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Goodwin Honored with Hispanic-American Veterans’ Partnership Award

At its eighth annual Military Ball on November 21, the Hispanic-American Veterans of Connecticut, Inc. (HAVOCT) honored Goodwin College with its Partnership Award in recognition of service to the military community. Betsy DeLaCruz, assistant professor of Human Services at the College, accepted the award. “I was honored, privileged, and proud to represent Goodwin College,” she said.

A related citation issued by the Connecticut General Assembly noted the College’s exemplary efforts to provide valuable support to Connecticut service members, veterans, and their families.

For the past two years, Goodwin College has hosted HAVOCT’s Completing the Journey Back Home, an annual symposium focused on providing veterans and their families with information on employment opportunities and healthcare benefits.

“Goodwin is committed to making career-focused education more easily accessible to veterans,” said Tam O’Day-Stevens, Dean of Students at Goodwin. “Not only do we participate in the Yellow Ribbon GI Enhancement Program, we also offer a comprehensive spectrum of support services.”

Those supports include counseling services, professional and peer tutors in the Academic Success Center, and a Career Services team that offers lifetime assistance with job search skill, resume writing, and interview practice. The College also partners with the American Legion to offer a 33-percent discount on non-selective admission programs. A special tuition rate can be extended to the families of Legionnaires, Auxiliary members, and Sons of the American Legion who claim Connecticut membership in their organizations.

“We are incredibly honored by this recognition from HAVOCT,” said Goodwin’s president, Mark Scheinberg. “We take our responsibility to serve the military community to heart and are very proud to number veterans among the most outstanding leaders of our student body, faculty, and staff.”

To learn more about educational opportunities for veterans at Goodwin College, contact Claudia Lange, Assistant Director of Admission, at 860-727-6762 or
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December 9, 2015 Robert Muirhead, , ,


Greetings from VA Connecticut!

As many are aware, we are in the last year of VA's Five Year Plan to EndVeteran Homelessness.  The Homeless Team at VA Connecticut has been working diligently to outreach and engage Veterans who are homeless in order toprovide them with services and housing resources.
While we have been working hard towards our goal of ending chronic Veteran homelessness, weknow that we cannot do the work with the help of our community partners.  Tot hat end, I wanted to take a moment to send out this message and ask foryour assistance in getting the word out on how to access assistance for Veterans who may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. 

Our team is ready to assist where we can to meet the needs of Veterans.  Attached you will find a Veteran Housing Resource Sheet which provides information on accessing Veteran housing resources in Connecticut.  You are welcome toshare this liberally in any way that you can.  Your assistance is crucial tous reaching any and all Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the coming months.

The VA Connecticut Homeless Team can be reached 8:00am-4:30pm, Monday-Fridayat 203.479.8064.   The National Veterans Homeless Hotline can be reached 24/7, at1.877.424.3838.  Veterans using this resource are then referred to VA Connecticut Homeless Team for assistance.

Thank you for assisting us with these efforts. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Maureen Maureen Pasko, LCSWDirector
Homeless Programs VA Connecticut Healthcare Errera Community Care Center
114-52 Boston Post Road, 2nd Floor
West Haven, CT 06516
Cell:  203.535.7897
Homeless Veterans Hotline1-877-4AID VET

(Note: Please download attachment with more contact information: See below where it says Download Attachments: CT Referral for Veterans.pdf)


Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman will present the Borinqueneers, the 65th Puerto Rican Infantry, with a proclamation of honor today at 2 p.m. in the Hall of Flags at the state Capitol in Hartford, Conn. The 65th Infantry Regiment was completely based, and for the most part, trained in Puerto Rico. Members decided to name themselves “Borinqueneers.” During their service, members of the regiment, which was a segregated unit, endured such indignities as being forced to use separate showering facilities from their non-Hispanic “Continental” officers and ordered not to speak Spanish under penalty of court-martial. The Borinqueneers were originally activated on June 4, 1920, after which the unit participated in World War I, World War II and Korea. Several veterans of the unit will be in attendance Tuesday. A national movement is underway to award the Borinqueneers the Congressional Gold Medal. is a proud sponsor of this effort.

PICTURED are members of the Borinqueneers while serving in the Korea War.

Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance CONTACTS:

Larry Bystran, Promotions Team Volunteer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Frank Medina, National Chair This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Information for this article provided in part by Efrain Nieves, Pa’lante

PICTURES are members of the Borinqueneers while serving in the Korea War.


Similar in nature to the famed Tuskegee Airmen and other segregated U.S. military units, the 65th Infantry Regiment Borinqueneers were the largest, longest-standing and only active-duty segregated Latino military unit in U.S. history. Like the Tuskegee Airmen, Navajo Code Talkers, Nisei Soldiers and Montford Point Marines who have already been recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal, the Borinqueneers overwhelmingly distinguished themselves in battle, all the while enduring the additional hardships of segregation and discrimination.


