The Gary Sinise Foundation Changes Another Life: U.S. Army SPC Tyler Jeffries Receives New Smart Home with Tech from Nortek Security & Control

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Disabled veteran sitting in wheelchair in his smart home with disability access

Following in the footsteps of his Navy-veteran father and Air Force-veteran brother, Tyler Jeffries proudly enlisted in the U.S Army in January 2010. After two years of training with the Attack Company 2-1 Infantry Battalion in Ft. Lewis, Washington, Jeffries deployed to Afghanistan’s Kandahar province In April 2012 where, just six months later, in October 2012, Jeffries’ life changed forever when an improvised explosive device explosion took both of his legs.

For Jeffries, this was not a defeat, but merely a setback, and he took his first steps with prosthetic legs after just 44 days, following nearly 30 surgeries.

Jeffries’ story caught the attention of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program, which recognized his sacrifice and selected him to receive a new specially adapted smart home in North Carolina, complete with home automation, entertainment, and security technologies from Nortek Security & Control.

Brian Berg, Principal at electronics integration firm Interactive Interiors, designed and installed the home’s technology infrastructure and ELAN control system to provide Jeffries and his family with tools that simplify common household activities and give Tyler added freedom and independence.

“Thanks to the ELAN Control System in this specially-adapted home, SPC Jeffries can easily control lights, music, TV, security, door locks, surveillance, and window shades from anywhere in the home,” Berg said.

Using the simple, intuitive interface in the ELAN mobile app, two wall-mounted ELAN touch panels,RISE-smart home or one of four ELAN HR30 remotes, Jeffries and his family have total dominion over the electronic system in the home. Multiple TVs and several zones of multi-room audio can be turned on and controlled instantly, while property-wide Lutron lighting and motorized window shades are also just a touch away. The home’s climate is controlled with four ELAN thermostats creating distinct automated HVAC zones that can be adjusted right from the ELAN app.

“Tyler loves gaming, so he was really excited about the man cave we designed with a 75” TV and 7.1 surround sound system with SpeakerCraft in-ceiling speakers and a Sunfire subwoofer,” Berg said. “We added custom scenes based on their needs, such as lighting scenes for nighttime that automate multiple rooms and hallways through a single button, or a ‘Movie’ scene that automatically turns on the TV, selects a source, turns down the lights and lowers the motorized window shades. For Tyler, who is most often in a wheelchair while at home, this makes life more enjoyable and saves huge amounts of time for those daily tasks most people take for granted.”

The outdoor lighting is controlled as well, including a spot light on the large American flag in front of the home, and special pathway lights that emit bug spray on command through the ELAN app. The flagpole spotlight is programmed to turn on for morning and evening, and automatically turn off during daytime.

Security was a top concern for Jeffries, so having instant access to the home’s robust 2GIG security system and 10 ELAN surveillance cameras was a huge deal. Whether they are at home, at the grocery store, or halfway around the world, the family can easily view live feeds from the cameras in the ELAN mobile app and review video from the digital video recorder, all without leaving the ELAN app. Because the 2GIG security panel is fully integrated into the ELAN system, an “event” identified by a 2GIG sensor automatically alerts the surveillance system to display the appropriate video feed to the ELAN app. Three of the home’s doors feature electronic door locks that can be opened through the ELAN app, and the two garage doors are remotely accessible as well.

“They love the system,” Berg added, “and they frequently show it off when new people visit the house. It really delivers a much higher standard of living, allowing Tyler and his family to interact with their home in a more natural way that alleviates stress and provides greater comfort, convenience and peace of mind. We were thrilled to play a role in improving this hero’s life and provide modern technologies to give him greater self-sufficiency.”

With daily home life relying on integrated technologies, Interactive Interiors made sure to protect all the equipment with a Panamax M4315-PRO power conditioner and a Panamax MB1500 UPS. The power system includes BlueBOLT remote technology, so the integrator can schedule power cycles of log in remotely should a connected subsystem experience an issue. This expedites service calls and further simplifies reliable operation for the family.

The brain of the system is the ELAN gSC10 system controller, with four additional ELAN g1 controllers providing on-screen display and local control for four TVs. The surveillance system records to a 4TB ELAN NVR, while an ELAN 4K 4×4 matrix offers video distribution for centralized sources such as cable boxes and a Blu-ray player.

