Alumni Spotlights

Vincent Frazzitta Jr., ’87: Following Destiny

August 31, 2016 by Lisa McMahon, MA'09

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Vincent Frazzitta Jr., ’87, believes in destiny. It’s what led him to Niagara University, he says, explaining that, when looking for information on Syracuse University, he discovered an NU admissions brochure that had been misfiled. After finding out more about the university and its programs, he enrolled for the fall 1983 semester.

Destiny led him to enlist as a medical specialist in the Army after graduating with his biology degree, he says, a role he served in for three years before embarking on a career in the food and beverage industry.

And destiny prompted him to launch Chefs Fore Vets after watching “The Ground Truth,” a documentary that addresses the issues veterans faced after returning from the war in Iraq. Their battles with post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide especially resonated with him.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘I have to do something,’” he says. “I could combine my 30-year career in food and beverage with my love of golf to take care of my brother and sister veterans who are not as fortunate as me, to be healthy, working and debt free.”

So Vinnie began working to establish a nonprofit organization, Chefs Fore Vets, which would enable him to raise funds to support veterans who were struggling with PTSD as they reentered their communities.

Vinnie’s first activity as executive director of the organization was to ride his bicycle across the United States to raise awareness and money for the cause. On April 18, 2015, after quitting his job and selling his house and car, he left Cape Henlopen, Del., on a 15-state, 5,000-mile trek to California. During the day, he visited American Legion and VFW posts, a children’s hospital in Denver (where he delivered Legos to patients), and a Paws and Stripes organization in Albuquerque, N.M. At night, he slept in tents, on picnic tables, and, on occasion, in the homes of people he met along the way.

“The point of this was to put myself in the same situation as many of our veterans find themselves in today,” he explains.

On Sept. 14, 2015, 28 years to the day he first enlisted in the Army, he arrived at Pacific Beach, San Diego. His journey was successful in bringing attention to the veterans’ plight and in connecting with organizations across the country that have similar missions. It also helped him realize he had “to be mobile to be happy,” which led him to establish his next goal for the organization: to operate The Mess Kit, a food truck that will provide food and education to communities across the country. He envisions that through The Mess Kit, he will be able to participate in events where his message can reach a broader audience.

While the ways in which Vinnie promotes the mission of Chefs Fore Vets may change and evolve over time, his dedication to strengthening the overall health of the veteran community remains his destiny.

For more information on ChefsForeVets, or to support the cause, visit http://chefsforevets.org/.

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