Sunday, January 31, 2016

Amputee's Angel Showed Up As Marine

While we're all having a problem with Wounded Warrior Project right now, get past the hat the veteran is wearing because this is about a veteran doing something for another veteran in need.
Marine builds ramp for amputee veteran in Cullman Co.
Vanessa Ariza
Posted: Jan 30, 2016

Jeremy Hogan has a history of helping fellow Marines.
In his spare time, he makes American flags out of wood and gifts them to fellow soldiers and veterans.

And now he's a man on a mission. A mission to help a fellow brother. A man he has just met Thursday but one he shares an immediate bond with.

"I walked in. It was just one of those things where you know the gentleman is in straight distress and needed anything and everything I could do for him," Hogan said.

Hogan heard about former Marine Corporal Ken Beasley at a local grocery store. Beasley is an amputee veteran who is struggling with health and home issues. So, Hogan did what he knows best as a Marine.

"I didn't even tell my wife I was coming over here. I ran over here and was just going to see what supplies I needed and was going to get him help and build a ramp," said Hogan.
read more here, GA News Weather

Navy Veteran Survived Truck Fire in Florida

Navy veteran escapes truck fire with minor injuries
Posted: Jan 31, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A Navy veteran is lucky to be alive after he crashed his pickup truck and it burst into flames.
The 18-year veteran from Jacksonville walked away from the fire with only a few scratches.

Michael Smith was driving down an exit ramp when his brakes wouldn't work properly Friday. "I put my foot on the brake and nothing. Foot pedal to the floor, nothing," he said. "I mean, just fear, I just got scared. I don't know. Didn't know what to do."
read more here
WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

What Connection Does Gen. Ray Odierno Have To Wounded Warrior Project?

UPDATE February 1, 2016
Wounded Warrior Project Board of Directors Issues Statement
The Board takes very seriously the concerns that have been raised in recent days and is in the process of retaining independent advisors to conduct a thorough financial and policy review of the concerns. We remain steadfast in our commitment to our warriors and supporters and will ensure that the organization is effectively fulfilling this important mission."
What they "do" is very vague so hopefully the "independent advisors" can clear that up. No one really knows what they are actually doing for the post 9-11 veterans but we do know they don't serve older veterans waiting even longer. If these veterans are "aiding and assisting each other, then why does WWP need all that money?
How Did Wounded Warrior Project Get So Big?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 31, 2016

In 2013 General Raymond Odierno was asked about the increase in soldiers committing suicide by David Wood during an interview for the Huffington Post.

This was his answer.
"Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations."

"But it also has to do with where you come from. I came from a loving family, one who gave lots of positive reinforcement, who built up psychologically who I was, who I am, what I might want to do. It built confidence in myself, and I believe that enables you to better deal with stress. It enables you to cope more easily than maybe some other people."

The problem is that he was head of the Army at the time. Left a pretty bad image of how the troops were really being treated especially in the Warrior Transition Units. It always comes down to the difference between what they tell us and what they actually do.

What does this have to do with all the reports about Wounded Warrior Project?

General Raymond Odierno's son, Anthony K. Odierno, is Board Chair, a combat wounded Iraq veteran. When I searched Charity Navigator for the report on WWP being put on "watch list" I discovered this.

"Odierno joined the WWP board of directors in 2009, serving as secretary from 2009 – 2013 and audit committee chair from 2011 – 2014. In 2014, he was elected to the position of chair."

Charity Navigator listed the CEO this way.
Steven Nardizzi Executive Director, Founder
But is he the founder?
Steve Nardizzi is a founder of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and currently serves as chief executive officer, overseeing all aspects of the organization. Before being promoted to this role in 2009, Steve served as chief operating officer.
Just a reminder, Nardizzi is not a veteran. With all the reporting going on it turns out that only about a third of the employees are veterans.

In the New York Times report on the scandal there was this about how it was founded and by whom.
The Wounded Warrior Project’s roots are more humble. Its founder, John Melia, was a Marine veteran who had been injured in a helicopter crash off the coast of Somalia in 1992. When wounded troops began returning from Iraq in 2003, Mr. Melia remembered how he had arrived in a stateside hospital with only his thin hospital gown, and began visiting military hospitals to distribute backpacks stuffed with socks, CD players, toothpaste and other items.

As the backpack project grew, Mr. Melia hired a few employees, including Mr. Nardizzi, a lawyer who had never served in the military but was an executive for a small nonprofit, the United Spinal Association, which served disabled veterans.

No one has been able to figure out how WWP went from that to that to this mega size charity. The question now should be if General Odierno had anything to do with it or not. If the accusations turn out to be true, they are far from new considering CBS had reported on most of this last year.

CEO responds after watchdogs give Wounded Warrior charity low marks
On the Wounded Warrior Project’s website, the charity says it spends 80 percent of its donations on its main services. But tax records show it also includes some fundraising expenses in that mix. Charity Navigator subtracts the fundraising and — in its most recent report — said the Wounded Warrior Project spends less than 60 percent on its services. The rest, according to Charity Navigator, went to fundraising and administration.

But as we've seen, not much has changed.  There are still a lot of other questions no one seems to have found the answers for. How did they get all the footage of wounded getting physical therapy? Are they doing it or did the DOD and VA let them use their wounded? If they are doing it then why don't they mention that in their commercials? When you think about it, they never really say what they are doing with all the money.

Charity Navigator Wounded Warrior Project
EXPENSES (Adjusted)
Program Expenses
Administrative Expenses
Fundraising Expenses

Wounded Warrior Project on Charity Navigator's watch list
CBS News
January 30, 2016

In another response to the on-going CBS News investigation of Wounded Warrior Project, Charity Navigator, a national evaluator of charities, put the country's most prominent veterans charity on its watch list.

Part 1: Wounded Warrior Project accused of wasting donation money
Part 2: Ex-employee: Wounded Warrior Project conduct "makes me sick"
Part 3: Charity watchdogs question Wounded Warrior's spending on vets

Wounded Warrior Project is facing criticism from more than 40 former employees about how it spends the more than $800 million it's raised in the past four years, reports CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.

CBS News asked Marc Owens, a former director of tax exempt organizations at the IRS, to review the Wounded Warrior Project's tax documents.

"What was your biggest concern in reading these forms?" Reid asked him.

"That I couldn't tell the number of people that were assisted. I thought that was truly unusual. If the organization is asking for money and spending money -- purportedly spending money -- to assist veterans, I would like to know," Owens said.
read more here

And if all that isn't enough for you, you can still get a credit card from USAA with their logo on it.
Make a Difference With the WWP USAA Rewards™ World MasterCard®
Show your support for WWP and its mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. USAA Bank will contribute to WWP five dollars for every new WWP USAA Rewards™ World MasterCard® account opened, one dollar for each renewal and 0.30% of each purchase. This excludes refunds, returns or cash and reward point transactions. Plus get a competitive introductory APR.

Fort Riley Soldier Died in Iraq

Soldier from Glendale killed in crash while serving in Iraq
Los Angeles Times
Ryan Fonseca
January 30, 2016

An Army sergeant from Glendale serving in Iraq was killed earlier this week in a rollover accident, Army and Department of Defense officials said.
Sgt. Joseph F. Stifter, 30, from Glendale, suffered fatal injuries after his armored vehicle rolled over at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq. (Courtesy of the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division)
Sgt. Joseph F. Stifter, 30, suffered fatal injuries after his armored vehicle rolled over at Al Asad Airbase in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, the DOD confirmed Friday.
read more here
Fort Riley soldier dies in Iraq
Jan 31, 2016

FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- A Fort Riley soldier has died on Thursday while serving in Iraq.

