Supporting Our At-Risk Veterans
Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Alexa Modero, Vice President & Co-Founder, Backpacks for Life, and veteran Brett D'Alessandro, President & Co-Founder, Backpacks for Life, to discuss the ways their organization provides a unique and personalized support system for homeless and at-risk veterans.
"We're pleased to welcome Brett D'Alessandro, President and Founder of an organization called Backpacks For Life, and Alexa Modero, VP and Co-founder of Backpacks For Life. Good to have you with us. Thanks for having us. Thanks for having us. First of all, tell folks what your service was to this country, and in advance, we'll thank you. I appreciate that. So I was in the Marine Corps for six years, and I was a Motor T, and I was in a reserve unit up in Rhode Island. That's where Alexa and I met. We were going to school there. And they asked who wanted to volunteer to go to Afghanistan? So I raised my hand. Then I was on my way to Camp Lejeune, and with CLB-6, and that's who we deployed to Afghanistan with. And what does that have to do with Backpacks For Life? Backpacks For Life. So it started when I got back from Afghanistan. It was a really rough deployment. I just... I didn't know who to turn to, or where to go. There wasn't, like, a manual on how to rehabilitate yourself when you had a traumatic experience when you were overseas on a deployment. And so, Alexa and I we thought of Backpacks For Life. It came from when they put me on medical hold, when I was up in Rhode Island, and I was going to a doctor's appointment up there, and I saw a guy with a sign, "homeless vet, please help me out". So I went back to my hotel. I got a backpack, filled it up with warm layers, and gave it to the guy. You did that? Yeah. Yes. Yes. Out of instinct? I just... I thought he needed a backpack. It was some... Go ahead. ...supplies and stuff. And so we talked a little bit. That was really it. About three days later, I saw him again. And he was with a little boy. So I pulled over to the side of the road, and before I could get a word out, the little boy said, "Thank you so much for the backpack! I no longer have to go to school and carry my books with my hands." And the dad said, "Thank you so much for the warm layers, they had kept my wife, who was sick at the homeless shelter, warm." At that point, I was like, I found my purpose again. I know what I have to do. I want to make sure every veteran out there has the resources they need, because I didn't know where to turn to, and I... you know, I had family. I had great assets to help me out. And imagine somebody was out..."