Frontier to Nation: The 380 Year Journey of The National Guard

It’s hard to imagine a time in the country without the National Guard. That’s because it predates the founding of the nation, the signing of the Charters of Freedom, and even before the colonists dumped tea into Boston Harbor. The Guard is part of the reserve components of the United States Army and is made of units from each state and the territories.

The difference between the National Guard and the United States Armed Forces is the Guard serves both state and federal governments and is a volunteer, part-time force. This year on December 13th, the National Guard will celebrate 380 years of service to the United States of America and its territories.

The Guard dates back to the late 1630’s, when it was first organized to be a readied force in the Salem, Massachusetts area. Many of the original colonies felt that it was necessary to provide protection for its people during the process of drawing the colonial border lines. The English settlers had also made failed attempts to colonize in parts of the Massachusetts frontier and in other parts of the continent.


The Massachusetts General Court in Salem wanted to create a colonial wide force to keep the peace, to defend the colonies from any aggressors, and to expand colonization of the continent by having a force trained in military tactics. On December 13th, the General Court issued a proclamation to establish an “able-bodied” militia made up of local men between the ages of 16 and 60. This was the first time in the history of the continent that a direct declaration was issued to create a fighting force.

In modern times, The National Guard has been mobilized during raging storms and changing tides. Throughout history, their mobilization helped during the American Revolution as the country expanded towards freedom from Great Britain. The Guard protected African-American children get to school during the integration of the American education system. When Hurricane Katrina came ashore in Louisiana, the National Guard from the surrounding states came together to help save lives and deliver food to those in need.

The National Guard began protecting the frontier and people of 13 unruly colonies. In modern times, The National Guard stands at 1.4 million strong. It is an all volunteer force that protects 50 United States, the territories, works part-time, and can be mobilized to deploy abroad to assist their counterparts of the Armed Forces.

“The National Guard has served America as both a wartime force and the first military responders in times of domestic crisis. Hundreds of times each year, the nation’s governors call upon their Guard troops to respond to fires, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters,” said Russel Honore retired Lieutenant General and 33rd Commanding General of the U.S. First Army at Fort Gillem.

The National Guard has even deployed abroad to fight alongside the military in campaigns during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In World War I, the units of the Guard made up 40% of the expeditionary forces. In World War II, nearly 175,000 guardsmen gave their lives for the ideals of freedom for all. Nearly 139,000 guardsman reported for duty during the Korean War from 1950-1952. Lastly, nearly 50% of the guardsmen have deployed overseas for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The work for them never stops.


There are several historic events, at home, that stand out in the national memory where The National Guard had to step in to to help the citizenry of the United States.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that all American schools should be integrated with no racial barrier. However, the governor in Arkansas did not agree with the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education and decided to place the Arkansas National Guard in front of Central High School. This move was to prevent African-American students from entering the school thus continuing a long tradition of segregation.

The students who were turned away from the school became known as the Little Rock Nine. Eventually, President Dwight Eisenhower intervened and ordered the National Guard to escort the children to school in a peaceful and orderly manner. In an address to the nation the president stated, “The running of our school system and the maintenance of peace and order in each of our States are strictly local affairs and the Federal Government does not interfere except in a very few special cases and when requested by one of the several States. In the present case the troops are there, pursuant to law, solely for the purpose of preventing interference with the orders of the Court.” The students did have the chance to attend school but still faced the bitterness of racial discrimination.

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of the United States with a death toll over 1,800 between the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. It is yet another example where The National Guard moved into to help their fellow countrymen and women. There were some 50,000 guardsmen that jumped into action. In an article by the US Army, retired Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum said, “By any measure, it was the fastest, most massive military response to any natural disaster that has ever happened. Our response was the epitome of what the National Guard is and why it is a national treasure.” The guardsmen had to act quickly to restore peace and order in the parishes, deliver supplies, rescue those who needed help, and much more. It has been described as their “finest hour.”


Much has changed in the United States of America in 380 years. Since the beginning, when settlers came from far off lands to start anew in America, their hope for a better tomorrow was at the forefront of their thoughts. There was most certainly a need to provide safe communities for everyone. It took a colonial court in 1636 to establish a protective and expeditionary force of farmers, businessmen, and boys. However, over the years as America grew so did The National Guard. It became an organized and well trained force that provided assistance at home and abroad. The times and people of the country has changed but one thing that has remained the same is the commitment of The National Guard.