Sgt. Joseph F. Stifter died on Thursday from non-combat-related injuries, the post said. 

He was a field artillery cannon crewmember with the 1st Infantry Division Soldier with the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team

"Sgt. Stifter was an exceptional Soldier and leader in our battalion," said Col. Miles Brown, commander of the 2nd ABCT.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of a member of the 'Dagger' family."
read more here

Heroin Robs Family of Army Veteran

Heroin robs another family: Young Army veteran from Hudson remembered
By Brad Avery
MetroWest Daily News Staff
Posted Jan. 30, 2016
After a relapse, he was able to get clean again and had been living in Veterans Administration transitional housing. He had been clean up until the night he died, his parents said.

Matthew Holmes with his sister Rachel at her Hudson High School graduation.
Submitted Photo/MetroWest Daily News
HUDSON - A soldier, a sports fan, a son and a brother - Matthew Holmes was the kind of person who always wanted to help others. He was the kind of person who would give the shirt off his back - literally. He once tried to use his shirt to put out a brush fire, his parents said.

Holmes died last week at age 22, losing a years-long battle to heroin addiction.
"He was in the top 2 percent on aptitude tests," said his father. "He could have had any job he wanted and written his own script. He wanted to be the boots on the ground, to be an infantryman."

Holmes lived at Fort Hood and trained as a sniper, but never saw combat. By the time he reached the military, troops were being pulled out of Iraq and the wars in the Middle East were winding down for a period. That's when he started running into problems.

He told his parents that his whole sniper team was getting into a depressive mode, doing busywork during work hours and partying heavily in the downtime. Although he started abusing prescription drugs at 16 at high school parties, his problems grew in the military where he had access to hard drugs. Eventually, as the problem worsened he sought help and was able to receive an honorable discharge.
read more here

Congress Didn't Plan Veterans Choice Program

Program to hasten veterans’ care poorly implemented, Maine advocates say
Portland Press Herald
January 30, 2016
Health Net Inc. is one of the program managers cited in the report. It’s also the company charged with managing the Veterans Choice program in Maine and New England.
A report released Thursday shows that a 2014 program designed to reduce wait times has left half the qualifying veterans without medical appointments.
AUGUSTA — Advocates for Maine veterans said Friday that the rush to implement a $10 billion federal program designed to shorten wait times for veterans seeking medical care is contributing to delayed care, unbooked doctor appointments and billing errors.

“It was doomed for failure before it even hit the streets,” said Gary Laweryson, a retired Marine from Waldoboro who is chairman of the Maine Veterans Coordinating Committee.

There have been a number of reports in Maine and other states that the 2014 Veterans Choice health program is not working as intended. Those complaints, once anecdotal, were validated Thursday in a report produced by the VA Maine Healthcare System showing that only half of the 4,300 veterans who applied for care under the 2014 Veterans Choice program had received appointments since July.

The report was presented to veterans advocates and staff for the state’s congressional delegation during an unannounced meeting held at the VA’s Togus campus. The meeting has prompted urgent calls from Maine’s delegation to reform the program.

However, veterans advocates say the program was hastily conceived and carelessly implemented. Those assertions are supported by a U.S. Veterans Health Administration Office of Inspector General report issued in September.
Amedeo Lauria, a service officer for the American Legion at Togus, said veterans are having a difficult time just getting a call returned from a hotline provided by the choice program. On Thursday, Health Net said a call center in Tampa, Florida, was set up for 500 employees. Only 130 have been hired.
read more here

Australia: Veteran Sent Wife's Attacker to Hospital

Aussie Iraq war vet under investigation for protecting wife from alleged Muslim attacker 
Washington Times
By Kellan Howell
January 30, 2016
“I’m a war veteran and I fought in the Middle East. The main attacker was Muslim and my take is he probably didn’t like being told what to do from a woman,” Mr. Tyrrell told the Herald Sun.
Kyle Tyrrell, 47 and his wife Liana. (Image: the Herald Sun)
Police are investigating a retired Lieutenant-Colonel and Iraq war veteran in Australia after he got into a skirmish with a fisherman who he says attacked his wife.

Kyle Tyrrell, 47, suffered minor injuries and says his wife, Liana, was punched in the face during the fight on Jan. 23 at the Cosy Corner beach at Torqauy, the Herald Sun newspaper reported. At least one of the fishermen was taken to the hospital.
read more here

Community Comes Together For Family of Missing Marine

Community rallies support for missing Marine's family
KOAA News 5
By Lena Howland
January 31, 2016

FOUNTAIN - A community rallied in support of a grieving southern Colorado family as their decorated Marine was lost at sea in a helicopter crash.
The American Legion Post 38 held a fundraiser dinner for fallen Marine Sergeant Jeffrey Sempler on Saturday evening.

As News5 has reported, Sempler's helicopter crashed off the coast of Hawaii during a routine training session more than a week ago.

The search for him and 11 other missing marines has since been called off.

"It's been really rough, we were hoping that they would find him alive, but that didn't happen," Laurie Allen, the mother of Jeffrey Sempler said.

A mother's worst nightmare.

"I kind of knew it was coming but I didn't want to believe it," Allen said.

She hopped on a plane to Hawaii soon after learning the search mission for her son was called off.

"It's hard, everybody lost so much," she said after meeting with the families of the 11 other marines.

Sergeant Jeffrey Sempler, one of 12 missing Marines, now presumed dead.
read more here | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

They did it in Pennsylvania too.

DUNCANNON, Pa. (WHTM) – A vigil was held for Sgt. Adam Schoeller, the marine who went missing off the coast of Hawaii, following a training exercise on January 14.

Sunday, the community gathered to honor a friend, son, neighbor, and comrade.

“We’re just going to miss him,” Adam’s father, Ralph Schoeller, said.

Even though Adam didn’t make it home, his memory is a homecoming.

Life After Combat Shouldn't Be Harder After It

This Time Save Yourself 
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 31, 2015
You put your life on the line for the sake of others. Did you think less of them because they needed you?

In combat, if you were overwhelmed by enemy forces, did you ask for help? Did you think you were weak because you couldn't defeat them by yourself?


Do you still think you'll get over it? You won't. No one gets "over" anything that happens in their lives but they do get past it if they have the help they need to stop being stuck suffering. Your life can get better if you don't settle for the way it is today. PTSD is caused by surviving and it changed you but you can change again!

Do you still want to fit back in with your civilian friends? Forget about it since you didn't fit in as well as you thought in the first place because you served and they didn't. You went places and did things they never will. Find other veterans because no matter what war was in their lives, they are fighting the same battle back home as a veteran. None of this is new.

If you're sick and tired of hearing about folks "raising awareness" using the number of "22 a day" veterans committing suicide, you should be. The only things you need to be aware of is that YOU CAN HEAL and where you can get the help to do it.

It isn't "22 a day" but they say "it is an easy number to remember." Why should any of this be easy for them? This isn't like guessing how many jelly beans are in a jar! This is your life and it is far from easy on you and your family.

If you are not finding what you need, then keep looking for the weapons you need to save your own life this time. Folks you helped deserved the best you could give and now you deserve the same!


