City officers are thanking U.S. armed forces veterans with a free breakfast buffet from 9 to 11 a.m. on Veterans Day at The Community Restaurant on Main Street, according to the Cortland Police Department.
The third annual event includes an award ceremony to “recognize a Veteran who continues to display exemplary service to his or her Cortland Community,” according to the city’s Office of Community Policing Facebook page.
“It’s just something good to do for our vets,” said Officer Jesse Abbott, the office’s sole employee. The office —- which aims to forge and improve relationships between city residents and city officers —- was originally created with federal grant money that tapered off gradually over three years, Abbott said. It now relies on the department for Abbott’s salary and donations for events.
This year’s award recipient is already selected, but Abbott was keeping mum during a Thursday interview. Abbott said he selected the recipient from nominations solicited through social media with the help of Patrolman and Army Ranger veteran Jeff Fitts. Fitts is one of about a dozen veterans currently serving in the city’s police department, Abbott noted.
The selected veteran receives a plaque and a Dewalt power drill donated by Lowe’s on Route 13 in Cortlandville, Abbott said. Identical plaques will also hang in the police station in the basement of City Hall at 25 Court St., as well as in the home improvement store, he said.
Last year’s recipient was Carl Bullock, an Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War. Bullock did a 14-month stint as a civilian after his two-year tour, then reenlisted in 1973 for what would be another 20 years, according to a 2018 article by the Cortland Standard. From 1999 to 2018, Bullock was the Cortland County Veteran's Affairs director, according to a County news release.
The first recipient was Norm Stitzel, a retired Marine corporal and founder of VET S.A.R. (Search and Rescue), a local Christian charity that aims to connect veterans with knowledge about federal and local services to other veterans in need of assistance.
The breakfast is a gift of gratitude for any veteran or currently serving military member, Abbott noted, and anyone who would like to support the veterans may attend with a $5 minimum donation. For more information or to RSVP, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/cortlandcommunitypolicing/