Category Archives: Veteran Services

VetsWhatsNext Provides for Life. After. Military.

PRESS RELEASE

IRVING, TX – VetsWhatsNext is excited to announce the launch of our new website!

VWNThe site provides help to Veterans, their Families, as well as Civilians. It is THE HUB to services, resources, benefits, information and so much more for Soldiers transitioning out of the Military; Veterans who have served in our Military and need direction; and our Family Members who too have paid a sacrifice supporting our men and women in uniform.

VetsWhatsNext has taken a stance to say NO MORE! Our Veterans have served our country proudly, but yet, so many go without benefits, services and resources.

VetsWhatsNext wants to help them solve that problem.

VetsWhatsNext.org provides information for Veterans and their Families who are finding it difficult to transition back into Civilian life.

This new website provides access to:

  • Organizations that build mortgage-free homes for Disabled Veterans
  • Benefits
  • Discounts
  • Memorial benefit services
  • Military legal matters and services
  • Military pay services
  • Tri-Care Services
  • Education and employment services
  • Records and forms services
  • Survivor benefit services
  • eBenefits enrollment
  • Marry into the Military services
  • Military Life for Spouses Services
  • Suicide prevention and PTSD Services
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!

About VetsWhatsNext.org:

VetsWhatsNext is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Major (Retired) Eric K. King, U.S Army. This organization is about empowering and helping Disabled Veterans, Homeless Veterans, Service Members and their families by providing consolidated services and resources that will allow them to reclaim their lives and their economic stability.

Contact: Major (Retired) Eric K. King at EricK@VetsWhatsNext.org

Proud son shares father’s story of his tour in the Korean War

I recently sat down with John A. Michel of Southlake to talk about his dad, 87-year-old US Army Sergeant (Retired) Andrew J. Michel, and his experiences during the Korean War.

I met John when I visited VFW Post 10454, stopping in to thank the veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.

John is very proud of his dad, and it seemed fitting that this interview happened so close to Veterans Day. We were even able to get Sgt. Michel on the phone (“Dad never talks on the phone,” John said), so I felt very honored to speak with the Sgt. in person.

Sgt. Michel was born in Poland in 1932 and survived quite a bit of the ugliness that WWII brought, though his family was not Jewish. He and his family relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, where Sgt. Michel attended high school and graduated in 1951.

Michel joined the US Army in 1952, just in time to go to Korea.

“I was a young man with no parental supervision [in the Army]. I remember buying kimonos for my parents, though those weren’t ‘true’ kimonos. They were basically pretty robes that were sold to tourists and the military,” Michel said.

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Sgt. Michel (R) and a platoon brother (Photo courtesy of John Michel)

“One night, we decided to ‘go into town,’ where all of the entertainment was. That was during a blizzard, and snowplows were clearing the road. I had ice on my eyebrows! We got a few drinks in us and felt warmer. My brothers and I debated on whether to stay the night in town, and a few of us decided to head back. We went to pick everybody up the next day, and I left the brake on in the Jeep. That was a big ‘oops,’ but we got those guys back to camp!” Michel laughed. “One of the most important things in life is to laugh,” he added.

Michel was honorably discharged as a Sergeant on March 27, 1955. He attended the University of Akron (Ohio), but graduated in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from The University of Arkansas.

He worked for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from 1959 until the mid-1960’s. After that, he moved to Pine Bluff, AR, working for Central Maloney, where, in 1968, met his (now) wife of 51-years, Shirley. 

The couple and their family moved to Southlake in June of 1977, but left again in 1980, when Sgt. Michel was transferred to the FAA HQ in Washington, DC. He retired in 2003, and the family moved back to Southlake, where they have lived ever since.

Thanks, John, for sharing your dad’s story with me. We are only free because of men and women like him, who sacrificed and fought (and sometimes paid the ultimate price).


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Sgt. Michel and John are both members of the “Airport Cities” VFW 10454 Post in Grapevine. Once a month, on a Friday, the Post hosts a steak dinner, which includes salad, mashed potatoes and dessert, for $15. The next steak dinner is Friday, November 15 at 6:30 pm. The Post is located at 221 North Main Street.

