Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MCpl Jody Mitic - The most inspirational veteran I know

Starting Monday July 15th, Jody Mitic and his brother Cory will be contestants on The Amazing Race Canada.

Thousands of Canadians applied for "The Amazing Race Canada," but only nine teams were chosen to take part. Jody and Cory Mitic, brothers from Ottawa and Edmonton, respectively. Jody is a Canadian Forces veteran (an army sniper, no less) and a double amputee, and Cory is a labour relations officer.

Their motto: "They are the enemy and we shall destroy them."

As you may or may not know I originally went to Jody when The Amazing Race was announced I approached Jody and asked if he wanted to try out for the show with me.  We did the video and had some steam going behind us.  Sadly for personal reasons I had to withdraw from the application which I did feel horrible about but Jody understood.  THANKFULLY he was able to continue his application with his brother Cory Mitic and we will be cheering them on through this journey.

Jody Mitic has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life and am proud to call him a friend.

"I realized I must have stepped on something. I freaked out ... I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I was calling (for the others) but they were already working on me to stop the bleeding." Sweating due to shock, he started to shiver. Despite the bone sticking out of his left leg, he kept talking to his guys to keep his mind off the injuries. "My job was to let them help me, stay focused, to control my breathing."

One of the medics who assisted in nursing Jody back to health is his now girlfriend Allanah and they also have a child together. Jody also does work with the Soldier On program and is one of the most inspiring people I know.

In 1994 I was involved in a mugging and attacked by three guys in Ottawa, Ontario and stabbed 13 times. Two of these wounds cut the muscle in my leg and if it wasn't for two off duty fire fighters who jumped out of their car when they saw me lying on the sidewalk I would have lost my left leg. To this day I still have no nerves in my upper left leg and for years I used it as an excuse to be lazy. Watching a YouTube video about how Jody Mitic was to run a half marathon on prosthetic legs was the kick in the ass I needed to get me going.

You see for years If I walked over 1km I would have severe leg cramps, If I went to the movies I'd have to get up and walk around to not have pains in my leg. That was until I read about Jody.

Two years ago in June, I did the Loops for troops 5km walk and had no pains at all, as I was feeling tired during the walk I thought about Jody and it kept me going. This past June I cut 20 minutes off my time and now walk 5km a day with no problem or pain.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Thank A Soldier - Weight Loss Challenge

A week ago I entered a contest on Facebook for a signed game worn Landan Silk Talley jersey and was lucky enough to win it.  I found out these jerseys are custom fit and me being 6'2 and 300lbs there was no way I would be able to wear it.  I decided that starting February 29th, I was going to make it my goal to be able to fit in to the jersey by July 1st which is the Calgary Stampeders home opener in Calgary, Alberta

I posted a Facebook update saying that "Tomorrow is Day One" and a friend of mine Chris Mcardle said he was starting something similar tomorrow as well and thus this whole project was born.

We have decided that from March 1st to July 1st we are both going to attempt to get in shape and donate $2.00 for every pound that we lose to MILITARY MINDS!

If you just want to show myself & Chris support please join our Facebook Page and post a message on there, myself & Chris will be posting photos and weekly updates of our progress on there too.  You don't have to take part in the challenge to join our Facebook page, you can join and send us some encouragement as me and my friend Chris attempt to our better our lives and help out other soldiers in return.

"I have been living with my weight for too long, I have always found it to be a problem for me. I wanted to join the Canadian Forces when I was younger and was told I had to loose weight to do it. I have tried over the years to loose the weight but with no luck. After battling with depression and my weight, I took a job as a Civillian Support Worker in Kandahar Afghanistan. I worked there for a year beside the CF and found a new drive to loose the weight and get into the Forces. I came home from my year in Afghanistan feeling out of place and depressed. I had a hard time adjusting to home life and kept wanting to go back. We were not offered help when we came home, but I was lucky to have a wonderful support network and it has taken me months but I am back to where I need to be mentaly. I am now back to work and have decided I need to loose the weight!! Get in Shape and join the Forces Reserves. Currently I have started using Body By VI, watching my calories, and exercising everyday. My goal is to loose 130lbs in 2012. " -  Chris Mcardle

