NJ charity supports those serving our country
Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II wanted to serve our country, protect our freedoms, and help the people and touch lives wherever he could.
He starred as a swimmer for Christian Brothers Academy before moving on to West Point, where he was a senior year captain and a 2004 graduate. From there, the Monmouth County native completed both airborne and Ranger schools.
Dennis soon achieved one of his lifelong goals when he was selected to join the prestigious 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division.
He was promoted to first lieutenant and would be deployed to serve in Iraq in September 2005.
“He just wanted to make life better for people in the Middle Eastern region of the world,” his mother, Marion Zilinski said.
The 23-year-old’s life was tragically cut short just two months into his deployment. Dennis was one of four American soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Bayji on November 19, 2005.
“Any parent that buries a child is afraid that child will be forgotten, almost as if they never existed,” Marion explained.
From there, a close group of family and friends launched a charitable effort to preserve Dennis’ memory and support our military members and their families. The Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski Memorial Fund was born.
The group provides support and improves the morale of Wounded Warriors, active soldiers and their families by offering scholarships, donating service dogs, sending supplies for military working dogs, and helping in any other ways to ease the transition back into society for these brave men and women.
“I just ask the public’s help for us to continue to support them,” Marion said.
A major initiative has been the donation of the service dogs as part of their Sgt. Denny Project. To date, they have donated 17 service dogs for Wounded Warriors at a cost of nearly $15,000 per dog.
Marion said nearly 22 soldiers per day commit suicide as a result of PTSD. The dogs are trained to help Wounded Warriors with many of the issues they face upon returning from combat and have proven to be effective as they battle PTSD.
On Saturday, June 13, 2015, the foundation presents the 3rd Annual K9 Sgt. Denny Dog Walk at the NJ Army National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt, NJ.
The event serves as a way to raise awareness and money for these issues while also showcasing the amazing things that service dogs and military working dogs are doing for our soldiers.
Marion emphasized that the group honoring her late son is 100 percent volunteer with 100 percent of the proceeds going towards these various causes. They have over 200 volunteers with nobody receiving any salary compensation.
“By us picking up where my son would have gone for aiding and assisting the Wounded Warriors, it makes me very, very proud.”