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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‘Therapy on ice’ helps vets heal, give back to community

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By Gary Sheftick

The buzz of the crowd had Sgt. 1st Class Michael Vaccaro on edge. Then a loud bang made him look around nervously.

He knew the noise came from a Zamboni machine, yet its exhaust made him think of the aftermath of a roadside bomb.

All his stress melted away immediately, however, as soon as he stepped out onto the ice.

“When I’m on the ice, no matter what happened before, everything dissipates,” he said. “It’s like a fresh start.”

Vaccaro is one of the co-founders of the Capital Beltway Warriors, a hockey team of veterans with disabilities founded two years ago.

Veterans on the team open up to each other and talk about how they cope with injuries, stress and other issues, said retired Maj. David Dixon, another co-founder of the team.

“It’s like a giant support group,” he said, “or therapy on ice, as we like to call it.”

Many of the players have some level of post-traumatic stress disorder from service in Iraq, Afghanistan or other hot spots, Dixon said. He personally survived four deployments to Iraq, where he was shot in the back and shaken up by three different improvised explosive devices.

GIVING BACK

Dixon and a number of the other veterans also coach youth hockey teams and a few of them help with a local blind hockey team, the Washington Wheelers.

“Giving back to the community often gives them a sense of purpose,” Dixon said of the veterans, adding that it helps minimize depression and PTSD.

Dixon puts in more than 20 volunteer hours a week managing the Capital Beltway Warriors as president and executive director of the team. He helps solicit sponsors, run meetings, apply for grants, recruit players and schedule games.

His time on the ice as a player-coach is extra.

“In a sick kind of way, I enjoy all the hard work,” he said. “You go from commanding troops to working in a cubicle,” he said about retiring from the Army and beginning a civilian job.

He explained that managing the hockey team gives him a renewed sense of purpose.

“You find that niche in life that gives you purpose and whether it has a monetary award or not, that’s what you’re supposed to do,” he said.

He helps make the games special for the warriors with lights, music, an announcer and filling the stands with veterans. Local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion in northern Virginia help bring veterans from retirement homes to the games, Dixon said.

Vaccaro also spends several hours per week helping the Capital Beltway Warriors and other veteran hockey teams. He spends a week every year helping run the USA Hockey camp in Buffalo, New York, where they select the national sled hockey team.

He serves as a referee for blind hockey and sled hockey. He helps stand up other Warrior division hockey teams. In November, he spent a few days in Philadelphia helping the Flyers start a warrior team.

“This is my therapy,” he said of the volunteer work. “This is what keeps me going.”

SPREADING THE WORD

Just over two years ago, Vaccaro met up with Dixon who was interested in starting a Warrior hockey team in Virginia.

They met in the Pentagon food court in December 2016. “We sat down and started sketching stuff out on napkins,” Dixon said.

They laid out plans for a team that would play in rinks across Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland.

They found players by word of mouth. They showed up at “stick and shoot” sessions and asked if anyone was a military veteran with a disability rating.

Now they have 76 veterans with disabilities on the team and they play other warrior clubs. A game in Ashburn Dec. 22 pitted the USA Warriors from Maryland against the Capital Beltway Warriors. The teams also play in annual tournaments.

There are now 16 warrior teams across the United States. The minimum requirement to play on one of the teams is a 10 percent VA disability. Some of the players are 100 percent disabled and play with prosthetics.

Some of the veterans, like Vaccaro, have been playing hockey since they were 3 years old. Dixon, however, did not pick up the sport until he was 40.

RAMADI RPG

In 2006 and 2007, Vaccaro was an advisor to an Iraqi Army unit in Ramadi. He and two Marines were on patrol when they were pinned down by machine-gun fire. Then an insurgent fired a rocket-propelled grenade.

“It hit the wall in front of me and knocked me back. Next thing I remember, I heard this really loud ringing in my ears and there was a Marine dragging me back into the courtyard. They were calling for air support.

“We finished the patrol,” Vaccaro said, explaining aerial medical evacuation was not available. A doctor patched him up, and a couple of days later, he was back out on patrol.

