Tasty Tuesday Slow Cooked Apples

Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving? Oh what a wonderful time of year. A time set aside to think about thanks, giving thanks and filling the mind, spirit, belly and arms with fantastic treats!
Our treats start arriving on Wednesday and the locals on Thursday. The smell of cleaning is strong in the house today. So strong that I just had to add some cinnamon and spice to the mix. Silver polish is great stuff... but when the trays and forks are shining and sparkling... it is time to dazzle the taste buds.
In late September we went apple picking, and bought extras just for Thanksgiving get together. Leanne is bringing the apple pies, Penny will bring an apple slice tray, so I am making some slow cooked apples to top the morning's waffles. And for a sneak preview tonight.Splenda brown and white sugars are used as sweeteners for the diabetics in the crowd!
Is there anything that we don't treat ourselves to at this time of year? Abundance is noticeable. Things have been put away, kept on hold until the holiday arrives. We are ever so thankful for that ability, and most of all for the friends and family that will be here to share. I hope your table is full too, of people and scrumptious dishes!
Slow Cooked Apples
6 firm apples Spies or Granny Smith, peeled and cut into eighths
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup Splenda white sugar
1/4 c Splenda brown sugar
2 T flour
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1 pinch salt
6 T butter cut in chunks
In a crock pot add the apples and lemon juice. Stir to coat. On top of this add remaining ingredients. Put lid on cooker and allow to cook at low for 3 hours.
Stir occasionally during the cooking.
Use on top of breakfast food, or as a chunky applesauce. Great hot or cold.

Praying for our Deployed Service members and their Spouses

It is that time of year! Travel plans have been made. "To-Do" lists have been created. Families are getting together.

As you gather around the Thanksgiving table this week pledge to remember our families with service members serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, over oceans, in the air... many places, far, far from home; many spouses far from the other half of their heart; many children relying on one parent, when they would much rather have two hands to hold, another set of arms to wrap around them; many moms and dads missing the little boy and girl they raised into fine men and women!

Pledge to remember these people as you bow your head before partaking in your feast. Pledge to thank God for their sacrifices and then thank God for their families.

Need some inspiration? Look no further. Here are two wonderful articles from "Faith Deployed", a great resource for our military-spouses taking care of the home-front:
I've done Thanksgiving without my soldier and I can assure you it was one of the hardest holidays without him. Be sure to take the time to encourage and lift-up a military-family this week!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com


Related Posts:
The Military Community is Thankful this Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Muffins

I love the Thanksgiving Season! The sights, the smells, the colors, the sounds.

Through the years I am finding the joys in baking and cooking. I spent some time earlier last week making Pumpkin Rolls with my mother-in-law; I am working with my mom so that I can help with the Thanksgiving meal; and today I made the most DELICIOUS muffins I have ever had in my life. (I had to taste test them after they came out of the oven after all!)

This afternoon I had 'Pumpkin Muffins' on my list to bake. I called out to my brood, "Who wants to help me bake?!" *E*, 8 years old, used to love to bake with me. Used to. *C*, 5 years old, has not been interested in spending time in the kitchen ... until recently. *C* gave a resounding "ME!". *E* said "No, Thanks" Although I'm a bit sad that *E* didn't want to help; I was /thrilled/ to have *C*'s company : )

If you are looking for a distinctly-delicious breakfast snack for the holidays this is for you!

Pumpkin Muffins
Makes about 12 muffins

Batter

1 1/4 sticks (10 T) of unsalted butter at room temperature (I took them out of the frig early this morning and they were perfect when I went to bake at about 1pm)
3 Cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 t coarse salt
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground allspice
1/3 C of buttermilk
1 1/4 C pure pumpkin puree
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs

Sugar Coating
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 C unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour or spray with non-stick cooking spray 12 muffin cups. Make batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and allspice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, once at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.

Spoon batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 minutes for regular muffin size. We also like 'mini-muffins' (pictured) which took about 12 minutes to cook.

Meanwhile, combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl or a ziplock-bag. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in muffin-pan.* Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, roll in butter, then toss in sugar mixture. Store in an airtight container, up to one day.

* Freeze muffins, up to 3 months. Reheat in a 350 oven, then coat in butter and sugar

These muffins will melt in your mouth! Since I do not plan to eat all of them in a day (although very tempting) I only coated half of them in the sugar mixture. The rest I will freeze and bring to my parents' where we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. This will be a perfect breakfast snack!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

The Debt Commission Proposal - Do They Know We Are Fighting America's Wars?

I don’t usually write blogs about subjects that make me mad but the recent efforts in Washington to find federal budget reduction items just got my dander up! Why? Because they fall square on the back of military families that are at war! I try to keep up with events that affect our troops and their families and this one is at top of the light pole for me!

Have you heard of the commission put in place by the President, called very appropriately, The Debt Commission? Actually, its full name is the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and it has a website at http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/ which outlines its charter which it is to identify government programs that need to be cut to reduce our federal governments spending – a very worthy goal, except that the commission takes aim directly at those currently serving and those who have served! Now this is the beginning of the process but listen to some these proposals affecting the military community! Ready?

Very inappropriately, this was released the day before Veteran’s Day! And it is Military Family Appreciation Month as declared by the President!

1) “Freeze federal salaries, bonuses, and other compensation at the Department of Defense for three years”. Yep, you are reading this one right! Our folks in combat are going to lead the way as the first item by having their pay frozen! This reminds of the late 70s when there was a three year military pay freeze with annual inflation rate of 14-15%! So military families were losing money every year! At least President Carter and congress waited for the Vietnam War to be over before freezing military pay!

2) “Modernize Tricare, Defense health” which includes additional fees and copays to match other health care programs! Remember the claim that the National Health Care plan was not going to go affect Tricare or Veteran Health Care! Modernize in the context of debt reduction/spending reduction means less serviceor more cost for our injured, retirees and military families that sacrifice so much!

3) “Reduce spending on base support” and “Reduce spending on facilities maintenance”. That is where we live folks! Reduced MWR programs, road repair, housing, hangar repair, etc. While the nation addressed and received stimulus funding for repairs to state and city infrastructure, yours is going to be cut!

4) “Consolidate the Department of Defense’s retail activities”. This is the Base/Post/Naval/Marine Exchanges and the commissary system! Looking for ways to reduce the budget? Let’s target those support agencies that are the lifeblood of the military family! Sure, they talk about just saving overhead but as in any consolidation where do they draw the line on savings. Increase the cost of shopping for military families is an easy target!

