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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Looking for Military Families to Help

I just received this & thought that it was good information....PLEASE SHARE!

Subject: Looking for Military Families to Help

Department Adjutants, please read over the below information and distribute throughout your state. Should you have any questions or need any assistance please don't hesitate to contact me.
Andrew Tramontana
The American Legion
National VA&R Commission
Assistant Director of DoD Outreach
Heroes to Hometowns Program Coordinator
Office: (202) 861-2700, ext. 1408
Mobile: (202) 631-9924


As you may be aware, Rebuilding Together and Sears Holdings have for combined forces to assist veterans and military families in need with free home repairs and modifications through the Heroes at Home program. I am hoping you can let these heroes in need know that help is available and direct them to their local Rebuilding Together affiliate.

We are actively seeking more veterans to assist. The program is open to low-income and disabled veterans of various military backgrounds, military widows and active duty military families. We are writing today because we need your help in spreading the word about our services.

Please ask veterans in need to contact their nearest Rebuilding Together affiliate as soon as possible. Affiliates can be easily found at

Since the inception of Heroes at Home in 2007, we have completed nearly 300 projects across the country with a combined market value of over 3.8 million dollars. In 2009, we plan to complete hundreds more projects and we need your help to find more veterans who need assistance.

If you would like to learn more about our program, or if you have a veteran to recommend for our services, please contact any one of Rebuilding Together's Veterans Housing team,
Vanessa Georgeson mail to: ,
Hyewon Kim ,
or T.J. Cantwell ,
who will be happy to assist you.

Also, feel free to visit our website at

With the assistance of people like you, we will continue to help our veterans and service members remain comfortable and safe in their homes and give back to those who have given us so much

Friday, January 23, 2009


Pvt. Joseph Aaron McMath
April 11, 1984 - January 13, 2009

Dear Valued Supporters,

Pvt. Joseph McMath was a veteran of the U.S. Army where he served two tours in Iraq with the Striker Brigade Unit and received the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Bar (second award), the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Pvt. Joseph McMath came into our lives at Operation First Response in the summer of 2008. During that time Joseph was struggling financially and we were honored to serve this brave warrior.

We received very sad news that Pvt. Joseph McMath passed away on January 13, 2009. Joseph struggled with PTSD for a long time and his family did all they could to try to get him the help he needed but he could not continue the personal war he experienced in his heart and mind each day. His family is struggling as I am sure you would expect, they had already reached a point of financial hardship and now they have a $9,000 funeral expense. The family is in hopes of receiving a VA Death Benefit of $2500 - leaving a cost of $6500 remaining. A trust fund has been set up in Pvt. Joseph McMath's name to help pay for his burial. If you would like to reach out and help this Heroes family, the information is as follows:



If you would like verification or have any questions please contact Heidi Hunter at Commercial Bank at 229-226-3535.

As always, we thank our donors for their patriotism and continued quick response to the needs of our wounded Heroes and their families. We could not serve them without you!

*PTSD stands for: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

*Suicide Prevention Hotline:
Press 1 if you are a Veteran

To all of our Veterans: You are loved, honored, remembered, and we are forever grateful for your service.


The Staff at Operation First Response

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From A Gold Star Mother

As the clock winds down towards the end of President Bush's time in office I asked my dear friend Diane if she would write something for my blog about the effect meeting him had on is what she wrote.

I am a Gold Star Mother, not by choice, but by God's will.

