Assisting Veterans in a Number of Ways

vets

By Debbie Gregory.

Part of what we do here at MilitaryConnection.com is connecting our audience with great companies and non-profit organizations that work to make life better for those who serve, veterans, and their loved ones. We are not at all surprised that the vast majority of the organizations we work with are founded and run by veterans or military/veteran family members.

For the Troops is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to providing members of the American military with “We Care” packages containing basic necessities, goodies, games and—most of all—a show of support. In 2005, founder Paula Cornell realized that her husband had forgotten to brush his teeth. When she pointed this out to him, he said, “It’s no big deal, I didn’t brush my teeth for a year in Vietnam.” He went on to tell her that he also went without other comforts, such as toilet paper. Paula felt a deep need to help American freedom fighters obtain everyday comforts that civilians take for granted, and For the Troops was born.

Sword & Plough is a socially conscious brand that works with American manufacturers who employ veterans. The company recycles military surplus, incorporates that fabric into stylish bag designs, and donates 10% of profits back to veteran organizations. Founded by Army 1st Lt. Emily Nunez Cavness and her sister, Sword & Plough has grown from a humble Kickstarter campaign to a successful small business.

Prior to being cast as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” villain Kylo Ren, Marine veteran Adam Driver was bridging the cultural gap between the Armed Forces and the performing arts communities through his nonprofit Arts in the Armed Forces.

Former Army Ranger Nick Watson started VetEx — Veteran Expeditions — because he knew more fellow former troops needed to experience the power of the mountains. “I realized when I was climbing, all I thought about was climbing. That focus is addicting. It’s a like a drug, a very good drug, and I was definitely hooked,” said Watson. Since launching in 2010, VetEx has transformed 1,500 veterans into mountaineers

Volunteers from the Colorado Aviation Business Association, led by Army veteran Mike Straka, team up each year with Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Precision Flight Team to deliver toys and food to veterans’ families in remote reaches of the state.

Navy vet Jack Maxfield is a counselor at the Silicon Valley Chapter of SCORE. They have been offering free workshops and seminars to National Guard and Reserve troops and veterans in the San Francisco Bay area for the past 3 years. Their consultant services are free, and more information can be found on their website at svscore.org.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Altavita and R.A.W.- A Winning Combo!

altasnip

By Debbie Gregory

It’s often said, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” At MilitaryConnection.com, we are proud to know the great folks at Altavita. Altavita is Southern California’s premier not-for-profit continuing care retirement community.

When Altavita Marketing was organizing a 5K charity run/walk, they asked Military Connection’s CEO Debbie Gregory to recommend a deserving non-profit that could benefit from the race proceeds. It just so happens that we are also lucky enough to know the great folks at Rebuilding America’s Warriors (R.A.W.)

As it turns out, this was a perfect match.

The 5K took place on Saturday, November 14th at the Altavita Continuing Care Retirement Community in Riverside, CA. It was a huge success, with more than 100 participants taking part, and a great day for all. Age was no factor, as the oldest participant, 84 years young, and the youngest participant, four years old, could both attest to!

alta5

Former Major League Baseball player and broadcaster Ron Fairly was the announcer for the day’s activities, which also featured prizes and raffles. At the end of the event, when everyone had finished the race, they sat down to a delicious pancake and sausage feast. Awards were handed out, with runner 449, grandson of an Altavita resident couple, winning the race.

Altavita is meeting the needs of a new generation of mature adults. With a broader commitment, a spirit of inclusion, and a culture of greater diversity, they seek to enrich the lives of the people they serve and strengthen the community. While guided by its mission, vision and values to serve mature adults,  Altavita demonstrates their commitment to those who serve through act of wonderful corporate citizenship.

This was on point when Altavita presented R.A.W.’s founder, Maggie Lockridge, with a check for $5,158. The donation will assist the non-profit organization’s mission to provide reconstructive surgeries on a national basis to our wounded and disfigured warriors, the brave men and women who carry scars as a result of shrapnel, burn and artillery wounds.

alta2

Everyone is looking forward to Altavita 5K Run for R.A.W. 2016!

