Tag Archives: vets

PLEASE! Remember our homeless vets this holiday season! #GivingTuesday is Nov. 29

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Please think of Veteran Homestead this holiday season!

Give to our veterans to thank them for our freedom!

Greetings!

This year Veteran Homestead is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day of GIVING fueled by the power of social media.

In two weeks, on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (Tuesday, 29 November) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

We will be posting and tweeting every day and I ask that you follow Veteran Homestead on Facebook, Twitter (@vethomestead) and Instagram (@veteranhomestead) and share our posts to your network of family, friends and colleagues.

Our mission is to creatively engage as many people as possible via social media to show the good work we do for our veterans in hopes that you will go to our website and DONATE.

90% of all Veteran Homestead funds go directly to veteran care, 10% solely to facility maintenance and administration.

Veteran Homestead Inc., is an independent, non-profit organization that provides housing and care to U.S. Armed Services Veterans from across the nation who are elderly, disabled or diagnosed with a terminal illness.

With six unique facilities in New England and Puerto Rico, our team of credentialed professionals serve those who have served in our armed forces, with compassion and dedication without regard to race, religion, or sexual orientation.

All Veteran Homestead programs are drug and alcohol free.

Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,
Leslie Lightfoot
Founder & CEO
VeteranHomestead.org

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One terrific program:

Hero Homestead
Leominster, Massachusetts

The Hero Homestead is a 15 bed, substance free facility located in Leominster.

Residents are encouraged to co-exist, assisting each other and attending to as many of their own needs as possible.

This program provides transitional housing for veterans who are dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues, as well as other challenges related to homelessness.

To learn all about the HOMESTEAD’S PROGRAMS click HERE!  

Our Vets – never out of fashion! … Today! Worcester Veterans Day events … and for all vets! FREE SPECIAL-FOR-YOU MEALS at Applebees, Friendlys

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Cece’s first ICT photo shoot. She’s no bigger than a greeting card! pic: R.T.

WORCESTER HONORS OUR VETS

Pancake Breakfast at Veterans Inc

8:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Veterans Inc.,

69 Grove Street, Worcester

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Parade: 11 AM

Parade begins at corner of Glennie Street and Grove Street by Percy’s Appliances.

It will proceed down and end at 69 Grove Streetl.

For information regarding parade participation please call (508) 791-1213 x123.

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Wreath Laying Ceremony

2 PM

At the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Green Hill Park, off Lincoln and Belmont streets

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Wreath Laying Ceremony

2 PM

At the Korean War Memorial on Worcester Center Boulevard.

– City of Worcester website

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AT APPLEBEES restaurant – there’s one on Park Ave – FREE SPECIAL ENTREES FOR ALL VETS!

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And at all FRIENDLYs ice cream:

Free breakfast, lunch or dinner today for all vets! Bring military ID.

Free! Vets can order the Big-Two-Do: two slices of Brioche French toast, two buttermilk pancakes or two slices of toast; two strips of applewood-smoked bacon or two sausage links, sided by two made-to-order fresh eggs. Plus: a cup of joe!

Or: Free All-American Burger with fries and soda, iced tea or hot beverage.

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Jett says relax and enjoy this holiday!

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How spoiled is my brat #10

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Edith parked in YY … Old Soldiers

By Edith Morgan

They’re getting older and there are fewer of them; but every year at this time, they are at St. John’s Cemetery on Cambridge Street and other places to put American flags by the graves of those who died in battle. I am referring to our veterans, members of the American Legion, who have for many years put flags by 3,000 graves each year. This year they are getting help from the South High School and the Burncoat High School members of the ROTC.

I can remember many years ago, when there were parades down Worcester’s Main Street, featuring the marching bands of the various services, in full uniform. Many of us lined up along the street waving flags along the sidewalk. But year after year the crowds got smaller, the parades shorter, and the enthusiasm less. It is almost like “battle fatigue,” with so many wars, so much death, so many killed or maimed, year after year, war after war … .

