Remembering Veterans Outreach Center founder Tom Cray

Tom Cray passed away Friday

Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - The local veteran community is mourning the loss of one of its biggest advocates. Tom Cray died on Friday at the age of 67.

Cray served two combat tours with the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam war. When he returned to Rochester, he helped create the Veterans Outreach Center (VOC). He spent nearly four decades advocating for veteran's rights and helping many reintegrate back into the civilian world.

Through the center, Tom also helped local veterans find help with employment, benefits counseling and much more until his retirement from the organization in 2010.

"He was a special person, he had a vision that most people certainly at that time didn’t have and today don’t have," said current VOC executive director Laura Stradley. "But he had the commitment and the drive to see it through and make a tremendous impact on thousands and thousands of veterans in this region."

Laura also stressed Tom's work to help veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) before the illness was widely understood and treated.

"Our country went through a dark period when we couldn’t separate the war from the warrior, and Tom knew that, and he did everything in his power to make sure the warriors that came back knew they had a home and knew they could get services," said Stradley.

Tom was diagnosed with a brain cancer known as glioblastoma earlier this year. His illness sparked new efforts to help Vietnam War veterans who are suffering from brain cancer because of exposure to "Agent Orange."

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