Saturday, February 26, 2011

Candyss Bryant - Best Ranger Competition and Mike Schlitz Alive Day, plus Clueless, Disrespectful Protestors

Last week I interviewed the amazing Candyss Bryant, the "younger sister" of all Rangers.  Tune in and listen to her describe her relationship with the National Ranger Association, the Best Ranger Competition and the Ranger community at-large, and you will catch a sense of the "wonder" she still has about falling into the Ranger family.

She is also involved in the International Sniper Competition and the Leapfest Competition.  Her "day" job is Coordinator at the Center for Community Based and Non-profit Organizations.  Make sure you listen all the way through - the discussion at the end is just as interesting and important as the discussion at the beginning.  If you want to know more about the Best Ranger Competition or any of the other events with which Candyss is involved, email or call her at 706-718-9520.

My buddy Mike Schlitz wrote this note today:



"Well it’s now been years since that day in Iraq changed so many lives. I have said in the past that it hasn’t changed me that, but in truth it has. It has been told to me several times that I smile more and seem to enjoy life more. I really do appreciate life on a lot larger scale. I see that moments flash by so quickly that often times we miss then. I hope that I don’t miss as many in the future.

I get asked a lot what is my inspiration and motivation, but to tell you the truth I'm still figuring it out. I lost 3 guys that day and part of me has survivors dealt. I want to live a life they could be proud of. Sometimes I fall back on my military training and the Ranger Creed with the “Don't Quit and Never Give Up Attitude” Finally I just want to set a good example for everybody. I don't want a young solider to get hurt and think life is over. I don't want a civilian to look at me thinking because of the war my life is over. You know I live a pretty good life still. I have met and done things most people only dream of. I consider myself really lucky. All I can say is everyone just needs to find their own motivator. Mine is life.

People have said bad things about being War and pretty they right. But some good things come of War too. Some of my fondest memories come from those shared with my Brothers and Sisters in Arms. I say War can build Character and without my experiences mine would be totally different.

Lastly I owe many thanks to my Mother who gave up Everything to be by my side to help and care for me, the Rest of my Family and Friends who have supported me from the beginning, the Medical Staff who kept me alive and got me back on my feet, to Everyone in my unit and especially the guys on the ground that day who really stepped up, and finally 3 of my and the World’s lost Heroes

SGT Richard A. Soukenka      30 Years Old
SGT Jonathan D. Cadavero    24Years Old
CPL Lorne E. Henry Jr.          21 Years Old"


Mike, you are affecting lives in a positive way every day.  You are the most inspirational person I know.  I remember a few days ago when we were talking on the phone and I was stressing about insurance coverage for my company.  You said "aw don't worry, it'll work out".  You're absolutely right - it's a mouse turd I'm worried about when you are handling mountains daily in an even stride.  I thank God for you, and for being able to call you my friend.

Couple other items of interest:  I stumbled upon this last week:  Tom Brokaw did a piece on the Oprah show about The Bravest Families in America.  Awesome.  Law Professor and blogger Ann Althouse published this piece about Wisconsin protesters ignorantly disrespecting a war memorial in the state capital.  Here's one of the videos:


I am very pleased to announce a new relationship with Warrior Gateway.  Warrior Gateway exists to organize and categorize Veteran services.  My appreciation to the Warrior Gateway team for what they do and for helping us provide better information to our Veterans and their families.  Also I must mention my most heartfelt thanks for the leadership and talents of Dr. Tracy Norris and the Norris E-Commerce team for donating their time, expertise and web storage for our website.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, come see us the week after next at the Fred Hall Show in Long Beach!  We could use a couple Ranger veterans to help us work the booth - if you are in the AO and want to help, call me at 316-249-0218.

GallantFew continues to grow and serve more Ranger veterans.  Support our mission!  And in the words of Candyss:  Love hard, work hard, play hard - do everything to the extreme!

RLTW and V/R

Karl

Friday, February 25, 2011

Veterans for Obedience Training of Shelter Dogs

This note from our interview topic for next week's The New American Veteran.  

v/r  Karl

Dear Fellow Veterans and Friends of GallantFew:

RE:  Veterans for Obedience Training of Shelter Dogs

We are looking for 100 OEF/OIF Veterans to participate in a Research Program aimed to work with and provide obedience training for shelter dogs.  The study will occur in three parts.

