“Never Give Up, Never Surrender” – By JP Lane

My name is Justin Lane, aka JP Lane. Many people have their own reasoning for joining the military, mine is probably similar to most my age, in 2001, watching the twin towers fall. I was reminded of that feeling when I was old enough to sign up. At the age of 20, In 2008, I joined the U.S. Army as a Combat Engineer. I was deployed, in 2010, to Afghanistan to search for IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices). I was blown up 3 separate times, and the 3rd one got me. July 2nd, 2011, I was blown up by a 200lb IED while on mission. It was the first IED to penetrate an RG31 truck. The blast resulted in putting me in a coma for 6 weeks. I lost both my legs, right arm snapped in half, lost my four front teeth, pelvis snapped in half, spine dislocated from my pelvis, and everything in my torso was destroyed by shrapnel except for my heart and left lung. In total, I received 26 injuries, and had 28 surgeries, this completely changed my life. Doctors said I wasn’t going to be able to do many things, like, use prosthetics because my legs were so badly damaged. Also, that I wouldn’t be able to speak properly or sing ever again because of a tracheotomy.

With each day, I am proving them wrong. I am the only double amputee recording artist in the world. God wasn’t finished with me yet. Since I got my prosthetics, I have performed for 2 Presidential Inaugurations, Presidents Obama and Trump. I have performed with Lee Greenwood, Neil McCoy, Aaron Tippin, Jason Castro, and more. I have performed for non-profit organizations such as Adopt-a-Vet and Helping a Hero, which are in support of our military. I also, performed for organizations that support the local community, like, “Taking it to the Streets”, a homelessness initiative, and G.A.N.G Outreach in Colorado, that provides positive/encouraging sports camps for underprivileged kids. I have also been able to perform and inspire thousands in Brazil and Mexico. I signed the dotted line when I joined the Army – to SERVE and protect the American people – and since I am still alive, by the grace of God, I will continue to serve. Retirement is just a word! So, I decided to be a motivational speaker to share my story and give hope to those who need it. I am a reminder for others to “Never Give Up, Never Surrender”.

My goal is to impact the world with more than just music. Changing hearts and minds, one at a time.

In a situation like mine, most people would look in the mirror and feel like no one would want them. I was blessed to have found someone who not only loves me for me, but also supports my career and my passion of singing. Crystal, my beautiful wife as of Feb. 2018, has been a huge support for me and given my life purpose. We now work together inspiring couples around us, telling them the amazing story of what brought us together.

April 1st – 9th, I went back to AFGHANISTAN to have a “proper exit.” I was able to visit the hospital I was first recovering in after being blown up. Since I was in a coma, I did not remember much of the hospitals or traveling that I did during that time. As I visited different bases around Afghanistan, I was welcomed back with open arms from thousands of troops. I was proud to walk down the welcome ceremonial row, holding my “NICE TRY TAILBAN” shirt. One of the most amazing feelings was getting to wear the U.S. Army uniform once again, but nothing compared to the feeling of getting to leave the country on my own two feet, prosthetic feet, with my head held high!

Upon returning from Afghanistan, just as it seemed like my story was about to end, Crystal and I were in a serious car accident that rolled our jeep and destroyed our car. Airbags went off in every direction, and glass shattered with every turn of our vehicle. Thank God we were wearing our seat belts, otherwise the damage we received would have been worse. But as part of the strong and determined Lane family, we will overcome. Nothing in this world will defeat us or bring us down! We have a purpose… to bring hope, love, inspiration and the idea of being mentally strong, to people across the world.

 

To read more about JP’s inspirational story, check out the article featuring JP Lane in VFW Magazine, last August.

 

The Purple Heart Foundation thanks JP Lane for his service and sacrifice. In order to help veterans like JP get access to the programs and services they need, please consider making a monetary donation to the Purple Heart Foundation. Your contribution will make the difference in the lives of real veterans, like JP, and their families.

Vietnam Veteran to High School History

We all wonder where life will take us, he never wondered, he knew. John Harrison, a sophomore student at North Carolina University, wanted to fly helicopters but the only way he was able to, was by joining the Army. Not many would jump at the idea of joining the military, but he did… just to fly helicopters. Growing up he had a great childhood, a loving family and no regrets. With a clear vision in mind and the love for helicopters in heart, he pressed on with the hopes of making a difference.

It didn’t take long for John to get through Basic Combat Training, pass all qualifications and tests at Ft. Polk, L.A. and confidently begin his service in the United States Army, something he had aspired to do for so long. The transition from civilian to soldier was not an easy one though; it was divided into three parts…

  1. “The RED phase” is the beginning of your training, to prepare you for what’s to come.
  2. “The WHITE phase” is where he got most of the physical and psychological strength.
  3. “The BLUE phase” taught him how to handle weapons.