"I'm Dave Murphy the founder of Thank A Soldier and I have been struggling with my weight for years.  I had lost a significant amount of weight about a year ago but have recently put it back on again and it's time for a change.  Today after posting the Facebook status above seeing all the encouraging messages I thought of how I could tie this in with our website and help out the folks at Military Minds and who knows who else we might inspire at the same time.  I am not sure of my weight as I haven't weighed myself in over a year but tomorrow I go to meet with the people at a local gym and will post my starting weight once I find that out.  Personally I think I am hoping to lose atleast 60lbs in the next four months which I think is a reasonable goal.  Myself and Chris will be updating via our Facebook Page and posting update photos.  If you would like to be a participant the information about where to email is listed below.  ALSO if you would like to sponsor myself or Chris the link to donate is at the bottom of this page." - Dave Murphy - Thank A Soldier 

Hello my name is Mark Maclean...Ive been struggling with my weight for about 10 years now..Now in the last 5 years of becoming a diabetic and suffering a stroke and recently being put on insulin losing weight and getting back in shape is my top priorty...I weigh now 255 pounds and my objective is to get to 175ibs...I know this will be hard but being a diabetic Im going to fight this 100% so i will be able to live a long and healthy life.
Mark Maclean - Ontario, Canada

Note : I have also received several emails from people seeing the status saying they want to take part to which we are going to open this up to anyone who wants to get involved.  If you would like to join the challenge

There is no deadline to participate and if you don't want to post a photo that is ok too but if you want to participate please JOIN OUR FACEBOOK PAGE post a photo of yourself and an introduction and We will get you added to the blog page here as soon as possible.  

you can also have others sponsor you, you can send them directly to this page.

Click the above button to sponsor us (All Proceeds go to Military Minds)


Military Minds was started by Cpl Chris Dupee (Canadian Forces) who launched a YouTube video speaking out about how he was dealing with PTSD that has started a wave of something very special on Facebook helping soldiers internationally.  Most recently a US Marine contacted Chris for help and he is flying to Toronto in the next few weeks to do a video shoot with them to help other soldiers suffering from PTSD symptoms.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Donate blood in honour of a Fallen Hero

Please take a moment to check out the email I received from a good friend of mine Angelia Phillips who is a Gold Star Mom of fallen US Soldier SPC. Michael Phillips.  I met Angelia on Facebook many years ago and she has helped with every project I have ever launched as well as talked about our page on group on every radio show she has been on and I have always wanted to come up with a way to say thanks and I can't think of a better way than by helping her honour her son Michael.

On Feb. 24th 2008 my son, Spc. Micheal “Pokey” Phillips gave his life for freedom. I tell people often to not dwell on that day and how he died but to dwell on how he lived. One thing Micheal often did was to give blood and the gift of life. This year to honor how he lived we are holding the first annual “Spc. Micheal ‘Pokey’ Phillips Memorial Blood Drive” 

Yes this started as a local event but many people across the world have come to me saying they would give where they are in his memory. So I am asking you to give the gift of life to honor a man who gave the gift of his life for others.

Please help keep other families from facing the painful path of losing a loved one. If you do choose to give the gift of life in Micheal’s memory I ask you to please take a picture of yourself giving blood and share it either here or on the facebook group page

Thank you
Angelia Phillips
Gold Star Mom of
Spc. Micheal “Pokey” Phillips

The students of Ardmore High School National Honor Society in conjunction with the Oklahoma Blood Institute are sponsoring a Blood drive in memory of Spc. Micheal "Pokey" Phillips a former Ardmore High school student who was Killed in Action while serving in Iraq. 

Military Minds Contest

In order to help spread the word about the important work Military Minds is doing we are launching a contest for some awesome prizes.

