Friday, December 28, 2012

The TAS Year In Review


As we near 2013 I thought it would be interesting to take a look back on 2012 on our Facebook page and our blog and share our top TEN photos and posts.  These are the most viewed stories of 2012 and the most shared photos that were the most viral.

The photos will be ranked according to the "Number of people reached" via Shares & likes and how many new members it brought to the page.  The blog posts will be strictly ranked according to the total number of views they received. 

OUR TOP TEN MOST VIEWED BLOG POSTS OF THE YEAR are : 
(Clicking on the list will take you to each story)

10. In Memory of Frank N. Boosamra 
9. The Most Inspiring Veteran I Know - MCpl Jody Mitic
8. Happy 5th Birthday - Thank A Soldier 
7. From The Sandbox To The Cage - Shane Kruchten
6. What Is A Hero - By Jim Seggie
5. Petition to release a stamp honouring the PPCLI 
4. V.E.T.S Canada Donation Drive
3. Christmas Cards for Veterans  
2. The Order Of St. George - My Thoughts
1. Leave No Veteran Behind 


Here are our TOP TEN photo of the year in order of "Reach" via Likes & Shares

10. 

 #9
Photo of Canadian Forces delivering food to the Calgary Foodbank
#8

A poppy made for a teacher who lost a good friend overseas by a kindergaten student


#7
Photo of Dave Murphy (TAS) being Knighted into The Order Of St. George


 #6
Photo received for our "Poppy Photo Project"
 #5
Photo of the SOT Car

#4

Photo of some awesome Christmas decorations

 #3
Photo of a drawing done by my 8 year old niece in Ontario for Remembrance Day


#2 


#1
This photo was our most shared in our history, had almost 7000 shares and reached a total of 189,000 people 
Thank you all for being a part of our page for the last year and helping us continue to do the work we do.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

V.E.T.S Canada donation drive




Our friends at V.E.T.S Canada were semi-finalists in the Aviva Community Challenge, every day on our Facebook page I would post a request for votes and the results were minimal. The last 24 hours of the contest we had a good push but in the end they didn't make the top 30 across Canada. No disrespect intended but to see shelters for animals finish with 16,000+ more votes than a group that provides assistance to homeless Veterans was a little upsetting.

V.E.T.S Canada is a group we support 100% as I have seen and heard the work they do from Veterans who have received help getting back on their feet.
We have 75,000+ members on our “Thank A Soldier” page and in the end V.E.T.S Canada barely cleared 8000 votes. Had they made the final they would have received a $5000.00 prize and now is our chance to give them that.  

If only 5000 people read this and donate $1.00 to them they’ll get their $5000

Who’s in?

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Mail Donations or Canadian Tire Money

VETS Canada understands that not all contributors would like to use the internet to make payments. For that reason you can send a cheque or money order, or even Canadian Tire Money to the following address:

VETS Canada
53 Queen St.
PO Box 214 Dartmouth Main
Dartmouth NS B2Y 3Y3




Since early 2011, Veterans Emergency Transition Services (V.E.T.S. Canada), a volunteer-led, registered charity, has been reaching out to homeless and at-risk military veterans across Canada. We are based in the Halifax-Dartmouth area and in the past year and a half our outreach efforts have helped us identify and assist more than 30 homeless veterans in Halifax and throughout Nova Scotia. We have also helped veterans in other Canadian cities using our growing social network of volunteers. 

V.E.T.S. Canada is a volunteer-led registered charity (Registration #826667602RR0001) based in Nova Scotia with outreach across the country. Our goal is to help homeless and at-risk Canadian veterans leave the streets and transition successfully back into society. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Petition to release a PPCLI 100th Anniv Coin






The PPCLI will celebrate its 100th anniversary in August of 2014  we feel there should be a coin released honouring the 100th anniversary of the PPCLI (Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry) & all the men and women who serve & have served our country past & present that are members of the PPCLI.

Previous coins have been issued honouring the 100th anniversaries of The Montreal Canadiens & Saskatchewan Roughriders and also one for the 100th Grey Cup this past year.






In 2010 the Navy celebrated it's Centennial and a coin was released to honour that milestone.

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI, generally referred to as The Patricias is one of the three Regular Force infantry regiments of the Canadian Army. The regiment is composed of four battalions including a Primary Reserve battalion, for a total of 2,000 soldiers. 

The PPCLI is the main lodger unit of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Edmonton in Alberta and CFB Shilo in Manitoba, and belongs to Land Force Western Area; as such it is the "local" regular infantry regiment for much of western Canada. The Loyal Edmonton Regiment is the reserve battalion of the regiment and carries the designation '4th Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry'.