“Come eat and drink for the vets!” John said enthusiastically.

For more information, call 817-481-6768 or visit http://vfw10454.net or check out their Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/vfw10454/.

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Sgt. Michel, along with wife Shirley and son John (Photo courtesy of John Michel)

 

Army veteran pays it forward, appreciates mortgage-free home in Irving

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Major Eric King (Ret), US Army

I was honored to interview Major Eric King (Retired), US Army, for a recent story about Unite for Troops and the City of Irving’s Veterans Day ceremonies. 

As usual, I did some background research, and found out that Major King was the recipient of a mortgage-free home, with land donated by the City of Irving, along with Winston Custom Homes, the Dallas Builders Association and NEC Corporation of America. [Read the Article from Dallas Builders Here]

 

Video Courtesy of Dallas Builders Association

According to his biography:

Major King, a native of Marianna Arkansas, joined the Arkansas Army National Guard in June 2000 and enlisted as a Combat Engineer. He then enrolled into the Golden Lion Battalion Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Arkansas At Pine Bluff.  After receiving his Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice in May 2003, Major King was commissioned Active Duty as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in the Quartermaster Corps and branch detailed into the Infantry Corps as a Second Lieutenant.

Major King’s outstanding and stellar military career begins with his service as an Infantry Officer from October 2003 through November 2008. Throughout Major King’s service his responsibilities continued to increase. Major King served as a Rifle Platoon leader, Company Commander (CO) Supply and Services Officer, Battalion S4, Battalion Executive Officer (XO), Instructor, Writer, and a Brigade Operations Officer. These positions reinforced Major King’s strong leadership abilities and his uncanny willingness to learn new skills and abilities. Major King’s oversight of Soldiers ranged from a platoon of 75 to an entire brigade of 3,500 men and women. During Major King’s military career, he was deployed on four overseas missions in service to our country. Major King’s first combat deployment was in 2004 through 2005 to Iraq. Major King entered this mission as an Infantry Rifle Platoon Leader overseeing 75 Infantrymen. 

His platoon received multiple Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks, ambushes and gun battles. This deployment was followed by his second combat deployment in 2007 through 2008 to Iraq as a Company Commander. His responsibility as the CO was to oversee 5 platoons of over 250 Soldiers and their direct health, welfare and their operational responsibilities. During these two deployments, Major King witnessed and experienced heavy fighting causing casualties to his troops, himself and coalition forces. These losses have weighed heavily on Major King and he has never taken his responsibilities as a Soldier, Leader, Commander, and Field Grade Officer lightly. 

In 2013 through 2014 Major King was deployed to Afghanistan as the Brigade Operations Officer, BDE S3 OIC. During this deployment, Major King exhibited his leadership skills yet again by overseeing brigade operations for the entire Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan (CJOA-A). During this combat tour, Major King was responsible for overseeing and leading every aspect of his brigade’s tactical operations across the CJOA-A of 3,500 Soldiers and civilians.

Major King’s final overseas deployment was to Liberia West Africa in 2014 through 2015 in support of the fight against Ebola as he deployed his battalion as the acting battalion commander. During this humanitarian mission, Major King and his battalion provided aid and assistance to the African nation during a health crisis in which Ebola was ravaging the region. 

Major King’s leadership and organizational skills were essential during this global crisis.

After 16 years of service and sustaining multiple injuries and a distinguished career, Major King was honorably and medically retired on 28 June 2016. However, prior to his retirement, Major King amassed the following awards and decorations and he is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt from Prude University:

Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, Iraqi Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral two, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Airborne Badge, Air Assault Badge and Parachute Rigger Badge. 

Major King is a great American who has sacrificed greatly for this nation. He is a man of tremendous faith who has a powerful voice for those who are suffering and in need. Major King is passionate about military Veterans who like him might be suffering from PTSD and other health issues resulting from combat. 

Major King recently spoke on the Glenn Beck Radio Show and revealed his desire to speak to others about adversity, leadership, conflict and hope. Major King very much looks forward to spreading his message of encouragement for many years to come.

