Kirstie Ennis: Going “Full Throttle”

Kirstie Ennis

By Brady Rhoades

Veteran Kirstie Ennis is one of the best Paralympian snowboarders in the world, and she’s also eying the seven great summits, recently climbing 19,341-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and 16,024-foot Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. On one leg.

As a Marine Corps sergeant. in Afghanistan—a helicopter door gunner—she wrecked a leg when the helicopter she was in crashed. That leg was amputated above the knee in 2015.

Her jaw was destroyed, she lost teeth, she injured discs in her spine, and she suffered facial lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD.

In the process of undergoing more than 40 surgeries, she came to a realization, acquiring a come-to-terms toughness and wisdom that would help motivate her to train as a snowboarder for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang County, in the Gangwon region of South Korea.

And to attempt to conquer the tallest peaks on all seven continents.

Countless times a day, she repeats one of her mantras: Stop worrying about what you lost. Look at what you’ve got. Or: What counts is what’s behind your rib cage and six inches between your ears.

She’s only 26, but her near-death experience offered an invaluable lesson on how precious time is.

“I go full throttle,” she said. “I come up with obnoxious goals and I go after them.”

It’s hard to believe that this fifth-gear athlete chasing Paralympian goals—and literally ascending historic heights for an above-the-knee-amputee mountain climber—spent months in hospital beds, nearly lifeless, filled with doubt, enveloped in depression. She wondered how she’d ever get around, go on. What would she do? Would she ever wear a dress again? Would anyone ever be attracted to her?

Idle time can be a wounded warrior’s worst enemy. Fathers can be their best friends.

“Dad said, ‘People in the Middle East couldn’t kill you, and now you’re going to collapse?'” she recalls. “The light went on and I said, ‘I made it home. Nobody owes me a damn thing.'”

Kirstie Ennis

Ennis had to mine for the toughness that is at her core, but her sense of humor? That comes effortlessly.

The same year her leg was amputated, she participated in the Walking with the Wounded event, in which wounded warriors trek 1,000 miles, ending at Buckingham Palace in London. Ennis left dozens of dog tags bearing the names of fallen comrades along the way. She also met Prince Harry, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry, not one to shirk his duties, logged many miles during the event. At one point, he turned to Ennis and complained that his knee ached.

“I looked over and was like, ‘That’s (expletive) cute, really,’” Ennis said. Prince Harry cracked up.

Ennis and Prince Harry became fast friends. At the conclusion of her walk, she presented the final dog tag to him.

Their embrace was photographed and zoomed across the wires, making her a celebrity in a matter of minutes.

For her service to the country, Ennis has earned the NATO Medal, Combat Action Wings with three gold stars, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan National Campaign Medal, two Letters of Appreciation, Certificate of Commendation, and a Certificate of Appreciation.

But who says you can’t be uber-tough and sexy?

ESPN called, asking her to grace the cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s 2017 Body Issue, with rather risqué photos of her on the inside pages. They wanted her to climb Joshua Tree, sans clothes.

She had her doubts. But Ennis tends to run toward challenges, toward fear.

“I thought about it and considered the demographic and the people Kirstie Ennisthat would see it, and I realized that it wasn’t about me anymore,” she said. “Any man, woman, or child facing some sort of adversity has the potential to be inspired by these pictures of someone who has only been missing her leg for a few years go out and do things she wasn’t doing with two legs.”

Ennis appeared in the Body Issue, along with other great athletes, such as Javier Baez (baseball), A.J. Andrews (softball), and Malakai Fekitoa (rugby).

The daughter of two Marines, Ennis enlisted out of Florida when she was 17 years old, in 2008. She served for four years as a helicopter door gunner and airframes mechanic when disaster struck on June 23, 2012.

While on her second deployment in Afghanistan, Ennis’ CH-53D helicopter crashed in the Helmand Province.

Badly injured, she fought to remain on active duty but was medically retired in 2014. After her below-the-knee amputation on November 23, 2015, Ennis contracted the antibiotic-resistant MRSA and, because of a resulting infection, doctors were forced to remove her knee a month later.

“A below-the-knee amputation is night-and-day from above-the-knee,” she said. “You have to relearn everything. You’re basically a toddler.”

When she was told that surgeons would have to perform above-the-knee surgery, she said she “lost it.” She cried. She wailed.

“It’s one curveball after another,” she said.

She still struggles, emotionally. “I’d be lying if I said it’s easy,” she said.

Two years after her life-altering surgery, she’s adapted, and she’s developed coping skills, which is a critical component of recovery.

Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t.

Set lofty goals.

Stay busy.

And true to her military training, be of service to others.

“When I’m having a bad day, I help someone who’s missing three limbs,” she said. “There’s this common misconception about what strength is. In the grand scheme of things, we’re in this together. You have to realize that you have to turn to somebody.”

Some of her best days involving helping other wounded warriors—whether it be through her notoriety as a star Paralympian or simply visiting a hospital.

“I know I’m on a platform,” she said. “I want to inspire people to reach their potential.”

She recalls a wounded warrior uttering eight words that she’ll never forget and that make her journey—as harrowing as it has been—worth it.

“You inspired me to walk another 10 steps,” the woman said.


True Car Announces New Partnership for DrivenToDrive Program with Disabled American Veterans (DAV)


DrivenToDrive, a program created to help injured veterans get back behind the wheel, is seeking entries for one deserving veteran to win a vehicle

COLD SPRING, KY (March 15, 2018) —  TrueCar Inc. announced today it is partnering with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) as part of its DrivenToDrive program. DAV is a non-profit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families, helping more than 1 million veterans in positive life-changing ways each year. Launched late last year, DrivenToDrive honors injured American veterans by helping them get back behind the wheel of a retrofitted vehicle.

In celebration of the new partnership with DAV, active members of the military, veterans or immediate family members can enter to win a vehicle through March 18, 2018 at

“DAV is grateful to partner with TrueCar and their DrivenToDrive program, which is designed to help the brave men and women who served our country regain their freedom and independence,” said Marc Burgess, CEO of DAV. “Awarding a vehicle is a special way to recognize the sacrifices a veteran made and dramatically improve his or her quality of life. We’re additionally grateful to TrueCar for supporting DAV’s mission to honor our heroes and make them aware of the assistance we provide at no cost.”

“Driving is an expression of freedom and independence,” said Lucas Donat, Chief Brand Officer at TrueCar. “Helping injured veterans, those that have sacrificed so much for our freedom, to drive again is a cause close to our heart. Last year we had such an incredible response that we are excited to open up the contest again, and we’re honored to be working with DAV.”

This marks the second year TrueCar is running it’s DrivenToDrive vehicle giveaway. Last year, TrueCar presented the keys to a brand-new cargo van to its first-ever winner.

For more information about DrivenToDrive and its mission please visit

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 Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. TrueCar media line: +1-844-469-8442 (US toll-free)

About DAV

DAV is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans of all generations 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; linking veterans and their families to employment resources; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a nonprofit organization with more than 1 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at

4 Financial Tips for Transitioning Veterans and Spouses

Financial Tips

By Alecia D. Blair

Whether you have spent four or 24 years following your service member around the country and world, don’t forget that your spouse’s separation or retirement from the military is your military transition, too.

During a military transition, you will tackle challenges pertaining to your family’s financial readiness (spending plan and emergency savings), your career, and your own retirement savings. But don’t sweat it. As a military spouse and planner extraordinaire, you’ve been coming up with plans A, B, C, and D for years. You will take on this challenge just as you have any other in the military—with resilience and grace. You’ve got this, and we are here to help.

Check out four tips to help you pre-plan for your transition away from military life.

1 Revisit the family spending plan.

Does your family already have a spending plan (budget)? If so, that’s great. It’s time to adapt it. If you don’t have a spending plan, having a realistic, conservative one is essential to a smooth military transition.

Check out the Transition toolkit on for tips to compare your service member’s military to civilian compensation and benefits. If you need to start from scratch, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Check out SaveandInvest’s and USAA Education Foundation’s information on spending plans/worksheets.

When modifying your spending plan for a military transition, you will be losing tax breaks when you transition out of military life, so take this into account. If you need a second set of eyes on your spending plan (and financials in general), visit your installation’s financial readiness/education office and speak to a personal financial counselor for free.

Remember, communication is key. Make sure you and your service member are on the same page about the family financials.

2  Do you still need an emergency fund? Yes! Now more than ever.

Having a healthy emergency fund is always in style, especially if your family is moving beyond the military.

The benefits your service member receives (housing, health care, taxes, etc.) will change a lot in the civilian world, so having at least three to six months of emergency savings will help your family better handle financial surprises instead of taking on debt. As FINRA Investor Education Foundation plainly puts it, “Expect to pay more money out of pocket than you’re used to.”

3  Now’s your time. What do you want to do?

Chances are you’ve followed your service member around from duty station to duty station for a while. As a result of his or her service, your professional and/or education options have been limited. So now may be the time to ask yourself, “What do I want to do?”

