International Delight Kicks Off Military Appreciation Month By Announcing Partnership With Pets for Vets

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Pets for Vets logo

Broomfield, Colo. – [May 1, 2019] – In honor of Military Appreciation Month, International Delight has committed $150,000 to support the national organization Pets for Vets. The creamer brand also launched S’mores, a new limited-edition flavor, which features the Pets for Vets pawprint logo on every bottle.

This debuts as part of the brand’s limited-edition, Americana-themed summer collection. International Delight developed this summer collection to encourage its fans to support this cause dedicated to hugs and companionship.

International Delight values Pets for Vets’ mission to help shelter animals find loving forever homes with veterans. This contribution is anticipated to cover the cost of a number of initiatives, including:

  • 30 veteran and pet matches
  • Continued education for Pets for Vets trainers
  • Medicine and preventative supplies for matches

“The opportunity to match veterans with a new companion and give pets in need loving homes struck a chord with us and we knew from our first conversation that we had to get involved,” said Jessica Strouse, senior associate brand manager for International Delight. “We are proud to support the Pets for Vets team with a contribution, and also to have the opportunity to use our beloved brand to raise awareness for their efforts with the addition of their symbol to our latest launch — International Delight S’mores Creamer.”

More than 6 million pets enter shelters in the United States each year, and 20% of returning military veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Pets for Vets uses the powerful bond between humans and animals to help both by pairing them together.

“We’re incredibly thankful for this support that will help us reach more veterans and shelter animals than ever before, and we’re thrilled this partnership goes beyond just a contribution thanks to International Delight’s dedication to raising awareness of our efforts,” said Clarissa Black, founder of Pets for Vets. “Since we began in 2009, we’ve been fortunate to do a lot of great work and working with International Delight will help us do even more.”

Celebrating summertime, the contributions of veterans and love for pets, the full Americana-themed collection features red, white and blue packaging across the brand’s French Vanilla and Cold Stone® Sweet Cream varieties, as well as the new S’mores variety. Bringing a campfire to your coffee cup, International Delight S’mores Creamer combines the chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow flavors of the nostalgic summertime treat.

The full Americana-themed collection is available in grocery and mass-market retailers nationwide for a suggested retail price of $3.79. For more information on Pets for Vets, including how to get involved in a nearby chapter, head to petsforvets.com.

About International Delight®

International Delight® was launched in 1987 and was the first flavored, liquid, non-dairy creamer on the market. There’s an art to the perfect cup, and we celebrate a masterpiece of flavor fantasy every single time. We’re flavor crazy and black coffee just does not exist in our universe. Never has, never will. International Delight® Iced Coffee and creamers are available at grocery, convenience stores, mass merchandisers and food service outlets across the country. For more information, visit InternationalDelight.com.

About Danone North America

International Delight® is made by Danone North America, a Certified B Corporation® business unit of Danone that operates in the U.S. from headquarter offices in White Plains, NY and Broomfield, CO. Danone North America was formed as a Public Benefit Corporation in 2017 to nourish people, communities and the world through its diverse portfolio of healthful dairy- and plant-based products, coffee creamers and beverages. Its portfolio of brands includes: Activia®, DanActive®, Danimals®, Dannon®, Danonino®, Horizon Organic®, International Delight®, Light & Fit®, Oikos®, Silk®, So Delicious Dairy Free®, STōK®, Two Good™, Vega®, Wallaby Organic® and YoCrunch®. The mission of Danone North America and that of Danone worldwide is to bring health through food to as many people as possible. For more information, please visit DanoneNorthAmerica.com. To find more information on Danone North America’s B Corp™ status, visit: bcorporation.net/directory/danone-north-america.

About Pets for Vets

Headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina, Pets for Vets, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with chapters in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia. Pets for Vets® helps heal the emotional wounds of military Veterans by using the power of the human-animal bond to provide a second chance for shelter animals that are rescued, trained and paired with American Veterans who could benefit from a companion animal. To learn more go to petsforvets.com.

2022 Memorial Day Discounts for Veterans

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May is designated as National Military Appreciation Month to recognize and honor all U.S. service members. Memorial Day falls during this month of appreciation on Monday, May 30, 2022.

As we recognize and honor those that have died in American wars, we also honor those that have served, and are serving.

Several businesses are offering discounts or deals as a way to honor U.S. military personnel and veterans on Memorial Day.

Professional sports games played over the Memorial Day weekend typically include tributes to the military and many businesses advertise Memorial Day deals and discounts.

