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Large Grant Allows Military Support Group To Help Returning Veterans

Posted in: Falmouth News, Front Page Stories
Aug 29, 2008 - 2:04:04 PM
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FALMOUTH- The Falmouth Military Support Group has received a huge boost—$40,000—from local donors to support new programs to help returning veterans.
Carole L. Kenney of Brigantine Drive, Hatchville, head of the support group, said the group hopes to use the money for a scholarship to help returning veterans continue their education. She said that while the government may pass a new GI bill to help with education, “there are always things that aren’t covered.”
The donation was organized by William Zammer Jr. of Mashpee, who owns the Coonamessett Inn and the Flying Bridge restaurant in Falmouth. Wanting to help the military support group, he called his friend, Raymond Tye of Mashpee, owner of United Liquors, and asked him to make a donation.
Mr. Tye donated $20,000 to the cause. Then Mr. Zammer set about trying to match the donation by donating money himself and working with Ms. Kenney to solicit other donations.
Ms. Kenney said Mr. Tye’s donation “brought tears to my eyes when I first heard it. I was totally stunned that someone out there that didn’t know much about our group would hear our story and be so generous.”
Ms. Kenney said she met with the Bourne and Sandwich rotaries yesterday morning and is trying to get the word out about the group’s revised mission. Instead of just sending packages overseas, the group wants to help returning vets.
That help could mean helping returning vets sign up for night school or other education opportunities, helping them connect with possible employers, and helping to make them aware of services that are available to them.
“There is an increasing need to provide services such as career counseling, job placement, educational scholarships, and housing assistance,” she said. “We are witnessing the aftermath of some of our returning veterans who are depressed, overly anxious, suffer sleep disorders, and when they do sleep, suffer nightmares.
“The problem has compounded today with the extended deployments and multiple tours that these young men and women have endured,” Ms. Kenney said. “It is said that experts are speculating that one in three returning service members will suffer from some degree of post traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. Suicide among the military is at its highest level ever.”
Ms. Kenney said that the Cape is fortunate to have a new veterans center in Hyannis that offers counseling among other services, but it is not always easy for veterans to get there.
From parents of veterans she has heard from recently, Ms. Kenney said, she has learned many need help getting together long-range plans and getting short-term help. For some, that help can be as basic as giving them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
“We want to try to get these kids up and moving and steering them in a direction. It’s a very sad thing. In family after family, it’s a very common issue,” she said of returning veterans struggling to reenter society.
“We want to help them get back on their feet,” Ms. Kenney said.
Many of the young men and women who are returning had planned to have a long career in the military but that was cut short due to problems dealing with extended deployments or trauma from things they witnessed. “Now they’re home and they thought their whole life was laid out for them. They had a very proud career and now they are back on Cape Cod with a feeling of emptiness and no skills,” she said.
Besides Mr. Tye, among the other donors to the military support group are the Linda and Bill Zammer Foundation, Todd and Terri Drummey of Falmouth, Val and Bob Zammitto of Mashpee, the Falmouth Walk Committee, Cape Cod Five Cent Savings Bank, Seak Inc., Steven Babitsky, Esq., President; and the family and friends of Capt. Randy Collette celebrating his return from Afghanistan.