Tag Archives: Iraq veterans

O.A.R Says Support The Troops With Open Up Your Arms Campaign

In one of his recent posts on HuffingtonPost.com; Paul Rieckhoff, Exec. Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), mirrored the sediment I recently posted about of veterans not receiving the media coverage and attention from Americans they deserve.

Rieckhoff also blogged about a partnership between the IAVA and O.A.R., a popular alternative rock band, to help create awareness/support for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. O.A.R. launched the website, www.OpenUpYourArms.org, featuring a new music video for their song, “War Song,” which was written by the band after a USO trip overseas.

The website doesn’t ask for donations from the public, but for individuals to sign an online pledge.

As the war in Afghanistan enters its eighth year, we are reminded more than ever of the tremendous sacrifices that our troops, veterans, and their families have made and continue to make for our country. Every American has an obligation to support these men and women, and they can begin by joining the Open Up Your Arms Campaign.

Many popular music acts have done USO tours to perform for the troops, and have been verbal about their support of the troops, but www.OpenUpYourArms.org is one of the first instances of a rock band supporting the troops I can recall. I have been a fan of O.A.R. for their music for some time, but now I am proud to say I support an artist who supports the troops.

The band’s goal is to reach 111,111 signatures by Veteran’s Day on November 11th.

I took the online pledge to support the men and women in uniform and was number 18,642. Have you? What number were you?

The band’s goal is to reach 111,111 signatures by Veteran’s Day on November 11th.

Hugh Hefner Helps Wounded Soldiers

This Halloween at the Playboy Mansion will be a party for a good cause: The Wounded Warrior Project.

Flyer for the Playboy Mansion Halloween party (Photo Credit: clubzone.com)

Flyer for the Playboy Mansion Halloween party (Photo Credit: clubzone.com)

Halloween night, October 31, 2009, is open to the public for their Haunted Hollywood-themed party.

While the party will be at the Playboy Mansion, Hugh Hefner is not the host, nor is the party an official Playboy party, according to a FoxNews.com article.

Executive Director of the Halloween 09 bash Jose Dominguez was quoted in the Fox News article:

Hef was kind enough to let the Wounded Warrior Project be a beneficiary on Halloween. Proceeds will help severely wounded veterans that have recently served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Halloween is the most sought-after night at the Mansion so it was a good opportunity to support our veterans and enjoy a great party at the same time.

Tickets are $1,000 a piece for General Admission, and are available at Clubzone.com. Fox News reported a VIP ticket option for a price up to $15,000, but I was unable to find an opportunity to purchase those tickets on the Clubzone website.

Due to the success of Playboy magazine, and “The Girls Next Door,” a reality television series on the E network about the lives of Hef’s girlfriends, I am certain the Halloween party will be a huge benefit to The Wounded Warrior Project.

The flyer advertises Playboy models, but makes no promise of Hugh Hefner or his girlfriends being present at the party. Examiner.com speculated on their presence at the party, but I think they will be at the official Playboy Halloween party at Highlands in Los Angeles.

I will be following this story around Halloween and will report on the amount collected from admission proceeds.

The proceeds benefit veterans, but is $1,000 to much for a Halloween party? I want to hear your thoughts.

Former Raven and Iraq veteran’s cause of death revealed

It’s game day here in Baltimore, and this post lends more of  somber tone to the Ravens team as they take on the Bengals.

I am a few days late on reporting the cause of death, but according to a news release published on the Baltimore Ravens’ official website, Tony Fein’s, former Raven linebacker, cause of death has been ruled an apparant suicide, pending a toxicology reports.

The saddest part to his death is the legal issues he was facing were set to be dropped due to “conflicting witnesses statements,” according to the news release.

A positive to this news being revealed is the news release is we were given more information on Fein’s time in the military, where he served as a reconnaissance scout for the United States Army.

Fein fought on the front lines in the battlefield and on the football field.

I’ll be thinking about him during the game today. I’ll be thinking of how he wore that Ravens uniform with pride, and I’ll be thinking of how he worn camouflage for three-and-a-half years.

Who is everyone cheering for in today and tonight’ games? Ravens? Bengals? How ’bout them Cowboys?

Stigmas…Veterans are not psychos

According to Wikipedia, a stigma is defined as:

In sociological theory, a stigma is an attribute, behavior, or reputation which is socially discrediting in a particular way: it causes an individual to be mentally classified by others in an undesirable, rejected stereotype rather than in an accepted, normal one.

Some stigmas I’ve heard being thrown around about veterans are:

They’re unstable because they suffer from PTSD.

They must have killed someone when they were overseas.

War makes them act like psychos once they’re back home.

And one I’ve had directly at me, personally:

Your boyfriend was in the Marine Corps overseas in Iraq? He must be a violent person.

Stigmas. Often unfounded assumptions made by the ignorant who know nothing more or less about the military than the violence shown on television and in movies.  Yes, my boyfriend was in the Marine Corps. Yes, he was trained for “one shot, one kill.” Yes, the Marine Corps caused a lot of destruction overseas. But all those things are what’s shown on the evening news. They never show the good these men and women do overseas.

My cousin was in the Air Force at the beginning of the War on Terrorism and was deployed to Afghanistan, but chose a detail standing in the middle of the desert guarding civilians while they rebuilt their villages. The news focuses on all the bombings, and the causality rate, which has increased far too much.

The news never talks about how my boyfriend and his unit repeatedly tried to save the life of a reporter and a cameraman by keeping them out of the “stack” (a group of Marines armed and preparing for entry by force) until the coast was clear because more times than not, they [Marines] never knew what type of lethal force was waiting for them behind the door they were about to bust down.

