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Veterans to get aid from Whittier Tech students

Eagle-Tribune - 12/7/2023

Dec. 7—HAVERHILL — Representatives from Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC) in Haverhill recently visited Whittier Tech to discuss a partnership to assist veterans in the area with tasks that can be accomplished by students in Whittier's various trades.

Jim Behen, VNEOC outreach coordinator, and Tank, a cardiac alert service dog, visited the school in late October.

The visit was coordinated by Vocational Coordinator Paul Moskevitz.

Behen and Moskevitz met with various Whittier Tech instructors including HVAC Instructor Scott Marchand; Auto Body Instructors Paul Debenedictis and Steve Polidoro; Auto Tech Instructor Gene Thomas; Marine Tech Instructor Mike Murray; Advanced Manufacturing Instructor Bruce Boisselle, and Plumbing Instructor Eli Roy, to discuss how VNEOC and Whittier's partnership could assist veterans in the community.

"Anything we can do to help veterans, we would love to help out," said Debenedictis.

As a result of the visit, VNEOC wants to partner with Whittier's Auto Body, Auto Tech, Marine Tech, and Plumbing programs, among others, with a goal to assist local veterans — some of whom are retired, living with disabilities, and/or are on social security — with services to help ease their financial burden.

Behen's background in vocational education inspired the idea for this partnership. He attended North Shore Tech and then joined the Marines right after graduation.

"I know what benefits a tech school gives," said Behen.

"Why there are not more people coming to tech schools for these services, I don't know. It gives these students hands-on learning experiences while also helping ease the financial burden for our veterans. We have people driving around in vehicles that I have no idea how they even passed inspection."

VNEOC would also like to partner with Whittier's Parade of Flags Initiative, which aims to honor all Whittier Tech community members and alumni, as well as Whittier Tech staff and family members of staff, who have served in the armed forces. For the week preceding Veterans Day, a line of flags is put on display lining part of the Whittier driveway near the front of the building.

"At Whittier Tech, we believe in the power of vocational education to transform lives and create opportunities," said Moskevitz. "Collaborating with VNEOC to support our local veterans is a fantastic initiative, and we are excited to explore the ways we can work together to make a positive impact in our community."

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