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America's Military Charity® 501(c)(3)
2021 Goods and Services Delivered $38,000,000 (est.)
2021 Overhead: Less than 5%
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Providing assistance to and promoting support
for America’s troops and their families

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS®
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America's Military Charity® 501(c)(3)
2021 Goods and Services Delivered $38,000,000 (est.)
2021 Overhead: Less than 5%
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Serving Those Who Serve

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS®
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Donate Today
America's Military Charity® 501(c)(3)
2021 Goods and Services Delivered $38,000,000 (est.)
2021 Overhead: Less than 5%

If they’re there, we’re with them

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS®
[caption id="attachment_3647" align="alignleft" width="250"]LegalOfficerUses Air Force Capt. Maureen Wood, right, stands with fellow legal officer Air Force Capt. Jaime Espinosa prior to a mission in Iraq. U.S. Air Force photo[/caption] WASHINGTON – The increase of troops into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility also is increasing the nontraditional roles filled by airmen in combat, a product of the Air Force's "all in" philosophy.
Air Force Capt. Maureen Wood, a legal officer deployed with Multinational Force Iraq’s Joint Task Force 134, recently found herself in one of those situations that was anything but "traditional." She helped to save a life of a fellow servicemember using self-aid and buddy care after her convoy was attacked by an improvised explosive device.On Aug. 21, while on a convoy in Iraq, the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle Wood was riding in, along with several other Army and Air Force personnel, was struck by a roadside bomb designed to penetrate armor and release shrapnel in all directions.Her head was thrown back from the explosion, and smoke entered the vehicle. While doing a quick self-check, Wood said, she felt a large knot on her forehead and another on her left hand. She would later find out the "bumps" were shrapnel lodged in her skin."I found myself trying to figure out what had just happened, what was going on," she said. "I saw [Capt. Wendy Kosek] in front of me with a gash across her jaw line. Next to me was an Army major who was yelling that he couldn't feel his legs." Glancing over at the major, she said, she noticed his foot was turned up at the shin. Wood said she unbuckled herself and went to help. Her goal was to keep him from going into shock. The medic was there quickly, and a tourniquet was placed on his leg. Wood attributes her actions and calm demeanor on that day to the advanced contingency skills training she received at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix in Lakehurst, N.J. "Many people may find themselves saying or thinking this stuff won't apply to them, because they are going to be at a 'desk job' in some building somewhere," Wood said. "Every passenger in our MRAP that day was assigned to 'desk jobs.'" Her training at the expeditionary center prepared Wood to react instinctively in the aftermath of the attack, she said. "We learned by repetition," she explained. "Everything we were trained on was repeated until we reacted without thinking. We were also trained on the fog of war and reacting under pressure, which helped tremendously during the attack." The MRAP was disabled in the blast. The injured servicemembers needed to be loaded into the casualty evacuation vehicle. "We were grabbing the injured troops by parts of their uniform, the way we were shown in training,” Wood said, “lifting and moving them into the vehicle accordingly." Kosek, a fellow legal officer, was more severely injured in that attack, receiving shrapnel to her face, hand and leg. With the help of the other servicemembers, she and the Army major were lifted out of the disabled vehicle onto the ground and guarded from secondary attacks. As they continued the medical response, the Army major was loaded onto the floor of the casualty evacuation vehicle first. Kosek was next; to guard against further injury, she was moved and loaded using her belt. Wood said she noticed the major's leg was still bleeding. She was handed a bandage so she could attempt to dress his wound. Using knowledge from self-aid and buddy care, Wood said, she concluded that the color of the blood indicated it was not arterial bleeding. Bandaging the leg didn't stop the bleeding, so she decided to use pressure. Using the bandage, she pressed the major's leg against hers to stabilize and secure his injuries. "I wasn't nervous or scared," she said. "I was just reacting. It was a team effort that day. Everyone stayed calm. For the most part, it was like a well-oiled machine." Wood said her pre-deployment training was invaluable. "Pre-deployment training teaches you the concept of the fog of war and explains the necessity of having muscle memory, and having the ability to react as needed when circumstances arise that make it difficult to think clearly," she said. "So many people go to training thinking they don't really need the training because they don't think it applies to them." (Air Force Capt. Amber Balken serves in the Air Mobility Command public affairs office.) Dec. 10, 2009:  By: Air Force Capt. Amber Balken- American Forces Press Service
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.,– Air Force Col. Michael Stapleton has come a long way since being diagnosed with cancer in 2006 while serving as 43rd Fighter Squadron commander here.
