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2015 ANNUAL REPORT

2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Operation Vet-Fit's mission is to assist our nation's combat
veterans, active duty members and affected family members
through exercise, fitness, and group based motivational
activities and events. Operation Vet-Fit is accomplishing this
mission through free fitness club memberships, personal
training, group training and group based motivational events
and excursions geared toward fostering a healthy transition
following combat service. Additionally, we serve as a free
liaison and veterans advocate supporting veterans with serviceconnected disabilities by assisting in the process of locating,
accessing, and navigating the many available veterans benefits
currently being offered.

VISION
To embolden our next generation and inspire a greater future
for all who have served our nation in combat.

VALUES

Purpose . Achievement . Service . Integrity

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

CONTENTS
Executive Summary .................................................................. 1
Contents ...................................................................................... 2
Situation ...................................................................................... 4
Mission ........................................................................................ 6
Execution .................................................................................... 8
Financials ..................................................................................10
Founding Board Members .....................................................12
Advisory Board Members ......................................................14
Overview of those we serve...................................................21
Measures of Success ................................................................22
Highlighted Success Story - Leave No Man Behind ..........24
Camaraderie Building Events ................................................25
Community Awards and Recognition ..................................31
Grants ........................................................................................32
Forward Thinking....................................................................33

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

The combat veteran has


proven, through actions, not
words, a willingness to
sacrifice his or her life for
the protection of ours
- Dan Gaita
Founder, Operation Vet Fit

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

SITUATION
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a kind of anxiety triggered by a
traumatic event causing extreme shock, fear, or a feeling of
helplessness. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
estimates that approximately 1 in every 30 US adults develops
PTSD every year.
The risk for combat war veterans is significantly greater with some
reports suggesting that about 1 in every 4 service men and women
returning from Iraq or Afghanistan will develop at least one
combat-related problem such as PTSD, anxiety, or depression.
Recent studies highlight that At 12 months following combat, the
prevalence of mental health problems among veterans does not
abate, and in many cases increases. The far-reaching
consequences of these disturbing findings touch the returning
soldiers, their families, and their peers.
Researchers have continually found exercise can be an effective
treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Doctors are
increasingly prescribing exercise for the prevention and treatment
of many diseases as it can alleviate the stress that exacerbates many
symptoms and promotes physical fitness, which helps with
resiliency.
References:

Thomas JL et al. Archives of General Psychiatry 2010; 67(6): 614-23 Hoge CW et al. JAMA 2006; 295:1023-32
1. 58th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine.
2. "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Coronary Atherosclerosis, and Mortality" Naser Ahmadi, MD, MS, Ramin Ebrahimi, MD et al "American Journal of
Cardiology". published online 02 May 2011. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2011.02.34

Combat

PTSD

Disease

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

www.operationvetfit.org

2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

MISSION
Physical & Mental Operation Vet Fit provides a free
24/7 fitness center, personal
training, group fitness seminars,
team oriented motivational fitness
events, and stress reducing
outdoor and social excursions for
returning combat veterans and
their affected family members;
especially those suffering from
Combat PTSD, TBI, and other
visible and invisible service
connected disabilities.

Social
Additionally, we
continue to serve as a free liaison supporting veterans with service-connected
disabilities by assisting in the process of locating, accessing, and navigating the many
available veterans benefits currently being offered.
We shall continue to work within our served communities to aid in civilian life
reintegration through social service, mentoring programs and volunteerism while
identifying and engaging in opportunities geared toward fostering a sense of continued
and improved purpose amongst our member veterans.

www.operationvetfit.org

2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

www.operationvetfit.org

2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

EXECUTION
Bricks and Mortar - The first location, Private
Studio Fitness, is located in the heart of downtown
Bethel, CT. It is a beautiful 3,000+ Sq., 24/7 Fitness
center with full security and surveillance measures in
place as well as a crowd capacity control mechanism.
The facility provides a full line of industrial high-end
cardiovascular equipment. Commercial grade freeweights and cable machines. All necessary apparatus
are available to safely and effectively implement a
guided, safe and effective fitness program for our
combat veterans.
In addition, the facility provides flat screen TVs in
front of all cardio equipment with cable as well as
Direct TV, sports and news packages. Wi-Fi access is
free of charge and Pandora radio is streaming through
the facilitys controllable audio system via an IPad that
stands ready for general use by patrons.
Electronic key fob access and automated 24 hr.
surveillance provide a safe and easily accessible point
of entry. Automated lighting and complete climate
control provides for ease and comfort during use.
Complimentary fresh towels, free coffee and refueling snacks and drinks are always available.

