AMVETS in Action

Category: Press Release

AMVETS National 2016 Scholarship Program Winners Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Media Inquiries: Kristina Miller
KMiller@amvets.org
301-683-4038

AMVETS announced the 2016 recipients of its National Scholarship Program today

“The influx in applications this year was extremely impressive.” said National Programs Director, Karla Lathroum at today’s announcement. “It is an honor for AMVETS to help veterans and members of the military continue their families’ legacies by providing additional support through the AMVETS Scholarship Program.”

Graduating high school seniors selected to receive four-year undergraduate scholarships of $4,000 are:
Holloway Testerman of Chichester, New Hampshire
Mariah Cummings of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Felice Watson of Villa Rica, Georgia
Jacob Higginson of Springfield, Illinois
Micaela Mersch of Troy, Texas
Adriana Tapia of Mesa, Arizona

Graduating high school senior Jordan Fox of Lewisville, Texas was selected as the $1,000.00 scholarship recipient of the JROTC scholarship.

Veterans selected to receive four-year scholarships of $4,000.00 are:
Anita Ingram of Darby, Pennsylvania
Benjamin Kimball of Wichita, Kansas
Brad Swanson of Durham, North Carolina

Veterans Ashley Gorbulji of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and Jared Wymer of Seattle, Washington were selected to receive the Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $3,000.00.

Veteran Andrew Bates of Fenton, Michigan was selected to receive The Henry G. Huestis Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,000.00

The winners were selected on the basis of academic excellence and financial need. Since its inception in the 1950s, the AMVETS National Scholarship Program has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to veterans and graduating high school students who are sons and daughters or grandchildren of American veterans.

About AMVETS
As one of America’s leading veterans service organizations with over 250,000 members, AMVETS (or American Veterans) has a proud history of assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous programs that serve our country and its citizens. Membership in AMVETS is open to anyone who is currently serving, or who has honorably served, in the U.S. Armed Forces from World War II to the present, to include the National Guard and Reserves. Visit www.amvets.org for more information on who we are and how to join.

AFSP Honors White House Staffer Bess Evans for Exceptional Service

District-of-Columbia-Facts-2016

 

WASHINGTON (June 14, 2016) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. The nation’s largest organization dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention gave a Federal Award on Tuesday, June 14 at the Allies in Action Awards ceremony to White House staffer Bess Evans for her dedication to suicide prevention. Ms. Evans is the Associate Director and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Public Engagement & Domestic Policy Council. Ms. Evans lost a close college friend to suicide.

https://afsp.org/afsp-honors-white-house-staffer-bess-evans-exceptional-service/

“We thank Ms. Evans for collaborating with organizations like AFSP, which has led to an important dialogue on how to advance suicide prevention,” said Bob Gebbia, AFSP CEO.

Through her own work in the White House, Bess has tirelessly promoted suicide prevention and mental health policies throughout the federal government, including the Affordable Care Act and efforts to ensure that people across the nation have health coverage for mental health and substance use disorders.

Ms. Evans has been working at the White House for over four years and rose from being a Senior Policy Advisor for Public Engagement in the Office of Science and Technology Policy to her current role. Prior to joining the White House, Evans worked for the Justice Department and also worked on President Obama’s campaign. Originally from Evanston, Illinois, Evans earned her bachelor’s degree from DePauw University in sociology and communications.

** Photos of the award being presented available upon request. **

For media requests: Alexis O’Brien, AFSP PR Director, 347-826-3577 or aobrien@afsp.org

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP onFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

VETERAN EDUCATION BENEFITS NOW ACCEPTED AT MERRILL INSTITUTE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 14, 2016

Contact: Andrea Fisher, Marketing Director

alfisher@MerrillTG.com 

989.928.6222 cell

989.921.4005 x 4048 office

 

VETERAN EDUCATION BENEFITS NOW ACCEPTED AT MERRILL INSTITUTE

Alma, MICH – United States Veterans can now utilize their VA education benefits to cover tuition costs for the Merrill Institute’s 12-week, 522-hour welding program. This comprehensive welding program is an American Welding Society (AWS) SENSE Level 1 program, which means successful graduates will receive AWS certification – the premier certification recognized globally by companies in the welding and manufacturing industries.

