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RI Veterans: Did you know? 06.06.24 (80th DDay, American flag, events…) – John A. Cianci




by John A. Cianci, contributing writer on veterans issues

80th Anniversary of D-Day

Rhode Island will recognize the anniversary of D-Day with a ceremony all are invited to TODAY at 3pm at the RI Veterans Home in Bristol, RI. Governor McKee will participate in the honoring of those who fought for liberty and those that gave their lives in the Armed Forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Also participating will be Lt. General Reginald Centracchio, Adjutant General Emeritus, who will deliver the keynote address. Secretary of State Gregg Amore, General Treasurer James Diossa and Attorney General Peter Neronha, as well as the State’s Director of Veterans Services, Kasim J. Yarn and other dignitaries will participate.


The American Flag – the great American unifier

Our colleague, Ray Rickman, founder of Stages of Freedom, has a special message for us all – and a call to action…


Rhode Island District Veterans Advisory Committee formed

A newly-established District Veterans Advisory Committee — a critical resource and sounding board to help advocate for Rhode Island Veterans and military families will advise Congressman Amo regarding federal funding priorities, Veteran and military-related events, and engaging with local Veterans’ organizations, the committee will serve as a resource for recommendations on federal legislation and district office priorities.

Congressman Gabe Amo said, “To more effectively represent the brave individuals who serve our country and their loved ones in the halls of Congress, I’m proud to establish this District Veterans Advisory Committee. I look forward to seeking insights and wisdom from this broad swath of individuals who have a long history of supporting Veterans in our state.”

Congressman Gabe Amo and members of his District Veterans Advisory Committee composed of Veterans, Veterans organization leaders, and active local military stakeholders 

The two co-chairs of the District Veterans Advisory Committee are Dr. Walter Berbick and Colonel Sharon Harmon. Dr. Berbrick is a former Navy intelligence officer and current military analyst at the Naval War College. COL Sharon Harmon currently serves as the Joint Resilience Director for the Rhode Island National Guard and broke barriers in 2022 as the first Black person to achieve the rank of colonel in the history of the Rhode Island National Guard.

“Today, as we grapple with key national security challenges—from major conflicts facing fellow democracies, Israel and Ukraine to bullying and coercion from an increasingly assertive China—this committee offers independent, informed insights and advice to Congressman Amo on all aspects of our military and Veterans who work and sacrifice to defend this country every day,” said Dr. Berbrick.  “It is my pleasure and honor to work alongside Colonel Harmon and the rest of our team to help shape key decisions that take care of our people and prepare our military to deter, and if necessary, win our nation’s wars.”

“As co-chair of the Veterans Advisory Committee, I am honored to stand with our service members and Veterans who exemplify courage, commitment, and resilience,” said Colonel Harmon. “ Our mission is to ensure that every Veteran in Rhode Island receives the support and recognition they deserve through impactful legislation.  Together, we can strengthen our community and honor the sacrifices made by those who have served our nation. Let us continue to advocate for policies that support our Veterans’ health, well-being, and integration into civilian life, ensuring they receive the respect and opportunities they have earned.”


Dr. Walter Berbrick is a senior national security executive, strategist, and advisor with two decades of experience leading teams in policy, intelligence, military and academic communities at the highest levels of government. He currently serves as an analyst in the War Gaming Department at U.S. Naval War College, and spent the past 15 years as a professor at the Naval War College, serving in national security roles at the State Department and Pentagon, and in the U.S Navy. 

Colonel Sharon Harmon currently serves as the Joint Resilience Director for the Rhode Island National Guard. After enlisting in the Army Reserve in 1985 and completing basic training in South Carolina, COL Harmon returned to Rhode Island and completed the officer candidate program at Camp Varnum in Narragansett. Previous assignments in her career include a stint as a chemical officer with the 103rd Field Artillery Regiment in Providence, a deployment to Afghanistan with the 143rd Military Police Brigade during Operation Enduring Freedom, and a term as Joint Force Headquarters Commander at Camp Fogarty in East Greenwich. RI. 

District Veterans Advisory Committee members:

Dr. Walter Berbrick

COL Sharon Harmon
Kasim Yarn
Frank Lennon
Lisa Lavasseur
Joseph Shottek

Erik Wallen

John Gallo



June 17, 2024 – 11:00-1:00, Free Luncheon, VFW Post 5392, 134 Shove Street, Tiverton. Free for veteran and guest. Lunch  menu: Clam cakes, chowder, Nathan Hot Dogs, Macaroni and Potato Salad, and TBA.

