MY BROTHER’S KEEPER—Available on DVD and VOD May 11!

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My Brother's Keeper movie poster with actor and director credits

After an incredible theatrical launch as venues re-opened throughout the US, the feature-length drama MY BROTHER’S KEEPER is preparing to release to home entertainment. The film shares a powerful story of faith and forgiveness in the wake of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In a partnership between Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Collide Distribution, MY BROTHER’S KEEPER will release on DVD and all major VOD platforms on May 11, 2021.

MY BROTHER’S KEEPER was directed by Kevan Otto (A QUESTION OF FAITH, FORGIVEN) and written by US Army Veteran Ty Manns (A QUESTION OF FAITH, THE 5TH QUARTER). The film stars TC Stallings (WAR ROOM, A QUESTION OF FAITH), Joey Lawrence (Melissa & Joey, Blossom, Hawaii Five-0), Robert Ri’chard (COACH CARTER, Empire), and Keshia Knight Pulliam (The Cosby Show).

“It was so encouraging that many theaters across the US re-opened their theaters with MY BROTHER’S KEEPER, a desperately needed story of hope,” shares Manns. “It is also an incredible honor that the film was able to play on military bases and at the National Infantry Museum. We pray that, as the film becomes available to larger audiences through home entertainment, the story continues to give encouragement to those struggling with issues of PTSD, forgiveness, and loss. A reminder that, no matter what the situation, there is always hope.”

FILM SYNOPSIS:
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER shares the story of returning war veteran SFC Travis Fox (TC Stallings) who has one more battle to fight – PTSD. Fox and his best friend SFC Ron “Preach” Pearcy (Joey Lawrence) are in their 6th combat deployment when Preach and his entire Ranger platoon are killed in a deadly improvised explosive device attack. Travis returns to his hometown to settle the affairs of his parents who had passed away years before. In searching for answers about his parents, he also discovers a new obstacle in PTSD. He finds support from church counselor, Tiffany Robertson (Keshia Knight-Pulliam) and slowly begins to rediscover his faith in God, until he discovers a secret. Travis uncovers a secret hidden by his best friend Donnie Berry (Robert Ri’chard) that threatens his new-found faith, restores his guilt, and causes him to consider the unthinkable.

About Manns Mackie Studios:
Manns Mackie Studios is a concept-to-consumer feature- film production company that specializes in family and faith-based films.

About Collide Distribution:
Collide Distribution, a division of Collide Media Group, specializes in downstreaming home entertainment distribution through UPHE Content Group. Collide Media Group was formed in 2016 by veteran Christian entertainment marketing executive Bob Elder with a mission dedicated to “elevating media that inspires a deeper relationship with Christ.” The Collide team has worked on over 50 Faith-Based films, creating and executing marketing campaigns that have generated billions of impressions and resulted in hundreds of millions of ticket transactions. The Group is officed in historic downtown Franklin Tennessee.

About Universal Pictures Content Group:
Headquartered in London, Universal Pictures Content Group is a repertoire centre acquiring and producing multi-genre entertainment for distribution across theatrical, home entertainment, television and digital platforms on a worldwide basis. Universal Pictures Content Group a unit of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG). UFEG produces, acquires, markets and distributes filmed entertainment worldwide in various media formats for theatrical, home entertainment, television and other distribution platforms, as well as consumer products, interactive gaming and live entertainment. The global division includes Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Brand Development, Fandango and DreamWorks Animation Film and Television. UFEG is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

Cry Macho

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Cry Macho movie promo poster with Clint Eastwood in cowboy hat

Clint Eastwood stars as a one‐time rodeo star who takes a job to bring his ex-boss’ young son home from Mexico to Texas and faces an unexpectedly challenging journey.

Click to see more!

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The National WWII Museum Commemorates Pearl Harbor 80th Anniversary

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A photo of the National WWII Museum's Building

Commemorative programming highlighted by special ceremony, student programs and Meet the Author lectures discussing the significance of this historical event.

WHAT: The National WWII Museum will commemorate the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor with a full day of programming on December 7 in New Orleans and online. Programs will begin with an Electronic Field Trip aired free to students around the country and designed to educate participants on the events that led to the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into World War II. Additional programming will include a special commemoration ceremony, a panel discussion by Museum scholars from the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy and lectures by noted authors Rich Frank and Christopher Capozzola. Guests will also be able to tour the Museum’s newest special exhibit, Infamy: Pearl Harbor Remembered examining how the event is remembered today.