Travis joined the Marine Corps 10 days after High School Graduation, in 2003. Nothing or no one could’ve stopped him and definitely no one forced him to sign on the dotted line. Travis wanted to serve his Country, and hopefully make a difference, in anyway he could to our great Nation. Travis was born to serve. Unfortunately, devastatingly enough, My Precious Travis was KIA in Ramadi ,Iraq on April 6, 2004 in a hostile ambush with 9 other Marine Brothers and 1 Navy Corpsman. Travis was just 19 years old and had only had been in Iraq 3 short weeks. Travis, at his young age, lived and loved life to it‘s fullest. A young man who was very comfortable in his own skin. He did more in his short life than most do in a lifetime.
Travis loved History. He watched it on TV every chance he could. Travis was born on Memorial Day weekend in Red, White, and Blue and 19 yrs. later was brought home to me, draped in Red, White, and Blue. He is now also a part of History. I'm so very Proud of his Courage, Honor, Commitment and Ultimate Sacrifice for family, friends, strangers, you and me.
The day I received the news from 3 Marines in my carport, as I stood limp, I vowed to my Son, “There’s a reason God took you from me and it's a calling for me to help other Gold Star Parents, as from my knowledge, and never let you, My Son, be Forgotten”. Never in my wildest imagination could I have anticipated the Journey I was to embark on.
Unfortunately, I have met way too many Gold Star Parents and Families as I never wanted any more to walk in my shoes. I have been to as many Fallen Services as I possibly could attend to extend my Love and Support and to share my personal information so to provide an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on anytime they may want to reach out. I'll be there.
Through this journey Travis has placed me on almost everyday there’s something unreal, or amazing he has brought to me. I tell him he sure comes up with some doozies which is fact. I have been to many places I never thought I'd fly to (I hate flying) and met so many incredible people, throughout this great Country. All in my Sons Honor. Travis knew in my heart, my Mission in his Honor was not going to be complete, till I had the Honor of meeting Our President George W. Bush. Travis, I tell him “Son, you just keep working miracles everyday“. In June 2008 I wrote a letter to President Bush telling him my daughter, grandson and I where going to be in Washington, D.C. for an event put on by the White House Commissions affairs in September, “A Time of Remembrance” and would love to be able to meet with him, as I am a Gold Star Mother. I got a regretful reply that he would not be there in town at that time, his apologizes. Well I figured that was my last chance as I knew I would not be going to D.C. till at least May of 2009 for Memorial Weekend. And President Bush would be leaving Office in Jan. 2009.
Travis once again was taking care of his Mother. I received a phone call on Jan. 3, 2009 from a White House representative addressing the letter I had written the President in June . He was inviting me and my family to a Gold Star Family Reception at the White House on Wed., Jan. 14th with President Bush. I was speechless to say the least. The next day by email I had received a personal invitation to a Reception at the White House with President Bush. We only had a weeks notice but it immensely worth it all.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009, the Gold Star Families were invited into the White House at 2:00 PM and allowed to take as many pictures as we liked . Normally you’re not allowed cameras at all in the White House. So that was outstanding as it was. Then at 2:45 PM we were shown into a room set up with chairs. At 3 PM President and Mrs. George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates came into the room. Wow, my heart about stopped. It was beyond what words can capture and way more than I expected.
President Bush addressed us all and with a very heartfelt and emotional short speech he welcomed us. We listened briefly. Then he said he would join and greet every family individually in the next room over. Throughout the afternoon we were catered too and treated like royalty with genuine support, honor and respect of our Lost Loved Ones. While the Families waited our turns we were taken into a huge reception room where a gorgeous table was set elegantly with hors d'oeuvres, pastries and drinks.
My daughter, grandson, Sgt. Major escort and myself waited patiently for our turn as we were not in a hurry. Finally they got us and escorted us to the room where President Bush graciously met us at the doorway, greeted us in. I was so nervous but he gently kissed me, put his arm around me and guided us into the center of the room. He then greeted my daughter, grandson, and Sgt. Major with the same respect. The nervousness disappeared and an amazing calmness fell over the room instantly. His humbleness and sincerity was something I will never forget.
A man of his stature, power looked into my eyes and never wavered. My eyes filled with tears as I spoke of my son, Travis, so did his. He assured me Travis' life was not in vain, and he will never be forgotten. We laughed ,we joked, we were at ease. President Bush signed a few things I had brought with me, and then he coined us all, with his Presidential coin. Wow! He had his arm around me and held my hand the whole visit. You could feel the Love he was generating for us in our heartache and pain. He again kissed me as we said our goodbyes. What a memorable day in our lives.

President George W. Bush has my full admiration and respect for a very difficult job well done. Mission complete to the best of his ability, in the time allotted, for this great Nation.
Travis and my journey shall continue, as needed.
We Pray for World Peace

Diane Layfield
Proud Mother of Lcpl Travis J. Layfield, USMC

Thank You President Bush

Eight years ago I never would have thought I would be writing this post but I, like our country, have gone thru many changes during this time. Tho I may not have agreed with everything you did in the last 8 years I thank you for taking on the job at a very tough time in our nation's history. I felt safer in the past few years than I will in the next few. Good-bye President & Mrs. Bush....enjoy all that is yet to come for you both & your family. God Bless You & please continue to pray for us all.

