‘Operation Deep Dive’ To Examine Veteran Suicide Causes and Factors

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Veteran Suicide

— America’s Warrior Partnership and University of Alabama Partner to Conduct First-of-its-Kind, Four-Year Research Initiative –

WASHINGTON – December, 2017 – America’s Warrior Partnership, University of Alabama researchers and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation have partnered on a four-year, $3.9 million research study that will examine the factors and potential causes involved in suicides and early mortality due to self-harm among military veterans. Funded by a $2.9 million grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, as well as additional investment from America’s Warrior Partnership and other in-kind supporters, “Operation Deep Dive” will use unique methodologies that have never before been applied to the research of veteran suicides. The goals of the research study are to identify the risk factors that lead to suicide within veteran communities and help guide the development of programs to prevent and reduce self-harm among veterans.

“This research endeavor is the first time that community environments will be incorporated into the research process, giving us a whole new level of insight into potential factors of veteran suicides,” said Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership and founder of the Community Integration model. “Studies to date have generalized the indicators of suicide without a focus on the role the community may play. Leveraging our organization’s focus on veterans and the communities in which they live, work and receive support services, combined with University of Alabama’s exceptional research team and unique approach, gives us a broader yet more specific perspective on veteran suicide risk factors.”

Operation Deep Dive is innovative in that it will study veterans across the spectrum of service, gender and lifespan. Conducted in two phases, the year-long Phase I will begin with a five-year retrospective investigation of the impact of less-than-honorable discharges on veteran suicides and suspected suicides, as well as the differences in suicide rates between those who received and did not receive support services from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).

“Previous research has focused primarily on individual-level risk factors, like prior suicide attempts, mood disorders, substance abuse and access to lethal means, but suicide is a complex phenomenon and those factors don’t paint the whole picture,” said Dr. David L. Albright, Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health and associate professor in the School of Social Work at The University of Alabama, and co-principal investigator of the study.

Phase II will incorporate the findings from Phase I into a three-year study that will include input from medical examiners, mental health experts, veterans and family members to conduct a “sociocultural autopsy” of all new or suspected suicides in America’s Warrior Partnership’s seven affiliate communities. This individualized data and a chronology of the veteran’s last year will be analyzed using a geospacial technique to identify trends, patterns, and indicators of former service members who take their lives. This same deep dive will occur in other communities where Community Integration is not yet active to provide a comparison. The results will explore how community context and engagement with local veterans affect the prevention of suicides.

“The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committed to helping veterans and reducing the suicide rate among all those who have served in our nation’s armed forces,” says John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “This project will take a unique approach to better understand what is happening at the community level and develop predictive modeling procedures to identify those at most immediate risk.”

Drs. Karl Hamner, director of the Office of Evaluation for the College of Education, and David L. Albright, Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health and associate professor in the School of Social Work, are the principal investigators for University of Alabama on the study. Both Dr. Hamner and Dr. Albright are committee chairs for the Alabama Veterans Network (AlaVetNet), which connects Alabama veterans to resources and services. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey recently signed Executive Order 712, which tasks the group in helping reduce and eliminate the opioid crisis as well as reducing the high veteran suicide rate.

America’s Warrior Partnership’s Community Integration model is active in nine communities across the country and has served nearly 37,000 veterans in three years. This model empowers communities through training, mentorship and structure to conduct proactive outreach to veterans by connecting existing resources and providing tools to create stronger collaboration among existing veteran service providers, bridging gaps in service wherever they may exist. The result is a more coordinated approach that holistically serves each veteran’s individual needs, ensuring no one slips through the cracks or does not receive essential support services.

About America’s Warrior Partnership

America’s Warrior Partnership is committed to empowering communities to empower veterans. We fill the gaps that exist between current veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with the veterans, military members and families in need: bolstering their efficacy, improving their results and empowering their initiatives. America’s Warrior Partnership is a force multiplier for warrior community integration that enhances communities where great Americans choose to live and contribute. For more information on the organization and how to get involved, visit www.AmericasWarriorPartnership.org.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committed to improving the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and addressing unmet medical need. The Foundation engages partners to develop, execute, evaluate and promote innovative programs to help patients with lung cancer and removing barriers to accessing care in the United States, HIV and comorbid diseases such as cervical and breast cancers and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa, hepatitis B and C in China and India and veterans’ mental health and well-being in the U.S. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, visit us at BMS.com/Foundation.

About The University of Alabama

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.

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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The Rob Riggle InVETational Golf Classic

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.

