From Suicide to Success: Assuaged Cofounder and USMC Disabled Veteran is Fighting for Others with PTSD

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Thane and wife Cynthia with Randy Jackson

Despite the hardships, Cynthia Murphy feels blessed to be a military wife for the past 13 years and counting.

The tragic events of 9/11 inspired her husband Thane Murphy to join the USMC while residing in Canada. Before starting boot camp in the United States, he was homeless, living in his truck and showering at 24-Hour Fitness.

Unfortunately, his service was cut short when he sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury during a vehicle accident while on-duty. Despite fighting to stay in the military, he was honorably and medically discharged. He felt incredibly lost during the transition back to civilian life.

In the midst of his challenges, Cynthia also was suffering from depression and chronic disease attributed to her craniofacial condition, Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare genetic cranial facial birth defect that causes abnormalities of the face and skull. Her story is one of insecurity and at times, social torment. To date, she has endured 16 medically-necessary reconstructive plastic surgeries.

Thane and Cynthia were both having trouble communicating, which often led to volatile, verbal fights. Thane, unable to work, increasingly felt abandoned, especially when Cynthia was at work or school. The idea of her becoming the breadwinner had left him feeling depressed and defeated as a man.

It wasn’t easy for Cynthia to watch her husband suffer from PTSD, agoraphobia, and paranoia. It was unnerving for her to see his loaded 9mm handgun attached to him for regular perimeter checks (even in the shower). He was angry, manic, and suffering from insomnia. Cynthia felt heartbroken and helpless. She didn’t know how to fix the broken pieces.

On August 9th, 2012, Cynthia arrived home from work to find Thane pacing back and forth while erratically beating himself in the head with a loaded gun. He was irrationally convinced that she had been dishonest. Horrified, Cynthia dropped to her knees sobbing and pleading with him while simultaneously on the phone with his mother and 911. It broke her heart to see him taken away in handcuffs to a state mental health facility and booked as a 5150.

During his stay, he had no family members visit him, except for Cynthia. However, Thane didn’t want to see her, he wanted a divorce. His family feared his rage. While they never feared for their own safety, they did fear for his own.

The movie Concussion starring Will Smith, depicts the behavior of someone suffering with the same type of head injury as Thane. This traumatic event led Thane and Cynthia to healing and building a stronger marriage. They reversed many physical and mental illnesses caused by excessive prescription drugs and contaminated food and water supplies. Our flawed health-care system led them to find a better way of caring for their physical and mental wellbeing.

Thane selflessly used his military settlement funds to build their free, award-winning iOS app and website Assuaged ® with their celebrity developer Creative27 (iHerb & Dr. Dre’s Beats app). Their proprietary wellness technology is founded on the passion to share guided information with others, so they can help people suffering from chronic disease and disabilities, both seen and unseen.

Cynthia is a craniofacial disability activist, aspiring model, creative writer on The Mighty, and graduate student finishing a second Master’s degree in Public Health. Thane is a private celebrity chef who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Purdue University, specializing in Nutrition. He is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Holistic Medicine.

Thane and Cynthia are immensely thankful for their supporters. Their charitable investment has accrued immense value as a digital product and service to others in need of optimal wellness.

Gary Sinise releases video honoring oldest US vet for 111th birthday: WW2 vet Lawrence Brooks

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Lawrence Brooks seated, smiling

On Sunday, actor and veterans advocate Gary Sinise honored Lawrence Brooks, a U.S. Army veteran who last month turned 111-years-old. Brooks, an African American, is America’s oldest living military veteran.

Brooks’ September birthday was initially celebrated with a military flyover, but Sinise also reached out to Brooks to share a personal message with the veteran. The Gary Sinise Foundation combined Sinise’s video message with footage from his birthday celebrations and an interview with a young Navy veteran neighbor who had the chance to meet Brooks.

On Sunday, the Gary Sinise Foundation tweeted, “We are thrilled to honor Lawrence Brooks who recently celebrated his 111th birthday, becoming America’s oldest living WWII veteran. Lawrence served from 1940-1945 with the 91st Engineer Battalion, in both New Guinea and the Philippines.”