After his tour in Iraq, he came back to Virginia, where he had been a reservist with the 80th Training Division. But he had PTSD issues. He decided to go to Liberia in western Africa as a contractor to help put about 2,000 Liberian soldiers through basic training.

“I thought that would help, but I just ended up coming back with the same issues,” he said. “That’s another thing: You can’t hide from this.

“Everybody handles PTSD in a different way. I tried the group therapy stuff and it just didn’t work.”

He received treatment and medication from Veterans Affairs, but the issues persisted. When he smelled fresh bread, for instance, it reminded him of the flatbread Iraqi soldiers baked every morning.

“That’s a good smell,” he said. But then his mind would continue to remember until he imagined the smell of an IED.

“You’ve got to face your fears. You’ve got to face your issues,” he said. “I was trying to hide from it and hockey has helped me open up and talk about it.”

About 10 years ago, he became involved in the first-of-its-kind USA Warrior hockey team stood up by a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland.

“When I’m on the ice, things slow down; things are different,” Vaccaro said.

Both he and his family noticed the difference in him after playing hockey.

“It really helped me,” he said. “The first thing I said to myself when I started realizing that is, ‘I’ve got to get other veterans involved in this.'”

So he became the national representative for USA Hockey in its Warrior division to help stand up teams. He does that in his spare time when he is not working as a civilian employee for the Army Corps of Engineers or on duty as an Army Reserve NCO.

Continue onto Army News to read the complete article.

World War II veteran gets 50,000 birthday cards after daughter’s plea

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Duane Sherman-Purple Heart Recipient

A 96-year-old World War II veteran from California will be spending plenty of time with family going through a mountain of birthday cards, after a request from his daughter on Facebook went viral.

Sue Morse had put out a request for friends to send birthday wishes to her father and Purple Heart medal recipient Duane Sherman, expecting she would get maybe 160 cards.

Instead, he received over 50,000.

“I was amazed, shocked and appreciative,” Sherman told the Orange County Register. “All the good comments people made, it just brightened my day.

Sherman’s wife of 57 years, Lois, died in 2011. His daughter told the Register the only mail her dad receives most days are just bills, and he’s outlived most of his friends.

“I wanted to him to feel special on his birthday,” Morse said.

Sherman enlisted in the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. He was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Lamson, a destroyer that saw several battles in the Pacific.

Continue on to Fox News to read the complete article.

Easterseals serves 20,000 vets and their families in 2018

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Angela Williams-Easterseals

In 2018, nearly 20,000 veterans and military family members received support through Easterseals through an extensive list of programs, including; advocacy and education and employment programs and job training.

Other programs include; military and veterans’ caregiver services, veteran community services and support and health and wellness programs. The organization is led by President and CEO Angela Williams, a retired United States Air Force officer, serving in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. The iconic nonprofit kicks off its 100th anniversary celebration, furthering its mission of supporting the disabled and their families. Over the past century, Easterseals has provided a multitude of disability services to more than 1.5 million people, helping to meet individual and family needs.

Easterseals Military & Veterans Services
Our mission is to ensure that it’s possible for veterans and military families to live their lives to the fullest in every community. We work to break down barriers, engage organizations and communities, and connect veterans and military families with what they need for meaningful employment, education and overall wellness. Our grassroots outreach – through 71 local affiliates in communities nationwide– provide unmatched, accessible, and indispensable resources and support for veterans and military families.

Grassroots Solutions through Easterseals
The needs of veterans and military families are evolving, not disappearing. That’s why Easterseals specializes in identifying the needs of veterans and military families, particularly with employment, job training and support like family respite opportunities. We work to make solutions easily accessible in communities.

Learn More about Easterseals Military and Veterans Services

Discover how we’ve been successful so far in our mission.

