From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

Former Chairman, CEO and Editor-In-Chief of Parade Magazine, author of five books and three plays, Walter Anderson served in 1965 as a Marine sergeant in Vietnam. What follows is a glimpse into his time in the Corps and how his training and experiences in the Marines led to his life’s successes. 

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Walter Anderson. Photo courtesy of annacarolinedrake.com.

In this continuing series which will feature former and retired Marines and their contributions to entertainment, We Are The Mighty asks Anderson to discuss how his past led to the present and the learning points along the way. And, of course, what he is most proud of.

Walter Anderson’s impact and influence has been felt in magazine and newspaper media as well as through his books: Meant To Be, The Confidence Course, Courage Is A Three-Letter Word, The Greatest Risk of All and Read with Me. He has written three plays: Talkin’ Stuff, a one-man show he performed at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, Almost Home, which was produced Off-Broadway in New York City, and The Trial of Donna Caine, which opened at the George Street Playhouse (NJ).The plays have their roots in the Corps and in Anderson’s own experience as a Marine. 

Anderson grew up in a tenement in Mount Vernon, New York, at the edge of the Bronx. His father was a violent alcoholic, his brother a boxer and his sister a street-gang leader. But a teacher who lived across the street believed in him. With her encouragement, he was accepted into a parochial school but he was later expelled. Undaunted, the teacher had Walter placed on scholarship in a private school in which he did remarkably well. 

Nevertheless, Anderson quit public high school two years later and joined the Corps at 16. He was not allowed to enter boot camp at Parris Island until a few days after his 17th birthday. His reasons for joining were, “I needed to feel pride in something. Whenever someone mentioned the Marines, it was with respect. I wanted to feel that respect. What I didn’t anticipate was the Marine Corps’ focus on education, which would become so important to me. I was moldable for sure and I had an ability to learn rapidly, he recalled. “Graduating boot camp was my defining moment, though. I was called a US Marine.” 

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Anderson shortly after completing boot camp and infantry training December 1961. Photo courtesy of Walter Anderson.

After he completed infantry training at Camp Lejeune, he was ordered to the 8th Engineer Battalion where he was assigned to be a combat engineer. But it wasn’t long before he was chosen to be a student at the electronics school at the San Diego Recruit Depot. Despite not having the requisite math and science education, he graduated Number 7 out of 24 and, since he was in the top third, he was promoted to lance corporal. Anderson said, “It was a profound moment. For the first time in my adult life someone said, ‘I believe in you.’ A Marine would understand the power of that experience.” In the Corps he learned, “Leadership is the ability to inspire in others an eager willingness to contribute. I learned how to take responsibility for my behavior and my life. All that matters is performance in the Marine Corps. You are judged by what you do.”

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Anderson at China Beach, Vietnam, 1965. Photo courtesy of Walter Anderson.

While in Vietnam, “One night in October 1965, we were attacked by the North Vietnamese Army at Marble Mountain in East Da Nang, a helicopter strip where MAG-26 was located. The Viet Cong seemed to know everything about our camp. We were attacked with satchel charges in the copters at first. Thankfully, we were able to repel the NVA and VC. Soon after the attack I saw a young Vietnamese teen lying dead. Damn, I thought. Then a Marine was carried by me on a stretcher with half of his face blown off and in that moment all I cared about was the Marine.” He continues, “The next morning I found a typewriter in the rubble and, still agitated, I wrote a short piece that I called Just What Is Vietnam. I sent it home and forgot about it. But it appeared on the front page of a local newspaper and I got mail from scores of people for several weeks.”

Anderson worked his way into the media and print business post his time in the Corps. He sought a job as a reporter once he left active duty. He was given an opportunity by an editor who was a World War II veteran. He worked at the paper full-time and attended college full-time. He shared, “I told the editor who hired me that I would work for bus fare, if he would just let me prove myself. I was named night city editor within a year and six years later, after a variety of assignments, I became editor and general manager of the newspaper on which I began my career.”

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Anderson in Da Nang, 1965. Photo courtesy of Walter Anderson.

Anderson believes the most important messaging he learned in the Corps is how to communicate with clarity, authority and substance. It’s clear he also profoundly values discipline and integrity, which he said is to be honest with yourself as well as with others. He said he learned in the Corps how and when to question authority: “The Marines taught me that honest and constructive feedback on leadership performance is invaluable. If people overheard Marines carry on after an operation or exercise, they would think we failed the challenge. But in reality, we encourage criticism so that we can improve.” 

One of Walter Anderson’s most significant memories on leadership while in Vietnam is, “We were on a small run at the base. Afterwards we were concocting a lunch of c-rations poured into helmets, laughing, cursing loudly exaggerating. You’d have thought it was Thanksgiving. But not 50 yards away were a group of soldiers. They were sitting there quietly, so quietly, and they were either eating alone or in small groups. I went over to see if there was a problem. Perhaps they had suffered a tragedy, I thought. The NCO in charge told me all was fine. The soldiers themselves were no different from us, just young guys trying to get through the day. But that unit deserved more inspired leadership, somebody giving those soldiers at least something to laugh about. In boot camp we heard the cliché “every day a holiday, every meal a feast.” Truth be told that line is never more important than when reality is anything but joyous. Our unit was closely-knit because of good leadership, from the C.O. to team leaders.” Anderson offered his insights on obstacles, “The Marines call their obstacle course The Confidence Course because its purpose isn’t to stop you but rather to teach you that you gain confidence by overcoming obstacles.”

