By Lindsay Carey
The Summit at Plantsville recently recognized its veterans for their service with a wall of honor. The Summit honored its residents along with Vitas Innovative Hospice Care.
More than 30 veterans were honored during last week’s ceremony.
Town Manager Garry Brumback gave a brief thank you to show his appreciation for the veterans’ service as did Lisa Balducci, director of nurses at Summit.
A letter from Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy was read to pay homage to the veterans.
“The veterans being honored here today have been a part of the greatest military in the history of the world and their lives and memories bring honor to the United States of America,” the letter read. “While it is not sufficient let me simply say the one thing we should tell and say to our veterans every single day, ‘thank you’”.
Letters of recognition also came from Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Congresswoman Elizabeth Etsy before the unveiling of the wall, which featured pictures of the veterans.
Director of Therapeutic Recreation Barbara Blau, who organized the entire event, said she was speechless by the turnout.
“This was the most amazing experience of my life,” said Blau. “To watch the veterans, who normally don’t want to be involved in anything, look forward to this is just amazing.”
Veteran liason Wayne Rioux, from Vitas Innovative Hospice Care, said that between the veterans, their families, staff and local officials there were about 250 people in attendance.
“We’re saying thank you to the families too, who gave us such a wonderful veteran,” Rioux. “I saw some families leaving here today swelling with pride.”
Rioux served in the Army as a military policeman and went on to a career as a state policeman in Connecticut for 27 years, retiring as a lieutenant almost a decade ago.
In his current position, he speaks with veterans about their service and informs them of benefits, which they may be entitled to. Some of these benefits include war time service medals, how to retrieve lost medals, and he also helps their families when it comes time for burial.
“I get to help their families in the end when it matters most,” said Rioux.
Some veterans are entitled to be buried in a military cemetery, have a military burial service or receive foot stones free of charge. These are benefits many older veterans may have forgotten or are unaware of.
Rioux also helps veterans congregate together in nursing homes, because many times they don’t realize there are other veterans within their community. He conducts monthly coffee hours at homes like The Summit at Plantsville and sometimes brings his certified therapy dog, a golden retriever named Chief.
The veterans themselves were also pleased with the opportunity to celebrate with their fellow veterans.
Dana Brown, who served from 1970 to 1972, felt at home amongst his fellow veterans at Summit. Sporting camouflage and a beaded necklace representing his journey in the military, Brown said he felt a great sense of pride for being honored during the ceremony.
Veteran Albert L. Ferreri was drafted in 1963 and served until 1965 in the army. Stationed in Fort Jay in Governors Island, NY, Ferreri said that though he did not go into combat, everyone served in some capacity.
“We’re all loyal people, we served our country proudly,” said Ferreri. “I would serve again.”