Our work in action

  • Advocacy & Education
    Veterans and military families deserve services delivered in an appropriate, timely, and accessible manner. Our Washington, DC-based government relations team works to influence federal and state legislation affecting veterans and military families and actively engages with Congressional staff in pursuit of these goals.
  • Employment Programs and Job Training
    Our employment programs provide the necessary tools to achieve and maintain meaningful employment and a steady income. We offer skills training, job search assistance, employment preparation and guidance. For example, we partner with the Direct Employers Association, which has a membership of about 800 employers who want to hire veterans and people with disabilities. Through this partnership, Easterseals is offering a job search portal at easterseals.jobs, which features job postings from these employers.
  • Military and Veterans Caregiver Services 
    We strive to ensure military caregivers can access what they need to take on the enormous responsibility of caregiving—often, while still needing to work, navigate family life and take care of themselves. We embrace and support military caregivers, particularly as they transition into this new experience, life-long trajectory and unfamiliar — yet vital role — within their families and communities.
  • Veteran Community Services & Support 
    Veterans come home to their families and communities, so serving them must be a community undertaking. That’s why, across the country, we are delivering services that veterans and military families need to live productive, successful lives.
  • Health and Wellness Programs
    We aim to reach as many veterans and military families as possible to provide health resources and programs, including adult dayand medical rehabilitation services.

Additional resources

What are many veterans asking themselves these days? “What to wear?!”  As military members return to civilian life and face the job search, figuring out the right suit to wear to an interview can be the biggest challenge, while the job responsibilities are a breeze. Watch the video below to see why, and help spread the message that veterans are highly skilled and valuable employees. See all three of our military themed public service videos. 

In November 2015, Easterseals hosted Heroes Work Here, an event to educate corporate leaders on hiring and retaining veterans. With friends and partners, we gathered important advice about how to hire America’s best and brightest. Find tips on why and how to hire veterans here!
Watch Travis Mills explain how you can hire veterans with Easterseals’ help right now.

Veteran and Dancing with the Stars winner JR Martinez and veteran and author Travis Mills play word association with Easterseals, our veteran edition!

America’s Warrior Partnership Expands Veteran Suicide Prevention Study to Seven New Communities

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— Operation Deep Dive to be conducted in Cincinnati; Syracuse, N.Y.; Mobile, Ala.; Houston; Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis; and Las Vegas —

America’s Warrior Partnership today announced the addition of seven nonprofit organizations and city government groups that will participate in Operation Deep Dive, a community-based veteran suicide prevention study led by America’s Warrior Partnership and University of Alabama researchers with support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

The seven new study participants are the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance (based in Cincinnati); Clear Path for Veterans (based in Syracuse, N.Y.); Veteran Recovery Resources (based in Mobile, Ala.); Combined Arms (based in Houston); Veterans Bridge Home (based in Charlotte, N.C.); the city government of Indianapolis; and the city government of Las Vegas.

“Since launching Operation Deep Dive a year ago, we have received a tremendous response from within the original communities where the study is currently being conducted,” said Jim Lorraine, president and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership. “Suicide prevention is a critical public health issue, so we greatly appreciate the support of our partners in expanding the scope of this project. We welcome the expertise of these seven new community groups, and we look forward to working together in guiding the development of more effective outreach and prevention programs nationwide.”

Each of the participating organizations will lead the creation of a Community Action Team, which will consist of local medical examiners, coroners, veteran-serving organizations, civic leaders, veterans and their families and caregivers. These Community Action Teams will work with University of Alabama researchers to shape, review and direct the project within their region.

“This project’s unique approach of building local teams to work with national researchers promises to provide new insights into the community factors that affect veterans and their families,” said John Damonti, President of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “Expanding Operation Deep Dive to these seven new communities will ensure the project’s results are as comprehensive as possible.”

Operation Deep Dive is the first research endeavor to assess the effects that community environments have on the potential factors of suicides among veterans. Conducted in two phases, the first phase included a five-year retrospective investigation of the impact of less-than-honorable discharges on veterans, 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).

During the second phase of the study, researchers will analyze information gathered by the Community Action Teams along with data from national sources, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and United Way Worldwide to identify trends, patterns and potential indicators of suicide. Results will ultimately guide the development of proactive, holistic prevention and outreach programs to reduce suicide and self-harm among veterans.

