Served Like a Girl Documentary Recognizes Epidemic of Homeless Women Veterans: ‘It Became a Mission for Me,’ Says Director

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When director and producer Lysa Heslov heard about the 55,000 homeless women veterans currently in the United States, she knew she found the inspiration behind her next film.

“When I always thought of homeless veterans, mistakenly, I had always thought that it was a man pushing a shopping cart,” Heslov tells PEOPLE.

For two years, she entrenched herself in the company of many of these veterans and created the documentary, Served Like A Girl, which focuses on five women who are competing for the crown of Ms. Veteran America, and the struggles they have faced since returning home from war.

“To be able to tell their stories and hopefully have some impact with these women — it became a mission for me,” she says about the film that debuted at South by Southwest on Monday. “We became a family.”

The more Heslov got to know the women in the film — Jaspen Boothe, Nichole Alred, Hope Garcia, Rachel Engler, Andrea Waterbury, Marissa Strock and Denyse Gordon — who she describes as “warriors who have overcome adversity,” the more she “fell in love with them and the “easier it became to tell their story,” she says.

Heslov exposes the reality that female veterans face at home and during the competition, including PTSD, divorce, serious illness and military sexual abuse. Ms. Veteran America is more than a competition. It’s main mission is to raise money and awareness to support and advocate for homeless women veterans.

Continue onto PEOPLE to read more about Lysa’s journey in making this documentary.

World’s Largest Golf Outing Registration Now Open—Eighth Annual Event to Benefit Fisher House Foundation

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WLGO

Registration for this year’s World’s Largest Golf Outing (WLGO) – a national event on Monday, August 6 benefitting Fisher House Foundation – is now open.

The eighth annual WLGO is a simultaneous charity outing to be played on more than 100 golf courses coast to coast, plus Hawaii.  Since its inception in 2011, more than 57,000 men, women, juniors and seniors have played in 33 states to raise $3,764,603 for military and family charities. Several national celebrities have donated to WLGO, including PGA Tour Legend Chi Chi Rodriguez and 42nd President Bill Clinton.

“The generosity and the growth of the World’s Largest Golf Outing continues to impress,” says Peter Hill, Chairman and CEO of Billy Casper Golf that conceived WLGO. “It’s incredible to see the enduring appreciation for our brave men and women who sacrifice everything to protect and preserve our daily freedoms.”

Golfers can register as a single, twosome or foursome to play at participating courses near theme.  Cost varies by location and includes greens fees, shared carat, warm-up bucket of balls and lunch (if applicable), local prizes and awards ceremony following play. All golfers regardless of ability are welcome and a USGA handicap is not required.

Teams are encouraged to raise additional funds to support Fisher House; donations are made at worldslargestgolfouting.com.  Prizes are awarded for top donators and low scores.

Fun and emotion rule the day as participating courses honor the military with moments of silence, ceremonial tee shots, standing ovations, national anthems and color guards before play, patriotic decorations adorning fairways and greens and on-site military vehicles and fly-overs.  Hundreds of injured service men and women tee it up at WGLO host courses.

Since 1990, Fisher House Foundation has provided a “home away from home” for families of patients receiving treatment at major military and VA medical centers. Its network of 76 comfort homes has provided over 335,000 families with no-cost lodging, allowing families to be close by a while a loved one undergoes treatment and recovery.  One $10 donation covers costs to house a family in a Fisher House for one night.

“While funds from the World’s Largest Golf Outing are important, so is the awareness and a chance to share the Fisher House story,” says Dave Coker, President of Fisher House Foundation. “Thank you for your participation, generosity and support of those we call our greatest national treasure, our military service men and women and their loved ones.”

While WLGO is Hill’s brainchild, it is part of Billy Casper Golf’s giving culture.  The company’s namesake, the late Billy Casper, the Masters and two-time U.S. Open winner, served in the Navy, witnessing first-hand the effects of front-line combat.  He often entertained U.S. troops serving in Asia by hitting golf balls over aircraft carriers.

