No More Silent Nights: Combating Veteran Suicide during the Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing. With reminders of hope, love, and friendship, it can be hard to spot that this season can also be filled with sadness. For our veterans, the holiday season can be difficult. Whether it be being away from families on deployment, or not having families to come home to, veterans all across our country battle with difficult thoughts, including suicide.

According to a study conducted in 2013, 30 in 100,000 service members and veterans were more likely to commit suicide versus 14 in 100,000 civilians during the holiday season. These statistics are sobering. Christopher Cadeau, a veteran and Arizona State University student, has a message that could help everyone to start the discussion on veteran suicide: “Just get out there and help someone. …  As long as you’re helping someone, you’re on the right track.”

Cadeau’s words do ring true. While it may be difficult to squeeze in time in your schedule this holiday season to help someone in need, something as quick as a phone call or text message saying that you’re thinking of a person in need can make a difference. Some other ways you can help during the holiday season include:

  • Adopting a Veteran-you can check with local VA homes to see if there are any veterans that do not have family nearby and take them in to celebrate the holidays with your loved ones.
  • Volunteer with veterans organizations, local schools, and other groups to hold events to bring together veterans to make them feel like they are part of something.
  • Finding transportation for a veteran for their appointments or getting them help with housing could help ease troubled thoughts during this season.

The main thing that you can do during this season is letting a veteran know that you care. Whether it be by volunteering to help them with something around the house or just having a quick phone conversation to hear about their day, connecting with a service member who is feeling suicidal can help make the difference.

For resources about how to handle Post-Traumatic Stress that could be contributing to suicidal thoughts, please click here. If you or someone you know is battling suicidal thoughts this holiday season, know that you are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also a resource. Their staff works 24/7 to help those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. You or your loved one can call 1-800-273-8255 and press option 1 to speak with someone.

The holidays can be hard for our active-duty military and veterans, but we can help ease the struggles that they face. The men and women who keep our country and freedoms protected deserve that, and deserve our help and support. The Purple Heart Foundation is 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. 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 are able to get the support that they need and deserve.

Always Ready, Always There: Happy Birthday, United States National Guard

December 13th marked the 381st birthday of our United States National Guard. Since 1636, they have been the reserve force of our nation’s military. Originally, the militia forces of the United States started off in what is now present-day Salem Massachusetts in September 1565. From there the militia continued to be a staple of American life once English Settlers made the journey to the New World. From then on to the early 1900s, there was only a small Army and state militias. It wasn’t until the passage of the Dick Act in 1903 that the first reserve force was created.

According to the Dick Act, states were required to have their militias split into two sections: one being the “National Guard” as the organized militia and the “Reserve Militia” for the others. World War II brought about the National Defense Act of 1916, which required the term “National Guard” to be used for state militias.

Spc. Jason Curtis, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment, pulls security while leaders of a medical civil action project searched for a suitable site in Parun, Afghanistan June 28.

Currently, the National Guard serves as the first line of defense here in America, with each of the 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia each having their own state National Guard. Those who are members of the National Guard are required to adhere to the same standards as their counterparts in Active Duty and the respective branches’ Reserves. Reservists and Guardsmen can have careers concurrent with their military service and serve on a part-time basis. Only the Air Force and Army can have National Guard components and  Reservists are part of all branches of the military.

While most news about the National Guard comes out when there is a natural disaster or other crisis, it is no less important than the other parts of our nation’s military. They train alongside our active-duty military and serve our country alongside them. Some facts you may not know about the National Guard include:

  • American Samoa is the only US territory to not have a National Guard unit.
  • During the American Revolution, National Guard units were called Minutemen due to being able to respond quickly.
  • The National Guard has the second highest membership of all the branches, with the US Army having the most members, including enlisted, officers, and the Reserves.
  • The 54th Massachusetts Volunteers was formed by the National Guard and is credited as one of the first all African-American units in US military history. The unit is still active today and William Harvey Carney was the part of the unit and the first African-American to receive a Medal of Honor.

Some prominent Americans served our country in the National Guard. They include:

  • Presidents Harry S. Truman and George W. Bush. They were part of the National Guard in its current structure.
  • Actor Tom Selleck. He joined the California National Guard in 1967 after receiving Vietnam draft orders. He served in the 160th infantry regiment until 1973.
  • John Amos. Before being on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Good Times,” Amos was a part of the 50th Armored division in the New Jersey National Guard, as well as an honorary Master Chief of the US Coast Guard.

While the National Guard may not be as prominent as the major branches of the military, they are an integral part of keeping our country safe. The men and women of the National Guard drop whatever they are doing when duty calls and we salute them for their service to our great nation. Here at the Purple Heart Foundation, we are committed to honoring all of our heroes. It is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve.

Seventy-Six Years Later: A Day That Lives in Infamy

At 7:48 in the morning on December 7th, 1941, The United States naval base at Pearl Harbor was surprise attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. This attack was what ultimately led to the United States’ entry into World War II.

Imagine the chaos that occurred during that early morning attack seventy-six years ago. 353 Imperial Japanese aircrafts attacked our naval base. Those aircrafts ranged from fighters, level, and dive bombers as well as torpedo bombers. These attacks were intended to act as a preventive action. Japan hoped to keep the United States’ Pacific Fleet from interfering with the military actions they had planned in Southeast Asia against various overseas territories of the United Kingdom, United States, and the Netherlands.