Is now the right time to return to school? In many cases, a service member can transfer his or her GI Bill to a spouse or dependents, so look into this option. Proceed with caution before taking on debt to return to school. Plot your course carefully, and look for creative ways to reduce education expenses whenever possible.

Is a career or job change in your future? If so, dust off that résumé and polish it up. Many military installations offer free resume and job preparation services, so visit a location close to you.

4  Are you contributing toward your own retirement? You should be.

If you aren’t already contributing to your own retirement account, now is a great time to do this for many reasons:

  • Employment changes may allow you to save more toward retirement.
  • There are often tax advantages to saving toward retirement.
  • Your retirement savings account will help supplement your service member’s retirement, which means a higher standard of living in your golden years.
  • Plus, seeing your own retirement savings account increase is empowering.

Look for opportunities to invest in your retirement through your employer’s sponsored plan or through an individual retirement account (IRA), among other options. And if you’re already saving for retirement, can you now afford to save more?

Change is constant in the military. A military transition is a major change for you, too. This is a perfect opportunity for you, as a military spouse, to ask yourself what’s next and guide your family into this next chapter and toward a solid financial future.

About the Author
Alecia D. Blair is the Military Saves communications project manager, AFC® candidate, and FINRA Foundation fellow.


Military Spouses on a Mission—Creating meaningful employment for those at home

R.Riveter Handbag Owners

The company R.Riveter was born from a patriotic mission to combat the often invisible contributions American military spouses make in support of their service members.

Their sacrifice on center stage is one that takes both an economic and emotional toll on military families across the nation. As military families move on average, once every 2.9 years, it’s often difficult for them to find and keep meaningful employment. In fact, the unemployment rate among military spouses is 42 percent, despite the fact that 85 percent want or need to work.

In 2011, military spouses Cameron Cruse, pictured above right, and Lisa Bradley, pictured above left, decided to stop being part of the problem and create a solution. What started as a dream in a small attic with one sewing machine and a bit of canvas has turned into a national remote manufacturing network, helping to create income for more than 100 military families across the country.

“Military spouse unemployment is an incredibly important issue that must be addressed. Every military spouse can relate to our story. This transient life makes it so hard to find and hold onto meaningful employment, and that’s why we created R.Riveter. We knew we could create stability with a remote manufacturing network. Everyone told us our model was a terrible idea—but we made it work. And it’s thriving,” said Lisa Bradley, R.Riveter CEO and cofounder.

R.Riveter handbags are made from authentic military or military-inspired materials. From hand-stitched liners to hand-cut leather, each R.Riveter handbag is crafted with a thoughtful, genuine purpose. Military spouses across the country sew parts and pieces of each bag, and parts are sent to R.Riveter’s FabShop outside of Ft. Bragg for assembly. From evening clutches and functional crossbody bags to large totes appropriate for work or travel, R.Riveter crafts handbags for every occasion.

An American success story, Shark Tank winner, Inc. 500 nominee, and RRiveter-handbagshandbag company on a mission, R.Riveter is looking forward to continue to change the face of American manufacturing, helping military families along the way.

R.Riveter has been recognized for its success on a national level. After securing a deal of investment and partnership with Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban in 2016, the company experienced year-over-year growth of 630 percent and $2.4 million in revenue. Most recently, Inc. ranked R.Riveter No. 298 on its 36th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small and midsized businesses. Companies, such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names, gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000.

Handbag-RRiveter“Making the Inc. 500 is an incredible milestone to celebrate. We’ve come so far since starting R.Riveter in 2011, but this is just the beginning. Our company has its sights set on a really big mission to combat military spouse unemployment, and we’ve only just begun,” said Cameron Cruse, R.Riveter cofounder.

  1. Riveter is a handbag company known nationwide for combating employment issues military spouses face while living a transient life. Cofounders Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley created a national remote manufacturing network to provide mobile, flexible income for spouses of America’s military members to earn regardless of where they live and how often they move. A Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and a 2016 deal on ABC’s hit TV show, Shark Tank, launched R.Riveter into the national spotlight. The company now creates hundreds of handbags a week.

For more information, contact: R.Riveter, Lisa Zimmermann, (262) 227-4314

“America’s Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities” Announced


Today, OMNIKAL announced “America’s Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities”,  known as the “Omni50.”

