To encourage and fortify relationships between military service members, veterans, their families, their friends, and their Country; to nurture the path of communication for everyone, ensuring that no one is alone or left behind; and proving that we have not, are not, and will never forget the nobility of their sacrifices.

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Wishes

Alex M. Pizza sits in a C17 in Turkmenistan

As 2010 comes to an end, I've thought about the past year. The ups, the downs, and the in betweens. The new friendships I've gained, and the memories of loved ones passed.

 I have high expectations for 2011 on a personal and a professional scale. I hope to be touching more lives, and helping more people, making sure that no one feels forgotten about. As a country we should embrace those who are willing to sacrifice not only their time with their families, but their lives, for us.

In the year that Words For Warriors has been supporting our Deployed servicemen and women we have not had a single casualty. Most of all I hope and pray I can say the same this time next year.

To Hope. To Honor. To Sacrifice. To Family. To Homecomings.
Happy New Year.

Welcoming Nick Moody Home At Reno International Airport

Words For Warriors was honored to attended Nick's Welcome home Thursday night December 30th at Reno Airport. I regret not getting any photos, but the above news coverage is comprehensive. Nick was all smiles when I introduced myself. He even made a hearty laugh when I gave him a welcome home note from a friend he served with over 3 years ago.

Lorina, Nick's mother held a constant smile thanking everyone for all their support in bringing her son home. Lornia acknowledged it was the individual people of this nation who helped give her son back to her, not the bureaucracy whom runs this country.

Nick seemed a little shy and shell shocked at the out pouring of support.  His friend confided that Nick wasn't the kind of person who liked a lot of attention. I know Nick is grateful for all of his supporters, and a little in awe of the strangers who came to help him in his hour of need. Because of everyone who worked so hard, Nick can continue with his life, life as a normal college student. Good luck Nick.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Patriotic Tribute-Thank You

I found this video and had to share it. It's says it all.

The Best Christmas Present This Year...

The best Christmas present this year was a phone call from Afghanistan on Christmas Day from a Marine. This Marine told me how the artificial tree I'd sent brought Christmas to Afghanistan. The wrapped presents under the tree were a bonus. This particular Marine received 3 wrapped Nerf guns, among other random items. He told me how he gave the Nerf guns to his friends. After one friend unwrapped it he was so excited shouting, "I ALWAYS WANTED A NERF GUN WHEN I WAS A KID. THIS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVAH!" The Marine shared other stories with me involving the Nerf guns and his friends, promising me pictures when he gets back to the States.

This morning I got an email from the Marine. In true Marine style it was short, only containing one sentence. It said, "Thanks again for everything you sent it definitely helped make Christmas and I really appreciate it!"

You and your friends are most welcome Marine. Thank you for all the sacrifices you make for US.


A Contest That Benefits Our Troops

Pentel and Operation Gratitude are teaming up for National Handwriting Day (January 23) to sponsor Heros Worth Writing For (click for more information.) 
The Official Rules are, "Handwrite a letter to one of our United States Military members expressing your thanks for their courage and sacrifice. Letters must be handwritten and fit on one side of an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper."

 All letters must be postmarked on or before January 31st to the following address. You also need to include your name, address, and email address on a separate sheet of paper so they have a way to contact you if you are the Grand Prize winner or one of the 4 Runner-ups. Please note that this contest is open to those under 18, however a parent permission slip must accompany the letter. 
    Pentel of America, Ltd. - Marketing Department
    C/O Heroes Worth Writing For
    4000 E. Airport Drive, Suite C
    Ontario, CA 91761
I encourage everyone to take 5 minutes out of their day to write a letter and submit it. It is the least we can do to show our support for those who give up years of their lives sacrificing so much for us. Remember... Their Sacrifice. Our Freedom. 

Nick Moody Should Be On US Soil December 29th

Lorina Moody is proudly announcing that her son, Nick Moody not only has his passport, and a valid Visa, but also two plane tickets. One ticket takes him to JFK airport on December 29th, the other ticket takes him to Reno Nevada on December 30th. His plane is due to arrive in Reno at 5pm.

Once Nick arrives in Reno there will be a gathering at the Grand Sierra Lobby for all of his friends, family, and supporters. The family also hopes to have a Homecoming in Susanville for those who can not make it to the airport to welcome Nick home. These details are not available at this time, but I will update when they become available.

Until then...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Spirit

In all honesty I haven't really been in the Christmas spirit this year. Shopping makes me claustrophobic this time of year. Don't get me wrong, I have bought presents, although the majority of what I bought was sent downrange to Afghanistan to those I know will truly appreciate them.

This evening while driving on Main Street in Red Bluff California I saw a man standing tall on the street corner holding two signs, SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, and MERRY CHRISTMAS. He stood alone waving at those who honked in support.  He asked for no money, or donations.

I pulled over deciding I needed to know more about this man.  The man's name was John. John has lived in Red Bluff his entire life, except when he was in the Army. John told me with a smile, "I was in the 101st Airborne back when they jumped out of planes." John served in Korea, he was stationed at the DLZ. I thanked John for his service, and for standing out in the cold as a reminder to be grateful for those who stand for us. I asked John if he'd been out every weekend this month. "Well," John said looking down at the ground, "I've been out everyday this month for a couple hours, except one day I wasn't out because it was raining and my signs weren't laminated yet."

