Tag Archives: Veteran’s Day

This Veteran’s Day Applebee’s says “THANK YOU” to our nation’s vets

This Veterans Day (Monday, Nov. 11) Applebee’s is once again continuing the tradition the brand started five years ago by thanking our nation’s veterans and active duty military and inviting them to their neighborhood Applebee’s for a FREE Thank You Meal.

Applebee’s expects to serve more than 1 million FREE meals from its special Veterans Day menu of seven signature entrees like the 7 oz. House Sirloin.

Applebee’s will continue to support veterans year-round through a partnership with The Mission Continues, an organization that promotes veteran-led community service projects in neighborhoods throughout the country.

Participating Applebee’s restaurants will advocate and honor the work of current and alumni Mission Continues Fellows through “Neighborhood Hero” displays. These displays will raise awareness within the community as well as provide a local call-to-action.

NOTE:

Guests will need to provide proof of service, which includes: U.S. Uniform Services Identification Card, U.S. Uniform Services Retired Identification Card, Current Leave and Earnings Statement, Veterans Organization Card, photograph in uniform or wearing uniform, DD214, Citation or Commendation.

Offer is valid for dine-in only. Traditional sides are included with free entrees; 2 for $20 appetizers, upgraded side items or extras, beverages, desserts and gratuity are not included. Applebee’s Thank You Meals will be offered during normal business hours on Monday, Nov. 11.

November is Hire a Vet month!

PATRICK ADMINISTRATION INCREASES INCENTIVES FOR COMPANIES HIRING VETERANS AND LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED

BOSTON – Building off record investments made by the Patrick Administration in Veterans Services, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) recently announced it has more than doubled cash grants available to employers hiring Massachusetts residents who have been unemployed for 6 months or more, or Massachusetts veterans (regardless of length of unemployment). Increased grant funding is available through the state’s Hiring Incentive Training Grant (HITG), a program of the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund.

“This grant program is a valuable incentive for employers who want to boost their workforce but may need additional resources to add new hires,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein. “Through this program, we are supporting the long-term unemployed and veterans looking for work as we encourage companies to grow their business and workforce in Massachusetts.”

Any for-profit company and non-profit organization that contributes to the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, a state fund enacted in 1998, are encouraged to apply. Eligible employers may now apply for grants of $5,000 for each new hire who meets the Hiring Incentive Training Grant program requirements. Employers may receive up to $75,000 each calendar year. Upon approval, payment will be available to the employer once the new hire has retained employment for at least 120 days.

A copy of the Hiring Incentive Training Grant application, eligibility requirements, Frequently Asked Questions and other relevant materials are available at EOLWD’s website www.mass.gov/hiringgrant. Grant awards are subject to funding availability, and applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Prior to October 2013, awarded eligible employers received no more than $2,000 per new hire, and no more than $30,000 per calendar year through the previous guidelines of the Hiring Incentive Training Grant. The increased grant funding through the Hiring Inventive Training Grant is one of many business resources promoted by the Patrick Administration to assist companies growing or expanding in Massachusetts.

The Hiring Incentive Training Grant is part of the Workforce Training Fund Program, managed by the Commonwealth Corporation, which provides resources for employers to better train Massachusetts workers. Recently, EOLWD announced approximately $2.8 million in Workforce Training Fund grants, totaling more than $15.6 million in grants awarded by the Patrick Administration since July 2012 to help train over 15,400 Massachusetts employees in the last year alone. The priorities of the Workforce Training Fund include projects, which will lead to increased job retention or job growth, increased wages, more productive and competitive companies, improved ability to do business in Massachusetts and commitments to increased private investment in training.

“The Workforce Training Fund has proven to be a remarkable resource to Massachusetts businesses looking to address their business needs,” said Nancy Snyder, President and CEO of Commonwealth Corporation. “We encourage all businesses, regardless of size, to contact us to learn more about the Workforce Training Fund and training grants that are available.”

Increased funding available through the Hiring Incentive Training Grant is another example of the Patrick Administration’s commitment to supporting Massachusetts veterans. The Administration is a leading provider for veteran services and continues to implement employment assistance and workforce training programs for veterans. In addition to providing priority service for veterans at each of the Department of Career Services’ One-Stop Career Centers, the Administration also launched an aggressive employment campaign focused on increasing the hiring of Massachusetts veterans. Among these initiatives, the Patrick Administration has partnered with major trade associations to encourage them to hire veterans, circulate information on veterans’ benefits and educate local employers about the skills service members gain the military.