The Omni50 represent the top 50 U.S. organizations who are awarding the most business to the growing culturally diverse marketplace. These same organizations are also successfully appealing to the growing millennial generation, which, by 2020, will be the largest diverse market segment in America (a market segment that is forcing brands to evolve from minority/diversity paradigms to inclusion).

Apple Inc. was named the #1 Organization for Multicultural Business Opportunities in the United States. Other companies at the top of the winners list include: Walmart Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation,AT&T Inc., IBM, The Coca-Cola Company, Bank of America, Raytheon Company, Verizon, General Motors Company, Time Warner Inc., PepsiCo Inc., United Parcel Service, Cisco Systems, Inc., Colgate-Palmolive Company, Altria Group and The Kroger Company.

Who are the Omni50?

The Omni50 represents the voice of OMNIKAL’s 2,100,000 members. The list is circulated by over 1000 organizations, which reaches millions of consumers every year. Since 1999, it has become a highly valued metric of excellence in reaching the diverse and inclusive majority marketplace.

The Omni50 Awards is the most recognized honor for diversity and inclusion in the country.  These award-winning companies truly differentiate themselves in the marketplace in a time when inclusion has become one of the most important goals of every organization. It is also at a time when public recognition is key to ongoing financial, ethical, social and cultural success.

“The inclusion practices of the “Omni50” Awardees have changed the course of our current economy and as a result, the world as we know it” said Kenton Clarke, CEO of OMNIKAL. “The changing multicultural and multi-generational landscape of our country has demanded this evolution. OMNIKAL is proud to have been a force in the business world for such positive change. Our mission and goal is to equalize, broaden and level the playing field for both brands and an increasingly varied vendor/supplier marketplace.”

Top Honors for Top Organizations Who Do the Right Thing

Most “top” lists honor companies for traditional economic growth, shareholder returns and similar metrics; however, the Omni50 awards are an indicator of which organizations provide the best business opportunities to the increasingly inclusive majority marketplace. This, in turn, influences more organizations, as they compete for market share in multicultural and multigenerational communities.

The Business Power of Inclusion

As the culturally diverse market gains more buying power, corporations have to focus their efforts on rebranding and reorganizing to avoid losing market share and to remain current and relevant.

The Omni50 list has therefore become the most critical guide for businesses as well as consumers. “As a business owner, I appreciate the business we receive from corporate buyers; and in turn, when I buy either personally or for my company, I am more likely to buy from the same companies that support my business or are supporting businesses like mine,” said Kathy Steele, principle of Red Caffeine headquartered in Elmhurst, Illinois.


OMNIKAL was founded in 1999. Now the Nation’s largest inclusive business organization, OMNIKAL promotes entrepreneurship and the belief that entrepreneurs create real world solutions to today’s business and economic challenges. By fostering deeper and broader collaboration between business owners and entrepreneurial support organizations, the OMNIKAL network fuels healthier ecosystems through job creation, professional development and drives innovation resulting in strong economic growth.


Click here to see the full list of companies

There just isn’t any better way to salute the military and veterans from Country Singers, than to dedicate a CMT video to them.


Country Music Stars have kept new and old soldiers near and dear to their hearts and dedications for decades. And now a song and video, by rising Country Singer, Rosemarie, “Since You Let Me Go” does just that!

The song and video are on their way to Military soldiers and Veterans Associations around the World!  To commemorate a Celebration for those who defend our freedom, a special all afternoon concert and “thank you” are planned at the Biggest Fairgrounds in Lebanon, TN.  It will be taking place at the Wilson Pike Fairgrounds, this April 15th 2018. Who better than all-time favorite of the military other than Lee Greenwood, as the headliner with Rosemarie opening up for him and singing her CMT video song, “Since You Let Me Go.”  The show is to benefit the Operation Stand Down in Tennessee.

The video keeps audience’s attention with its fast action and drama of a short film which tells a story through time travel.  It reminds us of the struggles and hardships of loved ones leaving their families and sweethearts to go to war.  Sometimes for a very long time, and for others, never to return.

The video starts out in present time as Rosemarie’s band is setting Rosemarieup for a show.  As she turns and looks into the distance, she believes she sees her sweetheart from many years ago wearing his Military suit from WW2. She calls to him and runs frantically calling for him to stop.  As he proceeds down a hallway and out a door, he is gone.  As she cautiously opens the door, she finds herself back in time in the 1940’s during WW2.  After 3 hours of makeup and hair design, the room and actors have transformed back in time and we see the sweethearts as they danced back in the day for the first time.

A tribute concludes ….. Thanks to the greatest generation for all you did for America!

