Displays of pride on Veterans Day and work dress code clashed this Monday in the suburban New Jersey town of Teaneck, where veteran DPW employees were told they were not allowed to wear their military issue hats on the job and made to wear their standard issue DPW caps instead.
According to the local paper The Record, DPW workers George Rosa and Mark Marshall– both Iraq veterans– were surprised to find backlash to their decision to wear military patrol caps while working that day. Rosa reports that a supervisor approached him and requested he not violate the dress code, prompting Marshall to leave before he could be similarly addressed. Rosa agreed to wear his DPW hat but nonetheless opposes depriving veterans of the opportunity to show their colors.
“It’s like they don’t want people to know they have veterans working in the DPW,” Rosa remarked. He added that it had never been a problem for him before, as he did his best to take Veterans’ Day off every year. This year, however, financial hardships forced him into working the day.
Whether the town government will address the matter remains to be seen. A DPW union representative told the paper that he would be in talks with the DPW human resources department about the issue and potentially take it to the town directly depending on the response. Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin told the paper he would not issue any statements on the matter before informing himself further of the circumstances which led to this unfortunate misunderstanding.
The two veterans agreed that the dress code need not be so strict as to prevent veterans from celebrating Veterans Day– something neither offensive nor obtrusive on the job. “They can’t let it go for one day?” lamented Marshall. Rosa noted that they had risked their lives in the military and felt they had a right to display their colors.
The military allows veterans who are not on actively duty to wear their garments only on special occasions, of which Veterans Day is one. It only addresses full uniforms, however, and caps could potentially be seen as appropriate to wear on their own on any occasion.
Yesterday’s occasion saw celebrations of the military nationwide, with both the federal government and local authorities putting events together to celebrate those returned from active duty. Unfortunately, not participating in any of these events were Rosa and Marshall, who were scheduled to work through Teaneck’s official Veterans Day celebration.