John and I continued to talk, he told me he had friends and family at home, he left them to come stand on this corner with his signs. "I only live 30 minutes away," John motioned with his hand, "Where I have food, warmth, and family. Even this cold street corner is better than Korea, Iraq, or Afghanistan any day." John tells of the support he's received from Red Bluff, about how a couple of "kids" who were leaving to fight in Afghanistan, and be stationed in Korea stopped to talk with him.

I left John with a renewed sense of the meaning of Christmas. John was a man, a Veteran who was committed to stand a vigil of support through the month of December no matter what the weather, reminding a town to remember those who sacrifice so much for our freedom.

In a time when I hear from the deployed America is at the mall, while we are at War I would like to Thank John for his vigil, for his reminder to remember what is important this Christmas. It's not what's under the tree, it's those who protect us.  MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Could Nick Moody Be Arrested Again And Sent Back To Prison?

Nick's Mother Lorina Moody who has now set her sights on Nick's safe return home for the New Year, as he will not make it home for Christmas has big concerns. Nick's 30 Day Visa expired while he was in prison in the UAE on a charge of carrying weapons related paraphernalia. Nick was arrested on September 29th and released on December 1st. It should be noted once his case was settled, it took the government 22 days to release Nick's passport, after much work from his lawyers.

Immigration states it is illegal to be in the Country without a valid Visa. Therefore a 16,000 AED ($4355) fine is being enforced. Nick's lawyer is working hard to get the fine waived since Nick was detained and held in prison with no way to extend his Visa. Nick's lawyer is meeting with Immigration Officials on Sunday. If Immigration decides Nick is at fault for his lapsed Visa he will be arrested and returned to prison to await another trial for being in the Country with an expired Visa.

The Moody family continues to ask for support in keep Nick's case in the forefront of the news and politicians minds as well as our hearts and prayers. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

National Museum Of The Marine Corps Virtual Experience

Because of my remote location and tough economic times traveling to see Museums has been cut from the budget. I can't begin to tell you all how thrilled I was to find the National Museum Of The Marine Corps Virtual Experience  through @Warrior_Patriot whom I follow on Twitter.

This is a MUST SEE experience that is truly spectacular. The site allows you to walk through the museum, every floor with 360 degree detail as if you were really there. A tour detail, narrative text, and related media tabs accompany each section of the museum.


Semper Fi!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nick Moody Is Coming Home!

The National reported the Judge overseeing Nick Moody's case ruled Nick could go free with a suspended sentence of three months in jail and a fine of 15,000 Dirham (4,084.42 US Dollars). Nick was warned if he were to be arrested again he would serve jail time.

Nick is quoted as saying, "I'm glad I am free. It's over."

Nick's family has posted celebratory thanks on the Help Bring Nick Moody Back Home Facebook page. They are hoping to have Nick home for Christmas... no doubt the only item on his Mother's List to Santa.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rucksack to Backpack: Brian and Me

War, Brotherhood, PTSD, Family, Divorce, and Suicide. Read this. It is emotional, informative, and extremely well written. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

As a school child I remember coming home and asking my Mother where she was on December 7, 1941. She wasn't born until 1944, so gave me one of her I-am-not-that-old looks before she told me of a family vacation. When she was 13 years old her father took her family on an ocean cruise to Hawaii.

As the teenagers gravitated towards one another she and her two sisters became friends with a boy. (I do not remember his name.)  My Mother's family accompanied the boy and his family to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. It was while they stood over the USS Arizona, the boy looked at my Mother in a way she would never forget and said, "My grandfather is still down there. I wish I could have met him."

In total there were 2,117 Sailors and Marines killed in action or who died of their wounds, while 779 were wounded.  A sum of 215 Soldiers were killed in action or died of their wounds, with 360 wounded. 

Ultimately 15 Medals of Honor, 51 Navy Crosses, 53 Silver Crosses, 4 Navy and Marine Corps Medals, 1 Distinguished Flying Cross, 4 Distinguished Service Crosses, 1 Distinguished Service Medal, and 3 Bronze Stars were awarded to American servicemen who fought at Pearl Harbor. It should be noted that not all of those who fought were trained to fight. An African-American cook by the name of Dorie Miller who served aboard the West Virginia took over an unattended anti-aircraft gun on which he held no training. His actions made him the first African-American to be awarded the Navy Cross. 

Hero's are survivors of circumstance. Each and every man and woman who resided at Pearl Harbor on this tragic day are Hero's. Some Hero's survive to tell their stories. Other Hero's remain only in our hearts and memories. Honor the sacrifices of the fallen and their loved ones by lowering your Flag to half-mast. Find an event near you Honoring those who fought at Pearl Harbor. Shake a survivor's hand. 

More Delay's For Nick Moody

Nick Moody was supposed to have his trial today, Monday December 6th after being arresting in Abu Dhabi Airport in the UAE for possessing accessories that accompany a firearm. (Nick was not carrying a firearm.) Nick is an inactive guardsman after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to work for a Private Security Firm in Iraq.

His trial has been postponed until next Monday, December 13th.

Nick told CNN,"He's not sure how much more prison time he could face if convicted, but he's prepared for the outcome of a judge's decision."

