Dear Veterans: Thank You For Your Service

From an event honoring local champion of veterans Gus Scutari in 2016

In honor of Veterans Day 2023 we offer a collection of current resources and indelibly moving stories. Thank you to all who served. 

To All Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home. May we be mindful of your and your families’ sacrifice, and the trust you put in our hands. May we ever endeavor as individuals and as a people to be worthy of it.

I strongly believe this day is not for love of country but rather gratitude for the steadfastly loyal, strong and courageous. It is a day to honor and appreciate those who will fight for their people no matter how foolish we may be.

May we only call on them with great wisdom and care. They know the sacrifice and make it willingly. Just please don’t ever let it be in vain or underestimate what they (and all who love them) have given.

Knowing there are so many willing to give their lives for our liberty is extraordinary and humbling. No words can adequately describe it so…thanks.

Veterans Resource Fair, Weds 11/15 at the Northport-East Northport Public Library

Libraries are awesome. The Northport-East Northport Library hosting a Veterans Resource Fair 11/5, where you can find human services, find a job, maybe even get a dog:

They’re doing it next week. You don’t have to register. Just go.

Libraries know how to assemble and host places you can just walk in and find good stuff.

For this, they’ve involved:  

Suffolk County Department of Labor representatives will be in attendance, along with employers, to showcase resources and job opportunities for Veteran job seekers, including:

  • UPS
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Scope Education Services
  • New York Community Bank
  • ACLD
  • Premier Home Health Care Services
  • Suffolk Police Department
  • SeniorCare Companions
  • United Veterans Beacon House
This is an amazing resource! The NEPL does so many great things for veterans, and everyone. If you go down, ask them about the “Ink Stories:Symbols of Service” exhibition. We were thrilled to get to host it last year at the Firefly. I wonder where it is now?
Images of Ink Stories: Symbols of Service on loan from the Northport-East Northport Public Library to The Firefly Artists.
Images from a 2022 exhibiition of "Ink Stories" at The Firefly Artists, thanks to the Northport East Northport Public Library

A Veteran Who Serves Veterans, Veterans Day Deals

One of my favorite veterans is a Gulf War II Navy photographer named Carrie-Anne Gonzalez. She is now a fine portrait artist who teaches at SUNY Farmingdale. A born mentor and guide, Carrie has done more to help fellow veterans navigate the system and otherwise act as an ardent and successful advocate than I can fathom. Recently, she made her childhood sweetheart the happiest man in the world by finally becoming his queen. He’s been gushing for months now. They are truly the coolest, cutest couple ever.

Best wishes to them always.

Here’s resources for Veterans Day deals that Carrie wants you to know about.

Grateful to all who Step Up to Serve Those who Served

Here’s a list of Veterans Day 2022 free meals, discounts and offers from

and a more locally focused collection of Veterans Day 2022 Free Meals, Discounts and Offers from

Here are Events from local American Legions and others from the Suffolk Times

We’ve got more information on just a few very special local groups below…

A photo of a flag with a journal, camera, photos, and other memorabilia
Photo by Benigno Hoyuela on Unsplash

Veterans Testimonial Project

Another very special project is ongoing at the Half Hollow Hills Library. The “Veterans Testimonial Project” invites U.S. veterans from any conflict, to share their experiences and stories, which are recorded and added to the library’s collection. You may witness these testimonials and apply to participate on their website.

In addition to important stories, the library has a collected list there of valuable resources to serve those who serve.

Thank You to all who Share Their Stories and Help us Understand. Thank You to all who Listen.

Years ago now, I was grateful to witness veterans of VFW Post 1469 sharing their stories with students of Cold Spring Harbor High School. They did not talk down to these kids, but instead engaged them in frank, and profound conversation, sharing a wealth of information about their experiences.

Thank you to all who host and participate and listen at events like these. It’s really important.

Two lessons have stuck with me:
1. Regardless of the validity of our concerns with the bigger picture, it is wrong — very very wrong — to spit on veterans, call them baby killers, and otherwise assume ill of them. It helps nothing and hurts a lot.
2. While despots rise and fall, there is enduring glory in being one who gets to be a force for liberation and kindness. Something as simple as a piece of chocolate can transform a “mere” service person into a shining hero and beacon of hope that is never forgotten. Sometimes, even, a miracle of fate 40 years later lets that veteran know this happened.
My experience is that these folks are generally not the type to ask for much. They did request that people offer simple, sincere gratitude to the service folk they encounter.
When pressed for what they thought people could do to support those who give so much to serve US, the one thing they asked for was healthcare. Prompt, accessible, access to healthcare. I doubt this request has changed, though I suspect housing has grown as a concern. Personally, I think that’s the least we can do.

Here are a few other stories of veterans, their lives and reflections that have indelibly moved me….

