Breaking Yellow Ribbon America News!

April 21, 2017


U.S. Troops Visit Children’s Home in Belize

By U. S. Army Staff Sgt. Fredrick Varney

131st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

LADYVILLE, Belize, April 21, 2017 — Not even inclement weather was able to put a damper on the spirits of the children living at the Liberty Children’s Home here, as U.S. service members visited, to lend a helping hand, April 18.

The U. S. Soldiers’ visit is was part of the Beyond the Horizon 2017 task force.

Partnership Exercise

Beyond the Horizon is a partnership exercise between the government of Belize and U.S. Southern Command. This year’s exercise will provide three free medical service events and five construction projects throughout Belize from March 25 until June 17.

The task force’s information operations cell coordinated the volunteer effort that included a wide range of helpful and needed services and activities.

Service members spent their day removing safety hazards from the property, playing a variety of games with the children and providing basic medical examinations.

“There was a low-hanging tree over one of the housing units and we decided to cut it down and get it out of the way,” said Army Spc. Rudy Sneed, a shower and laundry specialist with the 452nd Quartermaster Company, an U. S. Army Reserve unit based in Scottsdale, Arizona. “We were afraid the tree might fall and cause serious damage to the property.”

Michael Burkhardt, an American Missionary with Ladyville Baptist Church, attended the Community Relations event and assisted service members with the tree removal process.

“This has been a great day to be here with the troops and be able to get some projects done,” Burkhardt said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Removing Hazardous Trees

Burkhardt said removing the hazardous trees had been a top priority over the last two missionary trips, but they didn’t have the manpower to accomplish the project.

U. S. Army Capt. Julio Vargas, a Chaplain with the 448th Engineer Battalion, an U. S. Army Reserve unit from Puerto Rico, brought his travel guitar to the event and played several songs for the children.

“The No. 1 priority for today’s event was interacting with the children,” Vargas said. “We sang songs together and ate popcorn, which I think the children really enjoyed.”

Once the outdoor events and activities had concluded, several health care providers from the Utah National Guard Medical Command arrived to provide free check-ups for the children.

“We wanted to come over here and provide basic physical exams for the children,” said U. S. Army Maj. Samantha Madsen, the task force’s medical planner. “Our providers are checking for irregular curvatures of the spine, providing eye exams, and evaluating issues related to the ears, nose and throat.”

Helping Out

Before departing for the day, service members presented the children with a Beyond the Horizon 2017 gift bag that contained notebooks, notepads, pens and toys.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Ritchey, a team leader with the 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, helped to pass out the gift bags during the presentation.

“It’s always good to do something for people, but when you see those smiles on the faces of the kids it really means so much,” Ritchey said.

Picture: U. S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Ritchey, a team leader with the 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, hands out school supplies to children at the Liberty Children’s Home in Ladyville, Belize, April 18, 2017.

Ritchey and other U.S. Soldiers participated in the Community Relations event as part of Beyond the Horizon 2017. The event is a partnership exercise between the government of Belize and U.S. Southern Command that will provide three free medical service events and five construction projects throughout the country of Belize from March 25 until June 17. U. S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Fredrick Varney

Quiet Moment – Saying goodbye…

April 17, 2017


U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Jenkins plays with his son before deploying from Moody Air force Base, Ga., April 11, 2017. Jenkins is a squad leader assigned to the 824th Base Defense Squadron. More than 100 airmen from the unit deployed to Southwest Asia to provide fully-integrated, highly capable and responsive forces. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Nash

Run for Our Marines!

April 17, 2017

2017 run for Marines

If you can please support the 2017 Marine Corp Marathon. For more info visit . Semper Fi!

Have a Blessed & Happy Easter!

April 15, 2017


TAPS Honors Survivors, Mentors at Annual Gala

April 14, 2017


U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivers remarks during the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors 2017 Honor Guard Gala in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2017. Dunford served as the event’s keynote speaker. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2017 — Since 1994, when tragedy strikes a military family, TAPS has been there.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors has helped 70,000 surviving family members cope with the devastating loss of loved ones.

