“It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the organizer, Who gave us the freedom to demonstrate
It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag.
And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC
I have to confess that I have needed to do a little digital detox since the election. The news has been draining and taken a toll on many of us, regardless of your politics. One thing that I hope our country can agree on is our veterans and today is Veterans Day. We have 22 million Veterans in the United States. When I think of the men and women who have served our country, I am humbled. The sacrifice, bravery, and commitment are like no other form of service. Today, I wanted to look back at a few of the people and organizations we have met that honor our veterans.
In 2013 we profiled Team Rubicon that was founded by two Marines who met in sniper school. Jacob Wood and Clay Hunt returned from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with other Veterans who were no longer sure of their purpose. That all changed when an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. Jacob Wood, Clay Hunt, and a host of other Veterans decided to deploy to heal others in need and in the process began to heal themselves. Today they have over 130,000 veterans helping people with disasters around the world.
American Women Veterans
When we think of our soldiers, the image that comes to mind is usually of a man. I remember interviewing Genevieve Chase in 2016 when she told me, “Not every GI is a Joe.” Genevieve is the founder of the nonprofit American Women Veterans. At only 38, she has served two tours in Afghanistan is the recipient of the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Action Badge.
Genevieve had trained for two years as a counterintelligence agent and was in Afghanistan for only two months, in April 2006, when a car bomb detonated and changed her life forever. At the end of 2007, Genevieve came home, depressed, unsure about her purpose, and began volunteering for another military non-profit. She began to realize that women veterans were not being heard, served, or listened to. More importantly, she discovered that there are 2.2 million women veterans in the United States. She has devoted her life to serving and honoring the women in our military.
Veteran’s Career xchange
In 1967 at 19 years old, Mark Brenner served in Vietnam. When he came home from Vietnam, they threw rocks at him as he stepped foot in the U.S. for the first time in a year from being away. He said, “The way I was treated coming back from Vietnam, I knew I didn’t want anyone else to ever go through that.”
Mark had learned recent statistics on Veteran unemployment and thought, “Now this is something I can help with, I know how to get people jobs.” Mark spent his career in job recruitment and decided instead of retirement to create a non-profit called Veterans Career Xchange. His mission to coach veterans to get full-time employment and to retain their jobs.
One of my first Charity Matters interviews was with a woman named Carolyn Blashek. On September 11th, 2001 she was sure that her parents were in the World Trade Center. Thankfully they were not. Out of gratitude for her parents being spared, she tried to join the military, all branches sent her home. Instead, she began sending care packages to troops deployed all over the world to thank them for their service.
Today, Operation Gratitude annually sends 150,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene, and hand-made items, plus personal letters of appreciation, to Veterans, First Responders, Wounded Warriors, Care Givers and to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed overseas. Their mission is to lift the spirits and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than One Million Care Packages.
We have interviewed organizations from Soaring Valor that honors children of fallen Navy Seals to Higher Ground a program that helps Veterans deal with their PTSD and so many more incredible nonprofits serving those who serve. Today let’s come together to honor and thank our veterans for their service.
YOUR REFERRAL IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT, IF YOU ARE SO MOVED OR INSPIRED, WE WOULD LOVE YOU TO SHARE AND INSPIRE ANOTHER.
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