As the head of a family business that has built dozens of churches, homes, office buildings and schools across the mid-Atlantic region, Brian DiSabatino learned early on the importance of hard work, community and service.
In recent years, that focus has expanded to another goal: ensuring America’s veterans are given dignity and respect, as well as the help they need if life takes a turn for the worse.
In recognition of his efforts to assist veterans both locally and nationally, the Waste Masters Solutions Hometown Hero Award for 2018 will be given to DiSabatino in a ceremony before the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 7.
DiSabatino, 53, is the CEO of EDiS Company, a construction management firm based in Wilmington, Del. and West Chester, Pa. The firm was founded in 1908.
One of EDiS Company’s projects, the Town of Whitehall, located outside Middletown, Del., hosts Vet Fest, an annual event established to connect the civilian and military communities, celebrate service, honor our heroes and combat the epidemic of military and veteran suicide.
The day consists of a 5K ruck march that combines the civilian, military and first-responder communities, a parade and a music festival. At the festival, military non-profits, clubs and support organizations share stories and their materials and offerings with the community.
The fourth annual Vet Fest took place on Saturday, Sept. 29, with DiSabatino honoring Gold Star families in front of 1,000-2,000 guests.
“The day connects long lost friends and revives lost conversations,” DiSabatino says. “A wall of honor invites the community to place the names of their heroes, alive or fallen, for others to see, and to plant a flag. It is common to see heads bowed, families gathered and healing begin.”
Brian’s son Jacob, a junior at The Citadel in South Carolina, put the issue of suicide rates among current and former military personnel at the forefront of his father’s volunteer efforts, including events supporting the non-profit Stop Soldier Suicide organization.
Jacob, a member of The Citadel’s ROTC program, told Brian about a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that nearly 22 veterans per day are committing suicide. In response, Jacob helped to create the athletic program “22in22” that encourages people to walk, run, swim, or bike 22 miles in 22 days.
The efforts to help veterans have received national attention, with actor Gary Sinise and country music legend Charlie Daniels creating public-service announcements in support. For more information, visit 22in22.info.
“There are those who are willing to stand between harm and our families,” DiSabatino says. “And then there are the rest of us who must make sure that we protect those warriors with the same passion with which they protected us. Unfortunately, that care isn’t happening as it should and we are seeing that lapse manifest itself in nearly 22 suicides every day. This is a problem I couldn’t ignore and it’s a moral dilemma for our country.”
Stop Soldier Suicides, which was founded by U.S. Army veterans Brian Kinsella, Nick Black and Craig Gridelli, offers veterans one-on-one help on a number of issues, including:
- Mental health
- Emergency financial aid
- Housing assistance
- Alternative therapies
- Retreats for military, veterans, and their families
- Education/GI Bill
“One of the keys to ending the epidemic is to bring the issue into the light, to end the stigma of the disease and to make seeking help not only acceptable, but desirable,” DiSabatino says.
To learn more about helping America’s veterans, visit stopsoldiersuicide.org.