US Army Master Sgt. Cedric King (Ret.) Receives Customized ELAN Smart Home from the Gary Sinise Foundation

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Master Sgt. Cedric King

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA, June, 2017 — On July 25, 2012, during his third deployment in Afghanistan, US Army Master Sgt. Cedric King’s platoon conducted a reconnaissance of a possible explosive distributor in an Afghan village.

As they approached the target, they fell under machine gun fire. Once the firefight ended, Cedric proceeded forward, only to step on a pressure plate improvised explosive device (IED). The blast lifted him from his feet, resulting in the loss of both of his legs and disfigurement of his right hand.

When the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) learned about King’s service, they decided to honor his bravery with a newly built, completely customized specially adapted smart home. The residence, based in Atlanta, relies on an ELAN Entertainment & Control System to enable control and automation of the home’s audio, video, lighting, security, and more.

“Core Brands’ Regional Sales Manager Jason Davis asked us if we could provide our services to Gary Sinise Foundation for this project, and we were honored to do so,” said Phillip Ampel of Atlanta Audio and Automation, the integration firm responsible for the project. “We built a sophisticated smart home that is highly functional, and jam-packed with exciting entertainment features. It truly offers Cedric and his family an elevated level of freedom — and fun.”

One ELAN gSC10 controller serves as the brains of the system, and is accessible through two ELAN TP7 touch panels in the master suite and living room, as wellSmart Home as an ELAN HR200 remote which they use for controlling the home’s surround-sound audio system. King can also use the ELAN App on his smartphone device to easily and simply make any adjustments throughout the home.

Atlanta Audio and Automation integrated an extensive Lutron lighting and climate system into the ELAN platform, enabling the King family to control the lighting — or automate its functionality — instantly. “The Lutron system includes lighting control through 24 dimmers and two Lutron thermostats,” Atlanta Audio & Automation explained. “It is so much easier to access all of three systems from the easy-to-use ELAN interface. King does not need to physically walk into each room to turn the lights on or off. It’s as simple as a tap on a screen.”

Atlanta Audio & Automation also integrated a security system with 6 IP cameras placed throughout the property to be accessed instantly through ELAN. “It was important for King to be able to easily manage the residence’s indoor and outdoor security feeds,” AAA commented. “ELAN is the ideal platform for checking in on security from anywhere and anytime. He could be in the living room checking out video of his backyard on a centrally located touch panel, or out-and-about watching from the ELAN Mobile App.”

In addition to its customized convenience, AAA tricked out the home with an entertainment system for the King family to enjoy. They designed an extensive multi-room audio and video system, enabled through an ELAN S1616A Multi-Room Controller, that distributes music and video to six different locations throughout the home. The entertainment system includes a surround sound system including Niles DS7HD and DS7FX in-ceiling speakers and three Sunfire HRS10 subwoofers.

For the King family’s outdoor enjoyment Atlanta Audio & Automation installed a waterproof Séura television on the patio. “Séura’s Outdoor Waterproof TV is completely functional outside, in any weather,” AAA said. “It’s a fantastic addition to their entertainment system.”

Since King relies heavily on his home’s technology for independence, Smart HomeAAA made sure to protect the equipment with a Panamax M4315-PRO Power Power Conditioner with key components protected by a Furman F1500 Uninterruptible Power Supply. Both feature BlueBOLT remote energy management. “Aside from the danger of catastrophic surges, ‘dirty power’ can interrupt high-end electronics so they won’t work as they should,” Atlanta Audio & Automation commented. “The Furman and Panamax products ensure that we can guarantee clean power, and as an integrator, I can check in on it or troubleshoot it remotely.”

According to Judy Otter, Executive Director of the Gary Sinise Foundation, the home checks off all of the boxes for the King family. “We are honored to recognize Cedric’s service with this customized specially adapted smart home that really does give him a new level of independence,” she said. “Since his injury, Cedric has persevered, earning numerous medals and awards, he’s run marathons, and even climbed mountains. Cedric is a true inspiration and an American hero.”