Programs and Services - Founder, Dan Gaita,


transformed his once for profit fitness center into
a non-profit operation which enables existing
community donor members the opportunity to
improve their health and fitness while also
contributing to the health and fitness of our combat
veteran members.
We host a variety of regular physical, and social
activities including but not limited to:

5Ks
Golf Outings
Veterans Recognition Dinners
Veterans Social Luncheons
Camping Trips
NCAA Basketball games
NCAA Football games
River Rafting Trips
Sports Car Races and Events

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

Combat Veteran Assistance Operation Vet Fit aids its


member combat veterans through the burdensome process of
obtaining and utilizing the many available programs, services and
benefits currently available through the Department of Veterans
Affairs, State of CT resources, and other local and federal
agencies that serve the combat veteran population. Additionally,
we act as an advocate in cases of veterans exploitation and or
abuse.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

FINANCIALS
Operation Vet Fit is proud to announce that it continues to utilize an all-volunteer force to fund,
design, implement, and manage the entirety of its charity.

Revenues (Jan 1st 2014 Dec 31st, 2014)


Programs
Service Fees,
$11,955

Grants, $2,600

Contributions,
$37,033
Membership
Dues, $41,949

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Revenues vs Expenses 2012-2015


$120,000
$115,000

$110,000
$105,000
$100,000
$95,000
$90,000

Revenues

Expenses

2012-2013

$97,008

$95,101

2013-2014

$117,277

$99,719

2014-2015

$102,701

$93,755

2013-2014 Expenses (Jan 1st 2014 Dec 31st, 2014)

Printing, Postage &


Publications, $2,725

Other Expenses (990


Sched O), $4,637

Scholarships Awarded
(2014), $2,000

Benefits Paid to or For


Veterans, $23,307

Veterans Fitness Center


Rent, Utilities and
Maintanance, $55,064

Salaries, Wages &


Benefits, $0
Professional Fees, $6,041

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

FOUNDING BOARD MEMBERS


Daniel R. Gaita, MA Founder & Director
Dan served in the United States Marine Corps from
1992-1996 as an Artillery Forward Scout Observer in
the Fifth Battalion, Tenth Marine Regiment, deployed
with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and
participated in Operation Restore/Continue Hope in
Somalia, Operation Deny Flight in Bosnia and also
Operation Support Democracy in Haiti.
Following his honorable discharge Dan went on to
earn an Associates Degree in Science, a Bachelors
Degree in Psychology from UCONN & Western
Connecticut State University and a Graduate Degree
in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga
University. Additionally, he is in the process of
obtaining another masters Degree in Social Work at
Fordham University and the University of Southern
California.
Dan is a AAAI/ISMA certified personal trainer, weight management specialist, pre/post natal
certified, and a recognized master level trainer
through IDEA.
Dan has been active in the health and fitness
industry for nearly 20 years serving in all roles
from Maintenance Manager, Fitness Director,
Assistant Manager, Manager, and Owner.
Dan's Grandfather, Leonard Palmer, was an
Ammunition Handler in the second beachlanding wave in Normandy, WWII. He fought
for nearly two years in Northern France,
Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe
before
being nearly
fatally
wounded
and declining to receive the Purple Heart.
Dans Great Uncle, Vincent Lasalva, was not as lucky and would
be killed aboard ship in the Pacific Theatre by a Kamikaze attack.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report


Erin OMeara Gaita Co-Founder
Erin Gaita has 10+ years
experience as an Executive
Assistant. Her experiences in
human relationships coupled
with her background in
psychology have made her
contributions both necessary
and instrumental in carrying
out the mission of Operation
Vet Fit.
A dedicated mother of three
girls, she is married to
Marine veteran and Founder
of Operation Vet Fit, Inc.,
Daniel Gaita. Erin has
personal experience and compassion for the real effects
combat has on our veterans, and is committed to being a
true advocate.
Credited by her
husband as the
catalyst to his
investigating and understanding the impacts that PTSD
has on veterans and their families, Erin has served an
integral support role throughout the founding, formation
and current facility functions of Operation Vet-Fit.
Erin holds a B.A. in Psychology from Western
Connecticut State University. She is a certified personal
trainer and holds group class certifications including
Spinning and Pilates and has successfully trained for and
completed both the 2010 and 2011 New York City
Marathons as well as an endless list of half-marathons and
other competitive athletic events.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS


Sgt. Maj. Brandon Eckardt
- Active Duty Liaison
Brandon Eckardt enlisted in the Marine Corps in
1990. During his career in the Marine Corps
Brandon has served in all four Marine Corps
Divisions, in diverse assignments giving him a
unique perspective on the dynamics that accompany
a calling to fulfill the duties of a Marine for a lengthy
time. With deployments to Somalia, Haiti, Yemen,
East Timor and Iraq, Brandon has experience in a
variety of expeditionary operations. Brandon is
currently serving as the Squadron Sergeant Major
for VMU-2 with 2D Marine Aircraft Wing in Cherry
Point, North Carolina.
Brandon holds a Bachelors Degree in Business
Management from Grand View University.
Among the many professional military education
schools completed during his career in the Marine
Corps, Brandon is proud to have graduated from
the first ever Marine Corps Sergeants Major

Course. In his spare time, Brandon is an


avid distance runner who in April 2015
completed one of his longtime goals of
running the Boston Marathon.
Concerned with the ongoing issues
plaguing combat veterans departing the
active ranks, Brandon is committed to
providing insight and assistance to this
most honorable endeavor that seeks to
identify sustainable solutions for veterans
in need.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

Lt. Col. Mike Zacchea


- Veterans Programs Outreach
Mike Zacchea was commissioned in the Marine
Corps in 1990. He served as a Forward Observer and
Platoon Commander, deploying to Somalia for
Operation Restore Hope and to Haiti for Operation
Support Democracy. In March 2004, as a major he
deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. His
team's mission was to build, train, and lead in combat
the first Iraqi army battalion trained by the US
military. During this time the battalion participated in
Operation Phantom Fury, the 2nd Battle of Fallujah.
During the battle Mike was wounded by a rocketpropelled grenade, but declined to be medically
evacuated.
Mike's military awards include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (with gold star in lieu of 2nd award),
the Purple Heart Medal, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon,
and numerous unit and campaign awards. Mike was also the first and at the time only American
recognized by the Iraqi government by the Order of the Lion of Babylon. As a result of his wounds,
Mike was medically retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Mike's education includes an MBA from the University of Connecticut, an MA in Organizational
Dynamics from Hawaii Pacific University, and a
BA from the University of Notre Dame. He is
the Program Director of the University of
Connecticut Entrepreneur Bootcamp for
Veterans with Disabilities.
He is also involved in the creation of
ConnectVets, Inc., a non-profit organization of
veteran-owned businesses in the state of CT.
He was appointed to a multi-agency crossdisciplinary working group chaired by the
Commissioner of the CT Dept of Veterans
Affairs to align veteran education, job-training,
and workforce re-entry issues. The Small
Business Administration recognized Mike as the
2011-12 Veterans Business Champion. Mike is
the author of Veterans Advocacy: the Fight
for Social Justice and Healing Through
Activism in Healing War Trauma: A Handbook of
Creative Approaches (Routledge: 2013).
Mike has been featured in several
documentaries and books about returning veterans, and has been interviewed in numerous national
media venues discussing the war and related issues. He continues to be active in veterans affairs and
Iraqi refugee affairs. Mike lives in Brookfield CT with his wife and son.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report


HM3 Todd Angell
- Combat Veterans Liaison
Todd Angell served in the United
States Navy as a Combat Fleet
Marine Force Corpsman attached
to the 1st battalion, 8th Marine
Regiment. Deployed September
2010 March 2011 in support of
Operation Enduring Freedom in
Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
While deployed Angell served in
direct combat operations
participating in over 150 combat
patrols providing battlefield aid
to injured Marines, local
nationals, and other coalition
forces.
Angell would go on to earn the
nations third highest military award, the Silver Star and complete his
term of active service with both honor and distinction.
Today Angell is a college student and continues to serve in his community working as an Emergency
Medical Technician preparing to become a
Firefighter. He is an active member of
Operation Vet-Fit, Help our Military
Heroes, and Team Red, White & Blue.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

