Tag Archives: veterans

Bud McAllister: Veteran Volunteer

Bud McAllister “connects the dots.”

by Jon Persson

Bud McAllister volunteers for many things, and back in May of 1968 it was for a tour in the United States Army. The conflict  in Vietnam was at its desperate heights at home and in theater, yet for Bud the experience would ultimately become a cornerstone of his life and work to this day.

In pure Army terms, Bud’s MOS was Communications Specialist, his training in radios, telephones, field telephones; the technology of relaying messages across distances to coordinate the movements of separate groups. After basic training at Fort Dix, he was stationed at Ft. Gordon for his specialist training before being sent to Ft. Lewis in Washington. There he taught communications technology skills to ROTC cadets.

During his deployment to Vietnam in 1969 and ’70, Bud spent time with a communications unit, relaying coded messages intended to limit the ability of all but a few to understand the messages. Bud was not responsible for the encoding process, nor is the technology of communication his calling today.

Indeed, the very notion of Bud McAllister today sending encoded messages for a select few would no doubt amuse those who know him best. Rather, Bud says, “my communication skills, being able to talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime” is the primary skill learned in the Army that he employs today. These skills were acquired incidentally as a result of teaching technology, and working with fellow soldiers in the line of duty.

Much of Bud’s time these days is spent in voluntary service to the cause of building a healthy community. He “meets regularly with more than 25 organizations in southeastern Connecticut” while heading up his own Partners In Healthy Communities organization. His objective is to “connect the dots, bring people together, build community,” Bud says. “There is no ‘I’ in cooperate,” he adds.

Bud is also a volunteer coordinator between area veterans and the Ledge Light Health District. Bud’s role is to connect veterans with the agency, while determining how they are faring healthwise. “There is a high prevalence of heart disease, diabetes,” he reports. “Healthy diet and exercise has a 30-year payoff in lower healthcare costs,” Bud says, adding “this is the whole point of Partners In Healthy Communities.”

Indeed, says Cindy Barry of the Ledge Light Health District, Bud “has been a member of the Achieve New London County Coalition which works to prevent chronic disease by changing policy systems and conditions that affect our health,” She continues, “he has worked to help connect Achieve New London with the risk factors that veterans are reported to have in terms of chronic conditions.” And, he “gives us connections with people that understand the veteran’s population and some of the needs they may have in the community.”

Cindy concludes that “he is very beneficial to have on a coalition because he really helps connect people who need to know other people, and he knows everyone!”

Another of Bud’s volunteer activities is with the Ten Year Plan On Homelessness, a regional plan aimed at ending homelessness by addressing root issues and finding practical and lasting solutions. This is a plan which recognizes the human and financial costs of cycling people through a system without resolving the underlying causes. And, says Bud, “25 percent of the homeless are veterans.”

Bud McAllister can be regularly seen around New London, riding his bicycle or working on his laptop at one of his favorite downtown haunts. He remains persistent in his efforts to build a strong community in New London, which he says “has tremendous assets that ought to be taken advantage of.”

As for all his volunteer work, Bud says “the more I serve the more satisfaction I get from the service.” Given the scale of the projects Bud is addressing, he will have many opportunities to serve and many more openings for connecting with the community.

U.S. Army Vet Glenn Hathaway of Groton Still Serves His Fellow Citizens

U.S. Army Veteran Glenn Hathaway of Groton enjoys his work as an EMT with Groton Hook & Ladder.

by Anna Maria Trusky

One of the most important things U.S. Army veteran Glenn Hathaway of Groton learned when he served his country during the Vietnam era is that “People are people,” he said. “Everyone is basically the same no matter where in the world they live.”

Glenn grew up on Oral School Road and attended Fitch High School. Both his parents worked at the Mystic Oral School. At 16, Glenn started working as an EMT with Groton Hook and Ladder back when it was a small firehouse on Gravel Street in Mystic. When he wasn’t responding to emergency calls—work he loved—Glenn enjoyed tooling around town in his flashy first car, a Pontiac GTO. However, when Glenn turned 18, he left the things he loved and joined the U.S. Army so he could serve his country.