I picked out the items that were directly targeting items that will impact you, the military family member but there are many others and the estimate for savings at the Department of Defense is $100 Billion over the three years. Now the fact is that this is a draft proposal and it has to go through the Congressional review before it could be included in any budget! But another striking figure is that the budget reduction for the rest of the country’s federal programs is also $100B! Not exactly a fair balance of sacrifice for the military community! But here comes some more impact as you approach or are at retirement age!

1) “Reform military retirement system to vest after 10 years (not 20); defer collection until age 60." The military retirement system is a deferred payment plan for the sacrifices that service members make every day! As the politicians who made these recommendations head off to celebrate holidays with their families and friends, our military personnel and their families face yet another long year of deployments and separations. Makes me wonder if any of these commission members ever served in the military and particularly during wartime!

2) “ Reform COLA payments for civilian & military early retirees”. Reform is key here! The Debt Commission is looking for ways to reduce cost! Do you think reform means more money in your pocket? I doubt it seriously.

Again, these are just proposals but the Department of Defense is such an easy target! How can they target our service men and women and their families without addressing the entitlement programs of all Americans! Think of the possible savings there! If we are going to sacrifice then let us all do it! Let’s share the burden! Military families recognize the need to save and reduce the budget but why do we have to do it alone! If we are going to freeze pay for one group – do it for everyone! There is no mention of freezing congressional pay, travel or other perks! Another possible target would be federal payments to the states! States live on federal dollars, reducing their budgets (ie California) would reduce the federal cost as well! That would affect all Americans equally!

So what do I recommend for you? Are you a member of a military organization such as the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Non Commissioned Officers Association of America (NCOA), American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Reserve Officer Association of America, Air Force Sergeants Association, Fleet Reserve Association, Navy League, Air Force Association, Association of the United States Army (AUSA) and some that I am sure I missed? Write them and ask them to address these issues! Write your congressperson and senators! Military voters are spread out and not a bloc voting group but our politicians are sensitive to reducing military programs in war time due to the impression it has on other voters! Tell them you are interested in a response and want to know how they vote on these issues!

We are defending our country this very minute and we deserve better than what the Debt Commission proposed!






Photo Credit: Author and grandson celebrating our heritage

"Remember those who gave their lives there" Korengal Valley, Afghanistan - DoD Roundtable

I spoke to heroes during this Roundtable! They defended us in a remote valley in Afghanistan and in the mountains around it. They fought a battle there on October 25, 2007 that resulted in the death of friends, injuries, moments of fear and terror. The responses of one man to the combat situation he found himself in earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor! Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta is the first person to receive the MOH since the Vietnam War who could receive it in person from the President. There have been others who received our nation’s highest decoration in our wars since Vietnam but unfortunately they were posthumously presented to family members.

Staff Sgt Giunta, Staff Sgt. Brett M. Perry, Staff Sgt. Michael Burns and Staff Sgt. Erick Gallardo were all members of the B (Battle) Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, V Corps, Vicenza, Italy deployed to Afghanistan and were brothers in arms. They lived together, went on patrol together, talked only as men who have seen combat together can, shared an “unspoken bond” and they traveled to DC to be with "Sal" (Staff Sgt. Giunta) when he received his Medal of Honor on Tuesday from the President. They had a private reception after the medal presentation with the President and the First Lady who they described as likeable and friendly – genuine. But the Roundtable asked questions about the events of three year ago, how did they feel about their friend’s recognition for heroism, did they still find him approachable, were there changes in how they dealt with each other, future plans and more.

The three soldiers described a whirlwind of emotions around the White House and other events honoring Sal including comments about a party thrown that was a great time! Gallardo who was injured and dragged from the kill zone by Sal led off by commenting on the genuineness of Sal. He said he was not a character, a real family man with an Army strong military spouse, Jenny. Perry said Giunta did not want to be in the limelight but knew it could be inspirational for others. When asked about lessons learned from this experience, they all thanked the men who trained them and how they followed the Army doctrine – “went by the book”. They felt it could have been a lot worse if they had not been so well trained and that their responses were ingrained in them during a situation that was chaotic on a spur between two valleys. The Taliban knew they had to come down the way they had done up and set a trap. During the firefight that ensued they fell back on their training and that it saved lives! I would add heroism to the mix of reasons they survived that day!

The men described Sal’s friendship as “sticking” on them with that unspoken bond that draws them together on October 25th each year. They maintain contact through Facebook, travel to see each other and have a party on that date wherever they are! Sal doesn’t like the attention but his close friends will give him a hard time but respect with the traditional salute for someone who wears the Medal of Honor. I enjoyed their comments and saw these soldiers as true heroes who told us, “Remember those who gave their lives there.”

During that night fight in the Korengal Valley Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan and medic Hugo V. Mendoza, died of their wounds. Five were wounded during the fight. There have been 42 Americans killed in this part of eastern Afghanistan including Navy Seals, aircrew and soldiers responding to fights.

Thank you for serving and a grateful nation honors and respects you! Our salute to Staff Sgt Giunta who stated, "If I'm a hero, then every man that stands round me, every woman in the military, everyone who goes into the unknown is a hero." Humble for sure, the epitome of our service men and women!

To listen to this interesting and informative Roundtable be sure to go to DoDLive and if you are interested in other blogs about Afghanistan please go to Our Letters to You from MilitaryAvenue.








Photo Credits: Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta Slideshow http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/giunta/images.html

Photo Credits: Medal of Honor Recipient Staff Sgt Salvatore A. Giunta, DoDLive

Photo Credits: Staff Sgt. Erick Gallardo DoDLive

Photo Credits: Staff Sgt. Michael Burns DoDLive

Photo Credits: Staff Sgt. Brett M. Perry DoDLive


Traditions

Autumn has fallen upon us with force. Halloween decorations have been long put away and thoughts of Thanksgiving meals are upon us; followed quickly by Christmas lights, gifts and carols.

'Tis The Season

My family will soon pack up the minivan to drive 'over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go!' A long-weekend with my parents, siblings and nieces and nephews. But that is just a piece of the 'Thankgiving Tradition'. Some years we do Thanksgiving with my husband's family which involves his grandmother and all of her siblings and their families. It's a HUGE gathering!

