Everyday heroes

As a firefighter, the word hero is one that we hear often, especially those of us who have been fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time and were able to save someone‚Äôs life. Certainly, we’ve all come to expect our firefighters, police, first responders and our military men and women to be our heroes. We expect them to run into the burning building, face down an armed individual or defend our nation from an ever more elusive enemy. And make no mistake, their sacrifice and dedication is what makes us the greatest country in the world.

But there are another group of heroes, those that walk among us every day. They don’t wear any uniform or receive any special training. They are the everyday Americans that can be found doing extraordinary things, often times in the face of extreme danger.

There are people like Rhonda Crosswhite, an Oklahoma City school teacher who used her body as a human shield to protect students in her 6th grade class from a deadly tornado. One of the students that Crosswhite had shielded was saying ” I love you, I love you, please don’t let me die.”
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27 year old school teacher Victoria Soto was starting out what was to be just an ordinary day at Sandy Hook Elementary School until shots rang out. Soto put herself in front of her students and is credited in saving many lives that tragic day.
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Carlos Arredondo was at the Boston Marathon supporting a runner who was running in memory of his son, Lance Corporal Alexander Arredondo, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Immediately after the blasts, Arredondo ran into the smoke and is credited in saving the lives of a runner who lost his leg.
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These three brave citizens are just the tip of the iceburgh. They represent the heroes that walk among us every day. The teachers, principals, nurses, doctors, first responders, and ordinary citizens who go above and beyond bringing light into the darkness and hope amid tragedy.

Taken together, our heroes continue to strengthen our resolve, bring us hope and allow us to look toward a brighter tomorrow.

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Honoring our veterans, everyday.

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Memorial Day weekend is a time for freinds, family, cookouts and shopping. It’s also that time of year when we pause to remember those who have passed, especially those of the armed services. From the American Revolution up to the wars in Iraq and Afghanastan, we remember all those brave men and women who gave up their lives in the defense of liberty.

And part of honoring those who gave the ultimatie sacrifice should be to make sure that our veterans returning from battle have everything they need to live happy and healthy lives. These men and women, our nations best, should receive all that we have to offer them. Sadly, we have not always done a good job in caring for our returning veterans. We have not always made sure that they have all the tools and resources necessary to make that adjustment back to civilian life.

In Albany County, our Veterans Services Bureau, led by Director Charles Burkes, assists nearly twenty thousand veterans living in the county. The bureau assist veterans in several areas including helping with government paperwork, medical care, VA home loans, burial benefits and education benefits.

So this Memorial Day, while we are celebrating the beginning of summer with our friends and families, take a minute to remember those that are no longer with us, those who made that ultimate sacrifice. And let’s be sure and remember those who are still with us who are suffering economically, physically and emotionally.

If you are a veteran who needs assistance, please contact the Albany County Veterans Services Bureau at 518-447-7710.

I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Sheriff’s Deputies promoted

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This morning at the Albany County Courthouse, eleven Albany County Sheriff’s Deputies received well deserved promotions. They included Christian Clark to the rank of Superintendent of the Jail, replacing Tom Wigger who retired earlier this year. Michael Lyons to the rank of Assistant Superintendent, Michael Montelone to the rank of Assistant Chief Deputy, Gennaro Appell to the rank of Inspector, Shawn Spring to the rank of Captain, James Goss to the rank of Captain, Arrel Moncur to the rank of First Sergeant, John Henry to the rank of Sergeant and Shawn Noonan to the rank of Investigator.

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I want to congratulate all of those who were promoted today and thank you for all that you do to protect the people of Albany County day in and day out. I also want to thank Sheriff Apple and Undersheriff Cox for their efforts in making the Sheriff’s Department one of the most professional law enforcement agencies in New York State.

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Mental health is too important to ignore

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With the recent tragic events in Newtown, the issue of mental illness has been brought front and center in the national discourse with several questions continuing to plague us regarding that terrible day. How could someone do that? What was wrong with that kid? How come nobody got him help? Sadly, we will never really know why this event happened. But what we do know is that mental health care is still not being treated with the seriousness that it should be. This is especially true when it comes to the mental health of our kids. We see far too many children suffering from conditions like depression, anxiety, bi polar and other crippling disorders. According to the United States Surgeon General, 20% of children in America suffer from a diagnosable mental illness with nearly 5 million suffering from serious disorders, affecting their day to day life. And sadly, far too many of these kids will die of suicide because they were not able to receive the proper care or because parents were afraid to speak out because of the negative stigma still associated with mental illness.

With that said, there are many extremely dedicated mental health care workers who are on the front lines, often doing more with less in trying to stem the tide of what seems to be a rising epidemic. Here in Albany County, our Department of Mental Health, led by Dr. Stephen Giordano, assist hundreds of people a day with their illnesses. Individuals receive counseling, medication and other assistance as they deal with their often times debilitating diseases. And make no mistake these individuals are not just the homeless person on the street. They are our friends, our neighbors our co-workers, our family members and our kids.

With May being National Mental Health Awareness Month, we should look to address the issue of mental illness not just in terms of gun ownership but in terms of making sure that those suffering from diseases of the brain are getting the proper care they require to live normal and healthy lives. We should look to end once and for all the negative stigma that has for too long been associated with mental illnesses. We should look to make certain that those on the front lines of battling mental illness have all the resources they need. And as parents we should make certain our children are not suffering in silence. We must be willing to speak up and speak out so that the millions of children who suffer from mental illness receive the care they need to go on to live normal and healthy lives. And while we may never know why an unthinkable event like Newtown occurred, we as a society can work to ensure that it does not ever happen again.

If you or someone you know has a child suffering from mental illness, please contact the Albany County Department of Mental Health Child Services Unit at 518-447-4550. If you are in severe crisis, call the 24 hour emergency crisis line at 518-549-6500.

Welcome!

I’m very happy and excited to welcome you to my new blog at Troyrecord.com. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Shawn Morse. I’m the Chairman of the Albany County Legislature, representing the 17th District in Cohoes. I am also a Cohoes Firefighter and have served the people of Cohoes for the last 23 years. I am a husband to Brenda and a father to Chris, Madison and Adriana.

This blog will be a wonderful opportunity to share with you my views on a whole host of issues ranging from county and state government to the goings on in Washington and right back down to Main Street. It will also be a place to highlight many of the great people and things that make our area a great place to live.

For those of you that do know me, you know I don’t engage in “politician talk.” I have always spoken my mind and that will not change here. I am proud to say that my years in politics has not changed who I am in the least. You can access my full bio by clicking the link below. And if you have not done so, follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook.

I welcome all of your comments but no personal attacks or profanity will be allowed as I’m a firm believer in having a civil conversation.

So again, welcome and I hope you enjoy my little piece of cyberspace.