Military & Veterans News
Contest Puts Student Artwork in the Hands of Deployed Troops, Supports Local Schools and Teaches Copyright Values PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Operation Graditude   
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 09:44

May 26, 2011 -- Operation Gratitude, the 501(c)(3) Military support charity, and co-sponsor True Religion Brand Jeans® have launched a "Pictures for Patriots" contest designed to encourage students in kindergarten through 12th grade to use their artistic talents to express patriotic support and gratitude for deployed U.S. troops.

 

"The troops love getting kids' artwork in their Operation Gratitude care packages," explained Carolyn Blashek, founder of the organization. "Some decorate their living or work space with it, others save it in a special plP4P Contestace to bring home someday, and a few even carry the drawings with them on all their missions, tucked into their pockets or helmets for good luck and comfort."

Hoping to receive more of such treasures and at the same time discover the perfect drawing for the cover of their annual Operation Gratitude Magazine, published exclusively for deployed troops, Operation Gratitude, in cooperation with True Religion Brand Jeans®, designed a social media-based contest to engage the public's help.

 

Students in K-12 are invited to submit digital images of their drawings from May 25 through June 15 via email to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The original  drawings must also be mailed, along with an Entry/Parent Permission Form, to: Pictures for Patriots 2011/Operation Gratitude; 16444 Refugio Road; Encino, California 91436

Operation Gratitude and True Religion Brand Jeans® will choose 10 Finalist drawings P4P Contest2from among all entries submitted. Commencing on June 20, the 10 Finalist drawings will be posted in a "Pictures for Patriots" photo album on Operation Gratitude's Facebook page. Facebook users may then "like" their favorite entry, thereby voting for the drawing they believe is best. One "like" equals one vote. The three drawings with the most votes by the contest's July 3 closing date will be announced as the Grand Prize Winners on July 4 and each Winner will earn a $500 donation to the student's school and an iPod for themselves. The entry with the greatest number of votes will be placed on the cover of the upcoming Operation Gratitude Magazine.

 

Each of the 10 Finalists will receive a pair of True Religion Brand Jeans®, an Operation Gratitude DogTag, and will be featured on the inside pages of the Operation Gratitude Magazine. In addition, each of the 10 Finalists will be assisted in the filing of an application to obtain a U.S. copyright registration for their drawing submission. True Religion Brand Jeans® will select one or more of the drawing submissions to be printed on T-Shirts that will be sold from their retail stores.  A portion of the proceeds from those sales will be contributed to Operation Gratitude.

Complete official "Pictures for Patriots" Rules may be found here. Download and print an Entry Form here.

For those students who otherwise wouldn't be able to volunteer in the armory because they're under age 12 or live too far away, Blashek urged: "This is an ideal opportunity to show their appreciation and support for the troops in a creative and special way!  We hope parents, teachers, scout and youth group leaders will encourage their children to participate in this very patriotic and meaningful activity."

 

"True Religion Brand Jeans® is humbled and honored to participate in this program with Operation Gratitude," said Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Lubell. "This is a beautiful and meaningful display of support and appreciation for our deployed service men and women."

 
Michael Reagan and Reagan Legacy Foundation to join volunteers, assemble Care Packages for USS Reagan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Operation Gratitude   
Saturday, 28 May 2011 11:48

May 24, 2011 -- Operation Gratitude today announced that in commemoration of the anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's passing, Michael Reagan, members of his family and representatives of the Reagan Legacy Foundation will join hundreds of volunteers at the California Army National Guard armory on Sunday, June 5, to assemble care packages for the 5,000 crew members deployed aboard aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, named in honor of the 40th President of the United States. Care packages will also be assembled and shipped to the crew of guided-missile destroyer USS Preble and guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville, both currently serving in the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group.

"During this patriotic time of year -- between Memorial Day and the 4th of July -- we are honored to support the brave men and women of the U.S. Military serving on the namesake ship of a legendary leader, President Ronald Reagan," said Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude. "All of us at Operation Gratitude are inspired by the service of these great Americans and hope our care packages will in some small way express to the Sailors and Marines our feelings of enormous respect and appreciation." 

