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Proclamations usher in Tompkins County first Veterans Week

Residents across Tompkins County will celebrate this November the County’s first observance of Veterans Week, Nov. 6-13, 2021.

Proclamations made in early November by the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County governments put in motion this celebration in honor of the County’s roughly 4,000 Veterans and their families.

“There are numerous events taking place annually in and around Tompkins County to honor our Veterans community this time of year,” said Tompkins County Veterans Services Department Director J.R. Clairborne. “Hopefully, this ceremonial expansion of Veterans Day to include those events will help our Veterans population feel more appreciated for the duty and sacrifice they and their families committed to our country.”

City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick made the City’s proclamation at Common Council’s meeting of Nov. 3. Tompkins County Legislature Chairwoman Leslyn McBean-Clairborne proclaimed the week at the Legislature’s meeting Nov. 4. Veterans Day is traditionally celebrated on Nov. 11.

Present, virtually, to accept both proclamations were Director Clairborne and Cornell University Student Veteran Adviser and Program Manager Mary Fisk. Clairborne is a Veteran of the U.S. Navy. Fisk is a retired 1st Sgt. of the U.S. Marine Corps.

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Description automatically generatedIn its news release about the Nov. 4 Legislature meeting, Tompkins County said “The resolution remembers and honors the courage and service of Veterans. The resolution highlighted that a large portion of Veterans experience stress in transitioning to civilian life and are at high risk of suicide upon return.”

Shining a light on that stress factor and another new component of this season for Veterans’ appreciation is the area’s participation in “Operation Green Light.” Operation Greenlight publicly acknowledges the service and experience of Veterans and offers support to Veterans in need, with a particular emphasis on the Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The color green symbolizes hope, renewal, and wellbeing. The leadership of both governments encouraged residents to display a green light during this week or month in a public-facing window or place of businesses to “green light Veterans forward as valuable members of our community.”

In demonstrating leadership in motion, facilities’ staffs are greenlighting all 14 of the County’s buildings and Ithaca’s City Hall for the month of November. Additionally, Cornell University will greenlight the McGraw Clock Tower at dusk on Nov. 11 and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance plans for various businesses in downtown Ithaca to display their own green lights. According to the Operation Greenlight website, green light bulbs can be purchased through Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart, and Amazon.

The team aiding Clairborne and Fisk assemble events and plan others for Veterans Week included John Turner of Cayuga Health System, Scott Rougeau of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, and Cornell University Student Veteran Ambassadors Mark Minton, Christopher Mahn, and Matthew Cook. A list of events occurring throughout November can be found on the website of the County’s Department of Veterans Services. Additions to the list may be submitted for consideration to veteran@tompkins-co.org.