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Valerie Halaby is the current president of Friends of Fisher House, Inc. a community group operating under the umbrella of the Fisher House Foundation in support of the West Palm Beach and Miami Fisher Houses.  She is the past president and founder of SOS Support Our Soldiers, Inc., a Veterans’ support organization.  SOS was established to follow the examples of the annual Jerry Lewis telethon for Muscular Dystrophy and Bob Hope’s USO tour to entertain U.S. military troops by producing the very first 24 hour online “$11 on 11-11” fundraising event via Livestream (an online streaming platform) on Veterans Day, 2009.  Her passion for helping U.S. Military Veterans and their families was born of the gratitude she felt for their devoted service after our nation’s most terrible tragedy on September 11th, 2001.  Her awareness of Veterans special needs became evident after receiving a special invitation by good friend Elaine Rogers, President of the USO Metro, to visit Washington D.C. for a V.I.P. tour of our nation’s Pentagon immediately following the 911 attack.  During this visit Valerie spent time with patients at Walter Reed Medical Center; attended the Laying of the Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery and had the privilege of sharing a private Pentagon visit with Army Vice Chief of Staff, General Keane (Ret.) and made many subsequent visits to participate with the USO in the years to follow.

 

While sharing conversations with wounded warriors at Walter Reed Medical Center and hearing the deeply moving stories of theses brave men and women, she became astonished to learn of the many unfulfilled needs and gaps in services that existed.  Despite the government programs that are in place, soldiers having their hospital meals deducted from military paychecks was something impossible to believe.  With this new awareness of the difficult challenges our military service members and their families faced, she realized a greater calling and became determined to seek ways to support these warrior families.

 

Valerie majored in Professional Aeronautics and Aviation Business Administration at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and earned a Master’s certification in Enterprise Configuration Management from the University of Houston.  She currently enjoys a successful career in Engineering Configuration Management at Aerojet Rocketdyne, a Space and Missile Defense corporation that serves our troops stationed around the globe.

 

Valerie also enjoyed a successful career in the Real Estate industry and gained a vast array of experience from sales to construction to mortgage origination & securitization, and owned and operated A.B. Merrill, Inc. in for 16 years as a mortgage investment and trading company.

 

Valerie has also served on the The Palm Beach County Veterans Committee, Stand Down House/Love, Hope, Faith, Charity, Inc. and continues to maintain her strong ties to the USO, Washington, D.C.

Frank Hogan is CEO of Overseas Service Corporation, a worldwide sales and logistics company specializing in the Federal Government market. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Frank is a graduate of Boston University and Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Frank has been a pioneer in sales to the U.S. military Commissaries, Exchanges and other government entities; is current Chairman of the Armed Forces Marketing Council; past Vice Chairman of the American Logistics Association, which bestowed upon him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Trainor Endowment, which funds an annual award and lecture series recognizing excellence in the conduct of diplomacy; serves on the Board of Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.  Frank is also a member of the Board of Fisher House at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, a “home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care. Frank is married to the former Joanna Russell Robinson, niece of the late Senator Richard Russell of Georgia. They have seven children (one deceased) and ten grandchildren (one deceased) between them, and reside in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Jerold A. “Jerry” Klein serves as National Chair of the Veterans Benefits Committee for Vietnam Veterans of America.

I was born in the Bronx New York but grew up on Long Island. I entered the Army on March 8,1967 and served with A Company 2nd Battalion 8th Cavalry 1st Division from August 8,1967 to August 8,1968. I was awarded the Silver Star, the Air Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge during his service in Vietnam.

I am a graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Long Island University C.W. Post College.

I am a charter member of VVA Chapter # 11 in Suffolk County New York. I have held elective positions on the chapter level as President, Vice President, and Treasurer. I have held elective Office with the New York State Council as Treasurer and was appointed as State Council Legislative Coordinator serving in that position for ten years. I retired from employment with Suffolk County New York as a Veterans Service Officer in August 2002.

In June 2004 I was elected as 1st Vice President of the Florida State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America and chaired the State Council Veterans Benefits Committee from 2003 to 2011. On June 10,2006 I was elected as President of the Florida State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America at the State Council meeting in Tallahassee Florida and served in that position until June 2012.

I belong to the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Jewish War Veterans and the 1st Cavalry Division Association.

In 2002 I received an award as the American Legion Department of New York Service Officer of the Year at the American Legion State Convention in Albany New York. I was awarded the Vietnam Veterans of America service officer of the year in 1995.

