Sergeant First Class Marvin Jeffcoat of Woodside, who served from 1982 to 2004, and Sergeant James McClelland of Middle Village, who served from 1988 to 1992, will jump out of an airplane as part of the first SkyDive for Vets event to raise money for injured veterans and spread awareness about the issues former soldiers and their families face.
Jeffcoat, a retired paratrooper, said he “can’t wait to get his knees in the breeze.” McClelland quipped that his wife made him increase his life insurance coverage.
All proceeds from the event will go to The Road Home Foundation for Injured Warriors and Families, a small nonprofit founded in 2013 which gives 100 percent of its donations to injured military personnel and their kin.
Its largest sponsor is New York Right Now, a political action committee that promotes small government and free-market principles.
“We have a saying: no one left behind, and that’s not only applicable to the battlefield, but also as soldiers return home,” McClelland, who is a New York Right Now board member, said. “They still have a struggle with transitioning to civilian life.”
Officer Carlos Alvarez, who served from 2006 to 2011, will also participate in the high-flying stunt, as will Brooklyn State Senator Marty Golden, the event’s special guest skydiver.
Each team is soliciting funds individually — they have raised more than $3,500 so far — and the one that raises the most will receive a prize at the event. Organizers are also still looking for a fourth jumper and additional business sponsors.
Grants from The Road Home Foundation, which are typically $5,000 to $10,000, help fund many different types of assistance for injured veterans and their families. This includes education and job training, housing grants, equipment to improve mobility, referrals for additional help such as legal and financial services and other initiatives that can improve their quality of life.
The nonprofit raises approximately $50,000 per year and is run entirely by volunteers.
“As a veteran, it’s a chance for me to give back to my comrades,” Jeffcoat, who currently works for the Department of Health, said of the event. “Civilians really misvalue veterans. I still feel like a misfit, like an oddball. Transitioning is really hard.”
Alex Marrocco, The Road Home Foundation’s president, experienced the effects of war firsthand when his son, Sergeant Brendan Marrocco, was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq nine years ago.
The younger Marrocco lost all four of his limbs as a result of the accident, though he was the first service member from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive such an injury.
Thanks to an outpouring of support, Marrocco received a double arm transplant in 2012 and now lives in his own home with his girlfriend.
“There are days when you feel you’re on top of the world and there are days when you’re in the depths of depression again,” Alex Marrocco said. “The foundation is just my way of giving back, my way of saying thank you.
“We certainly appreciate the fact that [SkyDive for Vets has] chosen us to make their contribution,” he added, “and the fact that they’re raising awareness to the plight of injured warriors.”
To make a donation, visit skydiveforvets.com.