Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Marine-Afghanistan Amputee Gets Wheels

Custom-ordered Harley brings ‘freedom’ to disabled St. Augustine veteran
Florida Times Union
By Beth Reese Cravey
Posted February 27, 2017

Brandon Long had wanted a motorcycle since he was a kid.
Salesman John Armstrong hands Brandon Long the keys to his new motorcycle as he walks him through the features of the custom Harley-Davidson the Adamec dealership on Baymeadows Road in Jacksonville created for him. Long, 26, a Marine veteran who lives in St. Augustine, ordered a three wheeler configured with hand control to cover the functions normally controlled by the rider's feet.
Photo Bob Self Florida Times Union.
Long thought that dream would go unfulfilled after stepping on an improvised explosive device while on Marine Corps deployment in Afghanistan in December 2010. He said he died — and was resuscitated — eight times, lost both legs and spent two years in physical therapy.

“When I came back injured, I didn’t think I would be able to ride,” Long said.

Still, the dream persisted.

So Long and John Armstrong, a salesman at Adamec Harley-Davidson dealership on Baymeadows Road, spent about a year studying the motorcycle options for a double amputee in a wheelchair. And on Feb. 16, Long, now 26, arrived at the Jacksonville dealership to meet his brand-new Freewheeler, a three-wheeled motorcycle with all custom hand controls.

Long, who had waited a long “two months and two days” for the bike to arrive, was ecstatic.

“It was amazing,” he said last week. “Just absolutely amazing.”
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Fort Hood Soldier Found Dead at Fort Rucker Hotel

Soldier found dead at Fort Rucker hotel identified
By April Davis
Feb 28, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (WTVY) – [UPDATE: February 28, 2017]
The soldier found deceased yesterday on Fort Rucker has been identified as Chief Warrant Officer Two Andre G. Nance.

Nance was 34 years of age and was previously stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. He was at Fort Rucker for the Warrant Officer Advance Course with onward orders to his next duty station at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

At approximately 7:42 a.m. yesterday, an IHG employee called 911 after discovering Nance unresponsive in lodging on post. Upon examination, an Army flight surgeon declared him deceased.

The cause of death is currently under investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
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US Military Vets Motorcycle Club Lost Home to Fire

Veterans biker club headquarters burns down
Published February 27th, 2017
"Our home burnt down. We know our community is behind us and we know the brotherhood doesn't go with the ashes of the house, because that's in here (points to heart) and we will grow here," Reeve said. 
MARION COUNTY, Fla -- A veteran group in Marion Country is recovering from the shock of losing their headquarters in a massive fire.

The building was located near the intersection of SE 135th Ave. and SE 114th St. Rd. in Ocklawaha. The US Military Vets Motorcycle Club Marion County Chapter used this home as their headquarters since 2001.

The century-old home full of memories was left a pile of burnt wood and ashes Monday afternoon. Marion County Fire Rescue responded around 6:30 AM. Monday. HAZMAT teams members responded to the scene to mitigate propane tank hazards.

"You can't replace the items we had in the house that reflects our entire history. All the photos from our community involvement, the appreciative certificates and plaques that we had from our community," said David Reeve, a spokesperson for the club.

It was a gathering place for a brotherhood formed through years of sacrifice and service.

"Our brothers who are fallen; their memorials are in there," Reeve said.
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Fort Bragg Soldier's Death Under Investigation

82nd Airborne paratrooper dies near Fort Bragg
Army Times
By: Charlsy Panzino
February 27, 2017
A paratrooper from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, died Thursday in an off-post incident, according to an Army news release.

Spc. Johnathon D. Poole, of Oxford, Iowa, was assigned to Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

The Fayetteville Police Department is investigating the incident, according to a spokesman with the 82nd Airborne Division. The nature of the incident was not announced as of mid-day Monday, and the police department did not respond immediately to Army Times' request for comment.

The 26-year-old infantryman joined the Army in February 2012 and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in February 2013.
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Veteran Left on Floor in North Carolina VA?

ABC 11 News
John Camp
February 27, 2017
"He was visibly in pain," said Hanna. "And I think the thing with that that disturbed me so much was that there were people just sitting there acting like nothing was happening and he was sitting right in front of them and they were not even acknowledging that it was happening."
DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- It's not hard to find stories of headaches -- and heartache -- when it comes to the VA. What makes this one different is it has pictures to go with it.

Marine veteran Stephen McMenamin and his wife, Hanna, moved to Raleigh from their home in Milwaukee a few months ago and already have amassed an armload of personal stories about long wait times at the Durham VA hospital -- both to get appointments in the first place and in the waiting room once at the hospital.

But they said it was what they saw Friday that moved them to take pictures and post them to Facebook.

"It was very upsetting," Stephen McMenamin said. He and his wife said they saw a handful of older veterans mistreated and ignored during the seven hours they were at the hospital, including an aged-veteran in a wheelchair.
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Fort Hood Tries Something New Against Suicides...Talking and Listening

Soldiers take fresh approach in discussing feelings that could lead to suicide
Killeen Daily Herald
Capt. Kevin Sandell
504 Military Intelligence Brigade
February 27, 2017
Maj. Chuck Lowman, the 504th’s brigade chaplain, said the initial planning process brought together representatives from the Army’s Family Advocacy Program, Army Community Services, the Fort Hood Suicide Prevention Office, the Behavioral Health Department at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, and unit chaplains to discuss the event. He said the group consensus was “to get at the heart of what would create such despair within a person.
Col. Laura Knapp, far right, commander of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade at Fort Hood, discusses the concepts of vulnerability and shame with soldiers and leaders Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, at the Resiliency Leaders Development Forum at the West Fort Hood gym. The event was designed to get soldiers discussing factors towards suicide, and how to leverage camaraderie and team-spirit to defeat suicide.
FORT HOOD — Soldiers in military intelligence units on post recently took a fresh approach to talking openly about shame, vulnerability and similar feelings, including some that are known to lead to suicide.

The Feb. 16 event, known as resiliency training in the Army, touched on weighty concepts not often seen in traditional Army training, but allowed soldiers to open a dialogue about difficult but universal emotions.

Modeled after the brigade’s internal Leaders Professional Development program on the book, “Daring Greatly,” by Dr. Brene Brown, the forum took soldiers out of their comfort zones to discuss perceptions about vulnerability and shame. Both factors are leading contributors to behavioral health concerns, including suicide.

During the forum’s opening comments, Command Sgt. Maj. Ryan Hipsley, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier for Fort Hood’s 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, said the purpose of the day was to get people talking about an uncomfortable topic in an unfamiliar setting. In the end, however, he said the experience would benefit soldiers and their units.
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Air Force Gives Assaulter Slap for 8 Victims?

Air Force officer's sexual assault sentence called lenient
Associated Press
February 26, 2017 SAN ANTONIO
Military prosecutors originally lodged seven charges and 17 specifications of misconduct against him. Conviction on all those charges could have resulted in more than 87 years in prison.
An Air Force noncommissioned officer convicted of misconduct with eight women, including three who accused him of sexually assaulting them, was sentenced to three months confinement and another month of hard labor, a punishment a victims' rights advocate called "shockingly light."

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Lizana, 35, also was reduced in rank to airman first class and was given a dishonorable discharge Saturday night at his trial at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
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Sailor Shot and Killed at Oceana Naval Air Station Was Volunteer Firefighter

Navy identifies sailor shot and killed at Oceana Naval Air Station
The Virginian-Pilot
By Courtney Mabeus
17 hrs ago
Before entering the Navy, Wright, who was believed to be in his early 20s, was a volunteer firefighter with the Franktown Fire Protection District, about 35 miles southeast of Denver.
A sailor who crashed through Gate 2 of Oceana Naval Air Station late Friday made it all the way to the hangar for the squadron he worked for before he was shot and killed by a master at arms, U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command said Sunday night.

Seaman Robert Colton Wright enlisted in the Navy in May 2016 and was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 81, based at Oceana, since Dec. 27, according to a Navy biography. He worked as an information systems technician for the squadron, which flies F/A-18E Super Hornets, according to the unit’s website.

Wright’s death occurred after a string of events that began with a hit-and-run about a mile from Oceana at the intersection of Dam Neck and Drakesmile roads just before 10 p.m. Friday.
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

First Responders Need to Learn PTSD is a Survivor Thing

PTSD Hits First Responders Harder
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 26, 2017

Suicide numbers edging up in Mass. on the Daily News out of Newburyport focused on a lot of details behind suicides. Within the article are the usual statistics, gender, age and means by which they ended their lives. 