Presently, acts of their duty are on display as the Tennessee National Guard battles the wildfires in East Tennessee. The Purple Heart Foundation remains committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives. Nearly 90% of cash donations fund the National Service Officer Program, the Scholarship Program, service dog programs, and other recreational and rehabilitative programs. The Purple Heart Foundation wants to convey appreciation for The National Guard and extend best wishes on their 380th Birthday! You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for America by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.


“A Date Which Will Live In Infamy”: Remembering Pearl Harbor

December 7th marks the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The two hour sneak attack by the Japanese left nearly 20 American naval vessels and more than 300 airplanes destroyed. Over 2,000 lives were lost and another 1,000 American soldiers and sailors were left injured. Three days later, after Congress approved President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request to wage war on Japan, the United States joined other nations in World War II.

Much has changed for America since that day, but the feelings that survivors have about that day have not changed. Earl Brandes, Ed Guthrie, and Lawrence Osterbuhr were stationed in Honolulu the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. Now, 75 years later, all three men are back in their home state of Nebraska–Brandes is 95, Guthrie is 97, and Osterbuhr is 96.

“We’re really comrades,” Brandes said. “There’s not too many people left our age.” The three men used to be part of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Nebraska chapter, but the group disbanded after December 2011 after the national organization decided there were too few members around to warrant a group. Since the group’s disbandment, the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, a group started in 1958, has helped to preserve the memory of those who served during the attack. “The Sons & Daughters wanted to make sure nobody forgot about Pearl Harbor,” Peg Murphy, Ed Guthrie’s daughter and the leader of the Nebraska chapter of the Sons & Daughters said.

Donald Stratton, another Pearl Harbor survivor from Red Cloud, Nebraska remembered the attack when he was a Seaman 1st Class aboard the USS Arizona. He and 1,177 shipmates managed to escape the Arizona for a neighboring ship and were spared during the attack. Stratton is now 94 years old, residing in Colorado Springs.

“The morning of Dec. 7, 1941, seemed like any other. We worked out a little bit and ate chow. I grabbed a few oranges to bring to a buddy of mine who was in the sick bay. Then I walked out onto the deck and saw some sailors congregating on the ship’s starboard side. They were looking across the water at Ford Island, an islet in the center of Pearl Harbor, and they were hollering — planes with the Japanese Zero insignia were banking through the sky.‘Oh, hell, it’s the Japanese!’ somebody shouted. ‘They’re bombing the water tower on Ford Island.’ We watched the tower fall and planes on the runway over there burst into flames,” Stratton said.

Across the nation, December 7th is a national day of remembrance. In El Paso, Colorado, Jim Downing was made a member of the El Paso County Commissioners just as a commemoration announcement for Pearl Harbor Day was announced. “My message to this generation: You are the leaders, you are the taxpayers, you are the voters, you are the legislators. Weakness invites aggression; keep America strong,” Downing said. “I want to keep America so strong that no adversary will ever think of attacking us.”  Downing is one of the oldest living survivors at 103 years old.

In Hawaii, the war memorials for the attack are alive and thriving. This December 7th, people from all backgrounds will stand on Kilo Pier with the USS Arizona Memorial behind them to remember what happened. At the memorial, visitors can see pieces of metal from the downed ship in the water. The metal is still wet with oil that continuously leaks from the ship 75 years later. In addition, Hangar 79 at the Pacific Aviation Museum holds artifacts recovered from the site.

December 7, 1941 was a day of great loss for our country. It entered us into a war and the pain of the attack is still felt by survivors today. Now, we remember those who lost their lives in service to our country and try to keep their memory alive.

On December 7th, and every day, we remember the great sacrifice our soldiers and sailors made. The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who are in need of assistance while transitioning home from the battlefield. 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.


On #GivingTuesday Honor their Sacrifice with Your Support

Businessman Larry H. Miller challenged a generation by saying, “Go out into the world and do good until there is too much good in the world.” Mr. Miller understood that doing good for others could be life changing. The men and women who have served and that are serving the United States of America have delivered the gift of freedom. On #GivingTuesday join us in our mission to show your appreciation.

On Tuesday November 29th, 2016, you will have the chance to make a difference in someone’s life. For the third year in a row, The Purple Heart Foundation is taking part in #GivingTuesday which is the largest single giving day of the year. This day was created to mirror the meaning of the holiday season. So, when you are dining with family on Thanksgiving or standing in line on Black Friday, just remember the men and women who have made it possible.


