11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow

There are dozens of veterans who’ve decided to use their military experience or passion to set up inspiring accounts for others in need. Whether it be advocating for veterans’ rights or sharing their efforts to enjoy life to the fullest, these 11 Instagram accounts are a staple for any veteran.

1. Veteran with a sign

This account offers both humor and inspiring messages, capturing veterans around the U.S create a simple message with nothing more than a piece of cardboard and a marker. Their goal is to promote change by forming a connection through the signs and giving veterans a voice. 

2. Bobby Henline 

Bobby Henline, a Desert Storm veteran, is a motivational speaker and comedian. Henline has faced every possible obstacle and survived. After re-enlisting after 9/11, Bobby was deployed to Iraq 3 times with the 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd Armored Cavalry regiment. Tragically, n 2007, Bobby’s Humvee was struck by a bomb; he was the only soldier to survive out of 5. Over 38% of Bobby’s body sustained burns, some of which were all the way to the bone.

After six months’ hospitalization and 40 surgeries, Bobby wound up having his left hand amputated. After such a life-altering experience, Bobby dedicated himself to demonstrating what it means to fight for life and finding the bright side to his challenges. He’s also the founder of the “Forging Forward” foundation that aims to help other recovering veterans. His Instagram includes clips from his standup shows and motivational speaking. 

3. Melissa Stockwell

Stockwell is a retired army officer and who became the first Iraq War veteran to qualify for the Paralympics in 2008. Since then, she has become a two-time Paralympic triathlete and swimmer, returning to the games in 2016 to win a bronze medal. Since then, Stockwell has become a mother, motivational speaker and author. Her Instagram includes her journeys in motherhood and sports, plus insights into her work with other wounded veterans. 

4. Noah Galloway 

Galloway is an Army veteran of the Iraq War. During active duty, he lost his left arm above the elbow and left leg, above the knee. Since exiting the army as an amputee, Galloway has become a father and made a career out of public speaking and his love for extreme sports. He has made various tv appearances talking on behalf of amputee veterans and even participated in Dancing with the Stars season 20.

He also founded the No Excuses charitable fund, which provides funds to various fitness and health initiatives for veterans and civilians alike. His Instagram account heavily reflects his commitment and emphasis on setting goals and focusing on the individual emotional and physical journey.

5. Veteran Ink

For those who love tattoos, Veteran Ink showcases the tattoos of veterans across the world. However, the account’s mission isn’t simply to put a spotlight on some genuinely impressive ink. It also addresses the cherished stories behind these mesmerizing works of art. The great thing is that any veteran and their meaningful tattoo has a chance at being featured on their page; all you need to do is post your own photo and tag them. 

6. Make the Connection

Make the Connection specializes in sharing the stories of veterans and the family members who support them. Their goal is to bring more insight, resources and solutions to veterans struggling with issues with their mental health, physical health and everyday lives. Each post showcases a unique and personal account of what an honored vet has experienced.

7. Veteran Solutions

This nonprofit advocacy organization, also known as VETS, has a mission to end veteran suicide, the rate of which has alarmingly and steadily increased over recent years. Their account provides useful information, research and other resources for veterans in search of support. Veteran Solutions posts statistics and new info almost every day, keeping their followers informed and aware- perfect for veterans and active-duty soldiers alike!

8. Black Veterans Project

The Black Veterans Project is a nonprofit organization focusing on equality for Black soldiers, sharing stories of achievement and progress in and out of the military. They also address the challenging topic of prejudice and discrimination. Their funding goes towards continuous research, legal action and educating the public about inequality. They post a variety of insightful statistics, spotlight guest-speakers and stories every week.

9. Derek Weida

Derek Weida is an Iraq War veteran who had the lower portion of his left leg shattered by a rapid-fire AK-47 during a nighttime raid. In spite of many surgical attempts to repair his leg, none were successful, forcing Weida to retire from military service. Today, Weida is incredibly open about his struggles following his injury. He fell into a deep state of depression and became suicidal. As he puts it, he felt like he’d lost his purpose.

To heal both his physical and emotional wounds, he dove into the world of athletic endurance events. Slowly but surely, he found himself again and regained a passion for living. Weida is now an icon in the fitness world and continues to compete. His feed includes inspirational stories about his recovery, details of his training process and an inside look at his fitness workshops. 

10. Military Humor Daily 

This account is all about laughs and high-quality memes for every military branch. Whether you’re a veteran looking to relive your service duty days or just hoping to find some relatable military insider jokes, this is the military humor account for you. 

11. Military History

For a history buff, this is one of the best military Instagram accounts out there. Military History regularly posts incredible tidbits of history including amazingly detailed and often colorized photos from the Civil War, World War 1, World War 2, and the Vietnam War. They’ve managed to build an intricate gallery that will have you browsing for hours. 

And of course, follow us at We Are The Mighty at https://www.instagram.com/wearethemighty.

Veterans

Accepting life’s changes: A veteran living with MS

Michael Whittaker joined the military in July 1982 through the delayed entry program. He served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years, including 16 active and eight years in the Ready Reserve. Today, he lives with Multiple Sclerosis.

Michael Whittaker while serving in the US Navy
Michael Whittaker while serving in the US Navy

The following was written by Whitaker:

I remember a moment where an enemy was in sight during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and my fingers became numb. It felt like I had frostbite. I reported what happened to the physician, but he couldn’t find anything wrong. When I returned to the US, I had a series of tests and they figured it out. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2006.

When I was diagnosed with MS, I knew nothing about the disease. While I was extremely active before I had MS, my activities diminished as MS started to change my body. Before MS, I felt there were no barriers to what I could do.

Getting Diagnosed with MS

With MS, I found myself having a pity party and I stopped participating in the things I loved. It didn’t help that I pushed my family and friends away following my diagnosis. Everyone seemed to have a suggestion on what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I didn’t want to hear people’s home remedies, that they “understood” what I was going through, or that I could still do so much even though I had MS. It wasn’t until I became affiliated with VA’s spinal cord injury program that my outlook started to improve.

Getting Help

I joined an MS support group where I could talk about what I was feeling and experiencing. MS symptoms are different for everyone, but members of the group understand and can relate to how I feel. They understood not just about living with MS, but about serving in the military and dealing with the PTSD I was diagnosed with. Talking with others helped me to look at things as achievable.

Veteran Michael Whittaker competes in VA Adaptive Sports Tee Tournament.
Veteran Michael Whittaker competes in VA Adaptive Sports Tee Tournament.