On April 12, the group brought together survivors, peer mentors, mentors and sponsors for the TAPS Honor Guard Gala at the National Building Museum here.

Helping Military Families Deal With Loss

TAPS founder and president Bonnie Carroll said the group builds on the resiliency inherent in military families and lets survivors know there are people who can help if the unthinkable happens.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the keynote speaker at the gala. “TAPS is not about statistics, TAPS is about helping military families deal with loss,” he said. “It’s about keeping faith and it’s about lives that are changed.”

People have to look behind the statistics to understand the impact of TAPS, Dunford said. He noted that the TAPS helpline racked up 3 million minutes in 2016, which translates to “16,000 people that have called in on a helpline and had someone on the other end that understood what they were going through and helped them.”

TAPS is about so many confronted with loss, the chairman said.

“No matter what the circumstances — it could be in battle, it could be in training, it could be as a result of something in everyday life — TAPS stands behind all survivors,” he said. “What TAPS really means to those of us still in uniform is that someone is always going to be there for us and our families, especially if we confront tragedy.”

The chairman noted that in October 2016, the country quietly marked the 15th anniversary of the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Since 2001, the country has asked a lot of its service members, he said.

“To be honest, if you had asked me in 2001 or 2002, could an all-volunteer force maintain commitment over the course of that period of time, maintain focus, would we still be recruiting and retaining high-quality people at the end of that period of time, would our families be able to endure such sacrifice?” he said. “I think I and other senior leaders would have said at the time, ‘I don’t think so.’”

The conflict has worn on service members, “but they are still committed, and the families are still willing to endure extraordinary sacrifice,” the chairman said.

Dunford praised TAPS and its cadre of volunteers, noting the organization’s efforts on behalf of military families provide “the strength behind our force.”

“They are the reason that our men and women do what they do: they go out every day and focus on the mission, they don’t have to look over their shoulder and check their six o’clock, because they know, if something happens to them, somebody is there,” he added.

“That somebody is you, that somebody is TAPS.”

The organization presented the TAPS Senator Ted Stevens Leadership Award to Jaclyn Mariano, surviving daughter of Air Force Master Sgt. Jude Mariano.

Also, the TAPS 2017 National Community Partnership Award was presented to the National Basketball Association and USA Basketball. Retired Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the president of USA Basketball and a long-time supporter of TAPS, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.


32nd Military Police Company back on US soil

April 1, 2017


By, Capt. Joe Trovato, Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs

More than 120 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers from the 32nd Military Police Company returned to the U.S. March 30 after a deployment to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Milwaukee-based unit returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, where it will de-mobilize before returning to Wisconsin in the coming weeks.

The unit returned after completing a detentions operations mission under Joint Task Force Guantanamo, where it provided care and custody for detainees. Waiting to greet them at the base of the plane when they landed in Texas were senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders including Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, the deputy adjutant general for Army, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the senior enlisted advisor for the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

“The mission is never done until you get back home,” Conde told the unit.              

Others echoed his sentiments and urged the Soldiers to take advantage of their time at Fort Bliss to learn more about the benefits they have earned and to ensure they get the care they need.

“When you left the state, we told you that you had an important mission,” Anderson said. “But your mission is not complete. The expectations as a Wisconsin Army National Guardsman are extremely high, and what you have accomplished down at (Guantanamo) has continued to set that bar at a very high standard. But that bar does not lower until you get back home and you get back into the arms of your loved ones.”

Dunbar and others praised the unit for its service, accomplishments and the professionalism with which it served in Cuba.

“I have so much respect for what you do, and the connection to the American public is the Guard and the Reserve,” Dunbar said. “It is incredible that so many of you have jobs in the civilian world, then put this uniform on and continue to serve our country as you just have. It is something unique. It is something remarkable.”

“You should be proud of yourselves,” he added. “I’m proud of you. What you’ve accomplished is not an easy thing. Most folks couldn’t qualify to wear the uniform, and you’ve taken the next step and deployed for your country.”

