Army’s Committment To Mental Health Care & Prevention Of Suicides

May 31, 2008

On Thursday afternoon, I had the pleasure of participating in the Bloggers Roundtable discussion on Behavioral Health & Suicide Prevention. Speakers for the discussion were Lt. Co. Thomas E. Languirand, Chief of Command Policies and Programs Division, Chaplain (Col) Charles D. Reese, Office of the Chief of Chaplains and Col. Elspeth Ritchie, Psychiatric consultant to the Army Surgeon General.

LTC Languirand opened the discussion by saying that the Army values the well-being of it’s Soldiers and their Families. He emphasized that the Army is committed to them by ensuring that they can learn to increase their coping skills. The Army is committed to addressing the risk factors and to remove the stigma that is associated with seeking mental health care for problems. LTC Languirand stressed that the Army feels that even one suicide is one suicide too many and the Army is actively pursuing educational means and interventions that they hope will decrease the number of suicides in the military. Things that are being used, such as the Army’s Battlemind Training, are being utilized prior to and following deployments. That training as well is being offered to family members. The training is designed to teach Soldiers and their family members to recognize signs of problems, so that they can encourage each other and their family members to seek help when necessary. I’ve reviewed the Battlemind Training for Soldiers as well as the training for Family members and it’s definately a step in the right direction. The hope is that by teaching Soldiers what to look out for in each other and teaching Family members what to look for with their Soldiers returning from downrange, they can help in the prevention of suicides and other mental health problems. It’s great training and I encourage anyone who has contact with Soldiers to go to the Army Battlemind Training Website and utilize the information that is provided there.

Chaplain (Col) Reese then explained the role of Chaplains in suicide prevention and mental health care, saying that they offer religious and spiritual support for Soldiers and their Families. Chaplains also provide Soldiers and their Family members assistance with learning coping skills both during and after deployments. When units deploy downrange, Chaplains deploy with them, to offer their support with the myriad of difficulties that can arise during the deployment. Chaplains are also an essential piece in dealing with routine and crisis situations and they are the primary trainers in the Army for suicide prevention.

The last speaker, Col. Ritchie spoke in length about the ways in which the Army is working to expand their intensive out-patient programs, in order to ensure that Soldiers and their Family members have the assistance available to them that is necessary. She went on to mention the Holistic approaches that are beginning to be utilized in the treatment of PTSD, in suicide prevention and the treatment of TBI’s. There are several pilot programs in place, such as the Restoration and Resilience Center in Fort Bliss that I’ve reported about in the past. As you may recall, the program at Fort Bliss, utilizes alternative medicine, such as yoga, meditation, martial arts, qigong, reiki and accupuncture, to name a few. A similar program is in place at Walter Reed. Col. Ritchie stated that at this time, the programs are in the research stages and that they’re watching closely to monitor their results in the programs. Col. Ritchie also mentioned programs being conducted utilizing Virtual Reality in Fort Sill, Ok., Ft. Lewis, Wash. and at Walter Reed. Having read extensively about these programs and the successes they’ve had so far, I’m pretty impressed and feel that both of the programs bear watching, as programs that may prove extremely successful in treating Soldiers suffering from PTSD and TBI’s.

Col. Ritchie stressed that the Army is actively looking to expand the number of mental health providers. They are also looking at increasing the number of Tricare providers and are working to help educate civilian providers and expand their knowledge base to better treat Soldiers suffering from PTSD. Efforts are also underway to educate primary care providers on how to treat PTSD.

The floor was open for discussion and many great questions were asked and answered. One participant had concerns about a Soldier seeking mental health help and staff at emergency rooms not picking up on signs of depression. Col. Ritchie responded by saying that Soldiers who are exhibiting signs of mental health problems are seen in the military emergency rooms by mental health workers and those problems are being addressed in the emergency rooms. She did admit that no system is perfect and that occasionally someone who may not vocalize that they’re experiencing depression or looking to harm themselves, may not be recognized, that they are working hard to ensure that no one needing mental health care falls through the cracks.