There are so many Veterans in the world with a story just like Major King’s. His only goal and vision now is to restore, replenish, and revive his fellow brothers and sisters so they can enjoy the present, let go of the past, and prepare for a better future by helping them to reclaim their lives which is why he founded his nonprofit corporation, VetsWhatsNext.

vetswhatsnext-logoofficialTo learn more about VetsWhatsNext, please visit their website – and stay tuned for the imminent launch of the VetsWhatsNext mobile app! King said that its purpose is, “To empower all veterans, with emphasis on Millennials and Generation X Vets. They have the most trouble figuring out where to get help.”

I think we all share some level of appreciation for our active troops and veterans, but it’s not often that some of that appreciation comes “home” to them. Congratulations, Major King, and thank you for your service!

 

 

Veteran and Lockheed Martin employee finds satisfaction and peace working on F-35 aircraft

By Stacey Doud

If you live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, then you probably know about Lockheed Martin and their role as a leading defense contractor for the government. What you may not know is that their reach is far and wide, from encouraging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students to stay on track, to their annual Armed Forces Bowl, which shows the deep respect that the company has for our country’s military and veterans.

The company’s major project has been the design and manufacture of the F-35 Lightning II.

Williams

Williams (Photo courtesy of Joe Williams)

Lockheed Martin is always proud to bring a veteran on as an employee, as long as he or she qualifies. Joe Williams, who served our country in the Navy for 20 years, is one of those people.

A native of Odessa, Williams said, “I’d always see planes on the horizon leaving Midland International Air and Space Port. I remember thinking how neat it would be to jump on one of those planes and leave the desert behind. So, I decided to pursue a life and vocation that would have me on planes and in a place where there was water and not desert.”

Williams enlisted at age 17 and served as an aircraft mechanic during his four tours: Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2002) and back to Afghanistan (2003), mainly working on the Lockheed P-3 Orion, which has been in existence for over 50 years and still flies today. The P-3 took the place of the P2V/SP2 Neptune as the newest (at the time) modern, land-based maritime patroller. During the Cold War years, this aircraft was tasked with finding and tracking Soviet ballistic missiles and attack submarines.

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Lockheed P-3 Orion (Photo courtesy of Lockheed)

“I was a customer on the other end [in the Navy, not yet a Lockheed employee] while I was with P-3s. I learned the importance of what is needed, how it’s needed, and the quality that is required to operate at what we refer to as the “Tip of the Spear.” Now that I’m on the production end being with Lockheed Martin, I use that experience to ensure quality is passed on to those Sailors, Marines, and Airmen who are needing something in the field that provides the greatest, and most powerful, protection then what I ever got to use while I was on active duty. The F-35 is paving that way,” Williams said.

“I was discharged in July of 2016,” Williams said. “I had a hard time finding work, but then I discovered Texas Veterans Outdoors (TVO). Members of the organization helped shed some light onto my experience, and it eventually led to where I got an interview with Lockheed Martin. TVO has been amazing for my family and I.”

Williams has now been with Lockheed Martin for almost three years and serves as a Multi-Function Manufacturing Supervisor for the F-35.

“I plan and manage the application and finishing of low observable coatings, the installation and testing of avionics components, and the installation of major flight control surfaces and their actuating components,” Williams said.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Photo by Liz Lutz  Job Reference Number: FP18-02112 Siebert     
WMJ Reference Number: 18-02112     
Customer: F-35 Communications  
Country: Korea F-35    
Event: AW-1 First Flight Aerials  
Pilot: Alan Norman         
Locati

F-35 (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

In layman’s terms, he makes sure that the F-35’s coatings are effective when dealing with an enemy, that its electronics and computer components work reliably and he also supervises the installation of important flight electronics that pilots use, along with the equipment that those electronics control. He also oversees a large portion of the assembly line for the F-35.

“We could have only wished we had the F-35 before 9/11, but at least we now have tools to prevent something like that from happening again. The F-35 is 5th generation and is the most advanced fighter in the world,” he added.