The following idea for this petition was started by Dave Murphy (Thank A Soldier) & Nick Kerr (TAS Admin) 

Also, Nick Kerr who served with the PPCLI , Tyler Heberton & Jessica Wiebe are currently working on a design we would also like to submit and when that is ready to go we will update this page

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Help Veterans continue to help other Veterans



For the final two days of voting a Calgary business man has made an anonymous donation of a $500.00 ITUNES gift card to try and push V.E.T.S Canada into the top five.  All you have to do to enter is share our Facebook photo & post what number vote you were.  There are two voting days left so you can enter today & tomorrow.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE then go to our Facebook Photo and post what # vote you were.  SHARING the photo will get you a bonus entry and we'll give the card away when the voting period ends

Thank You  

More info about the challenge below : 

Since early 2011, Veterans Emergency Transition Services (V.E.T.S. Canada), a volunteer-led, registered charity, has been reaching out to homeless and at-risk military veterans across Canada. They are based in the Halifax-Dartmouth area and in the past year and a half our outreach efforts have helped them identify and assist more than 30 homeless veterans in Halifax and throughout Nova Scotia. They have also helped veterans in other Canadian cities using our growing social network of volunteers.

V.E.T.S Canada are currently in the semi-finals with many other organizations but unfortunately trailing very badly with only a few days left in the contest. All it takes is twenty seconds to send them a vote and I will post the steps below. They need to get in to the TOP FIVE to make the final "Judging" round by Aviva.

EVERY finalist receives $5000 and V.E.T.S Canada uses their funds for covering the short-term costs associated with meeting the emergency needs of homeless vets including:


short-term emergency/transitional housing;
housing rental deposits;food; clothing (season-appropriate);
transportation; personal hygiene items and other sundries;
immediate medical/dental expenses (if not covered by provincial health care); and possible relocation to an area closer to a veteran’s family support network.


The group in first place are getting about 3000 votes a day and right now V.E.T.S Canada has just over 4000 in total but I believe we can get them in to the top five!

Who's with me?


Note : You can vote from ANYWHERE in the world and there is no registration involved.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE  or click the link below the photo 


CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE VOTING PAGE 

Once on the "Voting Page" you don't have to register you can click "Connect With Facebook" 




Then click on VOTE NOW : 


























Let's see if we can turn this graph upside down?









The Current Top Six 






Saturday, November 17, 2012

What is a Hero? - By Jim Seggie (Father of Cpl Mike Seggie)




This write up was sent to me by Jim Seggie (Canadian Forces) Jim is also the father of Cpl Mike Seggie who was killed in Afghanistan in September 2008.  I met Jim & Shirley seggie on Facebook after I attened the funeral of Pte. Chad Horn who was also killed the same day along with Cpl Andrew Grenon.  Jim emailed me this and asked that I share it on this blog page.  Thank You Jim for sharing with us.


The word “HERO” means many different things to many different people. The definition, according to Dictionary.com is:

A person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal

I think we all have or own heroes, whether they have performed heroic acts or not, or have what is considered heroic qualities. We all have our own ideas of what is a hero is, or should be.

Some of us think sports stars are heroes, and to an extent I can relate to that. I do admire the skill, the talent, the poise that a pro football quarterback shows when he’s surrounded by four or five 300 pound defensive linemen, or an NHL goaltender under fire at close range from a 100 mph slapshot, but to me – they are not heroes.

While rock stars who sell millions of dollars of albums are very talented – to me – they are not heroes. They rarely are in dangerous situations that see their lives put at risk.

Celebrities are not heroes. They are celebrities. We too often confuse the terms “celebrity” and “hero”. Celebrities seek out the spotlight, expect people to fawn over them and to bend to their every wish – heroes do not.

Movie stars are not heroes. They get paid more money than we will ever see to portray heroes, generally inaccurately.

Recently, my wife and I had the honour of attending a ceremony in Rideau Hall, Ottawa that recognized acts of extraordinary courage. You have probably never heard of the people I am going to tell you about.

One of them is a young lady, a Canadian, who was then 11 years old, who saved her mom’s life. The citation reads:

STAR OF COURAGE

Miranda Suggitt, S.C. Lindsay, Ontario Star of Courage
On November 22, 2005, Miranda Suggitt, then 11 years old, risked her life to prevent her mother from being shot. During the evening, Miranda’s father became intoxicated and violent, threatening her mother with a rifle. The rifle went off, missing the woman, who quickly ran outside. Miranda’s father followed his wife and pointed the weapon at her. Without any regard for her own life, Miranda stepped between the two and begged her father not to shoot. He yelled at her to move, but she stood her ground until others helped to take the rifle away and hold him until the police arrived. Through her actions, Miranda showed great courage and prevented a terrible tragedy.

