With the Atlantic hurricane season heading into its most dangerous months, TRICARE beneficiaries have another means for keeping up with the effects to their coverage. The insurance group has created state-specific e-alerts to inform subscribers how TRICARE has been affected during and after severe weather in their areas. Customers can sign up for the notifications at www.tricare.mil/subscriptions.
Canine partners long have provided comfort to humans with a variety of ailments. USA Battle Buddies exists to form those bonds of support between dogs and combat wounded veterans suffering from physical disabilities and emotional stress related to their military service. The goal is to help these former service members transition more easily to civilian life.
Happy Fourth of July from our team at SIGNAL Magazine!
The Veterans Charity Challenge is giving away $100,000 to charities that support the military community. But that’s only the beginning. Because of the way the contest is set up, participating groups will raise other money for their causes along the way, resulting in higher contribution totals. Here’s how it works.
Klein Tools will donate $25,000 in 2013 to Operation Homefront, an organization that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of U.S. service members and wounded warriors. The donations are planned to be outright and not connected to any sales or promotion, but Klein is giving its customers a chance to show their support for the military as well. And the opportunity comes with a fancy, exciting name.
Plenty of people say they support the military, but for those looking to put their money where their mouth is, the VA Voluntary Service offers diverse opportunities to help the nation’s veterans. Though the VA is often associated with hospitals, the organization has various facilities where volunteers can make a difference. To learn more, fill out the form posted on the website; it also has an option for people who would rather make a monetary donation than a time donation. The FAQ page has additional information.
An empty seat at a big production does no one any good. So, the Veteran Tickets Foundation provides free or discounted tickets for all sorts of shows and events to members of the military community. Organization personnel work with leagues, groups and venues to obtain the passes and also accept donations of tickets or funds from the general public. The military community can check out the Events section to find out which shows and games are or will be available. To request tickets, users must create an account with the website.
Woo Woo! All aboard! And first in line! Amtrak offers a 10 percent military discount to active-duty troops and their dependents on the lowest available fare on most trains. Troops in uniform also are welcome to jump to the head of the ticket line.
Helping troops wounded in battle is not only patriotic, it also can be a lot of fun. The Gary Sinise Foundation puts on or takes part in many events to help build the community around troops and first responders. One of its initiatives is the Building for America’s Bravest program to construct smart homes for severely wounded veterans. Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band are touring in 2013 to help raise the funds necessary for the effort by selling tickets and seeking sponsorships and donation.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is offering My HealtheVet as the personal health record to help veterans, active-duty troops, dependents and their caregivers partner better with their health care teams. Members of the military community who have not accessed their account in a while will find upgraded features including different levels of accounts. Eligible personnel who have never created an account may want to apply for one now to access all the benefits available.
Many people are familiar with Pat Tillman’s story. He left an NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals to become a U.S. Army Ranger after 9/11 and was subsequently killed in the line of duty. His family and friends started the Pat Tillman Foundation to provide scholarships for military veterans and their spouses. Eligible parties interested in becoming a Tillman Military Scholar can learn more about the criteria online.
The idea that troops and veterans should not come home from war feeling alone or forgotten—especially if they are injured—is a message that many have tried to drive home for years. Quilts of Valor answered the call to action by taking a simple idea and growing it into a huge grass roots effort that has provided tens of thousands of pieces of comfort to returning warfighters and veterans. As the name suggests, these items are large lap quilts that makers offer as a symbol of gratitude from the American people.
Anyone who follows Homefront Help, or veterans news in general, knows that finding meaningful employment for former service members is a serious concern. For that reason, the Code of Support Foundation and a variety of partners are featuring the Musical VETStravaganza on February 17 that salutes veterans and highlights the Hiring Our Heroes program. The show starts at 3 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium.
After service members are injured in battle, having their loved ones nearby during recovery can speed the healing process. Luke’s Wings looks to facilitate the rehabilitation by purchasing travel agency services and travel tickets for families. The end result is encouragement and motivation for everyone involved in the situation. But the organization doesn’t stop there. It also fills requests from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans in care facilities who want to see their loved ones. This Veterans in Hospice Care Program serves as a “final salute” to those who have served their country.
Deployments and mobilizations are hard. To help combat the challenges, the U.S. Defense Department has released Plan My Deployment—a series of tools, checklists and tips to help military families as they deal with separation. The offering applies to active duty, Guard and Reserve troops. Visitors will find resources for the various phases of deployment, from the preparation stage through reintegration.