Veterans Plant to Paper Project Inspired by Ed Tick

Military and vets make art from plant to paper
Hi Desert Star
By Daniel Strasberger
The Desert Trail
January 30, 2016
“I read a book by Ed Tick, ‘War in the Soul,’ that said PTSD is more of a soul wound than anything else,” she said. “When you are in a situation that is beyond your wildest, sometimes your soul cannot take it all in, it’s too much and creates anxiety and all the symptoms that PTSD creates.”
Military and vets make art from plant to paper
Lt. Col. Frank Marilao and Donald Burton, from Marine Corps Community Services, join Mil-Tree founder Cheryl Montelle at informational meeting for the Plant to Paper Project Thursday at Copper Mountain College.
JOSHUA TREE — Joining Forces: Plant to Paper is a new art and writing project catering to veterans and people on active military duty.

Mil-Tree joined forces with Arts Connection from San Bernardino to create the project.

This multifaceted art project, spanning from February through May, is paid for by a Veterans in the Arts Initiative grant from the California Arts Council.

The goal is to clear invasive plants from the desert, make them into paper and pulp and create works of art and writing that will displayed in a show in May.

Cheryl Montelle, Mil-Tree founder, is excited about bringing the project to the Morongo Basin.

“Mil-Tree’s mission is to bring veterans into the community through arts and dialogue,” Montelle said. “Communication and arts is what we are about, to create bonds and connections where there haven’t been.”
read more here

This is a great video from 2010
War and the Soul: Healing our Veterans, Families, and Communities from the Wounds of War

Dr. Edward Tick is a practicing psychotherapist who has worked with veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for more than 30 years. For Tick, the key to helping veterans heal lies in how we understand PTSD.

Ret. General Petraeus Will Keep 4th Star

Pentagon won't demote Petraeus for sharing information
Tom Vanden Brook
January 30, 2016

WASHINGTON — Retired General David Petraeus will not be docked one star for his conviction on charges of leaking classified information to his biographer and former lover, according to a letter sent by the Pentagon to the Senate and obtained by USA TODAY.

Stephen Hedger, a top official for legislative affairs, wrote Friday to Sen. John McCainsaying that Defense Secretary Ash Carter considers the Petraeus matter closed, according to the letter, which was obtained by USA TODAY from the Senate.

A Defense department official told USA TODAY on Saturday that Carter accepted the Army's recommendation that Petraeus not be sanctioned with demotion. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.

Carter agreed with the findings of an Army review that recommended Petraeus be allowed to maintain his four-star rank in retirement, the official said. Holding that rank, while prestigious, also allows him to collect a pension of around $220,000. Loss of a star could have cost him tens of thousands of dollars a year.
read more here

Amputee Veterans Enjoy Parade of Pirates in Tampa

Wounded Veteran Meets Joe Maddon at Bayshore Home on Parade Route
Tampa Tribune
By Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
January 30, 2016
Charlie Lemon, center, got to have his wish fulfilled and met Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, left, on Saturday at Gasparilla. HOWARD ALTMAN/STAFF
Sitting in his wheelchair on the front lawn of the Bayshore Boulevard home owned by Jill and Scott Kelley, Charlie Lemon talks about an item on his bucket list.

“I really want to meet Joe Maddon,” says Lemon, 32, who lost both legs in Iraq in 2011 when an explosive hit the big armored vehicle in which he was riding.

Lemon is one of about a half-dozen veterans — wounded in combat dating back to the Vietnam War — who, along with spouses and significant others, were invited to watch the annual Gasparailla parade from the Kelleys’ lawn.

For Lemon and the other wounded veterans, it was a chance to see an event they otherwise would have to avoid.

“This is my first Gasparilla since I was hurt,” says Lemon. “There’s no way I could come out here otherwise, because it’s impossible to get around these crowds in this chair.”

It was a sentiment shared by Rudy Salas, who was a Marine lance corporal when he lost his left leg in Vietnam.

“Normally I’d stay home,” says Salas, 68.
read more here

Gasparilla Parade of Pirates
Gasparilla celebrations get off to an early start on Davis Island

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Joplin High School Won't Hold Empty Chair for Tornado Victim?

Anguished mom wants seat saved for son at graduation
WZZM 13 ABC News
January 30, 2016
"They should at least do something," he said. Williams is now 21 and a member of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in North Carolina's Camp Lejeune. His unit is expected to deploy soon.
JOPLIN, Mo. — A woman whose son was killed almost five years ago in a monster tornado that struck southwest Missouri wants an empty chair saved for him at what would have been his high school graduation.

Officials at Joplin High School and the school district rejected the request, saying it doesn't comply with their policy. Now Tammy Niederhelman hopes to put pressure on Joplin School District officials through an online petition.

"I'll never see my son graduate. I know that. I'll never see him get married. I'll never hold my grandchildren," Niederhelman said. "This is very important to me — to have a seat for him."

Zachary Zachary Allen Williams was 12 and hadn't finished middle school when he died May 22, 2011, as he huddled in a bathroom of the Niederhelmans' house; 160 other people died that same day.

"No parent should ever have to beg, plead, and fight for their deceased student to be honored with their own seat at graduation and for their name to be called," Niederhelman wrote in her petition, which more than 4,500 people had signed as of Friday. "Zach will not sit in the seat as he should have but he was, is, and always will be a Joplin Eagle Class of 2016."
read more here

Marine Veteran Stops Intruder Twice

Former Marine Stops Burglary, Holds Intruder at Gunpoint 
News Channel 20
Brendan Cullerton
January 29, 2016
"He did an outstanding job of defending his castle, and had the restraint to know not to shoot because he didn't feel his life was in danger at that point."
Josh Crammond said when he first heard the break in Thursday night, he thought it was his girlfriend.

"I was awake and then I heard glass break," Crammond said. "I thought she fell in the kitchen and dropped something and it scared me, and then I heard somebody kick in my door."

24-year-old Christopher Price had busted through the glass in Crammonds door, but he picked the wrong house.

"My father was a police officer, and I spent four years in the Marine Corps."

So Crammond pulled a gun on the intruder, scared him off, called 911 and went upstairs.

But Price tried breaking in again.
read more here

Marine Presented with Navy and Marine Corps Medal

Marine awarded for saving Senegalese man from drowning
Marine Corps Times
By Matthew L. Schehl
January 29, 2016
Sprankle, who also happens to be a Marine Corps water survival instructor, was at dinner with fellow Marines when they heard screams coming from a nearby pier: A swimmer had been caught up in a strong rip current.

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew A. Sprankle is awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal after saving a Senegalese man from drowning last August, aboard Morón Air Base, Spain, Jan. 26, 2016. The award is the highest non-combative decoration for heroism awarded by the U.S. Department of the Navy.
(Photo: Sgt. Kassie McDole, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa)
A Marine who leapt into the ocean to save a drowning Senegalese man has received the Navy’s highest non-combat decoration for heroism.

Sgt. Matthew Sprankle was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal on Tuesday by Maj. Gen. Niel Nelson, commander of Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, at a ceremony aboard Moŕon Air Base, Spain. 

The mortarman deployed with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force — Crisis Response — Africa is credited with saving the man’s life as he was being swept out to sea Aug. 28 in Dakar, Senegal.
read more here

Army Captain Back from South Korea Meets 4 New Babies

ABC 7 News Chicago
Will Jones
January 29, 2016
HINSDALE, Ill. (WLS) -- Four newborn quadruplets are meeting their father - home from his deployment in South Korea - for the first time.

Anthony Burch and his wife Mary Pat are now the parents to Henry, Molly, Nathaniel and Samuel.

"I can't wait to hold them," Anthony said.

This is the moment this Army captain has been waiting for.

The quadruplets are getting stronger every day in the neonatal intensive care unit at AMITA Adventist Medical Center at Hinsdale.