Mental Health care in Iraq and Afghanistan were addressed as well, with the participant asking if Soldiers were being prescribed anti-depressants downrange without being fully diagnosed with depression. Col. Ritchie assurred that mental health providers are in theater and are thoroughly evaluating patients to ensure that they receive the appropriate care. Evaluations used in theater are the same as evaluations utilized in the states. She stressed that providers understand the importance of correct diagnosis prior to prescribing medication.

The last question addressed the stigma of a Soldier seeking mental health help and how the Army was addressing that to ensure that Soldiers aren’t stigmatized when asking for help. Col. Ritchie stated that the military as a whole is dedicated to ensuring that the stigma is removed and the DoD has taken the lead to ensure that by revising the questionnaire for national security positions, patrticulary question 21. The revised question, she said, now excludes non-court-ordered counseling related to marital, family or grief issues, or counseling for issues related to military service in a combat zone. Another step is educating Soldiers and leadership on the importance of seeking help that the Army is actively pursuing. They are also working to ensure that leadership encourages Soldiers who need help with mental health issues, such as PTSD or depression, to seek that help and not stigmatize the Soldier when they do seek help.

This roundtable discussion was very informative and highlighted the many avenues the Army is actively taking to ensure that our Soldiers and their Family members receive the best care possible as quickly as possible.

Defenselink Bloggers Roundtable


AT&T Teams With Cell Phones For Soldiers In Support Of Troops

May 30, 2008

When Soldiers are deployed, one thing that helps to make their deployment easier is being able to connect with their families and friends back home. Morale is very important to Troops in the warzone and having that connection with loved ones, helps to improve their morale, making it much easier for them to continue in their mission. A partnership between AT&T and Cell Phones For Soldiers understands that importance and are doing something about it.

Recently, AT&T, The Navy Exchange and Cell Phones For Soldiers celebrated Fleet Week 2008, with members of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard in New York City. Working together, they donated 7,000 land and sea based prepaid phone cards to the members of the Armed Forces who were in New York City last Thursday for Fleet Week 2008. Other efforts that the partnership have going is the Earth Day Challenge, where AT&T and Cell Phones For Soldiers have pledged to work together and collect more than 1.8 million recycled cell phones by Earth Day 2009.

AT&T and Cell Phones for Soldiers Launch Earth Day Challenge: Double Cell Phone Recycling by Next Earth Day to Support the Environment and Military Families

Recycling Program That Sends Phone Cards to Troops Has Helped Avoid 125 Tons of E-Waste; AT&T’s Support for Program Expands to Add ‘Helping Hands’ From a Network of more than 300,000 AT&T Volunteers

San Antonio, Texas, April 21, 2008

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) announced today that the company will work with Cell Phones for Soldiers (CPFS) to drive recycling and reduce e-waste through the next year with a goal of doubling the number of cell phones the charity recycles by next Earth Day. CPFS collects and recycles mobile phones and uses the proceeds to buy free phone cards for U.S. military members and their families.

Since Earth Day 2007, CPFS has collected more than 900,000 cell phones for recycling. AT&T and CPFS have pledged to work together to help the charity collect more than 1.8 million devices by Earth Day 2009. AT&T currently supports the charity’s recycling through more than 2,000 AT&T stores in more than 1,100 cities across the U.S. AT&T is expanding that support to include a network of more than 300,000 community volunteers, a national donation drive running through July 2008 and a new online starter kit for donations.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, e-waste is accumulating three times faster than household trash. Since 2004, CPFS has collected more than 1.25 million mobile phones. The charity’s recycling partner, ReCellular, estimates that this has prevented more than 125 tons of e-waste from entering landfills, including the environmental equivalents of:

Saving enough energy to power nearly 4,000 U.S. households for a year. Avoiding the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as removing more than 2,800 passenger cars from the roads for a year. Keeping more than two tons of toxic materials out of landfills. “With Earth Day and Cell Phones for Soldiers, we’re turning up the volume on cell phone recycling,” said Paul Roth, president of Marketing and Sales for AT&T’s wireless unit. “So far this year, our weekly in-store recycling averages are five times what they were in 2007 and 28 times more than the same time in 2006. AT&T is proud to support both of these worthwhile programs.”