Lorina Moody, Nick's mother told CNN, "Our son is the type of individual who would not have willingly broken the law." Lorina is continuing to ask for prayers and letters to State Officials until Nick's case is resolved. Nick and his family are hoping this issue will be resolved so they may spend Christmas together. 

I will continue to update as more information becomes available. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nick Moody Out On Bail

Nick Moody was released today, December 1st with bail from Al Wathba prison in the UAE after being arrested in the Abu Dhabi airport on September 29th. Being released on bail in the UAE means the government keeps his passport until his verdict is handed down. Nick's trial is set for December 6th.

Lorina Moody, Nick's mother is asking for the populace continued contact of their State Representatives to keep Nick's case in the forefront assisting in his safe return home. Find your Representatives contact information here If you would like to look at a sample letter for ideas on what to write to your Representative look here. 

If you are new to Nick's story read previous post here, here, and here. I will keep you updated as I find out more information. If you are a facebook user, you can become a fan of Help Bring Nick Moody Home to see direct correspondence and reports from his family. The Reno Gazette-Journal wrote an update on Nick's here. 

Nick and his family are extremely thankful for all of the support. Hopefully Nick will be home to share Christmas with his family.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 29th Nick Moody Update

Below is a letter written by Nick Moody's Mother, Lorina Moody regarding his current status, wishes, and suggestions for how you can help. Nicks Trial was supposed to start today, Monday November 29th but has been postponed. Lorina writes;
5:00am We received a call from the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi. The counselor wanted to inform us that because of a communications glitch between the Court and Al Wathba prison, none of the prisoners from that facility were taken before the court today. She said she has heard that this rarely happens, but it has been known to happen. The counselors tried to contact officials about when Nick’s case would be rescheduled, but were unable to attain an answer today. She said they would try again tomorrow morning and let us know whatever they find out. 

The counselor said when she visited Nicholas on Wednesday, he was holding up well. Of course he is anxious for this to be over, but that he looks well. Also she said that the lawyer did visit Nicholas on Sunday. She did not know why Nicholas has not called home this week, but spoke of a new phone system recently installed at the prison, with limited number storage associated with each prisoner.

Having been just over 30 minutes since this call occurred, I am still shaken. Today I hope to reach out to other US officials that have shown interest in Nick’s case. Due to a Privacy Act, officials out of our state of residence, can only act upon the family’s direct request and I think we have to sign a release of information form, so that they may make inquiries. We have had contact with Congressman McClintock of CA, so far no other CA offices have responded to us. We have had contact with Senator Reid’s office, Senator Ensign’s office, Representative Heller’s office, all of Nevada. As grandparents, my parents have made contact in their home state of OR with Congressman Walden’s office. We signed the release form and faxed it to Senator Bennet’s office in CO. We've attempted contact with other officials, but have not received responses. 

The only thing I can think to do with this delay is reach out even further and ask that if possible everyone that can, make repeated contact with US officials and make our voices louder if we can. If an official shows any interest in assisting, but needs us to make initial contact, please pass this information to me so that I can direct my energies toward those already aware and inclined to help. 

Keeping a forward and positive rally is the only action I can think to apply at this time. As soon as we’ve heard “what next”, I will post it. 

Thank you for all your efforts so far. Every voice, every inquiry, every connection, ………..all serve Nick.

Lorina Moody
If you would like to write your State Representatives, but don't know who they are, please click here. If you would like to see a sample letter with ideas of what to say to your State Representative please click here. If you would like to contact Lorina regarding a State Representative she should contact in order to sign the waiver so they may get involved in Nicks case please email me here and I will pass the information on.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Future...

I hope everyone enjoyed a fantastic Thanksgiving Day with their Family, Friends, and Loved ones. I know I did. I was even blessed with a quick chat from a friend in Afghanistan, which really made my week.

Looking towards the future there are a few things to address...

First Nick Moody's trial is set to start Monday, November 29th. I plan on posting whatever information I can find for updates. If you run across information I don't have please email me.

Also slated for Monday, November 29th at 9pm Eastern on the National Geographic Channel is the premier of Restrepo which is the film that accompanies the book WAR by Sebastian Junger. I have not seen the movie yet, but have read the book, which in my opinion is one of the best books I have ever read dealing with Afghanistan. The book also chronicled SSG Sal Giunta's actions in which he was awarded the Medal Of Honor.

There are some administrative changes happening at Words For Warriors as we are working towards getting our non-profit status. There will be updates and changes made to the blog and our activities as time progresses. We are hoping this growth will give us the power to reach more people.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nick Moody Update

Reno News Channel 4 did the following story on Nick Moody and his imprisonment in a UAE jail for carrying a pistol grip and cleaning kit. He had NO firearm on him. Nick's mother, Lorina Moody is still requesting everyone to make multiple points of contact with their government officials. For a previous post with tools and a sample letter please go here. CNN posted a story here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Medal Of Honor Recipient SSG "Sal" Salvatore Giunta

Today the Medal Of Honor was bestowed upon SSG "Sal" Salvatore Giunta who is the first living recipient of the MOH since the Vietnam War.

Here is video of SSG Giunta receiving the medal.