Although Anthony couldn't be in the delivery room last Sunday morning to welcome them into the world, he wasn't too far away thanks to FaceTime.

"Perfect timing. Everything clicked together I was able to see the babies as they were getting cleaned off in the room," Anthony said.

"He got to see them before I did even though I was right there and he was 12,000 miles away," Mary Pat said.
read more here

Judge Regrets Sending Veteran to Prison

With regret, judge gives veteran 6 years for home invasion
Edith Brady-Lunny 1 hr ago
Saying he appreciated the state's willingness to support the minimum sentence of six years, Luckman said "I wish our legislature had shown the same thoughtfulness."
BLOOMINGTON — Thanking an Iraq War veteran for his service and bravery, a McLean County judge expressed regret that no sentencing option other than prison existed before giving him a six-year term for home invasion.

Lawyers for Sam Siatta spent Friday afternoon arguing the psychological aftermath of his service with the Marines in Afghanistan was behind his out-of- control conduct in April 2014. Siatta, 26, of Diamond, a small town near Joliet, was convicted in November of breaking into a man's home in Normal and hitting the man with a frying pan. Siatta was stabbed nine times by the victim during the altercation.

The situation Siatta and other veterans find themselves in was not contemplated by lawmakers when they approved a mandatory prison term of six to 30 years for home invasion, said defense lawyer Kerry Luckman.

"This is an issue we are going to be dealing with more with the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Luckman.

In his brief comments to Judge Scott Drazewski, Siatta apologized to the victim. He said he has no memory of the incident that occurred while he was a student at Illinois State University.

With day-for-day good time credit, Siatta will serve about three years of the sentence.
read more here

Veteran Caregiver Stipends Dropped 7,000 Families

Reminder; this program was for only post 9-11 veterans and their families. Older ones, waiting even longer for help were not part of this. We didn't matter.
Veterans’ caregivers lose VA stipends, struggle to understand why
The Olympian
Adam Ashton
January 29, 2016
So far, about 7,000 veterans who once were enrolled in the program no longer are getting stipends. About a third were cut because VA staff members determined they did not meet medical criteria for the support.
For some, caregiver stipends validated work at home with loved ones

Overall program growing at a fast pace, adding 400 caregivers every month

Advocates notice more complaints, but unsure what’s behind changes
Alisha McNulty of Olympia received a stipend from the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2012 to help her family care for her husband, Jared, an Iraq veteran with post-traumatic stress. The family lost the benefit in December. She and her husband do not understand why. Steve Bloom
For three years, a monthly stipend of $1,275 from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs gave Sarah Jenkins the freedom to care for her husband without having to worry about resuming her career.

That let her keep a calm home and respond instantly if her veteran husband experienced one of the mood swings that have characterized his behavior since a group of mortars landed close to him on an Iraqi air field.

The checks abruptly stopped in August when the VA declared her family no longer needed them. Jenkins is still trying to figure out why.

“How am I going to keep him still feeling safe? That’s what the caregiver program has enabled me to do — to keep him feeling safe,” said Jenkins, 39, whose family recently moved to their hometown in North Idaho after spending the previous 17 years in Roy and Yelm.
read more here

Space Coast Attorneys Step up for Veterans

Local attorneys unite for veterans' causes 
R. Norman Moody
January 29, 2016
"It makes people more aware of where a veteran can get help," said Dennis Vannorsdall, Brevare County Veterans Services manager.
VIERA As an Army veteran, Viera-based attorney Sara Goodin knows of some of the issues former service members face both in and out of the judicial system.

But many of the veterans, and the attorneys who serve them, don't know of the benefits available to veterans on the Space Coast.

So in conversation with other members of the Brevard County Bar Association, it was decided that sharing information while at the same honoring military men and women was a good way to better serve veterans.

"She mentioned that people did not know about their benefits," said Kim Torres, an attorney with Torres Mediation in Melbourne. "Our attorneys don't even know what available for their clients."

The Bar Association presented Salute to Our Military, a dinner and gathering Thursday night for attorneys, judges, leaders of military units in Brevard County, and veterans groups and organizations that provide services to veterans.
read more here

Report on Wounded Soldier Lacking Information

There are so many pull at your heart stories on our veterans that just don't seem to add up.

On this one, there are a few paragraphs with a "feel good" read to them however it doesn't really say much at all.
Hundreds gather to support Whitman veteran injured in Iraq WFXT News Jan 29, 2016
"Hundreds of people packed the Whitman VFW to help raise money for Paul Skarinka's family to pay for the cost of Paul's recovery at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington."
Pay for cost of recovery at Walter Reed? Really? Walter Reed does not charge for wounded soldiers to get care. Skarinka was wounded in 2004, 12 years ago. Is he a veteran or still in the military? Is the reporter talking about the cost for his wife and child? Then why couldn't they go to Fisher House or any of the other charities funding places to stay nearby? Plus if "hundreds" gathered to raise funds for this wounded soldier, do you think they deserved more than a few paragraphs?

Florida Veterans Charities Feeling Sting After Wounded Warrior Project Report

Florida Veterans Charities Paying the Price of Service
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 30, 2016

If you donated because of a commercial pulling at your heart then BOHICA if you never noticed one simple fact. Wounded Warrior Project never says what they are doing with your money. They make no claims about why they even need your money other than to "honor and empower them to aid and assist each other."

They omit the fact that they only "serve" post 9-11 veterans but it is in their website. They have not hidden the fact they are getting huge sums of money donated to them as well as donating huge sums of money to other groups with the money you gave them to other groups.

See, the thing is, as much as all the CBS reporting may have you upset, you really need to blame yourself for not doing your own research just as all the major donators should have done.

The American Sniper Movie about Chris Kyle promised $1 million to Wounded Warrior Project by Warner Brothers instead of the Chris Kyle Foundation in April of 2015.

If you think the reports from CBS on Wounded Warrior Project are new, think again.

CBS WTVR News did another report last year. It showed the troubling accounting they were doing on fundraising and expenses included in on "services" they reported.
CEO responds after watchdogs give Wounded Warrior charity low marks APRIL 29, 2015, BY WEB STAFF
Nardizzi said the best way for a potential donor to gauge a charity is to research the charity directly, without relying on charity-watchdog web sites. But our investigation shows how a charity and a charity-checking organization can review the same data and come up with different results.

On the Wounded Warrior Project’s website, the charity says it spends 80 percent of its donations on its main services. But tax records show it also includes some fundraising expenses in that mix. Charity Navigator subtracts the fundraising and — in its most recent report — said the Wounded Warrior Project spends less than 60 percent on its services. The rest, according to Charity Navigator, went to fundraising and administration.
June 2015 UCLA received a grant from Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project has approved a $15.7 million grant over three years for UCLA Health to expand its Operation Mend program.
But there are others and they are proud to say how many grants they have given out with the funds you thought were going to the veterans they show in those famous commercials with the blankets covered with their famous logo.

November 2015
Southeastern Grocers Customers raise $526,825.66 for Wounded Warrior Project Grocers’ Wall of Honor campaign aids injured veterans and their families
May have sounded good but what they didn't tell you is that not all veteran mattered enough for the Southern Grocers to donate to a charity that excludes older veterans waiting even longer for help with the same wounds.

WWP not run by a veteran and according to reports, only about a third of their employees are veterans.
Steve Nardizzi bio on WWP shows no military service.
A Richardson Scholar, Steve graduated from Brooklyn Law School and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1997 and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in 1999. He attended New York University, where he was a Trustee Scholar, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1993.
Maybe that's why he has no problem admitting that this charity is treated more like a business than a not for profit charity doing the work for the sake of veterans.