During the first several months in the military, John really enjoyed his time with fellow soldiers and instructors who only had “Tough love” for him. Since he had prepared well for the Army he was in great shape to withstand just about anything, even though he recalls the weather being too hot. It was so unbearably hot in Vietnam that they would drink 4 to 5 gallons of water, every day.

Many would be surprised how John expresses his take on joining the army, but this experience changed his life, his points of view, and his whole being. In the military you can train and prepare as much as possible, but nothing is like experiencing the challenges and traumas of combat than real life. John went to Officer Candidate School later, where he became Airborne Rifle Platoon Leader and Company Executive Officer.

Not long after, his unit was deployed to Vietnam on a USNS (United States Naval Ship). John joked, that although his accommodations on that ship weren’t great, the food was the best part. Since the ship was old, they had to stop at an island in the Philippines for repairs.  While on the island, many of them stayed late in a club and almost ended up getting killed! Then after leaving the island, they came across the end tag of a typhoon and many were having trouble keeping their food down.

Finally, they reached Vietnam. They were told they would be safe because they were being protected by South Korea. One of the scariest and most unexpected moments in Vietnam was the first time he got shot at while walking in the mountains with his platoon. John thought to himself that he had been around shooting ranges so it wouldn’t be such a big deal…but as they kept taking on fire, he felt dumbfounded, he didn’t react, he didn’t really know what to do in that moment. The firefights in Vietnam were nothing like they had trained for.

John lasted 4 years in the Army, and said that it was nothing like he had expected. The military can train you so much, but you will never be completely ready to fight when it comes down to it. He was awarded the Purple Heart medal, because he was wounded during his service in Vietnam. He is thankful every day for not ever being captured as a prisoner of war (POW) and for being able to come home to his family. John retired from the military and went back to school to study Law. He became a well-known attorney and realtor in the Washington-Metropolitan Area. Later he went on to teach law at Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School  where he said he truly enjoyed his time with his students and  learned a lot from their different opinions.

Now John enjoys his time traveling, being at home and just enjoying life. He has published two (2) books, in which he narrates his life experiences in Vietnam. From one’s first impression of John though, you wouldn’t think he was a veteran or picture him in the dangerous settings he described to me today. One thing is for sure though,  John Harrison is and always will be, “Army Strong”.

The Final Goodbye

A teary-eyed, George W. Bush, said his final goodbye to his father, George H.W. Bush Sr. and former 41st President of the United States, while giving his eulogy at the National Cathedral last Wednesday, December 5th.  The former President passed away at his home in Houston, Texas on November 30, 2018.  On this day, he took his final flight to reunite with his wife (Barbara Bush) and his 3-year-old daughter (Robin Bush).

President Bush’s casket was visited at the US Capitol Rotunda for 3 days by family, friends and thousands of citizens who admired and loved him. During the state funeral, former Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and current President Donald Trump were present along with their wives to pay their respects and say their final goodbyes to their dear old friend.

Known as a man with a good heart, charisma, and an impressive life story… George H. W. Bush, Sr. was born on June 12, 1924 to a wealthy and politically active family in Milton, Massachusetts. He attended Phillips Academy, an elite boarding school. Then at 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, making him the youngest pilot during WWII. As a combat pilot he flew 58 combat missions and had a close encounter with death when his plane was hit in the Pacific. Shortly after, he met 16-year-old Barbara Pierce, a teenage romance that would eventually result in a beautiful 73-year marriage, the longest presidential marriage in American history. After the war ended, George H.W. Bush, Sr. graduated from Yale University with a major in Economics and moved to Texas to enter the oil business making him a millionaire by the age of 40.

In 1963, George H.W. Bush, Sr. became chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, and was later elected to the House of Representatives. He held various elected roles…

  • 1971 – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
  • 1973 – Head of the Republic National Committee (during Watergate Scandal)
  • 1974 – U.S. Liaison Office in the People’s Republic of China
  • 1976 – Director of the CIA in 1976
  • 1977 – Chairman: Executive Committee of the First International Bank (Houston)
  • 1979 – Director of Council on Foreign Relations Foreign Policy Organization

With a very impressive resume, former George H.W. Bush, Sr. decided to run for President… but failed to win against Ronald Reagan. Instead, Ronald Reagan honored him with the Vice Presidency during his two terms in office.

