GARDNER, MA- On Sunday August 27, 2023 Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center hosted its’ 5th Annual Jesse H. Stallings Speaker Series at Monument Park in Gardner, MA. Expanding off the success of last year’s event, this year featured live music from Kali Stoddard-Imari of RallySound and a discussion on veteran PTSD and mental health care from US Air Force Veteran Blair Morin. The event also hosted folks from the Montachusett Suicide Prevention Task Force and Clear Path For Veterans, as well as Mayor Mike Nicholson and State Representative Jon Zlotnik.Despite the rain, about 60 attendees gathered for music, conversation, and refreshments. Kali Stoddard-Imari moved his set to the back of the stage so folks could join him under the covering and the remainder happily huddled under pop up tents elsewhere in the park. After the musical set, Blair discussed his time as a medic in the Air Force, the mental health struggles he faced upon return, and continues to face today. His speech encouraged veterans to talk to each other and professionals and get help if they need it, emphasizing that 22 veterans a day already lose their lives to suicide and it’s only together that we can decrease that statistic.
Said Executive Director Dr. Stephanie Marchetti, “it is a privilege each year to organize this event, to honor Jesse Stallings’ memory and our founder Cathy McWilliams’ dedication to veteran suicide and homelessness prevention, as well as to provide a stigma-breaking opportunity for our veterans. As any veteran I’ve talked to has heard me say a million times- please come in and see us if you need help, and even if you don’t need help come in and visit us anyway. We are here for you and we want you here.”
The MVOC is grateful for the support of many sponsors for this event, to include: Fidelity Bank, Commodore Builders, ELM Electrical, Piper Electric, Rollstone Bank & Trust, Mount Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University, Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center, Wachusett Mountain Association, Padgett Business Services, Rally Sound, and Polar Beverages.
The MVOC offers veterans throughout central Massachusetts housing, mental health counseling, financial assistance grants, benefits resource guidance, a food and clothing pantry, and more. The organization is headquartered at 268 Central Street in Gardner.