Moms Walking and Running For Deployed Soldiers

By Debbie Gregory.

On the frontlines of Iraq, Brian White doesn’t get a day off. So when Vivian White doesn’t feel like running, all she has to remember is that her son is still marching. She ties on her sneakers and heads out the door.

So far, her determination to run 6,500 miles, the distance between her front door and her son’s bunk in the combat zone, has helped her log over 1,000 miles. Since news of her quest spread, friends and strangers have begun running as well, adding their miles to her total. Now, 300 people in 42 states are walking and running to help Vivian meet her goal. Together they have logged 14,867 miles. The amount is staggering.

Army mom Tammy Utley drove half a day to cheer on Vivian, a woman she didn’t know at the time, but whom she understood. “There’s nothing you can do for them,” Tammy said. “You can’t be there with them. Mothers understand that helplessness you feel.” Tammy’s son, Nick, is a New York National Guard driver in Afghanistan.

The women both worry when they see news reports of new blasts or attacks.  They worry about the prospect of coming home to find a chaplain at their door. They worry if they will ever see their sons again. “At those times,” Tammy sighs, “when there’s nothing else you can do, you start walking or running. We are protecting our emotions, protecting how we feel, because we can’t protect our kids over there.”

In one letter home, Nick described the rocket propelled grenades that hit the side of his truck. Tammy laced up her shoes. When the women walk, they are able to physically flush out the fear that has built up inside. “Those were the bloody-shoes days,” she said. “You walk and you walk and you walk.”

But both women said they will keep walking until every service member is home. For Vivian, the dream of homecoming means running her last mile with her son by her side.  “He told me once, ‘Mom, it’s not me that determines the outcome of your race. It’s you.’”

Military Aids Boston Marathon Victims

By Debbie Gregory.

What makes America Great?

America was forged by unique men and women who were seeking a new way of life. Our country was founded on the desire to prosper and be free; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now, some 230+ years later, those desires are still evident in the people who call the United States home.

Because of the freedoms and successes we enjoy, there are those who try to destroy what we hold dear. This was evident on 9/11, and again in Boston at the end of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan know the devastation that IEDs cause, but most civilians and first responders have never seen that level of devastation. Yet there they were, alongside soldiers from the Massachusetts Army National Guard Soldiers, running directly towards the scene of the first explosion to help rescue victims.

1st Lt. Steve Fiola, 1st Sgt. Bernard Madore and Staff Sgt. Mark Welch followed their instincts and training without hesitation. Lt. Fiola helped a man whose clothing was still smoldering after the blast. Sgt. Madore jumped in to triage mode, and then watched over a young boy with a compound fracture to his leg. Sgt. Welch helped find cloths and water to treat the wounded. They continued to treat the wounded until medical personnel moved the injured out of the area. Sgt. Madore recalled similar experiences in Iraq. “I do remember looking down and going, ‘Oh, God, we can’t deal with this,'” Madore said. “And then right back to action — fortunately. So I stood fast, and I’m proud of that, because it got kind of real for a second.”

Servicemembers who are still recovering from injuries sustained in war are inspiring those who were injured in Boston. They can relate to the devastation aftermath of an explosion and the emotional and physical pain of lost limbs. Army Sgt. Christopher Haley, who is still recovering, advises the severely wounded to “keep their heads up and don’t quit”.

Wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan are refusing to give in and feel sorry for themselves. Sgt. Jordan Sisco was devastated when he lost his legs. Sgt. Sisco was down, but he wasn’t out. He found support through his family and friends, and received excellent care at the outpatient rehabilitation center, Center for the Intrepid, Brooke Army Medical Center.

So while their instincts told them to run away, all of these people ran towards danger to help the injured.  The spirit of working together towards a common goal and the greater good, that’s what makes America great.

Navy Seal Imposter Arrested

By Debbie Gregory.

Who is the real William Burley? It appears that he is a phony Navy SEAL and felon.  The truth came out when he was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy for driving with expired vehicle tags in San Bernardino, California. Burley has a history of impersonating a Navy SEAL and cheating people out of money.