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Anderson after returning home from Vietnam in 1965. Photo courtesy of Walter Anderson.

We asked Anderson about his plays: “Almost Home is based on the stormy relationship I had with my father. Joe Lisi, a fine actor who is also a fellow Marine, played the character based on my father. When the main character, Johnny Barnett, comes home from Vietnam, can Johnny and his father resolve the tension between them? Will they finally get to know each other? The Trial of Donna Caine has nine characters. It is about the trial of a young female drill instructor. It was inspired by the Ribbon Creek incident of 1956. 

The Trial of Donna Caine was financially successful, which is not always the case when a play is produced. It received mainly encouraging reviews. Word-of-mouth from the audiences inspired more people to attend. The play seemed to hold people’s attention, which always makes a difference. Writing plays is both more rewarding and more challenging for me than any other type of writing.” He persuaded a sergeant major, who himself had been a Drill Instructor, to come aboard to inspire the actors for The Trial of Donna Caine. He recalls, “It was a lot of fun to see their faces when the sergeant major went into his Drill Instructor routine. Believe me, he had the full and undivided attention of the cast.”

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Cast of “The Trial of Donna Caine“ with director, producer and playwright Anderson (on the far right with his hand on the producer’s shoulder).

He recognizes, “We need more Marines in entertainment.” He believes Marines can always improve their interaction and communications within the media and entertainment space. Senior officers might want to take a cue from senior enlisted on being more personable and less defensive when they deal with the press. He shared, “Especially effective and successful Commandants like General Chuck Krulak and General Jim Jones, though markedly different men, both had an excellent ability to deal with the media.” He further elaborated, “I suspect in a hundred years, long after I’m gone, the Marine Corps will still be thriving. And that will be assured if my fellow Marines hone their ability to speak with the press. Again, witness Krulak and Jones.” Walter shared his wisdom on how to get Marine stories told in Hollywood: “First, you need a really good and gripping story. And if you can get a notable actor interested in the project you may well get your project produced.” 

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Anderson (left) with General James T. Conway (center), USMC Commandant and Senator Jim Webb (right), a fellow Marine as well. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Anderson has decades of experience in dealing with teams and personalities across the full spectrum. He made Parade magazine more successful than it had been before and brought in key leaders and world-class talent to build the brand. He has much in the way of professional advice to offer:

“There are seven choices we make every day:

“Appearance: You paint the portrait others see. You select the clothes you wear, how clean and healthy-looking you choose to be.” 

“Language: No one on earth is more expert than you at finishing your sentences. You pick your words, finish your sentences and express yourself in gestures.” 

“Behavior: Disappointment, loss and tragedy occur in every human life. No one escapes. But such pain does not determine our character or the quality of our lives. What does determine our character and the quality of our lives is how we respond to disappointment, loss and tragedy and that is a choice.” 

“People: Whom do you choose to talk with? Whom do you allow to give you advice, comfort, friendship? Whom do you allow in,” ? 

“Information: Which messages do you choose to receive? Most of us live in a blizzard of words, sounds and pictures. What do you allow in? 

“Places: How do the places where you spend most of your time affect the quality of your life? Do they help you to feel fulfilled? While the world outside strives mightily to influence us, it is we ourselves who choose who, what, and why. And we also choose when.” 

“Time: You choose when to take action.”

He shared his support for fellow veterans: “Whenever I had an opportunity to hire a veteran I have. They are proven and they are appreciative of where they are in their lives. I want people with the most talent, of course, and that includes veterans. I admit, if he or she is a vet, he or she has a leg up with me.” 

Finally, he gives insight on what he said was his biggest challenge, dealing with anger: “It took quite awhile but I learned that anger is merely energy. We choose what we’ll do with our anger. We can displace it, that is to hurt someone or break something, or we can sublimate it, that is to do something creative, perhaps help someone or maybe fix a chair or write a poem. I believe all creative acts are inspired by anger, burning frustration about something. Again, it’s a choice: we can displace our anger, do something destructive, or we can sublimate it, do something constructive.”

Veterans

This Marine creates amazing sculptures to remember fallen heroes — free of charge

The raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the “Three Servicemen” Vietnam statue, and the “Vietnam Women’s Memorial” are just a few examples of how our great country has commemorated our nation’s fallen heroes through art.


These monuments represent self-sacrifice and the outstanding pride of being an American.

Unfortunately, when a service member falls in combat, their memory is all their family and friends will have left of them. But for Cliff Leonard, a Marine veteran, his mission is to honor his fallen brothers as he creates their images into realistic sculptures free of charge for the grieving families.