Vargas Auto Body


Italian American War Veterans of US (ITAM) Volunteer Opportunities:

Leave No Veteran Alone Program – Monday and Saturday, ITAM seeks volunteers to meet up at designated nursing homes to meet and socialize with veterans living at the facility. We schedule the facilities 30 to 60 days in advance. Volunteers socialize with veterans and TRY TO SPOIL them with refreshments we provide.  Point of contact, Wendy Cianci, assistant (401) 677-9838.

Help replace worn or missing American flags – lots of opportunities to assist replacing flags at private cemeteries. John Cianci is point of contact, 401-677-9837.

June 8 Friendly Nursing Home, Woonsocket RI Luncheon , Clam Cakes and Chowder, corn, watermelon, and dessert. Volunteers needs to assist , serve, and socialize with veterans residents and spouses of deceased veterans of facility . Time:10:30 12:30 Veteran luncheon ,Contact program coordinator, Wendy Cianci, (401) 677-9838.

June 17, 2024 Veteran Luncheon, VFW Post 5392, 134 Shove Street, Tiverton RI, 10:30- 2:00. Volunteers needed for food prep, setup, serving, and socializing with the veterans. Luncheon : Clam Cakes -Chowder, NY Style Hot Weiners, Corn, watermelon, and dessert. Contact program coordinator, Wendy Cianci, (401) 677-9838.

June 24, 2024 Chapel View Senior Living , 11:30 – 1:00 Luncheon : Clam Cakes and Chowder, BBQ Chicken, corn , watermelon, and dessert. Volunteers needed for food prep, setup, serving, and socializing with the veterans.. Contact program coordinator, Wendy Cianci, (401) 677-9838.

June 26, 2024 , Wednesday, 4:30 – 6:00 . Rosarion Club, Providence RI Monthly End of the month dinner for members and their guest of the Italian American War Veterans of US. Invited guest is the family of PFC Anthony John Sivo, KIA Vietnam in 1968.


From Memorial Day…

Hundreds of veterans traveling to Rhode Island Memorial Veterans cemetery would pass by the Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran banners strategic placed by the Italian American War Veterans of US.

“Someone’s trash is a military family’s treasure”

Did you catch our colleague’s story in Monday’s issue of RINewsToday? How a trunk from Herb Weiss’ father found its way home, by the kindness of strangers… read it here:

Someone’s trash is a military family’s treasure: Ours – Herb Weiss


Free Help for Homeless Veterans

Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness—and their family members, friends, and supporters—can make the call to or chat online with the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, where trained counselors are ready to talk confidentially 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Who Can Call

  • Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • Family members, friends and supporters calling on behalf of Veterans
  • VA Medical Centers and other VA facilities and staff
  • Federal, state and local partners
  • Community agencies and providers who serve Veterans who are homeless

Why Make the Call to 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838)

  • It’s free and confidential
  • You’ll get access to trained VA counselors
  • It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • You’ll get information about VA homeless programs, health care and other services in your area

What Happens When Veterans Make the Call

  • A trained VA staff member asks a few questions to find out what you need
  • Then, you’re connected to the nearest VA staff person who can help
  • What Happens When Others Make the Call
  • Family members and non-VA providers receive information about available homeless programs and services
  • They can keep their information confidential or leave contact information so staff can follow up
  • VA’s Resources for Homeless and At-Risk Veterans
  • VA offers a wide array of services to help homeless and at-risk Veterans.


Free Golf,  Goddard Park Golf Course Fee Exemption for Totally Disabled Veterans: 

Rhode Island resident Veterans who have a 100% permanent and total, service-connected disability rating from the VA are exempt from paying any fees to play Golf at the Goddard Park Golf Course. For more information call the Clubhouse at Goddard Memorial State Park from April 1st through the 3rd Saturday in November at 401-884-9834 or year-round at Division Headquarters at 401-667-6200.

Free Rhode Island Hunting and Fishing Licenses for 100% Disabled Veterans: A Veteran who has a 100% disability rating from the VA is eligible for free Rhode Island hunting and fishing licenses.

No cost licenses are available if you are:

·       over 65 AND a Rhode Island resident

·       a veteran with 100% disability status from the Department of Veterans Affairs

·       a person with 100% total disability status from the Social Security Administration

To apply in person at DEM, please bring a photo ID and an ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. (directions)

To apply by mail, please complete an application and mail the application and a copy of your photo ID and the ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). Please allow two weeks for processing.