In addition to these seven new communities, Operation Deep Dive is currently being conducted in Atlanta; Orange County, Calif.; Buffalo, N.Y; Minneapolis, Minn.; the Panhandle region of Florida; and Greenville and Charleston, S.C.

For more information on Operation Deep Dive, visit AmericasWarriorPartnership.org/Deep-Dive.

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 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.

Helping Veterans Cope with PTSD during holidays

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army-man-sitting

The winter holiday season is regarded by many as a wonderful time of the year. However, the holidays can be a painful reminder of past times when life seemed better. Large groups of family and friends are often part of the holiday festivities, but this and other things may be stressful for someone with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Groups may tire a person out or make him or her feel overwhelmed. People may feel pressure to join family activities when they’re not up for it, or believe they must act happy when they’re not. People with PTSD may already find it difficult to get enough sleep or to relax and these added pressures can worsen those symptoms.

Someone with PTSD may be very sensitive to losses around the holiday.  Veterans and military families, in particular, tend to remember at the holidays those who did not make it home from war.  They may not know how to celebrate the holidays knowing those fallen heroes are no longer present.  There may also be recent losses: the death of a loved one, an emotional divorce, or separation from one’s children.  All of these circumstances may cause someone to feel melancholy about memories of holidays past.

Family and friends might ask the Veteran questions about his or her life or about PTSD. The person with PTSD may not feel comfortable answering these questions, but it is important that he or she keep in mind that their family may feel some of the same pressures, and may only be asking because they have a genuine concern for their wellbeing.

The holiday gathering may also be one of the few times family or friends are able to physically see the person with PTSD, and they may feel it is more appropriate they ask such questions in person rather than over the phone or online because they may think that is too impersonal. In either case, the person with PTSD has the power and right to not answer any questions.

Responding to sensitive questions

A polite way of handling these types of situations is by taking a few slow, deep breaths and calmly responding to someone, “I think it is nice of you to show you care by asking, but I’d rather not talk about that right now,” or “thanks for your concern, but I’m not comfortable answering questions about that.”  Then take the opportunity to redirect the conversation.  Ask that family member about work, their children, or their favorite sports team, and steer the conversation to safer ground.

Both people with and without PTSD can cope with holiday stress by following these tips:

  • Talk with your family about how you feel. Your family can help you. This does not mean you have to tell them everything, but let them know you’re feeling stressed.
  • Be honest about your stress level and let your friends and family know your plans ahead of time, especially if you are planning to take some time during the season to relax and de-stress by spending time away from home, work or people that bring stress into your life.
  • Set limits. Don’t join activities for longer than you can handle. You can choose when you want to be a part of the group.
  • Take breaks. Go for walks, or set aside a place where you can be alone for a while. This can keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Get plenty of rest. You may already have difficulty sleeping, but do your best to maintain your usual bedtime or wake-up. Naps should be taken sparingly, as they may further disrupt your nighttime sleeping patterns.
  • Keep up with exercise routines. If you normally do yoga, go jogging, or lift weights, try to keep up those healthy routines.  These activities are all healthy ways to relieve stress.
  • Fake it ‘til you make it. Sometimes people who are feeling depressed find that if they go through the motions, they just might catch themselves having fun.  While the pain from the past hasn’t gone away, this is a chance to begin making new positive memories one step at a time.

One of the best tips to remember when coping with holiday stress is not drinking too much alcohol. Many people have a few drinks, thinking it will relax them, but instead, alcohol causes many people to have less control over their emotions and behavior.  As a result, your symptoms may be worse or you may end up having problems with your family. For those who are in recovery from alcohol, the suggestion from family or friends to “have just one” can be a big challenge. Carrying a glass of ginger ale or cola with you can help sidestep those offers without you having to share your personal matters with everyone.

Continue on to the VA to read the complete article.

Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Qatar Harvey Fund Launch $6M Qatar Veterans Fund to Support Texas Veteran Communities Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

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Bob Woodruff Foundation

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), a nonprofit focused on creating long-lasting, positive outcomes for post-9/11 impacted veterans and their families, announced that it has established a­ partnership with the Qatar Harvey Fund to support veterans who continue to be impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

The hurricane, which pummeled Texas in 2017, was one of the most damaging and costly in U.S. history.

