iPods for Wounded Veterans at State House

SOURCE: Wilmington Town Crier By Jayne Wellman Miller News Editor  

Army Veteran Faith Hernandez was one of 40 veterans honored at the State House on Monday afternoon. All the veterans present recieved a citation for their service from State Representative James Miceli and gifts from iPods for Wounded Veterans. Pictured from l-r are: Faith Hernandez, Paul Cardello founder of iPods for Wounded Veterans, Francisco Urena Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, and Adjutant General of the MA National Guard, Major General L. Scott Rice. Photo by Maureen Brady

BOSTON – WILMINGTON – Monday afternoon more than forty veterans from the Bedford VA Hospital and the Gloucester clinic packed the Rotunda at the State House for a formal reception and presentation of Wilmington-based charity iPods for Wounded Veterans (IPWV).

The organization, which also launched the Dear Soldier student-based letter writing campaign in 2011, was recognized by numerous state and local dignitaries for their dedication to wounded soldiers receiving treatment for their injuries. In turn, Paul Cardello, the founder of IPWV, read numerous citations for the individuals and groups that have contributed to the success of the organization over the last five years.

Speaking at the event was Major General L. Scott Rice, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard.

Rice learned about IPWV from Cardello, a tireless advocate for his organization.

“He has a sixth sense for what people need,” Rice told the Town Crier, referencing the electronic devices the charity distributes. “He has the magic of figuring out who it is for.”

Today’s veterans continue to face a bevy of challenges, from mental health issues, addiction, homelessness, joblessness, to simply, the more mundane challenges of everyday living. When asked if Massachusetts is doing enough to provide for our veterans, Rice made three points.

First, he noted that Massachusetts is the number one state in the country in terms of expenditure per veteran. Second, being able to connect veterans to programs and benefits is key with the Veterans Services Officers in every city and town across the Commonwealth.

Finally, Rice also noted that while Massachusetts is doing enough, “We can always do more. If we have one veteran without services then we need to do more.”

Spending more money isn’t necessarily the answer, indicated Rice, but that the best approach is working to create those connections and networks to organizations and programs that help. “iPods for Wounded Veterans is one of those organizations, said Rice during his remarks, “that sees where it can add value and engage people of all ages to get involved in a mission to bring comfort and caring to wounded veterans.”

Bedford VA Hospital Director Christine Croteau told the Crier, that Massachusetts has three VA Hospitals – more than any other state in the nation. A remarkable fact, considering the relatively small geography of Massachusetts to states like California and Texas. She brought veterans to the State House for the event to participate in and be recognized for their service to the nation. In fact, the Rotunda in the State House is reserved for the exclusive use by veterans, making the ceremony that much more special.

The event was hosted by Rep. James Miceli who offered the keynote speech Monday afternoon. Miceli and Cardello have worked together on a variety of issues for decades and Miceli was instrumental in obtaining credentials so that iPods for Wounded Veterans board members, like Cardello and Wayne Fox, could visit soldiers in DC area hospitals like Ft. Belvoir and Walter Reed.

Miceli relayed tales of vets who called him after a visit from “Paul’s ‘rag tag’ army,” as Miceli puts it. Many of the calls were from vets who hadn’t had a visitor in months, or no visitors at all, while recuperating from combat injuries. And they called Miceli because Paul asked them to, so that he would know the impact of the organization.

“The people who actually deserve the credit are the people who are on the board and volunteer with iPods for Wounded Veterans,” said Miceli, adding, “Its an honor for me to have you in this building.”

Perhaps the best part of the event was when the veterans in attendance were invited to receive care packages including earbuds, iTunes gift cards, handmade afghans, and other goodies, along with the distribution by raffle of high end sound equipment.

For veterans recuperating from injuries acquired on the battlefield, including traumatic brain injuries, hand and foot injuries, amputations, PTSD, and more, the ability to do something as simple as turning a page in a book can become nearly impossible. With the combination of social media, audiobooks, and of course, the vast collections of music available online, the technological resources that IPWV provides helps veterans tremendously during and after rehabilitation.

Massachusetts Secretary for Veterans Affairs, Francisco Urena, went on a trip with IPWV to the greater Washington, D.C. area to witness firsthand the work that they do. He noted that in Massachusetts there are 365,000 veterans.

“Its like getting a care package from a stranger,” said Urena. “It brings a sense of Massachusetts to the veterans at one of their lowest times. To iPods for Wounded Veterans, thank you so much for everything you do every day.”

iPods for Wounded Veterans is planning another trip to visit DC area hospitals in early December.