For more information. worldslargestgolfouting.com, 703.940.3600

Yes I Can—Program and Book Discovered by a Veteran, for Veterans

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Ray Simmons' Yes I Can Book

Yes I Can’s Guide to Better Living for Veterans

My name is Ray Simmons, and I am the President and Founder of Yes I Can, a non- profit organization. I wrote the book “A Guide to Better Living for Veterans” hoping it will transform the lives of Veterans in a positive way.

It was Joe Gallant, a Vietnam Veteran that inspired me to write this guide. He shared some stories with me about how many Veterans return home after fighting for our country, feeling unappreciated for all the sacrifices they’ve made for this country. Not to mention, our Veterans are committing suicide at such a high rate. This guide touches on several different subjects such as; Negative Attitude, Positive Attitude, Self Esteem, Motivation, Goals, Persistence, Patience, Procrastination, Art of Listening, and Communication. We included these subjects in our guide hoping it will change the psyche of our Veterans; generate values that are practical, meaningful and supportive of a healthy, vital lifestyle.

My goal is to make sure that every Veteran receives a Guide for Better Living as a gift from us, the Citizens of America whose freedom they fought to protect. I’m asking you to please help me put a guide in each Veterans hand. You can help a Veteran that you know by purchasing a Guide for him or her. If you don’t happen to know a Veteran you can still donate a guide to one. Did you know that there are 892,221 veterans in New York State? If each one of our Veterans were afforded the chance to receive a guide, it will be a life changing experience for a low cost of $13.90!

If you would like to learn more about Yes I Can you can visit our website https://yesicanforvets1.wixsite.com/yesicanforvets or if you would like to assist us in anyway to fulfill our goals in providing a guide to our Veterans, feel free to call our offices toll free number 1-888-612-3893 or 914-497-5509. You can also order a copy by paying via PayPal- YESICANVETS@gmail.com.  All donations are tax deductible!!!!!

Thank you for giving me the wonderful opportunity to share a few valuable lessons that I have learned in my lifetime. The main purpose of this book is to help our Veterans change their perspective from negative to positive. I also want to heighten there self –esteem. For example, if it is low, this guide will give them the motivation that is necessary to reach any goal in life!

-Ray Simmons, Author of Yes I Can: A Guide to Better Living For Veterans

About the Program:
Purpose of Program: The purpose of the program is to bring a successful mind set to our CAN DO format. We will generate values that are practical, meaningful and supportive of a healthy, vital lifestyle for our participants.

Duration of Program: The program is delivered through workshops twice a week for one hour a day over the course of eight weeks.

Purpose of Subjects: The workshop is made up of ten subjects that will change the psyche of our Veterans. Below is a brief synopsis of each subject’s purpose.

The first subject is Negative Attitude. The goal of this subject is for participants to identify where negativity comes from. Throughout the workshop, we point out how negativity is habit forming, just like drugs, alcohol, and food. In addition, we show how negativity can affect your health, even shorten your life. As a result, it will help our participants rid negative habit(s), if they possess one.

The second subject is Positive Attitude. This subject points out the benefits of having a positive attitude.  Throughout the workshop, we show the participants how having a positive attitude can keep them healthy, help them to live longer, as well as prevent diseases.

The third subject is Self Esteem.  Throughout the workshop the participants will gain an understanding that having a high positive self -esteem is extremely essential for a happy and fulfilling life and they are what they think they are. This subject will help them to think highly of themselves. As a result, the participants will have high positive selves esteem and love to appreciate themselves. Also, realize how special they are.

The fourth subject is Motivation. This subject will help the participants identify what motivates their thoughts and actions. They will understand that their thoughts and actions create their realities. As a result, they will be aware of what motivates them so their realities will be what they desire them to be.

The fifth subject is Goals. This subject teaches the participants how to set goals and fulfill their goals in life.  They will learn that life means to have purpose and goals. On the contrary, death means to do nothing and go nowhere. As a result, this subject will motivate the participants to soar to heights that they didn’t know they could reach.

