In the News

Support our Veterans at the 6th Annual Pack & Boots 5K benefitting Veterans Count

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Kick-off your 4th of July at the 6th Annual Pack & Boots 5K and 1 Mile Survival Run! Hundreds will run, walk, and enjoy the scenic views of Downtown Portsmouth, NH.

The 5K, kicks off at Peirce Island and loops around Downtown Portsmouth. The most unique aspect of this popular annual event is the 1 Mile Survival Run, in which participants are asked to run in boots and wear a backpack that contains approximately 10 percent of their body weight. If you are looking for an added challenge, we encourage you to do both races at a discounted rate. Registration fees vary, but the first 100 veterans to register are FREE.

Both races are open to participants of all ages. We highly encourage creating a team of family members, friends, and co-workers. For those with young children, ages 5 and under, we are bringing back the FREE Kids Fun Run, that is 100 meters and ends at the finish line.

“The Survival Run is a lot of fun and is a great way to symbolically show support for our veterans,” said Veterans Count Seacoast Chapter Member and Race Director David Hampson, who has also run the race in prior years. “The crowds are great — it is one of my personal favorite races. It is challenging, scenic and festive.”

Aside from prizes for overall top finishers in the 5K and great race “swag” for all participants, the race is particularly appropriate for July 4th given that proceeds will be used to support Veterans Count.

“This is an incredible program that provides critically needed services to NH veterans, service members and their families,” noted Hampson. “The race is a chance to show your support for the men and women who help ensure the liberties we enjoy every day. It is a wonderful family event with a very important mission.”

Each year, the race also honors one of the five branches. This year, the U.S. Coast Guard will be honored. The participants shirts are Coast Guard blue, and the first 275 registrants will receive a special edition Pack & Boots pint glass, courtesy of Jeff Hiatt and PBS.

Special thanks to all of our sponsors: Service Credit Union, Seacoast Dream Dentistry, Kennebunk Savings, LTC Partners, Novocure, PBS, Atlantic Orthopaedics & Shields MRI, Great Bay Community College, Progressive Electric Solutions, Cross Insurance, Four Tree Island Advisory, Classic Cutters, Ricci Construction, Schrager Hampson Aviation Insurance Agency, Seacoast Orthotics & Prosthetics, Mason Consulting, and Who Dares Wins.

Register online at Day-of registration begins at 7:30am, the Survival Run starts at 8:30am, and the 5K kick-offs at 9am.

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C&J Donates Proceeds from 1941 Indian Scout Military Motorcycle to Veteran’s Count

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C&J Bus Lines, one of New England’s premier transportation providers, and the Jalbert Family, will donate proceeds from a 1941 Military Scout auction to Veteran’s Count. Veteran’s Count is the philanthropic arm of Easter Seals’ Military and Veteran Services which provides critical and timely financial assistance and other aid to veterans, service members, and their families, the goal being to “ensure their dignity, health, and overall well-being.

The motorcycle will be auctioned at the highly acclaimed Bonham’s Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction on January 25, 2018. Bonham estimates the sale of the vehicle to exceed $25,000 and has waived all auction and processing fees to ensure 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Veteran’s Count.

The military Scout has been authentically restored by C&J’s fleet maintenance team to battle-ready, collector quality condition, has logged only a few test miles, and is ready for display, D-Day reenactments, or easy, attention-getting rides to the local bike show. The authentic WWII-era helmet and replica Thompson submachine gun will be included with the lot.

“My passion for vehicles and motorcycles started as a child” says Jim Jalbert, President of C&J Bus Lines. “This year our transportation company celebrates our 50th year of service to the Seacoast Community. We are proud of where we’ve come throughout the years and look forward to the next 50. Giving back to the community who has helped make us who we are today is an important company value and that’s why 100% of the proceeds from this bike will go to Veteran’s Count.”

