Page 6 - qt edition #49
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PAGE 6                                                     THE QUEENS TIMES                               THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2022

         Suozzi Presents Purple Heart to Iraq War Veteran                                          Solving Our City’s Mental Health

                                                                                                Crisis, Compassionately & Effectively
            (Continued from page 1)

             On Saturday, December 3, at
        the North Shore Historical Mu-
        seum in Glen Cove, Congressman
        Tom Suozzi (D – Long Island,
        Queens)  presented  the  historic
        and prestigious Purple Heart to
        Iraq War veteran, Chris Levi of
        Melville.
             “It’s never too late to do the
        right thing,” said Suozzi. “As I
        begin to close out my six years of
        service as a Member of Congress,
        I recognize one of my greatest
        privileges is to honor our veter-
        ans. Today, I had the great honor
        to present the prestigious  and                                                             Earlier last week Mayor Ad-  this New York Times piece.
        historic Purple Heart to retired                                                        ams announced a new plan to       Here in New York City, we
        U.S. Army Corporal Chris Levi                                                           tackle the city’s mental health  already have a promising model
        of Melville.”                                                                           crisis. Specifically, he issued a  that we should strengthen and
             Levi, who enlisted in the                                                          directive to police officers and  expand. The B-Heard pilot pro-
        Army in 2003, lost both legs to       The soldiers who initially re-  ing until his entire platoon had   other city workers instructing  gram, which operates in just a
        an IED explosion in Iraq in 2008.  sponded to the blast thought Levi  returned home before accepting   them to involuntarily hospitalize  few neighborhoods in the city,
        On March 17, 2008, his unit was  was dead; however, when he came  the award. After several years and   people deemed unable to care for  dispatches an EMT paramedic
        attached to an Iraqi Army unit,  to and realized the extent of his  technical snafus within the VA,   themselves or “meet basic living  alongside a mental health pro-
        patrolling an area south of Sadr  injuries he started yelling. Eleven  for which Chris holds no bitter-  needs”, even if they pose no risk  fessional from NYC Health +
        City, a suburb of Baghdad. Levi  minutes after the explosion, Levi  ness, it was my honor to award the   to others. While I am encouraged  Hospitals as first responders to
        was in the front seat of a Humvee  was being operated on by a sur-  well-deserved and long-overdue   to hear the Mayor accurately  people experiencing a mental
        when a roadside EFP (explosively  geon. It was the first of over 130  Purple Heart to Chris,” said   identify the crisis as one of our  health emergency. Instead of in-
        formed penetrator) detonated.  surgeries he would undergo, 30  Suozzi. “Today, a grateful nation   city’s biggest problems, I (and  vesting city dollars on programs
        The copper plate inside the EFP  of which were considered life-  said thank you to Cpl. Chris Levi.”  many others) have raised con-  that rely on failed strategies from
        became a  molten copper slug,  altering.                        Saturday’s Purple Heart cere-  cerns about the strategies he’s  the past, I’d like to see our city
        tearing through the armor of       “Chris Levi is truly a remark-  mony was planned in conjunction   implementing. For one, his plan  invest  in  proven  models,  like
        the Humvee, talking off both of  able human. Initially offered the  with Robert Chiaponne and Erle   continues to rely on sending  B-Heard, and build out the in-
        his legs and badly mangling his  Purple Heart while still hospital-  Mutz of the Military Order of the   police officers as the first re-  frastructure needed so that New
        right arm.                   ized in Iraq, he insisted on wait-  Purple Heart.          sponders to mental health calls,  Yorkers have, in Mayor Adams’
                                                                                                instead of trained mental health  own words, a “continuum of
        Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar Inducts Schmidt’s Candy                                  crisis responders. Best practice  care.” That means safe  respite
                Into State Historic Business Preservation Registry                              from successful programs across  centers, overdose prevention
                                                                                                the country aiming to solve the  centers, and long-term support-
        Assemblywoman Brings City                                                               ballooning mental health crisis is  ive housing, among others. But
        And Stakeholders Together To                                                            to send a trained, expert worker  that’s not possible if our city is