Rosemarie was born with the desire to perform and sing as a small child. “At 4 and a half I got the “fire in the belly” and have thought about it every day of my life since!!  I spent every day singing along to music and this is how I learned to sing.  It’s something that has to come out of my body and spirit.” “SOME PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD ARE BORN TO DO A CERTAIN THING.    I WAS BORN TO SING”.

“My singing has been my dream and my endeavor alone. I’ve had no Teachers, Mentors, No Publicity, No Financial Support, No Sponsors, Investors, No Family Support, No Voice Lessons, No Agents,  No Connections for Gigs   ……….  JUST ME AND THE DRIVE TO DO IT.  IT’S MY PURPOSE IN LIFE”.

On June 8, 2017 she risked it all and moved 3,000 miles to Nashville, TN with only her Boston Terrier Buster, and made it her second home.  On June 29, 2017 Redridge Entertainment in Nashville created the story to her song “SINCE YOU LET ME GO,” and filmed it.  By the end of August it was edited an finished. Brian Nutter, who tours with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban plays the lead guitar on the video song, “Since You Let Me Go!!!” He makes the guitar sound like a sexy saxophone!

RosemarieRosemarie, a natural born entertainer and vibrant multi-talented stage personality has been exciting the Country Music community with her stellar concerts. “I always think about performing and remember the compliments and happy faces from the audiences during my performances!”  She has performed for tens of thousands of people from every walk of life in the San Francisco Bay Area! Her newly released CD has 5 of her original debut songs written by Nashville writers and produced by Rick Durrett of Rick Durrett Productions and Gary Sadker of RedRidge Entertainment, in Nashville, along with the cover tune “Round the Clock Lovin’ by KT Oslin from back in the 1980’s.

Chris Leuzinger, one of Garth Brooks G men for 25 years, takes lead on, “Cry ‘n Try Again”, “Do Me A Favor”, “Let the Stranger In” and KT Oslin’s, “Round The Clock Lovin’”. Chris was inducted into the Nashville Music Hall of Fame, June 2016. He can play like no one else.


The world is finally hearing Rosemarie’s music on a worldwide scale.  AVA Live radio played her song, “Behind Those Eyes” from her Album, January 3, 2018.  It went out to 800,000 listeners internationally.  Jaqueline Jax did a 15 minute live interview after playing her song.  After just 4 weeks they could measure that more than 400,000 listeners had clicked and listened to her interview with the number climbing every day. “Since You Let Me Go” has been released to Midwestern mid-level radio markets and Aritso Management group will be sending out her CMT video to multiple TV stations to get air play.  Be on the look out to see her name in print. She secured a spot at the Radio Convention in February 2018 which is hard to do.  She wowed the radio disc jockeys and producers, many who had never heard her rich timber and unique voice.

And so, what is her plan? Besides having achieved the titles of Corporate Manage, Teacher and Volunteer for Kaiser Hospital and Medical Center in CA and a Volunteer on the San Ramon Library Board and Director of the Jazz Concerts……….Her goal is to raise money for the DISABLED VETERANS OF AMERICA ORGANIZATION, but more importantly to spend time with the disabled from the wars.

“A pang of sorrow tugs at my heart strings whenever I see a Veteran who has been permanently disabled!” I know their lives have been changed forever.  Everything has changed and will probably never be the same again!!  Every minute of every day is hard.  Every hour.  It takes a deep strength down in your body and soul to keep going.  And often times they don’t. I want to be there for them with my music but also with the touch of my hand giving support and hope and encouragement to the disabled and those who have lost limbs.  What a daily, and honestly, hourly struggle to get through life like this.  Permanently changed.  Changed forever. How often it is for other people to forget that they have to fight their disability with courage every day.  Tasks that were every day occurrences now are a struggle.  How often, as is human nature, we forget.  We get tired of seeing them struggle.  Being reminded life can be rough and we stop helping. My goal is to let them know, they are not forgotten.  Give them a happy moment through my music, knowing someone cares and loves them but also understands human suffering on their level. My goal is to have 4 concerts year dedicated to the military and veterans engaging performers like Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood.  An appreciation, but to let soldiers know “We haven’t forgotten.”

