MEDIA CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

The Mercer County Veterans Home on Hamilton Avenue, Hamilton, was dedicated with a grand opening on Nov. 10, 2004.

At that time the Mercer County Division of Veteran Services had 0 clients. Although this division existed for many years prior, there was no evidence of any compensation, pension or any other claims on record.

Today, the division has nearly 1,200 clients. This is an average of 160 clients per year.  From November 2009 to November 2010, Mercer County Veteran Services acquired 260 new clients, so you can see that the need is growing. At our Veterans Home, in the past seven years we have provided housing and services to 30 homeless veterans, boasting a success rate of 75 percent, meaning those individuals were able to find gainful employment and live independently.

In the past seven years, Mercer County has received for veteran services approximately $7.7 million from the federal government. This money goes to directly back to veterans who have filed claims with the Veterans Administration and averages out to $1,103 per month or $13,236 per year for each veteran depending on his or her level of disability.

The Division of Mercer County Veteran Services also commemorates veterans each year with a Veterans Day Ceremony, Pearl Harbor Day Ceremony, Memorial Day Ceremony and Flag Retirement Ceremony. This division also maintains the “Old and New Fields of Honor” at Greenwood Cemetery. We distribute grave flags to all veterans organizations to place on the graves of our veterans in various cemeteries.

This division also meets with various organizations and agencies throughout the county and state, presenting veterans’ benefits briefs, explaining entitlements and how to file claims, and generally bringing the service to the people.

This division also collects funds to distribute holiday meals to our needy veterans for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, and usually surpasses its goal of $6,000 each year. Last year the collection surpassed $9,000, which went toward holiday meals for veterans and their families.

In May 2007, Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes dedicated an additional parcel of land at Greenwood Cemetery so that the spouses of veterans could have a final resting place alongside their husband or wife. It added almost 700 new burial plots to the Veterans Section. The plots need not be purchased; families only have to pay the associated funeral costs.

Every few years, the County conducts an event that we call Operation White Stone, where we clean the headstones in the Veterans Section of the cemetery to restore them to their pristine white condition and give our veterans’ final resting place the respect and honor it deserves. The work is done by volunteers and was recently completed last week, in time for this year’s commemoration.
Other services include:
Career and job fairs specifically for veterans;
The writing of VA claims for compensation/pension;
Disability claims and education;
Burial registration at Greenwood and Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle cemeteries;
Assistance with survivor benefits;
Provision of burial plots at no charge and mausoleums at a reduced cost at Greenwood Cemetery;
Referral services;
Transportation to and from VA medical facilities;
Employment—Vocational Rehab—Mercer County One-Stop Career Center;
Social services and drug counseling;
War veterans re-adjustment counseling;
Affordable housing;
Emergency and transitional housing;
Vet Center Clinic
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Office hours and location:
Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
2280 Hamilton Ave., Hamilton, NJ 08619
Phone: (609) 989-6120; Fax: (609) 396-5438
Edward Mazzeo, Veteran Service Officer
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Our mission is to represent all veterans in Mercer County. We assist veterans with access to services available, regardless of their need, through collaboration with various agencies committed to “Serving Those Who Have Served Us.”

On Sept. 28, 2007, two local residents who lost their lives in Iraq were honored with the dedication of a memorial bench and tree outside the Mercer County Veterans Center in Hamilton. County Executive Brian M. Hughes paid tribute to the families of Army Sgt. Eric Snell and Pvt. 1st Class Eric Wilkus. Snell, who was born in Trenton and grew up in Hamilton, was an all-round athlete in high school and was a standout baseball player drafted by the Cleveland Indians. He instead decided to play for Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and later for the New Jersey Pilots in the Atlantic City Baseball League. The father of two sons was 35 when he was killed in Baghdad on June 18, 2007. Wilkus had been a member of the White Horse Volunteer Fire Co. in his native Hamilton. Enlisting in the Army after his graduation in 2004, Wilkus served in Korea, then voluntarily transferred to Iraq. He died on Christmas Day 2006, from noncombat injuries. He was 20. Mercer County recently lost two more of its military heroes, 1st Lt. Omar Vasquez and Sgt. Keith Buzinski. Their names were added to the memorial at the Veterans Center.
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