Another hero is this young man, a fellow Manitoban:
Scott Borlase, M.B. Winnipeg, Manitoba Medal of Bravery
On January 31, 2009, 14-year-old Scott Borlase was instrumental in keeping his sister safe during a snowstorm on Lake Winnipeg, in Manitoba. Scott, his 11-year-old sister, and their father had started their snowmobile outing on a clear morning, but by early afternoon the weather had changed. They lost sight of the marked trail due to the severe winds and heavy snowfall. At one point, Scott’s father got off the snowmobile and collapsed to the ground. Unable to find a pulse, Scott made the decision to go for help with his sister. In the blinding storm, Scott drove in a straight line hoping to eventually reach the shoreline. Once at the shore, Scott was able to use his cell phone to call 911 and provide directions to their location. He brought his sister into a bush area away from the biting wind, and used a solar blanket to keep them warm until help finally arrived several hours later. Another search party located his father who, sadly, did not survive.

Two acts of extraordinary courage made all the more extraordinary by the relative youth of the recipients - have been well and justifiably recognized - But there are everyday heroes we don’t always recognize as heroes.

The local volunteer coaches– who patiently take those little people – our kids and grandkids – and teach them the intricacies of hockey, or baseball, or football or …or whatever sport or activity the kids decide to play. They do this of their own free will and on their own time, often without due recognition. They may not be perfect – but they are true heroes.

The person who stops to aid someone who has a flat tire or broken down car – that is a hero to the person in need at that time. It may seem like a small inconsequential action – but to the stranded motorist, their hero has found them and they have found their hero.

The teacher that goes the extra mile to mentor a student – to support and encourage their students to do their very best – to that student, that teacher is a hero. That teacher may have had to work after hours, without recognition or compensation.

Our police, firefighters, soldiers and paramedics – to those that need their services, they are heroes. We don’t often think about it and tend to take them for granted, but they do heroic things on a daily basis, whether it be rescuing someone from a life threatening situation, or just being there to ensure that we, as a community, are safe.

To those people who live along the banks of the Red River - and theAssiniboine River – the volunteers who gave their own time and effort to help their fellow Manitobans – they are heroes, and I am sure we can all agree on that point. Some of them have willingly put their own safety in jeopardy so that others may be safe. They are true heroes.

True heroes are easy to find – you just don’t realize it until you think about it. Our heroes are in our own neighbourhood, working, living, and going about their business, just like we do, without notice, without fanfare and no expectation of reward. I found some heroes hanging out in my house the other day…my wife Shirley, my daughter Michelle and her husband Mat, and our two grandchildren, Carson and Stella. They are what I consider to be heroes.

In fact all you have to do is look in front of you, behind you and either side of you, and you will soon find a hero.


In Memory of Cpl Mike Seggie KIA Sept. 2008

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Call To Action - Letter


I have had several people send me letters to use for people to send to their Government representative and I have combined them so that everyone can use the same one if they choose, you will have to edit some things which I will bold and applicable to each country.  I will also load it to "Google Documents" so that you can download to computer and edit how you see fit.

If you haven't seen our original CALL TO ACTION post yet, please check that out before proceeding.

To download from Google documents CLICK HERE or Copy & Paste the below letter.

Dear (Member of Parliament or US Senator name here)

I am writing to you today concerning the millions of men and women who have served their country in a time of need and who are now suffering needlessly. In return for their many sacrifices, these brave individuals have asked very little. In truth they have received very little support and in some cases have been removed from duty and denied the help and monetary support they deserve.

Food banks across the country are seeing an alarming increase of Veterans and their families using their services. The increasing usage of local food banks by our Veterans clearly illustrates that our government and the Department of Defense are failing our soldiers and veterans at the most basic of levels.

Veterans are returning from overseas who are suffering with symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)and who are afraid to come forward and seek the help they desperately need for fear of appearing ‘weak’ and being told to ‘suck it up’. They fear being forced out of the services and/or losing their hard earned pensions and benefits. More and more soldiers have committed suicide than the number of names that are on the Vietnam Memorial and yet no one seems to care or believe that this is an issue worth covering in the media. When the media does come calling, they twist the soldiers’ words and make them seem like monsters. Families are falling apart. Children are losing their parents....again. And a nation carries on as if nothing is wrong.

We can’t erase the horrors they have witnessed and that have been etched into their memories, but we as a nation, and specifically you as the government who sent them to fight for our country, MUST do something to help ease the pain and anguish that our brave men and women are suffering. It is shameful that a nation would require such a sacrifice of her sons and daughters and then turn its back on them when they return broken and bruised. They did not fail their mission and yet we continue to fail THEM!

Remembrance Day/Veterans Day honours our fallen, those who have served and came home and those who are serving, but what happens the other 354 days of the year? It is time for our government to stand up for those who were willing to die for their country. It is time to step up and take responsibility and to help heal the wounded, for every soldier who goes to war comes home wounded and scarred. If not physically, then mentally by what they have seen and endured while serving their nation.

They left their homes. They left their families. They were prepared to die in order to defend a people they didn't even know in a foreign land. They defended our honour and exemplified a nation’s belief that ALL people deserved basic human rights. Isn't it their right to live without fear? Isn’t it their right to expect help in their time of need?

