I'm proud to stand with our brave Men and Women in uniform serving at home and stationed around the globe. I understand first-hand the tremendous sacrifice made by our military service members and their families. Having the opportunity to serve our country, protect our interests, and defend our freedom, was an honor and a significant period of my life. I retired with the rank of Major from the United States Army Reserve with the National Defense Service Medal, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, NATO Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal in 2000. Prior to this I served in Operation Desert Storm, where I was responsible for two Convoy Support Centers in the Saudi Arabian Desert. In 1996, I was deployed to Germany in support of Operation Joint Endeavor to coordinate the activities and missions of the Civil Affairs units stationed in Bosnia. My experience serving overseas, gave me perspective on the challenges our military faces internationally and the important work of our military. But more importantly it showed me the heroism and sacrifice of our fighting Men and Women.
Veterans from District 37 have given and sacrificed for all of us. They come from all backgrounds, communities, and faiths. We need to commit to meeting their cares and concerns. Issues of employment, health, training, and transitioning are challenges faced by our service members everyday. I recently sponsored legislation to ease the burden of property tax payments on the families of our men and women currently deployed. Another bill which is moving forward will allow children of active military reservists to stay in their school districts, regardless of where parents are stationed.
An important bill for our military families (A-2849) establishes a Military Dependent Scholarship Fund. The fund will be used to provide scholarships to the spouse, child or other eligible dependent of a New Jersey resident who is killed, missing in action or totally and permanently disabled as a consequence of Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn. The scholarships will be provided to pay for the costs of undergraduate study at a public or independent institution of higher education. We encourage and enable families to pursue their goals, we pay homage to their parent or spouse self-less service to our country. We will take every opportunity we have at home, in Bergen, in Trenton, to help our Veterans. We owe them our thanks but more importantly a sustained commitment going forward.