Check out our list below to see the ways in which restaurants are supporting and appreciating our troops. Unless otherwise specified, these deals apply to all branches of the military for active-duty, retired, and veteran members.

Here are some of the deals available listed on The Patch:

APPLEBEE’S: Spend $25 or more in one transaction & score free movie ticket to “Top Gun: Maverick” in theaters May 27. Spend $50 or more in one transaction for two free tickets. Offer is good for dine-in or takeout. Details. The chain also added two new $5 summer sips: the “Sunset Mana Rita” and “Tipsy Shark .” Location finder here.

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ARBY’S: Celebrate National Hamburger Day with new, limited-time Wagyu Steakhouse Burger, on menus through July 31. The 6.4-ounce burger is blend of 52% American Wagyu & 48% ground beef, cooked Sous Vide-style, and includes cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion & special sauce on brioche bun. Bacon & ranch optional. Prices start at $5.99, but may vary by location. Details.

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BLACK ANGUS: Among new seasonal specials is the “Summer Grill,” with choice of steak, plus ribs, shrimp, chicken, two sides & slice of watermelon. Prices from $25.99 to $39.99, depending on steak selection. See info here. Location finder.

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CHEVYS FRESH MEX: Cocktail deals on Memorial Day Monday, May 30: $3 house margaritas; and $5 Cadillac Margaritas (Lunazul Reposado, triple sec, sweet & sour with side shot of Cointreau Noir). Locations.

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CHILI’S: A National Burger Day special — only on Saturday, May 28 — features “3 for $10 – Big Mouth Bites.” In short: four mini burgers with bacon, cheese, sauteed onions & house-made ranch, plus non-alcoholic beverage, starter & fries for $10. Starters include soup, salad or chips & salsa. Website & details here. Find locales here.

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CORNER BAKERY: From May 27-30, patrons can take $5 off Family Meals. Promo is offered online and in-store. Diners can mix & match up to four entrées, including paninis, pastas, salads, sandwiches & breakfast meals. E-club members will be sent reminders May 27. E-club sign-up. Locations listed here.

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DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT: It’s a Memorial Day weekend BOGO deal for Big Yellow Cup Rewards members: Buy one brisket sandwich, get one free May 28-31. Rewards members will receive one unique code by email to redeem online via app only. And in another special offered through May 29: Get a brisket sandwich, side & Big Yellow Cup for $8.99. Available online & via app only (no coupon code needed). Offer found on online and app menu under “Deals.” Website. Locations listed here.

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EL POLLO LOCO: Take advantage of military service discounts — 15% off orders — offered (maximum value of $1.50) to military personnel, police officers, firefighters, EMTs & federal law enforcement agents. Ask cashier for discount prior to payment, and show badge if not in uniform. Also note “Senior Discounts,” for ages 60 and up, are 10% off (with maximum value of $1). Details. Location finder here.

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EL TORITO: Memorial Day marg specials on Monday, May 30, feature $3 house margaritas and $5 Cadillac Margaritas (Lunazul Reposado, triple sec, sweet & sour with side shot of Cointreau Noir). Locations.

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FARMER BOYS: Graduating seniors, who post photos in their caps & gowns to their Instagram feeds and tag @farmerboysfood,will score free Big Cheese burger. Participants must join VIF (Very Important Farmers reward app), plus limited to one entry per grad & one offer per mobile device. Grads then receive code to unlock free burger deal in VIF app. Freebie runs through June 30. Locations listed here.

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FATBURGER: On Saturday, May 28 — National Hamburger Day — the chain will drop 500 limited- edition NFTs (non-fungible tokens) on first-come, first-served basis, that can be exchanged for a free Original Fatburger during June. “Minting” begins Saturday at 3pm PST. See details. Location finder here.

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FOGO DE CHAO: Active duty military & veterans are offered 50% off their meals Monday, May 30, plus up to three of their guests will get 10% discount for dine-in tabs. Participants must present military or DOD ID to receive discount, and alcoholic beverages, tax & gratuity not included. Locations.

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GRACIAS MADRE: All veterans can enjoy 10% off brunch Monday, May 30. Among menu options: chilaquiles ($18); cinnamon oat pancakes ($17); avocado toast ($15); French toast ($17); breakfast burritos ($21); plus such signature cocktails as Gracias Madre’s Fresh Juice Mimosa or Rose Sangria. Book online on website here, or call WeHo 323-978-2170/NB 949-386-8100.

