Speech – Perry Mandera, Champion in Business

Hello Everyone

I would like to thank Neli and Brian for this amazing award.

Neli and Brian are 2 of the kindest, warmest and caring people you are ever going to meet in your life.

Just think about all that they do!!

They take people that are truly in need including the homeless and veterans and others by giving them a clean safe environment to live and eat in. They help them find jobs, help them with their education…including helping them get their GED and also help them feel needed and wanted again when many of them have no one else in their lives. They help them become part of society again.

Let’s all give Neli and Brian a big round of applause.

My story is simple:

My parents divorced when I was in 6th grade – Catholic Italians didn’t get divorced back in the 70s

I grew up on Taylor Street and then moved to the Ukrainian Village.

I went to Chicago public school.

I was the only kid in grammar and H.S. classes that had divorced parents that I knew of.

I have been working since I was 11 years old to support my mother and (2) two younger brothers

I worked in a:

Hotdog stand flipping burgers

I worked in a Sinclair gas Station

I was a TV repair delivery guy and a

Lifeguard for the Chicago Park District

After graduating high school I then went to the U.S. Marines Corps because I didn’t have any money to attend college.

That’s where I learned how to drive a truck and later got into the logistics industry

Today I own several businesses and employ over 500 fulltime employees. We employ over 20 veterans and I can tell you that veterans are incredible people.

I owe All of who I am and what I am to my wife Fran and my 2 sons Michael and Nicholas.

Fran, next to our children being born, you absolutely have been the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I truly do mean that…… You have provided the foundation that’s given me the ability to be me ……. and you continue to provide the love and support that has given us both two (2) fantastic sons and an amazing life together…….Fran I love you all with all that I am….. I can also tell everyone that we both love each other today as much as we did when we met 34 years ago.

I feel that the way you measure yourself as a parent is if your children turn out to be a better person that you are……. I can honestly say that we did a pretty good job.

Thank you……. to all of the amazing people that I currently work with or worked for throughout my life….. I have been so very blessed and honored with so many great people…. Many of you have become an extended part of my family….

When you think about the word Veteran, your mind can take you in many different directions.

You may think of an active soldier…. A retired Soldier… some one that has served overseas or right here in the United States and so on & so on.

Truth be told, these are actual facts… Today’s US Military consists of approx. 18 million active soldiers….each and every one of them from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the newest enlisted soldier is a volunteer….

The draft ended on January 27th 1973… These young men & Women that serve in today’s military are true heroes and patriots.

In 1990 there were 28 million active military personal and approximately 2.5 million disabled veterans.

In 2018 there were 18 million active military personal and approximately 4.7 million disabled veterans.

That’s a 117% increase over 1990.

The top 4 disabilities associated with the US Military Veterans are:

  • PTSD
  • Sleeping disorder
  • Back, Neck and Shoulder injuries
  • Depression

This is alarming!!…. 33% of disabled veterans have thought about suicide in the past 2 weeks

22 veterans a day do commit suicide

In the 25 years that A Safe Haven has existed, not (1) one person has taken their lives.

The population in the VA Hospitals in 2018 was 615,000 in-patients

Total out-patients treated in 2018 was 109 million or 298,600 per day

VA currently has 1255 active facilities to treat needy veterans

In the real world we live in, many veterans are an overlooked and have become a forgotten part of society. We need to change that! Our federal government needs to do more for our military. We send billions of dollars to help other countries…we can certainly do more to help our military.

These young men and women, risk everything. They put themselves in harm’s way each and every day while defending our freedom that each and every one of us Americans enjoys each and every day.

You can never do enough for veterans. Even little things like buying a meal, shaking a hand, paying them a compliment or simply saying hello.

Every time I or my children see someone dress in a US Military uniform, we walk up to them shake their hand and “Thank Them for Doing All They Do, So All of Us Can Do What We Do”.

Many people don’t know that A Safe Have Haven has over 800 veterans a year pass through their doors. They are a great resource to use when you may be looking to hire a veteran.

In closing, I can’t say enough about A Safe Haven and all of the fantastic things they do for so many needy people. Neli and Brian, you are truly gifts from Heaven!

Please don’t stop doing what you have done in these last 25 years… The Next 25 years will need you more than ever!!

Everyone, please remember our veterans each and every day.

“We live in the land of the free, because of the brave!!”