28 February 2009

Meet some of our recovering Soldiers at Walter Reed

The other day Oprah aired what I think are several really nice interviews carried out with recovering Soldiers during her recent visit to Walter Reed. Two of them are below, and MsUnderestimated (who uploaded all of them to LiveLeak - thanks!) has more at her blog. Most of them are pretty short and definately worth your time.

Sgt. Travis Ryan Wood, Army National Guard, Cedar City, UT.

Sgt. 1st Class, Juanita Wilson, the first American mother to lose a limb in Iraq. She is from Chicago, Illinois.

Via Blackfive

27 February 2009

90-day program gives former military doctors chance to serve again

Col. Lionel M. Nelson, wearing his flight gear, poses in front of a UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter. Nelson, a Los Altos Hills, Calif. resident, is Task Force 449 Aviation Brigade's flight surgeon. (Courtesy Photo)

The story about 74 year old Dr. (Lt Col) John Burson`s recent deployment to Afghanistan - after two prior deployments to Iraq - has been all over the news lately. (If you haven't see it, check it out here.) But he's not the only former military doctor headed back downrange.

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq - Col. Lionel M. Nelson is a man of many hats. A former Air Force Reservist, and a retired Army Reservist, Nelson came out of a five-year retirement and shut down his private practice in San Jose, Calif., to participate in the "90 Days Boots on the Ground" program, a program that gives former military doctors the opportunity to deploy to Iraq for 90 days. Nelson's part in the program allowed him to deploy to Iraq with Task Force 449 as their Brigade Surgeon.

As the Brigade Surgeon for TF 449, Nelson is responsible for supervising the medical components of the task force, as well as advising the commander on the medical and clinical related issues in country. Nelson is also responsible for the health of aviators and flies with them to monitor the stress level of pilots.

"I truly enjoy the people in TF 449 and their spirit to get the mission done," said Nelson. "I enjoy working with people who have such pride in serving their country and am glad to say that I help to take care of America's heroes."

Nelson has served in the armed services on and off since 1970. During his time in the Army Reserves, he spent time in Southeast Asia with special operations and civil affairs units and assisted with humanitarian missions.

As a civilian, Nelson has also developed a number of surgical devices and even started a company to develop one of them. After selling the company, he was freed up from obligations which would have prevented a further deployment.
"I have wanted to rejoin the army and do my part ever since 9/11, but could not because of my commitments to the investors in my company," said Nelson. "The sale allowed me to finally fulfill that desire to again serve my country."

For doctors with a military background such as Nelson's, he urges them to consider taking advantage of the 90 days program such as he did.

"It is very possible to close up shop for 90 days," says Nelson. "It's an unforgettable experience, and cannot be duplicated."

26 February 2009

Gardez Arrival

Security Forces Provide Safety Net for Reconstruction Mission - Members of the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry, convoy into Gardez City, the capital of Afghanistan’s Paktia province, Feb. 17, 2009, for meetings with local officials. The security forces “roll heavy” with mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and heavy machine guns. It is a balance for them to appear nonthreatening while discouraging potential threats. DoD photo by Fred W. Baker III.

Echo Taps Worldwide 2009

Brass players are currently being sought for a special performance of Taps on Saturday, May 16, 2009, in recognition of Armed forces Day at St Avold, France.

Echo Taps Worldwide was organized in 2007 by the VA National Cemetery Administration and Bugles Across America to honor American veterans through a worldwide performance of Taps.

Each day, America loses about 1800 of its veterans, primarily those who fought in World War II and Korea. In their honor it is important we preserve the tradition of a live bugler to play final military honors.

Once again we are inviting all brass players. Tuba, baritones, trombones, french horns, flugelhorns, trumpets and of course bugles. During the event, players will form a line through the cemetery and perform a cascading version of Taps. Then we will all meet at the center of the WWll Monument and play Taps en mass.

The first large Echo Taps event occurred in May 2005 and saw a line of 674 buglers from over 30 states stretching over 42 miles in New York State from the Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira to the Bath National Cemetery. Playing Taps in a cascading rendition, it took the buglers nearly three hours from the first note played at Woodlawn to the final note of Taps sounded at the National Cemetery at Bath.

