IVMF Employees Reflect on 9/11

This article was originally published in 2018 but we felt their stories can continue to be shared in remembrance of 9/11. 

Almost two decades later and September 11th still feels like just yesterday to most Americans. Maureen Casey, IVMF chief operating officer, was in New York City on that day. When the first plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center on that morning, Maureen Casey felt the impact. The windows behind her desk had a clear view of the towers. A former Deputy Commissioner for the NYPD, Casey was immediately ordered to set up a plan for evacuations. Along with so many other first responders – she drove toward the towers as thousands of people were trying to escape.“People chose to enlist because of the events that day,” she said. It’s because of those men and women willing to sacrifice for their country is what inspired her to give back.

It’s an honor to work with IVMF staff members who are veterans, military family members, civilians supporting veterans, caregivers, and more. We interviewed a few of our employees who have a wide array of experiences on 9/11. Several veterans felt anxious when they did not get to take part in the immediate response to 9/11, like U.S. Navy veteran John “Gucci” Malfitano, Onward to Opportunity program manager at Hampton Roads.

Gucci had just finished his duty as a department head in a Navy E-2C Hawkeye squadron in the summer of 2000, which included an operational deployment on the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). He reported to Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. The morning of 9/11, he was leaving his military housing for class when he learned of the terrorist attacks.

“As with most Americans, the events of 9/11 remain vivid in my mind … I remember the intense frustration I felt that I had to sit idly by watching the news, and couldn’t be part of the fight as America prepared its military response,” Gucci said. “It would be two years before I got in the cockpit again, and embarked in USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.”

Vincent DelSignore, AmericaServes program manager in NYC, remembers the attacks and the impact it had on the community of the Big Apple. Vincent said his personal favorite of the nicknames for NYC has been the “Center of the Universe.” He adds, “It reflects the clout of the City’s businesses and institutions along with the diversity of those that call it home (some 176 languages are spoken in New York’s public-school system). People from all over the world are drawn to New York City where they not only co-exist but also thrive because of one another, making it truly one of the world’s great cultural hubs.”

The Center of the Universe quickly had a new significance, ultimately making it the center of the news on September 11. Vincent said even in tragedy, he remembers NYC pulling together as it always had. He noticed this specifically with the veterans and service members he met because of his career in the City.

“From Alabama to Maine and Long Island to Long Beach, the events of September 11th drew these individuals together to serve our country,” he said. “Some of their backgrounds couldn’t have been more different, but much like New Yorkers, they clearly thrived together under their shared purpose and duty.”