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RI Veterans: Did you know? 14.09.23 (OSDRI vet assistance TODAY, events, more) – John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, contributing writer on veterans’ issues

Did you know veterans interested in continuing service by serving in politics have access to a national resource, Guardian Fund,  to assist veterans and minorities who believe in restring our country to the constitutional l republic established by our founding fathers?  

Did you know a former Rhode Island National Guard soldier, Rep. Jack Bergman, MI, is the highest-ranking combat veteran EVER to be elected and serve in Congress. 

Operation Stand Down in The News

32nd Annual Veteran Event Starts Starts Today

Operation Stand Down Rhode Island (OSDRI) is set to kick off its 32nd annual Veteran Assistance Event today, September 14th at 8 a.m

This Veteran Assistance Event will be held at OSDRI’s Veteran Service Center located at 1010 Hartford Avenue in Johnston. Services will be available from 8:00 – 4:30 on Thursday 9/14, and 8:00 – 3:30 on Friday 9/15. 

“Since its inception in 1993, the annual event has provided thousands of veterans with access to important services including health, dental, and substance abuse care, as well as employment, legal, and housing services. After holding a scaled back event during the pandemic in 2020, OSDRI expects a full roster of service providers this September.” said Erik Wallin, Esq. Executive Director of Operation Stand Down RI.

The event will be held at OSDRI’s Veteran Service Center, located at 1010 Hartford Avenue in Johnston. Veterans may access the location via RIPTA bus Route 28 which operates out of Kennedy Plaza and stops at the corner of Hartford and Bordon Avenue. Those arriving via their own vehicle must park and take a shuttle from behind the paved parking area ACROSS from Tri-County Community Action Agency: 1133 Hartford Avenue, Johnston, RI 02919.

No overnight lodging is available, but Lunch will be provided on both days from 12:00 – 1:30.

Marine leaders tour OSDRI complex prior to 32nd Annual Standdown event

Rhode Island’s heavy rains did not deter the Marines from touring Operation Stand Down complex in Johnstown RI on Tuesday. 

Congressman Bergman, Anything DeQuattro, Gerry Leonard, and staff of OSD  exit the food pantry trailer at OSD. Photo by John Cianci

Marine veterans, Congressman Jack Bergman, MI 1st District , member of House Armed Service Committee and Gerry Leonard , Republican candidate for 1st District candidate for Congress were greeted by another Marine veteran, Anthony DeQuattro , founder and President of Operation Stand Down:

Member of House Armed Service Committee, Congressman Bergman with Republican Candidate Gerry Leonard and OSD President, Anthony DeQuattro and OSD staff outside OSD complex. Photo by John Cianci

DeQuattro introduced Congressman Bergman and Leonard to the staff of OSDRI. The congressman polled the staff that is composed of the majority of veterans to find out the Marines were outnumbered by Army veterans.

After the introduction DeQuattro led a tour of ODSRI facilities, mostly housing for veterans, to include one house used for homeless veterans that served in the Rhode Island Guard and other veterans who are not eligible for federal veteran benefits. 

The tour allowed the congressman  to see utilization of federal funds received by OSDRI. 

“Operation Stand Down is where the rubber meets the road. I have witnessed OSDRI first events consisting of services out of tents for Rhode Island veterans evolve to event being held at OSD complex in Johnston”, said one veteran included on the tour.

DeQuattro told the congressman and Leonard the importance of the federal funds received by non-profits like OSD supplementing VA, federal and state programs for veterans. Dequatrro said that the 32nd OSDRI event is expecting an estimated 500 veterans seeking assistance with VA, federal, and state benefits. 

Bergman, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general under whom Leonard worked in 2006 and 2008 detailed his Rhode Island ties. After Vietnam he joined the Rhode Island Guard serving as a helicopter pilot while living in Cumberland RI.  After a few years, he transferred back to the Marines to continue serving. He served over 40 years, retiring as a Lieutenant General in the Marines.

The congressman was visiting Rhode Island supporting his friend, Gerry Leonard, who scheduled the tour of OSD for the congressman to see first-hand the utilization of federal funds by private entities corroborating with federal, state, and private resources. 