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About ELAN

ELAN, from Core Brands, 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 new ELAN 8 update was honored with the “2017 Human Interface Product of the Year” award from the Consumer Technology Association’s Mark of Excellence Award Program Committee at CES 2017. To learn more, visit elanhomesystems.com.

 

About Core Brands

Anchored by the ELAN Smart Home Control Platform, Core Brands combines the strengths of its iconic control, audio, power management, connectivity and video distribution brands – ELAN®, SpeakerCraft®, Gefen®, Niles®, Panamax®, Proficient®, Furman®, Sunfire® and Xantech® – to deliver a portfolio of connected home and commercial solutions to its channel partners and end users. For further information, visit corebrands.com.

 

DAV and Hankook Tire support veterans with Mobile Service Office

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DAV-Hancock Tire

The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and Hankook Tire recently hosted a Mobile Service Office stop at Gateway Tire & Service Center in Clarksville, TN to assist veterans and educate them and their families on the benefits and services earned in service.

This program extends DAV’s benefits assistance to veterans who might not be able to access it otherwise due to distance, transportation, health or other various reasons. Hankook continues its promise to help American veterans through mobility by doubling the number of Hankook-sponsored DAV MSO stops year-over-year with 12 MSO stops across the nation this year.

Photo : Brian Cowart, Chief Development Officer of the DAV with Larry Cantu, who served 20 years in the Army and is the Sr. Vice Commander of the local DAV chapter #45, and Jay Kim, Vice President of Corporate Strategy of Hankook Tire.

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 1 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at dav.org.

Navy SEALs swim, bike, run 69.2 miles, raising $50,000 for military families

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Navy Seals

SEGUIN ISLAND, Maine – A group of servicemen and servicewomen, including Navy SEALs, recently battled ocean waves, a sixty-mile bike ride and a 10K run as part of Camp Sunshine’s 2018 Stone Coast Challenge.

The challenge, along with the Landing Party and Meet the SEALs Gala, raised more than $50,000 to allow military families with children with life-threatening illnesses to attend Camp Sunshine.

“All things being equal, military families inherently bear a larger burden than civilian families,” said event founder, Mike W. “So when a child of a military family is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness it has a comparatively acute impact and we’re trying to provide those families with some relief.”

The Stone Coast Challenge is designed to resemble the ups and downs that families with children with life-threatening illnesses face every day. The challenge began with a three-mile, open-ocean swim from Seguin Island to Popham Beach, a 60-mile bike ride from Popham Beach to Crescent Beach, and finished with a 10k run in Cape Elizabeth.  The general public gathered for the subsequent Landing Party at Fort Williams Park to see the participants finish the triathlon. That evening’s Meet the SEALs Gala was a formal reception with the participating SEALs and special dignitaries at Ocean Gateway in Portland.

Camp Sunshine is a free-of-charge, award-winning retreat on the shores of Sebago Lake in Casco, Navy Seals-Camp SunshineMaine that provides retreats year-round for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. At Camp, attending families join other families on similar journeys and experience the benefits of empathy and encouragement, rest and recovery, and hope and inspiration.

Since 2014, Navy SEALs and other servicemen have been competing in physically daunting tasks for Camp Sunshine. The SEALs have participated in a 13-mile swim across Sebago Lake (2014), a reverse triathlon that begin at the top of Mt. Washington (2015), a combination triathlon around Sebago Lake (2016), a 10-mile open ocean swim around California’s Coronado Island (2017), and most recently a 26.2 mile paddle around Coronado Island (2018).

For more information about the event or to make a donation, please visit sealsforsunshine.org.

About Camp Sunshine
Founded in 1984, Camp Sunshine provides retreats combining respite, recreation and support, while enabling hope and promoting joy, for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child’s illness.

