Men and women who perform valiantly in the face of the enemy are not the only military personnel who should be awarded for their courage. This thought is what drove Maria Dickin to establish the Dickin medal through her veterinary charity the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA). The Medal was instituted in 1943 to honor the work of animals during World War II and has since honored 67 military service animals.
The first animals to receive the Dickin Medal were carrier pigeons that carried vital messages that contributed to the rescue of airmen from downed aircraft during 1942 and 1943. The award was given to numerous animals throughout the rest of the war ranging from dog that was killed in combat while saving his human handlers by collecting a live grenade to a pigeon that delivered crucial messages during the battles at Normandy. Unfortunately the award was largely forgotten following World War II, with no recipients between 1950-2000.
The medal made a spectacular resurgence following the attacks of September 11th attacks when it was given to 3 dogs: Appollo, Salty, and Roselle. Apollo received the Dickin medal on behalf of all search-and-rescue dogs that assisted in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks for their collective valor in the face of tragedy. Salty and Roselle were two Labrador guide dogs who received the medal for leading their blind owners down more than 70 flights of stars to escape the burning buildings during the attacks. Since then the Dickin Medal has been seen as a symbol of valor among service animals and has been awarded numerous times to animals who have helped save the lives of their human counterparts during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The latest recipient of the award is Lucca, a retired Marine Corps German Shepard Dog. Lucca received the award for outstanding service in Iraq and Afghanistan. During her six years of service Lucca completed 400 missions without a single casualty to any member of her team. Sadly Lucca lost a leg during her final patrol on March 23, 2012, when she detected an IED that detonated at close range. Lucca uncovered more that 40 IEDs during her two deployments to Iraq and one deployment to Afghanistan. She was honored with the Dickin Medal during a ceremony in London on April 5, 2016. As part of her retirement she will be transferred from her current handler Juan M. Rodriguez (pictured above) to live with her original trainer Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham.
Steven Cohen, head of Point72 Asset Management, has pledged $275 million to build clinics offering free mental health care to veterans and their families.
Thanks to the generous pledge, 20 to 25 clinics will be built across the country in the next three to five years.
According to a press release from the Cohen Veteran Network, the nonprofit group overseeing the project, the initial clinics will be located in New York, Dallas, San Antonio, and Los Angeles.The first clinic is set to open in July 2016, with many following after.
The announcement comes along with renewed criticism of the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding long wait times, inadequate care for veterans, and denying care for veterans with other than honorable discharges.
The clinics would provide care to all veterans, regardless of discharge status, with priority given to post-9/11 vets. They search to shorten wait times and also provide free transportation to appointments.
Patients at the clinics also have the option to participate in studies with Cohen Veterans Bioscience, which seeks to develop improved detection and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries. This will help to provide some much needed answers on how we treat future veterans who return home with these conditions.
Cohen stressed the importance of paying back the debt that we owe to our veterans who return from service with wounds of war. This hits home for Cohen, whose son, Robert, was deployed to Afghanistan as a marine in 2010.
He has donated large quantities of his $11 billion dollar fortune to supporting veterans issues over the last decade. The focus on philanthropy has provided a much needed distraction from the negative press Cohen has received in recent years for both insider trading with the company Capital Advisors and for failing to adequately oversee an employee. In January he was barred from managing money from outside investors by the SEC connected to his management mistake and in 2013 Capital Advisors paid a $1.8 billion penalty for the insider trading infractions.
Tomorrows Super Tuesday primaries are an important step towards the nomination. Make sure you know where your candidate stands on veterans issues before you cast your ballot.
• Declined to participate in one republican debate and instead held a fundraiser to raise money for veterans.
• The fundraiser was held on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project, which has recently received criticism for excessive executive compensation and high fundraising costs.
• Does not support privatization of the VA
• Plans to allow veterans full access to any facility that accepts Medicare to promote competition between VA and non-VA facilities.
• Wants more money to be allocated to PTSD, traumatic brain injury and suicide prevention.
• Plans on finding and removing corrupt VA officials
• Solicits donations through donaldtrumpforvets.com, which claims that 100% of donations will go directly to veterans needs when in fact the donation go directly to the Donald trump foundation which only donated $57,000 to veterans organizations between 2009 and 2013.
On other issues: http://www.ontheissues.org/Donald_Trump.htm
• Supports privatized treatment option that would allow veterans to see doctors outside of the VA, but does not support privatization of the VA itself.
• Holds the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable for “falsely denying care” and wants anyone criminally liable to be prosecuted.
• Voted against S. 1982 which sought to expand health benefits for veterans to veterans from every generation and improve education benefits for veterans. The bill was lent full support by the American Legion who believed it addressed high priority issues for veterans.
On other issues: http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/Ted_Cruz.htm
• Advocates that the VA should provide subsidized private insurance to veterans to foster competition and flexibility.
• Outside providers would have to be approved first.
• Wants to provide veterans with more flexible option for higher education, including an emphasis on vocational training.
• Wants what a solider has done in the military to count toward education and professional certification at home.
• Voted against providing $27 million for the Veterans Health Administration as part of a Superstorm Sandy recovery package.