Now the 49th Fighter Wing Operations Group commander at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Stapleton recalled that he didn’t realize at first that his illness was serious."I had what appeared to be the stomach flu, and was feeling very weak,” he said. “I went to the doctor and was thinking I was dehydrated and I needed to kick the flu in order to get back on the flying schedule.”But the flight doctor thought it was more than the flu and decided to check Stapleton’s blood. “He started us down the right path due to his attentiveness and thoroughness,” the colonel said. “In his words, I just didn't look like myself. Score the first save for Air Force medicine." The blood test revealed that Stapleton’s red and white blood cell levels were about half of normal. "We chased a lot of things until finally we checked my bone marrow," Stapleton said. "My wife, Christine, a nurse practitioner and former Air Force nurse, was insistent on the bone marrow biopsy from the start. Another save by Air Force medicine. That is when we found out I had myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of bone marrow cancer found in older populations. “The patient advocate at Tyndall made the rest happen,” he continued, “and I was off to Houston for medical treatment. Again, another Air Force save." He was diagnosed with cancer Aug. 8, 2006. "My experience with the military medical system was awesome," he said. "I had a local hematologist/oncologist who managed my case, and Tricare sent me to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Medical Center in Houston for treatment." The Houston facility is a center of excellence for a number of cancers, and is one of the leading hospitals for bone marrow transplants, which is the only recognized cure for MDS. The Tricare military health system provides some of the best medical care available, Stapleton said. "Whenever you or your dependents are seriously ill, you should become familiar with the Tricare case manager system," he said. "Also, make sure you get to know your patient advocate and your primary care manager very well.” Tricare has a second opinion system that works to the benefit of patients who are smart about their disease or condition and know where its centers of excellence are, he said. “You need to get smart and be your own advocate,” he added. “If you do, the Tricare system works extremely well. You don't need a medical degree. You need the Internet and the phone number of your patient advocate. It's a great system, and I am extremely thankful for it." A new drug caused Stapleton's cancer to go into remission. "While waiting for a bone marrow donor match, I was prescribed a new drug called Revlimid," he said. "In four months, I was in remission and did not have to undergo the bone marrow transplant. It's a miracle, if you ask me. It's not a recognized cure, but it is a new lease on life that I do not intend to waste." The colonel was considered cancer-free on Nov. 23, 2006, and was able to return to flying status. "I'm lucky and had better not waste this chance," Stapleton said. "I also felt a sense of responsibility to make this work. Of course, I was also very happy that I would fly again. Oddly enough, being healthy was and is still more important to me." Stapleton offered advice for those facing cancer for the first time. "Get smart, get tough and keep your faith," he said. "Some of us are made to be fighters, and cancer is our challenge. Your attitude and priorities are extremely important. And don't settle for a doctor. Get the best. Tricare will get them for you, and there are more out there than you may think. “Get smart on the new drugs and studies at university hospitals,” he continued. “There are lots of support organizations out there too. You are not in this alone." The cancer experience did not change his convictions, the colonel said, and several things helped him get through this illness. "Although faith is a fairly private issue for me, I was raised and continue to be a dedicated Catholic," he said. "Cancer didn't change that part of my life. It energized it for me and my family. Somehow, it also made my hair gray. I think it has helped me galvanize my priorities." But his faith wasn’t all that got him through it. "Everything about my life helped me get through this: my faith, my family, the Air Force and the Panama City community where I was diagnosed," he said. "I don't recommend cancer to anyone, but I have to tell you it was definitely a positive experience for me. It sounds crazy, but this has been one of the best experiences of my life. I learned a lot about myself, and have come to rely on my family a lot more." Stapleton’s Air Force friends rallied around him during his illness. "So many people supported us during the tougher times," he said. "It was truly an uplifting experience. I think being in Panama City had a lot to do with the miraculous nature of my remission. People from just about every church in the area were praying for us. I can't describe how good I felt, but 'eternally thankful' is a start." Stapleton said he knows that flying is a privilege, and that at one point during his cancer fight he thought flying was a distant memory. "I am very thankful for the chance to fly again," he said. "I am flying F-22 [Raptors] and T-38 [Talons] routinely, and under instructor supervision, I have had the chance to get into the MQ-1 [Predator] and MQ-9 [Reaper] operations. Our operators and maintainers on the flightline continue to impress at every chance. I will admit, however, that the best part is to be back on the