As an Air Force Brat there were years that my family spent too far away to visit extended family, a 20 hour drive one way for a four day weekend with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins didn't make sense; or I can remember Dad being on alert over the weekend so we couldn't leave the base. Sometimes Thanksgiving was just us, or a dinner with a crew of airmen that couldn't make it home. Sometimes it involved a trip to the dining facilities where Dad and Mom would help serve the single service-members a Thanksgiving meal. Thanksgiving meals are sometimes shared with friends that have become family. (Be sure to invite 'new friends' over as well. If someone has recently PCSed into the area find out what they are doing and invite them into your fold. What a great way to meet new people!)

In many ways Thanksgiving 'tradition' is an oxymoron for the military-family - EXCEPT that it involves time with folks that we care about, people that we want to be with, and time spent being thankful for what we do have.

Planning

Our family is growing. The latest addition is my beautiful baby-boy born in August. My brothers have children and one has twins due after Christmas. We are no longer a family of five gathering around the Thanksgiving table but a family of 15! Plus, this year one of my dad's brothers and family will be joining us for a grand total of 22. That's a lot of cooking for my mom. As I grow up (I'm still doing it at 36!) I'm learning to enjoy cooking, too. So I found some recipes that looked good and told my mom I wanted to try them. I have picked up the necessary ingredients and put them in a bag to bring with us 'over the river and through the woods'. It takes a bit off of her plate and puts me in the heart of action as well. What can you do to help with festivities? If you are hosting have you delegated? If the stress of planning and making a big meal is spread out among many it makes it more fun!

Another point is there is more to Thanksgiving than the food. There is family and friends. Perhaps you can organize (or delegate) some things for the kids to do to keep them out of the kitchen and pulling on Mom's 'apron-strings'! What about after dinner, plan something for the whole group to do; a nature walk, a tour of the town for out of towners, perhaps a fun game to enjoy each others' company. Everyone can be involved in the planning and it helps build anticipation for a day of Thansgiving!

Around the bend comes December

After the Thanksgiving leftovers are all done, the turkey, pilgrim and other autumn decorations are put away, around the bend comes Christmas, Hannukah and other traditional holidays. December can be one of the most stress-filled months of the year. But it is not supposed to be. It is supposed to be about family, blessings and small gifts of joy.

A few ways to take some of the stress out for this year:

Budgeting
>> The Three Wise Men
>> If you need some budgeting help be sure to check-out: MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Money & The Military

Weight-gain
>> This Holiday Season Focus on Friends and Family, not Food

A little /too much/ merriment?
>> Have a Merry (but Safe!) Holiday Season

Start a New Tradition to keep your mind off a deployment or time away from those you love
>> "Elf on a Shelf" - A New Christmas Tradition
>> Here are some more great traditions from military-families: What are your Holiday Traditions?

I hope that as this season of thanksgiving and friends & family descends upon us that you will take the time to remember what it all is really about. The moment it becomes more about stress and less about joy you need to take a step back and see how to change directions! Over the river and through the woods is a great direction for our family!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Girl Time

I spent this morning with my mother-in-law;

mixing,
baking,
laughing,
smiling,
rolling,
scooping,
talking,
tasting,
just being


Who knew making Pumpkin Rolls could be so much fun?!

It was an incredible way to break up the monotony of the week for me (Is it really only Tuesday?) Hubs has been working late nights and of the last seven nights he has been home at the boys' bedtime twice. I have a nursing baby. Plus both boys, E and C, have a pre-Thanksgiving project for school that is extending homework time. On top of it all, I haven't been as good about getting dinner started early. To say last week was exhausting is an understatement and yesterday just capped it off.

But today is a different story! I feel so much better having spent some time learning to make new food in time for the holidays. My mom-in-law held *L*, 3 1/2 months, while she told me what to do, which will help me retain it when I try to do it again myself. We didn't have any deep meaningful conversation but it was just a gift of her presence that made the morning enjoyable! If I messed up she shrugged her shoulders and said, "That's ok!" and told me what to do next time. She didn't take over. I asked questions along the way. Life was good.

A few girlfriends of mine keeping talking about getting together and making pasta! Won't that be fun?! I've never made that either... I'm always up for an adventure! Now we just need to make it happen!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

The Day after Veteran's Day - "Real Warrior Campaign" - DoD Roundtable

We had a wonderful Veteran’s Day including sharing part of my day with a grandson and his kindergarten classmates, my son took our car to a company offering free oil changes for veterans, connected with Facebook family and friends thanking us for serving and topped it off with a great dinner at a local restaurant that gave us a veteran discount (Seasonal Grille in Hastings, Michigan and the food was wonderful)! It was quite the day and then I sat down to write about the Department of Defense Roundtable I had participated in on Wednesday! It was a like a cold bucket of water being thrown in my face – ok, back to the real world of veterans dealing with PTSD and TBI (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury).

This was the best DoD Roundtable I have been part of due to the participants open discussion about tough issues for veterans! Retired U.S. Army Maj. Ed Pulido and Capt. Josh Mantz, Real Warriors Campaign, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) and Ken MacGarrigle from the VA's Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom Program Office spoke to us about their personal experiences and why it is critical for early intervention for service members returning from the battlefield with these problems. They did note that “honoring” these protectors of our freedom with special recognition such Veterans Day celebrations, events such as last week’s “Stand Up For Heroes” and welcome home atmosphere were critical in the healing process! They compared the current treatment of veterans favorably to the treatment of Vietnam era veterans. DoD campaigns and information are getting better and access for those who need help is readily available.

The “Real Warrior Campaign” according to Major Pulido,

“…my mission now through the Real Warriors Campaign is to let our noncommissioned officer and enlisted personnel and our officers know that we can't leave anyone behind in the field of battle. And with that, I'm so glad that I'm a part of this great campaign to know and understand that we also cannot leave our families behind in the field of battle. And if we're able to do that and moving forward and utilizing our resources in our community, we'll make a difference in the lives of those that have served and sacrificed so much.”

What is the most common misconception for PTSD, TBI and Deep Depression? All agreed that “you can not get help” is the biggest problem for many! That PTSD is a stigma and the events that caused it just won’t go away! Expectations are key according to Captain Mantz and he said that PTSD is managed but not cured. They felt that the military community has made strides to reduce barriers and the stigma attached. There is no “magic pill” to cure those with PTSD. But is it PTS or PTSD? Quite a discussion occurred over being identified with a Disorder versus just Post Traumatic Stress? Captain Mantz thought that having Disorder on the end gave it a very negative connotation! It was not a medical issue for the name but for a soldier (or any service member) it can cause issues to be identified with a disorder. He felt it made the situation more normal in soldier language and mentality without the D. “I think that from a soldier's perspective, not a clinician's perspective, but from a soldier's perspective, calling it post-traumatic stress kind of defines it in a way -- and normalizes it a bit.” It seems that DoD might consider changing to PTS if that helps service members better deal with their mental health after returning from the battlefield!

