Documentary Screening: “Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story”

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Ed Ramsey Story

Never Surrender is the true story of Lt. Col. Edwin P. Ramsey, who in 1942 led the last cavalry charge in U.S. army history, and commanded more than 40,000 guerrilla troops against the Japanese.

Please join Filmmaker Steven Barber, Director Matthew Hausle, and Executive Producer Dr. Raquel Ramsey for the screening of the Oscar Shortlisted film. Doors for the event will open at 5:00 p.m., and the movie will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by Q&A with the film’s filmmaker, director and executive producer. Prior to the event, the National Anthem will be sung by Tammy Cash. Special appearances at the event include the Filipino scouts, as well as Robert Tidwell who portrays General MacArthur in the documentary.

This event is free to attend and will be located in the Reagan Library’s Presidential Learning Center auditorium in Simi Valley, CA. All are welcome. No reservations are required.

Please visit the website here for more details about the screening.

From homeless to national champ: Army athlete rises to top of USA boxing

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As the two-time national middleweight champion, she has fought some of the world’s best boxers to earn a No. 3 international ranking.

But for a long time, Army athlete Naomi Graham had to fight her toughest opponent — herself.

Before the staff sergeant rose to the top of USA boxing, she had to overcome a mindset that began well before she ever set foot in a ring.

TOUGH LOVE

She was too nice, a coach had told her when Graham began training in 2014.

“You would never know that she’s a boxer,” said USA boxing assistant Joe Guzman, a former Army heavyweight competitor.

To become competitive in the ring, especially for the Olympics, she needed to be tougher, Guzman would say.

Graham speaks courteously and answers questions politely. In middle school, she allowed bullies to taunt her and get in her face. She never flinched, as her mother told her to avoid physical altercations, and instead tell a teacher or administrator when confronted by other children.

But one day Graham had enough. Another student threatened to fight her. Graham responded by hoisting the girl up and tossing her over a table.

“People started to leave me alone after that,” she said.

As a teen growing up in the outskirts of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Graham admittedly followed the wrong path after her graduation from Pine Forest High School in 2007. Instead of attending college courses or finding work, she enjoyed going out and spending time with friends.

Her mother, Bertha Clark, decided to show her some tough love and told her to move out of the family home. With no plan and no car, she found herself homeless in 2012, walking the suburban streets with a blanket and a few belongings.

She went to her friends’ homes asking for assistance and a place to stay.

Finally she decided to take matters into her own hands. One day while walking through a neighborhood southwest of Fayettville, she noticed an abandoned one-story house. Graham entered the backyard and found the backdoor unlocked.

She spent almost a year sneaking back into the abandoned home and sleeping in the back bedroom at night. She ate with friends when invited, but she used food stamps to get by.

One winter evening, she shuddered under her blanket in deep thought. Sitting in the darkness beneath the winter cold, she made a silent promise to herself.

“I was crying and I was basically saying, ‘this can’t be it for me,'” Graham said. “‘I know there is more to me than this.'”

She had already committed to joining the Army, but at that moment she vowed to use her Army enlistment to make a better life for herself.

For the complete article, continue on to U.S. Army.

 

2GIG and ELAN Smart Home Gifted by the Gary Sinise Foundation Provides U.S. Army CPT Jake Murphy with the Control He Needs

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Disabled Veteran with his family standing outside their smart home

While on a mission in Afghanistan on July 23, 2011, a pressure plate improvised explosive device detonated beneath U.S. Army Captain Jake Murphy, immediately taking his left foot and causing an anoxic brain injury that put him into a coma.

Against all odds, Murphy emerged from his coma four weeks later and was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he eventually lost both of his legs.

Recognizing Cpt. Murphy’s immense bravery, the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program provided him and his family a specially adapted smart home with technologies by Nortek Security & Control in an effort to help improve and simplify everyday life for the family of four.

“When designing this home for Captain Murphy and his family, simplicity was key,” said Jason Hanifan of Comware AV, the ELAN dealer that designed the home technology solution. “With that in mind, we personalized the ELAN Control System to make it easy for the whole family to control all the integrated technologies in the 3,598 square foot home.”