Tips for Veterans Who Want to Be Franchise Owners

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Veteran Enterpreneurs

Veterans and service members are looking into ownership of franchises like never before.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, roughly a quarter of all veterans are interested in starting their own businesses. Franchises are a very popular route to go for many of them. With the business framework already in place, opening a franchise is an easy way to enter the market.

Franchises are so popular that the International Franchise Association reported that 1 of every 7 franchises in America is owned by a veteran.

The number of veterans owning franchises may be so large because of all the help available to make business ownership possible. There are many tools veterans and their spouses can use to help make the decision to buy one of the numerous franchises.

Also hundreds of companies offer incentives for veterans to become a franchise owner. Here are a few things you need to consider if you are interested in franchises.

Veterans are buying into franchises at a record pace. Here are a few things to consider if you are interested in owning one.

Is buying into a franchise a good decision for my military family?

Many veterans and military spouses dream of owning their own business. “My husband wants to own a small bar when he retires. He has talked about it casually for years. I have always wanted to own a coffee shop. While we both dream of these things, I have to wonder if either of them will ever become a reality.”

Do you dream of owning a business? Would it be one of the thousands of franchises in America?

The first things you need to do when considering opening a business is to decide if owning a franchise is the right thing for you and your family.

Ask yourself the following four questions:

  1. Are you passionate about the industry you are considering?
  2. Is this merely a hobby you enjoy or will you actually like to take this on as a business?
  3. Is there room in the market for this business?
  4. Is this the right time in your life to open a business?

Think about your family’s circumstances, financial stability and viability of franchise ownership. If your family decides that owning one of the franchises available is the right move, then you need to look into how to choose one of the franchises.

How Do I Become a Franchisee?

Start your research with the U.S. Small Business Administration. They have a veterans business outreach center (VBOC) program. They offer services to help veterans with business training, counseling and referrals. This includes workshops on business development for issues such as being self-employed. There are business counselors available to help on a one-on-one instance as well.

The VBOC program also offers a feasibility analysis to help veterans determine if a business will be successful. They will review your business plan in doing so.

There are 8 things to do to own one of the franchises available in the United States. First, decide which type of franchise you would like to own. Next you should look to see what franchises are available in that industry. You will want to take into consideration the requirements to own a particular franchise in that segment. You should also research the market in the place you wish to open your business.

If all looks well, then you can send an inquiry to the franchise. You’ll need to fill out an application for the franchisor. They will want to see if you are a good candidate to own one of their franchises. When you get a reply, if it is positive you will need to think of the next steps. This will start with finances. You need to decide how you will fund purchasing a franchise.

What Incentives are Available to Veterans for Starting a Franchise?

Most businesses require a buy in and you might not have the startup money for it. Luckily, many businesses offer incentives and discounts for veterans to open one of their franchises.

There are 650 franchises listed with the International Franchise Association that offer these incentives and discounts for veterans and their spouses.

The Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, VetFran has helped 2,089 veterans become small-business owners with their financial incentives.

Politicians are getting into the spirit of veteran-owned businesses as well. The Veteran Entrepreneurs Act of 2017 was introduced at the beginning of the year. Its purpose is to provide entrepreneurship training to veterans and their spouses. The bill would amend the Small Business Act to include a female veteran’s business training program as well as one for disabled veterans. An outreach center will provide financial assistance including financial management, marketing advice, training and technical help.

Author
Kimber Green
Source: MilitaryShoppers.com

DAV’s Victories for Veterans Fitness Challenge

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DAV

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

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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Univision Communications Inc and We Are The Mighty Hit the Dance Floor with First-Ever “Salsa InVETational” for U.S. Military and Hispanic Community

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salsa dancing veterans

SAN ANTONIO – In recognition of National Military Appreciation Month in May, Univision Communications Inc. (UCI), the leading media company serving Hispanic America, and We Are The Mighty (WATM), the leading media brand for the military-veteran community, today announced their collaboration to stage the first-ever Salsa InVETational, a dance competition for active duty service members and military veterans. The day-long event celebrating the spirit of service and Hispanic culture in the military will take place on Saturday, May 12 in San Antonio, Texas at Hangar 9, Brooks Air Force Base from 2 pm-10 pm with Lackland Fisher House benefitting from donations and awareness.

Salsa dance therapy is considered an effective and fun way for veterans to build confidence, engage socially and transition to civilian life in addition to aiding the ongoing treatment of various physical conditions associated with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).