“As you gather with your families, we ask that you keep in mind those men and women fighting to keep us safe,” said Stephen Ruckman, Chief Executive Officer of The Purple Heart Foundation. “Our organization is the only veteran service organization whose membership is made up entirely of combat wounded veterans.”

Last year, 138 supporters participated in #GivingTuesday which helped raise over $10,000 to continue our lifesaving programs. Based on early results, the giving season of 2016 will be a successful one for The Purple Heart Foundation. That is why it is imperative to sign up for a monthly recurring donation or give a one-time gift.

The Purple Heart Foundation strives every day to honor the sacrifice of American service men and women. Signing up to be a supporter would help to fund programs utilized by thousands of veterans for years to come.  Through #GivingTuesday, the Purple Heart Foundation is able to raise money to make initiatives like the National Service Officer Program, the Service Dog Program, the Scholarship Program, and other rehabilitative and recreational programs available. The Purple Heart Foundation would like to remind all of its supporters that at least 90% of your cash donations will go to programs like these.


The National Service Officer program comprises the National Appeals Office in Washington D.C., the Court of Veteran Appeals and the National Outreach program. The Purple Heart Foundation assists all veterans, their dependents, surviving spouses and orphans by:

  • Educating veterans about their benefits and entitlements.

  • Processing veterans’ claims for compensation, pension, medical care, education, job training, employment, housing, and death and burial benefits.

  • Providing quality, professional representation for veterans whose benefits were denied at the local VA regional office.

  • Employing a full-time attorney and presenting veterans’ claims before the court.

  • Serving on the President’s Committee for employment of people with disabilities.

  • Providing services to veterans in rural and urban areas.

  • Reaching out to handicapped and destitute veterans unable to visit a VA regional office.

  • Identifying and helping homeless veterans.

The Purple Heart Foundation has provided funds to service dog programs totaling $75,000 over the years. Multiple studies have shown that service dogs can be a life saving and life changing asset for many of our veterans. They are taught to open gates, turn on lights, provide a sense of calm, retrieve and carry objects and more. Those making the transition from the battlefield to the home front might need this companion to help them live a normal life. The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including service dog programs and other rehabilitative programs.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly one million veterans are taking advantage of their GI benefits, and that number is expected to increase by 20% in the coming years. The Scholarship Program awards up to $200,000 annually to provide financial support to Purple Heart recipients and their families. The scholarship covers the direct costs of higher education. It assists with items like tuition, books, incidental fees, and room and board. This program could give an entire generation a chance to be the next champions of innovation that America desperately needs.

“While our membership is exclusively made up of combat wounded veterans, these programs allow us to help all veterans make a smooth transition from the battlefield to the home front,” said Ruckman.

A new social media initiative was created this year called #GiveMe10. It was created to symbolize that our servicemen and women use their two hands to keep us safe and that with your hands you can give back. That is why you can make a donation of $10 a month or give a one time donation to show your appreciation. These individuals have sacrificed so much to deliver the ultimate gift to each American, freedom. That freedom allows you to go to work every day, tuck your kids in at night, and to join your family in fellowship during the holidays.


“Please join us and become a supporter of The Purple Heart Foundation so that we may continue to honor their sacrifice through our service,” said Ruckman.

This year, do all the good you can for the men and women who have served and are serving the United States of America. Contribute something that you feel can make a difference in the life of a veteran. #GivingTuesday is just one day in which you can lend your support and The Purple Heart Foundation hopes you will continue to give back in the new year as well. The Purple Heart Foundation remains committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including service dog programs, other rehabilitative programs, and disability benefits. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by ensuring veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.

Giving Thanks for Freedom this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to look back on the year gone by and reflect what you are thankful for. Thankfulness can come in many forms–having a new job, being able to provide for your family, or keeping friendships alive. For Americans, we have an extra reason to be thankful. Men and women in uniform working overseas and domestically make it possible for us to live in a free country.

For those who are overseas during the Thanksgiving holiday, the feeling can be bittersweet. Some are in war-torn areas fighting the enemy and most are away from the comforts of home and their families. There have been 152 recognized Thanksgiving holidays since its inception and despite being in unfamiliar territory, the armed forces have tried to make Thanksgiving as normal as possible for those deployed.


Even though the first nationally recognized Thanksgiving was not observed by the military because of a shortage of resources, over the years, there has been a push to have a Thanksgiving meal, regardless of where a service member is stationed. This food is usually gathered starting in May and sent out with the temperature-controlled food taking up to three months to reach its destination.