The majority of charities out there are not successful fundraisers.  However they are doing the work they promised to do, putting veterans needs ahead of getting your money.  All these reports have stung these groups, plus many more, more interested in veterans than raising awareness about themselves.
Local veterans advocates fear impact from Wounded Warrior reports
Tampa Tribune
By Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
January 29, 2016

TAMPA — As both a wounded veteran and a fund-raiser helping people like him, Pete Quintanilla says reports about lavish spending by the cause’s biggest charity — the Jacksonville-based Wounded Warrior Project — is making a tough job even tougher.
The Combat Wounded and Injured Veteran Challenge Team successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, in 2013. The group is worried recent news about the Wounded Warrior Project will make their job more difficult. Combat Wounded and Injured Veteran Challenge Team

“There’s veteran fatigue,” said Quintanilla, director of operations for Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, a St. Petersburg-based non-profit helping veterans through expeditions and research.

“People are tired of giving money for veterans because they don’t know what the money is being used for and they are not sure their dollar is going to help the veteran.”

This week, CBS and the New York Times ran reports raising questions about how the Wounded Warrior Project spends the money it takes in, largely from small donors.

CBS said financial reports show the Wounded Warrior Project spent more than $26 million in 2014 on conferences, meetings and events for staff members — “almost the same amount they spent on combat stress recovery, its largest program for veterans.”

Supporters locally still stand by the Wounded Warrior Project, including a severely wounded Iraq war veteran the charity has helped and the Winn-Dixie supermarket chain, which questions the fairness of the news reports.
Quintanilla and others who run local charities helping veterans say the questions about the Wounded Warrior Project spending leave them as collateral damage. They also have raised their own questions publicly before the news reports appeared.

“It’s going to be harder to raise money now,” said Quintanilla, a medically retired Army Ranger staff sergeant who was shot in the left ankle in Panama during a live-fire training exercise in 1997. His leg was amputated in 2004.

Quintanilla said his organization, which has about $80,000 in the bank, spends 86 percent of the money it raises directly on programs for veterans. That compares to 60 percent spent by Wounded Warrior Project, according to independent charity monitoring groups.
That’s also a concern for Bob Silah, a retired Navy captain who runs Operation Helping Hand, a Tampa-based charity providing assistance to wounded, ill and injured troops at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa.

Every month since 2004, the organization has hosted a dinner at the hospital honoring these troops and their families. As he collects donations at these gatherings from corporations and groups, Silah is quick to tell them 96.5 percent of the money raised by Operation Helping Hand goes to the troops and their families.

Unlike the Wounded Warrior Project, he adds, he and everyone associated with Operation Helping Hand do their work for free.
read more here
As for the roots of WWP this is how it started.
The Wounded Warrior Project’s roots are more humble. Its founder, John Melia, was a Marine veteran who had been injured in a helicopter crash off the coast of Somalia in 1992. When wounded troops began returning from Iraq in 2003, Mr. Melia remembered how he had arrived in a stateside hospital with only his thin hospital gown, and began visiting military hospitals to distribute backpacks stuffed with socks, CD players, toothpaste and other items.

As the backpack project grew, Mr. Melia hired a few employees, including Mr. Nardizzi, a lawyer who had never served in the military but was an executive for a small nonprofit, the United Spinal Association, which served disabled veterans.
WWP got the attention to help them raise all that money while other groups didn't even get attention for good works they were doing. Now WWP doesn't like the attention it is getting while other groups are paying for what they did. Doesn't seem fair at all.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Top Charities Do More For Veterans With Less Awareness For Themselves

Just to focus on something positive for a change, Top charities give larger portion to services than Wounded Warrior Project" on Stars and Stripes covered WWP but also covered what others do, so in a way, a valuable report to know next time you want to write a check.
“The donors’ money, they want it to go to the mission of Homes for Our Troops. So, if they give us $10, they want to know most of it is going to build that home,” said retired Army Gen. Richard Cody, chairman of the board for the charity, which builds specially equipped homes for veterans across the United States.
David Coker, president of the Fisher House Foundation, said his charity largely operates by word of mouth without marketing. It spent about 2 percent of its money on fundraising in 2014.
“We think if we just focus on meeting the needs in our lane that good things are going to happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, 91 percent of Fisher House expenses went directly into free lodging for military families so they can be close to a loved one during an illness or medical treatment. The group operates 67 locations and served about 25,000 families in 2014.
So pretty much, money has been donated to raise awareness about WWP while others do more work with less and don't advertise for themselves.

Seat Saved At Soldier's Field for Missing in Action

Empty seat at Soldier Field dedicated to POWs, MIAs
Chicago Tribune
Brianna Gurciullo
January 28, 2016
The open seat, which is fenced off between an American flag and POW/MIA flag, honors prisoners of war and service members declared missing in action.

Rolling Thunder, Illinois Chapter One, members Kandice Jacobs, from left
Gary Bills and Dina Derman look at a chair dedicated to prisoners of war
and missing in action military personnel after a ceremony at Soldier Field
on Jan. 28, 2016. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Rolling Thunder members, donning leather jackets with biker patches, hats and sunglasses, filed by a lone chair, plaque and set of flags Thursday afternoon at Soldier Field.

Some stopped and saluted. A man and woman stood arm in arm and looked at the arrangement.

"America the Beautiful" played over speakers. Later, snow flurries began to fall as several members posed for a photo together.
More than 83,000 military personnel remain missing from conflicts as long ago as World War II, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
read more here

Trump Raised Millions for Veterans To Do What?

The reporting sure has gone crazy lately! All of us know the problems we're having, especially when dealing with folks donating blindly for things veterans need but never seem to get.  As if all the "awareness" crap wasn't bad enough but now it seems some just don't care where the money is going.

CNN reported this today.

$6 million for 22 veterans' groups

He predicted that the amount of money that he had raised through a website and through personal calls to wealthy friends who contributed to the cause would impress Iowans. "I think this money is going to continue to pour in."
The Trump campaign on Thursday night released a list of 22 veterans' organizations that will share the more than $6 million fundraising haul.
The organizations run the gamut from groups focused on helping veterans with disabilities and mental health problems to those aimed at helping veterans reintegrate into civilian society.

But ABC reported this today as well

Trump's Veteran Site Funnels Money to His Personal Non-Profit 
ABC 13 News

Donald Trump began a firestorm when he declined last night's GOP debate in order to host his own event a mere 8 minutes away to benefit veterans. Suspicions began to appear first when his spokeswoman couldn't name a single vet group that they plan to help. Then, suspicions continued when people began to investigate his veteran site,

The Federalist, one organization who looked into the site's credibility, said that the site is odd as it is merely,"... nothing more than a single page with stock photos and a credit card donation form, claims that '100% of your donations will go directly to Veterans needs.'" The problem? The Federalist reports that Trump is channeling all donations for veterans to his personal Donald J Trump Foundation, which has treated veterans more as an afterthought. read more here

Charity Took Back Service Dog

Charity reclaims service dog after veteran Brandon Garrison’s lie
Stars and Stripes
By Travis J. Tritten
Published: January 29, 2016

Army Spc. Brandon Garrison, doing base security patrol while at

Forward Operating Base Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in June 2006.
WASHINGTON – A Kansas City military charity has reclaimed a service dog it donated to a veteran after he lied about trying to save a fellow soldier’s life in Afghanistan.

