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RI Veterans: Did you know? 19 May 22 (TODAY, RI State House) – John A. Cianci

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

Did you know happening at the RI State House today you can meet your city or town state representative?

Did you know after the event, veterans are invited to join the House of Representatives for the opening of the legislative session?

Did you know inside the hallways at the Rhode Island State House you will find statues that honor various branches of the U.S. Military service? Each statue (purchased by the state in 1945) was meant to be flanked by a U.S. flag and a flag representing that branch of the military.

Calling All Veterans & Supporters to Come Out to the Rhode Island State House!

Veterans are encouraged to come out today for the House Representatives annual Military & Veterans Outreach Day from 2 to 4 p.m.

Meet organizations that provide direct services to military veterans and their families. Network with other veterans. Speak to RI legislators. Get your questions answered. Please come to the library on the second floor to hear our panel discuss hot issues for our community. FREE. Open to the public. Accessible.

Unique to this veteran outreach is the opportunity veterans will have to engage their town or city representative to discuss issues that impact their lives. A table will be set up with the names of all the cities and towns listed with the name and contact information of the veteran’s town or city state representative.

“Veterans are encouraged to locate their representative and discuss issues meaningful to the veteran,” said Representative Camile Vella Wilkinson, (D-District 21 Warwick).

“The annual event has been very successful, encouraging veterans and military families to become engaged with their state government, and I’m glad that it is returning to the State House,”  added Representative Vella-Wilkinson, a Navy veteran who serves on the House Veterans Affairs group; as a result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the event has not been held for two years.

The second floor area will have tables manned by veteran service organizations and other organizations who provide resources and services to veterans and their families. For example, the Rhode Island Military Organization ( RIMO) will have a representative assisting veterans to sign up for VA Health Care.

The Italian American War Veterans of the United States, Inc. (ITAM) will be partnering with the Town of Burrillville’s Veteran Service Officer (VSO), Linda D’Andrea Peck, to provide any assistance the veteran needs to understand his or her state and federal veteran benefits.

“We can assist Veterans to complete applications to the Rhode Island Veteran Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island, applying for the veteran’s home loan guaranty, etc. said D’Andrea Peck.

D’Andrea Peck is one of two town or city service officers in Rhode Island which funds a VSO.  

Reps. Vella-Wilkinson, Noret, McEntee, Solomon, Corvese, Knight, and Azzinaro introduced bill H – 7632 which requires every city and town to maintain a municipal veterans’ service officer (MVSO).

Unlike bordering states, Connecticut and Massachusetts, Rhode Island is 1 of 14 states who do not have city/town/county veteran service officers helping veterans access a range of service-connected federal benefits, including VA health care, housing and transition assistance programs (except for the Town of Burrillville and another town).

On the federal side there is legislation, the Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach (CVSO) Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill that aims to provide new federal resources to county veteran service officers (CVSOs). Similar to the CVSO Act previously introduced during the 116th session, this bill would authorize $50 million annually for five years in the form of competitive grants to States to expand the work of CVSOs. The bill would also direct the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to prioritize grants that will serve areas with high rates of veteran suicide, Veteran Crisis Line referrals, as well as areas with CVSO shortages.

Passage of this new federal funding stream for CVSOs is also critical as our communities continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a significant economic impact on county finances across the nation.

Awarding competitive grants worth $250 million over five years to states would improve local outreach to veterans, assist in the development and submittal of claims on behalf of veterans, hire additional CVSOs and train CVSOs for VA accreditation. To receive funds under the law, a state must submit an application including a detailed plan for the use of these funds, how they will meet underserved veterans’ needs and other information.

“In my opinion, if Rhode Island had veteran service officers, the tragedy of overcharging disabled veteran millions of dollars to reside at the Rhode Island Veterans Home for years, would not have happened, “ said volunteer veteran service officer for the Italian American War Veterans of the United States (ITAM).

”Our volunteer veteran service officers (VSO) in Rhode Island have assisted veterans in recouping and or obtaining almost $6 million dollars in federal and state benefits in less than 2 years,” IAM veteran service added.

