Chad Barr Law

Tom Fitzgerald – Chad Barr Law’s Veteran of the Month – June 2022

This month we’re introducing our Veteran of the Month with our first honoree, Tom Fitzgerald.

Tom is a Marine veteran who has continued his service through several volunteer organizations including Solemnb Pride, Wreaths Across America, the Missing in America Project, and more. He and his family value the service of those who have fought for our country and do as much as anyone can to serve our veterans after their service is through.

You can learn more about the foundations and groups our June Veteran of the Month supports through their websites. Those are listed here:

Solemn Pride: https://www.solemn-pride.us/
Wreaths Across America: https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/
Missing in America Project: https://www.miap.us/
Marine for Life Network: https://www.usmc-mccs.org/services/career/marine-for-life-network/
American Police Hall of Fame: https://www.aphf.org/

Each of these organizations helps support our nation’s veterans and helps them find the tools and access they need after they’ve left active service. If you’re a U.S. Veteran and need assistance finding help after mustering out, you can contact any of these groups for assistance and guidance.

If you’re one of our Veterans who isn’t receiving the benefits you deserve, or you were given a low rating, then you can contact the Veterans’ Disability Benefits attorneys of Chad Barr Law. We can help you increase your rating and make sure you get rated appropriately after you’ve laid your life on the line for our freedoms.

Contact us today at chadbarrlaw.com or call us at 888-2-VETLaw (888-283-5209).

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Read the Veteran of the Month, Tom Fitzgerald’s Full Transcript Below

0:10
Tom Fitzgerald was the United States Marine from 1982 to 1988. I also served in the Army National Guard while I was going to college, from 1990 to 1994. Through Desert Storm

0:32
Yeah, solemn pride is just a it’s basically a funeral service for military. But we have a military case on which a case on is a used in the earlier technology days of enduring war where they would take ammunition and powder on a wagon. It’s basically an ammunition wagon. And they would hit it to a limber and a team would pull it to the battlefield. So they can, you know, use it in battle. And you know, the story goes in, in the Civil War, they would take the fallen soldier off, take the animal chests off the wagon and put them on there to honor them. But we tie everything together. So we use the historical nature of of how we got here into getting the services. So we literally ride the Two Mules on saddle and then they have the trugs that actually attached to the limber in case on and then we escort the caskets the flag drawn caskets and the urns to the to the service members final duty station.

1:44
Or solemn pride is a nonprofit that my family started in honor of my brother who passed away early in life from cancer. He was an Army veteran, my influenced by my wife’s parents as well, her father was a World War Two veteran in the Navy, and her mother was a very active community member. So it was kind of hard to go through that somber service of losing a brother, and you know, who was my best friend. And he was my only sibling. So it’s just he and I, and he’s my big brother. So we’ve got passionate into trying to help others that go through the same thing. We were mostly influenced by many factors. The first would be my parents who are very faithful and always giving to others. A great role model as I grew up, my military service, of course, when I went into the Marine Corps, the Marines instill a great deal of Marine Corps history. And, you know, I got really excited about that, which we kind of model in our services at the National Cemetery and other cemeteries for veterans. The history just to tell you a little bit about that, it was an evolution into solemn pride. But we I started with mules and these learned how to drive artillery and, and then the Northwest point association of Florida, contacted us and want us to do some stuff in St. Augustine, so yet really, got really turned on to the history in Florida during the Seminole Indian wars and in 1842. They honored the soldiers that fell during the six years of the Seminole Indian wars and the headlines in the newspapers that elegant mules transport major data and his men and its solemn parade marked the end of the Seminole Indian Wars. So there was a lot of history with the meals and honoring those that have fallen for their country. So that was a big, big part of it is kind of pulling it all together, you know, knowledge and having horses and mules in you know, getting back to community. You know, my wife, Denise, her mom wasn’t in the service, but she gave to the community like nobody I ever heard of, I mean, quilting blankets, and you know, she did crafts and just gave through the church to the community for years and just you know, and once you start getting, as I found out, as we both found out is it’s it gets addictive and you really open up doors, solemn pride just started as a simple community to give back. To help kind of help people that have lost someone that sacrificed near and dear to them, mostly veterans initially, but we ended up branching out to others. Just other family members that like my mother in law, who and who has, you know, sacrifice for our community, so we wouldn’t do it in the state. military fashion, but we would do it in the correct context. But solid product is developed is the right thing to do and give, just do something not about us and not make it about us. But try to add that, you know, John F Kennedy’s case on escort with blackjack and in the, you know, the riderless horse and you know, everybody remembers the John John salute, whether you whether you are of age to witness it on television or a video of it today. People People really feel the sense of pride with it. And that was a defeating part of solemn pride was, it’s a solemn service, but it’s very prideful. So our mission really became to transform the somberness associated with life’s end into prideful memories. And that that is our mission. And we just, we’re finding that it’s, it’s really taking off. I mean, we’ve done hundreds and hundreds of services in the last seven years. And the thank you cards that we get and receive. That’s our payback, you know, we just went is we’re kind of addicted to it, because we know it’s affecting so many in our community 1000s of people friends and families that actually witness it and then they’ll individually have their their own prideful memories about their loved one that they lost. And you know, the cards that we didn’t expect the recognition like Chad Barlow, and the team is getting us today I you know, that’s that’s a bonus. But it’s really not about us. It’s about family that have lost

