CareerOneStop is accessible through the HireVetsFirst site, but companies seeking veterans and veterans seeking employment can save time by going directly to the military transition section. The main page features links to more information about obtaining credentials, certification and licenses, locating a job, planning education and training, transitioning to civilian life, financial resources, local services and disabled/injured resources. Another page offers help for civilian spouses hunting for jobs.
Come check out SIGNAL Connections' new Homefront Help page on Facebook! People and organizations can use the page as a forum to post messages of thanks and encouragement to the troops, tout organizations and programs that assist the military community and connect with other troop supporters. SIGNAL staff will update the page with information about help, discounts, freebies and more available to service members, veterans and their families and about ways the public can reach out to show their appreciation.
The USO in conjunction with the Trevor Romain Foundation has released a free, animated movie titled "With You All the Way! Dealing With Deployment." The DVD addresses preparing for deployment, staying connected during the separation and planning for reunion. The movie also helps civilian children understand the challenges their friends in the military community face when a loved one is deployed. In addition to the DVD, military families can receive deployment kits at no charge.
The Defense Department is offering H&R Block At Home online tax filing free to active duty, National Guard and Reserve service members and their families. Eligible participants can access the service through Military OneSource. Users must go to the link on the Military OneSource Web site to access the customized product and create an account. Please do not create an account on the public H&R Block site. Tax consultation by phone also is available by calling Military OneSource's tax hot line at 800-730-3802. Hot line consultants are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern.
Outback Steakhouse has pledged $1 million to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that provides emergency and morale support for active troops, veterans and their families. The public can help the restaurant chain meet its obligation by dining at Outback restaurants in the United States during the month of March and ordering off the "Red, White and Bloomin'" menu. Proceeds from those orders will go toward the $1 million donation. Anyone who wants to donate $5 directly to Operation Homefront can text "HERO" to 50555.
The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) is a group of blinded veterans who help other blinded veterans. It was established to help veterans and their families overcome the challenges of sight limitations. The organization offers service programs, regional groups, resources and government advocacy to improve life for blinded veterans, whether they incurred the disability during or after active military service. The BVA also helps encourage and support blinded veterans. The services of and membership in the organization are free, and becoming a member is not a prerequisite for obtaining assistance.
Ahhhh, February. A time when thoughts naturally turn to love or at least to the need to buy tokens of that love and hand them out on the 14th. The Internet is full of sites selling cards, diamonds and everything in between, but it also offers more substantial materials. Anyone looking to learn about the history of, unique takes on or international customs celebrating the holiday need look no further than their favorite browser. For all those who are separated from their loved ones because of military deployment or other reasons, the Web also offers ways to stay connected now and all year long. And those who want to send gifts to deployed service members--without paying shipping--can find that too.
The name says it all. This organization connects Americans with deployed military members, enabling participants to choose their level of involvement, from writing letters to sending entire care packages. Each adopted warfighter is assigned several sponsors so the flow of support never ceases. Troops can register to be adopted, and the public can sign up to adopt a service member on the organization's Web site. Individuals and groups can adopt more than one soldier. The Web site also includes an online community and lists of how to donate and what to donate.
A fallen soldier has been honored in an unusual way. Lance Cpl. Ryan McCurdy, USMC, was killed by a sniper in Fallujah, Iraq, in January 2006 when he attempted to save a comrade who was also injured. In recognition of his sacrifice, a portable armored wall system has been named "McCurdy's Armor" in his honor. The system is a rapidly deployed protective structure that is easily configurable to meet various force levels. Also in his memory, the Ryan McCurdy Activity Center has been established. A percentage of all future sales of McCurdy's Armor will be donated to the center, which will help provide a safe place for children in Cpl.
