Photo: Rotarians and General needs staff distributing boots, socks and winter coats to veterans.
Veterans are not shown due to privacy concerns.
Four New Jersey Rotary Clubs together with General Needs, Inc. delivered needed winter clothing to 205 veterans living at Lyons VA Hospital and nearby Valley Brook Village on Saturday, December 3, 2022.This coalition does a distribution almost every month.
It is estimated that 22 Veterans commit suicide every day. Many veterans are suffering from PTSD, alcoholism, or drug addiction,
and some end up homeless. Military veterans put their lives and health on the line to protect our freedom. Rotarians feel that it is our responsibility to help them live a decent life, with respect.
Lyons VA Hospital in Bernard’s Township, NJ accepts homeless veterans. Lyons gives them a bed and meals and some clothing, but not everything they need. The VA system tries to clean them up, provide counselling, provide career advice, and encourage them to become a productive members of society again. The veterans stay at the hospital a few months, until they are stable, then they are moved to a more permanent facility, such as Valley Brook. Currently 45 homeless veterans are living at Lyons VA Hospital, and 160 veterans are living at Valley Brook Village, which is immediately next door. Both facilities were built and are administered by the Federal Veterans Administration.
The four Rotary Clubs contributing are: The Rotary Clubs of Hillsborough, Morristown, Somerset Hills, and Westfield.
The Rotarians who volunteered are: from The Rotary Club of Westfield: Burim Regjaj; Dio Regjaj; Mary Ellen O’Boyle; President Tony LaPorta; and Secretary Dr. Michael Hart. From the Rotary club of Morristown: Ray Wenzel; Paul Nelson; and Bill Weiss. From the Rotary Club of Hillsborough: Rich Salem and Jim Machut. From The Rotary Club of Somerset Hills: Lauren Carpenter. The staff from General Needs attending are Lonnie Sherman (who is also a Rotarian); his wife Susan Sherman; and Greg Goldstein.
General Needs is an organization dedicated to supporting veterans to help prevent suicides. Website The Rotary clubs raise funds to supplement the items being provided by General needs. For example, on Dec 3rd, General Needs donated boots to all 205 veterans in both facilities; the Rotary clubs provided additional funds to purchase socks, winter coats; hats, gloves and scarves.
Story by Dr. Michael Hart, Rotary Club of Westfield