Non-profit Fails to Deliver on Promise: Military Connection

wounded wheels

By Debbie Gregory.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner has called for an IRS investigation into nonprofit Wounded Wheels, which purports to obtain cars for veterans, but hasn’t delivered one single car in three years of operation.

Sen. Warner called for the investigation after a story in the Virginian Pilot revealed the Norfolk-based charity had raised $90,000 from the public over four years but had yet to give away any cars to veterans.

Reality show “FantomWorks,” is about a Virginia auto restoration shop. In the first season, owner Dan Short announced that he had started a nonprofit, Wounded Wheels, dedicated to adapting classic muscle cars for paraplegic war veterans.

The only problem is that the charity has yet to deliver any cars to any veterans since its inception in 2012. Former shop employees have said that the first muscle car that was modified, a 1970 Chevy Chevelle, is unsafe and may be unfit for donation.

“They talk a lot about helping veterans, but to date it doesn’t appear they’ve done anything to help a veteran,” said Daniel Borochoff, president of the watchdog group CharityWatch.

It appears that the only veteran who has seen any benefit is owner Short, a former Green Beret. But Short claims that any monies his for-profit company has received from Wounded Wheels has been for reimbursement for parts and car purchases.

Furthermore, the intention of the non-profit seems to be a bit muddled. Short has said that Wounded Wheels is a research and development company, and that “we never said we were going to be giving all these cars away. That was not in our charter.”

He stated that the charity’s intent was to build prototypes that might someday inspire a major car manufacturer to build wheelchair-accessible muscle cars.

This contradicts the charity’s 2011 articles of incorporation, stating “the corporation shall exclusively operate as a charitable entity to modify vehicles for wheelchair access by service disabled persons.” There is no mention of plans to conduct research or concept development.

It also appears that Short failed to do his homework. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires auto repair shops that modify vehicles for people with disabilities to register with the agency. Neither FantomWorks nor Wounded Wheels is registered with the agency, and Short said he was not aware of the federal requirement.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Non-profit Fails to Deliver on Promise: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Nick Lachey’s “Military Connection”

nick

By Debbie Gregory.

Nick Lachey and the USO have joined forces with the Almay Simply American Experience, and they’re taking it on the road. The Experience bus will be packed with Almay makeup goodies while they travel cross-country to the people, places and occasions that best exemplify the American spirit. There’s even a kissing booth and makeovers! While this is a lot of fun and games, the Experience is meant to raise both awareness and funds for the USO, especially for the women of the U.S. military.

After the kickoff event in New York, the bus traveled to Charlotte, NC for Memorial Day weekend. The rest of the schedule includes stops in Nashville, TN June 11th -14th, Baltimore, MD on the 4th of July, Chicago, IL on July 11th, Kansas City, KS on July 17th-18th, Columbus, OH on August 1st – 2nd, St Paul, MN on August 29th-30th, Dallas, TX on September 26th-27th, Fort Hood, TX on September 29th, and Austin, TX on October 3rd.

In a recent interview, Lachey said, “ … always make sure to thank our service men and service women. Too many of us take for granted what they do and the sacrifices they’re making, so I always make an attempt. Any time I see someone in an airport or on the street, I’ll thank them for their service.”

Lachey is no stranger to entertaining the troops, having a number of USO show under his belt. He even entertained on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean. Lachey’s wife, Vanessa Minnillo, was born at USAF Clark Regional Medical Center. Her father served in the Air Force, so patriotism comes easily to her as well.

In addition to his great work with the USO, Lachey also advocates for children and humanitarian causes through his work with organizations such as VH-1 Save The Music, Feeding America and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  He is also founded the Nick Lachey Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping children, families and communities in need throughout the United States.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Military Connection: Nick Lachey’s “Military Connection”: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Bringing Down bin Laden

oneillBy Debbie Gregory.

In the military, there is usually a code of conduct to keep missions secret, even when completed. As civilians, we never truly know what happens on most of these missions. But one mission that has always sparked curiosity was the one that brought us the news that Osama bin Laden was dead. Now, the former Navy SEAL who claims to have delivered the fatal blow is speaking out.