According to the Department of Defense, this is how much food was shipped out to various military bases across the world to prepare for a Thanksgiving feast last year:

  • 51,699 pounds of turkey

  • 25,970 pounds of beef

  • 17,130 pounds of ham

  • 706 gallons of eggnog

  • 3,360 pounds of marshmallows

That is the equivalent to:

  • 17 adult female hippos

  • 14 1/2 Smart cars

  • 24 male zebras

  • 45 1/2 full kegs of beer

  • 122 gold bars

The gathering of food doesn’t just stop at traditional holiday fare either. The Oak Lawn Park district in Illinois held its 6th annual Treats for Troops drive to send leftover and extra Halloween candy to those serving overseas.


While having a hot dinner can help stave off the feeling of homesickness during the holiday season, physically being with family and friends can make the holidays that much better. Spencer Girard, a seaman stationed in Norfolk, VA won a “Happy ThanksGathering” lottery to be the only person out of all the sailors and Marines stationed to be reunited with his family for the holiday. Katherine Girard said she hadn’t seen her son in a year and a half and being with him for the holidays last November was extra special, “The way they did it was just … oh my goodness. I didn’t know Norfolk was the world’s largest naval station, but you see when you get there. They spent a huge amount of money to treat everyone to a great Thanksgiving.”


On November 5, 2016, in the Albuquerque Convention Center while being welcomed back with the 126th Military Police Company from the Middle East, Specialist Rene Lopez held her daughter Amaya as her husband Specialist Jassen Lopez looked on. The couple were deployed to Kuwait together and left their four children, ages 3 to 8, in the care of family.

“Thanksgiving has come early to the people of the state of New Mexico,” Brigadier General Andy Salas, the state Guard’s adjutant general, told the crowd. The 120 soldiers who performed custom inspections-type work in maritime ports and airports across different parts of the Middle East wasn’t due back to the United States until January.


Kristen Smith, an Army wife, understands the changing nature of spending the holidays with someone in the military. Last year, she recalled how different the past 11 Thanksgivings have been with, and without, her husband. Thanksgiving celebrations varied greatly from sitting on the couch with her son watching movies to finally having her husband home last year for a “shockingly normal holiday.” For Smith, having such different variations of celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday has helped her be grateful in a way that she “could never have understood 12 years ago.”

During this holiday season, and every season, we are thankful for the work our troops do overseas so we can enjoy the freedom we have today. The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who are in need of assistance while transitioning home from the battlefield. 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.

241 Years of Strength Through Service: Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps

“There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion,” said General William Thomson of the United States Army. The United States of America was born in a hall in the middle of a sweltering summer when men from all corners of the colonies came together to discuss separating from Great Britain. These men knew that declaring independence would eventually bring war to their shores.

At the dawn of the revolution, farmers, blacksmiths, and business owners organized to fight for independence. A large majority of the colonists believed that a full separation from Great Britain would remedy the injustices of high taxes. That initial formation by these tradesmen gave birth to a Continental Navy and eventually the Continental Marines.

The United States of America has been protected by a military force unlike any other since the beginning of the republic. But there was a need to create forces that would be able to protect the homeland and the ships of the Continental Navy. On November 10th, 1775, the Continental Congress met to form a new service branch of the Department of the Navy that would be able to serve and protect.

According to a decree, “That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates as with other battalions, that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies; unless dismissed by Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalions of Marines.” They would later be disbanded in 1783 and reformed into the modern day United States Marine Corps in 1798.

The first “Captain of the Marines”, or what is now known as the Commandant of the Marines Corps, Samuel Nicholas led the Corps though multiple missions and helped to transform it into the body it is today. Upon receiving his commission, Nicholas used Tun Tavern as a recruiting station to have young men sign up. At the end of 1775, Captain Nicholas raised five companies of Marines and sailed with them to the shores of the Bahamas in their first international battle.

In March of 1776, he led over 200 men in a bloody raid on Nassau, catching the British by surprise. Their success led to the capture of two forts, 88 cannon, 15 mortars, and multiple military storage facilities. Under the leadership of Captain Nicholas, the Marines racked up many successful battles during the revolution.

The Marine Corp has led the fight in battles like Iwo Jima, Belleau Wood, and the Chosin Reservoir. Their determination led them into battle with clear eyes that kept focused on completing their assigned mission. It was their grit that led them through each battle, fighting with precision, keeping each other safe, and making sure the enemy was stopped.