I found that I didn’t have excuses not to do things, I just had to do them differently. I discovered adaptive sports through VA: riding a bike, golfing, air gun shooting and sailing were now things that I could do again. I even took some cooking classes at my local VA. In September 2019, I attended the National Disabled Veterans Tee Tournament in Iowa City, Iowa, with about 400 other Veterans. It was amazing to see so many Veterans together, competing in sports and making the most out of life.

While my diagnosis of MS was difficult to accept, I’ve now educated myself about the disease and feel prepared to take on anything that comes my way. Whenever I tell my providers that I can’t do something, they don’t accept the excuses. They help me to break down barriers that MS has caused, or that I’ve created myself. Everyone is dealing with changes and difficulties in life, and I’ve learned that adapting is the best way to move forward.

Accepting the Challenges and Changes

I’ve also learned the importance of communicating, not just with family, friends and my healthcare team, but with others going through the same thing. MS has changed me. There are days that I miss my military lifestyle, but I’ve learned that I’m not that guy anymore and that’s okay. Life changes us. I feel I can lift my head high now because of all the amazing staff, nurses and doctors at the Long Beach, CA VA medical facility who have helped me.

Visit VA’s website https://www.va.gov/ms/ for information on Multiple Sclerosis (MS), VA services, benefits and MS resources.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

Photographer Michael Stokes brings sexy vets back with ‘Invictus’ photo book

The photographer behind the ultra-sexy “Always Loyal” coffee table book has created a sequel project featuring wounded and amputee veterans, and it’s even steamier than the original.


Michael Stokes’ newest work, “Invictus,” showcases 15 recent veterans baring (almost) all — flaunting prosthetics and rock-hard abs in a bold celebration of their post-war bodies.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow

The photo book includes five British veterans and American vet-turned-comedian Bobby Henline, who was severely burned during a tour in Iraq.

Stokes said he chose to include Henline alongside amputee vets in response to Facebook comments he received about his earlier work, “Always Loyal.”

“One comment I got was ‘Hey, you’re hand-picking these gorgeous men [for the photos], why don’t you feature someone who’s burned?’ ” Stokes said. “Bobby and I had already been talking for six months at that point, so I thought it was a great opportunity to follow up and … do something a bit different.”

Check out Henline’s pose below:

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow

“Bobby is very popular and is able to stand alongside any of these guys and pull off the photo shoot,” Stokes said. “He pulls off sexy. He looks great.”

Stokes said that the goal of projects like “Invictus” is to give veterans a platform that could jumpstart modeling careers and lead to mainstream campaigns. 

This dream came true for double-amputee veteran and “Always Loyal” alum Chris Van Etten, who recently landed a Jockey underwear campaign after a Stokes photo shoot.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow

“When the Jockey campaign launched, I had all of these people tagging me on Facebook saying ‘You made this possible, you led the way on this, you broke the ice on this.,’ ” Stokes said. “And all of these people were giving me credit for making it not taboo for a corporation to do a campaign and photo shoots like this.”

“This is evidence that people are happy that these guys are getting exposure and getting mainstream gigs,” he added.

Despite enthusiasm from both within and outside of the military community, Stokes said there are still those who are uncomfortable with his “cheeky” shots of wounded vets.

“When you have a photo that goes viral, that’s when you hear negative comments,” Stokes said. “Some people have said things like ‘This is not respectful to the uniform; this is not dignified.’ … [But] they’re definitely the minority voice.”

Stokes said he doesn’t focus on his critics, but on the experience of his models in front of the camera.

The photo shoot “is different with each model,” Stokes said.

“One of the models is a double amputee — and way high up. And during the shoot he said ‘I didn’t know I looked like that from behind,’ ” Stokes explained. “He’s missing part of his hip … and he didn’t know he had such a nice butt.”

Stokes hopes “Invictus” will continue to change public perceptions and normalize glamour shots of amputee models.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Now this is a proper funeral procession for a vet

After being lost for 66 years on a battlefield a world away, Sgt. Philip James Iyotte returned home to South Dakota last week. In so doing, the Army veteran killed so long ago in the Korean Conflict brought with him the tears of a nation melded with the happiness of his homecoming.


As a young man, Iyotte was given the Lakota name Akicita Isnala Najin, meaning “Soldier Who Stands Alone.” But in two days of observances on Oct. 24 and 25, Iyotte was feted as a proud warrior who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that his countrymen could live in peace. And he will never again stand alone.

Just 20 years old when he enlisted in the Army in 1950, Iyotte was assigned to the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division and soon was deployed to the Korean theater. Seriously injured in battle by fragments from an enemy missile on Sept. 2, 1950, Iyotte was hospitalized for treatment but returned to his regiment in just 19 days.

Then, on Feb. 9, 1951, while in the heat of battle yet again near Seoul, Iyotte and several of his fellow soldiers were captured by Chinese forces and marched to a prisoner of war camp. Shot in the stomach by his captors and suffering from gangrene, Iyotte could not join two of his fellow Native American POWs in their flight for freedom. Instead, the young warrior sang them a Lakota honor song before their successful escape.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow
American M26 Pershing tanks in downtown Seoul, South Korea, in the Second Battle of Seoul during the Korean War. In the foreground, United Nations troops round up North Korean prisoners-of-war. Photo from the Naval Historical Center.

Then, the Lakota warrior disappeared for more than six decades, leaving behind anguished parents and 13 siblings who knew not what had become of their fearless son and eldest brother.

Waiting game

In the years since the last word of the Lakota warrior filtered down to rural South Dakota, the Iyotte family never gave up hope for the warrior who mysteriously disappeared at the hands of his Chinese captors. They maintained contact with the Army and attended meetings conducted by the Army’s Past Conflict Repatriations Branch, also known as the Army Casualty Office. And they provided DNA samples and contacted their state’s congressional delegation asking for assistance in finding their lost sergeant.

Read Also: Remains of fighter pilot hero return home after 10 years

Eva Iyotte, 63, the youngest child of the large family, wasn’t even born when her oldest brother disappeared into the Chinese POW camp. But as she grew up, revering a soldier she had never met, Eva promised her father on his deathbed that she would work to bring her brother home.

In August, the Army informed the family that Sgt. Iyotte’s remains had been identified with the assistance of Chinese officials. In short order, the serviceman’s remains were transported to Hawaii before being transferred to his South Dakota homeland.

Grand procession

On Oct. 24, Eva and her 40-year-old daughter, Dera, made the trek from their White River residence to a funeral home in Rapid City to retrieve the serviceman’s remains and begin two days of observances in honor of Sgt. Iyotte and his service to a grateful nation.

