Remembering Vets seeks to support both prior active duty armed forces members and their families.
A group of women from Palm Coast, Ormond Beach and Daytona are working to ensure no veteran is forgotten through a nonprofit organization that aims to support veterans, military families and those in active duty in any way it can.
“These people are expecting a hand-up, not a hand-out," Remembering Vets member Terri Gordon said.
That "hand-up" could be anything like providing food, honoring them with a quilt, helping with utility bills or it may just mean helping them have enough fuel to get around town.
On Saturday, Nov. 3, that's exactly what Remembering Vets did for Brett Canollo, who was connected with the nonprofit via CareerSource in Orange City.
Canollo, an Army veteran, was struggling with having enough gas in his car to drive his son to school and coach his baseball team. He had to miss a whole week of games because of this. Remembering Vets was able to gift him with a $100 gas card, something he won't forget anytime soon.
These women are amazing, he said. Not only did they gift him with a gas card, but they drove to meet him in Holly Hill.
“They really go out of their way to help veterans," Canollo said.
For Remembering Vets co-founder Cathy Heighter, it's just a way to let veterans know they don't take their service and sacrifice for granted. She started Remembering Vets in 2016 with her past survivor outreach coordination Carol Pryor. Heighter is an American Gold Star Mother, as her son died in Iraq in 2003. He was 22 years old.
Following this tragedy in her family, Heighter successfully worked to increase the military death benefit for all. When this came to fruition, she said she knew that advocating for veterans was her purpose and mission in life. She wanted to make sure she remembered, not just her son's sacrifice, but all those who have served and continue to serve.
“We are a community," Heighter said. "We’re just a small, local community 501c3 organization, and whatever we can do, we will do.”
Local veteran Lawrence Thomas recently experienced this also. He was connected with Remembering Vets through CareerSource in Daytona with the hopes that the nonprofit would help him with his car. Thomas's car was in dire need of new brakes.
Remembering Vets was able to gift him with the $130 needed for this fix, granting him the mobility to be able to get a job. If there's one thing he can do in return is spread the word.
“The word needs to be out basically that they help veterans,” Thomas said.
Remembering Vets also helps to connect people with resources, especially veterans suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. The organization has been able to place an Invisible Wounds memorial in Palm Coast to raise awareness, and it is working toward placing a second in the Orange Avenue bridge in Daytona Beach.
Raising awareness for PTSD is something member Susan Banks is very passionate about. These people need help, she said.
“They’re just not doing enough," Banks said. "Too many of them are dying.”
Heighter wants to spread the word that Remembering Vets is here. Not many people know about the nonprofit, she said. They don't have unlimited resources, but Remembering Vets works hard to help in any way they can.
“It’s what we do — it’s for our veterans," Remembering Veterans member Janie Rocke said.