“Securing this eligibility was intense, but worth the investment on our end. Being able to offer our Veterans an in-demand skill set, like welding, is a small price to pay for the sacrifices they have made for all of us,” says Jason North, Manager of Operations & Industrial Training at the Merrill Institute.

“We believe we’ll see a lot of veterans apply their GI Bill, toward our welding program, which is great because companies all across the United States are in dire need of skilled welders to offset the skill gap that our country is currently facing.”

The Merrill Institute 12-week program includes training in SMAW, GMAW, FCAW and GTAW welding processes. The program also includes training for blue-print reading, welding inspection and testing and weld symbol and drawing interpretation.

Veterans interested in a welding career should contact the Merrill Institute to determine their eligibility at www.merrillinstitute.com or call 989.462.0322.

Since its founding in 2011, the Merrill Institute has graduated 220 students who have achieved a 90% employment rate.

# # #

The Merrill Institute, a division of Merrill Technologies Group, is a welding institute in Alma, Michigan. Students receive the foundation for a successful career, with real-world, experiential, project focused training utilizing state-of-the-art machines and equipment and learn from some of the most talented professionals in the industry. Merrill Institute. Design, Create and Shape the Future. To learn more visit www.merrillinstitute.com or call 989.462.0322

Korean Augmentation To the United States Army (KATUSA) REMEMBERED AT THE NATIONAL KOREAN WAR VETERANS MEMORIAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 10, 2016

Korean Augmentation To the United States Army (KATUSA) REMEMBERED AT THE NATIONAL KOREAN WAR VETERANS MEMORIAL

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Korean War Veterans Foundation will pay tribute to the more than 8,000 men who served with the U.S. Army during the Korean War at a special commemorative event at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 25, 2016 at 9:00AM.

This ceremony will remember and commemorate the service of over 8,000 Republic of Korea soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving alongside American United States Army soldiers during the Korean War. Names of the fallen will be read throughout the day and wreaths will be presented at 9:00AM to remember all who served in the Korean War. Members of Congress along with Embassy of the Republic of Korea will be on hand to participate in the reading of the fallen.

Few Americans know, and sadly, some Korean War Era veterans fail to remember the bloodshed by those Korean nationals who were assigned to United States Army units during the Korean War.   The history of the war generally available to our people ignores the KATUSA or, if covered, tends to denigrate their contribution and use in U.S. units.   Lost in that kind of reasoning is why Koreans were assigned to US units! And, that is where this issue becomes one that ought to be acknowledged by America — for there are at least 36 plus thousand American families that should say, “Thank you KATUSAs!”.

Korean Augmentation To the United States Army (KATUSA Korean: 카투사) is a branch of Republic of Korea Army which consists of Korean enlisted personnel who are augmented to the Eighth United States Army (EUSA). KATUSA does not form an individual military unit, instead small numbers of KATUSA members are dispatched throughout the most of the Eighth United States Army departments, filling in positions for the United States Army enlisted soldiers and junior non-commissioned officers. KATUSAs are drafted from pool of qualified volunteers who are subjected to mandatory military service for Korean male citizens. While ROK Army holds the responsibility for personnel management of KATUSAs, KATUSA members are equipped with standard United States Army issues, and live and work with the U.S. enlisted soldiers. This kind of augmentation is unique throughout the entire United States Army worldwide, because KATUSA program was developed during Korean War as a temporary measure to cope with a shortage of personnel in the United States Army. The ceremony will feature

Beginning in July 1950 at the request of General Douglas MacArthur in front of ROK President Syngman Rhee, General Macarthur took command of all ROK Forces. At this time, General Macarthur implemented Korean soldiers into the U.S. Army where there were critical shortages, making the first KATUSA soldiers assigned to 7th Infantry Division, originally in Japan, but mobilized to Incheon in September 1950. This program continued after the Korean War, and KATUSA soldiers would spend 18-months with the U.S. Army learning his occupation and would then return to the ROK Army for training others on the occupation. According to the Eighth Army Wightman NCO Academy, “With the establishment of the ROKA Training Center in 1963…KATUSA soldiers began to spend their whole military tour in the U.S. Army”

About Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation (www.koreanwarvetsmemorial.org)

The Memorial is unique in that it presents an aura of commitment both by a generation of young American soldiery as well as their comrades from 20 other nations of the United Nations and the Republic of South Korea. Dedicated to the concept that “Freedom Is Not Free”, the Memorial does not glorify war but rather the determination of our people to assist other people in preserving their freedom!

