The nonprofit organization Tuesday’s Children will host a benefit next week at the Plandome Country Club honoring two men, Matthew Bitter and Doug Kechijian, for their dedication and service to the United States.
Bitter attended the U.S. Naval Academy after graduating from Manhasset High School. He served as a Navy SEAL officer for over eight years. Through his counterterrorism efforts, Bitter completed three deployments and was awarded the Bronze Star for his bravery and leadership while under attack. He was deployed in Afghanistan, East Africa and Europe, according to his LinkedIn profile. Bitter finished his last tour in August 2017 and left the military in November 2017.
Also a New York native, Kechijian was a pararescue in the U.S. Air Force where he “conducted operational missions with elite military units throughout the world,” according to a news release from the foundation. He is a nationally certified paramedic and in 2015 was selected as the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year by the Air Force. He went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology from Brown University and a physical therapy doctorate from Columbia University.
About 150 people are set to attend the event on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. There are still tickets, which cost a minimum of $125, for sale.
In the wake of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the organization was formed by a group of brothers and cousins of 9/11 victims in Manhasset to provide support and long-term healing for those affected by the attacks. In recent years, the group has expanded to include service members who committed to the military in response to 9/11.
“On 9/11, responders were running towards the building, but there was a subset of people that were signing up for the military and the recruitment centers,” explained Terry Sears, executive director of Tuesday’s Children. “We feel that because of their service and how they risked their lives, we owe them honor and gratitude.”
“We do a lot of work with communities that have gone through traumatic events. We’ve recently been doing a lot of work in places like Parkland and Newtown … We teach about five different modules that victims and families need to know about the healing process,” Sears said about the expansion of Tuesday’s Children. The organization has also expanded to include over 2,000 Gold Star families.
The foundation aims to provide youth support and guidance, health and wellness counseling, career guidance, family programming and community service.
In addition to the award presentations to Bitter and Kechijian, one Gold Star widow and her children will speak at the benefit about the importance of long-term support.