AT&T Adds New People Power: The AT&T Pioneers
One way AT&T is supporting the recycling challenge is through the added support of the AT&T Pioneers. Beginning Earth Day on April 22, a network of more than 300,000 volunteers will begin helping expand the charity’s cell phone donation drives into communities across the U.S. Roughly 100 new donation locations will be established, and volunteers will work to collect phones in corporate offices and community locations from the days surrounding Earth Day through July 4 to support the environment and to help keep military families connected with free phone cards.

New Free Online Donation Drive Tool Kit
AT&T and CPFS are also launching a new online tool designed to support community groups and help individuals launch and conduct their own donation drives with a new electronic “starter kit,” available at AT&T Recycle Wireless. The tool is available to anyone who would like to run a donation drive with CPFS, and it includes environmental tips, planning tools, camera-ready artwork for recycling bins and other relevant materials.

“We’re excited to have the support of the AT&T Pioneers and a new free tool to offer our supporters,” said CPFS co-founder Brittany Bergquist. “We run our charity from home, and we rely on volunteer support to collect phones for recycling. Having more helping hands to drive our mission to recycle for the troops — and reduce e-waste — is something that makes a huge impact on our ability to reach people and, in the end, send more free calls to the troops. Having a new free tool that anyone can use is one more way we’re making it simple for people to join us.”

Since AT&T launched its support, the company has also donated more than 60,000 prepaid phone cards — valued at more than $500,000 — to CPFS to help the charity connect more military families. In the past two years, AT&T has donated more than $4 million worth of prepaid phone cards to help support U.S. military members and their families. These donations include direct distributions to troops serving in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, South Korea, Japan and Europe. The company also has built 70 calling centers in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Both of these programs are great initiatives to provide our Troops a way to keep in touch with their families and friends during their deployment and goes a long way towards showing our Troops how much corporations such as AT&T and citizens support them, while they continue their jobs in the Global War on Terror. If you’d like to participate in the programs or perhaps read more about ways that AT&T supports the Troops, please visit their website, via the link provided below.

AT&T Support For The Troops

Cell Phones For Soldiers

Update: SPC Ross McGinnis

May 29, 2008

I haven’t written in a very long time and I do appologize.  I will soon be connected again and will be able to get back to the work at hand.  However, I did come across a story that both myself and Terri publish back a few months ago. 

SPC Ross McGinnis gave the ultimate sacrifice for his Country and his fellow Soldiers.  He smothered a grenade that had entered his HMWVV while on patrol, thus saving the lives of his fellow convoy members.  You can read more at our previous stories.  Archive

On 2 June 2008, SPC McGinnis’ will receive the Medal of Honor, the highest award and honor that any Soldier may receive.  The Medal of Honor will be presented at a White House ceremony to his parents, Tom and Romayne McGinnis.  You can read more at the US Army Medal of Honor website.

French Families Honor US Fallen At Normandy

May 29, 2008

Memorial Day has come and gone. How many of us stopped and gave thought to the brave souls who gave their lives in other countries? How many of us wondered if anyone would be visiting their graves and paying them the respect and honor they deserve on this day?

During World War II, 10,000 U.S. service members died on the beaches of Normandy. Unfortunately on Memorial Day, it can be rather difficult for us to go to the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, that sits high upon a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach and pay our respects to the US servicemembers who lost their lives and were buried there. Eight years ago, a French couple founded an organization that adopts the graves of American servicemembers who lost their lives their during the Normandy invasion. They encourage French families to place flowers on the graves on Memorial Day, when their own family members are unable to make the trip to France to do so. The all volunteer group, called Les Fleurs de la Memoire, or in English Flowers of Memory ensures that the brave servicemembers who lost their lives there 64 years ago, are not forgotten. Marie Therese La Vieille, who founded the group eight years ago with her husband, says that she feels it’s important that each Soldier who is laid to rest there, be remembered, when his own family can’t make the trip to France to do so themselves.

