This day has been a day I have personally looked forward to, Monday, December 23, 2013!
We will be uniting Military families, wounded warriors families and Gold Star families today with a free relaxation day and a day to meet people who have had to walk different paths in their military life.
To me, as I said this was personal, simply because when I was a military spouse, I never thought of wounded warrior wives or families of the fallen.. It wasn't a part of my life and I did not have any clue what these families would go through. Then my husband Jamie deployed and I learned oh so well what it meant to be a wounded warrior wife. It was a selfless role, it meant no matter how bad I felt, my feelings were irrelevant, my husband was laying in a hospital bed unable to eat, breathe, walk or speak on his own.. no matter how bad my day was, I was blessed compared to my husband who each day opened his eyes and whispered "I Love you" as he stared into my eyes. We spent eleven months inside the hospital each day giving thanks to God for the life we were blessed with knowing that Jamie was able to come home from Afghanistan after being shot by a sniper, even if it was to the hospital for the remaining portion of his life, we were blessed. Jamie never had any regrets of serving his country and welcomed his death with honor as he took his last breath on March 21, 2012.. a few days later I came to realization I was now a Gold Star wife as a man delivered a gold star flag and small gold star pin for my lapel.
Gold Star Pin History is below;
In 1967, an Act of Congress standardized the service banners and established the
Gold Star lapel pins to issue to immediate Family members of service members
killed in combat. The Next of Kin pin signifies a service-related death during active duty
other than combat.
On this Monday morning, I was able to meet and greet military families from Andrews air force base, wounded warrior families from Walter Reed and war widows from the east coast. As I greeted each person, I hugged them and welcomed them to a day of gratitude for being a part of our Military family and introduced them to one another in my effort to bridge the gap between each classification of family member. As many of the military families heard the stories from the wounded warrior families, one Military spouse said "I shouldn't be here, you should give my spot to someone else that is wounded, I feel greedy taking space." As I walked the wife back to the spa room, I told her " I can not imagine how you feel hearing these stories and seeing the faces of the people you have only read about on the internet or listened to on the news, this is part of the Military Veteran Project for our educational & awareness program, we want to bridge the gap between active, retired, wounded and fallen military fallen to create the unity that we all need. There is no reason for us to be segregated." The reality of this day hit home for so many people who attended, it gave them a new prospective on life and it opened their eyes to understand while they may be suffering in one way, someone else is going through a battle far more different than their own.
As we closed out the day nine hours and seventeen people later, my team and I passed out gift bags to everyone, our present to them from military supporters from around the world. We gave them a huge and told them Merry Christmas, we care....
There are no words I can put on this retreat we were able to have, all I can say is I am hopeful we can continue to bridge the gap between our military veterans and families to create the unity and awareness.
Sending my love to each and everyone of you and thank you for your support..
Imagine traveling for the holiday season airport to airport and as everyone
speed walks through the airport from one terminal to another out of the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse of camouflage, that digital print that so many of us know and remember. As many military widows, I remember the watching Jamie put on his uniform each morning before work and I looked forward to seeing him and his uniform walk through the front door after a long day of work.
Its a site that I only see now in a framed photo hanging on my wall in my
living room. Jamie's uniform to me is now a symbol of freedom, hope,
love and respect.. while I miss seeing my soldier wear it, there are thousands of other men and women who do and I know that my soldier lives through each one of them. The selfless service, dedication, love for my country mentality that you can see each time you look into their eyes.
As I sit in the airport this holiday season traveling to Washington DC to
meet with wounded warriors, their families and gold star families, this uniform
is all around me and I feel a strong sense of pride knowing that today someone
is signing up voluntarily to protect America and ensure the freedoms we have
today are here tomorrow.