Valerie Plue
- Substance Abuse Resistance Advocate
Valerie is Vice President of Business Development for
Williams Lea, a global corporate information solutions
firm headquartered in NYC. Prior to joining Williams
Lea, Valerie spent the majority of her career in
publishing at Grolier publishing working her way up
from an input clerk to Vice President of
Manufacturing. Valerie's skill set include supply chain
management, process re-engineering, budget
management, vendor negotiation and procurement.
Valerie is on the Board of Directors of Success
Residential, a sober house for men in the Danbury area
and also serves on the board of Directors of The
Fellowship Center, a sober club in Danbury where 12
step meetings are held several times daily. Valerie is
knowledgeable in navigating local detox facilities, sobering centers and rehabs that specialize in
addictive behaviors.
In addition to her experience with the above facilities, Valerie has been in recovery for 15 years and is
active in helping others to get and stay sober.
Valerie is enrolled in a college level Drug and Alcohol Recovery program of study to become a
counselor.
Valerie's brother Ray, served in the US Army and is a Vietnam combat veteran. Valerie's fianc, Tom
served as a paratrooper and medic in the US Army and is also a Vietnam combat veteran. Her
father, Raymond was also a combat veteran in the US Army.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report


HM3 Christina Marie Colla, Esq.
- Legal Liaison
Christina Colla served in the United States Navy as a
Corpsman from 2002-2006, before an injury/illness rendered
her unable to deploy. She was deployed multiple times in
support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi
Freedom, earning several awards for her service.
Since being discharged, she has gone on to earn her law degree
with a concentration in health law from Quinnipiac University
School of Law in Hamden, CT. Her ultimate goal is to
advocate for veterans in the areas of health, benefits and
employment - 3 areas that many veterans and their families
struggle with everyday.
Christina lives in New Milford with her service dog, Copper,
who has been instrumental in assisting Christina with the
effects of PTSD and some mobility issues. They have been very active throughout the community,
and can be seen visiting the veterans in CTs two VA facilities.

PVT Thomas C. Burke


- Chaplain
A Meritoriously promoted Marine Corps Boot camp
graduate, in 2008 Thomas deployed in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Squad Automatic
Rifleman and Arabic cultural advisor.
After a few unfortunate traumatic events, Thomas was
diagnosed with PTSD upon returning from his first
deployment. Not to be deterred, he deployed again in
2008 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a
Designated Marksman and Pashto linguist.
Upon completion of this combat deployment, Thomas
was a shell of the boy who left for war. Luckily the
Marine Corps and his command decided he deserved
help and was sent to the Department of Defense
Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Facility in San Diego,
CA. After successful treatment, Thomas was ready to
start becoming the man he was meant to be. After
transitioning out of the Marine Corps and returning
home, Thomas finally received his VA benefits after
over a year of doubt.
In doing so he was able to complete his undergraduate degree in Religious Studies and English.
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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report


Currently, Thomas is in seminary at Yale Divinity School training to become an Episcopalian Priest
and US Naval Chaplain.
As one of the earliest members of Op-Vet Fit, Thomas was able to utilize the programs and
accessibility to benefits provided by such a great organization to further his successes and ease his
transition into civilian life.
Thomas is an accomplished and published writer, and forever a student of the world. As a world
traveler and with a proficiency in foreign languages Thomas has devoted his life to social justice and
helping those without a voice.
He his honored to fulfill his role as Chaplain at Op-Vet Fit and is ready and willing to help any
veterans in their spiritual and emotional recovery.

