Greenwich Police Officer and Navy veteran Craig Zotolla says hes seen a shift in the way veterans are treated since the war began in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You cant swing a cat now without hitting someone who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, said Zotolla. There seems to be an outpouring of help with raising awareness and programs for vets. Its unprecedented to have reservists doing multiple tours. I have friends going back on their third and fourth tours. Theyre hounding me, but luckily Im a little long in the tooth at this point.
Zotolla has been a lieutenant commander in the Navy reserves for 11 years. During his first tour, he led a team analyzing terrorist threats to the U.S. and worked closely with joint terrorism task forces, briefing various government entities. He headed up a small, specialized counterterrorism task force in Qatar before his second tour, where he ran a joint operation task force as well as a counterintelligence program for the CIA in Iraq.
Zotolla said several members of his family also served in the military. Two uncles were in the Army, another uncle was in the Air Force and his father-in-law was a Marine. When he graduated from Pace University, Zotolla was interested in federal law enforcement, but due to a hiring freeze, he held off and entered the Navy Reserves. It seemed like a tradeoff, a few weeks a month, but little did we know what would happen, said Zotolla. But it was kind of a calling.
After back-to-back tours of duty, Zotolla worked as an IT executive before receiving an opportunity to fulfill his longtime desire to enter law enforcement. He began working with the Greenwich Police Department in February 2009.
Its what I wanted 20-some odd years ago and Im finally getting a chance to do it, said Zotolla. I love it, its a great department and its a wonderful town to serve. People are really appreciative of the job we do out there.
On Veterans Day, Zotolla said hes working the night shift but will also spend time with his family and catch up with old friends. We reminisce about our time and thank all of those around us who served, he said. Its nice to see the parades and functions. It means a lot to the folks that served oversees when they come home and see that appreciation. We dont look for it, we just go do our jobs, but its nice to have.
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