Clean the World & Booyah Veteran Bus Project Partner to Support Homeless Veterans Through Three-Month Hike Across America

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Booyah Veterans Bus Project

Clean the World, a leader in Global Health, and Booyah Veteran Bus Project, announce the launch of Hike Across America, powered by Booyah Veteran Bus Project and Clean the World.  Hike Across America is a three-month initiative to raise awareness for homeless veterans and the difficulties they face going from active duty to civilian life.

During the Hike Across America, founder of the Booyah Veteran Bus Project, Shane Johnson, will walk 22 miles every day for 65 days — trekking coast-to-coast, from Florida to California and distributing Clean the World Veterans’ Hygiene Kits to homeless veterans in need.

“This is a lead from the front initiative to not only bring awareness for but also, to take massive action across the nation to eliminate veteran homelessness and transitional issues caused by going from military life to civilian life. This unified partnership between Clean the World and Booyah Veteran Bus Project is the first major step in this initiative,” says Shane Johnson, founder of the Booyah Veteran Bus Project.

“We will no longer sit by the wayside and allow our veterans to fall into the trap of isolation due to the lack of transitional resources. We will band together outside of the military to create a cohesive team — a unit — and will make a concentrated effort to help transitioning veterans learn to dominate civilian life as they did in the military.”

This is the second time Shane Johnson and the Booyah Veteran Bus Project has hiked for veterans. In October 2016, Johnson and his team completed a 360+ mile trek from the Veteran’s hospital in Lake Nona, Florida to Panama City, Florida. This year, with Johnson teaming up with Clean the World, the initiative is even bigger and more intense as the walk will consist of 65 consecutive days and over 3,000 miles. The Hike Across America, a first-of-its-kind walk, will start on Sept. 11 in Orlando, Florida and end in Camp Pendleton, California on Nov. 14. The hike will be segmented into 22-mile intervals representing the number of veterans that commit suicide every day and consists of 20 different city stops including a Veterans Day stop in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“When we heard about the Booyah Veteran Bus Project, we knew Clean the World needed to be a part of this initiative,” says Shawn Seipler, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Clean the World. “With over 47,000 homeless veterans in the United States, we want to directly connect these heroes, who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country, to organizations and services that will help them get back on their feet. By creating an army of volunteers and supporters, we will fight for our homeless Veteran community, provide the necessary resources to get them back into the workforce, and give them a step up towards changing their situation for the better.”

During the walk, Johnson will visit homeless shelters specializing in serving veterans, raise awareness for veteran homelessness, and hand out Clean the World Veterans’ Hygiene Kits to those in need. Veterans’ Hygiene Kits are specialized with items specifically with veterans in mind: 2 bars of soap, repurposed shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, shaving cream, razor, comb, socks, and an inspirational notecard. In addition, veterans will be connected to counselors, pastors, and organizations in their local communities to provide them with the support needed to transition to civilian life and into the work force.

“Our hope is to give these veterans a little something to make them feel better. These hygiene kits will provide a way for veterans to get cleaned and refreshed, giving them a renewed start as they face the challenges of their everyday lives,” says Seipler. “We are visiting 20 cities across America during the three-month hike. We want to distribute as many hygiene kits as possible to vets across America so we are looking for individuals and businesses to donate towards the costs of the kits. Please help by donating kits via our website and spread the word to your friends. This is a fantastic way for individuals to give back to a veteran in need.”

To learn more about Hike Across America powered by Booyah Veteran Bus Project and Clean the World including routes and updates, please visit: cleantheworld.org/hike-across-america.

In addition to Hygiene Kit donations, Clean the World is looking for equipment and supplies to support Shane Johnson and his team during the walk. This includes a recreation vehicle, camping gear, clothing, shoes, food, drinks, and electronic equipment. For businesses or individuals that would like to donate hygiene kits or sponsor Hike Across America, please email info@cleantheworld.org.

About Clean the World
Clean the World is a social enterprise dedicated to the mission of saving millions of lives around the world while simultaneously diverting hotel waste from landfills. Clean the World operates soap recycling centers in Orlando, Las Vegas and Hong Kong, and leads a “Global Hygiene Revolution” to distribute recycled soap and hygiene products from more than 5,000 hotel and resort partners to children and families in countries with a high pre-adolescent death rate due to acute respiratory infection (pneumonia) and diarrheal diseases (cholera) – which are two of the top killers of children under the age of five. Since 2009, more than 40 million bars of Clean the World soap have been distributed in over 115 countries.