Through the two waves of attacks, the destruction of the United States Navy was significant. All eight of the U.S. Navy battleships were damaged and four were sunk. Three cruisers, three destroyers, a minelayer, and an anti-aircraft training ship were either damaged or sunk. There were 188 U.S. aircrafts destroyed and over three hundred damaged. Dry docks and airfields were also destroyed. But, the more terrible losses of all were the 1,178 Americans left injured and the 2,403 that were killed. Thankfully our Navy was able to rebound quicker than expected, as the attack has left the base’s more significant and important onshore facilities unscathed.

This devastating attack was a complete and utter shock to our country and our people, as it came without any explicit warning and without a declaration of war from Japan, and Franklin D. Roosevelt did not hesitate to respond to what he called “a date which will live in infamy”. The next day FDR led the United States in declaring war on Japan and proceeded to declare war on both Germany and Italy within a few days.

FDR declared “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.”

In the aftermath of the attack, the heroic servicemen who had distinguished themselves during the combat that took place at Pearl Harbor were awarded the following:


  • 15 Medals of Honor,
  • 51 Navy Crosses,
  • 53 Silver Stars,
  • 4 Navy and Marine Corps Medal,
  • 1 Distinguished Flying Cross,
  • 4 Distinguished Service Crosses,
  • 1 Distinguished Service Medal
  • 3 Bronze Star Medals

Much later, the United States Congress actually authorized a special military award, the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal, for all of our military veterans of the attack.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a devastating day in our country’s history. It led us to enter into another World War, resulting in the loss of thousands of brave servicemembers. On this melancholy 76th anniversary, and every day we remember the extreme sacrifices that the courageous men and women who fight for our country make. Here at the Purple Heart Foundation, we are committed to honoring all of our heroes. It is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve.

‘Tis The Season: Remember Our Heroes This Holiday Season

The holidays are a time to spend building snowmen, drinking hot cocoa, making family favorites, and enjoying quality time surrounded by family and friends. All around the country, different traditions make up our holiday season. Maybe it’s a family hanging ornaments on their Christmas tree, or lighting the first candle on a menorah for Hanukkah. There are funky Christmas sweaters, cookie or gift exchanges, and children waiting in line to sit on Santa’s lap. No matter what traditions you keep, the holiday season is a time to be grateful and cherish all of your loved ones. It should also be a time to remember and and be thankful for the men and women who have served this country to ensure that you are free and safe to celebrate.

While you celebrate with your families, there are men and women fighting for our country, far away from their loved ones. Those brave men and women who return home deserve the support that we have the potential to provide them with. Not only do they need and deserve our support, but their families do as well. It may only be one member of a family who has served our country, but the transition back home has an affect on everyone.

How can you help? There are many, many different ways to get involved and help show your love and support for our veterans and their families this holiday season. Here are a few examples:

  • Send a care package
    • You can send packages to current military members, veterans, and caregivers
  • Send a letter
    • Handwritten letters of gratitude go a long way to make someone feel loved and appreciated. It also can serves as a way to connect them back to civilian life
  • Donate frequent flier miles
    • This can help family members be close during the hospitalization of combat injured (or ill) veterans if they don’t have the means to do so
  • Volunteer to place wreaths on the graves of servicemen and women
    • There are over 1,200 locations around the country where you can participate in this. You can find some opportunities here.
  • Visit patients in a local VA hospital. You can locate one here.
  • Support military families
    • Offer to bring a home cooked meal, offer to babysit if that is an option, a simple thank you can mean so much

Without our veterans and current service members bravery and dedication to this country we may not be able to enjoy our holiday traditions. The Purple Heart Foundation would like to wish all of our veterans and their families a happy and safe holiday season.


We understand and are unbelievably grateful for the brave men and women who serve this country. They have done their part and now we need to do ours. Here at the Purple Heart Foundation we are committed to honoring all of our heroes. It is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom and their families. Show your support this holiday season by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve.

Honoring an All American Veteran: Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Michael Foley

The Purple Heart Foundation had the opportunity to interview SFC Michael Foley, a recently retired Army Veteran. He provided us insight on how his 17 years in the military made him who he is today.

1. When and why did you join the U.S. Army?

I joined the Army on August 16, 2000. There are a few reasons that I decided to join the Army. First, I come from a very small town where jobs were pretty much limited to working in factories. Another reason was that I wanted to prove to my now wife’s parents that I was good enough to marry her. In addition, my grandfather was in the Army and served in WWII.


2. How many tours have you been a part of and what positions did you hold during those deployments?

I have been on four tours; twice to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq. During my first two deployments, I was an Airborne Infantry Team Leader. On my last two deployments, I was a Platoon Sergeant for both a Rifle Infantry Platoon and an Anti-Tank Platoon.

3. What were your expectations prior to deployment and how did they change afterward?

I really had no clue what to expect for my first deployment. It had been so long since our country was at war and now the War on Terror was a different type of war than we had ever fought before. I just remember watching September 11 happen on TV that day and we were the unit tasked with the Global Reaction Force for the military. This means that you stay on a 2-hour recall and could be wheels up, on a bird within 18 hours. I guess I could say at first it was total excitement. I was going to go get the bad guys that hurt so many. You hit the ground wanting to win the war yourself, however, once you’re there and have been in the middle of a two-way firefight, you look at everything a bit different. I guess the best way to put it is that the guy that is beside you fighting with you is more important than anything else in the world while you are there. To lose just one is a lot of the time too much for most.


