Thursday, October 5, 2017

Unusually Long Call to Action... Please read and let me know what you think.

So with the recent tragedy in Las Vegas we have a renewed Right Left battle going on with all of the political’s pushing their agenda’s as hard as they can. Of course no one wants to look like they’re making this tragedy into a place to statement while doing exactly that. Unfortunately I have sat on the sidelines as long as I can without jumping in to the mix. 

The Second Amendment, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” One simple line, creates a huge amount of problems for people with beliefs as to whether or not the general public should have what type of weapons. The almost funny part of that is the type of “arms” is never mentioned in the amendment. It mentioned a well regulated militia but never anything about the types of weapons. 

Some people say that is because the weapons of that day were limited. That is in fact in my opinion a very limited opinion not based on a forward thinking document. Of course that is my opinion also. You see what we have here is a country based on free speech, remember that, it’s what that first amendment was all about. It allows us all to speak our minds. 

Let’s go into the free speech thought pattern for a paragraph or two. I have to Qualify my thoughts a little with the freedoms I have here. As I sit here writing my opinions on the laws of this wonderful land of ours, I am not worried that my door is going to be broken down and myself be carried off to some hole in the wall prison never to be heard from again. I can sit here typing away even though there are many people out there that feel I am some sort of radical right wing gun toting crazy veteran. Yes name calling has become a nation sport as of late, hasn’t it?

That same freedom of speech allows those sports stars and movie stars with huge fan bases to take a knee and push their agendas out to the national viewing population. I say it like that because my next statement seems to make those that agree with the knee taking crowd angry. They, the knee takers, also continue their protest without worry of being hauled off to jail or worse for their form of free speech. What gets me though, is that because I counter the protest with one of my own, by turning off the tv and stating I will not buy product that supports the actions of the teams and league that support the action of the knee takers I am suppressing their free speech. This is befuddling to me, because in fact I am doing exactly the same thing they are, just protesting the way they are protesting. I am not protesting their right to free speech, only their method of protest.  

So without beating this topic to death, I am now going to transition back to the second amendment by stating that the first will live a short lifespan if the second is taken away. It is simple bully methodology to take away the stick that protects oneself before taking away the rights to even talk about being protected. But to quote some famous TV advertisers, “But There is More”.

The second amendment was written without the type of weaponry because our forefathers understood that weapons overtime got better and that no matter what happened our citizens needed to be able to be armed to protect themselves against a government that did not have their interest in mind. You can not fight an opponent who is equipped with machine guns with muskets. Placing a type of weapon into the amendment would have dated the amendment in a matter of 50 years or less at that time. However, the freedom to legally purchase weapons with the proper licensing has created the freedoms still today that our forefathers were looking to create.

Now the gun rights and gun control advocates both have their reasons and will attempt to sway anyone that listens to their side. The simple fact is that we are a nation built on the freedoms given to us in the Declaration of Independence. The second amendment was not written to allow hunting and game use of weapons it was clearly for protection against tyranny having just fought a war against a King and Sovereign Nation that was not taking our countries best interest into hand. Our country and people may not be perfect but we do have laws that were and are there to protect all of it’s citizens.

I started out this article with the thought of the recent tragedy along with all other gun related tragedies that become political soap boxes. The problem with the activist for both sides using a tragedy for their soapbox is that it does not touch on the reality of the issues. Most of these tragedies happen with a massive amount of laws that are broken prior to the tragedy ever happening. What do I mean by that. Well simply put, I am pointing out that just creating new laws in hopes of stemming the violence of a tragedy is like putting a finger in a dam that has completely crumbled around where you are standing. If you cannot enforce the preexisting laws what makes anyone think that they can enforce new lows on top of the old ones. The only thing a new unenforceable law does is make a naive person feel he/she has been protected while doing nothing to stem the real problems.

The real problems, have to be handled with a proactive format. Something that actively teaches out and tries to help people that are at risk for becoming the mass shooter type. There is always a telltale. It is way to early in this last episode to understand what or why things happened. For those that have been reading my blog over time you will recognize my thoughts that we as individuals in a community have to reach out to each other. The buddy check, we in the military all have come to understand is a reality that so many Americans have forgotten comes from the old neighborhood block watch concept. Start with our community around us and watch out to make sure that we are ok.

