Thursday, October 29, 2009

VetsFirst Established by United Spinal Association: First and Only Organization to Offer Full Membership to All Disabled Veterans

VetsFirst Established by United Spinal Association: First and Only Organization to Offer Full Membership to All Disabled Veterans, Their Dependents and Survivors

/PRNewswire/ -- VetsFirst (, a new national nonprofit organization that will help all of America's disabled veterans, their spouses, dependent family members and survivors receive healthcare, compensation, rehabilitation and other benefits offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was announced today by United Spinal Association.

VetsFirst membership will embrace all generations of veterans, including those living with post-traumatic stress disorders, traumatic brain injuries, toxic exposures and those who are at increased risk of diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis, ALS). It also supplies the veterans' community with guidance on education and employment. In conjunction with United Spinal Association, VetsFirst provides legal representation in VA claims and appeals.

"VetsFirst will offer the same high level of service and personal approach it has become known for, while expanding to provide for the needs of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Paul J. Tobin, president and CEO of United Spinal Association.

VetsFirst recognizes older era veterans are aging and their health and benefits needs are changing. Advocating and assisting women veterans and their particular health concerns are high priorities of VetsFirst.

"We're serving a very large membership with our holistic approach. When their families are taken care of veterans recover faster. Extending membership to veterans' families and others involved in their lives and well-being, distinguishes VetsFirst from other veterans organizations," said Leonard Selfon, VetsFirst senior vice president.

One of the organization's most unique offerings is 'Ask VetsFirst' (, a Web-based service that gives veterans an opportunity to get assistance with benefits-related inquiries on-line. Ask VetsFirst allows visitors to submit questions using an online submission form. A VetsFirst trained national service officer or attorney will then respond with information and resources to help resolve the inquiry.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel Dedicated at National Museum of the Marine Corps

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation dedicated the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel with a crowd of hundreds of U.S. Marine Corps general officers in attendance at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on October 22, 2009 at 11 a.m. Highlights of the reflective ceremony included a Navy bell ringing ceremony with students of the Marine Corps University, and the playing of Taps by a Marine Corps Band bugler followed by a 21-gun salute. Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, Chaplain of the Marine Corps provided the Benediction and a ribbon cutting officially opened the chapel to the public.

“It is my belief that as our Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel takes its place within this Marine Corps Heritage Center it will soon serve as a welcoming sanctuary, a place of remembrance and reflection to all Marines, past and present,” said Lt. Gen Ron Christmas, president and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.

Other ceremony speakers included Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway and Marine Captain and businessman, Timothy Day and his wife Sandy. Mr. and Mrs. Day of Phoenix, Arizona, along with the Timothy Day Foundation, donated $5 million to construct the chapel.

The nondenominational chapel will serve as a contemplative space where Marines and all visitors can remember the service and sacrifices of those who have served our nation. It will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is available for weddings, funerals and other military ceremonies through the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. Designed by Denver-based Fentress Architects, architects of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the chapel’s structure evokes images of improvised field chapels familiar to all combat Marines. The timber, glass and stone structure, standing within Semper Fidelis Memorial Park adjacent to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, includes an 8-foot tall etched glass, iconic image of a Marine kneeling in prayer, and a reflecting pool.

The dedication of the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel comes three weeks prior to the third birthday of the National Museum, which has welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors to date. The addition of the chapel in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park continues the expansion of the Marine Corps Heritage Center. Overlooking the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the park is situated on 23.2 acres of high ground and plays an important part in the Museum visitor’s experience. As expansion continues, the park will grow to include a water feature commemorating the Corps’ nautical tradition, as well as an additional network of paths that will extend throughout the wooded grounds.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

General David Petraeus and the Men and Women of Central Command to Receive 2009 American Patriot Award

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Defense University Foundation (NDUF) announced today the recipient of this year's American Patriot Award: General David Petraeus, Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Men and Women of CENTCOM. The recipients will receive this prestigious award at a black-tie event, American Patriot Award Gala, on Friday, November 13, 2009 held in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

In honor of the recipients, General Ann Dunwoody, USA, and General John Rogers Galvin, USA (Ret), will make remarks, and Grammy nominated jazz saxophonist Ski Johnson will perform live. Additionally, His Excellency Samir Sumaida'ie, Ambassador of The Republic of Iraq and His Excellency Said Jawad, Ambassador of Afghanistan will attend. Both Ambassadors have CENTCOM locations in their respective countries.

NDUF's American Patriot Award Gala is one of Washington, D.C.'s most prestigious events, attended by nearly 600 guests, including senior Administration officials, Members of Congress, senior military officials, Ambassadors, and corporate and community leaders. Beyond honoring the recipients, the Gala supports National Defense University (NDU) and its crucial mission of educating national security leaders. Students of NDU are the next generation of ambassadors, national and international military commanders and civilian defense industry leaders -- patriots who have committed their lives to furthering the security of our nation and the world.

"National Defense University Foundation's American Patriot Award recognizes exceptional Americans who have demonstrated a profound and abiding love of country and whose inspirational leadership and selfless dedication symbolizes our nation's ideals, values and democratic principles," said Walter Stadtler, Ambassador (Ret), President and CEO, National Defense University Foundation. "General Petraeus and the Men and Women of Central Command, have played a vital role in safeguarding national security -- especially during these times of heightened security, and for their efforts, they are well deserving of this award."

Previous recipients of the American Patriot Award include The Honorable Henry A. Kissinger, General Colin Powell, The Honorable Caspar Weinberger, former President George H.W. Bush, The Men and Women of our Nation's Defense Team, The Honorable Bob Dole, The Honorable Daniel K Inouye and The Honorable Ted Stevens, The Honorable John Glenn, The Honorable John Warner, and The Honorable Ike Skelton.

The National Defense University Foundation, Inc. was established in 1982 to support and enhance the mission and goals of the National Defense University through promoting excellence and innovation in education by nurturing high standards of scholarship, leadership and professionalism.

The National Defense University is the country's preeminent institution for military, diplomatic and civilian national security education, research and outreach. It is the only university providing a common educational experience for all the various professional communities engaged in national security. The main campus is located at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

SouthernLINC Wireless Gives a Little 'Home' this Holiday Season to Soldiers Stationed Overseas

/PRNewswire/ -- For the second consecutive year, SouthernLINC Wireless, a Southern Company (NYSE:SO) , is supporting our deployed American troops through Any Soldier Inc., a non-profit organization that helps boost morale among deployed men and women of the U.S. armed forces via letters and packages from "home."

Through Nov. 20, multiple SouthernLINC Wireless locations will serve as collection points for cards, letters and care package items, which will be sent directly to soldiers deployed from military bases in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

Employees, customers and community members are encouraged to show support in a personal way that suits them and their budgets. Especially during the upcoming holiday season, cards and letters mean the most to our deployed military personnel, yet cost very little and require only a small time investment.

"We are proud to once again support our dedicated servicemen and women with the help of the Any Soldier organization," said Bob Dawson, president and CEO of SouthernLINC Wireless. "Our troops sacrifice so much to protect us and our country. I hope our Southeastern neighbors will take this opportunity to write a note or donate a few, inexpensive comforts from 'home' to show our soldiers how much they are appreciated."

Cards, letters and care package items should be dropped off during business hours at multiple SouthernLINC Wireless locations in Alabama and Georgia. For more information, including a complete list of collection locations, guidelines and suggested care package items, visit

Last year's holiday drive with Any Soldier® collected and mailed more than 1750 cards and letters and 210 care packages - weighing more than a ton - to more than 1350 U.S. servicemen and women.

Founded in 2003 by Marty and Sue Horn, Any Soldier grew through a strong network of family and friends.

"Our family started Any Soldier to give our son Brian and his unit from the 173rd Airborne Brigade a few comforts from home and boost spirits," said Marty Horn, a 20-year Army veteran and president of Any Soldier. "We are honored that SouthernLINC Wireless is holding a holiday collection drive again this year to support soldiers deployed overseas from bases in the Southeast."

As a nonprofit organization, Any Solider relies on donations to continue their efforts to improve the lives of U.S. military personnel who are stationed far away from family and friends. To support this organization and the work it does, please go to to learn how to make a tax-deductible donation.

Currently, Any Soldier is helping approximately 100,000 active duty and reservists in all U.S. military branches who are in harm's way. In its six year history, Any Soldier has served nearly 1.5 million members of the U.S. military.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Secretary Shinseki Designates 41 Regional Veterans Day Sites

/PRNewswire/ -- As Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced today the designation of 41 regional Veterans Day observances. These sites are model community events for the observance of Veterans Day 2009.

"Veterans Day is a national Thank You to the men and women who have served all of us in uniform," Secretary Shinseki said. "These regional observances enable the federal government to bring resources closer to more Veterans."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower formed the Veterans Day National Committee in 1954 to plan and promote the observance of Veterans Day nationally and regionally. Today, the committee is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and is comprised of representatives from 44 organizations dedicated to supporting military Veterans.

The 2009 Veterans Day regional observances range from parades and ceremonies to military exhibits and tributes to distinguished local Veterans. Each site is recognized by the VA and may receive military support from the Department of Defense when available.

The 2009 Veterans Day Regional Sites are: Birmingham, Mobile, and Ozark-Dale County, Ala.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Palm Springs, Calif.; Loveland, Colo.; New Castle, Del.; Brevard Community College-Coco Campus, Fla.; Atlanta and Dawson County, Ga.; Emporia, Leavenworth and Valley Center, Kan.; Madisonville-Hopkins County, Ky.; and New Orleans, Shreveport-Bossier City, Shreveport and Slidell-Tammany Parrish, La.

Other regional sites include Sherborn, Mass.; Brunswick, Md.; Detroit, Mich.; Gulfport, Miss.; St. Louis, Mo.; New York, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Ponca City, Okla.; Albany, Douglas County and Portland, Ore.; Gatlinburg and Nashville, Tenn.; Austin, Bonham, Dallas and Houston, Texas; Virginia Beach, Va.; Auburn, Port Angeles, Vancouver and West Richland, Wash.; and Milwaukee, Wis.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

'Week of the Women Warriors': Launch of Groundbreaking Report on Female Troops and Veterans

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation's first and largest non-partisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released its new issue report, "Women Warriors: Supporting She 'Who Has Borne the Battle,'" on the unique service and homecoming challenges facing female troops and veterans. The report is the cornerstone of IAVA's first annual "Week of the Women Warriors," a multi-faceted effort to honor the courage and sacrifice of female servicemembers.

"Women make up 11% of the force in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, their challenges have largely been overlooked and underreported. IAVA's new report pulls together the most up to date information on a broad range of issues confronting female servicemembers and veterans," said IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff. "Countless women have served bravely and honorably for their country. It's time for the Department of Defense, the VA, lawmakers and the public to take bold action on behalf of these women warriors and give them the support they have earned."

IAVA's newly released report explores a wide range of issues, including:

-- Sexual Assault, Harassment and Military Sexual Trauma (MST): Women in
the military have been coping with significant and underreported
sexual assault and harassment for decades. The report examines the
statistics behind this prevalent issue, the measures that are
currently in place and steps that must be taken to aggressively
address this systematic problem.

-- Higher Divorce Rates for Female Servicemembers: Marriages of female
troops are failing at almost three times the rate of male
servicemembers. The report examines the data behind this troubling

-- Barriers to VA Health Care: In recent years the VA has been challenged
to care for female veterans, who now make up 12% of all Iraq and
Afghanistan veterans seeking VA health care. The report examines the
fragmentation of women's VA services, privacy and safety concerns and
problems communicating eligibility and benefits to female veterans.

-- Homelessness among Female Veterans: Of homeless Iraq and Afghanistan
veterans, almost 10% are women, and many of them have families. The
report examines this growing trend and the urgent economic challenges
facing female veterans.

Week of the Women Warriors: During this week, will feature a new Women Warriors Center. Anchored by the new report, the Women Warriors Center will highlight ways veterans and civilians can get involved with supporting female veterans. Visitors will be able to read the report, learn about the history of women in the military, sign on to IAVA's letter introducing the report to Congress and participate in an aggregation of associated Twitter activity. Female veterans are encouraged to join Community of Veterans (COV), an online social network exclusively for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the first of what will be an annual week to honor and advocate for female troops and veterans.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

VA Chief of Staff Gingrich Kicks off National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in San Antonio

/PRNewswire/ -- On Oct. 5, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Chief of Staff John Gingrich celebrated Veteran-artists at the opening banquet of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in San Antonio, Texas. The festival is the culmination of a year-long fine arts competition involving nearly 3,500 participants nationwide. It is open to all Veterans receiving care at VA medical facilities.

"I salute each of our Veteran-artists -- from our 'Greatest Generation' to our latest generation -- for your service to America," said Gingrich. "The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival not only showcases the very 'best of the best' in the creative arts, but also VA's outstanding medical care and rehabilitative techniques."

More than 120 Veteran medal winners in music, dance, drama, creative writing and visual arts contests are participating in the week-long festival. The event will conclude on Oct. 11 with a visual art exhibit and gala variety stage show at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.

VA medical facilities incorporate creative arts into their recreation therapy programs. This annual competition recognizes the progress and recovery made through art therapy, and raises visibility of Veterans' creative achievements.

"VA's rehabilitation therapists deliver a brand of care that enriches -- even rescues -- lives by providing the kinds of art therapy that give self-confidence, pride and personal expression," said Gingrich.

The festival is presented by VA, Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) and the American Legion Auxiliary. It is hosted this year by the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

"It is truly an honor for the American Legion Auxiliary to support the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival," said National President Rita Navarrete. "This phenomenal event affords our Veterans a unique outlet for their creative expression and is incredibly inspiring for everyone who is privileged to attend."

"The Board of Directors of HHV is again thrilled and privileged to co-sponsor the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival with VA and the American Legion Auxiliary," said Mike Lynch, HHV president and CEO. "HHV wishes to congratulate all Veterans who entered into this national competition, for you have shared your fantastic performing and visual arts abilities with America."

The artists will exhibit their work from 12:15 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11, at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium. At 2 p.m., performers in music, drama and dance, as well as the creative writing winners, will showcase their talents in an entertaining stage show backed by a professional orchestra. Heloise, from "Hints from Heloise," will serve as the festival stage show's mistress of ceremonies for the first time.

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