Robert O’Neill says he and his team members thought they were going on a suicide mission.

Referring to the actual compound itself, O’Neill said, “… it looked exactly like I thought it would. It was kind of surreal. It was a realization that we are never going to come home, so you might as well take in a few things and remember them and enjoy them.”

But the team would become secretly famous after that night. O’Neill said bin Laden was waiting for him after his team climbed stairs from the second floor. O’Neill recalls being behind another SEAL team member, who fired an initial shot upstairs, encountering two women as they reached the top. The first SEAL shoved them aside, presuming they were about to detonate explosives.

Standing before O’Neill was bin Laden, something he says is a moment that really stuck out.

“Seeing him standing up — being one of the few people to ever see Osama bin Laden alive. It was under night vision, so I could still see the clothes he was wearing, the cap he had on his head and his short gray beard.”

O’Neill says bin Laden said nothing before a bullet tore into his forehead. Two more shots were fired at bin Laden, a precaution to ensure the terrorist was dead.

After hearing bin Laden expel his last breath, the team put him in a body bag, dragged him downstairs and across the grounds to their helicopter. When asked who delivered the fatal shot, O’Neill said it was himself, prompting a teammate to give thanks.

U.S. special operations leaders have been critical of O’Neill for making public comments about the raid, calling them an unseemly quest for attention that is damaging to the Special Forces program.

O’Neill said he expected his decision to speak publicly about the raid, despite a code of silence among Navy SEAL special operations forces, would upset some and bring personal risk to himself. But he said he did not believe he was revealing secrets.

“Yes there’s personal risk but I’ve accepted personal risk before. It’s bigger than me. It’s not about me,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill co-founded a veterans charity, and interest in it has skyrocketed since his name became known. The nonprofit, Your Grateful Nation, is devoted to helping Special Operations troops transition out of the military. O’Neill said that veterans are more nervous about trying to find a job after they separate than they are about going into combat. Charities like Your Grateful Nation help bridge the gap for veterans who need help figuring out their next steps and how to land jobs.

The former Seal will be appearing at a charity poker tournament and private luncheon aimed at helping U.S. Special Forces Veterans in Buford, Georgia on May 2nd.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Bringing Down bin Laden: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Assisting Those Who Serve

americaicare

By Debbie Gregory.

Purple Heart recipient Joshua Peter’s four-year military career ended the day he was hit by a bomb in Iraq. He and his unit were there to help rebuild a village and its people, oppressed under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Joshua was classified as 100% disabled due to the injuries he sustained in Iraq. After returning home, Joshua married, and he and his wife are the proud parents of a young daughter. Transitioning home from military service proved to be difficult, as Joshua faced multiple surgeries, PTSD and unemployment.  In the fall of 2014, Joshua called America ICARE, distraught because the family car broke down, leaving his wife unable to take him to job interviews. He and his family also needed financial assistance to get their car registration renewed. Joshua was also concerned about being unable to financially provide for his family.

America ICARE held a special fundraiser for Joshua to keep his car running so he could get to future interviews. Joshua contacted  America ICARE shortly after receiving assistance and said:

“I finally got a job! I am now a Project Coordinator for a consulting company. Thank you so much for all your support and financial help in our time of struggling. America ICARE was so instrumental in helping me and my family get by, and there are no words to express my gratitude. Your encouragement was also so helpful on those days when I wasn’t sure we would make it. I’m so excited to finally turn a new leaf and get this new chapter in my life started. Thanks so much.”

Joshua reports that his job is excellent, and he is really excelling in his new role. He says things have really turned around for him and his family, and contributes that to his faith in God, and support from family and friends.  And even with a busy new job, he still finds the time to give back to those less fortunate. He and his family are excited to be leaving next week to go on a church mission trip to Rio De Janeiro. And as he said, “We just want to love on people.”

If you would like to help America ICARE continue in their efforts to assist active duty military, Veterans and their families, visit them online. MilitaryConnection.com CEO Debbie Gregory proudly serves on the board of this great 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Assisting Those Who Serve: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Cym Lowell: A Veteran Helping Veterans

Cym Lowell

By Joe Silva.