Monday, January 19, 2009


On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech refered to as his "I have a dream" speech. More than a quarter million people attended the event, sprawling from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial onto the National Mall and around the reflecting pool. He would have been 80 years old today. Here is the speach...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Good News Follow-up

Last month I posted Blankets of Hope for the troops stolen: Please help! . Well things turned about for Linda Fererra's project of making blankets and collecting other donations for patients at Landstuhl hospital in Germany. Here is definitely a feel good story to share.


As I read this post on Amy Galvez's blog "Through The Eyes of a Gold Star Mom" I
felt that it needed to be shared. Amy Galvez is a Gold Star Mother. A Gold Star Mother is a mother who has lost a son or daughter in the service of our country. Like my dear friend Diane her Blue Star turned to Gold. Diane had the honor of meeting President & Mrs. Bush this past
Wednesday at a reception held at The White House.

Please read this...

My Tribute to President George W. Bush

As the days count down to President Bush leaving office, a barrage of
emotions have come over me that I did not expect. I knew it would be hard for me
to see President Bush go, but these feelings caught me off guard. You see, the
Bush presidency became very personal to me. It literally defined my life and
changed it forever.

When President Bush took office in 2001, we were an average middle class
family with three kids, then ages 12, 15 and 18. Life was hectic but nothing too
out of the ordinary. President Bush instilled confidence in me. I felt like he
had good insight and understanding and could get the job done. After 9/11 he
demonstrated an ability and strength of character that made me believe he was
the right man
at the right time, and that America would be well served by him. I
admired his determination and steadfastness to do what had to be done. I knew
that President Bush was driven by his depth of character, his core values and
beliefs, and his desire to always do what was best for America.

President Bush did not seem to care about scoring political points or making personal gains. That knowledge comforted me when my son Adam joined the Marine Corps in 2004. (READ MORE)

Friday, January 16, 2009


For those who missed this last evening here is the text of President Bush's Farewell Address.....

THE PRESIDENT: Fellow citizens: For eight years, it has been my honor to
serve as your President. The first decade of this new century has been a period
of consequence -- a time set apart. Tonight, with a thankful heart, I have asked
for a final opportunity to share some thoughts on the journey that we have
traveled together, and the future of our nation.

Five days from now, the world will witness the vitality of American democracy. In a tradition dating back to our founding, the presidency will pass to a successor chosen by you, the American people. Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose history reflects the enduring promise of our land. This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole nation. And I join all Americans in offering best wishes to
President-Elect Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two beautiful girls.

Tonight I am filled with gratitude -- to Vice President Cheney and members
of my administration; to Laura, who brought joy to this house and love to my
life; to our wonderful daughters, Barbara and Jenna; to my parents, whose
examples have provided strength for a lifetime. And above all, I thank the
American people for the trust you have given me. I thank you for the prayers
that have lifted my spirits. And I thank you for the countless acts of courage,
generosity, and grace that I have witnessed these past eight years.

This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house
-- September the 11th, 2001. That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in
the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor. I remember standing in the
rubble of the World Trade Center three days later, surrounded by rescuers who
had been working around the clock. I remember talking to brave souls who charged
through smoke-filled corridors at the Pentagon, and to husbands and wives whose
loved ones became heroes aboard Flight 93. I remember Arlene Howard, who gave me her fallen son's police shield as a reminder of all that was lost. And I still carry his badge.

As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11. But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our nation. I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe.

Over the past seven years, a new Department of Homeland Security has been created. The military, the intelligence community, and the FBI have been transformed. Our nation is equipped with new tools to monitor the terrorists' movements, freeze their finances, and break up their plots. And with strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them. Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taliban harbored al Qaeda and stoned women in the streets to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school. Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States.

There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions. But there can be little debate about the results. America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil. This is a tribute to those who toil night and day to keep us safe -- law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts, homeland security and diplomatic personnel, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

Our nation is blessed to have citizens who volunteer to defend us in this time of
danger. I have cherished meeting these selfless patriots and their families. And
America owes you a debt of gratitude. And to all our men and women in uniform
listening tonight: There has been no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.

