RI Veterans: Did you know? 18 March 22 – John A. Cianci

by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer, Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

History of Military Women Across the Nation Organization

Let’s start off with a question from one of our readers.

Last week your column told us how to obtain records for when we were on active duty, How do I obtain records when I was in the Rhode Island National Guard from 1960-1963? – Bud V. from Barrington.

Since you were in the Rhode Island Guard, archive records are maintained in Providence. The point of contact is Jim Coccio, Archive Records Area on Camp Street. Contact number is 401-275-4267. Email is

VETTIP – Jim is only a part-time employee. Don’t hesitate to call back if he does not return your call in a few days.

If you were in the Guard in other states, you would contact that state’s National Guard headquarters, who will direct you to the correct point of contact for archive records maintained in that state.

Records that would be provided, more than likely, would include your original enlistments, orders, etc. Information that could be very helpful is establishing where the veteran served and the unit(s) he served with.

For example, the Italian American War Veterans of the US had a veteran who was denied a claim for numerous illnesses. The VA finally diagnosed his medical illnesses NOT service connected – he had Lyme disease.

However, the veteran was able to find a “field medical sick call slip” for Panama for a tick bite that was infected while he was on active duty in Panama.

The veteran submitted the “new evidence” to reopen his claim. After the VA reviewed the new evidence, a decision was made that his Lyme disease was connected to his military service. 

Simply put, because the Lyme Disease was connected to all his other medical issues, the veteran was awarded almost $3,000 a month service-connected disability.

Did you know this month is Women’s History Month?

Celebrating Women History Month

From March 1st to March 31, we celebrate Women’s History Month.

This week’s column is dedicated to all women who have bravely served in the United States Armed Forces since the Revolutionary War.

Did you know “Maude” , the late Bea Arthur, best known for her roles on the popular television shows “Maude” and “The Golden Girls,” was a veteran, serving as a truck driver in the Marines.

Bea joined when she was 21.

Bea Arthur’s service came at a time when women enlisting in the military was not the norm. The United States was at war in World War II. 

According to a Facebook posting on the Gary Sinise Foundation Facebook page, Arthur told the foundation “I joined on a whim. I was supposed to start work yesterday but heard last week that enlistments for women in the Marines were open.”

She obtained rank of staff sergeant before being until honorably discharged in 1945.

Coincidence or faith?

Did you know Major Marie Rossi-Cayton, (January 3, 1959 – March 1, 1991) was the first woman in American military history to serve in combat as an aviation unit commander, during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and the first woman pilot in United States history to fly combat missions. She was killed when the CH-47 Chinook she was piloting crashed in Saudi Arabia, on March 1, 1991.

Major Rossi-Cayton  was killed in action on March 1, 1991, which so happens to be the first day of Woman Military History.

A Desert Shield/Storm veteran myself, stationed in Saudi Arabia with the Rhode Island National Guard 119th Military Police Company, can recall that day when breaking news was a plane or helicopter had been shot down.

Later we would learn her helicopter crashed into an unlit micro-tower in Northern Saudi-Arabia.

A native of Oradell, New Jersey, she served as a pilot with the 101st Airborne Division and led a squadron of Chinook helicopters 50 miles inside Iraq during Operation Desert Storm on February 24, 1991, ferrying fuel and ammunition during the very first hours of the ground assault.

Days before her death she was interviewed by CNN and said, “Sometimes you have to disassociate how you feel, personally, about the prospect of going into war and, you know, possibly see the death that’s going to be there. But personally, as an aviator and a soldier, this is the moment that everybody trains for – that I’ve trained for – so I feel ready to meet the challenge. I don’t necessarily personally like it; if I had the opportunity and they called a ceasefire tomorrow, that would be great.”

She was buried in Section 8 of Arlington National Cemetery on March 11, 1991. Truly this young woman was an American Hero! RIP American Hero!

Now, let’s look at some Rhode Island women veterans

Marine Lance Cpl. Holly A. Charette. 21, of Cranston, R.I.; assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; was killed June 23, 2005, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near her convoy vehicle in Fallujah, Iraq.

According to an article in the Daily Sun, was a former Cranston High School East cheerleader, Charette joined the Marines in 2002 shortly after the Sept. 11th terrorist attack.

Her dream was to work for the post office. In Iraq, one of her duties was mail delivery to the troops. She was known in Iraq as the Marine that brought the good news.

Lance Corporal Holly Charette has a post office in Cranston now named after her.

Operation Stand Down Rhode Island (OSDRI) operates a facility specifically for female veterans called the Holly Charette Home, located in Johnston, and named after Marine Corporal Holly Charette. The home can house up to six female veterans at any given time and is the only all-female veteran housing available in the state. RIP Marine Lance Corporal Charette!


Camille Vella-Wilkinson is a retired U.S. Navy veteran and is the first female in the State of Rhode Island to receive the Verrazano Day Person of the Year Award.

The Verrazano Award is named in honor and memory of the late Giovanni da Verrazano and was established in 1961 by the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, Order of Sons of Italy in America and Department of Rhode Island, Italian American War Veterans of the United States Inc. The award honors an outstanding leader of the Rhode Island community.

Since 2017, is a member of Rhode Island House of Representatives,  representing District 21.  The Italian American War Veterans of the US nominated Vella-Wilkinson for her relentless and efforts to ensure all veterans receive his or her benefits they are entitled to. Moreover, as a veteran herself, she is a member of numerous veteran organizations providing advocacy and services to veterans.