George H.W. Bush, Sr. believed he was finally ready for the Presidency and ran once again in the 1988 election against Democratic Nominee, Michael Dukakis. George H.W. Bush, Sr. was elected 41st President of the United States of America. During that time he successfully handled various foreign affairs. He dissolved the Soviet Union and removed the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, but his greatest presidential success was handling the invasion in Kuwait. He was a global success for these accomplishments but there were problems with the economy back home.

After his Presidential term, George H.W. Bush, Sr. made appearances in support of his son, George W. Bush, Jr. during his terms as 43rd President of the United States of America. He also appeared at events for several political causes and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.  He even joined forces with former presidential rival, Bill Clinton, to help Hurricane Katrina victims.

Barak Obama once said “his life is a testament that public service is a noble calling” while honoring George H.W. Bush, Sr. with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award bestowed by the President to recognize people who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States”.

In the coming years, George H.W. Bush, Sr. had several setbacks with his health and spent his time in and out of the hospital. After losing his wife in April, George H.W. Bush, Sr. got Sully, a service dog who became his best friend and companion. Over the 6 months that they spent together they built an unbreakable bond, which left a huge impression on Sully. Sully was at the funeral, next to his owners’ side until the very end.

Former President George H.W. Bush, Sr. headed back to Houston to be buried at home, close to his ranch. Our condolences go out to the entire Bush Family. This country thanks him for his lifelong service to this country.

George H. W. Bush

June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018

The Real Story of Veteran’s Day

…The 11th hour…

…On the 11th day…

…Of the 11th month…

Hostility ceased in this moment back in 1918 marking the end of World War I.

Armistice Day was then celebrated on the 11th day of November to commemorate the beginning of this peaceful era. Nationwide there were celebrations, parades, public meetings and suspension of business for two minutes at 11am. Over the years, Congress has changed the date on which Armistice Day was celebrated, but in 1975 President Ford returned Armistice Day to November 11th, due to the significance and importance of that date.

Over 116,000 Americans defended the lives and freedom of our European allies during World War I. However, it was only after World War II and the Korean War that the commemoration of this day become known as “Veterans Day”, honoring the more than 1 million Americans who have died in all US wars.

Unlike Memorial Day which honors those members who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country; Veterans Day honors all veterans – those deceased and those living, regardless of whether they served in wartime or peace. Currently there are 1.3 million active duty service men and women, with an additional 800,000 serving in the reserves. There are approximately 21 million American veterans alive today. Many of them are like you and I…they are grandparents, parents, friends, neighbors, brothers, and coworkers. For some, there are physical signs of their sacrifice, but for others their wounds are on the inside. It is not easy coming home after everything a servicemember sees and endures. Due to the effects of Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, Military Sexual Trauma and more, an average of 22 veterans per day commit suicide.

This Veterans Day, we ask you to honor all of our veterans for their patriotism, service, sacrifice, and love of country. Make a donation to the Purple Heart Foundation!

Your contribution will help all veterans from all wars with all types of injuries. They will receive the benefits they have earned and deserve. Your contribution will fund grants, academic scholarships and so much more.

If you’re enjoying your freedom, thank a veteran by making a contribution today. The Purple Heart Foundation, honoring their sacrifice with our service.

American Muscle for American Heroes #NEXENHero

Imagine driving down the road in your very own, custom designed, 2018 Dodge Challenger! Imagine that custom Dodge Challenger being equipped with high performance tires developed by Nexen Tire. Now take a second and imagine, that 2018 Dodge Challenger being given to a Purple Heart medal recipient…someone who has made incredible sacrifices with their service for our great country. That is exactly why Nexen Tire America Inc., a worldwide leader in high performance tire technology, has launched the “American Muscle for American Heroes” program in partnership with the Purple Heart Foundation. The all-new program aims to honor a Purple Heart Medal Recipient that has been wounded in combat.

This is a very exciting opportunity for a well-deserving veteran to win this iconic American muscle car, and YOU get to nominate a Purple Heart recipient to win this car, whether it be a friend, family or even yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting October 1st Nexen Tire began accepting nominees for this incredible chance at winning the Nexen Tire Purple Heart Dodge Challenger, which will make its first LIVE appearance at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Nominees can be submitted until December 7th, online via HERE or by posting to social media. Submissions can be posted through Facebook and Instagram by using the hashtag #NEXENHero, you will also need to include a story and a picture of the American hero you’re nominating. Eligible nominees must also be a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. If you’re a Purple Heart recipient, but not a member yet, APPLY to be a member before submitting your nomination to win this car!