William Burley has claimed to be a Navy SEAL and a member of law enforcement for several years. He really is a convicted felon in Rhode Island.  Burley served two years of a 10-year sentence in Rhode Island for conspiracy to commit robbery in 2006.

When the sheriff’s deputy stopped Burley, he found firearms, body armor and other law enforcement identifications. The deputy arrested Burley on suspicion of being a felon and for having a firearm in his vehicle. After the arrest, the San Bernardino Probation Department office obtained a search warrant for Burley’s Yucaipa, California home and found more weapons and body armor.

Retired Navy Seal Don Shipley has been on to Burley for some time. Mr. Shipley is a former SEAL entrusted with a database that shows SEAL training graduates. He has been aware of imposter William Burley and has tried to take him down. In a YouTube video that was uploaded in October, 2012, Shipley exposed William James Burley as a phony.

Mr. Shipley receives forty or more requests daily to verify if someone is a truly a Navy SEAL.  They usually turn out to be impostors.

An imposter is a person who pretends to be somebody else, often to attain financial gain or social advantages. Imposture syndrome describes a situation where someone feels like an imposter or fraud because they believe their own accomplishments fall short of those around them.

William James Burley now faces possible prison time. He has a long history of impersonating a Navy SEAL and cheating people. If he is convicted in California he will be doing time for illegally possessing firearms. He still will have to face the Rhode Island authorities.

The real Navy SEALS work hard to keep our nation safe and are truly heroes.  Often, they don’t reveal to their friends and family, the work that they do. It is truly offensive to have anyone, especially someone like Burley, pretend to be part of this elite force. “People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf”.

We want to know what you think.

The Empty Chair

No  tears  can  fall  from  my  eyes.
So,  why  does  my  heart  ache?

Could  it  be,  the  empty  chair?

I  shouldn’t  whine.
Many,  no  longer  have  their  soldiers  with  whom  they  dine.

The  empty  chair,  always  there.

Thanksgiving  is  a  day  to  pause  and  reflect  on  all  we  are  grateful  for.

For  me,  Thanksgiving,  is  every  day.

Every  day  I’m  grateful  for  all  who  have  served  us.
Veterans,  brave  souls.

I’m  grateful  for  all  who  are  serving.

I  want  to  tell  my  son  how  much  I  miss  him.
He  doesn’t  want  me  to  be  sad.

I  want  to  hear  his  laughter.
Life  is  so  hard  over  there.

He  never  complains.
I  do,  about  the  damn  empty  chair.

Although  I  am  grateful  for  much,
I  will  be  most  grateful  for  the  day  the  empty  chair,
is  empty  no  more.

by  Karen  Estrada  (@milhealth)

 

MilitaryConnection.com is proud to be working with MilitaryHealthMatters.org   This is a poignant poem written by Karen Estrada when her son was away during the holidays on his 5th deployment to Afghanistan.  This poem  provides all of us a glimpse of the sacrifices made by those who serve and their loved ones.  The families of our fallen carry this grief during all holidays with their own “Empty Chair”.  Veterans Day has past but let us remember those who serve our nation and their families 24/7.   Next time you see a soldier, try a random act of kindness.  Perhaps thank them for their service, buy them a cup of coffee or even pick up their check if you are able.   Remember we are able to live the lives we live in the greatest nation in the world because of the sacrifices of less than one percent.

Victoria’s Secret Helps National Guard

MilitaryConnection.com is in awe of our Citizen Soldiers who are there to help in times of disaster, such as assisting victims of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.   We all need a little help from our friends, and Victoria’s Secret proved to be a company with more to offer than just lingerie and beautiful women. Victoria’s Secret was there to help the New York National Guard so that they could complete their mission, and help those affected by the damage from Hurricane Sandy.   We commend Victoria’s Secret, and salute our Citizen Soldiers who are there, 24/7.

Soldiers with the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry regiment found themselves in a precarious situation after Hurricane Sandy struck. Like the people they were trying to assist, they were without electricity or hot water, stuck in the city, and supplies were quickly running out.