When Cym Lowell came home from Vietnam, his country did not welcome him like it had done for Veterans of previous wars. There was no parade, no band playing patriotic music no cheering crowds, no praise for these Veterans’ service. Instead, Cym Lowell and most Vietnam Veterans were met by anti-war protestors, who called them names and vilified their war-time service.

Most of the advocacy and resources being offered to Vietnam Veterans was drowned out by the protestors’ voices. But Cym Lowell was determined to provide a different homecoming for the Veterans who came after him. It is for this reason that he founded Operation: Next Chapter.

Operation: Next Chapter works with non-profit Soldiers’ Angels and its initiative Valor: IT, a program that helps to provide voice-controlled laptops to Veterans who were wounded a result of their military service.

Lowell admits that he did not take academics seriously when he was younger. But when he transitioned out of the U.S. Navy, Lowell used his GI Bill to earn a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. He eventually went to law school, and, in 1972, graduated from Duke University’s School of Law. He became a successful tax lawyer and made partner at his firm. In recent years, Cym  began writing thrillers, publishing “Riddle of Berlin” in 2008 and “Jaspar’s War” in 2014.

Through it all, Lowell has been an advocate for Veterans, pledging 100% of the proceeds from “Jaspar’s War” to benefit Operation: Next Chapter.

“When I came home from Vietnam, I was spit upon,” Lowell said. “I wanted to make sure that later generations of Veterans received a much different welcome home.”

The laptops provided through the program cost approximately $800 each, but to the Veterans who receive the voice-controlled laptops, they are priceless. Veterans who are recovering from amputations, burns, eye injuries, paralysis, and traumatic brain injuries use these laptops to communicate with their families and complete other functional tasks while they are in treatment and beyond. With Lowell’s help, some 70 Veterans have received laptops through the Soldiers’ Angels initiative.

“It is such an honor to be able to help Veterans in a way that is useful and meaningful in their lives,” Lowell said.

Now Cym Lowell and Operation: Next Chapter are teaming up with Patriot PAWS, an organization that trains and provides service dogs for disabled Veterans. While the the service dogs are provided at no charge to the Veteran, the care, handling and training of the dog costs patriot PAWS approximately $27,000 per dog. Through this venture, Lowell hopes to continue to provide a better welcome home for disabled Veterans .

You can help Cym Lowell achieve this by purchasing “Jaspar’s War” at Amazon.com, or by donating directly on the Soldiers’ Angels Website and writing “Operation: Next Chapter” in the comments section.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Cym Lowell: Veteran Helping Veterans: By Joe Silva

 

Military Connection: Trees for Troops: By Debbie Gregory

Trees for Troops

Each year, hundreds of thousands of American service members spend their holiday season away from home and families, in locations around the country and around the world. While they are proud to do their duty and make sacrifices for their country, it’s a hard time of year to be away from their families. Morale can dip around the holidays, and many service members have a hard time finding their holiday cheer. But one national charity is raising spirits for American service members and military families.

Trees for Troops is a charity that spreads joy and raises spirits for all branches of the U.S. military. Since 2005, the non-profit has provided more than 139,000 American-grown Christmas Trees, free of charge, to the military community.

The program is designed to bring holiday cheer to deployed military and military families. For deployed troops, the tree symbolizes a touch of home around the holidays, and for military families, it spreads joy by expanding their holiday budgets.

Trees for Troops became a national program in 2005 when the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, a charitable arm of the National Christmas Tree Association, unified the programs of tree growers and state Christmas Tree Associations. The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation partnered with FedEx Corporation to ship the Christmas trees from the tree growers, delivering them to military bases.

Last year, 450 tree farms delivered over 17,000 Christmas trees to 62 military bases. Trees for Troops estimates that FedEx traveled 78,839 miles to deliver last year’s trees for the charity.