Nexen Tire is proud to be honoring service members with this giveaway and has pulled out all the stops in order to create this amazing prize for the lucky winner. Not only will the Purple Heart Dodge Challenger be equipped with Nexen Roadian HP Street Sport All-Season Radial Tires, it will also sport a PPG custom paint job, custom headlights provided by ORACLE lighting, SolarGuard window tint, SAVINI wheels and VIS Racing carbon fiber hood, front bumper, deck lid and splitters among many more customizations. The iconic Kenny Pfitzer, vehicle builder with Zero to 60 Designs, led the entire team to create this one of a kind muscle car.

Kyle Roberts, the senior director of marketing at Nexen Tires states “Nexen Tire understands the incredible sacrifice made by U.S. service members and we are honored to have the opportunity to give back to a deserving veteran as part of our American Muscle for American Heroes program. This program is our way of saying ‘Thank You’ to these heroes for securing our safety, as we continue to work hard to keep drivers safe on the road by manufacturing some of the world’s highest-quality tires”.

Making its debut at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Purple Heart Dodge Challenger will be presented by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry. He will be representing the Purple Heart Foundation and is a recipient of the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2008.

“I am extremely proud to be working with Nexen Tire and their American Muscle for American Heroes Program, I have served alongside many outstanding service members and I can say every one of them is a hero. I am confident the Purple Heart Foundation will find a very deserving veteran to receive this amazing custom Nexen Tire Purple Heart Dodge Challenger.”

 

Remember the nomination period ends on December 7th, so make sure to take to Facebook or Instagram to post your nomination of a Purple Heart recipient, or family member, to share their story and why they should be the winner. Do not forget to include the hashtag #NEXENHero. The winner will be picked by a joint NEXEN/MOPH committee and will be showcased on Fox & Friends LIVE about 1 week after the nomination period. Make your nomination today and good luck to all the deserving veterans out there!

Walking Across America For Purple Hearts!

On March 1st, 2018 two friends, Matt Andersen & Trevor Stephens, began their journey, a “Walk Across America,” that would take a little over 6 months and raise awareness and money for a charity of their choosing. We only learned about what they were doing and that they would be walking for the Purple Heart Foundation in May, 2018; 3 months after they started walking. We reached out and had the pleasure of speaking with Matt and Trevor. We wanted to gain insight as to why they chose the Purple Heart Foundation, to thank them for their support and to ask how their experience walking across the country had been.

According to Matt and Trevor, they “always had a plan to do a road trip after Matt graduated from college (Iowa State University) and [Trevor] “EAS’d” (End of Active Service) out of the Marines”. As they began seriously considering their cross-country road trip, Trevor brought up the idea of walking across the country rather than driving but “it didn’t become official that [they] were going to do it until around July of 2017. That’s when [they] started to do a lot of research.” Their research revolved around not only how to best complete the journey at hand, but also understanding why other people had decided to attempt it in the first place. They found that other people were doing it for various charities and so Matt and Trevor decided that they should too. They explained, “we wanted to see the country and meet its people while also raising money and awareness of a good cause”.Matt & Trevor 6

The research continued, now to find a worthy cause that both Matt and Trevor could agree upon. After researching dozens of charities and talking to many people, Trevor’s Staff Sergeant recommended the Purple Heart Service Foundation. “After looking into it [they] decided it was something [they] both could proudly support.” They both had many family members and friends in the military so a charity that raises money for and provides services to veterans was a worthy cause to them. For Trevor it hit a little closer to home though, being in the Marine Corps for four years as an infantry mortarman with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines and the recommendation having come from his own Staff Sergeant. It was finally decided that on March 1st, 2018 Matt and Trevor would start their Walk Across America to raise awareness about the struggles veterans face, along with the goal of raising $5,000 to be donated to the Purple Heart Foundation.

By the end of their journey, Matt and Trevor will have walked for 192 days through Delaware, Maryland, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. Generally, their days consist of walking an average distance of 25 miles per day and in their down time, getting to know the people of the towns they visited and explaining their mission to everyone they meet. Matt told us “The most fun thing for me was meeting the people and seeing the country”, and Trevor agreed, saying “I think the most fun thing for me has been seeing parts of the country I’ve never seen before. Colorado was probably the most beautiful place for me, the mountains were amazing, and we met a lot of really great people there.” Matt & Trevor were humbled by the generosity of the people they met along their journey; people of such diverse backgrounds, all willing to help by offering food, water, shelter and even money in some cases. Reflecting on the people they had met, Trevor told us “I’ve learned that the American people are truly kind and will go out of their way to help a stranger”, “they are very generous” Matt added.