I have held National Office in Vietnam Veterans of America for 5 terms as a Director at Large. Currently, and I hold elective office as Vice President of VVA Chapter # 25 Palm Beach County Florida.

I have  served on the Board of Directors of the Fisher House in West Palm Beach Florida since 2005 and currently serve in the position of  Treasurer.  I currently serve as the Service Officer for the 11th District and Southern Area for the American Legion in Florida.

I reside in Wellington Florida with my wife Joy.

Tom Corey currently serves as President of the Vietnam Veterans Peace Initiative.

Corey served as President and CEO of Vietnam Veterans of America, the nation’s only congressionally chartered organization exclusively serving the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families, retiring from that position in 2005.

He currently works at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center as an Ombudsman and Program Specialists with the Directors office.

A native of Detroit, Corey entered the U.S. Army and was sent to Vietnam in May 1967 where he served as a combat infantryman and squad leader with the 1st Air Cavalry Division, 1st Battalion, 12 Calvary. While engaged in an assault against enemy positions on January 31, 1968, Tet Offense, he received an enemy round in the neck, which hit his spinal cord and left him paralyzed and a quadriplegic. He was medically retired from the U.S. Army in May 1968. Corey is a decorated combat veteran receiving the Bronze Star Medal with V device, 2 Purple Hearts, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Citation, Republic Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Combat Infantry Badge along with other awards.

After an extended hospitalization, Corey returned to his family in Detroit where he spent his time in and out of the local VA hospital. He relocated to West Palm Beach, Florida, in 1972, where he has been involved in community affairs, a veterans leader and advocate and served on many advisory boards with local Government, and with the VA Medical Centers in Miami and West Palm Beach, the VA Research Foundation of Palm Beaches, VSIN 8 Management Assistance Council, Friends of Veterans Board, Friends of Fisher House Board, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 25, Board and Vietnam Veterans Peace Initiative, President. He has received numerous awards for speaking out on veterans’ and disabled persons’ rights since the mid seventies.

Corey has returned to Vietnam 16 times since 1994 representing Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans Initiative program regarding our POW/MIA’s and Agent Orange issues with successful results. He led delegations meeting with top Vietnamese and Laos leaders, Government Officials at every level, the Veterans Association of Viet Nam organization leaders and members throughout Vietnam, with Health Care leaders on Agent Orange effects and research from U.S. and Vietnam, U.S. Ambassador’s to Vietnam and Laos, the U.S. Joint Task Force-Full Accounting in Vietnam and Laos, who are responsible for recovery efforts of Americans still listed as POW/MIA. Corey was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in Vietnam.

Corey was the first recipient of the Vietnam Veterans of America’s Commendation Medal, VVA’s highest award for service to veterans, their families, and the community.

Corey was the founding President of VVA Palm Beach County Chapter 25 in 1981. In 1991, the chapter was named the Thomas H. Corey Chapter at its tenth anniversary celebration. In 1985, he was elected to VVA’s National Board of Directors. In 1987, he was elected VVA’s national Secretary and was re-elected in 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1995. In 1997, he was elected VVA’s national Vice President and re-elected in 1999; in 2001 he was elected VVA President and was re-elected in 2003 and served until 2005.

Corey is also a member of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart Association, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, 1st Cavalry Association, and the National Association of Uniformed Services.

Tom Corey resides in Jupiter, Florida. He has a son Brian, and a daughter, Trang.

Tom Driscoll is a Principal with DMD Development, specializing in valuation, investment, and business process analysis. An eleven-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Tom served as a Naval Aviator in Asia, Southwest Asia, and CONUS before separating as a Major. He is a graduate of Drew University, the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management, and Loyola University Chicago, Continuing and Professional Studies. Tom and his wife Denise live in Wellington, Florida, with their two children.

Lauren Berkson grew up in South Florida and has lived in Palm Beach County for more than twenty years, where she has had the opportunity to serve the community through various organizations and activities.  She previously worked at the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, and is now an active member of the Forgotten Soldiers Outreach and the Junior Achievement Committees. She is a board member for Friends of Fisher House, Wounded Veterans Relief Fund and Friends of Veterans, Inc.

Lauren has made it her mission to educate our community about Gold Star Families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice defending the United States of America in the armed forces.

