Home sweet home: De Blasio helps NYC celebrate 1,000th veteran housed with Lower East Side celebration

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Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Veterans’ Services Commissioner Commissioner of NYC Veterans James Hendon welcome Jocelyn Miller to her new home.
Photo by Dean Moses

Mayor Bill de Blasio threw a welcome home party for one veteran on the Lower East Side on Tuesday afternoon.

Military veteran Jocelyn Miller has been living in a homeless shelter for some time now. When the NYC Department of Veterans’ Services learned of her situation, the organization went about finding this hero a place to live.

Setting up a renovated one-bedroom apartment on Grand Street, Commissioner of NYC Veterans’ Services James Hendon and de Blasio threw Miller a housewarming party, complete with balloons and a “Thank you for your service” sign to celebrate her welcome home.

The mayor served as a tour guide, showcasing the freshly painted premises. From the living room to the bedroom and bathroom, de Blasio excitedly pointed out the space’s amenities before stopping to present Miller with the keys to her new home. Overwhelmed by emotion, Miller began weeping at the sight of the keys before they could even be dropped into her hands—a symbol that she was no longer homeless.

“I’ve got to hold it together; I am in front of the mayor crying. Thank you so much,” Miller said trying to hold back tears.

“It’s real, it’s real. It’s a good dream,” the Mayor said, clutching her shoulder. 

Jocelyn Miller and de Blasio check out the closet space. Photo by Dean Moses

Miller marks the 1,000th veteran granted a home by the NYC Department of Veterans’ Services, when she moved into her new one-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side with support from the DVS Housing and Support Services (HSS) team on Feb. 23.

Although the afternoon was brimming with happy tears and smiles, the journey to this moment had not been an easy one.

Miller joined the Army right out of college in order to serve her country, but after completing her service, she fell on difficult times.

“It’s hard because it has been years that I have been going through a lot. I went to the shelter and they put me into the DVS program, and they helped me and here I am, and I am happy. It feels great, it feels great! I didn’t think this would happen!” Miller exclaimed gazing around at her apartment.

The mayor thanked Hendon — a veteran himself — for his work serving New York veterans in need. Acknowledging that more needs to be done on the federal government’s part in terms of aiding those who have served, de Blasio commended Hendon for making things right one person at a time.

The mayor also pointed out that some veterans may not be aware that there is help available.

It was a welcome home party for Jocelyn Miller. Photo by Dean Moses

“I didn’t know. There is help out there, I am a prime example. I got the help. Everybody else needs to go get it,” Miller said.

Before leaving Miller to enjoy her home, Commissioner Hendon implored Miller to pass along the message of help to other veterans who may be in need of assistance.

“It is all about paying it forward,” Hendon added.