Honor Thy Veterans Everyday – A Comprehensive Guide

If you watched last night’s debate, there was a lot of talk about war in places like Iraq and Syria, but very little about how to care for the men and women who serve after they return home. Today is Veterans Day. This went unmentioned during the Republican Debate.  America spends the most money on its military and does very little to care for those soldiers when they return home.

Veterans-Day

Veteran’s Day has become a commercial holiday where you find the biggest promotions in Veteran’s Day Sales from various retailers. While many restaurant chains offer free meals to Veterans on this day and their honoring of our Veterans is greatly appreciated, it’s not enough. It’s not their job to take care of our Veterans. It’s our government’s job. Our government spends billions of dollars to put our soldiers in harm’s way and send them off to wars that in most cases, never should even exist. Our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, moms, dads, grandparents, friends and family members sacrifice their own comforts of home to secure ours. The politicians who decide their fate rarely have experienced life as a soldier.

I have my suspicions on why our government fails our Veterans. Today I want to take the time to not only honor them with appreciation, but also with ways we can all go further than just acknowledging them on designated day.

I’d first like to address a very serious condition among our Veterans.  P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is taking the lives of our Veterans every day in the form of suicide. It is reported that 22 Veterans and 1 Active Duty Soldier per day are committing suicide. With only 22 states actually reporting Veteran Suicides, this number is already astounding and one can only imagine, may even be double or more if we were to get reporting from all 50 states.

Stephanie Lembo released this heartbreaking video on September 1o in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day. In it, she reveals that her husband Anthony killed himself in 2010 after months of not sleeping or eating and refused to get help for his trauma because he would lose his security clearance. It has been viewed over 23 million times since she posted it.

Stop Soldier Suicide is an organization that focuses primarily on saving our heroes from taking their own lives.  Many Veterans fear asking for help and that needs to change. We, as a nation, need to encourage them and make resources easily available. I’ve been told by some of military friends that the lack of reporting symptoms is in fear of repercussions on the job. Soldiers face losing security clearance or other job related responsibilities.  Many feel the risk is too great for them to ask for help. So they go untreated and when it becomes too overwhelming, it is often too late. Patriot Outreach is another organization that offers soldiers and Veterans help with anger, stress, pain combat stress and P.T.S.D.

USA, California, San Francisco, Homeless man with all possession on bicycle
A Homeless Veteran in San Francisco, CA, with all of his possessions on a bicycle.

Another serious problem in this country is homelessness among Veterans. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 12 percent of homeless adults are Veterans. On any given night, there are approximately 50,000 homeless veterans on our streets. If the US can afford to send people off to war, it can absolutely afford to take care of them when they come home. There’s no excuse for the number of veterans living on America’s streets. As we commemorate the service of our Veterans, we must also remember that our society has failed them in so many ways. We can and must do better by them.

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I’ve researched the best non-profit organizations that are aimed at helping Veterans, if you are so inclined to donate to them. I am also including links on how you can get more involved and instead of donating money, you can send packages to our troops and see your donation reach its recipient.

IVAW logo

One organization that I advocate for passionately is Iraq Veterans Against the War. The group’s website explains their mission:

“Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded by Iraq war veterans in July 2004 at the annual convention of Veterans for Peace (VFP) in Boston to give a voice to the large number of active duty service people and veterans who are against this war, but are under various pressures to remain silent.”

From its inception, IVAW has called for:

  • Immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq;
  • Reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered, and stopping the corporate pillaging of Iraq so that their people can control their own lives and future; and
  • Full benefits, adequate healthcare (including mental health), and other supports for returning servicemen and women.

I encourage all Americans to do a small part in helping with this large problem. We can no longer tolerate the inhumane treatment of our heroes who sacrifice so much for our nation. It’s unacceptable and it needs to change. Please, show your support to our Veterans by joining some of these organizations and being active in demanding better from our leadership.

Homes for Veterans Charity Event
Homes for Veterans Charity Event

A wonderful Charity Organization right in my home state of New Jersey is Homes for Veterans. They do fundraising events to build handicapped accessible homes for our war heroes and work to keep our Veterans off the streets. Please take time to visit their website and donate to their cause or volunteer if you are able.

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Some great organizations to send your donations to that received top ratings from Charitywatch.org:

Armed Services YMCA of the USA A
Bob Woodruff Family Foundation A
Fisher House Foundation A+
Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind A
Homes for Our Troops A
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund A+
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund A+
National Military Family Association A
Operation Homefront A
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors B+

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If you would like to send care packages to our active duty military, here are some links to guide you. This is a great way to get kids involved and even entire classes at schools. A great project for local groups and organizations would be collecting items to send to our soldiers. I have done this often and also enjoy sending care packages to friends when they are stationed overseas. I hope many of you will do the same.