Veterans and their families will be given an opportunity to meet their state representatives and discuss the issues that have an impact on their lives. Participants are invited to come to the Bell Room on the first floor of the State House at 2 p.m. to hear a speaking program. Attendees are invited to stay for the House session, which begins at 4 p.m.

“Any veteran who needs assistance to get inside the State house for the event, can call me, as I will direct them to an access point for the state house I can meet them,  “ said Rep. Vella-Wilkinson.

Rep. Vella-Wilkinson can be reached at (401) 222-2457.

Events

May 19, 2022, Thursday  Veterans and Family Rhode Island Military Outreach Day at the Rhode Island State House. The RI House of Representatives has scheduled its Annual Veterans & Military Families Day on May 19th from 2 – 4pm inside the Statehouse. Connect with veteran services providers and outreach statewide through the media. Please join us on May 19th and help us make this the most successful Veterans &  Military Families Outreach Day so far!

If you are a veteran provider or service organization and would like a table at the event, contact Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson, 401-952-7340 or vellawilkinson@gmail.com

May 27- 30, Fort Adams, Friday – Sunday, Boots on The Ground for Heroes Memorial. Open to the public from 8:00-8:00pm, Memorial Day 8:00-6:00pm. Saturday May 28th from 5-6pm Patriotic Concert featuring the 88th Army Band, Rhode Island National Guard.

June 11, 2022, Aspen Dental to provide free dental care to military veterans nationwide. According to an Aspen Dental news release in May 2922, Aspen Dental announced its annual Day of Service event – which provides free care to military veterans across the country – will be held on Saturday, June 11. Now in its eighth year, nearly 500 Aspen Dental locations will open their doors on the company’s annual Day of Service to provide much-needed dental care for United States military veterans at no cost to honor their service. Veterans can schedule an appointment by calling 1-844-277-3646 (1-844-ASPENHMM) to find a participating Aspen Dental office in their community and schedule an appointment. Advance appointments are required.

June 4th, from 0700-1300, Vet Surf will be hosting their first Surfing event of the year at Narragansett Town Beach. This event is 100% FREE and all equipment is provided by the Vet Surf Team. No Experience is Necessary! If you are interested in learning to surf with your fellow Service Members/Veterans, please go to www.VetSurf.org and select the Participants tab to sign up!

If you have any questions, you can reach me at Justyn.Charon@va.gov or via phone at (401) 739-0167. The Department of Rhode Island of the Marine Corps League is looking to add some more fire teams to its ranks.  If you are Active Duty, Marine veteran or Navy Personnel who served with the Fleet Marine Force and miss the camaraderie, serving your community, enjoying time with those who understand you then this is the organization for you.!

The Marine Corps League was founded in 1923 and chartered by the United States Congress, which occurred in 1937.  The mission of the league is to promote the interest and preserve the traditions of the United States Marine Corps; strengthen the fraternity of Marines and their families, serve Marines and Navy personnel who wear or who have worn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, and foster the ideals of Americanism and patriotic volunteerism! The league is a national organization with Departments in every state including Hawaii.  Each Department has Detachments, the number of detachments vary on the size of the state and the membership in a particular area.  Rhode Island currently has three detachments. 

The Department of Rhode Island of the Marine Corps League is looking to add some more fire teams to its ranks.  If you are Active Duty, Marine veteran or Navy Personnel who served with the Fleet Marine Force and miss the camaraderie, serving your community, enjoying time with those who understand you then this is the organization for you.!

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RESOURCES

AARP offers a free career center for veterans, http://campaigns-aarp-org-stage.targetclose.com/veteran-job-center . 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. 

Providence Vet Center

Below are all of 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 Justyn.Charon@va.gov ***

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

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DISCOUNTS

Restaurants

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

Retailers

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, ID.me.

ID.me 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 ID.me

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 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.

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If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward information to itamri4vets@gmail.com:  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, itamri4vets@gmail.com, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)

To read all columns in this series go to: https://rinewstoday.com/john-a-cianci/

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.

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