Congressman Steve Israel announced that he secured more than $8.9 million in retroactive benefits for New York veterans and honored the families of deceased WWII veterans, including Private First Class Harry Schwartz of Great Neck, at his final veterans event on Monday, Dec. 5.
“My father was among the bravest men who stormed the beaches of Normandy and his service has always brought great pride to our family,” said Ellen Brous of Great Neck, daughter of WWII Veteran Harry Schwartz.
“Congressman Israel’s office was so wonderful with helping my mother secure benefits that she was entitled to from my father’s service after his passing,” she continued. “When we determined that we could not locate my father’s Purple Heart, we immediately thought to reach out to Congressman Israel, who went right to work to solve the problem. We are so thankful to Congressman Israel for his work and all that he has done for our family.”
As a part of Israel’s final veterans event, he also honored and presented medals to Afghanistan Veteran Sergeant John Byrne and the family of deceased WWII Veteran First Lieutenant Harold Cederbaum.
“Losing my home during Superstorm Sandy was devastating, but to find out that I also lost my 11 service medals that I received in recognition of my service in Afghanistan added insult to injury,” said Byrne of East Northport. “Congressman Israel and his staff stepped up to the plate and ensured that I would receive replacement medals so that my family can remember my service.”
Judi Ross of Jericho, daughter of WWII Veteran Harold Cederbaum, was also extremely grateful to Israel. “When my father passed away last September, it was especially important to my family to preserve for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren the history of his brave service in WWII as a POW in Europe. These medals mean the world to me and my family.”
In addition to these three veterans, Israel’s office has helped more than 440 other New York veterans and their families, and has secured $8,984,862 in overdue benefits for New York veterans.
“It has been my privilege to fight for New York veterans by cutting through the red tape to secure the money they have earned after so bravely putting their lives on the line to defend our nation. They shouldn’t have to call their congressman just to get benefits or recognition, but when they do, I roll out the red carpet because these veterans deserve that for their service,” said Israel. “It has been my greatest honor in the 16 years I’ve been in Congress to fight for veterans and help them cut through the bureaucracy and receive what they rightfully deserve. And while I will be leaving Congress in January, I will not be leaving the fight for our heroes.”
Bill Walden, Nassau County VFW commander and post commander of Hicksville VFW 3211, said, “Congressman Israel has long been one of the strongest advocates for veterans both in Washington and in our community. Whether sponsoring legislation to end the VA claims backlog or fighting against homelessness among veterans, veterans across Long Island will greatly miss Congressman Israel’s leadership, effort and dedication to serving those who served our nation.”