The sixth subject is Persistence. This subject teaches the participants how to continue to pursue goals when faced with opposition. They will learn how to endure the storm of disappointments no matter how many times the door of rejection closes. As a result, they will know that a winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.

The seventh subject is Patience. This subject teaches the participants how to calmly tolerate delay. They will start to realize anything worth having is worth waiting for. As a result, they will become wise enough to know that there is a time for everything and you can get where you need to be if you just be patient.

The eighth subject is Procrastination. This subject teaches the participants the value of getting the job done today and not waiting for tomorrow. The goal is to help the participants realize that every minute that passes, is a minute that they’ve missed an opportunity. In addition, they are taught how to manage their time so that they will learn to appreciate time and its value.

The ninth subject is the Art of Listening. This subject teaches the participants how to be an empathetic listener. Throughout this workshop, they will learn the art of listening to understand, opposed to listening to reply. In addition, we point out how important it is for someone to know that you truly understand his or her problem. As a result, the participants will listen to understand.

The tenth subject is Communication. This subject teaches the participants that communication is the most important skill in life. They will learn how to read body language because sixty percent of a message is told by the body not the words.

Get the details about the program and order your copy of the book today at yesicanforvets.com

Guardians of Rescue Seek Support in Helping Airmen Bring Rescued Dogs Back Home

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therapy dog with soldier

Military members stationed in the Middle East are subjected to some brutal conditions, but every once in a while something happens that puts a smile on their face and brings them some comfort. That’s exactly what happened to two airmen, who within days of each other were brought together with puppies in need of rescue.

They rescued the dogs and went on to create strong bonds with them. Now, the Guardians of Rescue are working to help the airmen bring the dogs back home to America with them for good. “They have created inseparable bonds with these dogs and can’t imagine leaving them behind in the Middle East as they come back home to the states,” Robert Misseri, founder and president of Guardians of Rescue, an animal rescue organization. “We have helped other airmen bring dogs back home with them, and we are going to help these two as well. As they fight for us, we will be fighting for them.”

The two dogs will be arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in July. They will stay in New York for a few weeks before being transported by Guardians of Rescue to El Paso, Texas, where both of the airmen live. The two men, Staff Sgt. Dustin Fulmer (originally from Omaha, NE) and Senior Airman Jordan Jensen (originally from Ludington, MI) will be reunited with the dogs when they return home from the Middle East.

In the midst of a bad sandstorm, the two men had come across a 4-foot wood stake sticking up out of the ground with a rope tied to it. They immediately thought it was another IED, but it ended up being a tiny puppy with a rope around its neck. The puppy lay in agony, with its ears having been cut off, likely with a dull knife. The dog was full of blood and flies were surrounding it. With only hours left to live, Jensen scooped her up, knowing he could not leave her behind. He nursed him back to health, naming him Kral, and they quickly became inseparable. It was only days later when out on another mission that Fulmer found a litter of dying puppies that he tried to save. The survivor of that litter became his best friend, a beautiful puppy he named Syri.

Both puppies were lucky enough to be saved by these two heroic airmen.therapy dog with soldierOver the months that followed, they created strong bonds with them. Both of them faced a big challenge, knowing that they would not be comfortable leaving the beloved dogs behind when they went back to America. That’s when Guardians of Rescue stepped in to help bring them back home, as they have done for other military members. The lengthy mission of bringing them back to the U.S. was begun in the middle of the night by former military personnel. The dogs are currently being held in the country of Jordan, where there has been a holy war against dogs since October 2017, as they wait for their flight to the U.S.

“We know that everyone wants to see these dogs be brought back home and the airmen reunited with them,” adds Misseri. “This is a great way for people to help military members. They can make a donation to help cover the costs of making this reunion happen. We can’t do it without the support of the public.” Those wishing to help bring the airmen’ dogs back to the U.S. can make a donation online: guardiansofrescue.networkforgood.com/projects/54645-the-hero-duo-kral-syri.

