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Making A Difference


By Rich Malfitano

On October 6, 2014 two local veterans were recognized for their long time volunteer service to community and Nation. Veterans Gary Benson of Port Orange and Jim Kreinest of Ormond Beach work tirelessly helping veterans, active military and their families. This is not new to them since they have been doing this for most of their adult life. But in October 2012 they joined forces and established The Veterans Assistance Coalition, (VAC). The nonprofit volunteer organization was approved under Federal statue 501(c) (3) and 501(c) (4); it is registered as a tax exempt public charity, organization. Its mission is to assist and support Veterans of all wars, providing charity, education, relief while improving quality of life and well-being. The (VAC) provides real time assistance to all veterans in need. However; its primary focus is reaching out to homeless veterans and their families. The VAC partners with the Veterans Administration “HUD Vash” program and the Salvation Army in efforts to get homeless veterans out of the woods, off the streets and into places they can live and call home. The organization also provides them with whatever household furnishings needed and all the other items and assistance needed to help them jump-start back into society. Many move on to further education, job training and placement, helping them once again to live productive lives.

On October 6th 2014, Rich Malfitano of Rolling Thunder Fl Chapter 8, certifying official for the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, under the authority of the PVSAP presented Gary and Jim one of the highest volunteer awards one can receive for service to community and nation, “The Presidents Volunteer Service Award”. The presentation took place at the Rolling Thunder Inc® FL Chapter 8 membership meeting.

Not only are Gary and Jim co founders of the Coalition (VAC), both are veterans and long time members of Rolling Thunder Fl-8. Gary Benson is also and a member and fundraising chairman for the Marine Corps. League of Volusia County, and a member of the Viet-Nam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 1048. Jim Kreinest is a chartered member and executive for RT FL-8. Both are long time advocates for veterans and the POW-MIA cause.
I had the honor of witnessing several of the “move ins” and witnessed the excitement and gratitude of the vets. I also had the opportunity to speak to some of the veterans and family members. Most whom I spoke with during interviews said the same thing, “We didn’t know that anyone even cared”. Finally these veterans are feeling the honor and gratitude deserving of their service to our country. Veterans are not alone and should never feel or be treated as such. Gary, Jim and all who volunteer with the VAC make sure of that. Since the VAC’s conception, more than 200 veterans have been placed in housing.
To Gary and Jim, we offer our sincere thanks for all that they do and congratulate them on this very prestigious recognition.

Foot-Note: If You Know A Veteran In Need of Emergency Assistance, please contact the VAC at: 386-214-3372 or email at: For more about the VAC and its collation partners, click on the RT FL-8 web site:

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