Neil Van Ess Elected Junior Vice Commander for Military Order of the Purple Heart


Neil Van Ess ’85, a retired law enforcement officer and veteran who served in Vietnam, has been elected junior vice commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The organization, composed of men and women who received the Purple Heart medal for wounds suffered in combat, provides assistance and support to all veterans and their families.

Van Ess served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1970. He was wounded in combat in Vietnam in 1968 as a member of the 101st Airborne Division. Following his military service, Van Ess returned to college, earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at William Paterson in 1985, and a master’s degree from Seton Hall University in 1989. He joined the Totowa Police Department In 1982, and retired as captain of the department with more than 30 years of service. Van Ess served on the Totowa Board of Education from 1986 to 2005, including 12 years as president of the board. In 1993, he was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and served as chairman in 2006. A life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart since 1989, he has held local, state, and national leadership positions with the organization.

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