OPERATION GRATITUDE

ANY SOLDIER

SUPPORT OUR SOLDIERS

For a great list of resources on helping our Veterans, check out Veteran Service Organizations listed at Operation We Are Here. They also have links for active duty military organizations.

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Another issue facing our nation is the suggested privatization of our veterans services. In an email statement from Senator and Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders today, he wrote:

“Last year, as Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I authored and passed the most comprehensive veterans’ legislation in decades, reaching across the aisle to team up with Sen. John McCain. Amid reports of unacceptable wait times and calls to dangerously privatize veterans health care, we actually authorized funding for 27 new medical facilities and hired more doctors and nurses to care for the surging number of veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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After two wars over fourteen years, never before have so few been asked to do so much for our country. I voted against the Iraq War, which I think will go down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders we have ever seen, but I have never wavered from my commitment to caring for the women and men who served, and continue to serve, in that conflict.

You may not have heard much about it from the Republican candidates last night, but how we care for our veterans is going to be a central issue this election. The Koch-connected Concerned Veterans for America are prepared to spend untold millions of dollars supporting the privatization of veterans’ health care. And almost every Republican candidate running for president supports their plan to place the profits of private corporations over the promise made to our veterans.

I believe we should take a different approach — that we should stand with the majority of veterans who believe we should continue strengthening the VA. Now I want to know that you’re with us.

Sign my petition if I can count on you to help me continue fighting against the Koch-connected plans to privatize veterans’ health care.

The United States has spent trillions of dollars sending our young men and women to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Surely we can come together to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs has the resources needed to care for them when they return.” ~ Senator Bernie Sanders

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Senator Sanders has and continues to fight for our Veterans. To see more about his efforts, visit his website here.

Happy Veteran’s Day to all of you who have served, currently serve and will serve our nation in our armed forces. Thank you.

I’d also like to note that I have many friends who are active duty and retired military personnel. This article is dedicated to all of them. One in particular, my dear friend Chris, recently made a huge step toward getting the help he needed in battling P.T.S.D. Chris went untreated for years for many of the same reasons a great amount of other Veterans do. I am not only proud of Chris for his service, but for his bravery here at home in battling the effects of war in his life. Thank you Chris, this is for you.   ~JerseyGirlBlog

My friend and Veteran Chris Bray, pictured with my son, who honored him last year at school for Veteran's Day.
My friend and Veteran Chris Bray, pictured with my son, who honored him last year at school for Veteran’s Day.

Why One Million Moms Does Not Include This One

I was in the middle of a post of a different topic when I saw a news story today that made me so angry, I had to put it on hold. A conservative group, “One Million Moms,” has called for a boycott of American Girl Dolls and its publication because of who is pictured in their recent issue.

This article is meant to be for me today. You see, my daughter has asked again for one of those dolls. The past few years, she has asked, but I can not afford to pay that much for a doll. However, the past few days, since she’s asked again, I’ve been trying to think of ways to make it happen. After reading about this, I plan to find a way, even if I have to accept donations.

American Girl Dolls Magazine
American Girl Dolls Magazine

The American Girl magazine features an actual family from Maryland. So why would “One Million Moms” be so outraged by a real family? Well, this family is comprised of two gay dads, Rob and Reece Scheer and their four adopted African-American children. These are children that were previously in foster care.

The Scheer Family as pictured in
The Scheer Family as pictured in “American Girl” Magazine.

What is their issue with this family’s feature? “Scripture says multiple times that homosexuality is wrong and God will not tolerate this sinful nature,” the group wrote. “American Girl doesn’t highlight other sins in their magazine.”

Ok, I get it. There are still going to be people who can not understand and accept gay relationships. Kim Davis is a fine example of complete hypocracy, hiding behind the excuse of religious freedom. Religion. That’s a whole different issue that we won’t dive too deep into. But, on that front, this group is claiming to stand for “Christian values.” Well, I’m pretty sure a good Christian would value the lives of children.

Take away that religion thing and this group is comprised of MOMS! These are mothers who should understand the value of children and the need for parents in a system that has left so many without families, homes and most importantly, the parental guidance and love all children deserve. How can they criticize two adults who have opened their home to children who were once abandoned in a broken system, facing a bleak future without them?