Guardians of Rescue provides assistance to animals out on the streets. They are located in Long Island, New York, and they help animals in many places beyond where they are located. They are also instrumental in helping military members with their pets. To learn more, get involved, or to make a donation to support the Guardians of Rescue, log onto guardiansofrescue.org.

About Guardians of Rescue
Based in New York, Guardians of Rescue is an organization whose mission is to protect the well-being of all animals. They provide aid to animals in distress, including rehabilitation, assisting other rescue groups, and providing support to families, both military and not, who need assistance due to economic factors. To learn more about Guardians of Rescue, visit the site at www.guardiansofrescue.org

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Local Charity Creates Barber/Beauty Salon Expressly for Homeless Veterans

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Haircuts-for-Veterans

Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation (RBCF) is well known for managing projects in Maryland that provide no-charge haircuts and hairstyles services to children and adults who lack access to regular grooming services. Therefore, on June 25, 2018 at 5PM the RBCF and the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) will cut the ribbon on a single chair barber/beauty salon that will exclusively provide no-charge grooming services homeless veterans.

Located in Southeast Baltimore, the shop will serve up to 175 of our Country’s former armed service men and women. The shop is the first of its kind in Baltimore, with the cost of the installation is funded with private grants and donations from individuals.

MCVET has operated a 175 bed transitional shelter for homeless veterans (both male and female service members) for more than twenty-five years. The facility addresses employment training and placement, housing assistance, addiction, mental health issues, and more. The goal of full employment, independence, and reintegration into the community is not fully attainable if these veterans’ appearance is suffering from a lack of access to regular grooming,” says Robert Cradle, Managing Director of the RBCF. “When the new barber/salon is installed, MCVET will enlist volunteer barbers and hairstylists to provide haircuts, hairstyles, shaves and needed chemical treatments”. RBCF: therbcf.com; MCVET: mcvet.org/

Podcast for Military Members is here!

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Milresourceradio.com is a special place for veterans and service members alike to receive stories and support. This podcast is for veterans by veterans. Hear directly from organization leaders—and those who’ve benefited from their services. Host Les Davis is U.S. Army (ret) and a Gulf War Veteran. He has built mil/vet recruitment strategies for AMVETS and Fortune 100 companies, helping other vets post-service personally and professionally. His advocacy specialties are transition, PTS, employment, education, and leadership change and growth.

Check out his podcast on taking care of mental health for veterans with special guest Linda Kreter,  founder and CEO of Healing Household 6, a non-profit organization supporting caregivers, spouses, and partners of veterans.

militarynetworkradio.com/healing-household

Budweiser Celebrates Summer with New Freedom Reserve Red Lager

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Budweiser unveiled the newest addition to its Reserve Collection – Budweiser Freedom Reserve Red Lager. The new beer was specially brewed by Budweiser’s own veterans and builds on Budweiser’s long-standing support of American veterans with a portion of proceeds sold this summer benefiting Folds of Honor — a nonprofit organization providing educational scholarships to military families. As of this year, the company has raised $14 Million in support of Folds of Honor.

“To call Budweiser a partner would be an understatement – they are considered family to us and the 3,000 families their donations help to support,” said Major Dan Rooney, founder and CEO of Folds of Honor. “Freedom Reserve is a great testament to their unwavering dedication and compassion for our armed forces and we salute them.”

Freedom Reserve Red Lager is the second specialty lager to appear in Budweiser’s Reserve Collection and is inspired by George Washington’s hand-penned recipe from his personal military journal dating back to 1757. Packaged both in a vintage stubby bottle and also available in a one-pint can, the Red Lager is brewed with toasted barley grains for a slightly sweet aroma with a touch of hops, a rich caramel malt taste and a smooth finish with a hint of molasses. Marking the seventh consecutive year Budweiser is teaming up with Folds of Honor, the brand brought together a select group of Budweiser brewers who are also proud veterans to brew Freedom Reserve and their signatures are prominently featured on each bottle and can.