Hailing from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Army unit was active from 1899-1959. Emblematic of all U.S. military veterans, including the hundreds of thousands of Latino-American veterans, the Borinqueneers served and sacrificed in the cause of freedom with great pride The youngest of these remaining Latino-American heroes are in their 80s and 90s, having served in the Korean War, 60 years ago or more.A nationwide, nonpartisan, all-volunteer group, the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance, has been advocating the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to these elderly veterans since late last year. Made up of veterans, Latino-Americans and like-minded patriots, the organization has worked closely with members of Congress to facilitate the successful introduction and subsequent support of special bipartisan legislation, which requires co-sponsorship by two-thirds of each chamber for passage.


The House of Representatives bill, introduced this spring by Rep. Pedro Pierluisi, D- Puerto Rico, and Bill Posey, R-Fla., H.R. 1726, currently has 123 of the required 290 co-sponsors. The Senate bill, S. 1174, introduced in June by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., has 18 of the necessary 67 co-sponsors. The alliance’s national chairman, Frank Medina, a 2002 West Point graduate and Iraqi war combat veteran, is coordinating intense efforts this fall to encourage individuals and organizations to reach out to additional members of Congress to secure their co-sponsorship of the bills.


Here is an excerpt from the bills to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers: “(22) Beyond the many hardships endured by most American soldiers in Korea, the Regiment faced unique challenges due to discrimination and prejudice, including–

(A) the humiliation of being ordered to shave their mustaches ‘until such a time as they gave proof of their manhood’;

(B) being forced to use separate showering facilities from their non-Hispanic `Continental’ officers;

(C) being ordered not to speak Spanish under penalty of court-martial;

(D) flawed personnel-rotation policies based on ethnic and organizational prejudices; and

(E) a catastrophic shortage of trained non-commissioned officers.”


During the Korean War, 2,771 Borinqueneers earned Purple Hearts, 750 of them were killed in action, and more than 100 are still missing in action. In addition to the points cited in the bills, the Borinqueneers were forced to wear “I am a coward” signs, ordered to paint over their unit designation “Borinqueneers” on their military vehicles and ordered to discontinue their rations of rice and beans, termed “Creole rations” at the time.Among the national organizations supporting this important initiative are the League of United Latin American Citizens, Vietnam Veterans of America, American GI Forum, Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Puerto Rican Coalition and National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce.


In an Aug. 23 letter from LULAC to members of Congress, LULAC National President Margaret Moran stated, “It is with great pleasure that LULAC supports the 65th Infantry Regiment in their quest to achieve the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Therefore, we urge you to co-sponsor the pertinent 65th Infantry legislation requesting the auspicious CGM recognition, Congressional bills H.R. 1726 or S. 1174. The Congressional Gold Medal will be the highest award ever for the 65th Infantry Regiment and for ALL Latino Veterans. This distinction will catapult Hispanic veterans into the national spotlight and will honor all Hispanic veterans past, present and future.”Although comprised mainly of Puerto Ricans, during the Korean War, the Borinqueneers also included some Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Filipinos, Virgin Islanders and several other nationalities. Interestingly, our nation’s first and only Latino 4-Star Army general, Richard E. Cavazos, a Mexican-American, got his start as a young Borinqueneer officer in Korea. There he earned his first of two Distinguished Service Crosses, our nation’s second-highest honor for individual heroism.


The Borinqueneers are credited with the last battalion-sized bayonet assault in U.S. Army history. In early 1951 while fighting in Korea, two battalions of the 65th fixed bayonets and charged straight up hill toward the enemy, overrunning them and overtaking the enemy’s strategic position. Gen. Douglas MacArthur had high praise for the segregated unit. Also during Korea, the Borinqueneers valiantly defended the rear-guard of the retreating 1st Marine Division in one of the epic military withdrawals of history and were the last ones to board the retreating ships at Hungnam.Another interesting fact is that only one Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded to a Latino-American in the 237-year history of the national award. That was 40 years ago.


Even though this will be a first for many of us, the alliance is asking everyone to immediately contact your one U.S. House of Representatives member and your two U.S. senators to request their co-sponsorship of the bills that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment Borinqueneers.Information on how to identify and quickly and easily contact your Congressional representatives via phone calls or their email web forms is available on the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance website at


BERLIN — The all-Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment — the Borinqueneers — played a key role in defending the front line during the Korean War. And while some of those who put their lives on the line have been recognized with military honors, a national push is being made to honor the regiment with one of the country’s highest distinctions — the Congressional Gold Medal.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:13 AM EDT


“We want to see them get this recognition while they’re still alive,” Carmelo Figueroa, chairman of Elected Legislative Affairs for the Hispanic-American Veterans of CT, Inc. said before he, three Korean War Borinqueneers and two Vietnam vets took to the airwaves Wednesday. “Time is running out.”