“What an incredible journey you have had in your life, and you’re still out there giving,” Sinise said.

Sinise’s comments were interspersed with interview comments from Aveja Garrison, Brooks’ neighbor, who said once he learned Brooks is a 111-year-old veteran “it touched me in a special place, because as you can see, I also myself went into the Navy … to fight for this country.”

Continue on to American Military News to read the complete article.

Recruit a Military Spouse: Gain a Force of Nature

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Caitlin Emmons pictured sitting on side of fountain with husband and two small children

By Caitlin Emmons

Honor. Courage. Commitment. When University of California, Irvine School of Law graduate Caitlin Emmons’ husband enlisted as a United States Marine, her family put these values above all others.

Military spouses do not attend boot camp, they do not put their lives on the line, and they do not have rank. They serve in a different capacity by placing their dreams on hold, by taking care of the home front, and by holding dear the same values that their spouses pledged their lives to uphold.

From being CEO of the home to being professionals across many industries, military spouses are an incredible powerhouse of strength across our nation. For those military spouses who are in professions requiring specialized licensing, they are faced with a never-ending patchwork of rules to overcome.

For those businesses and organizations that understand this potential, they unlock a determination to serve unlike any other when they recruit military spouses into their communities.

Military spouse and public interest attorney Caitlin Emmons decided to attend law school long before she became a military spouse.

When she married her Marine, she was challenged to deeply reflect on how she could realize her dream of being a loving wife and mother and still play her part in building a more just society as a lawyer. Given her USMC spouse’s military occupational specialty and it being their home of record, Caitlin hedged her bets and took the California Bar after graduating from UCI Law.

The bets did not pay off because afterwards, she and her husband were called to North Carolina. Once she accepted that she would not be a practicing attorney in California for the foreseeable future, she tackled the next major decision to create the strongest way forward.

Taking a bar exam is prohibitively expensive, especially when you are living on a military salary. With two children under two years old, Caitlin placed family first in true military spouse tradition. In Caitlin’s case, she sought alternatives that would keep her connected to the legal community but did not require a law license. While many employers see military spouses as a countdown clock, always a few years away from the next move, Caitlin eventually landed a position as a judicial assistant for the Honorable Charles Henry, who specifically hired military spouses.

Caitlin was incredibly grateful for the position since it was unique, especially for the area they were in.

After three years in North Carolina, Caitlin’s husband received orders back to California and she immediately connected with Veterans Legal Institute (VLI).

Caitlin found herself seeking to extend her family’s service by dedicating her life to public interest law directed at lifting up Veterans in need.

Veterans Legal Institute is a free law firm that is dedicated to low income and at-risk California Veterans. It serves close to 2,000 Veterans each year and during the COVID-19 pandemic, immediately adjusted its service to accommodate Veterans virtually. Further, in line with its mission, Veterans Legal Institute is always seeking to hire Veterans and military spouses.

With a small grant from the Starcare Foundation, Veterans Legal Institute was able to secure Caitlin a part-time position so that she could pursue her passion of serving Veterans.

When asked why she pursues public interest work at Veterans Legal Institute, Caitlin states: “As a military spouse, I have seen firsthand what service can do to a person. I can testify to the pride that service members feel. Working with Veterans, I can also confirm that so many are returning home to restart their lives, forever changed by their military experience. Our nation collectively owes them a debt. Military spouses are uniquely positioned to fill the needs faced by our Veterans because of our military cultural competence. The fight to restore the honor of their service is a righteous one, and it is one I am prepared to continue with honor, courage, and commitment.”

Are you seeking to stand with our Veterans of today and tomorrow? Become a champion for public interest law. Help eradicate barriers to housing, employment, education, and healthcare.

To learn more about Veterans Legal Institute, please visit www.vetslegal.org.

The $100 Bet That Forever Changed Kaleb Wilson’s Life

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Kaleb Wilson in wheelchair on a pier with his wife in his lap

Seven years ago, Coast Guard veteran and PVA member Kaleb Wilson took a $100 bet that changed his life.