team of airmen who work so hard to fix and fly our aircraft. Our nation is blessed to have their service, and their dedication to the mission inspires and motivates me to no end." Life continues to be "ops normal" for the colonel and his family. "I still tend to run short in the 'patience' category of leadership, and still absolutely love the Air Force," Stapleton said. "The airmen we serve with today are the best of the best -- complete patriots, truly inspirational. Serving with them is one of the best experiences life has to offer. "My children have gotten older, my wife has gotten younger, and I continue to seek opportunities to make life a little better for others,” he continued. “I feel like my time is running short and that I owe so much for the chance to be well again." The future still holds many bright surprises, he noted. "I will move this summer, likely to a staff job," Stapleton said. "If it's like any other job I've had in the Air Force, I will love it. I can say with absolute certainty that I will miss Holloman." The importance of faith, family and friends when facing something like this cannot be understated, he said. "I will forever be indebted to those who fed, supported and prayed for me and my family," the colonel said. "This experience has impacted my family in so many ways I can't explain. I think my kids have a better dad, for one, and I realize that each day is a gift." (Air Force Maj. Veronica Kemeny serves in the 325th Fighter Wing public affairs office.) Dec. 9, 2009: By Air Force Maj. Veronica Kemeny- Special to American Forces Press Service
[caption id="attachment_3674" align="alignleft" width="167"]GuardWifeSpreads Army Spc. Christopher Bailey, his wife, Amanda, and children are looking forward to spending Thanksgiving together during Bailey’s rest and relaxation leave from his deployment in Iraq. Ardmore, Ala., November 2009. Courtesy photo[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3675" align="alignleft" width="128"]GuardWifeSpreads2 Amanda Bailey and her fellow family readiness group members from Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 203rd Military Police Battalion, conduct a fundraiser for Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts for their deployed troops and families during the holidays, Ardmore, Ala., November 2009. Courtesy photo[/caption] WASHINGTON – Amanda Bailey has a lot to thankful for this Thanksgiving, with her husband, Army Spc. Christopher Bailey home from Iraq for rest and relaxation leave. And as head of his National Guard unit’s family readiness group, she’s helped to galvanize a communitywide show of appreciation for families of its deployed troops.
 Bailey, a military policeman with the Alabama Army National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 203rd Military Police Battalion, returned home to Ardmore, Ala., earlier this week for 15 days of R&R. “It’s fantastic,” Amanda said of the timing, five months into her husband’s first deployment since joining the Guard six years ago. The Baileys and their three children will enjoy two Thanksgiving feasts this year: one today with Specialist Bailey’s family, and another on Thanksgiving Day with Amanda’s family.Meanwhile, the detachment’s family readiness group has been hard at work, ensuring every unit family whose loved one is deployed has a memorable Thanksgiving, as well.With its families spread throughout Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, getting together to celebrate as a group wasn’t a viable option, Amanda said. So the family readiness group initiated the next best thing, sponsoring fundraising events and gathering donations from the local community and corporations.As a result, 53 Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment families received gift certificates for a Thanksgiving turkey or ham. Already looking ahead to Christmas, Amanda said she expects an even bigger outpouring of support for the families of all 85 deployed soldiers. “The response from the community has been really amazing,” she said. “People out there all want to help and show their support.” One donor made a $500 contribution and wants to begin offering monthly assistance to some of the needier families, she said. Bailey, still fighting jet lag from his flight home from Iraq, said he’s passed word of the family readiness group’s activities to his unit members. “It’s a great feeling to know that people are doing these little extra things,” he said. “It means a lot.” In addition to gift certificates, Amanda signed each of the 85 families up to receive free copies of a children’s Thanksgiving activity book through Operation Thanksgiving Eagle. The program, sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army and underwritten by BAE Systems and Raytheon, provided 500 copies of “It’s a Family Thanksgiving! A Celebration of an American Tradition for Children and Their Families” to military children stateside and overseas. The book, written by Deborah Fink, introduces young readers and their families to the history, foods and traditions associated with Thanksgiving, while recognizing families separated during the holiday because of deployments. “We at AUSA believe that projects such as this are important ways to draw Army families together and celebrate our history,” said John Grady, AUSA’s public affairs director. Nov. 25, 2009: By Donna Miles- American Forces Press Service