In an effort to promote the case to recognize the 65th Regiment that served in Korea, Figueroa —  who joined the Army in 1982 and later had tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan — took part  in a WPRX 1120 AM radio talk show, "Hablando en Serio," hosted by Felix Viera. He was joined by Dolores Nieves, Celestino Cordova and Joe Picard, all members of the regiment in Korea.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also participated in the discussion on “Hablando en Serio,” which translates into English as “Talking Seriously.” Wyman, on air, vowed to support the effort to award the group a Congressional Gold Medal. She said her office would draw up and sign a proclamation in honor of the Borinqueneers this week.

“I will be on board with it,” Wyman said.

For Picard, Cordova and Nieves, the support is greatly appreciated.

“We need all the support we can get,” Picard added.

The Borinqueneers were among the first infantrymen to enter into combat with the enemy during the Korean War. The regiment also staged a major defense which allowed U.S. troops to withdraw from the Chosin Reservoir, fighting under what has been described by the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance as some of the most dangerous conditions.

The 65th Infantry Regiment was one of the last to leave Korea and is responsible for the last battalion-sized bayonet assault in U.S. Army history.

In all, members of the 65th were awarded 2,771 Purple Hearts, 606 Bronze Stars, 256 Silver Stars and 10 Distinguished Service Crosses for their heroics.

“I’m so proud to be here with our heroes,” Wyman said. “These are the people who are allowing our country to be free, so it’s a joy to be here with them.”

Figueroa said he is looking for the state’s political leaders, its veterans and all those in Connecticut to be leaders in garnering these men the recognition they deserve.

“It’s important that we educate the public of Connecticut on these issues,” he added.

Johnny Burnham can be reached at (860) 225-4601, ext. 221, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Connecticut Veterans Legal Center

Connecticut Veterans Legal Center

The mission of Connecticut Veterans Legal Center is to help veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness overcome legal barriers to housing, healthcare and income.


If you are part of the CT National Guard or if you are a past member of the CT National Guard, please consider joining this agency.  To learn more about what they can offer to you please visit them at:

Below is how their Constitution  reads.


The National Guard Association of Connecticut


Of October 1993, as amended in March 1996, March 1997, March 2002, March 2003, March 2004, March 2007, and March 2012


Article I – Name


The name of this Association shall be “The National Guard Association of Connecticut,” herein called the Association.


Article II – Purpose


Section 1. To improve the welfare and efficiency of the National Guard of Connecticut and the National Guard of the United States and to achieve their interests.


Section 2. To promote and support state and national security as provided for under the Constitution of the State of Connecticut and the United States of America.


Section 3. To encouraged increased association, friendship, understanding and cooperation between all members of this Association.


Section 4. To foster improved relations of the Army and Air National Guard of Connecticut with the general public.


Section 5. To initiate and/or support legislation, both state and federal, for the betterment of the National Guard of the state and nation.


Section 6. To obtain benefits for the Guard members as individuals that are similar to those enjoyed by their counterparts in the active federal service.


Section 7. To promote the best interests of the Association and the purpose for which it was formed, it shall have the power to receive and collect membership dues and accept contributions, and may acquire, hold, take gifts, devise or purchase property, either real or personal, and invest its funds therein. It may sell and dispose of such property and create obligations when it is in the best interests of the Association. All income from whatever source derived shall be used exclusively to promote the purpose for which the Association is organized.


Section 8. To be the Connecticut affiliates of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States and the National Guard Association of the United States and to promote the goals and purposes of those organizations.


Article III – Membership


Section 1. Every active, retired or former member of the National Guard, separated under honorable conditions, is eligible for membership in this Association. All persons, having paid their yearly dues before the annual business meeting/conference and life members will be considered as members in good standing and entitled to vote and hold office in the Association.


Article IV – Meetings


Section 1. The Association shall hold its annual business meeting of members for election of Association officers, and the Executive Council, and for the transaction of such business as properly may be brought before it. The Executive Council will set a date for the annual meeting/conference annually during the first quarter of fiscal year.


Section 2. Special meetings of the members can be called by the President or upon written request of one third (1/3) of the members of the Executive Council.


Section 3. Notice of all meetings shall be published at least one month preceding the date of the meeting.


Section 4. A quorum shall exist at the regular annual meeting/conference or any special meeting when five percent (5%) of the membership of the Association is represented.


