Members of the new Local Veterans Advisory Committee got together for the first time Monday to watch Mayor Ed O’Brien sign an ordinance creating the new body, with West Haven one of the first municipalities in Connecticut to form a committee that is now required by the state.
The signing took place at the West Haven Veterans Museum & Learning Center, 30 Hood Terrace, opposite the railroad station.
City Clerk Deborah Collins then immediately administered the oath of office to the five committee members and two alternates, all who are veterans and members of local or state veterans’ organizations.
The committee will have its first official meeting as early as next week, O’Brien said.
The members are West Haven Veterans Council President David Ricci, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War; Veterans Council Vice President Gordon Bergman, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and is commander of the West Haven’s Disabled American Veterans chapter; West Haven Vietnam Veterans member and Army veteran Steven Carney, who is treasurer of the Veterans Council; Councilman Sean P. Ronan, D-9; and Robert Rousseau.
Fausto Parra and Eunice Ramirez were sworn in as alternates on the committee.
“This is actually going to point people who need” help in the direction of where they can get it, said Ricci.
Committee members are required by the ordinance to live or have their regular place of business or employment in West Haven.
“Each member possesses the highest credentials and qualifications in veterans affairs to lead this special advisory committee,” O’Brien said in a press release. “The committee aims to improve programs and services for our hometown vets while strengthening our relationship with the West Haven Veterans Affairs Hospital.”
They all were joined at the event by Ted Aub, state coordinator of the National League of POW/MIA Families and chairman of theGuilford/Madison Veterans Advisory Joint Committee.
O’Brien said Aub came to him a few months ago “and said there’s a new regulation that we need to form a new veterans advisory committee.”
“I’m proud to say that we are one of the first Connecticut communities to do it,” O’Brien said.
Ronan said he believes “there’s a need in the community for this” committee. “I think this is going to fill a gap,” he said.
Aub said committees like this one “will be able to answer some of the questions (veterans) need to get answered. The committee will definitely fill a gap in your community,” he said.
Under the ordinance passed by the City Council and signed Monday, the committee “may … act as the coordinating agency in all matters concerning veterans and their dependents, coordinating the activities of public and private facilities concerned with veterans’ re-employment, education, rehabilitation and adjustment to peacetime living.”
It also may “cooperate with all national, state and local governmental and private agencies in securing services and benefits to which a veteran or his dependents may be entitled,” the ordinance reads.
Members initially will serve staggered terms, ultimately all serving 5-year terms.