Prominent Island vets cite candidate’s record of supporting veteran’s issues.
(Joining Borelli were (left to right); Richard Pfluger, commander of the Huttner-Pasqualini American Legion post; Joe DiGiovanni, Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and member of the American Legion; Fred Finnerty, member of the American Legion and United Staten Island Veteran’s Organization; Anthony Fanelli, Treasurer of USIVO; Bob Cruz, member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Vets. Unable to attend were Jack Semich, Executive Director of Project Homefront and a Vietnam combat veteran, and William Abell, President of the Battle of the Bulge Plaza foundation.)
Local veterans stood arm in arm today in support of Joe Borelli, candidate for Assembly in the 62nd District, at the Veteran’s of the Battle of the Bulge Memorial plaza at Wolfe’s Pond Park. The site was chosen for this event while it is in a state of repair, largely as a result of the advocacy of Borelli and Councilman Vincent Ignizio. In 2010, the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge honored Borelli with an inscribed paving stone, thanking him for his work in maintaining the monument in posterity.
“Over the year’s, Joe has been a great help in making sure this monument stays intact, and that the memory of what happened in the winter of 1944-45 is always remembered by future generation’s of Staten Islander’s,” said William Abell, President of the Battle of the Bulge Plaza foundation.
“I have known Joe for over seven years through his work with so many different community and veterans organizations from Project Homefront to the Friends of Clay Pit Pond Park,” said Jack Semich, executive director of Project Homefront.
“No issue indicates his commitment to veteran’s issues more than his role in the four-year long fight to make New York city’s civil service entrance exams free for active troops and returning veterans,” Semich added. “We were having trouble getting money orders for folks in forward units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it struck us as incredibly wrong that veterans were not entitled to free exams in the first place.”
Borelli and Councilman Ignizio, along with Firefighter John Colon, spent four years battling the Bloomberg administration on whether or not to allow veterans taking civil service tests a free admission. The city had been already giving free exams to low-income applicants and those on public assistance. On Veteran’s Day in 2011, the Mayor announced a change in this policy.
“I didn’t serve, so I feel even more indebted to those that have. Veterans of all ages are entitled to the rights, benefits and privileges that they were guaranteed when they signed up. I know Staten Islanders will always stand with me in guaranteeing they get the respect they deserve. I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with so many veterans organizations over the years, and I am humbled by the support I am receiving,” said Borelli
“Joe understands the issues and takes care of them quickly and personally. His door is always open,” said Joe DiGiovanni, Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. “I believe he got a lot of his leadership skills and respect for our country from his years in scouting and having achieved its highest rank of Eagle Scout. “ he added, noting his own volunteer involvement in scouting over the years.
Borelli also recalled one of his first public speeches was at a congressional hearing in Brooklyn in 2005 on whether to close the Manhattan or Brooklyn V.A. hospital. “They tried to pit veterans against veterans, and in the end there was enough public outcry from elected officials and veterans organizations for them to keep both open.”
“I appreciate that he was always willing to help us fill out the paperwork to compete for grants. I like him, and I look forward to working with him in the future,” concluded USIVO Treasurer Anthony Fanelli.
The American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, United Staten Island Veteran’s Organization, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Staten Island Project Homefront, and the Battle of the Bulge Plaza foundation are non-profit organizations. All comments of support are personal, and do not constitute the official endorsement of these organizations.