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Archive for May, 2010

I love Fridays — don’t we all? But today is a really good one. It leads into Memorial Day, a holiday where we pay tribute to those who’ve lost their lives in service to our country.

It’s a sober occasion, but one where the nation briefly turns it attention to the sacrifices of our military families.

To recognize our brave men and women, we want you to give them a ShoutOut on Twitter. Tweet your loved one in uniform’s name and ran with the hashtag #OperationShoutOut. You’ll also be entered into a chance to win one of 10 Lexmark printers between today and June 5.

But it gets even better.

Throughout this hashtag compaign, Lexmark printers and Office Depot have promised to donate a printer to Operation Homefront for every Lexmark printer Office Depot sells, either online or at your local store. Their goal is to donate 4,000 printers. We’ll use the printers to keep military families connected through our Communications Devices program.

But we’ll also use those printers for fun giveaways on our OH Online Facebook page. Pop on over there and see how you can pick up a free printer. As always with our contests, you must be enrolled in DEERS or a recently transitioned wounded warrior/spouse. We reserve the right to award prizes as we choose.

Good luck, and have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.

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Thanks to chats and texts, abbreviations now abound in our common speech. This is nothing new for members of the military community; they speak their own subset of English that raises ? from most of the outside world. But a couple of  military-related truncations are now part of the popular consciousness, thanks to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

TBI is the signature injury among service members. PTSD was first diagnosed back in the 1990s but is now so common, it no longer merits spelling out.  The VA estimates 20 percent of service members from the front suffer from it; other estimates are as high as one third.

So is it appropriate to add those four letters to a DL?  ICYMI, lawmakers down in GA seem to think so. They passed legislation that would allow current and former service members to request it be added as a medical condition on their driver’s licenses.

It’s a move that’s military family and veteran support groups are voicing concerns about. Kim Scofi, chapter president of OH Georgia, developed a survey on the topic; click here to share your thoughts.

The military is notoriously self-reliant and reluctant to ask for help, especially when it comes to mental health issues. I know the folks in Georgia who came up with and passed this law did it in the spirit of helping veterans. But IRL,  I can’t imagine service members and veterans suffering from PTSD will voluntarily label themselves on a document that gets passed around as often and as publicly as a driver’s license. I worry that by singling out stressed soldiers, by making an issue of a condition that manifests differently in everyone, we are still too focused on the problem, even exacerbating it.  But that’s JMHO.

We need to put our energy, expertise and funds toward a solution to the pain these families are in, and we need to do it ASAP.

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We say it over and over and over in so many ways to as many people was we can: If you’re struggling with mental health issues, get help.

May is Mental Health Month. I consider destigmatizing mental health support a critical mission of Operation Homefront and every other organization that’s here to help our military families. But don’t take my word for it; listen to our greatest heroes.

Medal of Honor recipients are speaking out on this video, encouraging you to speak up if you need help. Don’t let the enemy win at home, they say. It’s one of almost 30 messages that are a part of the Medal of Honor — Speak Out! campaign.

Their wives are speaking out, too. They know what it’s like to watch their loved ones struggle. They understand that when warriors come home, they bring the war with them.

There’s a growing army of credible sources echoing the same message: Don’t be afraid to admit you need help, and don’t hesitate to get it.

There are more resources now than ever before. Service members and their families can use TRIAP for anonymous help online. There’s a Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline. There are mentoring programs like Operation Homefront Georgia’s Veterans to Warriors program.

A simple Google search will yield dozens of options for stressed families. The help is there. You just have to muster the courage to ask for it.

It may be the bravest thing you ever do.

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I think even celebrity guest Wendy Davis from Lifetime’s “Army Wives” was upstaged today. But I doubt she cared.

Wendy Davis of "Army Wives" presents the Military Motherhood Award to Robin Schoolfiled as OH CEO Jim Knotts looks on.

I imagine she was just as thrilled as everyone else when Maj. Sam Schoolfield, husband of Military Motherhood Award winner Robin Schoolfield, showed up at the luncheon in his wife’s honor. Sam is deployed to Afghanistan, and Robin had no clue he’d be there. They’ll get to enjoy some family time in the nation’s capital before Sam returns to duty.

Today Robin was recognized for her strength and perseverance as a Marine Corps wife. Thanks to Lockheed Martin, Operation Homefront was able to get her family to D.C. and present her with a check for $5,000. Thanks to TriWest, we were able to host a lovely luncheon. Thanks to Lifetime, we had an exceptional guest speaker.

And thanks to Sam’s command and all the folks who worked with us to get him there today, the Schoolfield family had a priceless reunion.

Maj. Sam Schoolfield, who is deployed to Afghanistan, surprised his wife Robin by showing up at the Military Motherhood Award luncheon.

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Thanks to everyone who chimed in to get a shot at Tim McGraw VIP tickets. The winner is…(where’s my emoticon for a drum roll?)

Barbara.

Here’s why: She’s still trying to make up for last year’s Father’s Day debacle. Last year, she surprised DH with two tickets to a concert in Atlanta. She found a hotel, got a babysitter, made all the arrangements for a fabulous couple’s getaway. But two weeks before the concert, the Marine Corps announced other plans for Joe. He was headed to South America instead, and he had to leave within hours of the concert.

“Needless to say, the Marine Corps always wins, and we canceled the hotel and chalked the non-refundable tickets up to bad luck,” she said.

She’s also missing out on her Mother’s Day props; Joe will be on duty this Sunday.

So they’ll have a delayed celebration for last year’s Father’s Day and this year’s Mother’s Day, but a pre-party for their wedding anniversary, which is just a few days after the concert May 13.

As always with any contests we offer, I wish I had more to give. We only had two concert tickets, but we’ll be sending some goodies to the other folks who chimed in. Thanks again for participating.

And thanks to Outback Steakhouse and Tim McGraw for making this possible. Earlier this year, Outback pledged $1 million to Operation Homefront so we can continue to help military families in need. Special events like this make for priceless memories for our families who serve so selflessly.

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Tim McGraw and Outback have offered military members VIP tickets to Tim's shows. We appreciate their generosity.

The week is off to a great start when I have more goodies to give out.

Our friends at Outback Steakhouse and country superstar Tim McGraw have offered us two VIP tickets to Tim’s concert next Thursday, May 13 in North Charleston, S.C. We can’t supply travel, so you need to either be local or willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

Here’s what we need to know to select our winner:

How does Tim’s music help you get through deployments? Tell us in the comments section of this blog in 20 words or fewer.

Reminder: Operation Homefront serves active duty military/guard/Reserve and wounded warriors. So our winner has to be enrolled in DEERS, on TRDL or a recently separated wounded warrior/WW dependent; we’ll ask for proof of status. Prizes are awarded at our sole discretion.

We’ll take comments through 3 p.m. MT on Tuesday, May 4.

We’re so proud to count Outback and Tim among our supporters. They truly are committed to giving back and helping military families in need.

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