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LONG JOHN SILVER’S: A 20% military discount is offered Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, to those with valid ID. On other days, 10% off orders is available as a thanks to those who served. Details here. And for two other deals running through May 31 at participating locales: take $2 off any variety platter; or take $5 off any family meal of 8 pieces or more. Required coupons found here, by scrolling to bottom of page. Location finder here.

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MARCO’S PIZZA: A Memorial Day Weekend pizza deal, running May 26-29, offers patrons 20% off any pizza when using code MEM20. The special is for orders via the chain’s app or online, with such pizza pie options as All Meat, Deluxe, Garden, Hawaiian Chicken, Pepperoni Magnifico and White Cheezy. Find location near you.

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MCCORMICK & SCHMICK’S: Back by popular demand for Memorial Day weekend are “Seafood Boil Packs To-Go.” Packs come with andouille sausage, corn & potatoes, plus instructions. Choose from Shrimp Boil ($29), Loboster & Shrimp Boil ($49) or Lobster Boil ($39). Pre-order by phone by May 26 to guarantee availability for May 28-30 pick-up. See ordering details here. Locations.

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MORTON’S THE STEAKHOUSE: Memorial Day prix-fixe menu will be served May 27-31. Includes starter, entree choice (filet mignon, pork chop, shrimp scampi, salmon, chicken or lobster ravioli) and dessert. $65 per person. “Chef’s Table” grill kits also available for takeout. Details hereLocations.

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OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE: Military veterans & active duty, with valid ID, can enjoy a 10% “Heroes Discount” off their guest check. The offer runs every day, year-round, and also extends to nurses, doctors, medical staff, police, firefighters & first responders, with valid medical, state or federal service ID). Details. Find locations.

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PIEOLOGY PIZZERIA: Use promo code MEMORIALDAY — from May 28-30 — and get $5 off $25+ orders, both in-store and online. Participating locations in California include: Carlsbad; Carson; Chino; Dublin; Escondido; Fremont; Irvine – The Market Place; La Mirada; Roseville; San Leandro; Walnut; and Yuba City. Website here.

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RED LOBSTER: A BOGO deal to kick off summer is available to teachers, school faculty & staff, who show valid school ID. Diners buy one entree and get a second entree (maximum $20 value) free. The special, runs May 23-June 5, for dine-in only. Details. Location finder here.

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ROCK & BREWS: Celebrate National Burger Day — Saturday, May 28 — with a special deal. Diners who buy one entrée will get the fan-favorite “Oklahoma Smash Burger” for $5.28 (typically priced around $15.95). The burger is stacked with grilled onions, cheddar cheese, dill pickles & mustard sauce on brioche bun. The special is at locations.

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7-ELEVEN: 7NOW customers can celebrate Memorial Day weekend with free pizza. First-time users of 7NOW delivery app can use code PIZZA to redeem one free pie with any delivery order. The special begins May 25. 7NOW delivery app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play, or by visiting 7NOW.com or 7Rewards.com.

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SMASHBURGER: Celebrate National Hamburger Day with a $5 deal on the Double Classic Smash — two Angus beef patties, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, ketchup, toasted bun & “Smash Sauce.” Promo is in-store & via the Smashburger’s website/app with coupon code: Hamburger. Website here. locales listed here.

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SUBWAY: Use promo code 15OFF and get 15% off foot-long sub sandwiches. At participating restaurants through July 11. Details here. Locations list here.

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THE HABIT BURGER GRILL: Here’s a weekend freebie: Download & register for The Habit Mobile App to score a free Charburger with cheese with purchase of a regular drink. For first-time registrants only. Info here. Location finder here.

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WAYBACK BURGERS: On National Hamburger Day, May 28, get a BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free) deal on Classic Burgers. Available only via the app at participating locations. One per app account, and may not be combined with other offers. Info here. Weekly deals for Burger Month here. Find locations.

For more deals and discounts, check out:

Toms Guide

Freebiefinder

Newsweek

Memorial Day: One veteran’s opinion for Memorial Day

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veteran and family at tombstone

On Memorial Day, 1945, the war in Europe had ended but the fighting in the Pacific continued, Lt. Gen. Lucian Truscott voiced remarks at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery at Nettuno, Italy. Turning his back on the assembled VIP’s he faced the rows upon rows of headstones and apologized to the 20,000 fallen Americans who had been laid to rest far from home.

He was quoted as saying, “All over the world our soldiers sleep beneath the crosses. It is a challenge to us – all allied nations – to ensure that they do not and have not died in vain.”

