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Florent Groberg Honored At Citizenship Ceremony

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By Debbie Gregory.

Capt. Florent Groberg was the special guest at a citizenship ceremony last month, where he was honored with the Outstanding American by Choice award.

The Outstanding American by Choice initiative recognizes the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. Through civic participation, professional achievement, and responsible citizenship, recipients of this honor have demonstrated their commitment to this country and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans.

Groberg, one of  only 11 living Medal of Honor recipients from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Poissy, France, and became an American citizen in 2001 at age 17.

Groberg addressed 164 newly minted American citizens who hailed from 43 different countries. He shared with them that he had come to understand what it meant to be an American through his seven years of military service.

“When I lost my friends, when I felt that pain, it reminded me why this is the greatest country in the world. Because of its people, because of our history,” he said. “We stand up while others run. We face our struggles head on, and when we get back down, we get back up.”

Army Secretary Eric Fanning, another guest of honor at the ceremony, gave more weight to passages in the oath of citizenship that commit new citizens to “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant services for the Armed Forces” when required by law to do so.

Fanning hailed the diversity in the room, saying it was crucial to American military strength.

“For me, the existence and frequency of these naturalization ceremonies ranks as an important national achievement,” he said. “As Army secretary, when I look at a formation of soldiers, I want to see strength. I want to see the resilience. I see that as I look around this room today. These characteristics are what makes Americans and America great.”

“We are the greatest country in the world. This is a place where we can make anything we want of ourselves; this is the land of opportunity,” Groberg said. “So I’m very confident in the leadership that we have had, and will have. And I just, every day, am grateful to call myself an American. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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.

Vets 360 and Carry the Challenge Providing a Safety Net for Combat Vets

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By Debbie Gregory.

The challenges that our young combat veterans face when they transition back to civilian life, such as readjusting to family life, finding a job or going to school, and in many cases, dealing with post-traumatic stress (PTS) and/or physical injuries, can be daunting. Often times, this struggle is solitary, because the military culture does not allow for failure or weakness, even though asking for help is one of the bravest things a veteran can do.

Today’s veterans perceive a negative stigma of PTS so damning to career, family and friends, the “go it alone” attitude is hard to break down. The majority of traumatized vets return from wars that are safer than those their fathers and grandfathers fought, and yet far greater numbers of them wind up alienated and depressed. This is true even for people who didn’t experience combat. It would be safe to say that much of the problem isn’t trauma related as much as re-entry into society.

Vets 360 and Carry the Challenge are working to provide a safety net for these veterans. Eliminating the stigma will allow those struggling with PTS to raise their hands and be open and honest about the challenges they face. Removing the societal barrier that prevents them from saying “I am struggling with PTS” will allow them to receive focused education and support. This simple first step is critical to reduce the epidemic levels of suicide among those going it alone.

When decorated heroes, such as Medal of Honor recipient Florent Groberg, are joining Vets 360 to speak publicly about their own struggles with PTS, it gives pause to their comrades that the struggle is real, and it is not a sign of weakness.

Groberg said, “We must stand shoulder to shoulder with today’s veterans and Vets 360 to let them know they are not alone when it comes to their challenges with both transition and PTS. Help us get this message out – before crisis kicks in – not after.”

Groberg will be the keynote speaker at the Breaking Silence – Carry the Challenge gala, which will take place on April 16th in San Diego, CA. The gala will be followed by a concert with headliners Madison Rising, America’s number one patriotic rock band. For ticket information, click here.

“One of the biggest challenges we have is to ask/tell/beg todays combat veterans to accept support before cure options are needed or required,” said Vet’s 360 executive director Rick Collins.

For more information as to how you can help support this great non-profit organization, please visit http://www.carrythechallenge.org.

Army Captain Florent Groberg Awarded Medal of Honor

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By Debbie Gregory.

“On his very worst day, he managed to summon his very best.”

These are the words that President Obama said, just prior to presenting Army Captain Florent Groberg with the Medal of Honor.

In 2012, Groberg rushed and tackled a suicide bomber while serving in Afghanistan.

Although Groberg has spent much of the last three years recovering from 33 surgeries, he saved countless lives on that fateful day when he disregarded thoughts of personal safety and allowed his training to kick in.

As the head of a personal security detachment in the Fourth Infantry Division, Groberg was escorting commanders on foot to a weekly security meeting at the provincial governor’s office in Asadabad, the capital of Kunar Province.

When the group approached a narrow bridge, they saw two motorcycles heading toward them, which tuned out to be a diversion from the real threat.

As Groberg tells it, “A man came out of a building walking backwards, which was eerie, and then started walking towards us. I left my post. As I maneuvered towards him, Sergeant Mahoney to my left maneuvered with me,” referring to Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, who received a Silver Star for his actions that day.

Captain Groberg confronted the man. “I pushed him as hard as I could and honestly I just wanted to get him as far away from my guys as possible. He had a dead man’s trigger, which means he had already pressed the trigger prior to walking towards us. As he hit the ground chest first, he let go the trigger and he detonated.”

The explosion set off another bomb nearby. “It was the worst day of my life because even though we defeated the enemy, I lost four of my brothers.”

The four Americans who lost their lives were: Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin and Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy of the Army; Maj. Walter D. Gray of the Air Force; and Ragaei Abdelfattah, a Foreign Service officer with the United States Agency for International Development.