Together We Served: A website to help you find old friends

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Group of U.S. Military pictured in rows wearing military uniforms

The United States military is a brotherhood and sisterhood like no other. Those who serve together form a common sense of purpose and devotion to duty. It’s a level of trust not commonly found in civilian life.

Those military friendships last forever. But as life moves, and when people leave the military, they often lose touch with those friends, some of whom they would have given their life for.

Tracking down old friends, particularly if you have been out of the service many years, is not always easy. But there is one company that can help. Together We Served (TWS) is a Veteran-only website, launched in 2003. It provides Veterans a highly-effective means to reconnect with old service-friends. One simply enters their service history onto their TWS Military Service Page. TWS built an individual website for each branch of service and, with over 1.9 million Veteran members, the chances of finding people you served with is high.

The secret behind TWS’s ability to connect more Veterans is the depth of its databases. Over the past 16 years, TWS has built one of the most comprehensive databases of U.S. Military training and operating units in existence. Its databases span from WW2 to present day.

Military Service Page

By creating your Military Service Page on Together We Served, you can not only find Veterans who went to the same basic training as you, or served in the same units or duty stations, but also those who participated in the same combat or non-combat operations. TWS’s search engine automatically matches the service information you enter on your Military Service Page with the service information on the Military Service Pages of all other TWS members. Those members, whose entries could match yours, get listed on your Service Page. That is what enables you to make contact with those you may know. This powerful feature helps Veterans remember forgotten names.

Finding key people on TWS can be very helpful, especially if you need or can provide witness account to support a potential VA claim.

“We are especially proud of the fact that Together We Served has been able to help hundreds of thousands of Veterans to reconnect with old service friends they would otherwise never see or hear of again. For a combat Veteran, in particular, to be able to re-unite with someone you went through hell and back with, can be a very cathartic experience”. –Brian Foster, President and Founder of Together We Served

Take this opportunity to reconnect with the servicemen and women you shared some of the most important times of your life with. In recognition of your service, Together We Served provides all VA Veterans with a FREE One Year Premium Membership, providing unlimited people searches, when you join TWS via the following link: join.togetherweserved.com/va

Continue on to the VA website to read the complete article.

Military Makeover with Montel Williams Renovates Family Home of Late Chris Hixon, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Athletic Director in Parkland, FL, and 27 Year Navy Veteran.

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Military Makeover logo Montel Williams and Chris and Debra Hixon

U.S. Navy veteran Chris Hixon, a 27-year veteran (5 active, 22 reserve) who served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, sacrificed his life on February 14, 2018, when the Athletic Director ran into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and tried to save the lives of students by disarming an active shooter.

Hixon is survived by his wife Debra and their two sons, Thomas and Corey.

Debra, also the  daughter of a Navy veteran, has been a teacher for 29 years, serving as a Magnet Coordinator at South Broward High School’s Marine Science Maritime Magnet Program and cares for her special needs son, Cory, who was a big part of the makeover. Cory’s room was inspired by his love for prayer and church.

“He loved being American and serving his country, and he instilled it in his students,” Debra said. Chris Hixon received Military Funeral Honors before he was laid to rest at the age of 49 at the South Florida VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth, FL, on Feb. 21, 2018.

In partnership with major national and local brands, the Military Makeover team comes prepared with building supplies, designs, furniture, gifts and much more from the generous partnerships cultivated by the show.

Additionally, volunteers will be invited to participate and lend a hand in support of the Hixon Family during the renovation of the home they shared for 28 years.

The first episode airs on February 14th at 7:30am EST, the second year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stone Douglas High School.

All aired episodes can be found at militarymakeover.tv/

Navy to name new aircraft carrier for African American WWII hero

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Doris "Dorie" Miller pictured in his Nvy uniform

The US Navy will name a new aircraft carrier after Doris “Dorie” Miller, a decorated African American World War II veteran who defended Pearl Harbor during the 1941 attack on the Hawaii naval base, making it the first aircraft carrier to be named after an African American.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly made the announcement Monday during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the national holiday commemorating the life of the slain civil rights leader.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Miller manned an anti-aircraft machine gun aboard the battleship USS West Virginia “until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship,” according to a Navy biography, which said he “had not been trained to operate” the weapon. Miller said he believed he shot down a Japanese plane during the attack, the biography said. The following year, Miller received the Navy Cross, the highest medal awarded by the Navy, becoming the first African American to receive the honor.