Article V – Officers


Section 1. The officers of the Association shall be as follows:

  1. President
  2. Vice President – Officer
  3. Vice President – Enlisted
  4. Secretary
  5. Treasurer


Section 2. Term of Office


  1. All Officers shall be elected for a two-year period or until their qualified successor is elected.
    1. Election of Officers shall be held at the annual meeting/conference during even numbered years, commencing at the 1998 annual meeting/conference.
      1. The office of President may be held by either an Officer or Enlisted member of the Association and the one Vice President shall be an Officer and one Vice President shall be an Enlisted member of the Association.
      2. If any elected officer or member of the executive council is unable to complete tenure of their elected term, under the provisions of the NGACT Constitution, an


interim replacement will be appointed by the President and approved by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of remaining members of the Executive Council.


Section 3. There shall be an Executive Council of the Association consisting of the following:


a. The duly elected officers of the Association.

b. Two Retired National Guard Member, officer or enlisted, one Army and one Air.

c. One Officer, one Senior Enlisted and one Junior Enlisted member from the Connecticut Air National Guard.

d. One Officer, one Senior Enlisted and one Junior Enlisted member from the Connecticut Army National Guard.

e. Two At-Large-Members from the Connecticut Army National Guard and two At­-Large-Members from the Connecticut Air National Guard.

f.  Executive Director.

g. Parliamentarian


Section 4. The President shall be the chairman ex-officio of the Executive Council.


Section 5. Election of Executive Council members with the exception of the Executive Director shall be during the annual meeting each year as follows:


  1. During even numbered years, the officers of the Association and four members-at­large will be elected.
  2. During odd numbered years three Army Guard members and three Air Guard members of the ranks specified in subsections 3c and 3d above, and the two Retired members National Guard member will be elected.


Section 6. Members of the Executive Council shall attend all meetings called by the chairman. Failure to attend any two consecutive scheduled meetings without sufficient reason shall be sufficient cause for such person to be removed from office in accordance with Article V, Section 7 of this Constitution.


Section 7. Any member of the Executive Council of the Association may be suspended or removed from office for inefficiency or conduct grossly detrimental to the interests of the Association, or for any grave cause by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the members of the Executive Council.


Section 8. A quorum of the Executive Council shall consist of nine (9) members.


Section 9. Duties and Powers of Elected Officers

  1. The President shall preside at the annual meeting/conference and special meetings of the Association and shall be the chairman ex-officio of the Executive Council. The President shall be a member ex-officio of all committees, be responsible for the location and operations of the Executive Council and have authority to incur such incidental expenses, that do not exceed limits imposed by the Association’s by-laws, that occur between Executive Council meetings.
  2. The Vice President shall perform the duties of the President during the absence or disability of the President and such duties as the President may assign.
  3. The Secretary shall have charge of all the records pertaining to the Association. The Secretary of the Association shall also be ex-officio Secretary of the Executive Council. The Secretary shall notify members of the Association of all meetings at least 30 days prior thereto. The remuneration for services required shall be specified in the by-laws.
  4. The Treasurer shall receive and receipt for and be custodian of all funds of any nature whatsoever due the Association and such contributions as may be made to it and be bonded in the amount not less than the balance of the treasury at the last open meeting. The Treasurer shall draw warrants in payment of all bills and claims against the Association. There shall be an annual audit of the books and finances of the Association and a report thereof submitted to the Executive Council prior to the annual meeting and to the Association at the annual meeting. The treasurer shall make an annual report of the finances of the Association to the annual business meeting. The remuneration for the required services shall be specified in the by­laws.


Section 10. Executive Director Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Furnish staff support and administrative support to the President.
    1. Act as official representative of the Association in dealing with other organizations and/or businesses.
    2. Perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the By-laws or assigned by the President of the Association.
    3. Be a non-voting member of the Executive Board.
      1. The Executive Director shall be appointed by the Executive Council through the competitive process from applications of the Association membership.
      2. The remuneration for required services of the Executive Director shall be specified in the By-laws.


Section 11. Parliamentarian Duties and Responsibilities


  1.  Be a non-voting member of the Executive Board.
  2. Aid and advise the President, Executive Board, committees, members and staff in Parliamentarian Procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order.
  3. Is knowledgeable on the contents of the Association’s By-Laws and Constitution.
  4. Is a source of information on Parliamentary Procedure, but has no authority to make rulings or to enforce them.
  5. Is appointed by the President with consent of 2/3 of the Executive Board.


Article VI – Finance


Section 1. The fiscal year shall be from 1 January each year through 31 December of the same year.


Section 2: Not used.


Section 3. Expenditure of funds must be for either internal operations of the Association or consistent with the purpose, goals, objectives and policies of the Association as set forth in the Constitution and By-laws.


