America Salutes You Guitar Legends II: Happening Tomorrow!

America Salutes You Guitar Legends II: Happening Tomorrow!
Just hours away, excitement is building for a star-studded America Salutes You presents Guitar Legends II. Stephen Stills and Vernon Reid were the most recent additions and they joined an already stellar lineup anchored by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Other performers include Joe Bonamassa, Don Felder, Sammy Hagar, Robby Krieger, Dave Navarro, Orianthi and Emily Estefan.
Over the past few weeks, the list of performers has grown and become increasingly more enticing.
America Salutes You presents Guitar Legends II is being executive produced by Bob Okun, produced by music director Martin Guigui, Debbie Gregory and Mark Linn, co-produced by David C. Traub and Tisha Fein, Associate Produced by NuNu Deng and Strategic Partnerships by Raji Kalra, Patrick Osuna, Casey Thomas (CMT Solutions) and Allen Vandever.
The concert, in its second year, is a benefit for brain and mental wellness charities. Held in downtown Los Angeles at the Novo Theater, the event sponsors include AT&T, Gibson Brands, K Love Radio Network, United Airlines, Walgreens, Tribune Media and AXS-TV. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Headstrong, G.I.F.T., Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health and the Entertainment Industries Council are all on the list of charities that will benefit from the concert proceeds.
For those not local to Los Angeles, Tribune Media-owned or operated stations will be broadcasting the concert. It will also be streamed internationally.
During the concert, which will begin at 6pm PDT, both Norman Lear and Joe Mantegna will be recognized and honored for their many contributions to media and culture in America. Norman Lear served in the Army during World War II and went on to produce many of the iconic American TV shows of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Joe Mantegna is a familiar face on both the big screen and in our living rooms, having appeared in classics such as Godfather III and Three Amigos as well as American favorites like The Simpsons and Criminal Minds.
Also part of the Guitar Legends II event is the roundtable panel on mental and brain wellness earlier on Sunday afternoon. This part of the day is open to the general public and will be held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel at LA Live. Panelists will discuss advances in treatments, challenges, solutions and the wide range of invisible problems that plague Veterans and first responders – from PTSD to Alzheimer’s.
Tickets for the event are $75 for general admission. They will be available through the America Salutes You website https://americasalutesyou.org, the AEG Novo box office and the attached AEG link http://axs.com/events/364623/guitar-legends-2-tickets?skin=thenovo 
Donations can be made and additional information can be found on the American Salutes You website.
Facebook:  @AmericaSalutesYou
Twitter:  @AmericaSalutesU
Instagram:  @AmericaSalutesYou
 

Swinging for Heroes: Golf Gives Veterans HOPE

Swinging For Heroes: Golf Gives Veterans HOPE

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

 

I am the product of a recreational golfer. While my father’s love of the game never truly encouraged me to enthusiastically strut onto the greens, I do own a full set of clubs and found myself marketing for a golf packager after grad school. As a result, I know my way around the industry a bit.

 

A few weeks ago, I received an email in response to one of our “send us your military stories” requests. One of our MilitaryConnection.com readers had taken the time to tell me about a friend of his who had played with a wounded war veteran in Florida. Below is an excerpt of his email to me:

 

“On Monday, a friend played the Disney Lake Buena Vista course. As usual the starters matched him with three other players. After a few holes they began to get to know each other a bit. This is the rest of what he reports…

 

We had a nice round and as we became a bit more familiar I asked him about the brand new set of Ping woods and irons he was playing. Some looked like they had never been hit. His response was simple. He said that this round was the first full round he had played with these clubs. Later in the round he told me the following.

As part of the discharge process from the rehabilitation hospital, Ping comes in and provides three days of golf instruction, followed by club fitting. Upon discharge from the hospital, Ping gives each of the discharged veterans, generally about 40 soldiers a year, a brand new set of custom fitted clubs along with the impressive golf bags.”

 

Naturally, given my general interest in past history with golf, I was gripped by the tale of my previous profession colliding with my current position. I was thrilled to confirm the contents of that email. Sure enough – Ping had given wounded war veterans their own set of golf clubs along with lessons. Unfortunately, most of the details were from 2011. The most current notation was from 2015, still over three years ago, nothing more current. The lack of current information led me to explore further. Why golf? Why wounded veterans? What is the benefit? The first stop was Ping, which has this posted on their website:

 

In addition to our rebate program, we continue to reach out to our troops in several other ways, including providing clubs to military personnel in various war zones around the world. We’re always honored by the numerous letters of appreciation we receive thanking us for helping take their minds off their situations. If you’re an Active, Active Reserve or Retiree of the United States Armed Forces, we hope you’ll participate in the PING Military Mail-In Rebate Program.”