The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God, and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.
This is the belief that gave birth to our nation. And in the long run, advancing this belief is the only practical way to protect our citizens. When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror. When people have hope in the future, they will not cede their lives to violence and extremism. So around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity. We're standing with dissidents and young democracies, providing AIDS medicine to dying patients -- to bring dying patients back to life, and sparing mothers and babies from malaria. And this great republic born alone in liberty is leading
the world toward a new age when freedom belongs to all nations.

For eight years, we've also strived to expand opportunity and hope here at home. Across our country, students are rising to meet higher standards in public schools. A
new Medicare prescription drug benefit is bringing peace of mind to seniors and
the disabled. Every taxpayer pays lower income taxes. The addicted and suffering
are finding new hope through faith-based programs. Vulnerable human life is
better protected. Funding for our veterans has nearly doubled. America's air and
water and lands are measurably cleaner. And the federal bench includes wise new
members like Justice Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.

When challenges to our prosperity emerged, we rose to meet them. Facing the prospect of a financial collapse, we took decisive measures to safeguard our economy. These are very tough times for hardworking families, but the toll would be far worse if we had not acted. All Americans are in this together. And together, with determination and hard work, we will restore our economy to the path of growth. We will show the world once again the resilience of America's free enterprise system.

Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I've always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions. The decades ahead will bring more hard choices for our country, and there are some guiding principles that should shape our course.

While our nation is safer than it was seven years ago, the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack. Our enemies are patient, and determined to strike again. America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.

At the same time, we must continue to engage the world with confidence and clear purpose. In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.
As we address these challenges -- and others we cannot foresee tonight -- America must maintain our moral clarity. I've often spoken to you about good and evil, and this has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense -- and to advance the cause of peace.

President Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." As I leave the house he occupied two centuries ago, I share that optimism. America is a young country, full of vitality, constantly growing and renewing itself. And even in the toughest times, we lift our eyes to the broad horizon ahead.

I have confidence in the promise of America because I know the character of our people. This is a nation that inspires immigrants to risk everything for the dream of freedom. This is a nation where citizens show calm in times of danger, and compassion in the face of suffering. We see examples of America's character all around us. And Laura and I have invited some of them to join us in the White House this evening.

We see America's character in Dr. Tony Recasner, a principal who opened a new charter school from the ruins of Hurricane Katrina. We see it in Julio Medina, a former inmate who leads a faith-based program to help prisoners returning to society. We've seen it in Staff Sergeant Aubrey McDade, who charged into an ambush in Iraq and rescued three of his fellow Marines.

We see America's character in Bill Krissoff -- a surgeon from California. His son, Nathan -- a Marine -- gave his life in Iraq. When I met Dr. Krissoff and his family, he delivered some surprising news: He told me he wanted to join the Navy Medical Corps in honor of his son. This good man was 60 years old -- 18 years above the age limit. But his petition for a waiver was granted, and for the past year he has trained in battlefield medicine. Lieutenant Commander Krissoff could not be here tonight,
because he will soon deploy to Iraq, where he will help save America's wounded
warriors -- and uphold the legacy of his fallen son.

In citizens like these, we see the best of our country - resilient and hopeful, caring and strong. These virtues give me an unshakable faith in America. We have faced danger and trial, and there's more ahead. But with the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great nation will never tire, never falter, and never fail.

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your President. There have been
good days and tough days. But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of
our country, and uplifted by the goodness of our people. I have been blessed to
represent this nation we love. And I will always be honored to carry a title that means more to me than any other - citizen of the United States of America.
And so, my fellow Americans, for the final time: Good night. May God
bless this house and our next President. And may God bless you and our wonderful
country. Thank you. (Applause.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Military Spouse Scholarship Program

Pass around to those who might be able to benefit from this scholarship opportunity.

Applications Now Being Accepted for the National Military Family Association Military Spouse Scholarship Program

Our application period has opened for the 2009 scholarship season!