Comware AV built the system with an ELAN gSC10 as the main system controller, with an ELAN S1616A providing audio distribution and a 8×8 HDBaseT™ Matrix for video. The Murphy family can manage their home’s security, audio, video, Lutron® lighting, fans and shades, plus thermostats, and door locks through ELAN HR30 remotes in the family room and master bedroom, ELAN 7” Touch Panels in the kitchen and master bedroom, as well as through the ELAN app on their smart devices and with voice control through ELAN’s Amazon Alexa® integration.

With security being essential to the family, Hanifan and his team installed a 2GIG security system with over 40 sensors wirelessly connected to a 2GIG GC3 panel, which is integrated into the ELAN control system. According to Hanifan, “In addition to the intrusion sensors, we added 2GIG Glass Break Detectors to monitor for the sound of breaking glass in the home, 2GIG Motion Detectors, ten 2GIG Smoke Detectors, plus Carbon Monoxide Detectors.”

Murphy and his family can easily review the status of their home’s doors and windows before leaving the house or turning in for the night, using the GC3 panel, two 2GIG SP1 secondary touchscreens or any of their ELAN interfaces. If a door is left open, the 2GIG system will annunciate exactly which doors or window are open, and where. For further security, an ELAN network video recorder captures video from six ELAN surveillance cameras, all which can be managed from within the ELAN app.

To simplify the home control, Hanifan and the Comware AV team personalized automated scenes, such as “good night,” which automatically locks the doors and adjusts the lights, or “away” which automatically locks the doors, turn off the lights and sets the thermostats to a certain energy-saving level. “By initiating the ‘relax’ scene, the lights will switch to their designated level and the TV will go on,” said Hanifan. “With ELAN, the scene options are endless, which is ideal for Captain Murphy and his family. For example, when he wakes up in the morning he simply needs to say ‘good morning’ and everything will adjust to his desired settings. It’s that easy.”

For the Murphy family, music and entertainment are important aspects of home life. The Comware AV team installed 18 SpeakerCraft AIM282 speakers to maximize audio performance, and added a 1,000-watt Sunfire HRS10 subwoofer so the family can really “feel” the entertainment in the media room.

To ensure that all of the home’s technology receives uncompromised power for optimal operation, the system components plug into a Panamax M4315-PRO power conditioner with BlueBOLT® remote power management, while a Panamax MB-1500 battery backup guarantee protects the system in case of a power outage.

According to Scott Schaeperkoetter, Director of Operations for the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, the smart home system has completely transformed everyday life for the Murphy family. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to improve the lives of these veterans and with Nortek Security & Control’s line of smart home and security solutions, we’re able to completely customize the smart home technology in each home to fit the individual needs of the veteran and their family,” he said. “We’re honored to be able to support their journey to regain their independence.”

About ELAN
ELAN®, from Nortek Security & Control, develops an award-winning line of whole-house entertainment and control solutions distributed through a comprehensive channel of select dealers throughout the United States, Canada, and countries worldwide. The ELAN 8 update was honored with the “2017 Human Interface Product of the Year” award, and continues to expand its intuitive functionality with security, climate, surveillance and video distribution products and integrations. To learn more, visit www.elanhomesystems.com.

About Nortek Security & Control
Nortek Security & Control LLC (NSC) is a global leader in smart connected devices and systems for residential, security, access control, and digital health markets. NSC and its partners have deployed 5 million connected systems and over 25 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, Linear®, GoControl®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for security dealers, technology integrators, national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, and consumers. Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC has over 50 years of innovation and is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit nortekcontrol.com.

Emmanuel Kelly, formerly of X Factor, to open for Snoop Dogg at Salute The Troops Music and Comedy Festival

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Emmanuel Kelly- performing onstage with Chris Martin

Salute The Troops Music and Comedy Festival announced today that Emmanuel Kelly will perform at the Fox Theatre in Pomona, CA on Saturday, March 23rd in direct support of Snoop Dogg. Emmanuel was born in Iraq, is a child of war and was rescued by US Service Members.