Some friends dared him to jump off a pier. He was 22 years old, and he figured he’d do it—it’s $100, right?

So, he dove in headfirst and hit the bottom, shattering several vertebrae. Instead of celebrating his win with friends, he found himself in a New Orleans Trauma Center, paralyzed.

One Goal

With his sweetheart Brittany by his side, he fought tooth and nail with one goal in mind: He wanted to walk down the aisle on their wedding day. She had been there for him during his recovery and rehab, and now he made it his mission to be there for her, standing across from her at the altar, and dancing at their wedding. With a lot of love, support, and hard work, he made it happen.

Wilson had been interested in joining the military ever since he was a little boy. He was a swimmer in high school, and started looking into programs with the Navy and the Air Force. But it was the Coast Guard that caught his attention. He was drawn to rescue swimming. “I knew it was where I needed to be,” he says.

He was a part of the Coast Guard for three years. After he graduated from boot camp he was assigned to a station in New Orleans, where he worked doing search and rescue missions, intercepting drug shipments, escorting vessels into the Gulf, and patrolling rivers and lakes. He loved his job, and he enjoyed the culture in New Orleans. He was a young man enjoying his career, living in a lively city, in love with a beautiful girl. Wilson was on the list to go to “A” school in November of 2012 when he took that fateful dare that landed him in a wheelchair.

A New Normal

Becoming paralyzed presents a whole host of challenges, of course, not just for the injured, but for those closest to them. Wilson and Brittany had to work together with trust and focus in order to adjust to their new normal. They relied on each other, and became stronger together. He proposed in 2013; they married in 2014, both of them standing for the ceremony.

Kaleb, in wheelchair and Brittany Wilson pose outside with their two young daughters, all smiling
Kaleb and Brittany Wilson with their two daughters

They also relied on Paralyzed Veterans of America. During rehab and recovery, PVA helped Wilson with benefits information, and later on, with vocational rehab benefits allowing him to return to school to pursue a chemical engineering degree. A couple of years ago, Wilson competed in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in swimming, and was inspired to join the Mountain State chapter of PVA, serving on the Board and as Treasurer.

He has attended two Games so far, most recently in Louisville, where he brought home seven medals in swimming, rugby, and field events. “It’s nice to be around people who are in a similar situation as I am, who understand what you are going through,” he says. “Brittany loves it, too, because she gets to socialize with other wives who know what we’re dealing with, and we get to come together with friends who live around the country.”

Giving Back

He and Brittany are in the process of moving to Illinois, where he will transfer his membership to the Vaughn chapter of PVA and do some volunteering for fellow veteran Noah Currier with his Oscar Mike Foundation.

“It’s not just money that keeps these programs running, it’s volunteers, too. I don’t want to be somebody who just takes, takes, takes. I want to give back.”

Today, Wilson is a loving and happy husband, and delighted father of two little girls, with a third child on the way. He is also a proud veteran of the United States Coast Guard.

“Seven years ago, I sustained my injury that ended my time actively serving in the Coast Guard, but that did not take away the fact that I still am a Coastie. I still feel at home around my fellow Coasties; I still feel connected in the way I always have. I may not serve beside them anymore, but I will always be a part of them!”

Source: https://blog.pva.org & craighospital.org/blog/wilsonwedding

VA resumes in-person benefits services halted by the COVID-19 response

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woman working at VA meeting with veteran about benefits wearing face mask for social distancing

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced  the reestablishment of in-person benefits services in select locations throughout the country.

Currently, there are 11 regional offices (RO) open to the public and more are expected to reopen in the coming weeks as reopening phases will vary by RO and local conditions.

“During the last few months, VA regional offices continued performing our essential mission virtually — to provide benefits to Veterans and eligible family members,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “We have robust safety measures in place that will allow us to resume in-person services while protecting the health and safety of Veterans, their families and our team members who serve them.”

ROs will continue adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines which includes the use of social distancing, face coverings, hand sanitizer and asking sick individuals to stay at home.