Camp Sunshine

Camp Sunshine’s program is offered year-round and has distinction of having been designed to serve the entire family in a retreat model. The program is free of charge to families and includes on-site medical and psychosocial support. Bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness. For more information, visit www.campsunshine.org.

Guardians of Rescue in Dire Need of Assistance Rescuing Animals in Hurricane Florence’s Path

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Many people find it difficult enough to get themselves and their family evacuated when a hurricane is headed their way. Add to the stress that they may have pets and often times they simply have no idea what to do with them, opting to leave them behind.

Guardians of Rescue are now on the ground working nonstop in Wilmington, North Carolina and surrounding areas to help rescue the many animals that were left behind. The rescue group is assisting the Pender County Humane Society. The city has been hard hit by the hurricane and is now completely cut off as all roads leading into it have been flooded.

“We’ve helped rescue animals in many hurricanes, but this one has to be one of the worst hurricanes to get access to the animals in need,” explains Robert Misseri, president of Guardians of Rescue, an animal rescue organization. “So many animals were left behind. We are getting calls about dogs left in kennels in backyards that are completely flooded, cats on rooftops, and horses in flooded fields etc.”

Many animals have already been rescued with many more still waiting to be. The rescue group has been getting many phone calls from people who have left behind animals or who have seen animals in dire situations in need of help. Road closures all around the area are making it extremely challenging and dangerous to reach the animals in need, but the group continues on, making as many rescues as possible. Guardians of Rescue are asking the public to assist in the rescue efforts to help make the mission a success. They need financial assistance, volunteers, pet food, and medicine.

It’s important that those with pets know what to do if a hurricane were to become a threat. Here are some tips pre and post hurricane situations to keep in mind:

  • Have a plan in place.Important to have a plan so you know what you will do if a hurricane becomes an issue. Be sure that you know where local shelters are that will accept pets, locate pet-friendly hotels and boarding houses outside of your evacuation area, or have a list of friends or family outside the area who you could call on for assistance.
  • Get your pet microchipped. If your pet were to become lost from you during a hurricane it’s important that you have them microchipped so they can be reunited after the storm is over. Those with large animals, such as horses or livestock, should make sure they all have identification, evacuate the animals whenever possible, and ensure they have food and water if they must be left behind.
  • Have an emergency kit.Your emergency kit should have any medication your pet needs, food, water, a leash, sanitation items (litter box, trash bags, etc.) and a carrier. Also, have a picture of your pet in the kit so that if you become separated you can use it to help locate them again.
  • Leaving them behind.While for many people it is unfathomable to leave a pet behind during a hurricane, some people feel they have no choice but to do so. If you feel you have no other option than to leave your pet behind, do not confine them to a room or crate. Let them have the ability to move about so they can try to seek out safety, and be sure to leave plenty of food and water.

“What we are seeing out here is nothing short of heartbreaking,” adds Misseri. “We are doing everything we can to help these animals who are in desperate need of being rescued. We need the help of the public to provide the support that is needed to make this mission a success. It’s something we can’t do alone.”

Guardians of Rescue has a goal of raising $80,000 to help with the animal rescue from Hurricane Florence. If every person reading this donates just $5 it will be easy to reach that goal. Those wanting to help support their efforts can log online to make a donation: guardiansofrescue.networkforgood.com/projects.

Guardians of Rescue provides assistance to animals out on the streets. They are located in Long Island, New York, and have chapters in Louisiana and Miami but they help animals in many places beyond where their chapters are located on a national/international level. 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 guardiansofrescue.org.

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Military Veterans Find New Purpose In Diving For Lost Artifacts

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Treasure Hunters

Jeff MacKinnon is a second-generation diver and treasure hunter who operates a dive team in Cape Breton.  One of his partners – retired US Recon Marine, Dan Griego – has helped recruit fellow veterans to their project — recovering treasure from the ocean off Cape Breton Island.