To learn more and interested bidders, please visit:

About C&J
C&J Bus Lines operate scheduled intercity passenger services from Dover, Portsmouth New Hampshire, and Newburyport Massachusetts serving Boston South Station and Logan International Airport. The company also provides daily executive class service between Portsmouth, NH; Tewksbury, MA; Ogunquit, ME (seasonally); and the New York Port Authority New York City. Founded in 1968, C&J has become a regional icon, providing a unique, safe, and dependable passenger transportation experience to over 700,000 passengers each year. This year, the company celebrates its 50th year of service to the Seacoast community and is proud to employ over one hundred dedicated individuals who take pride in the services which C&J provides. The company operates a fleet of 30 motor coaches from its maintenance facility in Rollinsford with its business offices located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. For more information, please visit or contact us at

Swim with a Mission Raises $80K for Veterans Count

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We had special visitors stop by today! Huge CONGRATS to Swim With A Mission for raising over $371K in their first year! We were honored to be part of an amazing event! Today they presented us with a check for $80,000. This will go a long way in helping our veterans, service members, and their families! Can’t wait for 2018!

In photo: Front – Mark Prestipino, SWAM Board Member; Cynthia Makris, Veterans Count Lakes Region Chapter Chair; Michael Salter, Founder of Veterans Count; Julie & Phil Taub, SWAM Board Members; Jim Bee, Easterseals NH Board Member. Back – Sean Riley, SWAM Board Member; Tim Callahan, Veterans Count Lakes Region Chapter Member; Joe Emmons, Easterseals NH Sr. VP of Development; Josh Wright, SWAM Board Member


Manchester VA gives update on reform agenda

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The completion of two investigations, one for misconduct, with reports to follow highlight the latest update Wednesday from the administration about reforms at the Manchester VA Medical Center.

The Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection probe centered on potential misconduct while the Office of Medical Inspector was focused on quality of care. The medical inspector is coordinating external reviews of all individual cases where whistleblowers alleged that veterans received poor care, officials said.

“The goal is to make necessary changes to ensure that the Manchester VAMC provides the best care to the New Hampshire veterans it serves,” said Kristin Pressly with the Manchester VA’s public information office.

The progress report comes just about a month since Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin visited Manchester to announce a $30 million building improvement plan along with defending in person why he cleaned house of top management at the center.

A leader in that whistleblower group, Dr. Ed Kois, said this latest update contains too much propaganda and systemic problems remain.

For example, one of the executives Shulkin dismissed was recently one of two finalists for a new position to drive innovation there, Kois charged.

“Why would you consider him for a position to improve the place?” Kois asked.

“If I got kicked off the Patriot cheerleading squad and people asked me to bring my pom poms to the next game they would think something was wrong with this guy.”

But Kois, director of the spinal cord program, admitted there were signs of change for the better and he credited Interim Medical Director Alfred Montoya and Acting Chief of Staff Brett Rush with improving communication.

“I think there are people who are trying. I do think they are trying to do things but we are still having issues. We are making progress but still have a ways to go,” Kois said.

Signing an affiliation contract with Easterseals, bringing on New England Baptist Hospital neurosurgeon Chima Ohaegbulam to the team of consultants and working on operating agreements with medical device inventor Dean Kamen were all encouraging, Kois said.

Shulkin made the wholesale personnel moves after a Boston Globe Spotlight team report in July detailed complaints from doctors who said they don’t have the proper equipment to treat patients.

Doctors reported being unable to easily set up appointments with outside specialists, leading to worsening problems in several patients with spine issues. And in one instance, doctors reported having to cancel surgeries last month because they found rust or blood on their tools. The hospital also has supposedly been struggling with an infestation of flies since 2007.

These are some of the improvements VA officials said have been made since then:

  • Affiliation: A first-of-its-kind community partnership is created with Catholic Medical Center, allowing Manchester VA providers to use CMC space for endoscopic procedures.
  • Governor’s Action: Gov. Chris Sununu signed an executive order that allows VAphysicians licensed outside of New Hampshire to practice in community hospitals.
  • Veterans Choice: Management overhauled this office changing it to a physician-led Office of Community Care with more than twice the staff.
  • Recruit Staff: Opened recruitment of more than 50 positions including working with White River Junction, Vt.’s VA for a cardiologist and a medical director, and program manager for its women veterans program

Shulkin named a 12-person task force to craft by this January a new design for how to offer full services to New Hampshire veterans. New Hampshire is the only state in the country without a full-service VA hospital.

