50 veterans’ homes rehabbed during bay-wide Armed Forces Day project (WFTS-Tampa Bay)
The leaks in Gladys Arroyo’s roof caused water damage in her kitchen. But Arroyo and her son, Albert, couldn’t afford to hire anyone to fix the problem. “I was afraid with the rain this year it was going to get worse,” she said. Her son is retired U.S. Army and one of 50 veteran homeowners getting assistance from Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, a nonprofit rehabbing homes across Tampa Bay for lower income families or those in need. “So many times we run into people who have to make a decision – am I going to spend my money that I have on a fixed income on food and medicine or home repairs?” said Pablo Avilez of Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay. Homeowners have to meet certain criteria to apply for help. They must be in their home for at least two years and be current with local taxes and their mortgage and have homeowner’s insurance. “Anything having to do with safety, health and energy efficiency is our goal, and [to] improve their quality of life,” Avilez said. Not only is her roof new, crews are fixing the rotting siding and chimney, which is a load off her son’s mind. “Oh, he will feel great! That was really bothering him,” Arroyo said. On Saturday, Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay and volunteers are working on two homes in St. Petersburg.
Fort Jackson welcomes home Vietnam vets with Victory Week (WACH-Columbia)
Fort Jackson is holding “Victory Week”, a four-day event that kicks off with a special graduation ceremony, Wednesday, that includes the air assault demonstration. There will be a post-wide run, sporting and military competitions, the Vietnam Veterans Moving Memorial Wall, a 5k Vietnam Veterans fun run, Golf tournament, Health expo, Vietnam Veteran Parade, and culminates with a Closing ceremony, FJ Hall of Fame induction, concert and fireworks display. Fort Jackson Hall of Fame honors and recognizes individuals who have served at Fort Jackson and who have left an indelible mark upon our installation. Fort Jackson will unveil the half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall May 14, as part of the Defense Department’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. This week will also now include Retiree Appreciation Days, a series of services for retirees and veterans that in past years was a separate event. Activities are open to retirees and veterans of all branches of service and focus on retiree health benefits, educational assistance and sports activities. “My intent is to provide Soldiers, Family members, and civilians with a team building event that showcases our installation. Victory Week also allows a venue to prove that Fort Jackson is not only a great place to live, work, and play; but also that the Greater Columbia Area is a very active and involved military friendly community. Additionally, I want to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War by hosting a Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Celebration to properly honor those that sacrificed and served our Nation,” said Brig. Gen. Bradley Becker, Fort Jackson commander.
2nd Marine Division hosts WWII Remembrance Day (Camp Lejeune Globe)
Seventy years have passed since the end of World War II, but the gleam in their eyes indicates the memory resonates in those who spent much of their youth fighting our country’s battles. The veterans’ sacrifices and unyielding commitment to their nation, despite an age difference, is a common ground with modern warriors. Marines and sailors with 2nd Marine Division hosted World War II Remembrance Day aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune May 7. “Today is all about the WWII veterans. Having the opportunity to show them how far we’ve come in the 60 plus years was special for me,” said Capt. Brian Heeter, an MV-22 Osprey aircraft pilot with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261. Veterans together with Marines and sailors watched a jump performed by members of 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion and explored static displays of contemporary military equipment to include an Amphibious Assault Vehicle, Light Armored Vehicle and M1A1 Abrams Tank before exchanging experiences during lunch. “It makes you feel unified with your comrades,” said Elden Tetzlaff, retired captain and WWII veteran formerly with 6th Marine Regiment. “I can’t believe how heavenly it all seemed to me.” The day closed with a commemorating ceremony at Paradise Point Officers’ Club, where the veterans were welcomed with resounding applause. “Many years have passed since America’s fighting men were called upon to defend their country during World War II,” read the master of ceremonies. “Dedication, camaraderie and courage were the central ingredients required to overcome a relentless enemy, winning battle after battle and ultimately, the war … gentlemen, it’s because of your sacrifices that we are here today.”
$3 donations at Macy’s have raised $5 million for veterans (ABC News)
It turns out small $3 donations at Macy’s cash registers leading up to Memorial Day can raise big bucks for veterans. Over the past two years, Cincinnati-based Macy’s has raised $5 million for the national veteran campaign “Got Your 6.” In exchange for each $3 donation, Macy’s gives customers discounts of 15 to 25 percent off their purchases. About 1.7 million people have made donations. The fundraising effort begins again Saturday and runs through Memorial Day. Chris Marvin, director of the Washington-based “Got Your 6” campaign, says $3.9 million has been distributed to charities focused on empowering veterans with jobs, college programs and other support. “Got Your 6” is the military term for “I’ve got your back.” The campaign is run by the Boston-based charity Be the Change Inc.
