RI Veterans: Did you know? 11.04.24 (find your buddy, benefits, volunteer, events)-John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, writer on veterans issues

Locating Someone You Served With

Question from one of our readers: “I am trying to locate someone in my unit who was with me when the tent collapsed on me injuring my shoulder during Desert Storm. Will the VA help me locate him? Bob, Foster”

Answer: Yes, if you send a letter to the nearest VA Regional Office, which is 380 Westminster Street Providence RI 02908. Include in the letter to the regional office a message to your friend and place it in an unsealed, stamped envelope. The message should include the person’s name and as much information you have to identify him or her. Example, John Smith, U.S. Army and if you know the state the veteran lives. According to VA staff, the regional office will search the VA database, and if the person who you served with is registered with the VA, will  forward this self- addressed stamp envelope (SASE). If not in the system, the VA will return the SASE to you.Pretty good odds your veteran friend has registered with the VA.

VETTIP: I have assisted veterans gatherinng evidence for a claim, which included completing a statement submitted as evidence with the claim seeking the VA to assist veteran locate another veteran. The statement was simple:

“I, ……..per VA “duty to assist”, request the VA review the VA data base to see if xxxxx   xxxxxxxx   is registered. After the VA reviews the data base, notify me of the results.”

On one instance, the veteran was registered and immediately after the notification, the veteran sent a message in a SASE to the regional office.

More information on this topic from the VA website:

How do I locate a buddy whom I served with in the military?

The Privacy Act obliges the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as a Federal agency, to protect the privacy of Veterans’ personal information.  Therefore, VA cannot release personal information about a Veteran in its records system without that person’s permission.  VA can, however, forward a message from you to the Veteran, providing VA has a current address on record.  Write your message to your friend and place it in an unsealed, stamped envelope.  Include a note to VA explaining who it is that you are trying to reach and add as much identifying information as you have.  Put all of this in another envelope and address it to the nearest VA Regional Office.  If the Veteran is in VA records, your message to the Veteran will be sealed and the envelope will be sent to the address on file for the Veteran.  It is then up to the Veteran to contact you.  This process is designed to protect the privacy of Veterans, as required by law.  If you have questions, you may call VA at 1-800-827-1000.

Another way to locate someone you served with is a private organization program called Buddy Find. This free service assist veterans locate someone he or she served with.

More information on Buddy Find: Go to

Buddy Find was created specifically to help Veterans find those they served with. Now with more than 2.3 million members in five separate service branch websites, TWS has possibly reconnected more Veterans than any other website or organization. The secret behind this high rate of success is the depth of TWS’s hand-built databases that contain hundreds of U.S. military units, ships, squadrons and bases going back to WWII.

To find a person he or she served with, using the Buddy Finder, all a Veteran needs to do is select their service branch and then a keyword and/or number contained in the unit name. A list of all unit possibilities containing that keyword or number is then presented and a selection can be made. Then by entering the timeframe served in that unit,’s search engine quickly looks up all other TWS members who served in that unit at the same time and delivers the total number of possibilities.

Once registered, a Veteran will be presented with the complete list of names with direct links to their service profiles ready to make contact. By entering other units and timeframes on their service profile, people who also served in those units will be presented as well.


VA Providence Healthcare News:

Volunteer Opportunities

College Students Summer Volunteer Opportunities at VA Providence – Are you looking to make a difference this summer? VA Providence Healthcare System is thrilled to announce our summer volunteer opportunities! This is your chance to contribute to our mission of serving our heroes—our Veterans.

Why volunteer with us?

• Gain invaluable experience in a healthcare setting

• Make meaningful connections with Veterans and healthcare professionals

• Enhance your resume and skill set

• Give back to those who have served our country

We’re looking for passionate, motivated students who are eager to learn and help. Whether you’re interested in healthcare, administration, or just want to offer your time and support, we have a place for you. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself this summer. Your journey with VA Providence can start today. Be a force of change. Be a part of our community. Apply now!