Section 4. All requirements for funds must be submitted in writing with complete justification to the Finance Committee for review and inclusion in each year’s budget except that the President of the Association shall be authorized to expend an amount not to exceed $300.00 per quarter without requiring prior approval of the Finance Committee or Executive Board. Such discretionary expenditures shall be reported to the Treasurer immediately upon being incurred and shall be reviewed not less than quarterly by the Executive Board in order to ensure compliance with the requirements of Subsection 3 above.


Article VII – By-Laws


The Association shall publish and maintain a set of By-laws which shall be adhered to by all members. All meeting will be run in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order.


Article VIII – Omitted


Article IX Amendments


Section 1: This Constitution may be amended by a majority vote of the members present at any regular meeting or at any special meeting called for such purpose by the President of the Association. Prepared amendments of the Constitution must be submitted at least sixty (60) days prior to the date of the meeting to which the proposed amendments are to be considered.


Section 2: The Associations By-Laws may be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Executive Council at a properly convened meeting of the Executive Council. Amendments or changes to the By-Laws shall be reported to the membership at the annual meeting/conference by the President.


History of Connecticut Veterans’ Home

To Learn more about this great organization, please visit:

Connecticut has provided care for Veterans and their dependents for over 140 years. The first home was founded on July 4, 1864, and it was known as FITCH’S HOME FOR SOLDIERS AND THEIR ORPHANS.


Benjamin Fitch founded the first home for Soldiers and Orphans on July 2, 1864

Civil War Soldiers recovered at the CT Soldiers Home

A statue of a Civil War veteran cradling an orphan still stands at the CT Veterans Home entrance

Benjamin Fitch, philanthropist of Darien, established the home for Civil War veterans and for children whose fathers were killed in that war. The complex of buildings included a hospital, chapel, library, residence hall, and administrative facilities.


From 1864 to 1940 the Fitch Home served the needs of hundreds of orphans and thousands of men who served their country in various wars. Over two thousand of those veterans now rest in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Darien.


The Fitch home became the Connecticut State Veterans hospital in 1940 and relocated to Rocky Hill, Connecticut.


The Fitch Home for Soldiers and their Orphans was established by Benjamin Fitch, one of Darien’s more dynamic citizens. Prior to the Civil War, this wealthy bachelor had left Darien for New York only to return several years later as a dry goods magnate and one of America’s first millionaires. At the age of 51 he retired and devoted his life to philanthropy.


Benjamin Fitch, being too old to fight in the Civil War, helped organize a Regiment from this area (124 Darien Residents served in the 28th Regiment, ten died, one at Andersonville Prison). Mr. Fitch promised to care for the families of soldiers in this and other Regiments. This concern led to the establishment of the Fitch Home for Soldiers and their Orphans in 1864. Benjamin Fitch donated the original five acres and $100,000 for the construction of the Home. Shortly thereafter, four two-story buildings were erected on five acres, and the Home was dedicated on July 4, 1864 by the renowned Horace Greeley, Editor of the New York Tribune. Benjamin Fitch’s Home also received the support of General Grant and President Andrew Johnson.


By 1865 the Trustees of the Home decided that Civil War orphans needed the Home more than Civil War soldiers. In time, 80 orphans resided at the Home. A special preference was given to Darien orphans and needy children. On October 7, 1867, the Town voters decided to pay "each child of the Town of Darien in Fitch’s Home one dollar per week…" Benjamin Fitch also opened bank accounts with a deposit of $5 for each orphan residing in the Home. When these Civil War orphans grew up, the Fitch Home was once again used by soldiers. The Home itself was expanded to include a fine brick building intended to serve as a library for over 5,000 books and as an art gallery for the edification of tough, battle-hardened veterans of Shiloh and Gettysburg.


Benjamin Fitch died in 1883 at the age of 81 and is buried in the Fitch vault beneath St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. In his last will and Testament, Fitch left an additional $14,500 to the Home. Following his death, conditions at the Home deteriorated. On January 15, 1887, seventeen voters of the Town petitioned the Selectmen for a meeting to ask the General Assembly for "such legislation as will more fully promote the well-being of the inmates of Fitch’s Home for Soldiers and increase the efficiency of said institution." The petition bore the names of Weed, Hoyt, Mather, Morehouse, Whitney, and others. By 1888, the State assumed responsibility for operating the Fitch Home, and the Soldier’s Hospital Board took over the management of the Home.

In the years to follow, the Fitch Home housed soldiers, sailors, and marines from the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, Mexican War and later World War I. Photographs taken of the Fitch Home at the turn of the century show black veterans residing at the Home long before the military services were themselves integrated.


The Home eventually expanded from 5 acres to 12 acres with another 5 acres across the street and 2 more acres at Spring Grove Cemetery. The Home steadily grew from 197 resident soldiers in 1889 to 500 soldiers in 1905 and 547 veterans in 1910.