The address to obtain your license in person or by mail is:
DEM Licensing Office
235 Promenade Street, Room 360
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-3576

To purchase online, you will be required to certify that you have an ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). You will also be required to enter the date the decision expires. The Department will audit compliance with the certification and may, at any time, request a copy of the current DOCUMENT OF THE FINAL DECISION(S). Failure to submit the documentation by the date requested may result in the suspension of your fishing and hunting license. Also, Rhode Island General Law 11-18-1 prohibits giving false documents to an agent, employee, or public official. The penalty is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment up to one year.

Rhode Island Hunting and Fishing Benefits for Service Members and Veterans: Rhode Island offers several hunting and fishing benefits to Service members and Veterans. A short description of each is listed below. Applicants are required to show documentation proving eligibility when they apply:

· Active-Duty Service members – Military ID

· Veterans – DD214

· Disabled Veterans – VA Disability Certification Letter ( Contact VA office)

Applicants can apply online at Rhode Island Outdoors, in person at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Office of Boating Registration and Licenses in Providence (Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.), at an Authorized In-Person Sales Agent, or they can mail applications to:

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Room 360
Providence, RI 02908
Phone: 401-222-3576

Learn more about FREE Rhode Island Hunting , Fishing, State Parks, and Golf  Benefits for Service Members and Veterans,that%20issued%20the%20disability%20decision.

Free Rhode Island State Park Passes for 100% Disabled Veterans: Rhode Island offers the State Park Disability Pass for use at any state-owned recreational facility to disabled Veterans who have a 100% service-connected disability rating from the VA.

The State Park Disability Pass authorizes free admission and parking but does not exempt the following:

· Licensing fees

· Camping fees

· Picnic table fees

· Specialized facility use fees

· Use of equestrian areas

· Performing art centers

· Game fields fees

· Mule shed fees

If the disabled Veteran cannot drive, the vehicle transporting the Veteran will not be charged.

Veterans must apply in person at the Rhode Island State Parks and Recreation Headquarters and are required to show official documentation (dated within the past year) from the VA that states they have a 100% service-connected disability.

Rhode Island State Parks and Recreation Headquarters
1100 Tower Hill Road
North Kingstown, RI 02852
Phone: 401-667-6200
Email: [email protected]


RESOURCES  & ongoing groups 

Below are all the groups the Providence Vet Center is currently offering.  As this list changes, I will provide updates. Please send me any questions that you may have, thank you for your time! 

***All Vet Center Groups require that the Veteran be enrolled with the Vet Center prior to attending. To check eligibility or for questions, please contact the Vet Center at (401) 739-0167 or reach out to our Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (VOPS) 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Group (PTSD) – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (Group is only active September through May) 

Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and Vietnam Veterans PTSD Group – 2nd and 4th  Wednesday of the month from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. 

Vietnam Veteran PTSD Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

Art Expression Group – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 p.m. 

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) Group – Every Wednesday from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m. 

Stress Management – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. 

Low Impact Walking  Group – Every Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. 

Guitar 4 Veterans – Every Wednesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m. 

Monday Mindfulness Group – Every Monday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. 

Yoga Group – Every Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 

Moral Injury Group – Every Friday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. 

Modern Warrior Support Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm. 


Discounts for Veterans 

Providence Children’s Museum Offers Free Admission to Active Military Families This Summer

Providence Children’s Museum (PCM) announces its participation in the Blue Star Museums program this summer. The national initiative, a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense, provides free admission to all currently serving U.S. military personnel and their families from Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 18, 2024, through Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2024.


No Problem Plumbing and Heating LLC 15% military discount, ask for Ron Gaynor, (401) 568-6666. Veterans must provide proof of eligibility with a VA Card, VA ID Card, or RI State license with veteran identification. 


Applebee’s – Military Discount. With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2022. 

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty. Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain. Last verified 07/31/2022. 

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021 

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID 


Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021 

Bass Pro Shops – Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source). 

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021 

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount – “Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items. Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store Military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former Military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through 

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off Military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired Military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued Military ID card to redeem this offer. 

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type. 

Jiffy Lube – HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY! – We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 10% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at 3 select locations: Tioque Ave, Coventry RI – Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI – Park Ave, Cranston RI 

Michaels – offers a 15% off Military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired Military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get: 1. Create an account. Log in to Michaels Rewards. 2. Get verified. Provide your Military information to get verified, instantly. 3. Go shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout. 

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21. 


If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward to: [email protected]:  the business’s name, location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, [email protected], ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)  


To read all columns in this series go to:  

John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.

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