November 8, 2012
GI Go Fund’s 4th Annual Veterans Day Gala Honors Johnson & Johnson and other Leaders in Veterans Community
Award Ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of the organization and the partners and supporters who helped make 2012 a pivotal year for the GI Go Fund
NEWARK, NJ – The GI Go Fund hosted its 4th Annual Veterans Day Gala at the Newark Museum on Thursday evening, November 8th, where Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker and over 250 guests joined the organization as it honored leaders in the veteran community, both military personnel and civilians, who have made a difference in the lives of our returning vets.
Among those who were recognized for their great leadership were Dr. Husseini Manji of Johnson & Johnson, Harley Davidson Artist and ABC “Secret Millionaire” star Scott Jacobs, Brigadier General (Ret.) William S. Greenberg of McCarter & English, Anna Kooiman of Fox News, Colonel (Ret.) Stephen Abel of Rutgers University, and Matthew Klapper of the City of Newark. Johnson & Johnson’s Dr. Husseini Manji was the feature honoree of the evening, awarded the “2012 Corporate Leadership and Innovation Award” for the great work both he and his company is doing for the veterans’ community. Dr. Manji’s work in brain research to improve the lives of veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI is making a great impact on the lives of so many of our veterans, changing the way medicine will treat and combat the illness that afflicts so many of our returning veterans. Johnson & Johnson has shown leadership in hiring veterans, as they have recently named former Army Ranger Alex Gorsky as their CEO. Lastly, they have created a Veterans Leadership Council to welcome former troops into the company with open arms.
“It was great to have so many veterans tonight meet one of their strongest advocates in Dr. Manji and one of their biggest corporate supporters in Johnson & Johnson,” said GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “The work that the company is doing for veterans is simply astounding. They are highlighting both the importance of hiring veterans and, by electing Alex Gorsky as their CEO, the value of veteran leadership. And thanks to the efforts by Dr. Manji and his medical research team, I am confident that in the coming decades, their work will help make PTSD and TBI a thing of the past.”
This year’s event also had special significance, as it paid tribute to our NJ National Guard, the Newark Fire Department, and all of the first responders to Hurricane Sandy who have performed so well in helping the state recover following the storm.
Members of the latest Newark Fire Department class of recruits, which featured nearly all veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, were at the event and recognized for the heroism they have displayed both in combat and as firefighters.
Scott Jacobs was awarded the organization’s “2012 Man of the Year” for the great things he did for the GI Go Fund and the veterans they served during ABC’s “Secret Millionaire”. This event marked Mr. Jacob’s first return to the city of Newark since filming the episode, where he worked with the GI Go Fund as they assisted homeless veterans living in the city and surprised the organization with a donation of $75,000. Mr. Jacobs had another gift in hand for the organization at the event, donating an additional $3,000 in proceeds from his book tour for his book “Art of Scott Jacobs – The Complete Works”.
Brigadier General (Ret.) William S. Greenberg of McCarter & English was awarded the “2012 Leadership in Military Justice Award” for his partnership with the organization to create their “Veterans Justice Initiative”. This program takes veterans in Newark involved in low level offenses and brings them into an alternative sentencing structure that provides veterans with connections to benefits assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Labor and Social Security Administration, as well as employment opportunities, mentorship and housing assistance that help curb a veterans dependency on criminal behavior.
Anna Kooiman of Fox News was awarded the “2012 Excellence in Journalism Award” for her terrific coverage of important veterans’ issues. Ms. Kooiman followed the organization as they conducted a Midnight Mission for Homeless Veterans, which provides emergency housing assistance and medical aid to homeless veterans living on the streets of Newark. Ms. Kooiman also highlighted the induction of the newest class of Newark Firefighters, which was comprised of almost entirely Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans following a concerted effort by the GI Go Fund, Mayor Cory Booker, and the Newark Fire Department.
Colonel (Ret.) Stephen Abel was awarded the “2012 Leadership in Military and Veteran Education Award” for his work as Director of the Office of Veterans and Military Programs and Services for Rutgers University. Col. Abel has made great strides at the university for veterans, creating his signature Veterans House for student vets to connect to mentorship opportunities, financial aid, and help with everything they need to make their time at Rutgers a success. His work has turned Rutgers into one of the most veteran-friendly universities in the country and a great school for vets to earn a degree.
Matthew Klapper, Chief Policy Advisor for Mayor Booker and the City of Newark, was awarded the “2012 Innovation in Government for Military and Veterans Affairs Award” for being the impetus to the partnership between GI Go Fund and Mayor Booker in 2008 that has helped tens of thousands of veterans get linked to employment, education, benefits, housing, and legal aid. Mr. Klapper’s astute leadership has turned Newark into a Model City for veterans that should be replicated in major cities across the country.
Sponsors of the event include Johnson & Johnson, PSEG, Rutgers University, McCarter & English, Stop & Shop, and Direct Dimensions Inc. Adding to the reality television presence of the evening is Carlo’s Bakery of the hit TLC chow “Cake Boss” in Hackensack, NJ, which has generously donated specialty cakes for the veterans attending the event. Furthermore, Georgetown Cupcakes, also featured on TLC’s show “D.C. Cupcakes”, has donated their world famous cupcakes from their location in SoHo, NY to the event for the veterans and their loved ones.