As I look back, I think much of the disenchantment started with the disastrous Vietnam war. And has continued through the many wars we fought, wars whose burdens were not borne equally by all, under the draft, but were fought by a “volunteer army” representing a smaller segment of the American people, often for many years and in faraway places.

I have always strongly believed that, regardless of whether you are drafted, or whether you a a volunteer, we who send you out to fight our battles, to die or return damaged in body and/or soul, deserve quality support and care, for you and your families.

Even when I have opposed some of these wars, I have always believed that it is our duty to properly care for those who returned, as well as those who gave their lives.

So this special day, the last Monday in May, should be given over to remembering these dead, making sure that their loved ones are being looked after and perhaps giving thought to how to prevent the incessant slaughter that makes such a remembrance necessary.

But what I miss at this time is a day commemorating the civilian dead and injured, those in both sides of a war, who are just “in the way” – whose homes are bombed, whose air is poisoned, whose vital services are interrupted and who are not reimbursed for any losses – who are left to the tender mercies of charities, committees or government bureaucracies. They are generally women and children, left to fend for themselves, chased here and there, usually unarmed and uncounted.

I recall one Memorial Day parade in Worcester, when some of us who were members the WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) wanted to join the parade with a large poster enumerating the number of civilian victims of World War II – who outnumbered the military dead about 10 to one. We were told we could not join, and had to walk along the parade route on the sidewalk. If all these wars were fought to “protect” us, the people, then why are we not counted (our numbers are always given in figures – like “60 million died in World War I.” So on Memorial Day, I remember the innocent, the civilian dead, also – and hope we have learned something.

This Memorial Day weekend, let’s not forget America’s courageous military dogs!

Deb wrote this piece for us last year. We re-post it today for all our brave military canines who are working to keep Americans safe and for the beloved “vets” who made the ultimate sacrifice!                –  R. Tirella

US Military’s war dogs must be reclassified! They are not “equipment” to be discarded!

By Deb Young

Dogs have been an important part of the U.S. Military for decades.

In fact, the only member of the team that raided the Osama bin Laden compound we know anything about is a war dog, named Cairo.

Canines have been used in the U.S. Military ever since the Revolutionary war. These dogs saved lives, boosted morale and have contributed greatly to our fighting forces.

War dogs began their military service working as pack animals. During World War 1, their major task was killing rats in the trenches. One of the most famous WW 1 military dogs was Sergeant Stubby . He was the first war dog to be used on the Western Front, and during his 18 months of service, this plucky, unknown stray dog took part in seventeen battles.

Stubby, was a bull terrier mix, as a small stray he was smuggled aboard a troop ship in France. He served in battles at Chateau Thierry,the Marne and the Meuse-Argonne with the men of the 102nd Infantry.

During his career, Sgt. Stubby comforted wounded soldiers, saved a regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks and even captured a German spy; literally by the seat of his pants.

One night in February 1918, he roused a sleeping sergeant to warn of a gas attack, giving the soldiers time to don masks and thus saving them. Gen John “Black Jack” Pershing awarded him a special Gold Medal. He was given a Life Membership in the American Legion and the Red Cross. He met Presidents Wilson, Harding, and Collidge. He died of old age in 1926. Sergeant Stubby was the most decorated war dog in U.S. history.

Throughout World War II, over 10,000 highly trained military dogs were deployed to serve as sentry canines, scouts, mine detectors and messengers. Many of these dogs were family pets who had been “volunteered” by their owners to serve their country. Today, there are an estimated 2,700 military dogs serving alongside U.S. military personnel. About 600 military dogs have been deployed to Afghanistan and Kuwait. One of their most significant imperatives is sniffing out bombs.

25 Marine War Dogs gave their lives liberating Guam in 1944 and many more served as sentries, messengers, and scouts, exploring caves, detecting mines and booby traps, and bringing vital information across the battlefield.