But for a change, the guardsmen, who are usually the angels that help others, had a guardian angel of their own-Victoria’s Secret! The company, which was scheduled to have its annual fashion show at the New York Army National Guard’s armory in Manhattan, had eight 500-kilowatt generators with them. Happy to put the generators to good use, Victoria’s Secret was able to once again provide the soldiers with power and hot water. Then the Guardian Angel made sure that the solders’ communication systems were up and running, despite the local cell towers being down. Victoria’s Secret’s producer Dave Shapiro had leased a T1 line, which he generously allowed the armory to use.

The National Guard is extremely versatile, enabling troops to respond to domestic emergencies, combat missions, and reconstruction missions, with speed, strength and efficiency. “We just had one of our patrols come back, and they were just in one of the worst-hit areas of Staten Island, helping to distribute food, water, some much-needed clothing and blankets, especially because the weather is getting much colder out here,” said Air Force Captain Ryan Abbott of the New York Air National Guard’s 152nd Air Operations Group. Whether the call is from a state governor or the president of the United States, Guard Soldiers are always ready, and always there.

Since the National Guard is state-funded, their armories are usually just bare-bones storage facilities. Once again, the National Guard had to turn to the Victoria’s Secret crew—this time to borrow their fork lift to process the tractor-trailers full of emergency supplies delivered by FEMA. Thanks to Victoria’s Secret, the soldiers were able to repackage and distribute the supplies to those in need. Members of the New York National Guard continue to distribute critically needed fuel throughout the New York City area, as residents and local authorities continue with cleanup and recovery efforts.

MilitaryConnection.com salutes Sunshine Roth & Stand & Salute American Heroes.

My name is Sunshine Roth and I am the National Director of Stand & Salute American Heroes which is a Major Project of Our Fallen Soldier a 501 (c) 3 organization and Our Heroes Journey. I am also the proud wife of a Vietnam Veteran to whom I have been married to for almost 39 years. My husband suffers from severe PTS and Agent Orange. I am also the daughter of a Holocaust Survivor. From my father I got his determination and strength to never give up no matter what your situation is.

Stand & Salute American Heroes, writes cards and letters to all VA Hospitals during holidays with phone cards enclosed. We do fundraisers, and accept donations so that we are able to do this and more for our Heroes.

I got involved with Veteran Organizations to honor my husband. Stand & Salute American Heroes honors combat wounded veterans from all wars to include invisible wounds such as PTS and TBI. In the past year I have been able to spread my wings so that we could honor more veterans. Originally we only honored veterans at major sporting events such as Major League Baseball and NHL Hockey Games. But we felt there were so many out there that we were missing that might never get the chance of being honored.

I am fortunate to be able to work with Kelly Luisi who is Co-Founder/CFO and Family Assistance Coordinator for Our Fallen Soldier and National Director of Our Heroes Journey. I started exploring regular nursing homes in the area that I live in which is the Chicago area. What I found was that there are so many veterans in these nursing homes. Some of them have no family anymore. So we began scheduling events in these nursing homes. I have had as few as 15 veterans to honor and as many as 60 *or* more veteran. I bring gifts in according to what holiday it might be. We play the piano and sing songs from their time which seems to be from WWII but we have our fair share of Korean and Vietnam Veterans too. To see the smiles on their faces brings tears to my eyes as I sit here right now and write this. We have been fortunate enough to even have some Cadet Nurses and Nurses that worked in the Mash Units during Korea and Vietnam.

We feel that no veteran *or* hero should ever be alone. We believe that we should be with them at the start of their Journey and that is what Our Heroes Journey does and more, and until the very end which would be VA Hospices. I am in touch with the VA Hospitals across the country that have Palliative/Hospice for our Veterans. We send everything from stuffed animals to blankets that have been prayed over. I have been told that some of these Veterans are buried with these items.

I suffer from Parkinson’s, but have managed to turn it into a positive experience. Being able to do this for Stand & Salute American Heroes has brought more joy and purpose into my life. From my father I got his determination and strength to never give up no matter what your situation is. I wake up every day and thank God for what He has put before me. I can’t envision myself doing anything else in my life but to honor our heroes of this Country. I’m a survivor just like these heroes. It is in my blood. I’m a survivor.

