My father was a veteran of D-Day, a member of the Greatest Generation. The country rallied for the war effort and when our men and women returned home, they were treated with honor, respect and dignity. Programs were developed to help them re-adjust to civilian life and move forward. They served us and we thanked them. The last 60 years are a different story.

Returning vets from the Korean War were ignored. Vietnam Veterans were mistreated. And now, we must address the vast number of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Veterans have no politics. I served in the Vietnam era because I felt an obligation to serve my country. You don’t punish veterans for partisan political blunders; you punish the politicians at the polls. No one ever anticipated the length of the current wars and the number of disabled men and women it would create. They served us and we must thank them.

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The NJ State Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) places an enormous tax burden on local communities. Summit has always been a leader and now has an opportunity to do that once again. I worked for years to get approval from our COAH appointed Court Master to accept housing for disabled veterans as a means of meeting our COAH requirements. I have and continue to push for a group home of three, four or five disabled veterans. They would be self-sufficient and live in a typical one- or two-family home. There is money in our Affordable Housing Trust Fund and these individuals place no tax burden on the community. Summit would receive one COAH credited unit for each veteran in the home. Not only is it a means of achieving our State mandated COAH requirements, but it is a means of helping those who put their lives on the line for us without costing the taxpayers. Besides, it is the right thing to do.

Mike Vernotico, Independent Candidate for Mayor