Related: This is why General John Kelly could comfort families of fallen troops

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
The Three Soldiers statue in Washington D.C. (Source: Flickr)

In his younger years, Leonard attended the Georgia Military College before joining the Marine Corps, serving for two years including a tour of duty in Vietnam. He started flexing his artistic skills some years later and allowed his talent to develop.

After Leonard joined a small group called the “Semper Fidelis Society of Jacksonville,” his new team managed to contact a fallen Marine’s grandparents. He received a few photographs from them and decided to put his unique crafting skills to work.

“I have a lot of honor and respect for everybody that served.” — Cliff Leonard

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
HM3 (FMF) Julian Woods. (Source: Cliff Leonard)

Also Read: This is how the Patriot Guard escorted a fallen Marine home

Spending nearly 70 hours creating each sculpture, Leonard carefully carves out the finest details his fingers will allow, making each piece a real work of art. The Jacksonville native searches online for the names of his fallen Marine and Navy Corpsmen brothers and funds each piece out of his own pocket.

Check out the video below to see how Cliff Leonard brings his fallen brother’s memories back to life through art for yourself.

YouTube, Cliff Leonard
MIGHTY TRENDING

These old school vets work to help the next generation with PTSD

Monty Hutson knows a little something about post-traumatic stress. Hutson served in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne, and while he was in, he studied language patterns and hypnosis in order to better communicate with others. By the time he got out, he was starting to develop his own method of helping veterans deal with the psychological demands of military service. Now, with his non-profit, For Veterans Sake, he is able to take his efforts even further for a new generation of veterans.


The newest division of For Veterans Sake is its service dog division. It’s well-known to many by now that man’s best friend is one of the veteran’s most powerful guides on the road to post-traumatic stress recovery. Monty Hutson not only recognized this too, he added it to his non-profit.

For Veterans Sake pairs a veteran up with a dog, then specially trains the animal to respond to the unique needs of the veteran. The vet will train the service dog, who will be able to recognize the scent of a veteran who is being triggered and often responds to the veteran’s need before the vet even knows what’s happening. Best of all, For Veterans Sake uses many, many dogs from shelters and kennels, giving the animal a purpose and a much-needed and much-appreciated pal for life.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

Hutson and his service dog.

Monty Hutson is uniquely poised to help our nation’s newest generation of veterans with not just PTS, but what he calls “the Military Condition” – a unique and demanding lifestyle that starts with your recruiter and continues through our time in service. For this and PTS, he developed a unique treatment called Neuro-Traumatic Resourcing (Non-Therapeutic). For Veterans Sake is founded on dealing with both PTS and the Military Condition and helping veterans improve their quality of life.

The help (of dogs) Hutson and For Veterans Sake offer American veterans is free of charge. But his organization, like every non-profit, runs on donations. Check out what Monty Hutson is doing for his fellow vets and maybe drop by his donation page and send him what you can spare. Remember, you’re also rescuing dogs – how can you go wrong?

MIGHTY TRENDING

TrueCar is partnering with DAV to give cars to wounded vets

TrueCar and DAV (Disabled American Veterans) just launched their second annual DrivenToDrive program, which is aimed at helping disabled veterans by retrofitting vehicles to accommodate their injuries. Last year, TrueCar gave their first-ever recipient the keys to a brand-new and modified cargo van.


From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
DAV has been serving veterans since 1920.

And now it’s time to give away another car.

The CEO of DAV, Marc Burgess spoke in a March 15 press release, “DAV is grateful to partner with TrueCar and their DrivenToDrive program, which is designed to help the brave men and women who served our country regain their freedom and independence. Awarding a vehicle is a special way to recognize the sacrifices a veteran made and dramatically improve his or her quality of life. We’re additionally grateful to TrueCar for supporting DAV’s mission to honor our heroes and make them aware of the assistance we provide at no cost.”

“Driving is an expression of freedom and independence,” said Lucas Donat, Chief Brand Officer at TrueCar. “Helping injured veterans, those that have sacrificed so much for our freedom, to drive again is a cause close to our heart. Last year we had such an incredible response that we are excited to open up the contest again, and we’re honored to be working with DAV.”

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Vehicle awarded may differ from Vehicle shown.

Applicants are selected by a panel based off criteria to determine who will receive the vehicle. The program is only giving one deserving member of the military community a new vehicle. Active duty, veterans, and immediate family members are eligible to enter by visiting the link here. While there, visitors will be asked “what drives you” and how they would use the new vehicle to help them reach their goals.

Entrants must act fast as the submission period ends Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 9PM (PST.) Up to five finalists will be notified on or about March 26 and the Grand Prize winner will be notified on April 9. The official announcement will take place on or about May 21, 2018.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the longest-serving Bond was the ultimate vet

Roger Moore, famous for his roles on the small screen and his seven films over 12 years as James Bond, died at the age of 89 in Switzerland on May 23, 2017. His family said that he died “… after a short but brave battle with cancer.”