Three therapeutic requirements for returning veterans: Individual counseling and services for the service member; second, peer to peer support systems and third community outreach through faith based systems, schools (opening doors to veterans on Veteran’s Day to tell their story is a great one) and other welcome home venues. But what about veteran’s families? The first line of defense according to the team! Spouses and families also need counseling and it is available according to Mr MacGarrigle at Vet Centers around the country! Spouses are critical to efforts and I think I will write a second blog about this particular part of the Roundtable!

Here are some great resources for you! Whether they are for yourself, a family member, a friend, a peer, a community group that needs more information or anyone that you think could help spread the word about veterans!

A new VA Blog outreach! VAntage Point

Director of the VA, General (ret) Eric Shinseki: "Instead of waiting for veterans to find us, we're going to seek them out where they already are -- which is, increasingly, online."





Facebook for Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE)

I am a friend and follow this one!


Vet Centers

There is a locator on the home page to find the closest one to you! Community based!






Real Warrior Outreach Center

866 966 1020

This Roundtable was a great discussion and an audio is available! I would highly encourage you to go to DoDLive for an audio or transcript! Thank you to all of veterans who have served! It is not just a day, it is every day!









Photo Credit: Author and grandson at Memorial Day parade

Photo Credit: Vet Center Home http://www.vetcenter.va.gov/

Photo Credit: VA Advantage http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/

Fun on Veteran's Day with my Grandson and His Class

What a great opportunity to tell the kindergarten class about veterans and share some experiences! Thank you so much for the Parent Teacher Organization at Pine Ridge Elementary School in Ada, Michigan for making this a special day for veterans! I had the chance to speak with my grandson's class about what it meant to be a veteran, tell them where Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo ++ were located and had some great laughs. I learned that one child's cat had died, one child's dog had been sprayed by a skunk but for 15 minutes I held their attention! They were well behaved, sat and listened, raised their hands, made calls to the tower for takeoff, responded to yes maam/sir nicely and thanked me!

We shared about safety, how they enjoyed having their parents around and why veterans' children often missed birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc with their parent(s). They raised their hands eagerly to ask questions about Iceland, Panama and airplanes! I did not know that some had traveled faster than the speed of sound but they had! The kids were interested what a veteran did and after me they heard from a father who had been a soldier! We loved it, the teacher asked us to come back for other times and then we had a free lunch provided by the PTO! Wow, memories and impressions made on Veteran's Day 2010!

If you are a veteran, I would highly encourage you to enjoy an event like this with a school next year! Family members, take the initiative and ask the school and organizations like the PTO to bring out the veterans for special events! Recognizing their service like this is fun for everyone and keeps our youngest citizens informed!

Veterans Day

Dear Veterans,

The entire MilitaryAvenue.com team would like to thank you for your service to our great nation.


We send our deepest wishes for a blessed Veterans Day. "Thank you!" to all of our service-members, past & present, who serve our country with honor.

- MilitaryAvenue.com


PS. Early this morning we sent a short and sweet email to all of our Veterans registered at MilitaryAvenue and I got this response already. "Thank you for remembering, it is nice to be recognized." If you are not a veteran take the time to thank one today. Your appreciation will not go unnoticed!


Related Posts:
101 Ways to Thank a Veteran
112 Ways to Thank a Veteran (101 Continued...)
Thank You to Our Wonderful Veterans on Veteran's Day

Wordless Wednesday - Stand Up For Heroes - Say Thank You on Veteran's Day








Say Thank You on Veteran's Day!




ReMIND.org




























Stand Up For Heroes, NY, NY! used with permission: image taken by Marcos Rivera and is property of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR.


As a part of attending the Stand Up For Heroes event, Sears Holdings provided my travel, accommodations and a FlipCm to capture on-site footage

What We Share with the Military Community

Last week during the fantastic Stand Up For Heroes program in New York we had the pleasure of attending with several military bloggers. We all came to see and report on how the Bob Woodruff Foundation was supporting our wounded Heroes and enjoy an evening in the Big Apple. We had a fun time, if not hilarious, listening to entertainers supporting the troops but then I realized I had fun for another reason! I was around military folks and those who cared about them! We were there on a mission to tell the world about this exceptional effort to support the troops and their families (funds raised that night and later go the Woodruff Foundation to fund public awareness, education and national and community programs for wounded heroes and their families).

But conversation among the bloggers and veterans revealed a common heritage, concern for the troops and "how can we help" attitude! One conversation as we drove through New York City about personal experiences of veteran family members fearing driving under a bridge, watching roadside activity, driving too fast or erratically and sitting in a restaurant with your back to the wall watching the door simply would not occur in a civilian setting! Even polite discussions including a yes sir/maam, a shake of the hand and respect shown for the service/rank was acknowledged. We felt comfortable with each other, relaxed with military stories and shared our thoughts openly about the troops with others.

We all appreciated the efforts of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Sears and Euro RSCG Worldwide PR for bringing us together and we look forward to continuing our efforts to tell you about programs like this that support our heroes! A big thank you and it was our pleasure to shake the hands of fellow military bloggers:

NameBlogTwitter
Matt GallagherKerplunk@matt__gallagher
Ruthie AlekseyeySpouseBuzz@spousebuzz
Troy StewardBouhammer@bouhammer, @youserved
Beth WilsonEnlistedSpouse@Beth_Wilson @EnlistedSpouses
Deborah KissingerMilitaryAvenue@MilAve_Deborah
Dale KissingerMilitaryAvenue@MilAve_Col_K











You can read some great articles about Stand Up For Heroes by clicking on their links! If you would like to donate and support the Heroes please go to ReMIND.org for more information! The Woodruffs bring a great combination of connection with our Heroes and the media community that helps spread the word about this great effort!




Photo Credit: Col Dale and Deborah Kissinger, at dinner hosted by Sears, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR Stand Up For Heroes, NY, NY! used with permission: image taken by Marcos Rivera and is property of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR.