First Prize :  One Military Minds Hoodie, a signed Julian Austin Military Minds event poster and ONE of TEN "If you don't stand behind our troops" bumper Stickers all pictured below 

There will also be NINE secondary prizes of one of the bumper sticker below.

How to enter is very simple : 
1. Join the MILITARY MINDS Facebook Page  (this will get you one entry)

2. Share any of their posts on your Facebook page and tell your friends to join and have them post "YOUR NAME sent me here" (This will get you a bonus entry)

3.    to enter on twitter

NOTE : Contest closes on Friday March 23rd at MIDNIGHT Eastern time and you have two weeks after closing to claim your prizes.  Winners will be contacted via Twitter and Facebook

 Military Minds is helping soldiers dealing with PTSD come forward for help and speak to others going through the same things.  If you would like to read some of the stories click any of the links below for more information.

Sometimes All I see is red
Trying to get my uniform back 
"Hi I'm James" - Sgt James Mcdonald 


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Afghanistan - A Hard Truth - By Melissa Garrison

This article was written by Melissa Garrison who at the time this was submitted to me a year ago a  grade twelve student whos brother was serving with the Canadian Forces, Please free to leave a comment and I will share them with their family. Thank You 

A major topic that I hear about most often is the War in Afghanistan. Should we be there? A large majority say no, but are they really that informed? I honestly don’t think so. I am coming from the perspective of a family member of a soldier. I have seen information that is there for the public, but is behind what is on the front page. You have to do a little digging to find it. I am offering contradictory information on the most used points. Why we are there, the progress that has been made, the point of view of the Afghanis, and soldiers, who the Taliban are, and more in-depth information. Most of this information is buried deep where it is harder to find. Putting this information out there is important, because if people are not informed about what they are dealing with than they are liable to make mistakes that could compromise lives.

The first thing that should be addressed is why we are there. There are different opinions depending on who you talk to. The first, more factual reason, is because of the NATO treaty; “an attack against any one of them is an attack on all.” This is the mutual aid pact that involves all the members of the United Nations. The 9/11 attack on the USA by Al Qaeda was what started it and is the main reason for us being there. The more moral reasons for us being there is to give women and children rights, which they had before the Taliban took over, freedom, which they also used to have, stopping torture and public execution, and right to have access to information. They are also working on a major drug problem. Opium that is grown in Afghanistan is actually where the majority of it is grown. Crop areas are all over Afghanistan and Soldiers are trying to convince farmers to turn their drug farms into wheat farms. This proves to be difficult when the public is so ruled by fear when most of their drug lords are either a member of the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Canada is also building a relationship with the people, contrary to popular belief that the people of Afghanistan hate us and want us gone. Most of the Soldiers know why we are there, like Major Brent Purcell who when asked why we were in Afghanistan replied, “To prevent terrorism from spreading and to bring security and development to Afghanistan.” These soldiers know why we are there, and they believe in the mission. “Radical Islam has already demonstrated that they know no boundaries regarding who they kill, or who they will use to kill. They will escalate the violence at every opportunity, and the more potent the weapons they can get their hands on the more likely they are to use them. Our being in Afghanistan is not only trying to help the failed state, it is keeping radical Islam occupied and focused there,” says Noel Dykes, a retired Artillery officer of 35 years. This mission is important, the danger is real and it will not just go away if we ignore it.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996. Before they took over Afghanistan was nowhere near as brutal as it is now. Woman’s rights for one, was not much of an issue, nor did it need to be. Girls were allowed to attend not only grade school but also University. Women used to be allowed to work, especially in Kabul, the Capital city. At Kabul University, 50% of students were girls, and 60% of teachers were women. Of all school teachers in Kabul, 70% were women. As for two other important jobs in Kabul, 50% of women were civilian government workers and 40% were doctors. Kabul was also the first place that the Taliban took over. They went in and took away all women’s rights.

