BAY RIDGE — It’s all about our true American heroes and how they readjust to life after serving our country overseas. On Saturday, Oct. 19, the Wicked Monk at 9510 Third Avenue in Bay Ridge was the site of the fifth annual “Hero’s Benefit” to raise money for the Hope for the Warriors organization.
Hope for the Warriors was founded in 2006 by military families at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The Hero’s Benefit was started in 2012 by Bensonhurst native and Bay Ridge resident Gabrielle Puglia to bring people together while also raising funds to support military veterans.
“Hope for the Warriors is just one of the many organizations or non-profits that “Hero’s Benefit” supports,” Puglia told this paper. “Our mission was always to get the funds and resources to people who really need them. There are so many other charities that could use the resources we provide, and every couple of years we switch organizations and Hope for the Warriors is the one we’re focused on today.”
Puglia previously told this paper that she was inspired to give back after an August, 2011 Chinook military helicopter crash killed 38 people — 25 American special operations personnel, five United States Army National Guard and Army Reserve crewmen, seven Afghan commandos and one Afghan interpreter — and one U.S. military working dog.
Hope for the Warriors is run by combat veterans and military family members and offers three programs for veterans — transition services, clinical health and wellness and sports and recreation.
The fundraiser ran from 4 to 10 p.m. with live music by five bands including the Lords of Fjords along with the Faorgs along with drink specials, raffles, a photo booth, live auction, a 50/50 and free T-shirts while supplies lasted.
Community leaders from across the borough and Staten Island attended the benefit including U.S. Rep. Max Rose and City Councilmember Justin Brannan.
Rose, a veteran himself, who was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service, was glad to be at the event. “I was honored to once again join the Hero’s Benefit event to support the incredible work being done by Hope for the Warriors,” he told this paper. “It was a great reminder for the strong support our community has for our veterans and all who serve.”
Hope for the Warriors Military Veterans Program Coordinator Nicholas Montini explained that his organization is active in all 50 states. “Here in New York I am the Military Veterans program coordinator for the Northeast,” Montini told this paper. “We service post-9/11 veterans, the injured, the sick, the ill, the families of the fallen.”
He continued, “I myself am a veteran here with my Air Force battle buddy from the Middle East to support what we need to do for the younger generation of veterans who need all the help they can get. Last count, 2.6 million men and women have served overseas in active combat roles in both Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s why we’re here.”
Brian Carr was another veteran who was happy to be attending the benefit. “I’m just proud to be here,” he said. “I’m a great friend of Nick’s and I know he’s made a lot of things happen with this project. I’m just glad I made the two-and-a-half-hour drive here from Allentown, Pennsylvania,” he added.
Brannan said he was proud to attend the benefit. “This is a great neighborhood tradition where folks come together to give back to those who put it all on the line for this great country,” he told this paper.
“Our government has an obligation to provide all veterans with the physical and mental health care and benefits they deserve and were promised, no questions asked, because while we may question the wisdom of war, we could never question the sacrifice of the warrior,” added Brannan.