Military Connection Vies for $250,000 Grant to Expand Services for Veterans

By Alan Gray, NewsBlaze

MilitaryConnection.com, one of the most comprehensive online directories of resources and information on the Internet, is competing for one of twelve grants being awarded to small businesses by Chase and Living Social.

Serving active duty military, Veterans, their families and supporters, MilitaryConnection.com, known as “The Go To Site” has thousands of pages of resources and information, It is also a Top 100 Employment site. Winning the grant will allow Military Connection to launch hiring and training programs to give back to those who have sacrificed so much.

Military Connection recently launched the “Hiring America”s Heroes” program. This program focuses on generating remote jobs especially for wounded warriors, disabled Veterans and military spouses. The grant will enable this program to ramp up at a much faster pace. Additionally, Military Connection will be providing online short targeted classes for Veterans that will be accessible 24/7 and help them in finding jobs and provide other valuable resources to them.

Military Connection is proud to be affiliated with a large number of non-profits and uses their significant reach to help non-profits get out the word.

“Working with such wonderful groups and non-profits is really the best part of what we do.”
– Debbie Gregory, Military Connection

It was through working with many of these groups that Ms. Gregory got the idea to launch the Hiring America”s Heroes program. Ms. Gregory also said “Not only will this program create jobs for American heroes, but it will also bring currently outsourced jobs back to our country.”

How To Support MILITARY CONNECTION With Your Vote

  • Go to www.missionsmallbusiness.com
  • Click on the button that says, “Log In & Support”.
  • Log in with your Facebook Account.
  • Type Military Connection in the company name.
  • Select California in the Dropdown for the state.
  • Select Simi Valley in the dropdown for the city.
  • Click on “Vote”.
  • You can only vote once so please pass on to your friends.

When the next tour of duty is back home, it”s on MilitaryConnection.com, “The Go To Site”.

Debbie Gregory is the CEO of MilitaryConnection.com and the founder of VAMBOA.org, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association. Ms. Gregory won the 2011 Spirit of Small Business Award from Pacific Coast Business Times, and was the 2009 Woman Business Owner of the Year, NAWBO, Ventura County.

MilitaryConnection is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thegotosite

Contact Debbie Gregory at (800)-817-3777 *or* (805) 306-0580 x124
[email protected]

Military Connection Founder Carries on Fathers Service

By Amy Bentley

It shouldn”t surprise anyone that operating a website that serves American veterans, active-duty service members and their families has become Debbie Gregory”s passion.

The Thousand Oaks resident is the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran. While growing up, she and her sister sometimes were left with relatives while her father, Leonard Grossman, was hospitalized for an operation. A cryptographer during the war, Grossman endured many stays at Veterans Administration hospitals. He was one of 11 children, and seven of his brothers also enlisted during World War II.

“He was brilliant, strong and positive, and never said, ”Why me?” ” Gregory said of her late father. “He gave me a fighting spirit. I realized what it”s like for veterans to have to go here for this and there for that, and how challenging it can be.”

Enter militaryconnection.com, a website that went live in late 2006. Gregory and a staff of six at her Simi Valley office run the business with help from a handful of writers and marketing professionals who work remotely.

Militaryconnection.com serves members of all branches of the U.S. military, plus reservists, veterans, their families and those with the Coast Guard and Department of Defense. The site maintains a jobs directory, helps veterans search for jobs, has information about how to apply to military schools and for financial loans, features pay charts and legal columns, and includes information about education and the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The site”s blog features stories about wounded warriors, vacations for veterans and financial benefits for employers that hire veterans.

“Less than 1 percent of our population serves in the military, and the rest of us get to live our lives in peace and harmony while they are writing a blank check with their lives. When they return, we all need to step up. If anyone deserves the American dream, it”s those who make those sacrifices, including their families because they serve, too,” Gregory said.

She started her company in 2000, handling print advertising in military base newspapers. She revamped the business in 2006 to focus on the website as a one-stop online resource.

“I wanted the business to be more than just an advertising venue,” she said.