BWF will establish the Qatar Veterans Fund using a grant from the Qatar Harvey Fund, a $30 million gift from the state intended to help the 41 Texas counties impacted by the storm.  The investment in the new veterans fund will be managed by BWF and will support Texas’ large population of former service personnel and military families.

“Following Hurricane Harvey, the State of Qatar established a $30 million fund to support the long-term recovery of the storm’s victims,” said His Excellency Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, U.S. Ambassador of the State of Qatar. “Our new partnership with BWF allows us to effectively and efficiently support the unique needs of the local veteran and military family population. The Qatar Harvey Fund is proud to be working with BWF with the shared objective of helping Texas veteran communities with the long-term rebuilding and recovery process so that they will thrive as they look to the future.”

The partnership was first announced by BWF board member and 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, on stage at BWF’s 12th Annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit on Monday, November 5.

“During my 41 years of military service, I had the good fortune to spend time in Qatar, as do so many young Americans who are stationed at Al Udeid airbase, home to over 11,000 US servicemen and women,” said General Martin Dempsey. “I was proud to announce the partnership with the Bob Woodruff Foundation and look forward to seeing the impact that this partnership will bring to our veterans in southeast Texas.”

“This new partnership allows us to pursue a goal we share with the State of Qatar:  to support veterans and their families impacted by Hurricane Harvey via those best-in-class service providers who bring measurable outcomes and local activation,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, executive director at the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “We know that our veterans and their families face a range of existing and emerging challenges – all of which are likely exacerbated by the storm’s impact. We look forward to using our expertise and proven approach, alongside representatives of the Qatar Harvey Fund and the Embassy of Qatar, to address both immediate and long-range needs for Texan veterans.”

The Bob Woodruff Foundation will be working closely with the Qatar Harvey Fund to coordinate the distribution of funding to a range of programs and expects to make further announcements early in 2019 regarding the first initiatives from the Qatar Veterans Fund.

To learn more about the innovative programs that the Bob Woodruff Foundation finds, funds and shapes, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org.

About the Bob Woodruff Foundation

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) was founded in 2006 after reporter Bob Woodruff was hit by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq. Since then, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has led an enduring call to action for people to stand up for heroes and meet the emerging and long-term needs of today’s veterans. To date, BWF has invested more than $57 million to Find, Fund and Shape™ programs that have empowered impacted veterans, service members and their families. For more information, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org or follow us on Twitter at @Stand4Heroes.

About the Qatar Harvey Fund and the State of Qatar

Following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, the State of Qatar announced a gift of $30 million for the long-term recovery of the storms victims in Texas. The Qatar Harvey Fund was created to administer the gift.

Qatar is an independent state in the southern Arabian Gulf. It has a population of approximately 2.7 million people, the majority of whom live in and around Doha, the capital. Diplomatic relations with the United States were established in 1972; in the same year, Qatar’s first diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. opened. The relationship between the two countries has always been friendly, highly productive, and reciprocal. Qatar is home to many Americans, and the United States is both Qatar’s largest foreign investor and its largest source of imports. Qatar-U.S. relations are growing continuously in multiple areas: economic, political, military, educational, and cultural. Qatar is a close ally of the United States and a strong advocate of building a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Middle East. Qatar has provided significant humanitarian and development assistance to countries around the world, including the United States. In 2005, the State of Qatar announced the Qatar Katrina Fund, which provided $100M in grants for housing, healthcare and education projects directly to local partners across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to support long-term recovery in the region after Hurricane Katrina.

Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation Supports Paralyzed Veterans of America on Veteran’s Day

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Brad Keselowski presents check to Bill Lawson

WASHINGTON (Nov. 13, 2018) — Earlier this year, NASCAR driver and 2018 Richtopia Top 100 Philanthropist, Brad Keselowski, announced his Checkered Flag Foundation would support Paralyzed Veterans of America’s employment program, PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment).