“Callsign “Black Magic” at the cross sabers in Baghdad.  HHC 3BCT 2009.”

4. Do you have any stories you feel comfortable sharing? Maybe the most memorable tour? Or the one that taught you the most about yourself, and being in the Army?

I guess one of the bigger highlights of my career was that I was apart of the first combat jump that the 82nd Airborne Division had done since Operation Just Cause in Panama. Only 73 Paratroopers got chosen to be apart of this historic operation. Somehow I was lucky enough to get a slot. At the time I was in B Co 3-504 PIR. Our company along with Navy SEALS and 2nd Ranger BN jumped in to capture the third most wanted guy in Afghanistan. What made this whole experience better was that it was one day after my 21st birthday. It was not until the last few years that this jump was declassified and we were allowed to talk about this jump due to the high-value targets (HVTs) involved.

5. What are the biggest shifts you have seen in the U.S. Army from serving both prior and after 9/11?

Prior to 9/11,  we used to go out in the field for a week or two at a time just working on small unit training.  For example, we would work on basic infantry battle drills by ourselves with no other units around.  After 9/11 and a few deployments.  We then starting training similar to a base mentality.  We trained as if we were working from a base rather than being out in the field working in isolation.  The training changed to more “hearts and minds” and trying to win the people over, rather than trying to win the war.  The training is now more focused on equal opportunity and political correctness than on warfighting.

6. How would you describe your life prior, during, and after the Army?

Prior to joining the Army, I was in high school and working at a furniture factory third shift. It was just a normal, mundane, day to day experience. My life during the Army was high paced and at times high stress. There was a lot of short notice with some of the positions that I held and many late nights. I have only been separated for about 15 days. So far, I am enjoying the time with my family and being able to relax. I plan to start school in January.


7. What does it mean to you to be a veteran?

To be a veteran to me means a lot but, it’s not like I am going out to buy a hat or put stuff all over my car to show everyone that I was in the war. It’s more of a self-pride that I am one of the very few that was willing to stand up and defend what now most in our country are taking for granted. I have had the honor to see great men do extraordinary things. I have also seen those same heroes break because of a loss of a brother. I guess to be a veteran to me is that I will never be alone even if we are few we are the strongest.

8. If there is one thing you could tell someone that is beginning their journey in the Army what would that be?

I guess the best thing is to realize is that you have not earned anything. Everything is earned in the military. Many of the people coming into the Army these days think that everything should be given to them. Work hard and show respect and that will get you a long way.

SFC Michael Foley has dedicated his career and life to defend this country and millions of Americans he will never know. Though he would not be one to accept many thank yous, it is important to understand the dedication of our heroes just like him. Men and women, like Michael Foley, that have dedicated their lives make our day to day lives possible. We can never express enough gratitude to Michael Foley and his fellow service members to show how much we appreciate their sacrifice. The Purple Heart Foundation has various programs developed to help support not only our veterans but their spouses, children, families as well. We are committed to assisting ALL of our veterans. It is our mission to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one. You can show your support for our heroes and their families and continue to grow and support the programs that assist them in making a one-time or monthly donation.

Once an Engineer, Always An Engineer: Military To Civilian Life

In honor of Veterans Day, the Purple Heart Foundation wanted to make it a point to share some unique stories and points of view from some of our Veterans. We had the chance to interview Alden Smith Bradstock, III. Mr. Bradstock, or Smitty, is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1977 and then went on to receive a Master of Engineering degree from the University of South Carolina.

Smitty entered West Point in 1973 and played lacrosse. In fact, the NCAA had allowed college freshmen to play on a Division 1 Varsity lacrosse team beginning in 1972, making him one of the earliest college freshmen to start on a Division 1 lacrosse team. When Smitty graduated from West Point in 1977, he was commissioned as an officer in the Army.

Smitty is also a published author. He wrote the book entitled, His Destiny, An American Flier. This book is all about American military aviation, ground combat and politics during World War I. It speaks measures to the devotion to duty and the various hardships of military service.

Smitty’s story is very unique, especially in regards to life and career path after serving. He has been able to stay involved in the military and veteran community very heavily, while also pursuing an extremely successful career in the private sector. We had the chance to speak with him about why he decided to join the Army, how that has affected his life, and what it means to him to be a veteran.

1. What made you want to join the US Army?

I had witnessed the Vietnam War on television as a young man and decided I wanted to serve and hopefully, make a difference.  Having grown up and visited the Naval Academy while in high school, I was intrigued by the military academies and wanted an opportunity to get a good college education in the sciences.  The service academies seemed to offer an excellent education with leadership training that would best fulfill my dream of serving the country.

2. Can you provide some details on your time in the service?

a. What branch?  

I entered the Army as a Field Artillery officer and obtained a secondary specialty as a Facilities and Construction Contract Management Engineer.

b. What was your rank?  

I left the service in 1988 as a Major.

c. Deployments?