The United States Marines are considered the most “ancient” of the branches because of its philosophy and training techniques. The idea behind the culture is that each Marine become an elite warrior in defense of the United States. It has worked for 241 years and is still going strong. These men and women join a branch of the military that is combat oriented. As they train for war, they are taught to be brutal but to never lose their humanity. The safety and security of the United States of America is the ultimate objective which is met with the utmost seriousness. Author Thomas E. Ricks said it best, “The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth.”

The United States Marine Corps continues to be the first line of defense around the world. They have defended the District of Columbia from the British during the War of 1812. As an international force, the Marines have protected many American interests. From the coasts of the Caribbean and the Falkland Islands to the jungles of Vietnam and the desserts of Iraq. The Marines have lived up to their motto, “Semper Fidelis” which translates to “Always Faithful.” They ignite fear in the soul of the enemy and fill each American with pride. Even the German soldiers referred to the Marines as the “Teufel Hunden” or “Devil Dogs” for their ferocious fighting style in World War I. The nickname is now used to motivate Marines in battle. After 241 years, these patriots have improved modern warfare with a steady hand and down to the bone toughness.

To those “leathernecks” and “devil dogs” who have served our nation, we thank you for dedicating your lives to being a Marine. We thank you for the grit and determination it took to protect us all here at home. To those who are serving us abroad from the shores of Okinawa to the hills of Afghanistan, we appreciate the sacrifice you are making for us each and every day.

The Marine Corps still considers November 10th, 1775 as their official birthday. We at the Purple Heart Foundation celebrate the 241 years that the Marine Corps have dedicated their lives to protecting our nation. Since 1775, the United States Marine Corps has transitioned from defending 13 colonies to serving 50 united and organized states. That service began here at home with the inception of our nation and has reached far beyond our shores. The Purple Heart Foundation wishes you all a very Happy 241st Birthday. Help us continue our mission of honoring their sacrifice with our service by donating here today. Semper Fi!


Veterans Day: A Time to Honor Those Who Served

Are you enjoying your freedom? You have a veteran to thank for that. As we celebrate the 98th anniversary of when “the war to end all wars” was ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we remember those who fought for our country.

Veterans are defined as someone who has served in the armed forces. They have helped keep our country safe and have put themselves in unusual circumstances to serve. While Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who have fought and fallen in the service of the United States, Veterans Day remembers all veterans, regardless of if their service was in peacetime or war.

Across the nation, ceremonies and observances will be held to honor America’s heroes. At Arlington National Cemetery, a ceremony will be held at approximately 11:00 am with a wreath laying at the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, continuing into the Memorial Amphitheater. This will be followed by a parade of colors made up of various veterans’ organizations.

Jerry Knouff went over to Vietnam from the summer of 1971 to the summer of 1972. Knouff, a retired Army aviator CW2 who worked with convoy escorts, reconnaissance of the area he was in, and other groups, gave his perspective on what Veterans Day means to him, “I think Veterans Day is different for veterans than it is for the average public. The public’s got to understand only one percent of the public were veterans and of that percentage was a smaller amount who were in combat.”

“Veterans Day reminds us of the good and bad. It reminds us of when we came back in the 60s and 70. When we came back, we were looked down upon. Fortunately, that’s gone away. But it also reminds you of the friends you lost over there. But the most important thing is the public needs to be reminded that if it wasn’t for veterans and Veterans Day, you wouldn’t be able to do what you’re doing today.” Knouff said.

There are many ways you can honor your veterans this Veterans Day. created a moving tribute to veterans on their website that includes sound clips from past presidents as well as images from various overseas conflicts. Indiana University and the University of Kansas recently unveiled commemorative basketball uniforms that will be used to play in the season opener today. Indiana’s uniforms will be red and white with the word “Courage” printed on the front and Kansas will wear blue and white uniforms with the word “Honor” written on the front.

There are also simple ways you can serve your veterans. Some ways to help include:

  • Visiting a wounded veteran in the hospital.

  • Help repair the home of a veteran or military family

  • Deliver a meal or care package to veterans

  • Help a veteran tell their story by recording their experiences

  • Volunteer with a veteran service organization

  • Say thank you when you see a veteran

The Purple Heart Foundation is 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.


