JERSEY CITY, NJ - Lifelong Jersey City resident Peter Busacca won’t be attending any backyard barbecues this weekend, and he won’t be joining his fellow veterans for parades or other ceremonies that usually mark the Memorial Day holiday. Instead, he is encouraging his neighbors, friends, and family to honor veterans in a very simple, and socially distant way- by completing the 2020 Census.

“Just as I believed it was my duty join the military,” the veteran of the US Air Force told TAPinto, “I also believe it is my duty to make sure that we spread the word to let everyone know that we all have a hand in making sure our community, including our veterans, get the resources we need from the federal government.”

While the once-a-decade population count has been underway since April, response rates across all of Hudson County stand at just 50.6 percent, a number that drops even lower in Jersey City and Union City. Statewide, according to figures made available Thursday, 61.8 percent of households have responded.

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Busacca said he is telling everyone he knows to be counted, reminding them that not only does it only take a few minutes, but, more importantly, that an accurate count will make a difference in the number dollars that come to Hudson County for things like education, public safety, road repairs, and more for the next 10 years. 

“Getting counted isn’t unlike serving in the military, or wearing a mask when outdoors during this current crisis,” he said. “It’s not something we necessarily do for ourselves, we do it because it makes a difference well beyond us. All of these things change lives.”

Busacca went on to speak of the specific impact the census has on veterans of all age groups, including, as recently outlined by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), knowing where veterans are so that resources can be allocated appropriately. Offering an acknowledgement that the veteran population is changing, he said it's more important than ever to recognize their unique needs.

“As we have always done, veterans are leaving military service but continuing to serve their communities in other ways, including as teachers, police officers, and firefighters. They are also contributing to the growth of a new economy through business and enterprise,” he said, adding that, “recognizing this shift will play a key part in shaping policies and programs of the future.”

To those may be longing for a return to normalcy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and looking forward to the sort of summer weekends they’ve grown used to, Busacca said “we’ll get back to that if we all stick together by staying apart.”

More immediately, he added, everyone can make a difference by taking the time to be counted.

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