“I want to visit the disabled once a month and provide love and encouragement through my music and a touch of my hand and human caring. I understand what it’s like.  I really do. At a very young age of 25 my husband and I both became disabled for a very very long time.  I had an injury to my mouth and large nerve that runs from the brain down through the teeth and jaw.  Trigeminal Neuralgia.  Listed as one of the top 10 most painful afflictions known to mankind.  Life as I knew it was worth less.  I had no quality of life.  Shocking unbearable nerve pain every day 24/7 for 8 years without any relief.  I lost the will to live. Only to find out 2 years later, my handsome husband and National Athlete Winner for the hi-hurdles in College, was to have a brain tumor the size of a golf ball inside his head.  After 2 long 10 hour surgeries, he lost all his hearing on one side with constant pain throughout his body and now had only the energy of an 80 year old man.  He was disabled, couldn’t work for the remainder of his life.  Puttered around the house and fed our animals. His nick name prior to this was “Hercules.”  Family and friends didn’t want to hear we weren’t doing well after a while.  We had to be okay, didn’t we?  We were young and beautiful and had the world by the tale.  They soon dropped off one by one and we didn’t talk about it anymore.  We realized it was just a tendency of human nature”.

“I want to be the support person for these soldiers.”  I want to be the Clara Barton of our time who soothed the souls and the wounds of the soldiers during the Civil War. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT TO ME:  You need to keep giving your gift of singing back into the world.  You need to make others happy, even if it’s for a moment, and heal the hurt in the world.  You need to say “thank you” for the gift.” And so I will “carry on my mission”, and wage the war to fight for them with my voice and compassion, with my first major concert for the Military and on and on it will continue……never to forget”!

View the video and listen to her music below!

2018 Gerber Baby comes from Army National Guard family

man and woman holding child

Georgia Army National Guard Spc. Jason A. Warren, an aircraft powertrain repairer with the Marietta, Georgia-based Company D, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, and his wife Cortney garnered national media attention on Feb. 9 when their son Lucas was named the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby.

The Warrens were amazed when they received the news of Lucas’ win.

“Absolute shock,” said Jason. “It was hard to believe he won out of 140,000 entries.”

Lucas, diagnosed with Down Syndrome, is the eighth Gerber baby since the contest began in 2010. Inspired by the original Gerber baby sketch of Ann Turner Cook, families began sharing their baby photos with Gerber. In response, Gerber launched its first official photo search competition in 2010.

“We hope this opportunity sheds light on the special needs community and educates people that with acceptance and support, individuals with special needs have potential to change the world,” said Cortney. “Just like our Lucas.”

The Warrens hope other families with special needs children can look to Lucas as a source of inspiration.

“We hope this will help people kick-start their own lives and give them more confidence,” said Jason. “They might think if Lucas can do this, what can I do in my life?”

The winning photo shows Lucas, sitting in an overstuffed chair, grinning from ear to ear wearing a black and pink polka-dot bow tie.

“He is very outgoing and never meets a stranger,” said Cortney. “He loves to play, loves to laugh and to make other people laugh.”

“He is just the absolute cutest thing ever,” said Staff Sgt. Misty D. Crapps, supply sergeant with Company D,171st Aviation Regiment. “He always smiles at everybody he sees.”

Jason looks forward to continued service in the Georgia Army National Guard. He feels a sense of pride and family being part of the organization.

“I absolutely love the Guard: the ability to help my community and serve my country,” said Jason. “The benefits of service are always great to have, and it allows me to serve my country the way I want to.”

Continue onto the U.S. Army Newsroom to read the complete article.

Hilton Offering Jobs and Free Hotel Stays


Hilton has a long legacy of supporting the military, dating back to its founder, Conrad Hilton, a U.S. Army veteran who served in World War I. In August 2013, Hilton launched Operation: Opportunity, with a commitment to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2018. The company accomplished that goal two years ahead of schedule and is now committing to hire an additional 20,000 military hires by the end of 2020. Veterans and their spouses are a natural fit at Hilton because of the company’s shared values with the military, like leadership, integrity and teamwork.

Hilton is now offering a unique benefit to veterans: free hotel stays for job-hunt related travel.

Here’s how it works: Veterans who need to travel for any job-related activity, in any industry, can register with their local employment office and receive 100,000 Hilton Honors points to cover their lodging. Veterans most commonly use the program when they’re traveling out of town for interviews, trainings and certifications. Hilton partners with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies to donate points throughout the year—and more than 1,100 veterans have benefitted from Hilton’s 1.2 million points donated to date.

The Points donation program is one of many ways Hilton is using its business of hospitality to support active duty military, veterans and their families. A few others include:

  • Discounted stays: Active and retired military and their families receive a 10 percent discount at all of Hilton’s 14 hotel brands
  • Military spouse career program: Hilton has developed dedicated career paths that accommodate the unique challenges military spouses and their families face. Military spouses often have trouble finding jobs when the family relocates. Hilton’s work-from-home program offers virtual training, remote working options that can relocate with employees, and flexible schedules for better work-life balance.


