Purple Heart Day, A Day to Celebrate the Courage and Sacrifice of Combat-Wounded Veterans

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Most people have never heard of Purple Heart Day, which takes place annually on August 7thto commemorate the medals origins and the more than 1.7 million combat-wounded Purple Heart recipients.

In 1782, George Washington, then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, created the Badge of Military Merit, today known as the Purple Heart medal. It represented Washington’s respect and acknowledgement of veterans’ combat valor. Today, more than 232 years later, the medal is the oldest U.S. military decoration still in use, and the inventory of veterans’ stories blends both heroic and tragic distinctions.

Jim Blaylock, of Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, a Vietnam veteran and three-time Purple Heart recipient says, “The Purple Heart medal represents courage, sacrifice, commitment and ‘heart.’  The Purple Heart Foundation celebrates the heart of every veteran by providing emotional, physical, educational and financial support for veterans and their families.”

 

These three veterans share what the Purple Heart means to them.

 

Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, Afghanistan, on the needs of women warriors

“As the population of female Purple Heart recipients grows, we have an opportunity to build support networks and increase awareness of the unique needs and challenges of women in the service of our country … With the recent announcement of opening combat positions to all genders, we can expect that women will take on more roles that will put them in harm’s way … The Purple Heart medal is a testament to their heroism, sacrifice and resilience.”

 

Donald Summers, Korean War, on surviving war

“I am proud to have had a part in the forgotten Korean War, and I am proud of the officers and men of the 1st Cavalry Division.  But is with deepest humility that I share this part of my life, for I am a survivor.  Every survivor leaves a part of himself with the real heroes of any war.”

 

Murray Simon, WWII, on the award and reward

“I believe that the guidelines for awards changed with each succeeding war, such as the Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts … Nevertheless, with or without awards, we Dogface Soldiers did what had to be done on the ground to help make the world a better place for future generations.  Winning the war and living to tell the story was an awesome award.”

On Aug. 7, Purple Heart Day, instead of waving a flag, take some time to listen to and share a veteran’s story of honor and courage. Through their stories we can truly celebrate this holiday and honor the sacrifice of all our veterans.

Consider making a donation to the Purple Heart Foundation. Your generous gift helps us to support veterans and their families during their transition from the battlefield to the home front.

Our programs and those to which we award grants support hundreds of thousands of our nation’s heroes. There are many ways you can make a tax-deductible donation.

Traumatic Brain Injury and the Importance of Connection

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Often referred to as the signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among veterans is higher than it’s ever been. The most common cause of TBI among Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom service members is injuries suffered from Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, used extensively against Coalition Forces.

Many people who sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury recover completely. However, in severe cases, a traumatic brain injury can cause emotional and behavioral changes that can be difficult to understand and accept.

A traumatic brain injury affects the entire family and often results in financial challenges, job loss and isolation. In the United States, 1.7 million people sustain a TBI each year. Whether you have suffered a TBI or are caring for someone who did, understanding you’re not alone is critical, the best thing you can do is reach out.

 

Join a group.

Meeting in person with other people with similar experiences can be cathartic. There are several places to find groups in your area.

Meetup.com has many brain injury and veteran meet ups across the country.

The Brain Injury Association of America has local chapters and various support groups throughout the U.S.

Share your story.

When you can share your story and hear the stories of others, you realize there are people out there who understand what you’re going through, who can commiserate, or help put things in perspective. Luckily, the internet makes sharing easier than ever.

Brainline Military is an organization that serves the military community providing information, resources, and support for current and former service members and their families living with traumatic brain injury. Read the personal stories of military members living with TBI, and share your own.

A quick search for “Facebook TBI support group” turns up a handful of pages where you can connect on Facebook and be part of the conversation.

Get informed.

Knowing about traumatic brain injury—the symptoms, treatment options, and benefits you’re eligible for as a veteran or active duty military—will allow you to thrive, not just survive with this condition.

Take a look at our list of TBI resources.

Find resources in your state.

4 Ways to Give Back

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There are a few days throughout the year when we think about or officially recognize veterans and service men and women. But there are ways to give back to current and former members of our military every day of the year.

Say thank you.

When you see a service man or woman in uniform, or a person wearing something that identifies them as a veteran, take a minute to say hello and thank you. You don’t need to make a big, dramatic gesture; just let them know you appreciate their service. If they feel like talking, take the time to listen to their stories.

