Award-winning feature film Trooper Screening at Lackland Air Force Base, August 10

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Trooper Moview poster

“This movie is neither for the war or against it. It is 100% for the troops.” – Christopher Neff, Former Lance Corporal, USMC, Infantry OIF 2003-2005.

“I was blown away by Chris Martini’s “Trooper.” It stirred a myriad of emotions in me that, as a veteran, I haven’t felt before. It’s a powerful yet sensitive film that hits its mark like a freight train, then provocatively presses further on points about veterans easily overlooked. Viewers will identify with this story; it bridges the gap between two generations of military service. Every veteran — no — every American, should see this film.”
– LTC Raymond (Ray) Morris U.S. Army Special Forces (ret)

“A beautiful, heart-wrenching film that offers far more than empathy. It dares viewers to explore a disturbing corner of the Iraq War, a realm that no film has yet to touch: the blight of depleted uranium poisoning, which has infected thousands of Iraq veterans but is yet to be acknowledged by the Pentagon and is virtually unknown to the American public.”
– The Huffington Post – by Joshua Kors

Murphy O’Shea, an Iraq Veteran, has a hard time re-adjusting to society upon his return from a long tour. His world crumbles when he discovers his father, Bill, a Vietnam Veteran, is dying. “Trooper” is the story of a father and son, two veterans from two very different Wars, helping each other to get through each day, and heal the wounds of War.

Award-winning Director Christopher Martini and the filmmakers are thrilled to announce the theatrical release of Trooper, on Lackland Air Force Base on August 10th, at 12:30 and 4:00 pm. The film veterans say tells their story more honestly and accurately than ever before, dealing with what really happens to them, both on the front lines and when they return home. It’s a story of love and horror amidst the scandals reflected in the news across the nation every day.

Emotional and compelling, this long-awaited film has screened extensively for veteran groups and at film festivals across the country, winning multiple awards.

* Winner, Distinguished Film Award for both Writing and Directing, 2019 – U.S. Exercise Tiger Commemorative Foundation
* Winner, Christopher Martini, Renaissance Man Award, 2010 – Garden State Film Festival
* Winner, Bronze Remi, 2010 – Houston Int’l Film Festival
* Official Selection, 2010 – Philadelphia Independent Film Festival
* Honorable Mention, 2011 – Voice Awards
* Honorable Mention, 2010 – SoCal Film Festival
* Script Finalist, 2008 – Rome Independent Film Festival
* Top 15% at Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.

Screenings
• Diversity Film Festival – Tacoma, WA
• Garden State Film Festival – Asbury Park, NJ
• Gulf War Veterans Reunion – Dallas, TX

To stream, download or purchase the DVD for Trooper, visit Amazon, Vimeo On Demand vimeo.com/ondemand/trooper.

Sailor Spotlight! Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jonathan Cole

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Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jonathan Cole

SAN DIEGO – Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jonathan Cole, from Anaheim, Calif., assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), participates in the E-7 Navy-wide advancement exam.

Bonhomme Richard is in its homeport of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary DiPadova)

The men and women in the U.S. Navy are deployed around the clock and ready to protect and defend America on the world’s oceans.

Source: outreach.navy.mil

Army Green Berets earn over 50 combat awards — including three Silver Stars — in Afghanistan

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Deputy Commander Col. Steven M. Marks salutes a 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier during a ceremony at the chapel on Eglin Air Force Base

Dozens of Green Berets received valor awards, including three Silver Star medals, in a recent ceremony meant to highlight the bravery and dedication that members of 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) showed during a recent Afghanistan deployment.

In addition to the trio of Silver Stars — the military’s third-highest personal award for combat bravery — officials also presented seven Bronze Stars for valor and 17 Army Commendation medals. The 27 valor awards were presented during the ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., officials said.

“This is a reminder that even in the modern age, warfare is still about courage under fire,” said Col. Steven M. Marks, deputy commander of 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), in a 7th Group statement. Marks presented the medals at Eglin’s Liberty Chapel.

The unit’s soldiers also earned 21 Purple Hearts during the combat zone deployment, a 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) spokesman told Stars and Stripes.

The decorations were awarded to the soldiers of 7th Group’s 2nd Battalion for actions during a six-month deployment in late 2018.

The Bronze Star is for acts of heroism of a lesser degree than the Silver Star, which is awarded for acts of gallantry of a higher degree than those meriting any other U.S. combat decoration except the Medal of Honor or service crosses. The Army Commendation medal ranks below the Bronze Star.

