“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

On #GivingTuesday Honor their Sacrifice with Your Support

Businessman Larry H. Miller challenged a generation by saying, “Go out into the world and do good until there is too much good in the world.” Mr. Miller understood that doing good for others could be life changing. The men and women who have served and that are serving the United States of America have delivered the gift of freedom. On #GivingTuesday join us in our mission to show your appreciation.

On Tuesday November 29th, 2016, you will have the chance to make a difference in someone’s life. For the third year in a row, The Purple Heart Foundation is taking part in #GivingTuesday which is the largest single giving day of the year. This day was created to mirror the meaning of the holiday season. So, when you are dining with family on Thanksgiving or standing in line on Black Friday, just remember the men and women who have made it possible.

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“As you gather with your families, we ask that you keep in mind those men and women fighting to keep us safe,” said Stephen Ruckman, Chief Executive Officer of The Purple Heart Foundation. “Our organization is the only veteran service organization whose membership is made up entirely of combat wounded veterans.”

Last year, 138 supporters participated in #GivingTuesday which helped raise over $10,000 to continue our lifesaving programs. Based on early results, the giving season of 2016 will be a successful one for The Purple Heart Foundation. That is why it is imperative to sign up for a monthly recurring donation or give a one-time gift.

The Purple Heart Foundation strives every day to honor the sacrifice of American service men and women. Signing up to be a supporter would help to fund programs utilized by thousands of veterans for years to come.  Through #GivingTuesday, the Purple Heart Foundation is able to raise money to make initiatives like the National Service Officer Program, the Service Dog Program, the Scholarship Program, and other rehabilitative and recreational programs available. The Purple Heart Foundation would like to remind all of its supporters that at least 90% of your cash donations will go to programs like these.

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The National Service Officer program comprises the National Appeals Office in Washington D.C., the Court of Veteran Appeals and the National Outreach program. The Purple Heart Foundation assists all veterans, their dependents, surviving spouses and orphans by:

  • Educating veterans about their benefits and entitlements.

  • Processing veterans’ claims for compensation, pension, medical care, education, job training, employment, housing, and death and burial benefits.

  • Providing quality, professional representation for veterans whose benefits were denied at the local VA regional office.

  • Employing a full-time attorney and presenting veterans’ claims before the court.

  • Serving on the President’s Committee for employment of people with disabilities.

  • Providing services to veterans in rural and urban areas.

  • Reaching out to handicapped and destitute veterans unable to visit a VA regional office.

  • Identifying and helping homeless veterans.

The Purple Heart Foundation has provided funds to service dog programs totaling $75,000 over the years. Multiple studies have shown that service dogs can be a life saving and life changing asset for many of our veterans. They are taught to open gates, turn on lights, provide a sense of calm, retrieve and carry objects and more. Those making the transition from the battlefield to the home front might need this companion to help them live a normal life. The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including service dog programs and other rehabilitative programs.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly one million veterans are taking advantage of their GI benefits, and that number is expected to increase by 20% in the coming years. The Scholarship Program awards up to $200,000 annually to provide financial support to Purple Heart recipients and their families. The scholarship covers the direct costs of higher education. It assists with items like tuition, books, incidental fees, and room and board. This program could give an entire generation a chance to be the next champions of innovation that America desperately needs.

“While our membership is exclusively made up of combat wounded veterans, these programs allow us to help all veterans make a smooth transition from the battlefield to the home front,” said Ruckman.

A new social media initiative was created this year called #GiveMe10. It was created to symbolize that our servicemen and women use their two hands to keep us safe and that with your hands you can give back. That is why you can make a donation of $10 a month or give a one time donation to show your appreciation. These individuals have sacrificed so much to deliver the ultimate gift to each American, freedom. That freedom allows you to go to work every day, tuck your kids in at night, and to join your family in fellowship during the holidays.

 

“Please join us and become a supporter of The Purple Heart Foundation so that we may continue to honor their sacrifice through our service,” said Ruckman.

This year, do all the good you can for the men and women who have served and are serving the United States of America. Contribute something that you feel can make a difference in the life of a veteran. #GivingTuesday is just one day in which you can lend your support and The Purple Heart Foundation hopes you will continue to give back in the new year as well. The Purple Heart Foundation remains committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including service dog programs, other rehabilitative programs, and disability benefits. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by ensuring veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.


Veterans Day: A Time to Honor Those Who Served

Are you enjoying your freedom? You have a veteran to thank for that. As we celebrate the 98th anniversary of when “the war to end all wars” was ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we remember those who fought for our country.

