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Veterans linked with services in program on MCVTS Piscataway Campus

Veterans linked with services in program on MCVTS Piscataway Campus

A program to showcase available services brought scores of veterans to the Piscataway Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools.

Federal, state and county agencies and nonprofit groups provided information while MCVTS cosmetology students offered free haircuts during the four-hour program on April 19.

Veterans came from as far away as Bergen County, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs bused vets from the East Orange and Lyons VA hospitals. Housing, healthcare, mental health and job-placement agencies were among the 25 vendors represented.

The program, held in the Piscataway Campus gym, was the idea of Piscataway Tech counseling intern Peter Endrawis, a graduate student at New Jersey City University, and was organized by Joe Iturriaga of Parsippany-based Community Hope, a nonprofit that sponsors the Hope for Veterans program.

Iturriaga said there had not been a similar event in Middlesex County in several years.

“Providing this space was amazing; the school has gotten really involved,” he said. “This way we can expose veterans who need help to the resources that are available. If they do not need help now, they may need it down the road.”

“A lot of time kids don’t see the connection between their education and the community they live in,” Endrawis said, noting that students and faculty had donated clothes that were offered to veterans in need. “Hopefully, this will become an annual event.”

Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald Rios also expressed the hope that the outreach could become an annual event.

“I want to find ways to continue and improve services for veterans,” he said, noting that the county has an Office of Veterans Services and created a housing assistance program that has helped 400 veterans and their families since 2016.

MCVTS Assistant Superintendent of School Jeffrey Bicsko began the program by thanking all the veterans present and asking for a round of applause for them. He introduced Rios, who told the veterans, “It is our duty to help you whenever you are in need.”