Team Penske partners’ Alliance Truck Parts, Snap-On and Würth have also joined these efforts, and on Friday, Keselowski presented a check for $25,000 to Bill Lawson, former president of Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Started in 2007, the PAVE program provides career assistance and vocational support to transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, and caregivers across the country. Through the PAVE program, clients receive high-touch engagement as they look for meaningful employment. PAVE staff work with members of the veteran community to provide one-on-one support with resume development, sharpen interviewing and networking skills, and build a strong LinkedIn profile. PAVE operates through eight locations nationwide and in 2018, PAVE staff has placed 319 individuals with meaningful employment opportunities.

“Supporting America’s heroes is something that is very important to me, so I’m glad the Checkered Flag Foundation and Paralyzed Veterans of America partnered earlier this year,” said Keselowski. “I’m incredibly thankful that some of my Team Penske partners joined myself and the foundation in our efforts to support this program. This donation will allow Paralyzed Veterans of America the opportunity to continue to serve veterans by providing them, their families and caretakers with career support via the PAVE program. It’s very fitting that we were able to do this on such a special weekend, where we honor and remember all of the veterans who have served.”

Paralyzed Veterans of America not only supports disabled veterans, but all veterans. The organization advocates for quality health care and governmental benefits on behalf of veterans who have rightfully earned them. In addition, the organization is also a champion in fighting for job opportunities for veterans.

“We must be diligent in our efforts to combat unemployment and underemployment of veterans. This summer the veteran unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, an increase from a year ago. But, most concerning, is that nearly one-third of veteran job seekers are underemployed at a rate 15.6 percent higher than non-veteran job seekers,” said David Zurfluh, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “When organizations such as Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation support our veterans’ employment program, together we are able to improve the lives of veterans, making them unstoppable in their quest for meaningful employment.”

For additional information about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s PAVE program, or to make a donation, visit pva.org.

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About Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation

Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation honors and assists those who have sacrificed greatly for our country. Since 2010, the foundation has supported more than 250 organizations and individuals in order to help veterans and first responders during their road to recovery. There are numerous ways for those interested to become involved. Visit CheckeredFlagFoundation.org for details.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America

Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For more than 70 years, the organization has ensured that veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Learn more at pva.org.

The John And Daria Barry Foundation Donates $2.5 Million To The Prostate Cancer Foundation To Establish A New Precision Oncology Center Of Excellence To Serve U.S. Veterans In New York

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Barry Foundation ceremony

The VALOR Ceremony honored hundreds of thousands of courageous U.S. veterans battling prostate cancer during National Veterans and Military Families Month in November.

Helping to advance revolutionary research in prostate cancer and delivery of precision treatments to U.S. Veterans, the John and Daria Barry Foundation has generously donated $2.5 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) to establish the John and Daria Barry Precision Oncology Center of Excellence at the Manhattan VA. John and Daria Barry acceped a special award on behalf of the Barry Foundation for their groundbreaking philanthropy.

The John and Daria Barry Precision Oncology Center of Excellence will serve as a precision oncology hub in the PCF’s preeminent network of centers working to fulfill the ambitious mission of improving the care of U.S. Veterans with prostate cancer in the New York metropolitan area and beyond. The PCF has committed to funding a series of precision medicine teams at leading VA medical centers and universities across the country.

The Barry family accepting award
The Barry family accepting award at the ceremony.

The John and Daria Barry Foundation’s gift will serve the nation’s heroes by delivering first-in-class prostate cancer care to U.S. veterans and will pave the way for transformational research that will have a far lasting impact on generations to come. One out of every nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among Veterans, accounting for a third of all male cancer cases.  African-American men, who represent the largest population group within the VA are 73% more likely to develop prostate cancer and are 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease than any other ethnicity. To date, little is known about the biological reasons for the alarming disparities. For more information, visit PCF.org.