By 2007 Echo Taps had become an international event and encompassed brass players from around the world playing Echo Taps at each of the 123 National Cemeteries across America as well as battlefields, local cemeteries and numerous "unofficial" sites throughout the United States and around the world. At each location organizers performed a musical tribute based on the number of buglers that registered, ranging from 10 to over 1000.

The cascade of Taps began at 11:00 a.m. local time on May 19, 2007 at American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries in Australia, the Philippines, North Africa and then throughout Europe. In the US, Taps began on the East Coast and concluded in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The mission of Echo Taps is to:

- Honor and Remember our American military veterans through a worldwide musical performance of Taps.
- Foster a new generation of buglers who will help Preserve the Tradition of a live bugler to play Final Military Honor.
- To raise awareness of our National Cemeteries in the US, the American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries overseas and VA benefits.

If you play a brass instrument and would like to participate in the European event, please report no later than April 16th 2009 to following POCs:

MSgt Cathlyn Clark
DSN 489-6921
Commercial within Germany 0631-536-6921

Bugles Across America Germany Representative Hartmut Hausser
Cell Phone within Germany 0151-1166-6541
Cell Phone outside Germany +49-151-1166-6541

If you are interested in participating in Echo Taps 2009 in the US, please visit the Bugles Across America website.

25 February 2009

Wanted: Your recipes for the Milbloggers' Cookbook!

This post shamelessly stolen from Carrie at VC ;-)

Honor Their Service, Inc., the home of such great projects as Operation Fresh Air and Operation Santa at the Hospitals, is putting together a Milbloggers' Cookbook.

The cookbook proceeds will go to helping us support wounded/injured servicemembers and their families with fishing events as well as some soon to be announced projects.

We need submissions from milbloggers and commenters alike in all categories (appetizers, sides, salads, soups, main dishes, desserts, drinks, etc.) If you have a recipe (or two) that you are particularly proud of, we'd love to put them in the book. In addition, you can submit pictures if you like.

We will also be featuring favorite recipes as well as memories from some Gold and Silver Star families. These folks, as well as our active duty (Blue Star) folks, are the very reason why Honor Their Service exists.

Here are the details:

Email your recipes (and any questions you might have) by March 9th to the HTScookbook email address.

The cookbook will be made available for sale after we negotiate and have them printed. The price is going to depend on how many recipes we are including and what type of binding we want. Just as our events are modest proposals ($500 for an Operation Fresh Air event), we will make sure that the cost of the cookbook will reflect the same attitude.

I'm excited to see what you all like to cook!!!

I can't wait, either!

24 February 2009

Quote of the Day

"Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers."

- Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, also known as Dr Fadl, one of the founding members of al Qaeda. (Via Best of the Web Today)

Dr Fadl helped Osama bin Laden create al Qaeda and became the group's intellectual figurehead with a book written 20 years ago defining the rationale for global jihad against the West.

But in a book written from inside an Egyptian prison, he has launched a frontal attack on al-Qaeda's ideology and the personal failings of bin Laden and particularly his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. ...

Zawahiri has alleged that his former comrade was tortured into recanting. But the al-Qaeda leader still felt the need to compose a detailed, 200-page rebuttal of his antagonist.

The fact that Zawahiri went to this trouble could prove the credibility of Dr Fadl and the fact that his criticisms have stung their target.

Interesting. Doesn't quite fit with the narrative of those who believe everything's America's fault.

21 February 2009

Refueling at Thule

On their way home from Bagram, Afghanistan, Airmen from the Kulis Air National Guard Base, Alaska, exit their C-130 Hercules during a "gas and go" stop at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Jan. 25, 2007. U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Tolzmann.

20 February 2009

First Tomb Badge recipient laid to rest

ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Feb. 11, 2009) -- The first recipient of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification Badge was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, a mere hundred yards south of the tomb he guarded in life.

Retired Master Sgt. William Daniel served as a tomb sentinel and sergeant of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from February 1957 to June 1960. He was there May 30, 1958, when the unknowns from World War II and the Korean War were interred there.

Daniel served in the Army for 22 years, retiring in 1965. He spent the next 10 years as a Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor in Birmingham, Ala. He returned his tomb badge in 1996 to all Soldiers who guard the tomb. It is now in a display case in the tomb quarters.

"It was an honor I never thought I'd be lucky enough to receive," Daniel said in November 1996, when he returned the badge. "I love the badge and I love the military," he said. "It's just as much of a pleasure to turn in the badge as it was to receive it."

