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2022 Saw A Record-Breaking Vet Fest

January 10, 2023 / ,

Organizers of the 2022 Vet Fest were pleased to report that the event, that started in 2016, was able to write a check for nearly $150,000 to the non-profit Stop Soldier Suicide. Part of this donation will be an investment in the organization’s Black Box Project, recently featured on NBC Nightly News (Here).

According to event Co-founder Brian DiSabatino, “Aside from being delighted with the growth of the gift we were able to give to the non-profit, we are more excited about the gift we were able to give to the veteran community.  It was obvious to everyone in attendance that there is a massive appreciation for our veterans, their families and their collective sacrifice on our behalf.” The event  featured an award for local veteran Lt. Col. David Strawbridge USAF (ret) who served admirably in Afghanistan and is now the Commander of American Legion Canal Post 25 in Middletown.

Town of Whitehall resident and retired Vietnam Veteran Bob Elder, who is also an event organizer and sponsor, couldn’t be happier. “When I see the scores of volunteers from all over our little state it gives me confidence that there is an enduring love and support for all those who gave so much of themselves and who are so deserving of the outpouring of gratitude for their service and for the mission of Vet Fest.”

One event organizer, Cameron Newberry, USMC (ret), had his hands full with the nearly 500 runners, ruckers and walkers that participated in the day. According to Newberry, “I do this for the guys with whom I served and the ones who I might never meet. Together we’ve lost too many to suicide. I want to be part of the solution.”

Marching bands, mummers and solemn marches filled the day. The parade this year honored two who fell to their silent wounds, Sgt. Thomas Albany, US Army and STG3 Chuck Burcham, US Navy.

The day was capped off by Rock and Roller Mark Farner, formerly of the Rock and Roll powerhouse Grand Funk Railroad. He brought the house down at the Whitehall Beer Garden.

Organizers reflected on the goals for the day and are happy to report:

  1. Vet Fest raised nearly $150,000 (bringing our total to $640,000) to assist Stop Soldier Suicide in combating this dreadful epidemic.
  2. Vet Fest mobilized an army of caring and compassionate people who threw their whole selves at the day.
  3. Vet Fest created an atmosphere of joy that facilitated a respite for grieving families, bonding between civilian and military communities, and a sense of accomplishment through action by 1,000 attendees.
  4. Vet Fest demonstrated what civic service means to our next generation.
  5. Vet Fest created an atmosphere where those who were candidates for the 22 a day could get help.
  6. Vet Fest created an atmosphere where those who have struggled could talk openly with others, breaking down the terrible stigmas surrounding mental and emotional health.

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