Veterans are defined as someone who has served in the armed forces. They have helped keep our country safe and have put themselves in unusual circumstances to serve. While Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who have fought and fallen in the service of the United States, Veterans Day remembers all veterans, regardless of if their service was in peacetime or war.

Across the nation, ceremonies and observances will be held to honor America’s heroes. At Arlington National Cemetery, a ceremony will be held at approximately 11:00 am with a wreath laying at the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, continuing into the Memorial Amphitheater. This will be followed by a parade of colors made up of various veterans’ organizations.

Jerry Knouff went over to Vietnam from the summer of 1971 to the summer of 1972. Knouff, a retired Army aviator CW2 who worked with convoy escorts, reconnaissance of the area he was in, and other groups, gave his perspective on what Veterans Day means to him, “I think Veterans Day is different for veterans than it is for the average public. The public’s got to understand only one percent of the public were veterans and of that percentage was a smaller amount who were in combat.”

“Veterans Day reminds us of the good and bad. It reminds us of when we came back in the 60s and 70. When we came back, we were looked down upon. Fortunately, that’s gone away. But it also reminds you of the friends you lost over there. But the most important thing is the public needs to be reminded that if it wasn’t for veterans and Veterans Day, you wouldn’t be able to do what you’re doing today.” Knouff said.

There are many ways you can honor your veterans this Veterans Day. Military.com created a moving tribute to veterans on their website that includes sound clips from past presidents as well as images from various overseas conflicts. Indiana University and the University of Kansas recently unveiled commemorative basketball uniforms that will be used to play in the season opener today. Indiana’s uniforms will be red and white with the word “Courage” printed on the front and Kansas will wear blue and white uniforms with the word “Honor” written on the front.

There are also simple ways you can serve your veterans. Some ways to help include:

  • Visiting a wounded veteran in the hospital.

  • Help repair the home of a veteran or military family

  • Deliver a meal or care package to veterans

  • Help a veteran tell their story by recording their experiences

  • Volunteer with a veteran service organization

  • Say thank you when you see a veteran

The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who are looking for jobs after their military service has ended. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.


 

Annual #GivingTuesday Kickoff

We at the Purple Heart Foundation are committed to giving back to our veterans who have sacrificed for the good of our great nation.We believe that giving back helps make their lives a bit easier. This year, we are participating in the #GivingTuesday campaign for the third year in a row.

#GivingTuesday is a movement that began in 2012 with New York’s 92nd Street Y organization, and they partnered with the United Nations Foundation. Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday with this year’s date being November 29. This day is meant to be a global day of giving that allows people to give back to their favorite non-profit organizations through donations.

Since its inception, more than 41,000 organizations in 71 countries have held their own #GivingTuesday campaigns. According to Giving Tuesday, the statistics for who participates in this movement continue to grow:

  • 62% of organizations that participated in 2015 participated for the first time.

  • 97% of organizations that have held campaigns plan to hold them again this year.

  • 67% of those who participate would recommend #GivingTuesday to a colleague.

In the next four five weeks, we will be unveiling new information about our organization’s #GivingTuesday on our social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. We’ll also be doing a special launch of information on our Instagram page ahead of November 29, as well as letting the public know ways in which they can get involved in the movement. You also have the chance to be featured on our social media platforms using the hashtag #GivingTuesday to help spread awareness about the movement..

The objective of the Purple Heart Foundation’s #GivingTuesday campaign is to help generate funds for programs that help our veterans. #GivingTuesday celebrates the generosity of those who give by providing people everywhere with an opportunity to give more, give smarter, and give great to organizations such as ours. In conjunction with the campaign, we are also launching our first-ever #GiveMe10 campaign.

We honor the sacrifice of our veterans with our service daily at the Purple Heart Foundation. Our servicemen and women fight for our country in peacetime and war with their own two hands and some end up making the ultimate sacrifice for the good of our country.

The #GiveMe10 campaign is a way to honor the sacrifices of our military with our own two hands through support programs and charitable donations.The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives.

By giving just $10, you will help us fund programs like the Service Officer Program, scholarship program, and more. Please donate today and through #GivingTuesday to help support your veterans and continue our mission of helping those transitioning from the battlefield to the home front by clicking here.


Servicemen and Service Dogs: A Life Saving Connection

Our servicemen and women have to restart their lives upon returning home from battle. These new challenges can present circumstances far different from those of war. Facing these challenges head on can be daunting for many. Easing back into society can tough, especially for those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). According to the Veterans Administration (VA), between 11-20% of veterans during Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have been diagnosed with PTS in a given year.