Hire a vet.

Do you own a business? Consider hiring a veteran. You can work with the United States Department of Labor’s VETS Program, or similar nonprofit organization that helps vouch for and place qualified veterans in businesses.

Stay informed.

Only a fraction of U.S. citizens currently serve, and few Americans have personal contact with members of our military, causing a disconnect between the military and the civilian worlds. Take some time to get informed about the issues facing our troops and veterans. Follow veteran organizations on social media, and learn about how you can help.

Make a donation.

When you donate to the Purple Heart Foundation, your generous gift helps us to support veterans and their families during their transition from the battlefield to the home front.

Our programs and those to which we award grants support hundreds of thousands of our nation’s heroes. There are many ways you can make a tax-deductible donation.

We often get asked how we use your donations. Here is a snapshot. If you want more information, give us a call; we would be happy to share it with you.

We use your generous donations

  • To help fund research and assistance that tackle the unseen wounds impacting veterans, things like Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); suicide, and sexual abuse
  • To fund Purple Heart’s Service Officers, who are stationed throughout the country to work with veterans informing them about education opportunities, scholarships, disability compensation, employment training, hospitalization and rehabilitation benefits, pensions, and more
  • To employ a full-time attorney dedicated to protecting the interests of wounded servicemen and women and presenting veterans’ claims before a court

Happy Birthday, America!

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As you’re celebrating Fourth of July this weekend with barbeques and fireworks, you can share a little American history with the other revelers.

When fighting began between Massachusetts militia units and British regulars at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, most colonists, except for a handful of “radicals” weren’t on board with complete independence from Great Britain. But by mid 1776, hostilities mounted, and the sentiment shifted. The colonies band together to form the Continental Army and battle the British.

In June 1776, the Continental Congress met at Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia to hear delegate Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence. Prior to voting, Congress appointed a five-man committee to write a formal statement—the Declaration of Independence.

On July 2nd, delegates voted in favor of Lee’s motion, and on July 4th they officially adopted the Declaration of Independence.

In the early years, some colonists celebrated by holding mock funerals for King George III, to symbolize the end of British reign in America. They held bonfires and parades and public readings of the Declaration.

Did You Know…

  • Thomas Jefferson believed that July 2nd was the appropriate day to celebrate Independence Day and refused to attend Fourth of July celebrations.
  • Thirteen of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were under 35.
  • Congress first authorized pyrotechnics (a.k.a. fireworks) as part of Fourth of July celebrations in July 1777.
  • In 1781, Massachusetts was the first state to make July 4th a state holiday.
  • After the War of 1812, when the colonies again faced Great Britain, Independence Day festivities became even more intensified.
  • Fourth of July is one of only four holidays, including New Years Day, Veterans Day and Christmas celebrated on the same calendar day each year.
  • Today, Americans celebrate with more than 14,000 fireworks displays across the nation.

 

Happy Fourth of July! Have fun; be safe and take a moment to remember how it all began.

Raising Awareness About Post Traumatic Stress

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In WWI it was called Shell Shock; in WWII, Battle Fatigue. Korean War veterans were diagnosed with War Neurosis, and Vietnam vets with Post-Vietnam Syndrome. 
Whatever you call it, Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), as it’s now known, continues to affect hundreds of thousands of veterans.

Today is PTSD Awareness Day, a day to speak up about post-traumatic stress, a condition that’s underreported, misdiagnosed, and, so often, misunderstood.

 

PTS BY THE NUMBERS:

  • 10-13% of combat veterans experience post-traumatic stress in their lifetimes.
  • Studies estimate that 1 in 5 military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has PTS.
  • PTS affects to 20% of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans; 10% of Gulf War veterans, and 30% of Vietnam War veterans.
  • 17% of combat troops are women; 71% of female military personnel develop PTS due to sexual assault within the ranks.
  • The number of diagnosed cases of PTS in the military jumped 50% in the past year.

 

SEPARATING MYTH FROM FACT

The psychological scars of post-traumatic stress may be invisible, but its manifestations are not. Left untreated, it can lead to depression, drug and alcohol abuse, or suicide. Despite its prevalence, post-traumatic stress is often ignored, misinterpreted, and sensationalized by the media.

Listening to the stories of veteran experiencing post-traumatic stress can help us separate myth from fact.

 

MYTH: People begin experiencing PTS immediately after a traumatic event.