Today’s announcement is more welcomed news within the veteran community, especially in advance of Veteran’s Day and the Patrick Administration’s annual “Hire a Vet Month” that will be celebrated throughout November.

“Employment is a critical component for a veteran’s successful transition back into civilian life,” said Secretary of Veterans Services Coleman Nee. “Massachusetts leads the nation in veterans’ services, and with this increased incentive we will continue to lead the way while maximizing both public and private sector resources to ensure we provide our veterans with the employment opportunities they have earned.”

To learn more about workforce training initiatives, visit www.mass.gov/lwd or for more details about the Hiring Incentive Training Grant visit www.mass.gov/hiringgrant.

 

 

Worcester County’s Veterans …

Maurice Costello.JPG

Image from The National Veterans Art Museum. The National Veterans Art Museum inspires greater understanding of the real impact of war with a focus on Vietnam. The museum collects, preserves and exhibits art inspired by combat and created by veterans.

To learn more, click on the link below:

http://www.nvam.org/ 

… Homeless, but not Hopeless

By Maria Jannace

With the rate of U.S. homeless veterans doubling in the last five years,
organizations like Veteran Homestead are working hard to help achieve the “zero homeless veterans by 2015” goal.

Picture it. The year is 2015. Though the scars of wars from as far back as 50 years ago still grip the minds and bodies of hundreds of thousands of American veterans, there is some comfort in knowing that at least they all have a place they can call home.

Picture it. The year is 2012. More than 200,000 brave men and women who fought for your freedom are without homes. More than 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness at some time during the course of this year. It is stunning to know that veterans make up nearly a quarter of this nation’s entire homeless population.

A noble goal by the Department of Veterans Affairs is to end veteran homelessness by 2015. The crystal ball is a bit fuzzy, but given the critical nature of today’s statistics, nothing short of a miracle will bring the number of homeless vets down to a mere zero in the less than three short years ahead. The United States government is taking action and in July of this year, the U. S. Senate unanimously passed H.R. 1627, a bill that addresses several areas of concern for veterans, including health care, housing, education, and benefits. Thankfully, there are organizations founded and funded by private citizens that are also leading the charge to end homelessness among American veterans. One such organization is Veteran Homestead headquartered in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Veteran Homestead founder and CEO Leslie Lightfoot served in the Army as a medic from 1967-1970. She spent two years at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during the Vietnam War, witnessing – on a daily basis – injuries and deaths unimaginable by civilians. Her experience led her to become a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress and she holds two Psychology degrees from Fitchburg State University. She has been serving the needs of the veteran community ever since she left the Army in 1970. In 1993, Lightfoot founded Veteran Homestead that now has six facilities throughout New England and Puerto Rico. It is a crushing task that faces Lightfoot and her accomplished team each day, but progress is being made.

“Almost half of all homeless veterans in America fought in Vietnam,” Lightfoot said. “But there are as many as 20,000 vets who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and have become homeless in the past five years, including women veterans with children.”
Women are the fastest growing segment of veteran homelessness.

“Our military men and women who come back from war with traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are truly the ‘walking wounded,’” Lightfoot said. “They may not be missing an arm or a leg, but many are damaged deeply.”
The mission of Veteran Homestead is to minimize and even reverse that damage by providing medical, psychological, and spiritual care. For people like Adam Morse, Veteran Homestead has become a lifeline.

Morse was still in high school when he joined the National Guard, never expecting to see battle. Fate intervened, and Morse returned from battle emotionally scarred by the weight of his experience that led him to alcohol and drugs – a not unusual plight for homeless veterans. Morse has been sober for a year now, and he truly believes that Veteran Homestead saved his life and saved his family.

Andrew Rosacker had been a member of an elite Marine Corps anti-terrorist security team but was working with a civilian contractor for the State Department when he served in Iraq. Entering the city of Fallujah, he spotted a car speeding toward his vehicle. The car refused to stop. Rosacker opened fire. The vehicle stopped. The driver looked up at Rosacker. Smiled. Then pushed the button.

The explosion threw Rosacker from his vehicle causing traumatic brain injury. Then he was shot in the stomach and declared dead. After he was revived, he returned home and was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. He subsequently suffered a stroke that left his left side paralyzed. Sometimes his depression got so bad he would just turn off the lights and sit in the corner of a room and cry. Imagining a 6-foot-1 tough marine (and former Seal team member) crying alone is heartbreaking. But Rosacker, and many others, are making steady inroads into recovery at Veteran Homestead facilities including the recently opened Northeast Veteran Training and Rehabilitation Center (NVTRC) on 10 acres of land given by Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner.
The NVTRC, the only facility of its kind in the United States, sits on ten acres with twenty 2-bedroom homes, an indoor swimming pool, weight/exercise room, gymnasium, and other amenities designed to prepare residents for a life in which their disabilities will be less of a burden.