"One thing, if anything, taken away from this article is this part. “They feel like they’ve lost all hope and they don’t have options. Sometimes just having someone on the phone to listen and talk to is enough to turn them around.” Sen. Barbara L’Italien.

When I trained as a Chaplain with the IFOC I focused on First Responders simply because, while civilians can be hit by PTSD from one event, they face it on a daily basis, actually subjecting themselves to what the rest of us avoid.

There are not enough people trying to take care of them. They get hit harder because they feel they are the ones who are supposed to be stronger, tougher than the rest of us, but what they do not realize is that at their core, they care more than the rest of us. 

Think about it. They are willing to die for each other and total strangers on a daily basis. When they are not facing the events that could end their lives, they are thinking about the ones that may come as much as they are remembering the ones that already happened.

Massachusetts is trying to do something about that.
One proposal, by Sen. Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover, focuses on law enforcement officers who, according to statistics, are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in the line of duty. The bill was filed on behalf of Janice McCarthy, an Andover women whose husband, Paul, a former state police captain, died from suicide in 2006. The bill would create a new training program for police to recognize signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal behavior.
One thing they can try to do is have more folks trained in helping the responders. It has to be specialized training and sanctioned by the Police and Fire Departments, because they are closed off to the rest of the population, wanting to take care of their own. This, most of the time, is beneficial, but when you are too close to those you need to help, that emotional connection tends to get in the way and adds a heavier burden to the caregivers.

As more and more people understand what PTSD is, more and more people are talking openly about it. There is power in the numbers but there is also a downside to it. Talking about it without investing the time in learning about it, has done more harm than good. It is great to care but when you don't care enough to learn first and act afterwards, you are part of the problem and one of the reasons they lose hope.

I hope this helps you understand what they need to be reminded of.

PTSD First Responder Carries Heavy Burden "When Those Sirens Are Gone"

Kevin Davison, Nova Scotia First Responder, Writes Song About 'Heavy Burden' Of The Job
Huffington Post Canada
Maham Abedi
Posted: 02/25/2017
"You can't unsee the things you've seen. It keeps going on, when those sirens are gone." Kevin Davison
Kevin Davison is a volunteer firefighter.
First responders are ordinary people, but they're faced with the extraordinary challenges everyday.

Nova Scotia firefighter and paramedic Kevin Davison knows exactly what it's like — he has spent decades rescuing people, but also faced tragic loses. The gruesome scenes from his job often keep him awake at night, and at times he can't shake them off during the day. Though he's never been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Davison says he identifies with many of the symptoms.

"There have been times I've been to a major accident on the highway and it's taken me days to get my sleep back in order," Davison told The Huffington Post Canada. "Some of the things that you experience kind of stay with you."

After decades as a paramedic, Davison now focuses on his music career and volunteers as a firefighter in New Minas, N.S. He says music can be an escape during stressful times.

"I can forget about all the bad things that have happened, and just do music. I find it very therapeutic."
read more here
When Those Sirens Are Gone Official Music Video
Kevin Davison

Aussie Diggers Deal With PTSD Horsing Around

How horses are helping Aussie diggers deal with post-traumatic stress disorder
Daily Telegraph
EXCLUSIVE, Jordan Baker
The Sunday Telegraph
February 25, 2017
“Even in times of high stress, ­afterwards you can think back and know there is another side, that you don’t always have to be hyper-vigilant or stressed or angry.” Ben Tyne
EVER since he returned from his army tour of Afghanistan, Ben Tyne has lived with the mental torture that is post-traumatic stress disorder. The rage, depression and loneliness are relentless, so any escape is precious.
There are currently limited services to assist servicemen and women who return from service. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
To that end, Mr Tyne spends as much time as he can with horses.

“It’s very honest,” he said. “There is no judgment and no ridicule.”

Equine-assisted therapy is rapidly growing in popularity as a way to calm and treat people with ­addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The theory is that horses are ­socially sophisticated animals, and deeply responsive to emotional cues. In order to successfully interact with the horses, patients must work on regulating their own emotions, and keep their anger in check.
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Soldier standoffs: Police Responding to Crisis After Combat

Soldier standoffs: Police, community respond to scars of war
Killeen Daily Herald
By Josh Sullivan and David Bryant | Herald staff writers
February 25, 2017
“It’s a case where the individual has bad PTSD, so confrontations bring back previous confrontations with the enemy, and there are proponents of a flashback that drives back their current behavior. Those are the sad ones.” Dr. Thomas Newton
Eric J. Shelton | Herald Soldier standoffs: Police, community respond to scars of war
FILE — Police officers draw their weapons during a crisis response after residents reported a man threatened others with a gun. Police have to deal with a medley of factors, from post-traumatic stress disorder to how long a veteran served, is taken into account in an effort to preserve life.
About 6:15 p.m. on a Friday, police responded to a call that a 30-year-old man had barricaded himself in his southwest Killeen home. The Killeen Police Department and the special weapons and tactics team engaged the man for nearly 10 hours before the standoff ended around 4:30 a.m.

While Army officials confirmed the man in the Feb. 10 standoff with Killeen police was a former Fort Hood soldier, information regarding the mental health status of individuals involved in similar incidents cannot be released, as it is protected health information, Fort Hood spokesman Christopher Haug said.

The man was taken into custody for evaluation after the standoff ended, according to Killeen Police Department spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez. That’s not an unusual outcome for people who threaten self-harm, as long as there is no one else involved in the incident, she said.

Standoffs with police that involve either active-duty soldiers or veterans are nothing new. On Aug. 3, police shot a man in Copperas Cove after he aimed a rifle at them. On May 2, 2016, KPD was involved in a standoff from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with an armed and suicidal active-duty soldier about 4 miles north of the Feb. 10 standoff. On March 23, 2015, KPD responded to a standoff in northwest Killeen with a man who neighbors said was a veteran. KPD handled these situations without incident.

That’s not as simple as it may seem, because police have to deal with a medley of factors. Everything from post-traumatic stress disorder to how long a veteran served is taken into account in an effort to carry out the preservation of life.
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Saturday, February 25, 2017

UK Amputee Forced to Wait For Limbs--Third Time

Fury as MoD scheme to give disabled war veterans hi-tech limbs is cancelled THREE times
25 FEB 2017

Officials at the Ministry of Defence say they are unable to say when the trial – which fuses bones with titanium rods – will start again
A scheme that could give dozens of limbless war veterans new legs on the NHS has been cancelled three times, the Sunday People can reveal.

Defence chiefs admitted a 27-patient surgical programme has been delayed due to issues with the “equipment supply chain”.

It is a blow to brave veterans who have suffered devastating injuries in conflict zones across the world including Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Sailor Arrest for Being AWOL Needed Breast Pump For New Baby?

Navy: Arrest of AWOL sailor and new mother was 'last resort'
Feb 24, 2017
Later, the judge told the newspaper his assistant bought a breast pump for $42.39 and gave it to Gnecco.
A 24-year-old U.S. Navy sailor who had a baby in August was arrested and remains on a military hold after being accused of deserting her post, court records show.

Ana Lucia Gnecco was arrested Wednesday at her parents' home in Hollywood, Florida, after failing to report on Jan. 14 to her base in Portsmouth, Virginia, where she is a seaman quartermaster and worked in the reception and medical support at the Naval Medical Center.

Her father, Armando Rodriguez, told the SunSentinel he didn't know she left the Navy earlier than she should have.

"She basically went AWOL; that's what the Navy is claiming," he told the newspaper.

The arrest was the last resort, said Christina Johnson, a Navy public affairs officer for the medical center. "She was in contact with her command and with the Navy's arm that would bring her back to duty. All efforts were made to get her back to work, but she chose to stay there."

When someone misses a return day by 30 days, "it's considered desertion," Johnson said.
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Missouri Firefighter’s Suicide Highlights PTSD

Missouri Firefighter’s Suicide Highlights PTSD 
Death of firefighter raises attention towards awareness and treatment 02/23/2017
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Beth McMullin never imagined that someday, she would be married to a firefighter.

Veteran's Wife Gets Justice When He Couldn't Fight for Himself

VA awards full benefits to veteran with Alzheimer's and PTSD after wife shares his story
By CB Cotton/Lindsay Oliver
Feb 23, 2017
"We had to have one of our examiners review that medical report, review the other evidence that they may have had, and really render an opinion that the veteran had PTSD," says Mark Bilosz, the director. "They were not able to disassociate the symptoms between the PTSD and the Alzheimer's, but basically once they diagnosed PTSD, we rated that and were able to grant 100 percent disability based on all the veteran's symptoms."
ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - A local woman is facing a difficult battle - she is losing the man she loves. He's a man who served our country for more than 20 years in the Marines and now he's battling Alzheimer's disease.