FACT: Sometimes symptoms surface months or years after a traumatic event or returning from deployment.

 

 “ I was sober and clean almost 11 years, and I just couldn’t handle it no more, you know, my life. I couldn’t hold a job. I always had problems sleeping…very irritable, the whole bit. Plus, my family was always telling me I should go get some help.”

Richard Adams

US Navy ((1971 – 1972))

SN, Ammunition Transporter

Vietnam

MYTH: Service members can never fully recover from PTS.

FACT: When people seek help and maintain a treatment program, post-traumatic stress symptoms can be managed or overcome entirely.

 “My ability to overcome the situations that cause me to act negatively and not beneficial to me, are up to me, and I continue to seek treatment. I want to make a choice, not have my depression make the choice.”

 

John Angell Jr.

US Marine Corps ((2003 – 2008))

Cpl, Intelligence Specialist, Rifleman

Iraq

MYTH: PTS is a sign of weakness in character.

FACT:  PTS is a physiological reaction to a traumatic or life-threatening situation.

 

“I also had the macho beliefs that if I admitted something was wrong, then I was defective. I was worried about how other people would interact with me, the labels I would carry the rest of my life, all kinds of nonsense. But as I got the help, the thing I learned is that every individual is a human being, and they can only take so much.”

Robert Murphy

 

US Army ((1966 – 1969))

1st Lieutenant / 1Lt, Infantry Unit Commander

Vietnam

 

MYTH: PTS makes people violent.

FACT: There are three main groups of symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress, one of which is called hyperarousal— a tendency to be angry, irritable, on edge, and/or easily startled. However, studies indicate that PTS doesn’t inevitably lead to violence, and many people with PTS experience entirely different signs and symptoms, like avoidance and numbing or re-experiencing the traumatic event.

 

Sometimes I can’t really leave my house…I love to work out. Working out is fun!…But the idea of being around people at the gym, especially if I get off work and I’ve already had to deal with people all day and be around people, then go to the gym, and being around people again is too overwhelming. Because people are going to be in my space.They might touch me. I have to be aware of who’s behind me, where the exits are. It’s exhausting.”

Tia Christopher

US Navy ((2000 – 2001))

SN, Cryptological Technician Interpretive

United States

 

Each person suffering from post-traumatic stress has a unique story, but we all have one thing in common —No one can do it alone.

Hear veteran stories.

Find PTS resources and information.

Find support.

Happy Fathers’ Day to All the Military Dads

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When the governor of Washington proclaimed the first Father’s Day in 1910, people—mostly men—had mixed feelings about a day to celebrate fathers. One historian wrote, “they scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”

However, during World War II, advertisers began promoting the day as a way to support American troops and the war. Father’s Day didn’t become a federal holiday until 1972; but by the end of the war, it had become widely adopted as a day to celebrate dads.

Now on the third Sunday of every June, we officially honor our fathers, especially those who are active or former military. Here are some ideas for how to celebrate all the military dads this year.

Deployed Dads

Economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion a year on Father’s Day gifts, and gift-giving holidays aren’t quite as much fun when the recipient isn’t there to receive them.

Host a video chat.

Most dads will tell you, Father’s Day is about being with family. So bring the family to them through a video chat. There are many platforms, like Skype, that offer video chat, or VOIP services. You just need to determine how you will access the service—on a smart phone, tablet or computer—and who will join the call.

Check out some of the different apps you can use to host the perfect Father’s Day video chat.

 Share a video.

It’s not always possible to have a live video chat, but you can still send your smiling faces from afar with a short, day-in-the life video or a message from the family. You can create a video and upload it to YouTube as public, unlisted or private, so you can determine who is able to view it.

 

Active Duty Dads

If you’re lucky enough to have the guest of honor at home, take him out for some family-friendly fun.

Head to a ball game.

Baseball is America’s pastime, and many Major League Baseball teams, including the Washington Nationals, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Houston Astros, offer military discounts on tickets throughout the season.

Throw a barbeque.

Have a get together with other military families, especially those missing their dads this weekend. Spending time with other people going through the same things and supporting those who have loved ones deployed is a great way to celebrate all the military dads.

 

Veteran Dads

Father’s Day is a great time to take a moment and honor dad for his military service.

Create a commemorative video.

Dads love telling stories, and most veterans have many to tell. A nice way to celebrate a dad who is a veteran is to create a video or slideshow set to music about his time in the service. Record some of dad’s stories, find some old photos, maybe even convince a buddy who served with him to participate.