Anyone living near the Soldiers Home would hear reveille in the morning and taps in the evening. One would also never forget the drum-beat of the long roll when an old soldier died. Taps would be played as the remains passed through the big gates.


In the 1920’s movies were shown twice a week at the chapel of the Home. These movies had no sound and were usually about wild Indians and cowboys. The movies were for the old soldiers and the neighbors in the area. The Soldiers Home also had the first and always the best radio in the neighborhood.


Many Darien residents recall that between World War I and World War II, the Commandant of the Home gave an address on Memorial Day. Several hundred veterans would march from the Fitch Home down Noroton Avenue to the Spring Grove Cemetery. The soldiers march wearing their Civil War blue uniforms with black hats, or the younger veterans in their Khaki uniforms, rank after rank of them, all very somber and thoughtful. The disabled veterans came in buses. The spirit of Memorial Day was never stronger in Darien. Here were hundreds of veterans marching to pay their respects to fellow veterans. There are over two thousand soldiers buried at Spring Grove Cemetery.


In the Memorial Day Parade the veterans were followed by the American Legion, Ernest F. Sexton Post 51, then by Boy Scouts, the Umberto Society and service clubs such as the Kiwanis Club. Darien’s three volunteer fire departments would bring up the rear along with the Fitch Home ambulance. The Grand Marshal and his guests would review the parade at the Noroton Heights Fire House, then located on Linden Avenue. After the parade an Italian-American Band gave concerts at the Soldiers Home.


During the 1920’s Colonel Henry J. Seeley had the Soldiers Home all spiffed up. The place was painted inside and out, several maple and spruce trees were planted around the grounds and there was plenty of room for the 250 veterans or so who by then lived there. Colonel Seeley was himself a veteran of the Civil War and is said to have run a tight operation.


By 1929 the State Veterans’ Home Commission was responsible for the management of the Fitch Soldiers Home. At that time, there were only 117 veterans in residence. In 1931, the Fitch Home was expanded. The hospital was enlarged and two new dormitories were constructed. This expansion increased accommodations from 375 to 500 veterans in The Home itself and another 250 veterans in the hospital unit. During the Depression in the 1930’s, soldiers flocked to the Fitch Home. In 1932 the number of soldiers in residence had increased to 1,000. Overcrowding was particularly severe during the cold winter months. Even the chapel was used for sleeping quarters with everything being cleaned up for church services. In 1934 the State Veterans Home Commission complained to Governor Wilbur Cross about the crowded conditions.


Even while the Soldiers Home was being expanded, its days were numbered. In October of 1931, the Veterans Home Commission voted to abandon the Fitch Home and seek a site of not less than 150 acres elsewhere in the state.


The Darien Review reported that on January 31, 1935, Civil War veteran Elvie Howe died at Fitch’s Soldiers Home. Elvis Howe was 99 year old. As of 1935, there were still three Civil War veterans living there. The Soldiers Home boasted having a card and smoking room, a pool-billiard room with four tables, a barber shop, laundry, and bakery on the premises. There was also a library of several thousand volumes when there was no public library in Town.


When the Home was closed, residents included one Civil War veteran, one Indian War veteran, 50 veterans of the Spanish War, 10 of the Mexican War and 499 veterans from the Great War (World War I). The Last Commandant at the Fitch Home was Colonel Raymond F. Gates. Major Grover Sweet was chief medical officer who served along with Captain Frank D. Walsh.


The soldiers moved out on August 28, 1940. The last living Civil War veteran at the Home, Edmund Kleespies (97), went down to the train along with William Cassidy (87) who was a veteran of the Indian Wars. It was raining like the dickens and vans brought the soldiers down to the Noroton train station. A special train of 4 coaches and 2 baggage cars took the soldiers to their new home at Rocky Hill.


Foot Note: The above information was copied from an article written by Edmund F. Schmidt.


Since opening in 1940 the current Home has gone through many changes. The original land sold to the state by the Gilbert Family of Rocky Hill consisted of over 150 acres. Currently there are approximately 90 acres left of the original purchase. Over 60 acres was given to the Town of Rocky Hill by the General Assembly for the formation of a park. We have 40 buildings on the campus located at 287 West Street in the Town of Rocky Hill, CT.


We provide general medical care for veterans honorably discharged from the Armed Forces. We have a Health Care Facility with approximately 180 beds that provides extended health care to veterans through physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, Alzheimer unit, and hospice care.


We have a domicile with approximately 483 beds available that provides residents with a continuum of rehabilitation care. Veterans receive substance abuse treatment, educational and vocational rehabilitation, job skills development, self-enhancement workshops, employment assistance and transitional living opportunities.