Williams is very proud to be working for Lockheed, which he says is, “the number one defense contractor in the world.”

He finds his work “extremely satisfying,” mainly because of the advancement of the F-35, which has already saved lives and will continue to do so.

“So many people have died before us. Their sacrifice is what allows us to do what we do today,” Williams said.

To pay it forward, Williams seeks out opportunities to help other veterans as they transition to civilian life. He volunteers at TVO as a staff member, he’s a cabinet member of the Military/Veterans (Mil/Vet) employee resource group, and he’s on the AeroCARES board of directors.

“Organizations like TVO, Mil/Vet and AeroCARES can and do make a difference for veterans, and I say that confidently from experience. I’m so thankful to have the chance now to guide fellow veterans as they walk down the path I once did,” he said.

Happy Veteran’s Day to Joe and all of the men and women who have fought for our freedom! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!

Irving’s Unite for Troops honors veterans, provides for active military during Veteran’s Day event

Unite for Troops, a grassroots non-profit organization, held its 8th Annual Veteran’s Day Celebration on Saturday November 9 in Porter’s Army Navy store parking lot in Irving.

Unite for Troops was founded two days after 9/11 by Cindy Porter, who felt moved to do something to show support for our troops, domestic and abroad.

Volunteers were present to pack donated supplies into boxes to ship around the world. The boxes are decorated on the inside by helpers and kids for an extra morale booster.

“We are shipping supplies to our troops worldwide,” Porter said. “They are asking for more help because, right after 9/11, everyone was supporting them, but very few supplies go over there now. These supplies are going to the most desolate and desperate areas. We are free to do things like this and to live our lives because of our troops.”

The most popularly requested supplies are toiletries, various snacks, socks, batteries, puzzle books, flip flops and over the counter pain relievers, such as Advil and Tylenol.

Four colors of ribbons were available at no charge to pin on attendees’ shirts: Red signified an active soldier, Blue represented a retired member of the military, White indicated a family member or a friend of someone who is or had served, and Golden was a special ribbon for veterans of WWII.

There were plenty of things to do for people of all ages. Musical entertainment included singers and bands on the big stage playing songs that were supportive of all military. BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs and homemade ice cream were offered.

Kids enjoyed their own area, which featured a petting zoo, crafts, face painting, a bounce house, games and even a reptile exhibit. A bull ride machine was available for all ages who were brave enough to take it on. Canine Companions and the DFW Humane Society also brought both service dogs and dogs available for adoption.

Santa Claus even made a special trip to the event to show his support.

“Santa usually doesn’t come out this early in the year, but he wanted to come out and support the troops. When he heard about it, he said he wanted to stop by in his camos [camouflage] in order to take the love and good wishes back to the troops as he heads back to the North Pole,” Porter said.

Irving Police Department brought vehicles out for kids of all ages to take a look at, including an official city car, as well as a Citizens on Patrol car, a half-track MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle and a drone.

Veterans were encouraged to bring  flags they had that needed a proper retirement, and a ceremony was held to do so in the afternoon.

The Troops of St. George had several fun offerings.

“We are a Catholic scouting organization here in the North Texas area,” said volunteer Paul Thies. “We represent a number of different Catholic parishes in this region. We are out here today to help support our troops in the field and to participate in the [Unite for Troops] Veteran’s Day event.

“With this tent, we are doing a number of things. We have a flag retirement booth, so when people bring their flags in, we will make sure they are properly disposed of [based on rules outlined in the Constitution]. They will be disposed of in the ceremony this afternoon. One of our leaders is raffling off a ride in a M*A*S*H Vietnam/Korean War era Bell 47 helicopter out at the Cavanaugh Air Museum in Addison. The lucky winner will get a 30-minute ride. We’re doing paintball as well. All of these things are to generate donations and 100% of everything collect will go to our troops via Unite for Troops,” Thies explained.

The helicopter was true to the TV show M*A*S*H down to its 4077 tail number.

