Shocking Military Suicide Rates and Identifying the Signs

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Suicide Prevention

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, which makes it an important time to move the conversation about suicide forward. While suicide is a national problem, it is one that also affects smaller communities, including the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community.

These brave men and women have suffered losses not only on the battlefield, but from suicide in recent years. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, each day there are around 20 veterans who commit suicide. What’s more, they report that veterans’ suicides account for 18% of the suicide deaths in the country, while they only make up 8.5% of the adult population.

“There’s clearly a serious issue with suicides among active duty military service members, veterans and their families, and it’s one that we are passionate about addressing,” explains Nicole Motsek, executive director of the EOD Warrior Foundation. “Only when people are aware of what is going on can they begin to affect change.”

Suicide is a major concern with veterans and active duty military members. It’s especially shocking when viewing the suicide rates of active duty Army members. According to a research report in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, the Army suicide rate increased 80% from 2004 to 2008. While the Army may have the most shocking suicide statistics, but no branch of the military is immune to the crisis. Among EOD technicians, suicide is considered to be at a crisis level. It’s an issue that the EOD Warrior Foundation is tackling and hoping to help change.

Suicide among EOD technicians is an issue that organizations such as the EOD Warrior Foundation are trying to not only raise awareness about, but are trying to help prevent. They are currently working with Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, of Columbia University. Dr. Gerstenhaber is the director of The Columbia Lighthouse Project, and has dedicated her life to saving others from suicide, as well as removing the stigma around the issue. She created the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) and has shown that this is a critical tool in preventing suicide. We must identify to find those suffering in silence.

Those who suspect someone they know may be considering suicide should seek immediate professional assistance. The C-SSRS supports suicide risk assessment through a series of simple, plain-language questions that anyone can ask. The answers help users identify whether someone is at risk for suicide, assess the severity and immediacy of that risk, and gauge the level of support that the person needs.

Users of the C-SSRS tool ask people:
• Whether and when they have thought about suicide (ideation)
• What actions they have taken — and when — to prepare for suicide
• Whether and when they attempted suicide or began a suicide attempt that was either interrupted by another person or stopped of their own volition

“The suicide rate for our veterans and active duty is around 50% higher than for their civilian counterparts, showing what a serious issue we have on our hands,” says Dr. Gerstenhaber. “This group of people have a tremendous amount of stress and they need to know it’s not a sign of weakness to seek help. We have programs in place that have been successful at helping to reduce the suicide rates, and we want to expand those to help others around the nation.”

These are questions everyone must ask. In order to continue working to eradicate suicide, we all must go beyond the medical model, and this is what the Dr. Gerstenhaber and the EOD Warrior Foundation are working together to do in the EOD community.

The EOD Warrior Foundation is an organization that helps the families of the 7,000 people in our military who are Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians, and perform bomb disposal duties. Engaging in the most dangerous job in the military, EOD technicians often sustain serious injuries, lose limbs, or are killed in action. The EOD Warrior Foundation helps this elite group by providing financial relief, therapeutic healing retreats, a scholarship program, care of the EOD Memorial Wall located at Eglin AFB, Fla. and more. Their work is supported by private donations and the generosity of those who support the organization. To learn more about the EOD Warrior Foundation, or see their fundraising events calendar, visit their site at: eodwarriorfoundation.org.

About EOD Warrior Foundation
The EOD Warrior Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help EOD warriors and their family members with a priority on wounded EOD warriors and the families of fallen EOD warriors. Specific programs include financial relief, college scholarships, hope and wellness programs that include therapeutic healing retreats, and care for the EOD Memorial Wall located at Eglin AFB, Fla. To learn more about the EOD Warrior Foundation, or see their events calendar, visit their site at: eodwarriorfoundation.org.

Tee It Up for the Troops Donates 20th E-Z-GO Vehicle to Fisher House Foundation to Assist Disabled Veterans and Their Families

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Tee it up for troops logo

A golf car is a nice amenity on the golf course, but for families of veterans and active duty service members who are being treated at Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, golf cars are a valuable and needed mode of transportation.

With limited parking and specialized transportation needs, many veterans and their elderly family members are unable to make the journey around a VA hospital campus.