12 Ways to Land That Civilian Job


You’ve proven your commitment, discipline, and resourcefulness in the military world. Now it’s time to trade in your experience for a great job. Just like everything, it’s all about readiness and attitude. Start early. Be prepared. Go for it.

1. First step, verify yourself. Your Verification of Military Experience and Training summarizes your skills, knowledge and experience, and suggests civilian equivalent job titles. Get yours through the Department of Defense at the Transition GPS website.

2. Get a career assessment. You have considerable strengths and skills. Now, how can they be applied to a civilian job? A career assessment can point the way. Military installation Transition Centers can set you up with a test at no cost.

3. Translate your experience into Civilian. Your military licenses or certifications might not be recognizable to the civilian world. Search your service branch’s Credentialing Opportunities Online site to learn how to translate training and experience into skills employers recognize.

4. Assess, repeat. Narrow your search to a few career fields and check salary information and common skill requirements. Decide on the type of job, pay range, and location you’re willing to accept. But don’t pigeon-hole yourself. If you’re not making headway, adjust your expectations or explore new options.

5. Get out there. Take advantage of every opportunity: recruiters, military transition offices, even old-school help wanted ads. Contact your nearest employment office or private employment agencies (make sure you know who’s paying). Check Internet job sites—but watch it. Get recommendations about trustworthy sites.

6. Tap your transition assistance offices. Take an employment workshop. Get referrals for employment agencies and recruiters, job leads, career counseling, and computer access for online job searches. Transition assistance offices have a wealth of services.

7. Look good online. Employers check social media almost immediately when they’re thinking of hiring. Do you need to remove material that makes you look like a bad hire? Get a grown-up email address? How about creating or updating your profile on LinkedIn?

8. Hit the job fairs. This is one-stop shopping. Meet potential employers, pass out resumes, and interview on the spot, all in one place. Look sharp and practice your interview skills beforehand. Learn about upcoming job fairs and who will be there at your transition office as well as online.

9. Go from military to Fed. Find civilian jobs online with the federal government through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. You can also create an account and build your résumé at USAJOBS. Brush up on the website’s process before submitting your résumé by taking the online workshop for federal employment and searching for TGPS courses.

10. Be a civilian in the military. Find civilian jobs online through the Air Force Civilian Service, Navy Civilian Human Resources, or Civilian Personnel Online for the Army.

11. Network, then network some more. Networking is one of the most effective of all job search tools. You’ve made a lot of great connections during your time in the service. Transition is the right time to start putting them to work. Get in touch with friends and fellow veterans. It’s a good thing to re-establish friendships as you transition.

12. Take advantage of your status. Many organizations are committed to helping veterans find a good job. Look for groups with programs like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative. Check out organizations like Soldier for Life, Marine for Life, the Military Officers Association of America, Non Commissioned Officers Association or Enlisted Association, and United Service Organizations.

Your military experience is valuable to many employers. Not many people have your proven work ethic and dedication. Like everything, finding the right job is a matter of being prepared and doing the work. You’re in the military. You know how to make that happen. And there are lots of people and resources who want to back you up.


Award-Winning Actress Sharon Stone, Navy SEAL Jason Redman Attend Los Angeles Fundraiser for Warfare Disability to Benefit the Combat Wounded Coalition

Sharon Stone

Overcome Academy and The Combat Wounded Coalition hosted a February 15th Los Angeles fundraiser to raise awareness and support the sacrifices made by combat wounded warriors. Orchestrated by Retired Navy SEAL Jason Redman, a wounded warrior himself and founder of the Overcome Academy, the event at Peterson Automotive Museum included a live charity auction conducted by award-winning actress, activist and philanthropist Sharon Stone to support the missions of the Overcome Academy and The Combat Wounded Coalition. Associate supporters were RM/Sotheby’s, Ferrari Financial Service, Bruce Meyer and Ferrari Lake Forest.

Retired Navy SEAL, Jason “Jay” Redman was severely wounded on a combat operation in Iraq in 2007. During his recovery, Redman and his wife founded and launched Wounded Wear, a non-profit organization committed to providing wounded warriors free clothing and clothing modifications based off Redman’s experiences with his own wounds and public reactions to his injuries. In 2015, Redman expanded Wounded Wear into the Combat Wounded Coalition.