As a part of attending the Stand Up For Heroes event, Sears Holdings provided my travel, accommodations and a FlipCm to capture on-site footage

Tradition, Home, Strength and Character: Sears Heroes at Home Registry

Do you remember your kitchen growing up as a kid? I can see the Kenmore refrigerator... a prize possession in the corner. No other color available at the time than white. Mix Master purchased as a huge anniversary gift to Mom along with a variety of small appliances. Items that made it possible to have family gatherings of the magnitude that the Johansens did. Food streamed from our kitchen in Palisades Park, NJ. Mom learned to fill the house with marinara sauce from the Italian neighbors to the right, Polish stuffed veal pockets recipe came from the left. We never had boiled potatoes an fish without a fresh Norwegian remoulade sauce. The Kenmore gas stove provided the heat for a United Nations type menu that Dad loved.

Then we moved.... traumatic.... 20 miles away... but it was a move none the less. New school, new church... new everything. New House. And oh it was new. New appliances that Mom got to pick out herself - and all avocado green. Double oven, counter top stove, side by side door refrigerator. It was a shopping trip to Sears that was like none other I ever experienced! Oh the feeling of stepping into hallowed ground... new everything to experience. Dad and Mom were my heroes at home... but that was then.

And here we are now, a world ripped by war casualties seen and hidden. Changing the way folks live their lives. In the military and then out. New everything. New job, new mental state, new need for friends and family. These veterans, these heroes have been in foreign fields, fought side by side with allied troops, united in freedom's cause, with colors of uniform badges and berets no longer the same. And they are home. Home to new needs, new forms of outreach.

The Heroes at Home program, spearheaded by Sears, provides support to service members, veterans and their families through joint effort with various nonprofit organizations. Heroes at Home seeks to improve the lives of military families in need across America by making necessary repairs, improvement or modification to their home.

Sears employs over 20,000 military veterans!

The comforts of home, the memories, the gatherings are central to American family life. Register by making a donation to the Wish Registry either in-store or online at Sears.com/heroesathome. In the third year, now through December 31, 2010 Americans can support the Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry by making donation.

Thank you!

"We Honor Those Who Serve"

This is Veteran’s Day week and MilitaryAvenue has been featuring some wonderful recognition programs for veterans leading up to Thursday’s celebration of service! During our hectic visit to New York last week for Stand Up for Heroes, MilitaryAvenue had the opportunity to interview a fellow disabled veteran, Mr. Thomas Aiello who is now the Division Vice President, Public Relations for Sears! Sears has announced some great Veteran’s Day initiatives and other superb programs that highlight their support to the military community! I had my socks blown away by some of the efforts Tom mentioned and that I have read about! By the way, it is hard to blow away one of my socks since it is taped on while I recover from earlier surgery! So way to go Sears!

Did you know that Sears is recognized as one of the Top 25 military employers in the US? They have 20,000 military veterans employed and if you are a reservist/guard person, full time Sears employee and called up to active duty for deployment they have a pay differential program to maintain your pay while deployed! In addition, deployed reservists may continue to participate in life insurance, medical and dental programs! Wow! But back to Tom and our conversation about Veteran’s Day at Sears!

He was excited to tell us about how Sears was continuing to support military families! To show support to veterans Sears is encouraging everyone to wear yellow on Thursday to their stores! But why should veterans come to Sears on Thursday? Ready? Do you like tools? Veteran’s Day is the kickoff for Sears Blue Tool Crew military discount! Bring in your military ID card and you get 10% off all tool purchases at Sears!

No end date, no purchase limit or cap on the number of tools!

As the tool guy in this house I have to admit being impressed with such a great recognition effort from this corporation! I came on active duty during the Vietnam era and served until the beginning of Afghanistan and during that time saw quite a transition in the minds of Americans towards their service men and women. Early in my career, service members were frequently the victims of political disagreement but now across the political spectrum, among businesses (big and small) and in our communities our heroes are now recognized as serving this great nation! As a veteran Tom recognizes the need to continue supporting our veterans and their families and is in a position to help Sears do just that! So beyond this week and the Blue Tool Crew military discount Sears is doing even more!

Continue with the drum roll! I could see and hear how much fun Tom was having telling us about the military programs being engineered at Sears as we sipped at our coffee after a long travel day and before a great evening program at Stand Up For Heroes! He was so excited about it that Sears brought in military bloggers to this absolutely exceptional program for us to enjoy and allow him to tell MilitaryAvenue about the Sears military outreach! Heroes at Home Wish Registry, Heroes at Home, special events for military, Thanksgiving Day meals at some military installations, plus more! So we talked about our service times, shared a couple of veteran stories (mandatory for any group of military folks getting together) and got excited about the program that evening!

He shared more information such as links and what military personnel and families should watch for in the future including this coming weekend! Another great military offer to enjoy a special evening:



It was a great way to get to know someone so interested in helping you! Thank you Sears and Tom! We are impressed and will continue to shop at your military friendly place!

Getting ready for Christmas/Holiday shopping? Look at this special offer for us!
We had a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the evening with the Bob Woodruff Foundation's Stand Up for Heroes, meet with military friendly corporations and find more ways to help our military community! Have a great Veteran's Day! For more information about great Veteran's Day offers go to MilitaryAvenue.com's List!






Photo Credit: Mr. Thomas L. Aiello, Division Vice President, Public Relations, Sears Holding Corporation

Special Event Information Banners provided by Mr Aiello

As a part of attending the Stand Up For Heroes event, Sears Holdings provided my travel, accommodations and a FlipCam to capture on-site footage.”

The Story of an Impulse Buy

MMmmmm... I went grocery shopping today.  I was being so good.  I made a list.  I dug through coupons. I ate lunch.  (I have an AFRTS* commercial permanently stuck in my head from high school about not shopping when you are hungry.)

As I strolled the aisles of the store I came to a sudden halt.  I could NOT pass up the Pillsbury Mini-Graham Cracker Crusts.  /Total Impulse Buy/  Cupcake-sized graham cracker crusts calling my name.  Telling me to fill them with homemade pudding.  Add a dollop of cool-whip.  Put some fall-themed sprinkles on them.  It all played out before me in the aisle of the grocery store with a cart already full of food (and I still had half the store to get through.)





So tonight we are watching some family television, eating our delicious dessert, and thinking, yep, sometimes it's fun to make an impulse buy ;)

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com


*AFRTS - Armed Forces Radio & Television Services ... our only "radio and television" provider when we were stationed at Keflavik NAS, Iceland.

Neighborhood Heroes Can Have Help - Stand Up For Heroes



The newsroom: we invite it into our homes each day and night, presumably to feel the pulse of the nation, catch a glimpse of the world and often taste a nugget of political sinew. But we stick with a particular channel because it sounds right, and looks good.