Mental health treatment for veterans is lacking in this country, and when a veteran is suffering from PTSD or another mental illness caused by the horrors of war and commits a violent crime, the news simply writes him/her off as “another psycho from the military.” It’s not fair.

It’s not fair to those who served and its not fair to those who will serve to know they’ll be treated with that stigma.

Anyone have experience with stigmas of being a war veteran or veteran of service? Share your stories with me below.

Mourning a vet close to my hometown’s heart…

I’m from Baltimore, which is home to many things: Domino Sugar, National Bohemian beer, and the Baltimore Ravens.

Today Baltimore mourns a loss of a past Raven and Iraq War veteran:  Tony Fein.

Tony Fein as a Baltimore Raven (Photo from: http://www.mkrob.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/fein.jpg)

Tony Fein as a Baltimore Raven (Photo from: http://www.mkrob.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/fein.jpg)

News of Fein’s death first came across my Twitter feed via @JamisonHensley, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun.

According to a story published in the Baltimore Sun, Fein was found unconscious at approximately 8:50 Tuesday morning in Port Orchard, and was pronounced dead at a local hospital an hour later.

In addition to be a former Baltimore Raven, Fein also served in the Persian Gulf, a fact i had to search the internet for more information on because news sources in Baltimore were more wrapped up in the fact he had recently been arrested for assaulting a police officer in what Hensley called a “high profile altercation.”

I have found such is a common occurrence in the death of former veterans who move onto other careers after the military, the news focuses so much on the negative because it brings ratings, and fails to neglect the fact the man or woman fought for this country so the news has free speech.

A news release on ESPN.com about Fein’s death best described the positive changes Fein experienced in the military:

Fein often declined to discuss in much detail his time in Iraq. But he was proud to say how he left home an immature 200-pound high school quarterback and returned from the military as a hard-nosed 245-pound linebacker.

Positive changes ignored by other news outlets because Fein made one mistake and was thrown into a label as a common criminal, when in real life Fein was a veteran and should be mourned as one.

Is anyone else seeing stories regarding veterans in the news where their history as a veteran is overlooked for focus on more “news sensational” details?

Twitterers to follow who follow veterans…(Part 2)

More Twitterers I follow who follow veterans and veterans issues:

@HelpUSVets‘ real name is Charles Turner from Charleston,WV and his veterans-related cause is their benefits, specifically the health care benefits being provided to wounded soldiers, with some tweets about the G.I. Bill. In addition to maintaining his Twitter page, Charles Turner also hosts a website called Operation Warrior Support, which has an official launch date scheduled for Veterans Day 2009. Check back with me on Veterans Day for a review of his website. His Twitter avatar is the default avatar issued by Twitter, but if it changes there, I will edit it here as well.

@VetNetUSA is the official Twitter account for the Aurora Foundation, a foundation working specifically with student veterans attending Longwood University & McDaniel College. All of their tweets are about student-related issues like the G.I. Bill, and protests on campuses. I will be following them for specific information about changes in the G.I. Bill and for a student veteran perspective on veterans issues. Their avatar is currently on of their spokeswomen (Suzie Jackson), but they will be adding more authors to their Twitter soon, according to their Twitter background’s text.

@votevets is a group dedicated to 21st century patriots and veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and other eras. VoteVets’ Twitter links to their official website, which is a information-haven for veterans issues. I will be following this Twitter user for their up-to-date, and pertinent news on veterans issues.

@BlessRVets is a Twitter user out there to honor and support veterans by providing inspirational quotes, and links to important veteran-related news. While there is not much personal commentary on the news’ articles contents posted to their Twitter, @BlessRVets is being followed because the links they posted are ones I have not seen posted anywhere else on Twitter.

@usmcsupporter tweets about alot of Marine Corps and Navy-related veterans news, but provides tweets from Flickr, which no other Twitter user I follow has done yet. The photo tweets are entitled “Veteran on Flickr,” and these tweets are the reason I chose to follow this Twitter user. The tweets show the veteran, tell where he/she served and when, this feature will be valuable in reaching older veterans for interviews and commentary.

@VeteransAffairs is the official Twitter account for the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. Their tweets are links to news articles posted on the website, but I am following them for their multimedia content provided through their tweets. Their Twitter avatar is the default avatar issued by Twitter, but if it changes there, I will edit it here as well.

These Twitter users care about veterans and I follow them all to obtain information and insight into growing issues. In addition to these Twitter users, you can follow me @heatherbray.

The Terminator supports our veterans…he didn’t 2 weeks ago.

On September 8th, 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill making March 30th, “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day,” and now on Friday, October 2nd, 2009, he will be signing the bill into effect, according to an article published on MercuryNews.com.

Lawmakers were going to override the governor’s veto and I believe they should have in the first place. California is a home to a large population, many of whom are veterans or current active-duty military, including the largest Marine Corps base, Camp Pendleton. I hope this change-of-heart on the part of Schwarzenegger will begin a trend of more states creating days to honor their veterans’ sacrifices for this country. A simple “thank you” every once and awhile would be greatly appreciated by veterans, something I feel they do not receive quite as often as they are owed.

Some would argue veterans have Veterans Day and “that should be enough,’ but it isn’t because they don’t just fight one day out of the year for this country. Veterans are in the desert, jungle, trenches, mud, rain, snow, and gunfire every day of the year making sure this country has the freedom to veto laws. If the military decided they only wanted to fight a few days out of the year, where would this country be today?

The next time you see someone walking down the street in a uniform, t-shirt indicating military service, or notice a tattoo on someone indicating military service; shake their hand and say “thanks.” They’ll know what you mean and they’ll appreciate it more than those yellow ribbon magnets you bought and slapped on your car.