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(Right to Left) HHS Secretary John Polanowicz, DVS Secretary Coleman Nee, presenting Veteran Advocate Tom L’Italien with the Governor's Commendation

(Right to Left) HHS Secretary John Polanowicz, DVS Secretary Coleman Nee, presenting Veteran Advocate Tom L’Italien with the Governor’s Citation

Monday, Secretary Polanowicz and Secretary Nee presented Tom L’Italien with a Governor’s Citation for his outstanding work supporting veterans and raising national awareness on the tragedies facing veterans and their families.

Mr. L’Italien, a Salem native and brother of four Veterans, just completed a bike ride that covered over 2,700 miles to raise awareness on the growing suicide rate of our returning veterans. He began his journey in Flagstaff, Arizona on June 21st and finished his ride in Lynn, Massachusetts this past Sunday.

During his bike ride, Mr. L’Italien traveled through parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. With him, he brought 100 pounds worth of provisions and bike parts, as well as special mementos given to him from families affected by suicide. He rode between 50 and 60 miles a day and relied on the kindness of veterans who had heard about his journey for food and shelter. Mr. L’Italien was also supported by his family and the foundation he works for, TeamVeteran.org.

(Right to Left) HHS Secretary John Polanowicz, DVS Secretary Coleman Nee, and Tom L’Italien with wife Traci L’Italien and grandson Marquese.

(Right to Left) HHS Secretary John Polanowicz, DVS Secretary Coleman Nee, and Tom L’Italien with wife Traci L’Italien and grandson Marquese.

 “When my older brother, Al, returned from Vietnam, I saw how the tragedies he experienced impacted and changed his life. Although he never talked about his experiences, we could see a big difference in him. I’m bicycling across the country to bring awareness of our responsibility in this great nation to take better care of our Veterans.”

– Tom L’Italien

 

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