That’s why Tee It Up for the Troops, with their national headquarters in Burnsville, Minn., has partnered with Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, manufacturer of E-Z-GO vehicles, to donate customized vehicles to Fisher House, a foundation that provides comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay free of charge. Tee It Up for the Troops has donated a “battalion” of E-Z-GO vehicles to Fisher House facilities nationwide, with the recent 20th new ride delivered to the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System in California.

For the last seven years, Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, in partnership with E-Z-GO distributor Versatile Vehicles of Prior Lake, Minn., have delivered several vehicles a year to Fisher Houses across the nation. The first was delivered to the Augusta VA Medical Center in Georgia in 2012, with others reaching the East Coast’s Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, the West Coast’s Camp Pendleton in California, and midwestern Fisher Houses in Milwaukee, Wisc. and Minneapolis, Minn.

“Tee It Up for the Troops has been there for us and has provided a vehicle to every one of our houses on a VA property that has needed one,” said Brian Gawne, Vice President of Community Relations for Fisher House Foundation. “Parking and getting around on a VA campus is always a challenge, and some families are not mobile. Thanks to Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, these cars are a godsend when families are facing a tough medical crisis.”

“Recently we had a veteran discharged from the hospital after kidney removal surgery and it would have been extremely painful for him to bend into a vehicle to get back to Fisher House,” said Jenny Hall, Manager of the Alaska Fisher House. “The golf car allowed him to easily slide in and out at a comfortable height with minimal pain.”

“It’s great teaming up with E-Z-GO and working together to make our heroes’ lives better,” said Tim Wegscheid, President & Executive Director for Tee It Up for the Troops. “I truly believe our veterans and their families are entitled to be taken care of, and donating these vehicles is just one way we do that.”

Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted 500 fundraising events in over 40 states over the last 15 years, allowing the non-profit organization to donate over $10 million to military service organizations that provide critically needed services to combat veterans and their families.

“Electric shuttles that are quiet and efficient can take a whole family or injured warfighter from a Fisher House around the campus to receive therapy or see a doctor,” said Brandon Haddock, Director, Communications at Textron Specialized Vehicles. “The vehicles can traverse facility paths, parking lots, and even into the entry of a VA hospital. It’s great to see how excited people are about the shuttles and to give the veterans something they really need.”

“These stretch electric shuttles, which can comfortably accommodate six passengers, are customized with many added features for the comfort and safety of veterans,” said Gaby Accad, owner of Versatile Vehicles, whose distributorship customizes many of the Fisher House vehicles. Additions include safety lights, turn signals, a rear seat that can convert to a flatbed to carry a wheelchair or other equipment, and a retractable windshield to block wind and rain.

Accad works with local companies to donate custom features, including red, white and blue premium seats embroidered with the Tee It Up for the Troops logo, decals that are applied to the custom-painted cars, and shipping of the cars at donated or reduced rates to their destination.

“What this country has provided to me, it’s the least I can do for our soldiers who put their lives on the line for us to enjoy our freedom and the things we cherish in this country,” Accad said.

Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO first learned of the need for a small, efficient vehicle to transport wounded warriors in 2011, when they shipped a vehicle to a military base in Afghanistan to help move soldiers to field hospitals and to get those recovering from injuries around the base. From there, the need to meet increased demands for transport of returning service members with disabilities and their families escalated stateside.

“This is just a continuation of our support for veterans who do incredible things for our country,” Wegscheid said of the vehicles.

About Tee It Up for The Troops

Tee It Up for the Troops, Inc, is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves U.S. military veterans and their families.  Based in Minnesota, Tee it Up for the Troops inspires communities across the country to organize golf events to raise funds for partnering veterans service organizations who deliver critically needed services to military families.  These locally-supported events greatly assist returning service members to successfully reintegrate into their communities.  Established in 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted over 475 events in more than 40 states and has donated over $10 million to more than 335 various organizations serving veterans across the country.  In addition, through their REUNION initiative, Tee It Up for the Troops has reunited more than 300 combat altered veterans who were separated due to battlefield injuries or changes in rehabilitation status.  Through these reunions, participating veterans enhance their transition process into productive and fulfilling civilian lifestyles. For more information visit: teeitupforthetroops.org.