More soldiers have committed suicide than the number of names that are on the Vietnam War Memorial yet no one seems to care or think this is an issue worth covering on the media. We have veterans who returned home that are living on the streets, unable to provide for themselves with no one to turn to, nobody reaching out to help them.They should never be left out in the cold having to worry about where their next meal will come from.How easily they have been forgotten and left behind.

(Remembrance Day/Veterans Day) has now been observed.  It is now time to show them that we as a nation are just as proud of them, and to prove to them that just as they did not abandon us, we have not abandoned them. It’s time for us to stand up for our Veterans and changes have to be made.

Sincerely, Sign your name


Canada : Find your Member of Parliament using your postal code 
United States : Find your member of Senate
United Kingdom : Find your MP
Australia : find your government elective 


Monday, November 12, 2012

They stood up for us, NOW Let’s stand up for them


We have prospered because we have always had cit­i­zens willing to rise to answer the call to serve in hours of need. The millions who have worn the military uniform have expressed our national resolve. On November 11th we honor our vet­er­ans, past and present, for their unyielding sac­ri­fice and ded­i­ca­tion to our great nations.

In return for their many sac­ri­fices, these brave indi­vid­u­als ask very lit­tle. And thus, it falls to an indebted nation to meet their self­less­ness with thankfulness.

I was watching a news report the day before Remembrance Day and they seem overjoyed to report these numbers :

Three in 10 Canadians say they will attend a Remembrance Day ceremony in 2012 (up eight points from 2010) and 80% of Canadians say they will observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. (up five points from 2010).

Wow, 30% of 34,000,000+ will take one hour of the 8765 hours in a year to take a moment to remember all those who gave their lives so that we will be free, I can see why the news anchor was so happy to report these numbers.

But what happens from November 12th to November 10th? Most people go back to their normal lives and don’t think about our Veterans again until the week leading up to Remembrance Day.

I was recently speaking with the director of a homeless shelter in Los Angele’s “Skid Row” called “The Midnight Mission” and he informed me that at least 35% of the people that use their services are Veterans.

“Veterans Food Bank” is three words that should never have to be spoken ever but I spoke with a representative from the Calgary location yesterday at our Remembrance Day Ceremony who said they are seeing the numbers increase of Veterans having to use these services.

We have Veterans returning from serving overseas who are suffering with symptoms of PTSD afraid to come forward and seek help as they are seen as being weak or told to suck it up. More soldiers have committed suicide than the number of names that are on the Vietnam War Memorial yet no one seems to care or think this is an issue worth covering on the media.

This brings me to the launch of our new project “A CALL TO ACTION” it’s time to come out from behind the keyboard and do something about this.

It is time we—as coalition nations—take the proper steps to renew our com­mit­ment to those who served our nation. Whenever I post anything on “Thank A Soldier Facebook” there’s always tons of comments from people saying “We should do this every day” or “I Thank our military every day or when I see them” well that is awesome and the main objective our page but our Veterans (Young & Older generation) are being neglected and it’s time for us to stand up together.


HOW YOU CAN HELP :

1. Our Action Plan – Contacting Government officials

Below is a list for each location on how to contact your government representative and tell them you have had enough of how our Veterans are being treated.

If you are unsure of what to send in your letter or email you can CLICK HERE FOR THE LETTER YOU CAN COPY & PASTE


Note : for our Canadian members : Steven Blaney, Minister for Veterans Affairs might be another good person to CC any e-mail to? blanes1@parl.gc.ca


Canada : Find your Member of Parliament using your postal code 
United States : Find your member of Senate
United Kingdom : Find your MP
Australia : find your government elective 


We have joined forces with Military Minds & Vets Canada on this but welcome others to join us, we are all grassroots movements and this is not about receiving donations or asking for help it’s free to get involved with this and that’s why I’m leaving the above open for people to contact your representative internationally and tell them how you feel about this if you agree with us.

2. Join one of the following Facebook groups to join their missions : 




MILITARY MINDS : A grass roots movement for all coalition forces returning home from deployment cope with PTSD started by Canadian Forces member Cpl Chris Dupee. Military Minds goal is to raise awareness for the stigma around Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Breaking down the wall of stigma; one brick at a time 




Thank A Soldier - Our page started out in 2007 as a page for sending coffee to Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan, through growth and people from every corner of the world joining our page it has turned in to a multipurpose page. Introducing military families together, gratitude campaigns, connecting family members of fallen soldiers together and bringing light to issues in the military community 

V.E.T.S Canada : A volunteer-led registered charity (Registration #826667602RR0001) based in Nova Scotia with outreach across the country. V.E.T.S. aims to provide aid and comfort to transient and homeless Canadian veterans by providing the essentials in emergencies, and assisting those at risk. Click here to join their Facebook page 







3. Help up spread the word by sharing this post on Twitter & Facebook.

The more people that take part in this and bring awareness to how our Veterans are being treated maybe we can actually make a difference and changes made to current policies. 

