February 4, 2014

Ten Years Later: Remembering Lt. Seth Dvorin, the Friend whose Death sparked the Creation of a Veteran’s group that has Helped Thousands of Veterans

On the 10 year anniversary of his death in Iraq, we remember the son who was lost too soon, and the friend whose passing led to the founding of the GI Go Fund

The late Lt. Seth Dvorin, seen here with his mother Sue Niederer, in 2004.

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Seth Dvorin was in his second tour of duty in Iraq, serving as an Army Lieutenant, on February 3, 2004. He had returned to combat after spending time back home with his mother Sue just a few weeks prior, where she expressed her concern for him as he was leaving. While he appreciated and understood her concerns, he knew that he had to return to combat to help his fellow soldiers as they fought in the dangerous terrain of Iraq. But on that February day, just 17 days after returning to combat, a roadside bomb detonated as his platoon was making a routine stop near the town of Iskandariyah, killing Seth instantly.

His death had a tremendous effect on the friends and family he left behind. But while the news of his passing devastated those who were closest to him when he died, it was the group of friends that had lost touch with him when he joined the army that experienced the greatest shock.

These friends, Jack Fanous, his brother James, along with Alexander Manis and his brothers Nick and Pete, were all in a state of shock and disbelief to learn that Seth had died. Moreover, they couldn’t believe the fact that they could lose touch with their friend, the same friend they went to grade school and college with, as soon as he joined the military.

But rather than be disappointed in what they didn’t do when Seth was alive, they decided to make him proud in his honor. They co-founded the GI Go Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans coming back find jobs, access their healthcare, go to college, and get off the streets.

“We never sent a care package to him, or a thank you letter, or anything that showed our appreciation for him, something that really hit home with me when I found out he had died,” said Jack Fanous, the group’s Executive Director. “So we were determined to make Seth proud; to do for his fellow veterans in his honor what he would have done.”

Since the organization’s founding, they have helped tens of thousands of veterans with unique and innovative services, gaining nationwide recognition and changing the way people thing of supporting our veterans. They have hosted numerous military career workshops with Fortune 100 companies like Johnson & Johnson and Ernst and Young, teaching veterans about resume writing, interview skills, and the tools needed to work for the major companies. They have also hosted dozens of career fairs that have matched thousands of veterans with employers and higher learning institutions that will get veterans on track to support their loved ones.

Moreover, one of their greatest accomplishments has been their work with then Newark Mayor Cory Booker since 2008 to create an innovative partnership in Newark, NJ to help veterans find work and access needed healthcare. Within the city, GI Go Fund has been conducting “Midnight Missions for Homeless Veterans” for over three years, establishing a 21st century solution to locate homeless veterans and fulfill the President’s goal. This unique and innovative method of addressing veteran homelessness has been highlighted to the entire country, having been featured on ABC’s reality show “Secret Millionaire” and the Fox News Channel.

Nevertheless, despite their successes, the group’s founders know that they are doing this for Seth, and that means that they must keep working hard for the men and women who fought alongside him. With this in mind, they have dedicated 2014 to helping veterans in South Jersey gain greater access to healthcare, giving them more choices than just the often hour-plus drive veterans in the area must take in order to get any medical treatment. According to Jack Fanous, fighting for what is right and fair is exactly what Seth would have wanted.

“We are doing what we know Seth would have done, and we never will stop.”