Edgehill associate’s unwavering dedication to fellow veterans

Chuck Harvey makes difference through combat veteran motorcycle charity

Chuck Harvey grew up admiring his uncle, a Marine who served in the Battle of Iwo Jima. From the time he was five years old, he knew he would follow in those footsteps.

“I left high school a couple of months early, joined the Marine Corps, and then at my first opportunity, I volunteered to go to Vietnam,” said Chuck, a maintenance supervisor at Edgehill, Benchmark’s CCRC in Stamford, Conn.

As a combat engineer, Chuck worked closely with civilians, helping to rebuild Vietnamese roads and villages after they’d been attacked. He was injured during his first tour of duty, but returned for a second tour. In total, he spent four years in the Marines, earning a Purple Heart and a Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. When he left as a sergeant in 1972, he said “we really didn’t talk about Vietnam at all. I would say it was 30 years and nobody asked me about it. Nobody.”

He recalls what made the difference was the advent of the home computer. “I can remember when the computer first came out, I had a Tandy from RadioShack. I was on a bulletin board back then, and that’s when I first started connecting with other veterans.”

He eventually joined the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcycle riders – many of whom are veterans –that leads motorcades at the funerals of fallen service members and first responders. It was on one of those rides that he noticed someone wearing a patch for the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA).

“When I found out (their purpose) was combat vets for combat vets, I knew that that was for me,” said Chuck, who serves as the state representative for CVMA’s Connecticut chapter. “We are not a motorcycle club. We are combat veterans whose hobby is riding motorcycles, and our motto is ‘Vets Helping Vets,’” he explained. “We understand what other combat vets have gone through and are able to relate to them one one-on-one and help them.”

The CT CVMA holds charity rides, golf tournaments and is supported by businesses. Last year alone, they raised over $50,000 in support of Connecticut veterans.

“Let’s say they’ve come across hard times and they need an electric bill paid, we write checks to the electric company in their name,” he said. “Just two weeks ago, we helped a 90-year-old Korean War veteran. His house and yard were in disarray and he was at risk of getting thrown out of his house. We all met there and cleaned up his yard. Just seeing the gratitude from a 90-year-old vet, the smile on his face, that did it all.”

From a helping hand to a compassionate ear, Harvey said it’s more important than ever for veterans to know there’s someone out there who truly understands. “There are 22 veterans committing suicide a day,” he said. “We do everything we can to help. A combat veteran, regardless of what conflict they were in, has somebody they can talk to and relate to, who walked the same ground they did.”

Working at Edgehill gives Harvey another opportunity to help others and connect on a personal level. He and his team in the maintenance department enjoy helping residents and getting to know them. “They’ve got great stories about life. If you take the time to talk to people, it’s just amazing the things that they can teach you and the things that they have seen.”

Each year at the community’s Veterans Day luncheon, “I dress in my Marine Corps League uniform with my ribbons and I have lunch with these individuals. I really look forward to this. We share our stories, and the war stories are the same, regardless of it was World War II, Korea, or Vietnam. There’s just a camaraderie with these vets,” he adds.