Fast forward to Memorial Day 2022, and the familiar voices of brothers in arms begin to call one another on the phone. People usually think of reconnecting with former military buddies as a joyous happening. However, for this Memorial Day, the topic of conversation was not an armistice, a promotion, or even a daughter’s wedding or new addition to a home, it was about the latest in a string of suicides that silence the voice of our brothers but brought renewed connections from other familiar voices. One desperately said, “Sir, I needed to call someone who could understand this.”

Everyone in the greatest generation understood war. At home they experienced rationing, schoolchildren collected scrap, and women took up factory jobs while overseas the troops endured combat and were witness to some of the largest and most brutal atrocities in the modern age. When the war was over, they followed the lead of Lt. Gen Truscott and committed their lives to ensure that they “have not died in vain.” The shared sacrifice of a generation united them and helped them solve tough problems.

In subsequent wars, such as the Korean and Vietnam era, Veterans did not experience the same level of understanding and thus either turned their voice inward or used their voice to fight for one another on subjects that varied from Agent Orange, PTSD, and other once-silent conditions.

The War on Terror introduced a unique time in our nation’s collective history as acts of war played out in real-time on our media devices. Although only one percent of Americans served post 9/11, it seems 100 percent of the country used their voice to express their opinions of this shared history as it unfolded.

For Korea and Vietnam Veterans, war was not a shared experience and therefore various voices having various opinions helped further the national conversation regarding the treatment of veterans leading to safer and more thoughtful approaches. Unlike the veterans of Korea and Vietnam, the veterans of the last several decades did not return home to the voices of dissent that could be addressed directly, instead, they returned to a polite nation that creates media of dissent and very little opportunity for honest, open dialog.

This new era of media, learning, and personal discussions bring rise to the question, “Do people really remember why we hold our veterans in a place of honor?” For years, voices saying meaningless phrases like “the enemy gets a vote” or “there’s nothing you could have done” were meant to comfort those of us who have held the heavy responsibility of leading troops in combat. However, many people seem to lack the understanding that our hearts have been forever scarred by the invisible wounds of war, scarred by guilt and grief, and by the longing for forgiveness that will never come. Even if forgiveness was offered, it would be hard to accept as no mere words can undo a life experience and because of this, we often feel isolated, misunderstood, and undervalued therefore our voices remain silent.

As conversations with the voice on the other end of the phone come to its inevitable conclusion, I am reminded that to remain silent is a betrayal of my obligation to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. As Horace Bushnell once said, the best thing for us to do is to remember “what they have put it on us to do for the dear common country to which they sold their life.” As we gather as one nation this Memorial Day, my hope is that instead of directing shallow words of gratitude at each other, we do as Lt. Gen. Truscott did and direct our gratitude directly towards those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In both our words and actions, let us all commit ourselves to serve the country to which they gave their lives.

While there is still much work to be done, the generation of Veterans from this century have access to vast resources, life-saving technology, and increased information. This same generation of Veterans is just now starting to define our post-service legacy and like our grandparents, return home with a deep commitment to service, and a desire to address the many problems that we face.

Director of Military & Veteran Outreach, retired US Army Captain Joe Regan
Director of Military & Veteran Outreach, retired US Army Captain Joe Regan

One such issue needing to be addressed is helping Veterans find purpose in their post-service lives. Truscott’s apology to the dead are not empty words, but a strong voice reminding us that we have an obligation to choose resilience and purpose when faced with guilt or grief. As an example, Gold Star Families, who have experienced tremendous loss, continue to serve their communities to maintain the legacy of the loved one they lost. I often recall a colleague of mine responding to the question “why do you do so much to help Veterans?” he simply held up his finger, choking back tears he responded, “for the one I couldn’t save.” By choosing to use his voice to advocate for other veterans, he not only helped them find their purpose – he found his own.

It’s often said that for those who have served “every day is Memorial Day,” a traditionally silent observance in the Veteran’s mind that can best be described as an impossible trinity made up of an overwhelming sense of guilt, grief, and grit. Usually, a moment of silence on this day is a welcomed and solemn way to honor the voices from our past, but for myself, after losing three former soldiers to suicide in the past few months, silence is no longer an option and the freedom to use our voice is the greatest gift that our veterans have to offer this Memorial Day.

