By Tom Tolen /

About 30 American veterans and their families will be receiving Thanksgiving dinners on Thursday, thanks to the efforts of Veterans Connected and its Adopt-a-Soldier program.

Both programs are designed to help veterans get the assistance they need in order to receive medical and other benefits to which they are entitled. In addition, as last year, the Adopt a Soldier program will again be providing turkey dinners to eligible veterans and their families.

Beyond that, according to Veterans Connected Chairman Bryan Bradford the organization is raising $30,000 this holiday season to give to deserving families, and is in need of a vehicle to give to a family that is currently renting one. Bradford says, “Cash resources are used for basic necessities — food, utilities, house or rent payments and gas.” The organization has also used the cash resources for house and auto repairs in several cases.

Local businesses are helping out financially and with in-kind donations, even in what has been a difficult year for them, Bradford says, adding the caveat that many businesses who have donated in the past “don’t have the funds” this year. Despite that, in the past year, Veterans Connected has provided over $50,000 and four vehicles to help local military families. The organization also accepts donations from private individuals, who can send a check or use the GYVE app on their Facebook page. Bradford says veterans are nominated for the program on the basis of financial need, and the family can either be current military personnel or a veteran.

Last year, the group helped two veterans experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as two homeless veterans, for whom support was provided, including working with the Livingston County Veterans Administration “to get them off the street and provide them with all the necessary household items,” Bradford says. He says they rely greatly on the generosity of the local community “for helping to meet these needs.”

The recipients of Thanksgiving dinners in the Adopt a Soldier program are invited to pick up their dinners after 3 p.m. today (Wed.) at Ginopolis Bar B-Q Smokehouse, at 201 W. Main St. in downtown Brighton.