Referred to as “a date which will live infamy” by President Franklin Roosevelt, the Pearl Harbor attacks on the US Pacific Fleet led to the United States’ Declaration of War on Japan and plunged the country into World War II. Killing more than 2,400 servicemembers, Japanese planes destroyed or damaged 19 US warships and 300 aircraft in less than 90 minutes. The event launched the battle cry “Remember Pearl Harbor,” setting the tone for American efforts in World War II.

Schedule of events and registration information for Pearl Harbor 80th Anniversary Programming, Tuesday, December 7:

9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. CST airings

Electronic Field Trip: The Path to Pearl Harbor

Virtual Only

Join The National WWII Museum with student reporters from Hawaii and New Orleans to learn more about why on December 7, 1941, the Japanese military launched a surprise attack on the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This attack is the event that brought America into World War II, and while Japan’s deadly assault on Pearl Harbor stunned Americans, its roots stretched back more than four decades. Designed for students in grades 6–12, the program will help participants understand the broader context of World War II and the history of the events leading up to the attack. During this Electronic Field Trip, student reporters will help answer the essential question of why the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor led America into World War II.

10:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. CST

Knit Your Bit: Scarf Distribution to Veterans

On-site at US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

Museum staff will distribute free Knit Your Bit scarves to veterans of all eras. Learn more about the Museum’s Knit Your Bit program as it celebrates its 15th anniversary year.

11:00 a.m.–11:45 a.m. CST

Pearl Harbor 80th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony

On-site at US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center and Livestreaming online

Each year, The National WWII Museum commemorates those who lost their lives on that fateful December day. During the Pearl Harbor 80th anniversary commemorative ceremony, pay tribute to those who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, through a moving program that reflects the enduring significance of this day.

2:15 p.m.–3:45 p.m. CST

Meet the Author: Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War July 1937-May 1942 with Rich Frank

On-site at US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center and Livestreaming online

Join internally renowned expert and author Richard Frank as he discusses his book Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War July 1937-May 1942. Frank’s first book in his trilogy on the Pacific War, Tower of Skulls is an extraordinary WWII narrative that vividly portrays the battles across this entire region and links those struggles on many levels with their profound 21st-century legacies.

3:45 p.m.–5:00 p.m. CST

Pearl Harbor: The Aftermath; an Institute for the Study of War and Democracy Panel Discussion

On-site at US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center and Livestreaming online

The Museum highlights its own talented scholars from the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy during a panel discussion on many of the critical effects that the attack on Pearl Harbor had on the world 80 years ago and the enduring legacy of December 7 to this day. Topics include A Truly Global War: Hitler, Mussolini and the Global Ramifications by Jason Dawsey, PhD; Awakening a Sleeping Giant: The US Military Regroups by Kali Martin; The Home Front: Are We All in This Together? by Stephanie Hinnershitz, PhD; and Remembering Pearl Harbor: The Continuing Mission of the DPAA on Oahu by Adam Givens, PhD.

5:00 p.m. Reception CST

6:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. CST Lecture and Livestream

Meet the Author: Bound by War with Author Christopher Capozzola

On-site at US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center and Livestreaming online

Join expert and author Christopher Capozzola for the concluding event of the Museum’s 80th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor programming, a discussion that covers a sweeping history of America’s long and fateful military relationship with the Philippines amid a century of Pacific warfare. Detailing his book Bound By War: How the United States and the Philippines Built America’s First Pacific Century, Capozzola reveals this forgotten history, showing how war and military service forged an enduring, yet fraught, alliance between Americans and Filipinos.

Where: The National WWII Museum

945 Magazine Street, New Orleans

Website: www.nationalww2museum.org

COVID-19 Event Protocols:

Per City of New Orleans requirements, proof of COVID-19 vaccination (at least one dose) or a negative COVID-19 PCR test (taken within 72 hours) is required for entry to all events (applicable to all guests 12 years of age and older) as well as the Museum’s food and beverage outlets (including American Sector Restaurant & Bar and Jeri Nims Soda Shop), BB’s Stage Door Canteen shows, private rentals and indoor public events. For more information, please visit https://www.nationalww2museum.org/know-before-you-go.

The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, the institution celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information on TripAdvisor’s #1 New Orleans attraction, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org.

