Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Soldiers' Angels Receives Combined Federal Campaign Approval

/PRNewswire/ -- National military support nonprofit Soldiers' Angels proudly announces its inclusion in the 2009 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), an effort to encourage philanthropy among United States Government employees. This opportunity increases the organization's visibility and respectability, building on its growing reputation for providing a wide variety of powerful and personalized support for service members, military families and veterans of all branches.

During the yearly "campaign season" of September 1 through December 15, CFC provides federal civil servants, military personnel, political appointees and elected politicians with a list of verified and respectable charities they can be confident in supporting. Donations are collected through payroll deductions, offering employees the chance to make gifts that add up to substantial support over a twelve-month period.

Soldiers' Angels founder Patti Patton-Bader is excited to be included in the upcoming campaign. "We've been working very hard to meet CFC's guidelines and we are so thrilled to be a part of the campaign this year. It makes it so much easier for people to donate to Soldiers' Angels and will help us continue the important work of taking care of our military and their families."

As a CFC-approved charity, Soldiers' Angels has been subject to extensive review of its financial and governance practices, auditing performance and program activities, ensuring federal employees can be confident in supporting the organization. The approved status also gives Soldiers' Angels the opportunity to participate in meetings, exhibits and other events hosted at federal agencies and departments during campaign season, including providing speakers and other representatives.

Established in 2003, Soldiers' Angels is a volunteer-based 501(c)(3) providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as veterans and military families through a wide variety of hands-on projects and volunteerism. For more information, see or call 615-676-0239. Tax ID# 20-0583415. CFC# 25131.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ryan Klesko Highlights Arbor Day Celebration

Baseball great Ryan Klesko will make a special appearance at Georgia’s official 2009 National Arbor Day Ceremony on Friday, April 24, in Milledgeville. Klesko will be the keynote speaker at the annual event which is co-hosted by the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) and Department of Veterans Service at Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery. The public is urged to attend the observance, which begins at 11:00 a.m., and features a commemorative tree planting in honor of all veterans.

“National Arbor Day is an opportunity to acknowledge two valuable American resources,” said Robert Farris, Director of the GFC. “We salute our veterans, who have provided protection to our great country. And, with Georgia tree farmer and baseball hero Ryan Klesko’s support, we recognize the importance of trees, which provide clean air, clean water, and abundant products for every American.”

Ryan Klesko and his fellow Major League baseball colleague, John Smoltz, co-own 1600 acres of Georgia forest land, known as “Big K Farm.” In 2008, the property became the first location to be accepted in the new Georgia Carbon Registry, which provides landowners with official carbon storage and accumulation records that may be used in the emerging market for the sale of carbon offset credits. Trees remove and store an estimated 62 million tons of carbon dioxide annually from Georgia’s atmosphere.

In addition to comments by Klesko and Farris, the ceremony will include a performance by the Georgia Military Band and free GFC tree seedlings will be distributed, while they last.
Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery is located in Milledgeville on Highway 112 (Vinson Highway). For detailed directions and further information about the ceremony and about services of the GFC, visit For more information about Georgia’s Carbon Sequestration Registry, visit
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Lockheed Martin Provides Major Sponsorship Gift for Expansion of National Museum of the Marine Corps

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation has announced a donation of $10 million from Lockheed Martin, the world’s leading global security company. The 10-year Lockheed Martin gift will expand the National Museum of the Marine Corps’ Education and Community Outreach Programs, as well as add a large-screen theater to the Museum complex. The gift significantly advances the Foundation’s efforts to raise $85 million for the completion of the National Museum and Marine Corps Heritage Center in Quantico, Virginia.

Robert J. Stevens, Lockheed Martin’s Chairman, President, and CEO said, “Our nation needs a strong Marine Corps, one built on a rich heritage dating back before our nation was born. This project will combine Marine Corps heritage with professional development to address the most challenging issues we face today. We are pleased that our commitment to the National Museum of the Marine Corps will support the completion of this important resource for the Corps and the nation.”