“Our team is US military veterans,” says MacKinnon.  “They were trained to accomplish extremely difficult missions with considerable personal risk. Once you’ve lived with that kind of adrenaline, returning to normal life is very difficult.  Diving provides the kind of focus and intensity they are used to, which helps them transition to civvy life and cope with PTSD.”

Jeff MacKinnon
Jeff MacKinnon

MacKinnon and his team are working with PTSD specialist Dr. John Whelan of Halifax.  Dr. Whelan provides counseling services to the veterans and documents the results of the program.  One of their goals is to expand the program to other service personnel from Canada and the US who suffer from work-related trauma.

“It would be great to have both Canadian and US veterans working together,” says MacKinnon.  “Not only will it build new relationships, but these folks are all service people, and being able to serve helps with the healing process.”

The purpose of the dive missions is to recover lost artifacts from the many historically-significant shipwrecks that dot the Cape Breton coastline.  MacKinnon hopes to partner with the Nova Scotia government on the project, and eventually establish a museum in Sydney to house some of the recovered items.

Dan Griego
Dan Griego

MacKinnon and his partners also plan to produce a reality-TV series based upon the adventures of the dive team.  The show is in the early stages of development, and has a working title — Operation Recovery.

Read about Jeff and Dan’s dive team treasure hunting partners on their blogs at:

Eric Kocher (retired marine)

imfdb.org/wiki/Eric_Kocher

Eddie Wright (retired marine)

cbsnews.com/news/wounded-iraq-veteran-gets-by-with-a-little-help-from-friends

Cody Miranda (retired marine)

worldteamsports.org/2010/cody-miranda/

Mike Pizzio (retired FBI)

expeditionnews.com/Archives/EN1706.html

Mike Haas (retired Sgt NJ policeman)

Patriots and Animal Lovers Unite to Help Guardians of Rescue Save Hilal

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Soldier holding Hilal

SMITHTOWN, New York– Imagine being an American soldier stationed in a part of the world where a “holy war on dogs” has been declared. In America, dogs are considered man’s best friend. But in some places in the Middle East, the complete opposite is true, creating a harsh environment for the animals.

One U.S. Army Specialist stationed in the Middle East couldn’t idly stand by and watch a puppy being left for dead. Not only did he step in to save it, but he reached out to Guardians of Rescue to help relocate it back to America, where he will make the dog, he named Hilal, a part of his fur-ever family.

“He has a heart of gold, has saved this dog, and can’t bear to leave it behind in a place where it will likely lead to its death,” explains Robert Misseri, president of Guardians of Rescue, an animal rescue organization. “Hilal deserves better than that, and so does this soldier who has served his country and is only asking in return that we help get his dog back to the states for him.”

Army Specialist Joseph Gomez found Hilal as a puppy and saved her from the despair that so many dogs in that part of the Middle East succumb to. While for security purposes he cannot share the details of how he rescued her, he can share the condition he was in. He was extremely dehydrated, starving, and in need of medical care. He rescued him, led him to good health, and has created a solid bond with him. Knowing that he would return to the U.S., he reached out to Guardians of Rescue to see if they could help with the risky mission of helping him relocate the dog back to America.

“I saved Hilal once and now I’m hoping that through the Guardians of Rescue people can help me save him a second time,” added Gomez. “I can’t live with the idea of leaving him behind, because I know what will happen to him, and we have a strong bond. I need to take him back to Oklahoma with me.”

Guardians of Rescue are experience at helping soldiers bring their dogs back to the country. They have a team of experts who work at every step of the mission to ensure the dog makes it safely back to the country. Hilal will first be flown into New York, and then will be taken on to Gomez’ home state of Oklahoma, where the two will be reunited for good. It’s a mission that is not only risky, but is also costly, which is why the rescue group is teaming up with those in the public who support the mission and can help make it a reality.

“When we pull off a mission like this we cannot do it alone,” adds Misseri. “This is a mission that takes the support of people in the community who want to give back and help this soldier and his dog. Even small donations help, because they all add up quickly.”