I served in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC, the 59th Ordnance Brigade as a Commander of an artillery unit in Germany during the Cold War, and as a facilities engineer at Fort Jackson, SC.  My service with the 82nd put me in three deployment situations.  We were called out during an uprising in Zaire, Africa in 1978, to support the Special Forces when the Iranians held American civilians hostage in Tehran, and when the rescue mission was ordered by President Carter to retrieve the hostages.


German and American soldiers working together in “Interoperability” during an operational test the forests of central Germany

3. What was your most defining moment in the military?

I was promoted 1 year early to the rank of Major in 1986, one of 43 out of 3,500 Army Captains eligible for early promotion.  The situation taught me many things.  At first, I felt like I was on top of the world, I could do nothing wrong.  That helped me to realize that one’s ego can get out of hand.  I had witnessed leaders who would not listen to subordinates.  I had also had the pleasure of working with leaders who were well grounded, confident and calm under pressure.  These thoughts brought me to understand that I was promoted early for who I was, not what my ego made me think I should be.  I should be the same person as I was before the promotion.  It was a defining moment in my professional life.


Smitty receiving the German “Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr in Bronze” or the Honor Cross of the German Military in 1986 from the Consul General of Germany to the United States with the commanding general of Fort Jackson, South Carolina in attendance

4. What is your favorite memory/story?  

I have many, many fond memories of my service in the military.  So, I’d have to say my time in the Army is one big favorite memory.  I have many stories of attending Airborne and Ranger schools; jumping out of airplanes (and jet aircraft); moving military equipment and soldiers by helicopters called, Airmobile; setting up and firing howitzers into multiple and very distant target areas; getting called out for deployment into possible combat operations; firing a Lance missile at a test range from the island of Crete; leading soldiers of various units in multiple locations in the United States and Germany, serving with the German military; and training at various military and civilian schools I had attended.  But, the best of it all was working with dedicated and very capable professionals, service personnel who defended our country under all circumstances and with great burdens placed upon them and their family members.  The greatest contribution one can give is putting one’s life and limbs on the line so that other Americans can live safe and secure.  All of our military service personnel do that 24/7, 365 days every year.  It is a memory that we should all burn in our minds and never forget.

5. I am aware that you were wounded while in the service, could you please provide more information?

I was injured numerous times while on active duty, which resulted in me being declared permanently disabled when I left the service in 1988.

a. Where and when did this happen?  

I was first injured at West Point during my senior year, which resulted in me having surgery.  The injury-plagued me throughout my military career on Airborne jumps, military maneuvers, and other related training activities.  I underwent many procedures and physical therapies as I re-injured myself over the years.

b. How were you wounded/injured?  

Recurring injuries to my knee.

c. How has that injury affected you?

Today, 41 years after the first injury, I consider myself very lucky to be able to walk without much pain.  However, I have constant recurring injuries that take weeks to heal.  Like all people with disabilities, I’ve learned to be careful, watch for signs of further injury, and deal with injuries when they occur.  As the orthopedic surgeon told me a few years ago, the pain will tell me when I need to replace the joint.

6. What does being a Veteran and having served your country mean to you?  

Many Americans had great disdain for military service personnel when I was growing up.  I’m sure many people have heard stories of how poorly military members were treated by civilians during the Vietnam era.  Those stories are true, as I watched them play out every evening on the national news on TV.  To see how America has positively responded to our service personnel in the last 20 to 30 years is a true testament to the resolve and respect Americans have for one another, and particularly for those that have and continue to protect our way of life.  Experiencing a handshake, pat on the back, or thank you for my service and the service of others sometimes brings me to the tears of great satisfaction.  The transformation from the 1960’s and 70’s to today is something that few people know, but everyone should recognize and be extremely proud of it.

7. What have you been doing since leaving the military?

The military taught me many things such as the importance of hard work, mutual respect, devotion to important causes, and above all, how integrity plays such a vital role in our daily lives.  I see tremendous parallels in civilian life to military service and try to emulate those ideals in whatever I do.  As I was while in my military career, I have been very busy throughout my civilian career.  I bought into an engineering company in 1990, formed other companies, and worked hard to make sure those companies provided excellent service to our customers.  I’ve worked in those few companies since leaving the military.  And, as in the military, it is very rewarding to work with dedicated and devoted people in all aspects of my daily life.


Smitty today at his home in Maryland

8. Can you talk about the organization you work for, Veteran Design & Construction, Inc What does your organization do?

We have a very special and unique company.  While many companies design or build buildings, we are licensed and insured to do both with our “in-house” personnel.  So, we design and/or construct high-density residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings and their infrastructures.  Part of our company has registered professional engineers on staff who design and manage the design of our projects.  The other part of the company includes constructors who plan and execute the construction of facilities.  As a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, we can bid on projects throughout the United States that are restricted to that category of businesses.  To keep things as simple as possible, we try to stay on the Eastern seaboard.  As we have all been doing this for a long time, I am proud to say our folks are very good at what they do.

a. How did you get involved?  

I received Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degrees in mechanical engineering while I was in the military.  My education and secondary specialty in the Army, as a Facilities and Construction Contract Management Engineer, prepared me for what I do today.  So, I have a lot to thank the Army for.  I joined a private engineering company when I returned to Maryland after leaving the service.  I stayed with the company as its Chairman for 26 years.  During that time, I had formed a number of companies with my partners.  One of them dovetailed into the present company that I now own.

b. Is your organization active in the veteran community?