He had previously defeated prostate cancer.

 

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Sir Roger Moore in London in 1973. (Photo: Allan Warren, Public Domain)

 

But while Moore is most famous for his acting career, a lot of soldiers could relate with the man’s little-known military service. Moore was drafted from a blue collar family in England in 1946, married his first of four wives while he was in the military, and then returned home to so little available work that he had to move to America.

In 1946 at the age of 18, Moore was an up and coming young actor and child of a police officer when his career was interrupted by conscription. He answered the call and married his friend, Lucy Woodard, who performed as an actress and ice skater under the name Doorn Van Steyn.

Moore was deployed to West Germany under the service ID number 372394 and rose to the rank of captain. After a short period, he was able to transfer into the Combined Services Entertainment Unit, a morale-boosting initiative that allowed some Cold War-era servicemen to complete their service obligation entertaining the rest of the military.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
United Artists

According to a June 2015 question and answer session on his website, it was in the CSEU that he really enjoyed his national service.

When he left the military after about three years, Moore returned to England to pursue acting once again. Despite his training before the service as well as his experience in the British Army, jobs were few and he wasn’t able to make much headway.

 

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Wikimedia Commons

 

The jobs were so lean that Moore decided to move to Hollywood and pursue work there. Before he left, he divorced his first wife who he later accused of domestic violence.

In Los Angeles, he did some modeling and bit parts before MGM signed him and put him into a series of movies, none of which were hugely successful.

Moore transferred over to Warner Brothers where he saw more success and got a role on the TV show “The Saint,” a spy series that helped lead to his being cast as the lead in “Live and Let Die,” his first James bond role.

 

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Moore when he was cast on Maverick (1961). (Wikimedia Commons).

 

For the next twelve years, Moore would film another six Bond movies including The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy.

He continued acting after leaving the Bond role but also expanded his work in charitable causes. It was his extensive work as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF that led to his being knighted and becoming Sir Roger Moore.

Veterans

Hollywood wants screenwriters — specifically veterans. Here’s how to apply.

The Hollywood dream is a realm of cutthroat deals, alliances and family dynasties stretching to the industry’s humble beginnings. Veterans never shy away from a challenge. However, even the bravest need back up navigating the waters of the entertainment industry. The Writers Guild Foundation has a one-year mentorship program designed to provide guidance to military veterans embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. They provide resources and tools that nurture their passion to become successful. This is how you can apply to The Veterans Writing Project and make your voice heard.

How does the program work?

The WGF’s Veteran’s Writing Project selects from a pool of applicants and pairs them with a mentor who is successful in the entertainment industry. It starts with a weekend-long retreat followed by monthly workshops and special events. You can rest assured that the mentor is an active member of the Writers Guild of America, one of the most prestigious entertainment unions.

screenwriter application screenshot

How to apply

Before embarking on a mission, military members are given a lengthy five-paragraph order with a 40 minute mission brief. Luckily, we’re civilians now and we can speak in layman’s terms. Here are the five W’s:

Who

U.S. military veterans and active duty service members that are 21+ years old and a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident are eligible to apply. Although experience is a plus, it is not a requirement. The most important thing a veteran should have is a passion for screenwriting and a commitment to completing one screen play or TV pilot during the program. Around 50 veterans are accepted into the program per year.

What

What you need to apply is a resume, a brief personal statement consisting of 500 words or less, a copy of your DD-214 with your social security number redacted, a writing sample no greater than 10 pages in length, and some sample loglines. Loglines, for the uninitiated, is a sentence or two that describe the idea of your story.

When

The deadline to apply is Friday, March 26, 2021 at 11:59 PST.

Where

Due to the impact of COVID-19, current sessions are hosts via zoom but the program will resume in-person meetings when social distancing guidelines are lifted. The in-person sessions will take place at the WGF’s Shavelson-Webb Library in Los Angeles, CA. The program is free but those selected who reside outside of the Los Angeles will need to cover their own expenses related to transportation and lodging. Take this into account if you are active duty and need to request leave to attend the program during the in-person meetings.

You can apply using the submittable link here.

Why

The program has nurtured writers since its founding in 1966. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is associated with the Writers Guild of America West. The WGF’s mission is to promote the history of screenwriting. Veterans are natural story tellers and the WGF can be the compass to navigate your career as a screenwriter and represent our community on the world stage. Veterans fight for the freedom of speech, yet so many are left voiceless. Apply and be the leader our brother and sisters need.

Veterans

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

In Greek mythology, there’s a long-told story about Sisyphus, a king who twice cheated death only to be handed a terrible eternal punishment. For all of time, he was forced to roll a boulder up a hill without ever cresting the top. Each day was the same. Push the boulder up, up, up, straining against its weight. Then, watch the boulder near the hill’s highest point before slowly rolling back to the bottom. Repeat again, and again, and again.

Shelly understands the lesson in this story perhaps more than she ever wanted to. 

