I was watching ESPN Sportcenter last Saturday and was captivated watching a segment about former NFL player, Rocky Bleier, which chronicled his service to our country during the Vietnam War. Rocky was a star running back at Notre Dame and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. After only one year in the NFL, Rocky was drafted for military service and served 2 years in the Army, achieving the title Specialist 4. Rocky was injured during a rescue and was later awarded several awards, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Doctors told Rocky that he would never play football again. Well no one told that to the owner of the Steelers, Art Rooney, who invited Rocky back to football camp, despite the war related injuries and physical setbacks. Rocky went on to play 10 more years with the Steelers and helped Pittsburgh win 4 Superbowls.
This week we recognize the sacrifice of all our veterans who have given their time, and far too often their bodies and lives, for service to our country. We should thank our brave veterans each and every day and support them in all their future endeavors. We need to offer veteran preferences, including for hiring, promotions, housing, and medical care. Simply stated – we don’t do enough of that now and we need to change that. Let’s take a lead from Steelers owner Art Rooney and offer a veteran a chance – his bet on Rocky Bleier certainly worked out pretty well.
We all know veterans, so take a moment today to thank them and their family members, who have endured unimaginable sacrifices. I thank my dad, Robert O’Toole, for his two tours in the Korean War, and I thank my late father in-law for his lifetime of distinguished service in the United States Coast Guard. I thank my friend Jude for 6 years in the Navy, and thank my two brave nephews and niece who currently serve our country. Lastly, I thank all my colleagues at O’Toole Scrivo and the Port Authority who have served. Let’s do all we can to help veterans and repay our debt of gratitude. To all the veterans – THANK YOU!!