The group Food Industry Serving Heroes took the Boykin Spaniel from Brandon Garrison earlier this month after threatening legal action. A Stars and Stripes investigation in September detailed how Garrison, a former Army specialist hailed as a hero in Kansas, lied for years to Sgt. Christopher Wilson’s mother about being at her son’s side when he died on the battlefield.

“In light of everything we’ve discovered this dog never should have been given to [Garrison],” said Paul Chapa, a founder of the nonprofit group.

In 2007, Wilson was deployed to the Korengal Valley with the 10th Mountain Division and was manning a firebase when he was struck and killed by recoilless rifle fire in a Taliban attack. Garrison, 29, had not held Wilson as he died, despite the story he told the sergeant’s mother, and was instead in the main sleeping tent at the nearby Korengal Outpost, where he spent his deployment inside the wire as a vehicle parts clerk.
read more here

Young Marines show respect for Vietnam veteran

Thank you for your service: Young Marines show respect for Vietnam veteran
Belleville News Democrat
January 29, 2016
‘I knew they were military by their haircuts – high and tight’
Actions got the attention of diners at Caseyville restaurant
Even 32-year police officer got emotional
“When the waiter came over after the meal, waving the check, he said, ‘This is your lucky day. Those young men bought your dinner.’

Vietnam Veteran Lou Zezoff was overwhelmed by the generosity shown by several Marines during his recent dinner. Derik Holtmann
The Marines landed in Caseyville at seventeen hundred thirty hours on 15 JAN 16.

Lou Zezoff, of Granite City, will never forget it.

“My wife Annette and I went out to dinner at Cracker Barrel,” Lou said a week and a half later, wearing the same “US Navy Vietnam Vet” cap he wore that evening. “When we were seated, I noticed five young men sitting at a round table. I knew they were military by their haircuts — high and tight.”

Lou and Annette ordered fried cod. It came with a side of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

After the Zezoffs finished ordering, the Marines sprang into action.

“One of the young came over and stood at our table. I stood up and we were eyeball-to-eyeball,” Lou said. “He threw out his hand, thanking me for my service.”

A second one came did the same. “He said, I’m thanking you for all five of us,” motioning to the others.

Lous waved in acknowledgement, then went over to talk with them briefly.
read more here

Disney Finest Hours Honors Coast Guard

“The Finest Hours” celebrates a heroic, near impossible Coast Guard rescue — one of many in Coast Guard history
FRIDAY, JAN 29, 2016
From New Orleans after Katrina to a daring San Francisco Bay rescue, up-from-below leadership took center stage
In the book turned Disney action movie ‘The Finest Hours,” due out Jan. 29, Chris Pine plays real-life Coast Guard hero Bernie Webber. In February 1952 Webber and his crew of three saved 32 of 33 sailors trapped on the stern end of the Pendleton, a ship that split in two during a historic storm off New England. The Pendleton was one of two war-surplus tankers that were torn asunder by the monster storm’s 40-60-foot waves. Webber’s seamanship running his 36-foot motor lifeboat through snow-blown surf and making a near impossible rescue quickly earned him a place in the annals of gold-medal lifesaving.

Still, his rescue is just one of many in Coast Guard history. Its ranks of heroes who’ve pulled off similar amazing feats range from Alaska’s “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy to North Carolina’s Rasmus Midgett and Richard Etheridge to Rhode Island Lighthouse keeper Ida Lewis to the aviators and small boat crews who surged into New Orleans and the Gulf Coast following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, saving 33,000 lives.
read more here

