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Follow Through

I don’t know about you but my stomach is turning and it’s not from too many barbecues Memorial Day weekend.  No, my stomach is turning because we, as a nation, are hypocritical in the treatment of our veterans.    

 

That’s not easy to write and I’m sure it makes some of you uncomfortable, but someone owes it to these men and women to speak what’s truly on their minds.  I spent Memorial Day weekend at numerous observances and I had the honor of spending time with many veterans and their families.   In no uncertain terms, our veterans are unanimously disgusted by the recent Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare revelations that treatment delays and falsified records have led to the deaths of fellow veterans. 

 

 So while we shoot off fireworks, thank our veterans for their service, and universally commit to remember their sacrifice, we must somehow reconcile with the reality that other veterans are being systematically denied quality healthcare.  The veterans I spoke with had one overarching sentiment:  we could keep our parades, bands, pomp and circumstance if only we would treat their brother and sister veterans with the respect they deserve.   

 

They’re even more put off by all the debates, hair splitting, and finger-pointing on Capitol Hill.  The truth is these very VA scandals are as old as the hills and prior presidential administrations had the exact same, unanswered problems.  That’s the frustrating shame we shoulder together as a nation.  The health and well-being of the very people who served us, many of whom were maimed, has become a football used for political advantage.  Unfortunately, in Washington, while that football gets punted around, no one ever gets it down field.        

 

Here in New York, we’ve taken steps to get help for our veterans. We created a peer to peer veterans counseling program to help those struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury. We also set aside a percentage of state contracts for returning service disabled veterans and are working on a tax return checkoff to fund assistance for homeless veterans. But to build on these, we need a comprehensive federal policy to ensure that our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are not forgotten and neglected by their own government. That’s even more crucial here on Long Island, which has one of the largest veteran populations in the country. 

 

I don’t purport to have the answers for this federal failure but I do know that they have just approved allowing more veterans to obtain treatment at private hospitals in order to improve care.  But that will still only be a small fraction of their healthcare needs which prompted a very good observation from these veterans:  while our nation fitfully embarks on the colossal undertaking of a National Healthcare plan, how do we rationalize that we haven’t yet extended similar private healthcare to those who have sacrificed for us? How do we justify that those that deserve our best instead sometimes receive slow and substandard care at overcrowded and underfunded VA hospitals and clinics?  The truth is there is no good reason.  Some will argue that the VA Healthcare system was designed to give veterans and their particular needs better, more personalized attention.  But clearly, that’s just not the case.  They wait weeks on end for appointments, see a different physician each time, and have no access to the world-class specialists our nation has to offer.  It was a well-intentioned plan that just didn’t work but like all things federal, it is now a sacred cow that can’t be touched.  That is unless everyday Americans create enough of an uproar to force change.       

 

That call to action should start right here on Long Island, home to nearly 140,000 veterans.  We are reminded that when they were called, there was no debate or hair-splitting.  They went and they went honorably.  They have every right to expect the same from us.  


News

While this year’s New Hyde Park Street Fair takes place one day before the first official day of fall, the event keeps the spirit of summer alive a little longer for the 20,000-25,000 attendees. 

 

Organizers are looking to up the ante for the 19th annual event on Saturday, Sept. 20, with the usual clowns and crafts supplemented by a petting zoo, pony rides and a new children’s carnival, from New Hyde Park-based Send in the Clowns.

 

“We try to capatilize on all the elements of the fair that work and modify ones that need work,” said New Hyde Park Village Board Research Assistant/Fair

Coordinator Janet Bevers. “The fair has been in place for 19 years now so in essence we follow a similar format. We invite all the village merchants to participate.”

 

The pony rides will be stationed near the Green Meadow Farms petting zoo on Lakeville Road, with the carnival setting up shop in the village’s Central Boulevard parking lot.

 

“It’s exciting to see a local company taking on a big piece of the fair,” Bevers said.

 

Fair reps expect at least 220 vendors to line the street fair this year. In the fair’s inaugural outing in 1995, just 90 craft vendors showed up.

 

“I think it’s one of the biggest events in Nassau County,” Queens-based Craft-A-Fair President Tony Ciuffo said. “The fair accentuates the local merchants.

Every year it gets more and more exciting. I expect new vendors this year. Around 25 percent of the vendors will be new this year.”

 

Each year, vendors rent space on the turnpike from New Hyde Park Road, continuing west to Covert Avenue. Last year, a few extra blocks were added near Lakeville Road.

 

Former trustee Florence Lisanti was one of the first organizers of the street fair, who trustee Donald Barbieri commended for leading the charge.

 

“[The fair] is a great day for the community,” he stated. “We’re proud to have all our local organizations along the turnpike. The merchants get to showcase what they do. We are very proud of the street fair.”

 

Local merchants, Greater New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce members, charity and service groups can set up tables on the sidewalk free of charge, Bevers said.

 

“We view the fair as the premiere street fair on Long Island,” Bevers stated. “It goes about a square mile. The community feel to the fair is crucial. It’s a big fair and still retains its local charact

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say Sewanhaka High School will receive a camera on Covert Avenue, which spans the eastern stretch of the property. Tulip Avenue runs in front of the high school and was also considered. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d’Arnaud brightened the day for some patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center last week in New Hyde Park, posing for pictures and handing out gifts and autographs. The players hung out with the kids in the afternoon, playing video games and answering questions.

They also found the time to make the rounds, stopping by bedsides to spread some cheer. Mr. Met also joined the tour and was a big hit with the children, who peppered him with questions about everything from his four-fingered hand to the whereabouts of the missing Mrs. Met.

The Sewanhaka Indians football team has a season of change in store.

The Indians have moved up from Conference III to Conference II, due to an increase in enrollment, and are set to face teams that they have never seen before, according to head coach George Kasimatis.

“It is hard to gauge where we will be in this conference,” he said. “There is a lot of uncertainty as where we fit in.”


Calendar

Library Board Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Welcome Reception

Wednesday, Sept. 3

Herricks School Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com