He has performed on the X Factor and has most recently been on tour with Coldplay and has recorded tracks with Imagine Dragons.

Emmanuel was born with severely underdeveloped limbs due to chemical warfare in his community. In 2000, he was adopted by humanitarian Moria Kelly and moved to Australia where over the next several years, he had eight life-altering surgeries. Through rehabilitation, Emmanuel learned how to walk, drive a car, dress himself and more.

Read more about Emmanuel’s story via Billboard: billboard.com/meet-emmanuel-kelly

After being discovered on X Factor and fulfilling his goal of becoming the first “differently-abled pop star” Emmanuel is passionate about raising money for disadvantaged, differently-abled children, and cancer research. Emmanuel has now performed in front of audiences of up to 100,000 in venues like the Sydney Opera House, and MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

On the addition of Emmanuel to the Salute The Troops roster, co-founder of the festival, Nate Parienti said this: “This really adds a unique twist to our event and crystallizes the message of Service members, activist artists, veterans, children of war and the general public coming together to heal through music and comedy.”

Watch Emmanuel’s X-Factor performance: youtube.com/watch?v=IY37l4PDsao

About Salute The Troops:

Salute The Troops Music And Comedy Festival was founded by Nate Parienti and co-founded with John Wertz (USMC 2001-2006) of Semper Fi Productions. Salute The Troops will take place at iconic Goldenvoice venues, The Fox Theatre and the Glass House from Friday, March 22nd – Sunday, March 24th in downtown Pomona, CA. The event is aimed at raising awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress and the epidemic suicide rates among returning soldiers and veterans. Two-day tickets are on sale now at SaluteTheTroops.com

Every Day is a Dog Day for One Marine Veteran

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John and Daisy

By Brian Robin

The biggest rock star playing at Pechanga Resort Casino isn’t Pitbull. It isn’t Tony Bennett. Nor is it Michael Bolton, Paula Abdul, or Steven Tyler, all of whom have performed at the Temecula, California, resort this year.

No. The biggest rock star at the largest resort/casino on the West Coast slowly walks on four legs, wears a vest, and performs four days a week for 10 hours a day, helping to keep Pechanga team members and guests safe. And unlike the aforementioned, you can see her for free all over the property, not just in Pechanga’s entertainment venues.

Daisy—a 4-year-old lab/terrier mix rescue dog—is Pechanga’s reigning rock star. So much so that Pechanga’s management had to send out a memo to its team members not to pet her while she works. And when Daisy works, her job makes her the poster girl for an innovative, productive way of keeping Pechanga’s property and guests safe, while providing a renewed sense of life and purpose for one Marine veteran.

Daisy belongs to John Tipton, a 62-year-old Marine veteran who saw action in such places as Beirut, Grenada, and Iraq during the first Gulf War. Places and action that left the retired gunnery sergeant with post-traumatic stress disorder and turned the Vista resident into a self-described “grumpy grandpa” who was unemployed for three years.

“It was a pretty rough couple of years. I’d walk into job interviews, and they’d take one look at me and then look at the dog. You could see it in their eyes and hear it in the tone of their voice. They wondered what was wrong with me,” he said.

Now, the grumpy grandpa is a grateful grandpa. Under a program Pechanga instituted over the summer, John and Daisy are the first six-legged safety patrol team at the resort. Armed with a radio, water bowl, and beef jerky treats, they spend four days a week patrolling the hotel lobby, hallways, pool, casino, parking garages, and golf course, looking for things that are out of the normal routine for the bustling resort.

John Tipton and Daisy_4
John Tipton and Daisy taking a break from walking the 4 to 6 miles a day at Pechanga

“It brought me back to being a human again. It brought me back to doing the things I would normally do again,” Tipton said about his new position as DPS Specialist. “It takes the right person in the right spots for something like this to happen, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be here. A lot of people have said ‘It’s about time someone gives those with disabilities a chance,’ so I think our society is trending in the right direction.”

Those were Robert Krauss’ exact sentiments. Pechanga’s vice president of public safety and also a former Marine, Krauss lives ahead of the curve when it comes to next-level ways to keep guests safe. For example, Pechanga’s two security robots—one stationary and one mobile—Krauss introduced to the resort this summer. But not even security robots “Rudy” and “Buddy” have stopped traffic with appreciative guests like John and Daisy.