Photo of the USA Patriots with Joe Bartumioli. Photo Credit: Steve Caputo
Photo of the USA Patriots with Joe Bartumioli. Photo Credit: Steve Caputo

Heroes Take the Field: USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team

We got to highlight these guys in 2022. When asked what the USA Patriots: America’s Amputee Softball Team really means to him; what he’d really like the world to know, this is what Joe tells me:

“The whole point of this is to illustrate that, despite whatever life may throw, every day is a new day. The best thing we can ever do is to embrace our new normal and cultivate an attitude that recognizes that the limits we have are self-imposed.

This is what these guys teach me every day — That the life we live is limitless.

We invite you to make the most of it, and take great pride in showing you how it’s done. It’s amazing what happens when we do.”

Read More Here
Photo of Kevin McNeil
Veteran and Volunteer Kevin McNeil

A Day in the Life: Veteran Kevin McNeil

I first met Kevin in 2021 when he was determined to see his dear friend Deborah’s art exhibition. I am grateful he has let me share his story: 

Kevin’s a big Irish guy with an open face who looks like he could be a bouncer if not for the walker. Quickly realizing he was a veteran, I thanked him for his service and asked if he minded sharing where that had been. He explained that he served in the army for 8 years during the 80’s as a paratrooper in places like Grenada and Kosovo. More recently, he’d spent 12 working for the Veterans Administration until the impact of all those jumps began to catch up with him and he went from working at the VA to being a regular patient. He told me he wished they would start taking volunteers again because he really appreciates all they do for him and wants to keep paying it forward…that there are so many things he is losing the ability to do, but that he always finds ways to be helpful.

When we sat down to talk about stuff, the first thing he wanted me to share was about how important Island Harvest, one of Long Island’s major food banks, is. He told about how he volunteered there most days helping to pack the 600-700 boxes of meals per day that they distribute to the elderly and others who can really use a hand.

He has also been known to volunteer at the Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center.

“I work with the strays, helping to socialize them.” 

Once you get to know Kevin for half a second, it’s not hard to picture this gentle giant transforming feral cats with hard knock lives into something a little softer and more trusting.

We are especially grateful for his introducing us to The Rough Riders of LI Sled Hockey

Read Kevin’s Story Here
Photo of WWII Veteran at a local VFW event
Americanism Champion Costantino "Gus" Scutari the first time I think I may have ever laid eyes on him.

Gus Scutari: Syosset's Humble Champion of Americanism

Gus Scutari has been gone for a few years now, but I doubt he’ll ever be forgotten. In 2018, I was privileged to write a story with him. I continue to read it at least a few times a year. Each time I learn something new. 

Click here to read about some of Gus’ experiences and reflections…

Gus was known lovingly as “Mr. Memorial Day,” and “The Americanism Chairman of Nassau County.” A WWII Veteran, he survived a kamikaze attack in the Pacific Ocean. A passionate parade organizer and booster of his country, Gus’ service to veterans and all earned his name on both his VFW Post and the road where he annually gathered the Syosset community to honor our fallen soldiers. I’m grateful that I got to call him friend.

Gus dedicated his life to serving veterans from all wars. He was also exceptionally passionate about the Scouts and doing whatever he could to encourage all of us to be the best citizens we can be. He had a sharp wit, and was a lot of fun. Togther, he and his wife, Fran, were delightful.

In all, Gus was an ardent booster of making his nation great by
encouraging us all to pay attention, to think about things, and to be
the best that we can be. While he had a lot to say about a lot of things, an overwhelming theme seemed to be a determination to remind us all us that our Nation is designed to be what We, the people, will make of it.

As such, we’d better make it good.

It’s good advice. Thanks, Gus.

We miss you.

Thank You to Those who Serve Those who Served. Here are Just a Few...

General Needs Logo

General Needs is on a Mission

It all started with a guy named Lonnie Sherman who realized vets need socks. He proceeded to fill his car with them, and to ask everyone who’d listen to help. Soon he’d filled every space he had available with donations. 

Since then, things have just kept growing! For over 14 years now, General Needs has helped homeless and other veterans in need to live lives of dignity by providing new, basic essentials. 

Have you seen what Lonnie and the good folks who work with him have been up to lately? So much. The General Needs 1342 Mission now annually travels from Maine to DC, donating 1342 (22 x 61) pairs of boots and 8,030 (22 x 365) pairs of socks to serve veterans and draw our solemn attention to the 22 veterans who, on average, take their own lives each day.

Help him, will you?

Visit the General Needs Facebook Page for all sorts of information. Check out this article from

Photo of Service Dog Puppy sitting in the grass

Puppies with Purpose: American Guide Dog Foundation and America's Vet Dogs...

If you’re looking for something hopeful and heartwarming — who isn’t? — the newsletter, event pages and other materials of the The Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs are wonderful, filled with inspiring stories about the extraordinary impact these amazing creatures have. You can also check out their Puppy With a Purpose® program. Their collaboration with the NHL, MLB, and other sport organizations to raise awareness about their mission has made America’s VetDogs one of the most recognizable names in the service animal community.