Members of the Society of the Honor Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were present Wednesday to pay respects to one of their own, and several current tomb guards showed up as well.

There was also a Soldier holding a POW/MIA flag, as a tribute to when Daniel was a prisoner of war. He was captured July 4, 1944 in St. Lo, France, following the D-Day offensive. He was a prisoner for 11 months before escaping with several other Allied Soldiers.

The Old Guard's body bearers carried the casket through the stones of Arlington's section 35, located just south of the tomb. Sgt. 1st Class Alfred Lanier, sergeant of the guard, spoke a few words about Daniel's service and legacy, and then presented a flag to Carolyn Daniel, his widow.

"I learned more about being a sergeant in the time I spent stationed here with him than I did in 30 years in the military," said Neale Crosby, a retired tomb guard. "He used to say, 'I was, I am and I always will be a tomb guard.'"

After the service, Daniel's family, friends and current tomb guards gathered at the tomb itself, for a ceremonial wreath-laying. After the 4 p.m. changing of the guard, Carolyn Daniel and two of his stepsons laid a wreath with a picture of the tomb on it.

In the 51 years since Daniel was awarded the badge, only 570 other Soldiers have received it. It is the second least-awarded badge in the military, after the Astronaut's badge.

19 February 2009

A Promise Made Good

Villagers wait for the governor of Afghanistan's Konar province to arrive for the official opening of a paved road in the province's Deywagal Valley, Feb. 5, 2009. The seven-mile road was completed after two years of work, offering Afghans better access to hospitals, schools and markets. Photo credit Staff Sgt. David Hopkins.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2009 - Even a short road goes a long way in Afghanistan.

The opening of a seven-mile road in eastern Afghanistan's Konar province is affording critical transportation for residents and allowing coalition forces to transfer some security operations to the Afghanistan government.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force announced the opening of the $3.9 million road in Deywagal Valley and the closing of its Combat Outpost Seray, which provided security to the construction crew, in Feb. 5 ceremonies in the province.

The new road -- more than two years in the making -- is the latest project for the Konar Provincial Reconstruction Team and the 1st Infantry Division's, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The 3rd BCT's, 26th Infantry Regiment oversaw completion of the road and is handing over security of the area to the Afghan government; the team's 4th Cavalry Regiment continues to provide security in other parts of Konar province.

"This was a huge success," said Maj. Kendall Clarke, executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. "We can hand over the road to the Afghan government and they will have to continue with security in that area, allowing us to focus on other areas."

The construction company that built the road will take over the outpost as it continues work to connect the road to the Korengal Valley, Clarke said. "Then, what was once a six-hour drive will only take 30 minutes," he added.

Navy Cmdr. Murray Tynch, Konar PRT commander, said the road will allow residents to get basic medical care, will decrease the risk of roadside bombs and will improve trade in and out of the rural areas.

The idea of improving the road began when members of the 10th Mountain Division's 32nd Infantry Regiment, were in the area in 2006 and spoke with elders about what they wanted and needed. The road and the outpost were the result.

"We saw that it was an isolated valley and seemed to be very poor," said Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello of the 32nd Infantry Regiment. "The elders said they wanted two things: a new road and security by coalition forces during the construction. That valley has a great deal of potential and we came through on our promise."

The opening of the road is important because it will allow the Afghan people the ability to take a larger role in their future and allow them better access to markets and commerce, the sergeant major added.

"Through the road, we are providing the people access to the government," Carabello said. "This is a great success for the people of Afghanistan. It will also allow them to get to markets easier."

As one of Task Force Saber's officers once said, “Where the road stops is where the insurgency starts.”

LSUHSC to conduct study of hyperbaric treatment for TBI & PTSD

Dr. Paul Harch, an LSU Health Sciences Center emergency medicine professor, has been treating TBI with hyperbaric oxygen for 19 years and is starting a pilot study for vets with chronic TBI and PTSD.

The study will examine 30 participants, half with TBI and half with TBI and PTSD.

Round trip airfare to New Orleans will be provided to all veterans approved for the study. Depending on branch of service, housing and meals are free or at highly discounted rates.