Past recipients of the awards, to name a few, include the Honorable John O. Pastore, 1963; Honorable Christopher Del Sesto, 1970; Honorable Albert E. DeRobbio, 1990; former Providence Mayors Joseph Paolino and Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. Others are Judge Frank Caprio, Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini, South Kingstown Police Chief Vincent Vespia

On May 21, 2022, Vella-Wilkinson will be presented the 60th Verazzano Day Award at the Quonset O Club, Quonset, Rhode Island


Jennifer Marquis-Caruso is the first female Chief of Veterans Affairs hired in November 2021, according to a Nov. 2021 press release from the Office of Veterans Services for the State of Rhode Island.

Marquis-Caruso brings visibility to the two million women Veterans living in the United States and promoting inclusivity and equitable access to resources, benefits and healthcare for women Veterans. Marquis-Caruso will serve as the Women Veteran Coordinator for Rhode Island, working directly with the Providence VA Medical Center Women Veterans program manager and The Center for Women Veterans. She can be reached at (401) 921-2119.


Tonya Maselli McConnell, Providence VA Medical Center, a Women Veteran Care Coordinator.

The VA Providence Healthcare offers women Veterans comprehensive care, including:

  • Primary care
  • Gynecology
  • Maternity care, childbirth education classes, and postpartum support
  • Ultrasounds and mammograms
  • Mental health care and counseling
  • Lifestyle wellness services

 McConnell, can be reached at  (401)273-7100 ext. 16191, or email

In closing out, saluting and honoring women veterans, we must include mentioning one of the most active veteran organizations in the State of Rhode Island, Military Women Across the Nation (MWAN), which has a Rhode Island chapter here in Rhode Island.

Let’s start off with a little history of the MWAN organization. According to Women Across The Nation website,, MWAN was formerly called the  WAVES.

In 2014 during a national convention, members of WAVE voted to expand the membership to include women who have honorably served or are serving in all facets of the United States Military. In addition, a new name was voted on to cover mew demographic: Military Women Across The Nation.

WAVE  members have served in all major conflicts, including WWII, Korean Era, Vietnam, Cold War, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, Global War on Terror, Operation New Dawn, Afghanistan, Iraq, and in Peacetime.

The purpose and objective of this organization is to encourage patriotism, loyalty, and devotion to God, country and family; for each member to help one another and her community, state, and nation; for each member to be of actual assistance; and to keep up each other’s morale. 

Here in Rhode Island, Military Across the Nation, Ocean State Unit 118 is an active organization made of women veterans and membership eligibility continues to grow with the VA projecting that women are on track to become 10 percent of the entire veteran population.

Celebrate Women’s History Month by joining MWAN on March 24, 2022:

Now you know a little more about Women Military History.


AARP offers a free career center for veterans, . The center offers a free course, Veterans Career Advantage,  job search tool for companies seeking veteran employees, link to access what a good resume looks like, and other tips for veterans seeking employment. 

March 11-13, Friday thru Saturday 11am thru 8pm. VFW is hosting a veteran community outreach program at the Warwick Mall, Community Booth. For more information, call Tiger at 401-677-9374 .


March 19, 2022, 1pm – 5pm, Rhode Island veterans Home, Bristol RI, St Joseph’s and St Patrick day Celebration for resident veterans at the Rhode Island Veterans Home Gally hosted by the Italian American War Veterans of the US, Inc and Auxiliary, Berard Desjarlais American Legion Post #88 and Auxiliary ,  War Veteran Car Cruise, and Veterans of Foreign War Post #237, Bristol RI.  

Volunteers are welcomed; looking for volunteers who can assist preparation of zeppolas and other Italian and Irish desserts on Friday( all food must be prepared in a state certified kitchen, which will be available the Friday before). Can’t volunteer and wish to make a donation for the Rhode Island Veterans Home “St Joseph and St Patrick Day” , please send check to ITAM ( Italian American War Veterans of Us, Inc , an IRS tax exempt organization), 18 Winchester Ave, N. Smithfield RI 02896.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact ITAM at (401) 677-9828 or email for more information on volunteering; looking for volunteer accordion player for Italian music and other traditional Italian and Irish ideas.

March 24, 2022, 1:00-5pm m, Rhode island Veterans Home, Bristol, RI, women veterans and active-duty women are invited to the annual tea event which also will recognize Women’s Military History.

All Military Active-Duty Women and Women Veterans are invited to the RI

Veterans Home to honor and celebrate the annual tea. All services, all eras,

all wars, please come and enjoy coffee, tea and refreshments. Recognize

Women’s History Month by telling your stories or listen to stories of Women

who served in the Military, Women who served their country in many ways

and legacy of achievements.



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 07/31/2028

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 07/31/2028 (PS I had breakfast there on Saturday).

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

AT&T Wireless Discount
Active Duty, Reserves, National Guard, Spouses and Veterans get 25% off on mobile phone services. Just present identification or proof veteran status to any AT&T store

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.


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 15% 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 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.

T-Mobile offers up to half off military discount wireless plans. Save $25 per line on up to four lines with the Magenta Military signature plan, and $35 per line on up to four lines with the premium plan, Magenta Plus Military. The military programs are available to active-duty military, veterans, retirees, and reservists.

Verizon Fios
Veterans, active-duty military, retirees, and reservists can receive a discount on either new or existing Verizon Fios services (Internet, TV, Landline). Offer includes $10 off Fios Triple Play, $5 off Fios Double Play, or $5 off standalone internet.

Verizon Wireless
Active-Duty military and all Federal Government employees can get 15% discount on monthly plans $35 and above and 25% off accessories.

Xfinity Residential
If you are currently serving in the military or are a veteran Xfinity offers a $100 Visa® Prepaid card and $25 Xfinity Coupon that can be used toward your next Xfinity on Demand rental or purchase or as a credit toward your bill.


If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward ,  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, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, 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.