Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Patriotism, Texas and Chris Kyle - From a mother of a SEAL

I just wanted to share with you all that out of a horrible tragedy we were blessed by so many people.  Chris was (my son’s) teammate through 10 years of training and battle.  They both suffer/suffered from PTSD to some extent and took great care of each other because of it.  2006 in Ramadi was horrible for young men that never had any more aggressive physical contact with another human than on a Texas football field.  They lost many friends.  Chris became the armed services number #1 sniper of all time.  Not something he was happy about other than the fact that in doing so he saved a lot of American lives.  Three years ago, his wife Taya asked him to leave the SEAL teams as he had a huge bounty on his head by Al Qaeda.  He did and wrote the book The American Sniper.  100% of the proceeds from the book went to two of the SEAL families who had lost their son in Iraq.  That was the guy Chris was.  He formed a company in Dallas to train military, police and I think firemen as far as protecting themselves in difficult situations.  He also formed a foundation to work with military people suffering from PTSD.  Chris was a giver not a taker.   He along with a friend and neighbor, Chad Littlefield, were murdered trying to help a young man that had served 6 months in Iraq and claiming to have PTSD.

Now I need to tell you about all of the blessings.  Southwest Airlines flew in any SEAL and their family from any airport they flew into free of charge.  The employees donated buddy passes and one lady worked for 4 days without much of a break to see that it happened.  Volunteers were at both airports in Dallas to drive them to the hotel.  The Marriott reduced their rates to $45 a night and cleared the hotel for only SEALs and family.  The Midlothian, Tx. police department paid the $45 a night for each room.  I would guess there were about 200 people staying at the hotel.  100 of them SEALs.  Two large buses were chartered to transport people to the different events and they also had a few rent cars.  The police and secret service were on duty 24 hours during the stay at our hotel. 

At the house the Texas DPS parked a large motor home in front to block the view from reporters.  It remained there the entire 5 days for the SEALs to congregate in and all to use the restroom so as not to have to go in the house.  Taya, their two small children and both sets of parents were staying in the home.  Only a hand full of SEALs went into the home as they had different duties and meetings were held sometimes on a hourly basis. It was a huge coordination of many different events and security.  (My son) was assigned to be a pall bearer, to escort Chris' body when it was transferred from Midlothian Funeral Home to Arlington Funeral Home and to be with Taya.  Tough job.  Taya seldom came out of her bedroom.  The home was full with people from the church and other family members that would come each day to help.  I spent one morning in a bedroom with Chris' mom and the next morning with Chad Littlefield's parents (the other man murdered with Chris).  Tough job. 
Nolan Ryan sent his cooking team, a huge grill and lots of steaks, chicken and hamburgers.  They set up in the front yard and fed people all day long. The 200 SEALs and their family.  The next day a BBQ restaurant set up a buffet in front of the house and fed all once again.  Food was plentiful and all were taken care of.  The church kept those inside the house well fed.

Jerry Jones, the man everyone loves to hate, was a rock star.  He donated use of Cowboy Stadium for the services as it was determined that so many wanted to attend.  The charter buses transported us to the stadium on Monday at 10:30.  Every car, bus, motorcycle was searched with bomb dogs and police.  I am not sure if kooks were making threats trying to make a name for themselves or if so many SEALs in one place was a security risk...I don't know.  We willing obliged.  No purses into stadium!  We were taken to The Legends room high up and a large buffet was available.  That was about 300 people.  We were growing.  A Medal of Honor recipient was there, lots of secret service and police and Sarah Palin and her husband.  She did not impress me.  She was taking the opportunity to be interviewed for TV and dressed in high clog shoes and corduroy jeans.  She looked nice, but this was a very formal military service.  She was not dressed appropriately.  The service started at 1:00 and when we were escorted onto the field I was shocked.  We heard about 10,000 people had come to attend also.  They were seated in the stadium seats behind us. It was a beautiful and emotional service.  Bagpipe and drum corps was wonderful and the A&M men’s choir stood through the entire service and sang right at the end.  We were all in tears.