Pictured above: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2019, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) Deputy Commander Col. Steven M. Marks salutes a 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier during a ceremony at the chapel on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after presenting him a medal for valorous acts during the battalion’s recent deployment to Afghanistan. Liberty chapel on Jan. 9. Jose Vargas/U.S. Army
JOSE VARGAS/U.S. ARMY

Four Green Berets who had earned additional valor awards — two Bronze Stars and two Army Commendation medals — were absent. Twenty-six soldiers earned valor awards, with five of them earning two valor awards and six earning both an award for valor and the Purple Heart for being wounded in action.

“The valor we are recognizing today happened at the most tactical level — face to face fighting, close quarters combat, hand grenade-range,” Marks said.

The 7th Group statement did not provide details of the specific acts that were recognized, which occurred during a war that has largely faded from public view during which most offensive operations are carried out by shadowy commando units.

A relative few U.S. troops, typically special operations forces, have gone into combat or served on the front lines in Afghanistan since 2014, often as part of unilateral or joint operations with their Afghan counterparts during separate U.S. counterterrorism mission.

During 2nd Battalion’s deployment from September 2018 to February 2019, some 14,000 U.S. troops were deployed to the country, most as part of a NATO mission training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces for battling a Taliban insurgency against the Kabul government.

Continue on to Stars and Stripes to read the complete article.

Defense Department expands commissary access to more military members

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Commissary building

The New Year brought new perks for some military members and their families.

The Department of Defense expanded shopping privileges at its commissaries to a number of new groups, including Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, all veterans with service-connected disabilities and individuals approved as the primary family caregivers of eligible veterans.

The expanded eligibility went into effect Jan. 1.

Other patrons authorized to shop at commissaries by the Department of Defense include active duty, Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, 100 percent disabled veterans and authorized family members.

Commissaries are discounted grocery shopping facilities located on bases. By law, the shop is required to deliver savings to shoppers, based on prices negotiated with manufacturers. Baseline savings are typically expected to be just shy of 24 percent.

Shoppers are subject to a 5 percent surcharge but no state and local food-related taxes. The surcharge is used for store upkeep and construction.

In addition to commissaries, newly eligible military personnel will also have access to military service exchanges, golf courses, bowling centers, recreational lodging, RV campgrounds, movie theaters and other facilities.

According to the Department of Defense, eligibility is limited because it does not have the infrastructure to handle an influx of more than 15 million additional veterans to the facilities.

Not only did the new year bring new benefits for some veterans, it also brought higher pay for service members.

Continue on to Fox Business News to read the complete article.

Paws of War Helps American Soldiers Bring Home Dogs from the Middle East

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U.S. Soldier is holding up his rescue dog for a picture

Being deployed to Afghanistan can be dangerous and stressful for our service members. Some of these service members rescue stray dogs and befriend them. When it’s time to head back to the United States, the last thing they can think of is leaving the dog behind to fend for itself. One soldier, Sgt. Dominick, is desperate to bring his dog, Jonsey, back home with him.

“After these dogs are rescued, they develop a special bond with our service members. These dogs will not leave their side and become very attached and loyal,” explains Dori Scofield co-founder of Paws of War. “There’s no way they can leave them, so we do everything we can to help them bring the dog home with them. We need all the support we can get from the public in order to be successful with these efforts.”

Army Sgt. Dominick, who is stationed in a remote area of Afghanistan, first spotted Jonsey when the starving puppy was eating burnt trash outside of his camp. He took the puppy in, fed him, and the whole unit fell in love with him, which brought them joy. He named him Jonsey, and the dog grew to feel like a part of his family. Now that he will be heading back to the United States, he can’t bear to leave him behind.

Stray dogs in Afghanistan have a very rough life and often times are subjected to cruelty. Desperate to bring him back home with him to live out his life and be a part of his larger family, he turned to Paws of War for assistance. The organization has a program in place that helps service members bring their dog home after being deployed to the Middle East. While they are always quick to help do what they can, they can’t do it alone.

In order for Paws of War to be successful at bringing a dog back to America from Afghanistan, they work with Nowzad, the only official animal shelter in Afghanistan, and get financial support from public donations. There’s a lot that goes into bringing a dog back to the U.S., including quarantine, all of which comes at a high cost.

If you would like to help, please donate here:pawsofwar.org/donate. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs please visit pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides assistance to active, retired, and disabled military members. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or to make a donation visit its site at: pawsofwar.org.