Matt & Trevor 4

In between all the fun of walking and getting to meet new people and places, Matt and Trevor were faced with obstacles. When you’re walking across the country doing about 25 miles a day, the most obvious obstacle they faced was their feet. Every couple of days Matt and Trevor would have to take what they called a “Zero Day” where they paused their journey and rested their feet in preparation for the coming days, making their total distance walked “zero” that day. Sometimes their zero days were even planned so they could attend local events or visit family and friends. They found the weather to be an obstacle as well. They hiked through the snow in March, encountered nor’easter storms in the spring and experienced the scorching sun in the hills of Colorado during the middle of summer.

Another obstacle they faced involved potential jobs. “Matt recently graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in chemical engineering and turned down a few career opportunities to take part in this 6 – 7-month journey. Trevor was planning to start school in August to become a history teacher, but since the trip is taking a little longer than expected [he] won’t start until the spring.” But through all these obstacles they have persevered and are close to the finish line of their journey. We asked Matt and Trevor what they learned from their sacrifices, obstacles and achievements they’ve experienced on this journey and this is what they had to say…

Matt: “I learned that I’m mentally tougher than I ever thought.”

Trevor: “I’ve gained the determination to accomplish any goal I set my mind to. After dealing with the adversity we have on this trip, it really makes you understand that if you want it bad enough, you can accomplish anything.”

When setting out to accomplish something like this you want to plan it out correctly to make sure your goal is achievable. “The success of this fundraiser is measured in multiple ways. In no particular order, it would be measured by [their] completion of walking all the way across the country, reaching [their] goal of raising $5,000 for the charity, and just getting the word out there about the charity and what it does to help veterans.” Based on Matt and Trevor’s daily documentation of their journey on their Facebook page, Matt & Trevor Walk Across America, you can follow them as they near the end of their journey. They’ve been interviewed by local radio stations and journalists in the towns they’ve stopped in, spreading the word about the Purple Heart Foundation’s mission farther than they could have imagined (you can also find links to their news reports below).

Matt & Trevor 8

Through their GoFundMe page, they have already reached their goal of raising $5,000 and are aiming to exceed that by the time they reach the end of their walk. So, we would say they’ve been very successful thus far and we’re excited to see them at the finish line.

We invite YOU to join us on Marshall Beach in San Francisco, California between 11am – 12pm on September 8th, 2018 to congratulate these dedicated young men for accomplishing their goals! Matt and Trevor will be taking the last steps of their walk across the country at what they’re calling the “End of the Road Party”! Purple Heart recipients and Purple Heart Foundation members will be meeting Matt & Trevor to thank them for their efforts and support, and we hope you will come too! Our organization is so impressed with this dynamic duo for all that they have done for the Purple Heart Foundation.

Thank You Matt & Trevor! – from your friends at the Purple Heart Foundation

 

News Links:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/opinion/ct-ptb-davich-vets-walk-across-america-st-0423-story.html

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/iowa-men-walking-across-america-to-support-veterans/ar-AAxAbni

http://www.kwqc.com/content/news/Childhood-best-friends-walk-across-America-raising-money-for-veterans-481003951.html

https://www.ketv.com/article/council-bluffs-men-walking-across-america-to-support-veterans/20765317

https://www.omaha.com/livewellnebraska/health/iowa-natives-battle-blisters-nor-easter-and-encounter-loads-of/article_18a3227c-effd-57a9-b8a5-4c6b11d9c54c.html

http://livestly.com/friends-walk-cross-country-to-raise-money-for-veterans/

https://www.omaha.com/livewellnebraska/health/iowa-natives-battle-blisters-nor-easter-and-encounter-loads-of/article_18a3227c-effd-57a9-b8a5-4c6b11d9c54c.html

https://www.westernslopenow.com/news/local-news/ale-house-to-hold-benefit-for-men-walking-the-nation-for-veterans/1299397526

https://www.gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/buddies-from-iowa-trekking-across-nation-find-respite-in-junction/article_a9bdc620-8727-11e8-b7cd-10604b9f6eda.html

Staying Grounded as a Fighter Pilot’s Wife

When we think about our military and the men and women who bravely serve our country, we often fail to recognize the lasting effect their service has on those close to them. As someone steps into their uniform, it is not just them who feels the pressure. The day to day of being in a military family is not solely about deployments and going off to war. Of course, everyone’s experience is different, whether it is a parent, a sibling, a child, or a spouse. The Purple Heart Foundation had the opportunity to talk with one military spouse, Alyssa Greene, and listen to her experience being married to a service member.