ABC had the forum set with pizzazz in December 2005. Bob Woodruff stepped into America’s kitchens, bedrooms, libraries, living rooms, hotels and bars worldwide. The new co-anchor face on the evening news was our pulse point to calm and crisis in our world. Then things changed. And when change blasts in, emotions ignite.

New acronyms became all too familiar: RPG, HEAT, IED to name a few… and they shook the world in our own homes, the voice of sanity was BLASTED. Americans at home were twitched with the touch of blood.

Now… America… step away from the tube and step out into your neighborhood. Recognize the faces of neighbors who have been traumatized by a crouching gun holder who in Afghanistan took out compatriots, and half of his body. Recognize as this translates into a police officer crouching with a laser gun moderating speed. The trauma of the similar pose and intent can be horrifying and oh so real. HELP?

Know that there are patriots in you home town that while in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other fields of terror drove in tunnels, under bridges where compatriots were hit with an RPG or IED and their vehicles were transformed into a fireball in front of them. Feel the stomach tighten, even as they know they are back in America, they cannot SPEED through this moment to get to the other side…. Speeds are set for a reasonable reason! HELP!

Help is out there. Yet looking at the trauma these patriots are touching, oft times it is not a visible handicap, oft times it is. Families feel it, know it recognize the truth of it. HELP.

Help the Bob Woodruff Foundation as they bring recognition and recovery to the men and women in the military. Be a part of the care.

“It’s not about the war, it’s about the warrior.” Bob Woodruff

Join in on the Heroes At Home Wish Registry. The Heroes at Home program, spearheaded by Sears, provides support to service members, veterans and their families. Sears employs over 20,000 military veterans and has an ongoing commitment to assisting troops and their families.









Photo Credit: 10/22/2010 - U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew Owen and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Hansard with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, look for enemy forces during a security patrol in Sangin Valley, Afghanistan, Oct. 20, 2010. The battalion conducted counterinsurgency operations in Helmand province’s Sangin valley ... DoD Photo



Photo Credit:
09/18/2010 - U.S. Army Pfc. Ryan L. Carson, a member of the company intelligence support team of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Bulldog, and an Afghan police officer search a hillside at the Shege East Afghan National Police Checkpoint in the Kunar province of Afghanistan prior to a firefight on Sept. 18, 2010. Approximately two dozen insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and small arms at the post. International Security Assistance Forces and Afghan National Police responded with small arms, heavy machine gun and mortar fire. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, U.S. Army. (Released)



As a part of attending the Stand Up For Heroes event, Sears Holdings provided my travel, accommodations and a FlipCam to capture on-site footage.”

MilitaryAvenue meets Bob Woodruff - Stand Up For Heroes

War is not a pretty subject. Neither is fear, deployment, amputation, separation, PTSD. Others start wars, individuals receive the trauma. Others can turn off the horrors, by switching a TV channel, some try to change position in a wheelchair. Life. We take it or we value it.

I sat face to face with Bob Woodruff, a man who was at the pinnacle of his career 5 years ago. He was offered the opportunity to talk about the war as he accepted the co-anchor position on ABC News. The table where we sat was so polished that I could see his reflection perfectly, and remembered what it was like seeing him on the news. Yet we remember him beside the tanks, in the flack jacket, in the dust and dirt, not in the polish of ebony wood and leather chairs. We remember the jolt of hearing he was critically wounded. At home communication from the 4th Infantry Division jerked.

Five years later, in NYC, let no dust, dirt or sand gather around the folks of his saga. Stand Up For Heroes covered his heart, opened his body language to pour out the truth of his fervor. Again, a man with a mission:

The Bob Woodruff Foundation provides resources and support to service members, veterans and their families to successfully reintegrate into their communities so they many thrive physically, psychologically, and socially and economically Through a public education movement called ReMIND.org, the Bob Woodruff Foundation helps educate the public about the needs of service members returning from war - especially the 1 in 5 service member who have sustained hidden injuries such as Traumatic Brain Injury and Combat Stress, including PTSD and Anxiety – and empowers communities nationwide to take action.

… A partial excerpt from the “About the Bob Woodruff Foundation”

Bob Woodruff sat and answered questions, went back into a horrible time and recounted the heroes that he met. Heroes in life are to be counted, collected and organized by times in your life as there will be so many. During the 37 minutes in 2006, from normal, through mayhem, to medical patient receiving care; his remark was “who could count how many there were” that brought him to where he is today. Mechanics, medics, flight engineers, and multiple other career hero-type folk in uniform! They were there together.

And now he sat there letting us know he was still there and will be there with them… and will bring others who say, “Yes, I support the troops… but how can I do more than say that?” Bob said “It’s not about the war, but the warrior.” Get into action.














Photo Credit: First
image of Hero with Family member on the Red Carpet at Stand Up For Heroes, NY, NY! used with permission: image taken by Marcos Rivera and is property of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR.

Photo Credit: Second image of the author taken by MilitaryAvenue


As a part of attending the Stand Up For Heroes event, Sears Holdings provided my travel, accommodations and a FlipCm to capture on-site footag

Stand Up For Heroes - An Interview With Bob Woodruff

“Everything we can do to help them” “I was surrounded by heroes!” Two quotes from Bob Woodruff during MilitaryAvenue's interview that showed how he much he cared about the troops!

Deb and I had a wonderful and refreshing opportunity as military bloggers on Wednesday to meet and interview Bob Woodruff, founder of the Stand Up For Heroes program in its fourth year in New York. Bob, an ABC news correspondent, injured by an IED in Iraq on January 29th, 2006 credited the heroes around him on that day for saving his life as he entered “the tunnel” with a severe traumatic brain injury.

After the IED went off, a fire fight ensued and soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division returned fire, risking their own lives to rush him and others injured to a Bradley Fighting Vehicle for evacuation. They moved to a landing zone where a medevac Blackhawk helicopter could pick them up! According to Bob, the Hawk crew ignored ground fire and command direction not to land during the fight to pick him up and start his journey with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Bob said it was 37 minutes from the time he was injured till he was in an Air Force hospital with a joint Army/Air Force team of surgeons saving his life! After being treated in the field location he was flown to Ramstein AB, Germany and the Army’s Landstuhl hospital and finally to Bethseda Naval Medical Center for treatment and to begin recovery.