A humble thank you to SSG Giunta, his unit, his family, and the family of the fallen for making so many sacrifices for our Freedom.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Blue Star Mother Asks For Help For Her Son's Freedom

Today I was contacted through the local Susanville Soaring Eagle Blue Star Mom's asking for help. Lorina Moody's son, Nicholas Moody who served as a Corporal in the Nevada Army National Guard and who is a Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan has been arrested in Abu Dhabi airport.  Moody was on his way home from Iraq, were he had been working for a private security company when he was arrested at the Abu Dhabi airport. According to his mother the charges against Moody are possession of accessories related to firearms. His mother says the items in his possession were pertinent to his job and not dangerous. Apparently the problem stems from a forced lay over Moody experienced while waiting for his return flight to the US. He was arrested when he attempted to board his plane home.

Moody's court date is November 29th.

Lawyers have assured Moody's Mother UAE government officials respond favorably to US officials concerns. Nicholas's case weigh heavily on getting US Representatives involved. The Moody family are asking for repeated, non-stop contact until this case is resolved. They are asking that you contact your State Representatives as well as Federal Agencies. Knowing the power of social media the family has started a facebook page you can join here. The family also encourages the word to be spread on facebook, twitter, email, and any other way you can think of.

Below is a sample letter you are free to copy and use as a guideline for your own letter. There is also the contact information for the top Federal Employees. To find your States Representatives visit for phone, fax, and email contact information.

Sample Letter

Congressman XXXXXX

It has recently come to my attention that one of our own, Nicholas Moody, needs our immediate assistance. We need you to please look into this matter and ask questions.

On September 29th 2010, Nicholas Moody was returning from Iraq to the United States where he was working as a security guard with a private security company. Nicholas was arrested at the Abu Dhabi airport on charges of possession of accessories related to firearms. The items in his possession were pertinent to his job and not dangerous. This event occurred due to the layover time between flights. Mr. Moody had to stay overnight in Abu Dhabi in order to catch the connecting flight to the United States the following morning. When he went to catch his flight the next day he was arrested.

My concern is that this young man did nothing wrong. He is a veteran who is a corporal in the Nevada Army National Guard. Nicholas has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has sacrificed for us and now desperately needs our support to get him out of this unfortunate situation.

It has come to my attention that the family has been informed that our government offers no assistance in regard to this situation. This is deplorable! Not just someone, but everyone involved in our global security should be concerned and asking questions about how this could have happened and how can we help resolve this situation and how we can keep this from happening again.

Our soldiers with our all-volunteer military deserve our support, whether they are on active duty or not. Nicholas Moody is an American citizen being detained in a foreign country due to a set of unfortunate events that he could not have foreseen or controlled. We need to get him home.

Nicholas has been sitting in Al Wathba Prison in Abu Dhabi for more than six weeks awaiting process of his case.

I am asking you as a taxpayer, as a voter and most importantly as a patriot of this great country, to involve yourself immediately. To ask questions and get answers about this case. 
Nicholas Moody has an Abu Dhabi court date of November 29th. We have heard that his case will be greatly impacted by United States interest.
 President Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Fax 202-456-2461
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Vice President Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Fax 202-456-2461
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Fax 202-647-1579

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
U.S. Department of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
Fax 703-571-8951

Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Operator Number: 202-282-8000
Comment Line: 202-282-8495

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When A Soldier Comes Home

This was forwarded to me in an email. I thought it so powerful I wanted to share. I encourage you to share it as well. H/T to SA Amy.

When A Soldier Comes Home

When a soldier comes home, he finds it hard... listen to his son whine about being bored.
To keep a straight face when people complain about potholes.

To be tolerant of people who complain about the hassle of getting ready for work.

To be understanding when a co-worker complains about a bad night's sleep.

To be silent when people pray to God for a new car.

To Control his panic when his wife tells him he needs to drive slower.

To be compassionate when a businessman expresses a fear of flying.

To keep from laughing when anxious parents say they're afraid to send their kids off to summer camp.

To keep from ridiculing someone who complains about hot weather.

To control his frustration when a colleague gripes about his coffee being cold.

To remain calm when his daughter complains about having to walk the dog.

To be civil to people who complain about their jobs.

To just walk away when someone says they only get two weeks of vacation a year.

To be forgiving when someone says how hard it is to have a new baby in the house.

The only thing harder than being a Soldier...
is loving one.

Operation Postcard Contest Winners

We received over 100 entries from across the Country. It took five judges over an hour to decided on the winners. We have five winners and four honorable mentions. The competition was stiff.  All the prizes have been donated by the Army Reserves. I will be mailing them out prizes with certificates... hopefully next week. I thank each one of you for your participation.
The winners in no particular order is...

Shade Age 9

Jonna Age 11

Brianna Age 8

Lucas Age 11 

Alicia Age 10
Honorable Mentions in no particular order...
Grace Age 9

Abel Age 11

Myah Age 8

Lupita Age 8

To Our Heros On Veterans Day

This is the 100th post for Words For Warriors. It is also Words For Warriors 1st Birthday. What is our birthday wish? That every Veteran and Active Duty Service member know they are appreciated, loved, and missed. THANK YOU.

You are our HEROS. Your sacrifices do not go unnoticed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Marines!

