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Rep. Josh Gottheimer. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Gottheimer keeping open lines with CD5 veterans groups

Congressman holds call to brief vets, vet groups on memorial homes

By Nikita Biryukov, April 30 2020 2:09 pm

Rep. Josh Gottheimer held a call with veterans and veterans groups to provide information on actions taken to minimize the threat COVID-19 poses to the state’s veterans homes.

“I continue to be focused on fighting to protect our veterans and seniors in veterans homes, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities across the Fifth District,” Gottheimer said. “There is no commitment more sacred than the one our nation has to those who have served and protected our country. As your Representative, one of my bedrock responsibilities is to always have the backs of those who’ve had ours. That is to me, the most important part of my oath.”

The call was held mainly so Gottheimer could brief veterans and groups in his district on federal assistance resources and state efforts to protect New Jersey’s long-term care facilities from the virus.

He also provided updates on the most recent coronavirus relief package, which replenished the federal Paycheck Protection Program and other assistance initiatives.

The fifth congressional district is home to the state’s most troubled veteran home.

Earlier this week, the New Jersey Globe reported that 83% of residents at the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home had tested positive for COVID-19, meaning 189 of the facility’s 228 residents had contracted the virus.

More than a quarter of residents there, 60, have died of the virus, and 67 members of the facilities staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

To aid the struggling facilities, Gottheimer and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) have recruited doctors and infectious disease experts from hospitals around Bergen County who have dealt with the virus directly for months.

The doctors from Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, Hackensack Meridian Health, Holy Name Medical Center and the Valley Health System met with the medical team at the Paramus facility, primarily to appraise the situation there, and will be providing additional aid to the troubled long-term care home in the coming days.

Gottheimer faces an independent challenge from former Gen. Mark Piterski, who resigned from his role overseeing the Paramus home and two other veterans homes in the state earlier this week.

“My team and I are continuing to work with veterans every day to help them get the benefits they have earned,” Gottheimer said. “Since I took office in 2017, we have resolved hundreds of constituent cases for residents all throughout the Fifth District, leading to veterans receiving VA benefits, service-connected disability ratings, medals and other benefits they’ve rightly earned. As always, please reach out to my office if we can help.”

This story was updated at 2:37 p.m.

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