“When we joined, we promised to visit the graves once a year and to lay flowers on the graves,” she said. “Sometimes people take flowers from their own gardens. And they say it is like a son, like a cousin, like a brother. It is a member of the family.”

On Memorial Day this year, dozens of members of Les Fleurs de la Memoire shoed up at Colleville-sur-Mer for the annual Memorial Day ceremony. The ceremony begins with a flyover by US jets in the missing man formation. A French priest then recites the Lord’s Prayer, a rabbi chants the Kaddish and a French military band plays the Star Spangled Banner.

Jennie Malcomb, while investigating the death of her uncle PFC Walter Malcomb came across Les Fleurs de a Memoire, and contacted them, asking if they could place flowers on her uncle’s grave. Two months later, she was surprised when she received a photo of her uncle’s grave in the mail.

“It was quite an emotional experience,” she said.

While the ceremony is being conducted, a simple tribute is taking place near the back of the cemetery. Jean Michel Miette, kneels in front of the grave of Jennie’s uncle. He’s the one who adopted Malcomb’s grave. He made the trip from Paris to honor PFC Walter C. Malcomb. He, like Jennie Malcomb, found out about Les Fleurs de la Memoire, just last summer. He’s grateful for the organization which enables him to honor the American Soldiers who sacrificed their lives for his country and for their liberty.

“With enormous emotion in my heart, I want to say thank you, Walter,” Miette says. “I will never forget you or your heroic compatriots.”

Since Les Fleurs de la Memoire brought Jennie and Jean Michel together, they’ve had the opportunity to forge a friendship and speak regularly over the phone. She says that she finally feels like her uncle has family to visit his grave.

What an awesome organization! In today’s world, it’s not often that we see people from other countries understanding what our Troops have given over the years, not only for our freedoms, but for those of citizens of other countries, such as France. I hope that this organization will be able to continue to the tradition that was started eight years ago.


Soldier/Cowboy Launches Army’s Wounded Warrior Sports Program

May 28, 2008

On February 11, 2007, SPC Jake Lowrey was in Fallujah, Iraq when he and a fellow Soldier were hit by an IED that left his fellow Soldier dead and left Lowrey severely injured. Lowrey lost his right eye, sustained a massive head injury from the explosion and suffers from PTSD. Less than a year after being injured, Lowrey, who’s been a cowboy all of his life, was back atop a horse and roping steers.

“This pretty much keeps me going - it’s the only thing that does,” Lowrey said. “Without it, I’d just be hanging out in my room somewhere.”

On May 10th and 11th, Lowrey officially launched the US Army Wounded Warrior Sports Program, by participating in a team-roping performance at Denny Calhoun Arena in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The program was designed to provide active-duty Soldiers who have sustained life-altering injuries, the opportunity to compete in a sporting event. The Army Wounded Warrior Sports Program pays for their athletic attire, registration fees, transportation and lodging and per deims. Lowrey traveled from his home in Alaska to El Paso, Texas and joined up with his fmaily for a ride to Silver City, N.M. There, he, his stepfather and grandfather loaded up a trailer with their horses and drove on to Las Cruces to participate in a weekend of roping. All three of them participated in the Troy Shelley Affiliate event.

“This is one of the best things the Armed Forces could have done, because it’s just therapy for these guys who feel like, ‘I lost that,’” said Retired SFC Pete Escobedo, Lowrey’s grandfather. “If you really want to do something with yourself … Jacob is a prime example. He’s really trying. We’re thankful for the Army for doing everything it can for him.”

Lowrey did well in the competition. In the first round he successfully roped two of six steers, in the first round. In the second round, he roped two more and another in the third round. That left him in third place in the event. In the last round, his steer got away. Despite his injuries and the limit it places on his depth perception, Lowrey was encouraged that his roping skills will continue to improve. Since his injury, he’s already won an all-around crown in Alaska and teaming with his step-father, he captured a team roping title at the Professional Armed Forces Rodeo Association’s 2007 World Finals that were held in Fort Worth, Texas.