After fighting to get benefits for her husband's care from the VA, things changed for the better after sharing her story with WITN.

"I asked him, 'Is my name Jeanette' and he said 'No' and I said, 'Well, am I your wife?' and he said 'Yes'," Jeanette Martinez says.

She says she and William were a happy family, raising two daughters, one adopted and one biological with Down syndrome. They've been married for 43 years.

She says in 2006, William, who served more than 20 years in the Marines, was starting to forget.

"We got the diagnosis in the 2008 that he had early onset dementia," Jeanette says. "It was devastating to both of us. It was the first time I saw my husband cry."

William was just 55 years old when diagnosed and was put on memory medications, medications that Jeanette says bought them time.

"As it progressed, the bad days were getting longer, but you could see the frustration, it's like he knew he didn't know and it frustrated him terribly," she explains.
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One of a Kind Iraq Veteran's Love Story Strange Twist of Fate

From A World Away: A Female Veteran Finds Understanding From An Unexpected Person 
Greeneville Sun
By Kristen Early Associate Editor
February 24, 2017
Now, she’s found peace in their quiet property — 11 acres of wooded land where they are building a log home. And having a husband who has been in battle, someone who understands her post-war demons more than most, has brought her some peace. Hayel served two mandatory years in the Iranian Air Force during Iran’s war against Iraq.
The story of how a U.S. Army veteran of the war in Iraq became the wife of a man born in Iran is complicated, to say the least.

How that same man came to the United States for the right to help others — and found God in the process — is powerful. When he met his future wife, she was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and the stigmas of being a female veteran.

Her first reaction to him: “He looked like a total terrorist to me.”

But her tone and the loving gaze the Mosheim couple shared as she said it proves how far Cindy Castle and Dr. Kamran Hayel have come since they first met while working at Johnson City’s Woodridge Hospital in 2006.

Castle hadn’t been home long from spending 18 months in Iraq, where she only felt safe when she was in a turret with a companion she called “Frank” — an M240 Bravo machine gun.

She was the only female in a 24-member Civil Affairs division and achieved the rank of sergeant; she’s proud of her service. Castle says she knew she wanted to enter as soon as she left high school. From there, she went to basic training, entered the Army Reserves and got her undergraduate degree in psychology at East Tennessee State University.
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Hundreds Attended Funeral for Amie Muller After Iraq Burn Pits Battle

Hundreds say goodbye to Amie Muller, who sounded alarm over toxic risks for Iraq veterans
Star Tribune
By Mark Brunswick
FEBRUARY 24, 2017

Muller, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 36, worked and lived next to one of the most toxic military burn pits in all of Iraq.
National Guard veteran Amie Muller believed deployments to Iraq caused the cancer that killed her.

She worked and lived next to burn pits that billowed toxic smoke night and day at an air base in northern Iraq. After returning to Minnesota, she began experiencing health problems usually not seen in a woman in her 30s.

Muller died a week ago, nine months after being diagnosed with Stage III pancreatic cancer. On Friday, more than 800 of her friends and family gathered at a memorial service in Woodbury to remember the life of the 36-year-old mother of three. A pastor noted her loss was both painful and seemingly incomprehensible.

“I wish there was a simple way to explain what has happened to Amie. Why Amie is gone,” said Pastor Lisa Renlund. “Life truly isn’t that simple. It can get messy. It can feel complicated. It can seem unfair.”

But others also are remembering Muller’s battle to win recognition from the U.S. government for victims of the burn pits, which have the potential of becoming the Iraq and Afghanistan wars’ equivalent of the Vietnam War’s Agent Orange. It took nearly three decades for the U.S. government to eventually link the defoliant used in Vietnam to cancer.

Muller first told her story in the Star Tribune last year shortly after she was diagnosed.
In 2005 and in 2007, Muller was deployed to Balad, Iraq, with the Minnesota Air National Guard, embedded with a military intelligence squadron. The burn pit near her living quarters there was one of the most notorious of the more than 230 that were constructed at military bases across Iraq and Afghanistan before their use was restricted in 2009. Items ranging from Styrofoam to metals and plastics to electrical equipment to human body parts were incinerated, the flames stoked with jet fuel.
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Fort Hood Sued For Deadly Result of Domestic Violence

Army Sued for Deadly Rampage at Fort Hood
Courthouse News
February 24, 2017

KILLEEN, Texas (CN) — Surviving family members of a 2015 shooting rampage outside Fort Hood say the Army failed to protect a battered spouse and her neighbors from her abusive husband, who should not have been able to obtain the gun he used in the murders.

Karin Kristensen, Michael Farina and Christina Guzman sued the United States in Federal Court on behalf of the estates of Dawn Larson Giffa, Lydia Farina and Steven Guzman, and their six surviving minor children.

In February 2015, Spc. (Specialist) Atase Giffa was living off-base with his wife, Dawn Giffa, and her son K.L. in Killeen. Dawn and K.L. were Canadian citizens and lawful U.S. residents. Giffa was about to be transferred to Georgia, but Dawn wanted to stay in Killeen to finish nursing school.

“Spc. Giffa took this news poorly,” the lawsuit says. On Feb. 9 Giffa took Dawn’s and K.L.’s passports and identification cards, plus Dawn’s credit cards and money. In a subsequent argument, neighbors saw him slam Dawn against their truck and hold her down by the wrists. The neighbors noticed red marks on Dawn where Giffa had grabbed her, thrown her, and restrained her, according to the complaint.
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Central Florida Veterans Patriotic Events

Update with more for March and April

CSM William Ryan monument unveiling – Fri. March 24 – Brevard County war hero, Army Command Sgt Major William Ryan (ret.), will be remembered when a monument is unveiled at a ceremony, 4pm – 6pm at Eddies Sunrise Diner, 55 East Nasa Blvd, Melbourne, 32901.  Bill died in 2015 and had received numerous awards and citations for his notable service from WW2, Korea, and Vietnam, including recognition from Korea, Britain, Canada and Russia.  All are welcomed to attend.  Sponsored by Families of the Shield.    

Day Trip to Orlando VA for Female Veterans - Fri. and Sat. March 24 and 25 - In honor of Women’s History Month, The American Legion is hosting a day trip to the Orlando VA Medical Center at Lake Nona. Join other women veterans on a visit to the hospital campus and learn about facilities and services dedicated to your specific needs.  Fri: 6pm - Women Veterans Meet & Greet Social at The Bistro, Courtyard by Marriott Orlando Lake Nona, 6955 Lake Nona Blvd., Orlando, 32827.  Sat: 10am – Day Trip visiting VA Intake process, VA Benefits, and VA Women’s Center.  1pm - Department of Veterans Affairs Q&A Panel with Verna Jones, as Facilitator, American Legion Executive Director from Washington DC.  Info:  Heather Frebe, VA Public Affairs, 407-631-4436  Heather.Frebe@ va .gov    

American Heroes Air Show – Sat. March 25 – Premier, helicopter-only, free parking and admission event profiles the use of helicopters in law enforcement, public safety, Search & Rescue as well as Homeland security and national defense.  Static displays and information from flight crews.  Also included is a Naturalization ceremony to welcome our newest US citizens, and a Code 3 Career Fair for recruiting in law enforcement, public safety, non-profits, and the military.  10am to 6pm at Oviedo Mall, 1700 Oviedo Mall Blvd, Oviedo, 32765.  Info:  Linda at wynn2241@ cfl.rr .com  or Bryan.smith@ heroes-airshow .com  

FYI - The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) – Plans advance for a monument at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) honoring the almost 5,000 pilots and crewmembers who died operating rotary-wing aircraft in the Vietnam War.  Section 35, bordering Memorial Drive. The negotiated dimensions, 22 inches high, 21 inches deep (front to back at the base), 32 inches wide across the front, and trapezoidal in shape, contain all design elements of the original Vietnam Helicopter Pilot and Crewmember Monument proposed to the Secretary of The Army.  To get involved and receive more information, contact Central Florida’s local resource: Tom Marshall at wtmjr0413@ gmail .com  