6:39
the Missing in America Project Missing in America Project is one there are actually a nonprofit organization throughout the nation. A lot of veterans that have perished, and they had contracts to be cremated. Families, for some reason did not collect their remains. So there stayed on on shelves for years. And you know, there’s a lot of reasons why that may happen. And they’re really not important. The important part is to give them a proper burial for raising the right hand that they would give to their their life of their country. We did one in early February, we did 24 rec recognize 24 service members, one of them was on a shelf for 40 years, and he was a World War One veteran, World War One veteran. And obviously, most of these were fortunate enough not to have to give their life but they did. You know, when they did pass, we want to recognize them for their sacrifice that they would have given the labor had they had they needed to you know, and again, they may have they may just have outlived their families lost touch with their families. So we work with the veterans memorials, Brevard County’s Veterans Memorial Center in Merritt Island. And they do they contact the outreach to all the area funeral homes in Central Florida. And we know there’s over 1000 unclaimed urns in Central Florida alone. So we typically would do 24 services every three months every quarter. COVID, of course, put his back two years ago, but we did start one in February of this year. But even at that rate for a year, you know, we’re looking at 10 years to get caught up. But but it’s certainly worthwhile. But the Veterans Memorial Center, they are a great group of men and women who dedicate all kinds of projects and and things for veterans support, whether the homeless etc. But they are actually responsible mainly for doing the ancestry, they coordinate with the funeral homes, they deal with the ancestry.com. And then they try to try to connect that found that veteran with their family, and that’s documented, and whether they do or don’t. After a period of time of trying the VA actually acknowledges that, you know, there are plenty of documentation. And then they put the urns in a column barium wall one because if the family did you know it’s recorded where they are and it was a proper military service, they would they could easily get them out of the wall if the family wanted to move them to another location in case they actually get reconnected later.

9:39
Another thing we got involved with is Michigan I’m sorry, Wreaths Across America. That’s another thing and instead of bringing obviously the veterans there we carry ceremonial Aris, we will carry it’s eight reads now with the Space Force And we actually do a ceremony for for Cape Canaveral National Cemetery with our case on we made an A frame to hold these reeds. And we present them in military fashion to each branch honoree, and they do a formal service to commemorate the event. And every headstone at the national, all national cemeteries, they put a wreath at every headstone unless the family has some religious or reason not to, and they’re identified, and we wouldn’t do that. So they’re a nonprofit organization that that we volunteered to help, you know, honor and, and support them to heighten awareness of their cause. That one is you’ve got to reach across America Online, and there’s always donations. So you buy to reach to get one free, and you can actually designate it to one cemetery or multiple if you have long loved ones that you can’t see at Christmas that may be buried at other national cemeteries.

