He says city does its best to aid vets
I READ with great interest your article about Ari Merretazon and his claims about the Philadelphia Veterans Advisory Commission and the state of veterans support in Philadelphia in general. As a retired Navy Mustang, war veteran, veterans service provider and someone who has been involved with veterans and military issues for 44 years, I take exception to Mr. Merretazon's caricature of two dedicated city employees and the quality of support the city and its departments provide our veterans.
While I think anyone who provides services to veterans agrees that we all wish things would move faster for our returning heroes, one has to understand the "system" - however one defines it - is not now presently structured to permit that to happen. Truth be told, most of the issues that our returning veterans face now are those that must be resolved at the federal level and don't lend themselves to easy resolution at the local level. If they did, most issues would be easily resolved by now.
I can relate from my own personal experience that veterans in very few cities in this country have the suport from a City Council, city departments and local federal legislatures that Philadelphia's veterans are lucky to enjoy. Councilmen Mark Squilla and David Oh, and their staffs to name two, have personally made themselves available to my veterans, some of whom were facing life-threatening situations. Other Council members have told me many times not to hesitate contacting them if a veteran in their districts has problems. At the federal level, Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, Reps. Pat Meehan, Bob Brady and Mike Fitzpatrick have all initiated or co-sponsored legislation, much of which has come from suggestions from constituent veterans, that has benifited veterans locally and nationwide. These elected officials also have made their staffs available to quickly assist veterans who need help. I have referred veterans to them over the years with excellent results.
I think the services now provided to Philadelphia's veterans are the best they have been in the 17 years I have been retired from the military. I see no reason that upward trajectory will not continue. With a City Council and city departments dedicated and ready to help our veterans, I am as positive about the future of our veterans in Philadelphia as I have ever been.
U.S. Navy (retired)