[caption id="attachment_3636" align="alignleft" width="128"]SoldierSeeksTo2 Army Spc. Wenderson Jangada, right, trains Army Sgt. Justin Albers to box at Forward Operating Base Ubaydi, Iraq, Dec. 5, 2009. A former Brazilian heavyweight champion boxer who became a U.S. citizen just prior to deploying with the 82nd Airborne Division, Jangada plans to return to the professional boxing circuit when his enlistment expires in 2010. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3637" align="alignleft" width="250"]SoldierSeeksTo Army Spc. Wenderson Jangada mans a machine gun in a guard tower at Forward Operating Base Ubaydi, Iraq, Dec. 5, 2009. A former Brazilian heavyweight champion boxer who became a U.S. citizen just prior to deploying with the 82nd Airborne Division, Jangada plans to return to professional boxing when his enlistment expires in 2010. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod[/caption] FORWARD OPERATING BASE UBAYDI, Iraq– For the woman he loved, he became a paratrooper in the vaunted 82nd Airborne Division and eventually a U.S. citizen. With his enlistment nearly up, 6-foot, 5-inch, 230-pound Army Spc. Wenderson Jangada is ready to return to his home country of Brazil to reclaim the title of heavyweight boxing champion.
Jangada deployed to Iraq’s Anbar province in August as an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, a unit whose battle campaign streamers from World War II read like a Stephen Spielberg movie script: Sicily, Anzio, Normandy, and the Ardennes.It is a fitting unit for a former boxing champion who has fought and trained with boxers from Argentina, Russia, and most of Europe.“I learn from them all -- some good, some bad. The Russians just want to kill you,” he said with a laugh.Though Jangada’s enlistment expires in early 2010, he expects to be extended through late autumn, allowing him to complete the current deployment. “I will take a couple months off, then I will train to fight again,” said the 2001/2002 Transcontinental heavyweight champ. “Perhaps I will take my titles back.” At 34 in the sport of boxing, Jangada is a mature practitioner, though he has friends who have boxed professionally into their 40s. “If the boxing doesn’t work out, I will open a gym with my friend Daniel Silva,” he said. Jangada is considering Chicago, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Ind., as possible locations. “I am a better trainer than a boxer,” he said. “Training a boxer is a puzzle. It’s like building a house. Everyone starts too fast. I started too fast, but I learned.” Jangada began his career as a muay thai fighter in the same Brazilian gym that spawned mixed martial-arts greats Wanderlei and Anderson Silva. But that’s not for him, Jangada said. “Boxing is a noble art. It’s a classic. Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali are classics. Besides, I have heavy hands,” he said, referring to his 38 knockouts. Recently promoted from private first class to specialist, Jangada is stationed here, 10 miles from the Syrian border, where paratroopers are partnered with Iraqi border enforcement troops. In his time off, Jangada coaches his battle buddies in the art of boxing. “They have heart here in the Army, much more than civilians,” he said. Army 1st Lt. Christopher Hollingsworth, Jangada’s platoon leader from Ennis, Texas, takes advantage of Jangada’s boxing mentorship whenever he can. The former Special Forces operator and medic from 3rd Special Forces Group said he would be stupid not to take advantage of such world-class talent. “The training he did with such a wide range of top boxers makes him a great instructor,” Hollingsworth said. “We are constantly trying to pick his brain.” Noting the great progress Iraqi security forces have made in Anbar province, Jangada said the deployment is quieter than he had expected. “Infantry is like boxing. We are fighters. We are the war dogs. We expected to find more action, but this is not the case. But then, I am glad to see nobody hurt,” he said. His wife, Susan, a former professional volleyball player, moved back to Indiana to be near family until her husband returns from Iraq. On the night of Oct. 24, Jangada was manning a guard tower. It was dark and cold, and the pouring rain had turned the “moondust” on the base into deep, sticky gumbo. A soldier brought him a note from the Red Cross. The details: Fergeson Jangada, born Oct. 24 in Bluffington, Ind., 8 pounds, 12.3 ounces, 21 inches, mother and baby doing fine. Susan likes the Army for the stability and health benefits, said Jangada, who is still considering re-enlistment. “His top end is unlimited,” Hollingsworth said. “If he chooses to stay in the Army, he can do whatever he wants.” In the meantime, he has eight months left in the deployment to be the best paratrooper he can be, he said. “Sometimes we love it; sometimes we hate it, but we can never forget it,” Jangada said. “No matter what I do when I get out, serving in the 82nd Airborne Division is something I’m going to bring with me forever.” (Army Spc. Michael J. MacLeod serves in the Multinational Force West public affairs office.) Dec. 8, 2009: By Army Spc. Michael J. MacLeod- Special to American Forces Press Service
[caption id="attachment_3668" align="alignleft" width="250"]WoundedWarriorBegins Erik Stewart discusses preparations for an upcoming higher-headquarters assessment with Ward Philips at Fort Riley, Kan., Nov. 6, 2009. Stewart was a soldier in Fort Riley's warrior transition battalion who transitioned to a civilian career with the Fort Riley garrison. U.S. Army photo by Alison Kohler[/caption] FORT RILEY, Kan. A former soldier who spent about 16 months in the warrior transition battalion here now looks forward to a rewarding career as an Army civilian.