Twitter
Facebook : Go to the "Thank A Soldier Facebook page" and click SHARE on THIS PHOTO
Pinterest - If you're on Pinterest go here and RE-PIN our post 


“They stood up for us, NOW Let’s stand up for them”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I will never "Opt Out" of Remembrance Day


So today I woke up and do what I usually do which is have a sip of morning coffee and check my "Thank A Soldier Facebook page & Twitter" 

The first thing I see is a post someone had put up that said "Schools Allow Students Choice Of Attending Remembrance Day Services"  and the first thought that came to my mind was "Disgusting" and I posted it on our page.  A variant of comments started to come in but I removed the post after as the messages turned in to some racial slurs, assumptions and personal attacks.

For me growing up I used to look forward to the Remembrance Day Ceremonies and listening to the Veterans speak, as the years went on and we got some new technologies I looked forward to a video being played, I remember every year as plain as day tearing up during the moment of silence as I thought about all the men and women who gave their lives for my freedom.

Last year my niece who attends a public school named after a famous WW2 battle, wrote down her thoughts as part of a class assignment  


She says "In the video my eyes were watery" and I was instantly taken back to my childhood Remembrance Day Ceremony. 

Someone commented on our the Facebook post earlier saying 

"Remembrance Day is nothing but a celebration of WAR" 

well it's not a CELEBRATION of War. It is a way to pay respects to the people who gave their lives for this country, to show Veterans that we are thankful for their sacrifices and efforts to protect us and our way of life.

I also saw this written on a friends page today and asked permission to share it : 

"I just got back from the Remembrance Day at the girls’ school, and it got me thinking  I want Remembrance Day to mean more than just a ceremony to my kids, and to be more than just saying a poem about some poppies. And I want that day to be special, to actually be about remembering. To say that Remembrance Day should be about working for peace is all well and good, but you can work for peace every other day of the year. I want this one day – just one day – to be about simply remembering. Honestly, given what those in the service and their families deal with, I don’t think that having one day that is for remembering and not dedicated to anything else is not too much to ask."  - Kira Olfert-Knudsen

Midway through my day I log in to Twitter and see that "Remembrance Day" is trending so I thought to myself wow maybe that's a good sign, then however I start to read posts like this : 




Another few that have since been deleted said 
"Remembrance Day - Lets have a moment of silence for Michael & Whitney" #Gonetoosoon 

"I'm not going to this years Remembrance Day Ceremony it's always the same old shit"
Well that's a good thing it means no rockets have come crashing down through your school gymnasium nor do you have to worry about stepping on an IED on the way back from recess no?  

At this point I kinda like it when "Remembrance Day" wasn't trending and decided to log out of Twitter for the day and then checked my "Thank A Soldier" email inbox, where I received these drawings done by children aged 3-4 and that quickly turned things around.: 


Yes this post is a little all over the place but so has been the case with my mind and emotions today in reading all these posts & comments.  I know myself I will never "Opt-Out" of attending a Remembrance Day ceremony as long as I'm alive and be there on the 11th hour to pay my respects to those who have given me my freedoms I enjoy. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Order Of St. George - My Thoughts



Last weekend I was invested into The Order Of St. George and now that I've had a week to let it all set in I wanted to share my thoughts on the weekend with everyone.

In November of 2011 I started receiving questions of specific details of things I had accomplished through “Thank A Soldier” & “Tim Horton’s for our troops from Major John Haylock (Canadian Forces) who I met back in 2007 as we were connected through the Military Family Resource Center for him to deliver thousands of coffee certificates that members of our Facebook page had to sent to be delivered to military members serving in Afghanistan. Major Haylock then sent me information on “The Order Of St. George” and to check it out as I had been nominated by him to be entered into the Order in October of 2012.

I had to keep this secret until it was official which for anyone that knows me was really tough however I managed to do so. The week leading up to this event I was so nervous that I started to have some pretty weird dreams such as when I was being Knighted I dreamt the Grand Master sliced my ear off with the sword, had one about turning around to the crowd after being knighted and then realizing I had no clothing on, however we’ll get back to the nervousness a little later.

Friday October 12th “Meet & Greet” night

I had no idea what to expect as I checked in to the hotel about four hours before the reception was to take place. At 18:30 I put on my suit at 18:25 and made my way downstairs. I walk in to a room with a lot of strangers at first but quickly started to be introduced to a lot of people once Major Haylock showed up. I also was joined by a friend who I had known through Facebook for many years but never met in person Julia Daniels who shared the evening with me.

Then the ceremony started where each postulant was given a miniature Order Of St. George medal and at that point Grand Master Gareth Green gave everyone a brief overview of some of my efforts. After that I had several soldiers come up to me saying they had received coffee certificates and wanted to say “Thank You” which at this point I had relaxed and was blown away already by the pre-events of the night before.

At this point General Rick Hillier walked in and got to speak with him for awhile which was one of the highlights of this night for sure. He remembered meeting me a few years ago at an event he was speaking at which was amazing. The feeling of walking in to a room of strangers was already gone and at this point I felt like I was with friends.