“We are deeply grateful to Lockheed Martin for its exemplary generosity and social responsibility,“ said LtGen Ron Christmas, USMC (Ret), President and Chief Executive Officer of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. “This wonderful gesture will help the Foundation to fulfill its vision of bringing forth a multi-dimensional, world-class facility to be enjoyed by visitors of all ages, from across our Nation, time and time again.”

Retired Sergeant Major of the Marine Corp John Estrada, now a project manager for Lockheed Martin, helped announce the contribution. He noted, “Understanding our history and how we can build on it helps Marines be creative, innovative and able to adapt to changing world situations, and continue to be the world’s best fighting force.”

The Museum depicts America’s history as seen through the eyes of Marines since the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775. Contributing to the professional development of Marines, Lockheed Martin is also sponsoring the Foundation’s popular “An Evening with…” lecture series, with distinguished speakers addressing current world topics with students of the Marine Corps University, business and community leaders, and members of the public.

The addition of a large-screen theater will help expand the visitor appeal and educational impact of the Museum through the screening of action-oriented films themed on the Marine Corps and the corresponding history of our nation.

Related plans for project completion include: installation of interactive exhibits that will fully chronicle the contributions of the United States Marine Corps from its 1775 founding to the present day; the construction of a memorial park and chapel offering visitors opportunities of remembrance and reflection; completion of the National Museum structure; and the implementation of visitor programs focused on education. To see plans and video illustrating expansion of the Marine Corps Heritage Center, visit

Dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Marine Corps history, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation was established in 1979 as a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization. The Foundation supports the historical programs of the Marine Corps in ways not possible through government funds. The Foundation provides grants and scholarships for research and the renovation, restoration, and commissioning of historical Marine Corps artifacts and landmarks. Securing the necessary funding for the complete construction of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center is the Foundation’s current primary mission while continuing to provide program support for the Corps’ historical, museum, and educational activities.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Coalition Forces' Word Builds Solid Foundation at Iraqi School

School officials and students took part in a ceremony at Michal al-Hurria, a small school in the Abu Ghraib district in Baghdad , to honor the hard work of coalition forces who were instrumental in renovating the school.

"The building was constructed in 1970 and has not received any repairs or upgrades since its opening," a spokesman for the school principal said.

The pipes were leaky and the wires were frayed, the spokesman said, but hopes for the renovation remained.

"Teachers have tried for many years to get the school repaired, and many have made promises, but none have kept their word but the [coalition forces]," the spokesman said.

Standing in front of the school, the principal's spokesman thanked the coalition forces and said they demonstrated dedication and put it into action. The school's needs were tremendous, he added, and the coalition forces delivered.

"The school was in pretty bad shape," said Army Capt. Jackie Manton, a native of Baton Rouge, La., and officer in charge of the 225th Engineer Brigade's Task Force Iron Paxton. "Some of the things replaced were sewer pipes, broken windows, water pumps, water coolers, electrical sockets and switches. Generators and window-type air conditioners were also added."

The principal's spokesman said the school never had witnessed a renovation program. The renovation has made the staff and students very happy, he added, and they owe their deepest gratitude to all those involved in the process.

"The renovation of the school has motivated us and given us the confidence to keep it up," one teacher said.

Although a majority of the renovations have been completed, a few things still need to be done, such as adding a playground for the kids. "When the 225th Engineer Brigade's name is put on something," Manton said, "we want to make sure it is done right."

(author Army Staff Sgt. Peter Ford serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad public affairs office.)
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Medics Turn Aid Station Into Afghan Emergency Room

Outside Forward Operating Base Blessing here, combat medics serving with 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, spend every morning combing through a crowd of sick or injured Afghans desperate for medical attention.

"This is their [emergency room]," Army Spc. Danielle Lafoille of Manistique, Mich., said. "If something happens, this is where they are going to come."

Since arriving at Blessing in July, the 1st Infantry Division soldiers have treated more than 4,000 Afghans, some walking as long as two days for treatment.

Although they've mostly handled minor ailments such as cuts and runny noses, the aid station soldiers have seen their fair share of major injuries.

"We see burns, lacerations; we do get gunshot wounds, major bone breaks. Just a huge variety of things [like] you see in the local U.S. trauma room," said Army Spc. Timothy Lickiss, a combat medic from Chester, Calif.