        Recognize 97-Year-Old Business                                                          equipped to make careful, safe  pushing through an austerity
        In Her District                                                                         mental health assessments into  budget and cutting headcount at
                                                                                                the field, having them engage  critical social service agencies.
             Assemblywoman Jenifer                                                              in strategies that lead to volun-  Working with my colleagues in
        Rajkumar (D-AD 38) brought the                                                          tary consent to connection of  the Council and the Mayor’s Of-
        community together at Schmidt’s                                                         care whenever possible. No city  fice to advance outcome-driven
        Candy to induct the historic busi-                                                      worker,  no  matter  how  much  solutions to make our city safer
        ness  into the New York State                                                           supplemental training they get  and healthier will be my top
        Historic Business Preservation                                                          or resources they are offered  priority  this  upcoming  budget
        Registry. A beloved neighbor-                                                           is a substitute for a full-time,  season and I’m optimistic that we
        hood staple, Schmidt’s Candy is                                                         professional mental health crisis  can come together across lines
        a 97-year-old confectionery in                                                          responder. Read more about the  of difference to deliver the long-
        Woodhaven. Inclusion in the reg-                                                        plan and some of the critiques in  term results New Yorkers expect.
        istry will provide Schmidt’s with
        educational and promotional sup-
        port from the State of New York.
             Assemblywoman Rajkumar
        brought together stakeholders
        from across the City to the induc-
        tion ceremony, which took place
        inside of the candy store itself. In   Puctured from left to right: Jessica Genna from Councilwoman
        attendance were Queens Cham-  Joann Ariola’s office, Tom Grech, Sherry Algredo, Jonathan
                                     Forgash, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, Vance Barbour,
        ber of Commerce President Tom   Margie Schmidt, Neir’s Tavern owner Loycent Gordon, a
        Grech, New York City Depart-  Schmidt’s Candy employee, Rob MacKay, and Tynisha Sykes
        ment of Small Business Services’  also helped make resources more
        Tynisha Sykes, Queens Economic  easily accessible to mom-and-pop  haven’s most beloved small busi-
        Development Corporation Public  shops. She helped pass legislation  nesses.  Located in the Assem-
        Relations Director Rob MacKay,  creating small business liaisons in  blywoman’s district, Schmidt’s
        Community Board 9 Chairwoman  state agencies, and requiring the  Candy has served the finest choco-
        Sherry Algredo, Vance Barbour of  Department of State to provide in-  lates since 1925, when Margie
        the Woodhaven Residents’ Block  formation on business assistance  Schmidt’s grandfather Frank
        Association, Queens Together  programs when new businesses  Schmidt founded the confection-
        founder Jonathan Forgash, a rep-  file. The Assemblywoman also  ery. Today, Ms. Schmidt hand-
        resentative from Councilwoman  assisted with changes to the tax  crafts the candies herself in-house,
        Joann Ariola’s office, and numer-  code, helping enact legislation to  using many of her grandfather’s
        ous members of the community.  reduce taxes on small business  original recipes, and works as
             In 2021, Assemblywoman  income and create the COVID-19  much as sixteen hours per day dur-
        Rajkumar secured a seat on the  Capital Costs Credit.      ing the holiday season. The shop
        Assembly Committee on Small       The Assemblywoman has  is a beloved institution in South
        Business, and has led efforts to  brought increased attention, re-  Queens, where many residents
        empower small businesses around  sources, and services to Woodhav-  have enjoyed Schmidt’s chocolates
        the State.  She aided small busi-  en since she took office in 2021.  since childhood.
        nesses in recovering from the  Earlier this year, she passed the       Assemblywoman Rajkumar
        COVID-19 economic downturn  historic first-ever state resolution  said: “I brought this State recog-
        by helping to create the $800  commemorating Woodhaven’s  nition and support from citywide
        million Pandemic Small Busi-  birthday and honoring its history.  stakeholders to Schmidt’s Candy
        ness Recovery Grant Program       Her induction of Schmidt’s  because Margie Schmidt has
        and the $600 million State Small  Candy into the historic registry
        Business Credit Initiative. She has  provides support to one of Wood-  (Continued on page 10)
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