Central Florida February Veterans Events

Jan/Feb list of Central FL veteran, military and patriotic events
From Cathy Haynes
*This is a list of unique events in Central Florida – events that have been shared with me. 
*Send me your events – people cannot attend an event if they don’t know about it!
*Please share this information and events with your friends and interested others and attend.  Post where appropriate.
*Every effort is made to put a space into email addresses and websites.  
Suggested delayed New Year’s Resolutions:
·         If you moved in/to Florida and bought a home, have you filed for your 2016 Property Tax Exemption?  Deadline of March 1 at your county office.
·         Apply for your DD214 (aka: discharge papers), Service Medical Records, and Awards records. These may take several months to receive.  Get them before you really need them.
·         Join a military/veterans organization.
·         Pledge at least one or one additional hour a month in service to veterans in our communities.
NEX – Navy Exchange Special!  For persons eligible for NEX, scratch off coupon events will take place at the Navy Exchange January 27- February 2. Get an extra 5%, 10%, 15%, 25% or 50% Off with use of the coupon.  1 in 3 cards has 10% Off or better!  (Eligible persons are all branches of active duty military, reservists, guardsmen, retirees, 100% service-connected disabled veterans and their dependents. See below.)  Authorized patrons are encouraged to join the mailing list to receive scratch-off coupons and flyers.  There are two ways you can sign up: by going online to www. myNavyExchange  .com or by calling NEXCOM customer service at 1-800-628-3924, available 24/7.
 “The Finest Hours” - Fri Jan 29 – Release of Disney’s Coast Guard rescue film starring Chris Pine and based on a true story of a 1952 nor’easter off of Cape Cod, Mass. 
FOUR CHAPLAINS COMMEMORATIVE CEREMONY – Sun. Jan 31– American Legion Post 112 at 2pm - Vice Commander Jerry Dress, a Korean War vet, has worked very hard to coordinate this event with Sea Cadets and Scouts. Come support good kids with your attendance!  Four chaplains from several religions and denominations assisted military personnel and civilians before their ship, USAT Dorchester, sank in the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 3, 1943.  The chaplains gave up their life jackets and helped persons onto life boats.  They joined arms, prayed and sang hymns before they died together. Free and open to the public.  Amer. Legion Post 112, 4490 North Goldenrod Road, Winter Park, 32792
Military Appreciation Day at UCF – Sun, Jan 31 – UCF basketball against UConn.  4pm start.  Free Tickets for all Active Military, veterans and first responders.  Free T-shirt for the first 1000 fans.  VISIT: /mbbmilitary16    Deadline to “purchase” Friday Jan 29 at 5pm.  Questions - 407-823-1000
February is Black History Month.  Review some of the historical contributions made by Buffalo Riders, Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Point Marines, and others.
Angel’s Life Baklava “Valentines” Fundraiser - Bundles of homemade "Baklava" made with freshly chopped walnuts and pistachios, sweet rich honey & light layers of phyllo dough.  $15.00 per box of 9 bundles (Gift Box & Tissue.)  Order Deadline by Tues, Feb 9, 4pm.  Orders to Pick-up in store at the Oviedo Mall (Macy’s side) OR delivery fee of $4.95.  To order go to /angels-life-foundation/ baklava-fundraiser  OR  Contact jovanna @angelslife. org   407-375-9728 by a CF Mom, Aida. Local Gold Star Mother, Jovanna Nelson, is working with Angel’s Life Foundation by raising funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis.  Her son, Army SPC Brenden N. Salazar-Nelson, was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan on July 22, 2012.  His only sibling, Hannah, has Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic life-threatening disease.   Army Reserve LCol. Jovanna Nelson also is an event planner in the Central FL area.
Marine Corps League Orlando - Tues, Feb 2 - Cpl. Larry E. Smedley, Detachment 064 Monthly Meeting, 7pm – 8pm at the Orange County Library, 4324 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803 -- Herndon Meeting Room 1.  All interested persons are welcomed.  Info:  Sam McCloud  407-595-9508 mclcfl @gmail. com or mcl.orlando.commandan t@ gmail. com
(Cpl. Larry Smedley was an Orange County resident and enlisted in the Marine Corps.  He was killed in Vietnam on December 21, 1967 after heroic actions were seen in battle.  He earned the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously; he was 18 yrs old.)
City of Orlando Mayors’ Veterans Advisory Council – Thurs. Feb 4 – 1:30pm monthly meeting of numerous organizations and individuals for the benefit of local veterans and active duty personnel. Planning of functions (ie:  Veterans Day parade) and awareness of events is shared.  Designated representatives allow groups to coordinate efforts.  If your Orlando area vet/military associated group isn’t attending, it should plan to get involved.  Networking before and after the meeting.  See website at, Office of the Mayor, Mayor’s Committees, Veterans.   Contact Chairman Michael Waldrop for attendance and location information.  mwaldrop@ blue-cord. com
7th Annual Orlando Chili Cook Off – Sat Feb 6 – Southeast Regional Championship of tasty chili samples – From Over 100 Different Chili Booths!  Unlimited samples are included in your ticket price. Live music all day, featured bands include Wilted Chilis, The Holcomb Brothers Band and Common Man.  Kids Zone Sponsored by Fun Spot; The World Chili Eating Challenge featuring Championship eaters Joey "Jaws" Chestnut and Miki Sudo.  Gates open 12noon at Festival Park,  2911 E. Robinson St, Orlando, 32803 - just west of Orlando Executive Airport.  Advance Adult tickets: $15 (until 2/5/16) Day of Adult: $20.  BUT – you can save $5 by going to:   Enter promo code  GIVE2VETS   A portion of the ticket proceeds go to Camaraderie Foundation, which provides healing for invisible wounds of war through counseling, emotional, and spiritual support for all branches of military service members, veterans and their families. (Camaraderie Foundation:  407-841-0071  Lives and families HAVE been saved!)
Veteran Infused Employment Workshops – Tues – Thurs, Feb 9 - 11, - Various free classes offered to veterans that will assist in job searching.  Lake Nona VA Hospital site, 4th Flr, Rm 106A/B, 13800 Veterans Way, Orlando, 32827.  Feb 9 workshop – Creating your Job Search Tactics and Network;  Feb 10 – Goals, Resumes, and Interviewing; Feb 11 – Performance Excellence, Mock Interviews, and Graduation.  Workshops are 10am – 2pm, Lunch is NOT provided.  Contact Annie Artis, vhaorlhvces @va. gov  407-629-1599 x28846.
Central Florida Navy League mtg – Wed. Feb 10 - Guest speaker this month is CDR Riley Gatewood, USCGC's Vigilant Commanding Officer.  The Vigilant performs a wide variety of service based from Port Canaveral.  The Navy League is composed of citizens in support of the United States sea services – Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.  Many members are military veterans but military service is NOT required.  The local CFNL is one of the largest in Florida with fun and educational monthly meetings with a very diverse membership.  Lunch meeting at Holiday Inn, UCF, 1724 Alafaya Trail, Orlando, 32826, at 11:30 and luncheon ends promptly at 13:00.  Luncheons are $20 prepaid by 10am Feb 9; or $25 at the door. Prepay by credit card online at  www. cfnavyleague .org    Membership inquiries: Bob Karas    407-977-7575
FAVOB After Hours – Wed. Feb 10 - Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses (FAVOB) sponsors this After Hours "FREE"event!!! Come join us for drinks, fellowship and networking at the Club 39 at the Rosen Plaza, 9700 International Drive, Orlando, 32819 (just north of the older section of the Orange Co. Convention Center.)  6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.  Open to all civilians and veterans alike....You don't have to be a vet to support the veteran business community!  Special reduced pricing on drinks and appetizers has been arranged.  Complimentary self parking.   Info:  jrice @ supportingstrategies. com
VA Art Show – Fri, Feb 12 – Veterans provide their hand work in a variety of Fine Arts, Applied Arts and Crafts in a competition.  Items can be seen from 12noon to 3pm in the Orlando VA Medical Center at Lake Nona, Auditorium A on the 4th flr.  Items are:  paintings, drawings, leather drafting, woodworking, metalwork, pottery, etc.  Entries are still being accepted, registration ends Jan 30, and art work should be submitted on Feb 8, 9, or 10. Info:  Jenny Danieli at 407-631-7110  jenny.danieli @va. gov
Valentine’s Day Dinner and Day – Sat. Feb 13 – A very nice fundraiser sponsored by Knights of Columbus Council 11488.  A portion of proceeds will benefit Home At Last that assists wounded warriors with local specially adapted homes. Tickets/information available by contacting Jim McQuillan at 407-877-2149.   Also available after the Masses at Holy Family Catholic Church, 5125 S. Apopka Vineland Rd, Orlando, 32819.  (Southwest Orlando.) Obtain your tickets early, this event has sold out in previous years. Event will be in their St. Patrick Social Hall.  $25 Prime Rib dinner and dance from 6pm – 11pm.  Silent auction, 50/50 raffle and more.  Flyer available.  dad @ mcquillanfamily. com 
Operation Love Letters – Sat. Feb 13 – 4th annual Valentine letter writing by military family members who are grieving their personal losses, whether the servicemen or women died in combat or not.  Letters are attached to balloons and released.  Please let other grieving military families know about this event – they move in and out of our communities and may want an opportunity to connect with others who understand.  Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) who offers long term assistance at no charge to all surviving military families, regardless of branch, in a large section of Cent. FL.  Contact Gwendolyn Hannah, 407-240-5939 X 1746,  gwendolyn.c.hannah.ctr @mail. mil  (Assistance after hours, contact the Army Reserve Family Programs Fort Family Support and Outreach Center - 1-866-345-8248. Serving Soldiers and Families 24/7/365.)