Lauren is the Gold Star daughter of Captain Joseph M. Berkson, a United States Army Ranger who was killed-in-action in Vietnam in 1972.  With the support of the City of West Palm Beach and the community, Lauren led the project to build the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Trinity Park along Flagler Drive.  She worked with the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to realize the Foundation’s mission of erecting these monuments in all fifty states.  She is currently working toward placing Gold Star Memorial Markers in 13 locations throughout Palm Beach County.

Ms. Mulcahy was born and raised in a Naval Air Station town in Massachusetts. Her Dad along with 4 uncles and 1 aunt all served in World War II, one Uncle was Career Navy from WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  She grew up an environment that respected our Military and love for our country.  She graduated from Lesley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management. She has been in the investment industry for over 25 years in Boston, New York and now in Palm Beach. She attended a Fisher House fundraiser in Boston in 2009 and knew she found an organization that was truly making a difference in aiding our veterans.

Growing up watching the Navy air shows she never imagined that she would be the proud Mom of a Naval Aviator.  Her son and so many of his contemporaries serving so bravely brought home the importance of taking care of our veterans and every one of them has a proud Mom and family serving along with them.  We pray we never need the Fisher House, but thank God, there is a Fisher House for our Service men and women and their families.

Commander Michelle R. Watson assumed duties as Commanding Officer, Port Security Unit (PSU) 305, Fort Eustis, Virginia in October 2013. She is responsible for leading a 172 member expeditionary unit supporting national security, defense, and disaster relief operations for the Coast Guard and Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) during OCONUS missions and forward deployments.

Her 17 year career has included a variety of operational and staff assignments.  Prior to her current assignment, she served as the Executive Officer, Port Security Unit 305, responsible for the supervision and administration duties for the 172 member expeditionary unit. From 2010 to 2012, she held the position as Operations Officer for the same unit and deployed to Central Command in the Middle East. From 2008 to 2010, she served as the Reserve Logistics Officer at Sector Delaware Bay, responsible for mission support of Sector operations including 22 sub-units, throughout a three state area of operations. From 2005 to 2008, Commander Watson was the Logistics Officer for Port Security Unit 309, Port Clinton, OH.

Other assignments include Contracting Officer Technical Representative, USCG Headquarters Washington, DC; Assistant Planning Officer at the Harbor Defense Command Unit 113 at Seattle, Washington; Admin Officer Air Station Atlantic City, NJ. Her Active Duty assignments include Drug and Alcohol Program Inspector, Eighth District Marine Safety Division, New Orleans, LA; Deck Watch Officer Coast Guard Cutter DEPENDABLE in Portsmouth, VA, and Deck Watch Officer Coast Guard Cutter VIGOROUS in Cape May, NJ. She has held various special assignments including serving on the 57th Joint Inaugural Committee as Deputy Commander for the military street cordon.

Commander Watson was recalled to active duty on four occasions including the September 11th attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Commander Watson, in her civilian capacity, has held various positions within the manufacturing and logistics communities including Johnson and Johnson Consumer products, Kimberly-Clark, Inc, and she is currently employed with Office Depot Corporate Headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida as a Sr. Manager for Supply Chain Operations Support for all of North America, including the Dominican Republic.

Commander Watson, a native of Chicago, Illinois, graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy with a B.S. in Government in 1996.  She is also a 2001 graduate of Troy State University with a Masters in International Management.  Commander Watson’s awards include: Joint Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, the Coast Guard Commendation Medal with the operational distinguishing device, four Coast Guard Achievement Medals, and two Coast Guard Letters of Commendation Awards.

A combat veteran of Vietnam, Mr. Phipps discovered the need for accommodations for a veteran’s family after he was transported back to the Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, military hospital after being hospitalized in Southeast Asia for several months.  His family drove to see him and take him home for a ten day leave but, there were no facilities nearby for families of wounded soldiers who had to remain in the area until their loved one could be released.

Phipps is a former law enforcement officer, graduating from the F.B.I. Academy in 1977 as a Police Law Specialist, and has been an attorney in private practice in Palm Beach County for many years.

Doug Phipps was a familiar figure in South Florida during the 1980’s.  He was known as “the voice of Crimestoppers” because he delivered the information about serious unsolved crimes on radio and television.  He was a founding member of Crimestoppers of Palm Beach County; the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 25, Palm Beach County; the Law Enforcement Trainers Association, the Crime Prevention Officers Association of Palm Beach County, and The Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.