Donation to assist veteran suicide prevention efforts

Livingston County Chamber of Commerce Photograph Jason Skinner, right, director of veterans services for Livingston County, accepts a donation from Bill LaVallee, general manager of Valley Prone and Fuels, that will assist veterans services’ suicide prevention efforts among county veterans.

GENESEO – Livingston County Veterans Services’ veteran suicide prevention efforts has received a boost from the Valley Propane & Fuels “Warrior Truck.”

Valley Propane in Dansville dedicates a portion of the profits from the truck – a delivery truck wrapped with an American flag and soldier in desert fatigues on patrol – to local veterans’ organizations.

This year, donations were made to the county’s Veterans Services’ and the National Warplane Museum. Checks were presented July 23 during a ceremony at the National Warplane Museum.

Livingston County Veterans Services will use its donations to help with veteran suicide prevention efforts which focus mainly on the promotion of wellness and self-care activities, said Veterans Services Director Jason Skinner.

These types of activities include horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, arts and crafts, coffee hours, sports tournaments and picnics with veterans and their families.

“Wellness and self-care activities are more critical than ever as our community continues to face emotional, mental and behavioral health challenges amid the COVID-19 crisis,” Skinner said.

Skinner and Livingston County Board of Supervisors Chairman David L. LeFeber, the Avon town supervisor, also acknowledged the Valley Propane & Fuels team, including General Manager Bill LaVallee, for generous donations made toward county efforts to serve veterans in the past two years. Last year, the company – along with many private businesses – contributed to the Livingston County Veterans Monument, a community-wide endeavor led by several county departments, the Genesee Valley Educations Partnership, and local veterans themselves.

“Mr. LaVallee and his employees at Valley Fuel are an integral part of our community, and we are very grateful for their dedicated service to the veteran population,” LeFeber said in a news release. “At one time, Livingston County had one of the highest suicide rates in New York State. This donation will help to advance our efforts in combatting veteran suicide throughout the county.”

In recent years, Veterans Services’ has partnered with the Livingston County Suicide Prevention Task Force to present a series of veterans’ suicide prevention training programs.

The Suicide Prevention Task Force formed in 2013 when the county had the highest suicide rate in the nine-county Finger Lakes region and a rate that was nearly twice that of the state. The county rate has been reduced, but as recently as 2017 remained higher than the state average, according to data from the state Department of Health.

For more information on Livingston County Veterans Services, call (585) 243-7960.

For more information regarding the Livingston County Suicide Prevention Task Force, visit www.gvhp.org, or https://www.facebook.com/livingstoncountysuicideprevention/

The “Warrior Truck,” which carries 2,600 gallons of propane, has helped Valley Fuel raise thousands of dollars to support veterans’ causes. One cent for every gallon sold from the truck is set aside for veterans. The collection runs 12 months at a time.

Valley Fuel founder Larry Gnau, who had two sons in the military, originally started the fundraising program more than a decade ago. Gnau later sold the businesses to a consortium of local businessman. Valley Propane, which evolved from Gnau’s business, has continued the fundraising tradition.

Valley Propane doesn’t typically reveal the amount of individual donations, but in past year’s the donations have been in the thousands of dollars.

LaVallee also presented a check to Austin Wadsworth, founder and president of the National Warplane Museum. The donation will be applied to the restoration of a C-130 military cargo aircraft from the Vietnam War that was added to the museum’s aircraft collection in August 2019.

Known as the “Saigon Lady,” the Lockheed C-130 eventually became part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s collection. It remained at the museum’s storage and restoration facility at Dulles International Airport until the Geneseo museum expressed interest and acquired ownership in 2017.

The aircraft will be the centerpiece of a new memorial to Vietnam War veterans being planned for the Warplane Museum.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1