But what they encountered left them in wonderment. And what Sgt. Iyotte’s return created over the ensuing two days united Native nations, veterans of all colors and stripes, and a handful of remote reservation communities that dot western South Dakota.

“When we arrived at Kirk Funeral Home, there were probably 75 people waiting, including the Black Hills Chapter of the American Legion Motorcycle Riders, two honor guards, including Chauncey Eagle Horn and the Rosebud Legion Post honor guard, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe veteran’s group,” Dera said. “It was so amazing.”

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow
Photo courtesy of the American Legion Riders.

Promptly at 10 a.m., the procession left Rapid City with an escort from the South Dakota Highway Patrol and stopped in Interior to top off the bikes, before being met at the reservation border by an escort from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Police. Along the way, the procession grew to two miles in length. At Wanblee and a stop at the Eagle Nest College Center, virtually the entire town and tribal elders greeted the procession, before Richard Moves Camp offered prayers and the Eagle Nest singers sang a Korean honor song.

“It was a riveting moment, and we were so overwhelmed with love,” Dera recalled last week. “I could not believe how much love our people poured out to Philip. It was the most beautiful moment of my life, the whole day.”

“This was a man they never met, but a warrior, a hero,” she added. “They came out en masse to greet him. I loved the unity and happiness he brought to the whole state of South Dakota.”

As the procession departed Wanblee, Dera and Eva began noticing rural residents standing along the highway at the end of their driveways, many waving, others with their hand over their heart. Veterans stood alone on that endless highway, several in their uniforms, saluting the fallen soldier.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow
The procession for Sgt. Iyotte rides through Wanblee, South Dakota. Screengrab from a Rosebud Sioux Tribe YouTube video.

“Somewhere along the way, we passed a young man, maybe 14 years old, who was standing on the side of the road with his hand on his heart, just crying,” Dera said. “It was clear that Philip had brought the tears of a nation and happiness to his home. It’s been a long time since our nation cried tears of happiness, and that’s what he brought.”

Leaving Wanblee and proceeding toward the Rosebud Indian Reservation, still more local residents stood along the highway paying tribute to the soldier. At the reservation line, Rosebud Tribal Police Capt. Hawkeye Waln greeted the procession and escorted it to the Corn Creek community, with families standing at every turnout, many with American flags. Rosebud Councilman Russell Eagle Bear joined the motorcade, which headed south to the Black Pipe community, where they discovered every student and teacher with the Head Start program standing outside, all smiling and waving.

“I even saw a couple of homeless veterans carrying flags,” Eva said, her voice breaking as her eyes teared. “That really touched me. They showed such heart and such compassion in bringing this warrior home.”

“They say there are bad relations in South Dakota, but everyone knows Philip was just a veteran like them. Perhaps it’s time for healing and reconciliation.”

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow
Flag of the Rosebud Indian Reservation from Wikimedia Commons user Elevatorrailfan.

At Parmelee, known to the Lakota as Wososo, once the capital of the reservation, the entire town turned out to welcome their lost warrior.

“They had it decked out so beautifully, with random soldiers, brothers, and sisters of the struggle standing at attention,” Dera remembered. “I just cried. To see them come to attention after so many years, their pride so evident, was all you could ask out of your people.”

And the procession continued to grow. Dera’s brother, tribal policeman Bryan Waukazoo, estimated the line of the procession at seven miles.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow
The procession for Sgt. Iyotte was estimated by some as being more than 15 miles long. Screengrab from a Rosebud Sioux Tribe YouTube video.

Moving forward on BIA Highway 1 past the Ironwood community, with observers manning every approach, the convoy drove through the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Forest, sacred as the final resting place of many of the tribe’s legendary warriors.

“I wanted Philip to go by our leaders because he was a great warrior, so that they could see him as well and sense the forest because that is our greatest resource as a nation – our land and water,” Dera noted.

But the surviving Iyottes were unprepared for their greeting at the town of Rosebud. As they crested the hill above the community, they were met by the students and teachers of St. Francis Indian School and stopped for two Korean honor songs, and enough time for them to show appropriate respect for Eva, who had spent a lifetime looking for her brother. In turn, each student gave the lone sibling survivor a handshake or a hug.

As the throng headed down the hill to Rosebud, a fire engine from nearby Valentine, Neb., had its ladder extended, supporting a giant American flag, while townspeople lined the streets.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow
American Flag Hanging from Fire Truck Ladders. Photo from the City of Ludington.

“As we neared the fairgrounds at Rosebud, we were met by at least 2,000 people, a huge crowd, and they greeted my uncle like he was sitting in the back of a convertible,” Dera observed. “The unity was simply amazing.”

Still 30 miles from their destination, trailing nine miles of cars, the procession turned north onto US Highway 18 for White River. Ten miles from that town stood Navy veteran Leonard Wright, decked out in his dress whites, saluting his fellow serviceman in the middle of nowhere.

Horseback riders joined the solemn parade six miles from White River and Philip’s remains, contained in a simple pine casket, were transferred from a hearse to a horse-drawn wagon driven by John Farmer, whose parents, the late Eddie and Tressie Farmer, had long supported Eva’s quest to bring her brother home.

Ever so slowly, the procession now estimated at 12-15 miles long, then followed the wagon through White River to Sgt. Iyotte’s sister’s home, where a tipi stood on the lawn in the Swift Bear community. A medicine man offered a homecoming prayer and the Red Leaf Singers, led by Pat Bad Hand Sr., sang several Wakte Gli (coming home) songs, which told the story of Philip’s enlisting, of his injuries suffered in battle, of his rejoining the war, getting captured, and, ultimately, his untimely death.

Related: WWII veteran’s remains return home 74 years after ill-fated mission

“It was powerful and one of the most riveting experiences I’ve ever seen, a tribute to Philip’s sacrifice in serving his country and his people,” Dera said.

As the sun set that Oct. 24, Philip’s casket was loaded into a pickup and taken to the White River School gymnasium, which had been decorated by family members and local veterans. Prayers were said and a POW/MIA dinner took place, conducted by retired US Marine Corps veteran Brenda White Bull, the granddaughter of Sitting Bull, One Bull, and White Bull, all noted Sioux warriors.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow
After 66 years, Sgt. Philip Iyotte is finally brought home from Korea to South Dakota. Screengrab from a Rosebud Sioux Tribe YouTube video.

