Archive for July 2012

Military Family Matters: Missouri Guardsmen Share Program With Dr. Biden

July 14, 2012

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2012 – As Missouri National Guard members met with Dr. Jill Biden this week to discuss their family challenges and areas of support, Jenn Whitacre’s feedback was both professional and personal.

As a National Guard family assistance center coordinator in Jefferson City, Whitacre spends her days helping Guard families pursuing job opportunities, finding childcare, arranging transportation, shoveling snow, and the like. As it turned out, Whitacre’s toughest challenge was her own.

Whitacre’s husband, Army National Guard Spc. Shane Whitacre, returned from a year in Iraq with a shoulder injury that proved more complicated than the couple expected. Shane needed surgery and would not be able to lift anything or drive for six months. In the weeks after the surgery, he would spend six hours each day in a physical therapy chair and another six in an ice pack.

The couple had arranged their schedules around that of their four children, but things got complicated when they learned Shane would not be able to lift their 6-month-old daughter. Jenn had to leave at 6 a.m. for work each day, and daycare didn’t open until after 7.

“There are all these small things you don’t think about, like how to get the baby in and out of the car seat,” Whitacre said. She called the couple’s church and found a parishioner willing to help, but then the volunteer got sick and the plan fell through.

With the Christmas holidays upon them, Whitacre said, she didn’t know where to turn. She had taken pains to sort out all the details, “and this was going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said. Worse yet, she explained, she didn’t want to ask for help and, in fact, thought it might be inappropriate to do so, given her job in networking to help others.

Luckily for Whitacre, she works with Army Col. Gary Gilmore, joint force chaplain for the Missouri National Guard. Gilmore had been putting together a “Partners in Care” program, in which the Guard partners with churches and other religious groups to help National Guard families in their own communities.

Gilmore contacted the pastor of a church near the Whitacres and almost immediately located a volunteer – the wife of a soldier in Shane’s unit – who had owned a daycare center. The referral came with the offer that if the Whitacres did not like the volunteer for any reason, Jenn said, they could call back for another referral.

As it turned out, the volunteer helped more than they could have imagined, Jenn said. She came to their home every morning, five days per week from December to April, to care for their daughter and also to give Shane rides to his medical appointments.

“She didn’t act like it was a big deal,” Jenn Whitacre said. “But every Monday through Friday she made a 45-minute to an hour commitment.

“It was amazing,” she added. “It was the one thing that we needed to continue functioning as a family and providing for our family.”

The program, which began with the Maryland National Guard, allows the churches to help families under an agreement that there are no preconditions for church membership, donations or beliefs, Gilmore said. “It’s not a hook,” he said. “It’s the way they help us because they want to.”

Biden, wife of the vice president, met with Gilmore, Whitacre and others in Jefferson City to hear about the program as part of her regular outreach to military families. The Bidens’ son, Beau, is an Army National Guard officer, and she and First Lady Michelle Obama started the “Joining Forces” campaign to rally support for military families.

“Guard men and women are so dispersed, but wherever they are, there’s usually a church,” Biden said. “It’s nice that we can lean on the churches, too.

“I saw it myself when my son was deployed to Iraq,” she added. “My church put my son’s name in the bulletin and complete strangers came up to me every week and said, ‘I’m praying for your son.’ You all know what it feels like to have someone deployed and really it never leaves you. You might try to pretend like things are normal, but they’re not. This program that you have is really just a wonderful program.”

Gilmore noted that in building the network of churches 35 are enrolled in the program the Guard also has tapped into other support organizations such as Second Harvest Food Pantry and Catholic Charities.

“I’m networking the networks,” he said. “I can’t create a whole other set of social services, but I can get us all to work together.”

Gilmore gets excited by the numbers for potential support. There are 60 armories in Missouri and soldiers and airmen in all 114 counties, he explained. There are 9,750 churches in Missouri, he said, “So I have 11,500 Guardsman, and I’ve now moved from 60 places of support to potentially 9700.”

“The only thing that is more dispersed than our population is our faith-based community,” Gilmore said. “I’m equipping my pastors out where they meet our Guardsmen…. They are our first line of defense.”

“How do I get that guy who lives in Podunk Hollow the kind of help he needs?” Gilmore said. “He can get that through the local churches.”

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

July 4, 2012

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, 

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: George Read, Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

July 4, 2012

Panetta Offers Gratitude in Independence Day Message

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 4, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta offered his gratitude and best wishes to the Defense Department’s service members, civilian employees and their families in his Independence Day message, noting that the blessings of the freedom the nation celebrates today come from a legacy of sacrifice, courage and leadership.

Here is the secretary’s message:

On this Independence Day, I would like to extend my gratitude and best wishes to our entire military family: our men and women in uniform who serve around the world, and their families, and our Department of Defense civilians who support them, and their families. On this day, we honor all of you for your service and the many sacrifices you make to defend our freedom.

While many Americans will spend this holiday with family and friends enjoying summer weather, fireworks, and outdoor barbeques, others will be on the front lines defending our country. Today, in particular, the American people pay tribute to those of you deployed overseas for your strength, your courage, and your willingness to put your lives on the line to protect this country.

It was 236 years ago that our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Since then, succeeding generations of Americans have stepped forward to safeguard the liberties that our founders fought to give us. That was true 200 years ago during the War of 1812, when we first defended our young nation from attack, and has remained true whenever freedom has been threatened in the generations since.

Today, our brave men and women in uniform continue to protect our freedoms that were first outlined in that Declaration. They serve our nation proudly and they are willing to put their lives on the line so that our children can have a better future.

As we celebrate the birth of our nation, it is a time for our leaders and every American to recognize that the blessings of freedom we enjoy are not free – they come from a legacy of sacrifice, courage, and leadership. That legacy is now our responsibility to fulfill – so that our children can enjoy a better life.

May God bless you, may God bless our military, and may God bless this great nation.