Spring 2009 Edition NJDMAVA Veterans

About NJ Veteran Journal:
The New Jersey Veteran Journal is an official publication of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is intended to serve New Jersey's veterans, their families, friends and concerned individuals and groups. All correspondence should be sent to:

Veteran Journal Editor, NJDMAVA/PA, PO Box 340,
Trenton, NJ 08625-0340

Vets Haven eligible for tax refund contributions
By Kryn P. Westhoven, NJDMAVA/PA

Every day William McGinnis makes an effort to help service members and veterans. Every day he honors the memory of his son, Marine Sergeant Brian D. McGinnis, who was killed on March 30, 2003, in a UH- 1N Huey helicopter crash in Southern Iraq.

McGinnis’s efforts appear in black and white in the pages of the New Jersey state income tax booklet on page 7 with the listing for Veterans Haven Support Fund as a new N.J. Charitable Fund. This allows taxpayers the option to donate all or part of their income tax refund to this worthy cause.

“Instead of feeling sorry, I was trying to help wounded Soldiers,” said McGinnis. While visiting service members at Walter Reed Army Hospital, the Woodbury Heights resident got the idea of creating a contribution check off box on tax forms for support of wounded warriors.

He started talking to federal and state legislators. His local State Senator Stephen Sweeney mentioned Veterans Haven and how the transitional housing program was successful in getting homeless veterans back into society.

“I thought it was a very worthwhile facility,” added McGinnis who toured the 55-bed facility in Winslow Township before getting behind the effort to start the New Jersey Veterans Haven Support Fund. It was a two-year process that in January 2008 made its way to governor’s desk for a signature.

The Veterans Haven check off will help veterans receive added necessities to help get a job or move out on their own at the end of the two-year program. Since 1995, more than 800 veterans have entered the doors of the facility after being evaluated at a VA Medical Center. Eligible veterans must agree to a long term commitment focusing on psychological, social and vocational rehabilitation in a drug and alcohol free environment.

While there is an estimated homeless veteran’s population of 7,000 to 8,000 in New Jersey, the Veterans Haven program is looking to touch more lives with a proposed 39- bed addition. With potential of more veterans involved in the program, there will even be a greater need to support the reintegration of the homeless vets back into society as productive citizens.

While this tax check off box is just a small step for New Jersey taxpayers to support former service members, McGinnis is still looking to get a similar check off on federal tax forms in the future.

He is not put off by how long it takes to get legislation moved through government. He’s already enjoyed success at the local level and on the Internet, where he launched efforts to keep military families in touch with loved ones, ringing up $1.6 million in donated phone cards for deployed troops. McGinnis hopes that the tax return contribution will answer some of the needs of homeless veterans in the state.

Lt. Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr. (left) visited the residents of the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home at the annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 10, 2008. Johns, a native of Bergen County, currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. Photo by Sgt. Edward Smith, 444MPAD.

COLUMBARIUM CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES Construction workers take advantage of the good weather at the Section P Columbarium and Public Assembly Area at the Brig. Gen William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, which is slated to be dedicated this upcoming Memorial Day. Photo by Gregory S. Fowler, LA Group, P.C.