When a community is healthy, the town becomes healthy. When a town is healthy the county becomes healthy. It has a trickle up effect. (yes that is a Reagan reversal) Each and everyone of us has to become a better friend a better member of the community. We don’t have to pull the covers of our neighbors and throw the dirty laundry out on the street to make ourselves feel better but we had better be willing to jump in the hole and help someone step up and out. It may be yourself in the hole tomorrow. The way we make our country safe is not through taking guns away but giving us all a shot in the arm of feeling like each and everyone of us belong and has something to live for. Unrest happens when you don’t fit. Find your puzzle, your talent and share it with your friends and anyone else that will listen. They will jump in and share it with others. Soon things Change around you and people start to smile.

Leadership, that is something we all have inside if we are doing what we are good at and showing it to others. Spread your joy not your angers. 

Kent Out.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Precious Gifts

Guide our feet into the way of peace. - Luke 1:79 

Yet again tragedy has struck our nation, hitting us when we least expect it. I am not sure that people have changed all that much over time. I know that communication has changed allowing everyone to have a voice or allowing information to spread much faster. Not but 50 years ago when something happened it could take a few days for the tragedy to become known to everyone. One hundred years ago it would take weeks or months and before that if something did not happen in your local area you would never know it happened unless a traveler happened to come and spread a tale of it’s happening.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9

One of the hardest things for me to discern is the ability of man to bring harm to one and other for ones own gains. I served in the Military in the beginning with a youthful naivety that there was a right and wrong, a good and bad. As I served I became tainted and yes started to feel like I was losing my way, being pulled into the cesspool of humankind. We all have to travel the path we travel, the question is whether we lose our faith our joy and our hope in all things. I like many have had some very dark times in my life where I felt so alone I was ready to exit stage right. My own personal tragedy of life’s making had become so bad that the thought of living was to much to take any longer.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1: 2-4  

For me, When that time hit, I had everything a man could want for. I had a family, children, car, house, the list goes on and on. What was missing was my Joy. I could not take my life’s lessens and see where everything that I had dealt with was leading me to help others and be used in ways I could not even fathom. I knew how to talk the talk, but I could not hear my own voice in my own heart. I was barren when it came to seeing the light. I thank God that the darkest times of my life today are the shining stars. Those times that I thought were absolute worthy of pulling the trigger and giving up are today what raise me up and push me forward to help others who have the same feelings.

What I have learned is that God does not tempt us ever. But just like the Iron being forged before becoming that sword it has to be tested under the heat of fire. It is that fire that creates a new creature in us that can be transformed from a dull piece of metal to a sharpe shiny sword ready to protect and defend. 

Yes our nation is having a rough time right now. I hear the divide between people widening everyday. Politics are just that, Politics. The Color of our skin does not define who we are only the shade of the person. We can not pick what we look like but we can pick how we act. We can learn to take credit for our own actions in life and be responsible going forward. No we can not change the past. The time machine is a dream that has yet to come to fruition and I hope it never does. We learn from everything that is why history is such an important lesson to us all. 

God never calls Qualified people, he creates them!

I am not a preacher, never have been, never will be. I am a 54, almost 55 year old male who has seen more than his fair share of hate, hurt and selfishness. It is time for all of us to get off our high horses and learn how to unite. It took a DOG yes dog spelled backwards is GOD, for me to start on this journey. I am walking a road I never saw coming. Holding hands with people of all sorts of backgrounds working to create peace one hand at a time. There is nothing unique to what I am doing, nothing special I am doing but the outcome is blessed because we are allowing God into our lives and community. Join us by reaching out to the person next to you. You don’t have to travel around the world, just tap the person next to you and listen to what they have to say. Truly be with them.

We all make mistakes in our lives. Own them, then let them go. Time is to precious to hold on to anything for more than a moment. The hate in the persons heart to take all those lives was pure evil. Don’t join that evil by continuing the story. 

Mike was injured this last weekend. He ripped his DewClaw on his front leg while running in the yard. He acted as if there was little wrong because he loves to run, so he limped a little but brought the toy back wagging his tail all happy. I saw it and saw the blood. My first worry was he had stepped on something and done some real serious damage. I cleaned him up put a pressure dressing on, it helps to be a bleeder myself, and called to see if the local vet was open. No such luck. That meant a trip to Charlotte, to the animal emergency room. This is never a fun trip for anyone but thank God that the VA has the Dog of Record program where service dogs get medical benefits. 