Clean the World has served over 10 million individuals through its soap distribution and hygiene education programs. In addition, Clean the World provides hygiene kits to relief organizations throughout North America. More information: CleanTheWorld.org.

About Booyah Veteran Bus Project
The Veteran Bus Project is a three-phase endeavor to provide a sense of dignity to the countless homeless and transitioning Veterans in America today. Phase 1 involves raising massive awareness to the circumstances surrounding veteran suicides and homelessness due to transitioning issues from Military service back into the Civilian sector. After distinguished and honorable military service, many aging or ill veterans end up homeless or even are forced to walk to and from their VA medical appointments across the nation. The Project will shed light on these issues by a hiking and speaking tours across the country in 2016 and 2017.

The 360+ mile hike in 2016 was a massive success in Florida communities and this impact will be expanding to the rest of the United States with the hiking efforts in 2017. Phase 2 will involve the buildout of mobile hygiene units that will travel and provide showers, haircuts and laundry facilities to those in need; thus providing a critical healthy step up and restoring dignity to those it serves. The Project is aiming to begin construction of the first mobile shower unit in Orlando, Florida beginning in the second quarter of 2018. The third Phase of the Project will be aimed at creating actual transitional facilities, complete with a 13-week housing program.

The central focus of these facilities will be recreating a military-type structured learning environment where veterans can learn from qualified instructors and community leaders the skills necessary to transition and even become highly successful and impactful in their new civilian lives! Upon completion of the program, each veteran will be provided with a mentor and a job opportunity.

More information: BooyahVeteranBusProject.com.

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/

Paws of War to Take Therapy Dogs to Nursing Home

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Therapy Dog

Dogs can often brighten the day of anyone, providing them with companionship, laughs, and giving them a reason to smile. The senior residents at the Dominican Village Assisted Living Community, located at 565 Albany Avenue in Amityville, New York, will be all smiles on June 15, 2018 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. That’s because the Paws of War organization will be stopping by with seven therapy dogs to visit with the residents, many of whom are veterans and retired police officers.

“This is going to be a real treat for the residents of Dominican Village,” says Joanne Contegiacomo, director of the dog therapy program at Paws of War. “Many of these heroes we will be visiting are humble, yet have saved many lives. We want them to know their courage and valor has not been forgotten.”

Paws of War is an organization that focuses on serving veterans, law enforcement, and first responders. Some of the seniors that the therapy dogs visit are suffering from such conditions as dementia, while others are in good health. Numerous of the veterans that will be visited have been awarded Purple Hearts. Everyone typically gets something beneficial from the time they spend with the dogs. Paws of War is also partnering with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) New York lodge 911 to provide this beneficial service to the assisted living community. The FOP will also have therapy dogs at the event.

Therapy DogThe purpose of the visits is to provide the residents with an opportunity to connect with the dogs, have their spirits lifted, and to benefit from the calming, soothing nature that they bring with them. According to the National Institutes of Health, interacting with animals has been shown to decrease stress-related hormones and lower blood pressure. Other studies have shown that interactions help to reduce loneliness, boost your mood, and provide feelings of social support.

“Being able to take our dogs there to spend an hour is exciting,” added Joanne Contegiacomo, director of the dog therapy program at Paws of War. “It’s our mission to help and give back when and where we can, and we know this is going to help lift some spirits.”

Paws of War is an non profit organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, and provides service and service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD. To learn more about Paws of War or make a donation to support their efforts, visit their site at:pawsofwar.org

Therapy DogAbout Paws of War
Paws of War is a 501c3 organization devoted to helping both animals and veterans. The Paws of War goal is to train and place shelter dogs to serve and provide independence to our United States military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war such as PTSD. In turn each veteran can experience the therapeutic and unconditional love only a companion animal can bring. To learn more about Paws of War, visit the site at pawsofwar.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

Where to Live When You Leave the Military?