Aerial view of the new Levitow Veterans Health Center

Sgt John L. Levitow (USAF) Veterans Health Center

Dedicated May 22, 2008


On May 22, 2008 we celebrated the Ribbon Cutting and Dedication of the new Sgt. John L. Levitow Veterans Health Center, a state-of-the-art, long-term healthcare facility and the first new construction on the campus in over sixty years.  We have also replaced the 64 year old water system with a new state-of-the-art water system and we are currently renovating  our domiciles.


EAST HAVEN, Conn. – Soldiers and Airmen from several units throughout the Connecticut and Rhode Island National Guard came together to test their team and individual marksmanship skills during the Connecticut Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Competition at the East Haven Rifle Range here, Aug. 1-3. 

In addition to being a competition with awards presented to top competitors, the event was also a combat focused shooting event which was intended to expose participants to both distant and close-quarter battle with the M16 rifle and M9 pistol, according to Lt. Col. Paul Thompson, state training officer, Connecticut Army National Guard.


The weekend-long match tested the participants’ shooting abilities with both weapons in a variety of scenarios. Depending on the particular event, the competitors were either judged individually or as a part of a 4-member team.


For instance, during one event each competitor was given a short amount of time (15-30 seconds) to draw their pistol from their holster and engage a target approximately 15 meters away. They were then scored according to the number and accuracy of the shots that hit the targets.


In another event, the competitors had to work as a part of a 4-member team, running 300 meters together to the firing line, where they then had to come on line together and engage several targets with their M16 rifles at a distance of approximately 25 meters. During this event, the entire team was graded on their ability to hit the targets.


The purpose of that event was to test the competitors’ abilities to shoot with an elevated heart rate, said Staff Sgt. Larry Davis, an automated logistical specialist, 1109th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group, CTARNG.


Davis, from Voluntown, Connecticut, said that he, like many of the competitors, participated in the competition as an opportunity to better himself and his fellow Soldiers. He also said his desire to participate stemmed from “a competitive drive and the pride involved in the chance to represent his unit.”


“This event is pretty cool because it’s not just a standard weapons qualification,” Davis said. “You get to learn different cool techniques, like shooting from the hip or shooting off-hand, which we can use to improve our shooting, and take that back to our unit,” he said.


“Everybody is having fun,” said Davis. “We’re getting to meet so many really great people,” he said.


This is especially true, Davis added, if we move on to further rounds of the competition.


The top two shooting teams two individual competitors qualified to compete in the Military Advisory Council Region 1 Combat Marksmanship Competition, scheduled to take place at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, Vermont. Sept. 18-21.


The MAC 1 regional competition will pit the Soldiers and Airmen against fellow military competitors from throughout the entire Northeast region of the United States for a chance to compete at the National competition at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Ark. next April.


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Experiencing War - Hispanic in Service

Stories from the Veterans Hispanic Project

Whatever their individual backgrounds before they came to serve their country, the Hispanics in these collections all found opportunities without impediments by donning the uniforms of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Some, like Joseph Medina, came from a family with a rich military background; others, like Eva Jacques or Raymond Ayon, were students enticed with the notion that their country needed them. None expressed that even a hint of prejudice marked their experiences, a remarkable testimony to the democratic ideal of military service.

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Afghanistan:  Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) / Iraq: Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the United States responded by deploying military personnel in Southwest Asia. By January 2002, more than 30,000 active duty were involved and additional reserve personnel continue to be called to duty. 

As a result of Iraq’s refusal to comply with United Nations’ mandates, U.S. began deploying troops to the Gulf region in late 2002.  Coalition forces subsequently won a decisive victory against the forces under the regime of Saddam Hussein, during April 2003, in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  Coalition forces remain in Iraq today as part of ongoing peacekeeping/nation-building activities.  

Currently, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), U.S. troops are on the ground in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and neighboring countries of the former Soviet Union.  

Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)
On September 11, 2001 the United States of America was the victim of a series of suicide bombings. Nineteen  members of a terrorist organization boarded commercial passenger airplanes, hijacked them, and subsequently crashed them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.  Following the attacks, it was discovered that Al-Qaeda, an extremist Islamic militant group, was responsible for these acts of violence. Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist group’s leader, was rumored to be hiding in Afghanistan, where he trained and armed men to perform terrorist acts.  While 15 of the 19 people accused of the hijackings were from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan was chosen as a battle ground because it housed many terrorist training grounds and was a meeting place for terrorists around the world.   