This is a time-sensitive mission, so the rescue group will need to act quickly. All donations are welcome and appreciated, with no amount being too small. True patriots and animal lovers who want to help can log online and make a donation: guardiansofrescue.networkforgood.com/projects/57164-bringing-hilal-home.

Guardians of Rescue provides assistance to animals out on the streets. They are located in Long Island, New York, and have chapters in Louisiana and Miami but they help animals in many places beyond where their chapters are located on a national/international level. 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 guardiansofrescue.org.

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The New York City & Vicinity District Council of Carpenters Raises a Quarter of a Million Dollars for Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors

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Jared Allen with NYCDCC and Disabled Veteran

New York, NY–The New York City and Vicinity District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC) recently hosted its annual charity golf tournament to sponsor Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors (JAH4WW).

The District Council successfully raised a quarter of a million dollars for JAH4WW, an organization that works to build and remodel handicap accessible homes for injured U.S. military veterans. The tournament was held at Crystal Springs Resort in New Jersey, and received a great turnout of supporters.

Over the past four years, the District Council has raised $675,000 for the organization, and union carpenters from across the country have volunteered to build homes for U.S. military veterans and their families to honor their service and sacrifice for our country.

This year, the work of JAH4WW hits close to home for the District Council. In addition to $250,000 NYCDCC golf dayraised by the District Council, $75,000 was donated by the District Council Charity Fund and the NYC District Council of Carpenters Benefits Funds Charity for one of the District Council’s own members, Arian Kohler.

Arian Kohler is a second-year apprentice with Local 157 and an Afghanistan War U.S. Marine veteran. While on a volunteer mission with HEART/911 this summer to rebuild homes devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, Kohler tragically lost his leg as the result of a collision with a vehicle while on foot. The incident nearly cost Kohler his life.

“Our partnership with Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors is a great source of pride for entire District Council. It is an incredible cause championed by an extraordinary organization. We’re humbled to play even a small part in paying back those servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much for us, said Joseph Geiger, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New York City and Vicinity District Council of Carpenters. “For us, this year’s sponsorship hits particularly close to home. We are proud of our brother, Arian Kohler, for his service to our country. He serves as an example to all of us, not only in the way he served his country as a Marine but also the way he’s continued that life of service to others as a civilian including volunteering in Puerto Rico.”

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About NYCDCC

The New York City District Council of Carpenters is a representative body comprised of nine individual Locals and 22,000 union members. The District Council functions as the voice for thousands of New York City’s most dedicated and skilled Carpenters, Millwrights, Dockbuilders, Marine Divers, Core Drillers, Timbermen, Concrete Carpenters, Cabinetmakers, Floorcoverers and Industrial Workers.

Pro Soccer Player Becomes Army Officer

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1st Lt. Anthony Uriarte playing ball

By Sgt. Ian Ives

What would you give to serve your country? Would you turn down an opportunity to play a professional sport? Though soccer has always been a large part 1st Lt. Anthony Uriarte’s life, he declined multiple professional soccer contracts to follow his calling of being an officer in the United States Army.

Now a medical service officer with the 25th Sustainment Brigade, the 26-year-old Uriarte has led an interesting life due to his talent on the soccer field.

At the age of 15, Uriarte was selected to play on a team that would represent the United States on a tour of England and played many prestigious teams during the trip. Several years later, he found himself in college. “I was taking a physical education course and I remember this girl walking in, in an Army Combat Uniform one day, and I was like ‘What,'” said Uriarte. “At the time I didn’t know anything about the military, but I found it so interesting that you could be a student and be in the Army. She always came in on time, and acted very professional. I admired her for that.”

Recalling the female in ACU’s during his physical education class, Uriarte decided to research what the Reserve Officer Training Corps was. After looking at his options, Uriarte applied and was accepted into The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina.

After graduating in 2015 with a bachelor’s in political science with an emphasis on pre-law, Uriarte had to choose which branch of the Army he was going to commission into.