Kois will represent the dozen whistleblowers when U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH, brings a field hearing on the Manchester VA controversy of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to Concord on Monday.

“I think we are ripe for being at the right place at the right time, and I didn’t start out this process believing we could change things,” Kois added.

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Portsmouth Regional Hospital Car Show Raises $4,500 for Veterans Count

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With more than 200 cars and 350 people in attendance, Portsmouth Regional Hospital’s third annual car show on Sunday raised more than $4,500, all of which is being donated to Veterans Count.

“Our Employee Advisory Group organizes the car show each year, and each year it just gets better and better. It’s a privilege for our employees to serve and support the Veterans Count organization,” said Dean Carucci, CEO of Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

In 2006, Veterans Count was developed in partnership with Easterseals New Hampshire, the New Hampshire National Guard and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

The program provides critical resources to veterans and their families.

Since the program was launched, Veterans Count has distributed $2.6 million to help veterans afford food, home maintenance, housing, rent, utilities, vehicle repair, gasoline, medical bills and child care.

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Veterans Count Seacoast S.O.S Gala Raises $436,000

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North Hampton — The Seacoast Chapter of Veterans Count got a boost in efforts to help soldiers at its recent gala fundraiser. The fifth annual S.O.S. “Salute Our Soldiers” dinner last month at the home Michael and Jamee Kane of North Hampton raised $436,000 for Veterans Count. The evening’s included dinner, dancing, the honoring of all veterans in the audience, and a fireworks display over the ocean.

Veterans Count is a program of Easterseals that provides financial support for service members and veterans of all eras.

This year’s gala was a special tribute to Vietnam-era veterans, whom were given special recognition during a pinning ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that conflict. Master of Ceremonies Josh McElveen led the event with a special keynote speech by Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Kenneth Clark, a former member of the N.H. Air National Guard and a pilot for 32 years.

“The Veterans Count program is not a hand-out; it’s to get these service members beyond their challenges and back on their feet,” Clark said. “It takes a vision and it takes a village, and I am proud to be a part of this village.”

“The S.O.S. gala is a special night to commemorate, to pay tribute and to honor,” added Greg Whalen, chairman of the board for the Seacoast Chapter. “Quoting E.B. Sledge: ‘As the troops used to say, if the country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for.’ We are privileged to be able to fight for those who have so bravely fought for us.”

Relive the evening through photos and a video, and a special Vietnam Pinning Ceremony video.

About Veterans Count
Ninety cents of every dollar raised by Veterans Count goes to the military and veterans services program. Of these funds, $60,000 will support a care coordinator of the program for a year, which will support more than 300 clients. Approximately $35,000 will be used monthly towards emergency financial assistance such as housing, mental health needs and other critical issues military members and their families are facing.

Navy SEALS storm Newfound Lake for military fundraiser

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Arriving by parachute, helicopter and boat, U.S. Navy SEALs made a huge splash Friday as stars of the inaugural Swim With A Mission, a fundraiser on Newfound Lake for military charities.

The event at Wellington State Park was organized by Phil and Julie Taub of Bedford.
“We couldn’t be any happier,” said Phil Taub, adding he and his wife were extremely grateful for the assistance of more than 200 volunteers.

He pointed to the large number of participants in the 5K and 10K races Friday morning and the 1,000 or so spectators who several hours later watched the SEALs, both active and retired, show off their stuff.
The SEALS parachuted out of a helicopter and later jumped out of the same craft. They also made a waterborne landing with a dog and demonstrated the close working relationship between SEALs and their four-legged colleagues.

Although he didn’t have a final tally on Friday, Taub said Swim With A Mission (SWAM) had raised “lots of money.”

The funds will be divided among the Lakes Region chapter of Veterans Count, Bridge House Homeless Shelter and Veterans’ Advocacy in Plymouth and the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla.