Wranglers and horses help veterans heal (Ramona Sentinel)
“One of the first casualties of war is hope,” said Walt Rutherford. As the combat post-traumatic stress coordinator for Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD), Rutherford’s seen it all — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction, homelessness and the accompanying guilt, anger and shame. The negative effect being at war brings to individual lives does not surprise him. Ramona, Calif., resident Ellen Kaye Gerkhe, Ph.D., is also no longer surprised at the effect of combat on military personnel. But together with VVSD, she believes she has found a unique way to assist the veterans. “People with PTSD often have high anxiety levels, and my research has shown that horses help lower their anxiety,” she said. “I have nearly 10 years of research on heart rate variability and the positive effect of horses.” Among the goals of Veterans Village is reducing homelessness among vets by treating addictions and PTSD with traditional and alternative therapies. Using equines is a new venture for VVSD. Gerkhe offered her Rolling Horse Ranch as a test site for the program, dubbed The Heart of Horsemanship. “Our exercises range from the veterans managing their energy to basic groundwork with the horses,” she said. “It was important that the men knew how to connect to the horses and knew when they were connected.”
Cybersecurity bootcamp helping to boost veteran entrepreneurs (San Antonio Business Journal)
The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s Cybersecurity Boot Camp has chalked up more than 50 graduates and two startup companies during its first year of operation. The program seeks to encourage and assist military veterans interested in launching cybersecurity-related businesses in San Antonio. Many of San Antonio’s most successful cyberdefense companies over the years such as Wheelgroup, SecureLogix and SecureInfo Corp., were launched by former military officers who were pioneers in the field of cybersecurity. The bootcamp, founded in 2014, was spearheaded by former military officers that went on to build their own successful security companies including Denim Group’s John Dickson and Joe Krull (current chair of the program), as well as Brad Morrison, founder and CEO of Innove LLC. “The chamber is looking for those with military experience in cybersecurity because they are a natural fit to help fill the unmet and growing demand for cybersecurity work across the country,” said Henry Cisneros, chairman of the board of directors for the San Antonio Chamber. In addition to the 50-plus veterans who have gone through the program in the first year, there have been two successful startups that evolved from the program including Infocyte Inc. and Malstrom Labs. Chris Gerritz, CEO of Infocyte, said the bootcamp program helped him realize that he could build a successful cybersecurity company in San Antonio by introducing him to veterans who had come from the same background and had become successful building their own businesses after they got out of the military. The bootcamp consists of four quarterly programs with the first one focused on business strategy and planning, the second on business financing, the third on sales and marketing strategies, and the final session on human resources.
Pay it forward: Veteran wheelchairs for veterans (KIDK-Pocatello)
A local Vietnam Veterans of America group, led by a vet himself, is giving back to veterans and their families in a unique way. The man behind the curtain, or storage door in the case, is Bob Reinisch. He is the president of local chapter 972 of the V.V.A. He and his group of nearly 20 volunteers are collecting motorized wheelchairs and scooters to give to veterans in need. “Deserving veterans, their spouses or their children,” said Reinisch. The project has only been going about four months, but it’s really taking off. “Right now we’ve been accepting wheelchairs from Boise, Pocatello, Rexburg, as far as Salt Lake City, Utah. However, we’ve got requests to donate wheelchairs from all over the United States, Albany, New York, Vermont, Fargo North Dakota, even Hawaii and I’ve got plenty of volunteers to go pick up the chair from Hawaii,” said Reinisch. From there, DeeRay’s Autobody in Shelley does the refurbishment free of charge. “We’ll defray any cost that are incurred,” said Reinisch. That includes the final touches from Walker’s Upholstery. Brett Waters is one those who restores the chairs from start to finish. “Just a really good feeling. It really makes you happy and you see their faces,” said Waters. “Oh, it’s so tremendously emotional. We’ve got people that said, ‘I’ve been bed-ridden for months and now I have my mobility back.’ We’ve got another Marine at the veteran’s home that was recently an amputee. His whole family was there for his 92nd birthday and we presented him with a wheelchair on the same day and the whole family was in tears,” said Reinisch. One of the chair recipients is Shane Ackerschott, a former National Guard soldier who is now adjusting to living without the use of his legs. “If this man does this all in the kindness of his heart, he’s truly a saint, I mean to do this, cause there’s a lot of vets out there who can’t afford things like this,” said Ackerschott.