The site averages 10,000 daily unique visitors, has a database of more than 800,000 recipients for the company”s twice-monthly e-newsletter, and has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter, Gregory said. It”s also known as a top employment website.

The business has won numerous awards and citations. Gregory was named the 2009 Woman Business Owner of the Year by the city of Thousand Oaks, the Ventura County Board Brig. Gen. James P. Combs of Supervisors and the National Association of Woman Business Owners. She”s received letters of commendation from retired Maj. Gen. Peter J. Gravett, secretary for the California Department of Veterans Affairs, and, former commander of the California Army National Guard.

Gregory helps veterans and the military community on other fronts. Her business co-sponsors the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum”s annual Freedom Walk, which honors 9/11 victims, deployed troops, first responders and veterans.

“Every year, the event gets bigger. Everybody comes together and remembers that we live in the greatest country in the world. We”re all Americans that day,” she said.

Her business sponsored a concert at Camp Pendleton in 2006, has given scholarships and partners with businesses that hire veterans. Gregory in 2010 founded the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association, a nationwide group with 4,500 members and a database of more than 60,000 veteran and service-disabled business owners. The group partnered last year with biotechnology firm Amgen Inc. to produce a conference called “Power Your Business,” held at Amgen”s conference center in Thousand Oaks. More than 300 people attended.

She”s also on the board of the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation, a nonprofit veterans advocacy organization working to open a one-stop veterans service center in Ventura County.

“For veterans to be able to go to one place and have all their needs met is a gift. We want Ventura County”s veterans to be able to have that,” said Gregory, who also serves on California”s Interagency Council for Veterans, a nonprofit that helps find jobs, education, housing and health care for veterans.

The business is spearheading a jobs initiative called Hiring America”s Heroes. Gregory is asking businesses to pledge jobs for wounded veterans and their spouses, especially jobs that can be done remotely.

“There are tax credits (up to $9,600 per hire) and you get really disciplined, dedicated employees in the process with a work ethic that is second to none. There are so many jobs that are outsourced that can be done by veterans,” she said.

CallSource in Westlake Village has signed on, pledging to hire 100 veterans, CallSource CEO Jerry Feldman said. A few years ago, Feldman started a similar program called Pride America to provide training and jobs for veterans and their spouses. CallSource helps businesses improve their performance through the use of call tracking, technology and other methods.

“We have about 15 veterans at CallSource and are hiring some more. We did commit to hiring 100. Debbie Gregory has put our job description on her website and we keep getting more and more veterans,” said Feldman, who hired a veteran last week. “This is so satisfying because this woman was losing her home and she now will be able to pay her rent *or* mortgage. She”ll be able to stay in her house.”

Gregory was invited in December to a White House reception with President Barack Obama that honored leaders in the veterans community.

“They were quite gracious,” Gregory said of the president and first lady Michelle Obama. “It was such an experience being in D.C. because you walk everywhere. I got to meet so many people from other parts of the country working with veterans, too.”

Gregory believes that if her father were alive today, he”d be thrilled with her work.

“I didn”t set out doing what I”m doing,” she said, “but I think I”m doing what I”m supposed to be doing.”

About MilitaryConnection.com
MilitaryConnection.com is one of the nation’s largest online directories of military and veteran resources with thousands of pages. They are known as the go-to site and offer a broad range of resources including news and articles, education resources including a school directory, jobs and employment, benefits, pay calculators and more. More than 800,000 military members and their families use the site as a valuable resource. Military Connection promotes many non-profits including USO, Wounded Warrior Project, Soldiers Angels, TAPS, ThanksUSA, Toys for Tots, HomeFront America, Operation Homefront, Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, National Military Family Association (NMFA ), Any Soldier.com, Fisher House and many others.

Prevent Warrior Suicide

Help Prevent Warrior Suicide
This is Everyone’s Responsibility

How prevalent is Warrior Suicide? When a warrior comes home from battle he often has a different battle to fight. It’s a psychological battle. Suicide events have occurred across all service branches.

