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.

Purple Heart Day: The Purple Heart Battalion

August 7th marks the third anniversary of Purple Heart Day and commemorates the creation of the Purple Heart Medal in 1782. The Purple Heart medal is awarded to members of the United States military who are wounded or killed in combat. The predecessor to the Purple Heart medal was the Badge of Military Merit, created in 1782 and retired shortly thereafter.

The Badge of Military Merit was reinstated twice, once in 1927 and again in 1931. General Charles Pelot Summerall wished for a bill to pass in Congress regarding the Badge, but no action was taken after 1928. In 1931, General Summerall had been succeeded by General Douglas MacArthur and brought renewed interest in reinstating the award. On February 22, 1932, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington, the Badge of Military Merit was renamed the Purple Heart in honor of the fabric used to create the original award. The first Purple Heart was awarded to General MacArthur.

The U.S. involvement in World War II began after the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7, 1941. At the time Hawaii had a large Japanese population, and the government feared their loyalty to the United States and wanted to send them into internment camps. However, 2,000 Japanese-Americans volunteered to serve in the military and wanted to become a fighting force to deploy to Europe or Africa. They formed the 100th battalion, and due to their ethnicity, they faced animosity from their fellow soldiers. The purple in the Purple Heart Medal represents courage, which is exactly what the 100th Battalion displayed through all adversity. Never giving up, the 100th battalion won over their comrades and proved their loyalty and bravery during intense training.

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On September 2, 1943 the 100th battalion, completely made up of Japanese-American soldiers, finally deployed to Oran, North Africa, and became a part of the 133rd Infantry Regiment under the 34th Division. It was not until the battle at Monte Cassino that they earned the nickname the “Purple Heart Battalion”, with the motto “ Remember Pearl Harbor”. The battalion earned its nickname because of the many casualties it suffered in combat. During this battle they underwent intense fire, bombings, and lost over 800 soldiers, but never gave up, also being given the nickname “little men of iron.” Due to the amount of casualties suffered the 442nd Infantry replenished the 100th ranks, and deployed to Anzio, Italy. Showing courage once again, the 100th Battalion volunteered for the mission to capture two German soldiers, which led to the fall of the final German stronghold in Rome.

The 100th/442nd is considered to be the most highly decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history with:
At least 1 Medal of Honor
52 Distinguished Service Crosses
560 Silver Stars
28 Oak Leaf Clusters to the Silver Star
4,000 Bronze Stars and 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters to the Bronze Star
9,486 Purple Hearts.

The Purple Heart Battalion embodies the significance of what the Purple Heart Medal signifies. No matter the circumstances, home or abroad, and the adversity the Battalion faced, they never gave up, and continued to fight for our country to protect our freedom. 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.

Military Caregivers: Heroes Taking Care of Our Heroes

Think about your day-to-day life and schedule. You have your routines, jobs, goals, enjoyments, and much more. Could you imagine if one day you were all of a sudden responsible for someone else and their day-to-day life?

When we think about the brave men and women who return home from serving our country, we oftentimes forget or overlook those whom they are coming home to. Their spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends and acquaintances. Their caregivers. There are over five and a half million people acting as military caregivers in our nation today.

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Many service members returning home bring back pains, injuries and illnesses, both physical and mental. As they get adjusted back to civilian life, it is often times their caregivers who are there to guide them and provide support every step of the way. They need to be able to learn to balance their own life goals and plans with their new responsibilities as a caregiver.

Being a caregiver is not an easy duty; it is not one that comes with formal training, a job description, or a salary. This is a complete new way of life for them. These caregivers have to be strong not only for themselves, but for the service members they support when they cannot be strong on their own. The caregiver’s “workday” does not end at 5 PM, it is constant and ever changing. Each day brings something new, whether that is a new step forward in a positive direction or a bump in the road. Unfortunately many of these caregivers are left to fill many hats, and are unable to focus on their own well-being.   

Now, how can we help the helpers? The more support caregivers have, the easier this lifestyle can become. How can the caregivers help with the pains, injuries, and illnesses that these service members are faced with if they do not have the knowledge of them and how to treat them? If they were able to understand everything that accompanies a service member with a return home from deployment prior to become their caregiver, it would give a chance for them to prepare. Simply just supporting and being there for the caregiver can make a world of difference.