The NHL strike is over, and amateur hockey is going strong. Defending the Blue Line helps military children enjoy the sport by providing free equipment, hockey camps, special events and financial assistance for other costs associated with playing the game. Families interested in taking advantage of the offerings can learn more on the website. Certain programs and the grants for 2013 open later in the year.
Hockey enthusiasts who want to help out can donate equipment, volunteer or offer services associated with hockey.
For many wounded warfighters, leaving the hospital is only the first step on a long journey toward healing and a renewed sense of belonging in the world. Purple Heart Homes reaches out to such service-connected disabled veterans from any conflict and their caregivers through two specialized programs. Veterans Aging in Place helps older veterans who currently own a home, while the Veteran Home Ownership program aids disabled former troops with becoming homeowners.
The Operation American Dream contest sponsored by Signal 88 Security is taking a veteran “From Battlefield to Boss” by offering start-up money for an entrepreneurial venture. Each month through May 15, eligible veterans can submit a 500-word essay on why they deserve to be their own boss. Three monthly finalists will be selected by Signal 88 Security and the winner will be determined by a public vote. Those winners receive $500 and are eligible for the Grand Prize of $5,000. If the winner decides to open a Signal 88 Security franchise with the winnings, the company will increase the amount to $10,000.
Christmas is almost upon us, and anyone who wants do some extra good with their last-minute spending should check out the USO Wishbook. This alternative giving catalogue enables people to give a gift to someone they know while benefitting the military community. In essence, instead of presenting a material gift directly to a loved one, givers send comforting items to troops, their families or wounded warriors on behalf of that person. After making their purchases, buyers can send e-cards to the original gift recipients (not the military-community members) to let them know about the present bestowed in their honor.
Ever wanted to be one of Santa's elves? Here's the perfect chance to try it out and help wounded warriors at the same time. Operation Covert Santa gathers the wish lists from recently injured troops and their families, removes all identifying information and asks volunteers to supply the presents. All the gifts are given and received anonymously. It isn't charity—it's the magic of Christmas.
Last year, more than 175 elves provided presents for 74 severely injured soldiers and their families. People who want to participate this year can help in several ways:
Donate cash by sending a check made out to the Aleethia Foundation at:
Hickory Farms is once again offering free shippping to APO and FPO addresses on select military Christmas gifts. Time is getting tight to get packages there by December 25, but most of the items are just as good for New Year’s celebrations.
Do you know of other companies offering holiday military discounts or groups doing something special to support the troops this Christmas? Let us know about it here by leaving a comment or post it to the Homefront Help Facebook page.
The National WWII Museum has launched the Thank You for My Freedom campaign to give the public a chance to share videos, photos and words of appreciation to support the nation’s veterans. Efforts center around the www.myveteransday.org website, where people can upload their messages and see what others have posted. Participants also can text THANKS to 51555 or send their messages to the museum’s Twitter and Facebook pages. The work leads up to the museum’s Veterans Day celebrations on November 10 and 11.
U.S. veterans—on the day our nation sets aside especially for you, we at SIGNAL want to say thank you for all you’ve done overseas and domestically to make life better for everyone who lives here. From fighting vicious enemies to rescuing people during natural disasters, you step up when others run. We appreciate the sacrifice of you and your families. Welcome home.
Turns out that supporting the military just might be a laughing matter. Stand Up for Heroes is an evening of comedy and music during the New York Comedy Festival put on to build morale among and raise money for wounded warfighters, veterans and their families. The funds go to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, a nonprofit organization investing in national and community-based programs that connect members of the military community with help they need.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remains one of the biggest causes of suffering for troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a Web resource to reach out to people who need help handling the affliction, calling on fellow veterans to lend support. On About Face, visitors can find all the expected basics, such as an explanation of the disorder, contact information for immediate help and links to more information. But the true value of the site is in its collections of videos featuring veterans talking about their struggles and offering words of encouragement to others.
The nomination period is now open for the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation 2013 awards. Each year, the foundation honors Marines and civilians who have carried out exemplary work in advancing or preserving Marine Corps history, life, culture and work. Winners will be honored at a ceremony next April. They also will receive a $1,000 cash prize, a medallion and a commemorative brick along the Semper Fidelis Memorial Park pathway at the Marine Corps Heritage Center.
The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA—the decommissioned USS North Carolina—invites the public to an onboard Halloween bash on October 30, 2012. The fun includes sweet treats, a petting zoo, temporary tattoos, caricatures and a bounce house, not to mention a chance to celebrate the holiday within a piece of classic U.S. military history.
Located in Wilmington, North Carolina, the ship’s Halloween festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. and last until 8 p.m. The cost is $5 per person. Kids two years old or younger get in free.
