The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing support to the families of military personnel with ties to Massachusetts who have died as a result of active duty service post 9/11/2001.
Formally launched on Memorial Day, 2009, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund was created to help families of fallen service members.
The origins of this organization came from the office of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy and some local 9/11 families who personally understood the pain and grief of losing family members, as well as the difficulties that come with this loss.
As part of the launch of Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, Senator Kennedy was quoted “They were patriots, who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us all, and we must support the families they left behind in every way possible. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to talk with many of their loved ones. I understand their burden and their grief, and I’ve also learned from many of them about the challenges that they face. The extraordinary task of putting their affairs in order and obtaining the support and benefits that they need, is almost too much to bear. I heard similar stories from the September 11th families in the days, weeks and months after that tragic day. The need for assistance is often overwhelming, and we hope this new Fund will ease some of the burdens.”
Alma Hart, the mother of PFC John Hart who died in Iraq in 2003, said “I’m very grateful for the concern and compassion that the 9/11 families are showing the Gold Star families…Clearly, the 9/11 families are still dealing with their own losses and their compassion and strong support for us reveal the best of Americans’ caring, understanding, and unity.”
Board of Directors
Thomas Crohan, President
Tom Crohan is an Assistant Vice President and Counsel at John Hancock Financial in Boston. Previously, he served as a senior member on the staff of Senator Edward M. Kennedy and more recently worked as an advisor to U.S. Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr. During his time with Senator Kennedy, Tom worked closely with military families and was instrumental in the creation of the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund. He also received a distinguished leadership award from the Massachusetts Victim and Witness Assistance Board for his work on behalf of the Massachusetts families impacted by September 11th. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with degrees in Political Science and Communication, and from Suffolk University Law School. Tom resides in Weymouth, Massachusetts, with his wife Pam and three children.
David Guarino, Vice President
David Guarino is a senior partner at Melwood Global, a leading strategic communications firm with offices in Boston and Washington, D.C. He worked for 12 years as a newspaper reporter for the Boston Herald, Lowell Sun, MetroWest Daily News and other newspapers before serving for four years as a senior government spokesman and advisor to the Massachusetts Attorney General and Massachusetts Speaker of the House. A proud graduate of Northeastern University, where he was an editor at The Northeastern News student newspaper and worked as a co-op student at The Boston Globe and other newspapers. David lives in Salem, Massachusetts with his wife, two sons and Jedi, their chocolate lab, is active in local civic affairs and as a youth soccer coach for his son’s team.
Christie Coombs, Clerk
Christie Coombs is a former public relations executive and a journalist who freelances for the Boston Globe South and The Patriot Ledger daily newspapers. Originally from Arizona, Christie moved to the Boston area in 1982 after graduating with a BS in journalism from the University of Arizona where she met her husband, Jeff. Christie has volunteered her writing and PR expertise to help many local organizations including the Parent Teacher Organizations in Abington and several non-profit groups. Having lost her husband on Flight 11 on 9/11, Christie and her three children founded the Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation, an organization that assists families experiencing hardship as a result of death or illness, and provides scholarships to Abington students. The Foundation also hosts a holiday gathering at Gillette Stadium for military families of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and supports other programs for military families. She has been recognized for the Foundation’s work as a recipient of the Girl Scout Council of Southeastern Massachusetts Leading Women Award in 2004 and the Tuesday’s Children Women of Strength Award in 2009. She was also honored by the Ellen DeGeneres Mother’s Day “Single Moms” show in 2006. In addition to serving on the MMHF Board, Christie is secretary of Board of Directors of the American Red Cross Blood Services Division in Massachusetts; and a member of the Commonwealth Security Trust Fund, the Abington Education Foundation, the Mass 9/11 Fund Commemoration Planning Committee and Family Advisory Committee.
Thomas A. Devine, Member
Thomas A. Devine is a retired Colonel of the Army National Guard. He served as The United States Property and Fiscal Officer for Massachusetts, National Guard Bureau, Arlington, Virginia. He was responsible for receiving and accounting for all Federal (Air/Army Guard) funds and property issued to the Massachusetts National Guard in excess of $2.5B. He ensured that all Federal laws, regulations, policies and procedures are adhered to with grants and contracting responsibilities for all construction and repair projects.
