“I want to thank everyone in this room for the commitment, for the love, for the dedication, for allowing me to put my five and my eight-year-old to bed every night in their own bed and for allowing me to know they are safe,” Katz said. “And that is because of the work of everyone who is in this room and veterans throughout this country and our allied countries.”
The ceremony specifically honored Sergeant Jason Sagebiel, an Iraq War veteran serving in the United States Marine Corps from 1999-2007; Fireman First Class John McNamee Sr., a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, serving in the United States Navy from 1943-45 and 1949-52; and Sergeant Leroy Barnes, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the United States Army from 1965-67.
The ceremony also remembered the attack on Pearl Harbor, as presented by Arthur Grainer, yeoman second class with the United States Navy. Grabiner was also presented a citation for his service.
“It's our responsibility to pass [history] on to our kids so they know the sacrifices that went into building this country,” Katz said.
Katz also detailed what the borough is doing to ensure that the lives of veterans become more comfortable when they leave the service, including the new satellite location of the Mayor's Office of Veteran's Affairs at Borough Hall.
The office is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to enhance accessibility to the various services available for veterans without having to leave the borough.
“You could come here with all of your issues and they'll help you,” Katz said. “They're not just going to take your name and number, they're actually going to do the services right here in the borough of Queens.”
She also noted that the Vietnam War memorial is moving forward in Elmhurst Park, despite the slow timeline. Katz provided funding for the memorial when she was on the City Council in 2008, but the project was ultimately stalled due to financial reasons.
"It took me almost 10 years to get it back on the agenda," she said. "It's going to take a little while to get it, but it is definite and it is moving through and we are honored to be able to give that commitment."
Katz was joined by other partners in government including State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the state senate's Committee on Veterans. He called on all elected officials to do more for veterans.
“I certainly think we have an obligation to do what we can for veterans in terms of healthcare, PTSD, mental and physical illness, homelessness, job creation and job opportunities for our veterans,” he said. “Frankly, I think we merely scratch the surface when it comes to helping our veterans,” he added.