NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – While Memorial Day means fun in the sun for some, the meaning is more personal for our nation’s veterans.
It’s a day to remember the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives for our freedom.
CBSN New York’s John Dias spoke with Anthony Silvera, a Long Island man who’s now the supervisor of VetConnectNYC after serving 30 years in the U.S. Air Force.
“Got to see a lot of things, went to Iraq twice,” Silvera told Dias.
Now, he gets to interact with other veterans every workday.
“We’re all veterans that work there, so we understand what it’s like to be a veteran, we understand what it’s like to leave a family and join an organization that’s bigger than yourself,” he said.
VetConnect is a network of more than 100 organizations that provide various services to veterans and their families, like counseling and employment assistance. It comes in handy in times like Memorial Day.
“You think about barbecues, and people get excited about that, but for you, it’s more personal and hurtful,” said Army veteran Jessica Birdwell.
The 27-year-old served in the U.S. Army for three years but was medically discharged. VetConnect set her up with a case manager job when she moved to New York. She told Dias it helps to be surrounded by other vets during Memorial Day.
“I have friends that were killed in action, I have friends that have committed suicide. So that’s always a tough time and a tough day,” she said.
Birdwell’s duties now include finding and reaching out to veterans in need.
“We are your mailman, your teacher. We’re all over the place,” she said.
This is her first Memorial Day living in New York City and says it won’t be her last, thanks to all the support she’s received.
As for Silvera, he too hopes to continue helping every veteran he can.
“When you get that sweet spot and you’re able to help someone who really needs it, it just makes everything worthwhile,” he said.
A worthwhile role to have on such a meaningful day.
For more information about VetConnectNYC, click here.