Annual #GivingTuesday Kickoff

We at the Purple Heart Foundation are committed to giving back to our veterans who have sacrificed for the good of our great nation.We believe that giving back helps make their lives a bit easier. This year, we are participating in the #GivingTuesday campaign for the third year in a row.

#GivingTuesday is a movement that began in 2012 with New York’s 92nd Street Y organization, and they partnered with the United Nations Foundation. Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday with this year’s date being November 29. This day is meant to be a global day of giving that allows people to give back to their favorite non-profit organizations through donations.

Since its inception, more than 41,000 organizations in 71 countries have held their own #GivingTuesday campaigns. According to Giving Tuesday, the statistics for who participates in this movement continue to grow:

  • 62% of organizations that participated in 2015 participated for the first time.

  • 97% of organizations that have held campaigns plan to hold them again this year.

  • 67% of those who participate would recommend #GivingTuesday to a colleague.

In the next four five weeks, we will be unveiling new information about our organization’s #GivingTuesday on our social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. We’ll also be doing a special launch of information on our Instagram page ahead of November 29, as well as letting the public know ways in which they can get involved in the movement. You also have the chance to be featured on our social media platforms using the hashtag #GivingTuesday to help spread awareness about the movement..

The objective of the Purple Heart Foundation’s #GivingTuesday campaign is to help generate funds for programs that help our veterans. #GivingTuesday celebrates the generosity of those who give by providing people everywhere with an opportunity to give more, give smarter, and give great to organizations such as ours. In conjunction with the campaign, we are also launching our first-ever #GiveMe10 campaign.

We honor the sacrifice of our veterans with our service daily at the Purple Heart Foundation. Our servicemen and women fight for our country in peacetime and war with their own two hands and some end up making the ultimate sacrifice for the good of our country.

The #GiveMe10 campaign is a way to honor the sacrifices of our military with our own two hands through support programs and charitable donations.The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives.

By giving just $10, you will help us fund programs like the Service Officer Program, scholarship program, and more. Please donate today and through #GivingTuesday to help support your veterans and continue our mission of helping those transitioning from the battlefield to the home front by clicking here.

Servicemen and Service Dogs: A Life Saving Connection

Our servicemen and women have to restart their lives upon returning home from battle. These new challenges can present circumstances far different from those of war. Facing these challenges head on can be daunting for many. Easing back into society can tough, especially for those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). According to the Veterans Administration (VA), between 11-20% of veterans during Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have been diagnosed with PTS in a given year.

There are a variety of ways to ensure that transition is as smooth as possible. One of those methods is pairing a Veteran with a service dog. Suffering from PTS can leave an individual feeling isolated from family and friends. Depression and other emotional disorders can surface as well. The method of service dogs is to provide the veteran with a companion trained to help them with basic needs. However, the animal is indirectly re-teaching the veteran how to care for someone, using emotions as communication, and even how to love.

“We think pet dogs, therapy animals and service animals all have a role to play in peoples’ health and veterans’ health. This is all good news. A cold nose is a powerful motivation to get up in the morning,” said Stave Feldman, executive director of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute Foundation. Mr. Feldman discussed studies between the animals and veterans to The Military Times in a recent article.

“He brought me back from the brink,” said Veteran Colonel Roger Lintz, (US Army – Retired)  of his Service Dog – Niles. Living with PTS does take time to accept that life may not be the same. This veteran, who honorably served his country, was able to find true companionship with his new four legged friend. Niles was able to help him with remedial tasks around the house and would wake him from nightmares. These nightmares and other issues with PTS nearly became too much to handle. Col. Lintz believes that his companion saved his life when suicidal thoughts started to cloud his mind. Watch the full interview:

The American Psychology Association and The Society Military Psychology have found that this alternative method could help nearly 40% of veterans. Especially those who do not show signs of improvement after participating in treatments such as prolonged exposure (PE) and cognitive processing therapy (CPT), which are considered the “gold standard” for treating PTS.

Maj. Todd Olsen had participated in multiple tours of duty since enlisting in the Army in 1989. However, coming back after his last mission sent his life into a tailspin. He was suffering from multiple symptoms of PTS, rebuilding a relationship with his two boys, and filing for divorce from his wife.

Some servicemen and women will attend the actual trainings with their service dog. They get to watch them go through obstacle courses, learn commands, and how to save lives. This, in a way, gives the veteran a sense of purpose again. Their life and bond matter as much to the service dog as the service dog means to them.