Veterans can continue to interact with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) virtually for accessing benefits information online or when filing a claim online. For claim-specific questions call 1-800-827-1000. To check the availability of an RO near you, visit VA benefits offices.

VBA’s return to normal, pre-COVID-19 public-facing operations align with White House guidelines for re-opening. Read more about our response to COVID-19.

Source: va.gov

Soldier’s badass Van Halen tribute goes viral

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Eddie Van Halen and soldier playing guitars side by side

By Sarah Sicard

There’s no better way to honor a fallen guitarist than to shred.

After the death of legendary rocker Eddie Van Halen, who at 65 lost a battle with cancer on Oct. 6, Army Staff Sgt. Austin West took to the web to share a live tribute in honor of the late musician on Facebook.

“I wanted to show my respect but mainly my emotions for what had happened,” West told Military Times in a text conversation.

Now, his video has over a million views and thousands of comments.

“It felt great but not for myself but for Eddie!” West said.

If you pull the trigger on a gun that fast, you could win a war on your own,” wrote user Michael Mottram. “Awesome playing and cheers for your service fella.”

During the three-minute tribute, West covered some of Van Halen’s best-known works, including “Eruption.”

West hopes that people enjoyed the music and feel inspired. The 26-year-old has been playing for 13 years, and did a tour with the U.S. Army Soldier Show in 2015, which stopped at 74 bases. He once played a single song for an AC/DC tribute band.

“We never rehearsed the song or played together, and it was done flawlessly in front of 10k people!” he noted.

The fact that so many watched “showed how much love people had for him and what he’s done for music,” he added.

Continue on to Military Times to read the complete article.

USS Cole Sailor Returns to Ship 20 Years After Attack

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William Merchen holding sign in hand that says his name and D-3

It was 11:18 a.m. on October 12, 2000 aboard the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67). The ship had arrived in Yemen that morning for a brief fuel stop after completing a lengthy transit of the Suez Canal the day prior.

Suddenly,the lights went out and all ventilation stopped. An explosion had occurred on the port side of the ship. Senior Chief Damage Controlman William Merchen, a newly frocked petty officer third class at the time, was one of three Sailors who had been putting tools away after completing their morning maintenance in the filter cleaning shop.

Cole had been bombed in a terrorist attack, killing 17 U.S. Navy Sailors and injuring 37 others. October brings with it a stark reminder of the lives lost and the invaluable lessons learned, reinforcing the gravity of what it means to wear the uniform of a U.S. Navy Sailor.

“We were standing there speaking one moment, and then the next moment we were on the deck on the other side of the shop and it was dark, the room was starting to fill up with smoke and we couldn’t breathe so well,” said Merchen.

Merchen said his shop contained light bulbs and cans of paint that had exploded when a small boat carrying two suicide bombers pulled alongside Cole and collided with the ship. Paint spilled all over the shop and broken glass covered the floor. The three Sailors made their way out of their work space and down the port side ladderwell to don self-contained breathing apparatuses and helmets equipped with flashlights on the damage control deck. Once they got on air, they began to hear voices in the Chiefs Mess.

“The things they were saying were beyond just ‘I’m trapped’ and ‘get me out of here,’” said Merchen. “People were describing how they were injured. We knew we had to get in there as quickly as possible, but that wasn’t going to be as easy as opening the door.”

One of the two Sailors with Merchen constructed a plan to create an opening in the bulkhead that had collapsed on the Chiefs Mess. They began rescuing the trapped Sailors inside. The rescue was just the beginning in the fight to save the ship.

Over the next 12 days, Merchen and all able-bodied crew members aboard Cole tackled the massive damage control effort.

William Merchen wearing a mask an fatigues visiting the USS Cole
NORFOLK (Sept. 29, 2020) Senior Chief Damage Controlman William Merchen, an inspector with Afloat Training Group Atlantic (ATG), speaks with members of the damage control training team aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67).

Merchen said everyone stepped up, dug in, and put their own safety and feelings aside to attack the damage to the ship and get people out, which, in the end, helped save a lot of lives. People who would otherwise have succumbed to their injuries survived because others stepped out of their comfort zones, stepped away from their typical job and responded to the crisis.