 

In that little quote was a key answer to my questions – taking their minds off of their situations. My father spent his Saturdays on the links to keep his mind off of the rigors and pressures of investment banking on Wall Street. While his career was completely different, the need was the same: an outlet for stress relief.

 

The assorted fact checking websites all referenced a partnership between Ping and The Wounded Warrior Project. Wounded Warrior Project focuses on the overall wellness of Veterans, regardless of their injuries. A big piece of that wellness is mental and mental health is the cornerstone to healing.  

 

The Wounded Warrior Project led me to PGA HOPE. PGA HOPE, a joint effort of the PGA and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The program provides a clinic, introductory in nature and a day in duration, at local VA hospitals, service organizations and warrior transition units. After the clinic, interested veterans are paired up with local professionals and begin a 6-8 week program, complete with equipment – adaptive if needed.

 

At the end of their program, Veterans are given a graduation ceremony – complete with a handful of golf-related benefits to help them along with their newfound hobby. The PGA HOPE program is provided at absolutely no cost for all participants. It is completely funded by PGA Professionals and local courses often donate their time and resources to help make this program successful.

 

Not all of our warrior’s wounds are visible. While there is often a story to be told behind a prosthetic or missing limb, the invisible scars are often more difficult to diagnose, treat and talk about.

 

The Best of the Army’s Best

The Best of the Army’s Best

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

Many companies, organizations, and associations have contests to determine who in their midst ranks among the top, and the United States Army is no different. The 2018 Best Warrior Competition, the premier event to determine the Department of the Army’s Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, took place in early October at Ft. A.P. Hill, Virginia and the Pentagon.

While the formal, final event is a six-day challenge, the 22 finalists (11 in each category) have already made it through a series of hurdles throughout the year to qualify for the DA-level competition. According to army.mil (https://www.army.mil/bestwarrior/), these elite warriors tested their “knowledge, skills and abilities by conquering urban warfare simulations, demonstrating critical thinking, formal board interviews, physical fitness challenges, written exams, and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment.”

The annual ‘Best Warrior’ contest tests Soldiers on “warrior tasks” presented in the Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks received in basic training. A consistent theme throughout was tackling the unknown, a skill that helps our military react and manage crisis situations…whether stateside or downrange.

At the start of the competition, the finalists began a ruck march carrying their M-4 carbine, four magazines and a total of 50 pounds of equipment, for an unknown distance in the early morning darkness and the rural wilderness of Virginia. Throughout the competition, planners from the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group told contestants that the roads were unsafe, which meant they’d have to constantly ruck in full gear. One of the Soldiers remarked that the heavy ruck marches really tested their cognitive and physical abilities, especially that opening morning march…which turned out to be 16 miles long.

Planners gave the Soldiers specific problem scenarios to solve by communicating with the civilian population in a simulated foreign country. Role players spoke a foreign language or broken English, and competitors had to devise their own solutions for communication. In another scenario, competitors were told to board a waiting helicopter, only to be informed moments before arrival that they needed to render first aid to injured bystanders. And other times, Soldiers needed to use their land navigation skills to find their way to a designated location.

First Sergeant Mike Kriewaldt, this year’s competition planner, said, “It’s not always about being the strongest, fastest person.” Kriewaldt, a 19-year veteran, drew on experience from eight combat deployments to create the contest’s challenges. “It’s more than just physical fitness. Being able to accomplish all the tasks in the right amount of time is key. You have to be able to get to where you’re going and have enough energy and mental capacity.”

U.S. Army Special Operations Command came out on top at this year’s Best Warrior Competition, with Corporal Matthew Hagensick, of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, named Soldier of the Year and Sergeant First Class Sean Acosta, an instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, picking up Noncommissioned Officer of the Year honors.

The Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General James McConville, lauded the efforts of the contestants at the awards ceremony, held at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in Washington, D.C. “The winners and all the competitors in this competition understand that winning matters,” McConville said. “You didn’t come here to participate. You didn’t come here to try hard. You came here to win. And that’s the American spirit — the spirit that we have in the Army. And that’s what American Soldiers do. There’s no second place or honorable mention in combat.”