The USS Ronald Reagan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin B. Gray.)

Christened on March 4, 2001, by former First Lady Nancy Reagan, USS Ronald Reagan deployed from its homeport of San Diego in February. In March, USS Ronald Reagan and others in its Strike Group were the first to arrive and provide disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to the Japanese people affected by the 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

"My family and I can think of no better way to honor the memory of my father than to be with prideful Americans who are volunteering their time to send a special gift of thanks from home to our deployed heroes," said Michael Reagan. Michael and his wife Colleen are regular visitors on board USS Ronald Reagan.

During the formal Program scheduled for 11:30am, Victory Motorcycles' External Relations Manager, Robert Pandya, will present the Motorcycle gifted in Operation Gratitude's 600,000th care package. That milestone package was delivered on Christmas day by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, to an infantryman of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment who at the time was serving a seven-month deployment in the deadly Sangin district of Aghanistan's Helmand province. The 3/5, also known as the "Dark Horse Battalion," experienced heavy combat throughout the deployment, with 25 of its men killed and more than 150 wounded. The 600,000th package recipient, along with his 3/5 comrades, returned to Camp Pendleton in April. The Marine, who received the package containing symbolic keys to the bike, will join the Operation Gratitude volunteers and guests at the armory on Sunday June 5 to receive the Victory Vegas 8-Ball Motorcycle, generously donated by Victory Motorcycles.

The media and members of the public (aged 12 years and older) are invited to attend the day's activities.

WHAT: Operation Gratitude Volunteers assemble Care Packages for the Crew of USS Ronald Reagan, USS Preble and USS Chancellorsville; Presentation of Victory Motorcycle to Marine Corporal

WHEN: Sunday June 5, 2011
           Care Package Assembly starts at 9 a.m.
           Program and Presentation will occur: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: California National Guard Armory
             17330 Victory Boulevard
             Van Nuys, CA 91406
             Corner of Victory and Louise; parking available on adjacent lot

 
Home from war, Marine to receive his Victory Motorcycle PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Operation Graditude   
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 12:55

May 24, 2011 -- Operation Gratitude today announced that on Sunday, June 5 a Marine infantryman recently returned from Afghanistan will be given the Victory Vegas 8-Ball Motorcycle promised in the organization's milestone 600,000th Care Package assembled in December, 2010.

 

The milestone package was delivered on Christmas day by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, to a Lance Corporal with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, who at the time was serving a seven-month deployment in the deadly Sangin district of Afghanistan's Helmand province.  The name of the Marine who received the 600,000th care package will be revealed at the event on June 5.

Marine1

L-R: Sgt.Maj. Kent, Lt.Col. Morris, LCpl., Gen. Amos in Sangin, AFG; 12/25/10

 

The 3/5, also known as "Dark Horse Battalion," experienced heavy combat throughout the deployment, with 25 of its men killed and more than 150 wounded. The 600,000th package recipient, along with his 3/5 comrades, returned to Camp Pendleton in April. The Marine, who received the package containing symbolic keys attached to a letter describing the bike, was recently promoted to Corporal and will join the Operation Gratitude volunteers and guests at the armory to receive the motorcycle generously donated by Victory Motorcycles.

 

Victory Motorcycles' External Relations Manager, Robert Pandya, will make the presentation. Pandya believes the motorcycle is a symbol of thanks to the men and women who serve in all branches of the Military.

 

"Victory Motorcycles is proud to be part of the 600,000th Operation Gratitude package," said Pandya, adding, "While our motorcycle represents the chance to explore the freedoms of the open road,

it is the hard work and sacrifices of our troops around the world and at home that give everyone in America that opportunity."

 

Among the guests at the California Army National Guard armory on June 5, the anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's passing, will be Michael Reagan, members of his family and representatives of the Reagan Legacy Foundation. They will join hundreds of volunteers at the armory to assemble care packages for the 5,000 crew members deployed aboard aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, named in honor of the 40th President of the United States. Care packages will also be assembled and shipped to the crew of guided-missile destroyer USS Preble and guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville, both currently serving in the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group.