The next day was the 200 miles procession from Midlothian, Tx. to Austin for burial.  It was a cold, drizzly, windy day, but the people were out.  We had dozens of police motorcycles riders, freedom riders 5 chartered buses and lots of cars.  You had to have a pass to be in the procession and still it was huge.  Two helicopters circled the procession with snipers sitting out the side door for protection.   It was the longest funeral procession ever in the state of Texas.  People were everywhere.  The entire route was shut down ahead of us and people were lined up on the side of the road the entire way.  Firemen down on one knee, police officers holding their hats over their hearts, children waving flags, veterans saluting as we went by.. Every bridge had fire trucks with large flags displayed from their tall ladders....people all along the entire 200 miles standing in the cold weather.  It was so heartwarming.  Taya rode in the hearse with Chris' body so (my son) rode the route with us.  I was so grateful to have that time with him. 

The services were at Texas National Cemetery.  Very few are buried there and you have to apply to get in.  It is like people from Civil War, Medal of Honor winners a few from the Alamo and all the historical people of Texas.  It was a nice service and the Freedom Riders surrounded the outside of the entire cemetery to keep the crazy church from Kansas that protests at military funerals away from us.  Each SEAL put his Trident (metal SEAL badge) on the top of Chris' casket one at a time.  A lot hit it in with one blow, (my son) was the only one to take 4 taps to put his in and it was almost like he was caressing it as he did it.  Another tearful moment.

After the service the governor's wife, Anita Perry, invited us to the governor's mansion.  She stood at the door and greeted each of us individually and gave the SEALs a coin of Texas.  We were able to tour the ground floor and then went into the garden for beer and BBQ.  So many of the team guys said that after they get out they are moving to Texas.  That they had never felt so much love and hospitality.  The charter buses then took the guys to the airport to catch their returning flights.  (my son) just now called and after a 20 hours flight he is back in his spot. 
Quite an emotional, but blessed week.

- received from a mutual friend, reprinted as received with her son’s name removed. RIP Chris Kyle.

RLTW  Karl

Friday, February 1, 2013

Official Start to Run Ranger Run 2013 and New Veteran Unemployment Figures

We are off on the first day of Run Ranger Run 2013!  There are over 500 athletes participating globally - including Australia and Europe (our live map is having trouble processing foreign zip codes but they are out there).  Please see the message from our event director below for more info and start a team, join a team or support a team!


The unemployment figures released this morning by the Department of Labor reveal a worsening trend among post 9/11 Veterans.  You'll hear lots in the news today about how the economy looks to be improving, lots of jobs were added, and the bad times are over.  That may be for much of the country, but not for our newest, next Greatest Generation.

This month a post 9/11 Veteran is 29.1% more likely to be unemployed than someone who never served, on a twelve month average 25.34%.  Comparison of last year, last month and this month reveals a steady increase - the chart looks like stair steps.

The average female post 9/11 veteran is 55% more likely unemployed than a female who never served.  This information needs the light of day, and the number one priority of Run Ranger Run is awareness - so spread the word, share this post.

Run Ranger Run 2013

Candyss Bryant, GallantFew's Run Ranger Run 2013 Director sent this email to all participants this morning:

Run Ranger Run participants and Friends -

Thank you for being a vital part of this movement to bring awareness to the issues our service members face as they transition from active service to civilian life.  Your miles will change lives!

Here is a short video where you can see the type of impact GallantFew makes.  Your support will help build the capacity of GallantFew to grow and serve more of our transitioning service members.  

Also linked here is a short video with a message from RANGER Cory Smith, the fella whose motivation inspired the movement of Run Ranger Run.  

Finally, I wanted to remind your team leaders that you can log your miles by going to your fundraiser page, going to edit fundraiser and then advanced settings.  There is a spot to log your teams' miles.  You will need to ask your teammates for their miles and display them in this spot.  Your miles will aggregate to the overall event miles. 

Good luck!  Happy running!

Candyss Bryant

PS - Remember to post pictures.  You can post to http://www.flickr.com/groups/runrangerrun/.  Tweet about Run Ranger Run to @RunRgrRun and/or post to our Facebook at http://www.flickr.com/groups/runrangerrun/