There are a variety of ways to ensure that transition is as smooth as possible. One of those methods is pairing a Veteran with a service dog. Suffering from PTS can leave an individual feeling isolated from family and friends. Depression and other emotional disorders can surface as well. The method of service dogs is to provide the veteran with a companion trained to help them with basic needs. However, the animal is indirectly re-teaching the veteran how to care for someone, using emotions as communication, and even how to love.

“We think pet dogs, therapy animals and service animals all have a role to play in peoples’ health and veterans’ health. This is all good news. A cold nose is a powerful motivation to get up in the morning,” said Stave Feldman, executive director of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute Foundation. Mr. Feldman discussed studies between the animals and veterans to The Military Times in a recent article.

“He brought me back from the brink,” said Veteran Colonel Roger Lintz, (US Army – Retired)  of his Service Dog – Niles. Living with PTS does take time to accept that life may not be the same. This veteran, who honorably served his country, was able to find true companionship with his new four legged friend. Niles was able to help him with remedial tasks around the house and would wake him from nightmares. These nightmares and other issues with PTS nearly became too much to handle. Col. Lintz believes that his companion saved his life when suicidal thoughts started to cloud his mind. Watch the full interview:

The American Psychology Association and The Society Military Psychology have found that this alternative method could help nearly 40% of veterans. Especially those who do not show signs of improvement after participating in treatments such as prolonged exposure (PE) and cognitive processing therapy (CPT), which are considered the “gold standard” for treating PTS.

Maj. Todd Olsen had participated in multiple tours of duty since enlisting in the Army in 1989. However, coming back after his last mission sent his life into a tailspin. He was suffering from multiple symptoms of PTS, rebuilding a relationship with his two boys, and filing for divorce from his wife.

Some servicemen and women will attend the actual trainings with their service dog. They get to watch them go through obstacle courses, learn commands, and how to save lives. This, in a way, gives the veteran a sense of purpose again. Their life and bond matter as much to the service dog as the service dog means to them.

Maj. Todd Olsen of Pennsylvania told The Daily Progress that, “It’s not so much training the dog, it’s training the veteran and then pairing them up together. So we weren’t teaching them basic obedience, we were learning the commands and the dogs were learning how we give the commands.”

There have been few in-depth studies about the dynamic between a service dog and PTS. However, The Veterans Administration believes that veterans can experience some needed benefits by owning an animal or being paired with a service dog. The VA also counsels that veterans should speak with their doctor and family before applying for a service dog.

What are the emotional benefits of having a dog?

Dogs can make great pets. Having a dog as a pet can benefit anyone who likes dogs, including people with PTS. For example, dogs:

  • Help bring out feelings of love

  • Do things that are different from natural dog behavior

  • Do things that the handler (dog owner) cannot do because of a disability

  • Learn to work with the new handler in ways that help manage the owner’s disability

  • Are good companions

  • Take orders well when trained. This can be very comfortable for a Servicemember or Veteran who was used to giving orders in the military

  • Are fun and can help reduce stress

  • Are a good reason to get out of the house, spend time outdoors, and meet new people

(Source: The Veterans Administration)

Maj. Todd Olsen continues his transition into “civilian life” by working with his service dog and attending yoga classes. He says, “With the yoga for veterans and the dog, and continuing treatment at the VA, it’s putting me back together.”

The Purple Heart Foundation has provided funds to service dog programs totaling $75,000 over the years. The Purple Heart Foundation remains committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including service dog programs, other rehabilitative programs, and disability benefits. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.


Anchors Aweigh My Boys

October 13 will mark 241 years since the United States commissioned its Navy. Since that time, it has become the largest navy in the world with the world’s largest aircraft carrier. Students hear about large fleets of ships going out to war like in the Spanish Armada or ships sailing to new worlds like Christopher Columbus did in 1492.

With our Navy being around for almost 250 years, there is no shortage of stories about a sailor’s time in the military and life lessons that are learned. Experiences are what get passed along through word of mouth and become stories that are told through the generations. Some stories are used to teach, while others are told year after year for their entertainment factor.

The lighthouse joke is a common sea story that is told about a US Navy ship that assumed another ship was in its path and requested it to move. In reality, it was a lighthouse that was in the way of the ship. The joke has been told using different ships, such as the USS Coral Sea and the USS Nimitz, but Navy officials have confirmed the incident between a Navy ship and lighthouse has never happened.

