American Legion Post 16 hosted its second Annual Veterans Resource Fair on May 21. The event provided an opportunity for local nonprofits and veterans services to discuss with veterans the services and resources they can provide if they need assistance for themselves and their families.
Nick Gentile and Mike Kellett started the fair last year as an opportunity for organizations to reach out to local vets, fulfilling the mission of the American Legion which is located at 295 Old Bridgeport Ave..
“Our mission as American Legion is helping out other veterans; it’s part of our care for veterans,” Kellett said.
Co-coordinator of the event Kellett said that Post 16 strives to follow the four pillars of the American Legion which are Veterans affairs, rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and children/youth.
At the fair, tables were lined with information about education, health screenings, housing, energy assistance, mental health care, and workforce assistance.
There was also information available to help the vets and their families with homelessness, household furnishing, home healthcare, hospice care and services for the families of vets.
Maggie Sessa, an RN at Griffin Hospital’s Community Outreach and Parish Nursing Program performed healthcare screenings and discussed living wills. She wanted veterans to be aware that they can make their own choices regarding who would make health decisions if they were to become too ill and speak for when they cannot speak for themselves.
Mary N. Harris, from Post 147 and a veteran of the Gulf War, gave vets in attendance information about the Make a Home Foundation. She said the foundation helps vets and families in need.
Harris also discussed the need for veterans who are suffering to reach out for help. She encourages them to talk to someone. She suggested they call 1-800-273- 8255 for help. She is most concerned for vets who are suicidal.
“I am trying to push the fact that there are 22 veterans’ suicides a day and there is no need for it,” Harris said. “We all want to get the word out that there is help, and there is no shame in it.”
During the fair, William Sheehy and Alan Kennedy served refreshments at the concession stands. Kennedy is the Squadron Commander for the Sons of the American Legion Sutter-Terlizzi Post 16. He said that is the official title for Veterans Post 16.
Sue Laughlin, volunteer coordinator for Masonicare Home Health and Hospice, said the organization is always providing services for vets and looking for volunteers who would like to join.
“As part of our Medicare regulations, hospices must provide volunteers, so we try to match our volunteers with our patients,” Laughlin said. “We are especially looking for veterans to work with our veteran patients. All of our hospice volunteers undergo intensive training, but once they’re trained, they set their own schedules. Typically, an hour or two a week is the commitment we ask for. We would love to talk to anyone interested in volunteering with our hospice patients.”
Some of the agencies that attended the fair that could assist vets include the U.S. Veteran Administration, State of CT Department of Veterans Affairs, and VNA of South Central Connecticut.
TEAM Inc. and Make a Home Foundation can help with housing. Housatonic Community College and Albertus Magnus College can help with education. Valley Parish Nurses, VNA of South Central Connecticut, Masonicare can assist with health care services such as healthcare screening, home health care, or hospice. Career Resources, CT Department of Labor, The Workplace can assist vets obtain employment or with employment training. The soldiers, sailors, and marines fund can assist wartime veterans with funding, if needed.
All, if not most of these services, are online for further information. Also, American Legion is available to help veterans obtain needed resources. American Legion is available in most towns, as are other agencies such as the Catholic Veterans of War.
For more informationregarding American Legion Post 16 and resources available go to http://www.sheltonpost16.org/