 

A Veterans Day Salute (2018)

A Veterans Day Salute (2018)

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing (Lieutenant Colonel, USA Retired)

Greetings, friends. As we commemorate this Veterans Day, it is an honor to be able to visit with you on the Military Connection platform. It is an honor to have worn the uniform of the US Army, as well. I was a Soldier by choice, but an American by the grace of God.

We gather in many places to salute our nation’s Veterans. On the anniversary of Armistice Day, we pause to remember the brave men and women who served, and sometimes died for, our country. We remember the other men & women we’ve served alongside, lifelong friends who have the common bond of enduring hardships, pain, and even loss, as we contributed to something we considered priceless – the defense of our country. I feel privileged and proud to be part of a group that has done so much for so many.

We remember our battalions, our companies, our ships…our bombers, our tanks, and our cannons. We remember our patrols, our deployments…our battles & our homecomings. We remember our friends, our crews, our units – our first haircut, the mess halls, guard duty – we remember voices – shouting, laughing…and the tears. We, the ones that have served this nation, have these images and sounds and feelings burned into our minds, hearts, and souls…

We remember the brave men and women who have served in places such as Antietam, Gettysburg, and San Juan Hill; in the trenches of France, the beaches of Normandy, the deserts of Africa; the jungles of the Philippines, Guam, Okinawa, or Vietnam; the hills of Korea, the sands of Kuwait, the villages of Iraq, and the mountains of Afghanistan. Wherever and whenever our men & women are called to serve, they go.

For those Veterans who have stood guard in peacetime… to those who have seen the terror, the horror and inhumanity of combat — and to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice – our Veterans have always been there, defending the Constitution of the United States of America. The Veterans of our nation have been safeguarding our liberties since before the American Revolution.

On Veterans Day, we remember those who sacrificed at home and overseas. Where it was once specifically a celebration of the silencing of the guns of World War One, Veterans Day now marks a day when nations around the world pause and observe – with solemn, silent pride – the heroism of those who have served, those who are currently serving, and those who died in our country’s service, in that war and in all others. It is not a celebration of victory, but rather, a celebration of those who made victory possible.  It’s a day we keep in our minds the brave men and women of this young nation — generations of them — who above all else believed in, and fought for, a set of ideals.   

Just as our Veterans chose to serve, I challenge & encourage all of you to volunteer your services to any number of endeavors…your school’s PTO, a local food pantry, or your church…the Little League or the high school feeder team’s Football Club. Service to country is very much like service to community.

Our communities are the fabric of our nation, and every one is a little different. From those communities, our Veterans bring those differences to the defense of our nation. Poor or wealthy, urban or rural…they bond together as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. As our Nation’s sword and shield, our Veterans represent the strength and diversity of our nation.

This includes members of the Reserve Component – our Reservists & National Guardsmen. When serving in a traditional role, not federalized or deployed, these men and women are full-time members of the community. They work in your towns, their families attend your schools, and they commit themselves to the protection of your land and defense of your freedoms against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Today’s National Guardsmen and Reservists, from all branches of service, are able to transition from the workforce to the fighting force with speed, grace and resiliency.  In this time of what seems like persistent conflict, they have endured tour after tour in distant and difficult places. I deployed twice while my sons were in elementary school. I remember the heartbreak of leaving my wife and children, but I also vividly remember the joy of coming home after a long deployment.

Those of us that have worn the uniform typically have a variety of reasons for having done so. For many, it’s a sense of Duty-Honor-Country, a belief in freedom, and a faith in America’s future. I think that one of the reasons why I served is that, on occasion, I had the opportunity to be in the presence of greatness…visiting with a Tuskegee Airman at a Missouri Veterans Home, or watching history come alive at the airport at 0400 as WWII Veterans gathered for a trip to see our nation’s memorials in Washington, DC, a part of the Honor Flight network.

So, whether it’s chatting with Veterans from WWII or trading war stories with those fresh from today’s battlefields, sometimes I get to shake the hands of some real heroes. That’s just one of reasons why I served, and why I’m proud…I am proud to be an American; I am proud to be a Veteran.

On Veterans Day, be sure to pause and remember the many Americans who have served. The Veterans of today are writing the history books that you, your children and your children’s children will one day study.  

Thank you for taking the time to commemorate this special day in your own way. God bless our Troops, God bless our Veterans…and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

 

Veterans Day: Reasons to Observe

Veterans Day: Reasons to Observe

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

Veterans Day was originally coined as Armistice Day on November 11, 1919. It was a commemoration of the first anniversary of the end of World War 1. It didn’t take long for Congress to recognize the need to make this occasion and annual observance, and legislation was passed in 1926 to formalize that notion. Since then, we have used November 11th to celebrate our Veterans and remember their sacrifices.

