NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A retired Air Force Master Sergeant and founder of an organization that assists homeless veterans was honored Wednesday as part of Newark's annual Veterans Day event.
The normally packed event was tempered by the coronavirus pandemic, with social distancing measures in place and only participants admitted to Essex County Veterans Memorial Park in Newark, but as in years past, an Essex County Gold Star was given out.
The recipient was Cheryl "Kit" Turner, who served for 23 years and founded New Hope Village 4 Veterans 12 years ago.
"I understand our vets, what they go through, the headaches, the hassles," she said.
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The non-profit based in Irvington and helps homeless veterans, even providing an apartment in her home. And she understands being homeless, because she lived out of her car for four years.
"Because I walked a mile in their shoes, I knew how they feel," she said.
Now, she is in the process of expanding her efforts to Buffalo with plans to create housing for veterans.
"When you know you've helped somebody get on their feet, it is, oh man, even if they don't say anything, it is you know you helped them," she said.
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U.S. Representatives Mikie Sherrill and Donald M. Payne, Jr., were in attendance.
"Your project goes above and beyond, and we're all so grateful for your commitment," Sherrill said. "Your service to our nation, but now your service here at home, has been incredibly impressive."
And while Veterans Day is a week away, this ceremony is an early reminder that even heroes need support.
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Air Force vet honored for serving her country and her selfless work at home in New Jersey