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Meet Your Military: Guard Soldier Aids Comrades Beyond Battlefield

support our troops tennessee national guardPHOTO: Army Staff Sgt. Pamela Pugh, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and 14-year member of the Tennessee National Guard, helped two homeless soldiers in her unit get a new start in their lives. LOBELVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 16, 2014 – Army Staff Sgt. Pamela Pugh, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and 14-year member of the Tennessee National Guard, was contacted during the late summer by two of her fellow soldiers who found themselves homeless and in dire need of aid. Pugh guided them to resources and various support programs that aid current military personnel, veterans and their families. Courtesy photo A platoon sergeant for her unit here, Pugh immediately took the initiative to help her comrades in arms, not only by her own actions, but also with help of numerous resources now available to military personnel, veterans and their families.

“These are my soldiers. I take care of them every month, and they know I care about them whether on or off duty,” Pugh said. “They know they can call me any time, especially when they are having difficult moments in their life. I take extreme pride in helping these soldiers. They are like my family, like my kids, and I feel an obligation to assist them as best I can.” Study shows extent of veteran homelessness Battling homelessness among service members and veterans has become a priority in the United States.

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Meet Your Military: Soldier Traces Service Ethic to Hispanic Roots

support our troops us soldier traces servicePHOTO: Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Flores leads the rifle team from the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command during the Memorial Day commemoration at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, May 27, 2013. JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J., Oct. 14, 2014 – Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Flores locked his rifle’s bolt to the rear, placed the butt of the weapon firmly against his shoulder, took aim and fired over the bow of an aircraft carrier in New York Harbor. Volunteering to go the extra mile in his military career is something Flores credits to his background as a Hispanic-American and combat-arms soldier. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris It was Memorial Day at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan, and Flores and his fellow honor guard soldiers were firing the first volley of blank rounds in a 21-gun salute to their fallen brethren. Going the extra mile This wasn’t the first time Flores -- a native of Nicaragua and a 16-year Army veteran -- participated in such a ceremony.

Volunteering to go that extra mile is something he credits to his background as a Hispanic-American and as a combat-arms soldier. “With a Spanish upbringing, especially if you’re coming from another country, you’ve got to be able to go above and beyond, such as learning the culture, learning the language,” said Flores, who came to the United States when he was 4 years old. “Once you do that, you also have to remember your roots.” Each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens with ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The theme of this year’s observance is, “Hispanics: A Legacy of History, a Present of Action and a Future of Success.” Striving to do better “‘You must try to be better’ is drilled down in our culture,” Flores said, recounting a bit of his own history. “Growing up, they always tried to push you, push you, push you to try to be better.

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Meet Your Military: Brothers Serve and Prepare to Deploy Together

support our troops us military brothers serve togetherPHOTO: Air Force Senior Airman Edward Lomelin and Air Force Airman 1st Class Chris Lomelin play video games at the home they share in Bitburg, Germany, Sept. 27, 2014.SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – A pair of brothers serving together with the 606th Air Control Squadron here is preparing to deploy together.  U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese Air Force Senior Airman Edward Lomelin and Air Force Airman 1st Class Chris Lomelin grew up in Austin, Texas, and struggled early in their childhood after their parents’ divorce. The children moved in with their mother, and Edward stepped in as the role model for his younger siblings.

This new responsibility forced him to grow up quickly to help his family through their struggles, he said. Years later, Edward enlisted in the Air Force, and he serves as a radio frequencies transmissions systems technician with the 606th ACS. His mother said she was honored he made the decision to serve his country, and that she knew he would excel in his career.

