Today is a day to celebrate the service of our U.S. military veterans offering them our respect and admiration for the sacrifices that afford us the freedoms we enjoy throughout the year.
Over this holiday weekend local agencies, dignitaries and individuals will come together around our community to offer their appreciation for the service of area veterans.
“I am proud to be part of a community that honors its’ veterans,” stated Joe Paladino, president of the Veterans of Modern Warfare Chapter 20.
Serving as the current president of VMW, Paladino, and his wife Melodie, are also active members of the United Veterans Council of Jamestown. Both are local organizations whose missions help provide support, advocacy and camaraderie for veterans in the community and to honor fallen veterans from our region.
“Our local veterans’ organizations are dedicated to assisting veterans past, present and future,” explained Paladino. “We are here to reach out to current service men and women to let them know how much they are appreciated and loved back on the home front. We will also be here for them when they return home, whether they are in need of services, someone to talk to or just to see brothers and sisters with a common bond.”
Throughout the year the Paladinos can be found at countless community events and activities putting the mission of VMW and the United Veterans Council into action. Their efforts also bridge partnerships with other community groups that offer services and support to veterans, such as the Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency, PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer to Peer program, and the Blue Star Mothers Lake Erie Chapter 4.
“We like to help our local veterans feel welcomed home, we also want to give them the opportunity to help each other and their community,” shared Paladino. “Most veterans that you speak with will say that even though their active duty is done, their service is never really done.”
VMW hosts numerous Chicken BBQs, events and other fundraising activities yearlong, bringing together veterans, their family members and other volunteers to support local veterans and community organizations in need.
This past September VMW joined with the Dwyer Peer program, the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention and Brothers by Choice to host the Dwyer Suicide Prevention Motorcycle Run. The event promoted awareness and raised funds to benefit the Suicide Alliance and the Veterans Endowment Fund.
Starting on November 23, VMW will launch their seasonal fundraiser selling Christmas trees at the Harley Davidson dealership in Falconer to help the Blue Star Mothers send Christmas packages to deployed troops overseas and assist local veterans in need.
Not to slow down on his schedule or momentum, the United Veterans Council recently launched a new initiative to purchase permanent markers for the grave sites of veterans.
Annually, the organization coordinates the placement of temporary grave markers and flags on over 4,000 sites across Lake View, Holy Cross and Holy Sepulchre cemeteries.
The permanent markers, designed by Paladino, with the designation “U.S. Veteran” will be able to be left on display yearlong to recognize the service of each veteran. The markers will also help simplify the task of placing flags at each site prior to Memorial Day ceremonies. The initiative has been made possible by a partnership with the Lake View Cemetery Association, Blue Star Mothers, Brothers by Choice, Dwyer Peer program, Phoenix Metal Fabricating and support from the community.
Reflecting on the work of both veterans’ organizations Paladino is quick to respond, “This is not one man’s job, we would not be able to accomplish everything we do in the community without the support of our veteran brothers and sisters and our families.”
The Paladinos’ passion for their cause shines through in their actions, showing our community that their service will never be done, as they continue to be here to help support past, present and future veterans from across our region.