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General Dynamics hosts Charity Golf Tournament in support of Soldier On

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems
proudly hosts

the 3rd Annual Charity Golf Tournament
in support of

Soldier On

September 13

Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club
Lenox, MA

Flights at 7:30 AM and 1:00 PM

If you’ve already registered and just want to make a payment, send a check made out to “Soldier On” to:

Attn: Justin Scaduto
100 Plastis Avenue
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Or you can pay via PayPal.


[gravityform id=”1″ name=”Golf Tournament Registration” ajax=”true”]


Soldier On receives $12,757,000 in SSVF grants

Soldier On, an organization that is dedicated to serving homeless veterans, was awarded $12,757,000 in Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grants last week to serve veterans in 36 counties in eastern upstate and central New York, 36 counties in central New Jersey, 23 counties in western Pennsylvania, 5 counties in western Massachusetts and over 70 counties in Mississippi. Since Soldier On was awarded their first SSVF grant in October 2011, the organization has served 2,245 homeless and at-risk veterans, spouses and children throughout New York and New Jersey.

The grants, which will be operational starting October 2013, give Soldier On the funding to serve approximately 3,500 participant households throughout these five states.

These awards are among nearly $300 million Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grants targeted to provide housing stability for approximately 120,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. The grants, going to 319 community agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, were announced today by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

“With these grants, we are strengthening our partnership with community non-profits across the country to provide Veterans and their families with hope, a home, and a future,” said Shinseki. “The work of Supportive Services for Veteran Families program grantees has already helped us prevent and end homelessness among tens of thousands of homeless Veterans and their families, but as long as a single Veteran lives on our streets, we have work to do.”

“We are very grateful to the VA for creating a program that identifies underserved veterans and allows us to respond immediately to the crises in their lives,” said Soldier On President and CEO John Downing. “The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program allows us to intervene and stabilize veterans and their family members in the living situation that they are now in so that they don’t have to face the difficulties of homelessness.”

The SSVF funds enable the grantees to provide supportive services for veterans including outreach in the community and with their local V.A., case management services, assistance with obtaining V.A. benefits and other services. This includes help in obtaining health care services, financial planning services, transportation, fiduciary and payee services, legal services and housing counseling. The grant may also provide temporary financial assistance for rent, security and utility deposits, utility fees, moving costs, child care, emergency supplies and transportation.

Veterans seeking to enroll in the program should call Soldier On at 1-866-406-8449.

For further information regarding the SSVF program, go to


Fundraiser set in Lee this weekend in honor of Edward S. Passetto

LEE — A local nursery has planned a Memorial Day weekend fundraiser in memory of Edward S. Passetto to benefit area homeless veterans.

On Saturday and Sunday, Clark’s Nursery in South Lee will match all sales tax on plants and gardening items, the money raised donated on Passetto’s behalf to Soldier On in Pittsfield, according to the family-run business.

Clark’s will also put out a collection jar at its Route 102 location for those wishing to make personal donations in Passetto’s name.

Soldier On is a nonprofit organization that provides housing for needy veterans in the Berkshires.

Passetto, a Lee native, was a 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran of Pittsfield who died May 11 in an apparent suicide on Monument Mountain in Great Barrington. He had long struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Brittany Clark, daughter of owner Rodney Clark, was a classmate of Passetto’s, and graduated from Lee Middle and High School in 2004. Clark says her family felt compelled to do something to honor Passetto who battled the Veterans Affairs over his claim for disability benefits.

“I work in he mental health field and deal with the struggles of having limited resources available,” Brittany Clark said.

She added, “It is so frustrating to wait while insurance companies and [government agencies] fight over who’s responsible to foot the bill, while someone is struggling, waiting for an answer.”

Passetto spent seven years in the Marines. As a Marine, he served one tour of duty each in Iraq and Afghanistan and is credited with risking his life to save two people from a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Passetto received a medical discharge in March 2011.