We are incredibly proud of our Freedom Reserve Red Lager because it was passionately brewed by our veteran brewers who have bravely served our country,” said Ricardo Marques, vice president, Budweiser. “With Freedom Reserve we remain dedicated to our mission to support our veterans and their families through our longstanding partnership with Folds of Honor.”

As the great American lager, Budweiser is committed to supporting U.S. veterans and their families, with the brand’s total contributions helping to benefit more than 3,000 families across the country. To help spread the message of support this summer, Budweiser will deploy a fully integrated marketing campaign for Freedom Reserve, complete with in-store displays, online advertising and digital marketing programming along with new national TV creative airing during marquee sports moments, including the NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup Finals. Freedom Reserve will be available beginning in May through September 30, or while limited supplies last.

Continue onto PRNewswire to read the complete article.

INDIAN MOTORCYCLE & Indian Motorcycle & Carey Hart Bring V-Twin-Powered Armed Forces Day Celebration To Troops At U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

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Carey Hart-Good Rides

Indian Motorcycle, America’s first motorcycle company founded in 1901, and freestyle motocross icon Carey Hart have partnered to take Hart’s Good Ride fund-raising platform overseas to active soldiers based at U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Stuttgart in Germany. On May 20, Good Ride Salutes USAG Stuttgart will honor U.S. military soldiers and the freedom they protect with an Armed Forces Day ride and barbeque celebration. In support of the honorary ride, Indian Motorcycle will donate up to $30,000 to the Infinite Hero Foundation from test rides completed at Indian Motorcycle dealerships during the month of May. In addition, donations to Hart’s Good Ride (a 501C3 charity) can be made at goodriderally.com in support of active American troops and veterans.

In partnership with Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR), Indian Motorcycle and Hart will bring the Good Ride experience to a community of over 20,000 active military and their families. With an anticipated count of more than 200 participating motorcyclists, Hart will lead the ride from USAG Stuttgart through the picturesque Black Forrest and German countryside. Following the ride, the Armed Forces Day celebration will continue with a family-friendly barbeque, live music, prize drawings and a kids’ zone.

“I’ve always held an immense sense of respect and gratitude for our troops, and that’s why I’ve made the military, both active and veteran, the focus of Good Ride’s efforts since day one,” said Hart. “I couldn’t be more proud and excited to bring Good Ride directly to our active troops overseas.”

In support of Good Ride Salutes USAG Stuttgart, Indian Motorcycle will run a test ride promotion that will raise up to $30,000 for the Infinite Hero Foundation. As the primary beneficiary of Hart’s Good Ride Rally, the Infinite Hero Foundation funds programs that drive innovation and accessibility of effective treatments for military heroes and their families dealing with service-related mental and physical injuries. For every motorcycle test ride completed at an Indian Motorcycle dealership in the month of May, Indian will donate $20 in that rider’s name. Riders can schedule a test ride at a nearby Indian Motorcycle dealership at IndianMotorcycle.com.

“Indian Motorcycle’s commitment to the American military dates back to the first World War, and it’s something that will forever be a part of our brand DNA,” said Steve Menneto, President, Indian Motorcycle Company. “It’s both an honor and a privilege to bring a little piece of home overseas to these brave men and women with this special Good Ride event and Armed Forces Day celebration.”

To further the Armed Forces Day celebration, Indian Motorcycle dealerships around the U.S. and Canada will host honorary military events on May 19. Many dealerships will offer food, drinks, and giveaways, including an Indian-branded multi-tool.

For more information about Good Ride Salutes USAG Stuttgart, or to find a dealer near you, visit IndianMotorcycle.com and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

ABOUT INDIAN MOTORCYCLE®

Indian Motorcycle Company is America’s First Motorcycle Company®. Founded in 1901, Indian Motorcycle has won the hearts of motorcyclists around the world and earned distinction as one of America’s most legendary and iconic brands through unrivaled racing dominance, engineering prowess and countless innovations and industry firsts. Today that heritage and passion is reignited under new brand stewardship. To learn more, please visit www.indianmotorcycle.com.