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Transitioning Veterans

The day will come when you decide to leave the military. You might have spent many hours thinking about where you want to live and when to get out. Now it’s time to get practical. When deciding where to live after your military separation, it’s helpful to consider:

  • Your family’s wishes
  • Career opportunities
  • Education
  • Cost of living

Talk with Your Family

The decision about your next home will affect the entire family, so include them in every step of the process. Think about the following:

  • Career and educational opportunities—Does your spouse want to pursue a career? Now’s the time to provide that chance. What about the kids? Where are the best schools? Base your decisions on what will be good for the whole family.
  • Extended family—How close do you want to be to your extended family – “See you tomorrow” close or “See you on holidays” close? As you think about this, take a careful look at your hometown and evaluate the job market, schools, and cost of living.
  • Career Goals—A new job might determine where you live after military separation. Connect with the Transition Assistance Program and get tips and information to help you with your job search. (You have six months to a year to take advantage of your final relocation benefits, so don’t feel rushed into moving before you find a job.)

Find the Best Places to Live

After you’ve narrowed your search to a handful of cities or states, you can dive a little deeper. Make a list and prioritize what is most important to you, like job opportunities, schools, climate, or cost of living. Then, do your research to find the best match.

The following can help you make the military to civilian transition a little easier:

  • Take advantage of resources like the Relocation Assistance Program and the Transition Assistance Program—Contact program representatives early on to discuss potential places to live. Staff and volunteers can give you information on real estate and rentals in the area and provide chamber of commerce material.
  • Search websites—Many websites can help you find the best places to live by letting you arrange the importance of categories like education, crime rates, climate, and housing costs. You can narrow your search by preferences or compare your favorite cities.
  • Find local information—Search for an area’s information by visiting community or chamber of commerce websites, talking to real estate agents, and reading the local newspaper.
  • Identify unique, personal preferences—Some preferences can’t be factored into a test on a website. You may want to live close to a military installation so you and your family can take advantage of military benefits, or you may want to move near a particular reserve unit where you can train in a specialized area.

Make the Decision

You’ve done the background work—now is the time to make your decision. No outcome is guaranteed, but careful evaluation will help you choose the best option for you and your family. At this point, you might want to:

  • Weigh your options—Write down the available choices and assess the pros and cons of each. Use your list to help you look objectively at options.
  • Prepare for mixed emotions—Be prepared for different kinds of feelings as you make the change from military to civilian life.
  • Visit the transportation management office—As soon as you’ve made your decision, visit the transportation management office. Your installation office will schedule your final move. The earlier you visit, the more likely you can get the move dates you want.

Access Military Support

Your relocation benefits include one final move from your last duty station within the time and geographic limits listed below. If you live in installation housing, you may be allowed one move out of housing into the local community and another final move within these limits. Check with your installation’s transportation management office for details on benefits specific to your final move.

  • Retirement—You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your retirement date. (This is called a home of selection.)
  • Involuntary separation (honorable discharge)—You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your separation date.
  • Voluntary separation (honorable discharge)—You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation date. If you choose a destination of greater distance, you will be obligated to pay the additional costs.
  • General discharge (under honorable conditions)—You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation.

If you or another veteran is without a home or facing eviction or foreclosure while transitioning out of military service, the Department of Veterans Affairs can help. Call 877-4AID-VET (424-3838), or chat with them online to be connected to the homelessness prevention resources department.

Finding a place to call home after you separate from the military is one of the first big steps to civilian life. Fortunately, you have access to a number of benefits and resources that can help you with this transition. Educate yourself with the right information and you’ll be enjoying home sweet home soon.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

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.

Caregiver Shares the Untold Children’s Story: Hero At Home

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hero at home book cover

New book explains physical injuries of wounded Veterans to children

For the three young daughters of wounded veteran, Michael Verardo, his missing limb is a symbol of heroism. After Verardo’s oldest daughter told her mother, Sarah, before bed one evening that, “Someone told me Daddy is gross, but he isn’t gross, he’s a hero!”; the family realized there was no book that explained these types of wounds to children.  Sarah Verardo is the wife and Caregiver to Michael, and also the Executive Director of The Independence Fund.  Following her daughter’s bedtime declaration, she decided to do something to help all children understand the serious injuries of war, so she authored and published a first of its kind children’s book, Hero At Home. Complete with captivating imagery and illustrations of a wounded Veteran, Hero at Home, is an educational and heart-warming story that normalizes these catastrophic conditions and teaches even very young readers how to welcome, understand, and support these resilient veterans and their families.