“As Marines, we don’t take leadership lightly,” Bergman said. “It is my honor to be here today as a member of Congress, in my fourth term, to endorse — my strongest, highest, most fervent endorsement to — Gerry Leonard.”

Leonard told RINEWSTODAY he wanted to set himself apart from other national Republicans, saying his goal if elected is to be “an independent thinker who never forgets who sent them there. You’re not working for your party, and you’re not working for yourselves,” Leonard  said. “I labeled myself the other day as a New England Yankee Republican in the same vein as a John Chafee.”


OSD  Live on the Radio

Exposed Vet Radio Show,

On Thursday, September 14th, at 7:00pm et, Bethanie Spangenberg brings Operation Stand Down Rhode Island on the show.

Bethanie is the owner of Valor4Vet. Her company provides affordable Independent Medical Opinions / examinations for veterans seeking VA benefits.

The call in number is 515 605 9764.


Veteran Business Opportunities

Veteran Shark Tank – Now accepting applications!

Veteran business owners and potential veteran owned businesses have opportunity to win $50,000 cash prize being part of 10th Annual Veteran Shark Tank competition. 

Being part of the Veteran Shark Tank as a contestant is a great way to build a network for life. If you are unsure, look at our media page and check out the Veteran Shark Tank social media profiles to learn more.

Submission deadline is October 15, 2023.

The Veteran Shark Tank was created in 2012 to promote and assist Veterans who are starting or growing their businesses. Starting out as a small regional event, it is now the premier national pitch competition for veteran entrepreneurs.

The five (5) finalists pitch their business idea to a panel of “sharks” in front of a live sold out audience (over 200 people). The winner receives a $50,000 cash prize! Each of the finalists gains valuable experience to professionally grow while creating a business network to help grow and expand their businesses (potential customers, referral partners, investors, mentors, etc).

The event is held before a live audience in Philadelphia to help kick off Army/Navy Football week.

This is the THE veteran pitch competition. Don’t miss out.



September 2023

September 18, 2023, Monday, VFW Post, 134 Shove Street, Tiverton, RI – FREE Italian luncheon with homemade meatballs for Veterans from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. Ice Cream sundae bar will be dessert. Sponsored by the Italian American War veterans of the US and Building Bridges.

September 21, 2023, Thursday, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Casino Café and Grill Private Dining Room. Veterans and non veteran supporters are welcomed at this “connecting event of Veteran”.

If you are interested in attending, please click on the link below to RSVP and other details.

Friday, Sept. 29, 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.: Military Police Regimental Association of RI Annual Awards Dinner. Quonset O Club, 200 Lt. James Brown Road, North Kingstown.

This is the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Staff Sgt. Joseph Camara, Sgt. Charles Todd Caldwell and Spc. Michael Andrade while conducting combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Tickets are $55 each and are available only from this website:

For details, call Sean Fitzpatrick at (203) 907-8985 or email rhodeislandmpra@


October 27, 2023, Friday , Dinner and Entertainment, Varum Memorial Armory Museum, 6 Main Street, East Greenwich RI , 80th Anniversary, Prime Rib or Fish dinner, tickets $60 per person.  WWII Combat Infantry Veterans are FREE.  Make checks payable to Combat Infantrymen Association, 42 Manning Street, North Providence RI 02911. All proceeds to benefit HONOR FLIGHTS OF RI, Inc.

November 2023

November 5, 2023; Veterans Inc 2023 Run4Heroes 5K Road Race, Registration begins at 8 a.m , race begins at 10:30 a.m at the start/finish line in front of Wormtown Brewery, on Shrewsbury St., Worcester, MA. All participants will indulge in a post-race celebration featuring food, a complimentary beer from Wormtown Brewery, live music, exciting prizes, and more! If you can’t make it in person this year, we are offering a virtual sign-up option as well! Just run a 5k before the deadline, submit your times, and we will recognize your participation and honor the virtual winner alongside the in-person honorees.


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*** 

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, 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: 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:  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,, 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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