Maj. Todd Olsen of Pennsylvania told The Daily Progress that, “It’s not so much training the dog, it’s training the veteran and then pairing them up together. So we weren’t teaching them basic obedience, we were learning the commands and the dogs were learning how we give the commands.”

There have been few in-depth studies about the dynamic between a service dog and PTS. However, The Veterans Administration believes that veterans can experience some needed benefits by owning an animal or being paired with a service dog. The VA also counsels that veterans should speak with their doctor and family before applying for a service dog.

What are the emotional benefits of having a dog?

Dogs can make great pets. Having a dog as a pet can benefit anyone who likes dogs, including people with PTS. For example, dogs:

  • Help bring out feelings of love

  • Do things that are different from natural dog behavior

  • Do things that the handler (dog owner) cannot do because of a disability

  • Learn to work with the new handler in ways that help manage the owner’s disability

  • Are good companions

  • Take orders well when trained. This can be very comfortable for a Servicemember or Veteran who was used to giving orders in the military

  • Are fun and can help reduce stress

  • Are a good reason to get out of the house, spend time outdoors, and meet new people

(Source: The Veterans Administration)

Maj. Todd Olsen continues his transition into “civilian life” by working with his service dog and attending yoga classes. He says, “With the yoga for veterans and the dog, and continuing treatment at the VA, it’s putting me back together.”

The Purple Heart Foundation has provided funds to service dog programs totaling $75,000 over the years. The Purple Heart Foundation remains committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including service dog programs, other rehabilitative programs, and disability benefits. 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.

Anchors Aweigh My Boys

October 13 will mark 241 years since the United States commissioned its Navy. Since that time, it has become the largest navy in the world with the world’s largest aircraft carrier. Students hear about large fleets of ships going out to war like in the Spanish Armada or ships sailing to new worlds like Christopher Columbus did in 1492.

With our Navy being around for almost 250 years, there is no shortage of stories about a sailor’s time in the military and life lessons that are learned. Experiences are what get passed along through word of mouth and become stories that are told through the generations. Some stories are used to teach, while others are told year after year for their entertainment factor.

The lighthouse joke is a common sea story that is told about a US Navy ship that assumed another ship was in its path and requested it to move. In reality, it was a lighthouse that was in the way of the ship. The joke has been told using different ships, such as the USS Coral Sea and the USS Nimitz, but Navy officials have confirmed the incident between a Navy ship and lighthouse has never happened.

While some stories aren’t as happy as others, they give the listener or reader a chance to see into the lives of those who lived through peace and wartime. Are some of the stories feel good stories that are just told for pure entertainment? Yes. In addition though, there are also those that help shape a person for the better, and sometimes those are the stories that stay with people.They are stories that help a person who may not realize that they aren’t alone in their struggle to find work or want to get out of the job they are in for something better.

Brandon Webb worked as a Navy SEAL during his military service, specifically a Naval Special Warfare (NSW) sniper course manager. When asked by Harvard Law Review about whether or not he was challenged to be good at his job, he told his interviewer that he knew nothing less than excellence during his time as a SEAL, “As a Navy SEAL, and sniper, one of the things I learned was that excellence matters”, Webb said.

“It matters whether you’re on a SEAL Team, business team, family team, or part of your country, your church softball team or your Tuesday night bowling league. The drive for excellence not only motivates you, but it motivates those around you. Great players want to be on great teams. That’s why one of the hallmarks of the great leaders is their own individual passion for – and commitment to – excellence. There are always going to be a group of people who are insecure with themselves, and who will attempt to bring you down. I call them ‘Ankle Biters’ and ‘Dream Stealers.’ Watch out for them because they are quick to push their own insecurities, envy, and negative energy on you.” Webb said his time in the Navy as a SEAL instilled in him a sense of excellence and gave five key takeaways he gathered during his time in the military.

  • Train and train harder than you expect to have to perform

  • Focus on the positive, envision success, and believe winning and success is inevitable

  • Great leaders are secure in themselves

  • Start thinking of adversity and competition as chances to challenge yourself

  • Excellence comes at a price

What Kay Lynn took from her time in the military was more related to how what she did translated to her civilian jobs after she retired from service. Lynn’s family has members who served dating back to the American Revolution, and to her, becoming a member of the Armed Forces seemed like a natural path to take. While they just might sound like job skills that a person can naturally acquire, the skills take on a new meaning when they come from someone who served.

