Military members honored at Christmas party in Terrytown - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Military members honored at Christmas party in Terrytown

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Terrytown -- Military servicemen and women and their families celebrate Christmas a little early this year, thanks to one charitable organization. But for one family, this event means so much more than free Christmas presents. For them, it represents a new lease on life.

Alby Rosado hasn't seen his kids smile this big in a long time. The Army veteran and his family of five were homeless after his tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then, about a month ago, he met Shawn Cronan, founder of the Military Advocacy Project of Louisiana. Cronan changed everything.

Rosado explains, "I was at my rope of basically giving up on my family and myself and he found me at a time where that was my last day."

Rosado said he wanted to end his life. Within hours, Cronan found the family a home to live in and helped them get back on their feet.

Cronan says so many vets, returning from combat, struggle to transition back into their home lives after serving the country. So he organizes events like the one Sunday in Terrytown, to show the veterans and their families, they have support systems here. "We want to do a lot of good things for them, we want to do a lot of events, to bring them in, show them they're not alone, show them we're here to help them through good times, bad times, we are their brothers keepers now," said Cronan.

In addition to a free holiday dinner, Santa handed out gifts to every child of military parents in attendance. Some toys were donated, others were purchased by the Military Advocacy Project. And each child also went home with a brand new bike!

Marine Victor Quintana says he was so moved by the generosity bestowed upon his family, he wants to get in on the action. "Myself, I try to volunteer for stuff like this so after this I'm going to volunteer, see if there's anything they need any help with," Quintana said.

The help is certainly needed. According to Cronan, Louisiana has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, for veterans. Alby Rosado almost contributed to that statistic but today, he says things are looking up, thanks to the generosity of strangers. "I think it's selfless. I mean, everything that they taught us in the military with put others before yourself, and that's truly what's being shown here," Rosado said.

This is the second year the Military Advocacy Project of Louisiana hosted a Christmas party for local vets. Shawn Cronan says the event is growing in size, and he hopes to be able to invite even more people next year.

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