Alyssa Greene is an Instagram fitness and lifestyle inspiration with over 98,300 followers, she also happens to be a military spouse. Alyssa is from Twin Cities, Minnesota and attended Drake University to receive her BSBA in Marketing with a concentration in Information Systems. She met her husband, Jon, during her junior year at Drake (at the gym, of course). Both Jon and Alyssa were business students, which led to them studying together and ultimately dating the summer before senior year.

Raised in Burlington, Iowa, Jon always dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot. He took interest in planes and would watch them for hours on end. “He enlisted [in the Air Force] and went back to school for his degree in order to chase his dream of becoming a military aviator and fly his Viper that he spent so many hours working on.” His love for aviation and his dream to become a pilot stemmed from his not only his love of airplanes but also from his Grandfather, who was a flight engineer in the Army during WWII. “He loves hearing stories and always had a shared family passion for planes.”

unnamed

Jon is a 1st lieutenant in the Air Force. He is serving as an F16 pilot out of the 179th Fighter Squadron, 148th fighter wing in Duluth, Minnesota. In June of 2017, Alyssa had the honor of “pinning” Jon when he graduated from Sheppard Air Force Base. Jon “was born to be a pilot, and sometimes it’s surreal that he is really living his dream”.

4


In addition to being a military spouse and Instagram sensation, Alyssa is also a Marketing Manager for Nepsis, Inc. She works in branding, communication, social media, and integrated marketing efforts. She has found that developing herself, her career. her individuality and independence has been key in her life as a military spouse. When we asked about some of the difficulties she faces she believed that she hadn’t even scratched the surface of what difficulties there are. “We have been separated for training 3 separate times, one right after we got married. We have been married for almost two and a half years and I truly have been also married to the military and my husband’s schedule. But part of being a spouse is being a team of supporting, of doing the laundry, of cleaning and making sure dinner and lunch are prepared so they can focus on their jobs; in my husband’s case being the best fighter pilot he can be. My biggest concern is being the best support for him.” Deployments and weeks away for training are out of her control, so she simply tries to focus on and cherish all the moments they do have together.

6


Though Alyssa feels she hasn’t been faced with too many difficulties as a military spouse, there is a sense of loneliness when Jon is away. We asked her how she coped with those times and she told us the gym and being active was the place she could go to feel comfort. She is also very strong in her faith and listens to elevation church podcasts to keep herself grounded. Alyssa is truly not alone though, her and Jon got a golden retriever shortly after there were married. Walks with her golden retriever and listening to those podcasts have “saved me more times than I can count”.

5


Alyssa’s fitness account seems to be an incredible outlet and has opened the doors for a strong and supportive community. She shares her life experiences and in turn is both helping others deal with similar situations and getting support when she is in need.  “I get to kind of share my life with anyone who would like to follow along with our journey. I connect with other individuals who want to live a healthy lifestyle, love working out or are married, and I have a good community of military spouses as well! I call it my hobby; my husband loves to fly, and I focus on growing a social media platform that creates a positive influence in many respects.”

Aside from the difficulties, we asked what Alyssa felt was the best part of being a military spouse. “The best part about being a spouse is the pride you feel. With every new adventure, every new stage and rank, new squadron and base. my favorite thing is seeing his eyes light up when he talks about his Viper and how he performed that day during his flights.” She keeps a positive outlook and focuses on the fact that she doesn’t have to be a military spouse, she gets to.


After hearing Alyssa’s answers to our interview questions, her positivity and optimistic attitude was nearly impossible to miss. We asked her what advice she would want to give to other military spouses to help them maintain the same upbeat attitude. The biggest thing we took away was developing yourself and your own individuality; not depending on your spouse, but rather growing yourself, which will strengthen your relationship in the long run. She feels strongly that you should grow and continuously work on your faith as well as develop your relationships with family and friends. “It’s so important to have people who are going to support you because you truly will come second to your spouse’s military career. It’s the needs of the Air Force not the Greene family as we say. As we prepare for children, deployments and the uncertainty I know that family, friends, and other members of the squadron will be there and be supportive on our journey.”


“Whenever you find yourself cursing the constant change or sacrifices, always look at it as a blessing. I am living life as a fighter pilot’s wife, how many people can say that?! So dang cool.”

1

Military families and spouses do not always directly choose this life, but that does not stop them from growing and thriving, just like Alyssa does. The day to day may be difficult, but when you change your mindset to look for the positives, cherish the good moments, and grow from hard situations it can become easier.

