General Baccus received a regular Army commission in 1974 as an Infantry Officer through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program as a Distinguished Military Graduate and immediately entered active duty. He served in a variety of command and staff positions on active duty before transferring to the Rhode Island National Guard in 1978. His last active duty assignment before promotion to Brigadier General was as the United States Property and Fiscal Officer for Rhode Island, a Title 10 tour officer reporting to the Chief, National Guard Bureau. His responsibilities included receiving and accounting for all federal funds and property assigned to the Rhode Island National Guard, and the assignment was a joint billet. On March 7, 2001, General Baccus assumed duties as the Commander, 43rd Military Police Brigade, where he was responsible for the readiness of six units and over eight hundred soldiers assigned to the Rhode Island Army National Guard. He was activated in March 2002 to serve as the Commander of Joint Task Force 160, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba under Operation Enduring Freedom as the first National Guard Commander of the JTF. As the JTF Commander, he was responsible for the security and operations of the Naval Base, the over four thousand military and civilian personnel assigned, and the detention operation of over 600 enemy combatants. The JTF was awarded the Joint Unit Meritorious Award for the period January to October 2002. General Baccus retired in April 2006 after 32 years of military service and over 22 years of active duty service. He is a 1992 graduate of the US Army War College, a 1990 graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (Cum Laude), and a 1974 graduate of Eastern Michigan University majoring in Mathematics (Cum Laude).
Lt. Col. (ret) Jim Bessel is a 1988 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and retired from the US Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel after serving for 21 years. Jim was an Instructor Weapon Systems Officer (IWSO) and retired as a Master Navigator with over 3,400 total flying hours, over 3,000 F-15E hours, and over 1,800 hours instructing in the F-15 Strike Eagle. Jim was born on Long Island and grew up in Freeport, NY. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering. During his military career, Jim deployed twice in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In 2007, Colonel Bessel returned to Seymour Johnson AFB and the 334th Fighting Eagles where he concluded his Air Force career in 2009 as an F-15E Instructor. Following his military service, Jim worked in the DC metro area as a defense contractor supporting the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and the Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Special Programs Office. He also worked as a sub-contractor for Boeing working on the F-15SA program. With the completion of the Boeing contract, Jim joined the online merchant Amazon as an Operations Supervisor. While with Amazon, Jim helped open its one million square/foot Fulfillment Center in Fall River, MA. Jim and his wife Elizabeth live in Barrington and are the proud parents of Sarah, Maggie, Grace, and Jane.
David DosReis joined us from the Providence VA Medical Center, where he served as the Patient Advocate for the past eight years. In that role, he worked with veterans to get the care they needed and their concerns addressed. David enlisted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard a month after high school graduation and was at basic training when we were attacked on 9/11. He served as a combat medic and deployed to Iraq in 2004/2005, where was awarded the Combat Medical Badge for his rendering of care to wounded soldiers and civilians while under fire. Following his honorable discharge from the Army, David began his career helping his fellow veterans and earned his bachelor’s in communications from Bridgewater State University while working at the VA full-time. He is married with seven children and lives in Riverside.
Matt Golderese will be managing logistics and the new website for the Office of Veterans Affairs. He came to us from the Governor’s Office of Constituent Affairs, where he served his fellow Rhode Islanders by connecting them with state agencies and resources, and monitoring policy impact on stakeholders. Matt brings with him a strong commitment to making state government work efficiently and effectively. With a long history of military service in his family, Matt aims to make his contribution by assisting the Ocean State’s veterans. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island, and resides in West Warwick.