David Goggins Defies the Odds

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Chief Petty Officer David Goggins stands at attention with members of the U.S. Naval Academy’s triathlon team

David Goggins is a hard guy. A survivor of abuse and bigotry who overcame asthma, a learning disability, a stutter, obesity, crushingly low self-esteem and countless fears. A world-record-breaking endurance athlete who once performed 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours.

A Navy SEAL and combat veteran.

After Goggins lost several friends in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2005, he started running as a way to support severely wounded warriors and their families. Since 2005, he has helped raise funds and awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides scholarships and grants to the children of fallen special operations soldiers.

Nothing stops him—except his emotions, especially when speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) in Kansas City, Missouri, who awarded him the 2018 Americanism Award. Choked up, Chief Petty Officer Goggins paused a long moment as he thanked his mother and uncle, then began a heartfelt speech, saying, “I want to thank the VFW very much for giving me this award. It means more to me than anything I have received in my entire life.” He noted that if his grandfather, Sgt. Jack Gardner, were still living, it would be the happiest day of his life to see his grandson accept the award.

After receiving two standing ovations, he told the crowd, “All my life, all I wanted to be was an uncommon man. I was not that. In fact, I was much worse than that. But I read a book about the Medal of Honor—stories about men like you, ‘Doc’ [Donald E. Ballard, Medal of Honor recipient], who had the courage to jump on grenades.”

“I used to look for courage,” Goggins said. “I thought courage was a man who received the Medal of Honor (MOH). It is, but courage is the man who is willing to put those boots on every single day of his life to go out there and fight for his country.”

“I am not a hero. I served with heroes,” he concluded. “I have the upmost respect for all of you in this room. I know what it takes to be a combat soldier.”David Goggins running in triathalon
He knows because he served in Iraq.

In an interview with U.S. Veterans Magazine, he reflected, “I know what a lot of the veterans have gone through. A lot of these vets have been in combat. To put those boots on every day, not knowing if you’ll come back, and the fear you live with all the time and the sacrifices you make to be in the military, I have no words. I only have feelings.”

While the retired 21-year Chief Navy SEAL was defending his country, he says he was rescuing himself.

“To be a veteran is everything to me,” reports Goggins, 43, “[Serving] saved me from the person I was.”

From 1994 to 1999, Goggins served in the United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party. He left the military and was working in pest control when he decided he wanted to try out to be a Navy SEAL. He weighed 300 pounds, couldn’t learn without rewriting books word for word (filling dozens of notebooks), and was afraid of deep water.

It was sink or swim. He did plenty of sinking, but he didn’t drown. His commanders wouldn’t let him, and, ultimately, he wouldn’t let himself.

Using scenes from the movie Rocky as inspiration, and willing to suffer through anything to achieve his goals, he failed and failed … and then he thrived.

After enduring three hell weeks, he was assigned to SEAL Team Five in 2001, and in 2004, Goggins graduated from Army Ranger School as “Enlisted Honor Man.”

“A person who is driven and obsessed … they don’t give a damn what’s in front of them,” he says. “A person who is singularly focused on a mission can get it done.”

Tough love didn’t hurt.

Navy SEAL David Goggins“I found in the military a way to find myself through discipline, through training. It was a kick in the butt.”

That discipline and training—and a nearly-inhuman capacity for suffering—are forged in his character to this day.

Goggins is one of the greatest endurance athletes in the world. He has completed multiple ultra-marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons, setting new course records and regularly placing in the top five. He’s run more than 200 miles nonstop in 39 hours and placed third in the toughest foot race on the planet: the Badwater 135, which takes place in Death Valley during the summer.

He set a Guinness World Record with those 4,030 pull-ups (the record was later broken).

“My greatest strength is my mind,” reports Goggins. “I figured out one thing: Life is one big mind game … and you’re playing against yourself.”

Goggins’ achievements made him the subject of a feature in Runner’s World, where he was named “Running Hero.” Outside Magazine named him “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.” The Navy SEALs tagged him as their poster boy and lead recruiter.

In November 2015, he was the subject of the New York Times bestseller, Living with a SEAL, and since leaving the military, he’s become a prize public speaker. He’s spoken to professional sports teams, Fortune 500 companies, and other large organizations in both the public and private sector.