Former Army Capt. Erik Stewart advises other warriors in transition not to rush the process."Make sure you're healthy and as whole as you can be," Stewart said. "It's all about your attitude. If you have a positive attitude and you work with the doctors, it goes well."Stewart, 38, from Wakefield, Kan., currently on leave, saw his Army career of more than 19 years officially end Nov. 18. He now has a promising future ahead of him working in the plans, mobilization, training and security directorate here as an emergency management specialist.Stewart uses his 15 years of experience as a military police officer and four years as an engineer in his new job. "There's some stuff I'm still learning, but the emergency management aspect of it, it works out," he said. The married father of four said he spent a lot of time looking before he landed the GS-12 civil service position. Learning to navigate the online civil service application process was tough, he acknowledged. "In the Army, you get orders [and] you show up,” he said. “You don't have to bring your accomplishments with you. You don't have to worry about that in the military. That was stressful." His civilian job has him preparing emergency management plans and, if necessary, assisting in emergency response. He’s in charge of Fort Riley's Ready Army program, currently concentrating on the post’s management of H1N1 flu. Though he misses the Army’s unit camaraderie, he said, working as a civilian has its advantages. "No more deployments, and no more alerts,” he said. “[You] come home every weekend and every night.” Stewart was wounded by a roadside bomb in the tenth month of his third deployment. For a while, he tried to tough it out, he said. "I got to where I was trying to get in and out of a vehicle and I couldn't do it, and I was in pain all the time - my back, my groin, my head and my arm,” he said. “I was having trouble holding on to my rifle, and I couldn't wear my gear without my back or my groin hurting. I was having trouble concentrating." He was sent here through the Army’s regional medical center at Landstuhl, Germany, and was assigned to the warrior transition battalion. "[I was] scared at first, because I've been doing this since high school,” he said. “When I first got there, I was just going to appointments, and that was OK at first, because I had been gone for like 39 months with deployment, home, deployment, home. Then I realized I was bored; I needed to find something to do." He tried to take college classes, but ended up having to withdraw three times, he said, because he couldn't focus and study. Stewart completed an unpaid internship with a nature center and looked into a welding program at a technical college. His wife mentioned looking for a job on Fort Riley, so he began to learn about applying for civil service positions. Though he expected a long wait after he interviewed for his current position, he said, he was selected the following day, and he has been on the civilian payroll since September. He advises other warriors in transition to make a plan, including financial plans, for what they need to have and where they will be in three months and in five years. "They can't just [say], 'I'm going to get out and live at my folks' house’, or ‘I'm going to move home,'” he said. That's not a plan." But before they make plans for life after the Army, Stewart said, soldiers should first get all the help they need. "Don't get out just to get away from it all," he advised. Most importantly, he added, warriors in transition need to take a step back when everything seems overwhelming. "It's easy to get caught up in 'Woe is me,' and it's easy to go to the dark, depressed place,” he said. “Take a big problem and break it down. It's like a wall, but if you take it down a brick at a time, eventually the wall's gone." (Alison Kohler works in the Irwin Army Community Hospital public affairs office at Fort Riley.) Nov. 24, 2009: By Alison Kohler: Special to American Forces Press Service

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