Our business is somewhat specialized, but we look to hire Veterans and attend Veteran functions as much as possible.  We also work with the Baltimore Station, a non-profit organization devoted to helping Veterans with afflictions such as personal difficulties and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  It’s interesting, but there seems to be an unspoken separation between the Veteran and civilian communities.  We attend various functions together and civilian companies work for Federal contracting officers.  But the two communities don’t naturally interact with one another very often.  We can definitely learn from one another, but the synergies are not quite there.

9. Anything else you would like to share?

I appreciate the efforts of your organization to bring the stories of Veterans to the public.

10. What is something you wish that the public knew about the veteran community?

While Americans appreciate military personnel today more than ever before, civilians do not have an in-depth understanding of the many trials and tribulations service personnel and their family members have to endure.  Military service requires all personnel to be prepared to deploy on a moment’s notice.  Family members including, spouses and children are expected to deal with deployments and the hardships that come with them.  During the Gulf and Afghan wars, some service members deployed for extended duty in combat zones 4 to 5 different times.  The stress and strain of those instances place unbelievable pressure on loved ones.  We just cannot do enough to help support those that must deal with these difficulties.  And, they are doing it voluntarily to protect us every day.  

Smitty was able to transition his military career into an extremely successful engineering career. It was through all of his training and experience in the United States Army that prepared him for what he has been doing since leaving the service. Not only has he been successful, he has continued to help other disabled veterans, just like himself, in both the workforce and through various charitable events and organizations. Though his service in the US Army and to our country may have technically ended when he left the service in 1988, he has not stopped making a difference.

Smitty raised an extremely important point during his interview in regards to our Military members, their families, and the difficulties that they are both forced to face. Though it is the service member who has bravely volunteered to protect this country at all costs, their families are significantly impacted as well. And, as hard as it is on them, they all volunteer their services. They need just as much support as our military members and veterans. The Purple Heart Foundation has various programs developed to help support not only our veterans but their spouses, children, families as well. We are 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 veterans and their families. You can show your support for our heroes and their families and continue to grow and support the programs that assist them in making a one-time or monthly donation.

Just A Bad Day At Work: A Champion’s Mindset

When most of us think about having a bad day at work, we think about the days that our bosses yelled at us, getting slammed with a huge project that has an immediate deadline, or maybe even a spur of the moment meeting that you were unprepared for. Could you imagine if your bad day at work resulted in the loss of your left leg, half of your right thigh and a few fingers? Those were the repercussions of Derick Carver’s “bad day at work”.

Derick grew up in Southern California and attended Eastern Michigan University before he commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army. He always knew that he wanted to be in the Army. He remembers back to elementary school when he was given the assignment to draw a picture of what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he drew himself as an Army Ranger with all of the gory details included. Years later he joined the Army and became an Army Ranger school graduate, but it wasn’t easy.


Derick recalls the day he graduated from Army Ranger school as one of his favorite memories of being in the military. Going to this school and training was no joke; he talked to us about how difficult and stressful this training process was, not only mentally, but physically as well. Immediately following his graduation, Derick remembers “walking down the baking aisle in the commissary and smelling all of the sugar and I hadn’t had anything sweet in months and literally grabbed a chocolate icing container off of the shelves and ate it with my fingers”. From there he stuffed his face and slept for four days straight before getting back to work.

After recalling such a funny memory, Derick shed some light on what he considers “just a bad day at work”, a day that changed the course of life for him, forever. Derick was serving as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne on a deployment in Afghanistan. On January 19th of 2010, his platoon was attacked while conducting a dismounted patrol just outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan. He got blown up by an IED, but the world around him never froze or went blank. In fact, he remembers counting the flips his body made in the air after the explosion. As crazy as it sounds, Derick never once lost consciousness and called in his own injury and the attack. After the initial attack, he began to assess the damage both surrounding him, and that he suffered. He looked down and saw that some of his fingers were detached, he noticed his elbow popping out, and then he looked down at his legs. He attempted to move them and the right leg responded while his left didn’t. It wasn’t attached. He reached down to grab what had once been his left leg, “I couldn’t just leave it there”.

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 9.50.12 AM

Instead of being devastated and reacting negatively to the situation, Derick continued to stay positive and crack jokes to keep his men pushing forward as best as they could. Nine of Derick’s men, including him, were wounded and two were killed during that attack. As a strong leader, he refused care in order to make sure that his men were getting treated first. He let two medevacs leave before he got in the third. He explained how it felt while he waited and fought to stay alive, “I kept telling myself ‘take deep breaths, control your heart rate, don’t panic, don’t die like an [expletive] in front of the men’ over and over again to stay alive”. He explained that in this situation where he felt himself bleeding out and dying, his training kicked in and he did exactly be was necessary to keep himself conscious.

“I was proud to watch my soldiers do exactly what they trained for and what they needed to do to stay alive and to keep others alive”.

We asked Derick what his most defining moment in the military was, and we were slightly shocked by the answer. We felt it was safe to assume that January 19th of 2010 was his most defining moment; when his platoon was attacked and he showed his unbreakable determination and leadership. But, that was not his answer. May 29, 2012, was the most defining moment. That was the day he retired from the U.S. Army. Serving his country allows him to be proud. Being a veteran and a Purple Heart recipient allows him to feel as though he served his purpose. Though he explained that you never want to win a Purple Heart, it solidified his purpose, and “it comes with the job.”

