BURRILLVILLE – It will be a night of comedy and camaraderie for local veterans in gratitude for their service, free of charge thanks to collaboration between several local organizations.
The Assembly Theatre at 26 East Ave. will host A Salute to Veterans on Sunday, Nov. 7, with John Perrotta’s Comedy Factory including comedy by Perrotta himself, along with Mike Murray and, “Prince of Mystery.
The event was organized by Italian American War Veterans of the U.S., Inc., with help from members of American Legion Berard-Desjarlais Post 88 Linda Peck and Raymond Trinque, as a way to get local veterans out of the house following the height of the pandemic, and back to normal life.
“Veterans connect at events like this,” said organizer John Cianci, noting it’s a chance to get, “the camaraderie they miss from their active duty days.”
Local veterans are invited to attend the event along with one guest – free of charge – and all others are welcome for the cost of a $10 donation and a canned good, to be donated to the Berean Baptist Church food pantry.
The charitable event will be paid for by the Italian American War Veterans thanks to a $700 donation from a sponsor, who has asked to remain anonymous. The theater has waived fees for the comedy night, save a small clean up cost.
It is put on as part of an ongoing effort by the town of Burrillville, the VFW post, the American Legions and the Italian American War Veterans to reach out to Burrillville residents who have served. The groups hold a gathering on the second Tuesday of every month at the Chapel Street post from 9 a.m. to noon dubbed, “the Northern Rhode Island Coffee House,” which will benefit from the proceeds of the comedy fundraiser.
At each gathering, town of Burrillville Veteran Service Officer Peck and Cianci, the service officer for the Italian American War Veterans, assist former service members as they navigate the process of filing claims for state and local benefits. Since the events began last year, more than a dozen veterans have signed up for burial at the Rhode island Veterans Memorial Cemetery; 25 or more have signed up for health care benefits with the VA; 28 veterans have filed claims with the VA for service connected disabilities they never knew the VA would compensated monthly; four wheelchairs have been issued to local veterans; one wheelchair has been donated and delivered to a 92-year-old veteran in Connecticut; one wheel chair accessible ramp has been donated and installed for a veteran; one motorized wheel chair has been donated to a member; and the list goes on, according to Cianci.
Just two weeks ago, Cianci notes that a hospital bed was delivered to a veteran in Connecticut who had just lost his second leg and was told by the VA one could not to obtained for him for three to four weeks.
“The above accomplishments show the value of the town of Burrillville having a veteran service officer,” said Cianci, noting that Burrillville is one of only two towns in Rhode Island that provide a stipend for a VSO. In Massachusetts, Cianci pointed out, the law requires every city and town to have a part or full time VSO, in accordance with federal law passed years ago.
“A community can not connect with their veterans if they lack a VSO,” he said. “Veterans in Massachusetts are not being short-changed in federal and state benefits, because their local VSO is intertwined with veterans and local leader, helping to identify the veterans need”
Cianci, who is also a member of Post 88, noted that there are many veteran benefits that are not widely known.
“How many veterans in Burriillville know Crystal Lake is a VA approved nursing home, and the veteran could be eligible for free nursing home care in his hometown?” he asked.
Sen. Jessica de la Cruz has accepted an invitation to be MC at the event, to take place Sunday, Nov. 7, with doors to open at 4:30 p.m., and the show to start at 6 p.m. RI Saugy Dogs, beer, wine and snacks will be available for purchase.
For tickets, contact Cianci at (401) 677-9VET or ITAMRI4VETS@gmail.com, or online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/salute-to-veterans-tickets-193006396327.