They also see ailments that are unusual in the United States.

"Right now we're treating two patients who had hot tar spilled on them during an industrial accident," said Army Spc. Jeremy Shepler, combat medic.

"He was only wearing sandals," one of the station's two physicians said of one of the patients. "If this was the U.S., he would have been required to wear rubber boots and gloves. Now he's just lucky he's going to keep his feet."

Because of occupational safety regulations and vaccinations in the United States, Shepler said, medics here see many ailments they don't see at home. "If they had a higher standard of hygiene or health care, a lot of these illnesses would be removed," he said.

Although U.S. servicemembers have been working with Afghan physicians since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, many clinics in Konar province still do not have the knowledge to properly treat these types of injuries, causing many villagers to turn to the Americans for help.

"[The local clinics] are great at some things, but then they'll miss some simple things," Shepler said. "They may have the technology to do X-rays, but they end up applying bandages like tourniquets."

With only one surgeon and one physician's assistant, the aid station is not always able to provide higher levels of care. If necessary, the soldiers will evacuate the injured Afghans to other bases with better facilities.

As the end of their deployment nears, the soldiers know they have made a difference among the Afghan people.

"They come to us knowing that we have the knowledge and experience to make sure that they get better," Shepler said.

(author Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller serves with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Humana Military Healthcare Services Financially Supports the Creation of the Fisher House for Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) – Humana Military Healthcare Services (HMHS), TRICARE contractor for the South Region, announces its sponsorship of a new Fisher House being built in Augusta, Georgia at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. This medical center is the only VA facility with an active duty rehabilitation unit, the largest spinal cord injury unit and one of 10 facilities with a Blind Rehab Center. The new Fisher House in Augusta will offer twenty suites within walking distance of the medical center for families of Active Duty Service Members and veterans receiving inpatient medical care.

“Families play an important role in the recovery of these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much,” said Dave Baker, president and CEO of HMHS. “Humana Military is pleased to help deserving military and veterans’ families through our support of a new Fisher House in Augusta. During a time of need, this home will provide them a place to stay near their loved ones, at no cost to them. It’s a gift that will keep on giving for years to come, and we are proud to be involved.”

The Fisher House program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The “comfort homes” are built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers and allows family members to be close to their loved ones while they are receiving treatment. Annually, the Fisher House program serves more than 10,000 families, and has made nearly 2.5 million days of lodging available to family members since the program originated in 1990.

Currently, the nearest Fisher House is located at the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, Georgia. For more information, please visit

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Honor Flight Fayette Gears Up for 4th DC Trip In May

Honor Flight Fayette guardian Nancy Romans with her vets for the day (l-r) James D. Burch and Joseph W. Stevens

May 4th will mark the 4th time Honor Flight Fayette has taken World War II veterans to Washington D.C. to visit their memorial, for a total of around 280 veterans since the first trip last May.

Honor Flight Fayette, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, exists solely to raise the funds to make these trips possible at no cost to the veterans. In fact, HFF pays for the airfare, 3 meals, motor coaches in D.C., t-shirts and hardcover books on the memorial. The veterans are only allowed to pay for souvenirs.

Guardians go with the veterans, usually 2 veterans with each guardian, as well as a doctor and medical staff to insure their safety and comfort.

Time is of the essence for this project because we are losing these brave men and women at a rate of 1,400 per day. And, obviously, we owe members of the Greatest Generation a debt of gratitude that cannot be delayed.

After each of the previous 3 trips to the memorial veterans could not believe how generous people had been to send them to D.C. and were overwhelmed during the day when total strangers would clap, wave flags and approach them to say "thank you for the life I have today".

Tears were often running down cheeks because these men and women are a humble group who felt they simply did the job Uncle Sam called them to do. There were few parades when they returned to find civilian jobs and begin new lives, and they truly do not understand the "fuss" that is made over them for the entire day, but they were grateful.

Honor Flight Fayette is staffed only by volunteers, including a board of directors to guide it and keep it on track and be good stewards of the donations which they receive so they can take as many veterans as possible to D.C.