Vietnam Veteran John Rose had his own booth, as he took over for Santa Claus when Santa had to go back to the North Pole. He said that he enlisted into the Army at age 26 and got sent to Vietnam for a year as part of a reconnaissance effort. Rose and four of his platoon mates lost their radios, so they hunkered down and learned Morse Code as a last-ditch attempt at communication because no one knew where they were. They were stranded for ten days. They finally received directions to a fire base and made it there on foot, where their commanding officers arranged transport home.

“What we started doing after we lost our receiver was to start going to Charlie’s [the enemy’s] supply depots and we started re-supplying ourselves with weapons, ammunition and a lot of rice. When we were done, we left a message for Charlie: We blew it [the supply depot] up,” Rose recalled with a grin.

“We made it to the fire base and we had long beards and nasty hair and we had hardly any sleep. I’m sure we were the sight. But they were happy to see us and we were sure happy to see them!

“After we made it to the fire base, we were all laying on the floor. One of the guys said, ‘Lieutenant, are those guys asleep? They aren’t paying attention.’ The Lt said, ‘They’re asleep, but make sure you don’t make any loud noises because they’ll wake up real fast and be ready to fight!” said Rose.

Fortunately, Rose does not suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) like so many of veterans do. There were several booths at the event collecting donations for programs to help with the transition to “normal” life as well as to fund programs to provide mental health services to veterans who need it.

For more information, visit UniteForTroops.com.

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Task Force Vet Visits to come to Addison August 5

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The Task Force will be coming to Addison on Sunday, August 5 from 11 am – 5 pm at 4800 Spring Valley Rd 75244. Stay tuned on the latest details by watching this Facebook page and make sure to “Like” the main page.

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Task Force Vet Visits‘ mission is to visit and assist U.S. Veterans of all ages, branch, color or religion. We are a brother and sisterhood that is like no other. We want to share as much information to all of Our Brothers and Sisters that have served Our Country. No Active Duty, Veteran, Gold Star or Blue Star should ever feel alone nor feel like there is help available.

We try to put the spotlight on many national and local resource and organizations that help our Brother and Sister Veterans.

In the summer of 2018 we will be doing our 2nd official cross country trek on motorcycles to visit as many Active Duty, Veterans, Gold Stars or Blue Stars as possible. In 2017, we travelled 8200 miles across the country with 19 stops. 17 stops were to visit with individuals. 2 were larger publicized events which we were able to introduce our Brothers and Sisters to local organizations.

If you are Active Duty, Veteran, Gold Star or Blue Star and would like a visit then let us know. There is no pressure. We are not selling anything. We don’t ask for money or anything else. We offer our time to get to know you and let you know you are not alone. We care about you because you are our family regardless if we have met you or not. We can meet for coffee, lunch, dinner or a bottle of water at a gas station. Your choice.

If you are an organization supporting Veterans then let us know. We will share your message on our facebook page and help you spread the word.

We are based out of Massachusetts. Throughout the year we will visit with Veterans in New England. We also have team members in Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia that are available to visit throughout the year in addition to our annual trip.

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For more information about the Task Force, visit https://www.taskforcevetvisits.org/tfvv/

Veterans Day Walk Nov. 7

12132402_10156122340690313_8076439096714163490_oJoin the City of Pearland by honoring those who have served. Back from the battlefield, but for many the battles continue on the inside as the veterans & their families face PTSD, depression and other challenges. The Veterans Day Walk is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Recreation Center & Natatorium located at 4141 Bailey Road.

Proceeds benefit the William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Pearland VFW Post 7109, Counseling Connections for Change and Hike for Mental Health . Advance registration is encouraged. Visit pearlandwalk.org for more information.

Roger Clemens, Willie Robertson, Jennie Finch, Taylor Kitsch and more join Marcus Luttrell at PX3 Patriots Celebrity Softball National Series game

PRESS RELEASE

PX3PatriotsHOUSTON Celebrities from across the country come together for the PX3 Patriots Celebrity Softball National Series Game on October 21 at Rice University in Houston.

Willie and Korie Robertson from A&E’s hit TV series “Duck Dynasty” are scheduled to join the Lone Survivor Foundation Warriors, a team of celebrities, and play against the PX3 Patriots, a team of military veterans, including US Navy Seals, US Green Berets, honor recipients, amputee veterans, and wounded warriors.