The Purple Heart Foundation provides various programs and assistance that supports not only our veterans, but their families and dependents as well. The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans, and their caregivers, in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who need assistance while transitioning home from the battlefield. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve.

Narional PTSD Awareness Day

Today is National PTSD Awareness Day so we’d like to bring some attention to one of the most serious conditions that plagues the lives of many of our servicemembers in order to encourage an open discussion where the needs of such individuals are recognized and acted upon. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that may result following the experience of a life-threatening event, such as combat. Experiencing feelings of irritability; recalling painful memories; or having trouble sleeping are common symptoms felt after such experiences. It is also possible for PTSD symptoms to occur later (and sometimes not appear for months or even years after the event) or start and stop again over the course of time.

 

It is important to realize that PTSD is an ailment that can affect any individual, in many ways, and is not a sign of weakness. Additionally, PTSD is more likely to occur from violent or long-lasting traumatic events, or events that resulted in injury (both common occurrences for military personnel). Hardships in daily life can also further the detriments of PTSD symptoms; however, social support can reduce them. Therefore, identifying symptoms of PTSD and treating them early on will lessen the burden on the lives of our servicemembers and their families.

 

Although everyone experiences symptoms differently (and may experience an array of symptoms), there are four common types of PTSD symptoms:

  1. Reliving the experience/having flashbacks of the traumatic event
  2. Avoiding situations, people, or places that trigger memories associated with the event
  3. Experiencing negative feelings like guilt or shame; or experiencing emotional numbness
  4. Constant alertness/trouble sleeping

 

These symptoms may also be a catalyst for larger problems, such as depression or anxiety; excessive drinking and drug consumption; difficulty staying employed; and relationship problems. To treat PTSD symptoms, individuals can seek help through trauma-focused psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is one such example of trauma-focused psychotherapy, where skills are developed to alter perceptions of the event (and thus how one feels about it). Additionally, individuals may find Prolonged Exposure (PE) effective, in that the trauma is discussed repeatedly until negative feelings associated with the event become less severe. It is also common for individuals to seek help via medication. However, it is important to consult a physician for any form of medical treatment.

 

As a family member, friend, or loved one of a servicemember suffering the effects of PTSD, there are certain ways you can assist them in acclimating back to civilian life:

 

  • Allow your servicemember time to spend alone, as well as in the comfort of others.
  • Help your servicemember find a local support group or therapist to talk to so they know they aren’t alone in their experience and can listen to other perspectives.
  • Allow them time to become reacquainted with the various relationships in their life, as well as a new daily routine.
  • Maintain a positive outlook and serve as a reminder to them that things will get better.
  • Avoid pressuring them to discuss things they may not feel comfortable with, instead identify and seek out comforting situations, people and places.
  • Help them set short-term & long-term goals that are realistically achievable.

 

The healing process takes time.

 

It is also possible that your service member may never be comfortable sharing information about past traumatic experiences. In these cases, it’s best to let the professional counselors do their job (if they are seeking psychotherapy) and ensure them that they have your full support.
You can also show your support by aiding the efforts of The Purple Heart Foundation. Each of our programs is dedicated to serving the needs of all veterans and their families and researching conditions like PTSD. Click here to see the various ways you can donate to our cause. Alternatively, you can host your own event to raise funds for the Purple Heart Foundation and donate the proceeds here. Every contribution makes a huge difference in the lives of those who so bravely defended this country’s freedoms. For more information about our programs and services, please contact us.

Celebrating Military Spouse Appreciation Day

 

Today, May 11, 2018, has been proclaimed National Military Spouse Appreciation Day. The Purple Heart Foundation would like to express our deepest gratitude to the husbands and wives that sacrifice so much to support their loved one’s military careers. Military spouses often give up stable jobs, they must move constantly and be distant from their spouses for long periods of time. That sacrifice is one that can not be ignored, nor can their commitment and support for their spouses, so for that, we thank our nations’ military spouses.

The first time military spouses were celebrated nationally was on May 23, 1984 by proclamation of former President Ronald Reagan as a singular day of observance. Over a decade later, in 1999, the celebration of military spouses became an annual observance which would take place on the second Friday in May. The month of May officially became deemed National Military Appreciation Month by Congress that same year, which would include annual observances like National Defense Transportation Day, Armed Forces Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day and the most well-known patriotic May holiday, Memorial Day.

We stand by the words of President Reagan from his original proclamation of this day, when he confessed the importance of military spouses to our country. Reagan wrote that “as volunteers, military spouses have provided exemplary service and leadership in educational, community, recreational, religious, social and cultural endeavors…and as parents and homemakers, they preserve the cornerstone of our Nation’s strength—the American family.”