Clark’s will also put out a collection jar at its Route 102 location for those wishing to make personal donations in Passetto’s name.


Jack Downing Receives Doctor of Public Services from MCLA

Honorary DegreeHonorary degree recipients: Elizabeth Coleman, Doctor of Humanities; Mardi Ann Crane-Godreau ’98 Ph. D, Doctor of Science; John F. Downing, Doctor of Public Service; and Diane B. Patrick, Doctor of Laws.

On Saturday, May 18, 2013, Soldier On president and CEO Jack Downing was awarded a degree of Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa, by the Board of Trustees of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Below is a letter to Jack from MCLA explaining the work he has done with veterans to earn this degree.

“Jack Downing, It is impossible to overstate the impact that you, and Soldier On, the organization you serve as a president and CEO, have had on how we treat out veterans in this country. Your passionate defense of your values, your sense of social justice, your empathy, and your boundless energy have resulted in an improved quality of life for the most vulnerable members of American society.

As a boy growing up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, you were one of nine children. Your brothers and sisters were encouraged by your parents to engage in debate, and you learned early on how to argue the values and positions you held dear.

As a young man you won the heart of Mary Tobin, and Mary has been your source of strength, love, and truth through good times and bad. Together, you and Mary have created a home for your two biological children, and for the seven you’ve adopted.

You have been a powerful advocate for youthful offenders, and for the imprisoned and the addicted. These experiences, and your service to your community, prepared you for what would become your defining work: changing the end of the story for homeless veterans of U.S. military service.

In 2001 you became the head of United Veterans of America, Inc. in Leeds, Massachusetts. At the time, the UVA shelter program was in disarray and the Veterans’ Administration had cut the program’s funding. In your words, veterans were ricocheting between the medical center, the shelter, the streets, and prison. You went to Washington, made your case, and your funding was restored.

You recast UVA as Soldier On, an agency that would create permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless veterans. Speaking truth to power, you fearlessly advocated for new programs and increased funding for homeless veterans.

You sounded the alarm that women veterans were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with all the injuries suffered by mal veterans, in addition to alarming rates of rape and abuse. You have borne witness, and your testimonies before congressional committees are both legendary and memorable.

You hired new, young professional staff, among them women. You trained Soldier On’s formerly homeless veterans to manage the facilities in Leeds, and embarked on unprecedented and ambitious effort to create a home ownership opportunity for homeless veterans. Your dream was that of veterans owning, occupying, and managing their own homes and living free of institutional constraints.

Today, the Gordon Mansfield Veterans Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts is home to 39 formerly homeless veterans. Currently, Soldier On is building two new veterans villages in Massachusetts, and another is planned for New Hampshire. In nine more states across the country, Soldier on is providing technical assistance to others wishing to emulate the model. BusinessWest Magazine has recognized you as a Difference Maker and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has singled Soldier On out for recognition as well.

You have shown us that veterans deserve better, and that therapy, support, case management, and safe, decent housing can help our veterans return to productive lives once their military service is complete. You have opened our eyes to the plight of women veterans. You have rebuilt lives and sheltered battered souls. And, yes, you have changed the end of the story for homeless veterans.

John F. Downing, on behalf of veterans everywhere, the Board of Trustees of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is proud to award you the degree of Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa.”


Veterans services highlighted at expo in Cummington

CUMMINGTON — Iraq war veteran Alonzo Swift lived in his car for close to four years after becoming unemployed soon after his return from duty in 2005. This changed when he learned about Soldier On, an organization that provides services for homeless veterans, at an outreach event in Springfield in 2010.

Soldier On was among the organizations present at the first Small Town Veterans Expo held at the Cummington Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday. The expo, sponsored by the Central Hampshire Veterans Services District and the VA Central Western Massachusetts Health Care System, aimed to make veterans in small towns aware of available services. It featured booths from more than 30 organizations offering veterans services such as health care, housing assistance and career resources.

