By: José “Pepe” Díaz
Miami-Dade County Commissioner, District 12, Miami-Dade County Military Liaison and Chairman of the Military Affairs Board
This month of November, known for two major holidays, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, I would like to expand on the previous article describing the Military Affairs Board and remember a couple of people that deserve special mention for their service to this community. During the difficult times we are living; with natural disasters, economic struggles and war; it is truly fitting to think about the brave men and women who have served our great country, combining the essence of both holidays. As we gather around the dinner table on Thanksgiving, with family and friends, let us remember the sacrifices of our veterans, with gratitude for our own lives and the freedoms we enjoy.
Last week, while speaking to the crowd in attendance at the street naming ceremony for Rev. Jorge Comesaña, I had the honor of sharing how this great man of God and his wife cared for me while I was in a coma at the Mayport Naval Base Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida; after being injured during my service in the Marines. The first face I saw, as I opened my eyes; the caring hands that brought me Cuban food, as a way to comfort me. Their service and care for me, is something I’m grateful for and something that we are working to replicate and multiply with the newly formed Military Affairs Board. The other person from our community I want to remember is Sergeant Reich, who lost his battle with cancer at age 25 as an active duty Marine.
The active, retired, disabled, reserve and deceased military personnel in Miami-Dade County deserve our gratitude and are in need of our care. The Military Affairs Board I sponsored and chair, will advocate on behalf of military personnel and their families on issues like health care, housing, loans, pension benefits, education, employment, incarceration, reintegration, unemployment benefits, disability claims, vocational training, and insurance. Every single one of the 24 board members is committed to this mission and has become part of one of the following committees to do so: The By-Laws, Legal and Finance Committee, the Special Events Committee, the Employment and Housing Committee, the Health and Welfare Committee and the BRAC Committee- which will play a very important role. The BRAC Committee is the one relating to the Base Realignment and Closure process. Its duties and responsibilities involve: (1) Working with other entities such as federal and state agencies, to represent Miami-Dade County’s interests by ensuring that local military bases remain open as part of the next BRAC round, potentially scheduled for 2015; (2) Maximizing any opportunities for Miami-Dade County that may be realized from any potential realignment; (3) Minimizing any negative impacts to local communities; (4) Developing a comprehensive plan approved by the Military Affairs Board to be recommended to the Board of County Commissioners after evaluating infrastructure needs, land use needs, twenty first century mission of the Armed Forces and community support; (5) Working with military bases in South Florida in order to put together a vision for the future and a plan of relevance; and (6) Providing advice and recommendations approved by the Military Affairs Board to the Board of County Commissioners regarding any actions that it may take to further Miami-Dade County’s interests with relation to any further BRAC round.
As we start to put every piece in its place and get the gears moving toward this worthy cause, we want our community to be informed and embrace the mission. Help us promote measures that will enhance the quality of life of our service men and women and their families; as well as advocate for their needs. Join the Military Affairs Board in celebrating life and sacrifice during our sponsored events, such as:
- Veterans Day Observance at the Military Museum of South Florida, in the Zoo Miami Center, 12450 SW 152 Street, Miami on Monday, November 12 at 10 a.m.
For more information visit www.miamidade.gov/advocacy/military_home.asp
Lastly, I want to congratulate the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy on their 237th Birthday. Let us honor their service with gratitude, as they honor our quality of life by putting theirs on the line!