In addition to adding scenes and specialized automation, Berg also expects to install more surveillance cameras and potentially add voice control as another easy means of system management.

“Tyler loved that the system can grow and expand to do almost anything they want,” Berg said. “Whether that ends up being voice control, additional security or lighting, or more complex scenes that perform a host of functions from a single button, his ELAN system can do it all.”

About ELAN

ELAN, from Nortek Security & Control, develops an award-winning line of whole-house entertainment and control solutions distributed through a comprehensive channel of select dealers throughout the United States, Canada, and countries worldwide. The ELAN 8 update was honored with the “2017 Human Interface Product of the Year” award. The new ELAN Intelligent Touch Panels add face recognition and voice control for a truly intelligent home experience. To learn more, visit www.elanhomesystems.com.

About Nortek Security & Control

Nortek Security & Control LLC (NSC) is a global leader in smart connected devices and systems for residential, security, access control, and digital health markets. NSC and its partners have deployed more than 5 million connected systems and over 25 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, Linear®, GoControl®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, security dealers, technology integrators and consumers.

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC has over 50 years of innovation and is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit nortekcontrol.com.

Other brand names and product names mentioned herein may be the trademarks, tradenames, service marks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Public Resources for PTSD Awareness Month

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Veteran sitting down with hands folded

Most adults have been affected by trauma in some way whether they experience it directly, see someone they know go through it or hear about it happening to someone else. During PTSD Awareness Month, recognized each year in June, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) urges everyone gain a better understanding of how traumatic stress can affect those who suffer from it.

ISTSS offers educational resources for both the public and professionals to learn about trauma and its effects.

“Many people experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetimes, but reactions to these events vary considerably,” said ISTSS President Julian D. Ford, PhD, ABPP. “For some people, natural coping allows their reactions to gradually diminish. But if symptoms persist or attempts to cope lead to unhealthy outcomes, it may be useful to seek professional help.”

ISTSS has recently updated its guidelines for the prevention and treatment of PTSD, releasing its methodology and recommendations in advance of the third edition of Effective Treatments for PTSD. ISTSS has also released two position papers on complex PTSD in children/adolescents and adults, which highlight important considerations for interpreting the recommendations and translating them into practice. ISTSS briefing papers address the traumatic impact of global issues such as forcible displacement; sexual assault, sexual abuse and harassment; and public health approaches to trauma.

For anyone who has been affected by trauma, ISTSS offers numerous public resources. ePamphlets in multiple languages discuss what to expect after a traumatic event, risk factors and how to recognize when professional help is needed for different types of trauma. The ISTSS Clinician Directory can help people find a clinician, counselor or mental health professional in their local area by discipline or specialty, special interests, populations served and languages spoken.

“ISTSS supports the health and resilience of people affected by trauma,” said Ford. “We’re looking not only to treat PTSD but also to understand and prevent it.”

The VA offers several treatment options for PTSD including medical, mental health, and family services.

Check out the VA’s PTSD website for details.

NOTE: If you are in crisis dial 911 or 800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

About the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS)

ISTSS is an international interdisciplinary professional organization that promotes advancement and exchange of knowledge about traumatic stress. Learn more at www.istss.org.

 

ESPN Presents the Pat Tillman Award for Service to Former U.S. Marine Kirstie Ennis at The 2019 ESPYS on July 10

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Kirstie Ennis cover of U.S. Veterans Magazine

While on duty in Afghanistan, former Marine Corps Sergeant Kirstie Ennis was in a helicopter crash in an active combat zone that resulted in severe injuries including facial trauma, a traumatic brain injury, cervical and lumbar spine trauma, and bilateral shoulder damage. Following more than a dozen surgeries, doctors decided to amputate above the knee on her left leg. Having been an athlete for most of her life, Ennis turned to sports as part of her recovery.

The former U.S. Veterans Magazine‘s cover founded the Kirstie Ennis Foundation to provide education and opportunity in the outdoors and to support other non-profits dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals and families. For her dedication to serving others, Ennis will receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service sponsored by Mass Mutual at The 2019 ESPYS presented by Capital One live Wednesday, July 10, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

“After being medically retired from the Marine Corps due to my injuries sustained overseas, I have dedicated my life to serving others in a different way. To receive the Pat Tillman Award and to be associated with a true American hero is a tremendous honor,” said Ennis. “It has taken a village to get me to this point in my life, and I would not be where I am now without the amazing people surrounding me. To me, this is a symbol of community and what it means to pay it forward.”