Saturday October 13th “The Investiture” 

After a morning breakfast with all the postulants to go over details of what would be happening in the church we made our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral on Bloor street and at this point the nervousness & anxiety of “Worrying about doing something to mess things up” went in to overload. I have never in my life felt like I was going to faint before but for the first thirty minutes of the service I was pretty sure I was going to fall over.

I was #24 on the list to be Knighted so I had to find a way to try and calm my nerves. The program they gave us had a write up on everyone being invested into The Order so as each person was called up I read their stories and was blown away at the company of people I was joining on this day. At that moment as I look three people to the left of me and see the Minister of Defense Peter Mckay sitting there waiting to be knight also I guess everything in the last five years hit me. I don’t stop long enough sometimes to think about these things but at this moment it all did at once and I was very overcome with emotion. Knowing that my whole family was ten rows behind me, friends had driven in from Ottawa for this, an aunt Uncle also from the same distance it hit me how big of a deal this really was.

As the 23rd person was being knighted I thought to myself “OK, I’m next calm down and this will be all done in about two minutes and I can relax” well after that person was done an opera singer got up and sang “hallelujah” which was so peaceful and beautiful I don’t remember if it relaxed me more at that point or made me more nauseous but I knew I was next and had to pull it together.

I thing started to think about my grandmother Annie Pretty who for some reason I could hear her voice saying “Now my son just take a deep breathe and you’ll be fine” I did that and next thing I knew I was shaking General Rick Hillier’s hand and what he said to me I will keep to myself but it did mean a lot to me.

It was done at this point, and I relaxed, enjoyed the music and watching others join the Order. After the ceremony was over I got to meet some Facebook friends I had never met in person that came out for the event like Keven Ellis NWRC & Sarah Blanche from Soldiers Portraits which was awesome and the day was still young.

Saturday October 13th – The Reception Dinner

My work (Shaw Communications) paid for all eight spots at a table for me for this reception (Along with my flight from Calgary to Toronto & other expenses) so I knew it was going to be a special evening. At my table were my parents, brother & sister & Major John Haylock who nominated me for the order. My other two spots were to be taken by MCpl Jody Mitic & his wife Allanah but sadly she & their children were ill but they could not make the trip.

Thankfully MCpl Jody Mitic did come to this event and as I have written about him many times on my blog he has probably been the most inspirational person I have met in five years of my various efforts.

The meal was amazing and after the meal they were going through various announcements and then Minster Peter Mckay gave a speech was great to listen to. 

Grand Master Gareth Green, Mister Peter Mckay & Mcpl Jody Mitic
 

Then something happened that I was not prepared for Grand Master Gareth Green made some announcements about promotions within The Order and then announced “We have a special guest here with us this evening please stand Jody Mitic” he was then given a standing ovation by the room and it was when Gareth said “Jody, YOU are now a member of this order” that I lost it. I had no idea this was going to happen and to know that one of my biggest personal inspirations would be joining me in this brother hood was something I can’t put in to words.

Major Roland & Joan Murphy, David & Darrin Murphy & Dana King


Having my entire immediate family at all these events with me was also something very special. My parents who are retired Salvation Army officers with over 35 years of service it’s pretty easy to see where I get my charitable heart from. My brother and my sister who I am also very close with made the nervousness a little easier with their jokes and made the evening very comfortable. At the end of the night though I felt as if I had gained a new family with the people I met. 


Grand Master Gareth Green then spoke about how he had a “Flame” inside him for the Order and that is how I feel about “Thank A Soldier” it’s a flame that I have for our military and their families that drives me to keep going and it just keeps getting bigger.

After the dinner and main event was over one of my favourite parts of the entire weekend was just being around the new members and people that had been in the order for years listening to them tell funny stories I could have stayed there all evening but the night ended at around 03:00.

I would like to say THANK YOU to Major John Haylock for nominating me, The Chevalier Gareth J. Green, CD, KGCStG & The Chevalier Gerard A. Nudds, KGCStG for accepting the nomination and allowing me to join such a prestigious Order.

Thank you to Shaw Communications for covering a good part of my personal expenses I would have had to pay for this weekend.




Thank you to every person who has ever joined a page of mine, shared a project or a post as without all of my group members none of this would even be possible. Most importantly to all the men and women who serve our countries and have served in the past THANK YOU

I am not the type of person that organizes these efforts looking for recognition but when they come from members of the military I humbly accept them as I did when receiving the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal thanks to a Veteran of the Canadian Forces who referred me. A quick history of some of the things we’ve been able to do through our site :

- Sent over $100,000 in free coffee to troops serving in Afghanistan

- Petitioned to Canada Post to release a stamp honouring Veterans and successful

- Connect military spouses together through our page

- Connect families of fallen soldiers together anonymously

- “The Gratitude Project “ which was a series of YouTube videos of people holding “Thank You” signs to show thanks to our men and women serving

- “Holiday Cards For Veterans” which is now in our second year

- promote other organizations with various ongoing projects they have

- Spread the word about “Red Fridays” on social media and other efforts on Twitter & Facebook on specific days “Team Thank A Soldier Thursdays”, Military Monday & Warrior Wednesday

- setup over 6000+ school children with soldiers as pen pals


View photos of the event on our FACEBOOK PAGE

Monday, October 1, 2012

Holiday Cards 4 Veterans & Donation Drive



Last year we did our “Christmas Cards for Veterans” program and Sunnybrook Veterans care center received over 200 cards to give out to Veterans over the holidays.