So, let’s understand this. You have a group of “One Million Moms” who are wasting their time criticizing a corporation for highlighting a beautiful story and bringing attention to a very serious crisis, the foster care system. These women are outraged at their sexual orientation so much that they would rather these children live in foster care instead of in loving home? Really?

These moms could be using their united voices for so much better. Why aren’t they coming together to offer help to the hundreds of thousands of children in the foster care system? If they care so much about family values, why aren’t they helping these children find loving families to value them?

I’m a mother. My heart breaks to think of children without loving homes and families of their own. I can not fathom the pain they experience. My neighbors nearby have 3 grandchildren to love thanks to foster care adoption. Their son and his wife have given a life long home and family to children who were without both. I don’t care that they are heterosexual, nor would I care if they were homosexual. I admire anyone who has the ability and opportunity to save children from foster care. As a single mom of my own two kids, I am humbled by foster parents.

I am a mother, but I am not one of those “One Million Moms” spewing with bigotry and bias toward parents based on their sexual orientation or preferences. I am what I hope is one of billions of moms who applaud all parents who choose to adopt children from the foster care system and love them as their own. I am a mom who understands that love is blind to boundaries.

So, just know, there are “One Million Moms” out there who are exactly what is wrong with parenting. And while I’m not perfect, I am not one of them.

Children are not born as racists or bigots. It is taught. Sadly, there are “One Million Moms” out there teaching their kids hate under the false guise of family values. I can only hope that there is more love out there to counteract it.

Thankfully there are great parents, like Rob and Reece, who are raising their children to love beyond labels. Their 11 year old daughter, Amaya Sheer, had the perfect a message for One Million Moms: “This is none of your business.” And I couldn’t agree more.

Thank you to American Girl for sharing a this amazing family with the rest of us. I only hope we get to see many more just like them. I also hope I can find a way to get my daughter one of their dolls this holiday season and a copy of this issue of their magazine.

Stop the Hate!

~JerseyGirlBlog

Why Mike Rowe Very Much Represents The Perfect Guy

To all the men out there, I advise you take notes. Ladies, if you aren’t yet old enough to appreciate the traits I am about to explain, bookmark this page and come back when you are in your mid-thirties. It should hit you by then.

Mike Rowe is probably best known as the star of the hit TV show, “Dirty Jobs,” in which he traveled to all 50 states and completed 300 of the world’s “Dirtiest Jobs.”  Unfortunately, he somehow ran out of dirty jobs, but has found a new place on TV with “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” on CNN, 10 p.m. Eastern, Sunday nights.

What makes Mike Rowe the perfect guy? It has a lot more to do with Mike Rowe off camera than it does with his on screen personality, although I adore that side of him too. Mike is also known as the narrative voice behind “Deadliest Catch,” “After the Catch” and many more.  Mike wrote a great biography on his website if you want to enjoy learning more about his career as the “Dirtiest Man on TV.”

Now that you are up to speed on Mike Rowe’s resume, here’s my list of what makes him a fine representative of the “Perfect Guy.” These are not in any particular order because to me, they are all equally valuable qualities that we should strive for.

1.  Mike Rowe is a “man’s man.” In his logged hours on “Dirty Jobs,” Mike has gotten down and dirty with the most disgusting and nauseating creatures, excrement and just about anything else you can think of. While most men are known to gag when changing the diapers of their own spawn, Mike Rowe would handle the task with ease. He’d be the dad that doesn’t run and hide from vomit, feces and the grossness of his children. Women, this is a rare and winning trait!

BONUS: He will be the guy who catches the mouse or spider for all of you ladies who stand on chairs squealing in fear. (Plus he’ll probably just relocate it instead of killing it.) While Mike doesn’t have any children of his own, he would be a great to have on hand during the infant and toddler stages of life for sure. A man who isn’t afraid to get his hands wet, dirty, smelly and well, you get the picture…that’s one you want by your side.

Black with bone and holding plant production Manager Jeff Booms’ son, Colin, is “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe at Ebonex Corp. in Melvindale. The company specializes in using charred animal bones to create other products. (Photo courtesy of Ebonex Corp.)
(Photo courtesy of Ebonex Corp.)

2.   Mike Rowe is outspoken about his passion to keep our future generations working and learning trades. Again, he doesn’t have children of his own, but he cares about yours. He knows the importance of skilled workers and even started a foundation to help keep these trades alive and thriving. As Mike’s website states, “The Skill Gap is widening. The mikeroweWORKS Foundation started a campaign to challenge the absurd believe that a four-year degree is the only path to success. ” Mike auctions off various items of C.R.A.P. (Collectibles Rare And Precious) to raise money for scholarships and other programs funded by his non-profit. This guy is truly dedicated to passing down the traits that we love about him. He wants our kids to stop being afraid of getting dirty! He wants them to build, create, fix and make shit happen! Ladies, you all know that a man that can work hard, muscles flexing, is quite attractive. (This goes for women too…manual labor shows our hidden strengths!)

