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OCEAN CITY, N.J.: People in Crisis, a local organization that helps people in need obtain medical and living care, has expanded its programs to assist veterans.

Founded by Ocean City resident Lana Samuels, PICI now operates nationally and has gained the support of physicians, pharmacists, lawyers, businesses and such personalities as Phil Martelli, St. Joseph’s University basketball coach, who is a member of its Out Reach Committee plus Matt Crowley, head golf professional, Stone Harbor Golf Club.              

Samuels has gone door to door for years fund raising and identifying people in need. She discovered there were many area veterans puzzled about how to obtain their VA benefits. They required expert assistance to understand and complete procedures.

 

This led her on a search for advocates and agencies nearby that can help veterans navigate the system and get help in a timely manner. One valuable contact who now helps PICI referrals is Lou Green, 80, of Mays Landing, a self educated expert on VA Health Care.

Green 80, is a retired business owner and Korean War Veteran, who enlisted and served in the Air Force for four years. He has strong feelings for veterans because of his military experience and has devoted himself to ensuring they get the correct information necessary to receive benefits.

Over the past 19 years Green has provided free information that has helped thousands of veterans. He has worked with Government Agencies on programs accommodating as many as 1200 to 1800 during sessions.

Green has developed direct contacts with key members and offices of the Veterans

Administration and can direct applicants to VA contacts quickly, saving days of time and in many cases saving lives.

“The system can be intimidating,” says Green. “In some cases the veterans just give up. I’m happy to assist People in Crisis by providing the vital information they need. I can answer most questions and if not give the veteran the right phone number for assistance. I also have VA pamphlets that will answer many of their questions.”

Like People in Crisis, Green provides his help free. He estimates he has worked with over 8,000 veterans over the years. The first Wednesday of every month you will find him at Hamilton Mall in Egg Harbor Township near the entrance to Ruby Tuesdays, passing out information and counseling. He is assisted by two Viet Nam Veterans, a retired FBI Agent and a non veteran of Atlantic City.

“Mr. Green has been a godsend to us,” says Samuels, “Now we have an excellent contact when we find a veteran in dire need of help.” Green may be reached a (609) 407-1332.

Steve Garwood of Northfield, a Vietnam veteran, is a typical example of a former serviceman who is benefitting thanks to the dynamic efforts of Samuels, Green, Congressman Lobiondo and Veterans advocate Ed Famiglietti. Working on his own and in need of food, cash and health benefits, Garwood was ready to give up. Samuels stepped in to obtain food stamps for his family. She is obtaining additional assistance with the help of nurse Nancy Cosenza, a PICI volunteer from Northfield and Board members Dawn Davis Earl and Valinda Newton.

“People in Crisis and Mr. Green did more for me in one year than I was able to do myself in four,” says Garwood. “I’m now living with more hope.” Garwood is now a valued volunteer for PICI.

Walter Tuthill of Linwood, a Korean veteran, is also receiving help from the Green/Samuels/Ed Famiglietti team in obtaining a hearing aid and VA benefits.

Famiglietti works for the New Jersey Department of Military Affairs.

Tuthill, himself, has been working for fellow veterans for over 20 years providing crafts for those confined to military hospitals. He is also a volunteer for PICI.

“I’m associated with an organization called HHArts and Craft Kits. We provide art programs and crafts kits that keep patients occupied while in hospital confinement. I get cards and photos all time from them telling me how much they appreciate the materials.” Tuthill may be reached at (609) 385-3595.

People in Crisis has found a valuable advocate in Ed Famiglietti of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, a State Agency. Like Green, Famiglietti has the ability to contact the correct office quickly whether state wide or in Washington, D.C. that will provide quick assistance. And he is eager to help every veteran that he can.

Famiglietti works with the VFW, American Legion and many other veterans’ organizations. He is also in contact with Congressman Frank LoBiondo, another advocate for veterans. PICI referred him to help Lindsey and Kathleen Villano. Lindsey’s grandfather, William Dickinson, a World War II veteran, had his Bronze Star stolen in 1995 during a Christmastime robbery. Famiglietti is helping the family get a replacement.

“Mr. Famiglietti is helping many veterans for us in many ways,” says Samuels. He may be reached at (609) 441-3060.

If you’re a veteran or any person in need of medical or living assistance, People in Crisis will attempt too help you. Call Lana at (609) 334-8718. This is a free service.

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