Wednesday, November 10th marks the 235th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps.  The Marines were birthed as a quick reaction force. It was the Marines amphibious warfare that proved the corner stone of the Pacific Campaign in World War II. It was their never surrender attitude that kept the Red Curtain at bay in Korea when out numbered at the Battle of Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir, even after being inflicted with mass casualties.

Marines have been involved in every well known, and lesser known, operations to protect and defend freedom in various countries and people of many nationalities around the world. A Marine, Always Faithful, Never Backs down.

What do you get a Marine on their birthday? Well giving to their brothers is always a good idea. Some notable charities are Soldiers Angels Project Valour-It (which are currently in a competition to see who can raise the most money for injured Warriors, Marines are in the lead) Semper Fi Fund and the Wounded Warrior Project are just a few that could use some Birthday gifts.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Forget Me Not

I have been thinking a lot about Veterans Day, which is on Thursday, November 11th. I know my friend Spockgirl made this post in honor of the fallen, but I also think it speaks volumes about the living... whom should also be remembered. 

Veteran's Day is about those who have served, continue to serve, and honoring their sacrifices. I have heard from more than one Soldier, Marine, Airman, and Sailor how they feel forgotten. I tell each one, "You and your sacrifices are not forgotten."

The following post has been reposted with permission by Spockgirl Musings, a Canadian who knows War and its hardships extend beyond boundaries, to the point she is supporting Team Navy in Soldiers Angels Project Valour-IT.

Forget Me Not

by George Pirie (Scottish-Canadian poet b. 1799) 
This little flower with azure eye,
You love it lady tell me why;
It seems to me nor rich nor rare,
It breathes no fragrance on the air,
Nor splendid form nor colours bright,
May give it value in thy sight.
If not for perfume nor for show,
Pray tell me why you prize it so.

It is not rich, it is not rare,
This little flower – yet, ah, how fair.
Though it no merit else may claim
But this, “the magic of a name,”
Each tiny leaf into my ear
Is breathing names to memory dear;
The dead, the absent, the forgot,
Are whisp’ring here, “Forget-me-not.”

by George Pirie

To honour the fallen in Afghanistan from the last five days: 
Maine, Illi, Mass, NC, Cali (2), NJ, Md, Tex and U.K.

Forget me nots are very tiny, plain, but pretty, pale blue or pale pink flowers with yellow centres. I was very pleased to find that this year I had both colours in the garden. They are a symbol of hope, true love and remembrance.

In 15th-century Germany, it was supposed that the wearers of the flower would not be forgotten by their lovers. Legend has it that in medieval times, a knight and his lady were walking along the side of a river. He picked a posy of flowers, but because of the weight of his armour he fell into the river. As he was drowning he threw the posy to his loved one and shouted "Forget-me-not." It was often worn by ladies as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love.
(from Wikipedia)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween For A Fallen Hero

In keeping with the spirt of Words For Warriors mission to Honor our Military and their Families I am reposting this with permission from Tom Sileo from The Unknown Soldiers  You not only need to visit this site, but you need to favorite it also. 

Iron Mike
For the loved ones of Sgt. Michael Woodliff, something was missing this Halloween. While walking through Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery last week, I noticed two pumpkins resting by this fallen warrior's grave, along with tribute stones and an American flag. Just by looking at the mementos at his grave, it was clear that six and a half years after his death, many people miss Sgt. Woodliff just as much as the day he left for Iraq. I immediately wanted to go beyond the headstone and learn more about this soldier's life.

Perhaps Halloween is special to some who knew Woodliff because he used to dress up as his favorite childhood characters to entertain others. A touching 2007 Herald-Tribune article by Thomas Becnel mentions a teenage Woodliff posing as Rocky and Vanilla Ice to make his friends laugh in school. It also tells a story of a young Michael taking a magic marker to his face, just to make his mom laugh during a drive through Florida.

Real Combat Life

It is widely accepted in the medical community that writing about difficult or traumatic experiences and feelings helps the brain process and deal with such experiences in a heathy, healing manner. If these experiences are shared in a friendly supportive environment with like minded people who've had similar experiences.... even better.

Real Combat Life is a place for Veterans of any War, or any country where the United States has held combat operations, like Vietnam, Korea, Bosnia, and Kosovo (to name a few) are welcome to share their stories of combat life.

Real Combat Life was started by Patrick Nelson who was a Paratrooper in the Army for 7 years. He completed three combat tours. One twelve month Iraq tour, One twelve month Afghanistan tour, and one fifteen month Afghanistan tour. He was wounded in 2005 by a 107 mm rocket on a small Forward Operating Base near the Pakistani border. He still has shrapnel in his back from the incident.  Patrick is currently a full time student, amongst a slough of other over achiever like activities. He started Real Combat Life, "As a way to help me share my stories as I was (and at times, still am) having a hard transiting from soldier to civilian."

Real Combat Life can be many things, all of them healing in some way. Your story might help a brother or sister know they are not alone.  I encourage you to check it out. Read the stories. If you'd like to contribute, but don't want to use your real name, a pen name is fine. If you do not feel strong in your writing abilities, Real Combat Life can help you write or edit your story. A story can be anything, why you joined the military. A prank you and your buddies pulled. A list of all the ironies of the dessert. A way to honor a fallen friend.

