Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice

There are many memorials scattered throughout this beautiful land of ours, dedicated to the sacrifice and honor shown by our men and women in uniform. At these monuments, crowds gather from all over the country to pay their respects on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

But there’s a memorial, located in Anthem, Arizona, that is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing — the Anthem Veterans Memorial. It’s truly a spectacular sight and it makes an annual appearance on social media. Every year, at around 11:11 AM on the 11th of November, the light shines through it perfectly, spotlighting an image of the Great Seal of the United States of America.

It’s a beautiful and breathtaking thing to see, surely, but with so much attention on that single, annual moment, many intricacies fall to the wayside. In actuality, every tiny, little detail of the site is symbolic — here’s how.


Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
The Army pillar is 17 ft tall, the shadow on the ground reaches 7ft off the base of the monument, and the Coast Guard pillar is 6 ft tall — because 17-7-6.
​(Anthem Community Council)

Located just north of Phoenix, Arizona, the Anthem Veterans Memorial was first envisioned in 2009 and finished in 2011. It was created by Renee Palmer-Jones, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. (Retired) Ron Tucker, and James Martin to give the city a way to honor the veterans within their community.

The memorial consists of five pillars, each bearing the insignia of a branch of the Armed Forces, stacked in order of Department of Defense precedence: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The pillars are made of white marble, arranged on red brick, and stand against the backdrop of the blue Arizona sky — the colors of Old Glory.

Once a year, when the light shines just right, the pillars cast a combined shadow that perfectly encircles the Seal of the United States, symbolizing how the joint effort of our armed forces support this great nation.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
You can still see it fairly well in mid-November, but it’s only going to be spot-on perfect on Veterans Day.
(Anthem Community Council)

Surrounding the Great Seal are 1750 red paver bricks — over 750 of these pavers bear the names of the servicemen and women who have supported our nation. On the outside of the pavers are two rows of bricks called the “Soldier Rows,” which symbolize the unbreakable defense our troops offer.

The knowledge of math, geometry, and astronomy required to get the monument right was intense. Construction began in June, 2010, which meant there was only one single moment (November 11, 2010) to make sure everything was just right before it was officially unveiled on November 11th, 2011. On any given year, the perfect circle will happen at 11:11:11 AM, give or take 12 seconds.

Each year, on Veterans Day, crowds will gather, unblinkingly, waiting for that perfect moment, honoring those who fight or have fought for our nation.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Portland Protests: Veterans aren’t special—the oath they swear is

The video of my Naval Academy classmate, Chris David, beaten by federal police last month in Portland, shook me. Like bad guys from a straight-to-DVD movie, cowardly officers attacked a peaceful American exercising his Constitutionally-guaranteed right to protest. David stood unyielding, bearing the blows, earning the nickname ‘Captain Portland’ for his almost superhuman resistance.

Ironically, as police obscured their identity, David wore his Naval Academy sweatshirt for ease of identification, as a veteran. As if the word ‘Navy,’ written boldly across his chest might act as a shield, like Superman’s ‘S’ or Captain America’s star. As someone who’s gotten out of countless tickets by virtue of the Marine Corps sticker on my car, I’d shared the same illusion: My veteran status somehow made me special.


David and I reported aboard the Naval Academy to become midshipmen in July, 1984. After the shearing, the uniform issue and the tearful goodbyes, we swore an Oath:

‘I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…’

By swearing allegiance to the Constitution and not an individual, such as the president, we bound ourselves only to the American people. Despite the nobility (or naivety) of David’s mission — to remind federal officers of their Oath to the Constitution, his presence at the protest came as a surprise for many Americans who’d dismissed protestors as nothing more than ‘lawless hooligans.’

Yet David, and our class, served the American people faithfully as Navy and Marine Corps officers, unhesitatingly laying our collective asses on the line. We’ve got the scars, both physical and mental—and disability ratings as proof. Because yes, we believe in America.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that David was at the protest. David, along with brother and sister veterans, were there to support not only one another, but to defend the Constitution, and by extension, the American people. It’s what we swore to do. Current leadership may possess the law, but not the will to resist an old Marine, soldier, sailor, airman or Coast Guardsman who swore that Oath. Because it’s the Oath that makes us special. Just ask ‘Captain Portland.’

Brian O’Hare is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, former Marine Corps officer and disabled combat veteran. He’s a former Editor-at-Large for ‘MovieMaker’ magazine and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Brian’s fiction has appeared in ‘War, Literature and the Arts’, ‘Liar’s League, London’, ‘Fresh.ink‘, ‘The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature’ and the ‘Santa Fe Writers Project’. He currently lives in Los Angeles. You can follow him on Instagram/Twitter @bohare13x.

Editor’s note: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors on WATM do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints or official policies of WATM. To submit your own op-ed, please email Managing Editor Tessa Robinson at Tessa.Robinson@wearethemighty.com.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the 10 best places for veterans to live in 2017

A lot of factors go in to a veteran’s post-military life. Where they choose to live when they get out of the service is important for many reasons. Veterans Affairs hospitals in some areas of the country are overcrowded and have a hard time giving fast, quality care. Access to decent schools and a quality education for the vets to use their GI bill benefits are another factor.


Analysts from WalletHub looked at 100 American cities and judged them based on four criteria: employment, economy, quality of life, and health. For each of those areas of study, the analysts looked at a number of weighted metrics, including skilled jobs, veteran unemployment rates, housing affordability, median veteran income, VA facilities, the quality of those facilities, and more.

These 10 cities may or may not surprise you, but they’re definitely worth a look!

10. Austin, Texas

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice

This should surprise no one. Austin is a city that has been coming up in conversation for more than twenty years. From its proximity to the military bases in Texas, to its active nightlife and vibrant social scene (not to mention the SXSW Festival that comes around every year), Austin is the place to be for everyone — not just veterans.

9. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Also the home of the Air Force Academy (this is not a photo of the Academy).

In the proverbial shadow of Pike’s Peak, Colorado Springs is the second most populous city in Colorado. It is consistently ranked as one of the top spots to live in America, not just for vets. Also, apropos of nothing, marijuana is totally legal here.

8. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Here’s a statue of the mayor. Probably.

Virginia Beach offers more for the avid outdoor veteran than just the beach. Nearby Back Bay Wildlife Refuge offers kayaking, birdwatching, and hiking, among other activities. Even the thriving downtown entertainment offers more for vets than it did even just a few years ago.

