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

Image result for us army flag

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

national guard army birthday.png

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

ww2 army birthday.jpg

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)

d-day beaches.jpg

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

vietnam.png

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

operation iraqi freedom.png

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

operation enduring freedom.png

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.

american-soliders-paris-422860.jpg

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.

Normandy cemetary.jpeg

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

Memorial Day climb.jpg

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

Memorial Day Speech.jpg

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

Denver.jpg

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.

Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness: Increasing Visibility for an Invisible Wound

soldiers.jpg

In WWI it was shell shock, in WWII battle fatigue. Korean War veterans were diagnosed with war neurosis and Vietnam veterans with post-Vietnam syndrome. 


Whatever you call it, Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), as it’s now known, has affected soldiers for centuries, with symptoms ranging in severity from insomnia and nervousness to nightmares and debilitating social anxiety.

There’s nothing black and white about PTS, making it difficult to diagnose and challenging to treat. Compounding the problem, there is a lingering stigma around the condition, at least among service members, who would probably call it combat stress instead of PTS, explains former marine Michael Andrews.

He attributes his PTS symptoms less to one traumatic event and more to the overall experience of combat—deploying six consecutive times and grieving the death and injuries of many friends.

“Every time service members deploy, we have to put together casualty packets, which include directions from the nearest airport to our next-of-kin’s residence, a will, and even an obituary,” Andrews says.

He says, this, in addition to talking with loved ones about your potential death, takes its toll and has a lasting effect.

Author and speaker Lt Col. David Grossman describes the ambiguity of Post Traumatic Stress:

“PTSD is not like being pregnant. Pregnancy is a yes/no, binary equation; either you are or you aren’t. PTSD is like being overweight. Most of us have a couple pounds we can do without, but some people are 500 pounds overweight, and it’s going to kill them any day now.”

Despite the vast gray area, issues associated with PTS affect 7.7 million adults in the United States, mostly veterans. But, there is hope and help.

Here are some organizations working hard to help people with PTS and their families.

afterdeployment.org
 shares mental wellness resources for service members, veterans, and military families on topics like PTS, traumatic brain injury, suicide prevention and much more.

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury
 offers support, authoritative information and resources 24/7 to service members, veterans, military families, and caregivers.

National Resource Directory
 is a web portal that connects wounded warriors, service members, veterans, their families and caregivers with support services.

Real Warriors Campaign
 is a multimedia public education campaign that encourages service members and veterans with invisible wounds to seek help. In addition to raising awareness, the campaign provides resources to help overcome barriers to care for invisible wounds, like PTS and traumatic brain injury.

WarriorCare.mil 
is a blog that provides wounded, ill, injured and transitioning service members information on programs, initiatives and support.

Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

Today is the 70th anniversary of the WWII D-day invasion of Normandy, France. Over 156,000 troops waded or parachuted onto French soil on June 6, 1944. By the end of the day, 4,500 were dead.

On a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, the setting of the battle’s bloodiest combat, sits Normandy American Cemetery, the burial site of 9,387 US service men and women.

World leaders are heading to France to remember the deceased and commemorate the occasion. The series of events began Thursday, the first of which honor the survivors—most now in their nineties.

Recently, a member of our team visited Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial and the D-day Beaches. It was a moving and enlightening experience

Here are a few photos from the trip
Cemetary.jpg
Tombstone.jpg

Museum.jpg

One of the most compelling parts of the trip was learning about the heroic acts of the, often very young, service men and women.

CaptFrankWalk.jpg

FrancesSlanger.jpg

SgtPeregory.jpg

Sgt. Peregory risked his life during the D-Day invasion by single handedly attacking a fortified German machine-gun emplacement, killing several and taking more than 30 prisoners. He received The Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart.

 

From Deployment to Employment: How to Adjust to a Civilian Work Environment

Transitioning from military service to a rewarding career can feel like a daunting undertaking. The work environment and requirements are usually pretty different. What made you successful in the military may not work as well or could even be counterproductive in civilian life.

Many veterans have trouble coping with this adjustment for several reasons:

  • The lower stakes lead to boredom.
  • The lack of straightforward rules and missions can cause confusion and anxiety.
  • Survival behaviors learned during combat, like a flight or fight response, are counter-productive in a work environment.
  • Stress and painful memories from deployment can make it difficult to concentrate and remember important information.
  • Military skills don’t always translate to a new work environment.

