Returning Heroes Home offers a place for wounded warriors and their families at the San Antonio Military Medical Center burn unit and the Center for the Intrepid to recover, rest and find support. The building is the new location of the Warrior and Family Support Center and provides a "living room" environment so the injured troops and their loved ones can enjoy the comforts of home during treatment.
Military personnel serving overseas can record a bedtime story and send it to their children for free thanks to an iPhone app called A Story Before Bed. The program offers 100,000 free recordings to help troops connect with loved ones back home. Any member of the U.S. armed forces who is deploying or already deployed can sign up on the A Story Before Bed website to receive a free storybook recording. Soldiers record a story using a webcam on a Mac or PC and send it to their children using the company's iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad app or a Web browser.
As the name suggests, AdoptAPlatoon does in fact allow organizations to adopt units of troops to send them packages and letters. But the effort goes much further, including: adoptions of military members by individuals or groups; a pen-pal option; one-time support opportunities; support for special operations forces whose information is not public; and holiday and special campaigns. The campaigns include sending holiday-themed cards and treats at the appropriate times of the year as well as programs to gather supplies for specific needs of troops or local children. AdoptAPlatoon takes its programs seriously and requires certain commitments from its volunteers.
Get out your good luck charms and join the USO of Metropolitan Washington (USO-Metro) for its 7th Annual Casino Night on October 15th at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. All proceeds will benefit the USO-Metro's programs for the capital area's service members and their families. The event will include the opportunity to mingle with celebrities and wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Hospital. Table games include roulette, blackjack and poker, and the evening also features silent and live auctions and entertainment. One lucky person will even win a trip to Las Vegas.
The Armed Services Mutual Benefit Association (ASMBA) STAR Foundation is a voluntary group that assists members of the military community by awarding funds to organizations that support them. Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations that provide services to troops, veterans and their families as well as their communities. The foundation especially emphasizes groups that provide for combat-wounded troops, military families, scholarships for the military community, veterans and patriotic activities. Requests for capital projects and general operating support will be considered. The ASMBA STAR Foundation only funds individuals under specific criteria.
The U.S. Defense Department is resuming the military spouse career advancement accounts program (MyCAA) after a comprehensive review and restructuring. The benefits will be available for spouses of service members in ranks E1 to E5, W1 to W2 and O1 to O2 beginning on October 25. Eligible spouses will receive a total of $4,000 in department-funded financial aid, with an annual fiscal year limit of $2,000. Funding must be used to obtain an associate's degree, licensure or certification within three years of the start date of the first class.
This service project matches people who want to support military families with the military families who need a lift. Through the effort, volunteers create Card Kits that are supplied to military children with deployed parents. The children can mail the cards to help keep in touch with and boost the morale of the nation's overseas warfighters. The project offers groups the flexibility to make or buy cards, though all must be able to ship for the cost of a first-class stamp. The kits are sent to specific locations and needed at certain times during the year.
Blake Hall is a man on a mission: to help U.S. military personnel use "Web 2.0" Internet technologies to help one another and themselves. Hall's no stranger to demanding missions. A decorated former U.S. Army Captain and Airborne Ranger who led a scout platoon in Iraq, he relates how the first time he ever led a combat mission, his battalion commander laid his hand on his shoulder and said ominously, "Hall, don't screw it up." And based on the overwhelmingly positive, initial response to his and his co-founders' new, veteran-owned web venture, TroopSwap.com, an online community and marketplace for active duty U.S. military, reservists, veterans and their families, that battalion commander would be more than proud.
American Veterans (AMVETS) announced a new mobile app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and Blackberry that allows veterans to locate AMVETS posts, find their local service officer, connect with headquarters and research veterans' issues. The veterans' organization and FraternalSoft Incorporated teamed up to create AMVETS Mobile, which AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin calls the "latest weapon in our communications arsenal." The demographic of veterans is changing, and the need for instant information is key, explains Jim King, AMVETS executive director. The app provides veterans with the ability to locate the nearest AMVETS posts or thrift stores using geo-location services.