Part 1:  The Veterans will be randomized to either a training group or a non-training group.  Dog-training group participants will go to the animal training site (either Columbia or Springfield, MO) for weekly training sessions over a 24 week period. We will orient them to the program on their first visit (including an explanation of safe dog and leash handling).  They will be helped to select a behaviorally pre-screened (by shelter staff) dog to train.  If the dog they are training is adopted they will select another dog to train.  They will work in groups with a dog trainer and dog at the training site for two, one hour sessions per week.  We will ask them to complete a weekly training dairy, recording their work and comments about the training. The Veterans will receive $50.00 compensation for participation in part one.

Part 2:  Veterans will serve as adoption mentors for new adopters of shelter dogs.  They will make telephone calls to the adopters monthly for 6 months, providing helpful information and referral for problems encountered with the dogs.

Part 3:  The Veterans with particular aptitude for training dogs will advance to training shelter dogs to work as PTSD service dogs for other veterans needing the support of such adog. The Veterans will receive $500.00 compensation for participation in part three. 

Data collection will include participant demographics, height, weight, dog ownership history, beliefs about dog ownership, mood, social support, response to stressful situations, family functioning and physical activity.  The data collected will not be shared with any outside group. 

Merging returned veterans with shelter dogs through this study accomplishes major goals for both.  Veterans will have an important role in helping shelter dogs.  This will also provide the veterans with a sense of purpose, some structure, opportunities for relaxation, exercise, and a greater sense of well-being.  Shelter dogs will learn skills crucial to their success outside of the shelter.

For more information or to sign up for the study please contact:

Project Coordinator
Charlotte McKenney, RN, BSN
Assistant Director, Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction

CPL Johnny D. Miller Jr., US Army, Ret.
Mission Continues Fellow

phone 573.882.2266 
facebook

Primary Investigator
Rebecca Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN
Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing MU Sinclair School of Nursing
Director, Research Center for Human Animal Interaction MU College of Veterinary Medicine Clydesdale Annex #2 Columbia, MO 65211

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gina Elise - Pin Ups for Vets

This week I interviewed Ms. Gina Elise, founder and star of Pin Ups for Vets.  Gina is a phenomenal young woman who in true Ranger spirit saw a situation that needed fixing and decided to do something about it.

In 2006, hearing about funding shortfalls in Veterans and Military Hospitals across the country Gina took it upon herself to raise money to help meet that need.  With her UCLA education and friends in the arts community she thought a fun way to raise money would be to sell wall calendars, with photos recreating the 1940's style pin up models.  Her story is truly remarkable, no less so than when you consider the effect it has on a young wounded soldier when she shows up, in period garb, with her calendar - which she personally autographs and delivers.  She told us about a TBI patient, non-responsive for a month who responded to her when she appeared at his bedside.

Her efforts result in more than just moral support - she has raised more than $50,000, and an example of use of the funds is a donation she made of $15,000 for rehab software and for an environmental control unit (ECU) that enables spinal patients to control their environment and obtain more independence as well as freeing up nurses for other tasks.

Calendars cost $10.  Buy one and donate one to a wounded soldier.  Gina will deliver it personally.
Ms. Gina Elise

Video of Gina's Calendar Release Party


The week prior, I interviewed Ranger veteran and actor Tim Abell.  Here's more from Tim:  Tim Abell's Letter from Hollywood.  Tim just joined GallantFew's advisory board and has already connected us to two great events in California:  The Fred Hall Fishing Lure and Boating Show in Long Beach March 9-12 and Patrick Kilpatrick's Hollywood Sporting Clays fund-raiser, June 11.  If you are in the AO, stop in and see us and support these events.

Upcoming guests on blogtalkradio:  Next week is Ms. Candyss Bryant, marketing director for the Best Ranger Competition; and the following week Dr. Rebecca Johnson, with Veterans and Shelter Dogs - Columbia, Missouri.  Dr. Johnson is looking for veterans to participate in the shelter dog project right now - and there is some compensation for participating.