“I’m not back where I was, by any means,” Lowrey said. “I just keep practicing and hope it eventually comes back.”

Since his injury, Spc Lowrey has struggled with coming to grips with his injuries. His step-father, knowing him so well, felt like getting him back on a horse and doing something that he loves is probably the best therapy for him, that he could think of. Over the weekend in Las Cruces, the three generations of cowboys took turns roping steers.

“Jake has done remarkably well in coping with his injury,” said his grandfather Pete Escobedo. “Instead of saying: ‘Well I’m injured,’ he says: ‘I’m going to do what I can. The Good Lord handed me this hand, so I’m going to do with what he dealt me the best I can.’”

His step-father and grandfather are both proud of what he’s accomplished since his injury, though both are aware that what’s happend to him, have changed him. Both feel it’s important for him to stay active and not allow him to sink into depression and self-pity. So, they do what they can to keep him active and doing things that he enjoys. By doing so, they in turn teach him that despite his injuries, he can participate in the things he enjoys and excel at them.

“If we can ever get him where he’ll just start talking again and intermingling with people and not being paranoid, I think life will be good,” said John Escobedo, his step-father. “When he’s on horseback or working out, he’s a normal guy. But we’ll be sitting at the house watching TV or something and it ain’t the same buy. We drove six or seven to the world finals - 14 hours of drive time - and he probably said three words. But you stick him on a horse or in the gym, where his comfort zone is, and he’s fine.”

Jake believes his desire to get back on a horse, get active and participate in what he loves, sets him apart from some of his wounded peers. While some of them were stuck pitying themselves and didn’t want to do anything, Jacob couldn’t wait to get active again and start doing the things he loves to do.

“Some of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation people told me about it (Wounded Warrior Sports Program) when I was at the Warrior Transition Unit,” SPC Lowrey said. “About two days later, I sent in the paperwork. I sent them about four or five events they could pick from.”

Army sports specialist Mark Dunivan, feels that this was the perfect venue for Spc Lowrey. He said he expects more applicants to follow and began participating in the program. He’s already been contacted by an amputee who wants to run in the USA Triathlon Physically Challenged National Champions, that is scheduled for July in New York. The hopes are, that as the word begins to spread about the program, that more Wounded Warriors will participate.

This is a great way for our Wounded Warriors to begin walking down the path to their recovery. So many of them were involved in different sporting events prior to joining the military, as well as during their time in the military. People like SPC Lowrey, Major David Rozelle and scores of other Wounded Warriors who have not let their injuries stop them from participating in sporting events that they love, serve as fantastic role models to other Wounded Warriors.

To discover more about the Army Wounded Warrior Sports Program, please visit the Army MWR website, or contact Army Sports Specialist Mark Dunivan by email at .

Wounded Warrior To Lead Medical Battalion

May 27, 2008

When he was injured in Iraq in September 2007, Army Command Sgt. Major Mark Cornejo was reluctant about being medivaced back to the United States for medical treatment, because that meant he would be leaving his comrades and his mission behind. Throughout his recovery, he never lost his desire to continue to serve his country. On May 13th, he assumed responsibility for the 187th Medical Battalion at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“Giving up never entered my thought process,” Cornejo said, speaking of his recovery. “It wasn’t ‘if,’ it was ‘when’ I was going to get back. I just wanted to know how fast I could get fixed so I could get back.”

Cornejo was deployed with III Corps out of Fort Hood, Texas in November 2006, as the chief medical NCO for the corps staff. He and 10 fellow Soldiers were injured in a mortar attack on their FOB, September 11, 2007. After returning to the United States for treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, he underwent 3 months of in-patient treatment and over 5 months of rehabilitation. He’s still working on building the strength in his shoulder.

“I suffered shrapnel wounds on the left side of my body and left shoulder,” he said.

