La Fleet Week 2018 Navy Film Festival To Celebrate 100 Years Of Navy In Hollywood

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Fleet Week 2018

SAN PEDRO, Calif. – Featuring black-and-white to modern-era films, LA Fleet Week® 2018 presented by Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime Video will include a Labor Day Weekend Navy Film Festival at the iconic Warner Grand Theatre in downtown San Pedro. 

The Festival will celebrate the century-long relationship between the US Navy and the world-renowned film industry that has brought military life, storylines and battle realities to the big screen since 1918.

“This Festival marks a milestone for the US Navy and Hollywood, highlighting the ways that movies have—and will continue to—shape what we think about the military, as well as the men and women who serve,” said US Navy retired Rear Admiral Mike Shatynski, co-founder and board member of the LA Fleet Week Foundation. “As a kid growing up in LA, military-themed movies definitely were something that influenced my decision to serve my country and see the world.”

The festival will also commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Fleet Combat Camera units, groups of service personnel assigned to filming and documenting the history and activities of the US Navy and other branches.  Since World War II, Combat Camera footage has been featured in Hollywood movies and Navy documentaries, and used for military training and educational purposes. The Festival will honor the Navy’s Combat Camera unit, which is slated to be decommissioned this year.

The film festival will screen six different classic films from Sept. 1-3 at the historic Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, with each night featuring a different theme. The first film each night will be shown at 5:00 p.m. and the second at 8:15 p.m. The first episode of the new series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” will be shown between each feature film, compliments of Amazon Prime Video.

FILM FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
·        Saturday, Sept. 1 – Marine Corps Night
o   “Sands of Iwo Jima” – John Wayne WWII classic, 1949
o   Battle: Los Angeles” – Marine Corps versus aliens in Los Angeles, 2011

·        Sunday, Sept. 2 – Navy Air Night
o   “Hell Divers” – Classic fighter pilot film starring Clark Gable and Wallace Beery, filmed aboard first aircraft carriers, 1931
o   “Top Gun” – Modern-day fighter pilot classic starring Tom Cruise, filmed aboard carriers with full Navy cooperation, 1986

·        Monday, Sept. 3 – Navy Ships & Subs
o   “Mister Roberts” – Classic comedy starring Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon and James Cagney about a Navy cargo ship serving in the South Pacific in the waning days of WWII, 1955
o   “Hunt for Red October” – American espionage thriller adapted from the Tom Clancy best-selling novel, 1990

Ticket sales start each day at 4:00 p.m., with doors opening at 4:30 p.m.  Admission is free for all active military, veterans and children under three years, and $5.00 (cash only) for all others. For theater location, details and most up-to-date information, visit lafleetweek.com.

Since its first venture into Hollywood more than a century ago, the US Navy has been recognized with three Academy awards for films it has produced, including Best Documentary Feature (“The Battle of Midway”) and Best Documentary Short Subject (“December 7th”) in 1943, and Best Documentary Feature (“The Fighting Lady”) in 1945.

About LA Fleet Week® 2018 presented by “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” on Amazon Prime Video
LA Fleet Week is an annual, multi-day celebration of our nation’s Sea Services held on the LA Waterfront at the Port of Los Angeles.  Free to the public, the Labor Day Weekend event features public ship tours, military displays, equipment demonstrations, live entertainment, a kids’ STEM Expo, aerial demonstrations, the LA Fleet Week® 2018 Navy Film Festival, the 10th Annual Conquer the Bridge Labor Day morning 5.3-mile walk/run over the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the LA Fleet Week 5 on 5 Basketball Tournament, and a Galley Wars presented by Princess Cruises culinary cook-off competition between Sailor, Marine, Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy teams.

LA Fleet Week is organized by the LA Fleet Week Foundation, in partnership with the Port of Los Angeles and City of Los Angeles.  Other LA Fleet Week 2018 sponsors include Amazon Prime Video, the Annenberg Foundation, Outfront Media, Delta Air Lines, Bob Hope USO, American Legion Post, Battleship IOWA, Princess Cruises, Andeavor, Clyde & Co., Providence Little Company of Mary, Sam’s Club and South Coast Plaza.

For more information, visit lafleetweek.org

‘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!

Sailor Spotlight! U.S. Navy Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Remely Culas

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U.S. Navy Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Remely Culas, from Garden Grove, California, directs an MH-60R Sea Hawk, assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

Chung-Hoon is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.

The men and women in U.S. Navy are deployed around the clock and ready to protect and defend America on the world’s oceans. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Logan C. Kellums).

Source: Navy Office of Community Outreach

Navy Office of Community Outreach is the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information national community outreach field activity. NAVCO’s primary means of outreach is through Navy Weeks, which work to bring a concentration of Navy personnel and assets to cities and towns across Middle America.