Caregivers often feel like they can’t or shouldn’t take the time for themselves or put their wants and needs over the service member they are caring for. But, at the end of the day they need to be reminded that in order to be able to take care of someone else you must take care of yourself first. Taking care of yourself can be a number of things. For some it may be going to school to further or gain more education. Others it could be spending time to go to work and further their careers. Honestly, for many it is just a chance to relax, go shopping, go to the gym, or enjoy a day just prioritizing themselves.

There are a handful of organizations around the country who provide support to those acting as caregivers to our nation’s service men and women. There are numerous resources which provide support at local, state and national levels. Various organizations have also looked to work with leaders in private, public, nonprofit, faith and labor communities to provide support to those acting as military caregivers. Additionally with many programs out there working to support these caregivers, many foundations are currently lobbying for Congress to expand the VA’s caregiver program. Each day more and more people reach out to help, and strides are being made to expand assistance for our military’s caregivers.

The Purple Heart Foundation provides various programs and assistance that supports not only the veterans, but their caregivers as well. The Purple Heart Foundation offers The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) Scholarship Program for those family member caregivers looking to gain higher education and advance their careers. Additionally, the Purple Heart Foundation works to help service members transition back to normal civilian life and employment outside of the military, which in turn can help their respective caregivers.  
The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans, and their caregivers, 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.

100 Years Later: The Selective Service Act of 1917

A century has passed since The Selective Service Act of 1917 allowed the government to rapidly grow the Army to enter World War I. The Act stated that all males 18 to 45 were required to register for the draft lottery. By the end of the war, over 2 million men volunteered and 2.8 million had been drafted to serve.

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Due to the previous issues with the Draft Act of 1863, the government changed the option of draft buy-outs, and hiring substitutes for the 1917 Act. These changes were easily accepted by the population because of the high spirit of patriotism during World War I.

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Since Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States of America in 1898, Congress also opened the draft to Puerto Ricans as part of the Jones-Shafroth Act. The Act granted all residents of the island U.S. citizenship and allowed them to reject it voluntarily within the first six months. Of the almost 1.2 million residents on the island, only 288 rejected it. Even though the United States did not enter the war until 1917, the United States’ first shot was fired in the Odenwald incident in 1915 by the Puerto Rican regiment. It is estimated that 235,000 Puerto Ricans registered for the World War I draft and that 18,000 served in the war. However, it is possible that more served, because the Hispanic population was not counted separately in the U.S national census at the time.

 

Here were the different draft categories for the Selective Service Act 1917:

  • Class I.  Eligible and liable for military service
    • Unmarried registrants with no dependents
    • Married registrants with independent spouse and / or one or more dependent children over 16 with sufficient family income if drafted
  • Class II. Temporarily deferred, but available for military service
    • Married registrants with dependent spouse and / or dependent children under 16 with sufficient family income if drafted
  • Class III. Temporarily exempted, but available for military service
    • Local officials
    • Registrants who provide sole family income for dependent parents and / or dependent siblings under 16
    • Registrants employed in agricultural labor or industrial enterprises essential to the war effort
  • Class IV. Exempted due to extreme hardship
    • Married registrants with dependent spouse and / or dependent children with insufficient family income if drafted
    • Registrants with deceased spouse who provide sole family income for dependent children under 16
    • Registrants with deceased parents who provide sole family income for dependent siblings under 16
  • Class V. Exempted or ineligible for induction into military service
    • State or Federal officials
    • Officers and enlisted men in the military or naval service of the United States
    • Licensed pilots employed in the pursuit of their vocation
    • Members of the clergy
    • Students who on or before May 18, 1917 had been preparing for the ministry in a recognized theological or divinity school
    • Registrants who were deemed either medically disabled (permanently, physically, and / or mentally unfit) or “morally unfit” for military service
    • Registrants shown to have been convicted of any crime designated as treason or felony, or an “infamous” crime
    • Enemy aliens and resident aliens

The United States military has changed tremendously since World War I. One the biggest changes occurred in 1973 when the Selective Service announced there would be no more draft calls, and the military would be an all-volunteer force. Today, over a million men and women have and are currently volunteering to protect our country. The United States maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad. Due the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, the U.S. military continues to be the world’s strongest military.

 

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.