Service members and veterans will be the main event as they compete alongside their dance partners showcasing their best Latin dance moves for Salsa, Merengue and Bachata, vying for 1st place prize of $1,000 in each category and $500 for 2nd place. Festival activities, food and musical acts Oscar D’Leon, Messiah, Play-N-Skillz, and Fort Sam’s Own are scheduled during this celebration of America’s heroes as part of National Military Appreciation Month, a declaration that encourages U.S. citizens to observe the month in a symbol of unity.

Hispanics have a longstanding tradition of military service to our country. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs 2014 Minority Veterans Report, Hispanics comprise 12.4% of Post-911 veterans with more than one million Latinos currently in uniform.

“UCI is proud to join forces with We Are The Mighty to give back to our military veterans, their families and community,” said Chris Morris, Vice President and General Manager at UCI for San Antonio. “This event celebrates our military’s diverse and inclusive community and embraces the powerful contributions our veterans have made to our nation and beyond.”

“Salsa dancing nights have long been enjoyed by active duty military and veterans alike not only for therapeutic purposes, but as a cultural connection within the military community,” noted David Gale, CEO & Co-Founder, We Are The Mighty. “Salsa is also an opportunity for military and civilians to connect through the joy of dancing. We are grateful to Univision for partnering on this visionary, lifestyle event and are inspired by Lackland Fisher House and the work they do for San Antonio’s veterans and their families.”

Military and ex-military interested in participating with a partner must be at least 21 years of age. The next qualifying round is May 6 at Arjon’s International Club. Registration starts at 8 p.m. and the contest kicks off at 9:30 p.m. Five couples from each category will advance to the finals on May 12. For more information about Salsa InVETational participation requirements and festival information, please visit WeAreTheyMighty.com.

Salsa InVETational will be free to active duty military and veterans with proof of veteran status. Tickets are available for those interested in attending the event and can be purchased at myticketgenius.com.

Sponsors for Salsa InVETational include Cavender Toyota and Cavender Audi.

FedEx announced that Rumi Spice, a veteran-Owned business, is the grand prize winner of its sixth annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

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Rumi Spice

Rumi Spice Wins Grand Prize of $25,000, Plus $7,500 in FedEx Office Services

MEMPHIS, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–FedEx recently announced  that Rumi Spice – a Chicago-based business that sources and brings to market premier saffron from the fields of Afghanistan – is the grand prize winner of its sixth annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. Rumi Spice will receive a $25,000 grant, plus $7,500 in FedEx Office® print and business services to help them continue to grow their business both in the U.S. and internationally.

“We had many qualified entries into the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest this year, but Rumi Spice really embodied what we look for in a grand prize winner,” said Scott Harkins, senior vice president, Customer Channel Marketing at FedEx. “Not only did they see and pursue a viable business opportunity, but they have a demonstrated passion for connecting Afghanistan to the international marketplace. As a global company that connects people and possibilities around the world, FedEx appreciates this and we look forward to helping them take their business to the next level.”

The idea for Rumi Spice was born after co-founders Kimberly Jung, Keith Alaniz and Emily Miller, all former Army officers who served in the military in Afghanistan, connected with international tax attorney Carol Wang of the Afghan Rural Enterprise Development Program. They all saw the need to provide alternatives to opium farming and felt the only way to a sustainable future was through economic empowerment of the Afghan people. Since 2014, when it was founded as part of a startup program at Harvard Business School where Kimberly and Emily were students, the company has been working with rural Afghan farmers to grow and harvest top-quality, sustainably-farmed saffron. More than 1,900 Afghan women then work to hand-process the saffron during the five-week harvest season each year. Finally, the saffron is shipped to Rumi Spice in Chicago where it is packaged and sent to Michelin star restaurants and consumers all over the U.S.

The Rumi team, which aims to bring people together through food, is committed to empowering Afghan women and bolstering the Afghan economy by reinvesting in the local community, ultimately promoting peace and stability in this war-torn country.

“We are very excited to have been named the grand prize winner of the 2018 FedEx Small Business Grant contest,” said Kimberly Jung, CEO of Rumi Spice. “This grant will not only help us improve our supply chain logistics as we transport saffron out of Afghanistan, but it will help build a sustainable future for peace through the economic empowerment of rural farmers across the country.”

In addition to the grand prize, FedEx also awarded Drop Water of Menlo Park, Calif., $15,000, plus $5,000 in FedEx Office services.

The following eight businesses received $7,500 grants and $1,000 in FedEx Office services, as well:

“It’s an honor to award our print and business services to this year’s FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winners,” said Tracy Brightman, senior vice president of Human Resources and Communications for FedEx Office. “While these entrepreneurs are a driving force in the success of our economy, they’re also giving back to their local communities and we’re proud to fuel their contributions.”

