Veterans Council selected as parade’s Grand Marshall

By SHERIDAN CYR

STAFF WRITER

The Plainville Veterans Council will lead the annual Memorial Day Parade as the collective Grand Marshall on Monday, May 28 in downtown Plainville.

“We wanted to acknowledge and promote the Veterans Council for all the good things they do for veterans,” said chair of the Memorial Day Parade association Dan Hurley. “They are a very hard-working group of guys who offer assistance through different programs, training, education and beyond for our veterans. They’re there for people, trying to find solutions for many different problems and challenges.”

The Veterans Council is made up of three Plainville veterans: Dan Kulas (council member for 19 years), David Dudek (council member for five years), and William Brayne (council member for about four years). They work as agents of the American Legions’ Connecticut Soldier Sailors and Marines Fund to assist qualified veterans to obtain limited financial assistance on a one-time basis.

“We’re doing this as a council, not as individuals,” said Dudek regarding being named grand marshall. “Dan Hurley wanted to advertise the fact that we exist as a council, and that, to anybody who wants help, we are here for them.”

The Veterans Council meets 52 weeks a year, coming together every Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. and making themselves  available for veterans in need. The council works as the “middle man” between veterans and the SS&MF headquartered in Hartford. SS&MF offers financial aid for dental, food, clothing, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, water, natural gas, fuel oil, propane, kerosene and more for qualifying veterans.

To qualify, veterans must have a DD214 (official documentation of discharge issued by the Defense Department), and had to have served during conflict time periods. Veterans who received dishonorable discharge do not qualify. They must be within the poverty level determined by the federal government.

Documentation must be presented to prove all qualifications.

“Veterans must come in to meet with us and we help them fill out the forms,” said Kulas. “They also have to bring documents like bank statements, pay stubs, utility bills, to give a few items to justify that they have a need. Then we send those documents to the headquarters in Hartford, and they make the decision.”

If all goes through, the veteran will receive vouchers (not cash) to fulfill the needs they requested assistance for. SS&MF was founded in 1919 by veterans who created a separate fund, which has accumulated money through investments over the years. No tax money is used, so the council is able to help more than just Plainville residents.

The Veterans Council goes beyond what they are chartered to do through SS&MF. They take it upon themselves to help connect veterans to other organizations that can assist them with needs that the council cannot meet. They also help more than just the veteran – the council has programs to help their wives and children (under age 18). All their work is done confidentially.

The council also is in charge of a veteran’s memorial in the Town Hall. It features a plaque of all Plainville veterans who have passed away. Family members can submit the names of the deceased veteran to the council and they will facilitate getting the plaque.

Kulas, Dudek and Brayne meet each Monday at 6:30 p.m. in room 306 of the Town Hall, but can also meet veterans elsewhere (usually the Plainville Public Library) if requested. Assistance is first come, first serve. For more information, or to contact members, visit alctssmf.org and click “Volunteers by Town” at the bottom.

Comments? Email tmurchison@BristolObserver.com.