Cape Cod & Islands Military Veterans
The Cape Cod community has supported our active duty military members, our veterans, and their families for many years. Over the years numerous local and regional nonprofit organizations and agencies have been created to do the same.
In May of 2013 State Representative David T. Vieira participated in a panel discussion on government with the Community Leadership Institute of Cape Cod and the Islands. One of the participants Gwen Errhalt, the wife of a Desert Storm Veteran and mother of a USN Reserve sailor, came up to him after the session and said she’d like to chat about how to connect the many groups and individuals who help veterans and their families so that they are aware of each other and each other’s projects and goals.
A few months later David attended a meeting of the Falmouth Veteran's Council, and he heard the need to clarify the resources of some of the groups in the Upper Cape that help veterans. He began meeting with Carole Kenney, a founding member of the Falmouth Military Support Group and mother of a US Air Force airman, and Rebecca Silva, a veteran and former district commander of the VFW. As the group met they considered whether or not to expand their concept to an area larger than the Upper Cape.
Then in February of 2014 while standing in the buffet line at a retirement party for the executive director of the Cape Cod Veteran’s Outreach Center Rep. Vieira struck up a conversation with Dr. Ann Skopek, the mother of a Massachusetts National Guard Captain and active member of Operation Adopt A Soldier. Ann told David that she and Regina Giambusso from the Outreach Center had begun forming a group in Hyannis to coordinate contacts for soldiers, veterans, and their families with the goal of formulating a database to steer military members to services and to engage the community in efforts to serve those who have served our country.
Representative Vieira decided to convene a meeting at his office in May to include Gwen, Carole, Rebecca, Ann, and Regina. It seemed like the right thing to do since Ann and Regina were working in the mid-Cape, and Carole and Rebecca were working in the Upper Cape on the same idea but weren’t aware of each other. He called Gwen and told her he had some folks that were already beginning the work she was interested in and invited her to the group. They developed an action plan and brainstormed various groups to invite to a meeting in August 2014 at the Yarmouth Police Department to introduce the idea. Representative Vieira’s legislative aide Kathleen Palmer also assists the Collaborative with its mission and keeps him informed of ways to assist the group.
Hence the first phase of the Collaborative was born which led to a Summit in November 2014 at Cape Cod Community College to continue to network and connect various groups.
Gwen Errhalt is the Membership Manager at The Golf Club of Cape Cod (East Falmouth) and also sits on The Board of Directors for The Community Leadership Institute of Cape Cod. Gwen is the chairman for a charity golf tournament (TGC for The Troops) that was established in 2010. The tournament raises funds for The TGC Fund, a donor advised fund through the Cape Cod Foundation. The TGC Fund considers grants to organizations who provide assistance specifically to Cape Cod Veterans, Military as well as their families. The TGC Fund also provides college scholarships to children of veterans. In addition Gwen’s husband who is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War and is the Director of Golf at The Golf Club of Cape Cod teaches a free golf clinic each summer to veterans and active military . Gwen and her husband are the proud parents to 2 young men one of which currently serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
Dr. Ann Skopek is an internist who has practiced primary care for the last 36 years. After completing her training at Yale New Haven Hospital she spent most of her career in the New Haven, CT area, actively participating in the Yale medical community while managing her own practice. She moved to Cape Cod in 2007 to work in a large primary care practice which she did until May of 2014. She currently works at Pleasant Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Dr. Skopek is married to Dr. Richard Peterson, a plant biochemist. They are the proud parents of 2 children--a daughter Kathryn, an artist, and a son Adam, a captain in the Massachusetts National Guard. Adam returned in July of 2013 from a second deployment to the Middle East to Afghanistan, where he served as company commander of the 181st Engineer Company.
As a military mom and active member of the Family Readiness Group for her son’s deployed unit, Dr. Skopek witnessed the tremendous sacrifices of our soldier heroes and their families. With her involvement with Operation Adopt A Soldier she has learned of the ongoing needs of military families and our veterans and is newly energized both with the prospects of helping those who have sacrificed so much for our country and by the generosity of members of our communities.
Carole Kenney is a longtime Falmouth resident. She is a founding member of the Falmouth Military Support Group established in March of 2003, whose mission is to provide moral and physical support to the areas service members serving abroad in Iraq/Afghanistan and also when they return home. For the last 11 years Carole has served as President and Treasurer of the group. Carole and her group have raised over $300,000 and mailed over 5,500 packages to Cape Cod troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Falmouth Military Support Group has awarded over $33,000 in scholarships to returning veterans in the past few years. Her group also provides support for military families and friends by hosting bi-weekly meetings to share their experience, joy and pain of having a loved one deployed. Carole also has run numerous informational programs for veterans and their families, and is active in other veteran organizations. In addition to her work with the Falmouth Military Support Group, Carole is a member of the Town of Falmouth's Veterans Council.
Carole’s passion for service to our Veterans comes from a vast family history of Military service. Carole is the granddaughter of two World War I Veterans, daughter of a World War II Veteran, Sister of a Navy Veteran and her son Matthew has served fifteen years (and counting) in the United States Air Force. He has deployed several times, his first in 2003, and serves as a Firefighter at Moody Air Force base in Valdosta Ga.
Carole and her husband Dean, who is a retired banker and also grew up on Cape Cod, live in Hatchville. They are proud parents of 5 children, 5 grandchildren and several grand-dogs.
State Representative and Eagle Scout David T. Vieira was born and raised in Teaticket, MA. David graduated as the Roll of Honor student from Falmouth High School in 1993, received his BA in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government from The American University in Washington, DC in 1997 and earned his Masters of Public Administration from Suffolk University in Boston in 2004. David has served as Falmouth Town Moderator since 1998 when he was elected the youngest town moderator in Falmouth's history and reportedly the second youngest in the history of the Commonwealth. On January 5th, 2011, David was sworn in as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives for the Third Barnstable District. He is a member of the Massachusetts Military Asset & Security Strategy Taskforce, and serves as Ranking Member of the General Court’s Joint Committee on Public Safety & Homeland Security. David is also a member of the Otis Civilian Advisory Council.
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Regina Giambusso is the proud mother of one son who now works as a successful journalist in New York City covering the areas of urban energy and environmental issues. She is also a retired educator who worked for twenty four years as a teacher of Literature and Language Arts at the middle school level, and eleven years as an administrator at the Bourne Middle School, working in the areas of student support services and curriculum and professional development.
Following retirement from the world of education in 2011, Regina began as a volunteer for the Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center in the area of grant writing and program development for the newly-conceived Grace Program. She continues in that capacity today, and has added the role of outreach coordinator for the organization.
Following the lead of Greg Quilty, the current Executive Director of the Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center, she represented the CIVOC, working with the other three founding members, in the mission of connecting with other veteran service providers to better coordinate and consolidate services, and to broaden collaboration among the providers. The Cape Cod Military, Veteran and Family Collaborative is the first significant step toward that goal, and has given a mother who is most grateful that her son never had to experience warfare and the challenges of military life, the opportunity to make a small contribution to those who have.