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Posts Tagged ‘heroes’

by Robert D. Thomas, Chief Operations Officer, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret.), Operation Homefront

Today, we remember and honor our service members.

On Memorial Day, our nation remembers and reflects upon the loss of the service members who have had a profound impact on preserving the freedoms we enjoy daily. By honoring the memory of their service, we sustain the spirit of these fallen heroes. And, we also remember their families, who sustained their service.

When I think about the heroes we have lost, I also think of the time lost with their families. I think of the incalculable value of eating an ordinary family dinner together, watching your son or daughter play soccer, or taking a child fishing. For those deployed, and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, that time is lost forever; they will never get those moments back and neither will their families.

Reflecting on my 31-year Air Force career, and the friends I have lost in the service, brings Memorial Day into sharp focus for me. My military specialty was air mobility, and when I was not flying transport/tanker aircraft, I was the officer on staff responsible for the air mobility mission.

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During multiple deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries, among other duties, I would many times find myself part of the team responsible for transporting our fallen heroes back home one last time. The units would honor their lost comrade in a solemn ceremony, almost always at night to avoid the rocket or mortar fire large groups of soldiers attract, and end with a member of the unit answering “absent sir” as the fallen warrior’s name was called in a final unit roll call.

Often, and especially on Memorial Day, I think of the families of those heroes and what it would be like to get the devastating news that a mother, father, son, or daughter was gone forever, and how many lives were changed permanently at that moment.

All Americans can take part in honoring those we have lost by joining the national moment of remembrance. You can participate by pausing for a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time on Monday afternoon.

In memory of those we have lost, and in honor of those who proudly serve, please join me in standing with our nation’s military heroes.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Robert D. Thomas
Operation Homefront Chief Operations Officer
Brig. Gen. (ret.), USAF

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gayeisenhausermurphygoodeMother of  fallen soldier Gay Eisenhauer has been selected as Murphy Goode Winery’s February Hero of the Month. Nominated by her childhood friend, Jesse, herself the wife of a injured veteran, Gay’s story is deeply moving and inspiring.

In 2005, Gay’s son Wyatt was killed by an IED in Iraq at the age of 26. When his body was brought home, Gay was shocked – “I can’t tell you what it was like to drive up to the airport and see Wyatt being brought out with a forklift, the casket teetering,” she said.

She went on to lobby for a national law that requires those who die in service to be flown home on a military jet. Their caskets must be draped with a flag and accompanied by an Honor Guard. The law went into effect in January 2007.

As Jesse wrote, “Gay attends funerals of fallen heroes, reaches out to Gold Star families, and helps to raise awareness and funds to benefit service members and veterans. Gay founded the Wyatt D. Eisenhauer Memorial Fund, awarding scholarships. Annually she organizes a ride to honor our service members and hosts a Run For the Fallen Event. It’s not about how long he lived but how he lived. I am a believer in paying it forward. Wyatt made the ultimate sacrifice to “Pay it forward,” a trait he certainly learned from his mother! For that she is my hero!”

Gay has chosen the Wyatt D Eisenhauer Memorial scholarship fund as her chairty of choice, with a matching 1000.00 given to Operation Homefront.

In case you haven’t heard, Murphy Goode is looking for a Few Goode Heroes. They want to hear about the people who are making a difference in your community. Nominate your hero by submitting a photo and a 250 word essay. One monthly Hero will be selected through fan votes and a team of judges to receive a donation to the charity of their choice*, and Murphy-Goode will make a matching donation to one of our heroes, Operation Homefront.

One grand prize hero will win a 4th of July BBQ in their hometown, sponsored by Murphy-Goode and catered by their Grill Sergeant!

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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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