Tag Archives: deployment

A Home of Their Own

165492_1739178126037_5694844_nThough it shouldn’t, the lengths people will go in their get rich quick schemes and scams still amazes me. The very idea that they will use servicemembers, veterans and their families disgusts me. Everything from false injury notifications to obtain credit card information to fake charities that prey on America’s love for its military has been tried. The latter are some of the most heinous as they take monetary donations from caring people and then use that money as their own. It makes it hard for a person to know who they can trust to use their donation in the manner in which it was intended. This lack of trust created by continuing news stories of these fake charities or even real charity organizations who misuse funds can make it harder for those groups who operate with integrity. Today, however, I want to share with you a group that really “puts their money where their mouth is” and I pray they always will.

According to their website, Operation Homefront “assists military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, auto and home repair, vision care, travel and transportation, moving assistance, essential home items, and financial assistance.” They also list a number of other programs. I don’t claim to know everything about this organization, but if they are pocketing money for themselves on the sly then they must receive record donations. I’ve heard complaints against large well-known charities that actually provide very little actual assistance to those they claim to serve. Operation Homefront (OPH) is not one of them. How do I know? Because I have seen what this group has done for just ONE military family.

My son-in-law joined the Army in 2009. The past seven years have been filled with the usual ups and downs that most military families can expect; deployments, sick children, births, and the death of family members far away. Through all of this, OPH has stood behind them. For this article, I asked my daughter if she could list everything they have been provided by OPH. She just laughed and said she would try. Here is the list, short one item, this one family received from OPH:

High chair
Electric breast pump
$500 in designer baby clothes
$50 gift card for Toys R Us
200 diapers
Christmas toys every year for 3 years
Christmas dinner every year for 3 years
$20 Wal-Mart gift card for Christmas ham every year for 3 years
Plane ticket home for a morale and welfare leave
Spouse night out which included dinner, pampering and a goodie 2 years
Back to school supplies 2 years

In itself, that is one impressive list, but you may have noticed that I had said this list was “short one item”. That’s because one item that this ONE family received deserves a discussion all its own. On 13 December 2016, this family will be presented the keys to a mortgage-free home. Now, as my son-in-law transitions out of the military and back to civilian life their biggest concern is no longer a worry. The monetary value of the gift is, of course, extraordinary, but that pales in comparison to the piece of mind and continued sense of stability this gift gives to this veteran family. That is a gift beyond measure and shows that OPH understands the true needs of our veteran population.

So how did they get a house and how can you get one, too? Visit Operation Homefront’s website at http://www.operationhomefront.net/howwehelp and check out their “Homes on the Homefront” program. It’s open to most veterans not just those transitioning from active duty. Look at the homes they have available and read up on the rules and such. It’s an amazing program.

Come on out to Mooresville, Indiana, on December 13th and join in the celebration as this family receives their house keys! Come out and support this organization that is doing great things for veterans and is deserving or your support. Hope to see you there!

Veteran’s Day

The daughter of my daughter in my story. At the age of 5, she is welcoming home her daddy from his most recent deployment. She is as tough as her momma.

The daughter of my daughter in my story. At the age of 5, she is welcoming home her daddy from his most recent deployment. She is as tough as her momma.

As we honor our veterans today, let us also remember that November is the National Month of the Military Family. Personally, I think that’s awesome timing.

As a combat veteran myself from a war that did not result in the institution of a draft, all the praise and “thank you’s” honestly make me a little uncomfortable. I’m a veteran of an all volunteer military force. I LOVED my job. Yes, I chose to do that job in service to my country. I love this country and was proud to serve it. Yes, I’m glad that there are people who couldn’t/didn’t serve who are thankful for the freedoms that we protect but when it comes right down to it, I could have chosen not to serve as well. That’s just one of the many freedoms we enjoy here in the United States of America. There is no compulsory service in peacetime as there is in other countries. As a matter of fact, our volunteer force is so large that you wouldn’t want to see the war that would require another draft.

BUT there is a group within the military community who don’t/didn’t have a choice. They are our children. They are the ones who deserve your thanks so much more. They give up their parents on a routine basis. Their dad or mom leaves for months on end and that child does not know if they will EVER see them again. Just imagine being that child. How would you tell your mom or dad “goodbye”? Well, I can tell you how mine did it. I was standing in the airport crying my eyes out as I was putting my little girls on a plane with their grandmother. As she was about to board the plane, my daughter came running back to me without a tear in her eye. I knelt down to her level, she put her little hand on my cheek and said these words…”Don’t worry about me, Mommy. You just go and be a good soldier.” With that she hugged me and ran back to board. That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a hero.

So, the next time you see the child of a veteran, could you thank them, too? Let them know how much you appreciate that child’s sacrifice. A simple “thanks for supporting your mom/dad’s service” would mean an awful lot.

Stolen Valor – Guest Blog by Russell L. Fisher, SSG, United States Army, Retired

DSC_0144Recently, I ran into an male in his early 40’s who was wearing a shirt bearing an image of a sight reticle from the scope of a rifle. Above this image was a slogan that read. “One Shot, One Kill”. Out of curiosity, I asked him if he was a pretty good shot. He said that he was, in fact, he had recently hit a beer bottle from 700 yards with his 30.06. Knowing this sounded pretty absurd, I asked “700 yards”? He replied, “Yes”. I asked him what power of a scope he had used. He responded that he hit it using open sights.