The daughter of two young parents, Shelly grew up in Alabama during the 1970s and was athletic and adventurous from an early age.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

She loved superheroes and idolized them for their exceptional strength and abilities, not knowing that she would later rely on herself for these very same traits. Throughout her adolescence and teenage years, she craved to do great things with a sense of purpose, dreaming of making an impact on the big, wide world in front of her.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

“Joining the military seemed to be the best fit. [It was] a path to help me cultivate a deeper sense of direction, focus, and a sense of duty and honor while belonging to a greater cause,” Shelly said. 

After enlisting during the Gulf War, she served in the US Navy for eight years (two years active-duty and six years reserve). Shelly was stationed at a small base detachment in the dry, low desert of California, assigned to a specialized Naval Supply Group. She logged many hours in a supply warehouse, spending 12 hours a day, six days a week in the same enclosed environment. It was here that her narrative would shift and Shelly’s sense of purpose would take on new meaning. It was here where she started rolling her proverbial boulder. 

A big part of Shelly’s role involved cataloging aircraft parts and materials, including incoming hazardous materials coated with anti-corrosives and degreasing agents. 

Unbeknownst to her, the many hours she spent meticulously retrieving parts for shipping and receiving — ensuring that her fellow servicemen and women could perform at the highest level — were also slowly making her sick. 

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

Over the next several months, Shelly repeatedly experienced excessive and atypical fatigue, nauseousness, dizziness, breathing issues, and a host of other unusual symptoms. Despite these numerous physical setbacks, and under conditions where weaker-minded people would have given up, Shelly continued to do what Shelly does. She showed up. She pushed forward. She continued rolling her boulder. 

Like the superheroes she revered in her childhood, Shelly showed exceptional strength and ability. She maintained a rigorous six days a week, 12-hour schedule throughout her tenure with the Navy, all while battling chronic fatigue and respiratory challenges in the very environment that changed the trajectory of her life forever.

Though she initially pursued traditional medical options, she knew it wasn’t the best long-term plan. Later, she turned to more holistic, lesser-known treatments that led to marginal improvements in her health, but they came at a cost. These treatments were expensive and never provided complete relief from her symptoms. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Immune Dysfunction, Reactive Airway Disease, and more. Yet, she continued rolling her boulder. 

Through these trials and tribulations, Shelly was focused on her dream of becoming the first member of her family to obtain a college degree. It didn’t matter that she was oftentimes bedridden for hours of the day, or that she would become winded and fatigued performing the simplest tasks, Shelly knew what she wanted and she was going to get it. 

She was accepted into her local university, attending two classes each semester that left her exhausted and physically spent. After 14 years, Shelly graduated with her college degree – the first in her family to do so. Think about that – 14 years of heading to class each day, fighting to take a full breath and battling through increasing fatigue, all because the dream was bigger than the struggle. Remarkable strength and tenacity became her modus operandi. She continued rolling her boulder.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

Now, with a military career behind her and a college degree in-hand, Shelly had earned the right to take a much-needed break. But that’s not Shelly. She has her sights set on a new goal, one that seems challenging for the most active of people, and one that seems nearly impossible for her. After all, tenacity and willpower can only take you so far when your body is physically keeping you down. Imagine, a once active lifestyle fraught with the demands of chronic and debilitating disease. Could you keep going? Would you? For Shelly to accomplish her lofty goals, there has to be a better way. Lucky for her, Chive Charities donors answered the call.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

With your help, Shelly received a $23,760 grant for a hyperbaric chamber and Nidek Oxygen Concentrator. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a powerful medical therapy that produces phenomenal results for a wide range of health conditions, including those that have so greatly impacted Shelly’s life. Through this unique and generous grant item, she will have a better quality of life. Because of you, she can truly breathe easier. 

Better yet, she hopes it will one day allow her to pursue her latest ambition: the famous El Tour de Tuscon, Arizona’s longest-running bicycle event, and one of the longest rides in the United States. Exceptional strength and ability. A superhero.

The consequences of COVID-19 are not lost on her, either.  Before the global pandemic hit, Shelly was able to seek treatment within her community, and her subsequent lack of access to those facilities has caused a noticeable decline in her overall health and wellbeing. This grant item will allow her to safely and effectively treat her illnesses from home, which is especially impactful given her susceptibility to COVID-19-related issues. 

“The hyperbaric at-home medical equipment is a far more sustainable solution to effectively manage my ongoing health challenges and greatly improve my overall quality of life more permanently,” Shelly said. 

“While my condition is expected to become exacerbated with age, the at-home hyperbaric treatment equipment is a long-term approach to help slowly quell this chronic disease.” 

Yet again, she continues rolling her boulder. 

