VENTNOR — Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Emmick Sr. honored veterans who served their country here and abroad, as well as their families who sacrifice, at a service held Saturday, Nov. 11 outside the Greater Absecon Island VFW Post 215 home on Dorset Avenue.
He emphasized that even after their service is concluded, veterans face many hardships.
“One million veterans have some sort of disability, they have twice the chance of suicide, increased mental health disabilities and depression, and are subject to alcohol and drug abuse. They have higher rates of divorce and domestic abuse, and many are homeless. I have a hard time processing that,” he said.
Emmick said the country has not been without war for more than 20 years. The military pays the human cost of war, he said, and today some service men and women serve as many as five deployments.
Soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guard members endure many hardships and bear the brunt of wars approved by Congress.
“They just keep adding war upon war. Why have we grown so cold? You don’t see it on TV like you did during Vietnam, and it’s hardly ever in the papers,” he said.
He called on those present to hold public officials accountable for their actions.
“Fighting men and women do not get to decide who we go to war with and we don’t ask why; we just go where we are told to go,” he said.
Emmick, who is a Ukranian Orthodox priest, asked the parents present to teach their children the value of the military and how to thank veterans for their service.
Mayor Beth Holtzman talked about the members of the National Football League who have taken a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism.
“That blew me away,” she said. “All the people who kneeled should go over to where our service men and women are at war, and that should be their training in the off-season.”
Colin Abbot, a student at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex who won first place in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Patriot's Pen contest, read his essay. He spoke about the opportunities available to all children, regardless of their race or creed.
His classmates in the VECC Chorus, under the direction of music teacher Evan Shea, sang several patriotic songs, which prompted the crowd to sing along. Michelle Cook of Ventnor, a member of the Margate Community Church Choir, sang the national anthem. Members of the Atlantic City Junior ROTC presented the colors.
After the service the post opened its doors for fellowship, doughnuts, coffee and hot chocolate.