Go to Real Combat Life and tell me what you think.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Soldiers Angels Project Valour-IT

I recently got a text message from a milblogger friend that said, "You're Team Army for Project Valour-IT, Right?" He knew me being a Soldiers Angel had nothing to do with my decision to participate with Project Valour-IT, it's an amazing cause, which is the only reason I need to get involved. Any project that helps the wounded with severe physical injuries by supplying voice recognition software laptops, Wii Fit for physical therapy, and GPS units to help compensate for the effects of TBI is worth getting involved in.

My only hesitation was picking an actual team. I have friends in every branch of the military. In fact, I had to smile when that same day another blogger asked if I'd be Team Army or Team Marines.... I do love my Marines.... and my Navy Boys.... and my Air Force guys....

Because I have so much love for everyone in the military, I have decided to join all the Teams. (Truth is I couldn't pick just one Team. It would be like asking me to choose a favorite child. I can't do that.)

If you'd like more information on Project Valour-IT and, Major Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, the man who started it all while recovering from being injured by an IED, click here.
You can follow Project Valour-IT on facebook here.
You can follow Project Valour-IT on Twitter here.

You can change the life of someone who was injured fighting for YOUR FREDOM. This is the time to give back to those who have given more than you'll ever know for you. Skip a meal, shake the couch, take a collection at work.... GET INVOLVED.
learn more

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Note: I was contacted by a reader who expressed concern that the United States Coast Guard is NOT being represented in the Valour-IT fundraiser. He wrote,
"I noticed USCG wasn't on there even though they do fight in Military battles, keep aliens and drugs off the streets, assist the Navy when Navy lives are at stake at sea, rescue civilians, ect. why is this?"
All of this is absolutely true, and the USCG should be represented, but as you can see by the small italicized print here, a USCG Team Leader could not be found. If you, or someone you know wants to ensure the USCG will be represented next year, please contact me. I will find the proper contact information in order to make sure ALL OUR HEROS are properly represented next year. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Can Twitter Help Words For Warriors Succeed in Our Mission?

When a milblog friend of mine suggested Words For Warriors get on Twitter… three times I decided to check it out.  I had thought of Twitter as a teenie bopper texting waste of time. I signed up, started poking around, and wished my tiny town had a bookstore so I could get a Twitter For Morons book.  I had no clue what I was doing.

I quickly found the community very accepting and helpful when I explained my newbie status before asking a question about the meaning of an abbreviation.  The people I communicated with, Active Duty Service Members, Veteran’s, Military Supporters, and Non Profits were all very friendly, full of information and ready to help promote anything Words For Warriors. 

It was through Twitter that Shannon Evans author of The Definitive Twitter Guide contacted me regarding a Veteran issue she needed help with.  I had no idea who Shannon was at the time, or that she was an author, she was just a person I was trying to help.  When I saw a tweet about her book, I thought, “I’d like to read that.”  I contacted Shannon and the book arrived shortly after.

The Definitive Twitter Guide is an excellent book for those who need a step by step through Twitter’s inner workings and for the experienced Twitter users of businesses and non-profits.  Shannon shows how using Twitter can help businesses and non-profits grow to their full potential and flourish.
In a world where human contact seems to be endangered, the focus of Twitter is to actually foster human contact, support, and information on a direct personal level without having to share personal information, like a phone number.  Shannon shows several good and bad examples of businesses and non-profits that use Twitter for customer service issues, feedback, and an informational delivery system.  As Shannon points out, “In the days of print, TV, and radio, there was only one-way communication with potential customers.  There was no place to have a two-way conversation that built relationships and encouraged dialogue.”

It is the relationship building, dialogue, and forced transparency of businesses and non-profits that make Twitter unique; after all, one negative tweet about a company or brand can reach thousands in just an hour or less.
This fast paced information environment means information moves at the speed of light to thousands of users, The Definitive Twitter Guide shows a company or non-profit how to use Twitter to further their brand, but also how to use other free applications to make their content search engine friendly to their customers as well as trackable by their company.

The few suggestions I have implemented from The Definitive Twitter Guide have helped Words For Warriors gain valuable support from people, non-profits, and businesses around the world that we would never had access to before.  I plan on implementing more suggestions, and look forward to the lasting success of Words For Warriors in meeting our Mission.  Making sure no solider feels forgotten.

Follow Words For Warriors on Twitter:

You can find Shannon Evans:

Monday, October 18, 2010

LCPL Tyler A. Roads, A Marine To Know

“Tyler taught me how to love.”

Lance Corporal Tyler A. Roads’ mother Sonia and I settled down on the grass next to where Tyler rests.  We find ourselves picking up pine needles that continuously fall on Tyler.  His headstone is not in place yet, but there are several offerings left by loved ones.  Sonia picked up a small bunch of yellow flowers, “I wonder who left these?”  She lovingly straightens and rearranges everything until they are just right. 

After reading about Tyler’s death in Afghanistan on July 10th, the day before he was to celebrate his 21st birthday, my heart extended out to his family, friends, and brothers.  By the power of pure luck and the Internet, Sonia stumbled across Words For Warriors on Gold Star Mother’s Day, giving me the chance to meet her, and her son.

