By COL Herb Rosenbleeth, USA (Ret.), National Executive Director
As my retirement approaches, there are many people to thank. I have been blessed to know so many truly wonderful people! I have lots and lots of good memories for and much gratitude to the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. Being a staff member of JWV has been a huge honor!
Each and every member of JWV since I started here has my highest thanks and appreciation. Every single one of you has been and remains vitally important. Both those who are active and those who are not.
My sincere thanks to each of the National Commanders under whom I have served. You have each been unique, yet you all had a few things in common. You cared deeply for all veterans, and you cared deeply for JWV and for our museum. Each one of you was dedicated to your position as NC. And a number of you have continued to serve JWV and the museum. My gratitude and pride to each of you!
To those who served, and to those who are serving as Post and Department Commanders, and to those who served in post and department staff positions, I extend my sincere thanks and appreciation.
My very special thanks and appreciation to Congressman Ben Gilman, who served as JWV’s Legislative Chairman for many years. The Honorable Mr. Gilman, a combat veteran of World War II, and his staff, always had their doors open for me. Other members of Congress whom JWV could always count on were Senators Arlen Specter and Joe Lieberman, and Congressmen Mike Bilirakis, Lane Evans, Tim Walz, and Bob Filner.
JWV’s support for the head of the VA to be a cabinet level position and Rep. Ed Derwinski becoming the first Secretary of the VA will always be in my memory. We were involved!
Each annual national convention that I attended was a wonderful experience! I used to be able to name each city and the year and visualize something from each one. Now, although the various conventions run together in my mind, I have many, many fantastic memories from our conventions. My brother, Sam, a member of Post 373 in Tampa, has been with us for the last dozen or so conventions, which has meant the world to me. And, having our sister, Lea, an Auxiliary member, join Sam and I a few times, was icing on the cake!
To the 25 plus members of Congress whom we honored at our extremely popular Congressional Receptions, beginning with Chairman Sonny Montgomery of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, we had an excellent array of congressional honorees. Many attendees from other veteran organizations and military associations enjoyed our lively receptions!
Along with our receptions, we started our Capitol Hill Action Days in the early 1990s. JWV members could be seen all over Capitol Hill! We wore our caps with great pride! Most of our Departments were solidly involved.
I am grateful for each Veterans Day and Memorial Day which I attended at Arlington National Cemetery. My favorite was the Veterans Day marking JWV’s 100th Anniversary at which JWV was the host organization. NC Bob Zweiman gave a rousing speech, and the entire amphitheater gave Zweiman a standing ovation!
Knowing three recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor has been a special privilege. Jack Jacobs and I have a mutual friend, Major General Stanley Hyman, whom Jack knew from the Army and with whom I was friends during college. Stan got us together and knowing Jacobs has been a distinct honor and pleasure. Tibor Rubin was singularly honored at the first National Commander’s banquet I ever attended. Seventeen years later, in 2005, Rubin was finally awarded the Medal of Honor he so rightly deserved for heroism in Korea. A wonderful guy! VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace introduced me to John Levitow, who immediately said, “I’m Jewish, my name is Levitow, I am a Levite.”
The Military Coalition (TMC) holds a special place in my heart. Colonel (USAF, Ret) Paul Arcari, with whom I had served in the Pentagon, and Sergeant Major (USMC, Ret) Mack McKinney, brought JWV into the Coalition. I am grateful to have worked with a host of truly outstanding men and women, to have served on the Taxes and Social Security Committee, as a Co-Chair of the influential Membership and Nominations Committee, and very honored to have been elected a couple of times to be the President of the Coalition’s Board of Directors. I am grateful to have been JWV’s representative at the Coalition.
I will be forever grateful to four outstanding chaplains, Colonel (USA, Ret) Sandy Dresin, Captain (USN, Ret) Irv Elson, Colonel (USA, Ret) Jacob Goldstein, and Captain (USN, Ret) Bruce Kahn. Each one is a long-time member of JWV and each one has helped us over the years. Four remarkable people!
Five trips to Israel will always stick in my memory – twice on my own and three times on trips with JWV. Each JWV Mission is especially embedded in my mind. I am thankful for the opportunities to visit Israel.
I am most grateful to our staff members, past and present, with whom I have served. Especially to our present staff! Each of our present staff stuck with us throughout the entire pandemic! The JWV office was covered and, when permitted by the DC government, the museum was open to the public. Very few organizations were able to maintain their personnel during the pandemic. Special recognition goes to Director of Operations Greg Byrne, Director of Accounting Julia Lasher, Executive Assistant Christy Turner, Assistant to the Director of Operations Melody Jackson, and Membership Assistant Andria Clarke, our longest serving staff members. Kudos also to our Director of Communications Iryna Apple, and to our museum staff Pam Elbe and Mike Rugel. And many, many thanks to each of the more recent members of the staff.
Special recognition goes to my mentor of many years, JWV icon PNC Bob Zweiman, and to my hero, PNC Norman Rosenshein, who faces and overcomes adversity while keeping his warm smile. Norman’s creativity, excellent judgement, and steady determination make him a great leader! I salute Bob Zweiman and Norman Rosenshein!
Last, but most certainly not least, my appreciation, gratitude, and love go to my wife, Francie, for her 24 years of putting up with me and the Jewish War Veterans! Francie is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary and participated with me at our conventions. Thank you, Francie!
Volume 75. Number 2. 2021