So to make a long story not so long, I get there with Mike and they go through the process of clearing the DOR card and get Mike into the treatment room. Then decide he needed to have surgery to amputate the DewClaw. Yes, those are the terms they used. Realize that Mike goes everywhere with me 24/7 so I am starting to really get worried. Wondering what am I going to do without my trusted friend during his recovery. (How selfish can I be right?) Fast forward, Mike comes back out into the waiting room a tad punch drunk from the anesthesia and he is doing great. He will have meds for a couple days to fight the potential bacterias and need to wear a bandage for a couple days also. They help get him in the truck all comfortable and all is good.

Now for the rest of the story. The doctor was an Army Vet so low and behold when the bill (which I was not worried about) came out to the techs in front for payment, they made the calls to DOR. When I was handed my copy it read $40. yes that is not a typo, $40 that is all for the entire process. The techs were as shocked as I was. They asked all sorts of questions about Mike and why I had him. So I got to tell part of my story, they were in tears before I left the building (joy tears). It was an amazing day filled with some God moments where he showed himself in such wonder filled ways. I share this for two reasons. One because many of you read the blog to hear whats happening with Mike not to hear the ranting of the wild man. Two because after the ranting of the wild man I figured a very positive story was due.

Seize the day!

God Bless

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Call to Action!

First off for all those that take the time to read the ramblings of my disheveled mind, thank you. I know sometimes I rant and rave and go down bunny holes that make little to no sense. The current conversation, spiked by my recent appearance in Reno, NV and also my activities with my American Legion Post 65 in Statesville, NC., so without further ado, I bid you a good reading.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” 
― Leo Tolstoy

As children we learn to get along, respect grow and fit in hopefully. Then in HS, we want to more, we expect to change the world maybe. Some people go on to college, but our veteran community goes out to serve. They sign a check with their life potential and time, and for 2 to 30 years we complain, we grumble, swear, and all sort of other unmentionable things. We will do what we as ordered in the name of serving our country in most cases without hesitation.

There are many reasons we do it, that doesn't matter really. What is key, is that we do it. When we hang up the uniform, we come back home or go somewhere new. Hopefully to start a new life, maybe a family. If we're lucky, we are successful however that is defined. But, the real question is that part of our lives that we signed away whether in combat or behind a desk or somewhere in between, how is that shaping your future. How is that shaping the future of your lineage?

How do we use our experience to benefit others? If this question is foreign to us then what can we do in getting ourselves into action?

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” 
― Mother Teresa

If you are listening watching reading my rant, then in some way something inside of you accepts that we all want a better world. I had to be given a death sentence to understand I could start to live. The kicker is I don't live life fully unless I'm living to help others. A long time ago I heard a saying; you have to give it away to get it. How crazy is that? In being told I was not going to get better and that my body was, in fact, dying, I was able to live for today, One Day At a Time.

I finally started to understand what it meant to do for others. A simple concept of don't steal someone's blessings began to become acceptable. What does that mean? I've always enjoyed helping others. I considered myself to be a generous person for the most part. Come to find out I was very selfish. I could do for others often, but when others attempted to do anything for me, I would shut them down. I'm not a Roman Catholic scholar. Therefore, I don't know many stories of the saints; however, I seem to remember that St Francis was well-known for penance and self-persecution. (Probably have the saint wrong for the weave I'm working on) however, I was never able to accept help or anything well from others graciously.

It was pointed out to me one day, that I was stealing others blessings. The good feelings I received when I helped others was something I was brought up to do and it gave me worth to my actions. Especially when dealing with my past transgressions, the acts of kindness allowed me to see myself as not the hideous person I was in my own mind. While in shutting others help out I was still being a selfish person in not allowing others the joy of service.

Now, why do I point all of this out? Our passion/service work is a two sided coin. Whatever we sow has to be reaped. A feast prepared, is no good if we don't have a crowd that's hungering to eat. We as a community, of Veterans, must extend ourselves past our average level of comfort to ensure that we reach not only our veteran community but also the nonveteran community to show them what real brotherhood is all about. The lessons we have learned through blood sweat and tears can and should be shared, but will not be if we lock ourselves into our halls and just support ourselves.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 
― Margaret Mead

Every one of us has talents and abilities. Not all of us are great community leaders or speakers. Not all of us can reach out and touch many, but every one of us comes in contact with someone at least on a weekly basis. Whether we are at a grocery store or gas station all, we have to do is become aware of our surrounding's. Look for that Service oriented cap or shirt. All we have to do is put our hand out and ask if someone served. We may not be able to explain why our VSO (for me, it's the American Legion) is so important to our veteran community. What we can do is extend an invite and ask for a phone number, email or address so someone who is good at explaining can contact them. The act of reaching out is all it takes. We all have to start and assume the responsibility to grow our brotherhood and community. Let It Begin With Me!