The National Military Family Association's Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program awards spouses of uniformed services members up to $1,000 for professional certification, college, or graduate school. The funds are for tuition, fees, and school room and board. Applications are due by midnight February 1, 2009. Visit NMFA for more information or to submit an application. These scholarships are made possible thanks to partnerships with Fisher House Foundation and Folds of Honor Foundation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Please pass on to someone who may be assisted by this.

Harvard University announced over the weekend that from now on undergraduate students from low-income families will pay no tuition. In making the announcement, Harvard's president Lawrence H. Summers said,"When only ten percent of the students in elite higher education come from families in the lower half of the income distribution, we are not doing enough. We are not doing enough in bringing elite higher education to the lower half of the income distribution.

If you know of a family earning less than $60,000 a year with an honor student graduating from high school soon, Harvard University wants to pay the tuition. The prestigious university recently announced that from now on undergraduate students from low-income families can go to Harvard for free. no tuition and no student loans!

To find out more about Harvard offering free tuition for families making less than $60,000 a year, visit Harvard's financial aid website at:


Disney, Army resort offer affordable vacations for troops

by William Bradner
American Forces Press Service

1/8/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- A Disney vacation just got more affordable for military members and their families.

With the "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" offer, active and retired military personnel, including active members of the Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reserve, can enjoy complimentary, multiday admission into Disney's U.S. theme parks, and additional special ticket offers for family members and friends.

At the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, from Jan. 4 to Dec. 23 each active or retired member of the U.S. military may obtain one free five-day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" ticket with "Park Hopper" and water park options. The ticket is valid for five days of admission into the four Walt Disney World theme parks, plus a total of five visits to a choice of a Disney water park, DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park or certain other attractions.

During this offer period, active or retired U.S. military personnel also may make a one-time purchase up to five "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets -- good for five days -- for $99 each, plus tax, for family members or friends. Although this ticket for family members and friends does not include either the Park Hopper or Water Park Fun and More options, it can be upgraded to add either such option, or both, for an additional $25, plus tax, per option. All tickets and options are nontransferable and must be (READ MORE)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Corps Deploys Cows for Iraq's Economy

January 12, 2009
Los Angeles Times

AL-ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq -- As U.S. forces work to revive Iraq's tattered farming economy, they seem to have found an effective new weapon.


At the suggestion of an Iraqi women's group, the Marine Corps recently bought 50 cows for 50 Iraqi widows in the farm belt around Fallujah, once the insurgent capital of war-torn al-Anbar province.

The cow purchase is seen as a small step toward re-establishing Iraq's once-thriving dairy industry, as well as a way to help women and children hurt by the frequent failure of the Iraqi government to provide the pensions that Iraqi law promises to widows.

The early sign is that the program is working. Widows, many with no other income, have a marketable item to sell, as well as milk for their children. Although Iraqis, particularly women, are often reluctant to participate in an American effort, the cows were immediately popular.

"It was an easy sell," said Maj. Meredith Brown, assigned to the Marines' outreach program for Iraqi women.

The idea, proposed by members of the Women's Cultural Center in Fallujah, at first met with resistance from U.S. military officers and civilian officials involved in aid programs for al-Anbar. Nothing in their training provided guidance in haggling for livestock.

Those objections evaporated when Maj. Gen. John Kelly, the top Marine in Iraq, signaled his support, Brown said. The Iraqis now refer to their animals as Kelly's Cows.

Although Kelly's support might have been based on gut instinct, the need to beef up Iraq's dairy industry was argued in a Nov. 25 report by Land O'Lakes Inc.

The Minnesota cheese-and-butter company was hired by the Marine Corps to examine the Iraqi dairy industry. Its 38-page report, based on field research in the fall by two Land O'Lakes dairy specialists, concluded that there was enormous growth potential for the industry in a milk-drinking, cheese-eating nation that can locally produce enough milk to satisfy only 5 percent of the demand.

The study also pointed out that, even in Iraqi farm families with able-bodied adult males, much of the work is left to women: "Women milk (READ MORE)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Community turns out to support soldier

Rick Lemyre
Published 01/08/2009 - 2:34 p.m. PDT

When locals discovered over the New Year holiday that an Iraq veteran and his family needed some help, it touched off a response full of shock and awe, East County style.

