Today, AMVETS National Commander Harold Chapman sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter expressing grave concerns that the Pentagon is asking National Guard members to return improperly awarded reenlistment bonuses. The letter stated, in part, that these men and women have done nothing wrong, and are national assets who volunteered to continue serving during the longest duration of ongoing war in our nation’s history. According to Pew Research, during this time we also have the smallest share of Americans serving than at any time since the peace-time era between World Wars I and II, which is less than 1 percent.
This issue is new to public awareness, but not to Congress or the Department of Defense. Our country binds those in the National Guard to an oath to defend this country and their state against all enemies, foreign and domestic. They deserve the same defense and to not have to pay the price for others miscalculations or mistakes, whether intentional or accidental. Commander Chapman asked the Secretary to authorize reparations and to stop collection activities against these brave citizen soldiers.
MORTON – Every single month since 2006, Harry Mirra of Morton can be found lugging packages to the post office to be weighed and sent across the ocean. Before the brown paper and sturdy packaging tape enclose the boxes, the generous veteran of AMVETS Post #118 carefully, even lovingly, packs each box, as if it’s for his own child, with items any serviceman or woman would enjoy receiving. He will usually enclose cookies, books, CDs, toiletries, snacks and a few surprises.
“Sometimes, I sneak in a few prayer cards or maybe a rosary or two,” Mirra confided in a quiet tone. “Just in case they need them.”
Mirra has mailed 8-10 boxes per month overseas to service men and women. At some points during the past decade, the numbers were even larger because troops were sent overseas In large numbers. Thankfully, in the past few years, the numbers have been on the downslide, meaning more troops are now state-side. As the chairperson of the “Care Packages For Our Troops” drive at Post #118, Mirra, who is a past department commander, is responsible, not only for packing and shipping the boxes, but also for soliciting items to fill them.
With help from Post Commander Charles Dougherty of Springfield and fellow AMVETS Gerry Egan of Darby Township, Jeffrey Elliot of Ridley Park and others, Mirra spreads the word through the community, seeking donations of items to send. Local residents can drop off items at the AMVETS Post between 4-8 p.m. daily, or leave them on the porch of Mirra’s home. The task has become such a big part of Mirra’s life, that he stores and packs at home most of the time for convenience and because the post’s storage space is not heated or air-conditioned.
Items most needed are toiletries, cookies, candy, eye drops, thank you cards, socks, gel boot inserts, hand sanitizers, envelopes, pens, playing cards, disposable cameras, bum, powdered drinks, phone cards, snacks, CDs, electronic games, DVDs, golf balls, books, writing paper, boxer underwear, travel-size sewing kits, magazines and any items that are small and useful. Mirra has a printed list of suggestions which he gives to scout troops, school groups, community organizations and others who may want to collect items as a service project.
“Many of our military don’t mind even receiving children’s items, like toys, stickers, coloring books or puzzles,” explained Egan. “Many are parents and they can send those small items back to the children they left behind back home. They like sending a little gift to show their children they are always in their hearts and thoughts.”
“I think the soldiers’ favorite items are the candy and cookies,” Mirra interjected. “They like getting the treats from home because they are unavailable to them there.”
In addition to donations of useful items, the post is always appreciative of monetary donations to help with shipping costs. At current rates, the charge is typically about $20 per box for shipment overseas. Right now, Mirra is only shipping to service men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq. Previously, the post also sent packages to Kuwait and Korea, but the costs are too astronomical to continue shipping there. Once packages are mailed, it takes about a week to ten days for overseas arrival. If a recipient’s address has changed, the package will go to the USO or chaplain who will then distribute its contents among the troops on site.
“We aren’t very concerned who the package goes to,” explained Mirra. “We just want to be sure it gets in the hands of a soldier serving overseas.”
According to Mirra and his fellow Post members, many in the community have been generous in donating to the drive. Bill Goldberg of East Coast Vending Co. donated boxes of CDs to the cause. So far, AMVETS Post #118 has mailed over 3,000 CDs to the troops. The National Guard sent Post #118 about 100 boxes of items to pack into their care packages. Other generous donors have been Wawa (coffee, tea), OLPH Senior Center, Dick Gallagher of Drexel Hill, Betty Costello of Broomall, Joe’s Video Store in Holmes, Pat Granahan of Ridley Park, Mrs. Greim of Morton and many other caring members of the community.
LEESBURG — A Vietnam-era Huey helicopter has come closer to being grounded at its new home in Veterans Memorial Park in Leesburg, just in time for a Veterans Day ceremony in November.