National Medal of Honor Day – Sat. March 25 – The Museum of Military History hosts this Commander’s Call weekend event that will feature guest speaker Maureen Miller.  She will share stories, photos and artifacts about her son, Medal of Honor recipient Army SSG Robert J. Miller, from 11:30 am to noon. For his heroic actions while serving with the Special Forces Operational Detachment in Afghanistan 2008, Miller saved the lives of 7 Special Forces team members and 15 Afghanistan National Army Soldiers but unfortunately paid the ultimate sacrifice.  Additional special exhibits will highlight the achievements of other Medal of Honor recipients who went above and beyond the call of duty for actions of valor and heroism such as William Carney, Larry Smedley, Hershel “Woody” Williams, Baldomero Lopez and others. Food, drinks, and dog tags will be available for purchase. Museum admission fees will be reduced from regular rates during event hours. Commander’s Call hours:  10am – 2pm.  Regular hrs: 10am-6pm Tues-Sun.  5210 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, 34746.  (407) 507-3894    

Veterans Art Center Grand Opening – Sat. March 25 – Florida’s first art center for veterans healing opens in the Tampa Bay area, Gas Light Square, 6798 Crosswinds Dr. N., St. Petersburg, 33710.  Featuring art exhibits, displays, and music with the Formal ceremony beginning at 3 pm.  Global Ambassador for Arts and Entertainment for the US Military, First Responders and their families, honoring Gold Star families; Billboard charting artist B. Taylor will be present, with raffle prizes, street performers and more.  Info:  vactb.org  Prior to the event:  An annual patriotic ceremony honoring Vietnam Veterans and also War Dogs, to be held at Tampa’s Veterans Memorial Park, 3602 N. US Highway 301, Tampa, FL 33619.    

Brews for Barks fundraiser – Sat. March 25 - Fundraiser for K9s for Warriors at Orlando Brewing, hosted by Orange County Young Republicans. Donations to the charity will get you free food, beer, koozies, prizes, etc.  Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, 32806.  Donation Levels (while supplies lasts): $10* - $1 off beer, (1) food ticket, B4B Koozie; $20 - $1 off beer, (1) food ticket, B4B Koozie, B4B Sunglasses; $50 - $1 off beer, (1) food ticket, B4B Sunglasses, Jeremiah's Italian Ice Voucher, Genuine 50 Caliber Bullet Bottle Opener. *Active military and veterans get the $10 deal for only $5!     

Poker Run for the Vietnam Moving Wall Tribute fundraiser - Sun. March 26 - Poker run to benefit  the Vietnam Moving Wall Tribute (April 27 – May 1 in Eustis) Poker Run is seeking sponsors, large auction items and several volunteers.  Will be "open to all vehicles."   Info:  Peggy S at  veteransinfoandevents@ gmail .com   407-484-2159    

Veterans Business Initiative (VBI) – Tues. March 28 - The CFDC Veterans Business Initiative (VBI) session # 5 starts on Tuesday, March 28 at 8:30 am. The VBI will run for eight weeks through March and April. This is a no cost program for all Military Veterans and their spouses who are seeking employment, entrepreneurial training and continuing education paths. Partners attending this session will be Regions Bank, Hilton Grand Vacations, Orlando Health and Score. Register at: www. cfdisabilitychamber .org/vbi/   CFDC located at the National Entrepreneur Center, Orlando Fashion Square, 3201 E Colonial Dr A20, Orlando, 32803. Info:  Rogue Gallart rogue@ nationalec .org   407-420-4875.  

WWE's Veteran Career Panel & Networking Event with Hire Heroes USA – Tues. March 28 - This free Veteran Career Panel & Networking Event with Hire Heroes USA, in partnership with Full Sail University and the Central Florida Sports Commission, will consist of career coaching, an industry panel Q&A session featuring executives from companies in the Greater Orlando Area, and a networking event attended by recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources professionals from 40 Orlando-area companies. Attendees will receive a WWE branded resume portfolio, opportunity to take a professional LinkedIn profile photo, free resume revision, and more! WWE: World Wrestling Entertainment)  8am - 2pm at Full Sail University, 141 University Park Dr., Winter Park, 32792  Info:  Aaron Hall, Military liaison, alhall@ fullsail .com  407.679.0100 x6071 (Human Resources professional interested in representing your company at a networking table during the event, contact Hire Heroes USA's Melissa Conner at mconner@ hireheroesusa .org)    

NCIS episode spotlights Honor Flights – Tues. March 28 - NCIS episode is slated to air on CBS at 8pm.  While the storyline is fictional, and a few Honor Flight-specific details may be less than completely accurate, the overall portrayal of Honor Flight is exceedingly positive.  On Nov. 5, 2011, Corporal T-5 Hubert John Anderson, U.S. Army, retired, flew with Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, out of Milwaukee, to visit his World War II Memorial in Washington DC. His experience was such an inspiration to his granddaughter-in-law, Gina Lucita Monreal, a writer on the popular CBS series NCIS, she vowed to create an episode spotlighting the mission and good work of Honor Flight.  She found her inspiration for the episode in her grandfather-in-law’s Honor Flight experience, and the renewed sense of pride and purpose with which he returned home after his day of honor in Washington, DC.  If you like this, come to the “Welcome Home” on Wednesday night, and the others to come!  Info below.

Greeters needed!  Honor Flights Resume their Spring 2017 trips!  Come Welcome them Home! – Wed. Mar 29 – Orlando Int’l Airport –After a day spent in Washington DC, veterans of WWII, Korean War and Vietnam  veterans return home thru Orlando Int’l Airport.  The nation-wide organization has three local hubs that take veterans on a single day trip to our nation’s capital where they visit the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam War Memorials, Marine Corps Iwo Jima and the Air Force Monuments, and witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.  Come welcome these former warriors home!  “Welcome Home” receptions at the airports make a difference!  Bring your flags, banners and signs! – This months’ dates are: 
  • Wed. March 29 – 40 veterans (Updated from previous newsletter) plus their guardians and staff.  This Mission includes a 99 year old WWII Veteran and 6 others from WWII, along with 32 Korean War Veterans, and 1 Vietnam veteran.  Returns from BWI on SW Flt# 1037 at 9:05pm.
  • Sat. April 22 – info pending on the return of 25 veterans in the evening.
  • Sat. May 6 - info pending on the return of 24 veterans in the evening.
The groups enter the Hotel end of the Airport terminal area and we greet them in front of the Starbucks - Terminal A, Airside 2 – oftentimes led from the Tram by a bagpiper.  Before leaving home to attend the homecoming, it is suggested that you check online to see if the flight is on time because there may be delays due to weather, mechanical or medical issues.  Free parking has been arranged at an off airport property – FastPark and Relax (7870 N Frontage Rd, Orlando, 32812) who has been very generous to Honor Flights with free parking and shuttles to/from the airport (Tips welcomed by drivers!) Just tell the attendant upon entering that site that you are there for the veterans/Honor Flight – they try to park us together.  New:  Free Parking Vouchers (excluding May 6) WILL be available for airport garage parking from a GOAA rep. in the terminal for this event – maximum of 3 hours – BUT you have to take a PAPER ticket upon entering the airport garage.  The vouchers will NOT work if you use the SunPass/EPass transponders – we cannot credit the charge back.  Seek the GOAA rep. (or ‘Miss Liberty’) early before the veterans arrive.  (This will NOT include Sat. May 6) For the AM Early Birds - you can wave these veterans off in the morning no later than 5am.   They process thru Security early and quickly In Terminal A, Airside 2.  Information for more Flights will be forthcoming.  Contact Cathy Haynes for those details  407-239-8468  chaynes11629 @yahoo .com    

“Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” on March 30 of each year.  The State of Florida officially recognized this date in 2014.  Though there is some debate, March 29 is generally viewed by some as a more appropriate date. On that day in 1973, the last combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam and the last prisoners of war held in North Vietnam arrived on American soil.    

“How to do Business Workshop” – Fri. March 31 – Orange County Public Schools provides a Procurement Services workshop that has been noted by FAVOB (Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses). This is a great opportunity for a veteran owned business to enter into one of the largest businesses in Central Florida.  9am to 11am, OCPS Facilities Services, Building 101F, 6501 Magic Way, Orlando, 32809.  Info:  Nestaly “Dolly” Morales, Office of Business Opportunity, Goods & Service, 407-317-3700 Ext. 2025021, Nestaly.morales@ ocps .net  (Workshop will also be offered on Fri. April 28.)    