Give a military-themed gift.

You can find anything on the Internet, including great gifts for military veterans. Check out Etsy, a handmade marketplace, for military-themed products.

Or, buy a customized wooden keepsake box for him to store his medals, military papers, photos and other memorabilia from his time in the service.

Happy Father’s Day to all our military Dads. Thank you for all you do and all the sacrifices you make. We salute you. 

The Army’s Birthday: Celebrating 240 Years of Service

The Army’s Origins

Born out of rebellion, the colonies didn’t have a formal army, just the troops from various New England militia companies cobbled together to form an amateur force. Each colony armed, funded and supported its own militia of American volunteers.

In early 1775, as they prepared to confront the highly-trained, well-organized British troops near Boston, Massachusetts, the revolutionaries had to quickly band their forces together, name a leader and establish a unified chain of command. This effort required the support of all the American seaboard colonies.

The Massachusetts Provincial Congress asked the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to accept authority for the New England army. On June 14, 1775, Congress formed a committee “to bring in a draft of rules and regulations for the government of the Army,” and earmarked $2,000,000 to support the forces near Boston and New York City.

Additionally, they formed ten companies of expert riflemen from the middle colonies where rifles were primarily being used at the time: six from Pennsylvania, two from Virginia and two from Maryland. This group comprised frontiersmen and some of the militia leaders who were veterans of a unit known as Roger’s Rangers, skilled woodsmen who fought for the British during the French and Indian War.

Congress also appointed George Washington as commander-in-chief of their Continental Army. He formally took command at Boston on July 3, 1775.

The Army Flag

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Source: pinterest.com/robbinshelen

In 1956 on the Army’s 181st anniversary, the Army flag made its debut at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The white silk flag has a blue embroidered central design of the original War Office seal. “United States Army” is inscribed in white letters on a scarlet scroll, with the year “1775” in blue numerals below.

 

The Army Through the Years

THE ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

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Salem, Massachusetts, 1637—The history of the National Guard began, Dec. 13, 1636, when the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered the organization of the colony’s militia companies into three regiments: the North, South and East.

WORLD WAR II

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Stepping Stone Island on the Vella Lavella Island Front, Southwest Pacific, 1943— Infantrymen of Company “I” await word to advance in pursuit of retreating Japanese forces. Signal Corps Photo: 161-43-4081 (Schuman)

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Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944—An assault landing, one of the first waves at Omaha. The Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

VIETNAM

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Ia Drang Valley, Vietnam, 1965—Major Bruce P. Crandall’s UH-1D helicopter climbs skyward after discharging a load of infantrymen on a search and destroy mission.

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM

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Iraq, June, 2010—A Soldier, with A Battery, Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), walks the tarmac of Mosul Airfield at Contingency Operating Base Diamondback.

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM

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Farah Province, Afghanistan, June, 2010—U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shawn Meno of Mangilao provides security for Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah and members of a local Kuchi tribe residing in Bawka District in. (U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright)

In 1775, the Soldiers of the Continental Army forged a bond with Americans built on duty and victory that endures 240 years later. Today, we remember the origins and honorable service of our army professionals and commemorate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Remembering D-Day

Seventy-one years ago on June 6, 1944, the Allies invaded Western Europe in the largest air, land and sea operation attempted before or since. Sometimes called the beginning of the end of war in Europe, the Battle of Normandy eventually resulted in the liberation of Western Europe.

Called Operation Overlord, D-Day planning included a massive deception campaign that aimed to convince the Germans that the main invasion point would be Pas-de-Calais (the narrowest point between Britain and France) instead of Normandy. Tactics included fake equipment, a phantom army commanded by George Patton, double agents, and phony radio transmissions.

On June 5, 1944, Operation Overlord was set into motion. An advance wave of paratroopers and glider troops dropped into enemy territory to secure bridges and exit roads.

Eisenhower speaking with paratroopers on June 5, 1944.

The amphibious invasions began at 6:30 a.m. on June 6, 1944, when 160,000 Allied troops and 30,000 vehicles landed along five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline. Soldiers jumped, swam, ran, and crawled to the cliffs towering overhead crossing 200 yards of beach before reaching the protection of the brush and rocks at the base of the cliff.

