Burrillville legion post funds, installs ramp for Richmond, RI veteran


BURRILLVILLE – Members of the American Legion Berard-Desjarlais Post 88 came to the rescue for a disabled Richmond-based veteran this week, in need of a handicap ramp, who had been denied help by the Veteran’s Affairs office.

The ramp, valued at around $8,000, was installed at a home in Wood River Junction belonging to 73-year-old Vietnam combat veteran Gary Bird.

Bird, an insulin diabetic with neuropathy in both feet, was reportedly denied help because he does not currently use a walker or wheelchair.

“He insists on staying mobile,” noted Post member John Cianci. “Once he succumbs to assistance, he will lose his ability to walk unassisted.”

“He gets weaker by the day unable to lift his feet well for over a year,” said daughter Jennifer McKenna, noting Bird is too proud to use a walker or wheelchair.

Cianci learned of Bird’s plight from retired Sgt. Major Tom Rezendes, who brought the issue to the post. The Chapel Street group had the spare ramp, and Cianci called in friend and fellow Desert Storm veteran Bill Noyes to help with installation.

Cianci donated materials needed on behalf of the post at a cost of around $100, and less than ten days after the request, the ramp was installed.

Cianci thanked those involved with the project this week, noting it was completed at zero cost to the recipient.

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