After 23 years of service, I have had my fair share of marksmanship training, and consider myself to be a decent sharpshooter though not anywhere near the expertise of a sniper. But I know that for someone to have hit a beer bottle at 700 yards, using open sights, then that beer bottle must have been 15 feet tall. I was afraid to ask the next question that immediately popped in my head, but I did. “Were you in the military?” I asked. I was expecting him to respond that he had been a sniper in the Marine Corps or United States Army and that he had 4,000 confirmed kills with a personnel file considered “Top Secret”. I was shocked when he responded that he had never been in the military at all. Feeling somewhat relieved, I told him to have a great day.

Although I felt his story of hitting a beer bottle at 700 yards using open sights was extremely exaggerated, he could have compounded it worse by telling me that he had been in the military along with some wild stories of hunting Osama Bin Laden, but he didn’t. Because there are individuals out there that have never served a day in the military yet try to pass themselves off as veterans; with Bronze Star’s, Silver Star’s, Purple Heart’s, Medal of Honor’s and other awards for Valor, Qualifications and Achievements. These individuals are known as Posers. Better yet, in the eyes of the law, many of these individuals are known as criminals. The Stolen Valor Act was created and signed into law by Congress to punish those individuals who are presenting themselves as something they are not.

The topic of Stolen Valor is a hot topic, particularly amongst veterans. There is an organization that has been a leader in publishing the actions of these posers. They do so on their Guardian of Valor website. (http://guardianofvalor.com) They also have a Facebook page entitled “Stolen Valor”. On their website, you will find their Hall of Shame. This area is reserved for some of the worst posers. The majority of the public that has never served in the military might not understand, but stolen valor is a hot topic amongst veterans?

During my 23 years of service, I never served one day in a combat environment though I served faithfully and honorably. I was part of a burial detail that conducted military burials for almost 5 years. I’ve seen the pain displayed by the family members of lost service members. To give one’s life in the service of their country is known as giving the ultimate sacrifice. I have had several brothers and sisters, with whom I served, deploy to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Panama, and Bosnia. Some gave the ultimate sacrifice, others are still suffering from the wounds they received. My own sister served in Kuwait during Desert Storm. Because of her service over there, she is still suffering medically. She has spent numerous weeks in VA hospitals trying to find out what is wrong with her. Finally, after years of pain and suffering, they have made a medical determination and she is receiving disability pay.

Understanding the pain and sacrifice so many have made is easy for me to grasp. When someone who has never spent one day in the military puts on a uniform and portrays themselves as a veteran, they are committing a criminal, fraudulent act in my eyes. They never spent a single day in a foxhole, never carried a 100 pound pack on their back during a road march, never ducked or jumped for cover with incoming rounds landing all around, never held the hand of a screaming soldier who had a leg blown off while waiting for a chopper, they’ve never faced the enemy in hand to hand combat and they have never even spent a year or more away from their family.

Why do these posers do it? For the most part, I think most of them do it for personal gain. The Stolen Valor Facebook page has a quote from George Washington that says “Guard against imposters of pretended patriotism”. That is what the Stolen Valor Act does. Want to know the saddest fact? Some of the posers don’t even bother to read the regulations to know how to wear the ribbons, medals, or other distinctive insignia correctly on the uniforms. You would think that if someone was going to try and commit fraud, they would want to do it right. Some of them look absolutely ridiculous.

Who are these posers? You wouldn’t believe who some of these people are. Candidates running for public office, and there have been several, are the ones that surprise me the most. If you’re running for public office and you are presenting yourself as something that you are not, wouldn’t you be concerned that your fraudulent act would be discovered? There have even been TV personalities on some of the survival skill reality shows that have been exposed.

Believe it or not, there are also posers within the military as well. I served with one such individual early in my career. About 10 years later we both ended up in the same unit again. This time he was wearing a Ranger Tab. I asked him when he went to Ranger School. He responded that he went in 1986. He even told me that he had participated in Operation Just Cause in 1989 with the 75th Ranger Battalion. I had my suspicions, but I let it go. One day, when we were getting ready to clear from a Field Training Exercise, I was collecting weapons and asked everyone to clear their weapon. As he approached me with his M16, he removed the magazine and pointed the rifle towards the ground and pulled the trigger. A round discharged. Immediately, I screamed some curse words and a brief investigation initiated. I began to question his Ranger Tab. I approached my First Sergeant and told him what happened, and that I did not believe this Staff Sergeant was, in fact, Ranger qualified. After contacting the Ranger school at Fort Benning, Georgia, this Staff Sergeant was called in to the Commander’s Office and in front of the Commander, First Sergeant and Battalion Sergeant Major, he was ordered to remove the Ranger Tab.

Every real veteran that has served honorably knows what he or she has done in their career. Every real veteran knows what they have sacrificed. Every real veteran knows what it takes to serve honorably. Every real veteran knows what blood, sweat and tears they’ve shed. As for this veteran, when someone commits this fraudulent act, and they are exposed, it is a slap in the face to me and those that I served with. It is a slap in the face to those family members I remember seeing at the funerals, as we buried their loved one, and it is a slap in the face the one who gave that ultimate sacrifice.

Lori’s Introduction

Lori barnes

Lori Barnes

Welcome to the Faces of Combat PTSD blog. Here we hope to not only help veterans and their families in finding the help that they need but to educate the general public on the necessity of resources to assist those who have served.

The stories told in Faces of Combat are heartbreaking and all too common. Each day we are reminded of the number of suicides perpetrated by both active service members and veterans. The common knowledge number of suicide by veterans is stated as 18 per day while the number of active duty suicides has now exceeded the number of deaths due to combat. These numbers are horrifying.

On this website, you will find links to various resources. Some may be of help to you Continue reading and add your comment