This first WonWorld campaign is nothing if not ambitious. Honor our Heroes aims to raise $300 million for the military relief societies that provide direct assistance to military families. The organization further expects to create an ongoing revenue stream of up to $120 million for those groups. To raise all that money, WonWorld plans to sell 60 million armbands for $5 each. Relief funds and their corporate supporters will help sell the items, or people can order packs containing between two and 100 bands. Each military service has a band designed specifically for it.
MilitaryBenefitsReport.com is the brainchild of Wolfgang Ward, a combat veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart who got fed up trying to track down all the benefits available to him from different groups. So he decided to create a resource to help anyone in the military community, from spouses to wounded veterans, find the help they need in one place. Visitors to the site answer questions explaining their current status, then they receive an email with a secure password so they can download their free customized report.
Team Rubicon is an organization helping veterans help more people. It offers former troops who have a desire to continue serving others a chance to use their unique skill sets during disaster response scenarios. The veterans are teamed with medical personnel and deployed to areas worldwide that are experiencing crises. Response events can be reactive, responding to an immediate, devastating emergency, or proactive in areas with ongoing problems.
The Veterans Curation Program (VCP) is solving the mysteries of yesterday by addressing a problem of today. This U.S. Army Corps of Engineers effort seeks to hire veterans from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan-especially veterans with service-connected disabilities-to clean and repackage archeological items. The work helps resolve two issues: veterans' unemployment routinely is higher than the national average and government analysis suggests a backlog of up to 30 years on the artifact work.
SAIC is working hard to hire more injured veterans through its Wounded Warrior Hiring Initiative. The effort gives these veterans first crack at certain employment opportunities open in the company. Positions are located across the country in different disciplines. Jonathan Cisneros, the staffing assistant dedicated to the program, is a wounded warrior who works hard to find careers for his fellow veterans. When someone applies for one of the featured positions, he works with the hiring managers to find the right fit.
Through its America the Beautiful program, the National Park Service is offering free passes to military members and their dependents. The passes grant no-cost admission to federal recreation sites. Depending on how admission is charged at various facilities, the benefit allows pass owners and accompanying passengers in a single, noncommerical vehicle to enter the sites for free or for the pass owner and three persons age 16 and older to enter without paying a fee. No entry fee is charged for children under 15.
I always look forward to Memorial Day just for the fact that we get to celebrate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and not to mention, it always falls on my birthday or the day after. For those who have lost their lives and for the Wounded Warriors that now have long roads to recovery, we owe them the homage and the support they ultimately deserve. As we all get ready to bust out our grills, head to the pools and begin our shopping sprees, we should all take a moment and thank those who have given us the freedom to do these activities. Today I am greatly appreciative of the opportunity I have to help our Wounded Warriors and their families.
On a (very) hot recent Saturday in a suburb of Tampa, Florida, two soldiers put on their scuba gear and slipped below the water's surface to train for an upcoming journey to another country. Their plan is not to infiltrate hostile territory, recue a hostage nor capture an enemy. No, their goal is to swim under the ocean even though on land they navigate the terrain in wheelchairs.
Ahoy matey! Whether you're looking to explore the seas with the modern equivalents of peg legs and eye patches, or seeking to share your bounty with deserving warriors, Dive Pirates is the place for you. The foundation trains, equips and provides one dive trip out of the country for individuals with disabilities-including service members injured in the line of duty-through adaptive scuba diving. Volunteers serve as trainers and buddies in the program and donations pay for the cost of equipment and trips.
A new Android app from the U.S. Defense Department provides enjoyable activity suggestions to help service members returning from combat deployments improve their moods and overcome depression. Positive Activity Jackpot, developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, taps into a type of behavioral therapy called "pleasant event scheduling." The app uses augmented reality and a smartphone's GPS to locate nearby pleasant activities and diversions. Making these daily plans can help a service member adjust to life at home after returning from a deployment with a structured daily schedule.
All right veterans, spruce up those résumés and get ready to search for jobs. America Wants You is a portion of CareerBuilder.com dedicated exclusively to helping veterans find employment. Former military members can search through the posted job listings to find a desirable position; thousands of available opportunities currently are posted. Media campaigns are in place to encourage employers and potential employees to take advantage of the offerings, creating a market that benefits all parties. As part of the campaign, celebrities have recorded video messages urging companies to hire veterans.