My grandfather had served in WWII, but passed away before I had the chance to ask him to share his stories. I also spent most of my childhood in a time of peace. While the Catholic nuns had us practice air raid drills “just to be safe,” the closest I knew to conflict was Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1991. Even then, aside from yellow ribbons tied to my backpack straps, I really did not understand much about Veterans, soldiers and the sacrifices.

Fast forward to college, and my internship boss was getting married on November 11th. When she gave me the date, she said “yeah – Veterans Day.” Veterans Day? I didn’t question it, but instead looked up the date on my calendar. Sure enough – Veterans Day was a real, observed day on the calendar and I was completely ignorant to it! My only exposure to military anything was knowing a handful of ROTC boys on campus…and the one friend who was active duty and stationed in Italy. I didn’t know any Veterans or know of their stories. Over the next few years, I would begin to learn.

Earlier that year, JB joined the Marines. I met JB through my then boyfriend (who would eventually become my husband), Rich. JB was Rich’s very closest childhood friend. JB slept on the floor of Rich’s hospital room when Rich was in a meningitis-induced coma. JB was his brother from another mother and the bond seemed unbreakable. I met JB right before he left for bootcamp. It was important to Rich that I meet this key person in his life before he packed it up and headed out on his new journey. We met – and it was adoration at first sight.

JB embodied my mind’s vision of what a soldier should be. Strong, muscular – broad shoulders while maintaining kindness and compassion and a simplicity that made his personality so very appealing. With JB – what you saw was what you got. He was real. And he was joining the Marines.

We traveling north for his going away party, and Rich was uncharacteristically somber for most of our trip. No doubt that he had worries. His best friend, who had never ventured out of their home zip code, was embarking on an adventure that would no doubt change his very existence. There might have been some tears in his eyes when he gave JB one last hug before our departure from New Jersey – and our car ride was certainly filled with stories of when Rich and JB were boys.

I wrote to JB every day while he was at Paris Island. I mailed my letters once each week, and they were usually at least 15 pages long. I didn’t know him well – we had only met twice – but I felt the need to *do* something. I was too young to understand it at the time, but this was my introduction to loving someone in the military. The helplessness – the lack of communication. The constant praying. Upon his completion of boot camp, JB told me that it was my weekly diary that I mailed to him that helped push him through.

A few years later when Fox Company 2/1 was on the front line in the first wave of troops on the ground in Iraq, I resorted to my letter writing again. It was the only thing that seemed to help ease my anxiety surrounding the unknown about his deployment.

Fox Company 2/1 went 46 days without access to running water as they marched across the desert theater. We sent them candy and gum for them to distribute to the children they met. We sent them baby wipes and powder and travel deodorant. We wrote more letters. We collected newspapers. We sat at home and watched CNN and MSNBC incessantly. There was a photojournalist imbedded with their unit. We searched the newspaper for images. I will never forget Rich’s reaction to seeing JB’s hand in the newspaper. “It’s his hand! It’s his hand! I know that hand anywhere!” That soldier – covered head to toe with just his hand as the exception, was our proof that JB was still safe.

From the time he left for boot camp, we proudly displayed both the Stars & Stripes and the rich scarlet & gold of the Marine Corps flag. We wore our yellow ribbons and tied them to our trees. I prayed like I have never prayed before. We were fearful of the news yet still addicted to it. We worried. We sat side-by-side on the couch and stared at the TV.

We celebrated when we got the word he was coming home. Rich and I boarded a plane in July 2003 and headed to San Diego to see our soldier.

We stood on base at Camp Pendleton and waited. And waited. And waited. Rich and I were there with JB’s parents, sister and brother-in-law…and the tension of the waiting was getting to us all. I spent some time with a young woman and her baby girl. She wasn’t that much older than I and her daughter had been born while her husband served in Iraq. I was blessed and fortunate as I was with mom and baby when the helicopter carrying dad landed. I was there – just feet away – when the little family was reunited and that brave Marine met his baby girl for the first time.

Helicopters would land on the hill and soldiers would march down. The Raiders were not among them and as the day wore on, our heads and feet ached and our hearts just longed for “our” Marine. Finally, his bus arrived. We waited for him to check in his weapons and head down from the barracks. We cried. We breathed again – for the first time in so long. We held him, never wanting to let go. There were several times when I just took a step back to enjoy the beautiful emotion of the moment. 