Volunteering at Providence VA Hospital

You can’t miss the value of volunteers at Providence VA Hospital on Chalkstone Ave. More and more veterans are using ride services, like UBER, and arrive for appointments with their walkers and wheelchairs. The ride services only “drop off” the veteran at the entrance, and the veteran would be left on their own if it wasn’t for the volunteers assembled in front of the building to assist the veterans.

Interested in volunteering at the VA Providence Hospital, call Voluntary Services at (401) 459-3002 for more information.



April 11, 2024, Thursday, VA Regional Office host the 7th Annual Women Veteran of The Year, 10:00-11:00 a.m, 380 Westminster Street, Providence RI

April 13, 2024, Meat Pie Dinner 12 PM – 4 PM , VFW Post 5392, Shove Street, Tiverton, RI

A flyer for the veterans' meat pie dinner.

April 15, 2024, Free Veterans Luncheon, VFW Post 5392, 134 Shove Street, Tiverton, RI. Free for veteran and guest. Lunch will be calf liver, onions, and bacon OR chicken Hawaiian, vegetable, salad, and dessert. The lunch is sponsored by Italian American War Veterans of US and Front Line Ministry, Bristol RI.

April 24, 2024, 100 Day of Celebration, WWII Coast Guard Veteran Louie Dolce Sr, Bristol RI will be 100 year old. Dolce served on the USS Falgout during the war, which was attacked and torpedo by the Germans One of Louie’s wishes, is to receive 50,000 cards with $1.00 in it, to raise $50,000 for VFW Post 5392, 134 Shove Street, Tiverton, RI (checks and amount over $1.00 make out to VFW Post 5392) to help the post upgrade the kitchen hood and fire suppressor system. Louie loves going to the VFW hanging with veterans and beating them playing pool. ALL 100 year old veteran and civilian are invited to Louie’s 100 birthday party at Perella’s Ristorante, 311 Metacom Ave, Warren RI.

Louie’s Military Story:

Louie at 18

Unknown to many, who associate members of the Coast Guard defending the shores of the United States. WWII Veteran Dolce was on the USS Falgout on 20 April 1944, in the Mediterranean, when the convoy came under heavy attack by German aircraft. Before the concentrated antiaircraft fire of Falgout and the other escorts could drive them off, they blew up an ammunition ship, sank a destroyer, and damaged several of the merchantmen.

With the other escorts picking up survivors or escorting the damaged ships into the nearest port, Algiers, Falgout screened the convoy on to its original destination, Bizerte.

The homeward bound passage of this same voyage was also a difficult one; on 3 May, one of the escorts was torpedoed and had to put into Algiers for repairs. Two of the other escorts sank the submarine which had crippled their sister, but on 5 May, another of the escort was torpedoed, and sank. Falgout and the remaining escorts brought the convoy safely home, not a merchantman lost. On her third convoy voyage, while Gibraltar-bound in the Mediterranean, Falgout took prisoner from the sea four downed German aviators.

All WWII veterans, veterans living at the Rhode Island Veterans Home, staff at the Rhode Island Veterans Home, and their guest are invited to Louie’s 100 year celebration at birthday breakfast (8:00 – 9:30 at Perella’s Ristorante, 311 Metacom Ave and 100 birthday dinner party at 5:00PM, also at Perellas. RSVP NLT than 22 April 2024, (401) 677-9838 or email (401) 677-9838. More details to follow on celebration of Louie turning 100.

April 24-27, Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick, Yosemite AD-19 to hold reunion in RI. This World War II-built destroyer tender spent much of its naval career based in Melville and Newport, so for the many veterans who served on it a return to Rhode Island is appropriate. The USS Yosemite Association invites all local vets or families to attend. Reunion HQ is the Crowne Plaza hotel in Warwick.