SPC Bradley Noone


- Outdoor Program Coordinator/Guide
Bradley Noone enlisted in the US Army in
2005 as an Infantryman. Immediately
upon graduation from basic training he
was deployed to Afghanistan in support of
Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon his
return to the United States, he served
another 6 years with the CT and FL Army
National Guard and was honorably
discharged after 8 years of service,
primarily with the 1-102 INF (MTN) of the CT Army National Guard. Leaving the military, Bradley
takes with him a number of awards to include; The Combat Infantryman's Badge, and a pair of Army
Commendation Medals.
Bradley incurred a number of injuries during his time in the service, to include; PTSD, TBI, Hearing
Loss, a back injury, and a reconstructed ankle. He is a class of 2014 graduate from Western
Connecticut State University with a B.S. in Justice and Law Administration and a minor in History, a
2014 graduate of SOLO Wilderness Medicine School with certifications as a Wilderness EMT.
Bradley is also a published author of a chap book of poetry about his time in Afghanistan and the
military.
Being active in the outdoors, Bradley has discovered the healing power that nature holds when
dealing with combat and reintegration related stress. He is active with an organization who builds
communities of veterans in the outdoors entitled Veterans Expeditions and hopes to bring this same
mantra to Operation Vet Fit. His life's mission is to help other veterans find healthy coping
mechanisms to dealing with their military and reintegration issues via the great outdoors

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

Tracy DeLuise
-

Personal Fitness Liaison

Tracy DeLuise is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Personal


Trainer and a Certified Buti Yoga Instructor. Buti meaning The cure
to something hidden or kept secret. Buti Yoga fuses tribal dance,
plyometrics and yoga into an empowering workout. As a mother of
three children Tracy is no stranger to hard work and a busy
lifestyle. She is a Veteran of the United States Army and the
Connecticut National Guard. She served her country as a Signal
Support Specialist for 8 years.
After serving in the Army, Tracy went on to start her family. She was
certified as a personal trainer while 8 months pregnant with her
second child back in 2001. Tracy decided to go back to school last
year and attended Ridley Lowell Business and Technical Institute
where she completed 900 hours of intense studies on Massage
Therapy. She is currently working on her certification in Clinical
Orthopedic Manual Therapy.
Tracy also has certifications in Strength Training for Women, Exercise and Pregnancy and
Kickboxing. She believes everyone can benefit from a healthy active lifestyle that includes exercise
and massage!!

Joyce Allen
-

Group Exercise Volunteer

Since the founding of Operation Vet Fit, Joyce has been a major
supporter, both as volunteer and donor. Joyce provides weekly
group Spin classes and assistance in fundraising activities.
In addition to her volunteer assistance at Operation Vet Fit, Joyce
is an avid competitor that has both placed and won multiple
Marathons, Half-Marathons, Biathlons, and countless local,
national and international athletic events.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

OVERVIEW OF THOSE WE SERVE

WHERE THEY SERVED:


-

1 WORLD WAR II
1 KOREA
25 VIETNAM
6 SOMALIA
6 BOSNIA
1 BEIRUT
5 GULF WAR
24 IRAQ
26 AFGHANISTAN
2 WORLD TRADE CENTERS
SEPTEMBER 11 , 2001
1 SANDY HOOK
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
FIRST RESPONDER
TH

MAJOR AWARDS FOR


VALOR AND SACRIFICE
-

1 SILVER STAR
15 PURPLE HEARTS
6 BRONZE STARS

ARMED FORCES
BRANCHES REPRESENTED
-

3 AIR FORCE
44 ARMY
11 NAVY
31 MARINE CORPS
1 NYPD
1 FDNY

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

MEASURES OF SUCCESS
Fitness Facility Besides our veterans utilizing the
facility for over 2,000 workouts in the last year alone,
the facility has also served to carry out a variety of
community-based functions to foster a sense of
purpose for our volunteer veterans and assist in postservice reintegration; including but not limited to:
Toy Drives - For the
annual Dorothy Day
Santas Workshop that
provided toys to over 800
needy families in the
greater Danbury Area last
Christmas.
Food Collection - For
our area charity,
Brotherhood in Action,
which provides food to
those that cannot afford
to buy their own. Our
food collection program is
ongoing and our collaboration with other area charities to help the poor,
hungry, and needy is both essential for the success of our community
but equally for the successful reintegration of our volunteer combat
veterans during these events.
Advocacy
Services During the last year, Operation
Vet Fit invested a substantial proportion of
its volunteer efforts toward the advocacy of
a WWII Combat Veteran that was exploited
by the State of CT Probate Court System.
Through our collaboration with our elected
State and Federal leaders and other veterans
agencies like Purple Heart Homes, National
Veterans Service Foundation and Work
Vessels for Veterans, we rescued Louis J.
Russo from an involuntary conservator that
was assigned by the CT Probate Court
whom stole his life savings, scrapped his
personal property, illegally rented out his
home, and kept him in a nursing home
rather than a free VA hospital.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report