How wonderful of a life we live in, which is the reason this holiday season
I am traveling to take time to give back to our military families who give so
much. We will be visiting Walter Reed National Naval hospital to pass out
stockings, gift cards and bring chocolates to the medical staff who I feel
sometime get forgotten in the shuffle. These nurses, corpsmen, doctors and
medical staff work 365 days a year ensuring the nations wounded are cared
for. Even in the midst of furloughs, cut back and holidays they are there
comforting and caring for our wounded warriors and their families. I
remember the long days we spent in Walter Reed after Jamie was shot by a sniper
in the Zhari District of Afghanistan leaving him paralyzed from the chest down
and to live his life as a quadriplegic not able to eat, drink or breathe on
his own for nearly six months. Where daily we would
meet with his medical team and live our life behind closed doors of
the hospital doing occupational and physical therapy to get ready for yet
another surgery that Jamie had to have. I remember the cries of
wounded warriors at night for their wives or family members and banter of
little feet as children came to visit their mother or father inside the
Its a harsh reality of life that can wake you up in a split
second, it was this harsh reality that made me realize I was a selfish
American, taking for granted the simple freedoms each day with no worries of a
road side bomb detonating as I drove to my office to start my
work day, as I turned on the lights in the office or as I opened the internet to
check my email. The freedoms I used to daily were interrupted the day my
husband was wounded in action on foreign soil, not the day he deployed, because
after all, I was just a military spouse and I just supported his career decision
to serve our nation. A decision that would forever change our life as a
family. If was told three years ago, that I would have resigned from my
corporate, six figure career that I had word relentlessly for nearly 15 years, I
would have laughed and walked away. Now today December 2013, its been over
two years since I resigned from my career that I thought I needed so much.
The idea of success, the never ending amount of money and stability of knowing
each day I had everything I ever wanted.
That was until Sunday April 10, 2011 when my phone rang and I was told that
my husband Sgt Jamie Darrell Jarboe was shot and in surgery.. the day I found
out that all the money in the world, no amount of success could change the fact
that the man I loved would spend the last eleven months of his life being a
testimony to not only me but thousands around the world of selfless
sacrifice. A man that would ask me to carry on a wish to care for his
fellow service members, a man who would watch me from the heavens carrying on
his wish by creating a non profit called the Military Veteran Project.. a man
that even today not physically next to me can still motivate me each day to
carry on his story..
So this holiday season as you read this journal entry do me a favor,
whether you are inside or outside, look up to the heavens and please give
thanks to our fallen heroes who have given the ultimate sacrifice for America,
words I humbly speak each day before I give thanks to God for creating such a
man to show me the true meaning of love.
I am thankful for today, for the ability to hurt and heal.
This morning among many things I am getting ready to travel to Fort Riley to meet with families, command and soldiers to show support for the fallen and be the face of a survivor to give hope to others..
I remember a little bit of my life after Jamie passed away on March 21, 2012.. what I remember the most is all I wanted was Jamie to wake up and come home to the girls and I. It was a haze of events for the first six months after Jamie passed, I did everything I could do to stay busy and never have a moment of free time to realize the true reality of my life. I started volunteering, speaking and running away from waking up from the traumatic events I had endured the last year of Jamie's life.
Each person grieves in a different way, each person loves in a different way, each person lives in a different way and I was no different from thousands of other military families who had suffered a loss. All each of us ever want is to hold a sign that says welcome home to our Military Hero and see them smile one last time, but to so many we are denied that opportunity.
Five Fort Riley soldiers killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/12/19/3187709/moran-5-soldiers-killed-in-afghanistan.html#storylink=cpy
Five of the six soldiers killed in Monday’s helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan were from Fort Riley, authorities said Thursday.
All five soldiers were assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Riley said in a news release. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
One person aboard the Black Hawk UH-60 was injured and survived the crash in Now Bahar, Afghanistan.
Officials originally said the helicopter had experienced engine failure before the crash, but they later said it was unclear whether that was the case.
According to initial reports, the troops had mechanical problems and came under fire after the crash. It was unclear whether any of the casualties were the result of enemy fire.
The five Fort Riley soldiers have been identified as Chief Warrant Officer Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Okla.; Chief Warrant Officer Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta Ga.; Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C.; Spc. Terry K.D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Miss.
Also killed was Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams of Elkhart, Ind., who was with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these Big Red One soldiers,” Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, 1st Division and Fort Riley commanding general, said. “We stand ready to support them, and I urge our community and nation, while remembering their sacrifices this holiday season, to do the same.”
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said in a statement, “As we pay tribute to their service and sacrifice, we are reminded that freedom is not free.”
Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/12/19/3187709/moran-5-soldiers-killed-in-afghanistan.html#storylink=cpy
Take a moment of your time to show your veterans you support their service, stand for a disabled Veteran who can not, live for a veteran who gave his last breath for you to exercise your freedoms and protect the family they left behind.
"Never should one person use their popularity as a platform to voice their personal opinions.." -Melissa Jarboe
Today, I posted the above quote on social media and while the world was in the midst of an uproar over Phil Robertson, many of us were in shock at the cuts to Military retiree benefits to thousands of veterans around the world.
Personal opinions of Senators, Congressmen or others voting on bills are irrelevant - from my understanding these men and women are to be the voice for the rest of the nation. Granted, they represent states, districts or county citizens, their job is to consider the well being and benefit those they serve. That is right, those they are SERVE. They are voted in and may easily be voted out.
take a moment of your time to show your veterans you support their service, stand for a disable Veteran who can not, live for a veteran who gave his last breath for you to exercise your freedoms and protect the family they left behind.
Click the link below to sign the petition, take a moment of your time to show your veterans you support their service, stand for a disabled Veteran who can not, live for a veteran who gave his last breath for you to exercise your freedoms and protect the family they left behind.
Washington (CNN) -- The Murray-Ryan budget plan, which passed a key Senate vote Tuesday, punches way above its weight. The relatively skinny, 77-page bill would affect millions of Americans, as well as programs, fees, companies and, oh, the entire economy for years to come. Here's our scorecard:
• The Pentagon: There are smiles among the camouflage. Thanks to Murray-Ryan, the budget-cutting hatchet has been downsized to a knife. The deal reverses billions in budget cuts so that the military's discretionary budget will actually go up $2 billion next year (over the budget-cut amount this year). Also, after years of juggling unpredictable, temporary spending bills, the two-year budget deal allows generals and admirals to do something that is military 101: Plan ahead.
Budget deal passes key Senate vote
Sen Paul: New budget is a step backwards
Murray: Budget deal was a compromise
Budget deal angers military retirees
• Federal employees: Two biggies -- the deal slashes the chances of a shutdown in January or any furloughs in 2014. And there's a bonus: A technical change in the bill allows federal workers who are married without kids to obtain health benefits under a new, cheaper "self plus one" category. They currently have no option but "single" or "family" plans.
• The needy: Head Start, Meals on Wheels, just about any federally funded program that directly serves the needy could benefit from Murray-Ryan. How exactly the numbers will land is still unknown, but because the budget deal replaces budget cuts for nonmilitary programs, nonprofits are hopeful. "This is good for us," Jenny Bertolette from the Meals on Wheels Association of America told CNN.
Another benefit: As with the military, these programs will know their funding levels for two years and can do critical planning.
• TSA: The Transportation Security Administration wins from increased security fees -- the budget gives the agency more reliable funding.
• Appropriators: Imagine Muhammad Ali in his prime, with boxing gloves on but forced to sit outside the ring. That's how the members of Congress' appropriations committees have felt for years. Once considered to be some of the most powerful people in the capital, the lack of any long-term spending agreement has nearly cut them out of the process. Until now. The Murray-Ryan plan means appropriators are back on the canvas and will decide how to carve up more than $1 trillion, agency by agency.
Zelizer: Obama's rough year
• America's reputation: For three years, the world has watched the U.S. government limp from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis. The budget deal sends a message that even a deeply divided Congress may be able to do its job and govern.
• Santa: No fiscal cliff. No health care debate. Santa and his sleigh can lift off without any cable channels showing partisan bickering from the House or Senate floor this year.
• Young, career military: This compromise deal will mean less retirement pay for military retirees younger than 62. Specifically, it cuts the annual cost-of-living adjustments to a level under inflation.
CNNMoney: 5 things the budget deal won't do
• New federal workers: You've got a government job! Congratulations! But if you start that job after January 1, this budget bill would cut your pay by 1.3%. That would be an increased, mandatory contribution to the federal pension fund.
• Unemployed: The clock is ticking, but the budget agreement does nothing to address unemployment benefits, which expire this month for about 1.3 million Americans.
• Air travelers: You will pay more to be safe. This plan boosts the TSA security fee to $5.60 for each one-way trip. Technically, airlines pay the fee, but you know how that works. A few companies have already admitted that the increase will probably be passed on to consumers.