As part of her efforts to inspire others, Ennis has walked 1,000 miles across Britain for a Walking With the Wounded charity event and in 2013 she competed in the Warrior Games where she took home three gold medals in swimming. In 2017, she decided she would set out to become the first female above-the-knee amputee to summit all seven of the world’s highest peaks and has since climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Carstensz in Indonesia, Mount Elbrus in Russia, and Aconcagua in Argentina. Her most recent attempt to climb Mount Everest took place in April and May of this year, and brought Ennis and her team within 200 meters of the finish line, before they turned back due to life threatening conditions. Ennis is also a Paralympic hopeful in snowboarding.

“Pat lived his life with passion and conviction, driving forward in the face of any obstacle that crossed his path,” says Marie Tillman, Board Chair and Co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “I see that same drive and courage in Kirstie as she continues to push the limits and achieve her best. We are proud to present the Tillman Award to Sgt. Kirstie Ennis for her service and leadership.”

The Pat Tillman Award for Service was established in 2014 to commemorate the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger’s legacy, and honor an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of Tillman. Kirstie Ennis will be presented with the award at The 2019 ESPYS in conjunction with the Pat Tillman Foundation, a national leader in providing academic support and scholarships to veterans, active-duty service members and their spouses. Past honorees include U.S. Paralympic gold medal sled hockey player and Purple Heart recipient Josh Sweeney (2014), and former Notre Dame basketball player, Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green (2015), U.S. Army Sgt. and Invictus Games gold medalist Elizabeth Marks (2016), and Purple Heart recipient and Invictus Games gold medalist Israel Del Toro (2017), and Navy-Marine Commendation Medal recipient, Sergeant Jake Wood (2018).

The ESPYS helps to raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the charity founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jim Valvano at the first ESPYS back in 1993. ESPN has helped raise close to $97 million for the V Foundation over the past 26 years. Tickets are available for public purchase at AXS.com. The ESPYS are executive produced by Maura Mandt and co-produced by Maggievision Productions.

About The ESPYS

The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The show recognizes achievements in categories such as “Best MLB Player,” “Best Team,” “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Upset” and inspiring human stories are showcased through three pillar awards: the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and the Pat Tillman Award for Service. The ESPYS support ESPN’s ongoing commitment to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, launched by ESPN with the late Jim Valvano in 1993.

ABOUT THE PAT TILLMAN FOUNDATION

In 2002, Pat Tillman proudly put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following Pat’s death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. Created to honor Pat’s legacy of leadership and service, the Pat Tillman Foundation unites and empowers remarkable military veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self. For more information on the Pat Tillman Foundation and the impact of the Tillman Scholars, visit PatTillmanFoundation.org.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Family Fishing Trip for Father’s Day

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June 16 is Father’s Day, making it the perfect time to start planning a fun and memorable fishing trip for dad and/or grandpa. The Outdoor Foundation reports that around 46 million Americans participate in fishing.

Most fathers would be thrilled to be surprised with a special fishing trip weekend to celebrate the day in their honor. The good news is that planning a special fishing trip without dad knowing about it is not that difficult.

“It doesn’t get much better than surprising dad with a family fishing trip for Father’s Day,” explains Joe Pippins, creator and founder of The Fishing Caddy. “Not only will it be something he doesn’t expect, but it will be something he loves doing, and it will create some great family memories.”

When it comes to planning a special fishing trip for the holiday, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some tips to help create a perfect family fishing trip surprise:

  • Determine the perfect location. Try to surprise dad by taking him somewhere new. Ask around to get some suggestions on great fishing locations. Narrow down where you will go and decide if you want to make it a one-day fishing trip, where you will be back home that night, or if you want to stay the night in a hotel or campground.
  • Check the regulations. While the regulation part of fishing is no fun, it’s something you don’t want to slow you down once you get to your destination. Find out what the regulations are and what you will need to be able to enjoy your day.
  • Keep it simple. When things get complicated it takes some of the fun away. Strive for planning a stress free trip with an emphasis on fun. Ask the kids to pitch in and do all they can to share in helping to get everything ready for the trip.
  • Take a camera. Take a good camera with you, even if you have to borrow one, so that you can get some good pictures. Those pictures ca to create special keepsakes from the trip, including framing a picture for dad’s office or having a wallet size photo made that he can carry with him.
  • Leave the other electronics behind. Rather than keep faces staring at the phone, opt to have family members not take their devices. If you are not comfortable with that idea, designate an hour per day when they can be used, and have them be off limits the rest of the time. To make a memorable family fishing trip, people need to look up and enjoy the people they are with.
  • Gear up. You will need to take along basic fishing gear, but you can help make the process easier by taking The Fishing Caddy, which can be part of the surprise. Giving dad The Fishing Caddy for a Father’s Day gift will help ensure the trip is less stressful and he will enjoy it more, because it’s been designed for organization and to improve the anglers’ experience. The caddy is the world’ first all-in-one fishing system, offering a padded seat top or tackle box lid, a built-in cup holder, a life well for the fish caught, two rod holders, LED lights, and more. The water weight prevents it from tipping over, making a great piece of gear for sharing with a family that loves the outdoors.

“In addition to these things for creating a great fishing trip, you also need a great attitude,” added Pippins. “It’s hard to have a bad day when you are fishing. Start planning now and you can make this the best Father’s Day yet.”

The Fishing Caddy, which ranges in price from $69.95 to $129, was expertly designed for all types of fishing, and can be used by anglers of all ages. The organization system gives people everything they need for a great fishing experience. The fishing system has been designed to help make fishing more enjoyable, and give people more time to fish, rather than track down and organize their tackle and supplies. The Fishing Caddy is available online at Amazon, at select Scheels locations, Etsy, and at the company website: https://thefishingcaddy.com.

About The Fishing Caddy

The Fishing Caddy is the world’s first all-in-one fishing system. Created by Joe Pippins, the caddy offers anglers an easy and simplified way to head out fishing. Features on the caddy include two rod holders, a cup holder, live well for storing fish, tackle box, and a padded seat option. The Fishing Caddy is made in the USA and comes with a two-year warranty. For more information, visit the site at: https://thefishingcaddy.com.

Source:

The Outdoor Foundation. 2015 Special Report on Fishingtakemefishing.org/

Tee It Up for the Troops Donates 20th E-Z-GO Vehicle to Fisher House Foundation to Assist Disabled Veterans and Their Families

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Tee it up for troops logo

A golf car is a nice amenity on the golf course, but for families of veterans and active duty service members who are being treated at Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, golf cars are a valuable and needed mode of transportation.

With limited parking and specialized transportation needs, many veterans and their elderly family members are unable to make the journey around a VA hospital campus.

That’s why Tee It Up for the Troops, with their national headquarters in Burnsville, Minn., has partnered with Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, manufacturer of E-Z-GO vehicles, to donate customized vehicles to Fisher House, a foundation that provides comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay free of charge. Tee It Up for the Troops has donated a “battalion” of E-Z-GO vehicles to Fisher House facilities nationwide, with the recent 20th new ride delivered to the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System in California.

For the last seven years, Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, in partnership with E-Z-GO distributor Versatile Vehicles of Prior Lake, Minn., have delivered several vehicles a year to Fisher Houses across the nation. The first was delivered to the Augusta VA Medical Center in Georgia in 2012, with others reaching the East Coast’s Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, the West Coast’s Camp Pendleton in California, and midwestern Fisher Houses in Milwaukee, Wisc. and Minneapolis, Minn.

“Tee It Up for the Troops has been there for us and has provided a vehicle to every one of our houses on a VA property that has needed one,” said Brian Gawne, Vice President of Community Relations for Fisher House Foundation. “Parking and getting around on a VA campus is always a challenge, and some families are not mobile. Thanks to Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, these cars are a godsend when families are facing a tough medical crisis.”

“Recently we had a veteran discharged from the hospital after kidney removal surgery and it would have been extremely painful for him to bend into a vehicle to get back to Fisher House,” said Jenny Hall, Manager of the Alaska Fisher House. “The golf car allowed him to easily slide in and out at a comfortable height with minimal pain.”

“It’s great teaming up with E-Z-GO and working together to make our heroes’ lives better,” said Tim Wegscheid, President & Executive Director for Tee It Up for the Troops. “I truly believe our veterans and their families are entitled to be taken care of, and donating these vehicles is just one way we do that.”

Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted 500 fundraising events in over 40 states over the last 15 years, allowing the non-profit organization to donate over $10 million to military service organizations that provide critically needed services to combat veterans and their families.

“Electric shuttles that are quiet and efficient can take a whole family or injured warfighter from a Fisher House around the campus to receive therapy or see a doctor,” said Brandon Haddock, Director, Communications at Textron Specialized Vehicles. “The vehicles can traverse facility paths, parking lots, and even into the entry of a VA hospital. It’s great to see how excited people are about the shuttles and to give the veterans something they really need.”

“These stretch electric shuttles, which can comfortably accommodate six passengers, are customized with many added features for the comfort and safety of veterans,” said Gaby Accad, owner of Versatile Vehicles, whose distributorship customizes many of the Fisher House vehicles. Additions include safety lights, turn signals, a rear seat that can convert to a flatbed to carry a wheelchair or other equipment, and a retractable windshield to block wind and rain.

Accad works with local companies to donate custom features, including red, white and blue premium seats embroidered with the Tee It Up for the Troops logo, decals that are applied to the custom-painted cars, and shipping of the cars at donated or reduced rates to their destination.

“What this country has provided to me, it’s the least I can do for our soldiers who put their lives on the line for us to enjoy our freedom and the things we cherish in this country,” Accad said.

Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO first learned of the need for a small, efficient vehicle to transport wounded warriors in 2011, when they shipped a vehicle to a military base in Afghanistan to help move soldiers to field hospitals and to get those recovering from injuries around the base. From there, the need to meet increased demands for transport of returning service members with disabilities and their families escalated stateside.

“This is just a continuation of our support for veterans who do incredible things for our country,” Wegscheid said of the vehicles.

About Tee It Up for The Troops

Tee It Up for the Troops, Inc, is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves U.S. military veterans and their families.  Based in Minnesota, Tee it Up for the Troops inspires communities across the country to organize golf events to raise funds for partnering veterans service organizations who deliver critically needed services to military families.  These locally-supported events greatly assist returning service members to successfully reintegrate into their communities.  Established in 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted over 475 events in more than 40 states and has donated over $10 million to more than 335 various organizations serving veterans across the country.  In addition, through their REUNION initiative, Tee It Up for the Troops has reunited more than 300 combat altered veterans who were separated due to battlefield injuries or changes in rehabilitation status.  Through these reunions, participating veterans enhance their transition process into productive and fulfilling civilian lifestyles. For more information visit: teeitupforthetroops.org.

About E-Z-GO
E-Z-GO is an iconic, world-renowned brand in golf cars and personal transportation vehicles. Products sold under the
E-Z-GO brand include RXV® and TXT® fleet golf cars, Freedom® RXV and Freedom TXT personal golf cars, E-Z-GO Express™ personal utility vehicles, and the 2Five® street-legal low-speed vehicle. Known for innovation in electric-vehicle technology, E-Z-GO’s newest offerings include the ELiTE series of lithium-ion powered golf cars and PTVs. Founded in 1954 in Augusta, Ga., E-Z-GO became part of Textron Inc. in 1960, and today operates as part of the company’s Textron Specialized Vehicles division.

About Textron Inc.

Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training. For more information visit: textron.com.

About Fisher House

Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of 82 comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.  These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, and in Europe, close to the medical center or hospital it serves. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths.  Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room and an inviting living room.  Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee.  Since inception, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $451 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation. Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program, using donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge. For more information visit: fisherhouse.org.

It’s Life or Death for a Puppy in the Middle East

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Bucky with soldier stationed in the Middle East

May is Military Appreciation Month.  What better way to wrap up the month, then by helping our heroes overseas? Morale can be tough to keep when you are a soldier stationed in the Middle East.

Each day brings challenges and often despair. For one soldier and his crew stationed in Kuwait, that all changed when one, tiny puppy entered their camp.

Before the tiny stray made his way into the life of 21-year-old SPC Dakota J. Campbell and his crewmembers, morale was at an all time low. Then one day, the soldiers witnessed a puppy run by their site, being chased by a larger dog. The men proceeded to scare off the dog, and the puppy scurried to hide and got his self stuck in a cement barrier.

As the soldiers saved the puppy from near death, it didn’t take long before they realized that the puppy actually saved them. They named this little guy Bucky and he lifted their spirits, gave them hope, and helped inspire them each day. With Bucky around, they felt a sense of home.

