By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO February 7, 2006 Al Etkin, the former Director of the Sullivan County Veterans Service Agency (VSA) and a leader amongst veterans in Sullivan County for many years, was recently enshrined in the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame.
Etkin, who served as the countys VSA Director from 1993-2000, is a Korean War-era veteran who served with distinction in Europe, said NYS Senator John Bonacic during a presentation in Monticello.
He is a former District Commander of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Jewish War Veterans and a member of former Congressman Ben Gilmans Veterans Advisory Committee. He is the recipient of the Army of Occupation, Good Conduct, and National Defense citations and the U.S. Army Service, the American Defense Service, Overseas Service and Cold War Victory commemoratives.
The selection of Etkin into the hall of fame makes him the first veteran in Bonacics four-county district to be inducted.
We owe [all veterans] a debt of gratitude for our freedom and our way of life, said Bonacic.
The senator said that Etkin continues to give back to veterans in the county by informing them about various programs and lifting their spirits.
POW-MIA flags now fly in front of all New York State Police barracks due to the lobbying efforts of Etkin, said the senator.
New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther presented Etkin with a citation from the New York State Assembly. She called him a great friend to her late husband Jacob Gunther and to veterans throughout the county and the State of New York.
Etkin called the honor a very cherished moment in my life. It is very gratifying, and I am deeply appreciative.
Of all the positions a veteran can have, the most satisfying and gratifying role is being of service to ones fellow veterans and their dependents, said the honoree. Among those services are assisting them in obtaining loans and benefits.
Then you can sleep at night, he said.
The Hall of Fame is located in the Empire State Plaza in Albany. A kiosk in the Sullivan County Government Center will honor Etkin for the next two months.