7. Raleigh, North Carolina

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Everyone drives way too fast though.

“The City of Oaks” has a vast array of schools, public and private, along with nearby Chapel Hill and Durham. It also boasts a world-class technical research park that houses IBM, Cisco, Sony Ericsson, and Lenovo.

6. Plano, Texas

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Really?

Yes, really. Plano and the greater Dallas area are proud handlers of U.S. military tradition. The (relatively) nearby presence of Sheppard Air Force Base, NAS Fort Worth, and JRB Carswell ensure there will be a great infrastructure for veterans who stick around the area.

5. Tampa, Florida

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Everything is prettier at sunset.

Tampa was the top bootlegging and rumrunning towns during prohibition. Tampa has been big on the military since Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders staged their visit to Cuba from here. On that note, Tampa is also the only place to visit Cuba in the mainland U.S. Yeah, check out José Marti Park.

4. Fremont, California

Freemont is a young city, an amalgamation of five other cities that came together in 1956. But if you’re going to be in the San Francisco area, Fremont is the furthest south you can still hop on the BART.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Or you can take a hot rod. Freemont has an awesome car show every year. Bring your A-game.

3. Seattle, Washington

I’m not sure this one needs an explanation. Seattle is home to Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, and more. It’s probably more difficult to get a job at that fish market where they throw fish at each other.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Dare to follow your dreams, though.

2. San Diego, California

The town that brings you Navy SEALs might have just stolen Amazon from Seattle. So they might be up a level on this list next year.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
See if you can find all 127 SEALs hidden in this photo.

1. Boise, Idaho

Boise being in the top ten might have surprised you, but it didn’t surprise anyone in Boise. The residents enjoy a high quality of life, which includes the Greenbelt – a 25-mile long strip of wildlife habitats and bike paths along the Boise River.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Boise!

MIGHTY TRENDING

Veterans’ GI Bill benefits to continue during COVID-19 pandemic

Student Veterans will continue to receive their GI Bill benefits under S. 3503, which President Trump signed into law March 21.


The law enables VA to continue providing the same level of education benefits to students having to take courses online due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice

The law gives VA temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted in the event of national emergencies. This allows for continued payment of benefits even if the program has changed from resident training to online training.

Thanks to the law, GI Bill students will continue receiving the same monthly housing allowance (MHA) payments they received for resident training until Dec. 21, or until the school resumes in-person classes.

In the wake of COVID-19, thousands of students nationwide have been converted to distance learning as many educational institutions are transitioning to technology-based lesson delivery.

“I commend President Trump and Congress for their work on this important law,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “It will give Veteran students certainty as they continue their education.”

Students receiving GI Bill benefits are not required to take any action. Benefits will continue automatically. VA will work closely with schools to ensure accurately certified enrollments and timely processing. Updates will be provided to students via direct email campaigns and social media regarding VA’s effort to implement these new changes.

Students with specific questions can contact the Education Call Center at: 888-442-4551 between 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.

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

Articles

VA may close 1,100 underused facilities nationwide

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is mulling whether to shutter more than 1,100 facilities nationwide as the agency moves more of its health programs to the private sector.


Appearing May 3 before the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, Shulkin told lawmakers the VA had compiled a list of 1,165 vacant or underused buildings that could be closed, saving the federal government $25 million annually.

Shulkin didn’t specify which facilities would close and local VA officials didn’t return messages seeking comment that afternoon.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Dr. David J. Shulkin, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (VA Photo/ Robert Turtil)

Shulkin, a deputy holdover from President Barack Obama’s administration whom Congress then unanimously approved to run the VA earlier this year, said Congress needs to determine how the facilities would be closed. He suggested the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure — or BRAC — process might be a good model.

But Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R- Nebraska, urged him to never “use the term BRAC because it brings up a lot of bad memories” and sets up the VA “for a lot of controversy.”

Also read: The VA still has thousands of jobs unfilled

President Donald Trump seeks $78.9 billion in discretionary funding for the VA, a 6 percent increase from the 2017 fiscal year level. Trump’s budget plan requests $3.5 billion to expand the Veterans Choice Program, which enables veterans to receive certain kinds of treatment outside of the VA system.

If enacted, Trump’s proposal also would add $4.6 billion in funding to spur better patient access and greater timeliness of medical services for the agency’s more than 9 million patients.

Shulkin said the VA authorized 3.6 million patient visits at private-sector health-care facilities between Feb. 1, 2016 and Jan. 31, 2017 — a 23 percent boost compared to the previous year.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
A quote from Abraham Lincoln on a sign at the Department of Veterans Affairs Building in Washington, DC. | Photo via Flickr

With more than 370,000 employees, the VA has the second-largest workforce in the federal government. Shulkin said it must become more efficient at delivering services to veterans. Some of the most entrenched problems are in the appeals process for veterans who have lodged disability claims following their military service.

Currently, the VA has nearly 470,000 such cases pending appeal. For cases awaiting action by the Board of Veterans Appeals, the typical wait time is six years for a decision. The ranking Democrat on the subcommittee that hosted Shulkin on May 3, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, termed the appellate system an “absolute mess.”

Shulkin conceded that it “undoubtedly needs further improvements” and urged Congress to legislate reforms and streamline the process into a “modernized” system. The longer Capitol Hill waits to fix the process, he said, “the more appeals will enter the current broken system.”

Veterans

2020 Veterans Day free meals and restaurant deals and discounts

The following is a list of Veterans Day discounts at restaurants for 2020. Visit often as the list is now being updated as new discounts come in.

All of the discounts have been confirmed, either through press release or direct communication with the company. Check out all the other discounts being offered this Veterans Day.

Keep in mind that most businesses require proof of military service. What identification do you need to prove that you’re a veteran? Click here for a few common options.

Not all franchise locations participate in their national chain’s Veterans Day programs — be sure contact your nearest establishment to make sure they are participating.

Make sure to visit the Military.com Discounts Center for more discounts and articles. And sign up for the Military Deals and Discounts Newsletter to get even more discounts and information in your inbox on how Military Families can save big.

2020 Veterans Day Restaurant Discounts:

54th Street Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal up to $12 on November 11. Dine-in only.

7-Eleven — Active-duty, retired, veteran, guard, reservists and family members get a free coffee or Big Gulp on November 11. (7-Eleven app and Veterans Advantage membership required.)

Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant — Veterans and active-duty military can choose one free entrée from the Veterans Day menu on November 11 at select locations.