Mathematician inducted into Space and Missiles Pioneers Hall of Fame

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Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Air Force Space Command vice commander, presented Dr. Gladys West with the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers award for her decades of contributions to the Air Force’s space program. West was unable to attend the formal induction ceremony that took place August 28, where three others joined the elite list of professionals who have greatly impacted the Air Force space program.

Dr. Gladys West is among a small group of women who did computing for the U.S. military in the era before electronic systems.  Hired in 1956 as a mathematician at the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory, she participated in a path-breaking, award-winning astronomical study that proved, during the early 1960s, the regularity of Pluto’s motion relative to Neptune.  Thereafter, from the mid-1970s through the 1980s, using complex algorithms to account for variations in gravitational, tidal, and other forces that distort Earth’s shape, she programmed an IBM 7030 “Stretch” computer to deliver increasingly refined calculations for an extremely accurate geodetic Earth model, a geoid, optimized for what ultimately became the Global Positioning System (GPS) orbit.

The Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Award pays tribute to the leaders of the early years of the Air Force space program, as well as the subsequent innovators whose vision and perseverance overcame the obstacles of the unknown, those who transformed the cutting edge of technology into operational systems, and those who dedicated their lives to exploring space in support of our national security concerns.

Continue onto The 45th Space Wing to read the complete article.

Native American helps Soldiers find solace

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During certain mornings in her 28 years in the Army, Julia Kelly would take her troops outdoors, where she could feel the cool air coursing through her lungs and the warmth of the sunshine upon her cheeks. 
The now-retired command sergeant major would ask her Soldiers to take deep breaths and clear their minds from negative thoughts and emotions.

Travelling through the countryside became her welcome retreat growing up in rural southern Montana in one of the largest settlements of the Crow people, a tribe of Native Americans who originally settled in the Great Plains. Also known as the Apsaalooke, or “children of the large-beaked bird” her people share a sacred bond with the land.

She applied Crow principles during her Army career that helped her rise to the service’s highest enlisted rank. Since her retirement in 2010, she still contributes to the Army as an ammunition test coordinator at the Redstone Test Center in Huntsville, Alabama. She also volunteers her time speaking to women on overcoming domestic abuse and she helps serve food to homeless veterans.

Her service to other Soldiers spanned her Army career.

DESERT CALM

Before she deployed to Iraq in 2008, Kelly asked her entire battalion to join her outside for a peaceful walk and deep breathing session. She wanted to show her troops that the dangers of a deployment could not rattle them, because nature would grant them an inner peace, even in Iraq’s harsh climate.

After her 299th Brigade Support Battalion from Fort Riley, Kansas, arrived in Iraq, she would gather troops together before the brigade combat security team departed for morning runs through the streets of Baghdad.

With sage and cedar mailed to her from relatives, she would bless the vehicles and Soldiers and recite a morning prayer — a sacred Crow tradition to give thanks. More importantly, she performed a ritual called “smudging,” asking for protection from the Creator.

During smudging, she would burn sage with abalone shell and a feather to clear the body and mind of negative energy, and to protect her Soldiers from harm. She would ask her Soldiers to face toward the east into the sun which signals the start of a new day.

Spirituality is believing “in something greater than yourself,” she said.

Continue onto The Army Newsroom 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.

Careers for Veterans in the Oil and Gas Industry

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The Oil & Gas industry is a global powerhouse employing hundreds of thousands of workers worldwide as well as generating hundreds of billions of dollars globally each year. While the oil & gas industry is always changing, a career in the industry is steady, since the need for oil is always present across a variety of industries. Oil is not just used in automobiles and airplanes, but in everyday items, such as plastic, cleaning supplies, medical supplies, and even clothing and cosmetics contain oil compounds.

Because of the technical knowledge and intangible skills gained in the military, a career in oil and gas is a natural transition for veterans. “There are a lot of similarities between the military and the oil and gas industry,” explains Steve Casey, Vice President at Orion. “Managers in this industry today are looking for disciplined, hard working, reliable, get-your-hands-dirty, technically capable, and trainable people who want to learn and grow. They’re looking for people who have no problem working in the field and handling tougher environments, and who don’t want to sit inside of an office all day,” he says.

There are many benefits to a career in the oil & gas industry. Compensation is historically higher than most other industries, with entry level Operator positions earning $70,000-$80,000+ in the first year, and Engineers earning well over $100,000. There are also many opportunities for promotion and growth, with the option to move around all over the U.S. and internationally. In addition to compensation, the oil and gas industry allows its employees the opportunity to work with some of the most advanced technology available today. “Many candidates don’t realize how high-tech the oil and gas industry is. Whenever I tour one of the facilities I’m amazed by the technology,” says Casey.

Continue onto Orion Talent to read the complete article.

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.

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.”