Prior to arriving at Tyler’s final resting place, Sonia shared pictures, childhood schoolwork, and memories with me.  Through pictures I discovered Tyler wore the same half-cocked playful grin as a boy that he wore in Afghanistan.  I can see Tyler grinning in my minds eye as Sonia tells the story of Tyler, at the age of seven begging her to shoot Doves in the back field with his Red Rider BB gun.  She finally gave in.  Her smile widened as she remember the proud look on his face when he came back with two Doves and his head held high with accomplishment.  “After that I always cooked what he brought home.  He loved to hunt.  He planned on being a Game Warden when he got out of the Marines.”

To keep Tyler’s memory alive and honor his dream the community of Burney has founded the Tyler A. Roads Memorial Scholarship Fund.  The scholarship is $1000 for a student who wants to be in law enforcement or Fish and Game Management.  US Bank is accepting donations for anyone who has the ability and desire to contribute to a Marine and his dream.

At the end of my visit Sonia and I sat in silence beside Tyler, knowing we would have to leave soon, but not wanting to go.  The scent of pine lingered in the warm air.  Sonia smiled, pointing to the Military Memorial with the flags of each branch, the POW/MIA flag, and the American Flag that was fifteen feet from Tyler.  There had been a constant breeze making each flag flap consistently; however at this moment all flags were still except the Marine Corps flag, which waved proudly at us.  It was as if Tyler was waving goodbye.

Getting to know Tyler through his mother is an honor and a privilege.  I don't feel as if I have done his memory justice here, but this is no easy post. If you knew Tyler I encourage you to leave a comment of your favorite memory of him here, or on the Lance Corporal Tyler A. Roads Memorial facebook page here. Other post on Tyler can be found here and here.

Oh and Tyler, your mom says, “ILUMTAITWWW PAMF, DON'T FORGET!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Operation Get Well Warriors

It is important to remember those who are currently fighting for our country, but what about when they come home? What if they are injured? What if they have months or years of rehabilitation? Does our support stop?
Our support should be unwavering throughout a Warriors life. There are hundreds of types of traumas a Warrior can come home with; PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, I.E.D and bullet associated trauma to name a few. A Warrior should NEVER FEEL FORGOTTEN and neither should a Wounded Warrior. Words For Warriors has sent Get Well cards in the past, but we have finally gotten the address to Landstuhl Reginal Medical Center in Germany with a contact to send cards too. (For those of you who don't know I believe Landstuhl is the first place the injured get transferred before coming home.)
Now that I have this address Operation Get Well Warriors can commence.  I will be accepting letters, artwork, poems, pretty much any thing you can think of to send some support and a heartfelt Get well to an injured Warrior. Make sure they know we still care. They are not forgotten.
A main concern I have heard is, "I don't know what to write." I say write what's in your heart. It's not about how much you write. It's about giving support to someone who needs it.
Children really are great for get well cards. Last year, I asked classes at Janesville Union to make me get well cards for the friends, of friends who were injured by an I.E.D. I told them to draw pictures of what makes them feel better when they are sick or hurt, and maybe it would help make the soldier feel better. I received over 200 pieces of artwork ranging from kindergarden to 6th grade. Two classes made get well stars. You can read about that post here. Two other classes made get well shamrocks. You can read that post here.
Last June, on the last day of school I knew it had been a good experience for the children when a kindergartner walked up to me and said, "I know you. You taught me how to make someone feel better by making them a card."
If a 5 year old can understand the importance of a get well card, then so should you. Please get involved.
If email is your media of choice, then email me your written message of support to It will be printed out and mailed. Please Reference Operation Get Well Warriors in the subject line.
Please mail artwork and letters to P.O. Box 734, Janesville, Ca. 96114

This is a fantastic opportunity for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, schools, scrapbook clubs, and any other community supporting organization for adults and children. If you know of an organization you think would benefit from participating, please pass along their contact information. I will gratefully contact them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Honored, Respected and Celebrated.

I am ashamed to admit, I was once plagued by the apathy I am working so hard to eradicate around me. I once walked blind in a world of abundance with no thought to those who have been fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq these past ten years.
Reconnecting with a lost friend who had just begun his third deployment spurred my rebirth. It was when he confirmed most men and women who were deployed felt forgotten and wondered if "Anyone in America know we are still here?" that helped me shed my skin of apathy as my heart broke for each and every man and woman who deserves to be honored, respected, and celebrated for their service. Words For Warriors was born.
I have made knew friends, learned to look at the world with new eyes. I love nothing more than to know I have brought a smile to a strangers face with a letter or a care package. I have given the gift of knowledge to a service member that a perfect stranger thought about them. Honoring their sacrifices for our freedoms.
I also find pleasure in knowing I'm fighting the War of Apathy each and every time I get someone involved in Words For Warriors, have a teacher encourage there class to write letters or make artwork to be sent downrange. Children are our future, it bides well that they should be proud of their Country and those who defend it. The submissions for Operation Postcard re-enforces the pride children hold in their hearts for their Country. I hold the proof.
There are several social economic factors with elections in sight that could be spurring the rekindled recollection of the War's and the men and women who fight. Regardless of the reasons, I am noticing support for our Warriors in new places. Besides the American Flag being flown over homes, businesses, and public buildings, I have seen the MIA/POW flag flown at several locations on a daily basis. I have driven by more than one house in different cities paying tribute to loved ones who serve by plastering the names of their loved ones on the outside of their house.
Yesterday I was surprised and proud to find a Support Our Troops cake for purchase from Safeway. Today I found Veteran's Day cards in my local Walgreens, which are manufactured by Hallmark. I have never seen Veteran's Day cards before. I bought one of each, because I know just who to give them too.
There are a plethora of ways for the average citizen to give their support to our Warriors, which cost nothing to participate in. There are organizations like Words For Warriors, Soldier's Angels, and Operation Gratitude to name a few. Yes, all of these organizations need donations, but donating time by making crafts, or writing letters is equally as valuable as money. The recipients of the letters and crafts of support might even argue they are invaluable. The arduous economic times are no excuse for not getting involved.
Every Warrior makes a pledge to protect America, its citizens, and their brothers. I think every citizen should make a pledge to Honor, Respect, and Celebrate the lives and memories of the brave men and women who protect America and her citizens.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gold Star Mother's Day

