Philadelphia City Council Focuses On Veterans’ Needs

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As the birthplace of the United States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, Philadelphia holds a special position, and even a responsibility, to remain deeply connected to those who have served our country dating back to the pre-Revolutionary War period.

There are about 88,000 veterans living in Philadelphia with service spanning World War II until the present.

Council President Darrell Clarke reenergized the Veterans Advisory Commission, opened a new, more accessible office, and hired veteran, Scott Brown, as executive director.

Earlier this year, Councilman at Large David Oh introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by all members of City Council, which officially declared 2014 as the Year of the Veteran in Philadelphia to celebrate the accomplishments as well as to continue to raise public awareness of issues related to veterans and the ongoing initiatives to serve those who have served. A dedication like this one commends all our veterans as an extremely talented and experienced pool of leaders, workers, and neighbors.

Other Council Members have also been instrumental in catering to the city’s veterans. 3rd Dist. Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell has been a champion of addressing homelessness among Philadelphia veterans.

1st Dist. Councilman Mark Squilla has made veterans’ issues and causes one of the hallmarks of his tenure. Councilman at Large Dennis O’Brien co-introduced a resolution with Oh urging the United States Dept. of Defense to include the names of the 74 fallen sailors of the Destroyer USS Frank E. Evans on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

They also introduced a resolution recognizing the work of Philadelphia’s own Louise Esola and her book American Boys: The True Story of the Lost 74 of the Vietnam War, which brings to light the story of the 74 sailors that perished on the Frank E. Evans during the Vietnam War.



Councilmen Mark Squilla, Bobby Henon and James Kenney also co-introduced a resolution with Oh recognizing and honoring the life and service of William “Wild Bill” Guarnere, who received numerous medals and decorations for his service during World War II. Oh is currently in the process of helping the family of Guarnere with their project of establishing a bronze statue of the hero. Kenney is leading a project to erect a statue of Edward “Babe” Heffron in South Philadelphia.

In particular, Oh has spearheaded many of Council’s actions on behalf of the veterans’ community. As the only veteran currently serving on City Council, Oh has introduced laws and resolutions which benefit, recognize, and commemorate the members of our armed forces and our veterans. In addition, Oh has held numerous fundraisers for veterans, veteran causes, and in support of military serving overseas. In this regard, Oh was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the US Army Special Forces Association, National Headquarters.

Oh successfully introduced legislation that was signed into law that created a business tax credit for employers who hire returning veterans. Several weeks ago, Oh introduced an amendment to his original bill. His amendment, co-sponsored by all members of City Council, seeks to increase the tax credit from a total of $4,000 over two years to $15,000 over three years. Philadelphia was the first city in the nation to have such a tax credit, and Oh believes this increase will make the bill more effective in attracting veterans to take advantage of the opportunities the City has to offer.

In response to the national Veterans Health Administration investigations earlier this year, Oh introduced a resolution in June that authorized Council to hold hearings on the state of veterans in the city. Oh chaired the hearing which featured practical recommendations for better service from respected veterans who live in and around Philadelphia.

Other veteran-related resolutions that Oh has introduced over the past year include honoring all veterans on Veterans Day 2014, honoring American veterans of the Vietnam War, honoring American veterans of the Korean War, commemorating the dedication of an official state historical marker that recognizes Edison HS and its former students who died in the Vietnam War, and urging further action to enact legislation to designate the Medical Center of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs located at 3900 Woodland Avenue as the “Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz Dept. of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.”

Every year, the Councilman presents council citations to the Liberty USO Servicemen and Servicewomen of the Year. He is past chairman of the Philadelphia Chapter, 82nd Airborne Div. Association; member of the Castor-Rhawnhurst American Legion Post 754; and an honorary member of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Society.

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