What impressed me during the interview was how each time I asked him a question about him, he turned the question around to the troops and how they were the heroes protecting us! He described how after he entered “the tunnel” with a TBI that his family wanted to do everything they could to help service members and their families with similar injuries. It became a new focus, a new mission and obviously a life changing event. They started "The Bob Woodruff Foundation" which at the time of the interview had raised $8.5 million for injured heroes! Bob, an award-winning television reporter and co-anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight” when he was injured described the foundation as the “most satisfying work we have ever done”. He and his wife Lee, have also written a book about their experiences after his injury, “In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing” with a portion of proceeds going to the foundation to support his heroes!

I asked Bob what message he wanted us to send to our military audience and he said to let them know, “We are behind you!” He spoke with animation when talking about the troops and said the program that night, Stand Up For Heroes, was all about the warriors! He described his recent trip to Afghanistan with Admiral Mullen and how the IEDs were larger and accounted for 85% of those injured! He said, “how could we not support’ the men and women serving there! In fact, he said they were going to stream Stand Up for Heroes live to 6 overseas locations such as Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar and also to Walter Reed Army Medical Center that evening to let the troops know they were being supported there!

I will write about the evening we spent at Stand Up for Heroes (with Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart ++) in a separate post but here is a link to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, ReMIND.Org where you can find more information about this incredible man and his family’s efforts to help our American Heroes! Thank you Bob and Lee for caring so much about those who serve all of us so well! You are so authentic and military personnel and this military family are absolutely in awe of your support!

I would also like to thank the Sears Corporation and Euro RSCG Worldwide PR for making this trip possible for us! Kelly and Morgan did a superb job of setting up this opportunity and it allowed us to have a fantastic experience with a true American hero himself, Mr Bob Woodruff!

Veteran's Day (November 11th) is quickly approaching! Looking for some ideas on how to say a simple thank you to veterans! MilitaryAvenue has some suggestions at 101 Ways to Thank A Veteran!







Photo Credit: MilitaryAvenue photo of Bob Woodruff during interview on 3 Nov 2010


As a part of attending the Stand Up For Heroes event, Sears Holdings provided my travel, accommodations and a FlipCam to capture on-site footage.

It's Friday! or is it...

Hip Hip Hooray!


It is Friday.


Oh but wait...
It is a long drill-weekend for hubs...

Funny how that can curb my enthusiasm. Hubs left this morning at 6:30am and will return late Sunday night. So our Friday morning was a bit 'off' simply because he does A LOT of the work when it comes to getting the boys ready for their days. (I am blessed!)

So imagine my smile, the lightness of my step, the pure spark of joy when I saw little notes in each of my boys lunchboxes as I started to pack them this morning.




It is the little things that can start a day out on the right foot even when you are missing your right-hand man! Even though the notes weren't to me, they were still something little for my boys to enjoy as they open up their lunches today amongst friends. Just a reminder that they are loved, and that reflects onto me. (If they are loved, then I feel loved... funny how that works.)


So this weekend will be just me and my four boys but somehow those simple notes reminded me that that Hubs is here in spirit!

Have a great weekend!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Relay Time for Amazing Heroes

The clock is ticking. Life is going on at a normal pace in most households, but here at home we are gearing toward the start of a fantastic day tomorrow November 3, 2010.

Ask a military hero who is their inspiration, who has held them up, checked their 6, kept them fit, inspected and reinspected countless uniforms for tiny threads (called cords, or ropes), cheered for each accomplishment made and sang that praise with the fullest of gusto? The answer comes out with the twinkling of eyes, break of a grin and nod in the direction of their family.

Yes Military families, we are a proud, biased group. We get to live with the best of the best! And that is just how it is!

Thank you! Love you, and I am you, as you see... I am all about my hero husband. Dale has retired, but one does not retire out of family... and let me tell you, my military family is huge and it is the BEST!

Imagine then that Sears is going to step out there in front and give more than a nod! They are being tangible, audible and social. Sounds just like us Military spouses :)

Dale and I will be part of the Bob Woodruff Foundation's Stand Up For Heroes Concert tomorrow night in NYC. Part of it... has me chuckling, we are attending, we will be laughing ourselves silly at Jerry Seinfeld's comic rhetoric, grinning and listening to Jon Stewart, remembering the days with Tony Bennett and rocking out with the Boss: Bruce Springsteen ... he and I are from NJ! I see 4Troops will be there and more. What a night! What a gift to all of the military that will be in attendance. Thank you in advance.

The night belongs to those who protect us from near and far, our hearts salute you members of the military and your families. America is a better place because of our military power, presence and performance.

For more information click on this link: Stand Up for Heroes If you would like to see events on twitter.com follow the hashmark #TweetToRemind!

If you would like to read more about a great Sears military discount program please go to Wear Yellow on Veteran's Day!








Disclosure: As a part of attending the Stand Up For Heroes event, Sears Holdings provided my travel, accommodations and a FlipCam to capture on-site footage.

The Three Wise Men

I can appreciate a comment I read recently from MilitarySaves*

A lack of planning can set you back financially and cause undue stress through the holiday season. Have a reality check with your money and plan accordingly before the temptation to overspend is here in full force. Who wants to be spending for Christmas in April? So before the holidays and all the "emergencies" in between, sit down and write down a separate plan for your holiday money and commit to sticking with it.

My husband and I are thrifty.  But I recognize the emotion that I tie to shopping.  I LOVE getting out of the house on a Sunday afternoon, just me, no kids, and walking the aisles of Target.  I may be going in for one or two items and come out with a triple digit bill on the credit card.  There is a real stress-relief for me in shopping alone.

I didn't say it was a healthy stress relief.
Especially when money is tight.

Tasty Tuesday: Italian Sausage and Mixed Peppers


The garden has been gleaned... cleaned and is sitting rather stark out there. However, my counter top and refrigerator drawers are full of red and green: Peppers galore. The bell peppers had a bumper crop. I thought they were taking over west Michigan! Jalapenos, banana and Hungarian wax went wild too... There was no way that I would allow them to go fallow in the field. So in they came.
Jalapenos seem to grow fire glands when nestled in the refrigerator, therefore they are sitting in baskets on the counter top. Greens and reds in brown woven squares. Sweet!
But looks are not everything in this world, I think every mother has told their child that a time or too! So, peppers, it is time for action once again.
Teaming Sweet Italian bulk sausage with the peppers is traditionally served with fried potatoes. It was just too much frying for my palate last night. (Our local grocer has a 'man' who makes his own sausage and sells it in the meat department. I didn't think anything could top his chorizo, but this comes right in there with it!) So, hasta la pasta! Bring it on. Ruffles were the same size as the chucks of meat, and the cut up pieces of pepper. Topped with Parmesan cheese, this dish did the disappearing act while Dale I and were lost in conversation. Oh so good!
Italian Sausage and Mixed Peppers
Serves 2
1/2 pound bulk Italian Sausage
3 mild jalapeno peppers
2 hot jalapeno peppers
3 sweet banana peppers
1 Hungarian wax pepper
1/4 c green bell pepper
1/4 c red bell pepper
1T fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese for the table.