Unique among war memorials, and one of the most visited, the Korean War Veterans Memorial features a column of 19 sculptures representing those members of the Armed Forces of the United States that directly engaged the enemy in ground, sea and air combat and depicts the ethnic and racial makeup of those forces. The sculptures are flanked by a Wall filled with over 2500 photos depicted on the granite surface of personnel and scenes of the war.

The Pool of Remembrance at the head of the Memorial is dedicated to those killed in action, wounded in action, missing in action or held as Prisoner Of War by the enemy. Look closely at the numbers of casualties engraved in the granite border of the Pool and you will understand why the then “Police Action” now must be called a “War”! As surely as World War II was fought to save the world for democracy it can be said that the Korean War was fought to save the world from communism! The stand taken in Korea, and the “line in the sand” drawn there against armed aggression, became the catalyst for the eventual downfall of the goal of communism ,..”.. to enslave the world!”

Visit this Memorial! See for yourself why it is imperative that our goal of raising a Memorial Maintenance Endowment Fund is critical to ensure that it is maintained properly for future generations to enjoy and be inspired.

 

For media inquiries:

Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation

COL(R) William Weber ~ Chairman of the Board

410-775-7733 ~ email: eagle187@hughes.net

 

 

Press Release: NJHA, UHF Announce $1.35M Grant to Bolster Veterans’ Mental Health Initiatives in New Jersey.

For Immediate Release

PRINCETON, N.J. (June 13, 2016) – The New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) and United Health Foundation brought together health professionals and military leaders today to raise awareness about the complexities of managing veterans’ health and examine ways to improve access to care through innovative partnerships and community engagement.

The forum, “Managing the Complexity of Veteran Health: Serving Those Who Have Served,” highlighted a $1.35 million partnership between NJHA’s Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET) and United Health Foundation to bolster veteran health programs, including the hiring of additional Veteran Navigators to facilitate access to high-quality, community-based mental health, behavioral health and supportive services for veterans and military families in underserved areas of the state. The forum was attended by U.S. Representative Tom MacArthur (NJ-3), Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Adjutant General Michael Cunniff and Assemblymember Cleopatra Tucker (28-LD).

United Health Foundation Partnership with New Jersey Hospital Association Helping Veterans and Service Members Navigate Health Services to Improve Access to Care

  • Veteran Navigators hired through $1.35 million partnership grant are helping connect veterans, service members and their families to health services and programs in communities throughout New Jersey
  • Forum brings together care providers and military leaders to raise awareness about managing the complexity of veteran health

“Veterans and military families face unique health needs, and it is often a challenge for them to access the care and programs that help ensure they receive quality care,” said Betsy Ryan, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association. “This partnership with United Health Foundation is providing valuable resources that are helping raise awareness and improving the health and wellness of our veterans and service members.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, military service members and veterans face health issues differently than civilians. The stressors of being in combat, combined with being separated from family, can put service members and veterans at risk for mental health problems. These include anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and depression that, in extreme circumstances, can lead to suicide. According to a study commissioned by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and United Health Foundation, there is a preparedness gap among most community-based mental health providers in being able to take care of the special needs of military veterans and their families.

Through its partnership with United Health Foundation, NJHA is using a peer-to-peer model with Veteran Navigators to connect with their fellow service members to facilitate access to the care that veterans and their families need.

“The work of NJHA is improving access to care for veterans and military members,” said New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. “NJHA’s partnership with United Health Foundation is the type of public-private approach that will make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, particularly those with the greatest needs.”

