Eagle Rare Life Award Nominee

Brett D'Alessandro

Date Added

October 13th, 2016


Backpacks For Life, Inc.






The voting for the contest is closed

“A driven & genuine veteran, serving the homeless veteran community.”

When asked to choose a category that Brett falls into, I would have picked all if possible. Brett served an 8-month tour in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps and returned home in 2014, only to realize just how hard coming home was. Watching someone who did such a heroic thing, to voluntarily go overseas to fight for our country, now suffering from PTSD and struggling to reintegrate into his normal life. It was a struggle for all those around him, but Brett had larger plans for himself and his purpose in life after serving in Afghanistan. Brett knew there was a reason that so many veterans were homeless, as he found himself in a dark place and realized just how close he was to losing everything. After a few months back home from deployment, Brett called me up and told me he had a crazy idea about building backpacks for homeless veterans and that if he could survive on a mission overseas with his backpack, that a veteran could get back on their feet if they had a backpack...with all the right tools of course. Fast forward two and a half years...Backpacks For Life has exploded in the Northeast and made quite a name for itself, handing out over 1800 backpacks to homeless veterans, their children and advocating for veterans in need wherever, whenever. Brett is the true definition of a hero, not only for his service overseas but overcoming his personal struggles to continue to serve his fellow brothers and sisters who served in wars from Vietnam & Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan. Not only as his girlfriend, but as his business partner in this organization, I believe Brett deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his continued efforts to fight for homeless veterans and give them the tools to succeed. Brett is a tremendous character with a genuine soul, looking to leave this world a better place than he found it. One of his favorite quotes is this and so much of what Backpacks For Life does related back to this message -

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.
“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.
“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”
“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”
The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

-The Starfish Story