Celebration starts with a tribute to COL Robert E. Hawes, an instrumental figure in the creation of Brighton Marine as a Veteran Network Community

Brighton Marine, a veteran network community, is honored to announce a kickoff celebration that honors the organizations 40th anniversary as an incorporated nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Veterans and their families in Greater Brighton and throughout Massachusetts. 

As Brighton Marine begins the celebration of its 40th year we celebrate COL Robert E Hawes, our founder, our pillar of strength. COL Hawes led an amphibious attack on Omaha Beach on D Day.  He was an inspiration then and again on August 28, 1981 when he signed our incorporation. 

His inspiration today — of not giving up — is ever present and important today. As we mourn, pray and remember our troops, this dedication  is for those we lost in yesterday’s attack and every soldier before then.  

On August 28, 1981, COL Robert Hawes let the charge to acquire the property at 77 Warren Street in Brighton, Massachusetts. Since then, the campus has expanded physically and expanded in terms of the services that are available to Veterans, their families and the community.

It was COL Hawes, however, who should be noted as the spark that led this achievement.

A Needham native, COL Hawes spent 30 years of his career as an active member of the Army, retiring in the late 1960s. During his active service, he led men into battle during the D Day invasion at Omaha Beach, where his efforts earned him several medals and five battle stars. 

COL Hawes tremendous and inspiring military career was only matched by his 30 years of serving Veterans in the community as a volunteer. 

In 1981, the federal government was planning to cut costs and sought to close public health hospitals that served Veterans and their families, according to a Boston Globe story from 2006. When officials visited (then called) Brighton Marine Health Center, Hawes got involved, testifying before Congress and lobbying MA delegation, including Speaking Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr. 

David Chicoine, the then executive director of the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan, a federal program that offers services through Brighton Marine (via COL Hawes efforts) said to the Globe about that time, “He essentially convinced Congress that there as this moral obligation. Colonel Hawes started a movement in his advocacy for access to healthcare that has now grown into a regional health plan.” 

Faced with the potential closure of Brighton Marine, COL Hawes and another local official approached neighboring St. Elizabeth’s Hospital about a potential contract partnership to acquire the Warren St. property. After winning the contract, COL Hawes and the group received a $3 million grant from the Federal Government to bring the original building to code. 

Fast forward to today, and the sprawling Brighton Marine campus is the home of the Residences at Brighton Marine, the country’s first public and private housing project for Active Duty, Veterans, National Guard, Reservists and their families. Offering modern studio, one, two- and three-bedroom apartments, the Residences features a full amenity package and special resident services specifically catered to the needs of veterans. Additionally, the Brighton Marine campus features a unique partnership with the Boston Housing Authority, and program partner Soldier On. This effort provides housing and support services to 25 eligible Veterans under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. HUD-VASH allows for veterans to receive a broader range of support services – including clinical health care, mental health treatment and, if needed, substance abuse counseling – that help them further their recovery while achieving housing security and independence.  

If it weren’t for COL Hawes, who was Brighton Marine’s first president and chairman, today’s Brighton Marine campus might be just another part of the Brighton Community where people live or work. Today, it’s a place of hope, help, community, inspiration and bright futures. 

COL Hawes impact on Brighton Marine is still felt today in many ways, including the annual 

Colonel Robert Hawes Award for Community Service, which honors others who have helped military families.

In additional to COL Hawes, Brighton Marine wants to honor and thank four other original Directors, Terrance McGuire, John Marr, Francine Inhaber, MD, and Robert Hazlett. Along with COL Hawes, these people were instrumental in setting the course for the Brighton Marine then, today and tomorrow. 

COL Hawes never gave up for the Veteran community or any service member.  We will never forget his dedication and we will never forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect freedom around the world. As COL Hawes did, Brighton Marine will stand with our servicemen and women as well as our Veterans and their families. 

About Brighton Marine

A vital social service presence since 1940, Brighton Marine’s mission is steeped in the battlefield creed now being used at home – not leaving anyone behind. With a goal of serving as a one-stop network hub for resources for veterans and their families, Brighton Marine hosts 10 organizations that provide medical care and health services for military, veterans and non-military personnel. Along with helping veterans and their families find housing, Brighton Marine serves as the coordination center for electronic referrals from software that connects veteran service providers to coordinate care virtually, track outcomes, improve access, increase collaboration, and enables communities to provide more comprehensive levels of service. Lastly, Brighton Marine is heavily invested in the community – providing support to local high school students, partnering with other local veteran-based organizations, the Red Cross and Toys for Tots, and funding beautification projects in Brighton.