Not long after, Rich and I were married. JB was one of our best men – he stood by our side with Rich’s brothers. He toasted us. He danced with me. He wore his dress blues – at our request – as we wanted everyone in attendance to be aware and in awe of his sacrifice.

His journey in the USMC wasn’t mine – but it taught me so very much. In those years, I learned a new level of respect for soldiers and Veterans. I better understood the multitude of sacrifices. Active duty isn’t like watching your kid go off to college – it’s more like saying goodbye in the hopes that you will both live to see tomorrow. It is being so proud to be an American that you are willing to lay your life on the line. It is seeing things and living experiences that change you. Permanently.

It has been 15 years since JB came home from Iraq. He and his time overseas are constantly on my mind. He has taught me so much. JB is now married with children, his active duty days may be long behind him, but he is and will always be a Marine who is true to the Corps.

I made the conscious decision to make sure my children grew up with a healthy respect for military – active duty and Veterans. This country has, in so many ways, become divided. I need them to know that Veterans should be honored because they have done what so many of us cannot do: they have stood in between us and the enemy and said “no – you can’t have them. You need to get through me first.”

We have done little things throughout their lives to make sure the lesson is heard and understood. They stand when they hear the National Anthem, even if it is playing on our TV in our living room. We have sent care packages to soldiers and letter to recovering men and women at Walter Reed. We have talked about and prayed for those who haven’t come home. Most importantly – they know to thank any soldier they can visually identify. LIving in Baltimore, we see men and women in fatigues often. They know to hold that door and say thank you, from the bottom of their hearts, because those fatigues represent so much.  

As a family, we are always looking for ways that we can serve the men and women who serve our country. As I was telling my children about my most recent discovery of Soldiers’ Angels and the Deployed Adoptions Team, they gave me a little lesson on Veterans Day and what they are doing to help support our troops. Their school has adopted a ship in the US Navy and is sending them thank you cards. 1500 thank you cards. My heart swelled as they told me about the notes they wrote and the drawings they were sending. They asked if they could send letters all year, and I told them I would find a way to make that happen.

I will never forget the feelings in my heart as I stood on Camp Pendleton all those years ago. I will never forget the fear and anxiety during JB’s deployment. I can’t imagine how those feelings would be magnified if it had been my spouse or my child that trudged through the desert sands, unable to contact his or her loved ones.

I spent the first 20 years of my life ignorant to the sacrifices made by strangers but in honor of my very existence. It matters not to these dedicated individuals whether I am a liberal hippie democrat or a conservative republican. The color of my skin or my religious beliefs are unimportant. The protect us all equally and without question. And for this, we should be grateful.

My Veterans Day sentiments and memories are dedicated to John A. Baker, JB. The Marine who opened my eyes and my mind to so many things. It was through his friendship that I learned an appreciation of our Military and it is to honor his service that I write this article. 

Military Families Month and the ASYMCA

Military Families Month and the ASYMCA

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

The name says it all – Family Military Month, observed throughout the month of November, is a time for us to remember, honor and applaud Military families. The observation was set in motion in 1996 by the Armed Services YMCA and has become a tradition, complete with a signed Presidential Proclamation, ever since.

Common sense helps us to understand the sacrifices that our soldiers made when they joined the armed forces or make military a career. These sacrifices don’t end with the completion of a mission or tour. Many men and women hug their families goodbye and set off to live a whole life apart from the people they treasure most. While these men and women protect and defend our country, many of the people they love are left at home to maintain “home business as usual.” Additionally, there are many families who move from state to state and even country to country to support their loved one who is active duty.

The sacrifices of the active duty military servicemen and women go far beyond the Soldier. There are spouses who keep a household running. Parents missing their child. Children missing a parent. There are countless events missed completely or captured in videos and pictures to be watched and enjoyed during a brief stay at home. The impact on the families of military should never be overlooked or ignored.

Children, particularly ages 6 to 12, often feel a good deal of stress regarding their military parent. Moving can be incredibly stressful to adults. Children have this same stress, but in a different way. They also are burdened with the realities of deployment and, unfortunately, trauma should their parent be lost or wounded as a result of that deployment. These kids are just part of the reason why military families need and deserve a month’s worth of recognition.

In an effort to show these military families how appreciated they are, several groups, service centers, public affairs offices and the ASYMCA have all combined efforts to celebrate and honor the military family. In addition, these groups are all looking to increase awareness of both the need for celebration as well as any events throughout the month.