During a veterans roll call, Korean vets Dennis Spotted Tail, Homer Whirlwind Soldier, and Eugene Iron Shell Sr., the latter of whom attended school with Philip, were recognized. As the roll call, conducted in darkness, concluded, the final name called was Sgt.Philip J. Iyotte, whose name was repeated three times. Then someone spoke for the fallen warrior and said, “Sgt. Iyotte has gone to the great beyond.”

As the long day and reverential evening ceremony came to its finale, taps was played, followed by the Lakota Flag Song. Then every woman in attendance gave Philip a trill, the highest form of respect a woman can give a warrior.

“Never have I heard that many trills in my life,” Dera said, the memory still sending a chill up her spine. “I think some were from woman of the past, from every corner, from every place, a powerful thing in our nation.”

Laid to rest

Last week, on the sunny morning of Oct. 25, at the urging of Gov. Dennis Daugaard, flags in South Dakota were lowered to half-staff in recognition of Sgt. Iyotte’s service and sacrifice. In Washington, DC, flags also were lowered and the serviceman’s name and honors were entered into the Congressional Record.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth.

Half a nation away, at the tiny White River School gymnasium, Larry Zimmerman, secretary of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, gave remarks, followed by short speeches from representatives of US Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds, all lauding the young serviceman lost so long ago.

Before embarking on Sgt. Iyotte’s final journey to his resting place, Vietnam Army veteran Trudell Guerue, whose own uncle, John, is still missing in action from an American conflict, presented Eva with a handmade 24th Infantry Division flag made by his wife. Episcopal Church Bishop John Tarrant provided a blessing.

Sgt. Iyotte took his last ride on earth in a horse-drawn wagon to the family plot in a Two Kettle cemetery, escorted by horseback riders and making a slow, plodding trek up a hill, flags at half-staff streaming in a gentle breeze.

More prayers were made at the cemetery, followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps. As the final notes spread across the prairie, a Black Hawk helicopter flew in from the east, passing over the assembled crowd and leaving several hundred people in awe in its wake. A member of the honor guard reverentially presented Eva with the folded flag that had cloaked her brother’s casket.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow
A member of the Honor Guard presents a folded American flag to Eva Iyotte, the lone surviving sibling of Sgt. Philip Iyotte. Photo courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations.

Wrapped in a buffalo robe, handmade moccasins with porcupine quillwork at his feet, and enough wasna (pemmican with crushed berries and buffalo jerky) “to last him long enough on his final journey to the new camp where he will find his relatives,” Sgt.Philip James Iyotte was laid to rest, ending a 66-year odyssey that took him from the rolling plains of South Dakota to a Korean battlefield and back home again.

As the graveside ceremony concluded, the serviceman’s nephews and grandsons began covering his casket with sacred soil. As they did, two bald eagles soared on the updrafts overhead, as if acknowledging the return of a young man taken too soon and a warrior never to be forgotten.

“That’s how we knew Philip was home,” Dera said.

popular

A missing Airman’s remains were identified after 74 years

Captain Lawrence Dickson was just 24 when his red-tailed P-51 Mustang fighter was downed in 1944. He was an African-American fighter pilot, trained at the Army’s famed Tuskegee Army Airfield. Of the more than 1,000 black pilots trained at Tuskegee’s segregated flying school, Dickson was one of 27 to go missing in action over Nazi-occupied Europe. Presumed dead, his remains went missing for more than 70 years.

Dickson was leading an escort for a photo reconnaissance mission that day, taking off from an Allied airfield in Italy, bound for Prague. But Dickson’s plane began to have engine trouble. No sooner did the pilot radio his squadron about the issue did his wingman report Dickson clearing the canopy of his fighter to bail out, according to the Washington Post. He made the jump at 26,000 feet.

No wreckage or parachute evidence was ever found.


Before taking off for the last time on Dec. 23, 1944, Lawrence Dickson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Since it was his 68th mission, he was just two shy of getting to go back to the U.S. for leave from the war. Considering the war in Europe would end less than six months later, he very likely would have survived.

In August, 2017, a team of researchers in the Austrian Alps came across the wreckage of a P-51 Mustang and some human remains. They contacted the U.S. Army. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency analyst Joshua Frank found a crash site similar to Dickson’s listed in captured Nazi downed aircraft records. The DoD agency tested the DNA of the body found at the site against those of his now-75-year-old daughter, Marla Andrews.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow

Lawrence E. Dickson (second left), pictured in 1942 with other airmen at Tuskegee Army Army Air Field.

It was a match.

Sadly, Dickson’s wife Phyllis did not live to the see his remains repatriated to the United States. All she was ever told was that his body was nonrecoverable in 1949. But his daughter Marla still decorates her home with photos of her heroic father, his training certificates, and his medal citations.

She also keeps the letter from her father’s wingman, written 50 years after the war’s end.

“The act of writing to you so many years after … brings to me a sadness. And yet I hope it will bring you a moment of peaceful remembrance of a loving father whom you lost.”


MIGHTY CULTURE

The most recent Korean War remains are close to a final ID

In defusing tensions between the United States and North Korea in 2018, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un returned the remains of 55 allied troops, kept by the North for the previous 65 years or more. Almost 7,700 members of the United States Military remain unidentified from the Korean War, which killed more than 36,000.


North Korea returned the remains in July 2018 after a historic summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore. It was a first for a sitting President to meet the reclusive leader of North Korea and a first for the North Korean dictator to meet with a non-Chinese foreign leader outside of the Hermit Kingdom.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow

Transfer cases, containing the remains of what are believed to be U.S. service members lost in the Korean War, line a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during an honorable carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall)

Unidentified remains were transferred from the United Nations Command in South Korea to the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the team that manages the repatriation of American war dead, identifies them, and ensures they are returned to their families for a proper burial. They were received in an “honorable carry” ceremony in Hawaii.

The only personal item returned by North Korea that could identify any of the remains was the dog tag of Army medic Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel. It was the first of such returns since President George W. Bush halted the cooperation with North Korea in 2005.

11 veteran Instagram accounts you want to follow

An honor guard detail of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command personnel conducts an honorable carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 1, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall)

DPAA’s mission is to search for, find, and account for missing Defense Department personnel from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf War, and other recent conflicts. More than 82,000 Americans remain missing from those conflicts, with 34,000 believed to be recoverable.

The recently recovered remains have been mostly identified. The lab responsible is still finalizing the process and doing one last quality check before telling the families of the fallen. Master Sgt. McDaniel’s family has already received his dog tags, along with the hope that their long-lost father is among the honored dead on their way home. Only three others have been positively identified thus far.