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Meet Your Military: Palau Native Marine Returns to Island Home

support our troops us marine returns home PHOTO: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Milton Donatus, second from right, instructs Palau national law enforcement officers on the operations of the M9A1 9 mm service pistol in Irai, Palau, Sept. 16, 2014.IRAI, Palau– Bedtime stories can have an impact on children’s imaginations. For many young people, hearing tales of fictitious characters like “Peter Pan” or “Jack and the Beanstalk” can create the desire to experience Peter’s or Jack’s extraordinary adventures. Donatus is a native of Ngaraard, Palau. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drew Tech For one boy from Ngaraard, Palau, bedtime stories were not about fighting pirates or giants. This boy was told stories of combat and the U.S. Marines at the Battle of Peleliu during World War II. That boy was Milton Donatus, and the stories his grandmother told him as a child spawned a lifelong dream to become a U.S. Marine.

“Every time my grandmother would talk about war, the Marines came up,” said Donatus, the training chief with Combat Logistics Detachment 379, Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. Idolized Marines “The Marines were always talked about as the saviors and the best [warriors] ever, so growing up, I didn’t know about any other military,” he added. “I only knew about the Marines, and that I wanted to be one.” Shortly after graduating from high school in 1995, Donatus moved to Guam to pursue his dream, and in May 2000, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. His career has seen him rise to the rank of staff sergeant and has brought him aboard the USNS Sacagawea as part of exercise T-AKE 14-2, a maritime pre-positioned force, multinational theater security cooperation event that deploys from the Japanese island of Okinawa to conduct training exercises.

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Meet Your Military: Food Services Trio Inseparable Since 8th Grade

support our troops us soldiers inseparable since 8th gradePHOTO: Pfc. Derek Jones, Pvt. Joshua Anderson and Pfc. DeAndre Kinlaw, all now 19 years old, graduated from the Army’s Food Service Specialist Course on Sept. 10, 2014. FORT LEE, Va– In middle school, three students made a pact to attend high school together, play football together, enroll in college together and follow the same career path. The Jacksonville, Fla., natives have attended middle school, high school and college together and are now embarking on a stint with the Florida National Guard. U.S. Army photo by Terrance Bell “We were in the eighth grade sitting at a table, and we planned our whole lives out right there that day in class,” recalled Army Pvt. DeAndre Kinlaw, a member of the trio. One could argue their ambitions were simply notions of pre-adolescent romanticism, but it was far more than that. It was about extending their reach far beyond the familiar, actively pursuing goals and drawing inspiration from each other along the way.

Those dynamics also played part in the decision to take the plan one step further, joining the Army National Guard and completing basic combat and advanced individual training together as members of the same units. The three 19 year olds -- Pvt. Joshua Anderson, Kinlaw and Pfc. Derek Jones -- graduated Sept. 10 after completing the Quartermaster School’s Food Service Specialist Course as members of Tango Company, 266th Quartermaster Battalion. They are now on leave in their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Resilience, teamwork, common purpose Army Capt. Constance Marable, Tango Company commander, manages more than 400 soldiers at any one time.

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Meet Your Military: Archery Helps Airman Overcome Adversity

support our troops us airman archeryPHOTO: Air Force Staff Sgt. Seth Pena readies his compound bow to strike a target 25 meters away in San Antonio, Sept. 14, 2014.SAN ANTONIO – Air Force Staff Sgt. Seth Pena, a highly decorated tactical air control party member who is noted for calling in coordinated close support airstrikes that killed up to 70 Taliban members in one fight, sat down with a crossbow draped across his lap and a target 25 meters in front of him, reminiscing about the night that changed his life forever. Pena will compete at the 2014 Warrior Games, taking place from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, in Colorado Springs, Colo. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Ellis "I have gone on multiple deployments, defeated the Taliban; I never thought another American would do this to me," he said. One night while Pena was riding his motorcycle, a drunk driver ran a red light and crashed into him. As Pena was flung from his bike, the driver attempted to flee, but was apprehended by a service member who witnessed the incident. Pena doesn't remember the event. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, multiple broken bones and fractures, and he lost a lot of blood. He died immediately at the scene, but was resuscitated once medical personnel arrived. "I actually died twice," Pena said with a sobering tone.

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