Tag Archives: giving back

The Meaning of Veterans Day

Susie Sailor girl.. age 19
Susie Sailor girl.. age 19

A rare and welcome cool breeze wafted through the gray cinder-block corridor, carrying on it the faint, distant notes of a nameless, yet familiar holiday tune. The sun had yet to rise which may have contributed to the vague notion that December – at least for the moment – had arrived in Florida.

I was nineteen, an entire coast away from everything I knew to this point in life, and homesick. Basic training was in full swing and it had barely paused to acknowledge the holidays.

That winter the meaning of Veterans Day began to transform for me. I’d yet to understand how much my life would change, that soon our Company Commander would arrive with a team of MPs to remove the drill weapons that stood silent century in the center of birth we’d come to call home. That war would be declared in Iraq, or that 25 years later the same surreal mixture of pride and fear that my own mother must have felt would be visited upon me. 

I’ve often written about what my time in the Navy meant to me, the honor of serving alongside so many selfless, heroic, determined brethren.   Many times I’ve climbed upon my infamous soapbox in support of those who came before me, and those who continue to take up the gauntlet of service.  Today though, Veteran’s Day comes to me with new meaning.

It was another December day, oddly enough the same, rare cool breeze wafted off the San Diego bay. This time it carried on it the equally familiar hymn of Marine Corps. In a sea of hundreds of young Marines, all dressed alike,  all standing at rigid attention, I easily found my son.

He is mine.

That day a pride like I’d never known filled me, bringing along with it an ever-present undercurrent of fear. He will serve, no matter where or when. Those who hold his fate in their hands can never know how important, amazing… irreplaceable, he is. 

He’d volunteered for this.  Worked for it. Earned it. 

That will forever bond us to each other in the same fashion that the invisible umbilical chord always will.  We have served. Willingly, with pride.

When you stop to thank a Veteran today, keep in your thoughts those that love them, for they serve as well. 2013-12-05 12.32.07While a simple “Thank You,” goes a long way on Veterans Day or any day, if you’d like to do something more tangible to show your gratitude to those who have served and are serving, consider some of the apps and organizations below. One of the beautiful things about living in this digital age is that technology makes giving back an easy thing to do.  

Veterans Call  – This app allows users to give to as little as $5 in a monthly donation. These micro-donations add up as users choose charities to support, inviting friends and family to do the same.

Hero Miles – As someone who travels a lot, this is one of my favorite ways to give back. I belong to almost all the airline rewards programs there are out there and rarely (if ever) use the miles I’ve accumulated on all of them. 

Hero Miles is a program run through The Fisher House Foundation that allows you to donate your unused airline miles to veterans and their families. Imagine for a moment that you couldn’t get to a loved one in need who was far from home because the airfare was out of reach. This program helps to ensure that military families don’t have to face this scenario.

22Kill – The driving idea behind this movement is to raise awareness that nearly 22 veterans a day take their own lives. While that statistic may warrant some scrutiny, the fact is that awareness saves lives. Veteran suicide hits very close to home for our family, so I add this group into ways YOU can help because even after hashtags die out that doesn’t mean the problem is solved.  #22pushups for #22Kill

If you’re giving to veterans charities that aren’t giving the overwhelming majority of their funds to veterans or their families, you aren’t helping. ~ The Street

Considering giving to a veteran’s charity?  Start by grabbing the Charity Navigator app.  Believe it or not there are a whole lot of veterans charities out there that spend the bulk of your donated dollar on anything but direct help for veterans. Check this app before you click donate.

However you choose to thank a veteran know that we truly appreciate being acknowledged, though just about all of us will tell you it was OUR honor.

Disclosure: As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless I sometimes receive compensation, cool gadgets to test drive, or get attend special events. All opinions entirely my own, based on my experiences, because you deserve nothing less!  

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Every Child Deserves a Shot@Life

Did you know 1 in every 5 children around the world does not have access to the vaccines most all of us in the western world do? Were you aware that a child dies every 20 seconds in developing countries from diseases preventable through vaccines?

I didn’t.

This past weekend I joined an amazing group of mom writers from around the DC Beltway to lend our voices the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. This week is Worldwide Immunization Week, a week that may seem unnecessary to most of us who have the ease of being able to schedule an appointment and simply “get it done”. For so many other mothers out there like, a mom from Mozambique, giving their children a shot at life through vaccinations can require walking for miles and miles.

Devi walked 15 miles to give her child a shot... a shot at life.

Yet, she will happily do this. You see, she has already lost two children to vaccine preventable illness and is determined to give this child a shot at life that the other two never had.

Amongst the talented women at this event, great conversations, delectable Gelato and desserts provided by Dolci Gelati I learned that as little as $20 can vaccinate a child FOR LIFE! The amount of money I spend in two weeks on coffee can safe a life. That boggles the mind.

I came home late that night, kissed my little ones as they slept and thought about other mothers around the globe. Were they kissing their kids goodnight as they slept safe and warm? Or, where they struggling to hold back the tears as the rocked the frail bodies of their children infected with preventable disease?

The next morning the brood awoke me with their typical post-event interrogations…

“Mom, where did you go last night?!

“Mommy, why didn’t you take us with you?!!”

“What did you bring back for us?!!!”

I pulled out the super cool water bottle and tasty treats from Dolci Gelati, thinking that would appease them. (for a while)

Oddly enough, they wanted me to read them the materials from Shot@Life. I explained to them that those shots they fuss so much over, actually save lives. Told them that millions of kids in the world don’t get the chance to get these healthy -if not so fun- shots and that as little as seventeen cents can make a difference.

Seventeen cents buys one Polio vaccine.

These amazing creatures that I’m raising (and somehow haven’t screwed up completely…yet) took it upon themselves ACT! They offered up their life savings in the form of their piggy banks. WOW! Are these the same children who have no qualms about pitching a royal fit in the middle of Target if I don’t stop at the dollar bins and indulge their every whim, refusing to pay me back from their funds? Because you know, it’s my JOB to buy them things.

I promptly bawled like a baby.

They spent a good portion of the day counting out groups of coins amounting to seventeen cents each. Every time they would complete a pile they’d holler, “YEAH! We saved a life!”… (que continued blubbering) 

17 Cents. Priceless

By the end of they day they had compiled enough to purchase Polio vaccines for 223 children. We will be taking a trip to the coin exchange this week, cashing in those precious cents and I’ll be matching their efforts. Lives will be saved, lives will be changed and 223 children will have a shot at life. A shot at those milestones we want for our kids. Like them learning to share, to care for others, to know that the have the power to change the world.

Every child deserves these milestones, this shot at life. Won’t you join me in supporting Shot@Life by helping to spread the word about World Vaccination Week, donating, hosting your own event or even getting your own kids involved? Let’s give as many kids as we can a shot at life!