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

Ultimately, Shelly, like Sisyphus, has found meaning in the struggle and exudes grit and determination through every obstacle thrown at her. Despite the numerous challenges she has faced, Shelly consistently looks for small ways to keep moving forward, inching that boulder up the hill one day at a time. Our donors are a lot like that, too. One dollar here, 20 dollars there, it all makes a difference in moving us forward inch-by-inch.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

What can you do to help us move the boulder? As always, you can DONATE HERE to support future recipients like Shelly. And now, if you’re active duty or a federal employee, you can donate to Chive Charities through payroll with the Combined Federal Campaign

Chive Charities is committed to supporting the veteran community. Like We Are the Mighty, serving those who serve is core to who they are. If you or someone you know could benefit from one of Chive Charities’ life-changing grants, CLICK HERE to learn more + apply.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how Vietnam War veterans will be honored at the World Series

On behalf of the upcoming film Last Flag Flying, Amazon Studios partnered with We Are The Mighty to donate two World Series tickets to a lucky veteran in the Los Angeles area.


When Army veteran Greg Alaimo was told he’d won tickets to the World Series, he couldn’t believe it. “You won’t believe it either!” he told We Are The Mighty.

Alaimo, a Vietnam War veteran and Bronze Medal recipient, had assisted the Los Angeles Dodgers in finding recommendations for Vietnam War veterans for their Hero Of The Game. After Alaimo received the final list (which includes men like Medal of Honor recipient Ray Vargas and Charlie Plumb, who was a POW for 6 years during the war), he realized he wanted to meet the men on it.

“The heroes they chose are amazing. I called my contact and thanked him for allowing me to participate. I then asked if I could purchase two tickets. He regretfully indicated no tickets were available. I wanted to visit with those chosen for this is the first time the Dodgers have honored Vietnam veterans at a World Series.”

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Alaimo and his unit Bravo 1-7 on stand down in Bien Hoa, home of the First Infantry Division, The Big Red One, just below Saigon. (Photo courtesy of Greg Alaimo)

That’s when Amazon teamed up with We Are The Mighty to give out another set of tickets.

“When I was contacted about winning the tickets I thought it was a joke. I’m holding two great tickets for [Game Two] and I’ll meet those representing all Vietnam Vets — amazing.”

They’re not the only “amazing” ones. Alaimo has an impressive service history himself — during Active Duty and beyond. After fighting in Vietnam with the First Infantry Division, Alaimo returned home and became “the go-to guy” if veterans need help. A member of American Legion Hollywood Post 43, Alaimo says it’s important for him to connect with the veteran community because he doesn’t want them to be treated the way he was after he returned from Vietnam.

“They need to know we respect them and are grateful for their sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice of their families.”

Alaimo will be taking his good friend, and fellow veteran advocate, Charlie Cusumano with him to the game. We asked who they’ll be rooting for:

“Duh????? Go Blue! DODGERS!!!!!”
Articles

6 reasons why veterans would gear up and head back to war

As veterans, we’ve all thought about signing back up at one time or another. But what would it take to truly get us back in uniform, to don all that heavy gear and take the fight to the enemy as we’ve always done?


Though we all have to take into consideration all the formations, bull-sh*t we receive from the chain of command — and let’s not forget all those wonderful uniform inspections. Everyone loves those.

With all the crap that comes with serving, many veterans still miss some aspects of military life.

Let’s gear up and go to war! (Images via Giphy)

Check out our reasons why we would gear back up to take on the bad guys.

1. If another major terrorist attack happens

The Sept. 11 attacks stirred up patriotism in millions of Americans, and some joined the military during that period just to get a little revenge.

I represent ‘Merica! (Image via Giphy)

2. For a huge bonus check

Everyone wants to line their pockets with extra beer money.

And a case of beer! (Image via Giphy)

3. If your military family went as well

The military brother and sisterhood have a very tight bond, you f*ck with one brother or sister — you f*ck with whole while family.

You said it girl. (Image via Giphy)

4. If you just couldn’t find a good enough job that suits you

Because office work just didn’t satisfy that inner combat operator in you.

These guys were all former snipers. True story. (Image via Giphy)

5. To feel that combat adrenaline rush again

Shooting and blowing up the bad guys makes an operator feel great about themselves. It’s a morale booster.

He nailed every shot too. He’s that good. (Image via Giphy)

6. To get some adventure

Post-military life is hard to adjust too. Sometimes you just want to leave the homeland and get back into the sh*t.

Can we go with you? (Images via Giphy)To all of our military family already forward deployed — we salute you.

Can you think of any more reasons to throw those cammies back on? Comment below.

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This Marine batted the enemy’s grenades back at them

At the outbreak of the Korean War, Hector Cafferata, Jr. was a semi-professional football player serving in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He received just two weeks of additional training before being shipped overseas.


Assigned to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines just days before landing at Inchon, he, along with the rest of the 1st Marine Division, battled his way into North Korea. By November 1950, Cafferata and the Marines were preparing for an offensive in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir.

As the Battle of Chosin Reservoir began, the Marines of Fox Company were defending the Toktong pass. On the night of Nov. 28, the Chinese attacked to dislodge them.

What happened next is a legendary story in the Marine Corps — and Cafferata had a large role to play in that.

The Marines of Fox Company had been unable to properly dig in due to the frozen ground and instead cut and gathered tree branches and whatever else they could find to provide cover and concealment.