“These individuals have so much to offer our society that it’s a waste not to consider those with disabilities and their service dogs,” Krauss said. “The first time I heard John’s story, I knew he wasn’t the only one with issues finding a job where he could bring his service dog to work with him. I just knew we had to do something to help.”

“We have a need in the public safety department. They have a special skill set that I’m specifically looking for. Who better, with everything they’ve gone through and all the training and service they’ve provided for us. That’s exactly what we’re looking for here.”

Krauss said they’re looking for eight more veterans and their service dogs to join Tipton and Daisy, who has become the poster girl for more than just Pechanga. She’s the poster girl for the proverbial who-rescued-who happy dilemma many pet owners embrace.

“I’ll tell you this (about) the best part of having a service dog,” Tipton said. “Because everyone will tell you they got the best. But I do. That’s it. She’s the best-looking girl here.”

About the Author

Brian Robin is a copywriter at the Pechanga Resort Casino.

U-Haul Helps Veteran Family on Military Makeover with Montel

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U-Haul® puts its 74-year commitment to honoring veterans in the spotlight on “Military Makeover with Montel” during the show’s new season on the Lifetime channel.

U-Haul, founded by a WWII Navy veteran and his wife in 1945, signed on as a Military Makeover sponsor for the Aaron Middleton family throughout a six-part mini-series that documents the transformation of their St. Petersburg home.

The emotional first episode can be streamed at militarymakeover.tv and re-airs at 7:30 a.m. ET on March 7. Emmy Award-winning talk show host Montel Williams, having served 22 years in the military between the Marines and Navy, headlines the program.

“Military Makeover with Montel” TV Schedule (all airings at 7:30 a.m. ET on Lifetime)

Episode 1 March 7; available now at militarymakeover.tv
Episode 2 March 15 & 21
Episode 3 March 22 & 28
Episode 4 April 5 & 11
Episode 5 April 19 & 25
Episode 6 April 26 & May 2

 
A rich veteran history, coupled with an ongoing commitment to hiring and honoring vets, spurred the decision for U-Haul to sponsor a Military Makeover family.

“Veterans laid the foundation for U-Haul after WWII, serving as many of the Company’s first Team Members and initial customers after returning home from war and looking to move their families to a better life,” stated U-Haul employment manager Tony Hinojosa, a 22-year Army veteran active duty who appears on the show.

The Military Makeover team utilizes several popular U-Haul products and services while organizing and renovating the family’s home:

  • U-Box® portable moving and storage containers, which serve as on-site driveway storage at the Middleton house and also as long-term storage in secure U-Box warehouses. U-Box containers have 257 cubic feet of space and one-ton capacity, and can be shipped almost anywhere in the world.
  • Moving Help®, an online marketplace where customers shop and compare local Moving Helpers® who provide labor services such as loading and unloading, packing and unpacking, cleaning, and U-Box pick-up and delivery.
  • The Ready-To-Go Box®, one of the Company’s newest ecofriendly products – a durable plastic, space-saving box rented by the week at rates comparable to buying cardboard boxes.

“The opportunity to help the Middleton family, after all they’ve been through, is truly our privilege,” Hinojosa added. “It’s great to see how our products are being used to create a more seamless, convenient home makeover process.”

U-Haul has been honored repeatedly as a leading veteran-friendly employer and actively recruits veterans for their skills, work ethic and results-oriented approach.

U-Haul is committed to honoring veterans through its assistance to veteran organizations and causes; participation in national Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades; dedication to preserving Pearl Harbor and paying homage to its fallen; and sponsorship of The Tribute Journey with Gold Star Mother and artist Kathryn Cross. U-Haul is the national sponsor of nonprofit Humble Design®, which assists single-parent and veteran families escaping homelessness by providing donated furnishings and decorating services to turn empty new residences into dignified homes.

Visit myuhaulstory.com and search “veterans” to learn more.

