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County Veterans Commission Formed in Time for Holiday

Schools chief John E. Deasy, right, and his incoming interim successor, William R. Hite Jr., listening to Croom High School student Jada Prince, support High School Assessment exams.
Schools chief John E. Deasy, right, and his incoming interim successor, William R. Hite Jr., listening to Croom High School student Jada Prince, support High School Assessment exams. (2007 Photo By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)
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By Rosalind S. Helderman and Nelson Hernandez
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 6, 2008

Just in time for Veterans Day next week, County Executive Jack B. Johnson and the County Council have formed a 13-member Veterans Commission.

The group, appointed by Johnson (D) and confirmed unanimously by the council Oct. 28, is designed to function as a liaison among the county's more than 70,000 veterans. During comments to the council, commission members said they hope to work on housing, employment and transportation issues for veterans, as well as boosting government contracting for veteran-owned businesses and visiting veterans who are wounded or in nursing homes.

The group will be chaired by Henry C. Turner Jr., an Army veteran who received a Bronze Star for service during the Persian Gulf War. Turner said his father and grandfather served in the military, as did two brothers and his sister, County Council member Ingrid Turner (D-Bowie), a Navy veteran.

"I am truly a part of the veteran family," Henry Turner said.

Other commission members are from groups including the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Marine Corps League.

County Agency Opens African Trade Office

County Executive Jack B. Johnson and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) joined last week to formally open the county's first African Trade Office. Operated out of office space of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp. in Largo, the trade office is intended to help local small businesses make contacts in Africa and explore markets overseas.

The office is being funded primarily with a $400,000 federal grant. The county also is spending about $100,000 on expenses for staff members and office supplies, said Patricia E. Hayes-Parker, vice president of the development group.

Cardin and Johnson participated in a teleconference with the U.S. ambassador to Senegal, who told the two that Prince George's has been particularly welcoming to ties between its small businesses and African markets.

Johnson said the African Trade Office will do more than help the local economy. He said it could help build relationships that help the image of the United States overseas.

"All of you -- when you travel to other countries -- will be the voice of America," he said. "They will see you, and they will see America."

Cardin said the small-business office is unique nationally. He said the initiative began in good economic times and was designed to build on the strength of the region's economy. But he said the effort is more important now that the economy has slumped.

"We start rebuilding our economy by giving small businesses opportunities to create jobs," he said.


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© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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