The job of a destroyer tender was to service destroyers in, or near, battle areas and keep them fit for duty. Launched in 1942, Yosemite saw action in the Pacific during World War II. In 1946 the ship was assigned to Newport, where it served as the flagship for the Commander, Destroyers, Atlantic Fleet until 1962. During the Cuban missile crisis, Yosemite deployed to Kingston, Jamaica, where it tended the ships engaged in that operation. For six more years Yosemite was assigned to Newport, until its homeport was changed to Mayport, Florida. Yosemite was decommissioned in 1994, and nine years later was sunk as a target in a naval exercise. For further information, call Tina Briones Smith, USS Yosemite Association secretary, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, at (734) 308-0402 or by email, [email protected]. Alana Cerrone O’Hare of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau is the local contact for the reunion. She can be reached at (401) 486-3582.

April 27, 2024, Saturday, VFW Post #5392, 134 Shove Street, Tiverton, RI. Clam Boil with Chowder and Clam Cakes. DJ Entertainment from 5pm-7pm. $35 donation, Doors open at 4:00PM. Eat in or take out. Tickets available at the VFW. NOTE: This event SELLS OUT, buy tickets early.

May 6, 2024, Federal Hill Veteran Coffee House, 9-11:00 a.m , ROMA, 311 Atwells Ave, Providence, for veterans and guest. Enjoy espresso, coffee, Italian toast and pastries, calzones and more, all complimentary of the Italian American War Veterans of US. Veteran Service Officer is available to assist and or answer questions on state, VA, or other benefits available to veterans. More information, call (401) 677-9838 or email, [email protected].

June 1, Saturday, Twelve Acres, 445 Douglas Pike, Smithfield RI, 12:00 p.m. Testimonial dinner for Veterans of Foreign War Auxiliary, Department President, Gina Marie Doherty

Veterans of america dinner flyer.


Benefits Section

State of Rhode Island Benefits for Veterans Receiving 100% VA Disability Free Rhode Island Vehicle Registration and Driver’s License for Disabled Veterans: Wartime Veterans with serious disabilities may be exempt from Rhode Island vehicle registration and driver’s license fees. Who is eligible Free Rhode Island Vehicle Registration and Driver’s License for Disabled Veterans? To be eligible Veterans must have received an honorable discharge for service in the U.S. Armed Forces during a wartime period and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Lost or lost the use, one or both of their arms, hands, feet, or legs
  • Received a grant from the VA for a specially adapted vehicle
  • Received a VA combined, service-connected disability rating of 100%
  • Rated “individually unemployable” due to a service-connected disability Free Rhode Island Disabled Veteran License Plate: The Rhode Island Disabled Veteran License plate is available to Veterans who have a 100% disability rating from the VA. These plates may be used on private or commercial vehicles weighing 6,300 lbs. or less. There is no initial or renewal fees for this license plate. Only one set of plates is authorized. Plates may be transferred to the unremarried Surviving Spouse. Veterans are required to provide a copy of their discharge papers (DD214 or other official proof of military service) and must request official documentation from the Providence VA Regional Benefits Office indicating they have a 100% disability rating before they apply. Providence VA Regional Benefits Office 380 Westminster Street Providence, RI 02903 Phone: 800-827-1000


Golf – Hunting – Fishing

Free Golf, Goddard Park Golf Course Fee Exemption for Totally Disabled Veterans: Rhode Island resident Veterans who have a 100% permanent and total, service-connected disability rating from the VA are exempt from paying any fees to play golf at the Goddard Park Golf Course. For more information call the Clubhouse at Goddard Memorial State Park from April 1st through the 3rd Saturday in November at 401-884-9834 or year-round at Division Headquarters at 401-667-6200.

Free Rhode Island Hunting and Fishing Licenses for 100% Disabled Veterans: A Veteran who has a 100% disability rating from the VA is eligible for free Rhode Island hunting and fishing licenses.

No cost licenses are available if you are:

·       over 65 AND a Rhode Island resident

·       a veteran with 100% disability status from the Department of Veterans Affairs

·       a person with 100% total disability status from the Social Security Administration

To apply in person at DEM, please bring a photo ID and an ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. (directions)

To apply by mail, please complete an application and mail the application and a copy of your photo ID and the ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). Please allow two weeks for processing.