Due to an intelligence failure, the Marines were unaware that the entire Chinese 9th Army was advancing on their position. That night they crawled into their sleeping bags with minimal security on watch.

At around 0130, the Marines of Fox Company were awoken to a terrible surprise as all hell broke loose around their position. An entire Chinese division, the 59th, were attacking into the Toktong pass to cut off the 1st Marine Division.

The only things standing in their way were Cafferata and the rest of Fox Company.

Hearing the sounds of the attack, Cafferata sprung from his sleeping bag and hurried into the firing line. In his rush to get into the action, he left behind his boots and heavy coat.

In the opening minutes, most of Cafferata’s squad became casualties so he rushed from position to position gathering ammo and pouring fire into the attacking Chinese.

This video is an animation produced by Veterans Expeditionary Media that depicts the battle conditions that night.

He was joined by another Marine, Kenneth Benson, who was temporarily blinded after a grenade explosion had ripped his glasses right off his face. Together they made their way to a small depression and set up to make their stand against the Chinese onslaught.

As the Chinese pressed forward, Cafferata, a crack shot with his M-1 Garand, would empty his clip into the advancing infantry — eight shots, eight communists down.

He would then hand the weapon to Benson to reload while he threw grenades. When the Chinese attacked with their own grenades, he threw them back.

At one point he picked up his entrenching tool and batted the enemy’s grenades right back at them. According to a 2001 interview, Cafferata said he “must have whacked a dozen grenades that night.”

As the Chinese continued to advance, threatening to breakthrough his thinly held portion of the line, he gave them everything he had. He fired his weapon so much he had to pack snow on it to cool it off.

Eventually, Cafferata’s luck began to run out. As he hurled back yet another Chinese grenade, it went off just after leaving his hand. The explosion severed part of his finger and severely damaged his right hand and arm.

Though he was injured, Cafferata’s quick reaction saved several of his comrades.

Despite his wounds, he fought on. The Chinese couldn’t get past him.

Finally, just after daybreak, Cafferata was wounded by a sniper’s bullet and evacuated from the line. When the medics brought him to the aid station, they realized he was suffering from frostbite after fighting in subzero temperatures in his socks all night.

Despite Cafferata being out of action, the rest of Fox Company and the Marines at Chosin Reservoir still had quite a fight on their hands.

According to the Medal of Honor citation for Capt. William Barber, Fox Company’s commander, his 220 Marines held out “5 days and 6 nights against repeated onslaughts by fanatical aggressors.”

And of those 220 Marines, only 82 “were able to walk away from the position so valiantly defended against insuperable odds.” They carried their wounded out with them, including Cafferata and Barber who were both wounded on the first day of fighting.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Cafferata receives his Medal of Honor. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

Cafferata’s wounds earned him 18 months of recovery in various hospitals. His actions earned him the Medal of Honor.

The day after Cafferata’s amazing stand, the Marines “counted approximately one hundred Chinese dead around the ditch where he fought that night,” but according to one source, they “decided not to put that figure in their report because they thought no one would believe it.”

Cafferata was officially credited with fifteen enemy kills.

Cafferata, always humble, would later state, “I did my duty. I protected my fellow Marines. They protected me. And I’m prouder of that than the fact that the government decided to give me the Medal of Honor.”

Hector Cafferata, Jr. passed away on April 12, 2016 at the age of 86.

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ALS is attacking military veterans in increasing numbers

There’s increased incidence of ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — among veterans of all wars, from the Vietnam War to the Gulf War to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

This week, Marine Corps veteran Roger Brannon reached the two-year anniversary of a life-altering amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis, a milestone that many in his position will not live to see. ALS is an incurable, neurodegenerative disease that progresses rapidly.


From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Roger Brannon deployed as part ofu00a0Operation Enduring Freedom. He now suffers from ALS.
(Courtesy of the Brannon Family)

Over 80 percent of those diagnosed die within two to five years. Military veterans are two times more likely to develop ALS than those who’ve never served. It was once thought that increased incidence of ALS was limited to veterans of Vietnam and the first Gulf War, but it’s now striking Enduring Freedom vets who served in Afghanistan at the same rates. Despite this, there’s a surprisingly low amount of awareness of the disease among the veteran community.

Roger Brannon and his wife Pam are on a mission to change this. Up to to 95 percent of veterans who develop the disease are diagnosed with sporadic ALS — which means there is no family history of the disease and doctors unable to precisely pinpoint a cause.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
(Courtest of the Brannon Family)

“They can’t tell us why we have it, what we did to get it, and that’s very unnerving because you can’t tell any other veteran or friend what to do to not get ALS,” Roger says.