• Voted against a bill that would have provided $142 billion in 2012 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction, military housing, and related operations. It also included $52.5 billion in advance fiscal 2013 appropriations for VA medical programs.
• Also voted against S. 1982, which sought to expand health benefits for veterans to veterans from every generation and improve education benefits for veterans. The bill was lent full support by the American Legion who believed it addressed high priority issues for veterans.
On other issues: http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/Marco_Rubio.htm
• Under his plan the Department of Veterans Affairs would be absorbed into the Department of Defense and all veterans would receive health savings accounts to pay for private-sector medical care.
• His plan would also sponsor a select few defense-run veterans clinics that specialized in traumatic brain injury and limb replacement.
On other issues: http://www.ontheissues.org/Ben_Carson.htm
• Opposes privatization of the VA
• Voted against S. Amdt. 3704 which sought to provide an additional $20 million in funding to veterans affairs medical facilities. (2006)
• Voted for an amendment which sought to provide $2 million in additional funding for army imaging equipment for use in the diagnosis of brain injuries. (2006)
• Voted in favor of a failed amendment which sought to provide a stream of future funding for veterans health care by repealing the Bush tax cuts. (2006)
• Voted in favor of an amendment to provide and additional $1 billion in funding to the Veterans Affairs Administration in 2004.
On other issues: http://www.ontheissues.org/Hillary_Clinton.htm
• Worked with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to pass an amendment ensuring that the military’s TRICARE system would be available to treat autism.
• Used an amendment to win $10 million for operation and maintenance of the Army National Guard which was overextended by the war in Iraq.
• Worked to pass an amendment in July 2009 which mandated comprehensive reporting on financial assistance for child care available to parents in the Armed Forces.
• Authored the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, a law aimed at reforming the VA which passed through a polarized congress likely due to compromises he made with John McCain. The Act authorized $15 billion to be used to reduce wait times at VA facilities and provide private care for veterans living more than 40 miles from a VA clinic.
• Some veterans groups have been critical of the legislation calling in a “Band-Aid on a gaping wound”
• Opposes privatization of the VA
• Sought to kill Marco Rubio’s legislation to give secretaries the right to fire senior executives at the VA.
On other issues: http://www.ontheissues.org/senate/bernie_sanders.htm
On Thursday Feb. 18th, Connecticut Governer Dannel Malloy announced that it has become the second state to have officially ended veteran homelessness. This follows the lead of Virginia who became the first state to end homelessness for veterans in November. Gov. Malloy credited the success to a cooperative effort between state housing agencies, shelter workers, community groups, and a partnership with the department of veterans affairs. “The most important thing you can do for a family is to give it a safe home, give it a decent home, a home you can sustain yourself and your family in,” he said.
Over the past 12 months the state has found or built homes for over 280 veterans across the state. With all veterans in the state now housed the state has set goals for dealing with incoming veterans in the future. They have vowed that any veteran who is homeless will be placed in temporary housing within 30 days and have a permanent home within 60 days. This is largely due to the $1 billion the state has committed to housing construction. The 16,000 homes they have committed to build over include many affordable low-cost homes.
The state also plans to expand the fight against homelessness to youth and families. Using the housing first approach to eradicating homelessness among veterans, they hope to end homelessness for these groups by 2017.
The Fisher House Foundation works in partnership with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide free housing on site at military and VA hospitals. These “comfort homes” allow families to stay close to their loved ones in their time of need. This is especially important because veterans often have to travel great distances for specialized medical care and are force to leave their families behind due to exorbitant travel and lodging costs. Fisher House gives these families the gift of togetherness and peace of mind.
The Fisher House Foundation is also one of the most trustworthy and efficient nonprofits. In the most recent ratings Fisher House Foundation received an A+ rating from Charity Watch (for putting a staggering 92% of all donations directly towards program projects) and a 96.87/100 rating from Charity Navigator (due to it’s perfect score in accountability and transparency). This puts Fisher House among the top charities for ensuring that your charity receives the greatest benefit from your donation.
If the character of this charity is not enough to garner your support, the popularity of the cause among many noteworthy supporters may help. Fisher House has recently received large donations from individual and corporate sponsors who hope to improve care for veterans across the United States. These include a $500,000 contribution from Wal-Mart, a $500,000 contribution from Samsung, and a $22,000 individual donation from President Obama. With the support of these large partners, you can be assured that your donation will go towards getting something done.
As 2015 drew to a close, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act to appropriate funds for military spending in 2016. Although it is a standard and often uneventful peace of legislation, the act came with a special Christmas gift for military service animals. Within the hundreds of pages that made up the bill, there was a provision that will allow military service dogs to return home to the United States for retirement. Previously, military service animals were ineligible for transport back to the U.S. and were often placed in local shelters.
This marks a huge victory for both animal rights groups and veterans care groups who have long been fighting to give military animals a proper and happy retirement. Their service to military operations and personnel is often overlooked despite their incredible life saving contributions. In fact, according to the American Humane Association, each military service dog saves the lives of between 150-200 service men by detecting IEDs and hidden weapons caches.
