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RI Veterans: Did you know? 11.05.23 (Building Bridges, Memorial Day, resources) – John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, contributing writer on veterans issues

Italian American War Veterans of US partners with Building Bridges Program for monthly FREE luncheon for Veterans in Rhode Island

Legendary retired former providence Journal editor and veteran column, Dave McCarthy, is RINEWSTODAY guest columnist this week explaining the Building Bridges program for veterans.

Dave and I became friends back in 1991 shortly after I returned from Operation Desert Storm, and I’m proud to have partnered with Dave for many years serving RI and MA veterans. 

The monthly BUILDING BRIDGES FREE VETERANS BREAKFAST at Christ Church Swansea, has been a huge success. 

Last week, I brought Louie Dolce, 99-year-old-veteran who lives at the RI Veterans Home in Bristol RI. Louie was not the oldest, with three other WWII veterans older than him (101 and 2 older than 99 years old).

Photo of WWII Veterans by John Cianci

More information on the history and purpose of Building Bridges program by Dave McCarthy

A free luncheon for veterans will be held the third Monday of every month at Perella’s Restaurant, 311 Metacom Ave., in Warren. The lunch will be run under the Building Bridges program with sponsorship from the Rhode Island Chapter of the Italian American War Veterans of US.

The first luncheon at Perella’s will be from 11:30 to 1 p.m. Monday, May 15.

As you read this article chances are a combat veteran of our Armed Forces will have taken his or her own life. That death will be unfortunate, of course. Tragically, however, that veteran won’t be the only veteran to die today by suicide.

The statistics are shocking: an average of 22 isolated, lonely veterans die by suicide each day in what has become a national epidemic.

You might think the majority of these deaths would be among our younger veterans, many of whom saw multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Not so.

Most of these deaths are among veterans 65 or older. It’s no secret that combat veterans tend to isolate – for a variety of reasons that would take much too long to document here. Instead of socializing, many combat veterans create their own “bunkers” that others might call “man caves” or “she sheds.”

The years and years of isolation among these Vietnam and Korean War veterans – or even many of our remaining World War II veterans – comes with the intended impact of creating a sad, heart-breaking world of loneliness.

Enter Building Bridges

And – enter Doug Fisher, a veteran, who in 2012, as the newly installed Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, identified veterans “as a critically under-served and marginalized population” that needed the help of the community.

Bishop Fisher pledged his commitment and resources to founding the Building Bridges program in an attempt to bridge the gaps that exist between a community and its veterans.

The Building Bridges program provides a free breakfast or lunch at 13 sites that include Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. These sites are run by community volunteers at community sites, including halls run by fraternal organizations, veterans’ organizations, and local restaurants.

The program is about community, communication and connection. It’s about bridging gaps to help end isolation and loneliness and such related issues as substance abuse and homelessness.

And it’s about responsibility.

The community, through its support of the political process, has acquiesced in sending our young men and women off to war. It now has a responsibility to help. Members of the community need to do more than check a box by saying: “I told a vet today ‘thank you for your service’.”

The Building Bridges program is non-religious. Each veteran may bring his/her significant other, or caregiver.

Thank you, Dave.

If you know a restaurant in Rhode Island willing to host a free breakfast or luncheon, contact John at (401) 677-9838, or email [email protected] . The veterans have a Rhode Island food service license and insurance for liability—–just need locations to host events for luncheons to be schedule in the upcoming months. 



May 13, 2023, Adopt A Veteran, 10:30 to 12:00 p.m. 

Family Home, Woonsocket, RI and Italian American War Veterans of US (ITAM) and volunteers have partnered to host a monthly Veteran Coffee Hour for the veterans at the facility. Family Home is the second Rhode Island facilities ITAM organization has adopted to meet monthly with the veteran residents. Veterans and volunteers are needed for Adopt A Veterans program, contact John (401) 677-9838, [email protected]

May 13, 20232023 BOOT CAMP BREAKFAST Saturday 9:00 am–1:00pm, AAA/Warwick City Hall Annex, 65 Centerville Rd., Warwick RI.Rhode Island Military Organization & The City of Warwick Welcomes Veterans and Seniors to join us,2023 BOOT CAMP BREAKFAST. Free Continental Breakfast Graciously Sponsored by Mary Giordano, NY Life Insurance Company Agent. The event will have numerous organizations for veterans to learn about federal, state, and local benefits. Assistance with enrollment in VA health care and benefits will also be available. 

“I want to remind you about a very important event for our Veterans. The 2023 Boot Camp Breakfast will be held this Saturday, May 13th from 9am-1pm at the Sawtooth Building located at 65 Centerville Road here in Warwick.

Veterans can get assistance obtaining their official VA ID cards and enroll in the VA system, we will have the resources to also connect them to real and immediate employment opportunities with the City, State and private sector. We will also provide financial strategies for Veterans and seniors.

To date, participants of the event include: City of Warwick Personnel, Electric Boat, RI Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Providence, AAA, New York Life, RIMO Military lounge recruiting, and RI Department of Labor and Training.

Again, please help spread the word! Thank you.

May 15, 2023, Veterans Luncheon, 11: 30 to 1:00 p.m., Perella’s Ristorante, Metacom Ace, Warren RI Connection….Conversation….Friendship FREE Lunch (dine in only)for veterans and his or her guest at Perella’s Ristorante, Metacom Ave., Warren RI. The restaurant is closed and only open for this private event for veterans and their guest. 

Memorial Day 2023

May 28, 2023, Sunday, 21st ANNUAL CHARLESTOWN MEMORIAL DAY PARADE The Charlestown Memorial Day Committee, Inc. announces the 21st annual Charlestown Memorial Day Parade and Observances will be held on Sunday, May 28, 2023 rain or shine, produced and directed by the Charlestown Memorial Day Parade Committee and the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce.

