Skip to Main Content

Supporting Veterans one Step at a Time

August 18, 2020
by Emily Montemerlo

In Fall 2019, members of the Thoracic Oncology Program (TOP) at the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in Trumbull, visited Homes for the Brave (TM) in Bridgeport, CT to educate veterans about lung cancer screening. Veterans are considered a high-risk population for lung cancer due to the high incidence of smoking amongst service members and asbestos exposure due to historic use of this carcinogen on naval ships. Homes for the Brave is a non-profit that operates three housing programs in Bridgeport with the mission of assisting homeless veterans transition to civilian life. After spending time at the facility, the team members were motivated to form a fundraising team, known as VATS for Vets to take part in the annual fundraising event.

Vincent Mase Jr., MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery (Thoracic), Gean Brown, RN, Program Manager for Smilow Trumbull, Jeanne Puglisi, RN, thoracic nurse coordinator, and Philana Grudricza, LCSW, OSW-C, Oncology Patient Navigator, joined together to raise money in the annual Step-a-Thon, this year a virtual challenge to take 40,000 steps for each of the 40,000 homeless veterans across the United States. VATS for Vets has raised closed to 2K for the cause to date.

“This is a great organization that offers a place for homeless veterans where they can live until they get on their feet again. They teach computer skills and how to go on interviews,” said Gean. “We were honored to be asked to educate men about lung cancer screening and to fundraise for this wonderful cause. Anyone who is a current or former smoker is at high-risk for lung cancer and can talk to their primary care physician about screening and if it is right for them.”

To read more about the VATS for Vets team or learn more about Homes for the Brave(TM), please visit:

Submitted by Emily Montemerlo on August 18, 2020