Military families benefit daily from the ASYMCA, the Armed Services YMCA, an organization that has been providing support and services to the military and their families since 1861. The first recorded call to military assistance was performed by over 5,000 YMCA volunteers during the Civil War. These volunteers, who did not have significant military training, stood by the soldiers in the field to provide support as needed. As a result, President Abraham Lincoln commended the organization. The Civil War set a standard for the ASYMCA – they have been present to support our soldiers in military conflict since.

ASYMCA is part of the global YMCA, but the focus is specifically on providing support for military and military families. Volunteers and the ASYMCA organization invest a good amount of time, energy and resources in supporting the men and women on the front lines. The ASYMCA provides these services without requiring membership fees or dues. All of the services provided are offered at no- or low-cost at all 80+ branches and affiliates and over 200 program centers.

The ASYMCA relies on volunteers to make all of these services available. Over 10,000 volunteers dedicate more than 112,000 hours of their time every year to a variety of programs. With only 500 employees, the ASYMCA staff is resourceful at establishing relationships with other nonprofits like Operation Homefront, USO and, of course, the YMCA. These relationships, as well as working with locations who are willing to donate space and other materials, help to keep costs low. Minimizing overhead and staffing costs allow the ASYMCA to save nearly over $2 million in fixed expenditures each year so that the majority of funds raised by the organization can go directly to the troops and their families.

The ASYMCA works diligently to close the gaps in programs and services available to enlisted men and women and their families. There are many services, like family support for wounded soldiers, wounded warrior support and hospital assistance and care, that are more obvious to the non-military family. However, the ASYMCA uses their staff, knowledge and resources to address the lesser-recognized needs of the military. Childcare, for example, is just one of the many gaps that the ASYMCA fills. Food services for those in need, spouse and deployment support, emergency needs and bringing holiday joy are just a few examples of programming available at the local level to those in need. The ASYMCA also has programming in place for recently discharged Soldiers or those on medical leave. Health and wellness services, counseling, computer training classes and more all help a soldier to acclimate to civilian life and live with the many physical and mental wounds that war can bring.

So many children would be lost without the benefit of the ASYMCA. Military kids so often end up with “less” than their traditional family counterparts. For starters, these children don’t have access to a parent for long periods of time. Operation Hero is just one of the programs that is tailored to helping these military kids. This after school program is designed to assist military kids in grades 2-8 and the unique and sometimes significant struggles they face every day. This 10-week course allows each child to work with a trained professional and openly discuss and solve problems faced at school and home. The goal of the professional, facilitator and all of the volunteers is to help a child that is identified as being “in need” by their parents or school by providing counselling, homework assistance and guidance on how to manage conflict. Through Operation Hero, which is at no-cost to the family, children will get the resources to learn how to get back on track – and stay on that track!

Operation Hero is a prime example of the work that the ASYMCA does to change the lives of military children, families and servicemen and women. Clearly, the ASYMCA is working throughout the year to improve the lives of so many Americans. It is during this month of awareness of the military family that we can do our own part to support their efforts. If you are looking for a way to assist someone in the military or a military family, there are many ways to help. If you are interesting in donating to this cause or volunteering your time, please visit https://www.asymca.org/donate or https://www.asymca.org/volunteer.

An excerpt from the ASYMCA’s website (https://www.asymca.org/who-we-are) tells us more about the organization:

Mission.  The Armed Services YMCA enhances the lives of military members and their families in spirit, mind and body through programs relevant to the unique challenges of military life.

Guiding Principles. The Armed Services YMCA will:

  1. Be guided by Christian principles with a holistic approach to develop and promote healthy spirit, mind and body;
  2. Be inclusive and treat everyone with compassion and respect;
  3. Collaborate with military commands and community organizations;
  4. Honor the service members’ and their families’ commitment to defend our Nation; and
  5. Strive for excellence in all we do.

Mission Focus.  Priority shall be given to providing needed programs and services for junior enlisted personnel, both single and married, and their family members.  The focus of work shall be in three areas – youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Services may be provided to military personnel other than junior enlisted where resources are available. Programs and services shall be designed to complement and supplement those provided by the Armed Forces, either on or off military installations as appropriate.

Finally, here is the text from this year’s ‘Presidential Proclamation on National Veterans and Military Families Month, 2018, issued on October 31 and found in full at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-national-veterans-military-families-month-2018/

During National Veterans and Military Families Month, we salute the brave and dedicated patriots who have worn the uniform of the United States, and we celebrate the extraordinary military families whose selfless service and sacrifice make our military the finest in the world.