“We can only imagine the difficulty these soldiers in war torn areas face on a daily basis,” explains Robert Misseri of Paws of War. “The fact that this dog helped our heroes get through some of the darkest days in their life is testament to the abilities of a dog. We must try to get Bucky to the United States.  It is the least we can do for SPC Campbell and the crew.”

Now Campbell is heading back to the states, where he will be stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. Rather than leave Bucky in Kuwait, where his fate would be certain death as a street dog, he is reaching out to us all to get Bucky to America, where he can live his life in security and peace with SPC Campbell, and they can both have a genuine, true sense of home.

“Bucky may have saved us, but I can’t bear to leave him behind, it’s time for me to once again save him,” added Campbell. “I have one dog at home, which is like my only son, and I can’t wait for Bucky to meet him. It will be a dream come true for me to be able to bring Bucky to Texas.”

Bringing a dog back to America from the Middle East is no easy task, and it’s a costly process. Paws of War is supported solely by donations and has helped numerous soldiers to bring their rescued dogs back from the Middle East. To help make the mission possible, they are asking everyone to pitch in and thank this Army team for protecting our freedom by donating toward Bucky’s journey to the U.S. Every dollar makes a difference.  To learn more about Campbell and Bucky’s story and to make a donation, log online: pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/saving-bucky.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a non-profit 501c3 charitable organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, rescues and trains dogs to be service dogs, and provides therapy dogs to veterans. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or make a donation visit its site at: http://pawsofwar.org.

Online Recruitment Platform to Connect Workers with Disabilities to Rewarding Careers

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The ISABLED Virtual Career Fair platform makes it easier to connect recruiters from leading companies and high-impact professionals with disabilities. There are currently more jobs in the U.S than available workers to fill them, and companies are forced to explore more options to find talent to hire to help them grow their business.

Workers with different abilities (often referred to as workers with disabilities) are just one example of highly-skilled, but untapped segments of the population that more and more leading companies are seeking to recruit.

ISABLED, an online recruiting platform connects workers that identify as having a disability, with recruiters from leading companies who value inclusion and diversity in their workforce. The ISABLED platform allows job seekers and recruiters to connect and chat in real-time, from anywhere, and from the comfort and convenience of their home or office.

” The ISABLED Virtual Career Fairs are a fun and easy way to connect recruiters and job seekers with disabilities. Instead of asking both sides to attend a job fair at a physical location, we bring the career fair to them. The ISABLED platform allows our employer partners to recruit nationwide in just a few hours, and job seekers have instant access to the very recruiters who are seeking to fill the open positions” Stated Kevin O’Brien, Managing Partner, ISABLED.

The ISABLED website will include content to connect workers with disabilities to job opportunities from a wide range of companies and industries. The website will include a job board and a virtual career fair platform. ISABLED will host 4 virtual career fairs each year, and companies can host standalone virtual career fairs for their company as often as they like.

The first ISABLED virtual career fair is set for July 25, 2019, and open now for registration.

About ISABLED:

ISABLED, a division of Astound Virtual has a laser-focus on connecting industry-leading companies with workers people with disabilities who seek employment. Through the ISABLED Recruitment Center (IRC), job seekers and recruiters meet and interact, in real-time, but from the comfort and convenience of their home or office.

Aspen Dental Offers Free Dental Care to Thousands of Military Veterans Nationwide

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Aspen Dental coworkers posing outside of office

As part of its annual Day of Service Aspen Dental will open nearly 500 of its dental offices to provide FREE care to as many as 5,000 veterans on Saturday, June 8.

Like millions of other Americans, veterans can struggle to find oral health care when they need it. The majority of U.S. veterans are not eligible for dental benefits through the Veterans Administration unless they are 100% disabled, have a service-related mouth injury or were a prisoner of war.

This year, Aspen Dental looks to build on the success of 2018’s Day of Service campaign, in which more than 4,300 veterans across the country received free dental care at 426 participating Aspen Dental locations.

Veterans are encouraged to call 1-844-277-3646 (1-844-ASPENHMM) to find a participating office near them and schedule an appointment.

Since launching the Healthy Mouth Movement in 2014, Aspen Dental offices across the country have donated more than $15 million in dentistry to over 22,000 veterans.

Continue on to Business Wire to read the complete article.

