Posted on

Sweeney Calls Murphy’s Veto of Emergency Assistance Bill for the Homeless: “A Cold Act On The Coldest Day Of The Year”

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Senate President Steve Sweeney today sharply criticized the Governor’s veto of his legislation extending lifetime emergency assistance benefits for the homeless.

“This is a cold act on the coldest day of the year,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Days like this should be a reminder that there are homeless veterans suffering from PTSD, abused mothers with young children, recovering drug addicts and alcoholics who find themselves out on the street and need our help.

Continue reading Sweeney Calls Murphy’s Veto of Emergency Assistance Bill for the Homeless: “A Cold Act On The Coldest Day Of The Year”
Posted on

NJ Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Administration Launches Targeted Outreach to over 3,000 Veterans, Widows Who May Have Lost Assets

Ridgewood Police Honor Guard presented the colors at Saturday’s Veterans Day Ceremony

file photo by Boyd Loving

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, As part of the Department of the Treasury’s ongoing efforts to reconnect state-held assets to their rightful owners, the Unclaimed Property Administration (UPA) has launched a veterans outreach campaign, which has uncovered as many as 3,000 veterans and widows in New Jersey who may have unclaimed assets, resulting in over $200,000 being returned to families thus far.

We considered the many sacrifices military families endure, including how frequently service men and women move as a result of deployment,” said UPA Administrator Steven R. Harris. “These factors often increase the chances that certain financial assets are overlooked or never received. While we always find our work rewarding, reconnecting veterans and their families with assets they never knew they had has been particularly special.”

“This is a Treasury that works for the people of New Jersey, and UPA is a huge part of that effort,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “It’s not enough for us to just be careful stewards of these assets, we have to do everything we can to help people reclaim them. We’re excited with the results of this ongoing campaign and encourage everyone in the state to try an online search right now.”

The most common types of unclaimed property reported to the state are checking and savings accounts, certificate of deposits, utility deposits, securities, and insurance proceeds. The N.J. Unclaimed Property statute states that property owners never relinquish the right to this property and that UPA acts as a custodian until the property is returned.

The veterans outreach campaign was launched in October 2018. After partnering with divisions within Treasury, UPA was then able to cross reference its own database with thousands of records that reference an individual’s veteran status. As a result, UPA was able to identify over 3,000 veterans, widows, or heirs who may have unclaimed assets in their name.

UPA then began sending letters in early November notifying those individuals that they might have unclaimed property and instructing them to visit UPA’s website to file electronically or initiate a claim over the phone. Once all necessary documentation was received, UPA prepared claims for payment.

The ongoing campaign, which will continue in the New Year, has already begun yielding success.  To date, responses to mail notices have resulted in 251 UPA claims, 133 of which have already been approved worth a total of $200,487.02.

Highlights from the campaign thus far include an individual who discovered that they had over $85,000 worth of securities that had gone unclaimed until now. Another person to respond to a UPA notice turned out to be a widow of a World War II veteran who discovered over $2,000 in outstanding life insurance proceeds.

This outreach campaign is one of a number undertaken by UPA every year to return state-held assets to their rightful owners. To find more information about UPA or to try an online search, visit

Posted on

Unbridled Heroes Project Founders Honored at Home Town Heroes Awards

photo courtesy of Ridgewood Mayor Ramon Hache

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Mahwah NJ,  Friday, December 14, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) hosted his third Hometown Hero Awards, honoring North Jersey residents who have made outstanding contributions to our community. Fifth District Hometown Heroes Awards were presented to community leaders, first responders, veterans, members of the business community, students, and seniors to recognize their dedication to improving the lives of their neighbors, families, and all Jersey residents.

Congressman Gottheimer (NJ-5) said, “Today’s awardees are bound by a shared sense of duty – to their families, their communities, and their country. They are our veterans, our firefighters, our first responders, our educators, and our family – our brothers and sisters and our sons and daughters. None of these people stood up because they sought recognition, they did it because they wanted to do what was right. That’s what Jersey Values are about and that’s what makes me certain that we live in the greatest country in the world. On behalf of the Fifth District, I couldn’t be more proud to honor these Hometown Heroes today.”

Mark and Amy Steppe were honored as 5th Congressional District Hometown Heroes for their military service and their Unbridled Heroes Project. The Steppes founded The Unbridled Heroes Project as a way of helping other veterans. The organization rescues abused mustangs and pair them with veterans in need of healing at their Allendale facility.