 

The media and members of the public (aged 12 years and older) are invited to attend the day's activities.


WHAT:
Marine Corporal receives Victory Vegas 8-Ball Motorcycle and Operation Gratitude Volunteers assemble Care Packages for the Crew of USS Ronald Reagan, USS Preble and the USS Chancellorsville

WHEN: Sunday June 5, 2011
Care Package Assembly starts at 9 a.m.
Program and Motorcycle Presentation will occur: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

 

WHERE: California National Guard Armory
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Corner of Victory and Louise; parking available on adjacent lot

 
House Passes Braley’s Andrew Connolly Bill Unanimously PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Alexandra Krasov   
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 12:37

Washington, DC – Today, the House of Representatives unanimously passed Congressman Bruce Braley’s bill, the Andrew Connolly Veterans’ Housing Act, as part of a larger legislative package. This bipartisan bill willextend a grant program to help injured and disabled veterans retrofit theirhomes after they return from combat. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate.

“Today is a very important day for many young men and women who return from combat with severe life-altering injuries and find that the fight is far from over,” said Rep. Braley. “Veterans like Andrew Connolly return to a completely new life – with new, special needs. I’m very proud that today the House unanimously voted to ensure that these brave veterans have the support they need to adjust to their new lives, reach their full potential, and feel comfortable in their homes.”

 

The Andrew Connolly Veterans’ Housing Act is named after Andrew Connolly of Dubuque – a constituent of Rep. Braley’s who returned from Iraq with a tumor in his spine and is now restricted to a wheelchair. With Rep. Braley’s help, Connolly was able to get a grant that allowed him to move into a wheelchair-accessible home.

Earlier this month, Connolly testified on veterans’ housing grant programs in front of Rep. Braley’s Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

A video of Connolly’s testimony is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3haDUPFAPvo

A video of Rep. Braley’s commentary is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYKuJ-BRqdE

Both files are available to be downloaded here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/21501138/Braley-Connolly-Video.zip

High-resolution photos from Connolly’s testimony are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/repbraley/5684184385/in/set-72157626640156192/

# # #

 
Families Welcome Illinois Army National Guard Unit Home from Egypt PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by readMedia   
Monday, 16 May 2011 07:39

Nearly 440 Illinois National Guard Soldiers Return from a Yearlong Deployment; Story by Spc. Chasity Johnson, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office

MILAN, IL (05/15/2011)(readMedia)-- The Illinois Army National Guard held ceremonies May 14 in Milan, Galesburg and Macomb, to welcome home approximately 440 Soldiers who spent a year serving in Sinai, Egypt.

The sky was overcast, rain was drizzling and the temperature was approximately 50 degrees, but that didn't discourage family, friends and supporters of the servicemembers from attending the outdoor event in Milan.

"I'm so excited to see my son that I can hardly stand it," said Debbie England of Milan, mother of 1st Lt. Drew England of Milan, with Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery in Milan.

"We are so proud of him and what he does," said England, as she stood smiling in the rain surrounded by members of her family who were holding colorful signs in honor of their Soldier's arrival home. "We're excited to welcome him back."

The Soldiers mobilized in May 2010 as a part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), the international peacekeeping force oversees the terms of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

"My Soldiers were observing, reporting and verifying the compliance of the treaty," said Lt. Col. Maurice Rochelle of Flossmoor, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery commander.

A sergeant in the 123rd said he enjoyed the opportunity to serve overseas with Soldiers he enlisted during his time as a recruiter, but he he wasn't prepared for the emotional toll the separation from his family would have on him.

"It was really hard being away from my family," said Master Sgt. Brian Habel of Milan, with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery in Milan. "I never knew how hard it was on other people who have deployed until I did it myself. Being greeted by my family at this ceremony is all I could have asked for."

Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti of Springfield, the Assistant Adjutant General-Army, Illinois National Guard, was in attendance at the ceremony in Milan to greet Soldiers and their families.

"Every time I participate in a welcome home ceremony it makes me proud to see all of the families come together," said Celletti. "It didn't matter that it was a rainy, cloudy day. The families were overjoyed as they greeted their families."

 
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