What Roger and Pam are doing is sharing what they know: resources, coping strategies, and VA benefits. Veterans actually have far greater available to them than the average ALS patient in America. For example, Radicava, the first drug treatment specifically for ALS approved since 1995, was made available to VA hospitals before more widespread distribution – and the Department of Veterans Affairs has automatically assumed, since 2008, that a veteran’s ALS is service-connected.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
(Courtesy of the Brannon Family)

ALS is a terminal disease but early diagnosis can slow its progression and knowing about it increases the likelihood of identifying it quickly. All veterans and their families can do is arm themselves with the best information on how to deal with what lies ahead. With a pre-teen and teen at home, the hardest thing for Pam Brannon is not knowing if they will ever live out the family’s dreams.

“Will there be a next birthday? A next anniversary? Will Roger live to see a graduation?” Pam asks. “At the end of the day, there’s no book for when you’re diagnosed with a terminal disease.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

A new petition could help veterans with service animals

Last year the news was full of headlines about veterans and their service dogs being turned away from public places such as restaurants, airports, and, in the case of an Ohio substitute teacher, work. It’s a complicated problem; businesses don’t want to turn people away, but without knowing the difference between a service dog and a pet, their hands are tied when other customers complain.


Why would someone complain about a service dog? Unfortunately, there’s been a good deal of abuse of national service dog laws lately. Anyone can buy a red or yellow vest online, claim their pet is a support animal, and take it places pets aren’t typically allowed. If the animal isn’t well behaved, it gives actual service dogs a bad rep. Also, keep in mind some people are allergic to dogs or afraid of them, and some people just don’t like dogs.

For these folks, seeing a dog in a restaurant or sitting next to them (or their children) in an airport can provoke a strong reaction that leads to confrontation. It’s frustrating and embarrassing for the veteran, confusing for business owners, and upsetting for the community.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Service dogs receive extensive training that allows them to help their handlers in public. (Photo Credit: American Humane)

Veterans who have a service dog say their companion has allowed them to return to “normal” life. Service dogs can help veterans cope with depression, anxiety, and PTSD by recognizing signs of panic attacks, awakening handlers from nightmares, and signaling them to engage in coping mechanisms that break cycles of anger and paranoia. Service dogs can even be taught to block strangers from approaching their handlers with a passive maneuver. Of course, service dogs can also help disabled veterans who have mobility issues.

Also read: Airman returns from humanitarian mission with new dog

This is one problem that is potentially easy to solve. Veterans need their service dogs, and businesses and the community at large want to support veterans in whatever way they can. Service dogs are unobtrusive in public; they do not approach people who aren’t their handlers and, trained correctly, they will quietly do their jobs without causing any disruption in public settings.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Veterans say their service dogs allow them to return to normal life. (Photo Credit: Annie Watt Agency for American Humane)

Most people are surprised to learn there are national laws regarding where service dogs can and can’t go, but no national standard for what qualifies as a service dog. Ending the confusion about what is a service dog and what is a pet is as simple as creating one national standard.

A variety of “service dog” bills have been presented in the House and Senate, but The American Humane and the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations (NAVSO) are the first to create a national credentialing standard for service dogs. This measure would allow veterans to keep their service dogs with them in public places without fear of confrontation. This week they are asking everyone to support this standard by signing a Change.org petition that will go to the House and Senate Committees for Veterans’ Affairs.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Service dogs are true partners for their companions. (Photo Credit: American Humane)

If you’d like to help veterans keep their service dogs with them without fear of confrontation, sign the petition, and let lawmakers know you support this common sense solution. The petition can be signed and shared right here.

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Watch these chefs try to turn Army food into gourmet cuisine

The standard U.S. Armed Forces field ration is, above all other considerations, designed to make you emotional.


Sure, an MRE needs to be nutritious. Obviously, it also needs to be lightweight, packable, durable, quick, and easy to prepare. It’s got to have a long shelf life because who knows when it’ll be called up for active duty. And at the end of the day — and not just because it’s the end of the day — the damn thing ought to taste good.

After years of research and development, laboratory refinement, and testing in the field, the military has the MRE dialed to within an inch of its life. Private, does your dinner have “Vegetable Rotini” stamped on its olive drab shrink wrap? Yes? Then, by God, you can trust that when you just add water, the thing you find rehydrated on the end of your spork will resemble a rotini (Vegetable Class) to the highest degree achievable by military science.

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story
Our host finds his feelings at the bottom of the feed bag. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl trusted in the prowess of the military’s culinary industrial complex. After all, he named his show after its signature offering.

When he visited the labs and testing facilities of the United States Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA, he was excited to spend some quality time covering familiar territory. What he didn’t count on was the depth of the emotional response that many of his interview subjects had to meals they’d eaten as soldiers in the field. And it turns out, that response is no accident.

We want it to be a quality meal that we provide to them. We don’t know if that’s going to be their last meal.

 –Stephen Moody, Director, Combat Feeding Directive

Watch host August Dannehl and fellow veteran Mike Williams, currently the Executive Chef of West Hollywood restaurant Norah, transform the military’s utilitarian ration MRE into a mouthwatering “Jambalaya Risotto with Duo of Duck.” 

Meals Ready to Eat can be seen on KCET in Southern California, on Link TV Nationwide (DirecTV 375 and DISH Network 9410), and online at KCET.org.

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