The image of the service dog Sully lying next to the flag-draped casket of former President George H. W. Bush, whom Sully had assisted since June, attracted attention around the world last month when the photo went viral on social media.
Just before Christmas, when Sully returned to America’s VetDogs in Smithtown (where he was trained), CMM Managing Partner, HIA-LI Board Chairman, and United States Marine Corps veteran Joe Campolo was on hand at a well-attended press conference covered by the international media to welcome him home. Sully will stay on Long Island briefly before beginning his next assignment assisting military service members at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Joined by America’s VetDogs President & CEO John Miller, U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, local politicians, trainers, and fellow veterans, Campolo – as the representative of the Long Island business community – told the media that standing by our veterans when they return home is paramount. As a U.S. Marine, Campolo said he was honored to lead the charge so that returning veterans receive proper care and the support of the business community, government, and nonprofit organizations.
Campolo’s delivery of remarks on behalf of the business community at the press conference was the culmination of several intertwined veterans’ initiatives by CMM in 2018, as well as a deeply personal experience for Campolo.
This year, the firm launched CMM Cares, a volunteer initiative to benefit the community with donations of time, dollars, and support. CMM chose to support veterans for the inaugural year of CMM Cares in honor of our colleague Jack Harrington, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, who was recalled for active duty and was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Resolute Support in September 2018. Harrington, whose selfless service and whose family’s sacrifices are in our thoughts every day, is scheduled to return in mid-2019. In addition to volunteering with United Veterans Beacon House, which provides temporary and permanent residences to military veterans and their families, the firm also raised funds for America’s VetDogs, where Sully and so many other service dogs are trained to provide the highest quality of care for our returning veterans.
Campolo was also invited to deliver the keynote address at the Stony Brook University Veterans Day ceremony last month, where he shared his personal experiences of serving his country and also spoke of the critical importance for the business community to support veterans by hiring, training, and providing opportunities for them to successfully rejoin civilian life with a strong support system.
Delivering remarks on the occasion of Sully’s return to Long Island was particularly poignant for Campolo who, upon the death of Barbara Bush earlier this year, blogged about the unique partnership between the former President and First Lady and his unforgettable experience meeting them in the early 1990s. His personal story appeared in Newsday at the time and was republished this month as one of the editorial team’s selections of a letter that best captured the spirit of 2018. That Sully served one of Campolo’s heroes, President Bush, was an emotional end to year in which Campolo and the firm made critical support for veterans the centerpiece of our philanthropic efforts.
Click here to watch Campolo’s remarks.