While some stories aren’t as happy as others, they give the listener or reader a chance to see into the lives of those who lived through peace and wartime. Are some of the stories feel good stories that are just told for pure entertainment? Yes. In addition though, there are also those that help shape a person for the better, and sometimes those are the stories that stay with people.They are stories that help a person who may not realize that they aren’t alone in their struggle to find work or want to get out of the job they are in for something better.

Brandon Webb worked as a Navy SEAL during his military service, specifically a Naval Special Warfare (NSW) sniper course manager. When asked by Harvard Law Review about whether or not he was challenged to be good at his job, he told his interviewer that he knew nothing less than excellence during his time as a SEAL, “As a Navy SEAL, and sniper, one of the things I learned was that excellence matters”, Webb said.

“It matters whether you’re on a SEAL Team, business team, family team, or part of your country, your church softball team or your Tuesday night bowling league. The drive for excellence not only motivates you, but it motivates those around you. Great players want to be on great teams. That’s why one of the hallmarks of the great leaders is their own individual passion for – and commitment to – excellence. There are always going to be a group of people who are insecure with themselves, and who will attempt to bring you down. I call them ‘Ankle Biters’ and ‘Dream Stealers.’ Watch out for them because they are quick to push their own insecurities, envy, and negative energy on you.” Webb said his time in the Navy as a SEAL instilled in him a sense of excellence and gave five key takeaways he gathered during his time in the military.

  • Train and train harder than you expect to have to perform

  • Focus on the positive, envision success, and believe winning and success is inevitable

  • Great leaders are secure in themselves

  • Start thinking of adversity and competition as chances to challenge yourself

  • Excellence comes at a price

What Kay Lynn took from her time in the military was more related to how what she did translated to her civilian jobs after she retired from service. Lynn’s family has members who served dating back to the American Revolution, and to her, becoming a member of the Armed Forces seemed like a natural path to take. While they just might sound like job skills that a person can naturally acquire, the skills take on a new meaning when they come from someone who served.

  • Always be on time

  • Follow the chain of command

  • No one is indispensible

  • The power of teamwork

The military is not the same as working in the normal job field. Being in the military has unique challenges that civilians do not face on a regular basis, and it requires different skills in order to get the job done. The similarities though boil down to fundamental skills that everyone can learn while working, even if the way those skills are learned come differently. With this year marking 241 years of the US Navy, there are at least 241 years worth of job training skills passed down from person to person, year after year, and that becomes invaluable to those who listen as well as 241 years of stories that help lighten the mood and give people hope during dark times.

The Purple Heart Foundation joins the Navy in their celebration of a milestone birthday by remaining committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who are looking for jobs after their military service has ended. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.

Here at the Purple Heart Foundation and across the entire Navy, we would all like to leave with one last note:

Sailor’s Creed

I am a United States Sailor.

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.

I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and all who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.

I proudly serve my country’s Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.

I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.


20 is 20 Too Many #BeThere

September 1 marked the start of Suicide Prevention Month. Throughout the month, individuals and organizations have been raising awareness about different suicide prevention programs. Programs such as the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention program, 22Kill, and Operation Never Forgotten all give support to those who are battling suicidal thoughts or actions and give them an outlet to share their frustrations. The Purple Heart Foundation also has a suicide prevention program to help those who may be contemplating suicide.

The topic of suicide can be a difficult topic to bring up, especially if you or someone you love is showing signs of possibly attempting to end their life. The most important thing to remember when having this conversation, according to Dr. Andrew Tomacari, is to show genuine support for the person during this tough period in their lives. Having a heartfelt conversation can help the person open up and start a conversation about how they’re feeling.

In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs reported an average of 20 veterans die from suicide each day, and six of the 20 used VA services. There is continued evidence, according to a July 2016 report that middle-aged and older veterans have a high burden of suicide. For families of veterans who have committed suicide, sharing their story can help other veterans who are thinking of ending their life. When Army veteran Daniel Somers committed suicide on June 10, 2013, he asked his wife to share the note he wrote to his family as she saw fit in order to raise awareness.

Holden Corzine, an Army Veteran of the War in Afghanistan ended his life on April 6, 2016. The 29-year-old suffered from PTSD after he came back from Afghanistan and sought out treatment. Even with the help he received, Holden struggled. Holden’s parents share his story in an effort to raise awareness, “My wife and I both thought if it helped one person, it was worth it. All we wanted people to do is get help, hang onto their loved ones, and let them know things would be OK,” Holden’s father Jhan said. “Sometimes that’s not enough.”

One of the reasons for the rate of suicide in the military is the stigma that military personnel need to be strong and not ask for help.“In the past, it was an unwritten rule (in the military) that it was frowned upon if you sought help with (mental illness),” said Chip Tansill, a retired Army colonel and combat veteran and director of the Ohio Department of Veteran Services.