A tri-athlete and a longtime business attorney with Nixon Peabody LLP, Taub said the idea that became SWAM began in 2016 when he observed a SEAL exhibition at the SEAL Museum and inquired about the possibility of a similar exhibition on Newfound, where he and his wife have had a vacation home for three years.

Retired SEAL Nix White, who as a member of the FROG-X Parachute Team, demonstrated a high altitude–low opening (HALO) jump with retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant Marc Hogue, said Newfound Lake was “awesome.

“It’s a beautiful lake,” White said, and much warmer than the ocean off San Diego, CA., where the SEALs train.

After their jumps, White and Hogue posed for photos with Robert Wilson, 93, of Bridgewater, who had been enjoying a beachfront seat.

A native of Groveton who came to the Lakes Region “for the fishing and stayed,” Wilson wore a cap that announced he had served “four years. Never on land,” aboard the USS Houston, a light cruiser.

Designated the CL-81, that Houston was the namesake of the USS Houston, CA-80, which was sunk on  March 1, 1942, during the Battle of Sunda Strait in the Pacific.

Alex Ray, who founded and leads The Common Man family of restaurants, said his company was happy to provide food for SWAM, and said he was “blown away” with how organized it was for a “first-time event.”

He was also struck by the generosity of the public.

“We didn’t even put prices on the food,” he said, instead asking only for contributions “and we filled two buckets with money.”

“This is America,” Ray summed up, “and I’m proud of it.”

Rick Kaiser, executive director of the Navy SEAL Museum and a retired Navy SEAL Master Chief, said the money raised by SWAM “will directly benefit our Trident House Charities Program, our three-tier approach for supporting our Special Operations community.”

The Navy SEAL Museum “works tirelessly to preserve the history and heritage of our Navy SEALs and their predecessors,” Kaiser said in an e-mail. “We are greatly honored to have been chosen as a beneficiary for Swim With A Mission and are deeply indebted to Phil Taub and his hard-working team.”

View photos here.

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Pack & Boots 5K Raises Money for Veterans

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Portsmouth Herald — On Tuesday morning, nearly 300 runners ran through Portsmouth in the fifth annual Pack & Boots 5K road race to benefit Veterans Count, starting and finishing in Prescott Park. Veterans Count is New Hampshire Easterseals’ program that provides veterans with financial assistance for “stop-gap measures” in times of need, including helping with car repairs, helping cover rent if they lose their job or require heating fuel assistance in the winter, according to race director David Hampson.

“The money raised from this race will go towards helping veterans in New Hampshire,” said Hampson, who also serves on the advisory board of Veterans Count. “We run this race on the Fourth of July to symbolize patriotism, the birth of our nation, the freedom our servicemen and women have given us. We felt it was appropriate recognition of veterans in conjunction with the birth of America.”

Hampson said the need amongst New Hampshire’s veterans continues to grow as more and more of them learn about Veterans Count’s services.

“The need is endless. It’s like anything: you don’t know how large the need is until you start serving it,” said Hampson. “As we’ve gained more publicity in the community and veterans know they can come to us that need keeps growing because we find people no one knew about. We’re keeping people in their homes and allowing them to be able to commute to work.”

David Chicoine was a private in the 173rd Airborne Division and was among the first American ground forces deployed to Vietnam. On Tuesday, he was running for his fellow veterans.

“Today is for saluting all of the veterans and especially the Vietnam veterans for the 50th anniversary,” said Chicoine, of Portsmouth. “We always need to be saluting our veterans, especially on this gorgeous Fourth of July.”

Poulin Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler donated a custom Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport that was being raffled off. Anyone interested in purchasing tickets can go to to purchase a $200 ticket or text “Vetsjeep” to 51555 to be directed to the website to buy a ticket.

In the 5K race the overall winners on the male side were Matt Sawyer, of Eliot, Maine (17:27); Jasmin Lepir, of Dover (17:44); and Ryan Proulx of Portsmouth (17:54). On the female side the winners were Corey Dowe, of Barrington (22:21); Luke Dinwoodie, of Dover (20:08); and Katie Swenson, of Portsmouth (21:14).