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Iraq War Veteran Awarded Brand New Vehicle Through TrueCar DrivenToDrive Program

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U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Goodrich

TrueCar and AutoNation today donated a 2018 Honda Ridgeline to Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Goodrich at a special event held at the AutoNation Honda Dulles in Sterling, VA.

The vehicle donation marked the second year of the DrivenToDrive program, a partner program between TrueCar and DAV (Disabled American Veterans). DrivenToDrive was created to help injured veterans regain the freedom they’ve fought and sacrificed so much for, by helping them get back behind the wheel of vehicles retrofitted for their needs.

Father of two kids, Goodrich suffered traumatic brain and leg injuries in combat while serving the country during deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The injured leg is confined to a brace which prevents Goodrich from driving or sitting in a compact vehicle for more than 20 minutes at a time due to discomfort and pain.

“After my time in the service, my wife and I decided to dedicate our lives to helping other veterans rehabilitate and recover through art therapy,” said Sgt. Goodrich. “I would not be able to reach and help as many people without the help of this new vehicle.”

Goodrich’s military-themed art has garnered national acclaim, with his work having been exhibited at the National Museum of Health and Medicine and appearing in a number of national publications.

“AutoNation is honored to join with TrueCar in recognizing Sgt. Michael Goodrich and his family for their service and presenting them a brand new Honda Ridgeline,” said Marc Cannon, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for AutoNation.

In addition to Goodrich and his family, the event was attended by AutoNation CMO Marc Cannon, Assistant Executive Director of DAV National Service and Legislative Headquarters Randy Reese, and TrueCar CEO Chip Perry.

For more information about DrivenToDrive and its mission, please visit truecar.com/driventodrive.

About TrueCar
TrueCar, Inc. (NASDAQ: TRUE) is a digital automotive marketplace that provides comprehensive pricing transparency about what other people paid for their cars and enables consumers to engage with TrueCar Certified Dealers who are committed to providing a superior purchase experience. TrueCar operates its own branded site and its nationwide network of more than 15,000 Certified Dealers also powers car-buying programs for some of the largest U.S. membership and service organizations, including USAA, AARP, American Express, AAA and Sam’s Club. Over one half of all new car buyers engage with the TrueCar network during their purchasing process. TrueCar is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, with offices in San Francisco and Austin, Texas. For more information, go to truecar.com. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

About DAV
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with more than one million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at dav.org.

About AutoNation, Inc.
AutoNation, America’s largest automotive retailer, through its bold leadership, innovation and its comprehensive brand extensions, is transforming the automotive industry. As of March 31, 2018, AutoNation owned and operated over 325 locations from coast to coast. AutoNation has sold over 11 million vehicles, the first automotive retailer to reach this milestone. AutoNation’s success is driven by a commitment to delivering a peerless experience through customer-focused sales and service processes. Through its Drive Pink initiative, AutoNation is committed to drive out cancer, create awareness and support critical research. AutoNation continues to be a proud supporter of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and other cancer-related charities.

Please visit investors. autonation.com, autonation.com, autonationdrive.com, twitter.com/autonation, twitter.com/CEOMikeJackson, facebook.com/autonation, and facebook.com/CEOMikeJackson, where AutoNation discloses additional information about the Company, its business, and its results of operations.

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Rob Riggle: Combat to Comedy

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By Mackenna Cummings

You may recognize comedian and actor Rob Riggle from his success as a correspondent on The Daily Show, films like Step Brothers, Dumb and Dumber, The Hangover, and 21 Jump Street. This year you’ll see him in Midnight Sun, which came out March 23rd, and Night School, set to release September 28th. But it’s his recent role in the war drama 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers, released in January, that has us talking.