About E-Z-GO
E-Z-GO is an iconic, world-renowned brand in golf cars and personal transportation vehicles. Products sold under the
E-Z-GO brand include RXV® and TXT® fleet golf cars, Freedom® RXV and Freedom TXT personal golf cars, E-Z-GO Express™ personal utility vehicles, and the 2Five® street-legal low-speed vehicle. Known for innovation in electric-vehicle technology, E-Z-GO’s newest offerings include the ELiTE series of lithium-ion powered golf cars and PTVs. Founded in 1954 in Augusta, Ga., E-Z-GO became part of Textron Inc. in 1960, and today operates as part of the company’s Textron Specialized Vehicles division.

About Textron Inc.

Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training. For more information visit: textron.com.

About Fisher House

Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of 82 comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.  These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, and in Europe, close to the medical center or hospital it serves. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths.  Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room and an inviting living room.  Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee.  Since inception, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $451 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation. Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program, using donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge. For more information visit: fisherhouse.org.

It’s Life or Death for a Puppy in the Middle East

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Bucky with soldier stationed in the Middle East

May is Military Appreciation Month.  What better way to wrap up the month, then by helping our heroes overseas? Morale can be tough to keep when you are a soldier stationed in the Middle East.

Each day brings challenges and often despair. For one soldier and his crew stationed in Kuwait, that all changed when one, tiny puppy entered their camp.

Before the tiny stray made his way into the life of 21-year-old SPC Dakota J. Campbell and his crewmembers, morale was at an all time low. Then one day, the soldiers witnessed a puppy run by their site, being chased by a larger dog. The men proceeded to scare off the dog, and the puppy scurried to hide and got his self stuck in a cement barrier.

As the soldiers saved the puppy from near death, it didn’t take long before they realized that the puppy actually saved them. They named this little guy Bucky and he lifted their spirits, gave them hope, and helped inspire them each day. With Bucky around, they felt a sense of home.

“We can only imagine the difficulty these soldiers in war torn areas face on a daily basis,” explains Robert Misseri of Paws of War. “The fact that this dog helped our heroes get through some of the darkest days in their life is testament to the abilities of a dog. We must try to get Bucky to the United States.  It is the least we can do for SPC Campbell and the crew.”

Now Campbell is heading back to the states, where he will be stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. Rather than leave Bucky in Kuwait, where his fate would be certain death as a street dog, he is reaching out to us all to get Bucky to America, where he can live his life in security and peace with SPC Campbell, and they can both have a genuine, true sense of home.

“Bucky may have saved us, but I can’t bear to leave him behind, it’s time for me to once again save him,” added Campbell. “I have one dog at home, which is like my only son, and I can’t wait for Bucky to meet him. It will be a dream come true for me to be able to bring Bucky to Texas.”

Bringing a dog back to America from the Middle East is no easy task, and it’s a costly process. Paws of War is supported solely by donations and has helped numerous soldiers to bring their rescued dogs back from the Middle East. To help make the mission possible, they are asking everyone to pitch in and thank this Army team for protecting our freedom by donating toward Bucky’s journey to the U.S. Every dollar makes a difference.  To learn more about Campbell and Bucky’s story and to make a donation, log online: pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/saving-bucky.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a non-profit 501c3 charitable organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, rescues and trains dogs to be service dogs, and provides therapy dogs to veterans. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or make a donation visit its site at: http://pawsofwar.org.

Online Recruitment Platform to Connect Workers with Disabilities to Rewarding Careers

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The ISABLED Virtual Career Fair platform makes it easier to connect recruiters from leading companies and high-impact professionals with disabilities. There are currently more jobs in the U.S than available workers to fill them, and companies are forced to explore more options to find talent to hire to help them grow their business.

Workers with different abilities (often referred to as workers with disabilities) are just one example of highly-skilled, but untapped segments of the population that more and more leading companies are seeking to recruit.

ISABLED, an online recruiting platform connects workers that identify as having a disability, with recruiters from leading companies who value inclusion and diversity in their workforce. The ISABLED platform allows job seekers and recruiters to connect and chat in real-time, from anywhere, and from the comfort and convenience of their home or office.

” The ISABLED Virtual Career Fairs are a fun and easy way to connect recruiters and job seekers with disabilities. Instead of asking both sides to attend a job fair at a physical location, we bring the career fair to them. The ISABLED platform allows our employer partners to recruit nationwide in just a few hours, and job seekers have instant access to the very recruiters who are seeking to fill the open positions” Stated Kevin O’Brien, Managing Partner, ISABLED.