Michael Jolin joined the Rhode Island Office of Veterans Affairs in 2015 after serving as the public information officer and legislative liaison for the Department of Human Services. He is responsible for media relations, legislative affairs, and outreach initiatives. Mike plays a critical role in crafting the strategic messaging and building the external partnerships for the Office of Veterans Affairs. An 11-year veteran of the Army, Mike serves as a major in the Rhode Island National Guard. He deployed to Afghanistan with the 43rd Military Police Brigade in 2011-2012. Following his deployment, he had the honor of serving on the staff of U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, assisting veterans and their families with getting the benefits they earned. Earlier in his career, Mike worked as a tax manager for Ernst & Young in Chicago, and later represented clients at the law firm of Tillinghast Licht in Providence. He then joined the Rhode Island Department of Attorney in 2002, litigating cases on behalf of the State of Rhode Island, including two reported decision before the Rhode Island Supreme Court (Hanley v. State, 837 A.2d 707 (R.I. 2003) and Henshaw v. Doherty, 881 A.2d 909 (R.I. 2005)). Mike also served as Deputy Chief of Legal Services for the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation from 2005 to 2009. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Mike is admitted to practice law in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Illinois.
Lynn Lavallee started her employment with the Division of Veterans Affairs in November 2012 as the Assistant Administrator for the Rhode Island Veterans Home. Before her current position, she served with the Rhode Island National Guard for 31 years, achieving the rank of Colonel before her retirement in March 2010. Lynn grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, and at the age of 17, enlisted in the Rhode Island Army National Guard. After serving as an enlisted soldier for six years achieving the rank of Sergeant, she attended and graduated from the Rhode Island Military Academy Officer Candidate School Program and became a Second Lieutenant in the Transportation Corps. Lynn later became the first female officer to command the 1207th Transportation Company in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. As a commissioned officer, Lynn performed in positions of increased responsibility throughout her career, to include Management Analyst, Internal Auditor, Supply and Services Officer, Finance Officer, and Director of Human Resources. Lynn served on the Joint Staff as the J1, Director of Personnel, advisor to the Adjutant General, Commanding General, where she oversaw all personnel actions for more than 700 full-time and 2,500 part-time soldiers and airmen. A 1991 graduate of Roger Williams University in business management, she earned her Master’s in International Relations from Salve Regina University in 2001. That same month, she was selected to attend the School of Strategic Landpower, United States Army War College, the Army's highest level of professional military education, where graduated with her second Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies in 2003. Lynn resides with her husband in North Kingstown.
David Rothermel served as Operation Stand Down’s employment and training programs coordinator for the past three years before joining the Rhode Island Office of Veterans Affairs. A Warwick native, he enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from Toll Gate High School. During his time with the Marines, he served on three deployments: two to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. After transitioning out of the military, David graduated from CCRI with high honors and is finishing up his bachelor’s degree at Providence College. At CCRI, he helped establish the school’s Student Veterans Organization chapter and completed a one-year fellowship with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit of veterans helping improve the community. David currently resides in Johnston, Rhode Island with his fiancé, Dee DeQuattro, and their two dogs. He enjoys volunteering, watching the Patriots, and camping.
On February 17, 2016, Governor Gina Raimondo appointed Kasim J. Yarn to the first Director of Veterans Affairs for the State of Rhode Island. Kasim is an active-duty naval officer who retired May 16, 2016, after 20 years of faithful service to our nation and joined the Raimondo administration the following day. While from Jackson, Mississippi, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy the day after graduating high school. His first duty station was in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, a time that began Kasim’s lifelong love affair with New England. While stationed at Naval Station Newport in 1995, the Navy selected Kasim to attend college and become an officer. That same year, he met his future wife, Rosaria, a native of Italy who grew up in Westerly, Rhode Island. Kasim decided to go to school in the New England area and chose Boston University. He graduated in 2000 and shortly thereafter married Rosaria. Kasim also received his commission as a naval officer that year and was deployed in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf area of operations. After his assignments at sea, Kasim became an instructor at the Surface Warfare Officers School at Naval Station Newport in 2004. While in Newport, Kasim earned a Master’s Degree in National Strategic Studies at the U.S. Naval War College in 2006. Beginning in July 2007, Kasim served on several deployments with the Navy’s Sixth and Fifth Fleets in increasing roles of responsibility and returned home to Rhode Island in July 2013 to become a faculty member at the Naval War College. Kasim and his family made Rhode Island their permanent home in 2004 and bought a house in North Kingstown in 2009. He and Rosaria have two children, Jonathan and Giovanna. All are die-hard Red Sox fans.