Vietnam veteran Joseph Ruszala of Hamburg has been named to this year’s class of the New York State Senate’s Veterans Hall Of Fame.
“Joe is a role model and I am proud to nominate him for this honor because of the many contributions he has made and continues to make in the community,” said state Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo.
While a young 25th Infantry Division soldier in Vietnam, there was one night when Ruszala wondered if he would make it home alive, and if he did, what his life would become. Following his retirement from a local company, he began volunteering with veteran service organizations, and with each veteran he was able to assist his motivation to help increased.
He volunteers at the Department of Veteran Affairs, Buffalo Vet Center, where he attends numerous outreach events and serves as a mentor for veterans.
After Vietnam, Ruszala found much comfort from his pets and wanted to get veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder paired up with supportive animals.
He and others partnered with the Niagara County SPCA and created a program called “Dog Tags Niagara,” which was launched on Veterans Day 2013. Veterans and staff work with each other to emotionally heal wounded animals that, in turn, provide healing for the veterans.
Also this week:
• The Hamburg Village Board will conduct its year-end meeting at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Village Hall, 100 Main St.
• The Hamburg School Board will meet in executive session Tuesday and Wednesday evening at the administrative building, 5305 Abbott Road, to conduct a hearing on official misconduct charges filed against Board Member Catherine Schrauth Forcucci.
• A meeting of the Village of Hamburg’s Planning Commission begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Village Hall.
• Friday is the dedication of the new playground at Cloverbank Elementary School in the Frontier School District, which replaces an old wooden playground that was outdated, attracted bees and was difficult for special needs children to use .
The playground committee raised $82,568 in about a year. The fundraising campaign got a huge boost through a $20,000 donation from John T. Sharp, owner of Gold & Pearl Studio, who died in 2013.
• The Hamburg Farmers Market is open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the village municipal parking lot, with entrances on Main and Union streets.
• Children’s Day at the Penn Dixie Site , 4050 North St., will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. next Sunday. Tilly the Trilobite will greet visitors. There will be live animals, rocket launches and face painting, as well as fossil collecting and fossil contests for children.