Willie and Korie will be joining softball Olympic medalist Jennie Finch and seven time Cy Young Award winner, baseball icon Roger Clemens. Lauren Sesselmann, professional soccer player for the Houston Dash and co-producer and host of Fitness Program ‘Fit As A Pro’ will also be playing.

Taylor Kitsch, Lone Survivor actor and costar in Friday Night Lights, will also be on the field, playing alongside Mark “Oz” Geist and John “Tig” Tiegen, co-authors of 13 hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, the book that inspired the upcoming Paramount Pictures film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

Founder and Chairman of the Lone Survivor Foundation, Marcus Luttrell, U.S. Navy SEAL (Ret.) and Navy Cross recipient, is scheduled to throw out the first pitch.

The event will kick off with a homerun derby at 7:00 p.m. followed by the celebrity softball game at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are available for $10 and reserved field seats are available for $15-30. Tickets can be purchased online through Ticketmaster – www.ticketmaster.com.

This will be the inaugural game of a national celebrity softball series hosted by the PX3 Research Foundation to raise funds and awareness of its mission and other military-focused non-profits. Additional event information, including the full team rosters, can be found on the PX3 Patriots webpage, www.px3patriots.org.

For information about the PX3 Foundation, visit www.px3foundation.org.

To learn more about The Lone Survivor Foundation, visit www.lonesurvivorfoundation.org.

Travis Manion Foundation to host annual 9/11 Heroes Run in Houston

PRESS RELEASE

TMF_Footprint_SFbanner_108x48_Mech-1024x273HOUSTON — The Travis Manion Foundation will host the Houston 9/11 Heroes Run 5K race at 7:30 a.m. on September 12 at Ellington Airport, located at 11602 Aerospace Drive.

The annual race will unite the community to remember the sacrifices of the heroes of the September 11th attacks and the wars fought since. The Houston race is the largest across the entire country. This year’s race was organized by Greg Fremin, who serves as the local volunteer race director.

A portion of the proceeds from the 9/11 Heroes Run will benefit the Travis Manion Foundation, which offers veterans and families of the fallen unique opportunities to help them take the next step in their journeys and accomplish their personal and professional goals. The other portion of the proceeds will remain in the local community to support the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Charitable Foundation, Texas Association of First Responders and Assist the Officer.

The 9/11 Heroes Run series was inspired by Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion, who was killed by a sniper in Iraq in April 2007 as he selflessly protected his battalion. Before his final deployment, Travis visited Rescue One in NYC—famous for losing almost all of their men on 9/11—and returned home with deeper passion about why he was fighting in Iraq.

At its heart, the 9/11 Heroes Run is a tribute to Travis’ personal commitment to never forget the heroes of that day. In its seventh year, the 9/11 Heroes Run national race series will be held in more than 50 locations across U.S. and abroad.

“Knowing that so many people gave their lives during the 9/11 attacks touched my brother Travis in a way that would forever change him,” said Ryan Manion, President of Travis Manion Foundation. “Six years after 9/11, my brother also gave his life for his country, so every year we gather communities together to run a 5K to honor the fallen. We are looking forward to this exciting race season and uniting people around the world to remember those whose service has given us freedom.”

Last year, more than 30,000 people participated in races around the world. The Travis Manion Foundation invested over $151,000 back into the local race communities to support military, veterans, first responders and their families. National sponsors of the events include Comcast NBC Universal, JWT, and Reebok. The race series sponsor is Johnson & Johnson. To learn more and to register for a race, visit www.911heroesrun.org.

Wounded vet offers help and hope to others through exercise

Nick CloseUpPearland-area resident Corporal Nick Perales is a retired Marine Scout Sniper, who was wounded on February 2, 2011 while on his third military tour (he served two tours in Iraq and the third in Afghanistan) after being hit by an IED. Perales had to have a single below-the-knee amputation of his right leg and fusion of his left leg, requiring a brace from the knee down to walk.

