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RI Veterans: Did you know? (women vets, events, clothing, programs, discounts) – John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, veterans writer

Calling All Women Warriors of RI

The VFWRI Women Veterans Committee has put together this free selfdefense class for women veterans and active duty service members.

I know we are all super cool from our time serving, but it would be so much fun to do something empowering to remind us of how awesome we are, and to do it with a room full of amazing women warriors!!! Link to register is:

VA Clothing Allowance

Did you know a veteran could be eligible for s clothing allowance up to $999.51 to replace damaged clothes?

Example, a veteran receives a VA prescribe gel, Diclofenac Sodium Tropical Gel to apply for preventative pain or mitigating existing pain. The gel, often, is applied to areas clothing touches the applied gel( ankle , shoulders, hands). The veteran should be in on or before August 1, 2024 for an annual clothing allowance.

The application could be put in anytime throughout the year, with a closing date of August 1, 2024. If you qualify, you will receive payments between September 1, and October 31.  

VETTIP: It appears the VA clothing allowance  is a little known benefit for particular veterans. But, it only applies to those whose service-connected disability causes permanent damage to clothing. Because of this damage, more frequent replacement is required for clothing.

If your clothing has been damaged by your prosthetic or orthopedic device (such as a wheelchair) or by the medicine you’re taking for a skin condition, you may be able to get money each year to help you buy new clothes. This is called an annual clothing allowance. Keep reading to find out if you may be eligible.

More information on clothing allowance from the VA website:

Am I eligible for these benefits from VA? You may be eligible for a clothing allowance if you meet the requirements listed here.

One of these must be true:

Your prosthetic or orthopedic device damages your clothes, or

Your skin medicine causes damage to your outer clothing (like your pants or shirt) that can’t be repaired.

And this must be true:

You need this device or skin medicine because of an injury or illness related to your military service (called a service-connected condition).

What kind of clothing allowance can I get?

  • A 1-time payment, or
  • A yearly payment

Check the current rates for clothing allowance and other special allowances

Can I get more than 1 payment?

You may be able to get more than 1 payment if you meet at least 1 of the requirements listed here. 

At least 1 of these must be true:

  • You have more than one prosthetic or orthopedic device, or
  • You have more than one skin medicine, and/or
  • Your device or skin medicine affects more than one type of clothing.

Review the current payment rates

Note: To get your yearly payment, you’ll need to qualify by August 1 of that year. We collect applications throughout the year and hold them until the August 1 closing date. If you qualify, you’ll receive payments between September 1 and October 31.

How do I get a clothing allowance?

You’ll need to submit an Application for Annual Clothing Allowance (VA Form 10-8678).
Get VA Form 10-8678 to download

Bring it to the prosthetic representative at your local VA medical center. 
Find a VA medical center near you

Note: You must have a service-connected condition to get a clothing allowance. If you haven’t filed a claim for disability compensation yet, you’ll need to do that first. 
Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation

What if I have questions about these benefits?

You can call the VA  at 800-827-1000. The VA is available from Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.


Providence Clemente Veterans’ Initiative – Spring enrollment

The Providence Clemente Veterans’ Initiative encourages and accepts applications from all veterans, regardless of race, gender identity, service years, deployment history, disability status, or discharge status.  The course is free and seeks to serve veterans who are challenged by their transition from soldier to civilian, and who are looking for an engaged community of peers to explore great moments of history, art, philosophy and literature. 

For those who aspire to attend college in the future, the Providence Clemente Veterans’ Initiative also offers an opportunity to experience a college classroom and earn transferable college credits at no cost, and without using any VA benefits. All books and instructional materials are provided free to participants.

PCVI is accepting applicants for their Spring semester. Anyone who missed the Fall curriculum is still welcome to join for Spring. 100% at no cost to the veteran. 

The Providence Clemente Veterans’ Initiative (PCVI), now into its 6th year, is accepting applications for our 2024 Spring semester, which will begin January 11, 2024. We meet on Zoom on Monday and Thursday evenings, 6pm to 8pm.

The PCVI is a free humanities program that is open to all Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut veterans, regardless of age, deployment, disability, rank, education and discharge status.  The goal is to provide a meaningful intellectual community for veterans who are trying to process their thoughts and experiences.

Those who participate are eligible to earn 6 college credits (3 per semester). Books and school supplies are free, and computer/internet assistance is available.  Earlier this year, we were one of a very small number of recipients of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “Dialogues on the Experience of War” program.

The course enrolls 12-15 veteran-scholars, and is taught by faculty from UMass-Dartmouth, University of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island School of Design.  In the fall we explore the ancient Greeks and the American Civil War through history, literature, philosophy, art history, theater, and creative writing.  In the spring, we discuss the World Wars, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  

In addition to our online classes, we meet up for visits to museums, monuments, historical societies, and plays.  All are free.

Why should a veteran participate in the PCVI

From a USMC vet and 2019 graduate:  “Veterans are able to sit in a room full of others who have shared experiences.  The literary resources put language to the complex feelings veterans have, and provide explanations of those feelings.  It opens the door for veterans to contribute in a new way that validates their experiences and harnesses their skills.  It affirms that you still have a purpose.” 

From an Army vet and 2020 graduate:  “For the first time since I came home 50 years ago, I felt the camaraderie that I had experienced in Vietnam.  The experience of this course made me feel that I was finally home.  I was listened to and accepted.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, a heart you have helped heal.”

US Army veteran Jeremy Bergantini graduated from the PCVI in 2021.  In this powerful video, he talks about why every veteran should consider participating.  