The United States government immediately responded to these acts of terrorism by giving Afghanistan an ultimatum. The Taliban did not comply with the demands of the ultimatum and on October 7, 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was launched.  The stated goals of OEF became ousting the Taliban regime, which was harboring Al-Qaeda, capturing and prosecuting Osama Bin Laden and other leaders of Al-Qaeda, and permanently destroying Al-Qaeda’s organizational capacities.  The first objective, removing the Taliban from governmental power, was easily accomplished by a joint effort of US and British forces.   Also, several top leaders of Al-Qaeda have been found and either prosecuted or killed.  The remaining goals have proved much more difficult because the nature of the warfare has turned to counterinsurgency. Since the Taliban was eradicated, a power vacuum has been created which is being filled by US forces and the International Assistance Security Force (ISAF).  US officials fear that if they leave this power vacuum will be filled with counterinsurgents and Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for terrorists.  The United States remains in Afghanistan, and is likely to remain until a strong central government, capable of enforcing stability, can be established.   

Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Iraq War
The United States, with the aid of Great Britain, launched Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 20, 2003.  Prior to the conflict there was speculation as to whether or not Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  In 2002, The United Nations Security Council, demanded full access from the Iraqi government to ensure that they possessed no weapons of mass destruction.  The United Nations found no verification of weapons of mass destruction when they searched Iraq, but evidence was said to be inconclusive.   

After OIF began, the search for WMD continued, but no such weapons were ever found.  Another justification for Operation Iraqi Freedom was that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al-Qaeda and coordinated the September 11th terrorist attacks with the organization.  No evidence of a connection was ever found between Hussein and Bin Laden or Al-Qaeda.  The last justification for the attack was that the people of Iraq were being oppressed by Hussein, and The United State’s goal was to free these civilians.  Due to the controversial nature of the invasion justification, the Iraq war was protested against in many European countries.

Despite the controversy surrounding the entrance into the war, the initial attack was very successful.  With the help superior weapons, technology, and leadership the U.S. military, with the help of their British allies, quickly and soundly defeated the Iraqi military.  Saddam Hussein and his brothers went into hiding and Hussein was later found, tried, and executed.    

Once the official Iraqi military was defeated, insurgents began fighting U.S. troops who they felt were wrongfully occupying their country. Old religious tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims were ignited and violence continued. Iraq is still unstable and The United States remains in the country for purposes of security and nation building. U.S. officials want to make sure that the new Iraqi government will be capable of retaining stability and that the insurgents will not come into power when troops leave.  Recently there has been improvement in the situation; the Iraqi government is taking increasingly more responsibility for security measures and daily governance.  In 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama laid out a withdrawal plan, which would tentatively have U.S. forces out of the country by the end of 2011.  

Learn more about Unique Health Risks for OEF/OIF.

OEF/OIF Related Resources

U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (link is external) - Information about OEF/OIF.  

Hazardous Exposure (link is external) - Information on chemical, radiation, physical and environmental hazards during military service, possible health-related problems and VA benefits.  

Returning Service Members (OEF/OIF) (link is external)Benefits information for returning services members from OEF/OIF.  

Iraq War Veterans' Illnesses (link is external)Information about health problems associated with military service during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn and related VA benefits. 

Afghanistan War Veterans' Illnesses (link is external)-  Information about health problems associated with military service during Operation Enduring Freedom and related VA benefits. 

Hepatitis C Virus Research and Education (link is external) – Information about Hepatitis C Virus.  

Veterans Health Initiative (link is external)Independent study courses to help health providers care for their Veteran patients. 

National Center for PTSD (link is external) - The Center aims to help U.S. Veterans and others through research, education, and training on trauma and PTSD.  

Women Veterans Health Care (link is external) – Information about and answers to some of the most freq (link is external)


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In the USA, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. Veterans are thanked for their services to the United States on Veterans Day.


Veterans day

Veterans Day honors those who served the United States in all wars, especially veterans.

© Wiberg


Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the American flag is hung at half mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11am. Some schools are closed on Veterans Day, while others do not close, but choose to mark the occasion with special assemblies or other activities.

Veterans Day is officially observed on November 11. However, if it falls on a week day, many communities hold their celebrations on the weekend closest to this date. This is to enable more people to attend and participate in the events. Federal Government offices are closed on November 11. If Veterans Day falls on a Saturday, they are closed on Friday November 10. If Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, they are closed on Monday November 12. State and local governments, schools and non-governmental businesses are not required to close and may decide to remain open or closed. Public transit systems may follow a regular or holiday schedule.


On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory". There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11am.

In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president should "issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States and the American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans". Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.

In 1968 the Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) made an attempt to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. The bill took effect in 1971. However, this caused a lot of confusion as many states disagreed with this decision and continued to hold Veterans Day activities on November 11. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which stated that Veterans Day would again be observed on November 11 from 1978 onwards. Veterans Day is still observed on November 11.


Veterans Day - November 2014

During the month of November we remember those men and women that have served our Country.  As part of such important time, I am please to provide you with a link that showcase all the Hispanic-American Veterans that have given their life for us.

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