Bob Dole, WWII hero and former Republican presidential candidate, dies at 98

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Former Senator Bob Dole stands behind podium waving to crowd with U.S. flag in the background

By Elizabeth Chuck and Doha Madani

Bob Dole, the longtime lawmaker who overcame life-threatening injuries during World War II to become a shepherd of the Republican Party, died in his sleep Sunday at the age of 98.

Dole’s death was confirmed by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation in a statement Sunday.

“It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep,” the foundation said. “At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

His family also released a statement about Dole’s death Sunday, saying that they have lost their rock, adding that they shared Dole with Americans “from every walk of life” over the decades.

“Bob Dole never forgot where he came from. He embodied the integrity, humor, compassion and unbounded work ethic of the wide open plains of his youth,” the statement said. “He was a powerful voice for pragmatic conservatism, and it was that unique Kansan combination of attributes and values that made him such a giant of the Senate.”

In February, Dole revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and said he was starting treatment.

President Joe Biden reflected on his decades-long friendship with Dole, who he worked with on opposite sides of the Senate floor throughout their careers. In a statement Sunday afternoon, Biden described Dole as a man with “an unerring sense of integrity and honor.”

“Bob was an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation,” Biden said. “And to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves.”

Dole was among one of the first people he spoke to outside of the White House administration after being sworn in as president earlier this year, Biden said. The two also spoke following Dole’s cancer diagnosis, Biden saying he wanted to offer the same support Dole offered him after Biden’s late son, Beau, was diagnosed.

“Like all true friendships, regardless of how much time has passed, we picked up right where we left off, as though it were only yesterday that we were sharing a laugh in the Senate dining room or debating the great issues of the day, often against each other, on the Senate floor,” Biden said. “I saw in his eyes the same light, bravery, and determination I’ve seen so many times before.”

A former Senate majority leader and the 1996 Republican nominee for president, the native of Russell, Kansas, represented an earlier version of the GOP that had come through the Great Depression and did not shy away from a muscular use of government at home and abroad. He championed expanding the federal food stamp program, bringing awareness to disabilities, and sending U.S. troops to foreign conflicts.

He was one of the oldest first-time presidential nominees at age 73, but even after retiring from politics after losing the race to President Bill Clinton, Dole didn’t shy away from the limelight. He took on a new career starring in television commercials for Viagra, Visa and other brands. He also kept his commitment to fellow war veterans, spending Saturdays well into his 90s greeting veterans who flew to Washington, courtesy of the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit that arranges such flights for veterans.

Clinton tweeted following Dole’s death on Sunday, offering a tribute to his former presidential opponent who had “dedicated his entire life to serving the American people.”

“After all he gave in the war, he didn’t have to give more. But he did,” Clinton said. “His example should inspire people today and for generations to come.”

Continue on to the original article posted on NBC News.

VetsAid 2021: The Basement Show To Be Streamed Online December 18 – 25, 2021 With All Proceeds Going Directly To Veterans Services

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VetsAid logo

Joe Walsh, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and multi-GRAMMY Award winning musician invites you into his home for his 5th annual VetsAid music festival, an offering of his national 501(c)3 non-profit veterans organization. The Basement Show will be streamed live from his basement studio on December 18th and will feature performances by Walsh with special guests including Ringo Starr, a tour of his studio and some of his home guitar collection and a fan submitted Q&A as moderated by his wife Marjorie Walsh and stepson Christian Quilici, who are both VetsAid co-founders.

The stream will also include never before seen footage from the first four VetsAid offerings and from a recent visit Joe made to the US Vets Long Beach facility. As VetsAid festivals are typically planned near military bases and last year’s pandemic prohibited any in-person meetings, it was important and gratifying for Joe to be able to meet safely with vets of varying generations at US Vets Long Beach Social Hall where participants were able to share their stories of transition out of homelessness, thoughts on the present homelessness crisis across the country and messages of hope. The visit was topped off with a performance and storytelling session about “Life’s Been Good.”

“I’m always so inspired by the incredible service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families – and this year I had the honor of visiting with some of them in Long Beach and I look forward to sharing some of that visit in the stream on December 18th. Supporting and being of service to them is the sole aim of VetsAid,” Walsh said. “and while we couldn’t be together in Columbus as originally planned, I thought I’d do something special and invite everybody over to my house instead! So c’mon and join us for some great music and a glimpse of how I live, work, play and make music with my friends! That’s a lotta Joe!”