For more information or to find out if you qualify, call 504-309-1445 or 504-309-4948



New Orleans, LA – Dr. Paul Harch, LSUHSC Clinical Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, is the principal investigator of a pilot study to determine the effectiveness of one or two courses of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in treating chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI) and TBI with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study grew out of previous experience in treating TBI with hyperbaric oxygen therapy with improvement in symptoms and function.

Thirty participants will be recruited – half will have traumatic brain injury and half will have both traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. The participants will undergo oral, written, and computers tests, as well as an MRI (if the participant has not had one since injury) and SPECT brain imaging. Participants will have 40 hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments and can request up to 40 more if not improved to his/her satisfaction. ...

We would also like to thank the heroes who have fought for this country in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are the participants in the study."

17 February 2009

Re-enlistment in Kabul

Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Wire of Oglesby, Ill., stands atop Ghar Mountain at Kabul Military Training Center, Kabul, Afghanistan. Wire, a member of Delta Security Force, Based at Camp Phoenix in Kabul along with several members of his unit and other Soldiers, made the early morning climb for the re-enlistment of four of his fellow Soldiers. Photo by Sgt. James Sims, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Capt. Michael Riha re-enlists Staff Sgt. Robby Ragos of Plainfield, Ill. on top of Ghar Mountain at the Kabul Military Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan. Soldiers from Delta Security Force made the early morning climb to re-enlist four Soldiers. Photo by Sgt. James Sims, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

13 February 2009

Sewing Team Newsletter

The latest Soldiers' Angels Sewing Team Newsletter can be found here. This month's issue features lots of thank you notes (and photos!) from service members around the world who received Blankets of Belief as part of Soldiers' Angels "Wrapped in Holiday Spirit" program.

Here's a sample:


I got your packages today! They are great! I have only given some out since most of the guys are on guard or on patrol. The ones that did receive them are very thankful. I will be sending pictures soon. Thank you for making it seem a little like Christmas.

We feel loved, thank you.


Charles G.

RAF over Iraq

A British Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 flies a mission over Iraq Feb. 10, 2009, in support of Operation TELIC, the United Kingdom name for military operations being conducted in Iraq. The aircraft had just completed receiving fuel from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker. Photo by Staff Sgt. James Harper.

12 February 2009

Please, not again

It disturbs me deeply to discover this question is being asked again:
But that was not such a bad question compared to Ed Henry with CNN, who asked the President whether he thought the arrival of American coffins at Dover should be accessible to the media to "show America the real cost of the war...." and would he reconsider the policy of not allowing the media in.

There are numerous other opportunities to see as well as to honor our Fallen. But in the name of all that is good and decent, is this father's request really "too much to ask"?
Freedom has many costs, but for the fallen and their families the cost is a Lifetime of Love. Is it too much to ask, given what we have paid for America and the likes of Ed Henry and CNN to be free to have that first moment to be ours and not America's?

President Lincoln Bicentennial Birthday

"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

- From the Gettysburg Address by President Abraham Lincoln: 16th and first Republican President of the United States, author of the Emancipation Proclamation, savior of the Union, and whose 200th birthday we celebrate today.

President Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home

President Abraham Lincoln lived at the Soldiers' Home in what is now called Anderson Cottage on and off for a total of 13 months between the summer of 1862 and the fall of 1864.

The Soldiers' Home was established in 1851, as an "asylum for old and disabled veterans." The cottage there served as a retreat for Lincoln, though it brought the president face to face with the Civil War.

Wounded Union troops living at the adjacent Soldiers’ Home pitched tents and drilled on his lawn. Grave sites multiplied on the grounds.

“We have found refuge in the soldiers’ home, but in a way it brings us closer to the war than ever before,” wrote first lady Mary Lincoln.

On his daily commute to and from the White House, Lincoln discussed the front lines with wounded, active-duty soldiers in the hospitals he passed along the way. They were his eyes and ears on the battlefield. Their stories and opinions helped him decide how to wage the war.

The interaction and stories that come from his time there are considered instrumental in making Lincoln a father figure to the Union army.

When Fort Stevens, about two miles from the cottage, was under attack by Confederate troops, Lincoln went two days in a row to observe the battle. There, Lincoln became the only sitting U.S. president to come under enemy fire.

Perched on one of Washington’s highest points, with a breeze not possible three miles away at the White House, Lincoln mulled each battle’s progress. The cottage, which had a view of the Capitol’s dome midconstruction, was where Lincoln would decide how to constitutionally emancipate slaves and write the final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Sources: Stars & Stripes, DefenseLink, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Originally posted February 2008.