Swift, an Army veteran who is now the director of transportation for Soldier On in Leeds, was among the organization’s representatives at the event. He said Soldier On first helped him by giving him a place to sleep and putting a roof over his head. Sleeping in a bed, he said, allowed him to “wake up with a clear head.”

In late 2011 he began volunteering at Soldier On by driving other veterans to appointments. About a month later that became a paid position, and he became the director of transportation in October 2012.

Steven James Connor, director of the Central Hampshire Veterans Services District, said he got the idea for the expo from similar veterans outreach events in more heavily populated communities. He wanted to bring the same opportunities to veterans in rural areas.

On Saturday, a 16-vehicle procession began at the Pelham Public Safety Complex about 10 a.m. and traveled through Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Williamsburg and Goshen before arriving in Cummington for the noon ceremony. Some of the vehicles in the convoy were driven by veterans who are now members of local fire and police departments.

“It just shows that these veterans go right back into public service,” Connor said.

Connor said the biggest turnout along the route was in Williamsburg, where residents held flags and “Welcome Home” signs. Connor said one of the participating veterans told him he almost cried when he saw that support.

Also among the vehicles in the convoy was a former racing car owned by Thomas Pease, color guard member and senior vice commander of the Michael F. Curtin VFW Post 8006 in Florence. He pulled it on a trailer attached to a pickup truck.

Pease, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who lives in Florence, turned the 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo into a “tribute car” after it became too old to race. It now bears approximately 3,500 names from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., including that of his friend, Lawrence N. Savino, who was killed in Vietnam in May 1969.

“Larry was a very popular young man,” he recalled. “All the girls liked him.”

After the arrival of the convoy, military veterans and their families filled the fairgrounds pavilion for the opening ceremony, which included remarks by local government officials.

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, emphasized the importance of veterans receiving government services.

“I know there isn’t really enough we can do in state or federal government to say thank you,” Downing said, adding that he would like to “make sure you are served at least half as well by your government as you have served us.”

Other organizations with booths at the event included the Franklin Hampshire Career Center in Northampton; the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke; Homeward Vets Inc. of Southampton, a nonprofit that gives used or new home furnishings to veterans coming out of homelessness; and HomeFront Equestrians of Ware, a nonprofit that provides free riding lessons for children of military parents.

Hilltown Air Force veteran John Stec, who served in Iraq for eight months in 2003, said he came because he wanted to speak to a health care representative in person after his application to the VA system was held up due to a backlog. The event gave him the opportunity to meet a health care representative in person and set up a face-to-face meeting, Stec added.

While the rainy weather seemed to affect attendance, Connor said the veterans who turned out were grateful to learn about the services available to them. He added that the expo will be held again next year.

“The one thing that we all walked away with is that there is a need for what we’re trying to do, and we’ve just got to keep at it,” Connor said.

Click here to view the entire article.


Gazette Contributing Writer

Saturday, May 11, 2013 

(Published in print: Monday, May 13, 2013)

Memorial Day Marathon Races

MDM logoSoldier On will be volunteering at the Memorial Day Marathon Races in Lenox, MA on Sunday, May 26! There will be runners sponsored by Soldier On as well as many volunteers from the organization participating on race day! The races start at 8 AM will go until about noon. Local entertainment and vendors will be present at Tanglewood from noon to 5. There will be a Soldier On table with materials and a representative at the Berkshire Bank tent… stop by and show your support!

Visit for more information on the races and events!


Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Community featured in FHLB Boston's Advisory Council 2012 Annual Report


Soldier On and the Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Community in Pittsfield, MA were featured in FHLB Boston’s Advisory Council 2012 Annual Report.

Download the featured Soldier On story here,



Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Community featured in FHLB Boston’s Advisory Council 2012 Annual Report


Soldier On and the Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Community in Pittsfield, MA were featured in FHLB Boston’s Advisory Council 2012 Annual Report.

Download the featured Soldier On story here,


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