Last fall, I had the pleasure of meeting CSM Cornejo while he was still a patient at BAMC. I had went to BAMC with 1st Cavalry Division rear detachment personnel on one of their trips to visit the Wounded Warriors at BAMC. CSM Cornejo had just undergone another surgery that day, and was in great spirits when we visited, laughing and joking with us, especially after we presented him various 1st Cavalry Division memorabilia. During his time spent recovering at BAMC, Cornejo found out that his next assignment would keep him there at BAMC. I was quite impressed with his positive attitude, despite the pain he had to have been feeling that day.

“I was very happy. Since I’m a medic, I’ve come full circle. I’m back where I was trained 20 yeras ago,” he said.

CSM Cornejo is now the battalion CSM of the 187th Medical Battalion. He has responsibility for over 450 instructors and nearly 6,000 Soldiers who will be trained at BAMC throughout the year. His battalion is responsible for the logistics and training of 8 military occupational specialties, 8 officer cources and 9 additional skills identifiers. With his experience in Iraq and then as a patient at BAMC, he will be able to bring valuable lessons to the Soldiers that he’s in charge of.

“My hope is to shed some light on past experiences to magnify the importance of basic warrior tasks each Soldier needs to know,” he said. “My goal is to provide realistic, but safe, training for our Soldiers.

This is a great move for CSM Cornejo and I’m sure that he’ll perform his new duties will the pride and dedication that we so often see in the military. He’ll definitely be able to share first-hand experience with his Soldiers, from the perspective of a medic, as well as from the perspective of a patient. I’m sure his leadership will be sorely missed at III Corps.


National Moment Of Remembrance

May 26, 2008

Today is Memorial Day, a National Holiday, that has been set aside for many years to honor our fallen Warriors for their service and sacrifice for our country. I hope that as you go about your day, you’ll pause often to think about the freedoms that these men and women sacrificed their lives for … freedoms that you and I haven’t earned ourselves, but instead were paid in full for us, with the blood of these brave and honorable men and women. They paid the ultimate sacrifice, so that we might continue to enjoy our way of life here in the United States.

Regardless of what you plan to do today, whether it be attending a ceremony in honor of our fallen Warriors, decorating the graves of fallen Warriors or spending time with your family and friends, I ask that you please take part in the National Moment of Remembrance to be observed at 3pm local time across the nation.


Pause and unite at 3 p.m. in honor of our fallen.

Monday, May 26, at 3 p.m. local time, Major League Baseball games will stop, Amtrak train
whistles will blast across the country and hundreds of other nationwide participants will encourage Americans to pause for the Memorial Day National Moment of Remembrance. The ‘Moment’ was established by an act of Congress, to honor those who died in service
to our country.

All citizens, alone or with family and friends, wherever they may be at 3 p.m., local time, are asked to pause for a moment of reflection and rededication to give something back to our country in memory of our Nation’s fallen. The goal is to put “Memorial” back into Memorial Day.
A Gallup poll revealed that only 28 percent of Americans know the meaning of this noble holiday.

“We want Americans to contemplate those things that bind us together. The legacy of those who died to make this country better - from the Revolutionary War to the present - is something that strengthens and unites us. We want every child to say ‘I know why I am free and I know who died for my freedom.’ ” said Carmella LaSpada, Director of the White House Commission on Remembrance. The White House Commission on Remembrance was established in 2000 by Congress in Public Law 106-579. Its purpose is to promote the ‘Moment’ and the values of Memorial Day by acts of remembrance throughout the year.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has partnered with the Commission to bring recognition to the National Moment of Remembrance and encourages every American to attend Memorial Day events and to participate in the Moment. When we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we are honoring those who have served and those still serving.

Other participants in the Moment include, NASCAR, the National Constitution Center, Liberty Bell, Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority, schools, universities, hospitals, United Spinal Association, retirement communities, shopping malls, National Parks, National Grocers’ Association, airports, bus lines, and the International Space Station.

