This week in NYC we are under the first curfew imposed on the city since the rioting in Harlem in August 1943 following the shooting of a Black soldier. As veterans, we believe the story of 1943 should be told.
In November 1942, Private David Wood, assigned to the 9th Engineer Regiment at Fort Dix, New Jersey, was shot in his stomach by a police officer while he waited for tickets at a movie theater. Violence and discrimination against Black troops serving during World War II was pervasive not only in the South, but nationwide. Black veterans of World War I, especially those who served grueling months fighting on the front lines in Europe as Harlem Hellfighters, remembered clearly the discrimination and hatred they faced both during their service and upon their return home. The murder of Private Wood by a white policeman marked the tenth murder of a Black soldier since Pearl Harbor.
America had seen decades of racial violence and rioting, and 1943 was especially violent. On June 15, 1943, thousands of white residents of Beaumont, Texas, destroyed and looted black businesses and homes over two days when a white woman stated that a black man had raped her, although no assailant was never identified. On June 20, 1943, Detroit erupted in racial violence as white aggression over racially integrated factory labor fomented a night of violence and retaliation, in which 17 Black residents were killed by police. The summer of 1943 was one in which Black communities across the country were tense and on edge as their young men were recruited to fight overseas and whole communities served in the broader war effort at home, despite the discrimination and violence they were forced to suffer.
Veterans in NYC and across the Metro area are being left in need as the city shuts down non-essential services and COVID-19 cases rise. On March 19-21, NYC Veterans Alliance asked veterans and family members for their input in an online survey on how the COVID-19 emergency was affecting them, and if they needed immediate help.
Veterans of all eras expressed a high level of concern that they will get sick, and that nearly 70% of these veterans have toxic exposures from their military service--like burn pits, Agent Orange, and 9/11 debris--placing them at greater risk for respiratory illnesses.
A report detailing these findings is HERE.
"We got a flood of requests for immediate needs from veterans when we started the survey, and it hasn't stopped," said James Fitzgerald, an Army veteran who leads NYC Veterans Alliance. "Veterans needed help with buying groceries. Elderly veterans told us they live alone and had no one to call if they got sick. A homeless veteran told us he was being forced out on the street, and government services weren't available to help. We're the only ones checking in on so many of these folks," said Fitzgerald.
To manage these overwhelming community needs, NYC Veterans Alliance is launching Veterans Mutual Aid - NYC Metro, a network for intake and coordination of incoming requests from veterans and family members in need. NYC Veterans Alliance staff and volunteers are currently managing requests, and veterans organizations are joining in to create a network of veterans and families helping veterans and families across the metro area. The aid this network will provide ranges from regular check-ins with isolated veterans to helping veterans find safe housing and assistance to make it through the pandemic.Read more
Updated 6/8/20 - Since mid-March, veteran volunteers and NYC Veterans Alliance staff have been helping veterans and their families with the realities they're facing during this pandemic. Whether it's an emergency hotel stay when housing programs fail, or nutritious groceries when they're too expensive or unavailable, or help with overdue essential bills, or just a knowledgeable, friendly fellow veteran to check in with -- we want to be there for you. Please let us know what you need by filling out our Veterans Mutual Aid Request Form:
You can also call us at 929-265-4549. You've asked us questions--and we want to help with answers. Here's the latest updated information:Read more