Veteran Hiring Event – Thurs. March 31 - The Orlando VA Medical Center is hosting an employment hiring event.  Over 35 Employers with approximately 600 various positions. These positions consist from entry level to master degree level.  8am-4pm interviews at Lake Nona VA Medical Center, 13800 Veterans Way, Crescent Room, Orlando, 32827.  Info:  Annie Artis, Veteran Employment Community Coordinator, at 407-646-5500 x27246 or new Mobile #: 407-750-0350  EllaMay.Artis@ va .gov    

Wounded Warfighter & Lone Sailor 5K/10K Run - Sat. April 1 – Central Florida Navy League sponsors this in Blue Jacket Park, 2501 General Rees Ave. Baldwin Park, Orlando, 32814.  Sponsors and participants still welcomed!  Discount for early registration and for groups of 10 or more.  Time:  7:30am - Colors and National Anthem; 7:50am - 10K Race Start; 8:05 - 5K Race Start; 9:15 - Kids Race Start.  End of Program:  Award Ceremony and Silent Auction.  Too early or too busy on that day?  Please consider the Virtual Race option:   April 1-14.  www. cfnl5k .org  or  www. cfnavyleague .org   Info:  Chris Townsend at flytowny@ gmail .com  407.230.3333
Not-for-Profit Groups:  Opportunities for FREE table to share your information may be available – limited numbers and space.  Contact the resources above.    

Run As One - After the above event at the same location at Baldwin Park – a group of hands-on programs will walk in remembrance of Clay Hunt.  He was a Marine veteran who died by suicide in March 2011 and was the topic of a 60 Minutes report. Clay was an original member of Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues Fellow, and avid sportsman who battled PTSD and depression.  The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act will help reduce military and veteran suicides and improve access to quality mental health care.  Persons are invited to run/walk/dog walk/ baby carriage push, etc.   Participating will be Team Red, White and Blue, Team Rubicon, and others at over 150 locations across the country.  No charge, unless you want a T-shirt ($20).    

“Field Of Honor Ceremony” – Sat. April 1 – Event in Tampa, 11am at Tampa's Veteran's Memorial Park, 3602 N. US Highway 301, Tampa, FL 33619.  Info:  Gold Star Mother, Toni at cgross5@ tampabay.rr .com  

K9’s for Warriors fundraiser – Sat. April 1 - America Legion Auxiliary Unit 183 Old Glory sponsors this event with a Classic Rock Cover Band, “40 Years After” playing 60's, 70's and 80's music. Raffle prizes, games, food, and lots of fun.  Open to all, 2pm – 5pm at the Post, 2706 Wells Ave, Fern Park, 32730.  K9s for Warriors works with our veterans who suffer from PTSD post 9/11. Most of the dogs come from local rescues then go through extensive training before matched with a veteran. The veteran then goes to their facility in Ponte Vedra Florida for hands on training with their new service dog for approximately three weeks where they stay on property during that time. On average, it takes $27,000 for all costs to pair one dog. They have saved countless lives of veterans suffering from PTSD and helped them acclimate back into society.   Event info:  407-831-8004  sandrastepp8563@ gmail .com    

Melbourne Air and Space Show – Sat & Sun. April 1, 2 – See  airandspaceshow.com  for hours and ticket info.    

Good Deeds Day – Sun April 2 – Join Hands On Orlando (HOO) for Fun, Food and Fellowship.  This Field Day will include a cookout, basketball, horseshoes, cornhole, and more.  11am – 1pm at William R. Just Center, 1405 W. Michigan St., Orlando, 32805.  HOO allows veterans, active military and their families to perform community service projects with others to make a difference.  Info and RSVP to Brittany Chaney, 407-375-9389, brittany@ handsonorlando .com    

USTA Program for Veterans - Every Monday from April 3 – May 22 – United States Tennis Association (USTA) shares that tennis is an excellent way to stay physically fit and mentally sharp. Disabled Veterans and wounded, ill and injured Service Members are invited to participate in a 7-week program designed to help Veterans and Service Men and Women reconnect with everyday activities.  All Veterans are welcome at no cost. Please bring valid military ID, VA ID or DD 214 on the first day of program.  USTA National Campus, 10000 USTA Blvd., Orlando, 32827   Info: Jason Allen at jason.allen@ usta .com  844-872-8667 
(Remember:  Tennis is an included event in the Paralympics and the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (being held in Orlando in 2018!)  

Marine Corps League Orlando - Tues, April 4 - Cpl. Larry E. Smedley, Detachment 064 Monthly Meeting, 7pm – 8pm at the at American Legion Florida Department bldg., 1912A Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810. Info:  mclcfl @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. April 6 – 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 cityoforlando.net, Office of the Mayor, Mayor’s Committees, Veterans.   Contact Chairman Michael Waldrop for attendance and location information.  mwaldrop@ blue-cord .com or Emily Bonvini  emily.bonvini@ cityoforlando .net  407.246.2728  

Hero’s Commons Grand Opening – Wed. April 5 - The Orlando Regional Realtor Foundation and the City of Orlando, along with their project partners, announce the grand opening event for the first two homes completed in the Heroes’ Commons at Jefferson Park Veterans Housing project.  10am – 12noon at 1203 W. Jefferson Street, Orlando, 32805, will include the presentation of the first two homes, as well as tours of the remaining homes currently under construction.  The Heroes’ Commons at Jefferson Park development involves the design, construction, and donation of six single-family, energy efficient, ADA compliant homes to well deserving veterans. The project’s design maximizes connectivity and "green space" between the homes, which in turn encourages a supportive and inclusive environment. In addition, this development will serve as a catalyst for community building and revitalization within the Parramore neighborhood and Orlando’s urban core.  Info: CJ Davila at 407-513-7546 or cjd@ orlandorealtorsfoundation .org.    

Coast Guard Auxiliary meeting – Wed. April 5 – The Osceola Flotilla 17-10 meets on the 1st Wed. of each month, 7pm, at American Legion Post 10, 205 Lakeview Dr., Kissimmee, 34741. Auxiliary members are volunteers who support the Coast Guard in all its non-military, and non-law-enforcement missions. Members help to provide maritime safety, security and stewardship; to secure the homeland, save lives and property; and to protect the environment. There are several Flotillas (groups) in Central Florida and membership in the Auxiliary is open to persons 17 years of age and older – some are much older! Info: Jim Nickles at jimnickles2@ gmail .com  407-390-9611  

100 years ago, today - April 6, 1917 - Following a vote by Congress approving a declaration of war, the U.S. entered World War I in Europe.    

29th Annual Central Florida Marine Corps Foundation Golf Tournament – Fri. April 7 - The annual golf tournament, CFMCF’s only fund-raising activity, is an opportunity to support our organization’s projects through golf.  8am Shotgun Start at Celebration Golf Club, 701 Golf Park Drive Celebration, 34747 (Southwest of Orlando.)  Prizes, breakfast, lunch, drinks, etc.  Proceeds provide scholarships to deserving students who are the sons and daughters, and in some cases, grandsons and daughters of those who served the Corps.  Support also provided to other veterans in Central FL area.  Register at www. CentralFloridaMarines .org   Facebook at CFMCFGolf   

Packaging for the Troops – Sat. April 8 – Join K.I.S.S. (Kids In Support of Soldiers) and let the Troops know that we still remember they are still serving far away from those they love and that love them. Packages are put together at Casselberry Vets & Aux, 200 Concord Dr, Casselberry,32707. 10am for about an hour.  Open to the public. If you have a loved one overseas, let us know and we will add them to our mailing list and they will receive a package every month they are gone. Info:  321-279-6092  akissfromhome@ yahoo .com  

75 years ago, today, - April 10, 1942 - During World War II in the Pacific, the Bataan Death March began as American and Filipino prisoners were forced on a six-day march from an airfield on Bataan to a camp near Cabanatuan. Some 76,000 Allied POWs including 12,000 Americans were forced to walk 60 miles under a blazing sun without food or water to the POW camp, resulting in over 5,000 American deaths.  

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., Dept. of FL-PR Convention – Sat. April 22 - 9 am at Shades of Green Resort, Disney World, Orlando.  Info:  Gold Star Mother, Toni at cgross5@ tampabay.rr .com  

Sailing Into Your Senior Years -  Thurs. April 27 - Free educational event from 5:30pm – 7pm.  Learn about veteran Aid and Attendance and how to get your affairs in order to control how you age.  An attorney will talk about veteran benefits and assets. A VSO (veterans service officer) cannot tell people how to manage their assets in order to get funding but an attorney can. An array of healthcare options available can be discussed.   4:30-5:30 Complimentary Happy Hour; 5:30-6:30 Presentations (20 minutes each panelist); 6:30-7:00 Panel Q & A.  Space is limited. Watercrest of Lake Nona, Assisted Living and Memory Care Community, 9682 Lake Nona Village Place Orlando, 32827.  Info and to RSVP: 407-226-3113   asancartier@ watercrestseniorliving .com  

ON THE HORIZON (literally!)  