White House Commission on Remembrance

Foundation Honors Military Members With “Civilian Challenge Coins”

May 25, 2008

The Challenge Coin has a long-standing history in the United States Military, one that I shared with our readers in August of last year, after our readers helped us raise money for 3BSTB, 1st Cavalry Division’s deployment coins. It’s a rich and storied history that has been passed down in the military since the early Roman Empire. In the US Military, Challenge Coins have been a tradition since World War I.

One family, who operates the F.H. Jr and E.J. Moore Family Foundation has decided to start a tradition of their own, involving what they call, Civilian Coin Challenge Coins. Patricia Moore came up with the idea of the Civilian Coin Challenge coins after reading the book Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell.

History of the Civilian Coin Challenge
Marcus Luttrell’s book "Lone Survivor" forever changed me… it was sobering and humbling, and conveyed a level of sacrifice and sadness that nearly crushed my heart and yet made that same heart so full of pride in our country and our military….the Navy SEALS in particular.

Marcus has a story that talks about being an America, about those who fight for our freedom and safety, and about the existence of true warriors possessing almost inhuman strength of body, mind, and spirit.

After reading his book, I wanted to thank Marcus for being a human representation of the good in this country, for proving that true warriors do still exist and are willing to risk everything for their country, for his unwavering support of his Commander in Chief, and his continued belief in God even through his darkest hours. His book made me understand that a true warrior is someone who does not know how to quit. What he does, along with all other military personnel, allows me to be free, have rights as a woman, and to stay in my country to do the work that I am best at – working with teens and young adults, preparing the next generation to carry on. My father served in the Navy yet I have known since I was young that I was not a good fit for the military. I respect the military, support our troops whole heartedly and support our country doing everything in its power to show appreciation, respect, gratitude and ultimately top-notch care of those who serve.

A while back I began my own tradition of extending my hand to military personnel whenever I see them and thanking them for what they do. I know military personnel can receive very high awards and recognition from their military family however I wished that there was some way a civilian, like me, could express their gratitude with more than a hand shake and a thank you. I learned that the military has a tradition of presenting a coin to personnel as a badge of honor. As a result I designed a coin to be presented to military personnel, representing American civilian recognition of honor, respect, and gratitude to U.S. Military for what they do for every American civilian. I then created a process whereby civilians can purchase the coins and present them to military personnel when they see them and from which the profits will go to improve medical care for wounded military personnel. The result…..the Civilian Coin Challenge.

Patricia Moore

The coins are available to the public to purchase and give to their favorite active duty, veteran or retired veteran, to thank them for their service to our country. The foundation even suggests that you might want to buy a few, so that you have them on hand to “thank” a military member when you see them someplace in public. It’s a great idea and one that I’m sure our Troops will appreciate more than you know. It’s not often that a stranger approaches them in public, just to say “Thanks for what you do,” and it’ll mean a lot to them to receive such a coin.

Please take some time to visit The F.H. Jr. and E.J. Moore Family Foundation website, read why their foundation was formed and perhaps purchase a few Civilian Coin Challenge Coins. All profits that are made from the sale of the coins will be donated to improve medical care for wounded military personnel. Sounds like a great reason to purchase a coin or two.

Memorial Day 2008

May 24, 2008

For many people in the United States, Memorial Day signifies the official start of the summer. Many spend that weekend at the lake, hosting barbecues or partying with friends. Schools are either already out for the summer, or will be, soon after the Holiday. Over the years, the meaning of Memorial Day has become bastardized and many people don’t even know or recognize the history or meaning behind this special day.

Memorial Day for me, has always been one of family tradition. Each year, our family gathers in my dad’s hometown of Kiowa, Kansas, to pay our respects to family members who are no longer with us. A large portion of those we honor on Memorial Day served proudly in our country’s Armed Forces. My family has a long and honorable history of serving in our military, many of them serving during times when our country was at war. Many of those relatives are no longer with us. While some didn’t fall during the war, many of them carried scars of their service and some died as a result of the injuries they received during their time of service. They’ve always had my respect and utmost appreciation for the part they played in ensuring that I had the freedoms that I enjoy today.