“One of my big things is figuring out what I can do to help other people,” said Uriarte. “So when I found out that I could commission as a medical service officer, I thought ‘That’s perfect.'”

After being commissioned and doing a year of gold-bar recruiting, Uriarte was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in 2016. While with the ‘Bronco’ brigade, he played on an Armed Forces Soccer team where a fellow player, who had played in All-Army Soccer before, suggested he try out for the team.

After being selected for the All-Army soccer team, Uriarte and his fellow players traveled to Fort 1st Lt. Anthony Uriarte playing ballBenning, Ga. to compete in the Armed Forces soccer tournament against the other branches of the military.

With 2017 came a new assignment in the form of an inter-post transfer to the 25th Sustainment Brigade and another year of All-Army Soccer. Tryouts were also different for Uriarte due to his selection the year prior, giving him an almost guaranteed position on the team.

“No matter what you tell yourself, no matter how much you prepare, when the referee blows that whistle… you’ll think to yourself, ‘Oh crap this is really happening!'” laughed Uriarte.

Since returning from the All-Army Team this year, Uriarte has begun coaching soccer for Hawaii Rush Youth Soccer for boys around the age of 15 years old. Coaching is something that Uriarte says he is becoming increasingly passionate about. He has even spoke with officials from Moanalua High School, Honolulu about becoming a coach for their soccer team.

“As unfortunate as it sounds we all have to get older,” said Uriarte. “Hopefully when my playing days over I will be able to step into a coaching position for All-Army. Even if I am not on the field playing, I can continue contributing in some way.”

Source: army.mil

Larry Broughton: Warrior in the Boardroom—Meditation for Beginners

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Larry Broughton

You may think meditation is just for crossed legged gurus or new-age followers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone (and everyone) can meditate, and derive its many mental, physical, and spiritual health benefits.

Mediation has been practiced for thousands of years, and has become a vital part of the lives of many professional athletes, CEOs, hardened military veterans, and parents alike because of its many benefits. During meditation, you develop intentional focus—minimizing random thoughts about the past or future. Meditation can help with concentration, relaxation, inner peace, stress reduction and fatigue. Because it may also help reduce blood pressure, relieve anxiety, depression, pain and insomnia, many current service members and transitioning veterans are finding mediation to be a valuable tool to combat the rigors of everyday life, in and out of uniform.

Meditation is a combination of focus and relaxation (not strictly one or the other). Those who practice the art of meditation say they come away with a greater level of concentration, awareness, positivity, and restful nature throughout the day. The more you practice mediation, the quicker you can tap into that feeling of bliss … and the more likely you’ll find peace throughout your busy day.

There’s no need to go to a yoga center or seek out a teacher. You just need a quiet place in your home, or maybe even your office with the door closed. There are many ways to meditate, but the simplest approach is often the best, and that means taking away the negative thoughts that intrude on a positive attitude, and replacing the negative with the positive. The goal is to achieve calmness and focus, and with consistent practice, it will happen.

An overwhelming number of leaders and high-achievers suffer from stress, and meditation is a good way to reduce it. Stress interferes with concentration and actually makes you sick, but meditation is the perfect way to cope with it. When we clear the clutter of stress from our mind, we’re able to focus more and be calm.

You don’t have to have total silence during your period of meditation, and it doesn’t have to be a long time. Ten or 15 minutes will do, but go as long as practical and makes you feel good (six minutes works for me each day as part of my morning routine). If you’ve never meditated before, start with two minutes, and work your way up in 30- or 60-second increments each day. Some folks have never tried to silence their mind or thoughts in the past, and may find this “exercise” to be uncomfortable or difficult at first. But, like anything new, give it a chance, and stick to it for 30 days … I promise you’ll find it well worth your time and effort.

Your level of silence is up to you. Some prefer to shut out all audible and visible stimuli. Some like to have soothing music in the background. Some like to be in total darkness, while others like to sit near a sunlit window. And, yes, one or two scented candles could be used.