The ISABLED website will include content to connect workers with disabilities to job opportunities from a wide range of companies and industries. The website will include a job board and a virtual career fair platform. ISABLED will host 4 virtual career fairs each year, and companies can host standalone virtual career fairs for their company as often as they like.

The first ISABLED virtual career fair is set for July 25, 2019, and open now for registration.

About ISABLED:

ISABLED, a division of Astound Virtual has a laser-focus on connecting industry-leading companies with workers people with disabilities who seek employment. Through the ISABLED Recruitment Center (IRC), job seekers and recruiters meet and interact, in real-time, but from the comfort and convenience of their home or office.

How to Celebrate Memorial Day at the Office

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Woman veteran in office wearing US Flag pin

By Hiliary Innerbichler

Stuck at work on Memorial Day Monday? Here are some ways to celebrate.

Honor the Fallen
Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans—the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)—established Decoration Day, now Memorial Day, as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. So honor the fallen by taking an office field trip to a local cemetery to lay flowers on a veteran’s grave.

Dress in Red, White, and Blue
A simple but classic way to show your support for our nation’s fallen heroes is to dress in the patriotic colors of the flag.

Run a Book Drive
Ever heard of Operation Paperback? Now celebrating its 20-year anniversary, nonprofit Operation Paperback has sent over 2,853,347 books to deployed troops, veterans, military families, VA hospitals, USOs, and Red Cross units in 35 countries. Have your office pitch in and send a collection of books to Operation Paperback!

Take a Moment to Observe
Established by Congress, the National Moment of Remembrance asks Americans to pause in an act of national unity at 3:00 p.m. local time for one minute to honor those who died in service to our country.

Share on Social Media
Have you lost a family member who died in military service? Take a moment on Memorial Day to remember them by posting a picture on your social media platform and sharing your thanks and love.

Aspen Dental Offers Free Dental Care to Thousands of Military Veterans Nationwide

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Aspen Dental coworkers posing outside of office

As part of its annual Day of Service Aspen Dental will open nearly 500 of its dental offices to provide FREE care to as many as 5,000 veterans on Saturday, June 8.

Like millions of other Americans, veterans can struggle to find oral health care when they need it. The majority of U.S. veterans are not eligible for dental benefits through the Veterans Administration unless they are 100% disabled, have a service-related mouth injury or were a prisoner of war.

This year, Aspen Dental looks to build on the success of 2018’s Day of Service campaign, in which more than 4,300 veterans across the country received free dental care at 426 participating Aspen Dental locations.

Veterans are encouraged to call 1-844-277-3646 (1-844-ASPENHMM) to find a participating office near them and schedule an appointment.

Since launching the Healthy Mouth Movement in 2014, Aspen Dental offices across the country have donated more than $15 million in dentistry to over 22,000 veterans.

Continue on to Business Wire to read the complete article.

#1 Franchise for Veterans Expanding into South Carolina Lowcountry

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Dream Vacations

Charleston, S.C. (May 8, 2019) – Nationally recognized and leading travel agency franchise Dream Vacations is expanding its footprint in South Carolina and is seeking potential new franchise owners.

To introduce itself to the region, the agency has sponsored several community events through membership with the Summerville YMCA including the Shamrock Shuffle and Flowertown. In addition, the travel agency will be hosting the first ever Charleston Cruise & Travel Show on Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Charleston Marriott.

“As booking vacations becomes more complex with all of the vacation options which can be found on the internet, travel agents are making a comeback and there is no time like the present to get started in this industry,” said Janet Harris, director of recruitment for Dream Vacations. “We like to say that people have a dream list, rather than bucket list, of where they want to travel, and since travel is no longer considered a luxury, Americans are looking to make these dream vacations become reality. South Carolina is perfect for travel franchisees because not only do they live in a popular tourist destination, but they have easy access to the Port of Charleston making it possible for locals to visit exotic destinations without having to fly.”