During World War I families displayed Blue Stars in their windows identifying them as having a loved one fighting in the War. The tradition came to superimpose a Gold Star over the Blue Star if the family member serving in the War was killed.
I think a simple tradition, like placing a Star in a window might help chip away at the apathy the majority of the American's feel towards the current Wars. (I say current Wars, because even though we are officially not supporting combat operations in Iraq, we still have men dying in Iraq.) Seeing the Blue and Gold stars in passing windows as one were to drive to the supermarket to get milk might help bring the Wars closer.  It would also give the general public an opportunity to recognize and pay proper respect to the family members who serve.
Sunday, September 26th is Gold Star Mother's Day. Just as it is important to Thank those serving in the military, it is important to Thank their Mothers, ensuring their sacrifices for our great Nation do not go unnoticed.
From one Mother to another, Thank You for all you have endured for my freedom, and that of my families freedom.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trust, Believe, And Blind Faith

I recently heard someone say, “I don’t have anything invested in the War in Afghanistan.”  I don’t understand this thought.  As American’s we have men and women’s lives invested.  We have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and friends invested in the War.  I have felt the impact of casualties of War one person removed.  Having felt the pain of losing people close to me, I feel sympathy for the families and loved ones, without having known the fallen. 
Recently the War in Afghanistan has become more personal for me with the deployment of a good friend.  It is a different feeling having someone I care about go to War, versus meeting someone who is already at War; that I come to care about, which has been the case in the past.  Now that the War is personal, I find my thoughts drifting there often.  I wonder how he is, what he’s doing?  When I hear of an attack, helicopter crash, or a casualty I can’t help but pray he’s safe. 
This morning I received an email from my friend.  His very short note gave me the same high Christmas morning gave me as a child.  I smiled until my cheeks hurt.  This evening I discovered another friend was waiting for the identities of men killed in action.  I was told, “This is the life.  It’s what you do.  You wait.”  Now that War is more personal to me, the news of casualties impacts me with more feeling, sadness, and fear.   
I have lost people close to me, so I understand grief.  I understand the questions and pain it raises.  Have felt the hole left at weddings and births from the absence of the person who should be there.  I have cried in pain wondering if I will ever be happy again.  It is because of this understanding my heart goes out to friends and family to those who die in war; for it is the ones left behind who feel the most pain. 
When I expressed my fear of death for my deployed friend my grieving friend told me, “You have to trust in his team, in his friends, in their training that they will take care of each other, or die trying.” 
It never occurred to me civilians need to trust in those they have never met to protect the ones they love.  In the civilian world this is an unusual concept.  I have found many who would rather not get involved than protect, or watch the back of another person, especially one they don’t know very well.  I know with confidence any one of the military friends I have, would give their life for a stranger.
It made me think, knowing you’re not alone, that someone always has your back must be comforting.  I imagine this is the sort of faith children have in their parents, but a parent/child relationship is not the same kind of relationship, which binds in war.  A parent would die for a child, but a child would not die for a parent.  (Nor would the parent want them too.  This is the difference.) 
Another difference is environment.  When at war the smallest decisions, like untied shoelaces, hold the possibility of being deadly.  If shoelaces are not tied, it slows down reaction time, putting a teammates life in danger.  In the civilian world, untied shoelaces do not mean possible death. 
The average American is not routinely faced with dangerous or deadly situations, and if they are, their normal response is flight or submission.  In the past I experienced two separate situations where I was faced with men bigger and stronger armed with weapons.  Being far from “average” I fought them armed only with pure rage and words, winning both battles.  At no time did the thought of “back up” cross my mind.  I was alone and I knew it.  The only trust I had; was in myself.  This is the trust of a typical American.  Fact is, I have a handful of people I trust with my life, and still have fingers left over.  Trust is not easy.
The idea of being surrounded by people who constantly protect each other everyday, as shown in the little things like tying ones shoelace or staying hydrated is a foreign concept to me.  It is a concept I will accept and believe in though, because believing gives me hope.  Hope that more men and women will reunite with their families than funerals attended.   
In the end, I am forced to trust, believe, and have blind faith in the bond generated by war.  To trust in the brotherhood that combat creates to protect those I love.