It is fitting that this year’s concert comes from Walsh’s home as Veterans and their wellbeing have always been a family affair for Joe as a Gold Star son himself. His father was a flight instructor for the first US operational jet powered aircraft, the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, and died while stationed and on active duty on Okinawa when Walsh was 20 months old.

VetsAid 2021: The Basement Show will be streamed live on December 18, 2021 at 8:00pm EST (with restream available through December 25, 2021) and is a ticketed event with livestream passes and merch bundles available now from $15 via vetsaid.veeps.com. vetsaid.veeps.com.

Joe Walsh launched VetsAid on September 20, 2017 with an inaugural concert at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, VA. The second festival event was in Tacoma, WA and the third in Houston, TX.  VetsAid typically seeks to host the events in cities across the country with large veteran populations.The shows have included performances by musicians including James Taylor, Chris Stapleton, Don Henley, ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow, The Doobie Brothers, Zac Brown Band, Jason Isbell, Keith Urban, Haim, Gary Clark Jr. and Joe’s brother-in-law Ringo. VetsAid 2020 saw the festival move online during the COVID pandemic with more than 40 participating artists that included Willie Nelson, Eddie Vedder, Gwen Stefani, James Hetfield and Jon Bon Jovi.

To date, VetsAid has disbursed $1.8 million dollars to organizations that support veterans and their families. All net proceeds from the 2021 streaming festival will go directly to the veterans’ services charities selected through a vetting process coordinated in tandem with the Combined Arms Institute. Criteria for this year’s selection process will focus exclusively on our homeless veterans and the resettlement efforts of our Afghan allies.

For more information, please visit www.vetsaid.org.

Military Veteran Finds Passion in Public Service: Meet NFBPA’s Demetrius Payton

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NFBPA’s Demetrius Payton poses in uniform and additional headshot within the same frame

On March 30, 2022, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), the principal and most progressive organization dedicated to the advancement of black public leadership in local and state governments, will host its Annual Forum in beautiful Grand Rapids, Mich.

The four-day conference allows public service professionals to gain practical and transferable skills they can apply immediately. It was events like Forum that drew Demetrius Payton to the organization. Demetrius Payton (pictured) is a director of infrastructure & operations at CPS Energy.

CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally-owned energy utility providing both natural gas and electric service. Serving more than 840,750 electric customers and 352,585 natural gas customers in and around San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-largest city. He is responsible for overseeing the Technical Services department, which includes the Infrastructure Server Team, Network Engineering & Collaboration Team and Data Center & Operations, which includes business process, compliance and patching.

Payton served 15 years in the United States Air Force Reserves. He was deployed during Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. Payton retired after 10 years from military service where he served as a commissioned officer in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Army Reserves.

Payton, who is originally from Leesville, La., holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Business from Wayland Baptist University. Payton also holds a Master of Arts in Computer Resources and Information Management from Webster University. In 2018, he completed the National Forum for Black Public Administrator’s Executive Leadership Program (ELP), a program dedicated to grooming African American managers for the rigors of executive positions in public service organizations.

NFBPA sat down with Payton to talk about his time in the service, challenges faced in civilian employment and inspirations:

How did the military prepare you for your career in local government?
The military allowed me to understand structure and protocol. The military also gave me stewardship experience with resources for our country. I have that same responsibility in my public sector career.

What were some challenges you faced in your career adjusting to civilian work?
I think the biggest challenge was around understanding all of the visibility and transparency required in this civilian job versus my military job. We have a Board and Senior Leadership Team that is required to approve capital procurement.

Three qualities needed to be successful in your role:
My role is director for infrastructure and operations, but I feel that a CIO has to be trustworthy, be able to communicate vision and set the stage for innovation in their organization.

Can you relate your military career to what you want to do next?
I think I always want to serve my community. I left a lucrative paying job in the private sector for an opportunity to work in the public sector. I feel like it’s my calling to serve others.

Who had the greatest influence on you growing up and in your career?
I had several influences that coached and mentored me throughout my military and civilian careers. But if I had to choose one individual, I would say it was my good coach Ralph Miles at the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence. He taught me things about being a good leader, a good teammate and a good human being.

Would you recommend local government after military life?
Local government and politics impact nearly every aspect of our lives. To me, going from the military to local government seems like a natural progression and a way for a member to impact their community.

What job in the military prepared you most for a career in local government / the public sector?
My last role in the military was Battalion S6 Security Officer.

If you could be or do anything else – what would you do or be?
Silly as it sounds, I would love to be an owner of a professional sports team. It’s been my dream since I was a little boy.

What’s one word you would use to describe yourself?
Determined.

Payton has been married to his wife, Michelle Payton for 32 years. They share three children and three grandchildren. He has been a member of his local church for over 34 years and his passion is fundraising for the American Cancer Society.

A Tale of Two Nonprofits: How Veteran-Focused Organizations Collaborate to Serve Heroes in Need

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two nonprofit logos veterans legal institute and patriots promise

By Antoinette Balta

Veteran-specific services remain in high demand. Despite an abundance of patriotic Americans and well-meaning nonprofits, the reality is this: there are simply insufficient funds and resources to address the myriad of needs of Veterans throughout the United States. Worse yet, many new nonprofits duplicate the efforts of other nonprofits, thereby diluting each other’s impact through competition rather than collaboration.

But as the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftermath continues, the need for veteran services has skyrocketed, and many nonprofits have had to step up to fill the voids in service. Two such nonprofits, Veterans Legal Institute and Patriot’s Promise, exemplify the benefits of collaboration for the greater good.

Veterans Legal Institute (VLI) is a nonprofit legal aid that provides free legal services to veterans and active service members that are homeless, low income, at risk, mentally ill and disabled. Since 2014, VLI has served over 8,000 veterans.

Because of VLI’s legal services, veterans keep their housing, gain access to healthcare, find employment, and return to school. While VLI is solely focused on providing legal services, many of its clients often need tangential services in order to be fully empowered into self-sufficiency.

For that reason, VLI, as a member of the Orange County Veterans and Military Families Collaborative, values collaboration as part of its legal services model. For example, VLI recently provided free legal services to a veteran amputee who needed to access his benefits. When VLI learned that an electric wheelchair was available for donation, VLI connected its client to the donor. Although these services were not legal in nature, they were certainly life-changing for both the veteran and the donor.

Army Veteran John Baskin founded Patriot’s Promise on the principle of “Never Leave A Soldier Behind,” and in honor of his late father, Col. Rev. Ronald R. Baskin, Sr. Col. Baskin was a highly decorated Army Officer, and served his country for 33 years. After his military service, Col. Baskin went to seminary in the Episcopal Church, became an ordained Priest, and served the church for 25 years. In his free time, Col. Baskin would go to local VA hospitals, and volunteer to provide financial, relationship, and family counselling to any veteran in need. Patriot’s Promise continues his legacy by serving veterans who need a hand up. These two nonprofits have collaborated in a number of ways. When John Baskin approached VLI, and shared his desire to serve veterans through Patriot’s Promise, VLI agreed to provide free legal services to the nonprofit. This broadens Patriot’s Promise’s impact, which in turn expands veteran services. VLI also assisted Patriot’s Promise in receiving its 501(c)(3) tax exemption, and continues to assist with other governance work on a pro bono basis.

This allows Patriot’s Promise to take the thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars that would have otherwise gone to legal fees, and use them to serve veterans in need.

These nonprofits offer truly transformative services to Veterans.

Patriot’s Promise takes homeless veterans off the streets and temporarily places them in hotels while connecting them to healthcare and helping them gain employment. This is consistent with Patriot’s Promise’s slogan: “The streets are for cars….not Veterans!”

Another veteran approached Patriot’s Promise in need of a car to get to work. Patriot’s Promise was able to donate a vehicle to him, thereby ensuring his safety, continued employment, and transportation. Further, in his own ministry, John Baskin met a veteran in dire need of veteran benefits. John connected the veteran to VLI. Within 3 months, VLI was able to successfully connect the veteran to his benefits so he could access healthcare and become more economically stable— all at no cost to the veteran.

Patriot’s Promise, in turn, understands the power of free legal services, and helped host two fundraisers for VLI. These fundraisers raised almost enough funds to support a full-time legal aid attorney for one year. As a direct result of these efforts, over 200 low-income veterans and their families will receive free and lifechanging legal services.

In a time of limited resources and extraordinary demand, nonprofits like Veterans Legal Institute and Patriot’s Promise are working hand-in-hand to serve veterans and save lives.