 Forced them to cover themselves completely, forbid them to go outside the home without their husband escort, and took away all of their basic human rights. They could not go to see a doctor most of the time and when they could they had to sit with a hanging sheet separating them. Many women died of curable deceases because of this. If they showed even a small part of skin or were raped they were stoned to death. Anything to do with making themselves more beautiful was forbidden. Civilians used to have television, sports and games, which were banned when the Taliban took over. The sports stadiums were used to murder people who misbehaved, questioned, or refused the Taliban. Men also were not required to have long beards. When the Taliban came they arrested anyone whose beard was too short. They ruled by fear and brutality that was not known to the Afghanistan people before they took over.

There are a lot of people who think that there has not, nor there ever will be, progress in Afghanistan. There has been plenty of progress, you just have to look for it. Some of these include the Kandahar Rapid Village Development Project, Integrated Alternative Livelihoods Program in Kandahar Province, Education Quality Improvement Project, Vocational Training for Afghan Women, Food aid to Vulnerable Families, Tuberculosis Control and Polio Eradication Program, Maternal Health Initiative in Kandahar Province, National Solidarity Program, Afghanistan Sub-national Governance Program, and two of the larger projects that will make the most impact are the Dahla Dam and Irrigation System and Training and Mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces.

 Working on repairing the Dahla Dam is important to strengthening the Government, and economic growth of Afghanistan. It will provide water to most of Kandahar’s population. It will also create 10,000 seasonal jobs and will provide irrigated land to farmers which will help build up agriculture. In order for Afghanistan to be able to stand on its own, they must have stable security. Training the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) is one of the top priorities. About 2,400 ANA are stationed in Kandahar which is a large improvement over 2006 when there were only 600. Right now Canada is managing five battalions that have about 650 soldiers in each one. Training is still needed to ensure that the ANA will be capable of keeping things in check. More than 650 ANP have been trained but there is still literacy, corruption, and drug abuse problems that are still, and need to be, addressed. These are only the bare minimum of a long list of what is being done in Afghanistan.

We hardly ever hear about all the good that is being done in Afghanistan. We will hear about all the explosive IED’s that kill a few solders, but never why they are risking life and limb. Just a fun fact, they defuse 25 IED’s a day, which is a lot more than the number that get set off. Does the media report stuff like that? Not of course not. Michael Bergan, a soldier who was overseas, feels that the media is not informing the public of everything. “No the media does not report everything. Remember that they are a company with shareholders ect and ‘bad’ news sells better than ‘good’ news.

 Also a lot of these journalists stay within the confines of the camps too. Not all those do as I’m sure you are aware of the Canadian Journalist that was killed recently. Lastly, it is to be noted that if you were to watch Al Jezeera you will have a totally different view. I myself have never held much faith in the media as I have seen such clear mistakes in editing ect that I do not believe half of it as being correct.” This reporter that he mentions, Michelle Lang, was out of the safe zone because she knew that the truth was not being told and she wanted to find it for herself and share it with everyone else. Bergan also feels that the public is not informed of the war the way they should be. When asked if they were he replied, “Not really unless you are willing to research many different views and opinions on your own. I think the mainstream media such as CTV etc is just showing a very slim picture of what actually goes on.” Some reporters do not even bother reporting on certain things because they know that the story would get buried before it could reach the public. Soldiers know it, reporters know it, and so shouldn’t the public know it too?

The general public that has basically nothing to do with the war form all sorts of opinions based on what they think is concern for the soldiers and their families. I have heard the argument that the soldiers should be brought back, like they know how the solders feel. The majority of them do not want to come back. Most that are severely injured wish to go back as soon as possible. They know that their mission is important because they have actually been there. They have experienced things first hand. Major Brent Purcell expressed just how important he thinks the mission is.

