The Nashua Telegraph — The 7th annual Nashua Salute Our Soldiers Gala Saturday evening at the Sky Meadow Country Club honored the many men and women protecting the nation’s freedoms.
This was the first year the event was hosted at Sky Meadow, which was decked out with red, white and blue lights and table arrangements honoring the many men and women who have and continue to serve in the military. Vice Chair of the Nashua Chapter and gala chair Carolann Constant said the event is spearheaded by Sy Mahfuz and Tom Tessier. They were among the original chapter members, she said.
“It’s a program that basically fills the needs of any veteran or family member of a veteran that no other service can take care of,” Constant said. “Our care coordinators, they’re the most important part of the program, will speak with a veteran and find out what their need is and, if it’s something that there is a service out there for, like with the VA, they’ll connect them with the appropriate department in the VA that can help them. So, a lot of the times, money isn’t even a factor. It’s more of getting the veterans connected with the right services.”
An example is rent payments, something many other services will not cover. Veterans Count may cover security deposits in some situations so that a veteran is able to move into their apartment.
Kathy Flynn, director of development for Veterans Count, said the organization is a part of Easter Seals, and the philanthropic arm for the program of military and veteran services.
Top sponsors were recognized with gifts of painted eagles Satuday night, with money being raised for Veterans Count to fund the work they do for veterans and their families.
“It’s a great fundraiser, but it also provides the community with the client moment, which gives them a connection of where their money goes, and how it’s being used,” Constant said.
“We use this event to bring in new sponsors that may not know a lot about the program.”
Aside from that, a well-qualified, longtime serviceman was featured as this year’s keynote speaker, Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, U.S. Army, retired. He was selected for being a top supporter of Veterans Count, and Constant said he and his wife are both veterans.
With 30-plus years of service under his belt, as well as numerous awards, he said being the keynote speaker Saturday night was an honor.
“I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from Veterans Count,” Bolduc said. “Without their help, my transition would not have gone as well as it did. I was fortunate to meet the wonderful people in Veterans Count and Easter Seals, and joined their team to help support other veterans and their families and service members and raise the awareness within New England and America about the support our veterans and families have earned.”
Bolduc said oftentimes people take for granted running water, electricity and sometimes those things seen as necessities in life. However, not everyone has them, and he explained it’s their job as servicemen and women to bring that to them.
“That’s really the essence of the American service member, someone who is ready to make sacrifices for others, but that comes with a price,” Bolduc said. “We have to be ready not only to train them to go over there and do it, but we also have to take care of them when they get back.”
That’s what Easter Seals and Veterans Count does, and why he was able to make the transition back to civilian life at home and better deal with his post-traumatic stress.
“We’re not asking for a handout, we’re just asking for what we earned,” Bolduc said.