It is only through the generosity of the American people and their donations to Trees for Troops that the program is able to continue the delivery of Christmas trees, a valuable gift to service members and military families. To donate, visit http://www.treesfortroops.org/dnn/Donate.aspx

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Trees for Troops: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: LA Stand Down 2014: By Debbie Gregory

download (1)

The United States Veterans Initiative (U.S.VETS) is announcing their Los Angeles Veteran & Families Stand Down 2014. The event will be held on December 20-22, 2014 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown L.A.

Stand downs are intended to provide services to homeless Veterans, and are the result of the collaborative efforts of government agencies, non-profit organizations, corporate sponsorship and public participation. They are typically one to three day events.

The Los Angeles Veteran & Families Stand Down 2014 will provide participants with food, clothing, hygiene supplies, showers, haircuts, and entertainment. Additionally, participants will receive assistance with obtaining benefits and resources such as housing, employment, VA benefits, VA enrollment, VA medical and mental health aid. Also available will be legal assistance, dental care, support groups, Social Security, vision screening and free glasses, as well as assistance in obtaining military records.

The upcoming event in Los Angeles promises to be the largest Stand Down ever held in the country.

Los Angeles has been chosen by U.S.VETS because the population of homeless Veterans in the L.A. area is estimated to be over 6,300, among the highest in the country. And Veterans make up twenty percent of the L.A. area homeless population.

Doors at the L.A. Convention Center will open at 6:00 AM on Saturday, December 20th. There will also be overnight sleeping accommodations onsite for the nights of December 20thand 21st.

MilitaryConnection.com is proud to help U.S.VETS spread the word about the Los Angeles Veteran & Families Stand Down. It is our hope that every homeless Veteran in the L.A. area receives the help they need and the benefits they deserve to get their lives back on track..

Veterans can register for the event HERE.

Volunteers are also needed for all three days of the Stand Down, performing a variety of functions and duties. Please Register to Volunteer here.

For more information about the event, including sponsorship and volunteer info, please email [email protected]

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: LA Stand Down 2014: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Retroactive Scholarships for Vets: By Joe Silva

LNVBAmerican’s take great pride in the Department of Veterans Affairs statistic claiming that over one million Veterans have gone to college or vocational training through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. While this data is accurate, it leads to the misconception that every Veteran is entitled to a free college education through the GI Bill. But, sadly, this is not so.

It’s true that the Post-9/11 GI Bill is the most complete and most generous Veteran education benefit to date. The most current GI Bill will cover the complete cost of tuition at a state college or university, or up to $20,235 in tuition per year at private schools. The benefit also pays recipients a housing allowance that is equal to BAH for E-5 with dependents for the zip code of the school, as well as a $1,000 per year stipend for books and supplies. The benefit is available for a total of 36 months to Veterans who have served since September 11, 2001.

But not every Veteran is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Also, the benefit does not pay for student loans already accrued. So, while 1 million Veterans and counting are reaping the rewards from a tremendously generous VA benefit, there are many, many more struggling with tuition payments and student loans.

The VA estimates that there are approximately 22 million Veterans in the U.S. There are also more than 1.3 million service members on active duty, and more than 850,000 members of the Reserves.  Despite the fact that over 1 million Veterans have received free tuition, there are still over 20 million Veterans who may be in need of tuition assistance. Additionally, there are over 2 million service members between current active duty personnel and Reservists who may have student loans that won’t get paid by the GI Bill.

Veterans who are facing financial hardships due to uncovered tuition payments and student loans should research Leave No Veteran Behind (LNVB), a Chicago based nonprofit organization that offers Retroactive Scholarships to Veterans.

The LNVB Retroactive Scholarship is a highly sought after scholarship open to eligible Veterans who meet the criteria, which includes: the completion of a degree or vocational program, existing loans from a lending institution for education costs, and a letter explaining the financial or personal/family hardship that their education debt has created. LNVB scholarship recipients must also be willing to agree to complete 100-400 hours of community service.

Veterans interested applying for the LNVB Retroactive Scholarship should click here to apply.

Patriotic Americans and Veterans interested in contributing to the education of Veterans are invited to DONATE what they can.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Retroactive Scholarships for Vets: By Joe Silva