The Combat Wounded Coalition™ is a nationally known Non-Profit Organization (Tax ID – 27-0426467) that inspires combat-wounded warriors, their families, and families of the fallen to Overcome through four program pillars – Pride – Power – Purpose and Peace. The Combat Wounded Coalition connects combat wounded warriors with vetted partner organizations to directly match and help fund warrior needs with partner services. The Combat Wounded Coalition then provides the oversight, management and accountability of warriors as they pass through the Four Pillar Pipeline tracking them before, during, and after receiving support and services provided by the CWC and our strategic partners.

In 2017, Redman observing and recognizing the growing difficulty

Jason Redman
Retired Navy SEAL Jason Redman Host of LA Fundraiser for Warfare Disability-Photo Credit: Darcy Fehringer-Mask

for wounded warriors to transition successfully back into civilian life, created the Overcome Academy, a ground-breaking program with support from licensed retired Navy psychologists, certified disability specialists, leadership and trauma experts, Old Dominion University, and The Combat Wounded Coalition.

The Overcome Academy is a brand new, curriculum-based program, based in Virginia, operated through Combat Wounded Coalition, that teaches leadership, resiliency and communication skills for wounded warriors to get them back into their communities as leaders working with schools, businesses and youth mentorship programs. Though there are many programs that help warriors find educational opportunities and employment opportunities, one of the key problems is many warriors do not know who they are in the civilian world yet. The Overcome Academy seeks to assist them to understand who they are; what their purpose and mission is and most importantly how to lead themselves to accomplish it. The purpose of the Overcome Academy is to teach returning warriors how to be leaders within their family, workplace and community; how to build structure within their own lives, lead themselves and then how to take that knowledge and use it to lead others. – Proceeds raised from this event will be targeted for the growth and development of the Overcome Academy. The first inaugural Overcome Academy class begins Feb 19th in Virginia Beach, VA.

Sharon Stone Photo Credit:
Darcy Fehringer-Mask


Long Beach Native helps train the Navy’s best pilots at TOPGUN


FALLON, Nev. – In Nevada’s high desert is the Navy’s premiere tactical air warfare training center, home to the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center and it’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, known to the world as TOPGUN. A 2000 Narbonne High School graduate and Long Beach, California, native is part of the Navy’s finest aviation fighter training facility in the world.

Petty Officer 1st Class Frank Blackman is an aviation machinist’s mate working with the Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Detachment stationed aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. As a Navy aviation machinist’s mate and first class petty officer, Blackman is responsible for supervising the maintenance of aircraft engines and their related systems while ensuring quality control and safety.

“I joined the Navy for a lifestyle change, to expand my horizons and explore new opportunities,” said Blackman.

TOPGUN began 48 years ago with the determination of nine pilots, the skepticism of the government and almost no budget as history would recall. In the early years it turned the tide of a losing air war in Vietnam, revolutionized military doctrine, inspired a Hollywood blockbuster and attracted and trained the best allied pilots and air crew from all over the world.

Blackman plays a crucial role in the overall mission that flies over 5,000 adversary sorties per year in support of the Navy and Marine Corp Active and Reserve fleet and replacement squadrons, carrier air wings and marine aircraft groups including the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National guard and Canadian Forces.

“Nowhere in the world does the Navy have the ability to train as we do in NAS Fallon,” said NAS Fallon Commanding Officer, Capt. David Halloran. “The Navy specifically chose NAS Fallon as the location for Top Gun and the Naval Special Warfare Tactical Ground Mobility Training Center because of the desert climate, mountainous terrain, and sophisticated ranges available in northern Nevada.  Every Carrier Air Wing and Navy Seal Team is required to receive the essential training provided here prior to being deployed in theater.”

According to Navy officials, TOPGUN is highly competitive and exposes Navy and Marine Corp pilots to the most demanding training scenarios in fighter aviation lead by some of the most talented pilots in the world. Each pilot is hand-selected for air-to-air and air-to-ground training and subsequently, as a TOPGUN instructor. “I’m the first in my family to serve in the military,” said Blackman. “I’m proud of my five Navy Achievement Medals and the being a part of the humanitarian assistant response after the tsunami in Thailand.”

Blackman also said they are proud to serve at the center of excellence for naval aviation, training and tactics development.

The future of U.S. aviation depends on the Navy’s ability to achieve their vision for defeating tomorrow’s air threats with the support of the ground crews and pilots.

“Serving in the Navy gives me the opportunity to provide for my family,” added Blackman. “I love the camaraderie and close-knit community.”

Lt. Bridget Mitchell, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo by-
Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward