Strength from the Sea: Happy 242nd Birthday U.S. Navy

Today the U.S. Navy celebrates its 242nd birthday of defending the nation against all enemies.The force was founded on October 13, 1775, by the second Continental Congress during the American Revolutionary War. The force was disbanded shortly after the war, but  became permanent under the Naval Act of 1794. During George Washington’s presidential term, threats to American merchant shipping were being made by Barbary pirates. American sailors were seized and imprisoned in 1785 and then again in 1793. To secure both the release of these men and commercial access to the Mediterranean Sea, the United States agreed to pay tribute to the Barbary States. The Navy Act of 1794 authorized the construction of first six warships, including:

  • USS United States:
    • Launched on May 10, 1797
    • Fought and captured the frigate HMS Macedonian

USS United States

  • USS Constellation:
    • Launched  on September 7, 1797
    • Fought and captured the French frigate Insurgente. (First major victory by an American designed and built warship

USS Constellation

  • USS Constitution:
    • Launched on October 21, 1797
    • Most well known for her actions during the War of 1812 against Britain, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated four British warships: HMS Guerriere, HMS Java, HMS Cyane, and HMS Levant.
    • The oldest active commissioned warship afloat in the world (Boston, MA)

USS Constitution

  • USS Chesapeake:
    • Launched on December 2, 1799
    • Captured on June 1, 1813, by HMS Shannon

USS Chesapeake

  • USS Congress:
    • Launched on August 15, 1799
    • Performed services during the First Barbary War, War of 1812, and Second Barbary War

USS Congress

  • USS President:
    • Launched on April 10, 1800
    • Captured on January 14, 1815 by HMS Pomone and HMS Tenedos

USS President

Today, the United States is the world’s undisputed naval superpower, with the ability to engage and project power in two simultaneous limited wars along separate fronts. More than 400,000 sailors are serving all over the world, and  the U.S. Navy maintains a notable fleet with:

  • 288 battle force ships
  • 10 aircraft carriers
  • 9 amphibious assault ships
  • 22 cruisers
  • 62 destroyers
  • 17 frigates
  • 72 submarines
  • 3,700 aircraft

Navy Officer Salutes

The U.S. Navy has become the largest and strongest Navy in the world because of all the brave men and women that took the oath to serve this great country and follow the Sailor’s Creed. The Purple Heart Foundation wants to thank all who have served, and are serving for dedicating their lives to protecting our nation. We also want to wish you all a very Happy 242nd Birthday. We join the Navy in their celebration of a milestone birthday by remaining committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who are looking for jobs after their military service has ended. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.

Sailor’s Creed

I am a United States Sailor.

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.

I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and all who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.

I proudly serve my country’s Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.

I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.

From Service For Country to Service For Life: How One Veteran Is Making A Difference

The Purple Heart Foundation had the opportunity to talk with Army veteran Nick Bare about his military experience, transition back to civilian life, and his recent commitment to helping the people and communities of Houston, TX that were devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Nick has made an incredible, and very successful, transition from a soldier to an entrepreneur. Currently, Nick is the owner of a sports supplement company, Bare Performance Nutrition, which is based just north of Austin, TX. Nick has been able to not only grow his business, but also develop an extremely large social media presence that supports him and what he is involved in.

As a Texas resident, Nick wanted to make a difference once the devastation of Hurricane Harvey set in. Inspired by his military experience and training he committed himself to doing a 150 Mile Ruck March to raise money for Houston. Through his vast social media presence and commitment to making a difference, Nick was able to raise around $9,000 for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Incredible.  

Can you provide us with a background on yourself?

I am originally from Palmyra, PA (a small town next to Hershey).  I went to college at the Indiana University of PA from 2009-2013 on an Army ROTC scholarship to study Nutrition.  When I was a junior in college I decided to start up Bare Performance Nutrition (sports supplement company) with a small loan.  I commissioned into the Army as an Infantry Officer in 2013, where I was first sent to Fort Benning, GA for Infantry Officer Basic Course, Ranger School and Airborne School.  My first duty assignment was Fort Hood, Texas where I was stationed from 2014-2017.  During my time in the Army, I was an Infantry Platoon Leader and spent 9 months in South Korea on a training rotation just south of the DMZ.  After transitioning out of the military in May 2017, I went full time entrepreneur with my business, Bare Performance Nutrition.  Our distribution facility is now in Round Rock, TX (just North of Austin) where we ship directly to consumer, wholesale and through Amazon Prime.  A large part of our business is social media driven through my own personal YouTube channel.  The videos I upload are fitness, military, entrepreneur and lifestyle focused.

When did you join the military?

I officially went active duty in May 2013 after commissioning, however, I received my Army ROTC scholarship during my senior year of High School (2009).

Why did you join?

Many of my family members were active duty Army and I saw the experience they had while the war was very kinetic in the Middle East.  I hoped for a similar experience, which is why I selected Infantry.  I also had plans to serve my country and only ever expected to do my 4-year contract but enjoyed every minute of it!

Could you provide some details on your time in the service? 

What branch did you serve in?

Army, Infantry, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood

What were your roles in the service?

Infantry Platoon Leader for 2 years and then Assistant S3 (Operations Officer) until I transitioned out of active duty.

Were you deployed during your service? If so, when?

9 month training rotation to South Korea from Feb 2016-Oct 2016.

What was the most defining moment of your military experience?

My graduation from the US Army Ranger School was my most defining moment.  I spent 4.5 months in a 61 day course due to 2 recycles and a 6-week hold over during the best ranger competition.  It was a tough school where I lost over 30 pounds but learned A LOT throughout the process.

What does being a veteran mean to you?

I am proud of my time in the military, the people I have met, the experience it had created and the mentorship I gained.  It taught me a lot about leadership, especially working with non-commissioned officers in the Infantry.  I am extremely proud to live in the United States, be an American and of course live in TEXAS.

What would you like the public to know about the veteran community that you don’t see portrayed in the news?

The enlisted personnel and non-commissioned officers work harder than anyone else I have ever had the opportunity to learn from.  My team leaders, squad leaders and platoon sergeants held the standard to the highest and cared A LOT about their men.  It is something you don’t get to experience in the civilian sector.  These men aren’t working to make a million dollars, but because of a purpose they believe in.  We wouldn’t survive without the enlisted men and women of the United States.

While in the military you were required to complete ruck marches, and now as a veteran/civilian you recently completed a 150 Mile Ruck March to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Can you tell us a little about how:

You came up with that idea?

One of my employees came up with the idea to do a ruck march from Austin to Houston.  I originally planned to do 25 miles but he brought up the idea to do 150 miles.  I posted it on social media immediately to hold myself accountable to that task.

Your experience?

It was one of the best experiences of my life.  It was truly challenging and painful but I believe it brought many people together.  The feedback I received to amazing and the people of Texas are great.  

Your challenges?

The only big challenge throughout was the pain I felt in my feet.  The longest I had ever ruck marched before was 26 miles (and that was tough).  I was well worth the pain though!

What was the public response/support you received?

It was amazing! The people of Texas stopped me the entire way asking if I needed food, water, money and even a ride.  I was very thankful for the support, not just for the ruck march, but for the cause.  The people of Texas really came together after Hurricane Harvey.

Do you foresee yourself utilizing that type of fundraising for other causes?

I would love to do something similar in the future, but with more people involved to make for a greater cause and response.

Nick’s story is both inspiring and unique; the difference he has made is unmeasurable. From serving this country, to helping people around the world achieve their fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle goals through his businesses, to fundraising through a Ruck March to help those whose lives were turned upside down by Hurricane Harvey, Nick continues to make a difference.

We, at the Purple Heart Foundation, will forever be grateful for Nick Bare, and all of the men and women who have served, and continuing serving and making a difference for this country. We are committed to honoring ALL of our heroes, and it is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits that they deserve.

Gold Star Mother’s Day: Remember the Fallen and Their Loved Ones

This past Sunday, September 24th the country observed Gold Star Mother’s Day. The day is intended to recognize and honor those mothers who have lost a son or daughter in their service in the U.S. Armed Forces. In 1936, the 74th Congress declared that the last Sunday in September will be known as Gold Star Mother’s Day, and it is the duty of the President to request its observance. The name ‘Gold Star Mothers’ was derived from the custom of military families to put a service flag near their front window during World War I. The flag featured a star for each family member serving, living members were denoted in blue, and gold stars symbolized a family member who died in the line of duty.

Every mother that sends their child off to war has a fear their loved one will not return. Unfortunately for some that nightmare becomes reality, and they share a similar story to Candy Martin:

  • Candy Martin was in her home’s back bedroom one Sunday morning in October 2007 when her husband asked her to come out, his voice was quivering. He must have run over the dog, she thought, taking her time and trying to delay the inevitable bad news. When she finally came out it was to find two somber Army officers standing in her kitchen. “Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say it,” she begged them over and over again, hoping that if she didn’t hear the news it wouldn’t be true. Her son 1st Lt. Thomas Martin had been killed by small-arms fire in Iraq on Oct. 14, shortly after his 27th birthday. His fiancée, who was also in Iraq, flew medevac helicopters and heard about the incident on the radio. Although Army officials didn’t have to, they let her sit with Thomas in the morgue — knowing that helped Thomas’ mother a little. She was grateful someone who loved her son was with him that night.

This past Sunday, many events occurred across the country to honor fallen service members and their mothers. Fulfilling his duty, the United States President Donald Trump called on all Americans to display the nation’s flag and hold appropriate meetings to publicly express their love, sorrow, and reverence towards Gold Star Mothers and their families. Government buildings were also required to display the flag. This year on September 10th, the Miss America Pageant honored twelve mothers whose sons were killed while serving. The moms were put up and pampered at casinos, met Pentagon officials, and honored on stage at Boardwalk Hall before the nationally televised finale began.

There is nothing in this world that could bring a loved one back, but the Purple Heart Foundation is dedicated to helping the dependents of fallen servicemen, ALL veterans, and their families. Nearly 90% of cash donations the Purple Heart Foundation receive provides funds for programs that help the National Service Officer Program, the Scholarship program, as well as other programs. You can show your appreciation to the brave men and women who give their lives for our freedom by donating here.


From the Battlefield to the Classroom: The Story of Dan Hansmeier

The Purple Heart Foundation had the opportunity to interview Dan Hansmeier, a Marine Corps Veteran. He provided us insight on his time and experience in the military as well as what civilian life has been like for him since becoming a veteran.


Can you provide us with a background on yourself?

My name is Daniel Hansmeier and I am 30 years old and am from rural Minnesota.


When did you join the military?

I joined the Marine Corps immediately after I graduated high school in June of 2006. I remember graduating on June 3rd and flying to San Diego, California on June 11th. I had a very short summer break before starting boot camp.


Why did you join?

I wanted to travel the world, meet new people and accomplish things that I never would have been able to do had I not joined. Importantly, the attacks on September 11th, 2001 really put a lot of drive in me to defend this country against something like that happening again; [and as it] turns out that is what I would do.


Could you provide some details on your time in the service? What branch did you serve in?

United States Marine Corps


What was your rank?

I was a Sergeant (E-5)




What were your roles in the service?

Reconnaissance Team Leader/ Recon Marine. Scout Sniper and US Army Airborne Ranger qualified.


Were you deployed during your service? If so, when?

I went on 4 deployments over the period of 8 years that I was active duty in the Marines. My first deployment was called a MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) which was a fleet of Navy ships that traveled the Indian and Pacific Oceans making stops at Hawaii, Singapore, Australia, Persian Gulf (Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait) and East Africa. My second and third deployments were to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and my last deployment was another MEU stopping at a lot of the same countries as the first, this time including parts of Europe. Our purposes at these stops was either to train foreign militaries or to do training as a platoon for ex, High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) parachuting exercises in Djibouti. Each deployment was about 7 months long.

What is your favorite memory/story?

My first Afghanistan deployment was in 2010, the bloodiest year of the war and I remember every detail of it. My platoon was in gunfights nearly every day and we racked up almost 400 enemies KIA without a single person in my unit dying, although we did take serious casualties. We expended more ordinance than any other Marine unit in the country that year as well and at the time Lt. General James Mattis (the current Secretary of Defense under the Trump Administration) said that my unit was “the most lethal unit in Afghanistan right now”. Ironically he was quoted saying that on Halloween 2010.


What does being a veteran mean to you?

Being a veteran means that I hold myself to a high standard, the standard instilled in me throughout the arduous and attrition rated training and combat that I went through. It means that I don’t make excuses and that I seek realistic and thorough solutions to everything in my daily life that I encounter. Being a veteran means that society should hold me to a higher standard as well; there are incredibly weak people who love the victim society mentality, I am not that man, nor should veterans be thought of as that.


Are you involved in any veteran communities?

Not in a formal sense, no. However, I do stay in contact with nearly every person in my platoon that I went to Afghanistan with every day through an app on my phone. This is the most important veteran community to me; we keep each other in check.


What have you been doing since leaving the military?

I went straight to college. I like this question because it forces me to think, “what have I done lately?” and to not relish on my time in the Marines as if it were the only important time in my life. Well, I have been in college, I’m studying biology and will graduate Summa Cum Laude in May of next year and will pursue a career in health care. Every day is a win, because I have four limbs (thankfully), a sound mind and more grit than anyone I know.


Advice for those looking to join?

The military has a whole spectrum of specialties; you don’t have to do what I did, although I wouldn’t really be enthusiastic about doing something different. If you want to join, be ready to get humbled, be ready to lose, and be ready for defeat because those things are necessary events to be exposed to in order to learn how you will react in the worst of scenarios and if you have the ability to grow from them, if you don’t think you do then don’t bother joining. The military is a place that selects volunteers and places them in a job that is best fitting for them, it may take a couple of years in the military before one figures this out. You’ll know once you find what it is you are supposed to be doing because you will be good at it and give it your undivided attention because your learn that your life or someone else’s life probably depends on it.


Anything else you want to share?

I would do all 8 years again, I had a great time and was with incredible guys who really understood their roles as men and leaders amidst chaotic scenarios in training and in combat.


Dan’s journey both in and outside of the military is inspiring. He excelled as a Marine due to his strong work ethic coupled with his passion and dedication to our country. His success has only continued since becoming a veteran, making and reaching new goals every day.
There are not enough words to justify how grateful we, at the Purple Heart Foundation, are for Dan and all the other men and women who serve and served this country. We are committed to honoring all of our heroes, and it is our goal to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve.

POW/MIA Recognition Day: You Are Not Forgotten

Today, September 15th and every third Friday of September is POW/MIA Recognition Day, a day of remembrance and hope for the safe return of American Prisoners of War, and those still Missing In Action. The United States flag and POW/MIA flags are flown on this day and joint prayers are made for POWs and those that are Missing in Action. The focus is to ensure that America remembers its responsibility to stand behind those who serve our nation and do everything possible to account for those who do not return.

In 1979, Congress and President Jimmy Carter passed resolutions for the Remembrance Day after the families of the more than 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIAs pushed for full accountability. During the first POW/MIA Recognition Day commemoration, a ceremony was held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., while the 1st Tactical Squadron from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia flew the missing man formation. Most ceremonies since then have been held at the Pentagon, and many smaller observances occur across the nation and around the world on military installations.
The traditional POW/MIA flag was created before the Remembrance Day became official. The flag was created for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia and officially recognized by the United States Congress in conjunction with the POW/MIA’s during the Vietnam War era.

In 1971, Mary Hoff wanted a flag made to remind people of POWs and the missing. She was one of the many waiting to see if her husband, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Hoff, would ever return home after his plane had been shot down over Laos. World War II pilot Newt Heisley designed the POW/MIA flag, which was made in black and white to represent the sorrow, anxiety, and hope symbolized by the image of the gaunt man featured on it.  The image of the man is a silhouette of his son, Jeffery Heisley, who was medically discharged from the military. When designing the flag, Newt looked at his son’s gaunt features and imagined what life must be like for those captured and missing in action on foreign land.
For every POW/MIA recognition day since 1982, the flag has flown just below the American flag at the White House – the only other flag to ever do so. In 1998, Congress ordered it to also be displayed on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day.

Below are the numbers of POW/MIA that have yet been found:

  • WWI: 7,470
  • WWII: 73,014
  • Korean War: 7,729
  • Vietnam War: 1,602
  • Cold War: 126
  • Afghanistan and Iraq Wars: 6

As you continue your day, make a conscious effort to remember the brave men and women that have served our country, and as a result have become a part of the 83,000 servicemen missing in action, or taken captive as prisoners of war.

The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to honoring all of our heroes who have been willing to sacrifice everything for our country, and have seen the hardships of war. Nearly 90 percent of cash donations the Purple Heart Foundation receives provide funds for programs that help ALL veterans and their dependents. It is our goal to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.

Post 9/11 Military: What Has Changed Since That Terrible Day?

As you can imagine, this country and our military has changed quite a bit since September 11, 2001. That terrible day shifted the United States of America’s dynamic, and day-to-day way of thinking. Our citizens, though horrified, scared, and heartbroken, were able to unite with a new and heightened sense of patriotism. Even more specifically than just our country and its citizens, our military’s dynamic shifted as well.

In the years that have followed September 11, 2001, many changes have been made to our country’s military. These changes come from all areas: budget, demographics, size, veteran benefits, etc.  

I am sure you are sitting there reading this and thinking to yourself, military enlistment and recruitment was the first and quickest change. In actuality, our military recruitment did not surge in the years immediately following September 11th. For example, though the Army was able to meet its recruitment goals in 2001 and the year following, by 2005 they fell short of their goals. Our Air Force did not meet their recruitment goals either. There was a post-attack surge of recruitment, but that quickly faded. Since more time has passed since that horrible attack on our country, the military and its enlistment has seen much more growth.

Though since 2001 many recruits have cited ‘patriotism’ as a main reason for joining, our country’s weakened economy actually played a strong role. Our military branches began meeting and, exceeding their recruitment goals and these recruits are actually made up of better-qualified and higher educated personnel. Why? The economy provided for less and less jobs for young people, and the military offered a steady job.  

The role of women in our military and war efforts have also shifted post-9/11. Previously banned from direct combat operations, they have since served in combat. Some have even been awarded various military medals for valor. It has been said that some “women are performing as well as their male peers” and that the military needs those women doing those jobs.

Another post 9/11 change was the updated GI Bill. This allowed for coverage on full tuition and necessary fees for all public universities and colleges for all those who have served at least 90 days of service since September 11, 2001. It has continued to expand and offer more and more benefits, especially under the new administration.

In the decade following that terrible day, our military spending surged 50%. Not only did the spending increase, but over 50 percent of Americans were in favor of increased spending following 9/11. The United States has spent, or taken on spending obligations, for greater than $3.6 trillions on the war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and our Department of Homeland Security.

Since 9/11 our military has become much more battle-tested. Their ability to engage in missions and operate more logically and sufficiently has continued to develop through hands on experience and more extensive training. This has helped the U.S military to prove not only its adaptability, but develop its resilience against any new or potential conflicts.

Additionally, the U.S. Special Operations forces has actually grown, and continues to grow, by the tens of thousands. This is a great example of cooperation and how it has been able to grow and develop throughout our military services and branches. This force includes various specialized combat personnel and reconnaissance personnel from all branches.

Since September 11, 2001, our country’s veteran community has continued to grow. Each and every man and woman has sacrificed for this great country. The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to helping every single veteran. It is our mission to holistically enhance the quality of life of all veterans and their families, providing them with direct service and fostering an environment of camaraderie and goodwill among combat wounded veterans. You too can show your support for our heroes by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure our veterans continue to get the support and benefits they both need and deserve.

Legends on Two Fields: Remembering Athletes Who Answered the Call to Serve

Millions of kids grow up in the United States and have dreams of one day becoming a professional athlete. They spend countless hours and years working hard for this dream, and the odds of making it to the upper level of any sport are low. The competition is intense and the open spots are few, even for those athletes that excel in college sports. In a 2012 study, the NCAA found that the chances of going from college to pro were less than two percent for football, basketball, hockey, and soccer. Individuals such as Pat Tilman, Bob Kalsu, and Jack Lummus worked hard for their dreams, and against all odds made it to the NFL. While their talents showed their love for football, these men also had a passion to serve their country. These men gave up a promising career they worked nearly their entire lives to achieve to selflessly volunteer in our Armed Services, and ultimately sacrifice their lives for our country.

Pat Tilman, from Arizona State University was drafted in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. As expected, Tilman was fulfilling a promising career and in four seasons, he recorded 238 tackles and three interceptions as a safety, and was named an All-Pro in 2000. In 2001 he was offered a three-year, $3.6 million contract from the Cardinals but turned it down to enlist in the U.S. Army to answer the nation’s call after the 9/11 attacks. Tilman was a part of the initial invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and when he returned, he immediately attended Ranger school. Soon after graduating in 2003, he redeployed to Afghanistan.On April 22, 2004, he was killed in a friendly fire incident. He was awarded a Silver Star, Purple Heart, a posthumous promotion, and his number was retired both by the Cardinals and college team Arizona State.

Bob Kalsu graduated from Oklahoma University as an All-American and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1968. Many say he had the potential for a Hall-of-Fame career. Kalsu also had a ROTC obligation, and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant after his rookie season in the NFL. Even though Kaslu had the opportunity to join the Reserves, he decided to go on active duty because he wanted to keep the promise he made when he joined ROTC to serve.  Joining the Army in midst of a war, he was deployed to Vietnam in 1969 as part of the 101st Airborne Division. One year later on July 21, 1970 Kalsu’s unit came under attack where he was shot and killed. He was awarded a Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.


Jack Lummus, was a two-sport athlete at Baylor University, and signed as free agent to the New York Giants. On December 7, 1941, the Giants were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers when Japanese airplanes attacked the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, a tragedy that would change the course of Lummus’s career. After the Giants faced the Chicago Bears in the championship game, Lummus enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on January 30, 1942. Three years later he was deployed to the island of Iwo Jima where he would die as an American hero and earn the Medal of Honor for his actions. On March 8th, Lummus’s platoon went under attack where he received minor wounds from grenade shrapnel. However, that did not stop him from leading his platoon to destroy three enemy strongholds. Following this action, he stepped on a landmine and was mortally wounded. While being treated at the aid station, Lummus told his doctor “Well Doc, the New York Giants lost a mighty good end today.”


These men, among several others decided to forgo their dream of playing in the NFL and millions of dollars to serve. They all understood what it meant to fight for freedom, take pride in their duty, and ultimately gave their life for this country.
The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to honoring our heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country. Nearly 90 percent of cash donations the Purple Heart Foundation receives provide funds for programs that help the National Service Officer Program, the Scholarship Program, as well as other programs. It is our goal to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.

Forever GI Bill: A New Commitment To Our Veterans

Just over a week ago, President Trump signed new bipartisan legislation that gives our country’s veterans something to cheer about. The Forever GI Bill is the newest veteran benefit that has been signed into law. This Bill’s official title is the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. This new addition to the GI Bill can positively affect our country’s heroes and their families, in some big ways.

The GI Bill was originally introduced as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and authored by Harry Colmery, past commander of the American Legion (hence the Forever Gi Bill’s official title) .The Veterans Administration was responsible for carrying out the law’s key clauses, which included education and training, unemployment pay, and loan guaranty for homes, businesses or farms. Since the GI’s establishment, it has undergone various changes and additions. In 1984 Mississippi Congressman Gillespie V. “Sonny” Montgomery worked to upgrade the bill and its benefits and make sure they continue to work for the newer generations of combat veterans. In 2008, there was yet another provision. This newest legislation gave veterans with active duty service on or after September 11, 2001, additional benefits. These additional benefits would offer coverage on more educational expenses (including textbooks), ability to transfer unused benefits to spouses of children, and providing a living allowance.

How can such a small piece of legislation make such a big difference? Well for starters, this new “Forever” GI Bill ends the fifteen-year time limit that was originally set for veterans’ to utilize money for education. Additionally, prior to this new legislation, Purple Heart recipients were required to complete three years of service before receiving full benefits, regardless of their commitment and the sacrifice they had made for this country. This new “Forever” GI Bill is definitely making strides in a positive direction.

This new legislation shows our commitment to our veterans. In fact, in addition to those two important changes discussed above, the legislation makes other improvements to the GI Bill that will help our veterans transition back to a civilian life. Here are some of the major takeaways from this new “Forever” GI Bill.

  1. There will no longer be an expiration date on these benefits not only for veterans, but also their family members. It applies to spouses receiving education benefits and family members of service members who were killed in the line of duty (post September 10, 2001).
  2. Purple Heart Recipients will receive, rightfully so, more benefits., Over 600 well- deserving Purple Heart Recipients each year, for the next ten years, will benefit from this change.
  3. Since certain degrees take longer than the average four-year college education, this “Forever” GI Bill is allowing up to an additional year of school to be funded (on a first come first basis).
  4. There will be an expansion in eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program to surviving spouses or children of service members.
  5. Those who are members of the National Guard and the Reserve will also be eligible to count any time they may have spent recovering from medical care or injuries sustained during active duty towards GI Bill eligibility.
  6. Surviving family members will benefit from a $200 increase in their monthly education stipend.
  7. The “Forever” GI Bill will restore benefits to veterans who have been enrolled in schools that collapsed, closed, or were not accredited. For example, events like the ITT Technical Institute closure in 2015 will no longer result in veterans losing their credits, and the money that it cost them to get there.

Those are a few key changes that will be brought to action from this new piece of legislation. Though this does not solve all of the problems our veterans face on a daily basis, it will certainly improve our veterans’ opportunities for education to help transition them to new careers.

As our government works towards building more opportunities and financial resources for our veterans, the Purple Heart Foundation also has developed various programs that offer assistance to our veterans as well as their families. There is the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) Scholarship Program for veteran’s family members who are looking to gain higher education and further advance their careers. Additionally the Purple Heart Foundation works to help service members transition back to civilian life and employment outside of the military, similar to the ideas behind the GI Bill.

The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to helping every single man and woman who has served our country. It is our mission to help assist in the transition back home and back to a normal life from the battlefield. You too can show your support for our heroes by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they both need and deserve.

V-J Day: 72 Years Since the Surrender of Japan

72 years ago on August 14th, Japan officially announced their acceptance to the Potsdam Declaration, and would sign it in in less than a month, ending World War II. On September 2nd, a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. This day is also known as V-J Day, a name selected by the Allies signifying victory over Japan.  The official name for the day, however, is “the day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace.”

World War II was a global war that involved over 30 countries and lasted six years. The war was fought between two groups of countries. On one side were the Axis Powers, including Germany, Italy and Japan. On the other side were the Allies, including Britain, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, the Soviet Union, China and the United States of America.The war in Europe began on September 1939, when Germany, under Chancellor Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland. Two years later on December 7th, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This attack was the catalyst for the United States’ involvement and began the war in the Pacific.

In late spring of 1945, the Allies began bombing major Japanese cities and continued through the summer.  In July, the Allies offered the Japanese government a Postdam Declaration, a statement that called for the surrender of all Japanese armed forces during World War II. The Allies warned Japan that if they did not surrender they would face “prompt and utter destruction”. It was on August 6th, 1945 when the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima.The bomb is also known as “Little Boy”  because it was the smaller of the two atomic bombs. The Little Boy explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed over 80,000 people. Three days later a second atomic bomb, “Fat Man” was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. A day later Japan, communicated its intention to surrender under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration.

Japan’s surrender ended World War II, and Americans immediately began to celebrate. President Harry S. Truman stated, This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor. This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would.” As the years passed, celebrations of V-J Day scaled down due to Japan becoming a close American ally, and the celebrations being offensive to the Japanese-American population.

Our military men and women selflessly fight to protect our country and they will always be  remembered for their bravery. The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to helping provide assistance to ALL members of the military, veterans, and families. Nearly 90% of cash donations the Purple Heart Foundation receive provides funds for programs that help the National Service Officer Program, the Scholarship program, as well as other programs. It is our goal to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed for our freedom. Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.

Mike Cain: The Life of a Purple Heart Recipient

This past Monday, August the 7th was Purple Heart Day. The Purple Heart is our nation’s oldest military award. It was first introduced by George Washington in 1782 as the “Badge of Military Merit”. This award recognizes any United States Armed Forces member who has been wounded, killed, or has died after having been wounded while in combat. It is estimated that over 1.8 million United States military personnel have been awarded the Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart Foundation had the opportunity to talk with one inspiring Purple Heart recipient in particular, Mike Cain. Mike is a double leg amputee who is originally from Wisconsin. He lives every single day with an attitude that is unparalleled, and a heart full of nothing but kindness.

In August of 2000 Mike enlisted in the United States Army. Mike explained that as a kid growing up he had been a bit of a troublemaker, and lacked respect for the adults and authority figures in his life. Something needed to change. Mike recalled a specific career day back during junior year of high school. On this particular day he spoke with an Army recruiter, resulting in the realization that the Army was the exact change he needed.Mike explained that joining the Army helped him develop into a man. A once timid and trouble making kid grew up and learned discipline and the value of hard work.

On August 10th 2003 Mike’s life was completely changed. He woke up in shock to learn that while in Tikrit, Iraq, his vehicle rolled over a double-stack anti-tank landmine. This event, almost exactly fourteen years ago, resulted in Mike being awarded a Purple Heart, and the beginning of learning to live a new life as an amputee.

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Mike explained to me that joining the Army has been a Godsend and he said it is “greatest thing I have ever done with my life”. It is something that both he and his family are proud of. As a Purple Heart recipient, Mike explained it is “the only medal that no one wants”. And though he is so proud of what he has done to support his country, he is not originally “proud” of his Purple Heart. He continued to explain that “at the time, [he] felt like a failure because [he] was sitting in the hospital while [his] guys were still over there fighting”. As time has passed Mike’s Purple Heart has developed into an honor, because it was for this country. If given the opportunity he “would still do anything and put [his] life on the line for this country”.

Coincidentally Purple Heart day and the anniversary of Mike’s injuries fall only a few days apart, making this week in particular a week of reflection. A chance to sit and reflect on how thankful he is to still be here fourteen years later, and how proud he can be for what he did for this country.

Though Mike’s service to the Army may have ended fourteen years ago, his service to this country was reborn. He continues to stay extremely active and supportive in the veteran community. He is a member of the USA Warriors Ice Hockey team, the Wounded Warrior Football team, and is training for the Paralympics. He has made a point to visit and talk with all of the new men and women at Walter Reed Army Medical Center about joining different teams like this and getting back into the swing of life.  

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Mikes resilience and positivity is inspirational to say the least. Each day he wakes up with a better attitude than the day before. He has overcome every single obstacle that has ever been placed in front of him, and does so with unparalleled and contagious positivity. He understands how difficult it is for veterans and specifically Purple Heart recipients when they come home, so he is committed to helping as many of these men and women as he can.

The Purple Heart Foundation are also committed to helping every single man and woman who has served our country. It is our mission to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed for our freedom. You can show your support for these brave men and women by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure that ALL of our veterans, like Mike Cain, continue to get the support they deserve.