On Friday, November 8, the Oneida Indian Nation welcomed more than 400 veterans, active-duty service members and their guests to Turning Stone Resort Casino for its 19th annual Veterans Recognition Ceremony and Breakfast. This cherished yearly event is one of the largest of its kind in upstate New York.

Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter served as a presenting speaker. In his remarks, he addressed the Nation’s military history, its role as First Allies to American colonists during the Revolutionary War and its support of the military ever since.

“Our bond was forged nearly 250 years ago during the Revolutionary War when our nation, the Oneida Indian Nation, fought alongside the rebel colonists,” he said. “The Oneida people played a key role in the battles of Oriskany, Fort Stanwix and Saratoga, which were crucial to winning the war and ushering in the birth of America.”

Halbritter recognized Oneida Member veterans – and all veterans and active-duty service members – for their service. He also highlighted the great programs the Nation offers to assist veterans, including a partnership with PGA Hope and Clear Path for Veterans, which provides golf instruction to disabled veterans.

Nation Member Mary Blau (Turtle Clan) recited the Thanksgiving Address in the Oneida language before breakfast was served, and the Nation also announced a $1,000 donation to Feed Our Vets Utica Pantry, a long-time participant at the event.

US Representative Anthony Brindisi, a life-long Utica resident, served as the event’s keynote speaker. The Congressman emphasized the progress he’s made in ensuring veterans get the services they’ve earned. His bipartisan leadership in Washington has brought the entire Mohawk Valley region – home to more than 50,000 veterans – closer together. His remarks touched upon the idea that we are all Americans first and that the country is forever in the debt of our dedicated service men and women.

“Whether it’s access to healthcare at the VA, whether it’s job training, whether its access to housing or food, it’s important that year round we do all that is within in our power to pay tribute to our veterans who sacrificed for us,” Brindisi said in his address.

A long-time advocate for veterans, Congressman Brindisi recently had his first bill signed into law, which preserves critical VA housing and travel programs for veterans and their families.