Coast Guard Cutter Eagle visit to Port Canaveral: May 31- June 3.  This is a tall ship – one with real masts and sails.  The Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE, provides USCG Academy cadets and officer candidates with their first taste of sea and salt air. Built in Germany in 1936 and recommissioned by the United States at the close of World War II, the EAGLE is the largest tall ship flying the Stars and Stripes.  This will be a unique opportunity.  

Gentlemen (and Ladies) mark your calendars!

(Then start your engines and get to some of these events.)

Feb/March 2017 – Central FL list of veteran, military and patriotic events  
From Cathy Haynes

*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.
*Event information is concentrated mostly on the Central Florida counties served by the new VA Hospital at Lake Nona – Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Brevard, Lake and Volusia.  Other events elsewhere are considered based upon uniqueness and groups best served.
*Every effort is made to put a space into email addresses and websites – firewalls and spam filters don’t like direct links, website and email addresses.  If you use ‘Copy and Paste’ to make contact or get additional information, please keep this in mind. 

Corporate SWAT Challenge 2017 – Sat. Feb 25 – Put a team together to challenge some of the best in Central FL!  This will include tactical events that involve endurance activities and strategic thinking. While the goal is to have fun and benefit the Camaraderie Foundation, this event is for competitors who are committed to a team concept and want to challenge themselves in problem-solving atmosphere.  Sponsorships and Teams are available!!! Starts at 7am, Orlando Police Department Training Facility.  Challenge Requirements - 22 Teams  ($2000/team),  5 to 8 participants on each team (must include at least 1 female).  Each team will have a SWAT Member Advisor.  For more information, email Lt. Carter Gowen at: carter.gowen@ cityoforlando .net  

Managing Elder Medical Care – Sat. Feb 25 - AARP Florida is hosting a FREE half-day session to help caregivers learn how to help an elder manage their medical care. 8:30am – 12:30p at Orlando Science Center, 777 East Princeton Street, Orlando, 32803.  Topics covered include patient rights and resources, how spirituality affects healthcare, patient helper ideas and tips to being a better helper or advocate.   At the end, a legal expert shares more about preparing legal documents to help you be prepared.   Info and to reserve a spot:  877-926-8300  

Pine Castle Pioneer Days – Sat and Sun, Feb 25, 26 - Annual event promotes the living history of the area with demonstrations and fun events.  Pioneer crafts, historic military encampments and reenactments, traditional music, quilting, basketry and storytelling.  Parade at 9am on Sat.  9am-5pm Cypress Grove Park, 290 West Holden Ave, Orlando.  $3 per person or $5 for families.  407-427-9692.  Website: www. pine​castlepioneerda​ys .org  

Retiree Appreciation Day (RAD) – Sat. Feb 25 – 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 Kenneth O. Preston (ret.)  LOTS of Information provided, including  DFAS, Tricare, Navy Exchange, etc.  All service branch retirees and their families are invited.  Registration starts at 8am; Event hours: 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, Retirement Services Office, but ALL branches are welcome to attend!  

Dedication of Afghanistan Memorial – Sat. Feb 25 – This event has been POSTPONED UNTIL OCTOBER. Donations still appreciated. Marine Families   Info@ MarineFamilies .org   P.O. Box 7915, Tampa, FL 33673   813-965-2682    

Military Medal Ceremony – Sat. Feb 25 - Eleven war veterans will be receiving over 75 belated medals and ribbons at a ceremony, 1:30pm at New Life Community Church of the Nazarene, 6512 Edgewater Dr., Orlando, 32810.  One of the recipients is Michael C. Meyer, a Chaplain for Orlando Police Dept. - he will be receiving his Purple Heart, Vietnam Gallantry Cross and 6 other medals from his Army service in Vietnam.  (He lost both legs in Vietnam; and soon to receive new electronic legs!)   Other medals to other veterans will be a Bronze Star from service in Vietnam; Commendations, Meritorious and Achievements from services in the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the First Gulf War.   The Veterans of Foreign Wars Service Officer, Charlie First, worked with Senator Bill Nelson's office to see that these belated medals and recognitions can be received by these veterans of all branches.  (The Senator may or may not be there...Constituent Aides definitely will be.)  Info:  Charlie First at 407-429-0646.  

Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis fundraiser – Sat. Feb 25 - Orlando Rocks Benefit, Inc., Booyah Bus Project and the City of Kissimmee host this beginning at 1pm. Sgt. Ennis Arrives abt 1:30,  Booyah Bus Project will have its ribbon cutting at abt. 1:45, and entertainment and dinner event at abt. 3:30pm.  Tickets are $25.  Kissimmee Civic Center, 201 E. Dakin Ave., Kissimmee, 34741. (Sgt. Kirstie Ennis, USMC, originally from Pensacola and now living in San Diego, served 6 years until her second deployment when she lost her left leg following a 2012 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, had more than 40 surgeries and a battle with MRSA.  She was the “cover girl” and a highlighted story in “PTSD Journal” for Fall/Winter 2016, appeared in a Super Bowl commercial, and is prepping for the 2018 Paralympics.)  Sponsors and donations welcomed.  Info: orlandorocksbenefit@ gmail .com   Mary at 407-607-9527, or Vic at 407-901-0685.  

Jerry Dugan Memorial Charity Golf Tournament – Mon. Feb 27 - 3rd Annual  Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Central Florida at The Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes, 1700 Alaqua Lakes Blvd, Longwood, 32779.  Registration: $125 per golfer, Veterans: $100, Foursomes: $400.  Club will allow special golf carts for disabled players on the course.  Registration 9am, Shot Gun Start 10am.  Buffet Dinner, unlimited drinks before & during play (beer, soda & water), Goody Bag and Special Gift for each player.    Various Sponsorships available but must be received no later than Feb. 15   (Flyer available)  info:  407-328-7041 or email joannep@ pvacf .org   (PVA assists vets with spinal injury and neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  There are 27 known veterans with ALS in Central FL.  PVA also welcomes and distributes unwanted medical equipment to vets and civilians.)  

Veteran Hiring event – Tues Feb 28 – 10am to 2pm at the Orlando VA Hospital at Lake Nona, 13800 Veterans Way, 4th Floor, Orlando, 32803.  Come in business attire with your resume’s.  Hiring employers include:  Mims Construction, AECOM Maintenance, Garney Construction, Milling Technologies, Inc., Orlando Int’l Airport, Orange County Sheriff’s Dept., NSN Center Maintenance, and more.  Info:  Annie Artis, (Veteran Community Employment Coordinator) VHAORLHVCES@ va .gov   ellamay.artis@ va .gov    407-307-9101.  

FAVOB Lunch and Learn – Tues Feb 28 - The Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses hosts this educational event during lunchtime.  12noon - 1:15pm at Firefly Kitchen and Bar, 480 Orlando Ave. N, Winter Park, 32789. Speaker, Michael Long, will discuss how to Make Wise Decisions to Create Value in our Businesses.  Being a veteran is NOT required!  See FAVOB Facebook site.  Info:  chairman@ favob .org or marketing@ favob .org  

Central Florida Veterans Inc. mtg – Tues Feb 28 – 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. 5201 Raymond Street, Orlando, 32803.  Info:  Greg Smith at 901-438-7734  farside53 @ gmail .com  

Meat Bingo – Tues. Feb 28 – The Casselberry Veterans Inc. Auxiliary has this unique Bingo Game. 200 Concord Dr, Casselberry, 32707. You have 22 chances to win! Plus a “Money Round” and the winner gets the entire amount collected.  (Meats are purchased from Petty’s Meats. The January meats included stuffed pork chops, special pork chops stuffed with crabmeat, New York strip steaks, fish, clams, chicken breasts, flank steaks, pork ribs, and spaghetti pie. All are fresh cut and top quality.)  Cost is only $7, plus the money round, to play one hand all evening. Option to purchase more hands.  Games start at 6pm.  Info:  407-260-1404  news@ cassvets .org   Web Page:  cassvets .org   

Before March 1 deadline - If you moved within/to Florida and bought a home, have you filed for your 2017 Homestead Property Tax Exemption?  Deadline of March 1 at your county office or online.  

