By Seth Daniel
A new program funded by the Charlestown Community Mitigation Fund is preparing to get underway to identify all veterans and reach out to them to see if they need services or help accessing service.
The program came from what previously was a volunteer effort by Stan Leonard, Dr. Jeff Fine and Joe Zuffante – with the help of Rich Brennan. The Charlestown Community Mitigation Fund is money that currently comes from Wynn Boston Harbor’s licensing payments to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).
He said Brennan has been named the new director of the outreach program, which has been in existence for more than five years.
Now, however, the mission will be expanded and the hope is to identify all of the veterans in the Town.
“It’s all been on a volunteer basis and out of the backseat of a car until now,” said Zuffante. “Now with the Charlestown Mitigation Fund money, we’ll be able to keep an office. Our first program is to identify all the veterans living in Charlestown and then see that they have access to a veterans service officer and any services that they need.”
He said they will begin advertising in the paper to get submissions of the names of veterans that are living and deceased from Charlestown. They also plan to have a veterans service officer come to the new office regularly to interact with veterans and help them with claim applications.
Zuffante said many times Brennan and others voluntarily drive veterans to appointments and medical dates in their own cars, but he said he foresees a time in the future when the program has its own vehicle to shuttle veterans to their appointments.
They will also plan to create a virtual wall on their website that lists every veteran, living or deceased.
“As we compile our list,” said Zuffante, “we would like to create a ‘virtual wall’ on our website listing all the veterans we have, their date of service and branch of service.”
Finally, Zuffante said they are working closely with the Abraham Lincoln Post #11 to get as many veterans to the annual Veterans Dinner at the Knights of Columbus on Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. The dinner is free to all veterans and active duty service members.
The big news, he said, is they will be giving out seven, $1,000 scholarships at the dinner to veterans or their dependents.
For questions about the dinner or the scholarship drawing, call Billy Boyle at (617) 645-3279.