Led by a Leesburg police escort, the olive-colored chopper on Wednesday was hauled from Leesburg International Airport, where it was being refurbished, to a machine shop for more restorations.
The facelift is part of an effort to get it back to its original condition.
Donald L. Van Beck, executive director and founder of the park, said that after a few days at Tucker’s Machine & Steel Service in Leesburg, the aircraft will be shipped back to the airport to be detailed and to outfit it with mannequins.
At least one mannequin will man a fake M60 machine gun.
Van Beck said the chopper should be ready in plenty of time for their Veterans Day event at 2 p.m. Nov. 11.
“It’s looking good,” said Van Beck as the Huey was being pulled into a hangar at the steel shop.
The helicopter was acquired from a military surplus depot in Sanford as a tribute to Vietnam veterans. It will be erected on a pole 12 feet off the ground and surrounded by spotlights, bamboo and water to make it appear it has set down in a jungle, he said.
The city will pay for the water and electricity. AMVETS Post 2006 in Leesburg will pay for the upkeep.
Don Trombley, commander of the post, said they will make sure the helicopter stays clean and nicely painted.
“We’re a veteran post. It just seemed like the right thing to do,” Trombley said Wednesday.
The sight of the helicopter being hauled into the steel shop Wednesday had about a dozen employees there huddling for a look.
Chris Lagana, a supervisor who will work on the Huey, said it was the first time the business had such an aircraft. He has gone over the instructions on the refurbishing and said he looks forward to working on it.
“I consider it an honor,” said Lagana, who added he has veterans in his family.
Ironically, shortly after the Huey was pulled into the shop, the national anthem started played on radio station 105.9.
During the Nov. 11 event, park organizers will also unveil a new memorial wall etched with the names of Vietnam vets from Lake, Sumter and Marion counties.
Veterans interested in having their names engraved on the wall at a cost of $20 can contact the Veteran’s Memorial at 352-314-2100; or the 404 N. Blvd. office in Leesburg, VA.
Do you know a WWII veteran who would like to attend a Veterans Day Celebration in Bowie, Maryland? Please reach out to them and share this event. Free rides for WWII veterans needing them are being worked out. All veterans are welcome and will be honored, but there is outreach going on to bring WWII veterans to this special celebration. Lunch provided.
Freedom and Honor is a leadership program to navigate the transition from your military experience to your new mission in the civilian world. This program was designed by those who made the journey before you. It is a hands-on interactive program. It’s HIGH value, no cost, hands-on training. It was co-designed by Veterans, for Veterans. Freedom and Honor’s Warrior Transition Workshop does not rely on “talk therapy”. This is a hands-on reintegration weekend that was created to help with post traumatic stress (PTS) and other reintegration obstacles. Camaraderie, team activities, individual exercises, video presentations, and more. Everything is designed to give you new situational awareness, help you turn “off” the combat readiness switch and give you tools to successfully transition. Combat stress and the hurdles of reintegration can challenge the very best; this event is to help you move forward with family, friends and career. The AMVETS Warrior Transition Workshop is FREE to Veterans, Active Duty, Guard and Reserve and it is a safe and confidential environment for those who choose to attend.
“I wanted to get on with my life so attended the program. Honestly, had serious doubts whether I would get anything and planned to walk if it was BS. As a fellow veteran and someone who has struggled to reconnect after multiple deployments – this programs allowed me to understand and gave me the tools I needed to move forward.”
– Army Gulf War, OIF, OEF
Disclaimer: Freedom and Honor is not allied with any sect, religion or political organization; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. This is a drug and alcohol free training; we do not diagnose, prescribe, medicate, treat, cure or heal any physical, mental, spiritual or emotional illness nor are we designed to replace such therapies. For anyone who attends our training in any capacity, we always recommend to seek appropriate medical or professional help. If you are part of an on going support group 12 step program or counseling we recommend that you continue with whatever group or individual involvement you are part of prior to this training. If you are under the care of a physician, we recommend you continue on their prescribed course of treatment.
Red bow season is once again upon us. Members of the local AMVETS Post 91, supporters and friends all gathered recently to sort through red bows that will soon be placed on gravestones at the Indiana Veterans’ Home (IVH) in Lafayette. This process is done to replace some of the headbands, some just needing to be spruced up and others needing to be disposed of, due mainly to weathering.
This annual event took place on Sunday, Oct. 9. Over 1,000 bows were gone through.
