NJROTC Hosts Donation “Backpacks for Life” to Aid Homeless Veterans

Jamie DePaola, Guest Writer

With the supervision and leadership of NJROTC instructor, Jacqueline Caputi, GySgt,
USMC (Retired), the cadet corps completed a successful donation drive at Curtis High
School for daily essential items to complete 37 backpacks for homeless and at-risk
veterans in Staten Island.
The cadets collected and sorted over 1,000 items then packaged them into three
individual kits. Each kit contains 8-10 items that is put into a gallon size storage bag.
The final step was to put 1 of each of these kits into the backpacks. The completed
backpacks were then distributed to first responders from the FDNY and several veteran
service organizations who directly support veterans in crisis.
Military veterans have all learned to survive for months with just a backpack. After
challenging deployments, when a veteran returns home they often face the hardest part
of the process – reintegrating into their civilian lives while battling with the hidden
wounds of war. It’s important to let veterans know there is hope and they can get on a
path to self-sufficiency with the support from their community.
The Curtis High School Navy Junior ROTC program is led by LCDR Steven Borbely,
USN (Retired) and GySgt Jacqueline Caputi, USMC (Retired). Their program mission is
to instill in students the values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal
responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment. These basic ingredients help today’s
youth meet life’s challenges.
“Backpacks for Life” was founded in 2014 by Marine Sgt. Brett D’Allessandro after
returning home from his own combat deployment. Check out their website to learn
more: www.backpacksforlife.org. The term, “We’ve got your six” simply means “We’ve
got your back” and this is exactly what motivated the young cadets from Curtis High
School to embrace the BFL project locally to help and to honor all veterans.