Trump and Kim are expected to meet again in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2019.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Veterans compete in 2020 Golden Age Games… at home

The 2020 National Veteran Golden Age Games came to a close with the awards presentation announced on Facebook during a live broadcast.

A total of 259 Veterans registered to compete, including 81 women Veterans. The Veterans represented 36 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and 61 VA medical centers. Veterans received a total of 100 gold, 75 silver and 69 bronze medals across eight age categories


Veterans competed in gender, wheelchair, visually impaired and recumbent cycling categories.

VA’s Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events provides Veterans with opportunities for health and healing through adaptive sports and therapeutic art programs. These specialized rehabilitation events aim to optimize Veterans’ independence, community engagement, well-being and quality of life. The programs are built on clinical expertise within VA, with essential support from Veteran Service Organizations, corporate sponsors, individual donors and community partners.

Pictured above with her bicycle is OEF/OIF Veteran, Air Force Veteran and nurse Therese Kern. Kern represented the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. She is also a nurse practitioner at VA.

Here’s a great video about the games including the opening and a terrific slide show of previous participants from all the states. (Montage photos and videos are from 2019: pre-COVID, pre-masks.)

Welcome to the opening ceremonies of the 2020 National Veterans Golden Age Games at HOME

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“I had the time of my life.”

Feedback from Veterans has been overwhelmingly positive and many expressed their gratitude. Here are some comments:

“Though we were all at home in 2020, I can truly say I had the time of my life and enjoyed every day of the fitness challenge and 20k cycling event. I would love to be able to participate in 2021 alongside all the other cyclists in the 20k cycling event,” said David Warren. He was a first-time participant who represented the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

“Thanks to the national staff for finding a way to allow us to compete this year. Can’t wait to see my medals in person, and to get my T-shirt. Congrats to all the athletes that medaled and to those who competed! I had a blast. On top of getting in better shape after having to walk or ride bike every day for 30 days!! I also lost some weight,” said Coast Guard Veteran Nadine Lewis. She represented the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System.

“I wanted to say thanks for putting the at-home competition together and for giving us an opportunity to compete in the virtual challenge,” said Lenny McNair. He is an Army Veteran who represented the VA Maryland Health Care System.

Competition and reflection

Korean War and Army Veteran Phillip Joseph Dimenno, 88, served as a rifleman with the 24th Infantry Division, 34th Regiment. Joseph represented the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. He took gold in the powerwalk and wastebasket basketball and silver in javelin, discus and shot put.

Here’s a video interview of Joseph from several years ago as he returned to Korea.

https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/27/world/asia/south-korea-us-vets/index.html

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

This Civil War veteran served all the way through World War I

Just days after the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861, Peter Conover Hains graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. At a time when officers and cadets were deserting the U.S. military in favor of serving their home states, especially those who seceded from the Union, this Philadelphia native stayed put — and the U.S. Army would get their investment back in spades.


After 26 of his 57 classmates left to join the Confederacy, Hains became an artillery officer, firing off the first shot of the Battle of Bull Run. There, he fought bravely, even though the Union Army lost terribly. After as many as 30 smaller combat engagements, he eventually found himself in the Army Corps of Engineers and the United States would never be the same.

During the 1863 Siege of Vicksburg, the Union’s Chief Engineer fell ill and was unable to fulfill his duties. So, the responsibility shifted to then-lieutenant Hains. The engineering at Vicksburg would be crucial to the Union victory, so there could be no mistakes. The 12-mile ring of fortifications and entrenchments around the city kept the 33,000 Confederate defenders bottled up and isolated from the outside world. The surrender of Vicksburg, after a 40-days-long siege, along with the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg sounded the death knell for the Confederacy.

Grant promoted Hains to captain for his work.

In the postwar years, he was appointed Engineer Secretary of the U.S. Lighthouse Board and his constructions were so sound that many still stand to this day, undisturbed by rising sea levels or tropical storms. He also fixed the foul-smelling swamp that was Washington, D.C. by designing and constructing the Tidal Basin there, a sort of man-made reservoir that flushes out to the Washington Channel.

Still in the Army by the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, he served as a brigadier general of volunteers, but no known record of deploying to fight exists. Before and after the Spanish-American War, Hains served on the Nicaragua Canal Commission and was responsible for successfully arguing that such a canal should be built in Panama.

He retired from the Army in 1904 — but the Army wasn’t done with him. World War I broke out for the United States and in September, 1917, Peter Conover Hains was recalled to active duty one last time. For a full year, he managed the structural defenses of Norfolk Harbor and was the district’s Chief Engineer. At age 76, he was the oldest officer in uniform.

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Just be advised, every veteran who just got off IRR: They will find you.

His sons and their sons all continued Hains’ military tradition, attending West Point and serving on active duty. He, his sons, and his grandson are all interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

Articles

This D-Day vet played the role of his British commander in ‘The Longest Day’

On D-Day, Richard Todd was one of the paratroopers who took part in the capture of Pegasus Bridge. Todd had parachuted in after the original assault and helped reinforce the British Army’s Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry led by Maj. John Howard.


Little did Todd know at the time that he would find himself portraying that same British commander when legendary director Daryl Zanuck was making Cornelius Ryan’s book “The Longest Day” into an epic movie.

Imdb.com reports that Todd was very nearly killed on D-Day. He had been assigned to a new plane. The switch was a fortunate one since his original transport was shot down by the Nazis, killing all aboard. A 2004 article by the London Guardian reported that Todd’s D-Day involved making his way to Pegasus Bridge, reinforcing Howard’s unit, and helping to fend off German attacks on the bridge while under Howard’s command until seaborne forces linked up with the paratroopers.

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Pegasus Bridge, June 9, 1944. Richard Todd helped defend this bridge. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Todd never discussed his actions on D-Day. However, in his memoirs, “Caught in the Act,” he would write, “There was no cessation in the Germans’ probing with patrols and counter-attacks, some led by tanks, and the regimental aid post was overrun in the early hours. The wounded being tended there were all killed where they lay. There was sporadic enemy mortar and artillery fire we could do nothing about. One shell landed in a hedge near me, killing a couple of our men.”

By 1962, Richard Todd had become a well-known actor, with his most notable role having been Wing Commander Guy Gibson in the 1954 movie, “The Dam Busters.” Todd had also starred in “D-Day, the Sixth of June” three years later as the leader of a commando group sent to take out German guns.

