How One Vineyard is Helping Warriors All Year Long, Especially During the Holidays

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NICEVILLE, Florida – (November 20, 2017)– This holiday season there will be millions of bottles of wine sold. According to the Wine Institute, there are 11,496 wineries in the country, and each year there are around 949 million gallons of wine consumed.

Many people like to give wine as holiday gifts, take a bottle to holiday dinner parties, or keep some on hand for when company stops by to celebrate the season. Of those wineries, there is one, Tackitt Family Vineyards, that has made the commitment to help warriors with every bottle sold. “This holiday, people can easily help our warriors by opting for EOD Cellars wines when selecting a wine to drink or give,” explains Nicole Motsek, executive director of the EOD Warrior Foundation. “We are honored to have the support of Tackitt Family Vineyards, who give back so much. They truly appreciate all that these warriors have done for our country and make it easy for people to give back simply by purchasing their wines.”

Leon and Cindy Tackitt, owners of Tackitt Family Vineyards, offer a line of wines called EOD Cellars, and a portion of every bottle sold goes to the EOD Warrior Foundation. That money is put to good use helping warriors and their families who are in need. The foundation provides financial support to warriors who need financial assistance with everything from college scholarships for their family members to picking up the tab for therapeutic treatment to help with such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder.

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.

EOD Cellars wine collection includes four varieties of red wines and two types of white wines, and they are available in boxed gift sets and 6-packs. EOD CellarsThe wines are available for purchase online, as well as in select stores. The wines range in price from $21 per bottle to $32 per bottle. They have all been specially bottled to support the EOD Warrior Foundation. Tackitt Family Vineyards is a small, family-owned winery that is located in Paso Robles, California. They specialize in premium wines and offer several varietals for the EOD Cellars Wine. Specific wines in the collection include The Keeper, Basic Blaster Red, Senior Blaster Red, Master Blaster Red, Willie Pete White, and Det Cord White.

“We appreciate everything these warriors have done, and are pleased to be able to help give back,” added Leon Tackitt, winemaker and owner of Tackitt Family Vineyards. “This holiday season, every time they opt for an EOD Cellars wine, they will not only be getting a great tasting wine, but they can feel good knowing that they are also helping warriors. It’s an easy way to help others with every wine purchase.

To view the EOD Cellars wine collection, visit the Tackitt Family Vineyard site online: tackittfamilyvineyards.com.

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.

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Sources:
Wine Institute.Wine Consumption in U.S. wineinstitute.org/resources/statistics/article86
Wine Institute.Number of California Wineries. wineinstitute.org/resources/statistics/article124

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/

One Company Gives Back to Injured Veterans, Helping them Every Step of the Way

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Leslie Smith

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 18.5 million veterans in the country. Like the rest of the population, they experience lower leg injuries, resulting from any number of issues.

One company has created a way to help them every step of the way, making it more comfortable for them to have better mobility as they recover. The iWALKFree company gives back to veterans, by giving those with lower leg injuries the iWALK2.0.

“We are extremely grateful for everything veterans have done for our country,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc. “Being able to give back and help them even a little is the least that we can do. We are happy to know that our device helps make their injury recovery a lot more tolerable.”

The iWALK2.0 has been designed to help with all types of common lower leg injuries, as well as those with amputations. To provide veterans with the iWALK2.0, the company has teamed up with the Travis Mills Foundation. The foundation was created by Retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, who is a wounded warrior, having lost of his arms and legs during combat. He became an advocate for veterans and amputees, starting the foundation to help with those efforts. During 2017, they helped 84 veteran families with being able to attend a healing retreat that included such as activities as yoga, archery, boating, fishing, hiking, painting, culinary arts, and much more.

One of the wounded veterans helped by the iWALK2.0 is Leslie Smith, a veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Bosnia in 2001-2002. Her rigorous training required her to wear combat boots that lead to a blood clot. The condition led to an amputation of her left leg. Though she was fitted for a prosthetic leg, what many people don’t realize is that wearing them for any length of time can lead to severe skin irritation and extreme pain at the knee and upper thigh. Typically amputees give up their prosthetics from time to time so that these side effects can heal.  And many military vets who have lost their legs have given up on prosthetics altogether due to these side effects. The iWALK2.0 helps her through those healing periods.

“The iWalk allows me to be and feel like a whole person,” explains Leslie SmithLeslie Smith. ““The iWalk gives me freedom, confidence, and independence. I do not have to rely on a wheelchair or crutches. Having the ability to use my hands freely is of great importance especially being legally blind and having a service dog. The iWalk has removed any and all stress or worry that I will not be able to continue daily activities, work, travel, and anything fun, like shopping. I have no fear of missing out on what I need to do!”

With the iWALK2.0, Smith no longer has to hop, crawl, use a wheelchair or crutches, in order to get around when she was taking a break from her prosthetic to heal. This helps to avoid injuries, bruising, falls, and soreness.  Plus, it’s empowered her life because she can get around with ease and feel safe doing so.

The program that iWALKFree has in place to give back to those in need provides people with the opportunity to donate their used iWALK2.0 to a variety of charities. Along with the Travis Mills Foundation, they provide devices to the Adaptive Training Foundation, Canada Africa Community Health Alliance, Serving Us Veterans in Need, Globus Relief, Hands of Hope, Physicians for Peace, Limbs for Life, World Rehabilitation Fund, Marshall-Legacy Institute, and Volunteers for Inter-American Development Assistance.