One of the most notable times of strength for military spouses is seen during the many moving processes. Being active-duty comes with the perk of traveling the country and sometimes the world. But the downside is that this requires the whole family to relocate, not being able to settle down and become rooted to a single location or community. Military spouses start their research on the new location as soon as possible. They look for affordable housing, good school districts, after school activities, creating a network of friends, finding online resources for doctors, meanwhile taking care of the packing and unpacking, staying strong for the whole family and turning that new house – into a home. Many times, a military spouses’ strength goes unnoticed, so a single day of appreciation within a year is a start, though they deserve so much more. So here are a few ways that you can show your appreciation to a military spouse on this Military Spouse Appreciation Day!

1.) Say “Thank You”
Sometimes, a simple “thank you” is enough to show your appreciation to your military spouse.

2.) A day of Pampering Together
If you are a veteran or active duty military try to make the day all about your spouse, do whatever makes them happy, pamper them and show you appreciate all that they do.

3.) Give your military spouse a day off.
Take care of all the major responsibilities, whether you or a family member or friend does it or you hire some to do it. Make sure your military spouse has no worries for the rest of the day.

4.) Token of Appreciation
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is like the military version of Valentines Day. Enjoy a romantic evening of dinner, buy flowers or chocolates. Pay attention to hints that may lead to a thoughtful gift idea.

5.) Donate
Donate to a foundation that supports veterans, active-duty military, and their families. https://purpleheartfoundation.org/donation-direct-support/

Generations of Dedication

April is the “Month of the Military Child,” and here at the Purple Heart Foundation we wanted to learn about, understand, and share what it is like to grow up as a military child. Although no two experiences are quite the same, each child growing up in a military family must deal with a certain level of hardship and unique difficulties in order for their parent/parents to bravely serve this country. We had the opportunity to interview Curtis Cruz and learn more about his unique experience growing up as a military child.

Curtis, 28, spent the first part of his life growing up on the island of Guam. This was one of a few places where Curtis spent his childhood and teenage years. He moved when his father, who bravely served for twenty-four years in the United States Army, received new assignments. Curtis is not only a military child, but he now proudly serves our country in the United States Air Force as a Staff Sergeant. He is a laboratory technician at the Dover Air Base in Dover, Delaware.  

IMG_0993

Curtis shed a light on what it was like to grow up with a parent in the military.

“Growing up in the military was a very unique yet challenging experience. I moved a total of 5 times up to the age of 18. It was difficult to continuously make and have to leave old friends, start over again, and make new friends. I’m very grateful for it though because I’ve met some great people along the way that have turned into long lasting friendships. I’ve met people from different races, cultures, and countries.”

He explained that though it was tough at times, being a part of a military family allowed for a unique opportunity to travel and experience places that many people, especially children, don’t usually get to. For example, Curtis moved to Germany at the age 15 and spent his high school years there, giving him an opportunity to see different places all across Europe. One thing in particular Curtis wanted to share with us was his experience attending high school in Germany.

“The high school was very small so everybody knew each other. I had a strong friendship with 4 guys who all happen to be in the military now as well. We all became best friends and even 10 years after graduating (in 2008) we all still meet up with each other.”

We were curious, so we asked if growing up with his father in the military ultimately influenced Curtis to join himself. Curtis’ grandfather served in the US Air Force, and though Curtis’ father served in the US Army, he felt as though the Air Force would be a great fit for Curtis. “He spoke very highly of [the Air Force]…. When I was a senior in high school, he had me talk to a recruiter to discuss everything and see how the Air Force would be beneficial for me”

Though much of his life has revolved around our country’s military, Curtis has also found time and become extremely passionate about the fitness industry. In fact, he is a competitive bodybuilder. When he is not in uniform you can more than likely find him lifting heavy weight, sweating on the stair-master, or meal prepping.

unnamed

As we neared the end of our interview with Curtis we asked him what was one piece of advice he would want to give to other kids growing up with either one or both parents in the military.

“My piece of advice would be to stay open minded. It can be difficult being a child in a military family due to constantly moving. I would tell them to cherish every experience and welcome it all. When I was a kid going through the same thing, I was upset at times. But looking back on it all now I’m eternally grateful for all the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had.”

The Purple Heart Foundation is so grateful for Curtis, his family, and all of our military families’ dedication to our country. It is no easy task serving in our military just as it is no easy task being in a military family and having to make sacrifices that may not be your own choice. We are committed to honoring ALL of our heroes and their families. You can help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform. Show your support for them and their families by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits that they deserve.