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” 
― Albert Einstein

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Start something new?

After a particularly busy month of July, I am glad to inform you that our lives in North Carolina are starting to jell and take hold. Most people that come in contact with Mike & I will look at us and make comments as they have never seen me happier. I wish I could say that I had a lot to do with it but to be honest it is the new circumstances that continue to be laid at our feet. God has been working miracles daily and teaching me how to accept things that I would have once looked at and considered unacceptable.

Those lessons in acceptance and patience have placed me in a unique position. They have allowed me to see things through others eyes and experience in ways that personally I never would have dreamed of. I have always thought myself to be open minded yet in the past two years I have seen how myopic I have been. My heart and mind have been shown new routes to take and ways to give to others. If you are reading this, then you probably have helped change me even if you do not know it.

I thank you all, every one of you. Blessings like I have been given are few and far between and for me to have been allowed to walk this road is nothing short of biblical. Yes, there is a pun on words there, due to the increased study of the bible over the past year. (Something I have always read with a readers eye not necessarily a lust for learning what was really in there.) I am sure that in the past months the increase in quotes from the bible and Christian sources have probably given away the secret (Not) that I have a greater understanding of my place and need to share why I have been so blessed.

With all that said let me tell you some of what Mike and I have been able to take part in these past weeks. July was packed with travel and encounters that came from all sorts of places. I received a phone call from a friend up north putting me in contact with a company that wants to help spread the word about service dogs and the veteran communities. (Coincides with my mission of helping other veterans) Who knows if anything will come of it but with some power house backing I can dream about teaching others to spread the word that no one has to be alone and the overwhelming current number of 22 per day that takes their own life might be brought down some.  

As everyone knows I am a member of the American Legion Post 65, Statesville, NC. This Post is one of the more active Post I have seen around the country. For the month of July, we along with our Auxillary run a program called Christmas in July. This program, we take gifts to the State Veterans home, the Hospice and the VA Care facility in Salisbury. This year we were able to support 211 veterans with gift bags to residents along with service blankets. We also sponsored a day of bingo and just had a great day bringing joy to the facilities we visited. Mike had a blast bringing joy to all the veterans and staff. For those that have never taken the time to stop by your local area VA and see some of the elderly and hear their stories, please do. You will be surprised walking away feeling like you were the one who was blessed with history lessons and new friendships. They're always looking for people to come in and share time. Nothing more expensive than our time when our clocks have started to speed up.

I would like to talk about a program that the post is running in conjunction with the State VA home called Music and Memory program. It has to do with simple little iPods and music to help patients with memory issues. They have found that these iPods can bring peace and relaxation to the residents unlike any drug could ever do. So Post 65 has taken up collections and has been making donations to ensure that every patient that could benefit will benefit.  My thought that I am looking at taking a stab at is trying to get local corporations involved in funding a larger state program and then maybe even getting this program to grow into a national program. After spending time with these patients who have been before the music program in the different world now interacting with people and seemed much happier, it is a huge win for a program.

After spending time with some of the other members of our post and some other senior members of the community, a new need has become very clear. That need is technology tutoring and job guidance. In speaking with people about their technology use and trying to guide them, the thought came up that maybe we could use our post to help veterans with their tech needs. I and one other veteran are looking into what it would take to get the post a hotspot and then offer space and time to grow the community. It could become a great recruiting tool for the Post as well as a way to help our senior members feel more connected.

Stepping out of the normal operations and methodologies is the only way to stir things up sometimes. If I have to be the one to step out and make things happen then so be it. We all have to figure out what our gifts and talents are then move to make sure that we use them in the best way possible. Join me and others as we step out and find new ways to grow.

The Month of August looks to be just as busy as July was. Mike and I will be flying out to Reno, NV next week to attend the National American Legion Convention. This is a great opportunity to interact and meet many veterans of different eras. I thank God for the opportunities to be healthy enough to be able to travel like I do and to have Mike there with me to open the doors to get other Veterans to see they do not have to live the way they have been. Stay tuned to hear all the wonderful adventures the next time I get to write. Thank you all for the support and prayers. God Bless.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sower of Seed's?