The 32nd Military Police Company left Wisconsin in May 2016 enroute to Cuba. The unit previously deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Hungary in 2002, Iraq in 2003-04 and 2009, and to Kosovo in 2011-12.

The Wisconsin National Guard continues to play a critical role as the primary combat reserve of the U.S. Army and Air Force in military operations around the globe. Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers with Detachment 1, Headquarters, 101st Airborne Division Multi-Component Unit returned from a deployment to Iraq and Kuwait in late 2016.

In February, approximately 65 Soldiers from the Madison, Wisconsin-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Soldiers mobilized for a deployment to the Middle East, and another 35 Soldiers from the West Bend, Wisconsin-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation mobilized for a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel. Approximately 85 additional Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation are set to deploy to the Middle East later this spring.

The Wisconsin National Guard simultaneously remains ready to execute its other primary mission as the first military responder in the homeland.

Planning is underway for a homecoming ceremony for the returning Soldiers, and the Wisconsin National Guard will announce those details as the unit’s return to Wisconsin draws near.

Welcome Home!


New York Greetings…

March 30, 2017

SD speaks with military fellows of the CFR

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis greets commissioned officers selected for the military fellows program at the Council on Foreign Relations during a trip to New York City, March 29, 2017. DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

U.S. Army Chaplains, Assistants Provide Spiritual Support to Soldiers

March 28, 2017

Care for the caregivers

By U.S. Army Sgt. Cesar E. Leon, 369th Sustainment Brigade

TAJI, Iraq, March 28, 2017 — U.S. Army chaplains and their assistants provide spiritual support to soldiers, both in a deployed environment and back at home. They are part of a support network for soldiers going through a hard time or just needing someone to share their thoughts or concerns.
The Army’s Chaplain Corps provides counseling for soldiers in times of crisis, such as extreme stress, grief or psychological trauma. Army chaplains are teamed-up with an enlisted soldier known as a chaplain assistant. Together, they form what is known as a Unit Ministry Team.
“Chaplains have to be extra resilient and take time for self-care,” said Army Maj. James S. Kim, the chaplain for the 369th Sustainment Brigade.
“Caregiver” is a term given to chaplains and their assistants within the military. On a day-to-day basis, ministers may deal with many grief counseling cases and always have to remember the importance of self-care.
“I have learned from my past deployment, that when I am assisting people with their issues, there is only so much I can help with,” Kim said. “At the end of the day, I have to be able to unravel everything I heard from the day and be able to get my own counseling.”
Compassion Fatigue
UMT’s are empathetic to soldiers’ personal problems, such as substance abuse, relationship issues and post-traumatic stress disorder. If they are not conscious of the psychological toll their empathy can take on them, they run the risk of suffering from what is known as compassion fatigue. UMT’s need to find ways to cope and release the weight they take on from providing moral support to their soldiers.
“It is important to understand your limitations, what you can and can’t do, but most importantly finding that time to connect to your faith,” said Army Master Sgt. Samuel W. Gilpin, the chaplain assistant for the 1st Sustainment Command UMT.
The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps provides responsive religious support to the unit in both deployed and garrison environments. The support provided can include religious education, clergy counsel, worship services, and faith group expression.
Chaplains have been an integral part of the armed forces since 1775, when the Continental Congress officially made chaplains a part of the Army. Chaplains serve commanders by offering insight into the impacts of religion when developing strategy, campaign plans, and conducting operations. They also provide soldiers an outlet for spiritual practice and provide counseling and moral support for soldiers in need.
Picture: U.S. Army Master Sgt. Samuel W. Gilpin, a chaplain assistant with the 1st Sustainment Command Unit Ministry Team, presents a quilt to Spc. Zowie Sprague, a chaplain assistant with the 314th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Unit Ministry Team during a battlefield circulation visit in Taji, Iraq, Feb. 14, 2017. The quilt was hand-made by a family from a small town in Texas. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Cesar E. Leon

Medal of Honor Day

March 27, 2017


Medal of Honor recipients U.S. Army veteran Mike Fitzmaurice and Capt. Will Swenson render honors alongside Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker during a Medal of Honor Day wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., March 24, 2017. Becker is the commander of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.
DoD photo by EJ Hersom

National Medal of Honor Day

March 26, 2017


By Tim Hudak,

The Medal of Honor has been awarded to 3,493 individuals during 26 conflicts

The greatest commendation our nation can confer is the Medal of Honor. The first Medals of Honor were presented on March 25, 1863. To commemorate this date and all Medal of Honor recipients, Congress declared March 25th as National Medal of Honor day.