The year was 1965, and the conflict in Vietnam was heating up. Glenn went through eight-week basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he was trained as a heavy duty machinist. From there he spent almost a year at Fort Riley, Kansas. “While I was there, they changed my MOS—military occupational specialty—to heavy vehicle operator. I learned to operate bulldozers, trucks, every kind of big vehicle there was.” Then came the inevitable orders to ship out to Southeast Asia.

“My platoon shipped out to Pleiku, in the central highlands of Vietnam,” Glenn recalled. Their home base was Camp Halloway, but being in transportation, Glenn and his nine platoon mates drove all over the country. A lot of their work involved moving troops and supplies inland from Cam Ranh Bay. “Cam Rahn Bay was actually a very beautiful place,” he recalled.

Glenn Hathaway as a young U.S. Army Heavy Vehicle Operator at Camp Halloway, Pleiku, Vietnam, 1966.

While many of his days were filled with the camaraderie of good friends, there were, of course, difficult times, too. “I was fortunate because I only saw action a couple of times, when our base was hit twice from ground and mortar attacks. We lost two men in those attacks,” Glenn said somberly. “One of the hardest things was unloading the helicopters containing the bodies of dead soldiers.”

Glenn returned to the States in 1967, where he finished out his service at Ft. Lewis, Washington, and came out as a Specialist 5. Then he returned to the Groton area, where he worked for SONOCO, a paper mill, and then drove a truck for Barnes Moving and Storage. He married twice and has a daughter, Beth, as well as three stepchildren he raised with his second wife.

It was Glenn’s niece who, about 15 years ago, got him back into the lifesaving EMT work he’d enjoyed as a teenager. “One day she said to me, ‘Uncle, I want to be an EMT but I’m afraid of needles.’ I told her that sometimes you just have to face your fears. She came back to me and said she’d signed up for an EMT class. I said I was proud of her. She said, ‘I’m proud of you, too—because I signed you up to take the class with me!’ I said I was afraid I was too old and she said, ‘Well, Uncle, sometimes you just have to face your fears!’

“I love this work and will keep doing it as long as I can,” Glenn said with a smile.

Glenn, we salute you and all those other brave Americans who face their fears to serve their countries in dangerous, faraway places. Thank you for your service!

Horses Healing Humans Helps Vets on the Path to Recovery

 story and photo
by Anna Maria Trusky

After Lee Paradis of North Stonington suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 2009 car accident, she found that her three-decade career as a dental hygienist and periodontal assistant was over. Vestibular and cognitive challenges made it hard to perform normal, everyday tasks and carpal-tunnel impairments severely restricted the use of her hands.

A lifelong horsewoman, Lee felt it would be beneficial to spend time volunteering at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc., in Old Lyme—a move that dramatically changed the outcome of her recovery and her life. Today Lee and a team of therapists, instructors, and horses help bring healing to others recovering from injuries and trauma—including U.S. Armed Forces veterans.

Lee Paradis of North Stonington, Director of Horses Healing Humans, in the indoor ring at Starboard Stables in Stonington with Lenny Macaione, a vet from Westerly, and Wookie, a resident therapy horse.

Lee recalls that she was so impressed with the healing effects of therapeutic riding that she decided to stay at High Hopes, complete a course in therapeutic rider instruction through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International, and establish a new therapeutic program, Horses Healing Humans, Inc. Its mission is “to help heal people with physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges through Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy conducted by caring, credentialed professionals, protecting both the physical and emotional safety of all clients.”

Lee first ran Horses Healing Humans, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, at a stable in Voluntown; however, the program quickly outgrew the space. So Lee sublet a larger space at Starboard Stables in Stonington and reopened the program last July 1. All volunteers, Lee and the rest of her staff care for the facility and the horses, which belong to Starboard Stables. Like High Hopes, Horses Healing Humans is a member of PATH International.