Posted on

Ridgewood Firefighters Present a check for $12,000 to a charity that pairs service dogs with Veterans with PTSD

photo courtesy of Ridgewood Professional Firefighters FMBA Local 47

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Ridgewood Professional Firefighters FMBA Local 47 on Wednesday 9/19/2018: Several members of Ridgewood Local 47 (L to R): Jason Jacoby, Jordan Zales ,Anthony Dinice , Chris Mead , Mike Ferraro present a check for $12,000 to Rebuilding Warriors which is a great charity that pairs service dogs with Veterans with PTSD at the Annual Convention in Atlantic City.

Posted on

These Tiny Homes are a Big Help to Veterans

Former police officer and Air Force veteran Donnie Davis chats with Ben and Kellie about Operation Safe Haven, a micro-housing community formed with homeless and PTSD-afflicted veterans in mind. The program houses qualifying veterans in tiny houses for up to two years, and offers counseling and therapy animals as well. It’s a wonderful way to help those in need while transitioning back to civilian life.

Learn more about Operation Safe Haven here:

Pickler & Ben is an hour-long, multi-segmented lifestyle talk show filmed in Nashville and hosted by country star Kellie Pickler — known for her quick-wit and bubbly personality — and journalist Ben Aaron, a funny, curious, and good-natured New Yorker.

Find out where to watch:

Posted on


QR code

February 17,2018

By Stanley A. Kober, KC2ZXB

Stanley A. Kober, KC2ZXB(, Historic Ho-Ho-Kus Researcher, A.L.I.C.E. Certified Trainer, Former Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus CERT Program Manager (T-T-T) , Former CERT/Bergen County R.A.C.E.S. Deputy Liaison Officer

Ho Ho Kus NJ, Every organization whether for profit or not for profit, professional, religious, veterans, law enforcement, historical, military, municipal, emergency
services, amateur radio operations, etc., should have the strategy to operate in the most efficient and effective means as possible. Actually, that applies to each
of us as individuals as well. Not only does it have the ability to save money (and possibly lives), it allows us to do more things in the same amount of time. After
all, time is fixed and no one can change that construct.

In order for us to accomplish an organizational or personal strategy we more likely than not use technology, but technology changes over time. The
Washington Post had an on-line article that presented those changes very well at Unless you are a Luddite, you use technology every day. [A Luddite as described in the is one “who fears technology (or new technology, as they seem pleased with how things currently are…why can’t everything just be the same?)”]

In this short article, I’m going to address just one aspect of that change which is becoming more and more evident to us on a daily basis through the use of our smartphones. That “new” technology is called “QR Codes” or “Quick Response Codes”. You know, you’ve seen that little square with all the funny black lines and boxes in advertising circulars, newspapers, etc., but don’t be fooled, these ARE NOT BARCODES. On the right is one of my own examples that I have created. If you have a smartphone, iPad, tablet, or similar device with a camera and the applicable software installed to read the code, you should be able to go to this fantastic FaceBook®page. Not all reading software is the same, so some features may not work in the software on your device that will work in other software. In other words, “Caveat Emptor”—”Buyer Beware”.

Allow me to put it in a nutshell why one should use a QR Code in their literature, signage, advertising materials, documents, procedures, manuals, etc.
Let’s take one example that was used earlier in this article—the Washington Post article on technology. In most, if not all paper printing by newspapers,
hyperlinks associated with what was displayed in print (on-line publications are different) are removed. NOTE: A “hyperlink” is the underlined portion of the
reference that allows you to click on it and bring up the article on the website.

Can you imagine how long it would take you to enter that WaPo reference into the address line of your device’s internet web browser and when you make one
wrong character you need to restart? I’m certain you wouldn’t waste your time February 07, 2018 Page 2 of 3 by entering all those characters. There we go again—that fixed construct called “time” rears its head.

In order to save “time”, because “time” is money, one can use a device that has a camera and the appropriate software to read the QR Code and go DIRECTLY to the associated reference, in this case the Washington Post article referenced earlier. Read the QR Code at the right with your smartphone and appropriate software. But, just a point of caution,
newspaper articles may not be in the same place for very long, so the link eventually might not work when going to
the original website of the media.