My Memorial Day weekend this year, will be spent much like it has been for as long as I remember, honoring family members of many generations who have proudly served in our country’s Armed Forces in the different battles that American Soldiers have taken part in. From my great-grandfather who proudly served during the Civil War as part of the 122nd Regiment of the Illinois Infantry. My grandfather who served in the 353rd Infantry Regiment, 89th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, during World War I. Several great-uncles who proudly served during World War II and the Korean War. Uncles and cousins who saw combat in the jungles of Viet Nam. I’ll stop at each of their graves, take a moment to pay my respects and give my thanks for their service and sacrifice.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day and was set aside as a time to honor the nation’s Civil War dead. The day was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 in order to commemorate the sacrifices that were made by Civil War Soldiers. General John A Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Soldiers and Sailors declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
At the fist celebration of “Decoration Day”, then General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery. Following his speech, around 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of more than 20,000 Soldiers of both the Union and Confederacy, who are buried at the cemetery. This event in 1868 inspired communities in several states of the US to hold observances of their own. Several cities claim that their community is the birthplace of Memorial Day.

By the late 1800s, Memorial Day was being celebrated in many communities across the country. After World War I, observances began to honor not only those who fought in the Civil War, but those who had fought and died in all American Wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day as a National Holiday and that it would be celebrated each year on the last Monday in May.

Currently, our country is involved in two wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. This generation of American Soldier has bravely stepped up and willingly given so much in the name of Freedom. Currently over 4,000 American Soldiers have given their lives and countless others have been injured. It’s imperative that we as Americans remember the sacrifices our Soldiers long gone and our Soldiers of today, have and are making for our Country and the freedoms that we enjoy.

I ask that each of our readers, while you’re spending this Memorial Day weekend with your families and friends and hopefully paying respect and honoring Soldiers no longer with us, that you really stop and think about the sacrifices these men and women made for our country and for our freedom. While you’re at it, please take a moment to stop and remember the men and women who are still defending our right to freedom, as well as our wounded warriors, as they face the battle of a lifetime to overcome their injuries.

Fisher House and Best Buy Team Up Again For Troops & Their Families

May 23, 2008

Last year, we highlighted a partnership between Best Buy and Fisher House to benefit our Troops and their families. Once again, they’re joining forces to equip Fisher House’s national network of “homes away from home” for service members receiving medical care and their families. Their goal is to equip the homes with even more technology, to allow them to stay in touch with their families and friends, while they’re away from home during hospital stays.

From May 25th to June 14th, Best Buy is launching a campaign nationwide, in order to generate support from their employees, customers and partners. Best Buy customers are able to donate to Fisher House at any Best Buy location, from the Best Buy website. Partners of Best Buy, including Samsung, Toshiba, Gateway and LG are donating flat screen televisions, lap top computers and appliances to the campaign.

This year, Fisher House has been designated as the Indy 500 charity. Proceeds from branded t-shirts and dog tags that will be sold during race week will benefit the charity. Best Buy employees will be on hand to staff the sales areas throughout the race. Best Buy employees will also be at the Fisher House in Richmond, Virginia in June to install newly donated computers and appliances. The Fisher House logo will also be featured on the Best Buy NASCAR car for the Coca Cola 600 to be run on May 25th.

As many of you are aware, Fisher House is a not for profit organization that builds and donates to the government homes on the grounds of military medical centers to ensure that the families of service members receiving treatment at these facilities can have their families close by during their hospitalization and recovery. Fisher House began that program in 1990 and in 1994 a similar program at VA medical centers began. Currently there are 38 Fisher Houses across the United States with 5 more under construction. Over 110,000 families have been served to date.

If you’d like to take part in this worthwhile campaign, please visit the Best Buy website. If you’re going to be attending the Indy 500, consider purchasing some of the merchandise that will be on sale to benefit the Fisher House Foundation. Everything that you contribute will go to benefit the men and women of our Armed Forces who are patients at a military medical center. You CAN make a difference for our Wounded Warriors and their families!

Best Buy Online Fisher House Donation

Fisher House

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