Vet Fest, an annual event that salutes veterans while raising money to help cut suicide rates, will honor a Delaware advocate Saturday.
Dave Tiberi will be recognized for his support of veteran causes with the annual 22in22 Award. He was one of the inspirations for the program.
“His personal story of triumph and his personal testimony regarding PTSD and the Vietnam War in his family are compelling,” said cofounder Brian DiSabatino. “He is a hero to us all.”
The event will be held Saturday, Sept. 25, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Town of Whitehall. It will include a 10K and 5K run, parade and Welcome Home Ceremony for Vietnam veterans.
The 10K ruck starts at 9:30 a.m., the 5K at 11 a.m. and the award program, Welcome Home program and musical program all start at noon.
Welcome Home organization Rosely Robinson said the program is decades late.
“This kind of recognition is well overdue for our Vietnam Veterans,” she said. “And, considering the current anxiety over Afghanistan, the timing could not be more
Proceeds go to bring the veteran and civilian communities together and to support the non-profit, StopSoldierSuicide.org. In addition to Delaware, events are happening around the country as a result of the Delaware inspiration.
Previous honorees of the 22in22 award have included retired National Guard General Gen. Francis Vavala for his support of suicide awareness through his tenure, Dr. Mark Brainard for launching the annual 22in22 program at Delaware Technical Community College where he serves as its fifth President, veteran/businessman Steve Masterson for his aggressive career support of veterans, Yolanda Borttof for her work at the USO and local veteran advocates John Stagliano and Rosely Robinson for their passionate work with veterans.
DiSabatino said statistics show about 22 veterans and one active-duty military member each day succumb to hidden wounds and commit suicide. In 2015, Delaware experienced 11 veteran suicides, according to the VA’s most updated statistics, down from 24 in 2014. The 22in22 initiative began in 2015 as a response to this issue.
Jacob DiSabatino created 22in22 in 2015, when he was a junior at St. Mark’s High School, as a service project to raise awareness about the fact that 8,000 veterans die each year from suicide. The initiative has gained national attention.
DiSabatino, now a 2nd lieutenant in U.S. Army graduated from the Citadel in South Carolina and is stationed in
Actor Gary Sinise and the late musician Charlie Daniels have been part of the program.
Vet Fest is an outcropping of the 22in22 program.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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