Finally, I just saw this tremendous country music video from Joe Nichols, called The Shape I'm In.  It features two wounded Rangers and is just downright phenomenal.  Watch it!

from the song, The Shape I'm In:

The sun came up again this morning
And I took my old past back for a spin
Now when it rains, it ain't always pouring
And I'm learning how to live again

Yeah, I'm doing alright, I'm doing alright
I'm doing alright for the shape I'm in



v/r  Karl
PS  Please stop by and leave us a donation so we can reach more veterans with mentors.  Thank you!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2/75 Ranger Memorial

Received this note from Shelia Dudley.  Please read and assist as you are able.  
RLTW  Karl


Rangers and Supporters:


CPT Neil Markey, Engineer for 2/75, is leading the effort in construction of the 2/75 Memorial Project.  He is in the design phase right now and our own Dan and Timothy Gay, Thomas and Hutton Engineering (Savannah) is assisting with the design.  Terri Rudacille (needs no introduction) has volunteered to assist with the formation of the Non Profit and follow up work.  George Summerell, Chatham Steel ( Savannah) is getting contacts for the dagger construction and Jim Fogarty, Depue Monument (Savannah), is investigating suppliers of stone for the project.  Lynn Towne, Arlie Nethken and I (West Coast, East Coast, and Alaska) are gathering Veteran and Civilian support for this project.  

I mention these contributors, because as you can see, this is not just a 2/75 Memorial, it is a “Ranger” Memorial and we are all in this together.  We are all eager to see a 2/75 Memorial befitting of the sacrifices of our Rangers killed in action and training.  I can only relate to my experience at 1/75 about what a healing place the Memorial can be.  It is a reminder to our Families that we will not forget and the Memorial will always be a place for them to come and celebrate their loved one’s memory.  It is also a healing place for our current Rangers as they remember their battle buddies.  

I ask your support by contacting CPT Markey (neil.markey@soc.mil) or myself, Shelia Dudley (dudleys@soc.mil) and letting us know how you would like to help.

Rangers Lead the Way!  SD

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ranger veteran and actor Tim Abell, Grateful Nation, and more

Last week on GallantFew's The New American Veteran I interviewed Ranger veteran and actor Tim Abell.  Tim is a phenomenal guy who has made his own success.  Many successful film and TV stars lose their perspective and themselves in the process.  Tim is the opposite of that, and has used his success and applied his skills and abilities to help veterans.  Tim served in the 2nd Ranger Battalion, and continues to follow the Ranger Creed.

His latest project is being the host of Grateful Nation, a show sponsored by Beretta that features wounded veterans' stories - their service history, wounding and recovery - and then takes them on an incredible outdoors expedition.  The focus and theme of the show is thanking all veterans through the one featured on that episode as well as drawing attention to the great outdoors.  Grateful Nation was on ESPN2 last year and this year is moving to the Outdoors Channel.  This video says significantly more than I ever could (and is offered exclusively here for now):

video

Big Hollywood article on Grateful Nation's debut

This video interview is from the Playboy pre-ESPY party:



Tim's biography and some additional of his sites:


Tim is a new and marvelous supporter of GallantFew, and has joined our volunteer Advisory Board.  Go here to listen to the interview on your computer.  You can also find us on iTunes, search podcasts for gallantfew.

GallantFew exists to help veterans leaving active duty make a peaceful, successful transition to the civilian world.  It's not easy.  There are an estimated 300,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from symptoms of PTSD.  This news story sadly highlights the failures of our current system:  Veteran's suicide reveals problems in VA system.

Last week a Ranger buddy called me to find assistance for a brother veteran needing to talk to someone.  This veteran saw horrific things and sought mental care and emotional support through his local VA.  He was assigned a councilor, and was sleeping better, managing his emotions better.  Then the VA switched his councilor (not uncommon).  Back to square one - and the veteran quit going to the sessions.  He didn't want to revisit everything from the start and he wasn't comfortable with the new councilor.  He also feels embarrassed that he's having these "issues" as it seems like every one else that went through what he did is "just fine".

After a period of time this veteran began having nightmares, not sleeping, difficulty controlling anger and it was effecting his wife and child, so he turned to the VA again.  The VA's response:  We'll be glad to help, our next available appointment is in April.  Let me repeat that.  OUR NEXT AVAILABLE APPOINTMENT IS IN APRIL.