Cpl. Billy Hyder returned last May from a 10-month deployment to Iraq, where he moved supplies and built troop housing with the 1-143 National Guard. Hyder, an Oakley resident who had previously served with the Navy and the Marines, said that as “a reward for working hard,” he was given the opportunity he wanted: to get out from “behind the wire” and escort convoys in Baghdad.

Manning a 50-cal. gunner position in an armored Humvee on one of his 10 missions, his vehicle triggered a pair of IEDs. “It rung my bell, but I wasn’t bleeding or anything,” he said, adding that he was able to complete that, and subsequent missions.

Upon his return to California, however, he was found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and in early November he checked in to The Pathway Home, a nonprofit transition center for combat veterans in Yountville.

Back home on Dutch Slough Road, his wife, Cheryl, and daughter, Jolene, 13, were just getting by. Scrimping on groceries so they could afford gas for twice-weekly visits to Yountville, Cheryl said the home’s cupboards got pretty bare. Not wanting to add to her husband’s stress, she kept the problem to herself.

“I’m not a complainer,” she said. “I was keeping my mouth shut and visiting Mom for dinner.” But when Hyder got a pass and came home for Christmas, he learned the truth.
“It was pretty depressing for him,” Cheryl said.

Hyder said he asked the staff at Pathway if they could provide some food for his family. “They gave me $30 cash right then,” he said, “and then all hell broke loose.”
Hyder said Pathway staff contacted Army Lt. John Adams and Warrant Officer Spiro Mitsanos of the State Military Reserve, who immediately brought food for the family from their office in the South Bay. Word spread to Mark Harris, a ride captain with the Patriot Guard Riders, who e-blasted whomever he could think of on New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Day, support began arriving in volume. Throughout the day, visitors brought so much food that it was difficult to store it all in the Hyders’ tiny home. The supporters filled propane tanks, dropped off gift cards, fuel cards and Christmas presents – and the deluge was only beginning.

Oakley City Councilman Bruce Connelley arranged for a donation of hundreds of dollars through the Oakley-Delta Lions, and began contacting local veterinarians who could use the funds to cover fees for looking after a family dog, which is ill. Connelley contacted City Manager Brian Montgomery about city housing assistance programs that might help relocate the family to more comfortable quarters. Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher checked in by phone, and reservists continued to bring aid.

Then came Saturday. Dozens of motorcyclists from the PGR, the Legion Riders, the Dirty Dogs and other veteran biker organizations from around the Bay Area and beyond, rallied nearby, then descended en masse on the Hyder home bearing cash, presents, debit cards and, most of all, emotional support.

“It was incredible,” said Hyder, who could only stand misty-eyed and speechless outside his house as the leather-clad convoy rolled up. “To see all those motorcycles, people who didn’t even know me coming long distances just for me, made everything I’ve ever done in the military worthwhile. I don’t even feel I rate; I didn’t save anybody’s life. I’m just lucky the Army let me back in, and let me go on patrol. There are a lot of people who deserve it more than I do.”
Harris said that in addition to escorting members of the military to and from home (including one earlier in the day on Saturday) and participating in funeral processions for “fallen heroes,” Help on the Homefront missions are what the groups are all about. This one, he said, was especially gratifying.

“All I can say about this mission is ‘Outstanding,’” said Harris. “The response and life-changing support occurred within 24 hours, on a holiday. The power of personal relationships, coupled with the unconditional determination that any veteran will never be abandoned, is overwhelming.”

Hyder said that knowing that local support is so strong will make it less difficult for him as he goes through the recovery program at Pathway. “It’ll be a thousand times easier,” he said. “I was afraid I would have to drop out.”

As he stood on the side of the road on Saturday, with veterans first saluting, then hugging him and his family, he also discovered something he wants to do once his recovery is complete.
“I’ve been a biker all my life, and I want to do this,” he said of the support mission. “I want to pay it forward, and this is how I’m going to do it.”Hyder asked that anyone wishing to provide additional support consider a donation to The Pathway Home, P.O. Box 3930, Yountville, CA 94599.

To learn more, log on to

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Holiday Mail for Heroes

I heard from someone involved with this program today to thank me for getting the word out about them & to let me know that they exceded their goal of 1 million cards sent to the troops. AWESOME! I would like to thank my readers for your participation in this program & your continued support for our troops. Please watch the video to see how they did.