Wreaths Across America logoJoseph Reagan is the Director of Military and Veterans Outreach for Wreaths Across America. He has almost 20 years experience working with leaders within Government, non-profit, and Fortune 500 companies to develop sustainable strategies supporting National Security, and Veterans’ Health. He served 8 years on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army including two tours to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division. He is the recipient of multiple awards and decorations including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

To view resources for service members, veterans, and their families, please visit learn.wreathsacrossamerica.org/veteranresources

Chicago fundraiser ‘Ruck March’ supports veterans in need

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Veterans at the Ruck March

By , Fox 32

With Memorial Day around the corner, one Chicago veterans group is preparing for their biggest fundraiser of the year.

The daily average of veterans who die by suicide has dropped, but the pandemic put a huge dent in services.

The big event later this month aims to show veterans they are not alone.

The Chicago Veterans Ruck March is 17 miles and raises money for veterans in need — 17 miles representing how many veterans die each day from suicide.

“The Ruck March is basically bringing awareness and it’s also giving soldiers a therapeutic value that they can wear their lost soldiers picture, they can do it in their honor,” said Carlos Vega, Veteran Outreach and Events Coordinator. “And also bring awareness that PTSD is an issue and it needs to be addressed.”

For eight years, the organization Chicago Veterans has hosted 300 community events in 45 Chicagoland communities.

“This is all about keeping us together as a team. One team, one fight. We’re all fighting one mission. We’re all battling ourselves,” said Army veteran Armando Vega, Organizer of Veterans in Recovery.

Vega has been sober for more than eight years. Through Chicago Veterans, he launched the Veterans in Recovery program. Money from the fundraiser helps keep the program going.

“It’s all about paying it forward, helping others and ain’t nothing better than helping another brother or sister veteran,” Vega said.

Click here to read the full article on Fox 32.

More enlisted airmen, guardians are eligible for bonus pay as staffing needs grow

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airman jumping out of an airplance with two other airmen looking on

by Rachel Cohen, Yahoo News

Enlisted airmen and guardians in more than 60 career fields can earn some extra cash this year by extending their time in the service — a much broader retention push than in 2021.

The Department of the Air Force will dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonus pay to troops who reenlist by Sept. 30 to work in 63 specialties with particularly high turnover or exorbitant training costs, from Chinese and Russian language experts to satellite and radar operators.

After seeing unusually high retention at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of the Air Force is beefing up its incentives for people to stay. Bonus pay dried up between 2016, when the Air Force offered extra money to 117 career fields, and 2020, when just 37 specialties were eligible. Forty fields were eligible under the program’s most recent update in 2021.

Members of the Air Force and Space Force can earn up to $100,000 in each of four periods of time over the course of their careers: when they have served between 17 months and six years; six to 10 years; 10 to 14 years; and 18 to 20 years. They’re allowed a total windfall of $360,000 over the course of their career. Staff Sgt. Clayton Wear

Bonuses are tallied by multiplying one month’s base pay by the number of years an airman chooses to reenlist, and multiplied again as much as fivefold depending on how urgent a career’s staffing needs are.

This time, service officials have added jobs like cyber warfare, Farsi language analysis, cyber intelligence and fighter maintenance, while others — including human intelligence — have dropped off the list.

Special operations airmen are still in high demand, from pararescuemen to combat controllers, as well as explosive ordnance disposal crews.

Click here to read the complete article on Yahoo News.

Can soldiers consume CBD energy drinks?

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U.S. Soldier drinking Rockstar beverage with hemp leaves in the background

by Sarah Sicard, MilitaryTimes

Rockstar has become the latest in a string of energy drink companies to add a hemp-infused beverage to their offerings, so consumers can chill out while they rage.

But soldiers beware, these drinks have a slim chance of causing you to pop positive on a drug test.

“A single use of some hemp products may result in a positive drug test result for THC,” Matt Leonard, Army spokesperson, told Military Times.

“[Regulation] AR 600-85 prohibits soldiers from using products made or derived from hemp, including CBD, regardless of the product’s claimed or actual THC concentration and whether such product may be lawfully bought, sold, or used in the civilian marketplace,” Leonard said.

Hemp plants contain more cannabidiol (CBD) than cannabis, which contains more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Although it’s unlikely, there’s no guarantee that hemp or CBD users will avoid showing positive for THC, which is what the Army tests.

“No test currently exists to identify the source of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a urine sample to determine if it was derived from illegal marijuana, or other products such as hemp energy drinks or Cannabidiol (CBD) infused products,” Leonard added.