Today, Merchen is assigned to Afloat Training Group Atlantic as a damage control mission readiness inspector, where he is able to deliver first-hand knowledge to a new generation of Sailors, better preparing them to effectively combat casualties.

“It has shaped everything that I’ve done at every command I’ve been to,” said Merchen. “There hasn’t been a single one of those trainings or drills that I haven’t thought about the attack on Cole.”

Merchen has recently been assigned to work with Cole’s damage control teams to ensure they are up to speed and ready for any threat or casualty they may face while operating at sea. “Senior Chief Merchen – He’s a professional,” said Cmdr. Edward J. Pledger, commanding officer of Cole. “I often talk about Cole heroes, and the honor of being able to meet any of them. He’s a Cole hero and having him on our ship and training us — it’s very special to have that opportunity.”

Merchen described his opportunity to work with Cole again as a fantastic way to reconnect with a ship that he is deeply proud to have served on.

“After several years, I hadn’t been aboard Cole, except maybe once since the attack,” said Merchen. “As I go through the spaces, I do think about what they looked like after the attack. I do think about where I know certain people passed away or where they were injured. It’s good to remember that stuff. It does a service to those people that were injured and honors the people that were killed.”

Merchen’s experience and the dedication he brings to damage control make his teaching and advice invaluable.

“When he speaks, our Sailors listen, because they know this isn’t somebody who just has been teaching it from a book,” said Pledger. “This is somebody who has done it in real life and understands that if you don’t do it right, people could die or you could lose your ship.” As Merchen nears retirement, he finds pride and hope in today’s junior Sailors throughout the Navy, specifically, those serving on Cole.

“When I look into the news today and I see Cole is off on another deployment or completing another exercise or working with a foreign Navy, I see the ship floating in the water. I see it out executing missions to keep us safe in the United States. I know that the ship wouldn’t [be doing those things] if it wasn’t for the actions of so many brave people and the sacrifices of so many fantastic Sailors back in October of 2000 in Aden, Yemen,” said Merchen.

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) was attacked by terrorists at 11:18 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2000, while moored for refueling in the Port of Aden, Yemen. The explosive created a 40-by-60 foot hole on the port side of the ship, and Cole’s Sailors fought fires and flooding for the following 96 hours to keep the ship afloat. Commemorative events are scheduled to remember and honor the 20th anniversary of the attack and the service and sacrifice of the 17 Sailors who were lost, the 37 injured, and the Gold Star families. Please visit the commemoration website to learn more at https://www.surflant.usff.navy.mil/remember67.

For more information about the Naval History and Heritage Command visit https://www.history.navy.mil/.

Landing Home—Now on Amazon Prime

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landing-home-movie-poster

For many combat veterans, deployment doesn’t neatly end when their tour is up. The brain, once engaged at combat level, simply can’t turn off and pivot to the mundane details of civilian life in the time it takes to touch down on American soil. Returning home in any real way takes a different set of skills—skills that many veterans see as elusive at best. Maybe even impossible to attain.

To that end, “Landing Home” is a seven-part TV series that shares the compelling story of a veteran trying to adjust to civilian life after leaving the military. It deftly takes the audience into the mind of a combat soldier freed from duty but never free, pulls back the curtain on the lasting damage of war to the human psyche, and helps the viewer understand that returning home can represent only the beginning of a different kind of war.

Leaning into authenticity, the series includes more 20 veterans in cast and crew, many of whom saw action. Douglas Taurel plays Luke, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. While he decides to leave the military in order to be with his family, he soon realizes that this is much harder than he ever imagined. Something as simple as a birthday party for his five-year-old daughter can quickly become overwhelming and trigger his post-traumatic stress disorder.

“My goal with the project is to give people a true sense of the emotional and psychological effect war has on our veterans and why it’s so hard for them and their families to assimilate back into normal life,” Taurel said. “We owe our veterans and their families so much. We all need to understand the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make and what their families endure. We can never thank them enough.”

