U.S. Marine and Iraq War Veteran, Bill Vallely is the Program Coordinator for Veterans Rebuilding Life, volunteering his time training vets seeking professional employment in the automotive industry.
Who is Billy Vallely?
It was early morning on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, and St. Francis College had scheduled its usual day of classes. Bill Vallely was still asleep after a long night tending bar in a local tavern. Bill’s mother, Joyce, woke him with the words, “Billy, I think a plane hit the World Trade Center.” Bill opened one eye, having learned to wake at the slightest sound at Parris Island. He quickly rose and looked out his bedroom window, noticing smoke billowing in the distance, not unlike a volcano eruption.
He immediately felt the sense of the abnormal, even though authorities were saying at the time that it was an accident. Moments later, another aircraft struck the north tower at the World Trade Center, an event Bill witnessed not on the news but in living color.
At that instant, he thought of his swearing-in at Parris Island, of receiving his “eagle, globe, and anchor” (the rite of passage in which a U.S. Marine is born), and he thought about why he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Behind the scenes, calls were made to his reserve unit; the N.Y. Naval Militia was mobilized. Within days, Bill was on a bus with his comrades to lower Manhattan in defense of this new war. He learned of the loss of his hero, Gunnery Sergeant Matthew Garvey, the Marine’s Marine.
Hero to many, but to Bill, it was a bit more personal. Gunnery Garvey, a New York City firefighter, perished during a rescue mission in the World Trade Center. Garvey would visit Bill at his day job at Stop and Shop Deli, giving him bits of advice, or sometimes just a look, making it known he was checking on him–moments Bill would hold with him from then on. Over a month at ground zero, gave Bill a renewed sense of purpose and a reason to fight, sustaining his oath to defend his country.
Bill would soon deploy on his first tour in Iraq in 2003, at the onset of the war. Bill returned home only to re-deploy back to Iraq in 2005. Upon completion of this final tour of duty, Bill received an honorable discharge from military service.
But reintegration was not easy, and Billy experienced the lingering wounds of war that combat veterans and their families face. In 2018, Bill accepted that he was suffering from PTSD, and was was eventually service-connected for treatment, thanks to Veterans Rebuilding Life. Today, Bill encourages fellow veterans to seek PTSD treatment.
Why help veterans?
From Billy himself, “All of this is to support my brothers and sisters that gave everything they had for us to be free. Please help me support my cause this year. VRL are the greatest human beings on the planet, sav ing not only our vets but all those in need in combat.
Help me to help VRL and my brothers Dre Popow and Christian Zamora continue their mission. I fought with these fine human beings….and I’ll continue to fight myself through 26.2 miles to make this place the best it can be. Every step, every mile, every breath, every ache, and pain…. for my brothers and sisters. Please donate. 100% goes to VRL’s mission.”