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Veterans Count Community Breakfast Recap

$5K raised for local services and programming

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September 11th is typically a day of quiet reflection for many Veterans across the country. However, Easter Seals Massachusetts decided to honor local Veterans in a different, yet powerful way this year by raising $5,000 for a new local Veterans program. On the morning of 9/11, Easter Seals Massachusetts kicked off its new Military and Veterans Service initiative with a community leadership breakfast hosted at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. It was a full house with 120 people on site including likes of Senator Mike Moore, and State Representatives: Donald Berthiaume, Paul K. Frost, Hannah Kane, Natalie Higgins, Joseph McKenna, David Muradian, and Harold Naughton. The core objective of the breakfast was to educate the public on the overwhelming unmet needs afflicting local Veterans of all ages and to introduce a new program, Veterans Count Massachusetts, a fundraising arm of Easter Seals Massachusetts.

While many Veterans organizations exist, Easter Seals Massachusetts has observed there can be challenging barriers and requirements for Veterans. The Veteran’s Count mission is to create better systems and more accessible resources and support networks for Veterans returning home from service so that no Veteran is left behind. Easter Seals has developed a Care Coordination model centered on meeting one-on-one with service members and their families to address critical issues while building trust and working toward developing long-term self-sufficiency.

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This new program confidently asserts it can create real solutions to so many alarming Veteran trends regarding poverty, suicide, and unemployment. Did you know the poverty rate for those who served in the Post 9/11 wars is significantly higher than those who served in any other wartime period? Even more alarming, the rate of Veteran suicide has climbed to 20.6 per day since 2005. Veterans Count program coordinator, Adam Costello, passionately emphasized on the podium “our goals and strategies are 100% driven by the needs of the Veterans, service members, and their families living and working in OUR community. Issues tend to begin soon after the transition out of military service and compound over months or years until a significant crisis occurs. In almost every case, the crisis that we see can be prevented with early intervention.”

After Adam Costello described how many local veterans had a widespread need for affordable auto care to work and stay in school, a major local auto dealer proudly declared that they may be able to provide significantly discounted maintenance and repair services to our Veterans. Veterans Count Massachusetts is currently in discussions with the dealer to turn these ideas into a reality. The Veterans Count Team has a strong infrastructure, but it is hopeful to expand capacity in chapters across the state through community volunteerism and donations like the auto dealer. Please visit vetscount.org/ma or email veteranscount@eastersealsma.org to for more information and/or to make a donation. Veterans Count Massachusetts upcoming events and news can also be found on Facebook @vetscountma.

The Veterans Count Massachusetts team was extremely pleased with the turnout of the event and leadership displayed not only by so many statewide dignitaries, but also by the general public and local business owners. Veterans Count Massachusetts team would like to give a very special thank you to PricewaterhouseCoopers for their start-up grant to get this program running. They also applaud Berkshire Bank, Assumption College, MedWell Health & Wellness, MassMutual, Boc International Inc, Country Bank, Quality Beverage, R.H. White Companies, Inc., and Katie Toomey, candidate Register of Deeds for graciously sponsoring the breakfast event.

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