Raising Awareness of Neurodiversity in the Military

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U.S. Soldier in uniform smiling

A passenger-filled sedan rolls violently against a dirt median, abruptly halts on its roof and blocks oncoming traffic on the interstate. Master Sgt. Shale Norwitz’s duty to protect and serve kicks in.

Due to his application of military training and a unique diagnosis, Norwitz safely extracts the occupants of the vehicle, leading them away from the wreckage and redirected the flow of traffic.

Norwitz, 5th Combat Communications Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of Operations Planning, attributes this act to his military training and neurodiversity. “I’m on the [autism] spectrum and that makes me good at being a strategic thinker, and contributes to my innovation,” he said. “This is the stuff that makes us great, but it is something we need reinforcement on.”

Norwitz said his neurodiversity allows him to objectively react during situations. He said because of his ability to remove emotion from a situation, he is able to see a clear series of targets, tasks and creative solutions whenever an issue arises. This ability led him to learn to accept his diagnosis. According to the U.S. Air Force Medical Standards Directory, Autism Spectrum Disorder is not disqualifying for continued military service unless it is currently–or has a history of–compromising military duty or training.

Norwitz has seen improvements in his professional development and feels empowered to reduce the negative stigma surrounding autism. He adds that remaining resilient while overcoming his neurodiversity in the workplace has been no easy feat.

“There have been a lot of things throughout my military career that I struggle with,” Norwitz said. “I struggle with forming intersocial bonds. I felt like an outsider and didn’t know why.” This can have an impact on one’s mental health because these social bonds form an integral part of not only your social career but also your professional career, he added.

Norwitz believes he is not alone in his sentiments, and said unit cohesion and interacting with others who have similar neurodiversity challenges have contributed to reducing his feeling of isolation throughout his 19-year military tenure.

“Knowing I have a peer group that not only shares the same challenges that I do, but are people that I can instantly connect with helps soften the impact of the idea that I do struggle socially,” he said. “I’ve come to realize that I am actually more inclined to be successful at social interaction with people who are operating at the same frequency as me.”

Norwitz said one goal he has been working diligently to achieve is to raise more awareness through advocacy towards the increasing support for military members dealing with ASD. Part of his initiative is encouraging education amongst cohorts, supervisors, peers and the general public on the complexities of the autism spectrum.

He believes learning how to better accommodate, relay messages and adapt to the growing demographic of neurodiversity presence in the military may allow for more efficient cohesion and connectivity amongst all members and personnel within the armed forces.

As part of this initiative, Norwitz has engaged with the Secretary of the Air Force’s Disability Action Team.

There are currently seven Department of the Air Force’s Barrier Analysis Working Groups to include: the Black/African American Employment Strategy Team; the Disability Action Team; the Hispanic Empowerment and Action Team; the Indigenous Nations Equality Team; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning Initiative Team; the Pacific Islander/Asian American Community Team and the Women’s Initiatives Team.

Norwitz said he is hopeful for the continued advocacy for neurodiversity in the military.

“All of my efforts have been met with nothing but support from the external community, supervisors, coworkers and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,” he said. “This has been incredibly healing for me, but I have a responsibility to make sure that same acknowledgment and acceptance reaches everyone else in uniform.”

Source: U.S. Air Force
Photo Caption: Master Sgt. Shale Norwitz, 5th Combat Communications Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of Operations Planning, poses for a photo at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force via Master Sgt. Shale Norwitz

‘Top Gun’ Barbie Is Here to Help Us Wait for Maverick’s New Movie

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Mattel BArbie Doll Phoenix stands on airplane runway in military uniform holding her helmet on hip

November 19 was supposed to be the day that we finally got to see “Top Gun: Maverick” in theaters, but Tom Cruise and the suits at Paramount kicked the release yet again to May 27, 2022.

Maverick fans can console themselves with the official “Top Gun: Maverick” Barbie doll, inspired by the movie character Natasha Trace, call sign “Phoenix.”

“Top Gun” and Barbie fans can buy the limited edition doll for $39.99 at Mattel’s Barbie.com website. You also can buy one at Target, Walmart or Amazon. There’s a limit of two dolls at the Barbie website, so you may need to act fast if you want to buy one.

The doll comes with a pilot’s helmet and a jumpsuit that includes signature patches. Phoenix also sports aviator sunglasses, dog tags and a watch. Our aviator has everything she needs to succeed at the hyper-competitive Top Gun school.