Veterans Golden Age Games – Deadline Wed March 1 - The Department of Veterans Affairs wants military veterans who are enrolled in VA health care -- ages 55 and older -- to get ready for the 2017 National Veterans Golden Age Games.  Applications began on Feb. 1 and will end on March 1.  This year's games will take place May 7 - 11 in Biloxi, Mississippi, with nearly 800 athletes from across the country expected to compete.  Competitive events include air rifle, badminton, boccia, bowling, cycling, golf, horseshoes, nine ball, powerwalk, shuffleboard, swimming, table tennis, and track and field. Exhibition events include air pistol, archery, basketball, blind disc golf and pickleball.  Apply online through MARCH 1 at   www. veteransgoldenagegames.va .gov.  Represent our communities!  

City of Orlando Mayors’ Veterans Advisory Council – Thurs. March 2 – 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 cityoforlando.net, Office of the Mayor, Mayor’s Committees, Veterans.   Contact Chairman Michael Waldrop for attendance and location information.  mwaldrop@ blue-cord. com  

Happy Birthday Navy Reserve!  March 3, 1915  

Rebuilding For Heroes Golf Tournament  – Fri. Mar 3 - 2nd Annual Charity Golf Tournament to benefit veterans and our "Every Day" Heroes.  8:30 start time at Dubsdread Golf Course & Taproom, 549 W. Par St, Orlando, 32804.  Proceeds to benefit the renovation and repairs needed to the homes of very-low income families, seniors and veterans.  Info:  Alaina at 407-898-3777 ext. 3 or alaina@ rtorlando .org  

Fundraiser for CPO Sharona Young - Sat. March 4 – VFW Post 4387, VFW Auxiliary and Semper Fidelis America sponsor this event at VFW Post 4387, 3500 S. Goldenrod Rd, Orlando, 32822.  Entertainment and dinner starts at 3pm.  $25 advance ticket, $30 at the door.  Sponsors and donations welcomed.  CPO Sharona Young (ret.) USN, an Orlando resident, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and medically retired from the Navy Reserve in 2014.  She volunteers as Secretary for PVA (Paralyzed Veterans of America) Central Florida in Sanford.  (PVA assists vets with spinal injury and neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  They receive and distribute unwanted medical equipment to vets and civilians.)  Event info:  VFW Post – 407-273-6581.  
CORRECTION: Start time (Doors open at 4:00)

Winter Park’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Sun. March 5 - 39th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade & Celebration of Winter Park.  Units line up at 1pm for 2pm start time.  Last year included WW2 veterans as special guests along with military units and First Responder bagpipe and drum groups.  Fun and frolic (all in good taste, of course) will be the order of the day as thousands of Winter Park residents and more line Park Avenue to watch you strut your stuff, as is said these days.   The celebration continues with Irish music and dance in Central Park afterward.  Info:  stpatsparade@ outlook .com  

Veterans Business Initiative (VBI) - Mon. March 6 - VBI will run for eight weeks through March and April.  This is a no cost program for all Military Veterans and spouses who are seeking for employment, entrepreneurial and continuing education. The VBI will be held beginning at 8:30am at the CFDC located at the National Entrepreneur Center, Orlando Fashion Square, 3201 E Colonial Dr A20, Orlando, 32803. Info:  Rogue Gallart rogue@ nationalec .org   or Jaime Quarnoccio at jquarnoccio@ careersourcecf .com  

HBI (Home Builders Institute) Classes –deadline of March 6 – HBI offers 3 certifications in 4 Weeks and job placement at No Cost to Military Members, Past or Present.  OSHA 10, First Aid/CPR/AED, Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate, Training, and Job Placement Promotion Class. 9am – 2:30pm - Mon-Thurs.  Classes begin March 6.  9200 Southpark Center Loop, Orlando FL 32819 (Inside Everest University off John Young Parkway.) Info or to secure your seat:  Jamacan Penney-Vassey   407-259-5069  jvassey@ hbi .org  

Women Veterans honored – Mon. March 6 - American Legion Aux. Unit 347 will host a luncheon for the female veterans who reside in Lake, Marion and Sumter counties.  12noon at the Legion Post 347, located on the corner of Rolling Acres Rd. and CR-466 in The Villages.  NO cost for the veterans, but any  guests are asked to make a $5 donation.  Pre-registration ends on Feb. 26, and is needed for an accurate meal count.  Bio’s and photo are requested.  Register and Info:  Donna McGlone at 352-753-9688    donna244mcglone@ gmail .com (please put “Women’s Veterans Luncheon” in subject line.)  

Marine Corps League Orlando - Tues, March 7- Cpl. Larry E. Smedley, Detachment 064 Monthly Meeting, 7pm – 8pm at the at American Legion Florida Department bldg., 1912A Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810. Info:  mclcfl @gmail. com or mcl.orlando.commandant@ 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.)  

Legal Check-up Clinic – Wed. March 8 – Low or no income veterans can receive free legal advice.  Hosted by Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida at 122 E. Colonial Dr., Suite 200, Orlando, 32801.  10am – 2pm.  Also assistance with forms for family law, consumer, bankruptcy, housing and other civil legal matters.  Receive advice on criminal issues from the Public Defender’s Office. Screening for eligibility for VA benefits and other veteran related matters; Meet with Social Workers who can provide assistance and referrals for additional community resources.  Info:  Lena Smith at lenas@ clsmf .org  (352)629-0105 ext. 2912.  

Central Florida Navy League luncheon and meeting – Wed. March 8 – All persons who support the sea services, whether civilian or military, are welcomed to attend this gathering on the 2nd Wed. of each month.  11:30 – 1pm at the Holiday Inn – UCF, 1724 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando, 32826.  Interesting speakers and networking potential includes the simulation technology businesses.  $20 with credit card payment on website (cfnavyleague .org) or $25 at the door.  3rd largest Navy League in FL with diverse membership including nearby technology industries.  Contact Bob K. (Membership Chair.) at navleaguecenfl@ juno .com   407-977-7575
(NEW!  The Navy League offers national E-Membership for only $25 per year! Prior military service is NOT required.  Support the sea services – Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines – with membership.)  

AAAA (Army Aviation Association of America) Social – Fri. March 10 – Multi-branches of past and current military aviation personnel gather for networking, supporting good causes, and fun!  (aka “Quad-A”)  Social this month is 5pm – 7pm at Frogger’s Grill and Bar, Alafaya Square, 27 Alafaya Woods Blvd, Oviedo, 32765.  Info:   407-381-5311.  

Tico Warbird Airshow – Fri, Sat, Sun March 10, 11, 12 – Valiant Air Command hosts this 40th Annual Warbird Airshow.  Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville.  Fri. night has a twilight show ending with fireworks and music.  Sat. and Sun gates open at 8:30am with the airshow beginning 1pm – 5pm.  Advance tickets $20 adults, $5 children.  Gate Tickets $25 and $10 for children.  Three-days fast paced flying program of historic and current military prop & jet warbirds, and military & civilian aerobatic demonstration teams, including the USAF Thunderbirds Demonstration Team. Airborne and ground reenactor demonstrations, static displays, flight simulators, exotic hot rods and antique cars, kid’s carnival, airplane and helicopter rides and much more.   Gift shop and autograph tent, multiple food and souvenir venders.  Check online for ticket upgrade options, amenities, and restrictions.  Valiant Air Command  321.268.1941  www. valiantaircommand .com  

The Last Naval Battle of the American Revolution – Sat. Mar 11 – Hosted by Brevard Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).  Join veteran and historical groups as they commemorate the last naval battle of the American Revolution – just off of Cape Canaveral in 1783.  9:30am assembly with step-off at 10am of Color Guards, parade of organizations, and ceremony follows that commemorates a ship loaded with silver heading to the Continental Army in Philadelphia and escaping British ships trying to capture it.  Brevard Veteran Council Center, 400 South Sykes Creek Parkway, Merritt Island, 32952.  All patriotic Color Guard units are invited; all units will receive a commemorative flag streamer.  After the event, visit the Military Museum and Memorial .  Info:  Steve at swilliams16@ cfl.rr .com  321-632-5663 or Phil at  wright.gen@ gmail .com  

Navy League Social – Tues. Mar 14 - Join the Central Florida Navy League for food, wine, networking and a great time on at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, Waterford Lakes.   Cash bar and appetizers, 5pm-7pm at 529 N Alafaya Trail, Orlando, 32828.  The Navy League is composed of citizens in support of the United States sea services – Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines, but we welcome Army and Air Force too!.  Many members are military veterans but military service is NOT required.  www. cfnavyleague .org   

Orange County Mayors’ Veterans Advisory Council –Wed. March 15– 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   

Greeters needed!  Honor Flights Resume their Spring 2017 trips!  Come Welcome them Home! –Sat. Mar 18 – Orlando Int’l Airport –After a day spent in Washington DC, veterans of WWII and Korean War veterans return home thru Orlando Int’l Airport.  The nation-wide organization has three local hubs that take veterans on a single day trip to our nation’s capital where they visit the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam War Memorials, Marine Corps Iwo Jima and the Air Force Monuments, and witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.  Come welcome these former warriors home!  “Welcome Home” receptions at the airports make a difference!  Bring your flags, banners and signs! –Dates are: 
  • Sat. March 18 – 25 veterans, plus their guardians and staff.  Time and Flt# TBD
  • Wed. March 29 – 35 veterans, plus their guardians and staff.  Time and Flt# TBD
Information for more will be forthcoming.  Contact Cathy Haynes for those details -  chaynes11629@ yahoo .com   407-239-8468. For the Early Birds - you can wave these veterans off in the morning no later than 5am.   They process thru Security early and quickly.  

Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses mtg (FAVOB) – Tues March 21 - 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, and with our state, our cities, and counties too.  See FAVOB Facebook site.  Info:  chairman@ favob .org or marketing@ favob .org  

Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) mtg – Wed. March 22 – Join others who are in this unique status of service to our country.  7 PM at the Orlando Elks Lodge, 12 N. Primrose Dr., Orlando, 32803.  Activities include parade participations, and currently working on getting out the JROTC Purple Heart Awards for the local high schools and college ROTC units. It’s always nice for a member to personally present the Award Certificate, Medal and Ribbon at the school awards ceremony. Info:  Marcus at mmichles@ att. net   407-382-9737 or cell 407-304-6061.  

Poker Run for the Vietnam Moving Wall Tribute fundraiser - Sun. March 26 - Poker run to benefit  the Vietnam Moving Wall Tribute (April 27 – May 1 in Eustis) Poker Run is seeking sponsors, large auction items and several volunteers.  Will be "open to all vehicles."   Info:  Peggy S at  veteransinfoandevents@ gmail .com   407-484-2159  

Wounded Warfighter and Lone Sailor 5K/10K Run - Sat. April 1 – Central Florida Navy League sponsors this in Blue Jacket Park, 2501 General Rees Ave. Baldwin Park, Orlando, 32814.  Sponsors and participants still welcomed!  Discount for early registration and for groups of 10 or more.  Time:  7:30am - Colors and National Anthem; 7:50am - 10K Race Start; 8:05 - 5K Race Start; 9:15 - Kids Race Start.  End of Program:  Award Ceremony and Silent Auction.  Too early or too busy on that day?  Please consider the Virtual Race option:   April 1-14.  www. cfnl5k .org  or  www. cfnavyleague .org   Info:  Chris Townsend at flytowny@ gmail .com  407.230.3333  

Melbourne Air and Space Show – Sat and Sun. April 1, 2 – See  airandspaceshow.com  for hours and ticket info.  


April 27 - May 1 - Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall at the City of Eustis.  Volunteers, sponsors, vendors for this event are welcomed.  Also yearly music Fest event April 28-30th.  Info:  Erin Bailey  352-483-5491  

Thurs. May 4 – Sun. May 7 – Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion –This is the 30th annual gathering and not to be missed.  Wickham Park in Melbourne.  The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be escorted on Sun. April 30 with hundreds of various vehicles.  Info:  321-408-2698. Vendors call: 321-652-4185 or vet.reunion.vendor@ gmail .com  

MISCELLANEOUS   Pro Bono Legal Services - Free Legal Advice Clinic for veterans is being offered in two locations:
  • Seminole County Public Library in Casselberry, Meeting Room 1 &2, 215 N Oxford Rd, Casselberry, 32707.  Every 2nd Thursday of the month from 1 – 4 pm.  Contact Kayla Meyer, Pro bono Coordinator, 407-834-1660 ext. 110, coordinator@ scbalas .com 
  • Orlando VA Lake Baldwin in the Medical Center Cafeteria, 5201 Raymond St., Orlando, 32803.  The 2nd Tuesday of each month beginning at 3:30pm.  Contact Jay Mobley at 407-841-8310 ext. 3163.

Veterans Resource Radio – Rob Newton on the radio:  Thursday’s at 1pm on WLBE 790 – my790am.com;  Friday’s at 2pm WQBQ 1410 “The Q” on tune in radio, and at my-oldies.com.  (Both stations are in Leesburg.)  

Univ. of Central FL Business Incubation Program for Entrepreneurs – Assistance with the many aspects of starting or advancing businesses, including veteran owned businesses.  Expert advice, mentoring, and classes available –  See  incubator.ucf .edu/   for more information and enrollment.  A wide variety of class topics are offered on various dates and locations - held in Apopka, Winter Springs and Kissimmee.  This is a must if you want to start or grow a business.  

Research Project - Active military, reservists, guardsmen and veterans needed – If you or someone you know has experience overseas, a research project is ongoing at the UCF RESTORES lab at the University of Central Florida.  The project determines if smells influence their experience in virtual environments similar to those we use in the treatment of combat-related PTSD. Participation takes approximately one hour, and those who volunteer will be compensated for their time.  You can help others who suffer from PTS by your participation.  Call UCF RESTORES:  407-823-3910.  

OIA USO - Volunteers and donations needed - USO at the Orlando International Airport averages over 100 guests daily and over 7500 guests since the opening in September.  This USO is unique in that ALL veterans are welcomed, not just active duty and retired military.  It is open from 6am to 10pm, 365 days a year.  It is staffed by 400 volunteers (and parking is free for volunteers).  There are no government monies received to operate the facility – it operates by our donations.  For more information or to volunteer, contact Annamae at annamae@ usocentralflorida .org  or 407-825-8761.  

Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry - Gulf War Syndrome veterans - The VA is urging veterans who serviced in the Southwest Asia Theater of operations to complete an online survey and report any concerns or symptoms that they may be experiencing as a result of airborne hazards during active duty in that region.  Info:  www. hillandponton.com /airborne-hazards-open-burn-pit-registry/  

Camp LeJeune Contaminated Drinking Water - Marine Corps veterans sickened by the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.  Eligible veterans stationed at the Marine base for at least 30 days cumulative (not necessarily consecutive) between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987. There are currently eight presumptive diseases linked to the water:  Adult leukemia, Aplastic anemia, Bladder cancer, Kidney cancer, Liver cancer, Multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Parkinson's disease.  Veterans who suffered an illness not on the list can still apply for benefits. But they must go through the normal VA claims process. Veterans who have already been denied benefits are expected to be eligible to reapply.  About 14,000 Lejeune veterans and family members live in Florida, the second highest total in the nation behind North Carolina.  The base's water was tainted with industrial solvents and components of fuel from a variety of sources, including underground fuel tanks that leaked.  

Veteran Pension Scams - Veterans' benefits, including their pensions, are being targeted in a new scam. As part of the scam, criminals pose as attorneys or financial advisers and extend an offer to assist the veteran with their pension. The scam involves convincing veterans to transfer their assets into a special trust account, then charging them exorbitant fees to help complete lengthy, complicated paperwork associated with the transfer. The veteran is told the asset reallocation will allow the person to qualify for aid and attendance benefits. But, this is not true. If you are approached by scammers, contact your local police or sheriff's department.  (per Military.com | Week of January 30, 2017)(Thank you, Ed Burford! Seminole Co. VSO)  

Hepatitis C – It is imperative that veterans get tested!  If positive, get treated.  The VA will test you, and treat you.  Consult your primary care team.  One in 10 Vietnam veterans, and one in 30 baby-boomers, will test positive for this liver problem “time-bomb” that may lead to liver cancer. Blood Banks already test for this – if Hep C negative, your blood will help save a life.  (FYI – Hepatitis C was formerly known as Hepatitis Non-A, Non-B until the 1980’s.)  

Veterans in crisis – For you or someone you know.  Suicide is a medical emergency.  If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, know that you are not alone and care should be sought immediately by calling 911.  Free, confidential resources are instantly available through the Military Crisis Line to aid you if you are in crisis. 
Call 800-273-8255 and press 1,  
OR chat online now for 24/7 access to trained counselors who understand what service members and military families are coping with.  Website at  veteranscrisisline 
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. And for First Responders.  They also have connections in other areas, other states.  It works.  It HAS saved lives, saved marriages and saved families.  camaraderiefoundation .org   Contact 407-841-0071    

Caring and sharing,  

Cathy Haynes
Member/supporter of numerous veteran and military organizations in Central FL 407-239-8468
chaynes11629@ yahoo .com