Saute bulk sausage and break it up into chunks as it fries. Remove meat from pan, pour off 1/2 fat. Put pan back on medium high burner and saute peppers and parsley until edges start to brown. If necessary, and the pan seems to be getting dry, add a little olive oil. Do not let peppers burn. Saute for 12 minutes, add the sausage. Saute together 7 more minutes.
Serve over ruffles pasta and have Parmesan available to sprinkle on top. I think you will enjoy the mix of the peppers and the sweet of the meat.

Stand Up for Heroes - The Bob Woodruff Foundation is Supporting You


Look out New York we are inbound!

Thanks to the Sears (one of the top 25 military employers in the nation) and Euro RSCG Worldwide PR Teams, MilitaryAvenue is going to New York to attend the Stand Up for Heroes annual comedy benefit that supports the men and women of our armed services on Wednesday! Specifically, the Bob Woodruff Foundation uses this venue to raise funds from corporations such as Sears, individuals, entertainers and others to support the return of injured service members to their communities! This year the program will be led by Jon Stewart of the “The Daily Show” and includes performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Seinfeld, Tony Bennett, 4Troops and more! Wow! A big shout out and thank you to all of you!

We were asked to attend to provide you a picture of this great program and how it supports our veterans and their families! An exciting event and we will be there to talk to the wounded warriors in attendance, say thank you to the corporate sponsors, and shake the hands of entertainers supporting our family of veterans! We will be interviewing and highlighting the efforts of those attending with blogs and even some video of the event! So watch for our future blogs, Facebook entries and tweets!

To follow our travels and see pictures from the concert on Facebook please go to http://www.facebook.com/MilitaryAvenue and our tweet addresses for updates include: http://twitter.com/@MilitaryAvenue http://twitter.com/@MilAve_Col_K http://twitter.com/@MilAve_Deborah Twitter hashmarks to watch include:

#TweetToRemind
#Heroes
#Remind

If you have something that you would like us to relay to the heroes or military supporters in attendance please let us know!






Logo: ReMIND Stand Up for Heroes 2010 http://remind.org/events

Disclosure: As a part of attending the Stand Up For Heroes event, Sears Holdings provided my travel, accommodations and a FlipCam to capture on-site footage.

112 Ways To Thank a Veteran

I absolutely /LOVE/ that one of our most popular pieces on 'Our Letters to You' is '101 Ways To Thank a Veteran'.  Most folks come in through a search engine with a simple search of 'Thank a Veteran' or 'How to thank a veteran' and they leave on one of the many links mentioned in the list.  I hope they are following through. Perhaps they are leaving a message on one of the message boards that is mentioned, or they are learning how to donate their time and talent at one of the organizations dedicated to the US Veteran. I love that we are helping put people in touch with US Military Veterans throughout the year!

 

 
The Department of Veterans Affairs also sees the importance of the American civilian that goes out of their way to thank our US Military Veterans, not only on Veterans Day, but throughout the year:

 

 
November 11th is Veterans Day, a day to honor America's military Veterans. Since 1954, the Veterans Day National Committee has worked to ensure Veterans Day receives proper and widespread observance. Part of that outreach this year includes this video for students explaining how and why we honor Veterans, not just on Veterans Day, but year-round.
On the VA Veterans Day page you'll find not only this video but also Veterans Day History, local and national observances and resources to teach students the value of honoring our Veterans. Visit the site at http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday.

 
On that note, I would like to continue our "101 Ways to Thank a Veteran":

 
102.  Learn more about 'Honor Flight Network' and how you can help with this wonderful support for World War II Veterans.  I have a close friend whose dad is a WW II Vet and participated in a trip to DC through Honor Flight.  Karen tells me it was an /amazing/  and indescribable experience for her dad.  Definitely an opportunity that I stand behind!  But it can't continue without volunteers /like you/.

 
103.  Visit Homes for Our Troops and learn if there are plans to build a home for in your area for a disabled Veteran.  You can help with fundraising, skilled labor, or a contribution through the CFC.

 
104.  Think ahead!  If you are a teenager, or a parent of a teenager, consider volunteering during the summer months.  "VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) has joined President Barack Obama’s United We Serve initiative. VAVS is committed to engaging American citizens in service during the summer months and provide lasting benefits to the veterans and communities in which they live through volunteer service."  Fill out a simple form to find your best fit.

 
105.  Get the kids involved.  They could do an easy fundraiser for organizations, such as Homes for Our Troops.  I'm sure any of the fundraisers mentioned at http://www.kidsforourtroops.org/ could be applied to the various Veterans Organizations that always need financial support.

 
106. Donate to or volunteer for a service-dog training program like Patriot PAWS Service Dogs or VetDogs that is geared for injured-veterans returning from war.

 
107. Another related idea, learn the etiquette of being around an assistance-dog so that if you meet a disabled vet and his companion you know how to treat them both with respect.

 
108. Have you visited Applebees Veterans Site? Stop over and leave a message of support for our troops there: http://veterans.applebees.com/veteransday/honor-a-veteran/

 
109.  Participate in "school drives" or start your own school drive for our deployed-troops or veterans.  If your child brings home a flier or announcement from the school or PTA requesting donations for the troops participate.  Pick up a few things for your child to bring in.  She'll feel good about participating and you will feel good for helping our deserving military-members.

 
110.  Learn about the various support organizations in your own neighborhood.  The VFW is not the only local military-organization.  Don't forget about the American Legion.   Learn more: http://www.legion.org/

 
111.  Learn more about Angel Food Ministries and their Thanksgiving and Christmas drive to support military-families at home.

112.  Enjoy "Veterans' Reflections" from the DoD.  Some great thoughts and memories from our Veterans and a great way to remember what they have been through:
 

 
... I'll continue to add to this list as we approach November 11th.  Do you have a story about thanking a veteran?  What is a great way that we might have missed?  Let us know!

 
Related Pieces:

 
- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com
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