Nearly 4000 dogs served in Vietnam and saved up to 10,000 American servicemen through their scouting and sentry duties. When withdrawing from Vietnam in 1973, the military classified the dogs as surplus equipment to be left behind during evacuation. Many dogs were left with South Vietnamese allies who were afraid of the dogs and didn’t know how to handle them. Many of the dogs were euthanized, and many more perished at the hands of their inexperienced South Vietnamese handlers. Only a handful of Vietnam war dogs made it back to the United States. Many handlers and trainers who worked with these dogs were traumatized by having to leave their faithful companions behind, stating that the dogs saved their lives and often did more work than they did.

Virtually all breeds of dogs have been used at one time or another. But later, with more experience, the list was narrowed to five: German Shepherds, Belgian Sheep Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Farm Collies (short coat) and Giant Schnauzers. The vast majority of U.S. military working dogs in recent times are German and Dutch shepherds and Belgian Malinois, breeds chosen because they are very aggressive, smart, loyal and athletic. For specialized roles, detector dogs in particular, other breeds are used. Retrievers (Labrador, Golden or Chesapeake Bay) are the preferred breeds for One Odor Detector dogs.

Military canines complete a 120-day program featuring positive rewards, (with a preferred rubber toy or ball rather than food). It is designed to teach obedience and how to “sniff out” dangerous substances. These dogs become trusted partners and companions to the fellow soldiers with whom they are assigned.Not only can these military dogs smell up to two miles away, they are trained to rappel down buildings, jump out of airplanes and swim long

Although Military dogs are living, breathing animals, the defense department classifies them as “equipment. ”distances.

Approximately 300 dogs a year are retired. But what future do these loyal and courageous canines face once their tour of duty has been completed?

According to the Washington times these canines have been classified by the military as “equipment”. Upon their retirement they fall into the “surplus equipment” category – much like any obsolete military appliance, therefore are not returned back to the United States. While these dogs may not be euthanized, (which was one of the options facing these hero dogs after the war in Vietnam was over), the United States is not willing to defray the cost of the dogs’ return home. Instead they are given away, put up for adoption or even abandoned much the in the same way as a broken Hum-Vee or crashed helicopter.

Being classified as equipment means:

  1. Retired Military Working Dogs are stranded at their final duty station.
  2. Military Working Dogs receive no medical benefits after retirement.
  3. Military Working Dogs receive no recognition for their faithful service.

But it’s the wording of this classification that has bothered dog-lovers across the country, not to mention veterans who have served with these marvelous animals.

And, of course, in our budget conscious environment today, there’s always the cost factor.

However, it is estimated that the dogs could be shipped back to the United States on cargo planes at little cost to taxpayers.

If anyone needed evidence of the frontline role played by dogs in war these days, here is the latest: the four-legged, wet-nosed troops used to sniff out mines, track down enemy fighters and clear buildings are struggling with the mental strains of combat nearly as much as their human counterparts.

Somewhere, right now, a military working dog is searching for roadside bombs and protecting our troops. They’re on the front lines, facing explosions and gunfire- a memory that haunts some of these dogs for the rest of their lives.

By some estimates, more than 5 percent of the approximately 650 military dogs deployed by American combat forces are developing canine PTSD.

Many War Dogs help veterans better manage the invisible and lifelong challenges of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury (PTSD/TBI) by being paired back with their human soldier counterparts . The dog becomes the veteran’s partner in the struggle to achieve confidence, reconnect with their loved ones, and resume normal activities in their communities. In a sense becoming each others life line!

Recently S.2134, (The Canine Member of the Armed Forces Act) was passed by the US House and Senate to honor military dogs, declaring them as Military Working dogs, (of all breeds) and will no longer be classified as “Military Equipment.” Instead they would be returned to Lackland Air Force Base with the classification of “Military Veterans” and in recognition of their service; United States heroes. They will be evaluated, retrained or if necessary, re-homed.