SSGT Louis J. Russos
plight garnered local
and State media
attention and led to a
continued call for
Probate reform in the
State of CT.
Currently, Operation
Vet Fit provides the
funding for Mr. Russos
telephone, Internet,
surveillance, Life Alert
system, and any other
needs he may call upon
us for. You can review
a synopsis of our
advocacy for Mr. Russo
at this link:
https://www.youtube.c
om/watch?v=L4qq6Q
RUMkE
Direction and
Motivation - For those
that have come home from the battlefields, finding a sense of purpose tends to be the crucial link
required for successful reintegration.
We fully intend to continue to assist our
veterans in finding what their purpose is.
And doing so in a way that inspires the next
generation and encourages leaders to emerge
from the abyss of the suffering that
accompanies the loss of purpose felt
following combat action or honorable
service to ones nation.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

HIGHLIGHTED SUCCESS STORY - LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND


Late September 2014 I was contacted by one of our OVF Member veterans, also our district State
Representative, Dan Carter. He was seeking our assistance in helping a 96 year-old World War 2
combat veteran that had been involuntarily conserved by the CT Probate Court System, wrongfully
placed in a nursing home that racked up a $108,000 bill and while he was being held in the nursing
home, the court appointed
conservator stripped his bank
accounts clean, as well as his
personal property and heavy
building equipment.
Within the next 6 week period our
agency contacted our elected
representatives, the judge, Attorney
General, VA, Department of
Justices, and the Statewide
Grievance Committee. OVF
assisted, in tandem with the
guidance of our State Officials, in
aiding the veteran in filing a criminal
complaint that is now under
investigation with the CT State
Police, a grievance complaint with
the Statewide Grievance Committee,
and a complaint to the Department
of Justice.
By Veterans Day 2014 OVF had coordinated over 30 volunteers and raised the money needed to
repair his home, return him home, and restore his sense of dignity. To date, OVF continues to cover
many of his bills, and continues to
coordinate volunteer efforts to
continually improve his home and quality
of life.
Multiple investigations are still ongoing,
and our WWII Veteran has become a
source of both inspiration to others as
well as a whistle blower on the corrupt
state of CT Probate Court affairs that
has amplified the investigation and
overhaul of the CT Probate Court
System at the legislative level.
His story gained wide local media
attention and appeared on the front page
of our local paper, The Danbury News
Times, over a half dozen times as well as

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report


a TV media story that aired on CTs WFSB News Channel 3.

CAMARADERIE BUILDING EVENTS


One key factor to the success of OVF is in the understanding that camaraderie, once lost following
combat service, is a key element in social reintegration. The bond we share with one another is
unbreakable for each of us has a history that has been forged through the alchemy of those whom
served before us and this bond, this experience, can never be taken away.
Thus, we strive to re-ignite that same sense of brotherhood, except now its shared through
recreational activity, far from the threat of combat, judgment, or misunderstanding.
Operation Vet Fit provides fully funded, all expenses paid get-a-ways for its combat theatre veterans.
Last year we provided the following such
events and opportunities:
May 17th 2014 3rd Annual 5K
Memorial Tribute Run. An emotional
5K (3.1mile) Tribute Run in memory of
all of Americas War Dead.
The run begins with the National
Anthem, and an emotional bagpipe
playing of Amazing Grace. A bugle
playing of Taps followed by a ceremonial
Firing Squad gunshot to send the runners
off on a grueling course.
Right from the start, runners are motivated and observed by several Color Guard details from
Korean War Vets, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion members and include World War II,
Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq War Veterans.
Just after passing the delegation of veterans, runners are cheered along by the rumbling of over 30
Harley Davidson Motorcycles, complements of the Danbury Harley Owners Group.
The runners get all the motivation they can soak in prior to the steep and grueling first mile hill climb
that takes them up Hoyts Hill and Governors Lane.
Other methods of motivational support are present along the route during the hill climb and will
serve as reminders of the sacrifices of those who died in defense of our nation.
Upon their arrival atop Governors Lane each exhausted runner is handed a POW/MIA flag which
will be carried for the remaining duration of the event.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report