This year we’re going even bigger and adding a twist. For our members in the UK we could not find anyone that would accept holiday cards on our behalf but will be posting a link where people can make a donations to various organizations below.

So whether it's sending a card or making a donation to one of the charities listed at the bottom of this page, let's see how much of a difference we can make this year!

You can send a “Christmas Card” or “Thank You” card and may include a message inside with your card if you like however please observe the following guidelines to ensure a quick reviewing process:

· Ensure that all cards are signed.
· Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program.
· Only cards are being accepted. Do not send or include letters.
· Do not include inserts of any kind, including photos: these items will be removed during the reviewing process.
· Please refrain from choosing cards with glitter or using loose glitter as it can aggravate health issues of ill and injured warriors.
· If you are mailing a large quantity of cards, please bundle them and place them in large mailing envelopes or flat rate postal shipping boxes. Each card does not need its own envelope, as envelopes will be removed from all cards before distribution.

Where to send cards : 

For our Canadian page members : 

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre,
Recreation Therapy, Room L1-108,
2075 Bayview Ave, Toronto, Ontario, M4N 3M5

Four our members in the United States
Operation Gratitude has come on board with us and going to be distributing cards from our U.S. members in their care packages. 


Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Attn: TAS CARDS

There is no limit to the amount of cards we can send so if you want to do a group package you are more than welcome to do that. 

                                       
Team Thank A Soldier donation drive : 

As you know we don’t accept donations but a few months ago we posted a status asking page members there top charities that they frequently give to so we have one charity from the top five regions with the most representation on our Facebook page. Included you will find the donation link and on all these pages there is a spot where to put a additional note and we are asking that you put “Courtesy of Team TAS” in it.

 After you make a donation please let us know by commenting on the original Facebook Photo and which one you donated to so that we can keep a running total or emailing info@thankasoldier.net with your amount.

Who's up for a friendly competition to see what country can donate the most money between October 1st to November 30th?


Canada :

Donate to Soldier On 

United States 

 Donate to Operation Gratitude 
 United Kingdom :

Donate to Help For Heroes 
Australia : 
Donate to Legacy 





Note : For people asking why there are only links for Canada, United States, UK & Austrailia, these four regions represent 89% of our Facebook page members.  However if you are located in another region you are welcome to make a donation to them on behalf of "Team Thank A Soldier" and report it is as well. 
Thank You - Dave Murphy

Friday, September 28, 2012

I'm not me anymore - by Trudi Kwakernaak

I received this in our inbox today and wanted to share

"I wrote this for my son who suffers from PTSD. Many of our soldiers are suffering and they need our support and understanding. It's an illness that hits every individual differently and it's difficult to comprehend it's effects, difficult to diagnose, difficult to treat and very difficult to overcome. My thoughts and prayers are with all those afflicted."
- Trudi Kwakernaak


I’m Not Me Anymore 

I went over there anxious and willing to fight 
I came home beaten and far from alright 
They say I’m different, definitely not the same 
Some days I don’t even know my own name. 

I wore my uniform with overflowing pride 
Carried my rifle easily by my side 
Displayed the Maple Leaf for all to see 
I was exactly where I wanted to be 

I did my job each and every day 
Didn't stay back, hide or shy away 
The enemy had weapons we had never seen 
They were heartless, relentless and downright mean 

I was doing okay with days to go 
When my time was up, I could go happily home 
Of course I couldn't predict what was to come 
Now I’m someone my friends shy away from 

One minute we were enjoying esprit de corps 
Then the scenery changed and we became victims of war 
Laughter receded and misery prevailed 
Only those involved will know what that day entailed 

I lost my buddies, watched them die 
I was forced by the enemy to say goodbye 
I had a close call but they paid the price 
My life is forever changed because of an explosive device 

You say I’m lucky because I lived 
I came home in one piece with nothing physically wrong 
You can’t see my injuries, can’t feel my pain 
I came home alive but I’ll never be the same 
I’m depressed and anxious, my head is quickly spinning 
I’m slowing dying inside, the demons are winning 

I was a soldier; dedicated, proud & gung ho 
Living each day in a fog is now the status quo 
You say I’ve changed and you don’t like what you see 
You tell me to get over it and start living again 
I’m trying but inside I feel numb, totally off track 
Depressingly unsure if the old me will ever come back 

Forgive me for being a different person 
But you can’t even imagine what I've been through 
Don’t judge me or hate me or tell me my future’s bright 
Life isn't the same, and I’m not alright. 

