TOMS RIVER, NJ — For several years, family-run HVAC and plumbing company A.J. Perri has been providing free heating, A/C, and air quality relief for veterans in need across New Jersey through its outreach program A.J. Perri Cares. Since its inception, the effort has provided and installed air conditioners, heating systems, smart-home technology, and air filtration systems for numerous military families. However, the important story is not A.J. Perri Cares, but the personal tales of these veterans who sacrificed so much for their country.

The first A.J. Perri Cares recipient of 2019 was Dennis Addesso of Toms River. He had enlisted and served in the United States Marine Corps for five years as an Arabic linguist, with two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. Shortly after his enlistment, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the treatment provided by Veterans Affairs fell very short of what was needed, and Addesso survived as best he could with nothing but an ineffective prescription for a decade.

Eventually, Addesso later found help and kindred spirits through the organization Operation Restored Warrior (ORW). Through comradery, community and faith, he found a way to begin the healing process. After ORW, he discovered other similar veteran help groups and was inspired to start his own. With his fellow marine brother-in-law, in 2017 Addesso founded Ma Deuce Deuce (MA22), named to bring awareness to the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day, a local 501c3 non-profit that raises awareness around the mental health issues that veterans struggle with and the resources and healing available to them. In 2018, they raised over $53k, and in the past have taken vets fishing, scuba diving, horseback riding, to Blue Claws games, and to a special yoga session with WWE Superstar Diamond Dallas Page. This past Christmas, MA22 sponsored six local veteran families who could not afford to celebrate the holidays that year.

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Despite his own personal challenges, Addesso has found a way to give back to other veterans in a truly impactful way. He works full-time in Philadelphia but always has time for MA22’s initiatives, which might as well be a second, unpaid job. So when his air conditioning system broke down and he was unsure how he would afford a new one, A.J. Perri Cares was able to lend a helping hand by replacing and installing brand new dual A/C units. Veterans in the United States face daunting hurdles, and often lack the help they need. It is because of people like Dennis Addesso, those who devote their personal time to aiding veterans and building communities and networks of support, that some veterans can improve their lives many times over and find real mental health solutions.

A.J. Perri wishes all the best for Dennis and his family, and looks forward to seeing Ma Deuce Deuce out there helping local veterans for years to come.