Last month, hero veteran John Ratka of Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill unexpectedly passed away.
Ratka was a member of The Valley Patriot family and received the 2016, Valley Patriot Hero Veteran Award for all the work he has done to help homeless veterans, and provide services for veterans in need.
Ratka was a staple at the Valley Patriot’s annual charity BASH! and was always there to help us honor veterans who have been overlooked.
Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan, a longtime friend of Ratka, has announced that at this year’s Valley Patriot 15th Anniversary BASH [April 5th], their annual Valley Patriot Hero Veteran Award will be renamed the John Ratka Hero Veteran Award so that future generations will not forget his service and sacrifice in the military, but moreover, his continued dedication to helping veterans when he came home.
John Ratka had a distinguished 26-year career in the United States Navy.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1972. He completed 21 submarine deployments, numerous surface ship deployments, and attained the rank of Command Master Chief.
John’s major tours of duty included: Command Master Chief Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Command Master Chief Submarine Squadron 22, Command Master Chief Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey and Chief of the Boat U.S.S. Alaska.
John was appointed to the position of Executive Director of the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNOC) in Haverhill, in October 2002. Under his leadership, they established great partnerships with the Veterans Administration, Bedford, the VA, the MA Department of Veterans’ Services, Housing and Community Development, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans’ Services Officers and many local community agencies.”
John’s two sons, Ryan and Jacob, reside in Salem, N.H. ◊