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Archive for October, 2010

Earlier this week, I sat in our booth at the annual AUSA convention furiously scrawling notes with a pen intended for booth swag and a notepad meant for the same.

“Please help us win $300K to aid military families in need. http://www.RefreshEverything.com Text 103268 then 103144 to 73774. Thank you! (When was the last time you got a hand-written thank-you note?)”

Our printed flyers weren’t ready when the convention started, so I went old-school. We were in the last week of competition. We couldn’t afford to miss a chance to reach as many of the 33,000 attendees as possible. For the entire morning, a fantastic volunteer and I scribbled ourselves into hand cramps. Everyone who came by the booth those three days heard our spiel.

Was it worth it?

Yes.

Even if we don’t win the heated grant contest, I know we spent that morning and the previous five months or so working to do more for and better by our clients. And we got to meet and chat with all kinds of terrific people who were quick to offer encouraging words and votes.

Anything can happen these last few days. If you can take a few minutes to add your vote for us and the eight other military charities we’re voting this month, we’d really appreciate it.

Thank you.

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Alfredo De los santos is afraid.

The Army staff sergeant survived an RPG attack on his humvee in Iraq two years ago. His right leg was amputated at the hip, and he’s still struggling to get the right fit on his prosthetic. He has severe PTSD and TBI. That means nightmares, crippling headaches, fear of crowds and other physical issues. He undergoes daily treatments at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

He’s braved tragedies and the horrors of war in his past, but it’s the future that fills him with fear.

“I’m very scared right now,” he told me over the phone. “I don’t even have a job. And I have issues with my family. Because of what I’m going through, they don’t understand.”

His family had to move back to New York. His wife and two kids have been through a lot, he told me. It was easier for them to return to familiar surroundings than stay by his side in Washington, D.C. The kids changed schools three times in one year to be with him. It was too much.

He recently moved in to Operation Homefront Village-DC. It’s one of two transitional housing facilities Operation Homefront runs. Wounded warriors and their families live in free, fully furnished apartments convenient to treatment. Residents can take classes on financial management, career guidance, counseling and more.

It’s all free, thanks in part Combined Federal Campaign contributions.

Despite his fears, Alfredo is also hopeful — and grateful.

“Thank you so much for your support and for helping me and my family to make my transition a little bit easier,” he said. “I wish that in the future I can give something back.”

You can give back by designating Operation Homefront (No. 12526) as one of your charities of choice for your CFC contribution. You can also help with your daily votes in the Pepsi Refresh contest. We’ve teamed up with a slate of other military nonprofits to encourage support. Please take a moment to help.

We truly appreciate it.


Alfredo De los santos is one of the residents at Operation Homefront Village-DC.

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It’s been 10 years today since terrorist struck the U.S.S. Cole. That day, 17 sailors died, and 39 were injured. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for ramming a small boat filled with explosives into the side of the destroyer.

Before that attack, I’d never heard of al-Qaida. Had it not been for Sept. 11, that name likely would’ve slipped through the Swiss cheese of my short-term memory. But it’s now a part of my trusted AP Stylebook and our popular conscience. We all know it.

But here’s something else we all need to know: The U.S.S. Cole was recommissioned less than two years after that attack. It’s back in business. Today, a special ceremony commemorated the anniversary. On board is a permanent memorial: the Hall of Heroes is marked with 17 gold stars that lead to the site of the attack.

That hall and the ship itself are poignant reminders of how we persevere.

We don’t forget. We honor sacrifice, and we move forward.

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I grew up in a part of the world where every brown carbonated beverage was called a “coke. ” But today and every day this month, I am acutely aware of Pepsi not so much as a brand, but as an opportunity.

The Pepsi Refresh contest this October is a chance for Operation Homefront, our friends at Operation Gratitude and a slew of other worthy charities to win some desperately-needed holiday funds. We’ve teamed up with Operation Gratitude to compete in two grant categories: $250,000 and $50,000. Winners are determined solely by the number of votes. You can vote three different ways every day. We’ve got detailed voting instructions that spell everything out.

It won’t cost you a dime, and you’ll be helping us make the holidays better and brighter for our deployed troops and their families.

Please help. We deeply appreciate it.

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