WATCH THE TRAILER!

Taurel is best known for his gripping one-man play, “The American Soldier,” which has performed in 16 cities and 11 states with notable spaces like the Kennedy Center, Off-Broadway, Library of Congress, and the American Legion’s National Headquarters to name a few. This play also touches on many aspects of war and explores the sacrifices and challenges our veterans and their families face as they return home from combat.

“Landing Home” is available on Amazon, Amazon Prime and Vimeo On Demand.

The TV series will help the civilian population understand what it means to serve our country. To let everyone know that veterans face an even bigger, sometimes hidden struggle to adjust to a normal way of life.
– Joe Reynolds / Vietnam Veteran

So wish the whole world especially every Veteran could see it. What your work, art, craft, talent represents is “Something that matters in life”…don’t ever forget or DOUBT that!
– John Caoli / Iraq Veteran

I just purchased your series Landing Home and already in just the first episode I can feel the resurfacing of what it felt like for me 29 years ago. That is when I came home from a war to begin fighting my own personal battle. I am honored to know you and honored by the work you do for us!
– Lynn Santosuosso / Iraq Veteran

About Douglas Taurel
Taurel has been nominated for Innovative Theater Award as well as the United Kingdom prestigious Amnesty International Award for this work with The American Soldier. He’s appeared in numerous television shows including The Affair, Mr. Robot, The Americans, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, The Following, Damages, NYC 22, Believe, and Nurse Jackie. The Los Angeles Times said his work on Nurse Jackie, “Nurse Jackie gets her most fascinating character yet to date.”

He was commissioned by the Library of Congress to write, create and perform his second solo show, An American Soldier’s Journey Home which commemorates the ending of the First World War and tells the story of Irving Greenwald, a soldier in the 308 Regiment and part of the Lost Battalion. He has performed the play twice at the Library of Congress.

Even Out of Uniform, Service to Country Continues

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Allen West giving a speech

By Annie Nelson

In my journey with our military and veteran communities, I have had the honor of befriending several amazing people. One of those men is former Army Lieutenant Colonel and US Congressmen Allen West. Lt Col West is such a wonderful man. He is a leader, speaker, author, former Congressmen and is now running for the position of head of the GOP (Republican Party) for the state of Texas.

Through Facetime we sat down and discussed a few topics to share. Mind you, it was just a few weeks ago that Lt Col West was in a terrible motorcycle accident going 75 mph. As an avid motorcyclist who has spent the last 35 years riding, he is truly a walking miracle today.

AN: After retiring from the Army was your transition difficult?

LCW: When I transitioned from the military to civilian life, it was a bit harder for me. We relocated to South Florida and I had to get plugged in to new surroundings, find veterans to connect with and get that veteran bond going. It’s easier if you retire and stay close to a military installation where you keep the bond of brotherhood/sisterhood. I think it’s so important for those of us who have served to stay plugged into our community after service. We support each other and have a bond like no other.

AN: How did you decide to run and win for Congress?

LCW: While living down in Florida, I was actually challenged by my friend, Donna, who said, “Just because you are not serving in the military does not mean you are done with your service to this country. You need to run for Congress and continue serving out of uniform.” So, it began. I feel it’s very important for veterans to run for office. We need veterans to lead this country! We took an oath and that is for life, so what better way to continue to serve once we are out of uniform.

AN: What was the biggest challenge serving in Congress?

LCW: The biggest challenge was knowing that the people you serve with do not necessarily follow the same values, ethics and integrity that you are used to in the military. That was the toughest part of the job and you never get used to it. It can be very enticing to be in Congress. Most look into the light and forget why they’re there and what they are supposed to be doing, which is representing the people. People head to Washington, DC as one person and, after being there a short time, become a typical politician.

AN: What was most rewarding in your years in Congress?

LCW: For me, there were rewarding times while serving when I was able to help veterans, look up their records, get awards given that were overlooked, etc. Truly helping my constituents out—that was the most rewarding part of the job.

AN: How do you feel about the current climate in the country?