Our Nation’s veterans represent the best of America.  Generation after generation, men and women have answered the call to defend our country and our freedom, facing danger and uncertainty with uncommon courage.  They make tremendous sacrifices by leaving their families to serve throughout the homeland and in combat, contingency, and humanitarian operations worldwide.

Our heroes have always relied on their families for strength and support.  Serving alongside our men and women in uniform are spouses, siblings, parents, and children who personify the ideals of patriotism, pride, resilience, service above self, and honor.  They endure the hardships and uncertainty of multiple relocations, extended trainings, and deployments because of their admirable devotion to our country and a loved one in uniform.

President Ronald Reagan said, “America’s debt to those who would fight for her defense doesn’t end the day the uniform comes off.”  Our Nation’s veterans fulfilled their duty to this country with brave and loyal service; it is our moral and solemn obligation to demonstrate to them our continuing gratitude, unwavering support, and meaningful encouragement.

I am steadfastly committed to ensuring our veterans and their families receive the care and support they deserve.  I was pleased to sign into law the landmark VA MISSION Act of 2018, which revolutionizes the way veterans receive healthcare and other services vital to their lives.  The Department of Veterans Affairs is continuing to raise its standard of service, including through the establishment of the first national center of excellence for veteran and caregiver research, which will improve services and outcomes for patients and their families.  I have also mandated greater collaboration across the Government to support veterans transitioning to civilian life. Additionally, Second Lady Karen Pence and I have collaborated on ways to elevate the career and educational opportunities for military spouses and children in partnership with State, local, and tribal officials.

It is most appropriate that in this season of gratitude we stop to recognize veterans, military families, and those who gave their lives in service to this great Nation.  We are indebted to these heroes for the freedoms we enjoy every day. I ask all Americans to join me in offering our sincere thanks to our veterans and the families who love and support them.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2018 as National Veterans and Military Families Month.  I encourage all communities, all sectors of society, and all Americans to acknowledge and honor the service, sacrifices, and contributions of veterans and military families for what they have done and for what they do every day to support our great Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Navy & Marine Corps Take Iceland by Storm…

Navy & Marine Corps Take Iceland by Storm…

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

More than 7,000 American Sailors and Marines arrived in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík last week – and local businesses were completely unprepared. The Americans were there to participate in NATO’s Trident Juncture, but upon docking, made a swift course to the city’s local watering holes.

Bar owners did their absolute best to accommodate the onslaught of thirsty Americans, but they were no match for the Naval and Marine Corps servicemembers. Bars quickly found themselves facing a crisis: they were out of beer.  Iceland, a country of less than 350,000 citizens, was unaware of the strains that so many American servicemembers would put on its alcohol reserves.

As bars in Reykjavík ran out of supplies, they quickly reached out to neighboring businesses for assistance. It wasn’t long before even the back up supplies were depleted and Icelandic bars were tapped out of brew.

Fortunately, a local brewery, Ölgerð Egils Skallagrímssonar, came to the rescue and began to provide emergency beer supplies for businesses who were serving the Americans.

Iceland may have been unprepared for the American invasion – but the businesses handled the shock well and and were gracious and giving hosts. To their credit, the American Sailors and Marines gave a swift boost to local economy while keeping the tomfoolery and shenanigans to a minimum!

AI May Enhance Tradecraft, Prevent Geopolitical Surprises

AI May Enhance Tradecraft, Prevent Geopolitical Surprises Says Military’s Top Spy

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., the Pentagon’s “top spy,” hopes advances in artificial intelligence (AI) can get a jump on global conflicts when they ignite overnight.

“My core mission is to make sure that the secretary of defense is never surprised,” said Ashley.

Ashley became the 21st Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency on October 3, 2017. He formerly served as the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2, where he was the senior advisor to the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff for all aspects of intelligence, counterintelligence and security.

“AI and machine learning will be a huge enhancement” to tradecraft and other skills defense analysts use to avoid blind spots,” he said.

Using algorithms to sort through massive amounts of information can take some of the burden off defense analysts, but it doesn’t come without challenges, Ashley said.

“We look very closely at the technology development. Obviously, there’s some breakout things — we watch the AI side of the house, the hypersonics, counter-space, [and] what they’re doing with regard to subs, if you’re following the maritime piece of that as well,” he said. “They’re in the trials for their first carrier. They got an old one from the Russians; now they’re building their own.”