After the 5K some doubled-down and competed in a 1-mile survival race where they laced up a pair of boots and threw on a backpack, which was 10 percent of each competitor’s body weight, to honor veterans and those currently serving.

Zachary Noftz, of Kittery, placed first for the men in the survival race (6:56) and Christy Rousseau of Burlington, Vt. finished first for the women (7:54).

“It’s great to be able to wear the uniform and run with other veterans,” said Andy Middaugh, of Dover, who is a Sgt. in the Army National Guard. “We have great weather, this is a great course and this is a great way to help out veterans.”

View photos and watch a video of this year’s Pack & Boots 5K.

On July 4, A Running Way to Support Vets

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Portsmouth Herald — On Tuesday, July 4 in Portsmouth, hundreds will take part in the 5th annual Pack & Boots 5K Run/Walk, which features a certified 5K course, a 1-mile Survival Run and a Kids Fun Run.

Two of the races at this year’s event are new. For the Kids 5K, which will be run with the Adult 5K, kids — ages 14 and under —are encouraged to run or walk for a fun challenge of their own. For those with very young children, ages 5 and under, the Fun Run is 150 meters.

As for the course for the 5K Run/Walk, it kicks off at Peirce Island and loops around Portsmouth. The most unique aspect of this popular annual event, however, is the 1-mile Survival Run, in which participants are asked to run in boots and wear a backpack that contains approximately 10 percent of their body weight. Participants can also sign up for a combined race that includes both the 5K and Survival Run.

“The Survival Run is a lot of fun and is a great way to symbolically show support for our veterans,” said race director David Hampson, who has also run the race in prior years. “The crowds are great — it is one of my personal favorite races. It is challenging, scenic and festive.”

Aside from cash prizes for overall top finishers in the 5K and great race “swag” for all participants, the race is particularly appropriate for July 4 given that proceeds will be used to support Veterans Count.

Founded in 2006 as “a voice for veterans struggling to adjust back into civilian life,” the organization provides everything from emergency aid to financial assistance to veterans and their families.

“This is an incredible program that provides critically-needed services,” noted Hampson. “The race is a chance to show your support for the men and women who help ensure the liberties we enjoy every day. It is a wonderful family event with a very important mission.”

For Hampson, the race also underscores the “true importance” and meaning of July 4.


‘Salute Our Soldiers’ fundraiser Saturday

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The fifth annual S.O.S. Salute Our Soldiers Gala on behalf of the Seacoast Chapter of Veterans Count is Saturday and will pay special tribute to veterans and service members of the Vietnam War era.

Veterans Count, an Easter Seals program, provides financial support for service members and veterans of all eras.

The event will be held at the Kane Estate at 5 Willow Ave. and will begin with a 5 p.m. cocktail reception. Music will be provided by the Legacy Swing Band Quartet. The program begins at 6:25 with Josh McElveen serving as master of ceremonies.

The posting of the colors will be performed by the U.S. Marine Corps Cadets ROTC from Winnacunnet High School. The Rev. Bruce Boria, pastor of Rye Bethany Church in Greenland, will provide the invocation. Gov. Chris Sununu will make remarks and Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Kenneth Clark will serve as the keynote speaker. Clark is a native of Laconia and a University of New Hampshire graduate. He served as commander of 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease from 1996 to 2001, when he was promoted to brigadier general and assigned to the N.H. National Guard.

A special salute will be made to audience veterans from the Vietnam Era conflict.

A live auction with auctioneer Mark Fodero will help raise funds for Veterans Count.

Since 2007, Easter Seals Military & Veterans Services has served more than 9,000 individuals in a variety of ways including suicide prevention, homelessness, substance abuse treatment, employment, transportation, and mental health issues resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injury. Veterans Count supports families through a care coordination model and provides emergency financial assistance for food, home maintenance, housing, rent, fuel assistance, utilities, vehicle repair, gasoline, medical bills, and child care.

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