LCW: I feel we are in an ideological war in this country today. We are a country ruled by law and order. Right now, we are being run by mob mentality and we must get a handle on it! We have not done a very good job with that. I like to use the analogy of the child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. If you do not immediately discipline that child and demand that behavior to stop, you will always have a child throwing a tantrum.

AN: Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

LCW: Proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him. and he will make your paths straight.” That would have to be my answer. I was just in a motorcycle accident going 75 miles an hour. We are doing this interview just 3 short weeks later. Everyone that knows motorcycles knows with an accident going 75 mph I should be dead. I am a walking miracle. So, I will continue to follow His path for my life staying true to God, Country and the state of Texas.

AN: What advice would you share with men/women about to transition from their service?

LCW: I would say first and foremost that you must stay plugged in to the veteran community. If you stay local or move away, get connected with veterans in your community. We as older veterans need to do better as well as be mentors for our newly transitioned brothers and sisters. I truly feel this is the first line of defense in the suicide epidemic we are facing now. The bond of the military brotherhood/sisterhood is strong and one that must carry you through your life.

AN: Where is the best place for people to follow you and what you are up to?

LCW: My website of course ~ and we are on other social media as well:

Click here for the Old School Patriot’s Website

Click here for Allen’s Instagram:

Click here for Allen’s Twitter:

Click here for Allen’s Facebook:

Thank you to Lt Col West and thank you to anyone who has worn the uniform for our great USA!

Empowering Veterans at the Seventh Annual Warrior Community Integration Symposium

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Sal Giunta and Clint Romesha

By Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership

The Warrior Community Integration Symposium has served as an annual gathering for the past seven years to empower communities to empower veterans, their families and caregivers.

Our team at America’s Warrior Partnership is transforming this year’s event into a free and virtual experience from August 25 – 27 that is open to all who wish to attend.

Sessions and panels will cover topics ranging from best practices for veteran-serving nonprofits to inspirational presentations from well-known veterans. Our goal is for every attendee to walk away with a greater understanding of how they can help make their community a more empowering environment for veterans.

Many presentations will focus on the transition from military to civilian life, and few individuals better embody the possibilities for veterans than our keynote speaker this year: Navy Lt. Cmdr. and NASCAR driver Jesse Iwuji. Iwuji graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was deployed for a total of 15 months to the Arabian Gulf on two Naval Warships, and after transitioning to the Naval Reserves, he debuted in the NASCAR Truck Series where he had a Top 25 finish. Outside of racing and his Navy service, LCDR Iwuji owns a drag racing events company and a trucking business.

At the Symposium, Iwuji will share how he has managed the transition from active-duty service to professional sports and business management. His presentation will shine a light on the wide range of career and lifestyle choices that veterans can consider for their civilian lives. The diversity of possibilities for veterans is also reflected in the influential leaders who will introduce each event session, including:

  • Gary Sinise, Chairman and Founder, Gary Sinise Foundation
  • William McRaven, ADM (Ret.), The University of Texas at Austin, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
  • Mike Linnington, LTG (Ret.), CEO, Wounded Warrior Project
  • Douglas Petno, CEO of Commercial Banking, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Harriet Dominique, Senior VP, Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Affairs, USAA
  • Catharine Grimes, Director of Corporate Philanthropy, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
  • Mike Hall, Executive Director, Three Rangers Foundation

Medal of Honor Fireside Chat

Another session aiming to inspire attendees is a fireside chat that Fox News anchor Jon Scott will lead with Medal of Honor recipients Sal Giunta, Clint Romesha and Kyle White. Each of these men served in the U.S. Army during the War in Afghanistan, and they will share how their military experience affected the decisions they made upon transitioning to their civilian lives. Their conversation will highlight the value that veterans can bring to their communities even after their service ends.

Empowering Women Veterans

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) will lead a panel discussion on the evolving needs of women veterans, with leaders of WWP teams ranging from Physical Health and Wellness to Government and Community Relations contributing their insights. The panel will empower community organizations to better understand how they can collaborate with women veterans to create more effective services and programs.