THE LAST FULL MEASURE—Coming to theaters January 24!

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The Last Full Measure movie promo poster

THE LAST FULL MEASURE tells the true story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (also known as a PJ) medic who personally saved over sixty men.

During a rescue mission on April 11, 1966, he was offered the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of a combat zone heavily under fire, but he stayed behind to save and defend the lives of his fellow soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, before making the ultimate sacrifice in the bloodiest battle of the war.

Thirty-two years later, respected Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman (Sebastien Stan) on a career fast-track is tasked with investigating a Congressional Medal of Honor request for Pitsenbarger made by his best friend and PJ partner on the mission (William Hurt) and his parents (Christopher Plummer & Diane Ladd).

Huffman seeks out the testimony of Army veterans who witnessed Pitsenbarger’s extraordinary valor, including Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson), Burr (Peter Fonda) and Mott (Ed Harris). But as Huffman learns more about Pitsenbarger’s courageous acts, he uncovers a high-level conspiracy behind the decades-long denial of the medal, prompting him to put his own career on the line to seek justice for the fallen airman.

Watch the trailer!

Directed by Todd Robinson
Written by Todd Robinson
Starring Sebastian Stan, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt with Ed Harris and Samuel L. Jackson, co-starring Peter Fonda, LisaGay Hamilton, Jeremy Irvine, Diane Ladd, Amy Madigan, Linus Roache, John Savage, Alison Sudol and Bradley Whitford

The True Story Of ‘1917’ Is Part Of Sam Mendes’ Family Lore

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The World War 1 movie poster promoting 1917

In Sam Mendes’ 1917, two British soldiers in World War I sprint through the hellish maze of trench warfare and across no man’s land to deliver an urgent message. It’s a film full of technical marvels set against the backdrop of a very real war, but the particulars of 1917 are based on a true story even more specific than that. It turns out that the story is also part of Mendes’ family history, though he didn’t learn about the event that inspired his film until almost 60 years after it happened.

The film follows soldiers Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) in real time after they’re tasked with reaching the front lines to tell battalions they’re walking into a German trap. If they fail, up to 1,600 men could die, including Blake’s brother. If they succeed, well… they’re still soldiers stuck in World War I — a war in which men died by the thousands to gain mere meters of land.

Mendes’ grandfather Alfred Mendes was 17 when he enlisted in the war. Though he would later become a writer and novelist, Sam didn’t hear the story of his time in the war until decades later, when Alfred was in his 70s and decided to open up about his teenage years in the war. “There was one particular story he told us of being tasked to carry a single message through no man’s land in dusk in the winter of 1916… And that stayed with me,” Mendes told NPR. “And that was the story I found I wanted to tell.” Apparently, Alfred’s small stature suited him perfectly for the dangerous task. “[Alfred] ran 5 and a half feet, and the mist used to hang at about 6 feet in no man’s land, so he wasn’t visible above the mist.”

Alfred would later write an autobiography detailing the full history of his dangerous mission. It was 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. Alfred was a member of C company, which along with A, B, and D companies, were sent to the area to maintain pressure against the crumbling German front. The Allied forces wanted to do so by pushing back at the German 4th Army, but rainy weather had turned the battlefield into its own form of hell. As Alfred put it, “The Ypres Salient was a marsh of mud and a killer of men… an area into which countless shells plunged destroying whatever tree, plant, bush, or grass there was and left behind a surface of moon-like desolation, many shell craters as traps for sucking in live men and drowning them — to this sector we came in 1917.”

The change in landscape didn’t change Allied leaders’ plans at all, and all companies led an assault charge forward. It was a disaster. The expected counterattack never came and the charge failed, but worst of all, C company lost track of A, B, and D. The Battalion Advanced Report Centre needed data to plan any next moves. They sent a message: “Report on four companies urgently needed.” Alfred’s captain asked for one man to volunteer to run through the deadly battleground, make contact with each company, and return with the information. Alfred volunteered.

Continue on to The Bustle to read the complete article.

2020 Virginia International Tattoo—Stories of the Greatest Generation

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Virginia Tattoo coming in April promo poster

NORFOLK, VA. – Virginia Arts Festival has announced the 2020 dates for its 24th annual Virginia International Tattoo. The largest spectacle of music and might in the United States, the Virginia International Tattoo offers an astounding display of inspirational military music, majestic massed pipes and drums, show stopping drill team maneuvers, colorful and elegant dancers, and much more. Each year’s Tattoo is different, with new performers from across the globe, new themes of honor and patriotism, and new sights and sounds to amaze you. Our 24th annual Tattoo, set for April 30-May 3, 2020, will feature over 1,000 performers from eight different countries–don’t blink or you might miss something!