If you would like to know more about Honor Flight Fayette, be a guardian or volunteer or wish to make a donation please check or call 770-719-1024.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bataan Memorial Death March Honors World War II Soldiers

The resounding boom of cannon fire broke the sound of thousands of participants talking as they waited in anticipation March 29 for the start of the 2009 Bataan Memorial Death March.

This year, the 26.2-mile event at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., included more than 5,300 participants from 50 states and eight countries, including the Philippines, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.

While individuals marched for their own reasons, they all came together for the same purpose: to honor the soldiers, who were part of the Bataan Death March during World War II.

The Bataan Death March occurred in 1942 after the Japanese attacked the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines, where American and Filipino soldiers were stationed. After three months of fighting the Japanese with insufficient weapons and dwindling supplies, the American and Filipino soldiers were ordered to surrender April 9, 1942.

The Japanese forced the soldiers to march more than 60 miles with nearly no food or water. The prisoners were subjected to heinous acts of torture and many were killed or perished while marching. Some of the soldiers who survived the march spent the next three years in Japanese prisoner of war camps until freed in 1945.

The opening ceremony for the march included a roll call of the New Mexico National Guard survivors, who were members of the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery units.

One by one, the names of those living and deceased were called out as a reminder of what's called America's "Greatest Generation."

Some of the Bataan survivors lined up along the starting line and shook hands with the racers as a show of gratitude to those who were marching in their honor.

Young and old marched side by side on the rugged terrain with runners, military personnel carrying rucksacks weighing at least 35 pounds, and wounded warriors marching on prosthetic limbs.

Each participant was determined to finish the march and could be heard inspiring others no matter how much their body ached and feet hurt.

Tabitha Baker recalled the moment she crossed the finish line. "The proudest moment was ... seeing the survivors waiting there to commemorate the participants for completing the march. As I shook the survivor's hand I said, 'It is an honor to meet you.' He looked at me, held my hand and answered, 'No, it is an honor to meet you.'

"It is amazing to see these men ... have so much pride and admiration for the soldiers of today."

As each year passes, there are fewer living Bataan veterans, but the responsibility to keep the memory alive will never perish.

(author Army Staff Sgt. Anna Doo serves with the New Mexico National Guard.)

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Army Honors 1st Female Aviator in Recognition of Women’s History Month

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Thirty-five years ago, 2nd Lieutenant Sally Murphy walked across a stage at Fort Rucker, Alabama and stepped into U.S. Army history. It was 1974 and Murphy became the first woman to graduate from the Army Aviation School. She was the Army’s first female helicopter and fixed wing pilot. She retired as a Colonel in 1999.

Murphy was honored in a formal ceremony last week at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia and received the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute Veteran Commendation to commemorate her 27 years of service and her place in military history.

“I come from an Army family that is dedicated to service,” said Murphy, now 60 years old. “My husband was an Army combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam. My son and daughter-in-law are Army officers and have served overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. I am humbled and take great pride in receiving the Freedom Team Salute Commendation.”

Murphy joined the Army’s Women Army Corps (WAC) program in 1972 and entered the Aviation School when the Army opened its ranks to women. She had previously attended the Military Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. After graduating from Aviation School, she served with the 330th Army Security Agency Company (Guardrail II) flying RU-21 airplanes as an intelligence officer along the border between Germany and the Soviet Union. Later she flew Huey helicopters and commanded a Company for the 1st infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas and went on to command the 62nd Aviation Company in Germany and the 78th Aviation Battalion (Provisional) in Japan.

“I was the only woman in Army Aviation School in the early 70s and if I told you I did not have problems with a few people, I would not be truthful,” said Murphy. “But things were changing and with the Vietnam War winding down, the Army needed to fill some voids. There were some tough times but it made me stronger. The Army is a family and there was always someone giving me encouragement and ready to assist me anytime I needed help.”

“Colonel (Ret.) Sally Murphy is an Army Aviation legend,” said Colonel David Griffith, Director of the Army’s Freedom Team Salute Program. “It is not often we have the opportunity to honor someone with a commendation who was a trailblazer. Sally Murphy has paved the way for hundreds of women to follow her footsteps and become Army Aviators. She is truly living history.”