Tourism is booming in Charleston, S.C. due to a cruise terminal that is growing in popularity as a home port and the city’s frequent ranking as one of the best places to visit in the U.S. According to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, there are more than 15,000 military retirees in this region and 20,000 active duty personnel making a $10.8 billion economic impact. This coupled with Dream Vacations being a leading franchise opportunity for veterans, as well as South Carolina ranked a “Top 10 State for Franchise Growth” by the International Franchise Association (IFA) in its annual Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2018, make it an opportune time for Dream Vacations to focus on expanding to this region.

All military veterans and Gold Star families who purchase a Dream Vacations travel agency business receive an enlistment package valued at no less than $5,000 and ongoing support. They can select one of four perks currently being offered — 2019 National Conference cabin aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas valued at $2,100; receive up to $7,000 back based on initial fee through the Earn Back promotion; waived administrative fees valued at $1,350; or a surface pro tablet valued at $1,000. They also receive a waived training fee for a business partner; veteran-themed marketing assets; and the ability to hire active-duty military spouses and veterans as associates at a discount. Additional veteran incentives include the ability to move residences and stay in business, LeisureCare Travel Insurance discounts for veterans, travel discounts for military customers and access to veteran networking groups. In addition, Dream Vacations is hosting its eighth annual award-winning Operation Vetrepreneur contest which awards five free franchises to military veterans from Monday, May 27, 2019, through Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Dream Vacations is looking for franchisees who are passionate about travel, helping others and are eager to go into business for themselves, but not by themselves. No experience selling travel is necessary because all new franchise owners attend an award-winning six-day training at Dream Vacations’ world headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, where they learn how to use Dream Vacations’ industry-leading booking systems and get an introduction to the cruise and resort vacation industry. New franchisees can open their home-based business for less than $10,000 and work anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Veterans interested in learning more about how they can parlay their military skills into business ownership, please visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com or call 888-249-8235. To learn more about the Charleston Cruise & Travel Show, visit www.CruiseAndTravelShow.com. Tickets are $10 and military veterans who use the promo code MILITARY will receive half off.

About Dream Vacations

Travel agents with the top-ranked home-based travel agency franchise Dream Vacations have the resources to plan and create seamless vacation experiences for their customers while offering the best value. A member of the International Franchise Association, Dream Vacations is part of World Travel Holdings and has received partner of the year, a top-ranking status, by all the major cruise lines as well as national recognition for its support of military veterans. For more information about Dream Vacations, visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com. Like Dream Vacations on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DreamVacationsFranchise, follow on Twitter at @Dream_Franchise and watch its videos at http://www.youtube.com/DreamVacationsBusiness.

Gary Sinise: From Self to Service

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Gary-Sinise-Foundation-Soaring Valor

By Brady Rhoades

Two events changed Gary Sinise’s life: playing Lt. Dan in the Oscar-winning 1993 movie Forrest Gump, and Sept. 11, 2001. The first provoked countless encounters with Vietnam veterans who identified with the heroic, sorrowful, raging and, finally, redemptive Lt. Dan.

The latter went even deeper. His country had been attacked. America changed that day, and so did Sinise. His life’s focus shifted from self to service. “It set the stage for working with the wounded after that terrible day,” he said. “I couldn’t sit back. I wanted to let our service members know they were appreciated … then, the men and women who serve our country raised their hands and I thought, ‘I can take a proactive role in backing them up.’”

Twenty six years after Lt. Dan captured American’s imagination as a ravaged Vietnam vet utterly lost and ultimately found—and 18 years after the United States was attacked on its own soil and more than 3,000 lost their lives, Sinise has penned a New York Times bestselling book that describes his journey: Grateful American: From Self to Service. “I am grateful to be an American,” he said, in an interview with U.S Veterans Magazine. “That’s something I will always cherish.”

It took about a cup of coffee for Grateful American to hit the New York Times Best Seller list in early 2019. Sinise describes his journey from self to service in a plain-spoken, compelling way. Here’s an excerpt from the prologue, titled “Stunned,” in which he’s accepting an award from the Disabled Veterans of American for his performance as Lt. Dan: “When our veterans returned  from the first Gulf War, unlike Vietnam, they were greeted with giant parades in New York and a  few other cities. Yet even though our country eventually tried to make amends with Vietnam  veterans by supporting them as they created the Vietnam Memorial in D.C., and with some cities in the mid-1980s hosting a few welcome-home. parades, now in 1994, I can still sense remnants of this rift in our country, this stillopen wound for the veterans of the Vietnam War.

