By Alicia Venter
Three members of Community Board 9 (CB9) had no idea when they sat down for their monthly meeting on Thursday of the heartfelt surprise waiting for them once the clock hit 7:15.
Joe Iaboni, Joseph Richard Smith and CB9 District Manager James S. McClelland were ushered to their feet to be recognized by their community and elected officials for their service in the United States armed forces.
With Veterans Day only a few days after the meeting, Community Board Chair Sherry Algredo organized this surprise for her fellow community board members — and her friends.
The three veterans were provided official citations and awards from a number of their leaders. State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Councilwoman Joann Ariola and Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar each attended to celebrate Iaboni, Smith and McClelland.
However, each of these officials are involved in Veterans Affairs within their political sphere, and made an effort to illustrate how the recognition of the service the men provided must extend beyond Nov. 11.
“We need to do what we can do for our Veterans each and every day. Every day is Veterans Day,” Addabbo said. “When we take care ofthese issues that face our Veterans every day — mental health, physical health and housing — we get to address the most serious issue, and that is the suicide rate.”
By recognizing these veterans and all the veterans in Queens, the county that has the most veterans in New York City, Addabbo explained how that helps bring down the suicide rate among veterans.
The political leaders were friends with the veterans long before Thursday night. Ariola knew Iaboni for many years, and they are neighbors.
When I go down 157th Avenue, I see [Joe’s] flag on one of the tallest poles you can legally have on your front lawn waving so proudly,” Ariola said “As I go by, I always say God Bless America.”
Any tips about whats happening in Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Ozone Park or Southeast Queens? Email me at [email protected]!