“We have licensed mental-health professionals on staff, as well as equine specialists in mental health. That way, there is always someone has to look out for the human and someone to look out for the horse,” she explained. “Most of the vets who come into the program are self-referred or hear about the program through friends. They are also referred by physicians, physical therapists, and mental health professionals.

“A lot of the service people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), depression, and anxiety. Working with horses is very helpful. We use exercises designed to create a metaphor for what is going on in the person’s life. How they react to a particular exercise tells us what is going on with them. Horses are very sensitive to emotional energy. If a vet is anxious, the horse will become anxious, too.” Lee explained.

In addition to performing unmounted exercises with the horses, vets are invited to help perform horse care (which helps with self-care and relationships with others), and carry out other relaxing, yet productive, activities outdoors.

On one recent day, Lenny Macaione, a Korean War-era vet from Westerly, was in the indoor ring being helped by Lee and Lise Mayers, LICSW, along with Wookie, a beautiful brown-and-white paint. They instructed Lenny in how to guide the horse to walk around in larger and larger circles. The exercise was designed to help Lenny gain confidence. A former Third-Infantry artillery gunner, Lenny’s smiles spoke volumes about how he responded to the exercise.

Lee is hoping mental health programs in the area will see how valuable this work is and refer more of their clients to Horses Healing Humans, which also has programs for people with autism and women who have been abused. “There are so many vets coming home with a need, and we are working to address that need,” she said. “We are hoping to get grants and funding to help support our vets program.”

Horses Healing Humans, Therapeutic Horsemanship in Coastal Connecticut, is located at Starboard Stables, 340 New London Turnpike (Route 184), Stonington. For more information, contact Lee Paradis, Director, at 860.460.4107, or leeparadis@gmail.com, or go to www.paradistherapeuticriding.com. To volunteer, contact Kathryn Vine, Volunteer Coordinator, at 860.381.0755, or hhhtrkv@gmail.com.

Valenti Backs Work Vessels for Vets

John Niekrash, founder, Work Vessels for Vets, and John Devine, sales manager, Valenti Volkswagon, present Max Monger with the keys to his new Honda Accord, compliments of Work Vessels for Veterans.

by Alexis Ann

On a sunny October afternoon, Max Monger of Saybrook, a veteran and single dad, drove away in his new 1999 Honda Accord compliments of Work Vessels for Vets (WVFV) with his three children.  The car was purchased at Valenti Family Dealerships and the “spiffing up” was performed by Valenti gratis.  Max spent 11 years in the Army serving in the 4th Infantry 166th Armor Division.  Serving in the mid-east from 1999 – 2009 as a tanker, Max also served in West Africa and Liberia.

WVFV is an all-volunteer movement assisting returning veterans to begin their civilian careers or educational pursuits by acquiring and distributing the necessary start-up tools. Founded by John Niekrash, Noank with the gift of his fishing boat that began a commercial fishing career for a returning Iraq veteran, the foundation is expanding its outreach to other industries to assist our returning military.

“Our model is unique and based on a sustainable, “pay-it-forward” dynamic. We support veteran entrepreneurs so they can establish businesses that thrive, so they can then hire more veterans creating quality jobs and career opportunities, “ states John.  Once the new business is profitable, WVFV becomes a beneficiary through contributions back into the organization including “gifts in kind.”

Dear Neighbor of Southeastern Connecticut and Southern Rhode Island…

Captain Marc W. Denno, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine Base, New London.

Every day, in the shadow of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, hundreds of local residents and visitors pass by an imposing conning tower and the polished granite wall of honor that encompass the Submarine Veterans of World War II Memorial East.

And whether by design or by impulse, many stop – drawn by these compelling visible reminders that the liberty and prosperity our Nation enjoys have been purchased… purchased by the sacrifice and service of 48 million men and women, who since our Nation’s founding, have donned the uniform and proudly stepped forward to defend our freedoms.