Warfighters, welcome back! ReBoot Camp is the 1st Civilian Division-an organization that links up veterans so they can support each other to make successful transitions from the military to civilian life. The program helps reconnect veterans with family, friends, community and careers. ReBoot Camp wants warriors to understand that adjusting to life after combat is difficult, but no one has to do it alone. Currently, there are weekly meetings in Livermore, California, and job readiness workshops in Dublin, California, but the organization is working to expand its efforts to other geographic locations. The program also is developing mentorships and starting a writers group.
Heroes on the Water serves wounded and disabled active duty, Reserve and Guard troops. The group aims to help injured warfighters recover mentally and physically through the therapeutic qualities of fishing from kayaks. Participants enjoy guided fishing trips around the country. The programs offer basic kayak fishing instruction, angling clinics and paddling classes for people in various skill ranges. Adaptive kayaks, accessories and angling equipment are made available as needed to accommodate warriors with particular needs. The kayaks, various gear, meals and transportation are provided free of charge.
A team at the Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) National Center for Telehealth and Technology developed an iPhone app called iBreathe, which will be available for free in the iTunes app store after January 2011. It aims to help military personnel, veterans and their family members deal with stressful situations by practicing deep "belly" breathing. DCoE researchers say high-stress situations often result in a "fight or flight" mentality, and the lingering stress can take a physical and mental toll.
"Support. Defend. Fish." That's the motto of the Army Bass Anglers, a group made up of active duty military members and veterans who compete in fishing tournaments to raise awareness for Returning Heroes Home and Fishing For Freedom events. Both programs support the military community. The latter also involves bass fishing tournaments where fishermen partner with soldiers and veterans, including those who have been wounded. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy Bass Angler groups support the missions as well.
Operation: Sound Off! is seeking votes to win an online contest and receive a grant from Pepsi. The organization aims to help troops realize their own musical dreams, to support warfighters with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder through music and to use music to inspire troops and the general public. Go to www.refresheverything.com/operationsoundoff to learn more and vote.
The U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., is hosting a special exhibit until March 2011 that honors military explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel. The display includes an authentic bomb disposal suit and robot as well as details about the history, methods and personnel involved in this dangerous line of work. Jones International University is sponsoring the exhibit, which the school believes pays homage to EOD warfighters from all military branches who risk their lives for their country. The university offers programs tailored to military members' needs.
The Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) is looking for poems to post on its blog. According to an explanatory post, "It doesn't matter if you are a service member, a loved one or a caring citizen; we want to read and share the poems you've written that express your thoughts and experiences - hardships and joys." The blog also states that "the tradition of warrior poetry is thousands of years old.
Blue Star Families and the National Endowment for the Arts have partnered to create the Blue Star Museums, a group of 750 museums in all 50 states that offer free admission to military personnel and their families through Labor Day, September 6, 2010. The program is available to bearers of a Geneva Conventions common access card, a DD Form 1173 identification card or a DD form 1173-1 identification card, and five immediate family members. On the website, an interactive map of the United States enables users to click specific states to find participating museums and links to their sites.
Hope for One PTSD App
[Editor's Note: This is a guest blog from James Schenck, an Army veteran and the president of the PenFed Foundation, a military support organization.] This Fourth of July, I ask you to join me in saluting the sacrifices of all veterans who served to defend our nation and remembering their contributions. While the nation reflects on sacrifices of veterans this Independence Day who did not return back from war, I also would like to salute members of the military who sacrificed in other ways.
America's Heroes at Work addresses the employment challenges facing service members returning from overseas duties who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This U.S. Department of Labor project, managed in conjunction with other U.S. agencies and offices, equips employers and the work force development system to help these troops succeed in the workplace. It focuses particularly on veterans of operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Both TBI and PTSD are common injuries in those conflicts.