#1 Franchise for Veterans Expanding into South Carolina Lowcountry

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Dream Vacations

Charleston, S.C. (May 8, 2019) – Nationally recognized and leading travel agency franchise Dream Vacations is expanding its footprint in South Carolina and is seeking potential new franchise owners.

To introduce itself to the region, the agency has sponsored several community events through membership with the Summerville YMCA including the Shamrock Shuffle and Flowertown. In addition, the travel agency will be hosting the first ever Charleston Cruise & Travel Show on Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Charleston Marriott.

“As booking vacations becomes more complex with all of the vacation options which can be found on the internet, travel agents are making a comeback and there is no time like the present to get started in this industry,” said Janet Harris, director of recruitment for Dream Vacations. “We like to say that people have a dream list, rather than bucket list, of where they want to travel, and since travel is no longer considered a luxury, Americans are looking to make these dream vacations become reality. South Carolina is perfect for travel franchisees because not only do they live in a popular tourist destination, but they have easy access to the Port of Charleston making it possible for locals to visit exotic destinations without having to fly.”

Tourism is booming in Charleston, S.C. due to a cruise terminal that is growing in popularity as a home port and the city’s frequent ranking as one of the best places to visit in the U.S. According to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, there are more than 15,000 military retirees in this region and 20,000 active duty personnel making a $10.8 billion economic impact. This coupled with Dream Vacations being a leading franchise opportunity for veterans, as well as South Carolina ranked a “Top 10 State for Franchise Growth” by the International Franchise Association (IFA) in its annual Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2018, make it an opportune time for Dream Vacations to focus on expanding to this region.

All military veterans and Gold Star families who purchase a Dream Vacations travel agency business receive an enlistment package valued at no less than $5,000 and ongoing support. They can select one of four perks currently being offered — 2019 National Conference cabin aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas valued at $2,100; receive up to $7,000 back based on initial fee through the Earn Back promotion; waived administrative fees valued at $1,350; or a surface pro tablet valued at $1,000. They also receive a waived training fee for a business partner; veteran-themed marketing assets; and the ability to hire active-duty military spouses and veterans as associates at a discount. Additional veteran incentives include the ability to move residences and stay in business, LeisureCare Travel Insurance discounts for veterans, travel discounts for military customers and access to veteran networking groups. In addition, Dream Vacations is hosting its eighth annual award-winning Operation Vetrepreneur contest which awards five free franchises to military veterans from Monday, May 27, 2019, through Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Dream Vacations is looking for franchisees who are passionate about travel, helping others and are eager to go into business for themselves, but not by themselves. No experience selling travel is necessary because all new franchise owners attend an award-winning six-day training at Dream Vacations’ world headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, where they learn how to use Dream Vacations’ industry-leading booking systems and get an introduction to the cruise and resort vacation industry. New franchisees can open their home-based business for less than $10,000 and work anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Veterans interested in learning more about how they can parlay their military skills into business ownership, please visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com or call 888-249-8235. To learn more about the Charleston Cruise & Travel Show, visit www.CruiseAndTravelShow.com. Tickets are $10 and military veterans who use the promo code MILITARY will receive half off.

About Dream Vacations

Travel agents with the top-ranked home-based travel agency franchise Dream Vacations have the resources to plan and create seamless vacation experiences for their customers while offering the best value. A member of the International Franchise Association, Dream Vacations is part of World Travel Holdings and has received partner of the year, a top-ranking status, by all the major cruise lines as well as national recognition for its support of military veterans. For more information about Dream Vacations, visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com. Like Dream Vacations on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DreamVacationsFranchise, follow on Twitter at @Dream_Franchise and watch its videos at http://www.youtube.com/DreamVacationsBusiness.

Gary Sinise: From Self to Service

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Gary-Sinise-Foundation-Soaring Valor

By Brady Rhoades

Two events changed Gary Sinise’s life: playing Lt. Dan in the Oscar-winning 1993 movie Forrest Gump, and Sept. 11, 2001. The first provoked countless encounters with Vietnam veterans who identified with the heroic, sorrowful, raging and, finally, redemptive Lt. Dan.

The latter went even deeper. His country had been attacked. America changed that day, and so did Sinise. His life’s focus shifted from self to service. “It set the stage for working with the wounded after that terrible day,” he said. “I couldn’t sit back. I wanted to let our service members know they were appreciated … then, the men and women who serve our country raised their hands and I thought, ‘I can take a proactive role in backing them up.’”

