When the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks put the nation on edge, Holly Ann Charette couldn’t sit by and do nothing. It wasn’t in her nature.
“She felt a deep sense of patriotism and she wanted to make a difference,” recalled her mother, Regina Roberts.
Before long, she enlisted in the Marine Corps, and the former field hockey player and cheerleader from Cranston was on her way to Iraq. Overseas, Lance Corporal Charette served as a mail clerk, carving a reputation as the bearer of good news. But in June of 2005, when an improvised explosive device detonated near her convoy in Fallujah, she became known as the first female Marine from Rhode Island who was killed in Iraq.
“Holly’s huge smile and positive outlook will always be remembered. It was after her passing that it became evident to us how she affected her friends and fellow Marines,” Roberts said.
On Monday, in an emotional ceremony, a home for female veterans in Johnston was dedicated in Charette’s honor.
“Like most Marines, she never should have lost her life. I’m a father and I don’t know what I would do if I lost one of my children,” said Anthony DeQuattro, turning to Regina and her husband Ed, adding, “Know that she died for a noble cause.”
DeQuattro is the president of the Operation Stand Down Board of Directors. Operation Stand Down, which was founded nationally in 1988, seeks to eliminate homelessness among veterans. In Rhode Island, the chapter began to offer permanent housing in 2001, starting right here in Johnston.
“When you sign on the dotted line, you’re promised a lot of things by the government. When you come home – good luck,” said DeQuattro, a Marine veteran himself. “It’s an absolute crime that there has to be a homeless veteran in the United States of America.”
What is unique about this newest Stand Down property is that it is specifically geared for women. One in 10 returning veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and homeless female veterans are a rapidly growing segment. Four women are already moving into the Milton Street home, and two more spaces are ready and waiting.
All of the residents will have access to supportive services, such as case management, substance abuse counseling, job training and medical and psychiatric referrals.
A scholarship fund has been set up by the Women Marines Association to honor all fallen women Marines. Donations can be made online..click here or a check can be made out to Women Marines Association and mailed to :
WMA Fallen Warrior Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 377
Oaks, PA 19456-0377