  • Always be on time

  • Follow the chain of command

  • No one is indispensible

  • The power of teamwork

The military is not the same as working in the normal job field. Being in the military has unique challenges that civilians do not face on a regular basis, and it requires different skills in order to get the job done. The similarities though boil down to fundamental skills that everyone can learn while working, even if the way those skills are learned come differently. With this year marking 241 years of the US Navy, there are at least 241 years worth of job training skills passed down from person to person, year after year, and that becomes invaluable to those who listen as well as 241 years of stories that help lighten the mood and give people hope during dark times.

The Purple Heart Foundation joins 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.

Here at the Purple Heart Foundation and across the entire Navy, we would all like to leave with one last note:

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.

20 is 20 Too Many #BeThere

September 1 marked the start of Suicide Prevention Month. Throughout the month, individuals and organizations have been raising awareness about different suicide prevention programs. Programs such as the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention program, 22Kill, and Operation Never Forgotten all give support to those who are battling suicidal thoughts or actions and give them an outlet to share their frustrations. The Purple Heart Foundation also has a suicide prevention program to help those who may be contemplating suicide.

The topic of suicide can be a difficult topic to bring up, especially if you or someone you love is showing signs of possibly attempting to end their life. The most important thing to remember when having this conversation, according to Dr. Andrew Tomacari, is to show genuine support for the person during this tough period in their lives. Having a heartfelt conversation can help the person open up and start a conversation about how they’re feeling.

In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs reported an average of 20 veterans die from suicide each day, and six of the 20 used VA services. There is continued evidence, according to a July 2016 report that middle-aged and older veterans have a high burden of suicide. For families of veterans who have committed suicide, sharing their story can help other veterans who are thinking of ending their life. When Army veteran Daniel Somers committed suicide on June 10, 2013, he asked his wife to share the note he wrote to his family as she saw fit in order to raise awareness.

Holden Corzine, an Army Veteran of the War in Afghanistan ended his life on April 6, 2016. The 29-year-old suffered from PTSD after he came back from Afghanistan and sought out treatment. Even with the help he received, Holden struggled. Holden’s parents share his story in an effort to raise awareness, “My wife and I both thought if it helped one person, it was worth it. All we wanted people to do is get help, hang onto their loved ones, and let them know things would be OK,” Holden’s father Jhan said. “Sometimes that’s not enough.”

One of the reasons for the rate of suicide in the military is the stigma that military personnel need to be strong and not ask for help.“In the past, it was an unwritten rule (in the military) that it was frowned upon if you sought help with (mental illness),” said Chip Tansill, a retired Army colonel and combat veteran and director of the Ohio Department of Veteran Services.

People like the Corzine family and others around the country are trying to raise awareness to help bring down the statistics of veteran suicide. Some of the ways in which people are helping to raise awareness include:

  • Navy veteran and father Marc Herzog of Westfield, NJ marched 13 miles with non-profit organization Irreverent Warriors to raise awareness.

  • The #22PushUpChallenge and #22KILL hashtag has taken the nation by storm with everyone from regular citizens to celebrities to Olympians completing 22 pushups for 22 days straight in honor of the estimated amount of veterans committing suicide each day.

  • During the month on Twitter, the hashtag #BeThere has been used to show that even just being there for a person over the phone or face-to-face can make a difference to someone in crisis and help them get the help they need.

The main theme for this year’s awareness programs and event is being there for someone. Whether it be through a phone call, text message, or sharing a meal with someone, letting them know that they are not alone in their fight may give them the reassurance they need to seek out help.

The fight to end veteran suicide has come to Capitol Hill as well. Sen. Joni Ernst, (R-Iowa), who is a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, introduced legislation on the topic. Ernst introduced to the Senate the Prioritizing Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care Act. The proposal included an option for veterans seeking help to look outside of the Veterans Affairs.

She also introduced the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act to help reduce the number of female veteran suicides. According to the most recent Veterans Affairs study, female veterans are six times more likely to commit suicide than non-female veterans. The bipartisan legislation, also championed by Democratic senator Barbara Boxer, was signed into law by President Obama in July.

Being available to listen and speak with someone who may be considering taking their life is important. By having heartfelt talks about what they need, the person struggling will hopefully be able to see that they don’t have to fight alone and there are resources available to get them the help they need. One major resource is the Suicide Prevention Hotline. If you or someone you know may be thinking of committing suicide, call 1-800-273-5255 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide through our suicide prevention program. Show your support for these brave men and women in their fight against suicide by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.