We know that technology is great and can do many things for us if we have the right tools with which to work. For example, QR Code generating software is all over the Internet and the software to read the codes that are
generated are abounding as well. However, when shopping for the ability to generate or read the QR code you need to have in mind what you really want to do with it—in other words, what is your goal. Remember I talked about “strategy” at the beginning of this article? Well, a “strategy” is the place where we want to be and the “goal” or “objective” is what we need to do to get there.

For example, one “strategy” might be that we want to operate in the most efficient and effective fashion as possible. One “goal” or “objective” to attain that “strategy” would be to utilize technology to the greatest extent as possible. Within “goals” or “objectives” are “tasks” that we do to meet a “goal” or “objective”. Using QR Codes is a “task” that we would use to meet our “goal” of using technology to attain our “strategy” to operate in the most efficient and effective fashion as possible. OK, enough of Management Theory, but I just wanted to put this capability in its proper perspective for
you. Now, let’s get back to QR Codes.

The first tool you need is a smartphone, iPad, tablet or similar device to be able to read the generated code. On that device you need a camera and the appropriate software to
read the code. An excellent listing of that software for many devices is found here at QR Phone Software (click on the link at the left or use your camera device to read the code at the right.)

Once you have the appropriate device and the optimal reading software, you need to have the proper software to create the QR Code that we want to use. Again, “Caveat Emptor”—”Buyer Beware”. There are many software packages on the market, but you need to test for the one you select to ensure that it operates the way YOU want it to do. For example, when I looked for my optimal reading software, one “free” package that I tested allowed me to get to the website that I wanted OK, but when I tried to download an Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format file (PDF), it would not allow me to do so. I deleted that installation immediately and moved on to others. So, in short, in selecting code generator software as well as reading software, compare the “free” packages, (called “free” even though they are coupled with advertising galore, so
they are really not “free” because it takes “time” to cancel them) and those that February 07, 2018 Page 3 of 3 might cost something for the generating software. The optimal one that I have found for my use is found at QR Code Generator. (click on the link at the left or use your device to read the code at the right.) It has many options, capabilities and truly free code generation even for testing. You might want to look at the informational videos and articles as well on that site while you’re there. By the way, if you still get ads in your reads, it’s not the QR Code generator that I am recommending here,
it’s your reading software.

Speaking of the code generator, one quick point I will add is that when you chose a QR Code type, you need to have the ability to select either a “static” OR “dynamic” code. Some software may allow only one, but you need to have both options for testing and live operations. Select “dynamic” even if you have other reasons, but especially if you have any intention of making changes to the code link (remember the news article referenced earlier that might have moved to another location?), even if you can’t think of something now, or you might want to do some analytics on the actions of the code (where did the access come
from; how many clicks were made on the code; etc.). In my opinion, there are very few activities which would require a “static” QR Code.

Before concluding, I’d like to give two examples of QR Codes in which one goes to an on-line website for a senior citizens organization and the other for use by emergency services personnel. The use of a QR Code for those in emergency services is at the right. For example, as a first responder you have a requirement to look at an instructional manual, procedure, or in this example, the latest Emergency Response Guide on line, but no one around you has a computer and you don’t have the time to search online for it on your device. In your preplanning for being an effective first responder, you have created a QR Code Card with your important links on it and you have it/them in your vehicle (POV and ERV), your pocket, your go bag, go kit, your trailer, wherever. Immediately, you can click on the QR Code like the one on the right and go directly to the guide on your device. By the way, you need to think about how you place the QR Codes on the card because if they are not sized and spaced properly you will get wrong launches and errors.

The last example for the Senior Citizens site is located at and the QR Code
for that site is at the right. It saves Seniors keystrokes!

So, in conclusion, if you want to get “ahead of the pack” and do things that will save you time and money, as well as give you broader access to your market or to materials that may be lifesaving, then use QR Codes in your technology goal for your organization. You will be amazed at what they can do for you.

Posted on

Warning Veterans Scammers Claiming to be from Department of Human Services Division of Veteran Services



We strongly recommend that you require proof of identity and a valid original discharge paper if you approached by any individual asking for money for any reason. We here at Bergen County have reason to believe that there is a person or persons claiming that we have sent them to you or your organization for cash/money. Please be aware that we have not sent them to you. Also, we require proof of veteran status and suggest that you get proofs from anyone asking at your bar, facility or on the phone for money regardless of how compelling their circumstance may seem. Please share this alert with your members and contact us if you know of anyone who has encountered this situation. If you have already been contacted and or gave cash please let us know.