The Americans faced and overcame mild opposition at Utah Beach, as did the British and Canadians at Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. However, U.S. forces faced heavy resistance at Omaha Beach, where there were over 2,000 American casualties.

Throughout the summer, the Allies fought their way across Normandy through the marshes and hedgerow against a determined German resistance. By the end of June, they had seized the port of Cherbourg and continued their march across France.

In August, they reached the Seine River and liberated Paris, effectively concluding the Battle of Normandy.

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Allied troops march through Paris along Champs de Elysee.

 

Today in The Normandy American Cemetery that overlooks Omaha Beach and the English Channel lie the graves of over 9,300 U.S. service men who died in the D-Day invasion or subsequent missions.

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The Normandy American Cemetery

Regardless how many years go by; we will always remember their sacrifice. We salute you.

Memorial Day: All the Ways We Remember

As we wrap up National Military Appreciation Month and Memorial Day week, we wanted to share how people across the country celebrated Memorial Day this year.

Memorial Day weekend is often one spent with friends and family, enjoying that extra day off. However, the holiday is truly a time to remember and honor all the service men and women who gave their lives for our country.

This year, people did that in all sorts of ways. Here are some of our favorites.

A Memorial Day Mission

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The team displaying one of their flags along with the National Park Service rangers and Air Force PJs stationed up at Camp 3.

Four veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan—three of whom have service-connected disabilities—set out to climb Mount McKinley in an effort to remind Americans about the true meaning of Memorial Day and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The climbers, Josh Jespersen, Margaux Mange, Nick Colgin and Brian McPherson, planned to summit Denali, North America’s highest peak, on May 25th and fly American flags with the names of those lost in service to this nation.

Weather slowed them down, but they pushed on. As of Memorial Day, they had reached Camp 3 at 14,200 feet.

A Speech to Remember

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This Memorial Day, Marsha Kreuzman, a Holocaust survivor who endured five concentration camps before she was liberated by American soldiers in 1945, shared her story with a crowd gathered in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.

In her moving speech, she recalls the moments before her rescue.

 “I was lying outside the crematorium to be burned,” Kreuzman said. “The American army liberated me. If they didn’t come and liberate us on May fifth, I don’t think I would have lived through the eighth.”

 

After relocating to the United States in 1952, Kreuzman located the son of one of her liberators, Sergeant Kenneth Hanlon of the Eleventh Army Division. Sgt. Hanlon passed away years ago, but Kreuzman has remained close with his son Wayne Hanlon.

An 88-year-old WWII veteran took a once in a lifetime trip, thanks to the help of his friend and the generosity of strangers.

Fred Plicha met Regina Johnson four years ago when he was in the hospital where she works, and the two became, perhaps somewhat unlikely, friends.

It had always been Plicha’s dream to see the National World War II Memorial, but with his worsening macular generation, he didn’t know if he would make it before completely losing his vision.

Johnson decided it was now or never and jumped into action, and her resolve inspired others. A veterans group in Michigan gave them $400 toward the trip, and Johnson’s brother started a GoFundMe account that raised over $1,300.

A friend offered to let the Johnsons borrow her SUV. Another loaned them a wheelchair. And this Memorial Day weekend, Fred Plicha’s long-time dream became a reality

In Washington D.C., thousands lined Constitution Avenue for the National Memorial Day Parade. To honor the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, several WWII veterans rode in vintage cars and served as Grand Marshals.

Veterans from every conflict from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan were represented, and many members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart were there as well.

Leave a Comment — Let us know how you commemorated the fallen soldiers this Memorial Day.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart National Convention heads to Denver August 5-7, 2014

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Starting tomorrow, hundreds of Purple Heart medal recipients will gather in Denver for the 82nd annual Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) National Convention to discuss important challenges facing today’s veterans.

The convention ends on Thursday August 7th, the nationally celebrated Purple Heart Day.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) is a nonprofit, Congressionally chartered veterans organization and the only veterans organization whose members are all combat wounded veterans.

MOPH, the MOPH Ladies Auxiliary, and the MOPH fundraising arm, the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation (MOPHSF), support legislation to help veterans get quicker care. MOPH’s trained Service Officers and 1,400 volunteers provide assistance to ALL veterans in processing claims for VA benefits including medical care, survivors’ benefits, job training and more.

They also provide services and programs in four challenging areas facing combat-wounded veterans—suicide prevention, Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), brain injury and women’s health concerns.  Two million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their stories and challenges will be discussed during the convention.