WEST HAVEN, CT — Just three days before he takes office, Governor-elect Ned Lamont spent Sunday taking part in a Connecticut Day of Service by volunteering at, and learning about, nonprofit organizations in cities and towns across Connecticut.
Lamont, Lt. Governor-elect Susan Bysiewicz, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and other state and local officials criss-crossed the state to focus attention on the importance of volunteerism.
“We’re doing this as a reminder as to what a difference people who volunteer can make,” Lamont said just before visiting veterans at the West Haven Veterans Medical Center on Campbell Avenue.
The governor-elect said even when he takes office he is hoping to find time in his busy schedule “to put in a few hours every week” to volunteer at various locations around the state.
His number two, Bysiewicz, echoed Lamont’s words, saying Sunday was a “day to highlight volunteerism and the good it can do in the community for veterans, for children, for animals.”
But it’s also a reminder.
“That government can’t solve every problem,” Bysiewicz said. “Volunteering is so important.”
The politicians, in addition to their trip to the West Haven VA, also made stops at the New Covenant Center in Stamford, the Homes for the Brave in Bridgeport, the Children’s Community Program in New Haven, the Connecticut Humane Society in Newington, and the Beth-el Center in Milford during the whirlwind day.
There was nothing Lamont did at the VA hospital aside from speaking with veterans, but in Stamford at the New Covenant Center both Lamont and Bysiewicz helped serve up meals as the staff watched and gave instructions.
Meanwhile, back at the VA, Blumenthal, who is a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and has made advocating for veterans’ rights a cornerstone of his senatorial career, said he believes veterans will fare well in the state under the Lamont-Bysiewicz administration.
While acknowledging that many of the issues faced by veterans fall under the purview of the federal government, Blumenthal, who apologized during his 2010 campaign for misstating his own military service, added that it helps to have a strong federal and state partnership.
“I am so excited and so heartened that Governor Lamont and Lieutenant Governor Bysiewicz are focused on veterans’ issues,” Blumenthal said.
Pointing around the West Haven VA, Blumenthal added: “This facility really needs some upgrades,” and reiterated again that it’ll be easier to make that happen if state and federal politicians work together to make it a priority.
During the West Haven VA tour, the politicians, which also included West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi and state Rep. Michael DiMassa, mingled with many of the veterans as they were getting ready to sit down for their Sunday afternoon bingo tournament.
One of the veterans, Vietnam vet Danny Turvet, took advantage of the opportunity of having all the politicians in the room to give them an earful about an issue that he said, “was really bothering me and everyone else in this place.”
“We don’t have cable,” he told the group of politicians. Turvet, who said he was a Red Sox fan, said it “drives me and everybody else in this place crazy that if one of the big sports games is on ESPN and not regular TV — we can’t even watch it.”
“We’ve all been bitching about it for months,” Turvert said. “It ain’t right considering what we all did for our country.”
Blumenthal, along with Lamont and other politicians, listened patiently as Turvert expressed his frustration.
Asked about the veterans’ cable television complaint, Blumenthal said: “I was aware this was an issue but I thought the VA had taken care of it last year.”
“I’ll be looking into it — I promise you,” Blumenthal said.