“Hence, to protect the integrity of the Army’s drug testing program the only type of hemp products authorized within the Army Substance Abuse Program, Army Regulation (AR) 600-85 are those used as a durable good (eg. rope or clothing).”

So soldiers should avoid the hemp, unless you’re taking up twine-braiding or decide go on a hippie handmade hemp clothing bender. But it seems easy enough to abstain. These drinks aren’t exactly designed to keep the average soldier awake on duty.

Rockstar Unplugged, which comes in three flavors — blueberry, passion fruit and raspberry cucumber — isn’t meant to keep an exhausted person alert.

Click here to read the complete article posted on Yahoo!News.

Nebraska teen accepted to all five military academies; sets out to serve America

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Noble Rassmussen holding military hats

By Angelica Stabile, FOX News

High school senior Noble Rasmussen intends to serve his country well — and all five U.S. military academies seem to agree.

The Nebraska teen joined “Fox & Friends” on Friday to celebrate his acceptance to all five academies.

He then announced on the program that he’ll be attending the United States Air Force Academy in June.

Rasmussen, a cadet with the Civil Air Patrol, said that his interest in applying to each school was sparked from a desire to represent and serve the United States as a whole.

“I want to serve my country the best I can,” he said. “So applying to all academies [presented] the option to serve anywhere.”

“I feel like it’s my duty to serve my country.”

VIDEO: Watch the interview on FOX & Friends

While the “noble” sentiment of military service complements Rasmussen’s first name nicely, his mother, Cheri Rasmussen, said that was his parents’ exact intention when they named him.

“Our prayer for him his whole life was just to have that noble character of honor, honesty and integrity,” she said. “Just to kind of rise above and have that high moral principle.”

“God has blessed us with that, and we see those qualities of leadership and maturity in Noble.”

Continue to Fox News to read the complete article.

Retired Army captain runs 44 miles in effort to raise awareness for veterans’ mental health

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Kyle Butters crosses finsish line carrying a U.S. flag

By Bradley Bennett, Cincinnati News

In Pasadena, Maryland, Retired Army Capt. Kyle Butters could be seen running and carrying an American flag for an important cause last weekend. “This flag has been everywhere from Afghanistan (to) Kuwait (to) Turkey,” Butters said.

More than just sentimental value, the flag he carries is the symbol of freedom and sacrifice. Butters ran 44 miles total.
It’s all to raise awareness about mental health issues facing veterans.” It’s affected me personally.

I was medically retired from the Army due to mental health issues. I’ve also lost soldiers to suicide throughout my time in the Army (and) even since I’ve been out of the Army,” Butters said. Starting in his own Pasadena neighborhood, Butters ran 4 miles every four hours for a total of 22 miles a day to represent the estimated 22 veterans who commit suicide every day.

”They think that during the COVID pandemic, that (it has) gone up by as much as 20%,” Butters said. “I chose to use running as my platform because not every veteran has the physical ability to do what I do, and people pay attention when you do big distances. ”He’s raising money with the run — more than $12,000 — to support the Infinite Hero Organization. ”They provide grants to veterans and also to research causes, whether it’s brain injury, PTSD, even physical disabilities,” Butters said. Butters said he’ll be back at it again next year and hopes this is something that can spread to other states with the ultimate goal of normalizing tough conversations that could save lives.

Read the complete article here.

Meet The ‘Godfather of Top Gun’

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Top Gun USVM May Issue 2022 cover story collage of images

By Brady Rhoades

Mention Top Gun and most everyone thinks of Tom Cruise. But did you know there’s a real Top Gun program for fighter pilots? It’s safe to say most naval aviators do; most civilians don’t.

Dan Pedersen, 86, a veteran of numerous missions in the Vietnam War, is considered the real life “Godfather of Top Gun,” which he likens to a graduate school for aviators.

In the original Top Gun movie, those guys became the now-iconic and beloved Maverick, Ice Man, Goose and others. After three years of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-awaited sequel’s Memorial Day release will mark 36 years since the original movie debuted.

Goose and Maverick fans have been ravenous.

There’s been a buzz about the movie ever since Cruise announced that it was in the works, and Val Kilmer, the original Ice Man, started promoting it.

In “Maverick,” Cruise reprises his role as U.S. Naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. The Joseph Kosinski-directed sequel also stars Kilmer, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm.

One thing seems to be agreed on, however: the film, featuring what Cruise calls unprecedented flying scenes, is best seen on the big screen.

What better film to celebrate open theaters this summer?