No need to worry about twisting your body into a pretzel during meditation. Find a position that’s comfortable for you. The goal isn’t discomfort. It’s peace of mind. But not sleep. If you find yourself drifting off to sleep, realize that this isn’t meditation, nor the goal. A good posture helps, whether standing or sitting. It aids in breathing.

Clothes should be loose and comfortable to aid in circulation.

Where does the mantra, or humming come in? Repeating the one-syllable words like “Om” or “hummm” helps clear your mind and focus your thoughts on the meditation itself. It’s hard to think of other distractions when you’re concentrating on repeating your mantra.

“Om” is said to represent the one-ness of all creation, including the heavens, earth and underworld.

If you want to take a class with others, you can; but if you’re the self-starter type, you can find many guided mediations on YouTube that fit your style and level of comfort.

What’s been your experience with mediation? Are you up to a 30-day mediation challenge? Let me know about your experience.

Wes Studi: ‘A True Warrior’

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Wes Studi-Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

By Brady Rhoades

Actor Wes Studi, who delivered a historic and stirring tribute to veterans at the 2018 Oscars, saw a generation of veterans return from Vietnam only to be cast aside by many of their countrymen and women.

He never wants to see that again.

That’s why the Vietnam veteran, who starred in Dances with Wolves, The Last of the Mohicans, and Hostiles visits military bases and attends Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) conventions.

“It’s almost intimidating because I don’t know exactly how it is for them,” he said. “I know what it was like for us… It was drummed into us to take care of yourself and take care of your buddies.”

And it’s why he urges citizens to support veterans.

“I think the thing you can do is be active politically and fix up the VA,” he said.

Back in March, Studi became the first Native American presenter at the Oscars.

“As a veteran, I am always appreciative when filmmakers bring to the screen stories of those who have served,” Studi said on stage. “Over 90 years of the Academy Awards, a number of movies with military themes have been honored at the Oscars. Let’s take a moment to pay tribute to these powerful films that shine a great spotlight on those who have fought for freedom around the world.”

Photo: BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Chief Phillip Whiteman Jr., Lynette Two Bulls, Byron Allen, Christian Bale, Carolyn Folks, Scott Cooper, Q’Orianka Kilchar, Rory Cochran and Wes Studi attends the premiere of “Hostiles” (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Audience members and viewers saw clips from famous films.

The 90th annual Academy Awards were memorable for many reasons, but the most talked-about moment might have been when Studi, who is Cherokee, concluded his address in Cherokee.

Veterans appreciated it. Native Americans appreciated it. Veterans who are Native Americans really appreciated it.

“Both groups hadn’t gotten much mention at the Oscars,” said Studi, 70. “Some people feel like they’ve been forgotten, left out of the process.”

Studi was inundated with emails and letters. Social media erupted. One woman on Twitter said, “A proud moment and true role model for our youth … a true warrior.”

Wes Studi was born in a Cherokee family in Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, a rural area in eastern Oklahoma, where Cherokees have lived since the Trail of Tears. He is the son a housekeeper and a ranch hand. Until he attended elementary school, he spoke only Cherokee. He attended Chilocco Indian Agricultural School for high school and graduated in 1964; his vocational major was in dry cleaning.

At 17, Studi enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard and worked through Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Polk, Louisiana.

Studi volunteered for active service and went to Vietnam with A Company of the 3rd Battalion 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. He served 12 months in Vietnam.

Those 12 months changed his life.

“I discovered what being in combat is,” he said. “What sticks out most is you’re with your buddies and you’re going to take care of each other.”

He remembers the terror and violence of war, but also the natural beauty of Vietnam and the joys of friendship.

“There’s a resilient spirit in human nature,” he said. “You’re going to enjoy yourself no matter the situation.”

He also recalls that the U.S. military could not have cared less about his—or anyone else’s—ethnicity. He was a soldier.

“I was treated well,” he said. “The fact that I was Cherokee didn’t have anything to do with anything.”