In addition to giving back to veterans to help with their injury recovery, the company also provides help to other charities where they provide free iWALK2.0 units to those in need who do not have the means to otherwise pay for them. The device retails for $149, but their mission with that charity is to help those in need have access to a more comfortable way to recover from injury that will also help them be more mobile.

The product does provide benefits to those veterans who used it, because the iWALK2.0 offered them easier mobility while they were recovering from an injury. Rather than them spending their time recovering from a lower leg injury using crutches, which can be painful and limit mobility, they were able to get around easier and with less pain.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, pain-free alternative to using crutches and leg scooters.  It’s easy to learn to use, intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or down stairs.

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit: iWalkFree.com.

About iWALKFree

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc.  It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: iwalk-free.com.

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Source:
U.S. Census Bureau Veterans Day 2017.

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

Overcoming tragedy to become a champion

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Ce-Ce Mayczk

By all rights, any fear of heights that Army veteran Centra “Ce-Ce” Mazyck might have had would be justified. On a particularly windy day in November 2003, she and other members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division went on their final parachute jump before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The wind carried Mazyck into the canopy of another soldier’s parachute and they plummeted toward the earth. Mazyck was able to free herself from the other soldier’s chute, but her recovery came too late. She came down. Hard. Her feet and knees were apart, out of position for a proper landing.

“It felt like a rough landing, but that had happened before. I remember trying to get up, but I couldn’t move. My legs were crossed, and when I tried to roll over, I knew something was wrong,” Mazyck said.

The jump had injured Mazyck’s L1 and L2 vertebrae, leaving her instantly paralyzed from the waist down. The doctor told her family she would never walk again. For a single mother of a young toddler, her greatest fear was that she would not be able to provide for her son.

“It didn’t make me feel good that someone would tell that to my family. I always go against the odds. When I heard the doctor say that, I said, ‘We’ll see,’” recalled Mazyck. “I want to go back to the hospital and walk up to that doctor today just to show him.”

As part of her road to recovery, Mazyck braved the altitude to attend the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colorado, which is co-sponsored by DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and the Department of Veteran Affairs. Mazyck was among more than 400 participants at the event, which is open to military veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological problems and other disabilities, who receive care at a VA or military treatment facility. Clinic activities encourage intensive physical rehabilitation. But more importantly, participants build their confidence.

“The clinic gives people a sense of hope. There’s a camaraderie, a fellowship,” said Mazyck.

At the culmination of the event, Mazyck was presented with the DAV Freedom Award for the inspiration she provided her fellow participants.

After attending the clinic, Mazyck worked to finish her degree in sociology and trained five days a week in the gym. She tried a number of wheelchair sports including powerlifting, but soon realized her passion was throwing the javelin. She placed first at the Paralympics trials in 2012. The following year she attended the IPC Athletics World Championships and won a bronze medal. She has competed and placed in several other competitions such as the Endeavor Games, the Czech Open and the Desert Challenge.

“I’m Centra Mazyck. I’m Ce-Ce. You didn’t know? I’m an achiever,” she said. “I’m an athlete. I was an athlete before I was disabled. I’m still an athlete. I’m still a soldier.”

She reaches out to her fellow veterans whenever she feels her story can inspire them to overcome obstacles in their lives.

“You have to believe in yourself, not in what someone tells you.”

 

Podcast for Military Members is here!

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

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

militarynetworkradio.com/healing-household

Budweiser Celebrates Summer with New Freedom Reserve Red Lager

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

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

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

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

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

Continue onto PRNewswire to read the complete article.

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

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Carey Hart-Good Rides

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT INDIAN MOTORCYCLE®

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

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Iraq War Veteran Awarded Brand New Vehicle Through TrueCar DrivenToDrive Program

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U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Goodrich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rob Riggle: Combat to Comedy

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By Mackenna Cummings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAV’s Victories for Veterans Fitness Challenge

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Veterans face a variety of obstacles each day — from dealing with debilitating injuries to finding secure housing and employment. Through DAV’s Victories for Veterans Challenge, veteran supporters like you can assist our nation’s heroes in overcoming these hurdles by creating your own personal challenge from wherever you are.

Now, throughout May—Military Appreciation Month—you can show your appreciation to our nation’s veterans by dedicating the month to run, walk, ride or roll all the miles you can in recognition of the challenges our veterans face.

 

 

Dav Challenge

1. Decide what you’ll challenge yourself to do. No challenge is too big or too small — pick a fitness goal personal to you. Then sign up online to officially join the Victories for Veterans Challenge and set your goal.

2. Ask your friends and family to contribute to your fundraising page to make your impact go further.

3. Track your progress toward your goal. You can link your fitness tracker directly to your page or manually log your miles.

If veterans nationwide need our help to achieve their victories and live high-quality lives, we will continue to challenge ourselves. How far will you go?

We’re here to help if you have any questions. You can reach us at events@dav.org or 1-877-426-2838 ext. 1340.

We look forward to challenging ourselves with you this month!

DAV Challenge