In the Dogfighting Business Maverick and company, though based on true fighter pilots, were glitzed up a bit, and that’s just fine. Pedersen credits the 1986 blockbuster film with helping the military.

Dan Pederson poses with fighter jet in early Vietnam era
Dan Pedersen, author of Top Gun: An American Story, used his experiences as a fighter pilot in Vietnam to train talented, young pilots in a program that would later inspire Top Gun starring Tom Cruise. Photo: Navy Historical Foundation Pederson

“The movie was excellent,” he told U.S. Veterans Magazine. “They motivated us and increased recruiting.” But Hollywood is in the storytelling business. Pedersen was in the dogfighting business. When he spearheaded Top Gun, he focused on pilots, in the air, in dogfights. “The only thing they have to rely on is their professional experience and senior guidance,” he said. “The guys that were with me were far more professional and serious,” he said.

Before Top Gun, which formed in 1969 with Pedersen and eight other elite Airmen honing their skills in Miramar, pilots in that war were achieving a 2 to 1 “kill ratio,” meaning they killed two enemies for every one American lost. “Totally unacceptable,” Pedersen said. And the “Godfather of Top Gun” ought to know. He was there when 11 American pilots were killed in 17 days.

Fast forward a couple years into the graduate school crash course for the one percent of elite fighters of that era, and the kill ratio was 24 to one. So, what does it take to be in that one percent? “The guys have got to really love what they’re doing every day…you’ve got to do a lot of air time, and that’s when you get really good and unbeatable.”

Tom Cruise in original Top Gun movie pictured riding motorcycle with fighter jet in background.
The movie Top Gun, directed by Tony Scott. Seen here, Tom Cruise as Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell riding a Kawasaki GPZ 900 R. Initial theatrical release May 16, 1986. Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: CBS via Getty Images.

Pedersen, who has been married for nearly 30 years after reuniting with his teenage sweetheart, likes to keep things simple. He credits his own success as a pilot to skilled mentorship, some of it from seasoned Word War II veterans. That was a bottom-line principle of Top Gun: teach advanced tactics to young, talented pilots. And pay it forward by, in turn, passing on that knowledge to the next generation.

At the Top of Their Game
The techniques and tactics that Pedersen and others taught in the Top Gun program are still used today, even with vastly more sophisticated technology.

Why has it stood the test of time?
“These are principles that evolved from experience and winning,” Pedersen said. Not to mention, the world’s greatest pilots. The Top Gun program has since moved to Fallon, Nev., and the technology has advanced but one thing hasn’t changed from air warfare in the 20th century to today, according to Pedersen.

“The pilot, the human, will always be the key factor in a win in aero combat,” he explained. Of the current one percent of naval aviators at Fallon, Pedersen said: “You look at these young pilots, and boy are they good.” Great pilots need great planes. Pedersen loved the Grumman F9F-2 aircraft that he flew dozens of missions in during Vietnam. “You could shoot the eyes out of a cat with it,” he said.

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis pictured together in original Top Gun movie.
Tom Cruise and co-star Kelly McGillis in original Top Gun movie. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Archive Photo/Getty Images.

The military continues to deploy incredible planes, but two things concern Pedersen:
1) Some of the uber-expensive ones have too many bells and whistles inside the aircraft (He prefers simple and reliable.)
2) The United States needs to produce more to keep up with China, Russia and N. Korea.

“We have these nice, big aircrafts and not enough planes,” he said. “We do not want to be numerically outnumbered… if you get mosquitos in a phone booth, one fly swatter won’t do.”

An American Story
The release of Top Gun 2: Maverick roughly coincides with Pedersen’s release of his national bestselling book, titled Top Gun: An American Story, 50 years after the original Top Gun program was formed. In the 320-pager, Pedersen tells the inside story of how he and eight other risk-takers revolutionized the art of aerial combat. Hachette Books published Top Gun, and it’s an intriguing read.

Following is an excerpt from the promo on the book’s website:
“… the most interesting parts of the book are the discussions on how he became the man assigned to creating the school. Many today can reflect on similar situations with the War on Terror. The bureaucrats and many high-ranking generals thought they knew best until the candid USS Coral Sea Commander Frank Ault spoke out. Already in line for admiral and with nothing to lose the World War II attack pilot put his gripes on paper in 1968 and sent them to the Pentagon. He listed in detail the problems and the solutions with aerial engagement in Vietnam, in what became known as the Ault Report, and recommended the formation of a school specializing in aerial combat.

an Pederson's Top Gun book cover
Photo Credit: Hachette Book Group.