About U-Haul

Since 1945, U-Haul has been the No. 1 choice of do-it-yourself movers, with a network of more than 21,000 locations across all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. U-Haul Truck Share 24/7® now offers customers access to U-Haul trucks every hour of every day through the self-service options on their internet-connected mobile devices. U-Haul customers’ patronage has enabled the U-Haul fleet to grow to 161,000 trucks, 118,000 trailers and 42,000 towing devices. U-Haul offers nearly 632,000 rooms and 55.2 million square feet of self-storage space at owned and managed facilities throughout North America. U-Haul is the largest installer of permanent trailer hitches in the automotive aftermarket industry and is the largest retailer of propane in the U.S.

Marine Serves Up Success One Slice at a Time

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Mountain Mikes Pizza

Mountain Mike’s Pizza is committed to serving “pizza the way it oughta be!®.” Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, Mountain Mike’s is a family-style pizza chain with more than 200 franchised restaurants in California and the West.

Marine veteran John Maddox owns nine of these franchises throughout the Central Valley region of California, the most locations of any franchisee in the system.

He spoke to U.S. Veterans Magazine about his transition from the Marines to business ownership and how his military experience serves him in his current role.

Why did you decide to open your own business?

My father also served in the armed forces and I was an Army brat, so my family moved around a lot. I was born in Oklahoma and lived in multiple cities across the U.S., and even internationally in Germany. We finally settled in Northern California when I was a teenager. Following my high school graduation, I attended college near home at San Jose State and majored in aeronautics. While pursuing my university education, I worked at McDonald’s in a management position, and really fell in love with the industry. I enjoyed interacting with customers and forged lasting relationships with several colleagues who eventually helped guide me in my early days as a franchisee.

I flew helicopters for the Marine Corps and gained a lot of invaluable experience, but as with any military lifestyle, I continued to move quite a bit and didn’t see as much of my family as I would have liked. When my service with the Marine Corps concluded in 1992, I wanted my next step to be something that would keep my family in one place for a while. I decided to pursue a career in an industry in which I had experience, felt comfortable and was passionate about: food service. It was all about establishing roots in a community on both a personal and professional level.

John Maddox
John Maddox, Mountain Mike’s Pizza

As I began looking at my options, I got in contact with a former colleague who had found success as a franchisee in the pizza industry. I did my research and considered many different types of business opportunities and franchise concepts, ultimately landing on Mountain Mike’s. I was attracted to the brand for many reasons—the first being that my family and I really enjoyed the pizza. In terms of quality and flavor, I don’t think there’s anyone out there that does it better, and I felt very good about that. Also, Mountain Mike’s Pizza had a great reputation in Northern California, with plenty of room for growth, compelling average unit volume, and a history of being an active part of the communities it served. I know I made the right choice, because this continues to be true today. Their established business model and supportive corporate team provided the necessary tools for me and other franchisees to succeed, and I have been lucky to continue growing with the brand as both a franchisee and an area developer.

What lessons did you take from the military that helped you in running your own business?

One of the major things I took from the military is to value the process of training. As a Marine Corps officer, it’s important to train others, and train others how to train others. I also learned the importance of leadership by example. When we first opened, I was in the store from open to close every day for three months straight. It’s important for your employees to know that you’re willing to put the work in and go the extra mile, because they will work hard if you do. Another thing officers in every branch of the military are good at is delegating; hire good people who know how to get the job done, and get out of their way. Lastly, in the military, you learn how to make decisions—hard decisions. You have to be strong enough to tell people “no,” which is an essential skill for any business owner.

What advice would you give other veterans who want to open their own businesses?

I would tell other veterans looking to get into franchising to do their homework. This is something you’ll be doing every single day, so take the time to research your options and choose something you’ll enjoy. It was important to me to work with a concept that offered a high-quality, delicious product, and Mountain Mike’s Pizza has continued to show a commitment to delivering nothing but the best over the past 40 years.