But the structure and discipline you mastered during your military service can also help you succeed in a civilian work environment. Here are a few things to remember:

Focus on your health.

  • See a doctor when necessary and only take medications as prescribed.
  • Stay away from unhealthy foods (high fat, high sugar).
  • Don’t use non-prescribed drugs or drink alcohol excessively.
  • Keep a routine—get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat at the same time each day.

Learn and practice communication skills.

  • Maintain polite and friendly communication with co-workers
  • Ask for help about talking about deployment with colleagues
  • Learn the appropriate ways to handle conflict and criticism, taking into account the culture of your workplace.

Practice organization

  • Keep you workspace neat
  • Make task lists
  • If you have trouble staying focused, write your thoughts in a journal or notebook.

Create your own structure

  • Assess your values and make a list.
  • Determine the ways your job fits with your values.
  • To identify your values, ask yourself questions like:
    • What kind of an employee do I want to be? Hard-working? Dependable? A trustworthy officer?
    • What parts of work are important to me? Using and building my skills? Fixing problems? Leading a team of people?
    • What do I like about my current job? The way people treat each other? The feeling of accomplishment? Good benefits?
    • How does this job fit with serving my country?
  • Set long-term goals, like an ideal future position or promotion, and then set short-term goals that will help you achieve them.
  • Stay current on training and the technology used in your field.

If you are looking for some training, check out Purple Heart’s Veterans Vocational Technical Institute.

If you want to go back to school and complete an undergraduate degree, learn about Purple Heart scholarships.

For career counseling or other services, find a National Service Officer near you.

Resources:

MilitaryOneSource

The Leaders Institute

TurboTAP (Transition Assistance Program)

Veterans’ Employment and Training Services

Military.com Veteran Employment Center

Post-traumatic Stress: An Invisible Injury Gaining Visibility

In a dangerous situation, it’s natural and healthy to feel afraid. Even after a traumatic experience, it’s common to feel frightened, sad, anxious, and disconnected. But when these symptoms persist, and the feelings of fear and helplessness don’t subside, it may be post-traumatic stress, a condition that can occur after living through a harrowing experience. 

Many veterans returning from combat experience post-traumatic stress, often referred to as PTSD, or PTS.

According to experts:

  • Records of PTS exist from over 2,500 years ago.
  • 7.7 million people are affected by PTS.
  • 11-20% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTS.
  • 10% of Gulf War veterans suffer from PTS.
  • 30% of Vietnam veterans suffer from PTS.

Post-traumatic stress is hard to diagnose because it doesn’t always appear immediately. Depending on the individual, it can take weeks, months, or even years before symptoms appear. 

So, how can you tell the difference between a normal response to trauma and post-traumatic stress? There are three main symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress.

Re-experiencing the traumatic event 

  • Intrusive, upsetting memories
  • Flashbacks 
  • Nightmares 
  • Intense distress when reminded of the trauma
  • Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event, like a pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, or sweating.

Avoidance and numbing

  • Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
  • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • Loss of interest in activities and life in general
  • Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
  • A sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)

Increased anxiety and emotional arousal

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling overly vigilant and anxious
  • Feeling agitated and easily surprised

Other common symptoms

  • Anger and irritability
  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Substance abuse
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Feeling alienated and alone
  • Physical aches and pains

Regardless of the initial trigger or when these issues begin, it’s important to seek help immediately. The good news is our understanding of post-traumatic stress is increasing. You are not alone. PTS can be successfully treated and overcome.

If you experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress, here’s what you can do:

  • Seek the support of a counselor at a military base or VA hospital.
  • Let us connect you with a National Service Officer near you. Find out more
  • Find some companionship though Canines for Combat Vets, a service dog program run by the nonprofit organization NEADS
  • Take care of yourself by eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, relaxing, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
  • Connect with other veterans through Purple Heart volunteer opportunities

Resources:

Post-traumatic Stress Help Guide

Online Mental Health Screenings

Purple Heart PTS Resource Guide

National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. What is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Treatment of PTSD

Military Mental Health, Military PTSD