John Cornelius believed we should always honor our Veterans for their commitment and sacrifices. Cornelius was an Army WWII Veteran who earned two Bronze Stars. He began a fundraiser over 15 years ago for hospitalized Veterans of Northern Arizona when he was 87 years old.
That fundraiser continues to this day.
He raised $7,600 the first year, over $23,000 the second year and more than $30,000 the third year.
“Through the years, the money has been donated to our health care system. As a result, we’ve been able to purchase items for inpatient Veterans to help make their lives more comfortable,” said Paul Flack, voluntary service assistant, Northern Arizona VA Health Care System.
Gifts for inpatient Veterans’ birthdays
“Some of the items purchased are welcome kits, newspapers, prepaid phone cards, flowers, get well cards and special items that can be used for Veterans birthdays,” Flack said.
Cornelius (center) is pictured above in 2016 with Jake Weber and Wendy Hepner. Weber owned a local IGA grocery store; Hepner is a former hospital associate director.
Multiple news articles have published through the years about Cornelius and his contributions to help fellow Veterans. At the time of his passing on April 5, 2017, just a few days shy of his 99th birthday, he had raised more than $200,000 for Veterans.
Cornelius started the John Cornelius Raffle for Hospitalized Veterans of Northern Arizona. The charity is dedicated to raising money to support Northern Arizona Veterans.
“Honored to have known John”
The annual raffle begins every year on Dec. 7 (Pearl Harbor Remembrance). The 2020 raffle brought in $13,000 to the Prescott VA Medical Center.
“Our health care system is honored to have known John and had the opportunity to work with him and his cause,” said Carol Lynn Powell, a volunteer at Northern Arizona VA Health Care System. “We are honored to see the results of his efforts continue to live on for so many years.”
It’s unusual to find someone as charitable as Cornelius. He started fundraising at age 87 and made it a priority until his passing at age 98.
To say that Cornelius has been successful in his efforts is an understatement. “We have seen the benefits of his efforts live on with the donations made to our medical center in his honor,” said Flack.
A former VA Secretary stated in a February 2016 letter written to Cornelius before his passing: “You are indeed a great American hero. You have touched so many through your service to our nation and your devotion to our community.”
As much of the nation struggles to keep warm during the polar vortex, here’s how you can help populations that are most at risk.
Call 311 to connect with homeless outreach teams
Many major US cities, including including New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC, have hotlines under the number 311 you can call if you see someone on the street who might need help. The number can help connect you with homeless outreach teams.
Donate clothing and other supplies to emergency shelters
Many homeless people turn up to shelters without proper clothing during a time where a proper coat can make all the difference. If you’re able to, donating warm clothing to local shelters and organizations can be a major help amid extreme weather events and low temperatures.
Click here for help finding donation centers in your area. Many of these organizations are willing to pick up donations from your residence, which you can often schedule online.
Putting together care packages and keeping them in your vehicle to hand out can also be extremely helpful. Warm items like gloves, socks, hats, scarves, and blankets are especially useful, as well as shelf-safe food, Nancy Powers with the Salvation Army’s Chicago Freedom Center told CNN.
A homeless veteran in New York.
There are specific resources for veterans you can direct people to
Cops love doughnuts. That’s the stereotype at least. Being caught in uniform with one of the delicious but unhealthy confections has long carried a certain stigma, but the real history behind the close relationship cops have with doughnuts is much more interesting and complex than the negative caricatures often put forth in American media.
In some places, the cop-doughnut relationship was symbiotic. In others, it was necessary. But the reason cops and doughnuts are like peas and carrots in our collective cultural memory is because the doughnut shop was the only game in town.
Cops have a lot to do during their shifts, no matter how long those shifts might be. When not actively responding to calls, patrolling their areas of responsibility, or doing the myriad things cops have to do during a typical 10-hour shift, police officers have to find a place to do the bulk of police work: writing reports.
To outsiders, police work has always been about walking the beat — the daily business of protecting and serving. For actual police officers, writing reports is a duty as old as walking any beat. And back in the day, cops didn’t have a lot of options for where they could post up and get some paperwork done.
Even by the late 1970s, the idea of a 24-hour convenience store seemed insane to most people. Gas stations didn’t always have stores and weren’t as ubiquitous as they are today. They also closed at a decent hour. The same goes for grocery stores. Outside of major cities, all-night diners were rare, and even in the 1960s, only 10% of restaurants were open all night, catering mainly to truckers.
If a police officer’s beat wasn’t near one of these small handfuls of all-night spots, they were out of luck. But there was one place a tired, hungry peace officer could go to grab a cup of coffee, some food, and maybe get some work done — the good ol’ doughnut shop.
What was good for the police was also good for the doughnut shop. Being open late in small cities and towns meant they were a target for criminals looking for an easy payday. Having the local police force using your doughnut shop as a staging area meant built-in security as you got up in the early morning hours to make doughnuts.
The symbiotic relationship spread all over the country, even as more and more establishments began to stay open late. When the interstate highway system ramped up construction in the 1960s and 1970s, the country became more connected, and some rural areas became significantly less rural.
Doughnut shops even became late-night chains such as Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts. The cop-doughnut relationship held fast, and some stores set aside space for police officers to get their work done. Dunkin’ Donuts even had a companywide policy of catering to police. Its founder, William Rosenberg, credited the relationship with the company’s early success in his autobiography.
A doughnut is a decent snack for a graveyard shift. It’s a fresh, easily obtained source of calories that a busy officer might need for a night of busting punks. When the action dies down, coffee offers a burst of caffeinated energy to help cops get through their shifts. And coffee and doughnuts are relatively cheap, which is great for anyone working as a city or state employee.
Despite the rotund appearance of police Chief Clancy Wiggum on The Simpsons, doughnuts aren’t to blame for the image of the overweight cop. In The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin, author Michael Krondl interviews police officers who recall their sweet treats giving them just the right amount of food needed to do the job.
“You got out there, walked around, rolled in the streets with criminals [and burned] the calories off,” Frank Rizzo, former Philadelphia police chief, told Krondl.
Somewhere along the way, American popular culture began to notice, and the image of the local police officer began to shift into a caricature, fueled by the cop-doughnut relationship. Cops in film and television became less Andy Griffith and more Chief Wiggum.
What started with a wholesome beginning eventually became derogatory. Everyone from stand-up comics to punk bands and rappers began to make fun of the cop-doughnut dynamic. For some, there’s nothing worse than being caught with one of those sweet fried treats or being seen parked at a Krispy Kreme.
Today, cops can generally post up anywhere to catch up on paperwork. Police cruisers have come a long way and have everything an officer needs during a shift. If they need a meal or a break, there are often many options open to them.
But doughnuts and coffee still provide excellent fuel for the thin blue line, and late-night and early morning bakers appreciate the added security of having cops around. So the next time you see a cruiser parked at Dunkin’, cut your local police force a break and don’t cast shade. If you were in that uniform, you might be right there with them.
If a vehicle is a labeled “military grade” you can assume it was intended to take a beating. Or that it was built by the lowest bidder. If you see something labeled “Warrior Built,” know that it was designed and custom-made by a U.S. military combat veteran and probably some of his buddies.
But “Warrior Built” means more than that. It means “built by combat veterans for combat veterans.” It means “built with the cover values of honor, courage, and commitment.” It means “built with the unrelenting drive to make a difference.” And it means “built remembering the warrior ethos learned serving our country.”
“Warrior Built” is not just a standard of quality, it’s a real organization of veterans, founded by Nick Hamm, a combat-wounded Marine. As a retired First Sergeant, Hamm’s last military role was ensuring his people were taken care of. His people now extend beyond his Marines. They’re now his fellow veterans.
As a motorcycle enthusiast, he wanted to use the process of building a motorcycle from a handful of parts to an operational vehicle as a means of therapy. It develops vocational skills and brings fellow vets together, rebuilding the camaraderie they lost after leaving the military.
“Everyone possesses leadership traits — it’s about pulling those traits out of somebody,” says Hamm. “So Warrior Built reaches out to combat veterans. They’re all different, so we come together to accomplish the same mission, but we all have different things we bring to the table to accomplish that mission.”
Most importantly for the projects, veterans need to muster the imagination required to make a bucket of bolts roadworthy once more. This fuels their energy for other passion projects: dirt bike races, drag racing, off-road racing, concerts, and camping trips to spend time enjoying the fruits of their labor. Above all, vets get a chance to see if working in fabrication and mechanics is their calling.
One combat-wounded Marine named Gio lost an arm in an explosion while deployed. Now he’s riding a dirt bike with Warrior Built.
“I don’t put a limit on myself, because there isn’t,” Gio says. “People look at me like I’m crazy when I get on this bike. I look at them and I say ‘you’re crazy for not trying it.'”
Flossie Hall has one of the hardest jobs imaginable. She’s a mother of four and an active duty Navy spouse. She’s also the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE).
As a military wife, Hall has lived at 10 different addresses over the last 14 years. For much of that time, she’s also had to be a solo parent.
“Plan something and the military laughs,” Hall quips. “Business is the same way.”
After successfully navigating the financial challenges that come with new deployments, new homes, and newborns, Hall has dedicated herself to the business of helping other military families.
AMSE is an entrepreneurship program built by military spouses, exclusively for military spouses. It teaches men and women around the world how to start their own businesses. And military spouses are perfectly suited to be entrepreneurs because, as Hall puts it, “entrepreneurs have to curve and swerve every single day.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Hall was the first person in her family to graduate from high school – let alone college.
Today, she has a daughter in college whose education expenses weren’t budgeted for because Flossie and her husband were very young when they had her. As a result, they learned the value of proper financial planning.
The Halls’ three younger children will also likely attend college. This time around, Hall and her husband are prepared. They opened college savings accounts that will help pay for each child’s education.
They started 529 accounts for each of them. These special savings accounts have allowed the Halls to save over time in a tax-advantaged way for this specific financial planning objective. Money in the accounts grows tax free until withdrawn. When it is taken out to pay for specific education expenses, it also avoids taxation.
529 plans are offered by each of the states and many educational institutions. They don’t require account owners or beneficiaries to reside in the state offering the plan, but some plans do offer specific advantages to in-state residents.
Because there are no residency requirement, there is ample opportunity to shop around in order to find a plan that best suits the needs of the beneficiary.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when comparing plans:
1) Every state offers at least one type of plan.
There are two types: Prepaid Tuition Plans or College Savings Plans.
2) Some plans allow others to contribute.
Most 529 plans allow people other than the account holder to make contributions to the beneficiary’s account.
3) The account holder owns and controls the account.
The account holder may withdraw money. The beneficiary may not.
4) Gift tax exclusion may apply.
529 plan contributions fall under annual and lifetime gift tax exclusions.
5) Consider a UGift® account.
UGift lets you invite family and friends to contribute to a child’s 529 account.
“This defendant’s lies about his service are an affront to those who saw combat and those wounded fighting on behalf of our nation,” said Carole S. Rendon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “This defendant did neither, and falsely inflated his service record in an effort to get additional benefits.”
The 67-year-old Jozwiak claimed he had been awarded the Purple Heart on four occasions, and had seen combat as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam. The crimes he was indicted on carry a maximum sentence of 36 years in prison combined, but according to a May 18 Justice Department release, Jozwiak will serve four years in federal prison for conning the VA out of $2,289 in 2014.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Benedict S. Gullo prosecuted the case, which was handled by the Cleveland office of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General-Criminal Investigative Division.
The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 made lying about being awarded military medals a crime. The law was overturned in 2012 by the Supreme Court in United States vs. Alvarez in a 6-3 ruling. The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 made lying about a veteran status or awards for to gain benefits to be a crime.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the day the world rejoices, the skies part and veterans are offered countless freebies. This year, retailers across the country are offering deep discounts on everything from car washes to televisions. Make sure you double check the official site information and specific rules before heading out to claim your discount. You’ll need to bring your CAC, be in uniform or have proof of your veteran status to get the discounts. Some promotions include fine print that indicate participating locations only, so call ahead or reach out on social media first.
Dining discounts available all November
Eat’n Park All active and former United States military personnel will receive a special 10% discount for the entire month of November.
Golden Corral From November 1 – November 30, 2020, all active and former military members can pick up a free “thank you meal” promotional card that’s good for one free lunch or dinner buffet and beverage. The promotional card can be used Monday – Thursday after 11am from November 1 – May 31, 2021. One promotional card per person.
McCormick and Schmick’s Free Entree Veterans and Gold Star families (parents and spouses) can enjoy a half priced lunch or dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s on Sunday, November 8th, 2020.
Texas de Brazil Veterans receive 25% off dinner Monday, November 9 through Thursday, November 12.
Tucanos Free Churrasco Meal with the purchase of another Churrasco meal or a ½ price meal available for veterans dining solo). Plus, post a selfie at Tucano’s and get a free dessert certificate. Mon., Nov. 9 through Wed., Nov. 11.
Dining discounts available on Wednesday, November 11, 2020
54th Street Grill & Bar Free entree up to $12 on Veterans Day (Wed 11-11-20) for Veterans + Active Duty who dine inside 54th Street. #54supportsvets
7-Eleven Get a free coffee or Big Gulp on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veterans Day. Download the 7-Eleven app and sign in or register.
Ahipoke Bowl On Nov. 11, veterans and active-duty military receive 50% off poke bowls. Dine-in or take out.
Applebee’s Veterans and Active Duty Military can select a free meal from a limited menu on veterans Day. Provide proof of service required.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Military personnel and their families receive 20% off on food and retail purchases.
Buffalo Wild Wings Free Wings Veterans and active duty military who dine-in at their local B-Dubs can receive a free one order of boneless wings and a side of fries.
Calhoun’s All veterans and active duty military members can enjoy a free meal.
California Pizza Kitchen On Veterans Day, all veterans or active duty military personnel will be able to select a free entree from a special Veterans Day menu including pizza, salads and pasta. Please come in uniform or bring your military ID or other proof of service.
Cantina Laredo Veterans and active duty military can receive a complimentary meal on Wed., Nov. 11.
Cattlemens Steakhouse Cattlemens Steakhouse offers current and former military members a complimentary 8 oz. Sirloin Steak dinner.
CentraArchy Restaurants CentraArchy Restaurants are showing their gratitude by honoring veterans and active duty military service members with 50% off an entrée.
Chicken Salad Chick Chicken Salad Chick is offering a free Chick Special and regular size drink to any veteran or active-duty military personnel who visits.
Chili’s Grill & Bar All veterans and active duty military personnel can choose a complimentary meal from a select menu on Veterans Day 2020.
Cicis Pizza Free adult buffet with valid active duty or retired military ID on 11/11/20.
Coco’s Bakery & Restaurant Receive a free slice of pie for all Veterans and Active Duty Military with proof of service plus buy one get one free entree for breakfast, lunch or dinner on Veterans Day.
Colton’s Steak House Veterans eat free from 11am-4pm. Free entree valid for all active, former, or retired military when ordering from Veterans Day menu.
Connors Steak & Seafood Connors Steak & Seafood locations in TN, AL, and FL are offering 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree to all active duty and retired service members with military ID or in uniform.
Cotton Patch Cafe Veterans and active duty may enjoy a free Chicken Fried Steak or Chicken Fried Chicken on veterans Day.
Country Cookin All active, reserve, retired, and honorably discharged members of the U.S. military are invited to dine and receive a free salad bar or $5 off any entree.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store During Military Family Appreciation Month Cracker Barrel will offer in-store specials on Veterans Day for military veterans and promotions throughout November to support military families in partnership with Operation Homefront. On 11/11, veterans can receive a free slice of Double Fudge Coca-Cola Cake with their meal.
Denny’s All active, non-active or retired military personnel at all participating Denny’s restaurants nationwide will receive a free Build Your Own Grand Slam breakfast on Wednesday, Nov. 11, from 5 a.m. to noon. Diners must show ID to receive this offer.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Free Pulled Pork Classic Sandwich this Veterans Day. To redeem in-store, veterans and current military personnel must present a military ID or valid proof of service.
Drake’s Veterans and active duty military will receive a complimentary meal at participating locations.
Dunkin’ Donuts On November 11, Veterans and active duty military can enjoy a free donut at Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants nationwide, no purchase necessary.
Einstein Bros. Bagels On 11/11/20 veterans and active-duty military get a free hot or iced medium coffee.
Famous Dave’s On Nov. 11 in honor of veterans Day all former and current military personnel will receive a free two meat Combo. Dine-in or To-Go.
Farmer Boys Wednesday, Nov. 11 veterans and active duty military with valid proof of service get a free big cheese cheeseburger.
Firebirds Complimentary meals to active duty military and veterans on Veterans Day.
Friendly’s Free Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner Friendly’s is treating veterans and active military, with a valid military ID or honorable discharge card, to 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. The burger can be upgraded to a cheeseburger for free.
Glory Days Grill Free appetizer or a regular order of boneless or grilled boneless wings.
Gold Star Chili Enjoy a free 3-way and drink on Veterans Day. For all who served.
Green Mill Restaurant and Bar Veterans and Active Duty Military will receive a free lunch or dinner dine-in meal at participating locations. Must show proof of service, and beverages and gratuity are not included in free meal.
Hamburger Stand All veterans and active duty with a valid military ID receive a free hamburger, regular fries, and a small Pepsi.
hopdoddy burger bar Free Classic Burger with Cheese for veterans on 11/11/20. Redeemable for in-store dining or to-go orders placed by phone.
Houlihan’s Receive a free entrée from a select menu with proof of veteran status or active service in the military.
Huddle House Huddle House is offering a free MVP Breakfast Platter to all active military members and veterans with proper I.D.
Huey Magoo’s Treat a veteran or active military member with proper I.D. to a free meal for one when you purchase a meal for one and two beverages on Veterans Day.
Hy-Vee Free Breakfast Enjoy a free curbside pickup breakfast for veterans and active military members November 11, 2020 from 6 – 10 a.m.
IHOP All active duty and Veterans are invited to come in and enjoy Free Red, White, & Blue Pancakes on Monday, November 11, from 7 am to 7 pm.
J Christopher’s Wednesday, November 11th, those who served receive a free meal.
Joe’s Crab Shack On November 11th, all veterans can enjoy 20% off. Valid for parties up to 4.
Juice It Up! This Veterans Day all veterans and active military will receive a free 20oz Classic Smoothie.
Kolache Factory Enjoy one free kolache (any kind) and one cup of freshly brewed Katz coffee (any size). All veteran and active military with government-issued military photo ID or DD 214.
Kwikfill November 11th veterans receive free coffee at Kwik Fill locations.
Lamar’s Donuts Free donut and a 12oz coffee for all veterans and active military on Veterans Day.
Little Caesars Pizza On Wednesday, November 11, from 11am to 2pm, veterans and active military members can receive a free Lunch Combo, which features four slices of Little Caesars popular Detroit-style DEEP!DEEP!™ Dish pizza, paired with a 20-ounce Pepsi product.
Logan’s Roadhouse On Nov. 11, all active duty and retired U.S. military personnel are invited to enjoy a free meal from the American Roadhouse menu in honor of Veterans Day. This offer is available from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at all Logan’s Roadhouse restaurants nationwide.
Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que On Veterans Day (Nov. 11), active and former military can enjoy a complimentary dessert, and a 20% discount with proof of service. Veterans receive 20% off the entire month of November for ‘Military Family Month.’
Luna Grill Luna is offering a “Buy One, Get One Free” deal from Wed., November 11 through Fri., November 13 to any active duty or veteran member of the armed forces at all locations.
Macaroni Grill This Veterans Day, 11/11, all veterans and active military receive a free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs + Spaghetti with military ID.
Max & Erma’s On Veterans Day, participating Max & Erma’s locations are celebrating veterans and active military personnel with a free cheeseburger, endless fries, fountain drink and a chocolate chip cookie.
McCormick & Schmick’s Veterans of the Military, National Guard, Gold Star Parents and Gold Star Spouses can enjoy a half priced entrée off a select menu on Sunday, November 8, 2020.
Menchie’s Free Frozen Yogurt On Veterans Day, all Veterans and military personnel with a military ID or proof of service will receive a free six ounce frozen yogurt any time of day on Veterans Day 11.11. Show a valid ID or be in uniform to receive.
Mission BBQ Veterans and active duty will receive a free sandwich on Veterans Day, 11/11/20.
MOD Pizza Sign to receive a buy-one get-one free MOD-size pizza or salad with military ID by November 8 and MOD will send you a coupon on November 9 to redeem on #VeteransDay.
Mountain Mike’s Enjoy 15% off any large pizza this Veterans Day. (coupon code: 178130)
Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub On 11/11 from 11am – 5pm, Veterans and active military can receive a free entrée from a special Veterans Day menu with the purchase of any other entrée. Dine-in only.
O’Charley’s All active and retired military service members are invited to enjoy a free meal from O’Charley’s. Restaurant participation may vary by location. O’Charley’s also offers military discount of 10 percent off all year long.
Perry’s Steakhouses Free pork chop dinner to U.S. active military and veterans with the purchase of a dinner entree.
Petro Stopping Centers All active duty military, veterans and reservists with proof of service can enjoy a complimentary meal from a select menu at any participating Country Pride or Iron Skillet restaurant nationwide.
Pie Five Pizza On Veterans Day get a free personal pizza at participating locations. Dine-in only.
Pilot Flying J/U.S. Pilot All active-duty and retired military veterans get a free breakfast including a coffee, Monday through Sunday, Nov. 9-15. The offer is available via the app.
Quaker Steak & Lube All military veteran, active duty and reservist service members receive free or discounted meals (up to $15) plus a free non-alcoholic beverage at participating locations on 11/11/20.
Rapid Fire Pizza Veterans and active duty military get a free dessert pizza or Cheezy Bread with purchase of an entree on Veterans Day this Wednesday, November 11th.
Red Lobster On Wednesday, November 11th to thank Veterans, active duty military and reservists, Red Lobster will offer a free appetizer or dessert from their select Veterans Day menu. To receive offer, show a valid military ID.
Red Robin All Veterans and Active Duty Military get a free dine-in Red’s Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Steak Fries. For 2020, to reduce crowding, this offer is available Nov. 12 – Nov. 30.
Rock & Brews Rock & Brews is offering all active duty military, veterans, and first responders a free pulled pork sandwich or strawberry fields salad on veterans Day at participating locations nationwide.
TA Stopping Centers All active duty military, veterans and reservists with proof of service can enjoy a complimentary meal from a select menu that includes a beverage on Wed., Nov. 11, 2020, at any participating Country Pride or Iron Skillet restaurant nationwide.
Taco John’s On Wednesday, Nov. 11, all active, reserve, retired and honorably discharged members of the U.S. military can get a free small Beef #1 Combo Meal who redeem the offer in the Taco John’s App.
Tap House Grill On Veterans Day, all active, inactive and retired military personnel can get a free meal and a Sam Adams pint while supplies last.
TCBY First 6oz are free for veterans and active military on 11-11-20.
Texas Roadhouse is handing out vouchers for a free meal to all Veterans and Active Duty military from 11 am to 2 pm on Veterans Day. Vouchers will be distributed in the parking lots at Texas Roadhouse locations.
Torchy’s Tacos On Nov. 11, veterans and active military can enjoy a complimentary taco and beverage from a select Veterans Day menu.
Twin Peaks In honor of veterans Day, all veterans, active duty military and reservists can eat for free from a select menu on Wednesday, November 11th.
Uno’s Pizzeria & Grill 11/11/20 military members (past and present) can enjoy a free entree or individual pizza.
Wendy’s Wendy’s nationwide are offering a free small breakfast combo with valid military ID. No purchase necessary.
Wienerschnitzel On Veterans Day, 11/11, Wienerschnitzel is offering a free Chili Dog with a small fry and a small Pepsi to Veterans and Active Duty Servicemembers. Bring your military ID or dress in a uniform.
Yard House Veterans and active duty military will receive a complimentary appetizer on November 11 with valid military ID. Offer is valid for dine in only.
Ziggi’s Coffee Veterans get a free 16 oz drink on November 11, 2020 at all Ziggi’s Coffee locations.
buybuy BABY — Veterans, active-duty military and spouses get 25% off their entire purchase in-store and online, November 11 to 14.
Columbia Sportswear — Military personnel receive 20% off at all Columbia brand and outlet stores on November 11.
David’s Bridal — Active and retired military members and their immediate families (and fiancés) get an additional 10% off the entire in-store purchase from November 9 through 11. Not valid online.
Rack Room Shoes — Military personnel and their dependents get a 20% discount off the entire purchase on November 11.
Army & Air Force Exchange Service — On November 11, MILITARY STAR card holders will receive various deals, including 10 cents off every gallon of fuel purchased at Exchange Expresses, double rewards points on online and in-store Exchange purchases, $10 off Exchange mall concession or kiosk purchases of $25 or more and 15% off food orders at participating Exchange restaurants. Beyond MILITARY STAR card-exclusive offers, Exchange Expresses and participating restaurants will be serving free coffee on November 11. Exchange Redbox video rental locations will also offer two movies for the price of one November 6 through 13.
Big Lots — In honor of Veterans Day, Big Lots announced they are offering a year-round 10% “Always On” discount for active military personnel and veterans who are members of the company’s Big Rewards program.
While Kill Cliff normally offers a 15 percent discount, on Veterans Day they’re extending it to 30 percent off for veterans. Many of their products purchased result in 100% of proceeds donated to specific military charities.
Target — Active-duty military personnel, veterans and their families get a 10% military discount between November 1 and 11. After eligibility has been verified online, an exclusive, one-time use 10% Target Circle offer will be available to use in-store or online.
Health and Fitness
Academy Sports + Outdoors – Military receive 10% off their entire purchase through Nov. 11. This deal is available in stores and online.
Great Clips – Retired and active service members can receive a free haircut or a card, which is redeemable through Dec. 11, for a free haircut. Nonmilitary customers who get their hair cut on Nov. 11 will also receive a card, redeemable for a free cut, to give to a service member.
Sport Clips – Some locations will offer free haircuts to veterans and active-duty service members and will donate $1 for every haircut provided that day to the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Help a Hero Scholarship fund.
Office Depot/OfficeMax – Veterans, active-duty military, retirees, reservists and their dependents get 25% off eligible purchases in stores when they present valid military ID or military dependent ID. This offer runs Nov. 11 to Nov. 13. Some items are excluded, including gift cards, appliances, certain consumer electronics, certain brands and other restricted items.
Samsung – From Nov. 6 to Nov. 11, active-duty military members and veterans can register on Samsung’s site for special deals, including an extra 10% off smartphones, tablets, wearables, mobile accessories and PCs.
Staples – Active-duty military personnel, reservists, retired or disabled veterans and their immediate families get a 25% discount November 8 through 14.
Mattress Firm – From November 11 through 17, veterans and active-duty military members can take advantage of Mattress Firm’s Black Friday Sale and receive an additional 10% off their entire purchase, for total savings up to 60% off.
Sleep Number – Military members can verify their identity on Sleep Number’s site to get a promo code they can use for an extra $100 off smart beds and adjustable bases through Nov. 16.
Home Depot — Home Depot offers a 10% discount to all veterans on November 11. Home Depot offers a 10% discount year round to active duty and retirees.
Grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations
Pilot/Flying J – From Nov. 9 to Nov. 15, Pilot and Flying J locations will offer veterans a free coffee (any size) and one free breakfast item. Redeem this offer through the Pilot Flying J app.
Publix – Veterans, active military members and their families can get 10% off groceries on Nov. 11. Some items are excluded, including tobacco, gift cards, alcohol and lottery tickets. You must present a valid military ID to get this offer.
Walgreens — Veterans, military and their families get a 20% discount on eligible regular priced items, November 11 through 15. This in-store offer is only valid in Walgreens or Duane Reade stores.
Travel and Recreation Discounts
9/11 Memorial and Museum — Veterans will receive free Museum admission as well as half-price tickets for three family members from November 7 to 18.
Akron Zoo — Veterans, past and current, receive free admission and immediate family members receive 50% off admission November 7 through 11 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
B&Bs for Vets — The innkeepers participating in the 2020 B&Bs for Vets program will offer a minimum of one room for one night and totally free. Most innkeepers will give their free rooms away on November 10, but offers vary.
Birmingham Zoo — Veterans, active and retired military and their dependents receive free admission from November 11 until 15.
Caesars Entertainment — Veterans and active-duty military who book future travel on Caesars.com from November 4 to 15 get up to 40% off.
Capital Wheel — On November 11, active and retired service members ride free. Accompanying family members are eligible for the military discount. Onsite only.
Cincinnati Zoo — All members of the military will receive free admission on November 11. The offer also allows military personnel to purchase up to six half-price admission tickets for members of their immediate family.
Colonial Williamsburg — Military families can receive a free admission ticket during Veterans Day weekend.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium — Military personnel, both past and present, and their immediate family get free admission on November 11 with military ID or proof of service.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum — On November 11, active-duty and retired armed services members get free admission (including up to three immediate family members), and a 10% discount at Circa: The Museum Store and the Hatch Show Print retail store. Advanced reservations are highly recommended.
Harley-Davidson Museum — Active military, veterans and their families get free admission on November 11 and 12.
Jefferson Lines — Veterans and active military members get free tickets anytime between November 1 through 11. Free tickets are available for travel departing on November 11 through November 26 for both one-way and round-trip tickets. Veterans and active military members are welcome to return on a different date for round-trip tickets anytime through December 31.
La Quinta by Wyndham — Eligible military members get 12% off the Best Available Rate at participating La Quinta by Wyndham hotels. Plus, Wyndham Rewards members receive 500 bonus points for qualified stays booked by December 7 and completed by December 8, 2020.
Montgomery Zoo — Veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their dependent family members receive a 50% discount on regular daytime admission to the Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum November 8 through 14.
Monticello — Veterans get complimentary admission November 11. Admission is for the Monticello Self-Guided Pass.
Montpelier — Veterans get a free “Highlights of Montpelier” tour and Museum Shop discount, November 7 and 8.
Mount Vernon — All active-duty, former, or retired military personnel are admitted for free on November 11.
Pro Football Hall of Fame — Veterans and active military plus a guest get free museum admission and parking from November 1 through 15. A 20% off discount in the HOF Store will also be offered in November.
San Antonio Zoo — Active-duty, retired, veteran members of the military, National Guard and Reserves get free admission throughout November. Plus, up to four immediate family members can receive 50% off single day tickets on date of visit.
Sanderling Resort — Current and former military receive discounted rates of $129 per night from November 11, 2020 through March 19, 2021 with an additional 20% off all food, spa and retail.
Sedgwick County Zoo — All military personnel, veterans and their immediate families get complimentary admission on November 11.
Super 8 by Wyndham — Active and retired military members, veterans and their families can enjoy 15% off the Best Available Rate at participating Super 8 by Wyndham hotels. Plus, Wyndham Rewards members receive 500 bonus points for qualified stays booked by December 7 and completed by December 8, 2020.
True REST Float Spa — Veterans and active-duty military get a free 60-minute float on the 11th of every month, including November 11. For Veterans Day, True REST is also providing appointments to veterans only on November 11.
Woodland Park Zoo — Active, retired, and veteran military personnel and their spouses get free admission on November 11.
World of Coca-Cola — Active duty, reserves and retirees get free admission year-round, and from November 2 to 12 members of the Armed Forces may purchase up to four general admission tickets at half-price for their friends and family. Tickets must be purchased online.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts — Active and retired military members, veterans, and their families save up to 15%, plus receive 500 Wyndham Rewards bonus points for qualified stays booked by December 7 and completed by December 8, 2020.
Zoo Atlanta — Veterans, active-duty, retired and reserve members get free admission and $4 off general admission for up to six accompanying guests on November 11.
Delta Sonic Car Wash — Veterans and active-duty military save $25 on any oil change service throughout November.
Enterprise Car Sales — Active-duty military members, veterans and their dependents who purchase a used vehicle from Enterprise Car Sales are eligible to receive $300 off their vehicle purchase, November 1 through 30.
GM — GM offers special savings for the military November 3 through 30. Grace for Vets — Car washes from around the world who join this program offer free car washes to veterans and service members on November 11.
Throughout the year, the team at We Are The Mighty has the privilege of learning about and meeting people doing extraordinary things in the military-veteran community. This is the inspiration behind our annual Mighty 25: Influencers Supporting the Military Community in 2018 — a list of individuals who are making a difference for military service members, veterans, and their families.
This year, we expanded our list to include not just veterans, prior service members, and reservists, but also civilians who are doing exemplary work in this community.
The Mighty 25 Committee utilized a set of specific criteria to select 25 members of the military-veteran community currently making a significant impact. The committee was comprised of the diverse WATM team of veteran editors, writers, and creators who engage with this community daily. The task force conducted extensive research to identify over 100 initial potential candidates. The top 25 were chosen according to impact and the representation of a diverse variety of social causes, fields of work, and communities affected.
This individuals on this year’s Mighty 25 have dedicated their lives to missions that vary greatly: from developing transitioning service members and their spouses into successful entrepreneurs, to helping veterans heal through stand-up comedy training. Yet these exceptional individuals all share one goal: to improve the lives of those who have sacrificed for their country.
We are excited to share these influencers’ stories, highlight their accomplishments to the world, and cheer them on as they continue to make a difference in the lives of many. The 2018 Mighty 25 list is presented here in alphabetical order.
Dr. Jill Biden
Combining a lifetime passion for teaching with her high-profile role as former second lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden is able to reach millions as a premier advocate for military service members and their families.
Not long after their husbands took office, Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama teamed up to form “Joining Forces,” a non-profit that partners with the private and public sectors to provide military families with tools to succeed throughout their lives. Their initiative, “Operation Educate the Educator,” was designed to help teachers understand what military families go through, and was introduced at 100 teaching colleges across America.
Biden believes that in addition to military members, families also serve – including children. Her book Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops is the story of a little girl coping with her father’s deployment, and is based on the Biden family’s own experiences when their son and father, the late Beau Biden, was deployed to Iraq.
The Biden Foundation, launched Feb. 2017, by Dr. Jill Biden and former Vice President Joe Biden, is a nonprofit organization that looks to “identify policies that advance the middle class, decrease economic inequality, and increase opportunity for all people,” according to its website. One of the organization’s primary focuses is supporting military families.
In April 2017, Biden was appointed to the JP Morgan Chase Military and Veterans’ Affairs External Advisory Council. The council advises the firm on a comprehensive strategy to design programs and products aimed at serving the unique needs of members of the military, veterans and their families.
U.S. Naval Academy graduate and retired Lieutenant Colonel Scott Cooper spent an impressive career in the Marine Corps as an EA-6B Prowler aircrew, serving five tours in Iraq, two in Afghanistan, one in Europe, and one in the Western Pacific. Cooper now serves as the Director of National Security Outreach at Human Rights First, a nonprofit organization that advocates for human rights, especially in encouraging America to be a leader and champion of human rights at home and abroad. In his role, Cooper works to build broad coalitions among military agencies, the national security community, veteran service organizations, and think tanks.
In 2015, Cooper’s passion for advocating for Afghan and Iraqi wartime allies and Syrian refugees led him to found Veterans for American Ideals, a nonpartisan, grassroots, community-based group of veterans aiming to leverage military veteran voices to bridge divides and regain a shared sense of national community. He believes that within this increasingly divisive political climate, veterans can be an important civilizing, unifying force. Their work amplifies veterans’ experiences, leadership abilities, and credibility to combat the erosion of our democratic norms and to challenge the rise of xenophobic, fear-based rhetoric and policies that run counter to our ideals.
In the face of the refugee ban promulgated by the current White House administration, Cooper has dedicated himself to championing the rights of refugees on Capitol Hill, working to educate government officials on the current refugee vetting process, even leading a delegation of refugees to meet with the offices of numerous senators, including John McCain, Jeanne Shaheen, Marco Rubio, Tammy Duckworth, Chuck Grassley, Joe Manchin, and Ed Markey.
Cooper also lends a prominent voice to this public issue as a published author, with his pieces on human rights issues and American values appearing in numerous publications, including the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Quarterly, War on the Rocks, Task and Purpose, The American Interest, and Policy Review.
The crown in Elizabeth Dole’s long and varied public career may not lie in her capacity as Federal Trade Commissioner under President Richard Nixon, Secretary of Transportation under President Reagan, or Secretary of Labor under George H.W. Bush — and possibly not even as United States Senator from her home state of North Carolina.
Rather, it is her foundation that may hold more significance for the ordinary Americans it serves every single day. Through the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Dole has chosen to use her high-profile platform to advocate for those 5.5 million spouses, friends, and family members who care for America’s ill, injured, and wounded veterans.
While visiting her husband at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Dole first became aware of the needs and challenges facing military caregivers. A veteran of World War II, Bob Dole is the recipient of two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, and has long suffered from the effects of his injuries. As she visited other veterans suffering catastrophic wounds, Dole was drawn to the families, constantly at the side of their loved ones, receiving little or no support.
Under Dole’s leadership, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation has brought national attention to military caregiver issues through its Hidden Heroes Campaign, launched grassroot support initiatives in more than 110 cities across the nation via Hidden Heroes Cities, encouraged innovation and the creation of direct service programming supporting caregivers through Hidden Heroes Fund, empowered and equipped military caregivers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico with tools to advocate on behalf of their caregiver peers though the Dole Caregiver Fellows program, and advocated for national caregiver support with Congressional and VA leaders. The Foundation also launched HiddenHeroes.org, a first-of-its-kind online tool where military caregivers can connect to a peer support community and directory of 200+ carefully vetted resources.
Dole’s impact doesn’t stop there. In October 2017, she was appointed chair of the Veteran Administration’s new family and caregiver advisory committee, which was formed in response to problems with support programs, and is charged with advocating for improvements to VA care and benefits services.
Marjorie K. Eastman
Her 2017 National Independent Publisher Award-winning book The Frontline Generation: How We Served Post 9/11 not only reframes how many thought about those who served in the conflicts following 9/11, it is the first book to define the timeless legacy of anyone who steps up to serve, declaring the most significant call to action for our time. What started as a memoir project that this former enlisted, direct commission Army Reserve officer took on to cope with her infant son’s battle with cancer, it became an informational and inspiring collection of reflections on those with whom she served, and the aftershocks of service, character, and leadership.
She sought to write a book that would help shape the man she hoped her son will become — yet she succeeded in shaping the narrative of post 9/11 veterans as being far more, and better than, the prevailing themes of hero or broken. And the U.S. Army took notice and placed her book on the recommended reading list for the Military Intelligence Center of Excellence library and museum. A 2018 updated version of her book is now available (audio book set to release in late May), with an additional appendix that empowers readers to find a mission — inciting confidence that every one of us can live with purpose, live for each other, and lead.
Named by PBS’s Veterans Coming Home Initiative as a veteran thought leader, Eastman, who was awarded the Bronze Star as a combat commander, as well as the Combat Action Badge, continues to pioneer new ground by positively reinforcing the value of veterans and service as an unmatched currency. She is a frequent public speaker and her articles on topical issues such as the #MeToo movement, veteran entrepreneurs as a force multiplier in our economy, how veterans can bridge the partisan divide, and the potential impact of U.S. State Department cuts have appeared in publications such as The Washington Post, Task Purpose, and USA Today. Make sure to check out her 2018 Deck of 52 Most Wanted post 9/11 Frontline Leaders, a weekly column that is a spin-off and salute to the original deck (2003 Iraqi Playing Cards), highlighting veterans and military families who have launched exceptional businesses and charities.
On Aug. 21, 2009, while enroute from Camp Victory to the International Zone (IZ) in Baghdad, Iraq, then-Army Col. Carol Eggert’s vehicle was struck by an EFP — an explosively formed projectile. She calls it her Gratitude Day. She and all ten service members riding with her that day were wounded. Eggert was in Iraq on a 15-month combat tour as Chief of the Women’s Initiatives Division and Senior Liaison to the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad. In this role, she conducted an analysis of women’s initiatives and engineered a strategic plan to empower Iraqi women economically and politically.
Now as a retired brigadier general in the private sector, Eggert continues to lead through empowerment. She currently serves as the Senior Vice President, Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal, executing Comcast NBCUniversal’s commitment to deliver meaningful career opportunities to veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses. Eggert recently announced that the company exceeded its goal of hiring 10,000 members of the military community between 2015 and 2017.
Eggert’s selection for this role comes as no surprise. Eggert herself served across several components, including the Regular Army, the Army Reserve, and the National Guard. She also earned several degrees — two master’s and a doctorate in organizational leadership. In addition to the Purple Heart, Eggert is also the recipient of the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, and Meritorious Service Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters.
U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy Seal Nick Etten believes that veterans’ quality of life could be improved — and lives could be saved — through access to cannabis for medical treatment. Through his organization, the Veterans Cannabis Project, Etten champions cannabis as a life-saving treatment option. With the prevalence of chronic pain among military veterans leading to a deadly opioid addiction problem within the community, Etten views Cannabidiol (CBD) products as a viable way to help veterans get off opioids.
Access to medical marijuana for veterans, however, is limited. The laws regulating marijuana are currently murky, since it is illegal under federal law, but legal under the law in some states. And because of the current classification of cannabis as a schedule one drug, research on its potential benefits for veterans is limited, and the Department of Veteran affairs does not allow its providers to prescribe or even recommend it to patients.
The Veterans Cannabis Project has been active on Capitol Hill, working to educate lawmakers, and requesting they take action to help clarify the health benefits of cannabis. Etten’s work to educate, advocate, support research, and partner with like-minded organizations is paving the path for future access to alternative treatment options for veterans.
When Justine Evirs joined the Navy, her plan was to make a career out of it. Her early medical discharge, however, forced her back to square one. She ended up in college to study business then spent numerous years in higher education and veteran services. Evirs is now a mother of three, military spouse, and prominent leader and disrupter in the entrepreneurial and veteran military spouse communities, whose ideas are fast-tracking opportunities for veterans entering the civilian workforce or starting their own businesses.
In her previous role as the Executive Director of the nonprofit Bunker Labs Bay Area Evirs helps provide resources and networking opportunities to military veterans and their spouses who are starting and growing their own businesses. Now in her new role as the National Director of Policy at Bunker Labs she is focused on policy solutions for veteran entrepreneurs across the nation.
The Paradigm Switch, a nonprofit founded by Evirs in 2017, originally provided veterans and military spouses access to prestigious certifications and vocational skills-based programs. Fast forward to today, The Paradigm Switch has recently relaunched and is putting military spouses first. Evirs is building a global digital community for military spouses by military spouses, offering a full spectrum of resources that enable spouses to unleash their unlimited potential both personally and professionally. They discover and provide access to resources and communities that empower military spouses to take control of their careers.
Delphine Metcalf-Foster made history in 2017, when she became the first woman ever elected as the National Commander of the Disabled Americans Veterans (DAV) organization.
Metcalf-Foster, whose father was a Buffalo Soldier, joined the military later in life, when her daughter was in high school. Her daughter was convinced people would laugh at her mom because of her age, but Metcalf-Foster went for it, and ended up retiring from the Army Reserve 21 years later. During her service, she deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield, where she was injured.
Metcalf-Foster’s passion for serving fellow veterans has fueled her work with DAV. With over 1 million members, this nonprofit organization helps injured veterans access benefits and advocates on their behalf. In her role as the DAV National Commander, Metcalf-Foster aims to spotlight the need to close the health care gap that exists for women veterans, as well as the need to expand government support for caregivers of pre 9/11 veterans.
It all started with this former Army captain’s raw, brutally honest and irreverent blog titled Kaboom: a Soldier’s War Journal, which chronicled his 15-month Iraq deployment leading a scout platoon with the 25th Infantry Division. The controversial and popular blog was eventually shut down by Gallagher’s chain-of-command, but was later published as a critically-acclaimed memoir after he left the Army.
Armed with an MFA in fiction from Columbia, Gallagher went on to write for numerous major publications, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Wired. Tackling such dicey issues as whether or not the Iraq War was worth it, the social estrangement of returning veterans, and refugee and immigration rights of Muslims coming to America, Gallagher challenges intellectual and moral complacency. As a veteran directly affected by these issues, Gallagher’s skepticism of the establishment, honest self-reflection, and calls for accountability bring an enormously refreshing and credible perspective to the conversation.
In 2015, Vanity Fair called Matt Gallagher one of the most important voices of a new generation of American war literature. His debut novel Youngblood (2016) portrays a young soldier in his search for meaning during the end of the Iraq War.
As a former intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve, the mayor of Los Angeles has made improving the lives of veterans a priority throughout his tenure. His establishment of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs aimed to ensure veterans in Los Angeles can access the services they’ve earned. One of Garcetti’s most impressive contributions to the veteran community during his time as mayor has been through the office’s massive hiring campaign called the 10,000 Strong Initiative.
Garcetti’s groundbreaking initiative formed a coalition between the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs and companies and community organizations in Los Angeles over the last three years to reach the goal of hiring 10,000 local veterans. The program utilized the services of local nonprofits and government agencies to match qualified veteran candidates with open positions. The initiative also offered job training to veterans to assist them in transitioning into the civilian workforce, as well as training to companies on how to use tax incentives when hiring veterans.
Through the use of these resources and training programs, Garcetti’s 10,000 Strong Initiative ended up beating its own goal, placing 10,500 veterans with more than 200 companies in the Los Angeles region. In Garcetti’s own words from his Aug 29, 2017 Fleet Week speech, “The men and women who served our country in uniform should come home to opportunity, not obstacles. Veterans are some of the hardest-working, most qualified, and prepared people in Los Angeles — and they should have every chance to succeed in the workplace, and make a living for themselves and their families.”
Jason Hall started his career in Hollywood as an actor. Some might recognize him from his recurring role as the lead singer of a band in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. According to Hall, however, the role that truly made a difference in his life was for a University of Southern California student film in which he portrayed a Marine coming to grips with the loss of a troop. This role would serve as his entry into the fascinating and strange world of American military veterans.
Hall’s Oscar nomination for his adaptation of the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s American Sniper novel for the 2014 film version served as his breakout moment as a major creative force. His success in the powerful telling of that story led him to his next project, Thank You for Your Service, a 2017 film he wrote and directed based on Washington Post reporter David Finkel’s nonfiction book by the same name, which follows the real-life plight of four soldiers returning home from the Iraq War.
Finkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, had followed these soldiers in the war for 10 months, then continued following them for another 13 months after they came home. What resulted was a gripping account of the challenges faced by veterans following war.
Hall’s film expanded the book’s audience to moviegoers across America, giving a prominent spotlight to the issues faced by returning veterans. It’s his dedication to the careful and accurate depiction of these true-life accounts that demonstrates his commitment to serving veterans through filmmaking. He looks to bring that same accuracy to the story of another well-known veteran: George Washington. He has spent the last year researching and writing the story of Washington’s road to becoming a leader through the French Indian war.
Zach Iscol is a combat decorated Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq and fought in the second Battle of Fallujah, where he led a combined unit of 30 American and 250 Iraqi National Guard troops, and later helped build US Marine Corps, Special Operations Command.
Through Hirepurpose, Iscol has helped over 50,000 veterans with employment through personalized career guidance, resources, and job matching. Iscol’s Headstrong Project, an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical Center, has provided cost-free world-class mental healthcare to over 600 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in 14 cities and growing around the Country. Task Purpose is a leading news, culture and lifestyle website with content aimed at military and veteran audiences, and reaching over 50 million people a month.
In 2007, Iscol’s testimony, while on active duty, before the United States Senate, helped establish the Special Immigrant Visa to safeguard and protect our Iraqi and Afghanistan translators.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Dwayne Johnson comes from a proud military family, and his goal is to give back to the military community. An actor, producer, philanthropist, and former WWE professional wrestler, Johnson uses his super-celebrity status to advocate for the importance of American freedom and to honor its protectors.
At the end of 2016, Johnson was the executive producer and host of the inaugural “Rock the Troops” event at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for 50,000 military personnel in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. For this event, which aired on Spike TV, Johnson assembled an epic cast of fellow celebrities — Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Keegan Michael-Key, Rob Riggle, Nick Jona, Flo Rider, and more all made special appearances to honor the troops.
Johnson continues his support for military members and their families through his partnership with Under Armour’s Freedom initiative, which supports the military and first responder communities by enhancing their physical and mental wellness.
After serving 25 years in the U.S. Air Force as both a public affairs NCO and officer, Mike Kelly continues serving the military community as a passionate advocate for veterans and military spouses. In his role as an executive at USAA, he leads strategic collaborations with key military, government, nonprofit, and for-profit advocacy groups.
Mike is building collaborative relationships that focus on a national dialogue surrounding important veteran and spouse issues such as financial readiness, navigating successful transitions into the civilian workforce, entrepreneurship, and supportive and impactful military spouse communities.
In 2016, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation selected Mike as the recipient of the annual Hiring Our Heroes Colonel Michael Endres Leadership Award for Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment. He currently serves on the HOH Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Councils, which focus on actions addressing the unique employment challenges veterans and military spouses face.
Mike is dedicated to connecting, equipping, and inspiring opportunities that benefit the military community at large.
Sam Meek served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Nuclear Biological Chemical Defense (NBCD) Specialist, completing two tours in Iraq. After leaving the military, Meek would eventually end up using his passion for technology to help connect members of the military community. His unique mobile app, Sandboxx, helps give new recruits in basic training — as well as deployed service members without access to their social media apps — a way to stay connected to the outside world.
Sandboxx customers, most of whom are already active users of social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat, are easily able to transition to Sandboxx to communicate with out-of-reach military members. They use the app to upload photos, which get converted into a piece of physical mail, which is sent anywhere in the world it needs to go, even remote locations. Most letters are sent overnight and are delivered the next business day.
Meek launched Sandboxx Travel in 2017, which enables service members to book hotels and flights, often with military discounts, through the Sandboxx app and site. The app also helps provide a way for active and inactive members of the military to connect with any unit they have ever served. As the grandson and great grandson of military service members, Meek was intent on maintaining his connection to the Marines. He now helps people around the world do exactly that.
On April 10, 2012, while serving on his third tour with the 82nd Airborne, Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was critically injured by an IED. He lost both arms and both legs in the blast, and is one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive those injuries.
Mills spent much of his time during recovery at Walter Reed encouraging and hanging out with fellow injured veterans and their families, earning the nickname the “Mayor.” So it’s not much of a surprise that he ended up deciding that he wanted to do something big — not only for veterans, but their families as well. In 2013, embodying the warrior ethos of “Never give up, never quit,” Travis and his wife started the Travis Mills Foundation.
The Foundation supports veterans and their families through programs that help these heroic men and women overcome physical obstacles, strengthen their families, and provide well-deserved rest and relaxation. Mills’ latest effort to support these veterans and their families is through his Foundation’s national retreat center, located in his home state of Maine.
Since June of 2017, the retreat has served injured veterans and their families, who receive an all-inclusive, all-expenses paid, barrier-free vacation where they participate in adaptive activities, bond with other veteran families, and enjoy the 17-acre grounds of the estate.
You might know Bob Parsons as the larger-than-life billionaire entrepreneur who founded GoDaddy, but his legacy extends far beyond the massively successful internet domain registrar and web hosting company. Parsons served in the United States Marine Corps and, at 18 years old, deployed to Vietnam as a rifleman with Delta Company, earning a Purple Heart, a Combat Action Ribbon, and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross.
Parsons is passionate about creating a positive homecoming experience for veterans returning from war. This was also the inspiration behind those who started the Semper Fi Fund, a charity that provides immediate and long-term resources to post-9/11 military members who have been combat wounded, catastrophically injured, or are critically ill.
Semper Fi Fund also provides services aimed at helping vets throughout their lives, including family and caregiver support, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury care and education, adaptive housing and transportation, education and career transition assistance, mentoring and apprenticeships, and unit reunions.
As one of the highest-rated charities in the country the Semper Fi Fund’s impact is impressive. According to their website, Semper Fi Fund’s 2017 monetary assistance to service members totaled million dollars. Bob Parsons and his wife Renee are also the founders of the nonprofit organization The Bob Renee Parsons Foundation. For the sixth year in a row, the Foundation recently completed its Double Down for Veterans match campaign with the Semper Fi Fund by matching contributions dollar-for-dollar, exceeding their 2017 goal of million. The Foundation has donated more than million in total to the Semper Fi Fund since its creation. This husband-and-wife philanthropic powerhouse have given an astounding 0 million dollars to charity since 2012.
Coming from three generations of military service, Elizabeth Halperin-Perez spent nine years as an Aviation Logistic Specialist in the U.S. Navy. During a deployments to the Middle East, her friend died in a terrorist attack on the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole while it was refueling in Yemen’s Aden Harbor. This event, along with the deep respect for Mother Earth instilled in her from her Mono Indian Native American heritage, sparked her passion for energy policies that advance national security.
Committed to reducing conflict and future wars by furthering sustainable energy practices, Halperin-Perez went on to become the founder and president of the green-build general contracting and consulting firm GCG. Using her experience and network, she also works to help other veterans find clean energy job opportunities, and is passionate about helping them onto an entrepreneurial path. In 2017, Halperin-Perez was chosen by Governor Brown to serve on the California Veterans Board, and most recently was appointed Deputy Secretary of Minority Veterans with the California Department of Veterans Affairs, serving underrepresented veterans in a much larger capacity across California. She was also recognized at the White House in 2013 as a “Champion of Change for Advancing Clean Energy Technologies Climate Security”.
Sam Pressler began his involvement with the veteran community during his time as a student at the College of William Mary, where he majored in government and first learned about the mental health challenges faced by veterans returning from war. Pressler himself had turned to comedy to cope after a suicide in his family, and in response to the challenges affecting veterans and service members he started Comedy Bootcamp, a stand-up comedy class for veterans and their families as a way to help build community and improve well-being through comedy.
This bootcamp eventually grew into the Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP), a non-profit founded and led by Pressler that helps veterans, service members, and military family members reintegrate into their communities through the arts. The organization promotes expression, skill-development, and camaraderie through classes, workshops, and performances across a variety of artistic disciplines. ASAP’s focus on consistent programs and community partnerships ensures that members of our community have continuous opportunities for artistic and personal growth.
ASAP has served more than 600 students, and put on over 800 performances for 50,000+ audience members, including a 2016 comedy show at The White House and a performance for President Jimmy Carter. Through these programs and performances, Pressler has helped to create connections and understanding between veterans and members of their local communities. Pressler was honored on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017, as one of HillVets 100 most influential people in the veterans space in 2016, and as a recipient of the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship.
His work with ASAP has been featured by numerous media outlets, including the Washington Post, ABC News, NBC, CNN, NPR, PBS, Military Times, Task Purpose, and Stars Stripes.
Jennifer Pritzker (born James Pritzker) enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions while on active duty, then at various units in the Army National Guard until retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2001. She was later promoted to the honorary rank of Colonel.
Pritzker has been a massive force multiplier through her philanthropic work as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Tawani Enterprises, Inc., President of the Tawani Foundation, and Founder and Chair of the Pritzker Military Museum Library. In these roles, Pritzker makes significant long-term differences for programs and organizations that advocate the role of military in society.
Among her notable contributions is a id=”listicle-2565932886″.3 million donation to the University of California, Santa Barbara to fund studies on how the U.S. military could openly integrate transgender members into its ranks. In 2017, the Pritzker Military Foundation donated id=”listicle-2565932886″ million to fund key initiatives for Elizabeth Dole’s Hidden Heroes campaign, which supports the caregivers of injured and ill veterans and service members. In 2018, the Foundation gave id=”listicle-2565932886″ million to the Army Historical Foundation to help with the construction of the National Museum of the United States Army in Virginia. In 2013, Pritzker came out as transgender and started living as a woman. She is the only known transgender billionaire in the world.
(Photo by Terrilyn Bayne)
Diana & Daniel Rau
Daniel Rau was inspired to serve his country when he saw the Twin Towers fall on 9/11. He joined the Marine Corps and served as a Marine Security Guard protecting embassies around the world. After his service, based on his and his friends’ experiences, he saw an opportunity to radically change the process of how Veterans enter the civilian workforce.
Diana Rau, who was honored as one of Forbes’ 2018 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, is a Georgetown graduate passionate about solving major social problems. When she met Daniel, the idea for Veterati sparked: build a technology platform to help America’s 1.5 million service members currently transitioning into the civilian workforce as well as 5.5 million underemployed military spouses navigate and break into civilian careers. (A romantic relationship that later led to their marriage also sparked — Veterati’s story is both a startup story a love story!)
Because 80% of job opportunities are never listed, but rather, are advertised and filled through personal networks, the Raus built a digital platform that empower service members and spouses to connect with multiple mentors and build social networks vital to their career search. At Veterati.com, Veterans spouses are matched with successful business people in their area of interest using smart algorithms. Mentors volunteer their time through free, one-hour phone calls facilitated by the platform. Since its 2015 launch, Veterati, which has been called the “Uber-of-mentoring,” has provided thousands of free mentoring conversations for 10k+ members and is partnered with the nation’s leading Veteran Service Organizations and Military Employers to deliver free, on-demand mentoring to our entire military community.
In 2017, Denise Rohan became the first female national commander of the 2 million-member American Legion in its 99-year history. Rohan, who served in the Army’s Quartermaster Corps for two years at the end of the Vietnam War, joined the Legion 33 years ago, working her way up from post-level membership to National Commander.
The American Legion is the nation’s largest veteran service organization and was founded on four pillars: veterans affairs and rehabilitation, national security, Americanism, and children and youth. As their new national commander, Rohan is expanding on those four pillars through her “Family First” platform, which broadens the American Legion’s focus on service members and veterans to include family members as well. As the spouse of a veteran herself, Rohan believes that families serve too; and ensuring those family members are being taken care of at home allows for their loved ones in the fight to focus more on their mission, ultimately strengthening national security.
Rohan’s current special fundraising project is the Legion’s Temporary Financial Assistance program, which awards cash grants to children of veterans in need to help the cost of shelter, food, utilities, and health expenses.
Major Dan Rooney
Major Dan Rooney is a U.S. Air Force Reserve F-16 fighter pilot with the Oklahoma National Guard. It was during his second tour of duty in Iraq that he felt a calling to do something in response to the devastating sacrifices he saw others make fighting for their country. This calling was solidified on a commercial flight Rooney took after returning to the U.S. The plane had just landed and the pilot announced that the remains of Corporal Brock Bucklin were on board. Maj Rooney watched as the flag-draped casket slowly made its way to the awaiting family, which included the fallen hero’s son. Rooney was overwhelmed thinking about the hardship those family members would face due to their loss.
This moment irrecoverably altered Rooney’s trajectory, and he made the decision at that moment to dedicate the rest of his life to helping the family members of those who gave their lives, or were disabled in service to their nation. He recently formed a partnership with Budweiser’s Patriot Beer and in 2007 created the Folds of Honor Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps the more than one million dependents adversely impacted by war through educational scholarships.
Rooney, who is also a PGA golf pro, realized that he could use his platform to help achieve the goals he had for his foundation. The first Folds of Honor golf tournament raised ,000. Since, then Folds of Honor has raised over 0 million and given away over 13,000 educational scholarships. Rooney continues to his work to uphold the mission of his foundation: “Honor their sacrifice. Educate their legacy.”
Actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise has been a strong advocate of American service members for nearly 40 years, starting with his Veterans Night program, which offers free dinners and performances to veterans at the Steppenwolf Theatre, which he co-founded in Chicago. Later, his portrayal of Lt Dan in the film Forrest Gump would create a lasting connection with the disabled military community. Following 9/11 he took part in many USO tours, which led him to form The Lt. Dan Band, which entertains troops at home and abroad and raises awareness at benefit concerts across the country.
Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011, through which he continues to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, and first responders as well as their families and those in need. Whether they’re sending WWII veterans to New Orleans to tour the National WWII Museum through its Soaring Valor program or building specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans through its R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program, Sinise continually demonstrates just how much one person’s commitment can do for an entire community. His Foundation recently added the annual Snowball Express event to its roster of programs. The annual event brings together the children and spouses of fallen military heroes each December for a fun-filled four-day event at Disney World.
Sinise’s forthcoming book Grateful American, which features the author’s life story and passionate advocacy for military service members, is slated for release in 2019.
Jon Stewart, comedian and former host of The Daily Show, is nothing less than passionate about his support for the troops. He continually uses his public platform to stress that the country does not do enough to support service members and veterans. His persistent message to America and its institutions is that supporting the troops shouldn’t be an empty saying, but rather a call to action. Stewart backs up his words with his own remarkable commitment, proving himself a truly dedicated advocate for this community.
During his long tenure as the host of the massively popular satirical news show, Stewart established an internship program for veterans trying to break into the television industry, which continues on to this day. He has also toured with USO three times, entertaining service members all over the world, bringing them laughs and a touch of home. Stewart regularly participates in benefits and campaigns aimed at raising money and awareness for issues impacting veterans.
In 2016, Stewart attended the Warrior Games, an adaptive sports competition in which injured and ill service members and veterans participate. He later pitched the idea of broadcasting the games on television to ESPN — and in 2017, they did exactly that, with Stewart serving as the emcee.
The military is a breeding ground for excellence. You have to be a cut — or two — above the rest to make it through those doors and the wringer doesn’t stop until you are appropriately Blue, Green, or Marine.
It is no surprise that some of those excellent members turned out to be some of the all-time great athletes. Check out some of the best to ever step on the field of competition before, after, and sometimes during service to their country.
James served in the U.S. Air Force from 2002 to 2008 as a security forces member, HUA. James would separate from service to eventually attend and play ball for Florida State. He was drafted in 2012 by the Cleveland Cavaliers. James is the youngest veteran on this list at 32.
6. Elgin Baylor – Army Reserves
Baylor joined U.S. Army Reserves during his Hall of Fame career. At the time, Baylor was one of the premier players in the early days of the NBA. He was called to active duty during the 1962 season, having to bounce from duty to game and back throughout the course of the season. Baylor is a Hall of Fame inductee and a stylistic predecessor to many of today’s players.
5. Alejandro Villanueva – Army
Villanueva attended West Point and received a commission in the U.S. Army in 2010. He would initially go undrafted before eventually finding a home with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014. In the space between, Villanueva served his country as a U.S. Army Ranger and notched a few tours in the Middle East under his belt. His journey has come full circle, as he made the NFL Pro Bowl in 2017.
4. Willie Mays – Army
Mays was drafted to the U.S. Army in 1952 during the Korean War. He would miss two seasons while serving his country. He would return to the MLB with the San Francisco Giants in 1954 and promptly liter the record books with his name. Mays would go on to make every All-Star game until retirement in 1973.
3. Nolan Ryan – Army Reserves
Ryan holds the MLB record for strikeouts — nearly 1,000 strikeouts ahead of the number 2 guy — and no-hitters. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in 1967.
2. Randy Couture – Army
Couture served in the U.S. Army from 1982 to 1988. He attained the rank of sergeant before separating to pursue other endeavors. He went on to become an Olympic team alternate three times as a Greco-Roman wrestler before going on to UFC fame.
Vera enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1990’s after deciding college wasn’t the route for him. He trained with the Air Force wrestling team before injuring his arm and eventually being medically discharged from service.
Vera went on to rehab himself and make it to the UFC where he has a professional record of 15 and 7.
Fall brings changing leaves, shortening days and cooler temperatures. At VA, it also means a slew of conferences and conventions.
Normally, you’d find us all over the country at various professional health care conferences. While in-person events are currently off the table, there are still plenty of chances to catch us at virtual career events.
Check out the list of online events below that we’ll be attending or hosting this fall. You can sign up for one to learn more about VA, what it’s like to work here and how you can find your perfect VA job.
VA Virtual Open House: At noon ET every Wednesday through Oct. 28, you can sign up to talk to a VA recruiter at our virtual open house. Learn more about open positions, how to apply and the many benefits of a VA career. During the 10-minute chat, you’ll also have a chance to ask the recruiter any other questions you might have about working at VA.
Talk About It Tuesday: Looking for more information about what it’s like to work at VA? Hear about it straight from VHA Marketing Specialist Mike Owens. Every Tuesday on LinkedIn, Owens talks about his experiences at VA and gives advice to job seekers. Topics he’s covered include common application mistakes, VA work culture and advice for transitioning military personnel. Once a month, he also sits down with a VA expert for a longer question-and-answer session. Grab some lunch and come join us next Tuesday at noon ET for another episode, or check out our archive of past videos anytime.
VHA Innovation Experience (iEX): Returning virtually this October, our third annual iEX gives you a chance to discover how VA is using innovation, partnership and technology to change and save Veteran lives. From Oct. 27-29, you can attend talks and demos, watch the VHA Shark Tank competition, attend discussion panels and virtual exhibits, and listen to keynote addresses from health care industry leaders. Register for iEX here.
Other virtual events: You can also catch us at a number of virtual events held by external partners this fall. If you live in the St. Louis area or are interested in working there, we’ll be exhibiting at a PracticeMatch virtual career fair from 4-7 p.m. CT on Oct. 29. We’ll also be at:
Bravery is a thing you see every day in the military. In all branches, in moments great and small, it’s an expression of the fundamental courage it takes to put your life on the line for love of country and to serve those you swore to protect.
Former Navy SEAL David Meadows proved exemplary in this capacity, serving 11 years in some of the harshest theaters of war throughout the Middle East.
But unlike many of his fellow Oscar Mike alumni, Meadows chose, upon reentry, to translate his habituated bravery into a civilian arena that would, honestly, make most servicemen and women want to crawl out of their natural born skins…
Yeah, he became an actor.
And we can tell you from experience that there are few professions that require a more constant personal brokerage with public shame, mortal embarrassment, insecurity, and rejection — in short, all of the types of feelings that normal people avoid like their lives depend on it.
Being the Special Ops-trained bad ass that he is, though, Meadows surveyed this new theater of war and then dove in head first. Acting for a living takes guts.
“I think that if there is a magic left in the world…it’s really for a person to be affected, to be changed — by one human being actually affecting somebody else on a really human, natural, soulful level. Does that make sense? And performing artists have that power. And I thought…that’s absolutely amazing. And I want to be a part of that.”
To get a taste of the kind of courage an actor has to muster every day, Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis visited Meadows at his acting studio in Los Angeles and submitted himself to a battery of drills that actors employ to help them behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
Each exercise is designed to increase physical sensitivity, dial up emotional availability, and to inure actors to the fear of ridicule that can shut them down at crucial moments. Like all high-stakes training, it’s effective — but it ain’t pretty.
Today’s lesson is clear: in a successful civilian life, emotional bravery matters. But you don’t have to take our word for it, you can just watch as Curtis cracks under the pressure and and begs to postpone the big payoff in the video embedded at the top.
During PTSD Awareness Month, explore rewarding VA careers that help Veterans take charge of their mental health and pursue fuller lives.
Mental health is a cornerstone of medical care at VA. We’re committed to treating the whole patient – helping Veterans across the country heal their minds as well as their bodies.
With the expertise of numerous professionals – including psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers and crisis line operators – we provide crucial mental health services that millions of Veterans rely on.
“Veterans face unique challenges when transitioning back to civilian life. Our mental health experts are there to help them achieve balance and wholeness,” said Darren Sherrard, associate director of recruitment marketing at VA.
PTSD affects seven out of every 100 Americans at some point in their lives and is often seen in Veterans who have gone through war, dangerous peacekeeping operations or other trauma.
Created in 1989, our National Center for PTSD is a world leader in research and education. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach to diagnosing and treating PTSD, the center rapidly translates research into practice to deliver the latest, cutting-edge mental health care to Veterans.
Experienced, licensed psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, clinical social workers or master’s level clinicians can be part of this groundbreaking work with a career as a PTSD therapist. Fellowships and internships are also available.
With a career at the National Center for PTSD, you can help trauma survivors feel safe in the world and live happy, productive lives.
Helping Veterans in crisis
Compassionate, qualified responders have helped millions of Veterans and their family members through the Veterans Crisis Line since it launched in 2007. The call center stands ready around the clock to take calls and texts from Veterans and active military personnel needing confidential assistance.
Our Veterans Crisis Line responders answer calls, texts and chats from Veterans, active-duty personnel, and their friends and family members. They help diffuse situations that put Veterans’ lives at risk, provide assessments and evaluate potential for suicide or homicide.
“This team is a lifeline to Veterans and military personnel in need,” Sherrard said.
Mental health careers
Beyond the PTSD center and the Veterans Crisis Line, there are rewarding careers in mental health throughout VA.
“It’s been said that the richest people are the ones who have lives filled with great meaning, and I just can’t imagine a job that pays more than this one,” said Joel Schmidt, a VA psychologist of nearly three decades who currently serves as associate director of advanced fellowships in the VHA Office of Academic Affiliations.
Whether you’re a psychologist, a social worker or in another mental health care field, you can help coordinate care that empowers Veterans and helps them reclaim their mental and emotional freedom.
You’ll have limitless room to grow and excel in your career with access to a huge variety of care environments, the chance to conduct research and the support to pursue further education.
Work at VA
Take a lead role in helping Veterans who have experienced trauma or suffer from PTSD. Explore a career at VA today.
The Make the Connection team is looking for Veterans who want to share their stories about seeking support for mental health challenges and take part in a national mental health campaign.
The same obstacles that may at first seem insurmountable to an individual are much less daunting when faced by a team. More than 500 Veterans and military family members have already stepped up to be that team for their brothers and sisters by sharing their stories in videos on MakeTheConnection.net, a mental health website from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Make the Connection helps Veterans and their loved ones realize that reaching out for support and seeking mental health treatment is a sign of strength, and thousands of Veterans have found help to overcome their challenges.
The Make the Connection team will be conducting more on-camera interviews in Tucson, Arizona on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 and is looking for Veterans who want to share their stories about seeking help and overcoming mental health and other challenges. Veterans who participate in the video shoot will receive a stipend to offset their expenses for time and travel. When the videos are posted on the Make the Connection website, only the first names of participants are used.
Since its launch six years ago, the Make the Connection campaign has spread positive stories about Veteran mental health via Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Veterans featured on the website and in social media have served in every branch of the armed forces and in every U.S. conflict since WWII through today’s current military engagements. They also represent the full diversity of the military community. Each Veteran has coped with conditions such as addiction, anxiety, depression, serious mental illness, PTSD, and the effects of military sexual trauma and traumatic brain injury.
Veterans who want to tell their stories to help fellow Veterans should email their name, phone number, and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our outreach team directly at 1-520-222-7518 by Friday, April 13th in order to be considered.