Haverhill to Provide Social Workers, Peer Support for Veterans During Upcoming Emotional Weekend

Haverhill Veterans Service Officer Luis Santiago. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Relief is available for those veterans feeling strong emotions during this Saturday’s 20th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, the recent end of the Afghanistan conflict and the return of a Lawrence Marine killed by terrorists near Kabul Airport.

Foreseeing the need for peer support, suicide prevention and counseling, Haverhill Veterans Service Officer Luis Santiago and partners quickly assembled a “Warrior Support Task Force,” to operate under a tent Saturday, Sept. 11, through Monday, Sept, 13, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., at Mill Brook Park, near the entrance to Plug Pond, at 111 Mill St., Haverhill. The park is also home to Haverhill’s new Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Free professional mental health counselors will be available during the 36-hour period at the park. These include a certified social worker and peer specialists. Refreshments and meals for veterans and workers are being made available thanks to donations by Covanta and Patrick Driscoll of Driscoll Funeral Home. Another sponsor is also being sought.

Haverhill’s 9/11 observance takes place Saturday, 6 p.m., at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The body of Marine Corps. Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo is scheduled to be escorted back to her home city of Lawrence earlier that afternoon.

The Warrior Support Task Force was assembled during an emergency meeting at Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s office Wednesday morning. Besides Fiorentini and Santiago, those participating were members of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Ad Hoc Commission, including City Council President Melinda E. Barrett, Commissioner Linda Gambino Baxter and Chairman Ralph T. Basiliere.

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