11:06
Yes, I’m active in the detachment 513, Marine Corps league in Merritt Island and the marine for life, which means that I help transitioning the content for the area of the region that would help Marines that are transitioning from active duty back home into this area, and I would help them identify if they wanted to tap into educational benefits that they qualify for, or if they want to get employment. We have a network of people that through the state and also the federal government that, you know, depending on their circumstances, we can kind of connect them to their appropriate civilian path. It’s fairly a new program, it’s been, I think, three or four years. And we’re really trying to heighten it. Currently, it’s kind of a funnel down effect, when the rains can identify an inactive duty, where they’re going to go, you know, go after service. And then they funneled through some contacts. And so it’s kind of like you just wait to see who’s coming. I’d like to do some recruiting to because we you know, we’re at the Space Center, we’re actually we have tons of jobs, you know, great colleges in Central Florida here. We’re very well connected with, you know, the federal government programs, there’s programs with the federal government, when you transition and most active duty, you don’t even know it, that they’ll literally an employer can say hey, I’ll take that veteran. And that just the marine I’ll take that veteran and will actually hire them and the federal government will pay up to three months so there’s all benefits and and salary for them. And if they get the feel each other out if they’re a good fit and qualified that you can either hire them or if it’s highly likely that they’ll hire them, they’ll actually extend it to six months. It’s a good way to to get experience and also meet the employers out there to see if they’re a good fit for the veterans that are that are coming out active duty. And my wife was retired from Titusville Police Department. And when I got out of the Marine Corps, I was a Marietta, Georgia police officer for a few years and before I went back to college, and her service as the crime scene technician for Titusville for 24 years. Certainly amazing. And I got connected in our central Florida region. And right here in central Florida is the American police Hall of Fame. So, the weekend prior to Memorial Day, they they would have the fallen police officer week. And they’re a great organization. You know, police organizations are a paramilitary, they run in very similar fashion. You know, we were discovering that, you know, there’s more police officers perishing in this country that are dying in our wars now with technology. And so the American police Hall of Fame they actually invite the families every year of families that have lost a police officer and they put them up at hotels and then they do a ceremony during that and they have asked us to participate with cutting through the ceremonial case on in the mule team. And we work close hand in hand with Brevard County Sheriff’s Wayne IVs group he actually created a policy 10 years ago which Denise was a member for over a and I was a member for about six months. But you know solemn pride pulled us away. And and but it’s just it says amazing experience to give to others and Try to make prideful memories for our, our fallen police, police officials, you know, it’s very moving, they have their own police, like Vietnam wall, they have a wall in there with all the fallen police officers. And each year they read every name for that year of the fallen police officers. And you know, it’s in the hundreds, hundreds, hundreds. So it’s certainly a sad thing. But you know, again, it’s like, veteran awareness of what’s available. I think the public needs to know, you know what our first responders do for us too.

15:35
It’s not an easy job. Across the street, we had you pick strawberry, you pick and they had other vegetables. And then they have had a couple bad years with the extra rain and they’re not doing the strawberries any longer. But they’ve been doing very successful having cropped mazes with sun Hampton sunflowers. And they’ll set up a maze for the kids. It’s a Kodak moment with the sunflowers. And that sled you pick and memes and they’re right across the street from where the reels are. So how convenient and great people. And we were we were kind of go out there and volunteer occasionally to help them. Another unexpected it was, you know, the community request for information about what we do. We’ve done a lot of outreach and speech programs for youth ministries, and we were up last year for the Boys and Girls Club of America up in Perry Florida. When your Tallahassee we were doing a color guard for the chapter one of the military vehicle preservations Association, they, you know, they’re very historical about military vehicles and actually a case on is a military vehicle just don’t have an engine. But real power, but they light us up. And this was a second time that we actually carried the colors without the case on just the limber part to bring some nostalgia and his military history to the parade. Perry Florida has a forest festival every year and I think they’re under 67 year. And we’re fortunate to go two years the last two well, two years that they had it to lead lead the color guard for the for the mvpa. And while we’re up there, we spoke with the girls and boys club of america in Perry. You know, we’ve gone down to Presbyterian Church to Vero Beach and talk to and talk to their Adult Ministries and their men’s club and we’re going to be having, I think in a couple of weeks, their youth group from Vero Beach, Presbyterian Church, they’re going to come up and visit the National Cemetery and then we’re going to bring them over to the farm and show them the case on and kind of what we do. And you know, and hopefully not we won’t have a service, but you know, if we do then then they’ll get the experience which you did, Chuck. Not something I would wish anybody but if it happens, you know, we’ll we’ll see. Well, again, the only other thing I can think of is we have done some that weren’t military at all. We did one for a mother. The daughter wanted a horses her mom was eight up with horses and wanted to have that for the service. And we were we actually did it in a non military cemetery up in Edgewater. And it was really, really special for us. We kind of dressed down in the military, but we did it in the same fashion and very well received and the whole family marched with us and it was very touching, very touching. And, you know, again, it just fills our heart to be able to give back and know that it’s something special for for their loved ones.