His two-decade-long entertainment career began while he was serving 14 years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, following his 9 years of active duty service in the U.S. Marines. Retired in 2013 as a lieutenant colonel, Riggle has served in Liberia, Kosovo, Albania, and Afghanistan. He told the USMC official magazine Marine Mag what he liked best about serving: “One—I earned the title ‘Marine,’ no one gave it to me. I’ll be proud of that as long as I’m alive. Two—Marines are loyal to each other. I like loyalty. Three—Marine Corps history and tradition is something to be proud of, and I’ve been part of that history for the last 19 years. And four—honor, courage and commitment. Those words really do mean something.”

USVM: So how did a theater major from the University of Kansas rise through the ranks as a Marine while still pursuing comedy and acting?

RR: “I had my pilot’s license when I was an undergrad. I was also a theater and film major. So I either was going to be ‘Top Gun’ when I graduated, or I was going to be a waiter. […] I went through Officer Candidate School and went through flight school and the further I got along, the more I realized that, if I continue flying, I’m not going to be able to pursue my dream of comedy and acting. So I stopped flying, became a ground officer, had a short contract, fulfilled my contract and pursued comedy and acting. I stayed in the reserves though, serving there for 14 years,” Riggle told CBS News.

In 2001, the day after the September 11th attacks, Riggle was called by the Marine Corps Reserves to report to Ground Zero to help move rubble by hand and search for survivors. Six days of emotionally and physically grueling 12-hour shifts followed, and a few weeks later, Riggle volunteered to return to active duty. He was deployed to Afghanistan, where during his two tours he served under Lt. Col. Max Bowers, an Army colonel who was part of 12 special forces who were sent there immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Bowers was the commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group. In 2017’s 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers, Riggle was honored to portray Bowers. He told ABC News, “After I volunteered to go back on active duty … I worked directly for him. He was my direct boss. I was doing public affairs and some civil affairs work for him. Now I’m playing [him] in the movie.”

Of the 12 Special Forces featured in the movie, Riggle says “TheyStephen Colbert and guest Rob Riggle Stephen Colbert and guest Rob Riggle were the first guys in. They teamed up with the Afghan Northern Alliance and did some truly amazing things, fighting in the mountains on horseback under intense conditions. They took three warlords and brought them together, fighting a pretty well-armed and entrenched Taliban force.”

As the ruins of the twin towers still smoldered at Ground Zero, Bowers and the U.S. Special Forces began the grisly war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In Liberty Park, a one-acre elevated public park at the World Trade Center in New York City, a statue stands overlooking the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. America’s Response Monument, or “De Oppresso Liber” (the motto of U.S. Army Special Forces that means “To free the oppressed”), is dedicated to the U.S. troops who responded in those weeks following 9/11. The 18-foot bronze statue depicts a Green Beret soldier on horseback, symbolizing the horses that the Afghan tribes provided our troops to navigate the mountainous Northern Afghanistan terrain. Most of those U.S. troops had never been on horseback before. In the age of modern warfare, it is remarkable that the initial response to the worst attack on American soil was fought in the same cavalry style as the forefathers of this country.

Although Riggle usually plays comedic roles, 12 Strong gave him the opportunity to play a dramatic character, who helps tell a story Riggle himself is passionate about. Transitioning from comedy to a drama left him a little out of his comfort zone on set, but the story and the truth behind it made it something he’s proud of. Speaking of the real people who inspired the book The Horse Soldiers and this 12 Strong movie, Riggle says, “In the annals of military history, this is something pretty special, when you think about what [the soldiers] did with what they had, where they were, in the amount of time that they did it.”

Rob Riggle Hosts Shoebox'As for the transition into acting, he notes that much of what he experienced in the military has helped in his comedy career. “You have to have thick skin, and you have to be able to bounce back from rejection and adversity. And you also have to have a mindset of ‘I’m not gonna quit until I accomplish my mission.’ So you learn those intangibles in the military, and those intangibles carried over and have sustained me in my comedy career,” he said. His career in acting and comedy was rather a trial-and-error process for him, as identifying what sort of sketches and scripts would suit him became easier the more he wrote and acted.