Are you kidding me?  This makes me angry just writing.  This is absolutely unacceptable.  So we went about finding alternate support - from a DAV service center to the Vetcenter to some of my personal connections.  One of the responses, from a former Ranger senior NCO:
"I feel like I don't even know who I am.  I was a stud.  I was bullet proof.  I had no fear.  I had no vulnerability......WRONG!  The hardest part is learning who you really are.  Putting all the pain away is a simple survival tool.  I felt soulless, lost, and not able to love.  I felt as if there was a big, black void where my heart should be, because if I had a heart, I couldn't have done what I did.  Now, I hide.  I can't control my emotions.  I pretend to try and hide from who I am.  I haven't really learned who I am yet, but I am trying.  I now accept the fact that I have seen done things that are not natural, and that I am a person.  If I didn't feel pain, what would that say about me?"
You can't communicate with someone feeling this way unless you've carried the same ruck, laced the same boots - and for someone who wore the boots and tan beret (actually then it was black) of a Ranger Platoon Sergeant to stand up and announce that war effected him is huge and sets the example for us all.

300,000.  Small number compared with the total US population.  Small number that carried the burden of the fight for us all.  That small 300,000 - and the other million that are also effected by their recent wartime experiences need to know that although it may feel this way YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

No more veteran unemployment.  No more veteran homelessness.  And damn it - no more veterans committing suicide.

RLTW

Karl
PS:  If you can help us in our mission, make a tax deductible donation.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Spisso's, Character and Rangers

Last week I interviewed Lona and JB Spisso.  JB is a retired US Army Sergeant Major with extensive experience in the Ranger Regiment.  Lona served both enlisted and as an officer on active duty.  Both have multiple combat deployments.  Together they run a small business, Elite Leadership Training.  The interview is fascinating, and they focus on character development and leadership training for professional and collegiate athletic teams, corporations, law enforcement and individuals.  A highlight of their success is work they did with a Stanley Cup winning hockey team (video link).

In working with individuals who have reached the pinnacle of their careers, such as a professional athlete, JB emphasizes to them that ability may be what got them to that level, but character is what keeps them at that level.  Character development is a crucial component of success in the Spisso world.  It must start early and there must be focus on character as a defining factor in success.

Pro athletes possess the best physical abilities in their fields.  Like army Rangers, they are the best warriors.  Like Rangers however they don't possess the best natural diplomatic skills.  These skills must be developed, and coupled with strong character help spell out success.

When I asked him for advice for new veterans, JB emphasized that the veteran needs to find what you love to do and be motivated!  For more great advice from the Spisso's, listen to the show.  For more information, contact JB and Lona here.

My conversation with JB got me to reflecting on my service in the 1st Ranger Battalion.  When you're a Ranger, and you serve for a period of time with other Rangers, you get spoiled.  You think everyone else is like you, because there - everyone else is!  Everyone is pulling the same direction, with the same mission, and we all have each others' backs.  Then you leave the military, go back home and all of a sudden, not only are you not around other Rangers, now no one else is like you.  That transition is as sudden and can be as traumatic as taking a fish out of water and landing him on the shoreline.

When the Civil War ended, war veterans started walking home.  For many of them it was a very long hike.  This long walk home with other war veterans allowed them to talk, to process, to decompress.  In today's world a veteran can go from battlefield to hometown in days, if not hours.  GallantFew can help provide a version of that long walk home by matching a veteran with another veteran as a mentor in their hometown.  Our focus presently is on veterans of the 75th Ranger Regiment and Ranger Instructors from the Ranger Training Brigade - but we will make every possible effort to help any honorably discharged veteran that seeks a mentor to help them in their transition home.  For more information, please visit our website.

First Saturdays has begun.  We didn't get the turnout we hoped for this month but it's a start.  We are moving the chow linkup time back an hour, to 0900 hours to allow those of you needing beauty rest (and if you're a Ranger you need a lot of it) or those of you who hit the gym early on Saturday.  Check here to see if there is a First Saturday in your neighborhood - and if there isn't one, start one!

GallantFew is also conducting a survey to help identify needs for transitioning wounded warriors.  Check this site for a quick survey and if you processed through a Warrior in Transition Program, please help us collect important information by completing the survey.