Twenty six years after Lt. Dan captured American’s imagination as a ravaged Vietnam vet utterly lost and ultimately found—and 18 years after the United States was attacked on its own soil and more than 3,000 lost their lives, Sinise has penned a New York Times bestselling book that describes his journey: Grateful American: From Self to Service. “I am grateful to be an American,” he said, in an interview with U.S Veterans Magazine. “That’s something I will always cherish.”

It took about a cup of coffee for Grateful American to hit the New York Times Best Seller list in early 2019. Sinise describes his journey from self to service in a plain-spoken, compelling way. Here’s an excerpt from the prologue, titled “Stunned,” in which he’s accepting an award from the Disabled Veterans of American for his performance as Lt. Dan: “When our veterans returned  from the first Gulf War, unlike Vietnam, they were greeted with giant parades in New York and a  few other cities. Yet even though our country eventually tried to make amends with Vietnam  veterans by supporting them as they created the Vietnam Memorial in D.C., and with some cities in the mid-1980s hosting a few welcome-home. parades, now in 1994, I can still sense remnants of this rift in our country, this stillopen wound for the veterans of the Vietnam War.

Little do I know how significant this moment at the convention will become in my life. Seeds are being planted that will grow into a tree with many branches. For it’s here that I first begin to ask myself, ‘How can I make a difference in restoring what’s been lost? How can I help make sure our veterans are never treated that way again?’”

Sinise visits an injured service member in the hospital
Sinise visits an injured service member in the hospital

Since publishing the book through Nelson Books, Sinise has been hearing from readers, including veterans. “I’m thrilled whenever I hear from a veteran,” said Sinise, 64. Sinise is an actor, director and musician. Among other awards, he has won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Sinise is known for several memorable roles. These include George Milton in Of Mice and Men, Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Harry S. Truman in Truman (for which he won a Golden Globe), Ken Mattingly in Apollo 13, Detective Jimmy Shaker in Ransom, and Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY(2004–13).

Sinise was born in Blue Island, Illinois. His father, Robert, was a film editor. He graduated from Highland Park High in Highland Park, Illinois. He later graduated from Illinois University. His legacy at Highland Park has been secured. In the 1970s, Sinise and two friends founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The theatre, a non-profit, continues to thrive today.

He started off as a rebel and a musician. His parents bought him a guitar when he was a boy, but he noticed everyone was playing guitar, so he switched to bass, which he still plays today. The hugely popular Lt. Dan Band, which plays mostly rock’n’ roll and country covers that are favorites among troops, has played for service members all over the world.

It’s one of many services he provides through the Gary Sinise Foundation, which he founded after 9/11 to ensure that today’s veterans are not treated like the Lt. Dans of the Vietnam War.

Gary Sinise Foundation Invincible Spirit Festival
Gary Sinise Foundation Invincible Spirit Festival

Sinise is an actor at his core. But his work for the troops just might be his lasting legacy. His journey from self to service has resulted in these staggering numbers from his foundation: —Building 70 specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded heroes; —More than 102,400 attendees at the Invincible Spirit Festivals since 2012; —More than 175,000 meals served to our nation’s defenders across the country; —About 460 support concerts for our troops, sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation; —More than 7,000 vets have joined Gary and crew for “Vets Night” performances; —About 1,700 children of fallen military heroes and their surviving parents/guardians attended the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Snowball Express event in 2018.

“Snowball” is a word Sinise favors. He hopes his, and others’, support of our active troops and veterans creates a snowball effect.

“Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted,” he said. “We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”

“We have tremendous supporters who support the Gary Sinise Foundation,” he added. “There’s an unfortunate disconnect between our people and those who defend this country. I encourage all of us to get to know the people who are protecting you.”

He stresses that veterans are everywhere. You don’t have to put on concerts for thousands; you can support one veteran, and that’s a big deal. “Look within your own neighborhood, your town, yourstate.”

Here’s one more excerpt from Grateful American that encapsulates Sinise’s attitude, and personal journey: “There have been any number of ups and downs in myn life, and there was a time when I wasn’t concerned about too much more than my own career. But slowly things changed. It’s my hope that as I share these stories from my life, you will be entertained and maybe even inspired, too—empowered to overcome obstacles, embrace gratitude, and engage in service above self.”