This is old-school constituent service politics: a Democratic congressman traveling to a Republican part of his district to announce that he was able to cut through a massive federal bureaucracy to secure medals that a 92-year-old U.S. Navy veteran earned in World War II but never received.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) got the U.S. Department of Defense to belatedly award three medals and other honors to his constituent, former River Vale Police Chief Thomas Simpson, for helping the Navy deliver food and supplies to Okinawa, Japan.
“It’s an absolute honor and privilege to hear Mr. Simpson’s story, and to thank him for his service to our great country. Throughout my work all across the 5th district, I feel especially lucky to be able to spend time with so many of our brave veterans,” Gottheimer said. “It is our duty as Americans not only to honor these men and women, but to do everything we can to fight for them when they return, to ensure they have the care they need, the benefits they were promised, and the support we all owe them.”
The congressman presented Simpson with the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Honorable Reserve Discharge Button, and the Ruptured Duck Honorable Service Lapel Pin.
Gottheimer moved quickly on the constituent service issue after being contacted by the Republican mayor of Old Tappan, John Kramer.
According to Gottheimer, less than 500,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are still living.
“I want to impress upon all veterans throughout the Fifth District that my door is always open for any issues they may have,” the congressman said. “After sacrificing so much, they and their families should never struggle to get the care or recognition they so rightfully deserve.”
Old-fashioned constituent service has its political benefits.
Gottheimer’s medal presentation attracted an ABC News crew from the network’s local New York affiliate. That’s a big deal for New Jersey officials who struggle to compete with New York City and Philadelphia local news.
The (Bergen) Record hasn’t written the story yet – it’s not immediately clear if they showed up at all – but that doesn’t matter. With five days left until the end of the month, it’s likely that most readers have already viewed their three free online stories.