This is not what defines him, however.

At the “retired” age of 26, Perales has started a new career and business to better himself and to offer the same to the residents of Pearland.

Perales is the proud owner of Elite Strength and Performance, a premiere strength and conditioning facility, located at 2911 East Broadway Ste. 311., which opened on June 29.

Perales found that through his activity in the gym and through physical fitness, he was able to overcome the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and be able to look forward to what was next for him in life.

PTSD can occur after a person has been through a traumatic event, such as combat exposure, child sexual or physical abuse, a terrorist attack, a sexual or physical assault, a serious accident or a natural disaster. Even witnessing one of these events can cause the symptoms of PTSD.

Common symptoms include reliving the event (flashbacks and nightmares), the avoidance of situations that are similar to the event, negative changes in beliefs and feelings, spontaneous anger or rage, anxiety and feeling keyed up and hyperalert.

“I was in a slump for the first few months,” said Perales. “I just wanted to stay inside. I was on all kinds of pain meds. One day, it dawned on me that the one thing that had always been a constant in my life was exercise. I started working out two to three times a day, sometimes for five hours.”

This is what turned Perales’s life around.

For this very reason, Elite Strength and Performance is offering a FREE lifetime membership to all veterans (combat wounded or otherwise) and first responders (police, fire fighters, EMS) who are looking for a way to heal and deal. Elite is also offering a discount to the immediate family members of the veteran or first responder, as family is very important to the healing process.

“My mission is to help folks with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries, amputations and those wounded in line of combat re-integrate into the community as well as raise awareness about these issues and get the word out that help is available,” Perales said.

“If a guy walks in here today with some issues, I want to offer him mentorship from someone who’s been there, free workouts and a trustworthy friend.” Perales added.

Statistics show that 22 veterans commit suicide every day and 150 police officers kill themselves every year. These numbers hit very close to home for Perales, as he has lost some of his Marine brothers to suicide.

“Just in the past year, there have been five guys from my battalion who have killed themselves,” said Perales. “I know there have been a lot more than that, but these are the guys I knew.”

Perales himself found strength in, and is now an active member of, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance.

“Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) is a non-profit organization that serves the needs of the men and women serving in our military, law enforcement, fire and rescue and EMS services – a community of people we call ‘Sheep Dogs.’

“For the membership of SDIA, helping others is a way of life. All Active Members of SDIA are current or former military and public safety personnel with an innate desire to serve and protect our nation beyond their call of duty. SDIA Volunteers come from all walks of life, but have the heart of a Sheep Dog and a desire to serve. This continued service gives us a renewed sense of purpose and camaraderie. Whether it’s helping local service professionals in a time of need or traveling to assist a community in the wake of a natural disaster, we believe that service does not stop when a shift or tour of duty ends.

“The various programs offered by SDIA provide members with an outlet for continued service, and for some, a renewed sense of purpose. SDIA’s programs include Peer Group & Mentoring, Transition Assistance, Continued Service to Society through Disaster Response Missions, Holiday Programs, Team-Building Activities (Outdoor Adventures and Hunting Trips), and other assistance as needed,” according to the website.

“Sheep Dog came to my attention at the end of 2011. They motivated me to get up and get moving. I was barely out of a wheelchair when me and my buddy did a 14-mile mud run,” Perales said.

Perales also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with five other wounded vets in 2014 and competed in the “10 Island Race” off coast of Sweden, where he had to run to the highest point on one island and then swim or kayak around the nine remaining islands.

With Sheep Dog, Perales helps other vets get out of their heads and into nature, escorting them in outdoor events, hunting trips and adventure races. He is also a regularly featured speaker at SDIA’s annual charity ball, when he isn’t climbing mountains. Sheep Dog even established an award that is named after him.

Perales never mentioned the Purple Heart he received, nor did he speak much about his new business. It was obvious that his heart and mind are focused on the needs of others. And that is true American heroism.

For more information about Sheep Dog Impact Assistance, visit http://sheepdogia.org/. To learn more about Elite Strength and Performance, visit http://esappearland.com/.