Dennis Addesso, President of veterans organization Ma Deuce Deuce, speaks at a Veterans luncheon held at NAWCAD Lakehurst

Dennis Addesso, President of veterans organization Ma Deuce Deuce, was a featured speaker at a luncheon held at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst on Dec. 18. (U.S. Navy photo)

Veterans luncheon raises awareness of critical issue and resources while celebrating the holiday spirit

As he spoke at a luncheon for veterans at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst on Dec. 18, Dennis Addesso shared some painful memories of his time serving as a Marine during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the toll his time overseas took on him and his family when he came home. 

As the president and co-founder of Ma Deuce Deuce, an organization created to help fellow veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems from the service, Addesso spends his free time working to ensure his brothers and sisters in arms have a support system as they return home. Before he was the featured speaker at the NAWCAD Lakehurst luncheon, Addesso was a Marine serving on the front lines in some of the most dangerous places in Iraq. 

During the event, Addesso shared his memories of his time in combat and how those memories haunted him when he came back stateside. He also talked about how he has navigated the various emotions he has experienced, leading him from thoughts of suicide to a determination to help his brothers and sisters in arms work through their own troubles. 

Addesso said he knows the importance of having positive influences at the darkest times and is glad his group can provide that, even on a small scale. 

“I think sometimes when you tell your story, there’s someone else that’s going to be able to relate to it. And, you never know, standing in front of a group of people might actually save a life,” Addesso said. “They say you wear your heart on your sleeve. I think my vulnerability is allowing someone to be vulnerable where they normally wouldn’t have the strength to do so.” 

While past generations of veterans might have been more reluctant to discuss their experiences in combat, Addesso said that stigma is slowly fading, allowing the men and women to seek and get the help they need. 

“It’s just having strength. It’s having no fear of being ridiculed or judged,” Addesso said. “I have my faith and believe in Philippians, 4:13 ‘And I can do all things.’ All things doesn’t just mean I can lift a car to get a baby out from underneath it. It means standing in front of a group of guys. I get choked up sometimes. It’s like ripping out a scab sometimes, and I’ve been doing it for seven years.” 

Larry Sinou, lead welder for launch valve systems at NAWCAD Lakehurst, was one of the veterans in attendance. He said he appreciated Addesso’s willingness to be so vulnerable during his talk. 

“It’s heartfelt, and it pulls at your heartstrings. And some express it in different ways,” Sinou said. “It’s amazing how he expressed himself today to all of us, and we’re thankful that he did that.” 

The holiday season has been a busy time for Sinou. Just a week before, he was one of the Lakehurst team members helping pack close to 1,000 toys and 60 bikes for the annual Toys for Tots drive.

Sinou said having events like this so close together shows that Lakehurst is such a special place for him to work. He also thanked the event’s organizers, Crystal White, Kevin Kelly, Marc Perry, and Lee Smith, for putting the luncheon together. 

White, a civilian administrator with the Prototype, Manufacturing and Test Department, said she was proud to be part of such a powerful event. 

“We just want to show our appreciation to all who served and all who support them,” White said. “It’s so important to bring awareness to some of the often heartbreaking trials veterans face once they return home and let them know they are not alone.” 



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