Photo: ORLANDO, FL Wes Studi, Joel David Moore, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, James Cameron, Zoe Saldana, C. C. H. Pounder, Sigourney Weaver and Laz Alonso attends the Pandora The World Of Avatar Dedication (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

After his discharge, he became an activist for Native American causes and tried making a living in many ways, including bull riding. In hindsight, he realizes that the war had awakened in him the need to confront fear and to feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with conquering your fears.

A friend convinced him to get involved in community theater. It didn’t take much coaxing. Theater was a good place to meet women, his friend told him. It turned out to offer even more than that.

“What I saw in community theater was you could learn your lines and do rehearsals and all of that, but finally opening night shows up and you’re in the wings and I rediscovered that huge wall of fear,” he said. “And to me, that provided excitement.”

It took him years of toil and sweat, but he broke into Hollywood with a role in The Trial of Standing Bear in 1988. His acting career had lifted from the launch-pad. His star burst brightly in the 1990s; movie-goers came to know him as a proud and fierce warrior in Dances and Mohicans.

Thirty years after making his screen debut, Studi was standing in front of 50 million-plus viewers, worldwide, at the Oscars.

He was coming off the 2017 release of Hostiles, in which he plays Chief Yellow Hawk, an aging, ailing Cheyenne warrior who—sometime in the 1890s—is escorted back to his tribal home in Montana by Capt. Joseph Blocker, played by actor Christian Bale.

Michael Ordona of Common Sense Media reviewed the movie and was impressed by one unexpected aspect of it.

“The most original thing about Hostiles is its rare depiction of PTSD in the Old West,” Ordona wrote. “Here, Bale and his lieutenant (Rory Cochrane) play soldiers who’ve been at it too long, seen too much, and done too many things they can’t really justify. When one confesses he’s got ‘the melancholia,’ it’s dismissed out of hand—just as the idea that war and a life of violence can cause injuries that can’t be seen wasn’t widely accepted until fairly recently. As Blocker, Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and Rosalie share dangers and develop trust, the film’s theme of how a traumatic existence can change people—and yet the good in them might still prevail—becomes clear.”

According to the Wounded Warrior Project, about 400,000 veterans of battles in Afghanistan and Iraq live with the invisible wounds of war, including combat stress, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), depression and PTSD. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has conducted studies that show there are 22 veteran suicides a day, or about 8,000 a year.

We’ve come a long way since the Old West. But we’ve got a long way to go, Studi said. “We’ve got to find assistance for people with PTSD and other conditions,” he said.

He added that we’ve got to do more than thank veterans for their service (although that’s always appreciated). Veterans, especially those who’ve been wounded and traumatized, need above all hope, and hope is realized when they see marked improvements in their lives.

“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “Support anything that has to do with the betterment of veterans.”

 

LEGOLAND California Offers free military admission in August

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ACTIVE U.S. MILITARY PLAYS FREE IN AUGUST! As a “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!” LEGOLAND® California Resort is inviting all active U.S. Military personnel to receive FREE unlimited admission to LEGOLAND®, SEA LIFE Aquarium and LEGOLAND Water Park!

LEGO® City: Deep Sea Adventure ride has a new fleet of submarines and the resort invites you to ride the 22,000 pound sea vessels. To redeem, visit any LEGOLAND California Resort ticket booth or guest service window to show your active duty U.S. Military ID and receive one same day, 1-Day Resort Hopper ticket.

Feel free to visit as many times as you’d like in the month of August!

3  Easy Ways to Buy U.S. Military Friends & Family Tickets:

All non-acitve U.S. Military, plus friends & family can purchase 3-Day LEGOLAND Resort Hoppers for less than $29 per day!

  • Visit your Military Ticket Office located on Military bases – Best Rate!
  • Purchase online at LEGOLAND.com/Military – Save up to 50%
  • Go to a LEGOLAND California ticket booth – Save up to 10%

Visit Legoland.com/california for all the details.