Hotels for Heroes offers free hotel rooms to wounded, injured and ill service members who are undergoing treatment at military or Veterans Affairs medical centers or who need to attend certain events. Administered by the Fisher House Foundation—an organization long known for providing accommodations and support to military families—the program provides its rooms through hotel-point donations from individuals. It's the perfect opportunity to combine point numbers too small for a free stay with donations from others. All requests for rooms received by Hotels for Heroes are vetted through authorized officials.
The U.S. Defense Department's Valor website pays homage to troops who have earned the country's highest decorations for bravery. Recipients of the Medal of Honor and each service's cross award are listed. The department is working on listing Silver Star honorees as well. Anyone unfamiliar with the various medals can read the descriptions of them to learn more. The site also provides links to each military branch's own awards Web page. Homefront Help also has a Facebook page where visitors can gather and share information.
The TAPS tragedy assistance organization is seeking current military members or recent veterans to serve as mentors for children and teens attending the Good Grief Camp. During the event, young persons who have lost a parent, stepparent or sibling in combat will gather to form peer support networks and to learn to cope with their heartache. They also will discover how America honors its warfighters and take breaks from the grief focus to have some fun. The camp will be held Friday to Sunday over Memorial Day weekend (May 25 to 27) in Arlington, Virginia, with an optional Monday activity.
Just when you think Disney can't get any better, it goes and announces the Heroes Work Here initiative. Over the next three years, the company has pledged to provide at least 1,000 jobs and career opportunities for returning U.S. veterans. It also will support troops and their families as they transition to civilian life and will launch a national public awareness campaign to encourage job opportunities for veterans.
The 2012 NAB Show in Las Vegas this month includes an extra-special event-a concert to honor the U.S. military featuring Rodney Atkins and Lucas Hoge. The show will raise funds for ThanksUSA, which provides need-based scholarships to the children and spouses of active-duty troops. ThanksUSA is inviting 400 families from nearby Nellis Air Force Base to attend. NAB Show registrants can pick up tickets at the door for a charitable donation of $20. The program begins at 7:30 p.m.
Catastrophically wounded or ill service members and people involved in their care can access the Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL) calculator to determine the amount of stipend they can receive to help cover nonmedical expenses. Authorized under the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, SCAADL is a monthly compensation for eligible service members who require assistance with daily living or who are at high risk for personal safety and cannot live independently.
A new app from the U.S. Defense Department provides wounded warriors with a comprehensive mobile resource guide. The Compensation and Benefits Handbook for Wounded, Ill and Injured Members of the Armed Forces is available for Android and iOS devices. The application allows service members and their families to access information at any time about benefits available to them upon separation or retirement as a result of a serious injury or illness. It includes resources for recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration, including chapters on medical care, Defense Department pay and allowances, the Disability Evaluation System and returning to civilian life.
Homes on the Homefront is more than just a catchy name. This partnership between Operation Homefront and Chase Bank will give at least 100 wounded-warrior, military and veterans' families their own permanent homes this year. In addition, selectees will receive financial counseling. First priority will go to families currently living in Operation Homefront Village.
The hard-and-fast, no-exceptions deadline to apply for the Scholarships for Military Children Program is fast approaching. All applications must be received at eligible military commissaries by February 24. At least one $1,500 scholarship will be awarded at each commissary location where qualified applications are received. More than one scholarship may be handed out depending on response and funding. Recipients can use the awards for tuition, books, lab fees and other education-related expenses.
Promoting the idea that "Kids Deploy Too!" when they see parents go to battle overseas, Military Kids Connect offers children of the armed forces an online forum to network with others in the same situation. Users can participate on message boards, take part in activities and games or watch videos of children who have experienced a parent's deployment. Monitored social networking features allow military dependents to share their struggles and experiences in a secure environment. Resources are divided by age groups: 6 to 8 years; 9 to 12 years; and 13 to 17 years. Developers of the site hope it eases the pain children go through during a deployment.
American Hometown Heroes is an initiative launched late last year by a coalition of independent Yellow Pages publishers. It aims to give veterans a leg up on becoming entrepreneurs and to reduce the high numbers of unemployment and underemployment among those who have served in the U.S. military. The involved partners offer business and professional advice to veterans starting companies in the communities the publishers serve. Approved grant applicants will receive free online and Yellow Pages advertising along with help throughout the first year of starting a new business.
Military families are enjoying a little extra financial support thanks to Troopons, a joint venture between Support Our Troops and CouponCabin. The program asks people to send in manufacturers' coupons (and only manufacturers' coupons) from any source except the Internet, and the deals will be sent to those who need them. Troopons even accepts expired coupons, which can be used on military bases for up to six months past their expiration dates.