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November 1, 2013

Letter: Mayor Kirk has stood up for the city's veterans; Bell has not

To the editor:

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to interact with both mayoral candidates regarding veteran issues.

It is well known that Mayor Carolyn Kirk and I have not always seen eye to eye on veterans causes, the 2012 Memorial Day Ceremony being the most notable. To her credit, however, Mayor Kirk admitted that it was a mistake and responded quickly and positively, resulting in both ceremonies being successful.

An unexpected side benefit were the large number of Vietnam veterans who attended the Vietnam Memorial Ceremony; a first. Since then, Carolyn Kirk has gone out of her way to support both veterans and programs for veterans.

She was a sponsor and financial supporter of the successful “Operation Commitment to our Troops” event in April 2013.

Under her administration, a number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been hired by both the Police and Fire Departments, a gain to the City of Gloucester and to our veterans. Her administration hired a young and dynamic Veterans Services Officer who has breathed new life and energy into the Office of Veterans Affairs, and who is making a concerted effort, through a myriad of programs, to reach out and assist returning veterans.

I had the opportunity to attend a moving ceremony on Wednesday where 23 new Veterans Memorial Square signs were unveiled.

These will replace the current signs, many of which are in deplorable condition and an insult to the fallen veterans whose names are listed. Sadly, this condition has existed and been ignored by many past administrations, but it was Mayor Kirk who rectified this disgrace and it was her administration that appropriately honored these young men.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk has made supporting veterans in all their endeavors a priority.

Unfortunately, Mac Bell has not. For a number of years, the Disabled American Veterans, of which I am a member, sell forget-me-nots. Repeatedly, they requested permission to solicit in the Walgreen’s Plaza, which is owned by Mac Bell, and have been rebuffed.

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