Colonel Devine was commissioned in 1989 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Nichols College, Dudley, Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Science, Finance Degree. Following his commission he attended Field Artillery Officer Basic Course at Ft Sill, Oklahoma with his first assignment serving as a Company Fire Support Officer for 3rd/82nd Field Artillery, 1st Calvary Division Fort Hood, Texas. He deployed in that capacity in support of Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield. Upon his return he was reassigned to 3rd Finance Group and began his career as US Army Finance Officer. He completed the Finance Branch Qualification Course at Fort Ben Harrison in February 1992 and left Active Duty in January 1993 as a Detachment Commander for the 15th Finance Support Unit.
In June of 1993 COL Devine joined the Massachusetts Army National Guard. He was assigned as the Company Fire Support Officer, for the 1/101st FA, 42d Infantry Division, Lynn, MA. COL Devine continued his education which paved his path into the Finance Branch. In December 1994 he began his career in Army Finance and was assigned to the 747th Finance Detachment, Somerville, Massachusetts as the Detachment Commander, where he was promoted to Captain in May 1995. In February 1998 he served in the United State Property and Fiscal Office, (USPFO), State Area Command (STARC), Milford, Massachusetts as a Finance Accounting Officer until July 1999. COL Devine was deployed with the 726th Finance Battalion as the Commander in support of Operation Enduring Freedom within Afghanistan where his battalion disbursed more than $2B in funds. When he returned in 2008 he was accepted into the AGR program as the Executive Officer 151st Regional Support Group and after one year became the J8 Director USPFO where he remained until May 2012. In May 2012 he became The United States Property and Fiscal Officer for the National Guard Bureau in Massachusetts and was placed on Title 10.
Stephen Kerrigan, Member
Stephen J. Kerrigan, Principal at Corner 4 Solutions, LLC, a public affairs and government relations consulting firm in Boston, Massachusetts, has held a number of key positions in Massachusetts government for more than a decade and a half. From local government to the State House and the halls of Congress, Steve has gained a wealth of experience and knowledge working at the top levels of government. Steve served as Chief Executive Officer for the Democratic National Committee Convention in 2012. Prior to that Steve served as chief of staff for President Barack Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009, on the staff of Obama for America, as chief of staff to Boston 2004, Inc., Boston’s Host Committee for the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and as a senior member on the staffs of both Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly and United States Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Steve was a member of the Finance Committee and elected member of the Boards of Selectmen in his native Lancaster, Massachusetts. As well, he was a member of the Massachusetts Municipal Association; a community adviser for the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps and currently serves on the Board of Visitors for the New England Baptist Hospital and as a board member for the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund. Mr. Kerrigan served as the President of the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund from its inception through January, 2018.
Maura McGowan Yanosick, Member
Maura McGowan Yanosick is the Intake Manager at Homes for Our Troops. The founder of the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America, and former Blue to Gold Liaison and National Historian for the Blue Star Mothers of America, Maura has worked closely with Gold Star Families in Massachusetts and across the country. Maura also supports veterans and military families through her community service work and was the recipient of the Massachusetts State Community Service Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution in September 2015. The former Child & Youth Coordinator for the Massachusetts National Guard Family Program, Maura is also a teacher and Reading Specialist. The mother of three grown children; including a son who is an Army veteran and Boston Fire Lt., and two daughters both working for non-profits; She is also “Grammy” to three grandchildren. Maura has been a member of the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund since July, 2009. She and her husband Rich live on the South Shore.
Executive Director, Diane Nealon, LICSW
Ms. Nealon is a clinical social worker with extensive community organizing experience assisting survivors of trauma and grief. She is responsible for the general operation of the organization and is the specific contact person to discuss program areas or issues, and for client requests for assistance or referrals. Ms. Nealon may be reached at 617-482-0444, or at email@example.com.