The 2018 contest garnered more than 7,800 entries from candidates across the United States and more than 660,000 votes. Since its launch in 2013, more than 21,000 small businesses have entered the contest in the United States alone. The contest has now grown from one country to eleven countries and the grant pool for the U.S. contest has grown from $50,000 to more than $120,000 in total prizes.

FedEx. Solutions that Matter.® Helping Small Businesses.

The FedEx portfolio of services allows small businesses to gain access to the global marketplace and to shipping, logistics and printing solutions. For more information on how FedEx helps small businesses, please visit the FedEx Small Business Center at fedex.com/smallbusiness.

About FedEx Corp.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $64 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 425,000 team members to remain “absolutely, positively” focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. To learn more about how FedEx connects people and possibilities around the world, please visit about.fedex.com.

Ready for Take-Off: G-FORCE Launches National Veteran Franchise Initiative

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G-Force

BEDFORD, N.H. G-FORCE™, one of only two Veteran-focused franchise brands and the only one of its kind awarding franchises exclusively to Veterans, is ready for take-off. The New Hampshire-based concept, which provides expert parking lot striping and other pavement marking needs, seeks to provide business ownership opportunities to hundreds of military Veterans across the country with its one-of-a-kind franchise opportunity.

With one location already servicing various parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, G-FORCE™ hopes to open as many as 50 new units over the next 3-5 years. According to founder and CEO Jack Child, the expansion will be accomplished exclusively through franchising and will initially target various cities throughout California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Texas.

“We know the challenges many of our Veterans face when they return to civilian life and, while there are more resources and assistance programs than ever before to help, there’s always more that can and should be done,” said Child. “We want to do our part. We’ve created a one-of-a-kind, low cost franchise business opportunity just for Veterans.”

Child himself is a more than 10-year veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, having spent three years in the enlisted ranks of the U.S. Army and seven years in the U.S. Air Force as an officer and pilot. He also has seven years of experience in the pavement services and franchise industries.

With attention-grabbing, distinctive camouflage trucks and serviceG-Force trailers, state-of-the-art equipment and military-influenced logo and uniforms, G-FORCE™ has built its brand around today’s Veteran.

Founded in 2017, G-FORCE™ prides itself as the go-to resource for all things line striping and pavement marking – New Layout, Re-Stripe, ADA Compliance, Stencil Markings, Warehouse Flooring, Parking Structure Markings, Outdoor Basketball Courts, Athletic Field Markings and more. Other routine maintenance services G-FORCE™ franchisees may offer include: parking lot sign installation, sealcoating, crack sealing, hot and cold asphalt repairs, new paving, power washing and other property services.

“This is a stealth business that few know about, but one where the demand for our services is unquestionable,” said Child. “Look around. Parking lots are everywhere; strip malls, hospitals, office buildings, schools, municipal airports, town streets. They all require proper pavement markings by law. Somebody has to install them and somebody has to re-stripe them numerous times over.”

To augment the company’s growth, G-FORCE™ is seeking military Veterans, including active Guard or Reserve, interested in starting a business built on the values of integrity, reliability, respect, and precision, and one that ensures first class, military-style service. The franchise fee starts at just $5,000 and generally ranges between $7,500 and $15,000 depending upon territory size. The initial investment can start as low as $25,000.

G-Force“Veterans have the best leadership training in the world. In addition to coming from an integrity-focused background, they are mission-oriented and have a call to fulfill a higher purpose – all traits needed to run a successful business,” added Child. ‘With our low investment, G-FORCE™ is a more comfortable approach for Veterans to become entrepreneurs and answer the call.”

To date, G-FORCE™ has secured national corporate sponsorships for its Veteran initiative from GemSeal®, Sherwin-Williams®, Graco Industries® and The Pavement Stencil Company offering incentives such as a free traffic paint starter package and nationwide discount pricing for equipment and paints, over $7,000 in value, to each new G-FORCE™ franchisee.

To learn more on the G-FORCE™ franchise opportunity, please visit gogforce.com/parking-lot-striping-pavement-marking-franchise-opportunity/.

About G-FORCE

Founded in 2017 and franchising since 2018, G-FORCE™ is a franchise built by veterans for veterans that provides expert Parking Lot Striping, Pavement Marking, Sign Installation Services and more. Today, there is one location servicing various parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. For more information, visit gogforce.com.