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When he was asked to play himself in “The Longest Day,” he demurred, admitting his own role in the invasion had been a small part. The London Telegraph quoted him as saying, “I did not do anything special that would make a good sequence.” Zanuck, determined to have Todd in the film, cast him as Howard instead.

“The Longest Day” was one of Todd’s last big roles, as British cinema moved in a very different direction in the 1960s. He still found work acting, narrating the series “Wings over the World” for AE Television and appearing in several “Doctor Who” episodes, among other roles.

Todd would die on Dec. 3, 2009, after having been named a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1993. Below is the trailer for “The Longest Day.”

Veterans

Virtual Wall of Faces almost complete, needs remaining photos

As Vietnam War Veterans Day nears March 29, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Wall of Faces is nearly complete but needs help from the public to track down the last few dozen photos.

Of the 58,279 names inscribed on The Wall, there’s less than 80 photos needed to complete the Wall of Faces.

The virtual Wall of Faces features a page that honors and remembers every person on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Each page has a photo to go with each of the more than 58,000 names on The Wall. The Wall of Faces allows family and friends to share memories, post pictures and connect with each other.

Additionally, over 1,400 of the photos are poor quality. Anyone with better photos can upload them. A list of those are at located here.

Remaining names

The remaining names, listed in alphabetical order, are below. The list has name with a link to the Veteran’s page, service, date and location of birth, and date and location of death.

Hector M. Alcocer-Martinez, Army, born Feb. 11, 1941, in Caguas, Puerto Rico, died Jan. 13, 1967, in Binh Long

Antonio Barbosa-Villafane, Army, born Sept. 4, 1946, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died Feb. 4, 1966, location unknown

Ronald Lee Bellinger, Army, born July 8, 1947, in Jamaica, New York, died July 3, 1968, in Long An

Jose Emilio Benitez-Rivera, Army, born April 26, 1947, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, died June 22, 1968, in Thua Thien

Enrique Bermudez-Pacheco, Army, born Sept. 9, 1947, in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, died Aug. 9, 1967, in Binh Long

Roger Brown, Army, born June 13, 1949, in New York City, died April 9, 1969, in Tuyen Duc

UPDATE: FoundAngel Luis Burgos-Cruzado, Army, born March 14, 1945, in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, died May 6, 1968, in Gia Dinh

Miguel Antonio Bynoe, Army, born Oct. 3, 1948, in Jamaica, New York, died Sept. 17, 1971, in Quang Nam

Henry John Caballero, Army, born Dec. 27, 1950 in New York City, died July 3, 1969, in Hua Nghia

Steven Brian Calhoun, Army, born Feb. 12, 1947, in New York City, died May 18, 1969, in Pleiku

Gladston Callwood, Army, born Nov. 12, 1947, in New York City, died June 11, 1968, in Binh Duong

Ramon Castro-Morales, Army, born Sept. 10, 1947, in Santurce, Puerto Rico, died Dec. 17, 1968, in Quang Tin

Miguel Angel Diaz-Collazo, Army, born Nov. 13, 1947, in Corozal, Puerto Rico, died Feb. 13, 1968, in Sa Dec

Juan A. Diaz-Domenech, Army, born Oct. 30, 1948, in Santurce, Puerto Rico, died Sept. 23, 1969, in Pleiku

Gilbert Dowell, Army, born May 4, 1951, in New York City, died March 5, 1971, in Thua Thien

Eugene Edwards, Air Force, born Feb. 27, 1950, in New York City, died Nov. 30, 1970, in Quang Nam

Jose I. Garcia-Maldonado, Army, born March 18, 1947, in Naguabo, Puerto Rico, died April 30, 1967, in Hua Nghia

Manuel Gonzalez-Maldonada, Army, born Jan. 1, 1944, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, died Oct. 22, 1965, location unknown

Angel L. Gonzalez-Martinez, Army, born Jan. 23, 1947, in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, died June 9, 1968, in Quang Tin

Ramon Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Marine Corps, born Dec. 21, 1946, in Villa Palmeras, Puerto Rico, died May 19, 1967, in Quang Tri

Joel Humbe Gonzalez-Velez, Army, born March 27, 1946, in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, died Feb. 2, 1968, in Binh Long

George Richard Green Jr., Army, born July 25, 1945, in North Babylon, New York, died May 5, 1969, in Pleiku

Jorge Luis Guzman-Pagan, Army, born June 28, 1948, in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, died Jan. 26, 1969, in Dinh Tuong

Norman Winston Hassell, Army, born April 14, 1943, in New York City, died June 1, 1968, in Binh Duong

Daniel Irizarry-Acevedo, Army, born March 1, 1948, in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, died March 8, 1969, in Binh Duong

Angel Irizarry-Hernandez, Army, born Oct. 2, 1943, in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, died Oct. 13, 1967, in Binh Duong

Jorge Luis Isales-Benitez, Army, born Dec. 10, 1942, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died June 3, 1966, location unknown

Leroy Johnson, Army, born Jan. 21, 1942, in New York City, died Feb. 1, 1968, in Phong Dinh

Jerry Jones, Army, born July 4, 1946, in Springfield Gardens, New York, died Sept. 30, 1968, in Quang Tin

UPDATE: FoundRogelio Lebron-Maldonado, Army, born April 18, 1936, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died Oct. 25, 1968, in Hua Nghia

Jerry Lennon, Army, born Nov. 19, 1947, in New York City, died May 4, 1968, in Gia Dinh

Juan Antonio Lopez-Colon, Army, born May 12, 1942, in Loiza, Puerto Rico, died Feb. 17, 1966, location unknown

Frank Anthony Madison, Air Force, born Nov. 16, 1945, in New York City, died April 12, 1967, in Quang Tin

Benjamin Maldonado-Aguilar, Army, born Oct. 27, 1947, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, died Feb. 5, 1969, in Lam Dong

Walter A. Marable Jr., Army, born Oct. 6, 1944, in New York City, died Oct. 27, 1967, in Quang Tin

Walter Xabier Mendez, Army, born Aug. 18, 1951, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, died Feb. 1, 1971, in Thua Thien

Ismael Mendez Jr., Army, born Jan. 15, 1950, in New York City, died Dec. 28, 1968, in Bien Hoa

Jose Luis Miranda-Ortiz, Army, born Jan. 28, 1936, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died Nov. 30, 1967, in Binh Dinh

Luis Ernesto Muniz-Garcia, Army, born Oct. 17, 1949, in New York City, died Nov. 9, 1970, in Quang Nam

Thomas Wayne Myers, Army, born Dec. 13, 1946, in Jamaica, New York, died May 7, 1968, in Ong An

Ramon Oquendo-Gutierrez, Army, born Aug. 10, 1947, in Jayuya, Puerto Rico, died June 9, 1968, in Binh Duong

Ulises Ortiz-Colon, Army, born Nov. 3, 1947, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died Oct. 29, 1966, location unknown

Jose Juan Ortiz-Negron, Army, born Oct. 4, 1948, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died Nov. 24, 1968, in Vinh Long

Juan Ortiz-Rivera, Army, born June 24, 1942, in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, died Dec. 28, 1967, in Bac Lieu

Anibal Ortiz-Rivera Jr., Army, born Dec. 9, 1947, in New York City, died April 25, 1968, in Binh Duong

Angel Ortiz-Rodriguez, Army, born May 1, 1941, in Puerto Rico, died March 9, 1967, in Phu Yen

Hector David Oyola, Army, born April 13, 1949, in New York City, died Aug. 14, 1970, in Quang Ngai

Evangelis Pagan-Rodriguez, Army, born March 23, 1945, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, died Nov. 26, 1966, location unknown

Walter Palmer, Army, born Aug. 9, 1948, in New York City, died May 17, 1969, in Quang Tri

Raul Pena-Class, Army, born Jan. 5, 1948, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died March 13, 1968, in Quang Tri

Alberto Perez-Vergara, Army, born Feb. 27, 1940, in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, died March 13, 1966, location unknown

Marcos Pizarro-Colon, Army, born July 17, 1950, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died Aug. 11, 1970, in Phuoc Long

Antonio Quiles-Hernandez, Army, born May 10, 1950, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died April 18, 1971, in Quang Ngai

David Quinones, Army, born Oct. 13, 1946, in New York City, died Feb. 3, 1968, in Thua Thien

Raul Ramos-Jimenez, Army, born Nov. 14, 1944, in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, died June 13, 1968, in Gia Dinh

Carlos Manuel Rivera, Army, born June 18, 1939, in New York City, died Aug. 10, 1968, in Long An

Miguel Angel Rivera, Army, born June 29, 1948, in New York City, died March 21, 1969, in Phuoc Long

Cristobal Rivera-Cruz, Army, born Feb. 14, 1951, in New York City, died June 7, 1970, location unknown

Confesor Rivera-Martes, Army, born Nov. 24, 1928, in Utuado, Puerto Rico, died April 1, 1967, in Tay Ninh

Sylvester Roach, Army, born Feb. 5, 1943, in New York City, died Dec. 26, 1968, in Binh Dinh

Angel L. Rodriguez-Cotto, Army, born June 15, 1949, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, died July 30, 1969, in Binh Long

Jaime Rodriguez-Rivera, Army, born Aug. 27, 1948, in Caparra Terrace, Puerto Rico, died April 27, 1970, in Vinh Long

Pedro Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Army, born Dec. 6, 1948, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, died July 16, 1969, in Binh Duong

Harvey F. Rountree Jr., Army, born Feb. 3, 1950, in New York City, died July 15, 1969, in Binh Duong

Cesar Ernesto Sanchez, Army, born Oct. 26, 1938, in New York City, died Feb. 26, 1967, location unknown

Marcelino Santos-Vega, Army, born June 2, 1922, in Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, died June 17, 1966, location unknown

Vernon Parr Smith, Navy, born Jan. 17, 1947, in Los Angeles, died Feb. 5, 1968, in Quang Tri

Carmelo Sosa-Hiraldo, Army, born Jan. 27, 1947, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, died Aug. 24, 1968, in Dinh Tuong

Henry James Stuckey, Army, born Dec. 6, 1946, in New York City, died Jan. 10, 1967, in Kontum

Grady Thacker, Army, born Oct. 4, 1945, in Norcross, Georgia, died April 13, 1968, in Quang Tin

Fred L. Thomas, Army, born May 26, 1943, in Athens, Georgia, died Aug. 15, 1966, location unknown

William Matt Thompson, Army, born Feb. 12, 1919, in Jamaica, New York, died April 6, 1968, in Tuyen Duc

Rigoberto Torres-Lopez, Army, born Oct. 5, 1947, in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, died June 16, 1968, in Binh Duong

Jose R. Torres-Rodriguez, Marine Corps, born Feb. 15, 1949, in Guayama, Puerto Rico, died May 1, 1969, in Quang Tri

Alberto Vadi-Rodriguez, Army, born March 4, 1950, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, died March 17, 1972, in Bien Hoa

Hector Manuel Vega-Diaz, Army, born Nov. 10, 1948, in New York City, died March 8, 1969, in Binh Long

Victor R. Velazquez-Lopez, Army, born July 14, 1947, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, died Nov. 10, 1967, location unknown

Clarence Albert Whitehead, Army, born May 19, 1935, in Atlanta, Georgia, died March 25, 1966, location unknown

Reinaldo Zayas-Castro, Army, born Feb. 10, 1941, in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, died May 4, 1966, location unknown

This article originally appeared on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Team Rubicon does more than rebuild disaster areas

Susan Ward had only served five weeks in the military when she was medically discharged after an injury — but that didn’t change the fact that she wanted a life in service.

“From that moment when I got out, I was devastated,” she tells NationSwell. “That was my life goal and plan. I didn’t know what to do. I love helping and serving people, doing what I can for people.”

That feeling isn’t uncommon for thousands of military veterans who have a hard time transitioning to civilian life. Though unemployment among veterans who have served since 2001 has gone down, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 370,000 veterans who were still unemployed in 2018.


Numerous transition programs exist to help vets bridge that gap, but for Ward, finding a gig — or even volunteer work — that was service-oriented was necessary for her happiness. She eventually became a firefighter in Alaska, but after 10 years a different injury forced Ward to leave yet another job she loved. She fell into a deep depression, she says, and struggled to find another role that allowed her to fulfill her passion for public service.

“I was on Facebook one day and just saw this post about Team Rubicon, and I had this moment of, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to do this,'” she says.

Team Rubicon began as a volunteer mission in 2010 after the earthquake that devastated Haiti. The organization offered disaster relief by utilizing the help of former service workers from the military and civilian sectors.

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First Team Rubicon operation in Haiti
(Team Rubicon photo)

It has since evolved into an organization fueled by 80,000 volunteers. The majority are veterans who assist with everything from clearing trees and debris in tornado-ravaged towns to gutting homes that have been destroyed by floods. The teams, which are deployed as units, also work alongside other disaster-relief organizations, such as the Red Cross.