This is done to decorate the headstones at the IVH in Lafayette. This first step in the decorating of the headstones will take place on Friday, Nov. 4, at 11 a.m. at IVH, which is located at 3851 North River Road. On this day, red bows will be placed on every other headstone.
Displaying the $1,000 check from the Allison AMVETS Auxiliary Post 88, from left, Auxiliary Secretary Greta Cordes, President Deb Hummel, and Treasurer Karen Alberts. (TJ/Star photo)[/caption]Land donated; Over $33,000 needed before grant to kick in
Fundraising to complete the All Veterans Memorial monument, at a site in Allison, IA to honor “All Those Who Served” is 64 percent to goal. A grand total of $96,677 has been raised toward the $150,000 goal.
The Allison AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary Post 88, including Auxiliary President Deb Hummel, Secretary Greta Cordes, and Treasurer Karen Alberts, has donated $1,000 toward the monument.
With fundraising on the home stretch, the AMVETS Auxiliary Post 88 is now extending a donation challenge to businesses, civic organizations, veteran’s groups, and other related groups located in Allison, Butler County and neighboring counties to match the Allison AMVETS Auxiliary’s $1,000 gift toward the All Veterans Monument/Memorial.
A 17-year-old girl from Tellico Plains, Tennessee, became the youngest post commander in American Veterans history when the Polk County AMVETS post she founded was awarded its charter last week.
U.S. Army Reserve Private 1st Class Danielle Cain, who recently began her senior year at Tellico Plains High School, spent her summer at Army boot camp in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and now officially serves as a mechanic at the U.S. Army Reserve unit in Chattanooga.
Danielle’s status as a currently serving Army Reservist made her eligible for membership in AMVETS, the only veteran service organization open to all veterans of all components of all military branches who’ve served honorably in any capacity during any era.
AMVETS is one of the leading veterans service organizations in the nation with more than 250,000 members located at posts in every state.
Melanie Vitaterna’s preparation for her fourth Chicago Marathon included a special trip to the Salvation Army, where she paid $4.50 for an oversized Halloween-themed sweatshirt to help keep her warm before the race begins.
“If you’re going to be sitting around for half an hour, you might as well have fun with it,” said Vitaterna, 23, who lives in Lakeview.
Runners often bundle up as they wait near Grant Park in the chilly, early morning hours before the race, only to shed their layers after the start. But then there is the aftermath — the tons of clothing, much of it still good, strewn along the 26.2-mile course, and what to do with it.
Marathon organizers have an answer. At the 39th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, race volunteers will pick up discarded items of clothing and donate them to two charities in Chicago to be used again, marathon spokeswoman Cindy Hamilton said. This year will mark the sixth time the marathon will make the donations.
“It’s good it ends up somewhere useful,” Vitaterna said. “It’s a very socially and environmentally responsible decision.”
Last year, when more than 37,000 runners competed, volunteers filled four truckloads with clothing that weighed about seven tons, Hamilton said. About 700 garbage bags of clothes estimated to weigh about 20 pounds each were stuffed into three trucks headed to AMVETS, which provides services to veterans, and one truck that went to the Pacific Garden Mission, a homeless shelter in the South Loop, she said.
This year, more than 40,000 runners are expected.
Many will come prepared for the early morning chill. Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 40s to 50s early Sunday before the sun rises, and increase to the mid-60s, said Mark Ratzer, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
Pete Beuscher is one such runner. He arrives bundled up about an hour and a half before the race to allow himself time to get through security, check his bag, use the portable toilets and head to his corral.
A minute or two before he crosses the start line he will peel off his sweatpants and sweatshirt selected from a stack of old clothes and toss them toward the sidewalk.
“When the race is about to start, five to 10 minutes before, people start throwing stuff off. People get anxious and make sure they’re ready to go when the horn goes off and clothes start flying and hitting people in the corrals,” said Beuscher, 48, who is running the Chicago Marathon for the sixth time.
Once the clothes arrive at AMVETS, the charity disperses them to thrift stores throughout the Chicago area, said Keith Wetherell, executive director of Illinois AMVETS Service Foundation. The proceeds go back to AMVETS and its programs, he said in an email.
The Pacific Garden Mission washes and sorts the clothes before handing them out to the homeless population it serves, said its president, Phil Kwiatkowski. The marathon donation is one of the largest one-time gifts, Kwiatkowski said.
“For the people it helps, it really means that people care,” Kwiatkowski said. “When you don’t have any coat at all or any type of winter wear, the fact that other people think of you means a lot to them.”