10 February 2009

New Valour-IT grant awarded to Soldiers' Angels

Great news!

Valour-IT grant awarded to Soldiers' Angels

For the second time in three years, Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT has received a grant from the San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAF) through SAAF's Texas Resources for Iraq-Afghanistan Deployment (TRIAD).

The grant of $210,000 is expected to purchase at least 300 laptops, which will be distributed to wounded veterans at San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) or living in the surrounding area. The computers will be used for communication, post-military employment preparation and physical and occupational therapy, and will be fitted with adaptive technology from the Department of Defense for severely injured users, including voice-control. As one of the largest treatment facilities for wounded veterans in America, BAMC is a major hub for Project Valour-IT and Soldiers' Angels works closely with caseworkers there to identify recovering service members in need of a laptop.

Wounded veteran and Valour-IT co-creator Chuck Ziegenfuss knows firsthand the power of Valour-IT. He reported that using a voice-controlled laptop while he recovered was "the first time I felt whole since I'd woken up wounded."

This is the third SAAF/TRIAD grant for Soldiers' Angels, forming a growing bond and furthering the reach of Project Valour-IT, which has already distributed 3,000 laptops nationwide. "With the money from this grant we will be able to touch many more heroes who need Valour-IT Laptops," said Veterans Support team leader, Twyla Choate. "Soldiers' Angels is thrilled to once again be given the opportunity to help those who have done so much for us."

In 2007, Valour-IT received a $150,000 grant from TRIAD. Soldiers' Angels proudly salutes the work of official volunteer grant writer Cheryl Walker, who wrote both of the TRIAD grant applications for Valour-IT.

08 February 2009

Did you hear the one about... ?

So this Italian guy flies to Turkey, crosses the border to Iraq, takes a cab from Erbil to Baghdad, and gets on the bus to Falluja. You know, to "see the sights".

Well, this could be a joke, but it's not. In Falluja, he's finally spotted by an incredulous checkpoint guard.

The police summoned local Iraqi journalists to tell them of the wandering Italian, American marines were called in, the Italian Embassy was notified. The police concluded that Mr. Marchio was not an Italian jihadist and was a risk to no one but himself. An American marine working with the police suggested taking him to the city limits and dropping him where Falluja met the main highway.

The hubbub over the wayward tourist ended the next day with a flight back to Italy arranged by the Italian Embassy in Baghdad.

I seem to remember Michael Totten taking a similar route a couple of years back, but this guy's no Michael Totten. Sheesh.

Via HotAir.

Nurses to Nurses

All smiles: Nurses on one of the medical-surgical wards at Landstuhl hospital pose with their goodie basket. Soldiers' Angel and nurse Karen Wetther launched a "goodies for nurses" project with colleagues and friends in San Diego to let our nurses know how much their work is appreciated.

Ok, now they're just being silly :-)

A few months ago I was contacted by a San Diego Soldiers' Angel named Karen Wetther who wanted to do something for the nursing staff here at Landstuhl.

Karen is an R.N. as well as Chairperson of the Philanthropy Committee for the San Diego Chapter of the American Assn. of Legal Nurse Consultants. She and her Chapter joined forces with other nursing friends at Camp Pendleton and the Vietnam Veterans of the San Diego Veterans Museum and Memorial Center.

Because they understand the long and busy hours worked by nurses, they decided on a variety of food items, including healthy and not-so-healthy :-) snacks. They also included some DVDs to help the nursing staff relax and unwind during off hours.

Well... their shipment amounted to 20 large flat-rate boxes! We've purchased a basket or bowl for each medical-surgical ward which we refill with goodies on a weekly basis.

After the boxes were packed up and shipped Karen emailed:

Thank you for allowing us to do this! We really enjoyed it and I can't tell you the number of people who thanked me personally or by e-mail for launching this project so they could do something to support the war effort. People really do care and want to do something. They often just don't know how.

What a great idea! Thank you Karen & Co! Your thoughtfulness and support is very much appreciated by our nurses.

04 February 2009

Soldier shot by sniper - the follow up story

GreatAmericans highlights SGT Steven Tschiderer with a follow up story from the History Channel. You'll remember SGT Tschiderer from the video taken by insurgent snipers as they shot him. Saved by his body armor, he got right back up. He then participated in the pursuit of the insurgents and, because he was a Medic, treated one of them upon capture.