“When an analyst sits in front of a senior leader, they always say, ‘Based on reporting, based on sources, based on what I have seen I have a moderate [degree of confidence]’ or if you see a national assessment that says ‘I have a high-degree of confidence,’ it goes back to sourcing and analytic tradecraft,” he said.

“You never want to be in a position where you say, ‘Well, the computer told me so,'” he continued. “Part of the challenge we have now, and I think really the opportunity is, as we look at algorithms, as we look at machine learning and AI, is developing a degree of confidence within the AI, a degree of confidence within the algorithm.”

DIA will have to test these algorithms “to be able to prove that it can in fact come back with a high-degree of confidence that the analysis that it’s doing is correct,” Ashley added.

Ashley wants to ensure that the Machine-assisted Analytic Rapid-repository System, or MARS, is at initial operating capability before he leaves office in two years. MARS will take advantage of modern technologies in storage, cloud computing and machine learning to allow analysts to interact with data and information in a more dynamic fashion, rather than static.

 

Major Events in October with Free Tickets for Service Members, Veterans, and Families

By Debbie Gregory.

Veteran Tickets Foundation (VetTix), a national 501(c) 3 nonprofit founded by veterans, is dedicated to supporting and honoring the U.S. military community, veterans and their families.

Vet Tix has provided veterans, service members, caregivers and the family members of those killed in action with more than three million free tickets since 2008. Events include major sports games, concerts and a diverse mix of other ticketed activities. And because they’re a non-profit, individual ticket holders and businesses can receive tax deductions for their donated tickets.

So, if you’re looking for some fun things to this month, check out Veteran Tickets Foundation.

Here are just some of the hundreds of events available at VetTix.org.:

October 7: Denver, Colorado: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest

October 7: Houston, Texas: Houston Museum of Natural Science

October 8: Peekskill, New York: Buddy Guy – Live in Concert

October 13: San Diego, California: Top Gun Party and Movie Night

October 14: Hagerstown, Maryland: Bach to Beethoven and Beyond!

October 14: Fresno, California: Fresno State Bulldogs vs. New Mexico Lobos NCAA Football

October 14: Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Hoosiers vs. University of Michigan Wolverines NCAA Football

October 14: Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Blue Devils vs. Florida State Seminoles NCAA Football

October 21: Manchester, Maryland: Autumn Armageddon 2017 – Live Professional Wrestling Presented by Maryland Championship Wrestling

October 21: East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State Spartans vs. Indiana Hoosiers

October 22: Peekskill, NY: Steve Solomon’s My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m in Therapy

October 27: Washington, DC: Washington International Horse Show 2017 – Military Night

October 28: Richmond, Virginia: University of Richmond Spiders vs. Stony Brook Seawolves NCAA Football Homecoming

October 28: Rosemont, Illinois: Chicago Wolves vs. Milwaukee Admirals AHL

To become a Vet Tixer and request tickets to these and hundreds of other events, which are free except for a very small delivery fee, visit VetTix.org to create a free account. Once you’ve created an account and verified your military service, you can review hundreds of upcoming events across the country.

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.

 

Free Tickets for Vets

By Debbie Gregory.

The Veteran Tickets Foundation (VetTix) is a national 501(c) 3 nonprofit founded by veterans dedicated to support and honor the U.S. military community, veterans and their families.

Since 2008, Vet Tix has provided veterans, service members, caregivers and the family members of those killed in action with more than three million free tickets to major sports games, concerts and a diverse mix of other ticketed events. And because they’re a non-profit, individual ticket holders and businesses can receive tax deductions for their donated tickets.

So, if you’re looking for some fun things to do before summer is officially over, check out Veteran Tickets Foundation.

Here are some of the events remaining for August:

August 15: Phoenix, Arizona: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Houston Astros – MLB

August 16: Washington, DC: Washington Mystics vs. Los Angeles Sparks – WNBA

August 16: Portland, Maine: Goo Goo Dolls’ Long Way Home Summer Tour with Phillip Phillips

August 18: Rochester, New York: Nitro Circus Live

August 19: San Diego, California: Fleet Science Center

August 24: Evansville, Indiana: An Evening with Olivia Newton

August 23: Anaheim, California: Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers – MLB

August 24: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Los Angeles Dodgers – MLB

August 31: Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Washington Nationals – MLB

To become a Vet Tixer and request tickets to these and hundreds of other events, visit VetTix.org to create a free account. Once you’ve verified your military service, you can review hundreds of upcoming events across the country. Other than a very small delivery fee, all the tickets are free! If you have tickets to donate, click here.

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.