“There are many military families, who struggle with explaining the complex injuries to their own children, and even more so with children who are not exposed to this life on a daily basis,” said Sarah. “Our goal with this book is to be able to describe this in a way that allows children to understand the sacrifices made by our Nations wounded Veterans; and to see that they are truly heroes.”

Michael is one of the most severely wounded Veterans from the Global War on Terror. While serving as an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan, he sustained catastrophic and life changing injuries in 2010. His long road home has included more than100 surgeries and years of speech, visual, physical and occupational therapies. Sarah has dedicated her life to the care and recovery of her husband, and to Veterans and Caregivers nationwide in addition to raising their family. Sarah and Michael live outside Charlotte, North Carolina with their three young daughters and three golden labs. They know that for the severely wounded, the fight never truly ends. They proudly continue their service on the home front by supporting the enactment of policies, programs, and changes to improve the lives and the future for severely wounded veterans and their families.

Sarah Verardo will travel to Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City in the coming weeks to share the story of Hero At Home.

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About The Independence Fund

Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund is committed to empowering our nation’s severely wounded, injured, or ill Veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty. We are dedicated to improving the lives of both our Veterans and their families. Through four distinct pillars of support, the Mobility, Caregiver, Adaptive Sports, and Advocacy programs, The Independence Fund bridges the gap of unmet needs for Veterans and their caregivers.

For more details regarding the Independence Fund’s mission, how to get involved, or to make a donation, please visit www.independencefund.org or call (888)-851-7996.

Rescued From a Burn Pit, Soldier Fights to Bring Dog Home With Him

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Mimi Rescue Dog

NEW YORK, NY – (May 8, 2018) – May is National Military Appreciation Month, making it a great time to do something for those who help protect the nation. There’s one soldier stationed in Afghanistan who is looking for some help this month, as he strives to bring Mimi, his beloved dog, home to the U.S. with him. While it may sound like an easy task, it’s actually a challenge that he can only accomplish through the help of others. Paws of War is leading the fight to help U.S. Army Spec. Zachery McEntire be able to bring the dog that he saved back home with him.

“Mimi is very special to Zack, and we will do everything we can to help keep them together,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “However, bringing a dog from Afghanistan back to the United States is challenging and costly. We can’t do it without the help of the public.”

The process is complicated and the cost to bring Mimi back home with Zack is around $6,000, which covers quarantine, necessary veterinary care, paperwork, and transport charges. The dog is expected to land at JFK airport in June 2018. For one person it is a hefty sum, but for many people who chip in a little bit each, it’s easy to meet that expense and bring the dog to the U.S. The story of how they met is one that further strengthens the bonds between the two.

Zack climbed 50 feet down a garbage burn pit that was filled with used medical supplies in order to save the puppy. The two immediately bonded and Mimi because the brightest part of his day and the most comforting part of his night. Being stationed in one of the most dangerous places in the world, Mimi brought him a sense of peace and comfort that he wouldn’t have otherwise had. Unless he is able to bring Mimi back home to Texas with him, she would end up out on the streets living a harsh life or would end up euthanized.

“I know that I saved Mimi from that burn pit, but in a way I feel like she saved me,” explains Zachery McEntire. “I can’t imagine leaving her behind. We belong together and it means a lot to me to be able to take her home to Texas with me.”

Paws of War has teamed up with the group Nowzad Dogs in Afghanistan to assist with the complex task of getting Mimi to the U.S. Those who would like to donate to help keep Mimi and Zack together can do so online:

pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/projects/52658-war-torn-pups-operation-mimi

“We are committed to helping our soldiers with situations like this Mimi with Zackas we know how much it means to them,” says Dori Scofield, co-founder of Paws of War. “But we can’t do it without the assistance of the public. This is a great way to give back to those who give us so much.”

Paws of War is an all volunteer organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, and provides service and service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD. To learn more about Paws of War or make a donation to support their efforts, visit their site at: pawsofwar.org.

 

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a 501c3 organization devoted to helping both animals and veterans. The Paws of War goal is to train and place shelter dogs to serve and provide independence to our United States military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war such as PTSD. In turn each veteran can experience the therapeutic and unconditional love only a companion animal can bring. To learn more about Paws of War, visit the site at pawsofwar.org.

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