Third Ward Councilman William Fahoury is also Marine Corps veteran who served during Operation Enduring Freedom. The lifelong resident enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was still a junior in Roselle Park High School. He shipped off to basic training three days after he graduated RPHS. He did two tours – one in Afghanistan and one in the Pacific (Okinawa and the Philippines) – came back home, successfully ran for council last year, and received a three-year academic scholarship to Seton Hall where he is on the Dean’s List for the Fall 2016 semester and is a member of the Phi Alpha Theta National History Honors Society.
Many would call him a war hero but it is a title that does not mean as much to him as the term ‘brother-in-arms’. The councilman appreciates the thank-yous and handshakes of support but he knows – really knows – the aftermath that remains with some of those who served. He knows that while a hero’s welcome is a memorable moment, it is just that – a moment. Then there is the day-to-day struggle that some veterans experience with physical injuries, post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), alcoholism, homelessness, drug addiction, mental illness, emotional trauma, physical violence, and suicide.
To put things into perspective, here is a number: 7,300 – that is the number of veterans who commit suicide every year according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. That is more than half the population of Roselle Park. Female veterans – according to a recent National Public Radio (NPR) report – have a suicide rate between two and five times higher than civilian women.
Using conservative figures, 1 in every 5 of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans live with PTSD and/or Clinical Depression, according to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research and when you add TBI, the ratio climbs to a little under 1 in every 3.
Councilman Fahoury gave some thought to what he and his community could do to show support for those who sacrificed their time, bodies, and minds so that others would not have to stand post. Then the term ‘to walk in another’s shoes’ came to mind. He envisioned a 5K run/walk where people could come out in huge numbers to walk and show support for veterans. Even though it might be a bit of a task for some to run, jog, or walk for a little over three miles throughout Roselle Park, there have been those who did just that wearing 20 to 40 pounds of gear not knowing what was ahead of them without sleep or other basic needs. But both those veterans and residents can have one thing in common, to have someone run or jog or walk with them – supporting them – knowing they are not alone.
The councilman brought up the possibility of having a 5K run/walk in the borough this year. He reached out to the USO, an organization that was there for him when he was in service, to see if they would participate in organizing such an event. He spoke with President and CEO of the USO New York Metropolitan Brian Whiting who was interested in the idea.
To that end, Councilman Fahoury has invited the USO to give a presentation at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 4th, before the regularly scheduled Mayor & Council meeting at borough hall. The USO will provide information on the logistics of the 5K run/walk and answer questions from the governing body as well as those in attendance. The meeting is open to the public and residents are welcome to attend, ask questions, and provide input.
If the event is approved by council, a date will be set and more information will be provided as it becomes available.
Borough Hall is located at 110 East Westfield Avenue.
Statements from Councilman Fahoury and the USO regarding the event are available below:
Councilman Fahoury’s statement
As many of you know, I have a vision to honor and help our nation’s military members, veterans, and their families. This vision of mine is one step closer to becoming a reality. I am proud to announce that I have found a potential partner in the USO to run a 5K run/walk in Roselle Park.
For those who do not know about the USO, the USO was founded during WWII to help be the GI’s “home away from home”. Although it is congressionally chartered, it is not a government organization. Today, wherever there is a strong US military presence, the USO is there. It has over 160 locations around the world in 14 countries. I have been to their facilities in Afghanistan, Okinawa, Kyrgyzstan, Alaska, North Carolina, Maine, and Newark International Airport.
They are a vibrant, proud organization who are excited about our potential partnership. I have had preliminary discussions with the President and CEO of the USO NY Metropolitan Brian Whiting and he was extremely interested in bringing a 5K run/walk to Roselle Park and New Jersey.
Before our regular meeting on May 4th, I would like to request a special meeting prior to the meeting so the USO and I can map out and present our plan to Mayor & Council and the public. I encourage all of the public and local news outlets to attend.
To close, I would like to say thanking veteran and military members is not enough, we all need to do more for the ones who sacrificed it all to protect our freedoms. This potential event is doing more to honor veterans because veterans are the backbone and protectors of this great nation. Here is a statement from USO NY Metropolitan Chief Development Officer Cathy De Silva. Thank you for listening.
The USO is pleased to be working with Councilman Fahoury and the Borough of Roselle Park to explore launching a community run/walk that will engage the residents of Roselle Park and the surrounding communities to help recognize and support area military, veterans, and their families living in New Jersey.
Our hope is to bring the community together to remember service members, veterans and their families, honor them for their service and sacrifices, and show our support! The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation
All the Best,
Cathy de Silva
Chief Development Officer
USO of Metropolitan New York, Inc.
270 Madison Ave., Suite 1207
New York, NY 10016