Today, Representative Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) joined the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University to hold a Conference on Engaging Community Support for Veterans.
Attended by more than 150 people, the conference served as opportunity to harness the power of community in supporting, engaging, and respecting our nation's veterans and their families and featured panel discussions related to veterans' health and wellness, employment, and education. Congressman Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, served as the special guest and keynote speaker. The conference was designed to equip community leaders with the tools and resources they need to help veterans reintegrate into society. It is the first of its kind nationwide and will serve as a model to be used across the country.
In addition to their participation in today's conference Congresswoman Buerkle and Chairman Miller visited the Syracuse VA Medical Center where they met with the institution's leadership, toured the facility, and greeted veterans.
"I am pleased with the success of today's event and extend my sincere thanks to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University for hosting this conference and partnering with me to serve our veteran community. Additionally, I especially thank Chairman Jeff Miller for coming to Syracuse. His leadership on veterans' issues is unparalleled and I am honored that he made time in his busy schedule to join us these past two days to see firsthand what our VA and community are doing to aid our veterans," said Rep. Buerkle. "It is no one person or one organization's responsibility to assist our veterans; everyone in the community must be engaged in doing so. It is my hope that this conference will only be the beginning of the community partnership we will build to support our veterans. We must all work together to ensure that our veterans receive the care and support they need."
"I would like to thank Rep. Buerkle, who has been an invaluable member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, for hosting these events in Syracuse the past two days, allowing me to hear directly the concerns of veterans in upstate New York," stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "As I have witnessed during this visit, this is a community ready and willing to help our veterans and work with VA to make their transition as seamless as possible. I thank everyone who came out to voice their concerns, and we'll bring your message back to Washington."
"On behalf of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, and Syracuse University, we thank Congresswoman Buerkle for her cooperation and support of today's conference," says IVMF executive director and founder Mike Haynie, a U.S. Air Force veteran. "Community support of our nation's servicemen and women is critical to a successful transition during the post-service life course, as we heard from expert voices today. While today's event touched on the very deep and real issues that our veterans face as they reintegrate into civilian life, we look forward to continued and expanded public dialogue and engagement on these topics and issues."
Rep. Buerkle's participation in today's conference is just one more step in her commitment to serving veterans, which she has launched as Operation SERVICE: Supporting, Engaging, and Respecting Veterans in Communities Everywhere.
Last year Rep. Buerkle and the American Psychological Association (APA) partnered to host a symposium on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Syracuse. In addition, along with the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health, Congressman Mike Michaud, Buerkle has formed a new caucus called the Congressional Caucus on Engaging Community Support for Veterans. The purpose of the caucus is to continue and foster the relationship between the community and the VA to aid veterans returning home. Throughout the year, Buerkle will continue to host and participate in events related to encouraging support of veterans from all facets within the community. Information regarding upcoming initiatives will be made public as they are confirmed.