The 2020 Virginia International Tattoo promises to be one of the most moving ever, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and honor the courage and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation. With stirring music, historic photos and video, tributes from U.S. military bands, and special appearances by veterans, we will remember and celebrate the men and women who changed the course of history, not only for the United States but for the world.

Tickets are on sale now and available at vafest.org, by phone at 757-282-2822, or in person at the Virginia Arts Festival Box Office located at 440 Bank Street, Norfolk, VA 23510.

What is the Tattoo?
Presented annually as part of the Virginia Arts Festival, the term Tattoo evolved from a European tradition dating back to the 17th century when Low Country innkeepers would cry “Doe den tap toe!” – “Turn off the taps!” as the fifes and drums of the local regiment signaled a return to quarters.

The Tattoos seen across the world today refers to a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands. Each Tattoo is influenced by the culture of the country they represent.

Fans of these massed spectacles of music and might flock to the world’s great Tattoos: the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland, the Basel Tattoo in Switzerland, and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Canada. But the greatest Tattoo in the United States, and rivaling the largest in the world, is the Virginia International Tattoo.

Attending the Virginia International Tattoo
When: Thursday, April 30, 7:30 pm
Friday, May 1, 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 2, 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 3, 2:30 pm
Where: Scope Arena, 201 E. Brambleton Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia

Sailor takes over duties as Chief of the Boat aboard U.S. Navy submarine

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Master Chief Sonar Technician (Submarine) Michael Wangen II pins his replacement abaord Navy ship

SANTA RITA, Guam – Master Chief Sonar Technician (Submarine) Michael Wangen II, pins Senior Chief Yeoman (Submarine) Matthew Zwan, right, from Garden Grove, Calif., as his relief as the Chief of the Boat aboard the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) on the pier following a deployment.

Topeka is one of four forward-deployed submarines assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen out of Apra Harbor, Guam.

Source: Navy Outreach

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey J. Hockenberger)

VA launches Solid Start to ensure Veterans are contacted during initial transition

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veteran looking at document on his laptop

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in collaboration with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, recently introduced VA Solid Start which will proactively contact all newly separated service members at least three times during their first year of transition from the military.

The program will engage contact with approximately 200,000 Veterans each year and is part of Executive Order 13822 which was issued to improve mental health care and access to suicide prevention resources available to transitioning uniformed service members in the year following discharge, separation or retirement.

“The stress of transition from service can lead to challenges or unmet health care needs for Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Through VA Solid Start, the department will ensure consistent, caring contact and help new Veterans get a solid start on their civilian lives.”

The goal is to establish a strong relationship between VA and transitioning service members, promoting awareness of VA benefits, services and partner resources available to them.

Veterans within their first year of separation from uniformed service experience suicide rates nearly two times higher than the overall Veteran suicide rate. Contacts through VA Solid Start — via phone calls or emails — will ensure transitioning service members are aware of the free VA mental health resources the department offers Veterans for up to a year, regardless of discharge status or service history.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Source: VA

Veteran Goes From Janitor to Physicist After Teaching Himself Trigonometry Using Only Youtube Videos

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Joshua Carrol pictured with an dark purple and black background wearing a dark sweater with arms folded

This U.S. Army veteran is a perfect example of how anyone can achieve their dreams—regardless of their experiences.

Joshua Carroll had only been in high school when an airplane crashed into the World Trade Center back in 2001. Rather than pursue a college education, Carroll got his GED so he could enlist in the military.

After spending three deployments in Iraq, Carroll returned to his home in Virginia and found himself suffering from PTSD—and a general lack of purpose.

Carroll had begun working as a janitor at a local school when he caught sight of a Stephen Hawking book sitting on a library shelf. As he flipped through the pages, Carroll suddenly decided to pursue his childhood dream of being a physicist.

With just a 10th grade education in geometry, Carroll managed to persuade the admissions staffers at Radford University to let him skip the prerequisites for the physics program provided he could teach himself trigonometry.

Armed with nothing but the internet, Carroll prepared for his entrance exam by watching dozens of YouTube videos to learn advanced mathematics in just three weeks.

Not only did he pass with flying colors, he graduated as one of the top students in his class—and he has been working as a physicist ever since.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.