3. Mike Rowe is genuine and funny. This may be two of the most important traits in a man. You need a guy who is going to be honest, even if it isn’t what you want to hear (yet have tact). A guy who can make you laugh through it all is golden. Men love to see us happy, smiling and laughing because of them.  A man who can make you laugh just by being himself is a gem!

He'll make you laugh

4. Mike Rowe is humble. He loves his fans and appreciates the platform he has to share messages promoting his humanitarian efforts with lots of laughs along the way. He uses his powers for good and does it with ease. He doesn’t take himself too seriously most of the time and he answers his fans personally. He doesn’t avoid any feedback, good or bad, and addresses them all with a style that this writer truly appreciates. Mike is the author behind all of his own social media posts from his blog to his Facebook page. His Facebook page is one of the best reads on the internet, without a doubt. He may have shown up to the scene a little bit later than most of us, but he’s more than made up for it!

5. Mike Rowe is not afraid of politicians and big corporate interests. He’s also not oblivious to them. This may be an extension of the last reason, but still another reason to love Mike Rowe. A man who not only stands up for what he believes in but goes to battle for it is one you want in your corner.

Click image to see entire post.
Click image to see entire post.

6.  Mike Rowe is a gentleman. Have you ever seen a tabloid story about him behaving otherwise? No? That’s because he is. He’s lighthearted about it but he makes it clear to his fans about what he will and will not tolerate on his social media pages.  I’m pretty sure his parents are proud!

7. Mike Rowe cleans up nicely! Sure, you want a guy who isn’t afraid to get dirty but it’s nice that he’ll clean up for a night out with you too. It’s always fun to enjoy your guy all dressed up and out on the town with you on his arm!

Cleans up nicely

8.  Mike Rowe loves his parents and allows the rest of the world to adore them too. Seriously, they are adorable! How could any woman not want these two as their in-laws? I am writing my plea of adoption as we speak. You never can have too many amusing and fun parental guides in your life. I am lucky to have quite a few beyond the ones in my bloodline who give me a lot of material for future posts. I love how much entertainment and joy they exude and how Mike brings them along for the ride of his unique career. They deserve every second of admiration! Yes, those are his parents in the commercial spots for his current show as seen in the clip above. Love!! For the record, the commercial spots are re-creations of actual conversations Mike had with his parents leading up to the new show. You can see where he gets his sense of humor from! The way a man treats his parents (especially his Mom) says a lot about how he’ll treat you.

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9. Mike Rowe loves the little dogs too. He’s an animal lover. But there is something adorable about a big guy who adopts a little lap dog and isn’t afraid to share his love for his pooch with the world. Perhaps the most golden posts on Mike’s Facebook page occur at the end of every work week when readers check in to read “Fridays with Freddy.” Mike turns the page over to his spunky little roommate and what comes after is always delightful. His willingness to take a back seat as Freddy’s “Biped” and hand over the spotlight is endearing. Freddy has become a celebrity in his own right as obvious by the fans who call his name when he’s out with his biped.  A big, strong tough guy who melts for his little dog is just…well, perfect.

Mike and Freddy
Freddy and his Biped

10. Mike Rowe represents the everyday guy we know and love. We all know that guy we can rely on to be there for many reasons, whether it’s to fix something we broke or help us through a heart break, he’s the good guy we are thankful to have in our lives.

Everyday guy

If you have a man in your life like Mike Rowe, you’re a lucky gal. I am proud to say I have a Dad who has influenced this list and made it immediately clear to me why Mike Rowe is the type of guy ladies should appreciate. I also have a great guy who makes me swoon with every dirty job he tackles around my house for me and with me. So ladies, I encourage you to not settle, encourage your kids to learn some life skills and don’t be afraid to get a little dirty too! Men, if you are a hard working hands on guy, thank you! Share your talents with your kids. Someday, they will appreciate it!

If you enjoyed my list, please feel free to share. Most importantly, I ask that you all check out The mikeroweWORKS Foundation and see what you can do to help get involved. In all seriousness, he’s doing great things for our kids and the future of our skilled trades.

Hopefully someday I’ll get to interview Mike for this blog and ask him about all the traits in this list as well as his amazing foundation!

~JerseyGirlBlog