“Dorie Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation,” Modly said. “His story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue to stand the watch today.”

The aircraft carrier to be named after Miller will also be the first one named after an enlisted sailor, Modly added. Miller fought in the Pacific Theater until November 1943, when the ship he was assigned to was sunk by a Japanese submarine torpedo. He was listed as missing for a year and a day before being presumed dead on November 25, 1944, according to his biography.

In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller also received the Purple Heart Medal and the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, as well as the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal, according to the Navy. In 1973, a Knox-class frigate was named in honor of Miller, but was later decommissioned in the 1990s.

Continue on to CNN News to read the complete article.

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.

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.

Navy Petty Officer Reenlists in U.S. Navy for Six Years at USS Arizona Memorial

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Master at Arms 1st Class Petty Officer Christopher Kurz took the oath of enlisment from Lt. Cmdr. Phillip Fortnam at the USS Arizona Memorial at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza in Phoenix, Ariz. on December 7, 2019

PHOENIX – Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Kurz, a native of Mesa, Arizona, reenlisted for six years at the USS Arizona Memorial in downtown Phoenix on Dec. 7th, in honor of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice during the attack at Pearl Harbor and was the pivotal moment that sent America into WWII.

Kurz, a 2001 graduate of Red Mountain High School and a 2013 Ottawa University graduate with a degree in business administration, is a master-at-arms serving with Naval Security Forces Guam.

As a Navy master-at-arms, Kurz is responsible for providing qualified Naval physical security and force protection in support of Naval Base Guam’s mission involving waterfront operations, ordnance security, and logistical support to the 5th and 7th fleets in Guam and Marianas Area of Responsibility.

“What I enjoy most is making a direct impact on my peers and junior sailors,” Kurz said. “The diversity allows me to accomplish my career goals while helping others flourish and succeed in their career goals. Their success is my success and there is no better feeling than seeing hard work and determination exemplify the navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment.”

Kurz said he joined the Navy to fight for his country, especially in a time of need.

“Being fourth-generation military and the son of a sailor who served in Vietnam, the Navy allowed me the opportunity to fulfill my destiny following the 9/11 attacks which took place soon after I graduated high school,” Kurz said. “I was set on becoming a master-at-arms and the requirement at the time, was prior service or law enforcement experience, so I took the advice from my father to attend college and join up after graduation. However, after watching the “shock and awe” on the news of the invasion of Iraq in late March 2003 and not being one who was college material at the time, I went to try my luck with the other branches. I found out the requirements for master-at-arms changed, so within 40 days of talking to the recruiter again, I was officially enlisted and took my oath to defend the constitution of the United States.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Kurz is most proud of the accomplishments he has accumulated in his 15-year Naval career, which include: mentoring junior sailors who have been Junior Sailor of the Year and BlueJacket of the Quarter; earning his expeditionary warfare, surface warfare and aviation warfare insignias; completing five deployments to include serving alongside Naval Special Warfare Development Group and earning a Combat Action Ribbon and Presidential Unit Citation; being nominated for Sailor of the Year for 2019; actively participating in the Funeral Honors Detail for over 500 veteran services; and earning his bachelor’s degree with honors and getting accepted in graduate school.

“I learned adaptability, superior decision making, being resourceful, flexibility and persistence, self-discipline, confidence, determination, extreme discipline and the power of intense focus,” Kurz said. “Additionally, the ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of those under your command, always be willing to listen, invest in relationships for the long term, stay calm under pressure and act decisively even with limited information. Teamwork makes the dream work.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Kurz is part of a legacy that will last a lifetime providing the Navy the nation needs.

“I’m providing safety and security to not only to the American people, but those who need it the most around the world,” Kurz said. “I’m getting the opportunity to serve alongside fellow Americans who volunteered in all branches of the military and I’m helping to make the world a better place, by participating in contingency operations that helped neutralize threats that could have potentially caused greater destruction and the loss of life to fellow American and allied troops.”

Source: NAVY Outreach