“Helping veterans and their families with support to improve their quality of life is mission critical,” said Michael Cunniff, Adjutant General, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Our service members, veterans and their families often face unique challenges to care including having access to care providers who understand their specific needs. By raising awareness and having veterans engage directly with service members and their families, we are helping improve their personal health and recovery.”

During the forum, guest speakers discussed important health topics facing veterans and military service members including military culture, injury and recovery programs, PTSD, suicide prevention and navigating the VA system, among others. NJHA provided an overview and update on how the organization is working collaboratively with other partners in the state to implement a comprehensive model to close the gap between providers and veterans through efforts that increase awareness of available support, and improve skills of mental health professionals in addressing veteran-specific issues and needs.

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (NJ-3) praised the work on behalf of veterans and service members. “I applaud the work of all the organizations gathered today for this important forum that is raising awareness about improving care for our veterans and service members who have sacrificed so much for our nation. It is important to help connect our troops with the programs and care they need, particularly given the unique situations they face. Programs like this are model initiatives that bring together the best minds and organizations to forge solutions to care.”

The Veteran Navigators, along with the entire project team at NJHA, are being cross-trained in Mental Health First Aid, Health Coaching and supplemental topics with an opportunity to become Certified Prevention Specialists to help meet the unique needs of military service members and their families

“This partnership between NJHA and United Health Foundation is helping to ensure that our military men and women understand the programs and services available to them to improve their care and quality of life,” said Heather Cianfrocco, President, Northeast Region, UnitedHealthcare. “The Veteran Navigators are a critical resource, understanding their experiences and their needs, and helping to alleviate the stresses that our nation’s service members, veterans and their families endure every day.”

About NJHA and the Health Research & Educational Trust

The New Jersey Hospital Association is a healthcare trade organization that helps hospitals and post-acute care providers deliver affordable, accessible and quality healthcare to their communities. The Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey is a nonprofit affiliate of NJHA. It provides leadership and resources to improve the healthcare delivery system and health of the community. Its mission is to develop research projects and educational initiatives that promote quality, affordable and accessible healthcare and raise public and provider awareness about vital healthcare issues.

About United Health Foundation
Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health Foundation has committed more than $285 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at www.unitedhealthfoundation.org or follow @UHGGives on Twitter or Facebook.com/UHGGives.

 

Contacts:

Kerry McKean Kelly                            L.D. Platt

New Jersey Hospital Association     United Health Foundation

(609) 275-4069                                     (202) 654-8830

kmckean@njha.com                            LD_Platt@uhg.com

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AMVETS Medallion Post #13 in Buffalo Celebrates Patriotism and a Community’s Pride

AMVETS Medallion Post #13 in Buffalo Celebrates Patriotism and a Community’s Pride

mural-1

 

New murals will add to Buffalo’s cityscape

The VA Loan App Lets Military Personnel Check Their VA Loan Eligibility in Minutes

The VA Loan App Lets Military Personnel Check Their VA Loan Eligibility in Minutes

Veterans and military families can know within minutes whether they qualify for a VA home loan through a new mobile app.

New York, NY, June 7, 2016 (Newswire.com) – ​​​​​​​​​​Veterans and military families can know within minutes whether they are eligible for a VA Home Loan through a new mobile app.

The VA Loan App is the world’s first mobile tool that allows veterans, reservists, and active military learn whether they eligible for a government backed home loan.

The VA Loan process is complicated, obtuse, and can be stressful and time consuming as veterans and military families are forced to track down documents, paperwork, and eligibility forms that vary by state, county, and municipality. These different qualifications are rarely advertised and confuse most Veterans, frequently pushing them to not even apply for VA Loan services that can save them money.

The VA Loan App guides veterans, reservists, and active military through the complicated VA Loan eligibility process. It asks users questions involving their military service and history, which helps them determine whether they may qualify for a VA loan. If it determines a veteran or reservist isn’t eligible, the VA Loan App provides a step-by-step guide with solutions that may help improve their chances for eligibility.

The VA Loan App also provides a series of frequently asked questions from veterans in regards to the VA Loan process. Questions like: What is the standard acceptable minimum credit score? What are the maximum benefits? Can you refinance a VA home loan? How does a VA loan compare to a conventional mortgage?