Little do I know how significant this moment at the convention will become in my life. Seeds are being planted that will grow into a tree with many branches. For it’s here that I first begin to ask myself, ‘How can I make a difference in restoring what’s been lost? How can I help make sure our veterans are never treated that way again?’”

Sinise visits an injured service member in the hospital
Sinise visits an injured service member in the hospital

Since publishing the book through Nelson Books, Sinise has been hearing from readers, including veterans. “I’m thrilled whenever I hear from a veteran,” said Sinise, 64. Sinise is an actor, director and musician. Among other awards, he has won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Sinise is known for several memorable roles. These include George Milton in Of Mice and Men, Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Harry S. Truman in Truman (for which he won a Golden Globe), Ken Mattingly in Apollo 13, Detective Jimmy Shaker in Ransom, and Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY(2004–13).

Sinise was born in Blue Island, Illinois. His father, Robert, was a film editor. He graduated from Highland Park High in Highland Park, Illinois. He later graduated from Illinois University. His legacy at Highland Park has been secured. In the 1970s, Sinise and two friends founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The theatre, a non-profit, continues to thrive today.

He started off as a rebel and a musician. His parents bought him a guitar when he was a boy, but he noticed everyone was playing guitar, so he switched to bass, which he still plays today. The hugely popular Lt. Dan Band, which plays mostly rock’n’ roll and country covers that are favorites among troops, has played for service members all over the world.

It’s one of many services he provides through the Gary Sinise Foundation, which he founded after 9/11 to ensure that today’s veterans are not treated like the Lt. Dans of the Vietnam War.

Gary Sinise Foundation Invincible Spirit Festival
Gary Sinise Foundation Invincible Spirit Festival

Sinise is an actor at his core. But his work for the troops just might be his lasting legacy. His journey from self to service has resulted in these staggering numbers from his foundation: —Building 70 specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded heroes; —More than 102,400 attendees at the Invincible Spirit Festivals since 2012; —More than 175,000 meals served to our nation’s defenders across the country; —About 460 support concerts for our troops, sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation; —More than 7,000 vets have joined Gary and crew for “Vets Night” performances; —About 1,700 children of fallen military heroes and their surviving parents/guardians attended the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Snowball Express event in 2018.

“Snowball” is a word Sinise favors. He hopes his, and others’, support of our active troops and veterans creates a snowball effect.

“Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted,” he said. “We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”

“We have tremendous supporters who support the Gary Sinise Foundation,” he added. “There’s an unfortunate disconnect between our people and those who defend this country. I encourage all of us to get to know the people who are protecting you.”

He stresses that veterans are everywhere. You don’t have to put on concerts for thousands; you can support one veteran, and that’s a big deal. “Look within your own neighborhood, your town, yourstate.”

Here’s one more excerpt from Grateful American that encapsulates Sinise’s attitude, and personal journey: “There have been any number of ups and downs in myn life, and there was a time when I wasn’t concerned about too much more than my own career. But slowly things changed. It’s my hope that as I share these stories from my life, you will be entertained and maybe even inspired, too—empowered to overcome obstacles, embrace gratitude, and engage in service above self.”

International Delight Kicks Off Military Appreciation Month By Announcing Partnership With Pets for Vets

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Pets for Vets logo

Broomfield, Colo. – [May 1, 2019] – In honor of Military Appreciation Month, International Delight has committed $150,000 to support the national organization Pets for Vets. The creamer brand also launched S’mores, a new limited-edition flavor, which features the Pets for Vets pawprint logo on every bottle.

This debuts as part of the brand’s limited-edition, Americana-themed summer collection. International Delight developed this summer collection to encourage its fans to support this cause dedicated to hugs and companionship.

International Delight values Pets for Vets’ mission to help shelter animals find loving forever homes with veterans. This contribution is anticipated to cover the cost of a number of initiatives, including:

  • 30 veteran and pet matches
  • Continued education for Pets for Vets trainers
  • Medicine and preventative supplies for matches

“The opportunity to match veterans with a new companion and give pets in need loving homes struck a chord with us and we knew from our first conversation that we had to get involved,” said Jessica Strouse, senior associate brand manager for International Delight. “We are proud to support the Pets for Vets team with a contribution, and also to have the opportunity to use our beloved brand to raise awareness for their efforts with the addition of their symbol to our latest launch — International Delight S’mores Creamer.”