Veteran Purpose

Harriet Dominique of USAA will introduce a session on the importance of veteran voices, including how veterans can be leaders within the workforce and broader community. Mission Roll Call Executive Director Garrett Cathcart will moderate the discussion with former Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer, Medal of Honor recipient Flo Groberg, and LinkedIn Head of Military and Veteran Programs Sarah Roberts. The group will focus on how veterans can make their voices heard on social issues and empower their community to overcome any adversity.

Veterans in the Workplace

Multiple sessions at this year’s event will cover workplace, employment and entrepreneurship topics for veterans. Misty Sutsman Fox of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University will moderate one of the first of these sessions with a focus on helping communities build stronger entrepreneurship ecosystems. Additionally, Douglas Petno, CEO of Commercial Banking at JP Morgan Chase & Co., will introduce a panel discussion diving into the many facets involved with empowering veterans to thrive in the workplace, from initial recruitment to their long-term career progression.

The full Symposium agenda breaks down each of these panels and other sessions that will take place over the course of the week. The agenda and information on how to register to virtually attend the event at no cost are available at AmericasWarriorPartnership.org/Symposium.

About the Author

Jim Lorraine is President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership, a national nonprofit that empowers communities to empower veterans. The organization’s mission starts with connecting community groups with local veterans to understand their unique situations. With this knowledge in mind, America’s Warrior Partnership connects local groups with the appropriate resources to proactively and holistically support veterans at every stage of their lives. Learn more about the organization at www.AmericasWarriorPartnership.org.

Photo: Sal Giunta (left) and Clint Romesha

America Salutes You and Perfect Technician Academy Team Up For Veteran Community

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Since 2016, America Salutes You has been one of the year’s most anticipated concert events, previously featuring superstar performers such as Billy Gibbons, Cindy Lauper, Warren Haynes, Nancy Wilson, Trace Adkins, Andra Day, Stephen Stills and more.

The 2020 concert is set to take place this fall in Nashville, Tennessee at one of the nation’s most renowned music venues, The Grand Ole Opry House, and promises to be the organization’s largest and most star-studded concert yet with the help of one of their new sponsors, Perfect Technician Academy.

Perfect Technician Academy, a veteran-focused trades training school based out of Weatherford, Texas, and America Salutes You entered into a partnership for 2020 in an effort to push forward both organizations’ shared mission of giving back to and supporting America’s veteran community.

The nationally televised event has served to raise tens of thousands of dollars in public contributions to benefit a continuously growing number of organizations across the country working to aid and protect our military veterans and their families.

“Less than one percent of our population serves to make the world safe for the rest of us. Teaming up with and combining resources with Perfect Technician Academy is one way that we can help give back to the men and women who have paid the ultimate price on our behalf,” says Bob Okun, CEO of America Salutes You.

90% percent of all money raised through the fundraiser will be granted to nonprofit organizations benefiting veteran needs, including healthcare, mental health services, housing, education, jobs and career services, legal, financial readiness and much more.

The popularity and recognition behind America Salutes You, while due largely to the broadcast concerts, is primarily owed to the generous sponsors and individuals throughout the United States that resonate with the cause of the organization.

Donations will be raised via text and online fundraising during the broadcast, with all funds raised going to the America Salutes You Campaign. So, be sure to tune in this fall to enjoy a concert spectacular unlike any you’ve witnessed before and show your support.

About America Salutes You

The mission of America Salutes You is to honor and raise awareness of our veterans, service members, first responders and their loved ones. Together, with the backing of a wide variety of sponsors, partners, and celebrities, America Salutes You has become a premier veteran organization and an unrivaled television event.

SOURCE America Salutes You, LLC

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

Dept. of Veteran Affairs

Department of Veterans Affairs

Clover Medical

Clover Medical

Verizon

Verizon Wireless

Central Michigan

Upcoming Events

  1. Women Veterans Alliance Unconference
    October 23, 2020 - October 25, 2020
  2. Veterans Legal Institute Networking & Fundraiser Event
    November 9, 2020
  3. VA Healthcare Online Summit 2020
    December 2, 2020 - December 4, 2020