Runner make their way back down Hoyts Hill, down Greenwood Ave and take a left onto Nashville
Road, a quick right onto South Street and then for the next emotional trek, into and through the
Center Cemetery, passing the Soldiers and Sailors
Memorial Monument while continuing around the
entire perimeter of the cemetery returning onto and
continuing down South Street, making a right onto
Blackman Ave and a right again onto Elizabeth Street
where runners will finish where they started, across the
tracks from Bethel Cycle.
In additional to paying tribute to Americas war dead,
the event also serves as the primary spring fundraiser
for Operation Vet-Fit, and The John Hogan
Scholarship Fund.
All the contributing businesses and volunteers
understand the gravity of this event and they have
stepped up in a big way to help us make it a success.
What adds to the significance of this tribute is that there
is no 1st Place, nor an Official Time, no runners
will wear race numbers, no prizes will be awarded, and
no water stations will be provided throughout the course.
This is but one way to pay tribute to those brave men and women that never came home from the
battlefields. It is the very least we can do, and I commend the many runners that have already taken
part in this honorable event. It will certainly be one that they will not soon forget.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report


August 2014 UCONN Season Opener in Party Bus
Thanks to a very generous donation from the University
of Connecticut Athletics, we were able to provide our
veterans with an all expense paid party bus trip to
UCONNs 2014 season opening home football game in
Hartford, CT while meeting some of the former football
team alums.

September 15th 2014 2nd Annual Golf Outing and Combat Veterans Recognition Dinner.
This is our only fall fundraising event where we provide our combat veterans with a free round of
golf, tournament style. Included in this day long sequence of recreational events are breakfast, a BBQ
cookout lunch, followed by a combat veterans recognition dinner.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

September, December and March Comedy Night


Dinner For this event we invite our veteran members
and their significant others for a night of food, beverages,
and laughs at Bethels Putnam House Restaurant. These
events have proven both cost effective and instrumental
in allowing our veterans spouses to meet, catch up and
discuss the challenges and benefits of being in a
relationship/marriage/family with a combat theatre
veteran.

September 19th - 22nd 2014 Lime Rock Park, Fall Weekend


racing and camping inside the track. Situated in the beautiful hills of CTs Litchfield County, this
event last for 3 full days and takes place inside the racetrack. A golf cart is provided for our veterans
to make their way comfortably around the venue, which provides multiple viewing points to observe
each of the weekend auto racing events. Food,
Camping, Racing, and of course a fire.

March 13th 2015 American Legion Post


100 Annual Game Dinner For this event we
cover the cost of event tickets for our
veterans. This is also another valuable event
that gets our veterans in contact with others in
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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report


the veteran and veterans support community. Our local Legion post
members are leaders in the community and also carry out most of the
municipalities patriot functions.
May 22nd 25th 2015 - Lime Rock Park, Memorial Day Weekend
Racing and camping inside the track. We had such a great time last fall
that we committed to doing
it again in the spring.
For obvious reasons we
selected Memorial Day
Weekend. For this event we
were provided an RV by
OVF volunteer and donor.
This time around we
upgraded to a six-passenger
golf cart in order to provide transportation around the
park for our volunteers, veterans, and donors.
July 24th 27th 2015 Deerfield River rafting and
camping trip. This trip runs for four days and is situated
in the heart of the Berkshire Mountains in the North West
corner of Mass. We camp in style, usually with an RV and
all the amenities. River rafting along
the calm section of the Deerfield River
provides for five to eight hours of
relaxation and recreation on the river.
This event is a cure all for almost
anyone, but a true source of great
comaradierie building,
laughs,brotherhood, & a much needed
exhale for OVF vets from the daily
grind