“There is a lot of confusion with VA Home Loans,” said Jimmy Vercellino – the Mortgage Originator behind The VA Loan App. “The government doesn’t educate veterans or active military on the VA Loan program, which can help them buy a home for less than they pay in rent. Most veterans and reservists don’t know whether they qualify. Many of these veterans don’t even understand the benefits a VA Loan can offer. This app guides them through that process.”

Vercellino joined the US Marine Corps at age 18 and proudly served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 2005 and immediately saw the need for a specialized VA loan service that could help fellow veterans and their families navigate the complex VA loan process.

Vercellino is now one of the country’s top VA Home Loan mortgage originators. He is a licensed and certified instructor with the Arizona Department of Real Estate, where he teaches continuing education for real estate professionals in the Valley. He also originates VA Loans Nationwide and can help Veterans virtually anywhere in the nation.

That desire to create a mortgage office that could truly speak to veterans lead to the creation of VA Loans for Vets, and the subsequent launching of the VA Loan App.

Vercellino is the founder of valoansforvets.com. He has frequently appears on KKNT 960 AM, where he advises veterans about their VA home loan benefits, and how they can better acquire and use those benefits.

You can download The VA Loan App on the App Store and from the Google Play Store.

Jimmy Vercellino​​
7702 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, Suite 220
​Scottsdale, AZ 85258
jimmyv@fcbmtg.com
​Office: 480-351-5904
​Mobile: 602-908-5849
​Fax: 480-409-2600
NMLS# 184169
​First Choice Loan Services, Inc. – NMLS# 210764
​First Choice Bank – NMLS# 177877

Original Source: The VA Loan App Lets Military Personnel Check Their VA Loan Eligibility in Minutes

AMVETS National Memorial Day Sweepstakes Winners Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

AMVETS National Memorial Day Sweepstakes Winners Announced

Thank you to everyone who participated in the AMVETS National Memorial Day Sweepstakes.

The following winners were selected at random, from thousands of entries and have already been notified via phone, but will be receiving a follow-up letter from AMVETS National Headquarters.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Paul Rubalcava, Merced, CA

Larry Dakken, Mayville, ND

Harry Funderwhite, Lakeside, OH

Peter Miller, Potsdam, NY

Harvey Reimer, Scottsboro, AL

Howard Beyer, Bottineau, ND

James Joyce, Patchogue, NY

Joseph Gray, Edgewater, FL

Leo Hines, Defiance, OH

Robert Thornton, Arnoldsville, GA

The money that the sweepstakes has generated will be used to fund the many programs and services that AMVETS provides to our veterans and their families.

If you should have any questions, please contact Kristina Miller, National Publications Editor of AMVETS at kmiller@amvets.org.

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The Mission Continues Launches Inaugural “Mass Deployment” In Detroit

The Mission Continues Launches First Annual “Mass Deployment” In Detroit #OPERATIONMOTOWNMUSTER

Week-Long Service Marathon Aims to Jump-Start Lasting Transformations in Communities of Deepest Need

DETROIT (June 7, 2016) – National veterans nonprofit The Mission Continues is launching a new program that positions veterans to be catalysts for long-term change and positive impact in communities facing daunting challenges. The inaugural Mass Deployment program will send hundreds of veterans and volunteers to participate in a week-long service engagement that will jump-start a long-lasting transformation in a city or community identified with a particularly high level of need.

For the first-ever event of its kind – dubbed Operation Motown Muster – The Mission Continues will bring more than 75 military veterans to Detroit to partner with more than 200 local veterans and community volunteers. Following Operation Motown Muster, The Mission Continues will maintain a sustained veteran volunteer presence in Detroit over the next several years to continuously support local nonprofits invested in revitalizing local neighborhoods.

“With the skills, leadership and experience they cultivated in the military, veterans are uniquely positioned to help accelerate Detroit’s comeback,” said Spencer Kympton, U.S. Army veteran and president of The Mission Continues. “We’re looking forward to an impactful week of service that will make a difference for the people who continue to call Detroit home and that will inspire others to take action and make a long-term positive impact in the community.”