Great to see the whole story about SGT Tschiderer, thanks to the Dawn Patrol.

Soldiers' Angels VA Team touches lives of homeless veterans

The email below from a VA Case Manager (which I have edited slightly and added emphasis) was sent to Louise Stanley of SA's Sacramento VA Team Chapter and shared with this note:

Angels, I asked Sadania to share an update with us to let you know just how all your support has made a REAL DIFFERENCE in the lives of previously homeless veterans and their families in our neighborhoods. I'm sure this will put a smile on your face!

In addition to the veterans we are currently supporting through this program, they are scheduled to receive another 175 vouchers in 2009. In order to be in a position to continue supporting the move-in costs for these heroes and their families, I'll be announcing some fund-raising programs soon that you can help us with... :)

If you'd like to make a donation at any time, click here.

Thank you for all your love and support of our local veterans!

Hello Soldiers' Angels,

I have been appointed the HUD-VASH (Veteran Affairs Supported Housing) Case Manager for the 35 Veterans chosen to participate in this exciting new program.

Thanks to Soldiers' Angels we have been able to be a part of ensuring we honor the sacred trust to care for our nation’s veterans. Of the 35 we accepted into the program, 27 veterans have vouchers in hand. We have 18 currently searching for housing, and 9 veterans have successfully moved into new homes.

One was a family of four with small children (age 2 and 6 months). I will call them the "A" family. They were able to get in their home before Christmas, and had their tree up in their new home. We were also able to secure furniture for them from a donation in the community. Another family, the "B" family, moved into their home, they are an older couple. They were able to move into their home for the new year, and are closer to services as well.

We have two veterans, who are disabled who were able to move into the same apartment complex across from a fishing harbor. One veteran found a nice 1 bedroom home, he was a chef and was very excited about being able to cook his own meals. One veteran since moving into his new home, is reuniting with his family, a wife and daughter.

We have one veteran, Mr. C, who has his move-in check from Soldiers' Angels and is expecting to move-in any day now. When I met him, he was very depressed and discouraged. He has two school aged children, who will visit when he has a home. He is trained in carpentry, however, effects of his experience prevented him from moving forward. He was very discouraged, but found a two bedroom apartment, that qualifies under his voucher. He was adamant about finding a two bedroom, because he said he wanted a place his children could come and visit him, where he could be a father. He was very conscious of what environment he would be living in, and his children would visit. His daughter is being considered for a prestigious dance school and scholarship. He has spoken of this with pride, and he wanted to have a place and be a father she could respect.

The housing market is tough for our homeless veterans, we are facing many obstacles. Property managers and landlords, want people with money in hand, and if it were not for Soldiers' Angels, Mr. C and all the others would have missed this opportunity.

As the case manager, I participate in conference calls with HUD-VASH case managers around the state, and there are veterans whose vouchers are expiring because they do not have the money for move-in costs. One of my veterans was collecting cans to pay for a copy of his birth certificate so that he can obtain his voucher.

This is a wonderful program for our veterans, however, it was not accompanied with funding for move-in costs, furniture, dishes, plates, etc. As a federal employee, I cannot solicit funds from corporations. So we have been depending on the hearts, dedication, and determination of Americans like you who are willing to assist those who served us, who sacrificed, and still sacrifice daily for us.

When you honor them, you honor that sacred trust they put in us all that, we were worth their sacrifice, that we are the fruit of their sacrifice. I can tell you that working with these veterans is my honor; they are receptive when I asked them for things, ready for change, and a new beginning. Thank you for giving them that new beginning.

We face some challenges ahead in assisting our veterans. One challenge will continue to be assisting with move-in costs. We are also looking for property managers willing to work with our veterans, and specifically veterans who were homeless (who may have had challenges in the past that effected their credit report). We have found some, and I am trying to capitalize on that, but we are hoping to find more, as we have so many searching, and we want every single one to have a home.

I hope this email will help those Angels out there know they do not labor in vain, but much the opposite; you are making futures brighter, reuniting families, and repairing the pride of those who wore the uniform for us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, on behalf of the veterans we are serving together. Thank you.


Sadania Gibbons, LCSW
Dept.of Veteran Affairs