The events are held to give honor to our fallen military heroes. The parade will step off at 1:00 p.m., the line of March will be along Route 1A (Old Post Road) in Charlestown beginning at Compass Hardware and ending at Charlestown Liquor Store.  Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), Medical Services Corps, United States Army, Joanne E. McGovern, will be this year’s Grand Marshal.  LTC (Retired) Joanne E. McGovern will be the first woman Grand Marshal for our parade, and we are exalted to have someone as well decorated as her serve in this esteemed roll.

Memorial observances will be held during two parade stops at the cemetery at Cross’ Mills Baptist Church and at the brook near Town Dock Road; and also, immediately following the parade, at the Charlestown Naval Airfield Memorial at Ninigret Park at approximately 2:15pm. The three observances honor those who died in the service of our Country, on land, at sea, and in the air, respectively.

“We are honored to continue to bring the Charlestown Memorial Day Parade and Observances to Charlestown again this year,” says Chairman and Parade Coordinator Heather Paliotta, also Executive Director of the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce.   “It is our privilege to hold this annual tradition and remembrance, we are pleased to be able bring our community together to show our great appreciation and respect to remember those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

This year we invite all Rhode Island Gold Star Families not only to participate in the Memorial following the parade, but if so inclined to march in our parade next to our Gold Star Float.  Please contact Heather Paliotta, Parade Chair and Charlestown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, to participate at 401-364-3878.


Memorial Day was first observed nationally in 1868 as Decoration Day, established by General John Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R., an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War.) His General Orders, No. 11, stated, “The 30t h day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Today, 155 years later, flags again commemorate the empty graves of our Civil War soldiers whose bodies never returned home, their names preserved in stone: W.H. Burton, William H. Carpenter, B.F. Hawkes, Samuel Hazard, Reuben A. Healey, Welcome H. Kenyon, Halsey Stevens, William Taylor. In the same cemetery, beside the Cross’ Mills Baptist Church, lie nine Charlestown veterans of the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the French & Indian War.

The Charlestown Memorial Day Committee honors all who have made the ultimate sacrifice in all of our nation’s wars, in an annual Parade and Observances. The Gold Star Memorial float recognizes local World War II casualties, and the POW/MIA recognizes those who never returned from war, recorded as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action.

More information, email us at[email protected], or call parade chair Heather Paliotta at 401-364-3878.

May 29, 2023, Monday  FREE Appreciation Macaroni and Meatball Luncheon, Badgers Pub, 530 Broadway Pawtucket RI, for veteran and one guest, 12:00 to 5:00pm. Sponsored by the Italian American War Veterans of US.

June 5, 2023, Monday Federal Hill Veteran Coffee House( always meet the FIRST Monday of the month) , 9-11 am. Roma Ristorante, 310 Atwells Ave, Providence (free parking across the street). Veterans and their guests are invited. Refreshments are available, which include Italian toast, pastries, and calzones. Any questions call Italian American War Veterans of US, (401) 677-9838, email, [email protected]

June 10, 2023, 12:00 p.m. at Tomaselli’s at Rosario, Honor Flight Cigar Dinner Fundraiser, Cranston Firefighters IAFF Local 1363, Chuck Pollock and Armand Niquette are hosting a Benefit Cigar Dinner in support of the RI Fire Chiefs Honor Flight Hub . Tomaselli’s at Rosario, 17 Rosario Drive, Providence. There will be an Italian buffet, cash bar, raffles and cigars will be provided by Mr. Cigar & Cigar World. 

Donations to attend the event are $65.00 per person.

If you, your friends or company would like to attend and support this event and the RIFC Honor Flight Hub please call Chuck Pollock at 401-569-2800 or Armand Niquette at 401-486-4991. Please see the attached flyer.

May 28, 2023, Wreaths Across America Announces 2023 Youth Service Project 

Wreaths Across America (WAA) announces the 2023 Youth Service Project as part of its year-round TEACH program. The project will tie into the national nonprofit’s 2023 theme, ‘Serve and Succeed.’

The Youth Service Project encourages young people of all ages and grade levels to develop, organize and execute a community service project to improve the lives of veterans or others in their local community. By participating in, and successfully completing the Serve and Succeed project of their choosing, students will receive a certificate of community service award and commemorative bracelet from WAA. 

Each participant will be entered into a random drawing for the opportunity to visit the National Wreaths Across America Museum, Gold Star History and Hospitality House and the tip land monuments where replica dog tags from thousands of service men and women are hung in remembrance. The service project needs to be completed by Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2023.

To learn more about the TEACH program and participate in the service project, please visit

May 6, 2023, Memorial Day Parade Pasta Dinner Saturday, May 6th 4pm-7pm at Lincoln Senior Center- 150 Jenckes Hill Rd.

Adults-$15, Children $10, Ages 5 and under free. 

In addition to entry to the pasta dinner, purchase of one of these tickets will enter you in our raffle, to be eligible to win an awesome prize from local Lincoln businesses! Come enjoy great food, music, and lots of raffle prizes! Tickets are available for purchase at Town Hall – 100 Old River Rd., We Roast Coffee- 276 Front St., Ted’s Paint- 194 Front St., and Lincoln Senior Center- 150 Jenckes Hill Rd. 

Any questions please email [email protected] or call 401-333-8416 / 401-333-8417.

All proceeds go towards the Lincoln Memorial Day Parade Celebration!


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 LLC15% 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, is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe. 

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 listed below: 

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 or create a Michaels Rewards account. 

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.