“What bothered me most was living in anticipation of military conflict,” recalls MV Community Services Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Bob Tankard, about his time spent as a medic in Korea during the Vietnam War era.

Bob Tankard, Veterans Outreach Coordinator

Bob joined the Army out of high school and like many veterans, his experience had a profound impact on his future. When he returned to the Island, Bob reconnected with life-long friend and now colleague, Tom Bennett, who also served during the Vietnam War era as a member of the Air Force.

“I saw how Tom was dealing with things and we all (veterans) began to help each other.”

Tom Bennett, MV Community Services Associate Executive Director, has been an integral part of our organization for the past 50 years. Tom is a licensed mental health clinician who specializes in readjustment counseling for veterans and their families.

For this month’s blog, we sat down with Tom and Bob to learn more about the services available to Island veterans and what the process of seeking help might look like for individuals and families impacted by war.

Q: Everyone’s experience with war is different, but are there common things that help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and coping with adjusting back to life post-war?

Tom: Anyone coming out of the service has a big adjustment to make because the military life is culturally much different. Combat veterans especially have a greater adjustment because their world has been flipped upside down and they’ve experienced the horror of war.

Seeking support to readjust to life post-war time can be very helpful. While there are different levels of PTSD, some are more severe than others, but the best thing is to avoid isolating or withdrawing into yourself.

Q: Can you talk about our Combat Veterans Support Group? How might someone get involved in the group?

Tom: The Combat Veterans Support Group meets Tuesday evenings and serves military service men and women affected by their war experiences. A veteran can self-refer by calling Bob Tankard or me at MV Community Services. The group focuses on how one can find meaning in their lives after the traumatic events they witnessed or participated in while serving. It’s a safe place to connect and open up with other veterans.

Q: What are some resources available on the Island that vets might not be aware of?

Tom: Every town in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a local Veterans Services Officer. The local agent for all the towns on the Island is the Dukes County Veterans Agent, Bruce Montrose, and his role is to help people get the benefits that they’ve earned.  

Bob: Our Veterans Discount Program is available to all veterans. The discount program is a collaboration between MV Community Services, Dukes County Veterans Services, and local Island businesses. It was established to recognize and thank veterans for their service.  If vets are interested in receiving a discount card, they can fill out the form online and then stop by MV Community Services – Building B during regular business hours 8:30-4:30pm, to verify forms and have their photo taken for the card.

Q: As Veterans Outreach Coordinator, can you expand on your role and involvement in our community?

Bob: I help connect veterans to resources available, both on and off-Island. I might grab coffee with someone to discuss their transportation or housing needs; we’ll work together to come up with the next step.

I also work closely with both Tom and Bruce, referring people to counseling or linking them with Bruce to see what benefits they have earned and are eligible for.

L to R: Bob Tankard, Joanne Murphy, Tom Bennett

This Veterans Day (11/11) be sure to thank our Island veterans for their service and dedication to our country.

As a way to recognize and appreciate local veterans, several Island organizations are offering various services, discounts and more listed below:

Services and Discounts:

Upcoming events:

  • 5K Run for Veterans – 11/9 9am at Right Fork Diner
  • Veterans Day parade – 11/11 11am begins at Nancy’s Restaurant in Oak Bluffs at 10:45 a.m. The route then continues to Ocean Park for a ceremony and then over to the VFW Post 9261 for refreshments.
  • Veterans Celebration Day – Tuesday, November 12 MVRHS at 9:00AM, all welcome

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *