Basiliere named interim Haverhill Veterans Services Officer

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Dec. 22—HAVERHILL — He led the commission that created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Mill Brook Park and helped form the city's Warrior Support Task Force that arranged for free counseling services for area veterans.

Now, Ralph Basiliere has been handed a new assignment. Mayor James Fiorentini appointed him as part-time, temporary Veterans Services Officer.

Basiliere, a disabled U.S. Marine veteran who served from 1984 to 1988, will begin Monday working two days per week out of the city's Veterans Service office at the Citizens Center.

He replaces Lawrence native Luis Santiago, who served as the city's VSO for more than a year and in November left for a similar job in Billerica.

"As a formerly homeless veteran, the veterans we serve can expect a soft-hearted, hard-hitting comrade in their corner," Basiliere said. "I appreciate the mayor's confidence as he's charged me to be an effective advocate for Haverhill's veterans."

Basiliere, 55, of Haverhill said his priorities include suicide prevention and ensuring veterans receive the services they need, in a timely manner.

Basiliere, who is also a member of the Haverhill Conservation Commission and is chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission, has an associate degree from Northern Essex Community College. He a member of the local Disabled American Veterans chapter as well as the local AmVets post. He is also the nephew of Haverhill's first Vietnam War casualty, Ralph J. Basiliere, for whom the city's Basiliere Bridge is named.

During his time in the Marines, Basiliere served on several military ships and visited 33 countries during his overseas deployment.

"Mr. Basiliere is very well known and well respected in veterans circles and has a passion for helping veterans," Fiorentini said. "We appreciate his willingness to step up and help out the city and its veterans until we hire a new, permanent VSO. I have every confidence our veterans who need services will be in good hands and that Ralph will do a great job for us."

Basiliere is not interested in the permanent position but has agreed to fill in while the city interviews and considers applicants. The city is currently accepting applications for the permanent position and lists a starting salary of $50,000 to $60,000 annually. Six applications and resumes have been received so far, the mayor said.

Basiliere will be paid a prorated salary, which he said he intends to donate to the nonprofit Haverhill Promise youth literacy program.

"I intend to do my part to use literacy to lift children out of poverty and form the next generation of leaders," he said.

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