Home to nearly 700,000 residents — many of whom are already hard at work shaping the future of their city — Detroit was a prime location for The Mission Continues’ inaugural Mass Deployment. During Operation Motown Muster, The Mission Continues veterans and local volunteers will add much-needed capacity to local organizations that are carrying on Detroit’s revitalization efforts.

Between June 23 and 30, nearly 300 veterans and volunteers from around the country will report for duty in Detroit for the organization’s first-ever “Mass Deployment” program. Dubbed Operation Motown Muster, over the course of one week, participants will partner with local community organizations to help accelerate the transformation and revitalization happening in Detroit. Each day, the team will deploy and execute a variety of high-impact missions, including construction, landscaping, painting and public arts projects. Specific projects include:

  • Refurbishing indoor and outdoor facilities at Central High School and Priest Elementary School to make the schools a safe and inviting place for students to learn,
  • Beautifying three public parks and future green spaces in the Osborn Neighborhood to create a safe, lively space for families to play, and
  • Cleaning up 40 acres of vacant land and converting portions of the Chene Ferry Market into clean, vibrant spaces for community events and an urban farm.

Following this week-long service marathon, The Mission Continues will maintain a veteran volunteer presence in the city to continually support local Detroit nonprofits over the next several years. And, in 2017, they’ll select a new Mass Deployment city with a goal of jump-starting long-term transformational change in another community.

The Mission Continues has operations across the country that engage veteran volunteers every day to have deep impact on critical challenges facing underserved communities. Veterans participate in operations by serving with The Mission Continues in one of two ways:

  • As a member of a Service Platoon, undertaking regular service missions that leverage veterans’ skills and leadership to make a positive impact.
  • As an individual The Mission Continues Fellow, embedding as a skilled volunteer with one of the operation’s nonprofit partners for a period of six months.

To learn more about The Mission Continues’ programs and opportunities to get involved, visit www.missioncontinues.org.

About The Mission Continues

The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. Our operations in cities across the country deploy veteran volunteers alongside non-profit partners and community leaders to solve some of the most challenging issues facing our communities: improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. Through this unique model, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate to life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve. To learn more, visit: www.missioncontinues.org or follow us on Twitter @missioncontinue.

For more information, please contact:

Laura L’Esperance, The Mission Continues
llesperance@missioncontinues.org

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Retrace the Footsteps of the GIs in Ireland with the GI Trail

Retrace the Footsteps of the GIs in Northern Ireland with the GI Trail and Commemorate D Day with the GI Jive Festival

Bob Kemp with fellow vet Teddy Dixon and the 1940s era models
Northern Ireland has just launched an exciting new project called the GI Trail, which aims to retrace the footsteps of the American GIs who were based in Northern Ireland during the Second World War. This trail is also complimented by the annual GI Jive Festival in Kilkeel, County Down, making Northern Ireland the perfect place to visit for veterans and those with links to this part of the world.

In the 1940s war came to Northern Ireland with the friendly invasion of US troops who were sent to the country in preparation for the Allied invasion of Europe. The rugged, green countryside soon rang to the sounds of American accents and the rumble of Second World War aircraft. The GI Trail aims to expose this fascinating era by mapping out the sites at which the American GIs were located, telling the stories of the men who once called Northern Ireland their home for a short time and exploring the unique legacy they left behind.

  • As many as 300,000 American servicemen passed through Northern Ireland during the war.
  • From January to September 1942, 40,000 Americans arrived in Northern Ireland as part of the 5th US Army Corps HQ, the 34th Infantry (Mechanised) and the 1st US Armored Division. The 34th and 1st Armored Divisions would take part in Operation Torch in November 1942; the invasion of North West Africa, while the 5th Corps departed for England, eventually taking part in the D-Day Landings.
  • From October 1943 to June 1944 a further 120,000 Americans arrived in Northern Ireland including the 15th US Army Corps HQ and the 2nd, 5th and 8th US Infantry Divisions, and the famous 82nd Airborne Divisions and elements of the 8th and 9th Air Forces. They would then depart for Britain to participate in the D-Day Landings.