For several years Fumar Cigars has partnered with Blue Star Moms to send boxes of cigars to troops deployed in the Middle East. In collaboration with Oliva Tobacco, the company manufactures cigars with logos for all five branches of the armed forces. Anyone interested can sponsor a box, which will be matched one-for-one. The price to donate to a currently deployed warfighter is $65, and Fumar will cover the cost of shipping. Or, people can choose to donate a box to the five-times-a-year mass shipments for $50.
All that running is bound to make a person hungry. Operation Chefs Unite aims to fill up military members traveling through the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. The Greater Atlanta Chapter of the American Culinary Federation formed Operation Chefs Unite and partnered with the USO to provide meals to the troops to show support for what the warfighters do for the country.
In honor of Veterans Day, Applebee's invites veterans and active-duty military members to eat free at its restaurant locations on Wednesday, November 11. A list of acceptable proofs of identification and the menu items available with the offer are posted on the company's Web site. The programs listed on these pages are not affiliated with our publication or association. We highlight these independent efforts as a service to our military and our readers. For more information about these programs, please contact the organizations directly.
The first American Heroes Challenge will take place in Las Vegas Nov. 7-8, 2009. The event features four-man teams comprised of military, law enforcement and security personnel who will compete in a six-stage, live-fire firearms and tactics competition. Each stage is named in honor of a fallen American hero. The contest is designed to test technical, tactical and physical skills as well as the ability to evolve with the mission. The American Heroes Challenge organization is a nonprofit created to benefit and honor members of the military, law enforcement and first-responder communities through the challenge event.
The Outback Steakhouse Annual Golf Classic is raising money for the American Freedom Foundation for the second year in a row. The foundation supports veterans and their families by raising money and awareness for veterans' organizations. The non-profit group has a special focus on welfare and education issues facing troops wounded or disabled in action and the families of veterans killed in action during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The 17th annual golf event will be played Monday, October 5, 2009, at Cannon Ridge Golf Club in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Last year, the classic raised $75,000.
Injured veterans looking to get back in the saddle can find what they need through the help of Project Healing Horse. The veterans therapeutic riding program uses horses as a medium to provide physical, psychological and social benefits to recovering veterans. The group raises money and promotes therapeutic riding at facilities across the country to heal troops who are injured or suffering from illness. Horses offer a dynamic base of support, which is excellent for improving strength, balance, circulation, respiration, posture endurance, coordination, agility and motor development as well as self-confidence and emotional well-being.
The New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV) extends a helping hand to any homeless veteran facing the challenges of addiction, trauma, severe and persistent mental illness, and unemployment; however, the veterans must be committed to sobriety, nonviolence and working for personal change. The organization is located in Boston, and though most clients are from the Boston area, the NECHV has aided veterans from all 50 states. Homeless veterans seeking help should go to 17 Court Street, any time of the day or night, and request assistance. Veteran status will be verified through the discharge form (DD214).
In the sphere of military community support, Army Community Covenant operates at the strategic level. The organization aims at raising awareness and encouraging businesses, agencies and groups at the local and state levels to create and foster state and community partnerships that assist service members. The first phase of the program is the signing of the Community Covenant. Each community determines its own wording for the document and decides on the number of signatories, usually between 16 and 20 people.
The Fisher House Foundation, in concert with Newman's Own and the Military Times Media Group, is sponsoring the 2009 Newman's Own Awards. The program awards grants to organizations with ideas to improve the quality of life for military and veterans' families. A total of $75,000 is available. The top prize is $15,000, with the other $60,000 being distributed at the judges' discretion. The deadline to apply is May 1, 2009, and winners will be announced in September 2009.
Updated on 1/15/10: The My Soldier program is no longer operational; however, for those who are still interested in supporting the troops through letters and care packages, another excellent option is the Adopt a U.S. Soldier program. The Adopt a U.S. Soldier organization allows citizens to support troops by sending e-mails, letters and packages. You can obtain more information and register for the program at http://www.adoptaussoldier.org/preregistration.htm. The programs listed on these pages are not affiliated with our publication or association.