“The loss of a limb, a disfiguring burn, a traumatic brain injury, or an emotional scar due to post-traumatic stress are all life changing events that affect both the veteran and his family,” Lightfoot said. “The idea of not being a whole person or having your loved ones perceive you as someone much different than you were can leave emotional and psychological scars that dwarf the physical.”

NVTRC’s focus is on education (offering college courses in a partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College) and physical, occupational, and emotional therapy with an emphasis on family counseling along with the life and recreational skills that are so often taken for granted. The two-bedroom homes at the Center enable wounded warriors to practice daily living skills and provide privacy for both the veteran and his or her family. There is a therapy-dog training program there as well. Veteran Homestead endeavors to replicate the NVTRC facility model all across the United States.

Veteran Homestead is working to secure grants, but much of their support comes from private citizens and corporations that understand the importance of helping veterans revive their pride and become productive citizens. Unlike many charitable organizations, at Veteran Homestead, 90% of all funds go directly to programs that benefit the veterans. Only 10% is used to cover administrative support. And at all Veteran Homestead facilities, compassion is key. Beginning with Lightfoot herself and permeating throughout the staff at all six locations is a pervasive sense that “there but for the grace of God, go I.” Many on staff are veterans themselves.

They have lived the lives of their clients. They have been in the trenches and understand the gap in which veterans sometimes fall. Sometimes, it’s more than a gap – it’s a chasm. Lightfoot’s children – as she herself was – are exposed to the ordeals that can beset a body and mind with PTSD. Lightfoot’s Army daughter is a veteran of Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Her Air Force daughter is a veteran of Desert Storm and Iraq and has been in and out of Afghanistan. Lightfoot’s National Guard Son is a veteran of Afghanistan.

“Every soldier is someone’s child,” Lightfoot said. “We never forget that, and whether they are 22 or 62, these veterans have earned and deserve the utmost help and hope and a life of dignity. It is our deepest desire that by giving them a home – whether short or long term – and helping the healing process, these American heroes can accomplish the dreams they set forth before the cruel arms of war assaulted their lives.”
Dignity is at the center of daily life at Veteran Hospice Homestead in Fitchburg, a residential facility dedicated to veterans living with life threatening illness and the only privately run, veteran-specific hospice in the country. Hospice specialists provide innovative transitional housing programs for homeless veterans who are diagnosed with terminal illness and are no longer able to care for themselves.

Hero Homestead in Leominster is a facility designed for elderly veterans. Residents are encouraged to help each other and attend to as many of their own needs as possible.
Also in Leominster, Veteran Homestead operates Armistice Homestead in a beautiful neighborhood where veterans with a progressive outlook enjoy innovative programs that enhance camaraderie and accomplishment.

Ever looking to create environments that help veterans immerse themselves fully into quality living, Veteran Homestead developed The Victory Farm in New Hampshire, the first of its kind in the United States. It’s an 80-acre working organic vegetable farm that offers a lifestyle change to homeless veterans who have not been successful transitioning from residential treatment programs to independent or transitional housing. Veterans are responsible for the feeding and caring of dozens of animals and tend crops as well.

In Puerto Rico, Veteran Homestead’s large residential home – and the only such facility in this U.S. territory – is located in beautiful Caguas. The focus of Hacienda de Veteranos is restoring a sense of self-worth with therapy sessions provided by the Veterans Administration and in-house case managers.

With the rate of U.S. homeless veterans doubling in the last five years, organizations like Veteran Homestead are working hard to help achieve the “zero homeless veterans by 2015” goal. Lightfoot says she will continue to grow her nonprofit organization for “as long as it takes.” In January, Governor Patrick Murray announced that the state of Massachusetts had achieved a 21% decline in veteran homelessness from a year ago. Perhaps Massachusetts can lead the way in eliminating homelessness among our nation’s walking wounded. Perhaps Veteran Homestead can replicate its programs in other states so that they, too, can give help and hope to their citizens who have fallen into the chasm of homelessness after serving their country. Perhaps there is a future where heroes like former U. S. Navy Seal Andrew Rosacker never need to utter the words, “Sometimes I just cry.”