We need your help as we expand our efforts.  We need mentors and we need donations.  Thank you in advance for helping us!

Finally, turn in to our show Thursday at 6pm CST, or download it from iTunes.  This week's guest is Ranger veteran and actor Tim Abell.  A former Ranger with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Tim Abell is now an actor and producer.  He currently hosts "GRATEFUL NATION", a show celebrating and thanking our warriors with incredible hunting trips.  A tireless supporter of our Troops and veterans, Tim acted in "WE WERE SOLDIERS" and was one of DB Sweeney's technical advisors on "GARDENS OF STONE".

RLTW  Karl

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Veterans Healing Initiative, Grace After Fire and More...

Last week I had the privilege to interview Margaret Stone, co-founder of Veterans Healing Initiative.  A former Human Resources Executive in New York City, she left that to pursue her passion of helping veterans with the dual diagnosis of PTSD and substance abuse.  Veterans Healing Initiative funds programs and treatments aimed at helping veterans with this dual diagnosis.  Listen to the interview here.  The New American Veteran blogtalkradio show is now available as a free podcast through iTunes.  Search gallantfew from iTunes and it will pop right up.

I also learned about an excellent nonprofit called Grace After Fire.  Grace has been created by women veterans for women veterans to offer a safe and confidential venue - a social network.  Women can share common experiences and offer unique peer support for wellness while providing increased access to resources for healthcare, family and self.  Utilizing social media, these women veterans can instant message, write blogs and participate in forum discussions.

Tune in this week as we interview JB and Lona Spisso.  JB is a retired US Army Ranger and Sergeant Major and Lona served as a Captain on active duty.  This dynamic duo's company, Elite Leadership Training does some cool work with collegiate and professional sporting teams, as well as individuals and corporations.

First Saturdays finally starts this upcoming Saturday!  If there isn't a First Saturday in your community, set one up!  It doesn't cost a penny and doesn't take much time.  Let's have veterans gathering for a cup of coffee the First Saturday of each month at 0800 local time all across the country with an aim of furthering social networking and expanding our professional networks.

Remember GallantFew exists to help veterans transition from active duty to their new civilian lives - with an initial focus on US Army Ranger veterans.  For more information or to sign up as a mentor/volunteer, veteran seeking services (or to donate), please visit GallantFew.

v/r

Karl
Founder, GallantFew

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Press Release: Bob Dunn Appointed to the Advisory Board of GallantFew

For Release 2/1/2011
No. 1001


Bob Dunn Appointed to the Advisory Board of GallantFew


February 1, 2011 – GallantFew today announced that Bob Dunn has been appointed to their Advisory Board.


GallantFew is a 501(c)3 non profit nationwide Veteran mentor network that helps our returning heroes transition successfully from military service to civilian life. GallantFew provides a social network, professional development, emotional support and physical assistance.


Mr. Dunn is currently the Chief Executive Officer and a Board Member of PacStar Communications. Bob has had a distinguished career in the communications industry, including serving as president, Product Solutions Sector, Nortel Government Solutions, where he played an integral role in the merger between Nortel and PEC Solutions as well as the consolidation of the business units. Additionally, Mr. Dunn served as Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Ericsson Federal Inc. (EFI)


Mr. Dunn stated, “As a member of the GallantFew Advisory Board, I will be joining a phenomenal nationwide mentor network that helps our veterans transition from military service to successful civilian careers. I am honored to serve with these outstanding individuals and look forward to working with the Board and management to further develop this network.”


“We are pleased to welcome Mr. Dunn to the GallantFew Advisory Board. As a successful and respected executive, Bob brings a wealth of business development and management experience to the team,” stated Mr. Karl Monger, Executive Director. “We expect him to add a clear and strong voice to our Board and are certain his expertise will help us move in the right direction.”


For further information about GallantFew, please contact the executive director, Army veteran Karl Monger at 316.249.0218 or ranger@gallantfew.org


Press Contact:


GallantFew:
Karl Monger
Ph: 316.249.0218
Email: ranger@gallantfew.org


PacStar:
Peggy Miller
Ph: 503.403.3000
Email: info@pacstar.com