legislators’ offices and from Siemens Corporation in Iselin as part of the Dress Our Vets campaign.

“We anticipated a positive response to this event, but we were overwhelmed by the amount of clothing we received! And I am certain that we will change many veterans’ lives with these donations,” said Lt. Governor Guadagno. “Our efforts will help women veterans communicate to future employers what we already know: that they are incredible resources who will be great employees at any company. I am proud to have worked with Suiting Warriors Foundation on this project and I thank the legislators, their constituents, and Siemens Corporation – all of whom jumped at the chance to assist women veterans during this campaign.”

All donated clothing was given to Suiting Warriors Foundation (SWF), a non-profit Veterans Service Organization that supports veterans transitioning into civilian life by providing them with professional attire essential for competing in today’s job market. More information can be found on its website at http://suitingwarriors.org

 
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