Also, build a business plan and make sure the numbers work before diving in and signing on the dotted line. It could be one of the most successful franchises out there, but as a business owner you have to understand and be comfortable with the financial risk and time commitment involved with building a successful business. Not only did Mountain Mike’s Pizza offer a superior product to similar brands in the industry, they are all about serving and supporting their communities, which was important to my family and me. We continue to uphold this core value by making it a priority to be very active with local schools, community groups, youth clubs and sports leagues, charities and more. We’re committed to putting in the work and investing in our communities because we care about our customers. The benefit is that we’ve built a large and loyal customer base organically.

I went from being an officer in the Marine Corps to making pizzas, and although it was really hard work, it has paid off. Not only do I truly enjoy the restaurant industry and love building relationships with customers, some of whom have become close personal friends, but I’ve also seen a positive return on investment since starting my journey with Mountain Mike’s Pizza. The company is in a growth phase, and I plan to take advantage of the opportunities available to continue growing with the brand.

For more information, visit mountainmikespizza.com.

Salute The Troops Music And Comedy Festival Announces Inaugural 2019 Lineup

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Salute-The-Troops-2019

The first annual Salute The Troops Music And Comedy Festival will take place on Friday, March 22nd and Saturday, March 23rd at the historic March Field Air Museum in Riverside, CA.

A diverse, multi-genre lineup of musicians and comedians will perform at this series honoring troops and veterans. Snoop Dogg, Cold War Kids, Dashboard Confessional, Capital Cities, members of the Wu-Tang Clan (Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, U-God), Redman, Cheat Codes, Yellowcard’s William Ryan Key and more musical guests will perform, as well as comedians Adam Carolla, Rob Riggle and more. The event is aimed at raising awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress and the epidemic suicide rates among returning soldiers and veterans. Two-day tickets are on sale now at www.SaluteTheTroops.com

 

“I’m looking forward to the show and putting on a great show for the troops. Thank you for all you do for our country,” Snoop Dogg said.

For each ticket sold, a free ticket will be provided to active service men and women. Veterans will receive discounted ticket prices. Veterans and active duty service members can claim tickets online at www.SaluteTheTroops.com

“We are truly humbled at the support we receive from our community. An event such as this, honoring the men and women of the armed forces, is greatly appreciated,” said Major Perry Covington, USAF.

“We are honored to produce events that bring significant entertainment options to our troops, veterans, as well as the general public, and hope to help heal silent wounds through music and comedy. I know for a fact through speaking with many veterans and active service members that music and comedy can provide a momentary release and a long term healing effect that we hope to offer to our men and women, active and veterans,” Nate Parienti said.

Salute The Troops Music And Comedy Festival was founded by Nate Parienti and co-founded with John Wertz (USMC 2001-2006) of Semper Fi Productions. Salute The Troops will take place at March Air Reserve Base on an annual basis with select artists interacting with troops and participating in military activities. Attendees can view and take photos with over 80 aircraft on display at the festival grounds. Other highlights include a Prince tribute from his former band, The New Power Generation, as well as DJs, craft beverages, meals and more.

Read more here: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/snoop-dogg-ghost-face-killah-salute-the-troops-festival-lineup-795033

Get tickets and all info: www.SaluteTheTroops.com

Salute The Troops on the web:

https://www.salutethetroops.com/

https://www.facebook.com/salutethetroops/

https://twitter.com/SaluteTroopFest

https://www.instagram.com/salutethetroopsfestival/

Forrest Gump Star Gary Sinise Opens Up About Raising $30 Million Annually for Veterans

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Although Gary Sinise didn’t initially set out for a career in service, after four decades of making a difference for military veterans and first responders, he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be.

Sinise, 63, who reflects on his journey from “self to service” in his new book Grateful American, details the major turning points in his life, which include learning the details of his family connections to the military, playing Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump and feeling “broken” after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

“I’ve found that service is the best way to heal,” he tells PEOPLE in the latest issue. Sinise’s foundation The Gary Sinise Foundation now raises now raises $30 million annually – 90% of which goes toward the organization’s programs, like building specially adapted smart homes for severely disabled vets and bringing military families to Disney World.

(Via Fox 5, Good Day DC)

“If every person in every neighborhood around the country took a little bit of responsibility for patting these folks on the back, all the problems that we hear about with regards to veterans not getting services or falling through the cracks would disappear,” he says. “If citizens would look at their freedom providers in a little bit different way.”