“It was here in Northern Ireland that the American Army first began to concentrate for our share in the attack upon the citadel of continental Europe. From here started the long, hard march to Allied Victory. Without Northern Ireland I do not see how the American forces could have concentrated to begin the invasion of Europe.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

The GI Trail has been split into three stages, mapping out the sites with American links in all six counties. The first stage is now complete and is called The Patton Trail, exploring the counties of Down and Armagh. The Hartle Trail will cover Antrim and Derry and the final instalment, The Eisenhower Trail will cover the counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone. These two trails are both in progress with Hartle due for completion in September 2016, and Eisenhower in January 2017. The Patton Trail has gained much support and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and local council authorities, and was officially launched by the US Consul General to Belfast, Mr Daniel J Lawton at the end of May.

These exciting trails are self guided, however there are many experts based locally in each area of the province who are available for guided tours for coach trips and groups. The printed trails work in tandem with the interactive website which is all Google Map based allowing users to navigate around the countryside easily – www.gitrailni.com

If you are lucky enough to be in Northern Ireland during the month of July you must make sure you visit the small seaside town of Kilkeel in the foothills of the Mountains of Mourne, County Down for their annual GI Jive Festival. This US themed festival started in 2014 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day and has been growing ever since. At the end of July the small town comes alive to the sights and sounds of the 1940s. This festival’s main sponsor is American giant B/E Aerospace, a world leader in interior cabin products, fastener distribution, and logistical services for commercial, business & military jets.

In 2015, GI Jive was proud to host World War Two veteran Bob Kemp (now living in Florida, pictured above) who was visiting Northern Ireland at the time. Bob married a Belfast girl whom he met while stationed in Northern Ireland and makes the annual trip ‘home’ every summer to visit his family who still live there. Bob was delighted to meet another fellow veteran at the event, Belfast man Teddy Dixon who served with the US Rainbow Division during the war. Both men had a great afternoon in Kilkeel, soaking up the festival atmosphere and reminiscing about their time in Northern Ireland. So if you are in Northern Ireland/ Ireland on the 30th July 2016, come along and be our guest of honour for the day!

GI Jive 2016

On Saturday 30th July 2016, Kilkeel will be all swinging and all jiving so do not miss out on this thrilling event at which you can witness historical re-enactments, watch a fly past by a local flying club, walk around an authentic recreation of an American WWII camp and view their vehicles, tanks and weapons. Learn how to jive to authentic swing music and immerse yourself in 1940s glamour with vintage fashion shows and best dressed competitions; so make sure you dress to impress!

GI Jive is teaming up with Tourism NI’s Year of Food and Drink 2016 programme to showcase the amazing food and drink Northern Ireland has to offer. Kilkeel is famous for its fresh seafood and GI Jive will be hosting a seafood pavilion housing numerous stalls cooking and selling delicious seafood, ranging from locally caught prawns and scallops to haddock and monkfish. If you are a novice to seafood you can learn how to prepare and cook it at one of the many live cookery demonstrations carried out by our celebrity chefs. If seafood is not your thing there will be many other delicious offerings to get your taste buds tingling, such as our artisan food marquees which will be stocking locally sourced produce from jams and chutneys, to tasty street food and homemade ice-cream and chocolate accompanied by local drinks providers who brew beer at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.

Northern Ireland has much to offer travelling vets and their families in 2016 so make sure to keep this beautiful country in mind when booking your vacation! We would also love to hear from any vets families who had family members stationed in Northern Ireland during the run up to D Day, so please get in touch through our websites, we would love to hear from you! For more information on the GI Trail and GI Jive please see below.

GI Trail
Website: www.gitrailni.com | Email: gitrail.ni@gmail.com

GI Jive Festival
Website: www.gijivefestival.com | Email: info@gijivefestival.com | Phone: 028 417 62525

If you are interested in booking a trip to Northern Ireland, these links below might be useful:
Tourism NI
www.tourismni.com
Discover Northern Ireland
www.discovernorthernireland.com
Discover NI Accommodation Provider
https://www.discovernorthernireland.com/accomfinder/