As reported last Thursday from CBS 2 New York, thousands of Long Island veterans whose lives were upended by the pandemic will soon be getting free winter necessities. Other vets are already on the receiving end of holiday meals.
Navy veteran Steve Rose is on a mission. He and his Vet2Vet team of volunteers surprised 82-year-old veteran Victor Marchel of Levittown with a Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings. "I'm humbled by it, because there's many, many more out there that need help, too," said a teary-eyed Marchel. It's a pandemic pilgrimage; veterans determine who among them is in need and lend an ear, pay a visit and donate meals. "This is a rough period... and the holidays, I know, for a lot of vets, alone time. So, I'll be calling to make sure everyone's OK," said Rose.
Marchel's wife Frances said they depend on this. "Particularly now, we are in COVID. We've been alone most of the time," she said. "Many of our county's veterans are older. They are in that vulnerable population," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
Nassau's veteran service agency will not cancel the 32nd Annual Winter Stand Down for Veterans. However, it is being moved outside the Freeport Armory. The event on Nov. 24 is open to all 56,000 veterans in Nassau County and their families. "To prepare for this Stand Down is a great opportunity for all of my fellow vets to pick up blankets and clothes and boots and jackets," said Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy. "We’ll be donating, along with my other partner agencies, about 400 brand new winter coats," said Rev. Danilo Archbold.
"Who can understand a veteran more than a veteran? So, it makes me feel great doing this," said John Damato, who brought a home delivery care package to a fellow Army vet.
"I am a disabled veteran and I don’t get around as much," said Dawud Addul Ali.
Buoyed by conversation and caring, Ali is taking home a new outlook this Thanksgiving.