 “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” 
― Marcel Proust
Thank you all for the support over the past month during all of these travels. Mike and I have put on over 3,000 miles worth of miles since we last wrote anything. At some points, it seemed as if we were stuck in the truck more than out spreading good tidings.  That is just perception though because the month of June has been so filled with great people and amazing opportunities to share how God has been working in my life.

For a quick recap of some of the events that we have been honored to be able to be present at, Post 65 American Legion and the Iredale County Veterans Council, participated in many Memorial Day Events over the Memorial Day weekend. It was an honor to partake in those events and share the pride and commitment with our local communities. Giving back to the towns we live in so our youth can understand why we have these special holidays is so important. 

A few days later, Mike and I were blessed with a Senior H.S. Project in Mechanicsville, VA where these young adults took it upon themselves to go out and raise awareness and understanding in their town. They planned and pulled off a grand day that raised over $2,500.00 in donations for America's VetDogs and the Guide Dog Foundation. Both Service and Guide Dogs were represented at the presentation through Brian's Guide Dog "Ralph" & Mike. Mike even wowed the group present with a tug on the alarm and showing a few of his other skills. (Of course, if he could get me to shut up some it would probably have been even better.)   

One of the major local sponsors for this event was Chic Filet which should show everyone that when you are committed to making something work and are willing to put your nose to the grindstone anything is possible. Thank you Chic Filet and everyone else who came out for this great time.

It was of course, awesome to see a healthy and active Brian and family doing great things out and about. Just goes to show you can not keep an old warhorse down for very long that is for sure. Thank you, Lord, for bringing my brother from a different mother through all the trials and allowing him to now share his story to help others.

This was Mike pulling the Alarm during the presentations we gave.

What seemed like hours after returning from VA, I was packed and heading north to meet up with the newest Phyfe. Yes, there is a new Blessing in the Phyfe Clan, Master Clark William Phyfe. My Son and his Bride, have made me into a grandfather. So with my old man wings on I hooked up the horse and buggy and began a northerly trek. Enroute We stopped in Amish lands, Bird in Hand, and got to spread some information and ate some great food. What a wonderful step back in time. Hard to believe that in today's modern society such a simple style of living can be preserved not just for display but truly embraced. (Other than the heat, which last time I checked they had no control over, the day spent there was wonderful.) I am looking forward to a longer visit to this area.

So here is my Son and Grandson! What a blessing and a beauty. He's a baby so I doubt he minds if I call him a beauty at this point. I am sure that in time he will grow to be an Ox like his father. Many prayers and blessing to the entire family in their new home. For those that have been following for years, Yes, Iris is on duty watching out for young Clark and family. It was so great to spend time with her also.

My Daughter, who just purchased a house of her own out near the Cape Cod area was able to spend a day with her family also at Dan's. I was also able to get out and visit Mel's New Home by the Cape. Are you getting tired thinking of all these miles I'm driving? (I've been back in NC for over a week and still feeling the tired from so many miles.)

Before I get you back on the road and out of CT I want to mention Aaron, a young man doing his Bar Mitzvah project where he decided he wanted to help raise awareness and money to help Veterans. His father is a partially disabled veteran and they have known me for some time. So since they knew I was going to be coming north Aaron set up this talk in his synagog and now has a donation page set up. Please take a moment and support his goal of raising $6,000 for America's VetDogs.The link to his donation page is Bar Mitzvah project  Unfortunately, there have been a couple technical issues with the web give page so after a few restarts the new one is up and accepting donations. Do not worry if you gave on the old page the totals will be carried forward. Also if you mail a donation into Vetdogs or to Randy directly those funds will all get totaled and go toward his goal of $6,000.  His wish is to be able to name a Service Dog with the money raised.

Once Mike & I returned we have not let much grass grow under our paws. We have taken part in a Purple Heart Homes ceremony where they officially gave a home to a veteran. It was such an honor to be there to see the flag being raised and the community coming together to support our nation's heroes.

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” 
― Gustave Flaubert

Yes, I have finally shaved the facial hair away!

Thank you all for blessing me and allowing me to share my experience strength and hopes with all of you. I have been blessed so many times over that my cup overflows.

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” 
― Roy T. Bennett

Monday, May 22, 2017

Memories & futures!