This email is being distributed as per Bergen County Veteran Services, Director A.J. Luna, please use your careful discretion and contact at 201-336-6326 or 201-336-6329 with any questions or concerns.

Susan Krause
Administrative Assistant
Department of Human Services
Division of Veteran Services
One Bergen County Plaza, 2nd Floor
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Phone: 201-336-6329
Fax: 201-336-6327

Posted on

Village of Ridgewood Veterans Day Service: Saturday, November 11, 2017 – 11am


November 10,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Village of Ridgewood Veterans Day Service: Saturday, November 11, 2017 – 11am at Memorial Park at Van Neste Square.

Posted on

Be the Difference for Veterans in November


file photo by Boyd Loving

November 10,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, November 11 is Veterans Day, so the Ridgewood Stigma Free initiative is focusing on veteran and military mental health. Twenty veterans die by suicide each day. Thirty percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health problem requiring treatment, yet only half of those people in need receive any treatment at all. Mental Health First Aid for Veterans is making a difference for veterans, military members and their families across the country.
Family members and personnel working with military and families are often not aware of how to engage veterans with mental illnesses and addictions. In addition to the impact of military service on the veteran, each has a circle of family (significant other, children, parents, siblings, etc.) and friends who are also impacted by their military service.
While military service often fosters resilience in individuals and families, some service members may experience mental health or substance use challenges. Thirty percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health con¬dition requiring treatment – approximately 730,000 men and women, with many experiencing post-trau¬matic stress disorder and major depression. Sadly, less than 50 percent of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment. The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 20 veterans die by suicide every day.
Individuals trained in Mental Health First Aid can help to:
• Break down the stigma associated with mental illness like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorders
• Reach out to those who suffer in silence, reluctant to seek help
• Let veterans know that support is available in their community
• Provide community resource information
• Make mental healthcare and treatment accessible to thousands in need

Posted on

President Trump signs the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 Improving Veterans Healthcare


“In just a short time, we’ve already achieved transformative change at the VA—and believe me, we’re just getting started.”—President Donald J. Trump

August 15,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Washington DC, GIVING VETERANS A CHOICE: President Donald J. Trump is giving veterans a choice in the healthcare they receive so they can receive the right care, at the right time, from the right provider.

President Trump signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 to authorize $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program (VCP).

Veterans become eligible for care under the VCP if they live more than 40 miles from the closest eligible VA medical facility, wait times are over 30 days from the clinically indicated date, or they meet other special criteria.
The VCP has improved veterans’ access to care, and since its inception has resulted in more than 21.6 million appointments, serving over 1.8 million unique veterans.
This new funding will ensure VCP-eligible veterans continue to receive care in their communities from providers they trust.
While initially created as a temporary program in 2014, VCP has proven to be a valuable addition to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system.

The Act empowers the VA to hire the very best people at competitive rates for senior positions so our veterans receive the best care possible.

The Act expands the VA’s direct-hiring authority, which will increase the speed at which the VA can onboard qualified people for VA jobs.

The Act authorizes 28 major medical facility leases, including some that have been on hold for over three years.

PUTTING VETERAN CARE FIRST: President Trump is making veteran healthcare a priority of his Administration and has moved quickly to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system.

The Administration has implemented a new White House VA hotline, staffed principally by veterans, to help veterans.
Under President Trump, the VA fired 677 employees, suspended 238, and demoted 32, as part of the President’s effort to restore integrity and accountability to a department charged with supporting our Nation’s heroes.

The VA is the first agency to post information on employee disciplinary action online.

President Trump signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, improving senior VA officials’ ability to fire failing employees while establishing important safeguards to protect whistleblowers.
The VA is beginning the process of adopting the same electronic health records as the Department of Defense.
The VA has acted to increase transparency and accountability by launching an online “Access and Quality Tool” to provide veterans a way to access wait time and quality of care data.
Wait times are now posted online for each of the 168 medical centers managed by the VA.
The VA plans to dispose of 430 vacant buildings in the next 24 months, and is reviewing another 784 underutilized buildings.