The Canine Member of the Armed Forces Act was amended into and passed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. But due to political snafus, the bill’s title was changed to “”Military Working Dog Matters” and their reclassification was deleted to keep them in the “military equipment” category.

This act if passed would include the following.
Section 1 – Short Title
• Designates this act as the “Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act.”

Section 2 Findings

• Explains that military working dogs have served honorably in the armed forces and other government agencies in ways that go far beyond their current designation as “equipment.”
• Notes that military working dogs have prevented injuries and saved lives.

Section 3 – Retirement and Adoption of Military Working Dogs
• Reclassifies military working dogs as canine members of the armed forces and states that they shall not be classified as equipment.
• Authorizes the Secretary of the appropriate military department to transport retiring military working dogs to the 341st Training Squadron or another suitable location for adoption, if no suitable adoption is available at the military facility where the dog is located.
• Authorizes the Secretary of Defense to accept travel benefits such as frequent traveler miles to facilitate the adoption of a retired military working dog.

Section 4 – Veterinary Care for Retired Military Working Dogs
• Directs the Secretary of Defense to establish and maintain a system to provide for the veterinary care of retired military working dogs beginning on the date on which the dog is adopted.
• Directs the Secretary to operate the system through a contract awarded to a private non-profit entity. The non-profit entity would be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the system; no federal funds would be used to operate the system.
• Directs the Secretary to consult with the board of directors of the non-profit to establish standards of veterinary care, including the types of care to be provided, the entities qualified to provide the care, and the facilities in which the care may be provided.

Section 5 – Recognition of Service of Military Working Dogs
• Directs the Secretary of Defense to create a decoration or other appropriate recognition to recognize military working dogs that are killed in action or perform an exceptionally meritorious or courageous act in service to the United States.

Public input is needed to help get the bill passed and signed by the President. It will restore the bill’s original intent; removing their classification as “equipment”, changing it to “military veterans”.

Our courageous military dogs, who are living and breathing animals deserve so much better than being classified as “equipment.”

US military struggling to stop suicide epidemic among war veterans

From The Guardian. – R. T.

US military struggling to stop suicide epidemic among war veterans

Last year, more active-duty soldiers killed themselves than died in combat. And after a decade of deployments to war zones, the Pentagon is bracing for things to get much worse

William Busbee 

William Busbee was in many ways the archetype of the US soldier, and his mother feels he was let down by the army he loved so much. Photograph: Libby Busbee

Libby Busbee is pretty sure that her son William never sat through or read Shakespeare’s Macbeth, even though he behaved as though he had. Soon after he got back from his final tour of Afghanistan, he began rubbing his hands over and over and constantly rinsing them under the tap.

“Mom, it won’t wash off,” he said.

“What are you talking about?” she replied.

“The blood. It won’t come off.”

On 20 March last year, the soldier’s striving for self-cleanliness came to a sudden end. That night he locked himself in his car and, with his mother and two sisters screaming just a few feet away and with Swat officers encircling the vehicle, he shot himself in the head.

At the age of 23, William Busbee had joined a gruesome statistic. In 2012, for the first time in at least a generation, the number of active-duty soldiers who killed themselves, 177, exceeded the 176 who were killed while in the war zone. To put that another way, more of America’s serving soldiers died at their own hands than in pursuit of the enemy.

Soldier suicides Credit: Guardian graphicsAcross all branches of the US military and the reserves, a similar disturbing trend was recorded. In all, 349 service members took their own lives in 2012, while a lesser number, 295, died in combat….

to read more, click on link below …

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/01/us-military-suicide-epidemic-veteran


Worcester County’s Veterans …

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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.”