On Veterans Day, across our great land, Americans gather in public events or in private prayer to recognize these valiant men and women of our Armed Forces.

Ever since the first Veteran’s Day, originally “Armistice Day,” was established in 1919, Americans have paused to salute the service and remember the sacrifice of the men and women who have kept us free.
And many of those who gather can count themselves among our Nation’s more than 21 million living veterans.

Veterans past and present who have worn the cloth of our great Nation and contributed so much to guarding and maintaining the liberties we cherish.

President John F. Kennedy once said “in the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in the hour of its maximum danger…”

September 11, 2001 rung in that hour for the generation of active duty military members serving today.
We have been “granted the role of defending freedom.”

We view that critical mission as a sacred privilege and we follow in a long line of those that met and mastered that “maximum danger.”

I have the honor and pleasure of serving with some of these young men and women as I lead Naval Submarine Base New London.

These young service members support and crew the fifteen attack submarines stationed there.

They remind me everyday that the true strength of our Navy and our Nation does not lie in any aircraft, ship, submarine, sensor, or weapon.

The true strength of our great Nation and Navy lies in its men and women – America’s finest!

They follow an extraordinary legacy of honor, courage, and commitment; a legacy fashioned and forged by selfless service and sacrifice; a legacy passed onto them by the veterans they follow.

In the early days of the Second World War, Gen. George C. Marshall was asked if America had a secret weapon to win the conflict.

He replied that we did have such a weapon — he called it “the best darn kids in the world.”

I can assure you that the “best darn kids” still wear this Nation’s uniform!

I, for one, could not be prouder to serve with them and I thank you for all that you do to support them.

So this Veterans Day, I ask you to join me in saluting all those who wear or have worn the cloth of this great Nation.

I feel fortunate to enjoy the peace, liberty, and security that they have provided my family, my community, and my Nation.

 

 

Thank you,

Marc W. Denno
Captain, U.S. Navy
Commanding Officer
Naval Submarine base, New London

Onetime Navy Tech Glenn Dean Is At Home With Modern Appliances

by Alexis Ann and John Stratton

Just in your mind, take a look around your house. There’s a lot surrounding you that you take for granted, that your mind skips over as commonplace, all those shiny “servants” waiting at the ready for your wishes. Yes, all those many tasks that you now have done for you by machines, clever devices that we call “appliances.”

Presiding over this recent domestic revolution are inventors, manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and…the service technicians who keep the systems operating.

When Glenn Dean, a 17-year old from Pittsburgh, signed on for Navy submarine duty in 1968, he did not know that in a scant four decades he’d be president of Coogan-Gildersleeve Appliances, a prosperous and respected appliance retail outlet, with many hundreds of trusting customers and some 30 lines of devices to make life at home comfortable, safe, and attractive.  But that’s what happened.

Glenn volunteered for the Silent Service back in ’68. He soon received training as an interior communications technician, duty which included—for clearly Navy reasons— maintaining the washers and dryers aboard submarines, in addition to tuning up the  host of ultra-high-tech instruments which tell sailors where the boat’s headed and how it’s running.

Of course, everyone on board has to know many other jobs, but Glenn was a bit prepared for the washer-dryer duty because his uncle Al had been an appliance repairman and installer for the landmark Gimbels department store in Pittsburgh. Al had taken Glenn under his wing for several years after Glenn’s father passed away, and taught young Glenn some hands-on technology in the field.

So, here at the Base in Groton—when Glenn was busy acclimating himself to his brand-new submarine, USS Bergall, SSN-667, an EB-built Sturgeon-class boat launched in 1968 that was noted more for speed than roominess—he was learning a lot about complex instrumentation as well as washer-dryers. But learn he did, and received his silver dolphins as a member of the pre-commissioning and commissioning team. The vessel was at sea during much of the cold war, with antisubmarine stealth missions demanding the full measure of the ship’s motto: “Invisible, Invulnerable, Invincible.” Tough and interesting duty, recalls Glenn.