Trudi Kwakernaak

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Military Minds & TAS - Break The Silence

As you may or may not be aware, PTSD is a very crippling illness which has proven to be tragic with one veteran committing suicide every 80 minutes. It’s time to BREAK THE SILENCE.......

Two groups have come together in a NEW mission to spread the word about PTSD awareness and we need your help to do this. Military Minds & Thank A Soldier have a combined network of over 100,000 members and with that number of people we should be able to make some noise :

Military Minds was started by a currently serving Canadian Infantry soldier Cpl Chris Dupee to raise PTSD awareness and help educate people about PTSD and its effects on soldiers and their families. Military Minds has no borders and offers a voice & support to members of the military past and present seeking support.

Thank A Soldier was started by civilian Dave Murphy five years ago which originally started as a campaign to send Canadian Forces members serving in Afghanistan coffee certificates but has now grown to a Networking site within Facebook for all coalition forces from all branches.

Please help us 'Break the Silence' for our troops before another is lost to the illness. Here you will find the links to the Military Minds PTSD awareness sites. 


It seems most media outlets don't want to cover anything to do with PTSD until "After the case" well it's time for that to change.

Military Minds :
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/MilitaryMindsYT
Twitter : http://www.twitter.com/Military_minds
YouTube :  
http://youtu.be/uR1lh8_6ADk
Email : militaryminds@hotmail.ca

Thank A Soldier :
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/ThankasoldierNET
Twitter : http://www.twitter.com/thankasoldier
Youtube : http://www.youtube.com/Thankasoldier.net
Email : info@thankasoldier.net

Thank You 





--------------------- Do Not copy and paste below -----------------

Between TAS & MM our three main media outlets are as follows : Canada – CTV National News, USA – Anderson Cooper 360 – CNN & UK – Daily Mail all we are asking you do is to pick your region below and click the link to open a new window to copy and paste everything above this paragraph and send to them.

You can also copy and paste the above write up and send to your local news outlets via Radio, TV & print.

Canada – Click here to email CTV National  (Link will be here to take to CTV email)

USA – Link to email Anderson Cooper - CNN  (Note enter your information and copy and past everything after our contact information)

UK – Daily Mail - Click here to send an email to the Daily Mail UK

IF you use TWITTER click one of the below links to automatically send a tweet to these news agencies

Link

Post A Message to your Twitter Followers







NOTE : If you receive a email in response to sending this to any email outlets, please have them respond to 
Chris from Military minds at militaryminds@hotmail.ca 
or Dave from Thank A Soldier at davemurphy@thankasoldier.net 
Thanks 









Friday, September 7, 2012

From the wife of a fallen soldier

I just wanted to take a minute and say thank-you for your continued work with Thank a Soldier. I know that positive comments cannot always make up for the negative ones you may receive but I thought I'd put my two cents in. I am well into my second decade of service in the Canadian Army, I have served on many missions both aide to civil power and NATO and I have buried family and friends who have died in the line of duty.

For the most part I have witnessed a slow change through the years and have been honoured recently to have several civilians approach me to say thank-you. While I always find this slightly embarrassing I accept their words with as much grace as I can muster because I have also been subject to more negative encounters several of which are similar to the email you received. Thankfully I have seen less of that type recently and more yellow and red ribbons out in my community.

 I love to see signs of support be it a website, yellow ribbon magnets on vehicles and in businesses and it actually brings a smile to my face to see people wearing red on Fridays or otherwise taking a moment out of their lives to be supportive of our military and coalition partners. To be honest, most soldiers don't feel as if they have done anything special that deserves to be acknowledged but some of the men and women I have served with over the years truly are amazing individuals and knowing that there are people and organizations out there like you who care enough to take time out of their lives to honour them gives me hope for Canada and humanity. 

My husband and fellow soldier Cpl Bryce Keller MMV was killed in action six years ago and each and every time I read the positive comments on TAS or have someone thank me when I'm out in my uniform I feel like thanking them back because one of the worst fears for me as family of a fallen soldier is that Bryce will be forgotten by the people he served. He was truly a hero and every thank-you I receive I accept on his behalf. I will never get sick of talking to people about Bryce or accepting their words of appreciation for his service and his life.

 He deserves that, as do all the soldiers, sailors and airmen/women that serve our Country. It's not 'holier than thou' it is kindness and appreciation extended freely by fellow Canadians and I will always be grateful and thankful for that. Thank-you to Thank a Soldier and to each and every person that has supported your endeavor and websites.

 Keep up the good work! Sincerely, Sarah Keller, CD.

Note : This article was Sarah Keller's response to this posting on our Facebook page 

Cpl. Bryce Keller was 27 years old when he was killed in a firefight with insurgents in the Pashmul District of Kandahar, Afghanistan, August 3, 2006.