The law also goes beyond simply bringing these heroic dogs home, it gives the military handlers the first choice in adoptions of these dogs. This makes a huge difference to veterans who have returned home and are struggling to adjust to civilian life. Having a K9 companion who has experienced many of the same traumatic experiences can help veterans combat conditions like PTSD. This offers many retired military dogs the ability retire in comfort while continuing to serve the struggling veterans they love.
“The NDAA and its passage will ensure that our four-legged veterans will finally have their chance to come home and live a comfortable quiet life, hopefully with a handler they deployed with or a fellow veteran.” – Lance Corporal Jeff DeYoung, USMC (Ret.) who was reunited with his military dog Cena (From the American Humane Newsroom)
Credit goes to Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat from Missouri, and Congressman Frank LoBiondo, Republican from New Jersey, who introduced the provision.
Benefits of Donating your Used Car:
• Helping those in need
Donating a used car provides a valuable source of donations to charities. Through services like V-DAC you can choose a charity that you believe in to guarantee your money is going directly to a worthy cause. This gives a great sense of personal satisfaction that also comes with a financial benefit.
• Donations are Tax Deductible
Your vehicle donation not only directly helps a charity of your choosing, but it also comes with a tax benefit. A car that is donated to charity can be used as a tax write off for the total sale price or fair market value of the car. This gives you an extra incentive to use your used vehicle to do good.
• It Eliminates Hassle
Donating your used car to charity can take car of many of the hassles that come with getting rid of an old car. Older cars, especially those that are no longer running can be a huge hassle to get rid of. You have to find a place that will take the vehicle and you may even have to get it towed. It can also be hard to even know what the vehicle may be worth. When Donating a vehicle you do not have to worry about any of these issues. The simple process starts with filling out some basic information about your car online and then sending in your title to the donation company. The donation service will then quickly take care of the towing and the processing of the vehicle. They send you a final receipt for your donation and you are then free to take your tax write off.
We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoyed some time with their families. This is truly a great time to reflect on what you are grateful for in life. However, you should realize that the things that you have just given thanks for this Thanksgiving are not something that everyone enjoys.
As you start your holiday shopping, remember that there are many families struggling to get by who cannot buy gifts for their own children. For those who have a little bit extra this holiday season, consider purchasing an extra gift when shopping for your own family. These gifts can be donated through Marine Toys for Tots to be donated to less fortunate families. Helping a family give their child some new clothes or a toy on Christmas can make a world of difference in lives of the children and the parents. The support provided by Marine Toys for Tots gives less fortunate families peace of mind during the holidays.
Marine Toys for Tots is an excellent and reputable charity organization through which active duty and retired marines help collect and distribute gifts for underprivileged children during the holidays. The program provides returning marines with a wonderful way to help them continue serving their communities at home.
As Veterans Day approaches, take some time to understand the significance of this holiday and what you can do to show much needed support for veterans. Although Veterans Day, which celebrates all military veterans, is not as looked forward to as Memorial Day because it doesn’t come with a work holiday, it is almost more important. Memorial Day celebrates only those who passed away in the line of duty, but it leaves out veterans who have returned home from service and struggle with a variety of issues that range from lost limbs to severe PTSD. So, what can you do to show support for these veterans this Veterans Day?
Thank them for their service
Thanking a veteran for their service is a simple thing that can make a struggling veteran’s day. People serve in the military to protect you and the freedoms you enjoy. A simple “thank you for your service” shows support for the service of a veteran that is too often taken for granted. To take it above and beyond take the time to ask the veteran about his or her service, but be sure to avoid questions veterans hate like “have you killed anybody?”
Show up to a local event
There are hundreds of Veterans Day events going on across the United States. Find an event and get out to show your support for local veterans. Local parades are a great way to show veterans that the community supports them and appreciates their sacrifices. You can find a list of Veterans Day parades in your area at https://www.vetfriends.com/parades/.
Donating to veterans charities is the best way to show your support for Veterans returning home. Showing support for veterans in your local community is a great way to show your appreciation for their service, but it is also important to remember that there are still hundreds of thousands of veterans across the United States that struggle to get the care they need. A donation to a charity supporting veterans helps these organizations go above and beyond the lackluster support provided to most veterans.
As a non-profit organization supporting veteran’s causes, Vets Vehicles is proud to help you donate your vehicle to a selection of wonderful charities. Charities we support include AMVETS, Fisher House Foundation, Marine Toys for Tots, and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. You can find more information on these charities on our website at www.vetsvehicles.org
Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg, follows the true story of Operation Red Wings; a failed United States Navy SEAL mission in which a four-man team was tasked to track a Taliban leader. The movie is based on the book by the same name written by Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor of the mission. Watch the trailer for the film below.
Since its debut on Jan. 10, the movie has received critical acclaim and grossed millions of dollars at the box office. The creators of the movie are contributing part of the proceeds to veterans.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, director Peter Berg and Producer Sarah Aubrey have teamed up with veterans charities to create the Lone Survivor Fund, which accepts donations and also distributes them to two other organizations: Got Your 6 and the Navy SEAL Foundation. Fandango is also giving movie goers the option of donating to the fund when you buy tickets for the movie online.
Go to the Lone Survivor Fund’s website to make a donation.