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Chad and his team were very professional! The help my wife so much with our case ! They recovered the full amount we asked for and it came at the best possible time. My wife and I found out we’re expecting our 1st child, and we got the good news they recovered the full amount very shortly after!

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2019-08-05T13:09:51-04:00

Matthew O.

Chad and his team were very professional! The help my wife so much with our case ! They recovered the full amount we asked for and it came at the best possible time. My wife and I found out we’re expecting our 1st child, and we got the good news they recovered the full amount very shortly after!

I could not be happier with the way Chad handled my situation.

I could not be happier with the way Chad handled my situation. He went above and beyond to protect me and achieved a resolution better than I hoped for. He's professional, communicated quickly, and answered all my legal questions. I highly recommend him.

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2019-08-05T13:08:35-04:00

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2019-08-05T13:11:21-04:00

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I could not be happier with the way Chad handled my situation.

I could not be happier with the way Chad handled my situation. He went above and beyond to protect me and achieved a resolution better than I hoped for. He's professional, communicated quickly, and answered all my legal questions. I highly recommend him.

Andrew H.

The Law Office of Chad A. Barr, P.A
5
2019-08-05T13:08:35-04:00

Andrew H.

I could not be happier with the way Chad handled my situation. He went above and beyond to protect me and achieved a resolution better than I hoped for. He's professional, communicated quickly, and answered all my legal questions. I highly recommend him.

Chad and his team were very professional!

Chad and his team were very professional! The help my wife so much with our case ! They recovered the full amount we asked for and it came at the best possible time. My wife and I found out we’re expecting our 1st child, and we got the good news they recovered the full amount very shortly after!

Matthew O.

The Law Office of Chad A. Barr, P.A
5
2019-08-05T13:09:51-04:00

Matthew O.

Chad and his team were very professional! The help my wife so much with our case ! They recovered the full amount we asked for and it came at the best possible time. My wife and I found out we’re expecting our 1st child, and we got the good news they recovered the full amount very shortly after!

True Professionalism at it’s best.

True Professionalism at it's best. Great communication. Highly recommended. Give him a try you won't be disappointed if he is able to help. He will give you his all.

Ryan S.

The Law Office of Chad A. Barr, P.A
5
2019-08-05T13:10:33-04:00

Ryan S.

True Professionalism at it's best. Great communication. Highly recommended. Give him a try you won't be disappointed if he is able to help. He will give you his all.

Professional and efficient.

Professional and efficient. Mr. Barr always stays in communication and follows through. I have hired a few attorneys in Orlando and he is by far the best!

Kimberly W.

The Law Office of Chad A. Barr, P.A
5
2019-08-05T13:11:21-04:00

Kimberly W.

Professional and efficient. Mr. Barr always stays in communication and follows through. I have hired a few attorneys in Orlando and he is by far the best!

Great guy… great Attorney

Great guy... great Attorney, I have trusted him to handle my mom's case and have been extremely impressed.

John O.

The Law Office of Chad A. Barr, P.A
5
2019-08-05T13:12:38-04:00

John O.

Great guy... great Attorney, I have trusted him to handle my mom's case and have been extremely impressed.
5
5
The Law Office of Chad A. Barr, P.A