We have no idea what Phoenix’s role will be in the story of “Top Gun: Maverick,” but we do know that she’s played by Monica Barbaro, best known for her roles on the television shows “UnREAL,” “Chicago Justice” and “Stumptown.”

Will Phoenix emerge as Top Gun champion in the new movie? Will she meet a Goose-like fate? We’re going to have to wait another six months to find out the details.

Read the original article posted on Military.com.

Retired Marine heroes get mortgage paid off in full for brand new North Carolina home

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military family looks on to welcoming group marching near them and their home

A Marine couple in Jacksonville, North Carolina, learned on national television that their new house had been fully paid off. Mario and Amy Perez both served in the Marine Corps for more than a decade, deploying multiple times and serving America with honor.

“Marine Corps values: Honor, courage and commitment. The hard thing is to live by it, and that’s one thing that Mario has done,” retired master sergeant Tony Johnson said.

Veterans United Home Loans repaid the Perezes commitment to our country by fully paying off their brand new home, which took them months to find.

Mario said he and his wife and their two kids had been looking for a new home for a while. However, because of the demanding housing market, every house they liked ended up being purchased by someone else for thousands of dollars over asking price.

Finally the couple found a home that fit their family just outside Camp Lejuene in Jacksonville.

They closed on the house Nov. 9. Then on Nov. 10, the 246th anniversary of the creation of the US Marine Corps, they learned the best news ever. Friends of the Perezes, a full marching band and Good Morning America all showed up and surprised the Perezes with the news that Veterans United Home Loan has fully paid off their mortgage.

“It’s unreal to even think that, I mean, I never would’ve thought anything like this–I’m out of words.” Mario said through tears of joy.

The mortgage company isn’t stopping there. In total, 11 military families will have their loans paid in full by the end of the year.

Plus, one of those military families could be you or someone you know. The 11th family will be randomly selected from a group of nominations.

You can nominate an eligible military family by clicking here.

Read the original article posted on ABC 7 here.

Morgan Freeman: Always With Purpose

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Morgan Freeman collage of professional photos

By Samar Khoury

The world knows Oscar winner Morgan Freeman for his box office hits, like The Shawshank Redemption, Invictus and Bruce Almighty, among many others. But there is so much more to this acting legend than his performances on stage and screen, for Freeman is a philanthropist and humanitarian whose contributions have made a difference in the lives of so many. This year alone, aside from filming three movies, the Air Force veteran has made it his mission to spark change — most recently lending his powerful voice to call for police reform.

In June, Freeman and criminal justice professor Linda Keena at the University of Mississippi donated $1 million to the university to create a Center for Evidence-Based Policing and Reform – the only one of its kind in the state and one of only a few in the nation. The purpose of the center is to research and implement the best practices for training police around the country, as well as train how police can better engage the community in crime prevention.

“Look at the past year in our country – that sums it up,” Freeman said. “It’s time we are equipping police officers with training and ensuring ‘law enforcement’ is not defined only as a gun and a stick. Policing should be about that phrase ‘To Serve’ found on most law enforcement vehicles.”

The star’s work doesn’t stop there. After indie film The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain premiered at the Austin Film Festival, Freeman and Revelations Entertainment (his independent movie production company) partner Lori McCreary jumped on the opportunity to be executive producers for the film, which was released in theaters in September. The film recalls the final moments of Kenneth Chamberlain – a 68-year-old Black veteran killed by White Plains, N.Y. police in 2011 after accidentally setting off his medical alert. Police broke down the door to his apartment and shot Chamberlain twice in the chest. No charges were brought against the police in a 2012 jury trial.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman sitting outside on the benches playing checkers and talking in a movie scene.
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman sitting outside on the benches playing checkers and talking in a scene from the film ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’ (Photo by Castle Rock Entertainment/Getty Images)

“All of the news coverage this past year, about George Floyd and Black Lives Matter and all of the other stuff that’s been going on, this movie I think sort of narrows it all down to what is necessary here, and to my way of thinking, what was necessary here is police reform,” Freeman told The Hollywood Reporter. “We have to get another way of doing policing in the community. Policing is for help, it’s not law enforcement, and I think this movie points that out.”

But this is just scratching the surface of what Freeman has accomplished. His activism has only begun.

From the Air Force to Stardom
Freeman was born on June 1, 1937, and grew up in a segregated community in Mississippi. There, he discovered his passion for film – he frequented the local movie theater and loved watching war movies, sparking his interest in becoming a pilot. In school, Freeman performed in school plays and competitions, and, not surprisingly, took on lead roles and won awards.

After he graduated from high school in 1955, Freeman turned down a drama scholarship to Jackson State University to enlist in the Air Force, working as radar technician for more than a year before training as a pilot. That’s when he realized flying was not right for him, thus receiving an honorable discharge as an airman first class in 1959.

Throughout his time serving out nation, Freeman’s interest in acting never left him. “When I got in and started to live that life [in the Air Force], it occurred to me that I had been functioning with my romance with movies. I had seen all these war movies, but you are thinking reality when it is all make believe,” he said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey’s “Master Class.”

He found work on television in the children’s show The Electric Company, appeared on stage in Coriolanus and Julius Caesar, winning an Obie Award, and then got his big break with his extraordinary performance in Street Smart.

After his Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Street Smart and his Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and a second Oscar nomination for his role in Driving Miss Daisy, Freeman’s career began to skyrocket. In 1993, he directed his first film, Bopha!, and soon created Revelation Entertainment with Bopha! producer Lori McCreary.

Along the way not only has Freeman’s movie performances, as a lead actor, supporting actor and narrator, resulted in global box office totals of over $10 billion, but according to Forbes he is the “most trusted voice in the world.

Currently, he is set to lead upcoming thriller Muti with Yellowstone star Cole Houser. The film, set for release next year, will follow a detective who, unable to cope with his daughter’s death, hunts down a serial killer who murders based on a tribal ritual: Muti. The only person who can help him is Freeman’s character, an anthropologist hiding a secret. In addition, to his film work, he has a series coming to History Channel in the fall: Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman. The show tells true stories of prison breaks, most of which failed.

Morgan Freeman during Morgan Freeman Footprint Ceremony at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Morgan Freeman during Morgan Freeman Footprint Ceremony at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Activist, Philanthropist and Go-Getter Acting isn’t the only thing Freeman is passionate about – it turns out that he has a heart of gold, and he’s committed to making the world a better place. He is a driving force behind the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, has donated funds to help create the Morgan Freeman Equine Reproduction Research Unit at the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine and founded the Tallahatchie River Foundation committed to quality early childhood education in the state of Mississippi. It is a fundamental belief of Freeman that when children thrive by 3rd grade, they have the promise of a better future.

Freeman is also an advocate for Artists for a New South Africa and the Campaign for Female Education. The philanthropist has also hosted an online disaster relief auction for the American Red Cross, created a cookbook – Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause– and supports efforts to promote the use of clean-burning fuels in America.

“I firmly believe that alternative fuel supplies need to be developed to allow the US to wean itself off its significant dependence on foreign oil,” Freeman said. “Moreover, I feel that our development of alternative sources such as biodiesel fuel will help the environment, farmers and the economy in general.”

An active environmentalist, in 2014, he added honeybee hives to his Mississippi ranch after learning about their global decline. Since then, he has planted magnolia, clover, lavender and bee-friendly fruit trees, as well as ensured his farm is as sustainable as possible. “There is a concerted effort for bringing bees back onto the planet,” Freeman said. “We do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation.”

Master Sgt. Curtis Chiles (left) conducts egress training for actor Morgan Freeman before his orientation flight in a T-37.
Master Sgt. Curtis Chiles (left) conducts egress training for actor Morgan Freeman before his orientation flight in a T-37. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Jennifer Moore)

Freeman, who was dubbed this year’s #VeteranOfTheDay, constantly advocates for human rights. From supporting the Black Lives Matter movement to remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his federal holiday, the activist has always spoken out against injustice. “Fighting for equality is a celebration of independence. Fighting for black lives is a celebration of independence. #BlackLivesMatter,” Freeman said on Twitter.

In January this past year, Freeman made a point to remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and continues to make a difference. “In these trying times we must remember and uplift the good while rising above violence,” he said. “We must never forget about him. Today, we must remember to keep the dream alive. So be kind, show love to one another, help pave the way for equality and justice and have faith that our great country can recover from anything. Because through this we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

As far as we’re concerned, Freeman has kept the dream alive.

“I can say that life is good to me. Has been and is good. So, I think my task is to be good to it. How do you be good to life? You live it.”

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