Admiral Mike Mullen, USN, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided remarks at the tenth annual Newman’s Own Award Ceremony at the Pentagon on September 10, 2009, as awards totaling $75,000 were presented to eleven volunteer organizations for their innovative programs to improve military quality of life.
USA Together was judged as the best entry and received a $15,000 award. USA Together is a Craig’s List-like web site where qualified injured service members and their direct families can post unmet needs and receive assistance from individuals, businesses, community groups or other Veteran Service Organizations who want to help.
Newman’s Own, Fisher House Foundation, and Military Times Media Group sponsored the competition, which seeks to reward ingenuity and innovation for programs that benefit service men and women and their families. The challenge is straightforward: “Present an innovative plan to improve the quality of life for the military community and receive funding to carry out the plans.”
Admiral Mullen was joined by Tom Indoe, President of Newman’s Own; Fisher House Foundation trustee Tammy Fisher; and Rob Colenso, Jr., VP, Marketing & Product Development at Army Times Publishing Company, in presenting the awards.
Including this year’s awards, the annual competition that began in 2000 has recognized 125 programs with awards totaling nearly $600,000.
A total of 112 entries were received for the 2009 program. Six judges evaluated each entry based on the organization’s impact to the respective communities, creativity and innovation.
Judges for the 2009 competition were:
Mrs. Deborah Mullen Spouse of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Mrs. Sandee Cartwright Spouse of the Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Mrs. Mary Jo Myers Trustee, Fisher House Foundation
Mrs. Tammy Fisher Trustee, Fisher House Foundation
Mr. Bill Lee Vice President, Operations, Newman’s Own
Mr. Mark Tilley Director, Sales, Newman’s Own
USA Together, Los Altos, California
USA Together is a web site whose purpose is to use the internet to connect individual injured service members who may need some help as they recover with those Americans who want to help, but don’t know who or how to do so. Simply put, USA Together is a Craig’s List-like web site where qualified injured service members and their direct families, including Gold Star families, can post unmet needs for goods, services or modest financial assistance. Then the public, as individuals, businesses, community groups or other Veteran Service Organizations, can reach out to offer help and support. Potential Donors subscribe (for free) to the site to get notified via email as new needs are posted. For more information, contact Dave Mahler (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Vets4Vets Peer Support Group”
Vets4Vets, San Diego, California
Vets4Vets (www.Vets4Vets.us) is the national, peer support community of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans helping each other heal from the psychological injuries of war. In just over two years, more than a thousand individuals have attended one of 45 free, residential, weekend workshop across the country to benefit from and learn the skills of basic peer support. There are 25 local groups across the country. With the Newman’s Own grant, the volunteer leaders in the Camp Pendleton and San Diego area will organize two weekend workshops and form two on-going peer support groups for Marines, OEF/OIF veterans, and their spouses. The goal is to stay in touch with each other and provide each peer support after these workshops and share advice about way to reintegrate to civilian life including connecting with services provided by military units, the Veterans Administration, Vet Centers and other nonprofits. For more information, contact Abel Moreno (email@example.com)
"Homes for Wounded Heroes"
Bay Area Builder’s Association Support Our Troops. Inc., League City, Texas
Bay Area Builder’s Association (BABA), a division of Greater Houston Builder’s Association, was approached in 2005 by the family of a Marine severely injured in action in Afghanistan. The family was seeking a trustworthy remodeling contractor to make the necessary home improvements to accommodate their son, returning in a wheelchair. BABA answered, “Here we are!” BABA accomplished the project 100% free of charge, and BABA Support Our Troops, Inc. was born. Since then, the organization has provided new homes for 4 families of severely wounded heroes from the war on terror. The 5th new home is being presented soon, completely free, with taxes and insurance paid for two years. The dream is to spread this program to other Home Builder Associations around the country. In January 2010 BABA Support Our Troops, Inc program will be presented at the International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas. For more information, please see www.babasupport.com.
“Three Step Transformation”
Operation Life Transformed, Woodbridge, Virginia
Founded in March of 2007, Operation Life Transformed provides access to flexible online training programs that lead directly to high-demand job placement opportunities as identified by the Department of Labor. The Three Step Transformation program bridges the gap between online training, resume assistance and job placement with corporate partners, thus improving the quality of life and financial stability for our military families. The 2009 Newman’s Own Award grant will provide online training to 57 members of our military community to include: active duty military spouses (Guard and Reserve), Veterans, widows/ers, and the caregivers of wounded soldiers. Operation Life Transformed also received a Newman’s Own Award grant in 2007. For more information, contact Tania Mercurio (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Beck PRIDE Center for America’s Wounded Veterans"
Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, Arkansas
The Beck PRIDE Center for America’s Wounded Veterans is named in honor of donors Buddy G. and Charlotte Beck of Fairfax Station, Virginia. “PRIDE” is an acronym for Personal Rehabilitation Individual Development and Education. The mission of the Beck PRIDE Center is to provide combat wounded veterans with first class educational opportunities, extensive learning assistance, plus physical and mental health rehabilitation; within a university environment. It supports the reintegration and preparation of wounded combat service members into post-service careers. The Beck PRIDE Center opened in October 2007. It has served more than one hundred thirty active duty or discharged service members and their families; including all branches of military service- from across the U.S. It supplements veterans benefits or fills service gaps; does not duplicate other federal or state programs. The Beck PRIDE Center is housed within Arkansas State University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions in Jonesboro, Arkansas. ASU is a natural setting for this program; offering comprehensive higher education programs and degrees that directly support veterans. A “military friendly” institution, ASU has an active ROTC program and houses the 875th Arkansas National Guard Armory. For more information, contact Susan E. Tonymon (email@example.com).
