The G.I. Go Fund
Where Veterans Go Forward
Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, War Hero Who Captured Saddam Hussein, and PSEG Honored
G.I. Go Fund Honors Distinguished Guests at Annual Veterans Day Gala
Article by Eric Goodman
NEWARK, NJ – Nov. 11, 2011 – U.S. Army Specialist Jeans Cruz, the war hero who found Iraq’s
dictator Saddam Hussein hiding in a hole in 2003, was among five distinguished veterans and
veterans’ activists who were honored by the G.I. Go Fund at its Third Annual Gala.
“When I heard Jeans story I thought to myself: how is this guy’s name not world renown? Sixty years
ago, if someone had caught Hitler, we would all know who that person was, that person’s name would
go down in history,” said G.I. Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “I want this room to start
today: we will know who Jeans Cruz is and we will honor him for what he did.”
A non-profit charitable organization, the G.I. Go Fund was founded in 2006 to assist all military
veterans, with a focus on veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, as they search to find
employment, attend college through the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, and connect to critical benefits. Since its
creation the Fund has held numerous Job Fairs and other programs to benefit veterans in the state
of New Jersey.
The Fund was started by Fanous and his brother, James, along with Alex Manis, Nick Manis, and
Pete Manis. The men founded the organization after their high school friend, Lt. Seth Dvorin of
South Brunswick, was killed by an IED during his 2004 tour in Iraq.
Cruz, who received the “Veteran of the Year” Award for his outstanding service, worked in the World
Trade Center when they were attacked on September 11th, 2001. He never imagined that during his
first and only tour in Iraq, he would be the one to find and capture the fallen Iraqi dictator hiding in a
ditch outside of his home city of Tikrit, after the fall of Baghdad.
Cruz, a Calvary Scout in the 10th Cavalry Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, was discharged from
the Army in 2005. He lives in the Bronx with his wife, Jackeline, and four children: Jeans Cruz Jr., 8;
Luis,4; Jaydan, 4; and Aaliyah, who is almost 2.
The G.I. Go Fund’s Veteran’s
Day Gala, held at the Newark
Club, also honored PSEG
CEO Ralph Izzo, Newark
Mayor Cory Booker,
journalist Geraldo Rivera,
and veteran Marine Sgt. Joe
Pace, who found a job at
PSE&G at a G.I. Go Fund job
Fanous said the G.I. Go
Fund chose to recognize the
honorees because each has
made a significant
contribution to the men and
women who have served our
country overseas and
deserve recognition as well
|Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, who partnered with The G.I. Go Fund three years ago to create the Newark Office of Veteran
Affairs in Newark City Hall, was honored at the 2011 Veterans Day Gala with the "Innovation in Veteran Services" Award.
|PSEG CEO Ralph Izzo (left) was presented with the "Post 9/11 Veteran Employer" Award by
Marine Sgt. Joe Pace (center), who was hired by the company in 2009 after attending a
G.I. Go Fund Job Fair. Pace was also presented with the "Veteran Leadership" Award by
G.I. Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous (right).
Izzo, who is also the President and
Chairman of PSEG, received the
“Post 9/11 Veteran Employer” Award
for the leadership that both he and
his company have shown in hiring
and employing veterans. The
company has been represented at
every G.I. Go Fund Job Fair and
operates a program called PSEG
Vets, a support group for veterans
within the company.
Fanous said Izzo’s continuous efforts
to hire veterans has quickly made
PSE&G one of the top veteran-
employers in the state of New
Jersey, and has made Mr. Izzo a
leader in employing our former
|Army Spec. Jeans Cruz (left), the Iraq War Veteran who found Saddam Hussein
hiding in a hole, presented with the "Veteran of the Year" Award by Jack Fanous,
Deputy Director Alexander Manis, and Director of Communications James Fanous.
“I find it amazing we are being thanked for hiring our veterans,” Izzo said after accepting his award.
“These are people who have skills, discipline and a great work ethic, who give their all every day of
Pace, who spent three tours with the Marine Corps before finding a job with PSEG at one of the G.I.
Go Fund's Job Fairs, received the “Veteran Leadership” Award. “I would like to thank the G.I. Go
Fund, without whom, I would never have met PSEG,” said Pace. “I would also like to personally thank
you for having me be part of the PSEG family.”
Rivera, host of Fox News Channel’s “Geraldo at Large,” has been a journalist for more than 40
years and has earned more than 170 awards in his career. He can now add the G.I. Go Fund’s
“Civilian of the Year” Award to his list.
Rivera joined Fox News in 2001 covering many significant events of the past decade, including the
death of Osama bin Laden in May.
Fanous said Rivera has brought attention to issues regarding veterans and their families and has
been instrumental in educating the public on obstacles that returning veterans face every day.
“Shedding light on these issues has been an extremely powerful tool in getting the public involved in
helping to correct the problems facing our veterans,” Fanous said.
|Geraldo Rivera of Fox News being awarded for his support for our Post 9/11 Veterans.
Rivera said he was proud to be
involved and to be honored.
“It's very fulfilling to me, having
spent so much time with our
men and women in uniform,”
Rivera said. “The hard part
now is to help these men and
women get re-assimilated when
they come back home.”
Booker received the “Innovation
in Veteran Services” Award for
his dedication to helping
veterans. In 2008, Booker
brought the GI Go Fund to
Newark and established an
office in Newark’s City Hall.
The Fund has been running the city’s veteran program ever since in a groundbreaking partnership
between a non-profit and a municipal government, the first of its kind.
“I want to give my gratitude to three people who I believe are angels,” said Booker, referring to the
three founders of the G.I. Go Fund. “They have dedicated their lives, spirit, wisdom and love to
helping the members of the armed forces.”
The Gala was sponsored by PSEG, Ferreira Construction, Vanguard Energy Partners, Stop & Shop,
Prudential, Greater Media Newspapers, New Jersey State Broadcasters Association, Southwest
Airlines, Domino’s Pizza, the accounting firm WithumSmith + Brown, the law firm Cole Schotz, the
New York Jets and the New York Giants.
|Newark Mayor Cory Booker Accepts the "Innovation in
Veterans Services" Award at 2011 Veterans Day Gala
|Marine Sgt. Joe Pace, along with PSEG CEO Ralph
Izzo, honored at 2011 Veterans Day Gala
|Geraldo Rivera of Fox News Honored at GI Go Gala
|GI Go presents Army Spec. Jeans Cruz with "Veteran
of the Year" Award for finding Saddam Hussein.
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