• Scammers and con artists: The budget deal makes it harder for anyone to access and use the Social Security numbers of dead people. And prisoners? Think twice about trying to get an unemployment check. That's illegal, and this deal will make it harder for you to pull off that scam.
• Gas and oil industry: Two hits: The petroleum industry is set to lose a $50 million research program and a kind of backdoor moneymaker in which oil companies purposely overpay into a federal fund and gain higher-than-market interest payments from the government as a result. That's fini.
• Wealthy federal contractors: This may be hard to believe, but right now, federal law will pay up to $952,308 in salary for any single contract employee. The Murray-Ryan budget deal would cut that down to $487,000.
• The years 2016-2023: While this budget deal significantly blunts forced budget cuts (the "sequester") set for the next two years, it would leave those cuts at full power for the following seven years. In addition, this bill adds a new set of forced budget cuts and a few extended fees (customs fees, for example) for 2022 and 2023.
• The long-term future of the U.S.: Medicare. Social Security. These fiscal monsters may be silent now, but are set to rise over the next two decades to become huge financial threats to both the federal budget and the U.S. economy. This bill does not address the coming long-term problems.
This morning as I read local and national news articles, I was saddened to read the story about a Vietnam Veteran Charles Thompson who passed away just a few months ago and has yet to be buried.
Many people are quick to point fingers and ask who, what, where and why? For me, none of those questions cross my mind. The questions running through my mind is how can I serve, how can I help and how can I honor this many who served our nation.
For months after Jamie was wounded I sat next to his hospital bed in the hospital giving thanks to God for the blessing of life we were given. Granted, Jamie was paralyzed from the chest down, he could not walk, talk, breathe on his own and unable to eat by mouth, but we were thankful for the gift of life & love. We would talk about all the support that wounded warriors receive and how people around the world rise to the occasion to help, donate and write letters to our service members.
Unfortunately, we know the world was not as accepting to our military veterans of Korea, Vietnam and even Desert storm.. Jamie and I were always thankful for the support, but we would take every opportunity to give thanks to Veterans of wars before for leading the way and paving the path of the road to be walked.
This story this morning reminded me of the many discussions Jamie and I had about support and how we can make a difference the men and women who selflessly served our nations years ago. Today I remember my husband's last wishes the most important was to care for his fellow service members and just as I do each day I will honor Jamie's wish.
By: Ariana Cohen
A new twist in the saga of a veteran whose body has lain in a Shawnee Co. morgue for the past four months - a person claiming to be a relative has called the county coroner's office.
On Monday, we received the disturbing news tip: No one ever made arrangements for 64 year-old Charles Perry Thompson, a veteran who died in a Topeka motel last August, and he still was in the morgue.
The caller, Tina Alejos, said she made quick friends with Thompson. He even gave her a necklace, which she still wears close to her heart.
"It just rips out your heart when you know someone who is sitting there touched your heart 5 months ago, and you know he is gone and nobody is stepping up," Alejos said.
Thompson had stayed at the Topeka Rescue Mission in the past.
"Charles was with us for about 16 days, and 3 different occasions, back in 2008, very short amount of time, someone who has served our country, and as I understand honorably discharged," said Barry Feaker, Executive Director of Topeka Rescue Mission.
When a veteran's family does not make funeral arrangements, the Veteran's Administration (VA) will step up to help. Any veteran with a DD Form 214 showing a honorable discharge from military service can be buried at a national cemetery with military honors.
The main concern now is getting Thompson's body to a national cemetery or a state veteran cemetery.
After contacting the VA, their representatives told us they are seeing what they what they can do to make sure Thompson is buried properly this week -- something Alejos said he deserves:
"He was loveable. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it," she said.
Those plans are on hold now follow the phone call from the person claiming to be Thompson's relative. The coroner said he cannot move forward with those arrangements until they receive confirmation that the family will not claim his body.
A disturbing fact from this investigation was that there are still a dozen bodies in the Shawnee Co. morgue. The coroner said he wasn't sure how many were veterans, but like Thompson, they will remain there until someone arranges to have them laid to rest
My name is Melissa Jarboe, military spouse, wounded warrior wife and war widow. Today and everyday moving forward, I will honor the sacrifice of our men and women who selflessly serve our nation.