Bandana’s BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Budget Buster Meal on November 11

Bar Louie — Active or retired military get a free craft burger or flatbread of your choice on November 11. Dine-in only.

BJ’s Restaurant and BrewhouseOn November 11, all current and former military members receive a free entree up to $14.95 plus a free Dr. Pepper beverage. Dine-in only.

Black Angus Steakhouse — On November 11, veterans get the All-American Steak Plate for $10.99. This deal is available for restaurant dining and takeaway orders.

Bob Evans — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal from a select menu on November 11. Dine-in only.

Brick House Tavern + Tap — Veterans get 20% off on November 11. Dine-in only.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. — Military personnel and their families receive 20% off on November 11. Dine-in only.

Buffalo Wild Wings — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free order of 10 boneless wings and fries on November 11. The offer is available for dine-in or takeout.

California Pizza Kitchen –Veterans and active military get a complimentary meal from a select menu. Dine-in and walk-in takeout only. 

Casey’s General Stores — Service members both past and present get a free coffee on November 11 across its over 2,200 locations.

Cattlemens — Active, inactive, and retired military personnel get a complimentary 8 oz. Sirloin Steak dinner on November 11.

CentraArchy Restaurants — Veterans and active-duty military members get an entree from the full menu at any location for half price on November 11. Guests are encouraged to make reservations.

Chili’sVeterans and active-duty service members get a free meal from a select menu on November 11. Available for in-restaurant only.

Cicis Pizza — Active and retired military get a free adult buffet on November 11. Dine-in only. Coupon required.

Coco’s — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free slice of pie, along with a “Buy One, Get One” free deal at all locations. The offer is valid for dine-in or take out orders; online and delivery not included.

Country Kitchen — Active and retired military get a free Country Scramble on November 11 at participating locations. Dine-in only.

Cracker BarrelVeterans get a complimentary slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake when dining at any location on November 11.

Eat’n Park — All former and current military personnel and their families will receive a 10% discount for the entire month of November. Dine-in only.

Einstein Bros. Bagels — Veterans and active-duty military get a free hot or iced medium coffee on November 11.

Famous Dave’sMilitary personnel get a free Free Georgia Chopped Pork Sandwich + Side at participating locations on November 11. Valid for Dine-In, To Go, and Online Ordering. Not valid for call in orders.

Farmer Boys — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Big Cheese cheeseburger on November 11 at participating locations.

Friendly’s — Veterans and active-duty military get a free All-American meal for lunch or dinner, which consists of the All-American Burger, served with a side of fries and a drink on November 11. Dine-in only at participating locations.

Frisch’s Big Boy — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal, all day, up to $10 at participating locations on November 11. This tribute is available at Frisch’s dine-in, drive-thru and carryout.

Golden Corral — Golden Corral Restaurants’ Military Appreciation Night free dinner will be available on November 11. Military retirees, veterans, active-duty, National Guard and Reserves are all welcome.

Green Mill Restaurant and Bar — Veterans and active-duty military get a free menu item at participating locations on November 11. Dine-in only.

Hamburger Stand — Veterans and active-duty military get a free hamburger, regular fries and a small Pepsi on November 11.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free Classic Burger (with or without cheese). This offer is redeemable for in-store dining or to-go orders placed by phone. 

Houlihan’s — Veterans, active-duty military and military families get $10 off a $30 food purchase at participating locations on November 11. This offer is valid for in-restaurant dining or for carryout. Orders made via houlihans.com or a third-party delivery service are not eligible.

Hy-Vee — Veterans and active military members get a free curbside pickup breakfast November 11 from 6 – 10 a.m.

Kolache Factory — Veterans and active-duty military get a free kolache and a cup of coffee on November 11 from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.

LaMar’s Donuts — Veterans and active-duty military get a free donut and 12 oz. coffee at participating locations on November 11.

Little Caesars — Veterans and active military get a free HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo at participating stores on November 11, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Logan’s Roadhouse — On November 11 between 3 and 6 pm, veterans and military personnel receive a free meal from a special menu.

Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQActive-duty personnel and veterans get a free Lucille’s Original Pulled Pork Sandwich on November 11.

Luna Grill — Veterans and active-duty service members get a “Buy One, Get One Free” deal from November 11 through 13, valid for dine-in or to-go orders. (Not valid online or delivery.)

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants — Veterans, National Guard, Gold Star parents and Gold Star Spouses can enjoy a half priced entrée from a special menu on November 8. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Menchie’s — Veterans who visit stores on November 11 get their first 6 oz of froyo free.

Mission BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free sandwich on November 11.

O’Charley’s – Active-duty military and veterans can enjoy a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.

Pilot Flying J — Veterans get a free breakfast combo at participating locations November 9 through 15 through a special offer in the app.

Red Lobster — Veterans, active-duty military and reservists get a free appetizer or dessert from a select menu on November 11. Dine-in only.

Red Robin – Veterans and active-duty military who are Red Robin Royalty members can redeem a free Tavern Double Burger with Steak Fries any time between November 12 and 30 for dine-in or to-go. The offer will be automatically uploaded to your dashboard.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery — Active-duty service members and veterans get a free meal from a select menu November 11. Dine-in only.

Sagebrush Steakhouse — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.

Shari’s — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free slice of pie, along with a “Buy One, Get One” free deal at all locations. The offer is valid for dine-in or take out orders; online and delivery not included.

Shoney’s — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free All You Care To Eat, Freshly Prepared Breakfast Bar on November 11 until 11 am. Dine-in only.

Starbucks — Veterans, military service members and military spouses get a free tall (12-oz) hot brewed coffeeat participating stores on November 11.

Tap House Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.

Wienerschnitzel — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Chili Dog, small fries and a small drink at participating locations on November 11.

Yard House — Veterans and active duty military receive a complimentary appetizer on November 11.

2019 Veterans Day Restaurant Discounts:

151 Coffee — Military personnel are invited to bring your family for free drinks on November 11.

Ahipoki — Veterans and active-duty military receive 50% off any bowl at all locations across Arizona and California on November 11

Another Broken Egg Cafe — Veterans and active-duty service members can enjoy a free Patriot French Toast Combo and coffee on November 11.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza — Veterans and active military get a complimentary 12″ pizza on November 10 and 11.

Applebee’s — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal from a special menu on November 11.

Army & Air Force Exchange Service — The Exchange will feature one-day only specials on November 11, including a free coffee for all shoppers at Express and participating Exchange restaurant locations. And MILITARY STAR cardholders will earn double points November 11 andadditional discounts with their card.

Aroma Joe’s Coffee — Veterans and active-duty military get up to a 24oz drink for free on November 11.

Aspen Creek Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary meal from a special menu from 11 a.m. to close on November 11.

Back Yard Burgers — On November 11, veterans get a free Classic Burger.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free BD’s All American Burger and side on November 11 at participating locations.

Bagger Dave’s — Active, non-active, reservists and retired personnel get a free Great American Cheeseburger and Fries on November 11.

Bakers Square — Active-duty military and veterans can enjoy a free meal on November 11.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s — Veterans will be offered a free meal with purchase of equal or greater value up to $10 on November 11

BIBIBOP Asian Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a free bowl on November 11.

Biggby Coffee — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free brewed coffee up to 24 oz. on November 11.

Bombshells Restaurant and Bar — Veterans and active-duty military get free meals and soft drinks and a 20% discount for accompanying family members on November 11.

Bonanza Steakhouses — Veterans and active military get buffet specials at select locations on November 11.

Bruegger’s Bagels — Active-duty military members, veterans, reservists and military spouses get a free bagel with cream cheese on November 11.

Buffalo Wings & Rings — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free “Pick 2” Lunch Combo on November 11 between 11 am and 3 pm.

Burntwood Tavern — Veterans and active military get a free lunch or dinner on November 11.

Calhoun’s — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal on November 11.

Cantina Laredo — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary meal up to $20 at participating locations on November 11.

Carrabba’s — This Veterans Day weekend, veterans and active-duty military receive a free calamari and 10% off on all future visits.

Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse — Veterans and active-duty military get a free entree from a special menu from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm. on November 11.

Chicken Salad Chick — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military will receive a free Chick Special and Regular Drink.

Chipotle — Active-duty military, reserves, national guard, military spouses and retired military get a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deal on November 11.

Chop House — On November 11, active-duty and retired service members get 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree.

City Barbecue — Veterans and active-duty military get a free sandwich, two sides, and a regular beverage on November 11.

Claim Jumper — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military get a free entree up to $15 from a special menu.

Coffee Beanery — Veterans and active-duty military get a free tall cup of fresh brewed coffee all day on November 11.

Connors Steak & Seafood — On November 11, active-duty and retired service members get 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree.

Cotton Patch Cafe — Veterans and active-duty military get a free chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken on November 11.

Country CookinActive, reserve, retired, and honorably discharged members of the military receive a free salad bar or $5 off any entree on November 11 when showing a valid military ID and filling out the service card.

Crooked Pint Ale House — Veterans and active-duty military get a free menu item on November 11 at participating locations.

Cumberland Farms — Veterans, active-duty, reserve, National Guard or honorably discharged military personnel get a free coffee on November 11.

Denny’s — Veterans and military personnel get a free Build Your Own Grand Slam on November 11, from 5 a.m. to noon.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Classic Sandwich and choice of side on November 11.

Dunkin’ Donuts — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive a free donut at participating locations.

East Coast Wings + Grill — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal from a selected menu on November 11.

Egg Harbor Cafe — Veterans and active military get a free meal on November 11.

El Chico — Veterans and active-duty military get a free entree on November 11.

El Fenix — Veterans eat free November 11, with your choice of Cheese, Chicken or Beef Enchiladas or Chicken or Beef Tacos, served with rice and beans.

Emmet’s Social Table — Veterans and troops get a free meal on November 10 and 11.

Fatz Cafe — Veterans and active military get a free World Famous Calabash Chicken basket on November 11. And from November 1 through 30, veterans and active military members will receive 20% off their entrée.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill — Dine with a veteran or active-duty service member on November 11 and their lunch or dinner is free.

Fogo de Chão — Veterans will receive 50% off their meal, plus an additional 10% off for up to three guests, November 8 through 11.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers — Veterans and current military personnel get a free combo meal card on November 11 that can used until November 30, 2019.

Friendly Toast — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military personnel receive a free meal.

Furr’s Fresh Buffet — On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.

Ginger Monkey — Veterans and active-duty military will receive a complimentary entree up to $12.

Glory Days Grill — Veterans get a free appetizer or a regular order of boneless wings on November 11.

Gold Star Chili — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free 3-Way & drink on November 11.

Gordon Biersch — Veterans receive a free entrée from a select menu on November 11.

Greene Turtle — Current service members and veterans get a complimentary $14 meal on November 11.

Grillsmith — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary entrée on November 11.

Grub Burger Bar — Active, inactive and retired military personnel get a complimentary entree on November 11 at all locations.

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream — Veterans and military personnel get a free single cone on November 11.

Hickory Tavern — Veterans and active-duty military get a free ‘Merica’s Burger on November 11 with the purchase of a beverage.

HomeTown Buffet — On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.

Hooters — Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal from a select menu at participating locations on November 11.

Hoss’s Steak and Sea House — Veterans get a free salad bar on November 11.

Huddle House — Active-duty, retired, and veteran military members get a free order of Sweet Cakes November 8 through 11.

Hurricane Grill and Wings — Veterans and active military get a free entrée from a special menu on November 11. Plus, participating guests will also receive a card for 10% off future visits through December 31.

IHOP — Veterans and active-duty military get a free red, white, and blueberry pancake combo on November 11 at participating locations.

IKEA — Veterans get a free meal November 9 through 11

Insomnia Cookies — Veterans and active-duty military personnel get a free traditional cookie all week, November 11 through 17.

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant — On November 10 and 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a complimentary burger or sandwich along with a non-alcoholic beverage.

J. Christopher’s –Veterans get a free meal at participating locations on November 11.

Jimboy’s Tacos — Veterans get a free meal on November 11 at participating locations. Meals have a $10 max value.

Joe’s Crab Shack — Veterans receive 20% off at participating locations on November 11.

Juice It Up — Veterans and active military receive a free 20oz Classic Smoothie on November 11 at participating locations.

K&W Cafeterias — Veterans and active-duty get a free meal on November 11 from 11 am until closing.

Kings Family Restaurant — Veterans and active military members get a free meal from a select menu on November 11.

Kwik Fill — Veterans receive a free coffee on November 11.

LongHorn Steakhouse — Veterans get 10% off your entire meal and a free appetizer or dessert on November 11.

Lucky Girl Brewing — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free pulled pork or brisket sandwich with a side at Lucky Girl Brewing or a free flat bread pizza at B52 Winery on November 9, 10, and 11.

Lucky Strike Entertainment — Active, inactive and retired military personnel get complimentary 1 hour of bowling, as well as a burger and beer for $10 on November 11.

Macaroni Grill — Veterans and active military receive a free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs + Spaghetti on November 11.

MacKenzie River — Veterans and active-duty military receive 25% off for their entire table on November 11.

Main Event — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive 30 minutes of game play that can be used on more than 100 interactive video games and a free entrée from a special menu.

Manhattan Bagel Company — All active, former and retired military personnel get a free bagel and cream cheese at participating locations on November 11.

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive two complimentary entrees.

Max & Erma’s – Veterans and active-duty military get a free Cheeseburger, Endless Fries and Fountain Drink on November 11 at participating locations.

Metro Diner — Active duty and retired military get 50% off their meal on November 11.

MOD Pizza — Active military and veterans get a buy-one get-one free MOD-size pizza or salad on November 11.

Native Grill & Wings — Veterans receive a free entrée up to $11.99 on November 11.

Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub — On November 11 from 11 am to 4 pm, veterans and active military get a free lunch from a select menu with purchase of an entree.

Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom — Active-duty service members and veterans get a free Specialty or up to 3 topping individual pizza with purchase, November 8 through 11 at participating locations. Not valid at OC Logan or OC Manhattan.

Old Country Buffet — On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.

On the Border — On November 11, active and retired service members receive a free meal from a select menu at participating locations.

Orange Leaf — Retired and active-duty military receive free froyo at participating locations on November 11.

Otter’s Chicken — Active, Guard/Reserve, retirees and former service members get a free meal at participating locations on November 11.

Outback Steakhouse — Veterans get 20% off November 8 through 11.

Paisano’s Pizza — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Large 1-Topping Pizza on November 11.

Pala Casino — Veterans and active-duty military get a free buffet on November 11.

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary 3-course pork chop dinner on November 10 from 4 to 9 p.m. Each veteran must be accompanied by at least one guest who purchases an entree or Sunday Supper Special.

Ponderosa — Veterans and active military get buffet specials at select locations on November 11.

Price Chopper Supermarkets — Veterans, active-duty, reserve and national guard military get a free 12oz. Coffee & Donut on November 11.

Primanti Bros. — Active or retired military can enjoy a free Primanti Bros. Almost Famous sandwich November 10 and 11.

Quaker Steak & Lube — Veterans, active-duty and Reservist service members get free or discounted meals at participating locations on November 11.

RA Sushi — Veterans, active and retired military can enjoy a complimentary shareable on November 11, available all day.

Rock and Brews — Veterans and active military personnel receive a complimentary pulled pork sandwich or salad on November 11.

Rodizio Grill — Veterans eat free November 11 through 14 with the purchase of at least one Adult Full Rodizio meal at participating locations.

Roy Rogers — Present a military ID or proof of service to receive 10% off your entire purchase on November 11.

Rubio’s Coastal Grill — Get a buy one entree get one free deal on November 11 with coupon and military ID.

Ruby Tuesday — Former and active-duty service members get a free Burger or Sandwich served with fries or tots on November 11.

Ryan’s — On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.

Sauce Pizza & Wine — On November 11, all locations will honor veterans with 25% off their bill.

Scooter’s Coffee — Veterans and current military personnel get a free drink of any size on November 11.

Shane’s Rib Shack — Active-duty military and veterans get a free sandwich, regular side, and 20-oz. beverage November 11 through 13 at participating locations.

Sheetz — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military personnel get a free 6 inch turkey sub and a regular size fountain drink. Sheetz locations offering car washes will also provide a free car wash to veterans and active-duty military.

Sizzler — Veterans get a free complete lunch from a special menu on November 11 at participating locations until 4 pm.

Smashburger — Veterans and active-duty military get a free double burger on November 11 with any purchase.

Smokey Bones — Veterans and active-duty military get a free dessert from a select menu on November 11.

Smoothie King — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military get a free 20 oz. smoothie.

Snarf’s Sandwiches — Active-duty military and veterans receive a free 7 inch non-specialty sandwich on November 11.

Sonny’s BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Pulled or Sliced Pork Big Deal combo on November 11.

Spaghetti Warehouse — From November 9 through 11, buy one entrée and get the second entrée free. Coupon required.

sweetFrog — Veterans and active military personnel get a free 12-oz yogurt on November 11.

Taco Mac — On November 11, active military members and veterans get a free 6-pack of wings with purchase a drink.

TCBY — Veterans and active military personnel get their first 6 oz. of frozen yogurt for free on November 11 with valid proof of service at participating locations. 

Texas de Brazil — Veterans receive 50% off dinner November 11 through 13 during dinner hours.

Texas Roadhouse — Veterans and active-duty military get a free lunch on November 11 from 11 am to 4 pm.

Texas Steakhouse and Saloon — Veterans get a free meal from a select menu on November 11.

Tijuana Flats — Active-duty military and veterans will receive 50% off all adult entrees on November 11.

TooJay’s — Veterans and active-duty military get a free entree from a special menu on November 11.

TravelCenters of America — Active-duty military, veterans and reservists get a complimentary meal on November 11 at participating Country Pride and Iron Skillet restaurants nationwide.

Tucanos Brazilian Grill — Veterans get a free Churrasco meal with the purchase of another Churrasco meal, November 8 through 12.

Twin Peaks — Veterans, active-duty military and reservists will eat for free from a select menu on November 11.

Village InnActive-duty military and veterans can enjoy a free meal on November 11

Wawa — Veterans, active military members, and family members get a free cup of coffee on November 11.

West Alley BBQ & Smokehouse — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary 1/2 rack rib platter with two sides on November 11.

White Castle — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Combo Meal or Breakfast Combo Meal on November 11.

Wild Wing Cafe — Veterans get 6 wings or nuggets in your favorite sauce with a purchase of a drink on November 11 at participating locations.

WingHouse Bar & Grill — Veterans and active-duty military members get a free meal from a select menu on November 11 at participating locations. Beverage purchase required.

Yogurtology — Veterans and active-duty military personnel get free 5 oz. servings of frozen yogurt at participating locations on November 11.

Ziggi’s Coffee — Veterans get a free 16 oz. drink on November 11.