As a veteran, Derick is able to do what he can to help others that are like him. He works with many nonprofits that assist veterans. He is extremely dedicated and passionate about helping to advocate for in vitro fertilization for veterans, as his injuries from the IED explosion resulted in traumatic damage to his reproductive organs.

When we spoke with Derick he was most passionate when answering the question “what is something you wish that the public knew about the veteran community?” He wishes that everyone could understand and distinguish the difference between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Posttraumatic Growth (PTG). The situations that our military men and women are put in do not have to result in negative consequences and hardships. He wants there to be a change in the narrative and the ability to re-educate not only the public but also our military members and veterans. These men and women go through intense and demanding training processes to fight and serve this country, but they are not trained to adjust back to civilian life after the fact. This lack of understanding leads to our heroes coming home and getting thrown right back into the swing of things, and that is the problem. There is no transition period developed to help the adjustment from the life they knew, filled with specific rules, regulations, and structure back to a normal day-to-day. Rather than hoping that these brave men and women can find their “new normals,” they should be taught how to adjust back and be provided with resources that can help them succeed.

It would be hard to believe what Derick has done with his life since the day of that attack on January 19, 2010, unless you’ve got a chance to talk to him. He will never let the injuries he sustained that day define him or get in his way. He says “it was just a bad day, the minute you make it more than a bad day at work you are losing. You need to accept it, and you need to mean it.” It was a chance for him to adjust. He is the exact same as he was before his injuries “only now I weigh about 40 pounds less”. He competes worldwide in adaptive athlete CrossFit, powerlifting and Strongman competitions. He won Wodapalooza (CrossFit competition) in 2015, In 2016 Derick won the title as the U.S. and World’s Strongest Disabled Man. Due to an injury, he was unable to compete in the 2017 competition, but he has begun training and plans to compete in next years. There is nothing that he cannot accomplish.

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Derick’s mindset is one that can and should inspire people around the world and from all walks of life.  Your success and your happiness are not decided by your circumstances, but rather by your mindset. He believes in himself, constantly pushing to reach new goals. He does not waste time focusing on anything besides how he can be the best at what he sets out to accomplish.

Although Derick has been more than successful in overcoming every obstacle that he had faced as a result of his injuries, not all of our veterans are. He makes a very important point when he discusses how the narrative has to be changed regarding PTSD. The men and women who keep our country and freedoms protected deserve that and deserve our help and support. The Purple Heart Foundation is 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. 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 are able to get the support that they need and deserve.

242 Years of ‘OORAH”: Happy Birthday, United States Marine Corps

“Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share.” – Ned Dolan.

On this day in 1775, the Marine Corps was born. As an expeditionary force older than our country itself, it would be near impossible to outline and describe all of its growth, changes and great accomplishments. The Purple Heart Foundation wants to help celebrate the Marines’ 242nd birthday by recognizing what has helped to distinguish this branch from its creation.

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem” – Ronald Reagan

Since the Marine Corps was created, they have developed into our nation’s first line of defense. Their mission is to win our nation’s battles swiftly and aggressively in times of crisis. They fight on land, sea, and air, as well as provide forces that are detachments to naval ships and ground operations. They are trained to be adaptable and overcome any and all obstacles that are thrown their way, regardless of the situation. They are taught determination and that until victory is reached, they must persevere. Yes, Marines come to mind when you think of traditional warfare, but they also help serve their communities and assist in humanitarian and disaster relief missions.

Inside every single Marine are the core values of honor, courage, and commitment. Those values are shared and help define this men and women both during their service to their country, but also in their everyday lives. Marines may come from all corners of the globe and a vast array of pasts and walks of life, but they value character and pride themselves on those values.

Two Marines Humvee - original

Although the Marines’ symbol is recognizable worldwide, not many understand the meaning behind it. It combines an eagle, a globe, and an anchor. These represent the history and purpose of this branch of our military. The eagle is representative of the United States of America and the pride behind defending this great nation. In turn, the globe shows their presence not just for our nation, but worldwide. Finally, the anchor. This represents the history of the Marine Corps, and it is developed from a naval past. The combination of these symbols perfects represents the Marines’ dedication to our country and defending it regardless whether it’s on land, in the air, or at sea.

As our country’s first line of defense, it comes as no surprise that the Marine Corps has been a huge part of more battles than we would have time to discuss. Here are a few major, defining battles from the birth of the Marine Corps until present.

  • Fort Nassau – 1776

This was not only the Marines’ first successful amphibious landing on a hostile shore, but it was their first battle altogether. This battle took place only a few weeks after the Marines were created. It only took minutes for the British troops to surrender once the Marines arrived.

  • Battle of Derna – 1805

As a result of pirates raiding American merchant ships, a force of Marines was sent to fight back. This is the battle that led to Marines being nicknamed ‘Leathernecks” because of the protection they wore to fight the pirates. This was the Marines’ first grand battle that took place on foreign soil, and their history helped protect U.S. ships and our trading. This battle is even recalled in the Marines’ Hymn in the line “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli / we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea.”

  • Battle of Chapultepec

During the Mexican-American war, the Marines were able to gain control of the enemy’s fortress during this battle, they raised our flag over the palace to mark their victory. This battle also is recalled in the Marines Hymn.

