e-News 11/9/2018

We Pause to Remember Veterans
New Jersey Takes the Lead to End Homelessness Among Veterans
Salute: Leon Xie and Natalia Luzuriaga, winners of the 2018 Congressional App Challenge


We Pause to Remember Veterans

For almost 100 years, since the end of World War I, our nation has taken pause to honor our veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice to keep the United States free.

Over this weekend, at gatherings in schools, churches, clubs and American Legions, VFW and other veteran service organizations, millions of Americas will stand to pay tribute to the 20 million veterans living among us.

As a Vietnam Veteran myself, I have been honored to participate in such tributes, across New Jersey’s 11 Congressional District, as they are a powerful reminder of how our nation’s liberty has been preserved by the dedication of those men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform.

It is also important to remember, tens of thousands of members of the active military, Guard and Reserves – all volunteers – are currently deployed in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and around the world.  Many have already served multiple deployments.

Of course, for many veterans who have survived engagement with the enemy, their war is not over.  Their silent battle against pain and injury speaks of the heavy burden that is borne by those who stood ready to sacrifice in defense of liberty. 

So let us all take a moment this weekend to pause and thank our veterans and remember them!


Taking the Lead to End Homelessness Among Veterans

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported the number of homeless veterans fell to approximately 38,000 representing a 5.3% decline from last year and a 50% reduction from the 73,367 homeless veterans tallied in 2009.

While we clearly have more work to do to end the scourge of homelessness among our men and women who served, this report demonstrates that the dedicated effort of Congress, the federal government, and local partners like Community Hope in Parsippany, is working.

In New Jersey, I was pleased to help lead the effort to develop the ‘first of its kind’ HUD-VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) housing community for homeless veterans on the Lyons VA Medical Campus, known as Valley Brook Village. Officially opening its doors in October 2013, this three building, 62 unit housing facility provides permanent housing funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) paired with case management and clinical service provided to at-risk veterans through the VA. This combination of services and permanent housing has allowed veterans to establish independence in their new homes.

Through my role on the House Committee on Appropriations, I was able to direct critical resources to support Community Hope during the planning and construction of Valley Brook Village. Today, as Chairman, I have worked to increase funding for the program so the successes of Valley Brook Village can be reproduced across the country. In fact, my Appropriations Committee has increased funding to this program, year after year, to support more than 90,000 VASH vouchers across the country!

Because of the tremendous successes of Phase I, Community Hope has been planning an expansion of Valley Brook Village. Similar to Phase I, I was pleased to again support this effort ensuring the necessary resources where provided. In August 2018 Community Hope broke ground on Phase II.  Expected to be completed in the fall of 2019, this expansion will provide an additional 50 new units of housing for homeless veterans. The veterans who will live in the new units will also be supported by HUD-VASH vouchers funded by my Committee.

We owe our men and women veterans everything for their service and sacrifice! And yet, homelessness among veterans is still persistent across America.  I commend Community Hope and other local organizations and elected officials for supporting this project. These efforts, to create and grow Valley Brook Village, are paramount to the overall reduction in homelessness amongst veterans in New Jersey and across the nation.  

I would encourage you to watch the video “Welcome Home to Valley Brook Village”detailing the creation of Valley Brook Village here


Salute: Leon Xie and Natalia Luzuriaga, winners of the 2018 Congressional App Challenge

Congratulations are in order for Leon Xie of Mountain Lakes High School and Natalia Luzuriaga of the Morris County School of Technology who won the 2018 Congressional App Challenge. Their app, “sPeach,” assists hearing impaired individuals and English language learners with pronunciation. You can watch a demonstration of their app here.

I have been highly impressed by the STEM education expertise displayed by almost 40 students of New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District who made a submission. Examining their entries, and the winning app, “sPeach,” one can only come away with renewed confidence that the future is bright for American technology innovation through the developments made by our students!

More information about the competition can be found here.