“Operation Patriot’s Call”
AMVETS Post 12, Winder, Georgia
Operation Patriot’s Call is a partnership between AMVETS Post 12 and local citizens, businesses and organizations that have pledged to support the families of the 1/121st, currently deployed to Afghanistan. The vision of Patriot’s Call is to mobilize Georgia’s communities to support their local heroes. National Guard Units do not have the convenience of a local base for support nor do they have the sense of community that comes with being attached to a base. While some communities wave flags as the soldiers leave and then quietly go about their business, Operation Patriot’s Call is actively creating and building a network to help with issues that come up while a spouse is deployed. This effort helps improve the quality of life for military families by providing a support network during the deployment and for up to 6 months after, giving the soldiers peace of mind while defending this Nation’s freedom. For more information, contact Michelle Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Carolina Canines for Veterans”
Carolina Canines for Service, Wilmington, North Carolina
Carolina Canines for Service (CCFS) is a non-profit health and human services organization that provides people with disabilities quality trained service dogs. In 2008, CCFS launched a national pilot program, Carolina Canines for Veterans, to assist wounded warriors with a quality trained service dog, using military prisoners to train the dogs rescued from local shelters. Operating entirely on private donations, CCFS trains prisoners at the Camp Lejeune brig in Jacksonville, N.C. to raise and train each service dog. Carolina Canines for Veterans is the first of its kind to work within the walls of a military prison to train service dogs. Prisoners get a second chance to help their comrades. Wounded vets get a second chance for an independent lifestyle. Shelter dogs get a second chance at life. Service dogs are provided at no cost to the wounded warrior. For more information, contact Pat Hairston (email@example.com).
Camp C.O.P.E., Dallas, Texas
Camp C.O.P.E. provides interactive small group counseling, specifically designed for the children of deployed or injured service members. Participants engage in therapeutic activities which highlight: coping skills, expression of anger, feeling identification, handling stress & anxiety, caring & empathy, empowerment, and dealing with grief & depression. The camp is designed to help our young heroes cope with the effects of war, deployments and the sacrifices they are asked to make everyday. So far, Camp C.O.P.E. has held six camps and provided services to over 1,000 children. All camps have been supported by corporate and individual donations. For more information, contact Sarah Balint-Bravo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Support Our Wounded Heroes”
Family & Friends for Freedom Fund, Inc., Pompton Plains, New Jersey
Family & Friends For Freedom Fund, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was founded in January 2005 after the founder’s family member, GySgt James Sturla was severely wounded in Iraq. Family and friends worked together to get through life-altering circumstances, and became aware of many other families who were undergoing similar changes in their lives. These families have been living a financial hardship long before our economy changed, and now have the added struggle of coping with emotional and physical burdens. Family & Friends For Freedom Fund has assisted over 170 military families and made grants in excess of $400,000. For more information, contact Kathy Sturla (email@example.com).
“Expanding the Comfort”
Sew Much Comfort, Burnsville, Minnesota
Sew Much Comfort provides adaptive clothing to support the unique needs of wounded service members from all branches of the military and national guard. The need for adaptive clothing continues to grow as American military members continue to be injured serving in current conflicts. Each week, wounded military members are medically evacuated to the United States for extensive treatment for bullet wounds, burns, head and limb injuries and amputations. Many previously injured are still in the recovery process. Some injuries require large fixator, prosthetics and casts that are too bulky to fit under ordinary clothing and underwear. Sew Much Comfort is the only organization providing adaptive clothing at no cost to our wounded service members. Without adaptive clothing, the only option for them is a hospital gown. Sew Much Comfort have produced and delivered over 75,000 items of adaptive clothing to our injured since we began in December 2004. For more information, contact Michelle Cuppy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Camp STRIDE Wounded Warrior Fall Family Retreat”
STRIDE Adaptive Sports, Rensselaer, New York
In September 2008, STRIDE Adaptive Sports launched a unique mentorship opportunity between STRIDE Youth Athletes and Wounded Warriors with similar disabilities. The Wounded Warrior Fall Family Retreat was an outgrowth of four years of winter events to teach recently injured service members how to ski or snowboard in our adaptive program. The fall retreat is hosted in the Adirondacks for three days of kayaking, whitewater rafting, hiking, campfire cooking, and tent camping, but most importantly, a time to connect Wounded Warriors with children in the community who have similar challenges. Since 1985, STRIDE has been enriching the lives of children and individuals with disabilities by providing adaptive sports and recreational opportunities. In partnership with school districts and other non-profits, opportunities are provided to challenge people, potential and possibilities. STRIDE Adaptive Sports is a volunteer non-profit organization providing over 4,000 adaptive sport and recreation lessons annually to children & individuals with special needs. STRIDE has over 250 skilled volunteer sport instructors, serving more than 1,000 families; and offers free programs in seventeen different sports and locations. For more information, contact Katie Moshier Suhr (email@example.com).
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski