Holiday traditions and family get-togethers are a source of comfort for many. But the holidays can also act as anniversaries of unpleasant events or remind us of difficult changes that have happened in the last year. Veterans may also have memories of being deployed over a holiday during their service and could experience challenges with returning to civilian norms.
For Veterans diagnosed with PTSD, the holidays can be even more difficult to manage. While there are often bright spots, the unique struggles that trauma survivors can face as the year ends can often overshadow the joy of the season.
Helping you manage over the holiday season
If you know someone with PTSD, there are things you can do to make sure the holiday season is pleasant and enjoyable for everyone.
There are ways to cope and manage these feelings and stressful events. Here are some tips from our clinicians that can help you manage your symptoms over this holiday season:
Don’t overschedule. Leave time for yourself.
Make a plan to get things done. Set small, doable goals.
When stressed, remind yourself what has helped in the past.
Talk to your family member about what they need to feel comfortable during the holidays. If your loved one needs services, call Coaching into Care for advice on talking to them about treatment.
Keep important resources at hand, such as the Veterans Crisis Line, a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The holiday season can be difficult for people with PTSD, but there are healthy ways to cope and manage stress and have positive mental health throughout the holidays.
As late as 2013, some of Western New York’s veterans were still slipping through the cracks of the VA system. To address the issue, the Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition and Goodwill of Western New York teamed up to help those who were continually underserved.
The two organizations created the Veterans One-Stop Center of Western New York, a place any veteran can go find answers to any question along with comprehensive solutions to the unique problems veterans face in civilian life.
Those problems were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn caused by restrictions put in place to limit the spread of the virus. These issues hit veteran service organizations hard, and the people they serve struggled harder as a result. Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY applied for the Evan Williams COVID-19 Veteran Relief Grant, which made it possible for the nonprofit to more effectively meet the overwhelming need for support in the area.
“Even with the VA having a strong presence in the area, there were still some gaps in services and a lack of coordination with those services,” says Katherine Zunner, Chief Development Officer of Veterans One-Stop Center. “Even if a veteran didn’t serve during war time, we can assist anybody.”
Zunner comes from a family of military veterans. One grandfather was a World War II-era Marine. Her other grandfather served in the Army during the same war. Her brother is a Navy veteran, so the military-veteran community is an especially important community for her.
Without Veterans One-Stop’s assistance, that community’s need goes unanswered. During the pandemic, areas where veterans were hardest-hit included education, employment, and housing. Those needs are supposed to be addressed before the veteran needs critical services — but when that doesn’t happen, organizations like Veterans One-Stop Center of NWY intervene.
With 95,000 veterans in Western New York, Zunner says around 10-40% are in need of critical services, with many unaware of the benefits for which they are qualified. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the United States, Veterans One-Stop saw a large uptick in urgent requests for those critical services — but the group needed help meeting the demand.
Zunner applied for the Evan Williams’ COVID-19 Veteran Relief Grant, made possible by the American-Made Heroes Foundation Fund, established by Evan Williams in 2020 as part of their ongoing commitment to improve the lives of veterans. As an American-made and owned company, it’s important for Evan Williams Bourbon to give back to those who serve.
The grant they received funded Veterans One-Stop Center’s core services: case navigation and peer support.
“We were excited to try for something new because we usually don’t stray too far out of the area when we look for funding,” says Zunner. “Our services, though very needed, aren’t very ‘sexy,’ so it can be a hard sell. But we also have a lot of success stories.”
The Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY works because counselors sit down with individual veterans and plot a course with them, one-on-one. They map out the veteran’s basic and most critical needs, then connect them with the resources they need to get there.
Thanks to the Evan Williams’ COVID-19 Veteran Relief Grant, Veterans One-Stop Center closed for just one week, to clean and sanitize their offices. They were right back to helping veterans the week after. Now, they’re even looking to expand the number of counselors available to veterans.
“It takes a full community to successfully do the work that we are doing,” Zunner said of being selected for the grant. “Anytime we can spread our message is very exciting and to be selected on a national level, I always get very excited about that.”
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’s — Veterans 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 Barrel — Veterans 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’s — Military 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.
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 BBQ — Active-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.
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.
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.
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 Cookin — Active, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
VA is teaming up with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation (EDF) and the American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) to provide one-year, free, premium LinkedIn subscriptions to Veteran caregivers. Donated by LinkedIn, the free premium subscriptions help Veteran caregivers get noticed by recruiters, build out a network, stay in the know on new jobs that fit their skills, and apply for new opportunities.
In addition, LinkedIn offers a free year of unlimited access to over 15,000 business, creative and technology courses. The courses are all taught by industry experts through the LinkedIn Learning platform. Veterans may also request a free one-year premium subscription here: www.linkedin.com/military.
Caregivers support one of VA’s key priorities
VA values its long-standing relationships with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the American Red Cross. Together, we work to strengthen and bridge the gaps in services and resources in the community for caregivers.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation will soon share this offering with their military and Veteran caregiver community. Over the coming weeks, the Dole Foundation will be sharing this with the Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Caregiver Community, an online platform that connects thousands of military caregivers to a network of peer support and other resources.
The American Red Cross MVCN welcomes Veteran caregivers to join their Employment and Workplace Support Group if they are interested.
Specifically for the Veteran community, LinkedIn has created two learning paths.
Transition from Military to Civilian Employment: This learning path will help youis designed to navigate your job searches, helping you while building youra professional identity, assists in preopreparing prepare for interviews, negotiatinge salariesy, and even get promotionsed once you’ve after been hired.
Transition from Military to Student Life: Covering everything from ACT/SAT/GRE test prep to essay writing, study skills, time management tips, and how to land an internship, this learning path propels Veteransshould set you on a course to success – graduation and beyond.
To make the most of LinkedIn, use these resources:
LinkedIn for Veterans: This course provides a “LinkedIn 101” tutorial for everything from selecting and uploading the right picture to searching and applying for jobs.
Finding Your Purpose After Active Duty: This course is all about the intangibles of transition – understanding the Veteran’syour value to civilian employers, dealing with the uncertainty of transition, and wrestling with some of the challenges inherent in this process.
“LinkedIn is exited to support the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) who has teamed up with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network to offer Premium to family members of wounded veterans. These parents, spouses, and children of returning service members often disrupt their career paths to take on the important role of a caregiver.” Sarah Roberts, Head of Military and Veterans Programs, LinkedIn.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is excited to share this new, free offering with their military and Veteran caregiver community. Over the coming weeks, the Dole Foundation will be sharing this with the Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Caregiver Community, an online platform that connects thousands of military caregivers to a network of peer support and other resources. This offering is also available to military and Veteran caregivers who request to join Hidden Heroes in the coming weeks!
“We’re very excited to team up with LinkedIn and the VA on this very exciting offering,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “Finding flexible employment has always been a challenge for the military caregivers we serve, and in the midst of COVID-19, this continues to be a top need for caregivers. We are excited to make this offering available to our community and continue to find ways we can creatively support military families during this difficult time.”
The American Red Cross MVCN welcomes Veteran caregivers of all eras to join their custom, secure, caregiver– only Network. The MVCN is delighted to host Sarah Roberts, Head of Military and Veteran Programs at LinkedIn to demonstrate how LinkedIn can support caregiver employment. Caregivers interested in a free Premium LinkedIn Subscription are encouraged to join the Employment and Workplace Support group where the ongoing issues of caregiver employment are shared.
If there is indeed “something in the water,” as President Eisenhower said, then Dix must have had more than his fair share. Dix first enlisted in the U.S. Army hoping to join Special Forces but had spent three years in the 82nd Airborne Division before being accepted.
By 1968, Dix was a Staff Sergeant serving as a Special Forces advisor in Vietnam. On January 31, 1968, the first day of the Tet Offensive, Dix was stationed near Chau Phu when the city was attacked by two heavily armed Viet Cong battalions.
Supervising Vietnamese soldiers, Dix led his small group on an attack into the city. Receiving information that civilians were trapped, Dix systematically, and sometimes single-handedly, attacked multiple buildings, killing or driving out enemy forces and rescuing some fourteen civilians from the battlefield.
Over two days of fighting, Dix, while leading his small group, was also credited with fourteen enemy killed and possibly as many as 25 more while capturing a further twenty enemy.
2. George “Bud” Day — U.S. Air Force
Col. George Day’s story starts the day his F-100 was shot out of the sky over Vietnam on August 26, 1967.
Then-Major Day was leading a Misty Forward Air Control flight when his plane was crippled by anti-aircraft fire. He ejected but was badly injured in the process. Not long after reaching the ground, he was captured and taken to a small POW camp.
Despite his injuries, and incurring more, Day traveled south towards the DMZ. He survived on berries and raw frogs. He made it very close to American lines but was unable to signal several American planes overhead.
Suffering from delirium, he began wondering aimlessly until he was recaptured by the Viet Cong who shot him in the hand and leg in the process.
Once in captivity, Day offered nothing but maximum resistance to the enemy and kept the faith with his fellow POWs. Along with receiving the Medal of Honor for his bravery in escape and resistance also received the Air Force Cross for his staunch refusal to cooperate.
Col. Jay Vargas was a Captain leading Company G, 2nd Battalion, Fourth Marines, when he assaulted the village of Dai Do on May 1, 1968.
The previous day he had already received painful wounds but had refused to be evacuated. Despite his wounds and a large volume of enemy fire, Vargas successfully maneuvered his company and two others through open ground to gain a foothold in the village.
When his men became pinned down, Vargas personally led the relief effort and then led the attack into the village. Wounded for a second time, Vargas again refused to be evacuated and continued the fight to ensure that the objective was secure.
No sooner had Vargas secured the perimeter than enemy counterattacks and probes began, but the Marines held through the night.
After receiving reinforcements, the Marines again went on the offensive. When a massive enemy counterattack threatened to drive back their position, Vargas remained in the open, offering aid and encouragement to the beleaguered Marines.
He was then hit for a third time in as many days. Ignoring his wounds once again, Vargas continued to lead his Marines until he saw his battalion commander go down.
Charging through a hail of gunfire, Vargas successfully evacuated his commander to safety before rejoining his Marines and reorganizing their defense.
Lt. Thomas R. Norris and Petty Officer 3rd Class Nguyen Van Kiet. Norris was awarded the Medal of Honor and Kiet was recognized with the Silver Star.
On April 2, 1972, an EB-66 carrying Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton was shot down near the DMZ and right in the middle of the North’s Easter Offensive. Hambleton’s extensive knowledge of critical information made him a high priority for rescue.
However, efforts by air led to the loss of additional aircraft and more airmen killed. Finally, an attempt by ground was ordered.
The man in charge of the mission was U.S. Navy Seal Lt. Thomas Norris. He initially led a five-man team into hostile territory and was able to recover another downed flyer, Lt. Mark Clark – son of WWII General Mark Clark, who had been shot down searching for Hambleton.
Norris then led another mission but was unsuccessful in locating Hambleton. With time running out Norris devised a daring mission.
Norris, accompanied only by a South Vietnamese Commando, Nguyen Van Kiet, disguised themselves as fishermen and traveled deep into enemy territory. Patrolling through enemy infested jungles, Norris was able to locate Hambleton.
He loaded Hambleton into their sampan and covered him with bamboo and successfully navigated their way back to American lines while evading North Vietnamese patrols.
Just as they were reaching their base, they came under intense enemy fire, which Norris neutralized with a well-placed air strike.
For his highly successful, highly classified mission Norris was awarded the Medal of Honor. Nguyen Van Kiet became one of the few Vietnamese to receive the Navy Cross.
Companies grateful for the military’s service show their appreciation each year with free or discounted meals. Every Nov. 11, troops and vets map out an itinerary to maximize the best day ever.
The festivities can begin a week in advance and many troops stick with their tried and true classics. Cracker Barrel for breakfast, Red Robin for lunch, Hooter’s for Dinner, Old Chicago for beer and pizza with buddies.
If you really want to maximize your day, throw in a few things to do between meals. Be sure to grab your military or veteran ID and said buddies to share the Saturday of freebies with!
You can’t go out looking like a slob and expect civilians to take you seriously. After breakfast, why not grab a free haircut?
There are countless local and chain barbershops this year — too many to name. Everyone from Great Clips and Super Cuts to that place you like down the road (probably) are giving free hair cuts.
Give them a call in advance to verify.
Free Oil Change
If that light has been on for a bit too long on your dashboard, now is the time to get it checked out. You’ll need your car working in the best shape if you plan on driving all over for more deals.
Car care centers are also giving free oil changes including Meineke, Jiffy Lube, and many other local auto shops. Give them a call in advance to make sure.
Free Car Wash
Speaking of car care things people have been pushing off for too long, it’s time to get your car cleaned if you plan on showing up in style.
The organization Grace For Vets is working with over 3,215 car wash locations across the world to offer free car washes for veterans.
And to round the night out before the bars start opening up, have everyone meet up at the bowling ally for a game on the house. If you live near a Main Event bowling center, you even get a free entrée and $10 FUNcard to use at that location.
Many locations also offer free bowling Saturday, as with all the other fun deals, be sure to call in advance so you don’t end up being “that guy” who makes a scene about not getting a free round of bowling.
Free Wedding Dress
If you’ve got that one perfect date set in mind, now is the time to check one more thing off that list if you, or your fiancé, are military or a first responder.
Hands down the most impressive freebie this year is a free wedding dress. Granted, there are many stipulations on this one including: wedding in the next 18 months, you or your fiancé deployed in the last 5 years or about to deploy, and only certain deployed locations count. But submarine, Navy, and Special Ops orders all count. You can also qualify if you’ve had a civil ceremony in the past and are now planning a formal wedding.
There’s no way to finish a perfect day of freebies than by having a beer on the house.
Places like Mockery Brewing in Denver and Beer Park at Paris Las Vegas is offering up your first beer free while the First Division Museum is giving two “tastings.” Orlando Brewing in Orlando, FL; 38 State Brewing Co in Littleton, CO; and Blackfinn Ameripub in Vienna, VA all have variations on a “buy a vet a beer” program.
Many more exist out there. It all depends on how your local bar is handling it. Chances are, if you’re a regular and they know you’re a vet, the bartender will probably just slide you one on the house.
Not too long ago, WATM ran a story featuring a TV show host who wanted to know what it felt like to carry the typical combat load a Vietnam War GI would haul. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, click here: This is why grunt gear isn’t for the average man
Many members of our loyal audience took the opportunity to chime in after reading the article and commented about what the heavy equipment they had to lug around during their time serving “in the suck” and here’s what they had to say.
1. The veteran grunt
2. The motivated Corpsman
3. The usual checklist of gear for this grunt was…
Since 2009, the Call of Duty Endowment has been making strides in helping out the real-life heroes upon which the Call of Duty series is based. Now, the newest installment in the series, Call of Duty: WWII, is once again offering gamers the chance to give back to our nation’s war fighters — and get some really sweet loot in the process.
The deal here isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it is effective. The developers over at Sledgehammer Games, Inc. are again putting out some cosmetic DLC that offers gamers some nifty swag in exchange for putting some cash towards helping veterans find jobs after they leave the service.
They’ve began this trend with Call of Duty:Infinite Warfare when they offered players a sweet red, white, and blue skin for their weapon, giving fans of the series the chance to showcase their commitment to helping veterans. Shortly after the release of Call of Duty: WWII, players once again had a chance to chip in and, in return, receive a helmet with the C.O.D.E. emblem on it.
This time around, the pack is called the “Fear Not Pack.” It comes with a new Monty uniform, two calling cards, two player emblems, a weapon charm that’s a Scottish Terrier wearing Teddy Roosevelt’s glasses, and a green “Viper” weapon skin.
You can pick up this new pack for $4.99. Playstation 4 players can snag an exclusive premium, animated theme for an additional $3.99. Or, you can get it all bundled up with last year’s Bravery pack for a grand total of $9.99. Both packs are now available for players to purchase.
No matter what your stance is on buying in-game cosmetics, remember, it’s all for a good cause. All of the proceeds go towards placing veterans in high-paying, high-quality jobs — and things are going well. The Call of Duty Endowment first set out to place 25,000 veterans in great jobs by the end of 2018. Due to an overwhelmingly positive reception and avid participation from the players, they met that goal two years early. They’ve since revised their goal. Now, they want to place 50,000 veterans by the end of 2019 — and you can help.
Check out the video below to learn a little more about the organization and how they’re helping our nation’s vets.
“The continued support from Sledgehammer Games, PlayStation, and Xbox for Call of Duty® in-game items this year is vital to our mission of helping veterans beat unemployment and underemployment as they transition back into civilian life. Via these programs, we have raised more than $3.8 million toward helping veterans into meaningful careers,” said Dan Goldenberg, Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment. “We want to thank Call of Duty gamers and our partners for their continued support, without which we could not be have helped more than 6,000 vets.”
ACTIVISION and CALL OF DUTY are trademarks of Activision Publishing, Inc. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners.
“I was inspired as I learned about their food traditions and offered them comfort through food,” Lidia said in her PBS video Lidia Celebrates America.
One of her stops included a visit with some of We Are The Mighty’s veterans who shared some of their fondest food memories while serving in the military.
For Edith Casas (U.S. Navy), it was missing her mother’s meals during deployments. For Bryan Anderson (U.S. Army), it was the meals he prepared in the barracks. For Mike Dowling (U.S. Marine Corps), it was sharing his last meal with Rex, his military working dog.
Members of the military and veterans the world over have a dark sense of humor. Given the nature of our lives, we can either think about the gravest consequences of what we do or we can choose to laugh about it. We spend so much time joking about dark things, it bleeds into the rest of our lives. For one Irish veteran, it carried on into his death.
Shay Bradley died on Oct. 8, 2019, of a long illness, one “bravely borne” in Dublin, Ireland. Bradley was a veteran of the Irish Defense Forces, the all-volunteer military forces of the Republic of Ireland. He was laid to rest just four days later in a beautiful funeral that would have been at the same time solemn and sad. That’s when someone started knocking on the casket door.
From the inside.
“Hello? Hello. Hello? Let me out!” the funeralgoers heard. “”Where the f*ck am I? … Let me out, it’s f*cking dark in here. … Is that the priest I can hear? … This is Shay, I’m in the box. No, in f*cking front of you. I’m dead.”
Bradley wanted his wife to leave the funeral laughing instead of crying. According to his daughter Andrea, Shay recorded the audio about a year before his passing, knowing full well how his illness would end. No one knew about the recording that would be played at the funeral except Shay’s son Jonathan and his grandson, Ben. Jonathan let the cat out of the bag two days before the funeral, though, telling the immediate family about the recording.
It was Shay’s dying wish to play the prank at his own funeral. His wife was laughing as she left the cemetery, just as Shay had hoped.
“[It was his] way of saying not only goodbye, but to also say, ‘OK the sadness is over now here is a laugh so you can go and celebrate my life with a smile on your face.'”Bradley’s daughter told the Huffington Post. “This prank was one in a million, just like my dad.”
It’s a rite of passage for veterans. The morning of the day they’re set to receive their DD-214 is one of the last times for a long time that many vets will pick up a razor. Some still shave to maintain a professional appearance when they enter the civilian workforce, but the most important thing is that it’s their choice to give their face a trim.
Those veterans who do decide to sport their well-earned lumberjack style may run into a few speed bumps along the way. The vet beard isn’t for everyone — but those who can rock it look like glorious Vikings ready to storm the bar and take every keg of beer with them.
If you’re struggling to keep up with these majestic-as-f*ck vets, here’s a few pointers:
Growing a beard is actually pretty easy. You just have to wait.
(Cpl. Brandon Burns, USMC)
Patience is a virtue.
A great beard takes time. Throughout the growing process, there’ll be many great moments, like the point where your mustache gives you an 80s action-hero look. But then it’ll grow longer to the point where you’re getting a mouthful of mustache whenever you take a bite of food — not to mention the constant itchiness. But you’ll have to endure if you want that vet beard.
Many of the these downsides can be addressed with proper care. As long as you treat your beard right, you can minimize the downsides and simply enjoy envious looks from your peers.
If Luke Skywalker can keep his hair and beard on point despite being on some deserted planet for years, you can take a few seconds out of your day to put some shampoo in yours.
Your beard is still hair. Use conditioner and brush it.
It’s surprising how few people actually care for their beard as it’s growing out. You shampoo and condition the hair on top of your head in the shower, why skip the hair on your chin?
You can also brush it to keep it in proper form after you’re done in the shower. This also helps get out all the accidental bits of food that occasionally get trapped in there. Using conditioner and regularly brushing will help the scratchiness of your beard and help it from basically becoming Velcro on everything.
If you know what you’re buying, it’s fine. Just don’t expect much other than a slightly more luscious beard that smells nice.
(Photo by Marc Tasman)
Beard oil isn’t some magical, instant-beard formula
Oils are (usually) exactly what is being advertised. They’ll help if you think of it more like a leave-in conditioner that will make your beard smell nice, but many people who buy beard oils are under the impression that it’s more like a type of Rogaine for your face — it’s just not going to immediately give you something like in that episode of Dexter’s Laboratory.
Oils marketed to promote “beard growth” will actually make your beard grow in healthier and prevent breakage, so your beard will appear thicker and longer, but it still won’t happen over night.
Kind of like how Mat Best does it. Still professional, yet bearded.
Trim it down to maintain a professional appearance
If you’re down with looking like a bum, by all means; you can do whatever you want with your facial hair in the civilian world. That’s your choice now. Still, if you’re looking to make strides in the professional world, first-impressions are important — arguably more important than an extensive resume.
Even if your beard puts a Civil War general to shame, tidy it up with a pair of scissors to keep an organized appearance. You can also shave off the under-chin and the scraggly bits on your cheek to make your beard growth look intentional.
I’m going to go out on a limb as say that the dudes from ZZ Top don’t care about touring in the northern states during the winter.
(Photo by Ralph Arvesen)
If you can endure the summer heat, you’ll do well in the winter
Summers suck with long beards, but things start getting better after Labor Day. If you live an active lifestyle, no one will fault you for cutting it down in the summers to keep the sweat out. But don’t chop it all off if you want a head start when things cool down and you’ll probably look like a thirteen year old when you do.
Soldier through it and, when the winter chills start hitting your chin come December, you’ll be happy you took the extra few months to grow your own face protection.
Or shave it however you want, like what Tim Kennedy does every now and then. Welcome to the civilian world, where you have options again!
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill)
There’s no shame in shaving what you can’t grow
The ability to grow beards is entirely hereditary. If your dad could grow a bear, you’re probably good. But the person you should probably look toward for a better indication of your potential beardliness is if your maternal grandfather. That’s just how it works; genetics are funny.
It’s all a roll of the dice. If your face is better suited for a goatee, rock it. If your granddad could be confused with Gandalf, go all out. If you can’t grow a beard, embrace it. That’s just you.
One of the most challenging parts of deployment for many soldiers is being away from friends and family. Soldiers and family members alike often lean on others who share a similar experience during long periods apart.
But one family in the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team is sharing an experience here to make deployment just a little bit easier.
Army Capt. Andrea Wolfe and her son, Army Spc. Kameron Wideman, both assigned to Brigade Support Medical Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, deployed to Kuwait recently from Fort Hood, Texas, for nine months in support of U.S. Army Central.
Wolfe, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, began her Army career as an enlisted lab technician 24 years ago.
“I had two sisters who were in the Army,” she said. “I followed them in. In a family of nine, we couldn’t afford college, so I had to do something to be able to get some kind of college education, and that was the way.”
As far back as she can remember, she said, she wanted to be a nurse. “It’s just something I wanted to get into to help people,” she added.
That aspiration propelled her through her career, taking advantage of educational opportunities in an effort to make her dream a reality. “I tried to get into the nursing program,” she said. “When I was a lab tech instructor in San Antonio, I put in my packet three times for the nursing program.”
After 17 years of enlisted service and multiple attempts, the frustrated sergeant first class decided to try something different.
“So I put in a packet to the [physician assistant] program, got picked up the first time, so I figured that was my calling, and I’ve been doing that since 2009,” she said.
Meanwhile, Wolfe was raising a family. Her son, Kameron Wideman, was born in 1996 at her first duty station in Fort Lewis, Washington. Brought up in a devoted military household, it was no surprise when he enlisted in the Army, Wolfe said.
“I was good in school, but I didn’t take it seriously enough, but the Army was always my fallback plan,” said Wideman, a behavioral health technician. “I initially wanted to join just so I could help people. That’s why I got into the medical field.”
Meanwhile, Wolfe and Wideman are tending to the physical and mental well-being of the soldiers deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Wolfe said that while her focus is on her job and taking care of the soldiers, the mom in her can’t help but feel some of the same concerns stateside parents feel about having a child deployed.
“As a mother, you still have that deep-down concern of ‘What if something happens to my baby? What am I going to do?'” she said. “But I can’t let him see that, because I need him to focus on his job and what I need him to do, and that’s to provide mental health, which is something that is very much needed in this day and age.”
Wideman said he enjoys having his mother right down the road. “I’m blessed,” he said. “I’m blessed to have her with me.”
Although Wideman has served only two years in the Army, he is no stranger to the deployment experience from a family member’s perspective. His mother, father, and stepfather all serve on active duty.
“All three of my parents have deployed at some point,” he said. “It was tough as a little kid saying goodbye to your parents. When you’re little, you tend to have a big imagination. You’re thinking, ‘Oh no! I’m probably never going to see my parents again,’ because you’re little, and you’re in your own head about it.”
But the experience of being the kid who was left behind didn’t prepare him to actually be deployed himself, he said.
“I still didn’t really know what deployment was,” he said. “It was like this random place that my parents were going to for like a year and then coming back. I didn’t really know how to picture where they were.”
Thankfully, he said, he had a source close to home to answer his questions.
“I had the normal questions like, ‘How are we going to be living?” and me being a millennial, ‘Is there going to be Internet?’ and things like that,” he said.
Wolfe and her husband, Army 1st Sgt. Andrew Wolfe, a company first sergeant at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas, help mentor Wideman through his Army career with advice and guidance.
Drive, Motivation, Discipline
Echoes of the same drive, motivation, dedication and discipline that exemplify Wolfe’s career path are evident in Wideman’s.
“We cross paths every now and then,” she said. “I don’t see him all the time. I let Kameron be Kameron. We are passionate about the military. This is our Army. My husband is a first sergeant, and I used to be an E-7 before I switched over, so that leadership is instilled in both of us, and that comes out in the way we raise our kids — the leadership, the discipline, the morale, the ethics, everything. This is the way you’re supposed to live.”
Wolfe said she often finds herself giving the same advice to her soldiers that she gives to her son.
“Get all you can out of the military, because it’s going to get all it can out of you, and that was my insight coming up,” Wolfe said.
“I don’t know how many colleges I went to, because I needed classes. I went to school all the time, and I was just taking advantage of the opportunities that were out there. That’s what I tell all my soldiers coming up in the military. You have to take advantage of it. No one’s going to give it to you. You have to go and get it.”
Photo courtesy Benjamin Jones, a visual information specialist for the Long Beach VA Medical Center.
These days, Jeff Henson is doing what he believes has been his calling in life. He’s showing people who have attempted or have had thoughts of suicide that there is another way.
The Air Force Veteran (pictured above) is a volunteer at Save A Warrior. The nonprofit provides counseling in mental health, wellness and suicide prevention to Veterans, active-duty military and first responders. More than 1,100 men and women have gone through the program since it began eight years ago.
Many of these people, Henson explains, are missing “their family, their tribe” with whom they once built a friendship and camaraderie in the military or elsewhere. A lot of them not only have PTSD, he says, but PTSD and moral injury, which is essentially a conflict with one’s personal code of morality.
A Veteran may feel guilt, shame or self-condemnation for violating his or her moral beliefs in combat by killing someone, witnessing death or failing to prevent the immoral acts of others.
The will to live
Henson believes moral injury is a form of “complex PTSD” that can also stem from negative circumstances in one’s childhood.
“We introduce a Veteran to a tribe of 12 other Veterans who came to Save A Warrior at the same time as total strangers. They can leave as ‘brothers’ with an understanding that it’s not always what happened down-range that has them stuck in life. We provide hope and magic that is the will to live.”
Henson has been there himself. Diagnosed with PTSD and void of hope, he went through the Save A Warrior program in 2016 while in Veterans’ treatment court in Orange County, California.
Flashbacks from the Gulf War
His court time stemmed from a domestic violence incident in 2013. At the time, he was experiencing many of the classic PTSD symptoms: nightmares, mood swings, anxiety, depression, isolation and flashbacks. When the incident happened, he had flashed back to a moment when he unintentionally witnessed a decapitation in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, during the Gulf War in 1990, and he lost control.
Study links PTSD with criminal justice involvement
Earlier this year, a VA study in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that Veterans with PTSD — compared to those without — are six times more likely to experience run-ins with the law.
The researchers say it is unclear what is driving the ties between PTSD and criminal justice involvement. They say the general strain theory may partially explain the results. That theory asserts that the risk of criminal behavior is higher among people who have experienced traumatic events and report negative effects, such as high levels of anger or irritability,
It gave me hope
Meanwhile, as part of getting his life back together, the 59-year-old Henson is pursuing a doctorate in psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
He’s also trying to give back to the organization that gave him so much.
“Save A Warrior did not save my life, but it gave me hope,” he says. “It’s the difference between `being alive’ and `living.’ It’s also about being of service. I’m one of the shepherds who helps people through the process that I went through.
“When we’re kids, we’re told by our parents not to use four-letter words,” he adds. “I dispute that because hope is a four-letter word. And hope is powerful.”