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

JOHN BUZZ HOGAN


SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
Inspired by United States Marine, Vietnam Veteran,
Two-Time Purple Heart recipient, John Buzz
Hogan,
PURPOSE:
To assist children or grandchildren of a currently
serving or former combat Veteran.
SELECTION CRITERIA:
Male or Female Applicants must be under the age of 22.
Applicants must be at least a C student. Participate in an
institution sponsored extra-curricular activity. Have done or
are currently involved in a community service program. Have
been selected or have pending acceptance as a full-time student
in an accredited post-secondary educational institution.
HOW TO APPLY:
Email all required information and attachments listed below to:
danielgaita@comcast.net Application period is open with a
deadline of March 20th annually:
Applicants must submit a
written essay of up to 200
words includes: A brief
description of why the
scholarship is needed. A brief
description of the parent/grandparents combats service. Must
submit a copy of parent/grandparents "Certificate of Release or
Discharge from Active Duty" a.k.a. "DD-214" to prove combat
service (no other documents will be accepted). Course of study and
future career plans. An undecided answer is acceptable as long as
some sense of current areas of potential interest are equally well
explained. Some sense of why the candidate believes he/she is a
candidate worthy of this scholarship. Brief description of
community service experience(s).

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

COMMUNITY AWARDS AND RECOGNITION


During the previous year,
Operation Vet fit was
nominated as Non-Profit of the
year by two local agencies. The
first nomination came in 2013
from our area online news
outlet (The Bethel Patch); the
second nomination coming
earlier in 2014 by the Bethel
Chamber of Commerce.
During 2014, Operation Vet Fit
was recognized as a Guide Star,
Great Nonprofits, Top Rated
Nonprofit.
Additionally, due to our reporting and
transparency methods, the Guide Star
Exchange certified us as a Gold
Participant.
It is an honor to have our efforts
noticed in or community, and we look

forward to maintaining continued


momentum toward a day when we can
realize our goal of stopping veteran
suicides through exercise, fitness, camaraderie, and in the attainment of a higher purpose through
both hardship and resilience.

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

GRANTS
Operation Vet Fit continues to apply
for hundreds of thousands of dollars in
grant funds to continue and expand its
mission and services. Even with broad
federal and state endorsements large
grants have been unattainable thus far.
Here is an overview of our grant
request efforts, successes, and denials.
Grants Applied For 2014-2015:

Savings Bank of Danbury


Awarded $1000
Anthony F. Bauer - $1,600
Home Depot Foundation $5,000 (July 2015)
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Pending
Lockheed Martin Pending
Maximus Foundation Pending
Purple Heart Foundation Pending
Tyson Corp Pending
Ford Corporation - Pending
RGK Foundation Grant Request Denied
Coca Cola - Grant Request Denied
SC Johnson Philantropy - Grant Request Denied
Bank of America Philanthropic Giving - Grant Request Denied
Wounded Warrior Project Grant Request Denied
George A. & Grace L. Long Foundation Grant Request Denied
CSX Grant Request Denied
David, Helen and Marian Woodward Fund - Grant Request Denied
Lowes Charitable Foundation - Grant Request Denied
Walgreens All Grant Request Denied
Dalio Foundation - Grant Request Denied
Diebold Foundation - Grant Request Denied
Dr Scholl Foundation - Grant Request Denied
Ben & Jerrys Foundation - Grant Request Denied
Newmans Own - Grant Request Denied
Veterans Service Foundation - Grant Request Denied
Disabled Veterans National Foundation - Grant Request Denied

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2015 Operation Vet Fit Annual Report

FORWARD THINKING
For the upcoming year,
Operation Vet Fit is
planning a major
relocation and expansion
of services in what we
are calling Bridge the
Gap Our goal is to be
able to reach as many of
our active duty service
men and women that are
preparing to transition
back into the civilian
world; To provide them
with the information,
contacts, and liaisons
they will need to be most
successful following their service in our various combat theatres.
To accomplish this next mission we will be selling our fitness center in Bethel CT and relocating our
headquarters to South Carolina where we will have closer proximity to many of the east coast military
establishments and active duty personnel.
Simultaneously, we will be negotiating
the sale of the donated OVF fitness
center assets to one of our very own
veteran members who has generously
agreed to keep the fitness center free
and available for our existing 91 current
veterans.
As a result, OVF will have its first
official satellite fitness center location
and our first OVF member fitness
center owner.
And yes, I still envision an OVF center in every State of America being operated by a purpose driven
combat veteran still looking to serve his fellow combat theatre veterans.
Our motto: Per Aspera As Astra meaning, through hardship to the stars. Our call to arms for
every combat veteran to believe and seek to find that purpose that drives effort while inspiring the
next generation to greatness, fulfillment and achievement.
This is who we are this is what we do!

Dan Gaita, Founder, Operation Vet Fit


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