  • Battle of Belleau Wood – 1918

Outside of Paris in Belleau Wood, Marines fought against the German soldiers. After 20 days of intense battle and suffering heavy casualties, the Marines had won. Following this battle, Marines were given the name “Devil Dogs” by the German survivors.

  • Battle of Iwo Jima – 1945

This battle and victory may be the most iconic in the Marines Corps history. The Marines sent to capture the Japanese airfields at  Iwo Jima showed their willingness and perseverance to overcome the enemy and find victory. This 36-day long battle resulted in heavy casualties, but that did not stop the Marines. The iconic photograph of the troops raising the American Flag at the summit of Mt. Suribachi is an inspiration for all Marines and for generations to come.

  • Chosin Reservoir – 1950

In this battle, the 1st Marine Division faced the worst weather and terrain conditions that troops had ever been forced to fight in. As if that was not tough enough, they were outnumbered 8-to-2 by the Chinese army. Nonetheless, they defeated 10 Chinese infantry divisions. To say they prevailed would be an understatement.

  • Battle of Hue – 1968

This was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. During 33 this 33-day long fight, the Marines were extremely outnumbered. This fight strengthened the Marines’ reputation as tough guys with an unbreakable resolve.

  • Operation Desert Storm – 1991

This was a huge success and victory in modern warfare. Marine pilots used aircrafts to destroy both Iraq’s air and naval forces as well as anti-air defenses and ballistic missile launchers. Additionally, Marines were able to break through Iraq’s southern border, while over 8,000 marines distracted the Iraqi army in the north. This exemplified the Marines’ ability to persevere and reach victory in the air, on land, and at sea.

  • Operation Enduring Freedom – 2001

Two months after the terrorist attack on our nation on September 11, 2001, Marines were the first major ground forces in Afghanistan. Since the initial invasion, much progress was made and the threat of violence has been reduced. Hundreds of schools have been built and millions in aid have been distributed.

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Though these are not the only battles that the Marines played a vital role in, they are a few of their defining moments. Ret. Marine Corps General and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis said,“[T]o Marines, love of liberty is not an empty phrase… Rather, it’s displayed by blood, sweat, and tears for the fallen.” It is thanks to the brave and determined men and women that have made up the Marine Corps for the past 242 years that we are granted our day-to-day freedoms.

Their honor, courage, and commitment that these men and women share have not gone unnoticed. As you go about your day, remember these brave men and women and all of our Veterans from every single military branch, that has served this country.

The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to honoring all of our heroes who have served this country. Nearly 90 percent of cash donations that we receive at the Purple Heart Foundation go to providing funds for programs that help ALL of our 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 to defend our freedom. Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to assure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve.

Veterans Day: More Than Just A Day

Each of us, as citizens of the United States of America, wake up each day and go about our lives and schedules. Not one person here is the same and none of us live the same life as the person next to us. What each and every one of us do share are our fundamental rights and freedoms. Not only that, we share the reason why we are granted those rights and freedoms day in and day out: our veterans. To simply say thank you to the brave men and women who have served, and are currently serving, this great country will never be enough. And although we honor and remember all of our veterans every November on Veterans Day, that does not do justice to their service.

Though all of our veterans had different military experiences, serving at different times, deploying to different locations, fighting different battles, learning different lessons, they are all heroes, and all have immense pride in serving this country. Here is what being a veteran means:


Nick Bare – Army

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

Mike Cain – Army (Purple Heart recipient)

“[It has] been a godsend and the greatest thing I’ve ever done with my life. It is something I can be proud of and my family could be proud. I would still do anything and put my life on the line for this country.”


Dan Hansmeier – Marine Corps

“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.”

Derick Carver – Army (Purple Heart recipient)

Being a veteran and a Purple Heart recipient “allows me to feel as though I served my purpose. You never want to win a Purple Heart, but it solidified my purpose, and it comes with the job.”


With Veteran’s Day right around the corner, keep in mind the reason you are able to do and enjoy all of your day to day activities. Without our brave men and women serving this would most certainly not be the case. They have done their part and now, we need to do ours. Here at the Purple Heart Foundation 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.

SSG John Tyler Guy: Answering the Call to Become a Guardian of Freedom

Throughout our history, countless brave men and women have answered the call of duty to serve our country and perpetuate its interests, both in foreign lands and on our own soil. While we do not have the stories of all of them, we had the opportunity to hear the story of one of these men. The Purple Heart Foundation had the opportunity to interview Staff Sergeant (SSG) John Tyler Guy who joined the U.S. Army on October 26, 2007. Guy shared his reasons for joining, why he remains, and why he wants to make his service to our country a career long commitment. His story and experience helps shed some light on the invaluable price of the liberties we hold dear in our country.

Why did you join the Army?

I’ve always been really fascinated with the Army and both of my grandpas were in WWII. I was a freshman in high school when the Twin Towers were hit and from that point on I’ve had anger about what happened. During college, I was undisciplined. I spent most of my time partying and not going to class, but I kept seeing stuff about the war and how dudes my age were fighting for this country and I thought it was about time I did my duty. I love my country very much and sure, it’s not perfect, but this is my home and I’m going to protect it.

How many tours have you been a part of and what positions did you hold during those deployments?