In battle, warriors know that their buddy has their back. When a warrior returns to civilian life you have the opportunity to be his buddy. Suicide is preventable if you look for the signs. You can save a service member’s life by identifying psychological concerns that may be affecting a fellow warrior.

In every war some service members have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) now referred to as Post-Traumatic Stress (PSS). PTSD is a result of stress on brain cells that can cause nerve endings- or dendrites –to break off. Soldiers returning from battle experience flashbacks. They relive the trauma in their minds. Many service members who experience PTSD can benefit from treatment and support. PTS and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) are the signature wounds of this long period of war.

Everyone reacts to traumatic experiences differently. Some service members may face emotional or psychological challenges such as feelings of anger, isolation, anxiety or guilt. Depression is a more serious condition. Being in the military can be very stressful, and thus all military personnel are at a high risk for depression. Know the symptoms of depression so you can spot them.

For warriors returning from battle transitioning into civilian life can be equally daunting. Suicide thoughts are usually associated with other psychological concerns such including finances, relationships, medical work related problems or a combination of all. Watch for the warning signs and take action if you notice substance abuse, setbacks in military career or personal life, feelings of hopelessness, behavior that isolates the service member. Encourage them to talk about their feelings. Let them know you are there for them and that you care. Let them know they are not alone.

If you are a service member or a Veteran and experiencing anxiety and thinking of suicide, please ask for help – this is the brave thing to do. If your buddy, friend or loved one is having a hard time, get this person help as soon as possible. Let’s all work together to save lives. There are many organizations that provide free and private mental health counseling including our friends at GiveAnHour.org and The SoldiersProject.org. Suicidal comments should always be taken seriously.

It takes courage to deal with psychological concerns in yourself or a fellow warrior. If the situation is urgent, use these resources to get immediate assistance:
• Call 1-800-273-TALK and press 1 for the Veterans Crisis Line, or chat live online.
• Talk to a medic, chaplain or commanding officer immediately — they can support you in locating confidential care or support
• Give An Hour – www.giveanhour.org
• The Soldiers Project – www.thesoldiersproject.org

VA Broadens Retroactive Traumatic Injury Benefits

TSGLI Payments Will Be Made for Qualifying Injuries

The Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) Traumatic Injury Protection benefit has been expanded to cover servicemembers who suffered qualifying injuries from Oct.7, 2001 to Nov. 30, 2005, regardless of the geographic location where the injuries occurred.

Effective Oct. 1, TSGLI will be payable for all qualifying injuries incurred during this period. This retroactive benefit is payable whether or not the Servicemember had SGLI coverage at the time of the injury. The Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2010, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in October of 2010, removes the requirement that injuries during this period be incurred in Operations Enduring or Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). “Now all of our nation’s Servicemembers who suffered severe traumatic injuries while serving their country can receive the same traumatic injury benefits, regardless of where their injury occurred,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We at VA appreciate the efforts of Congress and the President to improve benefits for our troops.”

TSGLI provides a payment ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 to Servicemembers sustaining certain severe traumatic injuries resulting in a range of losses, including amputations; limb salvage; paralysis; burns; loss of sight, hearing or speech; facial reconstruction; 15-day continuous hospitalization; coma; and loss of activities of daily living due to traumatic brain injury or other traumatic injuries.

National Guard and Reserve members who were injured during the retroactive period and suffered a qualifying loss are also eligible for a TSGLI payment, even if the cause was not related to military service, such as a civilian automobile accident or severe injury which occurred while working around their home. Those who are no longer in the National Guard or Reserves can also apply as long as their injury occurred while they were in service. Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey  said, “I am extremely pleased that these total force warriors who defend our freedoms are getting the recognition and benefits they have rightfully earned in service to our nation”.

The DoD is working with the VA to publicize this change in the TSGLI benefit. Additionally, all of the branches of service are identifying any claims previously denied because the injury was not incurred in OEF/OIF and reaching out to those individuals. Although applications are currently being accepted by branch of service TSGLI offices, benefits will not be paid until Oct. 1, 2011, the effective date of the law.

For more information or to apply for a TSGLI payment, Servicemembers and Veterans click here