The Medal of Honor is reserved for those who have distinguished themselves “conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity.” This National Medal of Honor Day, we remember the courage and selfless sacrifice of those incredible individuals.

The Medal of Honor has been awarded to 3,493 individuals. There are currently 79 living Medal of Honor recipients and 19 recipients have received two Medals.

Average age of recipients at the time of the Medal of Honor action:

  • All services: 26 years old
  • U.S. Army recipients: 25 years old
  • U.S. Air Force recipients: 33 years old
  • U.S. Coast Guard recipients: 23 years old
  • U.S. Navy recipients: 29 years old
  • U.S. Army Air Corps: 27 years old
  • U.S. Marine Corps: 25 years old

The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation is a educational institution organized to design, fund, build and maintain the new museum and education center that will:

  • Preserve the stories of Medal recipients and present them to new generations sorely in need of true heroes to look up to and to emulate;
  • Help our visitors understand what it means to put service above self and the meaning and price of freedom;
  • Inspire them about the ideals of patriotism, leadership and courage, and encourage them to embrace their responsibilities as citizens in a democracy; and
  • Serve as an education center that, through various programs, reaches out across the country to further the Medal’s ideals among all Americans, especially our nation’s youth.

Mission, Goals and Guiding Principles

To preserve and present the extraordinary stories of individuals who reached the highest levels of recognition, “above and beyond the call of duty,” in service to the nation. GoalsDesign, fund, build and maintain state-of-the-art facilities for the orientation, comfort and education of visitors. Present exhibits, programs and services designed to engage diverse audiences and enhance their understanding of and appreciation for the stories of the Congressional Medal of Honor and Medal of Honor recipients, and the values associated with the Medal. Through an Institute of Leadership, combine the legacies of the Medal of Honor and its recipients with the resources of the museum to help leaders in the business, education and government communities make decisions that will have a positive impact on their organizations’ success. Guiding PrinciplesThe museum will help visitors make personal and emotional connections to recipients of the Medal of Honor and the events that prompted their sacrifices. To facilitate coordination and communication, the museum will have sufficient space to accommodate the offices of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

Exhibits, programs and activities will meet the highest standards for preservation, conservation and curatorial care of the artifacts and will be designed and developed with maintenance requirements in mind. They will take full advantage of scholarship, technology and learning techniques.

The museum will be designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience, exciting and inspiring visitors of all ages, learning styles, objectives and physical abilities.

Use changing exhibits, special programs and seasonal offerings to help ensure the success of Patriots Point as a premiere destination, to optimize visitors’ length of stay and to encourage repeat visitation.

Raise awareness of and support for the work of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, including its Character Development Program. Educational programs, on-site and through outreach, will focus on the values and ideals of the Medal of Honor – courage, integrity, patriotism, leadership and sacrifice.

Preserve, protect and acquire key artifacts and archival materials related to the Medal of Honor and its recipients, helping to create a tangible link between visitors and the heroes who have sacrificed for the nation.

Recognize and honor those who have served our country.

To inspire current and future generations about the ideals of courage, integrity, patriotism, leadership and sacrifice; to help them understand the meaning and price of freedom; and to encourage them to embrace their responsibilities as citizens in a democracy.


The Congressional Medal of Honor Society, whose membership consists of the living Medal recipients, has designated this as the National Medal of Honor Museum. Members of the Society serve on the Foundation’s board and comprise a steering committee that will review all museum exhibits and programs to ensure they are consistent with the Society’s mission. Their interest is not in a monument to themselves, but rather a learning center that focuses on sending important messages to our youth about patriotism, leadership and courage.