People like the Corzine family and others around the country are trying to raise awareness to help bring down the statistics of veteran suicide. Some of the ways in which people are helping to raise awareness include:

  • Navy veteran and father Marc Herzog of Westfield, NJ marched 13 miles with non-profit organization Irreverent Warriors to raise awareness.

  • The #22PushUpChallenge and #22KILL hashtag has taken the nation by storm with everyone from regular citizens to celebrities to Olympians completing 22 pushups for 22 days straight in honor of the estimated amount of veterans committing suicide each day.

  • During the month on Twitter, the hashtag #BeThere has been used to show that even just being there for a person over the phone or face-to-face can make a difference to someone in crisis and help them get the help they need.

The main theme for this year’s awareness programs and event is being there for someone. Whether it be through a phone call, text message, or sharing a meal with someone, letting them know that they are not alone in their fight may give them the reassurance they need to seek out help.

The fight to end veteran suicide has come to Capitol Hill as well. Sen. Joni Ernst, (R-Iowa), who is a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, introduced legislation on the topic. Ernst introduced to the Senate the Prioritizing Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care Act. The proposal included an option for veterans seeking help to look outside of the Veterans Affairs.

She also introduced the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act to help reduce the number of female veteran suicides. According to the most recent Veterans Affairs study, female veterans are six times more likely to commit suicide than non-female veterans. The bipartisan legislation, also championed by Democratic senator Barbara Boxer, was signed into law by President Obama in July.

Being available to listen and speak with someone who may be considering taking their life is important. By having heartfelt talks about what they need, the person struggling will hopefully be able to see that they don’t have to fight alone and there are resources available to get them the help they need. One major resource is the Suicide Prevention Hotline. If you or someone you know may be thinking of committing suicide, call 1-800-273-5255 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to assisting veterans in all aspects of their lives, including helping those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide through our suicide prevention program. Show your support for these brave men and women in their fight against suicide by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.


Veterans: Are you missing out on key benefits?

As you probably know, veterans have access to a variety of programs and benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs during active duty and retirement — yet many are not taking full advantage. Why?

Well, the VA system can be difficult to navigate. That’s where we come in. The Military Order of the Purple Heart has a program called National Service Program. The Order employs National Service Officers who are accredited veteran’s representatives located at VA regional offices, medical centers or clinics, and military bases throughout the country. Guidance from these experts can make all the difference for veterans of all ages.

 

In 2014, National Service Officers helped over 19,000 veterans get over 300 million dollars in lifetime benefits from the VA.

“My job is to get them [veterans] the most compensation I possibly can within the guidelines, but I also want to take care of them,” says Sandra Ripe of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Program. “I always encourage them to go to the VA and get enrolled.”

Ripe says a main piece of her job is making veterans comfortable so they can start talking about their experiences. “We talk and figure out what’s going on. Often they don’t think of certain things or don’t realize issues they may be having are combat related, such as tinnitus,” she says.

While veterans can file claims on their own, Ripe doesn’t recommend it. NSOs are experts who not only have ongoing training in the legislation, regulations and precedents, they have relationships within the veteran community they can leverage.

“If I get a really tough case, I can go to appeals at the VA and ask how to put it in, and they will help me, because wording is very important,” Sandra says.

Her primary goal is to put the fully developed claim in correctly the first time with all the proper documentation and evidence to back it up. If submitted incorrectly and a claim has to go into the appeals system, it can take 2-3 years to be resolved opposed to the 4.5 month average a first-time claim takes to make its way through the system.

This complex and time-consuming process is why many veterans miss out on important benefits. The Military Order of the Purple Heart National Service Program, which is funded by the Purple Heart Foundation, assists all veterans who are trying to navigate programs and obtain benefits through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. In addition to health and wellness programs, these benefits include:

  • Compensation and pension
  • Veteran’s preference housing
  • Education
  • Employment services
  • Job training
  • Death and burial benefits

Another function of the program is the National Appeals Office in Washington D.C., where expert professional representation is provided to veterans whose claims have been denied at the regional office. This program is one of the few Veteran Service Organizations eligible to take selected cases to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

This Veterans Day, celebrate the service men and women in your life by ensuring they are getting the benefits they deserve. NSOs are available to be advisors and confidants to veterans who struggle to speak openly to friends and family about their time in the service as well as current struggles. They help veterans get the care they need and the benefits they deserve. Consider making a tax-deductible, nonprofit donation to the Purple Heart Foundation to help support this important program.