US Navy veteran Ross Boyer graduated in 2021, and in this video he talks about how engagement with the humanities in the PCVI has helped him to bear the weight of his experiences.

To apply online, please click here.

If you have any questions, or if you would like a paper application mailed to you, please email Dr. Mark Santow, PCVIAcademic Director, at [email protected] 


Gov. McKee’s Highlights of RI Office of Veterans Services Accomplishments

The Governor released a list of accomplishments, by department, on the 1st of the year. Here is his statement of accomplishment from the Veterans Services Department:

Military Service Pensions

2023 was the first full year of exemption of military service pensions, ensuring Rhode Island is no longer an outlier and that military families can be highly successful while living, working, and learning in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery

Recognizing the important and essential work of the National Guard and Reserves, in 2023 Rhode Island updated statutory language to allow for interment of National Guard and Reserve members at the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery. This change brought Rhode Island in compliance with the federal Burial Equity for Guard and Reservists Act, which recognizes the significant contributions of guard members and reservists to keeping us safe at home and abroad.


Staffing has become a significant challenge throughout the health care industry, and in response RIVETS has taken steps and developed a multi-point incentive plan designed to attract, train, and retain critical direct care workers. As part of these efforts, RIVETS has established an innovative partnership with CCRI and DCYF to offer opportunities for youth in the Voluntary Extension of Care program to receive education, training, and eventual employment at the Rhode Island Veterans Home setting them on a health care career pathway.

There are estimated to be over 5,000 female Veterans living in Rhode Island, representing about 8 percent of Rhode Island’s Veteran population. By 2045, women will represent 22 percent of Rhode Island’s Veteran population, making them one of the fastest-growing Veteran cohorts. For these reasons, in 2023 RIVETS hired a Women Veteran Program Coordinator to actively increase awareness of obstacles female Veterans face, as well as expanding access to resources for this underserved population.


For the first time, dedicated funding for Veteran transportation services was included in the FY24 state budget. Many injured, ill and disabled Veterans identify access to reliable transportation, including services to get them to and from VA healthcare appointment, as critical and important to reintegration efforts.

Veteran Service Officers

Lack of access to certified Veteran Service Officers (VSOs) can significantly impact access to benefits and programs Veterans have earned and deserve. In FY24, RIVETS has dedicated $100,000 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Rhode Island for provision of VSO services to ensure Veterans and military families have proper guidance when applying for benefits.

Cold War Veterans

Since passage of legislation in 2021 giving local property tax exemptions to Cold War Veterans, several National Guard members who served during the Cold War have been denied access to these benefits by municipal tax officials. RIVETS introduced legislation to rectify this situation and in 2023 the General Assembly passed laws allowing for National Guard members to access these local tax exemption benefits.

Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant

RIVETS has been a key partner to RIDOH in securing and executing the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant ($750,000) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Rhode Island is ensuring coordination of services through federal, state and community agencies to address the issues of mental health and suicide among Rhode Island Veterans and their families.

Over the course of the last year, RIVETS has been grateful for the opportunity to serve Rhode Island’s Veterans and military families, and know 2024 will be another exciting and productive year.

More than 60,000 Veterans, active duty, national guard, and reservists call Rhode Island home. Visit for information on programs and services for Veterans and military families who make Rhode Island home.



January 8, 2024, Federal Hill Veteran Coffee House, ROMA, 311 Atwells Ave, Providence RI, 9:00 – 11:00 FREE refreshments. Coffee,  Italian Toast, desserts, calzones and much more. Sponsored by  Italian American war Veterans of US

January 13, 2024, 11:30 to 2:30 FREE Self Defense Classes for women veterans and active duty. South County Rec. Center, 30  St. Domenic Road, South Kingstown RI County Road

January 15, 2024, FREE LUNCHEON for all veterans and their guests at VFW, 134 Shove Street, Tiverton RI from 1130 am to 1300pm. This month’s meal will be veal and chicken parmigiana, pasta, Caesar salad, and dessert.

Sponsored by Building Bridges, Italian American War Veterans of US, VFW Tiverton RI, and Front Line Ministry for Freedom, Bristol RI is monthly meal sponsor for January. ITAM / Building Bridges/ VFW 5392 looking for sponsors for the annual St. Josephs/St Patrick luncheon in March. More information contact ITAM (401) 677-9838  or email [email protected]

January 20, 2024 11AM-2PM, VFW 2024 Educational Awards Luncheon, Quonset O Club, 200  LT. JAMES BROWN RD. NORTH KINGSTOWN RI , 435 per person, $280/8 per table. Buffet Style, all welcome. Point of Contact: GINAMARIE DOHERTY, 401-500-1721, email: [email protected]. Checks can be sent to VFWRI HQ, One Capitol Hill, Providence RI 02908 . The Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Rhode Island would like to announce this Fiscal Year’s 2023-2024 Educational & Awards Luncheon. This year’s event will be promoting the following programs:

· Patriots Pen Scholarship available for grades 6th-8th.

· Voice of Democracy Scholarship is available for grades 9th-12th.

· Teacher of the Year Award for any teacher from the grades K-12th.


Travel/Entertainment for Veterans

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 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 documentationDept of Environmental Management logo proving eligibility when they apply:

· Active-Duty Service members – Military ID

· Veterans – DD214

· Disabled Veterans – VA Disability Certification Letter ( Contact VA office)

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 Veterans,that%20issued%20the%20disability%20decision.

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. 


Discount Offers


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: [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.