Everyone wants to know what it takes to become a SEAL, his fitness tips, his inspirational mantras and how in the heck he ran 205 miles in 39 hours.

It was 2005. Goggins got hit with bad news: Several of his buddies had died in Afghanistan in Operation Red Wings. Goggins, never a natural runner, decided to pound ground in the San Diego One Day, which raised money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

He said he wasn’t motivated. Motivation comes and goes. He was, and is, driven.

He nearly died. He tore muscles, broke all the metatarsal bones in his feet and endured screamingly painful shin splints. On bathroom breaks, he was urinating blood. He knew his body was breaking down, but his mind? That’s another story.

“I am scared to death of one thing: disappointing God,” he said. “I know there’s something above David Goggins … I believe in God, and that’s my strength.

“I used everything that God gave me and created a miracle.”

He wants to inspire others—especially those abused in their homes, or stricken with health problems, or living in fear and despair—to do the same.

On December 4, his book, Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, will be released.

If you want a quick fix, it’s probably not for you. Miracles, Goggins believes, are made, and that’s good news.

“I got tired of ‘In five easy steps you can fix your life,'” he said. “You’re not going to get better with that mindset.”

How do you improve?

“Suffering and grinding,” he said.

David Goggins stands at attentionHere are some highlights from the book:
• He thanks people who insulted him, even bigots. “You want to get back at people who don’t like you? Be the best.”
• He elaborates on his 40% Rule. The upshot? You can push past pain, demolish fear and reach your full potential.
• He writes about the concept of the “only.” That’s short-hand for the feeling you get when people isolate you, or you isolate yourself. Goggins said it need not be a negative. “It was my fuel.”

Goggins, who works out about five hours a day, needs fuel. He’s a human conflagration of passion, which is ironic, because he’s a wildland firefighter. Putting out fires is another way to fuel his commitment to serve.

For the last couple of years, he’s spent the fire season slowing and knocking down fires with his crew mates.

He’s in a position where he doesn’t have to do it. That’s the exact reason he should dig fire lines, he says.

“I’m just a guy on the line, man. I’m a guy who sleeps in the dirt … and digs ditches.”

It’s a metaphor for his life. In the face of overwhelming odds, he digs and digs.

“My legacy would be: That was one guy right there that if you told him he couldn’t do it, he is going to find a way through all the doubt, through all the throes. That’s my legacy. A man who didn’t stop trying to achieve more.”

Hollywood Meets the Pentagon

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Actor Gerard Butler spoke to Pentagon reporters about his collaboration with the Navy in making the movie “Hunter Killer” that was recently released.

The Pentagon press briefing studio was filled to capacity as Butler — who plays the commander of the fictional attack sub USS Arkansas in the movie — answered questions about the experience. DOD officials approved the request in December 2014, and the Navy provided access and technical support to the filmmakers.

The movie’s plot focuses on an operation aimed at averting war with Russia. Butler said it brings the submarine genre into the 21st century. “Hunter Killer” is a chance to take viewers into submarines and let them see the culture, “and really see how these people think, work, their courage, their intelligence, basically their brilliance,” the actor said.

The plot alternates between the submarine, a special operations team inserted in Russia and the Pentagon.

Navy Vice Adm. Fritz Roegge, now the president of the National Defense University, was the commander of the U.S. Submarine Force in the Pacific during filming.

Only a small fraction of young Americans qualify to serve in the military. An even smaller number are aware of the opportunities the services offer. “Although the Navy benefits from technology that gives us the world’s most capable platforms and equipment, it is our people who are truly our greatest strength,” he said.

”It’s more important than ever that we find ways to inspire the next generation of warfighters to consider serving our country in the Navy,” Roegge said. Officials stressed that support to “Hunter Killer” or any other movie is done at zero cost to the American taxpayer.

The Actor and Director Donovan Marsh also visited Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut recently, to meet Navy submariners, tour the attack submarine USS Hartford, and share a special premiere of the movie with sailors on base. The movie also stars Gary Oldman and Common.

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