For the complete article, continue on to People.

Richard Rawlings: On A Mission For Vets

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Richard Rawlings On a Mission For Vets

By Brady Rhoades

Active duty service members and veterans alike are big fans of Richard Rawlings. From outposts around the world, they tune into Fast N’ Loud, a Discovery Channel TV show that features Rawlings and his crew restoring broken down, classic cars in the Gas Monkey Garage. Rawlings’ products—energy drinks, tequila, sweatshirts—are available at more than 200 military bases in the United States and abroad.

Our military men and women may be fans of Rawlings, but Rawlings is an even bigger fan of them. “I can never express enough gratitude to them for keeping us safe,” he said, in an interview with U.S. Veterans Magazine. “I hope they all come back safe and happy.”

In 2017, Rawlings spent Thanksgiving with the troops in South Korea. He wanted to serve dinner to the men and women stationed in Seoul, but military tradition calls for the brass to serve the front-liners, so he made the rounds, broke bread, and offered his personal thank-yous. “It was an amazing experience,” said Rawlings, who was a police officer, firefighter, and paramedic before becoming a businessman. “It really hit me in the gut how young some of these people are …. It was great. We talked about cars.”

That our troops are fans of his shows and his famous—or is it infamous?—”Gas Monkeys” and request that his merchandise get trucked, flown, and shipped to bases from Camp Pendleton to South Korea to Guam never ceases to amaze him. “It’s an absolute honor,” he said.

Gas Monkey Garage visited troops in Korea last Thanksgiving
Korea: Gas Monkey Garage visited troops in Korea last Thanksgiving

As for what servicemen and women do as professionals and as patriots, he said, “It’s just very noble.” Rawlings is nothing if not relatable. He’s Texan, folksy, funny, and a bit of a gearhead, and he drinks Miller Lite and razzes his pals. He’s the consummate guy next door. And he’s a family man.

Let’s face it: In the car and garage business, dudes are the demographic, right guys? But that’s not entirely so with Fast N’ Loud and his other show, Garage Rehab, on which he helps struggling shop owners. Garage Rehab debuted in 2017 and is now in its second season. And yes, men can’t get enough of watching the crew cherry out a Ferrari F40 or 1930 Ford L-29, but women love it, too, and families also watch the show together. That’s exactly how Rawlings planned it after watching hours and hours of machismo car shows.

“It’s family accessible,” he said. “Grandmas come up to me, and I’m proud of that.” He says the family feel of his shows reminds him of his home life. Here’s how he describes it: “Come on over, watch the Cowboys game, and tinker around in the garage.” He adds, “It’s not an act.”

In 2002, Rawlings launched Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas. The shop created automobiles for customers worldwide. Soon after, he got out of the printing business when he sold Lincoln Press. Now, it was all cars, all the time. Since 2012, the facility has been the focus of Fast N’ Loud.

In September 2013, Rawlings started Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill in Northwest Dallas, then set up a second location at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in March 2014. Rawlings is working to launch a third Texas grill outside the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

In 2014, Gas Monkey Live, a venue dedicated predominantly to live music, was opened. In 2015, Rawlings published his first autobiography, Fast N’ Loud: Blood, Sweat and Beers, which includes such colorful lines as: “If we’re gonna have fun, it better have a motor,” and “We turn rust into gold. We make it fast and loud.”

NASCAR: Rawlings walks the red carpet prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR: Rawlings walks the red carpet prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

All the entertainment activity on top of multiple lines of merchandise? He’ll never admit it, but Richard Rawlings—the car kid, the self-admitted daydreamer, the maniac who broke the Cannonball Run record with a time of 32 hours, 51 minutes from New York City to Los Angeles—is a mogul.

Rawlings, born in Fort Worth in 1969, got his love of cars from his dad, who liked to fuss about in the garage and go to car shows. He learned the business of buying and selling cars in high school. His first car: a 1974 Mercury Comet. But back then, all he wanted to do was scrape together enough dough to buy his next cool ride.

