By Luke Thomas
November 12, 2012
Senator Mark Leno, Mayor Ed Lee and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi were the only elected officials to honor US veterans Sunday during San Francisco’s 93rd annual Veterans Day Parade.
This year’s parade featured a salute to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
The parade, which began under clear blue skies at Market and 2nd streets and terminated at Civic Center, was well-attended by members of the public who lined the streets while waving Old Glories in appreciation of the sacrifice and service of active US military services personnel and veterans.
Sheriff Mirkarimi, a US Navy reserves veteran, and recently promoted Sheriff’s Captain Kathy Gorwood led the parade, shaking hands with members of the public and thanking them for honoring veterans. They were followed by the Sheriff’s Department Mounted Unit.
“I had them deployed for the first time ever in the Veterans Day Parade,” Mirkarimi said, referring to the Mounted Unit.
Mirkarimi and his command staff joined a network of service providers Friday to honor veterans in custody at San Bruno Jail and to highlight efforts to reduce violence and recidivism rates.
COVER (Community of Veterans Engaged in Restoration) is a program first instituted in 2010 under the leadership of former Sheriff Michael Hennessey. The program provides vet-specific services to incarcerated veterans. Many veterans who run afoul of the law are often suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a severe anxiety disorder that can develop following exposure to the horrors of war.
“We’re challenged by two distinct populations of veterans: the older incarcerated veterans, who require a specialized level of care that they didn’t get years ago, and the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan whose health-and-welfare needs are unique from those of their predecessors,” Mirkrarimi said in a press statement. “COVER can claim many success stories of veterans who reenter society, never to violate the law again; however, as we see a growing number of veterans finding themselves in the criminal justice system, we will be ill-equipped to address their myriad needs, in particular, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”
At the end of the parade, the public was treated to performances from high-school drill teams and marching bands.
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