Valentine’s Day Champagne Brunch and Jazz – Sun Feb 14 – Public invited, food, music, games and prizes at Doubletree by Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront, 2080 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach, 32931. $85 per couple, $11 per child age 5-12.  Sponsor a table for 10 with your logo for $500.  Sponsor a military family (2 adults, 2 children) for $100.  Info:  kim @avetproject .org  321-373-7046.
Veterans Business Initiative Kick Off – Tues, Feb 16 – Program of veteran job matching, entrepreneurship education and training, federal employment navigation and financial training.  Many large local employers are participating to provide a one-to-one, face-to-face effort that gets the best potential employees into great jobs.  Sponsored by Central Florida Disability Chamber of Commerce (CFDCC), the Veterans Business Initiative, and CareerSource.  8:30am – Noon at CFDCC, National Entrepreneur Center, 3201 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando, 32803.  Info:  Rogue Gallart 407-420-4875  or Jaime Quarnoccio   407-531-1231 x7339
Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses mtg (FAVOB) – Tues Feb 16 – meeting at 10am, a “Chamber of Commerce” of sorts open to all veteran owned businesses, at American Legion Florida Department bldg., 1912A Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810.  19 states offer contract preferences to veteran owned businesses.  Florida is NOT one of them.  Our goal is to change that in big business, our cities, and counties too.  See FAVOB Facebook site.  Info:  Chairman Michael Waldrop  mwaldrop @blue-cord .com
Orange County Mayors’ Veterans Advisory Council –Wed. Feb 17– 1:30pm monthly meeting of numerous organizations and individuals for the benefit of Central FL veterans and active duty personnel. Planning of events and awareness is shared.  Designated representatives allow groups to coordinate efforts and unite for the common cause.  If your Orange County /Central FL vet/military associated group isn’t attending, it should plan to get involved.  Mayor Teresa Jacobs is very supportive of a veteran-friendly community.  Contact Chairman Col. Edwin Marrero for attendance and location information. emarrero81 @cfl.rr .com 
Retiree Appreciation Day – Sat. Feb 20 – Military retirees can enjoy a variety of speakers from the Department of the Army, Veterans Affairs, MOAA (Military Officers Association of America) and others.  Special guest will be Army SMA Raymond Chandler III (ret.)  Information provided by Tricare, Exchanges from the Army, Air Force and Navy, etc.  All service branch retirees and their families are invited.  9am – 3pm at The Venue at UCF (University of Central Florida) at 12777 Gemini Blvd N., Orlando, 32816 located behind the CFE Arena.  Sponsored by Fort Stewart.
Black History Month Recognition – Sat. Feb 20 – Museum of Military History   10am – 3pm.  Buffalo Soldiers, first responder displays, military reenactors, USO, and more.  5210 West Irlo Bronson Hwy, Kissimmee, 34746.  Office: 407-507-3894  sgtmccloud @juno .com 
Central Florida Veterans Inc. mtg – Tues Feb 23 – Meeting of veterans and groups in the Central Florida area.  Meeting includes a guest speaker and sharing of information that is important to veterans.  This group meets on the LAST Tuesday of every other month. (Even numbered months) in the Orlando VA Medical Center at Lake Baldwin in the Cafeteria at 5:30pm.  Info:  Greg Smith at 901-438-7734  farside53 @ gmail .com
Children’s Book Launch – Fri. Feb 26 – “Patriot Pup” the first in a series of children's patriotic books designed to educate and inspire future generations to love our country.  7pm at The Academy of Learning, 445 South Orange Blvd., Sanford, 32771.  “Patriot Pup” is written by Elisa Camara and she includes her only brother in the story.  Marine Sgt. Mecot Camara was one of 241servicemen killed in the Beirut Bombing of 1983. After launch party/reception at DAV Chapter #30, 3512 South Orlando Dr., Sanford, 32773.  Info:  elisa @americanbrother .us
Greeters needed!  FLIGHTLESS Honor Flight Welcome Home – Sat.Feb 27– Flightless Honor Flight by the Villages hub.  If you cannot attend the evening “Welcome Home” events at OIA, come to this event!  There are 15 WW2 or Korean warriors who, for various reasons, cannot make the flight trip to Washington DC to see their memorial - (hence the term “Kiwi” – a flightless bird).  They will receive a virtual trip in 5 hours – everything except for leaving the ground.  You can participate in the “Welcome Home” at 2:30pm at the American Legion Post Post #347 (Rolling Acres), 699 W Lady Lake Blvd, Lady Lake, 32159.  An Honor Flight with everything except leaving the ground.  Villages Honor Flight was recognized by the national Honor Flight Network for this unique concept!  Info: Village Honor Flight website or Liza at  860-235-7718   lizadiana@
Cape Canaveral National Cemetery opened for first interments of casketed or cremated remains of eligible Veterans, spouses or dependents.  The 318-acre cemetery in Brevard County will serve the burial needs of more than 163,000 Veterans in the cemetery’s service area for the next 100 years.  The land, located at 5525 U.S. Highway 1, between Huntington Avenue and Johns Road, was purchased in July 2012 for $2.1 million. The property is located approximately two miles south of Interstate 95, Exit #231, and approximately 12 miles north of Titusville.
National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117.
Univ. of Central FL Business Incubation Program – Assistance with the many aspects of starting or advancing businesses, including veteran owned businesses.  Expert advice, mentoring, and classes available – contact  michael.weiss @ucf. edu
Upcoming classes:  Tues Feb 23 - Keys to Making Your Business Grow & Reduce Taxes at Kissimmee campus.   Wed Mar 9 - HR's Role as a Vital Contributor to Your Organization's Success at Kissimmee campus.  Also:  Government Contracting Seminar Series with multiple dates and times.  Topics include: Introduction to Federal Government Contracting: Where Do I Start?; GSA and Multiple Award Schedules; Subcontracting and Teaming; and Bids & Proposals.
Mark your calendar – info upcoming; Sponsorships, volunteering, donations are likely welcomed.
Sat Mar 5 - Marine Corps PFT (Physical Fitness Test) Challenge at Blanchard Park in Orlando; benefiting the Central Florida Marine Corps Foundation.
Sun. Mar 6 – Firearms Fun Night – shooting competition presented by AVET Project in Melbourne.
Sun Mar 30 – Golf Tribute to LCol Earle Denton.  Rio Pinar Country Club.
Sun. Apr 2 – Kids on the Water – free day of activities for kids at Wickham Park, per AVET Project. 
Sun. Apr 17 – Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall arrives for a week at the Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion.  Large motorcycle and first responder vehicle escort leaving Eastern Florida State College, Clearlake Rd, Cocoa at 10am.
Thurs – Sun. Apr 21 – 24 - Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion – 29th Annual nation’s largest gathering in Melbourne.
May 8-12 - The Invictus Games, an international adaptive-sporting event for injured military members, held at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.  More than 500 wounded or sick, with visible and non-visible wounds, serving or ex-military athletes from more than a dozen nations will gather.  10 competitive events including archery, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.  I have been in touch with planning staff who are currently in Wash. DC.  Possible lists for volunteering could begin towards the end of February. 
·         WoundedTimes. Blogspot .com - Veterans News Service covering news that matters to veterans and their families. Local, state and national news, events, and stories – especially with videos involving Central Florida military and veterans. Dedicated to defeating Combat PTS.
·         Shades of Green Resort – Armed Forces Recreation Center (a DOD) on Disney property provides various packages for active duty, reservists, guardsmen, 100% service connected disabled, and retired military personnel and their families.  Go to www. shadesofgreen .org  for information.  Special discounts for rooms may be available based on occupancy levels, and special ticket rates.  (407) 824-3400
·         The Navy Exchange (NEX) –NEX in Orlando is for all branches of active duty military, reservists, guardsmen, retirees, 100% service-connected disabled veterans and their dependents. It is located west of Orlando Int’l Airport, about 1 mile south of the Beachline Expy/528 on Tradeport Dr.  Competitive pricing and programs. The big white building on the west side of Tradeport -  7151 Earhart Dr., Orlando, 32827.    www. mynavyexchange .com  407-857-3550
·         MWR / ITT Ticket Office – Offers discounted attraction tickets to active duty military, reservists, guardsmen, retirees, 100% service-connected disabled veterans and their dependents. It is locate adjacent to the Navy Exchange (NEX) listed above.  Phone: 407-855-0116 or 407-851-4396 for details,   email: mwrorl @gmail .com  or Text MWROrlando to 30364 for MWR Specials.
·         Military OneSource is a free service provided by the Department of Defense (DoD) to active duty, Guard and Reserve service members, and their families with comprehensive information on every aspect of military life including deployment, relationships, economics, grief, education, parenting and child care, and much more.  www. militaryonesource .mil
INFO to keep and share - because we care
Veterans in crisis – For you or someone you know - Confidential Hotline:  1-800-273-8255, #1. 
Or:  Website at  veteranscrisisline   provides 24/7 confidential chat online assistance;
Or:  text 838255  for  24/7 confidential assistance.  They are there because they care….
Camaraderie Foundation in Central Florida provides resources for private and confidential Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) counseling for warriors and their families.   It works.  It has saved lives, marriages and families.  Contact 407-841-0071
Caring and sharing,
Cathy Haynes
Member/supporter of numerous veteran and military organizations in Central FL
chaynes11629 @yahoo .com