Zoёs Kitchen — Active-duty military and veterans receive a free entrée with the purchase of another entrée on November 11.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Veterans

A new TV show wants to raise money for veteran causes with family entertainment

Stu Newmeyer and Laurie Stillman are a husband-and-wife comedy duo who are taking their show on the road. Specifically, they’re headed out of the casinos and nightclubs of the American West and headed for Newsmax TV. 

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Comedians Stu Newmeyer and Laurie Stillman (Image courtesy of SponsorMagic Media)

The reason for the move is they’re looking to highlight the special causes and concerns facing American military veterans, as well as their businesses and charity projects, while raising money for those projects.

“The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour” is family entertainment, which is not a genre easily found on television screens these days. Like the hilarious variety shows of days past, including “The Dean Martin Show,” “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” and “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,” Stu and Laurie want to bring back the good feeling of watching wholesome entertainment that the whole family can feel good about. 

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Publicity photo of Sonny Bono and Telly Savalas from the television program The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

For Stu and Laurie, the difference is that they’re using the airtime to also remind Americans about veterans and military members, the struggles they face when returning home, and what we all can do to help. Most importantly, they’re highlighting veteran-owned businesses and veteran-run non-profits to help build awareness for those brands. 

“These people volunteered to give a significant part of their lives to keep us and our country safe at a time when the rest of us weren’t really sure what the future had in store,” said Stu Newmeyer. “The best way to thank them is by supporting them in a real, direct, and effective way. For us, it’s family entertainment.” 

“The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour” will feature comedy sketches, musical acts with A-list talent, and regular surprises for the viewer to enjoy. The show will also include live, in-show segments featuring veterans, their businesses, and their causes. The show’s sponsor, the VTN Commerce Club, will provide viewers with the means of purchasing products and services directly from those veteran-owned businesses.

Viewers interested in supporting veteran-owned businesses on the show can sign up for the VTN Commerce Club’s online store for a $15 monthly fee. A part of that fee goes directly to the veterans the shopper chooses to support. Once a member of the club, they can can purchase directly from veteran vendors featured on the show.

“Our show will also feature contests, promotions, and giveaways so we can encourage buyers to buy from all veteran-owned businesses, to hire more veterans, and for businesses to offer discounts to military members and veterans,” says Newmeyer. “And driving internet traffic to those businesses’ website is also a very important part. The more people learn and buy, the better off everyone is. The businesses get the revenues and the buyers get a great, high-quality product.”

Some of the businesses participating “The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour” include Combat Boxes, a monthly subscription box filled with vet-owned products, Scars & Stripes Coffee, which empowers veterans to open their own franchises, and the Women Veterans Alliance, a national organization that seeks to empower and positively impact the lives of female veterans. 

Learn more about the “Stu and Laurie Variety Hour,” how to join the VTN Commerce Club as a buyer or vendor, or find out more about the businesses signed on to participate by visiting VTN Commerce Club Website.

“The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour” will air Sundays on Newsmax TV starting on May 16, 2021.. The fourth show of every month will be a two-hour telethon to raise donations for veteran causes.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How Amazon is tackling the veteran unemployment problem

By 2021, Amazon has pledged to hire 25,000 U.S. military veterans across all of its operations. More than that, they are also dedicated to hiring veterans reservists, spouses, and family members – regardless of rank or military specialty. These “Amazon Warriors” as the company calls them, come to Amazon through a number of programs, each focused on a different aspect of veterans’ lives. This includes wounded warriors, active and transitioning veterans, student vets, and more.


You can catch Amazon and its employees active in all area of veteran culture, from the Old Glory Relay to RED Fridays and even doing 22 pushups every day. Amazon even partners with the Department of Veterans Affairs to create certification programs for vets with no costs.

One of Amazon’s best programs is an employment plan for wounded vets designed to fill skill gaps due to service-related wounds, injuries, and illnesses. Through education, advocacy, and training for wounded warriors, this one-of-a-kind program seeks America’s wounded vets to show the world the possibilities and potential these prior-service workers still have.

Amazon also launched the Amazon Military Leaders Program in an effort to find innovative, experienced talent to transition from military service and into the senior leadership at Amazon. It just makes sense – in order to fill the most necessary roles at the top of one of the world’s biggest and most profitable companies, Amazon wants to look for those people who volunteered for some of the most dangerous and critical jobs out there.

This company also goes above and beyond for National Guardsmen and Reservists who are activated or called away to training. Not only does the company ensure the member has job when they come back, as required by law, Amazon seeks to place the employee in a role they would have worked if they had never left their Amazon job at all. What’s more, if the pay the military member receives from serving is significantly less than their Amazon pay, Amazon will make up the difference.

“There are veterans and active duty service members from the Guard and Reserve at every level of the company,” says Ardine Williams, Amazon Web Services’ Vice-President of Talent Acquisition, who also happens to be a former Army officer. “That population, that community, makes it really easy for us to not only do the right thing but also do what we say we will do.”

When Amazon isn’t hiring veterans and preparing service members for their post-military careers, they are supporting other organizations with the same intent, mission, and drive. Amazon is a sponsor of the Military Influencer Conference, a three-day business development and networking event that brings together non-profit startup accelerators geared toward vet-owned businesses, successful veteran entrepreneurs, and like-minded veterans who are looking to change their lives by starting their own enterprises.

To learn more about what Amazon is doing for veterans in terms of training and employment, check out Amazon’s military page. To learn more about the Military Influencer Conference, check out the speakers list, or find a Military Influencer Conference close to you, visit MilitaryInfluencer.com and take a look around. It could be the first step to an entrepreneurial career.

Articles

Why you should be using your VA Loan for investment properties

Have you ever had one of those lightbulb moments that flips your perspective upside down? I had one of those exactly five years ago while training to be a copilot on the mighty CH-53E at MCAS New River, NC. I still remember talking to my dad on the phone after the oncoming duty-stander reported late at night and turned over the watch with me. “I don’t care if the market crashes!” I proclaimed into the phone.

That was a powerful statement to say out loud and it felt especially good saying it to my dad, who was very conservative financially. Our family lived like royalty when my family lived in Ukraine for the better part of two decades, but coming back to the United States created all sorts of financial turmoil.

Of course, the somewhat hot-headed remark begged the question, “Well, why the hell don’t you?”

”Because we’ve been thinking about real estate investing all wrong,” I continued. “We shouldn’t rely on an unpredictable market to control our return on investment. I don’t care about appreciation anymore, I care about monthly income, or cash flow. From now on, we are going to look for properties that put money in our pockets every dang month.

You could almost hear the audible click over the phone line. A light bulb had just gone off.

The phone conversation continued for another hour or so before we finally hung up and decided to talk about real estate some more the next day.

Let me take a quick step back and make sure we are all on the same page here. The epiphany moment I had five years ago – I was so passionately trying to pass on to my dad over the phone – was simple, yet incredibly powerful. What I realized was what my family valued more even than a large heap of cash in my savings account was a consistent stream of income. To put it bluntly, I wanted to create streams of mini pensions through multiple rental properties to pay for all our regular expenses and then some. I wanted this because I wanted to be financially free.

Why did I ever think that buying a house and waiting for it to appreciate was the right way to invest? If that was the case, another 2008 real estate crash would surely ruin everything.

Realizing there was a different way to invest in real estate was almost nauseating because of how mad it made me for not understanding or learning about it earlier in life. My next thought was, “Why doesn’t EVERY eligible service member use their VA Loan then?” After all, as long as the rent was high enough to cover the mortgage, a dependable property manager, reasonable maintenance expenses, some reserves and still have some cash to spare (read: cash flow), this should be a no brainer. Right?!

Maybe it is because a lot of veterans are really turned off by the thought of a VA Loan — they think it’s a huge liability or just a boring thing to talk about, but nine times out of 10 it typically boils down to access to education and trusted professionals to help someone get their foot in the door. The reality is, it’s not just a few veterans . . . There are millions of veterans who have yet to use this incredible wealth-building benefit. In the military, we get used to working in fire teams and squads and it just makes sense for us to want a trusted team of Real Estate agents and Lenders that are all investment-minded and have a military background to work with. The secret weapon that a lot of these investment-minded agents and lenders have, is the understanding of what to look for when it comes to Military House Hacking (check this book out to learn more) and how to run the numbers quickly and efficiently when trying to filter out the homes with no future cashflow potential. Remember, the objective isn’t potential appreciation (that’s just a cherry on top!). The objective is to create a stream of income when it’s time to rent out your home.

Find an agent or lender here

About a year after that phone call with my dad, I partnered on my first rental home and first apartment complex. My life and the lives of my parents and siblings had changed forever. We were on track to create financial freedom and legacy wealth for generations to come WITHOUT worrying about the market crashing down on us. Sure, everything has its risks, but there was a particular comfort that came with the more education I immersed myself into. It seemed as though real estate was more transparent and without the smoke and mirrors. Still, it was a lot of information and not necessarily easy, but it felt so real and doable that I knew I was hooked for life. It was around that time, that I decided I had to start sharing these principles and little-known strategies with other military members and their families.

Register to watch the Military Real Estate Investing Masterclass

This article originally appeared on Active Duty Passive Income. Follow them on Facebook.

Articles

‘Not just a box’ — 9 unclaimed veterans to be laid to rest

Nine unclaimed veterans and two spouses will be laid to rest Friday in Iowa, thanks to the tireless efforts of a woman who treats every urn as if it contains the remains of her own family. 

Funeral director Lanae Strovers has been working on the upcoming ceremony for more than two years, but her passion and reputation for honoring veterans goes back much further in her career at Hamilton’s Funeral Home

Having been put on bed rest for three months because of surgery, Strovers was looking for a way to keep busy when she discovered Hamilton’s had about 300 urns sitting in storage. She made it her mission to follow up with families to see whether they could claim the urns or still needed them stored.

After the arduous process of tracking down relatives or guardians for all the urns, Strover said the funeral home ended up with the remains of three unclaimed veterans and organized a service for them.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Law enforcement in attendance at the 2018 ceremony for unclaimed veterans at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Hamilton’s Funeral Home.

“Since then, people are aware that Hamilton’s makes sure veterans get buried whether they have family or not,” Strovers said. “Local law enforcement has turned in urns, and storage unit owners have turned some in to us, which is an amazing thing because they know that we will hold the ceremony when it’s necessary.”

Strovers was adopted as a child and only recently learned anything about her biological family. Her background made her look at unclaimed remains differently.

“I felt that every person was a possible brother, dad, grandfather, uncle, or family member to me,” she said. “It’s not just a box with cremated remains in it. It’s someone’s family member. For whatever reason, they got separated — that’s not our place to judge those stories at all, but to be respectful that it’s someone’s loved one.”

One of the veterans to be honored Friday is Robert Glen Baumgardner, who served in the Army during the Korean War. He died in 2000. Burglars stole his urn from his sister’s house in 2020 after she died. Police later discovered it in the middle of an intersection and took it to the funeral home.

World War II Army veteran Calvin Dean Sours died in May 2012 at age 93. His urn was later found in the office of an administrator who had failed to bury him.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Funeral director Lanae Strovers, left, watches as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds receives a flag on behalf of an unclaimed veteran at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in 2018. Photo courtesy of Hamilton’s Funeral Home.

Knowing that a person’s remains could be forgotten on a shelf doesn’t sit right with Strovers. While the ultimate goal is reuniting remains with the person’s family, giving the person a proper send-off is the next best option.

Friday’s ceremony – the third Strovers has organized – will begin with a 12:30 p.m. service at Hamilton’s in West Des Moines, Iowa. Law enforcement personnel, Patriot Guard Riders, and Iowa combat veterans will lead a procession to the Iowa Veterans Cemetery, where Iowa-based country singer Cody Hicks will perform the national anthem. Military honors will be rendered, and local representatives and notable community members will receive the flags on behalf of each veteran.

Rich Shipley, assistant state captain of the Iowa Patriot Guard Riders and a Marine Corps veteran, said the riders would be there to ensure the veterans would be “laid to rest with as many brothers present as possible.”

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Nine unclaimed veterans and two spouses will be laid to rest Friday, June 18, 2021, at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery. Photos courtesy of Hamilton’s Funeral Home.

“Our nation’s heroes should never be unclaimed, discarded, or interred with no family present,” Shipley wrote in an email to Coffee or Die Magazine.

“It’s really a great community event where tons of people come together to honor these veterans,” Strovers said. She strongly encourages the public to attend, especially families with children.

“To teach those kids respect for people who served our country is huge,” Strovers said. “And just to see so many people coming to pay respects to people they never knew simply because they served our country is a pretty amazing thing.”


This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Feature image: US Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer D. Atkinson, Texas Military Forces Public Affairs.

Veterans

Spirit of giving at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center

The spirit of giving is strong at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

Carts filled with presents were wheeled out of the South Entrance and into vehicles waiting to take them to children and Veterans alike. The gifts are the result of a pair of outreach programs.

Employees in the hospital’s Logistics Department provided a bounty of gifts for 55 children served by Children’s Wisconsin’s Community Services Division.

Meanwhile, presents purchased via an annual giving tree organized by recreational therapist Sara LeClaire and the City of West Allis were bound for Veterans in the Community Living Centers, Palliative Care Unit and the Community Homes.

Gifts for children

“This is such a wonderful giving opportunity for us,” said Stacey Snyder, program support assistant in Logistics and chairwoman of the annual Children’s event. “During these times, when things feel a little grim, this is an opportunity to know every kid will get a gift.”

Volunteers load donated gifts into a car.

Like a traditional giving tree, Children’s provides names and ages of the children, along with a short list of items they desire. Employees then choose a child (or children) and purchases the gifts.

The children are typically involved in foster care, child and family counseling, child abuse prevention programs and special needs adoptions. Most live in poverty and have had “difficult and challenging” life experiences according to Children’s.

This is the fourth year for the outreach, which has grown to the point where Children’s runs out of names to provide to Snyder and her crew.

“Our motto is no one is left behind,” she said. “It’s become bigger and bigger. We have more people wanting to buy than there are kids.”

Snyder noted that one employee, who wants to remain anonymous, makes the event a family affair, selecting 11 children this year and involving his brothers, sisters and extended family.

Some employees write personal notes to the children.

“This creates a connection between us and the community,” Snyder said, noting that some employees grew up served by Children’s Community Services and are eager to give back. “There are some tears involved. This brings up a lot of memories for people.”

“This is wonderful,” said Sondra Russell, a social worker at Children’s after receiving the gifts Monday. “They’re very generous, and we’re very thankful.

“Our families will be very thankful as well,” added Children’s social worker Tanya Edwards. “Resources are limited for our families, so this is amazing.”

Gifts for Vets

Some employees wrote personal notes to accompany the gifts for children.

While Snyder and her crew loaded up gifts for Children’s, LeClaire and recreation therapy assistant Francheska Wallace were gathering gifts for Veterans.

For the last 10 years, LeClaire has organized the outreach with the City of West Allis. It also involves a giving tree, which went virtual this year due to the pandemic.

LeClaire provides a list of Veterans and crafts wish lists, enabling community members to select names and purchase the gifts. The list is based on each Veteran’s interests and needs.

This year, all of the names were snapped up within two hours of being posted, Wallace said.

“The organizer from West Allis called me and said all the tags were taken,” LeClaire said.

Many people buy more than one gift, seeking to fill out as many wish lists as possible.

“They buy them all. It’s amazing what we get. It’s really a wonderful program,” Wallace added. “It blows my mind how generous people are, and this year with COVID, they’ve been even more generous. It’s incredible and such a wonderful thing.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This nonprofit charity helps veterans and their spouses find great careers

This article is sponsored by Disabled American Veterans.

In the wake of World War I, hundreds of thousands of returning and separating American troops came home to a nation ill-prepared to support them. In 1920, DAV (Disabled American Veterans) was founded with the goal of helping these service members transition comfortably back into civilian life. Since then, DAV has been providing a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families by helping them access benefits they earned—like health care, education and disability—and connecting them to meaningful employment opportunities.


The nonprofit charity was founded by an injured infantryman who rose to become a judge in the Superior Court of Ohio after The Great War. The organization was originally known as the Disabled American Veterans of the World War and, as its name suggests, it was focused on helping those who were disabled by the War.

Now, in addition to helping veterans receive their earned benefits, providing outreach to families of disabled veterans, and representing veteran interests to the government, they run an employment program that, in 2017, supported 140 traditional and virtual career fairs that helped over 43,000 attendees — and they’re setting higher goals with each passing year.

DAV established the National Employment Program in 2014, which focuses on connecting veterans and their spouses with employers. Their goal is to improve the lives of veterans and their families by finding meaningful employment.

Today, DAV hosts a job board that has as many as 250,000 active job openings listed at once. They also help represent veterans to employers, explaining to decision-makers why it’s best to target veterans for open positions.

If you’re a veteran or military spouse looking for new or improved employment, check out DAV’s employment resources, specifically their comprehensive hiring guide. And if you’re well-employed and looking to help veterans, consider giving to DAV by donating your time, money, or used vehicles.

This article is sponsored by Disabled American Veterans.

Veterans

This Jewish refugee and World War II vet made modern video games possible

Ralph H. Baer was a refugee from Germany and a World War II vet working for a defense contractor when he made the first video game console.


 

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice

Baer was born in Germany in 1922 but his family fled in 1938 through Holland to the U.S. as the Third Reich rose to power. He trained through correspondence courses to repair radios before being drafted into the U.S. Army.

He became a military intelligence soldier and was sent to Europe for two years. During his deployment, he collected a number of German weapons and metal detectors. Once he finished studying the metal detectors the Germans were using, he began turning them into radios for his friends. The 18 tons of small arms he collected were sent back to the states to become museum pieces.

Baer returned to America after the war and went to school on the G.I. Bill. While working as a engineer on guided weapons for a defense contractor, Baer conceived of a box that would plug into a normal T.V. and let people play games together. One of his bosses liked the idea and gave Baer some money and two engineers to work with.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Baer would later invent the SIMON electronic game. Photo: Public Domain via Wikipedia/Hempdiddy

They called their device the “Brown Box” until Magnavox bought it and named it the Odyssey. The Odyssey was the first true video game console and allowed two players to play card, board, and other games on their home T.V.

A number of companies would go on to make more marketable and successful consoles. The popular game Pong, along with many others, was ruled to be infringing on Baer’s patent after Baer’s employer bought it and sued other companies.

Baer continued inventing after the Odyssey. Light guns, like those used in Nintendo’s Duck Hunt, are his invention. He created SIMON, the popular ’80s electronic game where players match sequences of colored lights. The Navy used a submarine tracking radar that Baer invented, and users of talking doormats and greeting cards have him to thank.

Everything about this monument is far more symbolic than most notice
Photo: White House Eric Draper

Baer was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush in 2006 and was admitted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010. He died in Dec. 2014.

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