Riggle considers himself fortunate to have been able to pursue both paths that he was passionate about as a college student, and he’s still an active member of the veteran community. He participates in multiple charities, including Conservation International, ENOUGH Project, Entertainment Industry Foundation, Friars Foundation, James R. Jordan Foundation, Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Opportunity Village, Stand Up To Cancer, United Service Organization, We Advance, and Cats Care.

He also founded and hosts the Rob Riggle InVETational Golf Classic to raise funds for the Semper Fi Fund, which provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 combat wounded, critically ill and catastrophically injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Riggle speaks proudly and candidly of his military career, and lives out the official motto of the Marine Corps League, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” Although his career is now focused on being a comedian and actor, Rob Riggle remains honored to call himself a veteran. His heart and mind are never far from his military comrades, and he continues to support them no matter where he goes.

Univision Communications Inc and We Are The Mighty Hit the Dance Floor with First-Ever “Salsa InVETational” for U.S. Military and Hispanic Community

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salsa dancing veterans

SAN ANTONIO – In recognition of National Military Appreciation Month in May, Univision Communications Inc. (UCI), the leading media company serving Hispanic America, and We Are The Mighty (WATM), the leading media brand for the military-veteran community, today announced their collaboration to stage the first-ever Salsa InVETational, a dance competition for active duty service members and military veterans. The day-long event celebrating the spirit of service and Hispanic culture in the military will take place on Saturday, May 12 in San Antonio, Texas at Hangar 9, Brooks Air Force Base from 2 pm-10 pm with Lackland Fisher House benefitting from donations and awareness.

Salsa dance therapy is considered an effective and fun way for veterans to build confidence, engage socially and transition to civilian life in addition to aiding the ongoing treatment of various physical conditions associated with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).

Service members and veterans will be the main event as they compete alongside their dance partners showcasing their best Latin dance moves for Salsa, Merengue and Bachata, vying for 1st place prize of $1,000 in each category and $500 for 2nd place. Festival activities, food and musical acts Oscar D’Leon, Messiah, Play-N-Skillz, and Fort Sam’s Own are scheduled during this celebration of America’s heroes as part of National Military Appreciation Month, a declaration that encourages U.S. citizens to observe the month in a symbol of unity.

Hispanics have a longstanding tradition of military service to our country. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs 2014 Minority Veterans Report, Hispanics comprise 12.4% of Post-911 veterans with more than one million Latinos currently in uniform.

“UCI is proud to join forces with We Are The Mighty to give back to our military veterans, their families and community,” said Chris Morris, Vice President and General Manager at UCI for San Antonio. “This event celebrates our military’s diverse and inclusive community and embraces the powerful contributions our veterans have made to our nation and beyond.”

“Salsa dancing nights have long been enjoyed by active duty military and veterans alike not only for therapeutic purposes, but as a cultural connection within the military community,” noted David Gale, CEO & Co-Founder, We Are The Mighty. “Salsa is also an opportunity for military and civilians to connect through the joy of dancing. We are grateful to Univision for partnering on this visionary, lifestyle event and are inspired by Lackland Fisher House and the work they do for San Antonio’s veterans and their families.”

Military and ex-military interested in participating with a partner must be at least 21 years of age. The next qualifying round is May 6 at Arjon’s International Club. Registration starts at 8 p.m. and the contest kicks off at 9:30 p.m. Five couples from each category will advance to the finals on May 12. For more information about Salsa InVETational participation requirements and festival information, please visit WeAreTheyMighty.com.

Salsa InVETational will be free to active duty military and veterans with proof of veteran status. Tickets are available for those interested in attending the event and can be purchased at myticketgenius.com.

Sponsors for Salsa InVETational include Cavender Toyota and Cavender Audi.