“Some of the problems included pilots fighting in Vietnam receiving limited training, having faulty Sidewinder and Sparrow missiles and not learning the skills they needed to outmaneuver the enemy. This became abundantly clear with the kill ratios: In World War II, the kill ratio was approximately 14-to-1, during the Korean War about 10-to-1, but in Vietnam — before the Top Gun program — it was as low as 2-to-1.

“Capt. Pedersen (then a lieutenant commander) was the first officer in charge of Top Gun. He was chosen because of his experiences in the air battles over Vietnam where he received first-hand knowledge of the shortcomings of American tactics and equipment. The ‘high tech’ weapons failed about 90 percent of the time, and the latest fighter plane didn’t even have a gun!

American fighter pilots were being shot down by a third-world air force using Soviet aircraft — MiGs. The Navy moved toward radar-guided missiles and aircraft to fire them instead of dogfighting.

“The Top Gun School ended up being very successful. The 2-to-1 ratio changed to a 24-to-1 ratio. It became, and still is, run by people with combat experience. It is obvious that Top Gun saved lives and turned the air war around.”

Pedersen, who calls the original Top Gun pilots “real patriots,” said he is pleased with his legacy in the military, which is chronicled in his book. “Anyone willing to defend their country should have a voice in combat and should have some control over their own destiny,” he said. “I am very proud that my lasting military contribution was Top Gun, where the trainees became unbeatable.”

Click here to view the exclusive Dan Pedersen interview video!

Park Police to resume escorts for Honor Flight visits around Washington, D.C.

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male veteran shaking hands with female uniformed police officer in an outdoor setting

By Leo Shane III, Air Force Times

U.S. Park Police officials have agreed to resume escorts for Honor Flight events around the nation’s capital, continuing a tradition that had been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The news came just one day before the group’s celebration on the National Mall of the 250,000th veteran transported through the program. Since 2005, officials have helped veterans from across the country visit Washington, D.C. for an opportunity to tour the war memorials and national landmarks there.
Max Lonzanida

In many cases, the veterans are elderly and in poor health, and are able to make the trip only because of the special medical and financial assistance provided by the group.

In the past, the U.S. Park Police provided escorts to tour buses filled with veterans visiting areas of the National Mall with limited parking, such as the World War II memorial and Vietnam War Memorial Wall. Honor Flight officials reimbursed the agency for the costs of the escorts.

Honor Flight activities were largely shuttered by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but resumed last fall. However, Park Police officials in recent months have told organizers they could no longer assist with the events because of bureaucratic issues with the Department of Interior.

On Monday, officials said those problems have been resolved. Escorts will resume starting June 1.

In a joint statement, officials from the Park Police, the National Mall and Memorial Parks agency and Honor Flight said they have met in recent weeks “to discuss our shared commitment to continuing to work together and the best way to safely support hosted visits while also ensuring USPP can meet its primary law enforcement and public safety mission.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo News.

Honor Flight Network Celebrates Milestone of Bringing 250,000 Veterans to Nation’s Capital on May 3 Event

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Honor Flight Network promo poster

To kick off Military Appreciation Month, hundreds of dignitaries, veterans, volunteers, supporters and leadership of the Honor Flight Network will gather at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the organization’s milestone of bringing 250,000 veterans to our Nation’s Capitol to visit the memorials that honor their service and sacrifice on May 3rd.

WHAT:
Event to commemorate the 250,000th participant in the Honor Flight Network program.

WHO:
– The 250,000th Commemorative Honor Flight participant and hundreds of veterans

– Volunteers, supporters and leadership of the Honor Flight Network
– The Honorable Elizabeth Dole, Event Chairperson
– Speakers include Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Donald M. Remy, Senator Jerry Moran and Congressman Mark Takano

WHY:                                    
To celebrate Honor Flight Network’s past while charting its course for the future in serving veterans from more recent eras.

WHEN:
Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 2 p.m.- 3 p.m.

WHERE:
World War II Memorial, 17th Street NW
Between Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW.

The event includes distinguished speakers and guests, military band, Honor Guard and hundreds of seated veterans, volunteers and supporters, set against the backdrop of the World War II Memorial.

For more information visit, Honor Flight Network.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. LA Fleet Week
    May 27, 2022 - May 30, 2022
  4. Buffalo Soldier Iron Riders Quasquicentennial Gathering
    June 13, 2022 - June 19, 2022
  5. From Day One
    June 14, 2022