Freedom Team Salute Commendations consist of a personalized letter and certificate signed by the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren and the Army Chief of Staff, General George W. Casey Jr. Honorees also receive official Army Lapel pins and The Salute, a quarterly newsletter that contains information of interest to the Army family.

Freedom Team Salute is a U.S. Army program established in 2005 by the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff which gives the public the opportunity to thank all U.S. Army Veterans for their service by recognizing them with Commendations. The program also honors and recognizes the Parents, Spouses, Employers, and Supporters of Active Duty, Army Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers. Freedom Team Salute has honored more than 1.9 million individuals since its launch. For more information on honoring a Veteran or becoming a Freedom Team Salute Ambassador, go to .

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

ThanksUSA Begins Fourth Year of College Scholarships for Military Spouses and Children

/PRNewswire / -- ThanksUSA, a charitable effort to mobilize Americans of all ages to "thank" our active-duty troops by providing college scholarships to their spouses and dependents, today opened its fourth year accepting applications for scholarships.

Interested applicants can find eligibility requirements and the official application form at Applications will be accepted from April 1 through May 15, 2009.

"ThanksUSA had an amazing year in 2008, awarding 400 scholarships for a total of $1.2 million to the families of the men and women who provide such an invaluable service to our country," said Bob Okun, chairman and CEO of ThanksUSA. "We're excited to begin accepting this year's applications, and hope that these scholarships reflect the nation's appreciation for our men and women in uniform."

ThanksUSA began in 2005 as the idea of two Virginia schoolgirls as a way to mobilize Americans to thank active-duty troops for defending our freedoms. Over the past three years, ThanksUSA has awarded more than $5 million in need-based, post-secondary scholarships to more than 1,750 spouses and children of military members serving on active-duty status. Scholarships have been awarded in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to families representing all branches of the Armed Forces, including the Guard and Reserves.

ThanksUSA embraced new partnerships in 2008 with the Jenzabar Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Jenzabar, Inc., and the ESA Foundation, the charitable arm of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

The Jenzabar Foundation recognizes and supports the good works and humanitarian efforts of student leaders serving others across the global community. Recently, through a special $30,000 grant, the Jenzabar Foundation sponsored 10 college scholarships to students who applied for financial support through ThanksUSA. The individuals who received the Jenzabar/ThanksUSA scholarships were expressly recognized for their community service.

"The Jenzabar Foundation is proud to partner with ThanksUSA and provide additional resources to the children and spouses of active duty military who are seeking higher education," said Robert A. Maginn Jr., chairman of the Jenzabar Foundation and CEO and chairman of the Board of Jenzabar, Inc. "We applaud the efforts of ThanksUSA and the efforts of their scholarship recipients in supporting the present and future of our country."

This past Thanksgiving, ThanksUSA unveiled Treasure Hunt Four, which was sponsored by the ESA Foundation, as part of a new three-year partnership that aims to increase the number of scholarships available to military families. Treasure Hunt Four features more than 300 questions on a variety of states plus branches of the U.S. armed forces. Once the game ends on August 15, 2009, ThanksUSA will award prizes, including laptops and gift certificates, to the winner of each game "chapter." Contestants may access the game on ThanksUSA's Web site.

ThanksUSA also welcomed Harry Martin, Jr., president and chief executive officer of defense-related IT company Intelligent Decisions -- the premier sponsor of ThanksUSA's charity golf tournament last spring -- to their board of directors in 2008.

"With continued financial support from corporations, foundations and individuals such as Blavatnik Charitable Foundation, KPMG, The Pershing Square Foundation and others, we plan to award 500 scholarships at $3,000 each for a total of $1.5 million this year," said Michele Stork, executive director of ThanksUSA. "We encourage people across America to continue to invest in the families who have done so much for our country by donating to the Scholarship Program."

These need-based scholarships will be awarded on a competitive basis to the spouses and children of active-duty military personnel who plan to pursue a post-secondary education, including vocational and technical training. Recipients will be selected on the basis of financial need, demonstrated leadership, and participation in school and community activities.

Interested parties can apply online and learn more about the effort at

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