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Special Dinner Gives Vets Hope

When Ralph Clyburn returned home from serving in the Marine Corps, there were no parades and no cheering and he was called a “baby killer.” However, that was not the case Sunday as Clyburn and other homeless veterans at Bridgeport’s Homes for the Brave were served a Thanksgiving dinner from the Wilton American Legion , Westport VFW and Saugatuck Congregational Church members.

“This is a big difference than when I came out of the service,” Clyburn said as he enjoyed his dinner. “It gives my heart and thoughts hope.”

Among the volunteers serving the veterans was U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who wanted the veterans to know that people care and are grateful for their service. “We are all here to say thank you for what you’ve done,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal’s message was warmly received by the 40 or so veterans who attended the dinner. David Volta says he has been to more doctors than he could count and often feels like his time in the Navy has been forgotten. But he did not feel that way as he listened to the senator. “Just as we think of [Blumenthal] as important, they make us feel important,” Volta said.

Homes for the Brave provides homeless veterans with housing and other services to help them return to a productive and meaningful life, its website says. Many of the veterans are also working through issues such as drug abuse and permanent injuries. They are given the freedom to help themselves from the organization. “They give you just enough rope to hang yourself,” veteran Erwin Williams says.

The dinner Sunday was organized by the same groups that organized the Field of Flags last June, when 5,500 American Flags were displayed on the Saugatuck Congregational Church lawn.

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