VETERAN HOMESTEAD TO OPEN 10 NEW HOMES AT ITS GARDNER FACILITY

Wednesday, August 22
Northeast Veterans Training and Rehabilitation Center
3 Victory Lane, Gardner, Massachusetts
Next to Mount Wachusett Community College
5 pm – 7 pm

Gardner – Veteran Homestead Inc., an independent, non-profit organization that provides housing and care to U.S. Armed Services veterans who are elderly, disabled or diagnosed with a terminal illness, will dedicate the final 10 homes at its Northeast Veteran Training and Rehabilitation Center (NVTRC) tomorrow, from 5 pm to 7 pm. The NVTRC, specific to veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is one of six facilities that Veteran Homestead created and oversees in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico to serve veterans needing medical, psychological, and spiritual care.

The event will welcome Coleman Nee, Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans Services, and Tyrene Hodge, Foundation Field Manager of Home Depot, as special guests among others. One of the new units will be dedicated to Home Depot, a Veteran Homestead supporter. Veteran Homestead founder and CEO, Leslie Lightfoot, who served as a U.S. Army medic during Vietnam from 1967-1970, will host the event. Today a Board-Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress, Lightfoot witnessed the effects of physical and brain injuries on soldiers during her career in the service, as well as in the years afterward caring for veterans.

The NVTRC facility focuses on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), two of the most common maladies suffered by veterans of these wars. It is the only facility of its kind in the United States that serves these afflicted veterans and their families by offering housing, physical therapy, counseling and college courses. The facility can also accommodate amputees and burn patients. There is a therapy dog-training program, as well. Veteran Homestead wants to replicate this type of facility across the U.S.

Life With Dignity

The homes at NVTRC are designed to provide both comfort and dignity to veterans and their families. The soon to be dedicated group of 10 homes doubles the number at the facility, the first group having opened in October 2010. Each 2-bedroom home offers approximately 1,200 square feet of living space and comes equipped with all appliances. Like all Veteran Homestead facilities, the NVTRC complex is sized so that each veteran in its care can receive maximum attention from the staff.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Designed for energy efficiency, the NVTRC facility and 20 homes are heated and cooled by geothermal pumps, while solar panels on the roofs generate electricity resulting in no electric bills as well as giving back to the regional grid.

About Veteran Homestead, Inc.

Veteran Homestead raises funds through its own efforts and receives some state and federal support. The organization directs 90% of funding to the veterans in its direct care and 10% to grant writing and fund raising. Other Veteran Homestead facilities include:

• The Veteran Homestead Hospice – Fitchburg, Mass.: The only privately run, veteran-specific hospice in the country.

• The Veteran Victory Farm – Fitzwilliam, N.H.: A working organic farm for veterans with substance abuse issues and mild TBI — the first one in the country.

• La Hacienda de Veteranos – Caguas, P.R.: The only facility of its kind in Puerto Rico, it serves homeless veterans, focusing on restoring a sense of self-worth.

• The Hero Homestead – Leominster, Mass.: For elderly homeless veterans.

• The Armistice Homestead – Leominster, Mass.: Substance abuse after care for homeless veterans.

Veteran Homestead facilities encourage residents to handle as many of their own needs as they can and to help each other through the transition from homelessness to independent living. Residents must commit to a drug-free, alcohol-free lifestyle and be willing to contribute toward the support of the program.

Veterans In Need

• The Veterans Administration estimates that, as of September 30, 2011, there were 212,337 homeless veterans aged 18-30, with 144,842 of those in shelters. Homelessness among women veterans increased 141% between 2006 and 2010. By their own admission the VA is only seeing 1/3 of returned veterans.

• Families of service men and women are subject to severe emotional and financial strain associated with the disruption caused by multiple tours of duty. The divorce rate among returning wounded veterans is 84%, and it is not uncommon for a veteran to return to an empty bank account, a home foreclosure and a family in crisis.

• The Veterans Administration is treating more than 210,000 service men and women from Iraq and Afghanistan for PTSD; more than 67,000 are classified as disabled.

• The Department of Defense estimates that 360,000 service men and women have some type of blast-related brain injury, however, many returning veterans don’t even realize they have a traumatic brain injury.