First Deployment: Kirkuk and Mosul, Iraq

  • Dates: August 2008 – August 2009
  • Position and Unit: Rifleman with Bco 1-67 2nd BCT 4th ID

Second Deployment:  Kunar and Nangarhar Provinces of Afghanistan

  • Dates: April 2010 to April 2011
  • Position and Unit: RTO with BUKA PLT Aco 1-327 1BCT 101st ABN DIV

Third Deployment: Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan

  • Dates: November 2012 to July 2013
  • Position and Unit: Team Leader with BUKA PLT Aco 1-327 1BCT 101st ABN DIV

Fourth Deployment: Jalalabad and Bagram Afghanistan

  • Dates: August 2014 to April 2015
  • Position and Unit: Squad Leader with Fco Pathfinders 2-82 CAB AVN 82nd ABN DIV

Fifth Deployment: Djibouti, Africa

  • Dates: September 2016 to February 2017
  • Position and Unit: Section Leader with Fco Pathfinders 2-82 CAB AVN 82nd ABN DIV


How would you describe your emotions/feelings prior, during, and after each deployment?

I’ll start off by saying that I’m always more excited than nervous, but everyone gets nervous right before they leave. Not too many other emotions are going on before I leave besides saying goodbye to loved ones, which always sucks. I know it’s supposed to be bad luck but I don’t really care, I’ve had the same “Death Letter” written for my mom, dad, and sister since my first deployment to Iraq. It probably needs an update, especially with my fiancé involved too. The only thing I’m kind of superstitious about is I’ve worn the same IR flag from my first deployment on all my other deployments. It’s all beat up and torn and I’ve had to glue it back together a few times. My feeling on deployment varies day to day, and it depends on where I’m at and what I’m doing. I hate being bored on deployment; it makes time go by so slow if you’re not out doing work. Sure, down time is nice but too much down time leads to stupid things being brought up and stupid things being done. Towards the end of the deployment I can’t wait to be home and I start planning all the stuff that I am going to do when I get home. To me, one of the greatest feelings in life has been every time I have touched down in the States after a deployment.

Through all of the tours and units in which you’ve been a part of, have you seen a shift in the reason why you originally joined to why you continue to serve?   

I guess the reason why I have stayed in the Army has kind of changed. Since joining, I have decided to make this a career-long commitment when it is time to sign my next reenlistment. When I first joined all I wanted to do was deploy; I didn’t really think about it in a sense of a career. Honestly, that was mostly because I didn’t think I’d live to make it a career. I’ve done five deployments and I’d gladly go on five more because I love being deployed, but being deployed doesn’t get you promoted. You need to take college courses and get as much education through Army schools as possible to get promoted. The biggest reason why I stay in is for the brotherhood and the comradery with the guys. You can’t really get that anywhere else at any other job except for first responders.  

Do you have any stories you feel comfortable sharing? Maybe the most memorable tour? Or the one that taught you the most about yourself, and being in the army?  

My second deployment with BUKA plt Aco 1-327 1BCT 101st ABN DIV was the worst and best time of my life. I probably learned the most about myself during that deployment. It completely changed my life and the way I view life and death for that matter. I learned how to push myself further than I thought I could go. It was physically demanding because jumping all those mountains was miserable and fighting in the mountains was miserable too. I learned quickly that your life can change and be taken from you in an instant.

On November 14, 2010 my platoon (BUKA) was pulling a traveling overwatch for first platoon about four hundred meters below us in the Watapur Valley, Afghanistan in the Kunar Province. They were clearing huts and houses while we pulled security for then from above. We got in a stagnant position a little too long at one place and it was good because we had already gotten in numerous firefights with the enemy since the morning and we’d finally gotten a chance to rest a little bit. This was also the third day of the Operation Bulldog Bite. It was about three o’clock in the afternoon when 50-60 Taliban hit us with perfect L-Shaped ambush from the Northeast and the East. I’m not going to get into all the details of my experience of the fight, but we had eight casualties in the first couple of minutes of the ambush and ended up losing four really good men that day: SPC Jesse Snow, SPC Scott Nagorski, SPC Nathan Lillard, and SPC Shane Ahmed. Luckily we were able to get the Apaches flexed to our position to suppress the enemy. Then the Pararescuemen were able to come in and get the wounded.  Yeah, my second deployment was my most memorable, we spilled a lot of blood together which, in turn, made us grow really close.

What does it mean to you to serve in the United States Army?

After ten years in I am still very proud of what I do and what I have done. I love being in the Infantry and I love deploying. When I first joined back in ‘07 I just wanted to deploy all the time and make a difference in the war. Now that I’ve been in for a while and I’m making this a career. I focus more on molding soldiers into future leaders and my own career progression such as Army schools and college courses.

A few interview questions will never do justice to SSG Guy’s story and to the commitment and dedication that he offers this country on a daily basis. When he saw that America had been attacked he made it his ambition and goal to be one of our guardians of freedom. SSG Guy truly lives by the Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. He has made it a life-long goal to serve and it is the brave men and women, like SSG John Tyler Guy, who are the backbone of our country. Without their dedication we would not have the luxury to carry out our day-to-day lives and the freedoms that come with it. We at the Purple Heart Foundation will forever be grateful for SSG John Guy and all of the men and women who have served, continue to serve and will serve in the future. We are committed to honoring ALL of our heroes, and it is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits that they deserve.