Similar to Ward, Tyler Bradley, a Clay Hunt fellow for Team Rubicon who organizes and develops volunteers, battled depression after he had to leave the Army due to a genetic health problem.

“After I found [Team Rubicon], I was out doing lots of volunteer work. My girlfriend noticed and said she would see the old Tyler come back,” Bradley says. “Team Rubicon turned my life around.”

“There’s one guy who says that just because the uniform comes off doesn’t mean service ends,” says Zachary Brooks-Miller, director of field operations for Team Rubicon. He adds that the narrative around the value of veterans has to change. “We don’t take the approach that our vets are broken; we see vets as a strength within our community.”

In addition to Team Rubicon’s disaster-relief efforts, the organization also helps to empower veterans and ease their transition into the civilian world, according to Christopher Perkins, managing director at Citi and a member of the company’s Citi Salutes Affinity Steering Committee. By collaborating with Citi, Team Rubicon was able to scale up its contributions, allowing service workers to provide widespread relief last year in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. Those efforts were five times larger than anything the organization had previously done and brought even more veterans into the Team Rubicon family.

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Team Rubicon cleanup

“Being around my brothers and sisters in arms whom I missed so much, it was so clear to me the impact Team Rubicon would have not only in communities impacted by disaster, but also among veterans,” says Perkins, a former captain in the Marines. “Every single American should know about this organization.”

Although Team Rubicon doesn’t brand itself as a veterans’ organization, it does view former members of the military as the backbone of its efforts. And many veterans see the team-building and camaraderie as a kind of therapy for service-related trauma.

“There are so many people who have [post-traumatic stress disorder] from different things, and when you’re with family you have to pretend that you’re OK,” says Ward, who deals with PTSD from her time as a soldier and firefighter. “But when you’re with your Team Rubicon family, it’s a tribe.”

This article originally appeared on NationSwell. Follow @NationSwellon Twitter.

Veterans

VA adapting to meet women Veterans’ needs

This week I was given an incredible statistic: Just 20 years ago, VA served a little more than 150,000 women Veterans. This was before 9/11, an event that prompted so many American men and women to enlist and defend their country.

Today, VA is serving more than 740,000 women Veterans. That’s more than four times as many women coming to VA for the health care and benefits they earned through their service.

This dramatic growth is a welcome sign that opportunities are opening up for women in the armed forces more than ever before. It also represents a challenge for VA, which needs to evolve to meet the needs of these women patriots.

The good news is that thanks to your hard work, VA is meeting this challenge by making sure we have the capacity to care for every woman who walks through our doors.

We have at least two women’s health care providers at each of our health care facilities who provide gynecology, maternity, specialty care and mental health services for women. We are using our modernized electronic health record to more closely track breast and reproductive care in order to produce better health care outcomes for women. We are also reducing and eliminating gender disparities in areas like chronic disease management and prevention.

As a result, our latest outpatient surveys show that 83.8% of women trust the care they receive at VA. That trust reflects your ongoing commitment to making sure VA serves anyone who served this nation.

There is another kind of trust we need to instill at VA: trust that women will be treated with the respect they have earned. But we are making important progress here as well.

As soon as he took the job in 2018, Secretary Wilkie understood the importance of making sure all our women Veterans feel safe and comfortable here. VA has made it clear that this not a boy’s club, and that there is no tolerance for sexual harassment, assault or any other behavior that creates a hostile environment for women.

We have backed up that policy with action that has been supported by VA staff across the country. We have trained staff on our collective responsibility to serve women Veterans, stressed the importance of taking sexual harassment incidents seriously, committed resources aimed at preventing these incidents from happening, and pushed for the thorough investigation of these incidents when they do occur.

In 2019, VA established a Harassment and Assault Policy and Reporting Task Force to strengthen efforts to crack down on assault and harassment, and boost reporting procedures. Many of you participated in 2019’s Stand Up to Stop Harassment Now campaign, which encouraged patients, staff, visitors and volunteers to intervene whenever possible and report harassment to supervisors.

This year, I personally oversaw a council of experts within VA to ensure our efforts to keep women Veterans safe were strategically aligned and as strong as possible. VA also launched a database on sexual assault incident reporting that will help VA track and analyze sexual assault and harassment, and give us the information we need to target our efforts to reduce these incidents further.

And our Center for Women Veterans has amplified these messages to Veterans and staff through its “I Am Not Invisible” campaigns, new employee orientation sessions, outreach sessions with minority women Veterans, and more widely on social media.

When someone puts on the uniform, it doesn’t matter if they’re a man or a woman. What matters is that that person loves this country so much they are compelled to defend it, and that should compel us to do our very best to give them the respect and compassion they have earned when they arrive at VA.

I’m proud to be working with so many at VA who share this goal, and I thank you for getting us closer to it every day.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Thieves drained the bank account of the US’ oldest living veteran

Richard Overton just celebrated his 112th birthday in his hometown of Austin, Texas. Unbeknownst to him, identity thieves were using his compromised bank account to purchase savings bonds through TreasuryDirect. Despite his well-known affinity for whiskey and cigars, the supercentenarian and World War II vet still requires round-the-clock care that costs up to $15,000 per month.

The elderly veteran”s cousin Volma first discovered the theft after noticing a discrepancy in his accounts while trying to make a deposit, according to NBC Austin affiliate KXAN reporter Kate Winkle.

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Richard Overton with Volma Overton, Jr., who first noticed the discepancy in the elderly veteran’s bank account.
(Richard Overton’s Go Fund Me)

Volma checked the balance of the account after making the deposit and noticed that the balance reflected only the deposit made. He then noticed a large number of debits he couldn’t understand.


Related: America’s oldest veteran gives you the secrets to life at 112

“What the hell are these debits?” Volma recalled thinking. Overton’s bank and TreasuryDirect are aware of the transactions are are taking appropriate measures.

Overton is a staple of the Austin community, a well-known personality who receives well-wishers from around the city on his birthday every year. He is featured on one of the city’s murals depicting influential African-American and Latino personalities. On his latest birthday, he received a visit Austin mayor, Steve Adler.

The 112-year-old is reasonably famous, especially among locals and much of his personal information is available online — though not his bank account and social security numbers. The drained account is separate from a GoFundMe account the family uses to raise money for Overton’s care.

His GoFundMe account keeps Overton in his home and away from having to live in a nursing home. Born in 1906, he has outlived all his closest relatives and requires $480 a day for his constant care.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information