Written by Senator Jack Martins Thursday, 12 June 2014 00:00
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.
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 00:00
The founders of the popular Facebook group “Massapequa Moms,” a ‘virtual living room with 6,700 people,’ are leveraging their social media power to create a new discount loyalty card good all over Long Island—including, they hope, in Mineola.
With a hugely popular Facebook community, co-founders Dawn Boyle Kostakis and Stephanie Hartman wanted to “figure out a way that we could help the consumer and the business owner at the same time; keeping commerce going, keeping it all local and having the people get a little bang for their buck,” said Kostakis. They wanted to serve more than just Massapequa, too, and the Long Island Loyalty card was born.
Saturday, 27 September 2014 00:00
As I tried to make my way through the unforgiving monsoon season, rain pouring as far as the eye could see, dodging puddles I rushed inside the school building. The guard yelled in the background for the children to come in quickly before they dragged in even more mud inside. Trying hard not to slip on the wet dirty floor, I pondered to myself what
exactly I was doing here. The words of Mahatma Gandhi resonated inside my head, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Here I was at a school in Mumbai India, 7800 miles from my home in Mineola, volunteering with “Aseema,” a non-governmental organization whose mission is to empower and educate the under privileged children. Children living on the streets or in slums and in inhuman conditions.
Thursday, 25 September 2014 00:00
The Mineola Mustangs varsity football team defeated the Roosevelt Roughriders 47-38 on Saturday, Sept. 20.
Senior quarterback James Gerstner led the Mustangs (2-0) to victory by rushing 212 yards and securing five touchdowns on 23 carries. He also completed 11 of 13 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown.
“This was a big game—we were ready and pumped up all week,” Gerstner said. “We came in ranked third but we knew we could beat them.”
Thursday, 25 September 2014 00:00
The Mineola Varsity Football team’s defense dominated Valley Stream South, winning 21-0 on Sept. 13. The Falcons never got further then Mineola’s 30 yard line. The defense was lead by senior linebackers Eric Guardado (8 tackles 6 assist), Ed Hincapie (6 tackles, 5 assist) and safety John Clancy (tackles, 3 assist).
Defensive linemen Anthony Sarno, Luigi Athan, Victor Tineo, Matt Lafaye and Chris Brenes controlled the line of scrimmage. Defensive backs Peter McCormack and Chris Lockwood played very well as they combined for eight tackles and only allowed two pass completions. Linebacker Kyle Dunleavy, Ben Carbone, Matt Kosowski and Brian Smith also played very well.