More than 6 million pets enter shelters in the United States each year, and 20% of returning military veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Pets for Vets uses the powerful bond between humans and animals to help both by pairing them together.

“We’re incredibly thankful for this support that will help us reach more veterans and shelter animals than ever before, and we’re thrilled this partnership goes beyond just a contribution thanks to International Delight’s dedication to raising awareness of our efforts,” said Clarissa Black, founder of Pets for Vets. “Since we began in 2009, we’ve been fortunate to do a lot of great work and working with International Delight will help us do even more.”

Celebrating summertime, the contributions of veterans and love for pets, the full Americana-themed collection features red, white and blue packaging across the brand’s French Vanilla and Cold Stone® Sweet Cream varieties, as well as the new S’mores variety. Bringing a campfire to your coffee cup, International Delight S’mores Creamer combines the chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow flavors of the nostalgic summertime treat.

The full Americana-themed collection is available in grocery and mass-market retailers nationwide for a suggested retail price of $3.79. For more information on Pets for Vets, including how to get involved in a nearby chapter, head to petsforvets.com.

About International Delight®

International Delight® was launched in 1987 and was the first flavored, liquid, non-dairy creamer on the market. There’s an art to the perfect cup, and we celebrate a masterpiece of flavor fantasy every single time. We’re flavor crazy and black coffee just does not exist in our universe. Never has, never will. International Delight® Iced Coffee and creamers are available at grocery, convenience stores, mass merchandisers and food service outlets across the country. For more information, visit InternationalDelight.com.

About Danone North America

International Delight® is made by Danone North America, a Certified B Corporation® business unit of Danone that operates in the U.S. from headquarter offices in White Plains, NY and Broomfield, CO. Danone North America was formed as a Public Benefit Corporation in 2017 to nourish people, communities and the world through its diverse portfolio of healthful dairy- and plant-based products, coffee creamers and beverages. Its portfolio of brands includes: Activia®, DanActive®, Danimals®, Dannon®, Danonino®, Horizon Organic®, International Delight®, Light & Fit®, Oikos®, Silk®, So Delicious Dairy Free®, STōK®, Two Good™, Vega®, Wallaby Organic® and YoCrunch®. The mission of Danone North America and that of Danone worldwide is to bring health through food to as many people as possible. For more information, please visit DanoneNorthAmerica.com. To find more information on Danone North America’s B Corp™ status, visit: bcorporation.net/directory/danone-north-america.

About Pets for Vets

Headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina, Pets for Vets, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with chapters in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia. Pets for Vets® helps heal the emotional wounds of military Veterans by using the power of the human-animal bond to provide a second chance for shelter animals that are rescued, trained and paired with American Veterans who could benefit from a companion animal. To learn more go to petsforvets.com.

Man Taught Himself to Play the Trumpet Solely So He Could Play Taps for Fallen Soldiers

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Gary Marquardt In Full Dress Uniform Playing Trumpet For Fallen Soldier

It’s never too late to pay your respects to the fallen – and for Gary ­Marquardt, that meant learning to play the trumpet at 66 years old.

Marquardt was just a youngster when he enlisted in the military and waited to be drafted for the Vietnam War. Due to a bleeding ulcer, however, he was deemed unfit to serve.

Years later, he finally found a means of atoning for his guilt over not being able to fight alongside his fellow soldiers.

In 2014, Marquardt had been attending the funeral of a military friend when he was stunned to hear a mechanical recording of a bugle playing taps. He couldn’t help but be bothered by the lack of live music to honor a fallen soldier – so he walked into a music store and started learning to play the trumpet.

Much to the dismay of his wife and neighbors, Marquardt practiced day and night.

“It was awful,” Marquardt’s wife told KARE11 with a laugh. “Seemed like every 15 minutes, it was all the time. We were all hoping he would get better. And then he did.”

Sure enough, Marquardt managed to become a bona fide trumpeter. He then started using his newfound skill to visit local cemeteries and play taps at the gravestones of recently deceased veterans and soldiers.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.