The address to obtain your license in person or by mail is:
DEM Licensing Office
235 Promenade Street, Room 360
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-3576

To purchase online, you will be required to certify that you have an ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). You will also be required to enter the date the decision expires. The Department will audit compliance with the certification and may, at any time, request a copy of the current DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). Failure to submit the documentation by the date requested may result in the suspension of your fishing and hunting license. Also, Rhode Island General Law 11-18-1 prohibits giving false documents to an agent, employee, or public official. The penalty is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment up to one year.

Rhode Island Hunting and Fishing Benefits for Service Members and Veterans: 

Rhode Island offers several hunting and fishing benefits to Service members and Veterans. A short description of each is listed below. Applicants are required to show documentation proving eligibility when they apply:

· Active-Duty Service members – Military ID

· Veterans – DD214

· Disabled Veterans – VA Disability Certification Letter

Applicants can apply online at Rhode Island Outdoors, in person at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Office of Boating Registration and Licenses in Providence (Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.), at an Authorized In-Person Sales Agent, or they can mail applications to:

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Room 360
Providence, RI 02908
Phone: 401-222-3576

Learn more about FREE Rhode Island Hunting , Fishing, State Parks, and Golf  Benefits for Service Members and VeteransHERE.


Free Rhode Island State Park Passes for 100% Disabled Veterans: 

Rhode Island offers the State Park Disability Pass for use at any state-owned recreational facility to disabled Veterans who have a 100% service-connected disability rating from the VA. The State Park Disability Pass authorizes free admission and parking but does not exempt the following:

· Licensing fees

· Camping fees

· Picnic table fees

· Specialized facility use fees

· Use of equestrian areas

· Performing art centers

· Game fields fees

· Mule shed fees

If the disabled Veteran cannot drive, the vehicle transporting the Veteran will not be charged. Veterans must apply in person at the Rhode Island State Parks and Recreation Headquarters and are required to show official documentation (dated within the past year) from the VA that states they have a 100% service-connected disability.

Rhode Island State Parks and Recreation Headquarters
1100 Tower Hill Road
North Kingstown, RI 02852
Phone: 401-667-6200
Email: [email protected]


RESOURCES  & ongoing groups 

Below are all the groups the Providence Vet Center is currently offering.  As this list changes, I will provide updates. Please send me any questions that you may have, thank you for your time! 

***All Vet Center Groups require that the Veteran be enrolled with the Vet Center prior to attending. To check eligibility or for questions, please contact the Vet Center at (401) 739-0167 or reach out to our Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (VOPS) via email at [email protected]*** 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Group (PTSD) – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (Group is only active September through May) 

Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and Vietnam Veterans PTSD Group – 2nd and 4th  Wednesday of the month from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. 

Vietnam Veteran PTSD Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

Art Expression Group – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 p.m. 

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) Group – Every Wednesday from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m. 

Stress Management – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. 

Low Impact Walking  Group – Every Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. 

Guitar 4 Veterans – Every Wednesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m. 

Monday Mindfulness Group – Every Monday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. 

Yoga Group – Every Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 

Moral Injury Group – Every Friday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. 

Modern Warrior Support Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm. 


Discounts for Veterans 


No Problem Plumbing and Heating LLC 15% military discount, ask for Ron Gaynor, (401) 568-6666. Veterans must provide proof of eligibility with a VA Card, VA ID Card, or RI State license with veteran identification. 


Applebee’s – Military Discount. With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2022. 

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty. Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain. Last verified 07/31/2022. 

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021 

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID 


Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021 

Bass Pro Shops – Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source). 

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021 

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount – “Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items. Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through 

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer. 

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type. 

Jiffy Lube – HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY! – We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 10% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at 3 select locations: Tioque Ave, Coventry RI – Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI – Park Ave, Cranston RI 

Michaels – offers a 15% off military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get: 1. Create an account. Log in to Michaels Rewards. 2. Get verified. Provide your military information to get verified, instantly. 3. Go shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout. 

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21. 


If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward to: [email protected]:  the business’s name, location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, [email protected], ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)  


To read all columns in this series go to:  

John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.

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