“When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” 

― C S Lewis

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9"

Over the past two years, I will admit to some of the most amazing growth and sole searching I have ever done. I have made changes in my life that I would never have thought about doing in the past let alone actually taken action on. As anyone that knows me knows, my health has been an issue for the past 20 plus years and honestly, I thought I was on the downslide of life.

Who would have thought that I was being prepared for a walk of a lifetime? I surely did not see it happening or even want to have it happen. All I wanted was to make a small difference in my own little way. I did not see any big pictures or God working in my life to become a beacon for others walking a road that needed lighting. So over this past couple years, I have been steered, yes steered through some pretty hairy corners with little more than what amounts to a golf cart in a formula one race. Most often I feel more than ill equipped to handle the situations that I am presented with but somehow the answers always seem to appear. (I say a golf cart because God knows I am no longer in the racing shape I used to be in that is for sure. I know what imagery, right?)

It was 2 years ago this week that I was down at the Foundation, meeting up with my current Service Dog, Mike. Over the past 2 years, we have been on a whirlwind tour of America. We've traveled from sea to shining sea and from north to south. During those travels, we have been able to help other veterans talk about issues they prefer to brush under the rug or help them fill out an application for a service dog and other times just be a quiet friend to sit and listen. No matter what I have walked away as a richer person with a heart that has grown because I have learned to step out of my own way. Learning that I am my biggest problem, always have been and always will be. 

So looking back on the past couple years is a great exercise in humility, being able to see a grand footprint of God where he has carried me through times I would not have made it on my own. We all have this capacity to look inwardly and should often but we all need to be reminded to do it with prayer and supplication so we stay right minded. In my own way, I see how I have been placed strategically in places at the right time to help others see things. I had nothing to do with the placement other than having been put there. I am grateful to be allowed to share in the lives of others and rejoice in the tears and smiles alike.

One of the super neat treats this past month was to take part in a tribute to the troops at a small but active American Legion Post here in NC. Post 65 in Statesville was honored to have Rockie Lynne a Country Music #1 recording Star and Veteran of the famous 82nd ABN Div himself, come play at their monthly meeting. Talk about showing veterans how to have a good time! 

Lucky for those of you who were not able to be there I was sitting front row and was able to record the entire show live and then put it up on Facebook and

“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse.” 
― Anthon St. Maarten

FYI- May is #NationalMilitaryAppreciationMonth, the month in which Americans are encouraged to honor those who serve or have served our country. 
Charlie, the Today Show ‘puppy with a purpose,’ invites you to join him and VetDogs to celebrate Military Appreciation Month by taking on a vital role for veterans with disabilities. We’re asking you to join the “Charlie's Squad” to help sponsor 10 specially trained service dogs for veterans with disabilities. for more info, and to make a donation today.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day's bring?

 “It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” 
― Roy T. Bennett

The 7th Annual VetDogs 5/10k Run Walk was held at Kent Island, MD on April 23, 2017. The event was a huge success and thank God the weather which had been threatening to be a washout decided to hold off. Mike and I arrived on Saturday evening to the event grounds under the fog and drizzle that had been keeping the hearty Marylanders heads down for almost a week on and off. It did not look like it was going to be a beautiful day of sunshine but we were prepared to be out there none the less to support VetDogs and all the runners/walkers that wanted to raise money for America's VetDogs.

When we woke up and saw the beautiful Sunrise I knew we had been blessed, the temps were perfect and the clouds even though red in the morning were not threatening at the moment. So off to the registration area we went to see what we could do before all the runners arrived. All the Volunteers were already making the day move to a steady hum. With nothing for us to do except grab the camera gear and head out to the main field, Mike and I strapped on our gear and took off allowing everyone to do their work without us being in the way. As the crowds arrived, we were able to capture many great pictures of Charlie and Olivia (the NBC Puppy with A Cause Team, seen weekday at 8:30 on the Today show Nationally.) They were one of the highlights for many of the participants that came out to support the foundation.

The Naval Academy sent their Honor Guard to open and close the ceremony and did a great job. Secretly I kept looking over my head as I do every year hoping to see the Blue Angels appear and do a flyover (yes my way of hinting to anyone with strings they can pull). Of course, we got Charlie out there to partake in the opening also. The local NBC affiliate did some taping of Mike, Myself, Liberty and Melanie another Veteran along with Charlie and Olivia. Needless to say, some great press was had for VetDogs and the GuideDog Foundation throughout the day.

Of course, Mike did his fair share of hanging out in front of the camera along with many of his cousins and other service dogs. It was just a great opportunity to be able to show how Veterans are able to get back into the community and become powerful examples of what great citizens they are. This particular event seemed to draw this year more of our sister veterans with service dogs than past years which was great to see. I was finally able to meet CSM Evans who was this year's Keynote speaker. One of the reasons I had been looking forward to meeting her for a long time is we had both started out in the 82nd Abn Div around the same time even attending the fun in the sun event in Grenada. Our paths never crossed while on active duty, but we have chatted since becoming vetdogs team members, so it was great to finally meet each other.

Some of the other pictures from the event are at the bottom of the page. There were a lot of pets at the event along with a good number of puppy's in training. Some from the prison program and some from the home raising program. I will take a second here to point out that if you are interested in helping out, please contact America's VetDogs through their website they are always looking for volunteers of all shapes and sizes ;).

 Remember, the month of May is a busy month for many. There are many holidays along with schools getting ready to let out for summer vacations. I know that Mike and I have already started to get calls for different events that people would like us to be at. Don't forget about your nation's Veterans when you start to plan your Memorial Day events. Yes, we're honoring our soldiers and sailors that have passed but who better than a veteran to help our communities do that honor. If you don't know a veteran, please look up one of your Veteran Service organizations such as the American Legion, VFW or DAV. There are others also you can call, or even towns have veteran community links nowadays. Take a moment and reach out to ask for help it will bring a special meaning to your next event and also help bring a veteran back into the community.

 “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” 
― Wayne W. Dyer

“We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it.” 
― Rick Warren

Monday, April 10, 2017

Gala Event Planet Dog!

Planet Dog Foundation

April 8th, 2017 hosted a Gala Event in Portland, ME. They invited Olivia Poff & Charlie from the Puppy with a Cause on the Today morning show NBC, along with myself and Mike. Mike had been featured in their Blog in April of 2016.

It was a pleasure and an honor to be asked to attend and speak at Planet Dogs first ever Gala Event Fundraiser. To be able to help bring awareness to all  the work these great service dog organizations such as America's VetDogs and K9 on the Front Lines. Both of these agencies providing dogs to veterans at no cost allowing our nations veterans get back to living a normal life without placing them into debt.

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to 
succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” 
― Abraham Lincoln

To have Charlie there also, the Star of the NBC Today Show's, Puppy with a Purpose this year, was great. To have both Mike and Charlie be able to show off how well behaved and task oriented they both are is a testiment to the great work America's VetDogs is doing. The TV interview with the Local NBC Affiliate and all the stops in and around Portland goes to show just how aware people are becoming about Service dogs and the mission to help veterans. It truely was a great trip and very humbling to say the least.

Here is the link to the NBC Portland Affiliate's Sunday morning piece that was done with Charlie and Mike.

On a personal note to top off a grand weekend the plane was delayed to get me back down south. Now this may sound like a negative but instead of being a sour grape on a hot fudge sundae it was a glorious oversized maraschino cherry. It allowed time for an interaction between a Korean War Veteran and myself, facilitated because of Mike. This elderly gentleman had just been through a horific accident on the highway in Maine on his way to Canada. Both he and his wife were involved with two tractor trailors that totaled his car yet they were amazingly able to walk away with some scratches.

“Good men don't become legends," he said quietly.
"Good men don't need to become legends." She opened her eyes, looking up at him. "They just do what's right anyway.” 
― Brandon Sanderson

He was still shacken up but had been able to get his wife to Canada in time to see and help her sister. He then had to drive back to Portland to drop the rental off but knew no one. The hour and a half we were ablet o just talk (I listened) allowed him to calm his nerves as he was able to relive parts of his life that he had not talked about for over 60 years. I was so blessed that Mike was wearing his camo vest and made a comfortable key to open up the doors for this gentleman. As we boarded the plane he was a different person then when he first sat down next to me.

I talk about how our dogs change lives all the time. However often, we forget how as a team we touch others. The doors that Mike and Iris opened for me allowing me to become a whole person again was only the begining. I see how God has continued to work miricles in my life and so many others around me every single day. So often we forget to open our own eyes and look for those miricles. They may be small and hard to spot when we are stuck in our own head but all we have to do is put out our hand and try to help someone else and then we can see them blooming like 4th of July fireworks.

I thank God daily for giving me his 4 legged version of himself to remind me to be grateful for all he does daily.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” 
― Alphonse Karr