Ralph T. Basiliere, familiar in Haverhill for his work developing the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Mill Brook Park, is the city’s interim veterans services officer, temporarily replacing Luis Santiago who left last month for a similar position in the town of Billerica. Mayor James J. Fiorentini appointed Basiliere to serve part-time, beginning Monday. He will work two days per week out of the city’s Veterans Service office at the Citizen’s Center, 10 Welcome St.
“I’m humbled by the trust and confidence the mayor has in me. Veterans in need can expect a selfless ally who’s eaten the same dirt they have,” said Basiliere, speaking in infantry parlance.
Basiliere is a disabled U.S. Marine veteran who served from 1984-88. During his time in the Marines, Basiliere served on several military ships and visited 33 countries during his overseas deployment. Basiliere said he is not interested in the permanent position, but agreed to fill in while the city interviews and considers applicants. He will be paid a pro-rated salary which he intends to donate to the nonprofit Haverhill Promise Campaign for Grade-Level Reading program.
Besides serving as chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Ad Hoc Memorial Committee, he currently a member of the Haverhill Conservation Commission. Basiliere has an associate degree from Northern Essex Community College. He a member of the local Disabled American Veterans chapter as well as the local AmVets post. He is also the nephew of Haverhill’s first Vietnam War casualty, for whom the city’s Basiliere Bridge is named.
“Mr. Basiliere is very well known and well respected in veterans circles and has a passion for helping veterans,” Fiorentini said. “We appreciate his willingness to step up and help out the city and its veterans until we hire a new, permanent VSO. I have every confidence our veterans who need services will be in good hands and that Ralph will do a great job for us.”
The city is currently accepting applications for the permanent position and lists a starting salary of $50,000 to $60,000. Six applications and resumes have been received so far.