When Glenn completed his years of service in the Navy, he had some familiarity with life in southeastern Connecticut. He was ready to settle down to life on the surface around here, leaving behind a lot of his life in Pittsburgh—except for remaining a staunch Steelers fan!
After a stint at Stanley Works, in 1976 he signed on with Ed Coogan and Andy Gildersleeve at their appliance division on Route 1 in Mystic; he was their first serviceman, handling four product lines. He plunged into that opportunity too, taking many night-school classes, refrigeration courses at Norwich Tech, and personnel-management programs at Thames Valley.  Early on, his shoreside life included acquaintance with young C.J. Lewis of Mystic, who he married back then. They have two children, Stacey and Katie.

The dedicated work over the years added up to a big positive. When original owners Ed and Andy retired years ago, Glenn became the Coogan-Gildersleeve president. He’s remained true to their business traditions of sound business practice, superior service, good people, and thorough product knowledge. From the four brands that he started with 37 years ago, he and five service technicians now handle more than 30 products from their home base on Greenmanville Avenue, Route 27, in Mystic. And, as you might imagine, he’s Vet-friendly when it comes to hiring and sales.  He’s been there.

Though products change, says Glenn, one key principle stands out:  “It’s our commitment to helping our community and doing a good job for our customers.”

Go Navy!

USS Toledo Returns From Deployment

by Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg

With cheers from family and friends rocking the piers in New London, the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN 769) returned home to the Naval Submarine Base on October 12, following a nearly seven-month deployment.

When the ship left March 23, USS Toledo deployed to the European Command Area of Responsibility to supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.

“Your crew demonstrated outstanding determination, agility, and resiliency. Furthermore, Toledo‘s unflinching ability to respond to emergent tasking was the true test of a well-prepared high-performance warship, you set the example for the fleet,” said Vice Adm. Michael Connor, commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic in a naval message praising USS Toledo for its achievements. “A grateful nation is thankful for the sacrifices made by the crew and families of Toledo.”

Cmdr. Sam Geiger, the submarine’s commanding officer, reflected on successfully returning one day prior to the Navy’s 237th birthday.

“Returning a day prior to the Navy’s birthday is a wonderful way to celebrate and recognize the Navy’s sustained commitment to our nation’s defense,” said Geiger. “Naval Submarine Base New London is filled with fellow submariners who all understand and have accomplished real-world operations like we did aboard USS Toledo. I could not be prouder of my sailors’ performance.”

Geiger also added that while deployed his sailors performed superbly. “The crew performed as I expected them to, superbly. All submariners learn early on to rely on each other and my sailors did just that every day,” said Geiger, who was looking forward to his crew having some well-deserved time off. “We have been home for a total of five days in the past eight months—and nothing is like being home.”

Family members have looked forward to the return.

“We are all so happy to have our sailors on the USS Toledo home safe. While they were far from our arms during this deployment they were never far from our hearts and our prayers. We are very proud of the entire crew on the job that they have done and will continue to do for our country,” said Priscilla Picerno, ombudsman for the vessel.

Some sailors were selected to be first in line to greet their family members. Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Daryl Escano greeted his five-year old son, Daniel; while Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class (SS) Matthew Anderson greeted his fiancee, Hallie Kay.

“He just turned five and doesn’t realize how special his task was,” said Sharon Escano. “When I found out that my son was selected I was overjoyed for him to have this unique opportunity to greet his father.”

During the deployment a total of five babies were born. Two recent arrivals will greet their fathers for the first time. Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SS) Daniel Edwards greeted his son Jaxson, and Chief Machinist’s Mate (SS) Robert Ekwall greeted his son Keegan.

USS Toledo, commissioned Feb. 24, 1995, is the second U.S. warship named for the people of the northwestern Ohio city. The first was a Baltimore-class heavy cruiser. Submarine Toledo has a complement of 139 officers and enlisted crew.

For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit: www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.

For more photos, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/comsubgru2/sets/72157631753897712/.