After graduating from Eastern Hills High School in Fort Worth, he worked as a police officer, firefighter, and paramedic. Then he got bit by the entrepreneur bug and opened a printing business. But his first and abiding love has always been cars.

Rawlings learned early on that if you’ve got cash in your pocket, you can buy ramshackle rides on the cheap, then fix, shine, and sell them for a profit. But it wasn’t all about money; it was about taking a no-hope car and making her new again. He pitched a reality TV show built around that concept for eight years and heard, “sorry, no thanks” about a million times before landing Fast N’ Loud.

Even he couldn’t have dreamed that he’d meet the coolest car guy ever, the original Cannon

Garage Rehab helps out American Warrior Garage
Garage Rehab helps out American Warrior Garage-PHOTO: DISCOVERY CHANNEL

Ball Runner, the handsome man at the wheel of a Trans Am: Burt Reynolds. Reynolds passed away last September, but not before Rawlings got the chance to meet him and pay homage. Several years ago, in what’s become a classic episode of Fast N’ Loud, Rawlings rolled up to Reynold’s Florida home in a 1978 black bandit Trans Am and shook hands with the star. He was also trying to collect on a bet—a $25,000 roll of the dice—that he could get Reynolds to sign the Trans Am.

“I’m almost at a loss for words,” he said. “I mean, here I am, standing there with Burt Reynolds, and I’m trying to get his signature so I can make twenty-five grand, yet I feel like I should just give him the twenty-five grand for even gracing me with his presence.”

Rawlings considers himself lucky and feels a responsibility to give back. He teamed up with Gary Sinise Foundation for a future two-part episode of Fast N’ Loud, which finds Richard and his team restoring a classic ’81 Jeep CJ7 that is being auctioned off at Barrett Jackson in Scottsdale—all proceeds go to the Foundation. Also, an upcoming episode of Garage Rehab focuses on American Warrior Garage, where veterans train to learn the automotive industry and land jobs. Of that, Rawlings says, “I think there could be one of those in every city.”

Who knows what his next big project will be? Even he doesn’t know. He’s certain of one thing, though: “I have a platform that I can use.”

View the Spring U.S. Veterans Magazine’s Digital Issue featuring Richard Rawlings coming soon!

What Are the Best Cities to Live In After Service?

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If you’re a veteran or about to become one, you might want to consider moving to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It’s first on Navy Federal Credit Union’s recently released list of The Best Cities After Service, a “unique look at the places best suited for servicemembers to consider living in after leaving the military.”

According to data from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, approximately 250,000 military members transition out of the service each year.

To create the list, Navy Federal Credit Union, in partnership with Sperling’s Best Places, considered 11 metrics of veteran success and wellness—including income, unemployment rates, and proximity to VA hospitals and military bases—then coupled it with a suite of such quality-of-life measures as affordability, local economy, and access to health resources, colleges and the arts, and more.

The top 10 cities are:

  1. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  2. Omaha, Nebraska
  3. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  4. Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area
  5. Grand Forks, North Dakota
  6. Austin, Texas
  7. San Antonio, Texas
  8. Charlottesville, Virginia
  9. Rapid City, South Dakota
  10. Manhattan, Kansas

“Right now, a number of factors make certain areas of the country ideal for veterans who are moving into civilian life,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist for Navy Federal. “The key factors are where the economic expansion is still going full throttle, which is creating new job and business opportunities for millions of Americans. Personal success is much easier when the economy around you is healthy, and a healthy economy is also a major factor in a better quality of life. The Best Cities After Service list helps veterans find these pockets of prosperity.”

Oklahoma City earns its top ranking with some of the strongest scores for both veteran-specific metrics and for overall quality-of-life measures,” said Bert Sperling, founder of Sperling’s BestPlaces. “Oklahoma City scored particularly well in the categories of high incomes and income growth for veterans, low unemployment among veterans, and the number of veteran-owned businesses.”

In continuing with the effort to make its members’ goals its mission, Navy Federal launched Best Cities After Service to make one of life’s biggest decisions a little simpler.

Source: Navy Federal Credit Union