Archive for April, 2010

Sara’s Headed South

Congratulations to Sara, our Orlando vacation winner! Her entry:

“2 kids, husband injured April 29th, 2006. Never had a family vacation.”

And yes, I count the date as one word.

Sara’s husband was injured by an IED blast during a bridge demolition mission. He doesn’t remember many details of the explosion, but he couldn’t hear for about a month afterward. Then he started having problems with his memory and balance. He’s since been diagnosed with PTSD and TBI, which causes periodic paralysis, nightmares and debilitating headaches.

They’ve got two young kids; a 4-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son. Here’s hopin’ they all have a wonderful time.

We’re thrilled that we can send them on their first family vacation.

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We All Need a Vacation

Thanks so much to everyone who commented about why you should win a week in Florida. I truly wish I had a getaway to give to each of you. I know you all deserve a fabulous getaway.

We’ll be working to bring in more vacation donations. If you have ideas of people or vendors we might beg for vacation goodies, please e-mail me at Kerry.McGinley@operationhomefront.net. I love giving away good times.

We’re waiting to verify some info before we announce the winner of our trip to Kissimmee, Fla. Stay tuned.

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After a snow day last Friday and snow on the ground yesterday, my spring fever is about to fry my brain.

So I’m thrilled we can offer a week in sunny Florida to one military family. A generous supporter donated the use of a one-bedroom condo in Kissimmee, Fla., from May 10 to May 17 at the Liki Tiki Resorts. It’s accommodations for up to four people. We also have airfare for three. So it’s the makings of a good getaway.

To get in the running, answer this question in the comments section of this blog in 10 words or fewer: Why do you deserve this trip?

I’ll accept comments through Thursday, April 29 at 3 p.m. MT. I’ll award the prize to my favorite answer Friday, April 30.

To collect this or any other prize from Operation Homefront, you have to be enrolled in DEERS or a recently separated wounded warrior/WW dependent; we’ll ask for proof of status. Prizes are awarded at our sole discretion.

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Eva Marie and Jospeh Briseno are utterly devoted to their son Jay. For the past seven years, they’ve cared for the man whose active life ended with a sniper shot to his spinal cord. The Reservist was just 20 when he answered the call to duty; three months later, he was paralyzed from the neck down.

Doctors say he’s the most critically injured soldier to survive. The family converted their living room into an ICU. Jay is fully conscious, but unable to speak. He communicates with his parents through blinks. Eva is so consumed with caring for Jay, she wouldn’t even leave his bedside for a phone call to congratulate her for making the top 5 finalists for our Military Motherhood Award.

The Brisenos got more good news last week. Both the House and the Senate unanimously passed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act.

The bill provides for a range of programs and aid to families caring for injured vets, including payment for modifications made to the home to accommodate the wounded service member, eliminating co-pays for the catastrophically injured and other forms of support for caregivers. It also paves the way for studies on suicide, TBI, female veterans, loans to pay for health care education and more.

Once the troops have withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan, once the wars are declared over, once the sacrifices of our wounded warriors fade from the popular conscience, Eva and Joseph will still be by Jay’s side. They’ll keep turning him throughout the day to prevent bedsores, they’ll keep watch over the tangle of machines that keep him alive, and they’ll continue to pray for one more day with their beloved son.

They need and deserve help to get through each day; this bill will supply at least a little. It’s an encouraging start to creating a stronger structure for the long-term care of wounded warriors.

Eva Marie Briseno with her son Jay.

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I live in a pop culture vacuum. I have two preschoolers who rule our remote with iron fists. So while I can recount in detail the latest throw-down between Dora the Explorer and the Grumpy Old Troll Who Lives Under the Bridge, I’m woefully behind on my celebrity news.

But I do know that Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt seem to get ripped in the press a lot.  And that people refer to them as “Speidi,” which I think is fun.

But back to the ripping. I have to counter some of that. I don’t know the pair personally, but I’m very grateful to them. Last week, we asked them and everyone else we know to help us in the #AmericaWants campaign on Twitter. We were vying for a free, full-page ad in USA TODAY. To win, we needed to bring in the highest number of tweets.

Every time we asked, Heidi and Spencer quickly and enthusiastically helped out. We still don’t know the results, but we know that with each tweet Heidi and Spencer sent out on our behalf, retweets from their almost 2 million followers echoed through the twitterverse.

They did this even at the risk of alienating some followers, most of whom are young people who probably don’t have to think much about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So they not only helped us in our push for the ad we so desperately need, they turned the attention of almost 2 million people to the war, even if it was just for a few seconds.

Every second counts, as far as I’m concerned.

The Hollywood Hills are metaphorically millions of miles away from the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq; Heidi and Spencer helped bridge that distance. So I very sincerely thank them and everyone else who helped us out last week. We deeply appreciate the support.

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We need to capitalize on the kindness of friends and strangers. Operation Homefront could really use a free full-page ad in USA TODAY. That would help us get the word out on how we help military families and wounded veterans.

But there’s a trick. Actually, a tweet. We need help from the Twitterverse. To win the free ad through the Kindness Community’s contest, we have to have the most tweets by Friday, April 16. You could really help us out by tweeting any of the following messages:

Help military families with a retweet: #AmericaWants Operation Homefront to get a full-page ad in USA TODAY.

Please retweet: #AmericaWants Operation Homefront to get a full-page ad in USA TODAY.

Support our troops with a retweet: #AmericaWants Operation Homefront to get a full-page ad in USA TODAY.

According to contest rules, each tweet must include “#AmericaWants Operation Homefront to get a full-page ad in USA TODAY.”

So please post this to Facebook, LinkedIn, your personal websites and where ever else you connect in addition to Twitter. We deeply appreciate anything you can do to help.

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The new season of “Army Wives” starts up this Sunday. The drama that follows a group of military families at a fictional South Carolina post is more than just a fun TV escape. Here’s why:

1. This show has lifted the war from headlines and into popular culture. “Army Wives” is the highest-rated show Lifetime has ever produced. It’s definitely more soap opera than documentary. But maybe the folks who’ve tuned out the war through conventional news are still catching a glimpse of some of the realities of military life. Maybe it’s helping them care a little more than they would if they weren’t following the show.

2. The show gives back. Catherine Bell did a public service announcement for us. Lifetime hosted a group of real wives who had a day of beauty with several cast members. Sterling K. Brown and his hilarious wife Ryan Michelle Bathe attended an Operation Homefront reception. Once we all rolled our tongues back in and could speak (he’s even more magically delicious in real life), we really enjoyed visiting with them. Lifetime also ran a Remarkable Women series that showcased standout women. OK, I’m kinda biased because among the many other stellar ladies they featured, they included Operation Homefront’s chief operating officer, Amy Palmer.

3. This show is bringing women together. Real military wives are getting together for “Army Wives” viewing parties. Our Georgia and Missouri chapters will be hosting viewing parties for the premier. And on OH Online, we’ll have a live, pre-show chat on Sunday at 9 p.m. EST.

4. The show is based on book by a real Army wife/brat. Tanya Biank, a frequent contributor to OH Online, wrote “Army Wives” to chronicle the struggles of real military families. Tanya is a talented writer, a consummate professional, a wonderful mom and a joy to work with. I’m proud of her success.

So here’s hoping the show continues to do well. Good things have come from it, and I hope the trend continues.

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