“I feel the mission is extremely important and I believe in it. I only hope that we do not abandon the Afghan people too early before they are ready to take on the responsibility for their own security.” If you ask other soldiers, many will answerer the same way. The families also have to suffer through letting their loved ones go into danger, and although people think they are helping by saying that “the troops should be brought back”, they have no idea just how much worse they are making it for the families. Speaking to many families who have gone through such trauma, it is obvious how frustrated they are towards the general public. One military wife who was so sick of what she had to hear wrote a blog entry about it. “Why are we In Afghanistan? A question very abstractedly answered by the media and interpretations from the general public. However, for us, as military, it is very simple…

We are there to create peace and stability, infrastructure, water, primarily, and to help organize and build the ANA and police forces period. It is our job to be there, we were not forced to be there we want to be there.” A snippet from a very moving article “A Voice that is Seldom Heard” which is absolutely right, who ever hears these things from anyone? Who bothers to ask? It is rare to find a military family that does not support the war or who is not angered by the statements of the public. The daughter of the fallen soldier MCpl Allan Stewart, Brittany Stewart, says, “well most of my friends made fun of me (well there not really my friends), and saying mean things. and it made me really sad and saying that they are wasting their time and stuff. I try not to listen to them.” For those that are against the war because it is unfair to the soldiers or their families please don’t use us as an excuse for your own ignorance; it’s insulting.

Another reason people use to not be at war is that it is cruel to the people of Afghanistan. The truth is that they have seen much crueler things than a country fighting for their freedom. They once had the basic human rights only to watch them get taken away by the Taliban. They will be tortured or killed for even the smallest things. One thing we all have in common is that every person wants the freedom to do as they please. The majority of civilians want our help. In Brent Purcell’s experience, he knows how they feel. “I would say that the majority of the Afghan people are grateful we are there. The average Afghan citizen wants the same things as we Canadians want. They want safety, security, food and a better life for their children.” Michael Bergan shares his opinion. “Yes and no. of course the ‘yes’ ones are the people that have seen us as a non threat i.e. the civilians that we are helping via medical help and security and the ‘no’ ones are the ones fighting against us i.e. the Taliban and radical extremist groups.”

Afghan people are willing to risk their lives for the freedom we are trying to give them. One Muslim women is very clear in her opinion. Benazir Bhutto, assassinated Prime Minister of Pakistan, talks about how many large Muslim leaders were outraged on the attack on their people after 9/11, “Obviously (and embarrassingly), Muslim leaders, masses, and even intellectuals are quite comfortable criticizing outsiders for the harm inflicted of fellow Muslims, but there is deadly silence when they are confronted with Muslim-on-Muslim violence.”

Over 80 women who were still trapped in their brutal lives without hope of escape committed suicide by lighting themselves on fire. This is better than a few years of war and eventually peace? The right to vote was given to Afghanistan and in the first year especially, it was a threat to anyone’s life to participate. Anyone who voted had to get a mark on their finger, and the Taliban targeted anyone with this mark. Did people shy away and not use this new right they were given? No, they risked their lives just to vote. When hairdressers were banned for women, and anyone who was caught running or going to a salon would be shot on the spot, did they give up and stay home? No, women set up salons in their basement and got great business. Women risked their lives just to get a haircut. It was not about the haircut, it was about getting freedom where they had none. If the people of Afghanistan don’t want the freedom we are giving them, then why do they risk there lives for the little things we take for granted every day?

Should we be in Afghanistan? The answer is in another two questions. Do we want to let others suffer while we sit comfortably at home? Do we want to risk the lives of each other on the hope that the radical terrorists will leave us alone? The answer is clear but most people don’t want to see it. I for one know that I don’t want to take the risk.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why We Fight - By Cpl Andrew Grenon

Cpl Andrew Grenon - KIA in Afghanistan Sept 2008

This poem was written in 2008 by Cpl. Andrew Grenon in 2006 and sadly he was killed in Sept 2008 along with Pte Chad Horn & Cpl Mike Seggie.  I received this in my email this morning from a soldier who served with Andrew and he asked if I would share it on our page so here it is:

WHY WE FIGHT - By Cpl. Andrew Grenon 

I’ve often asked myself why we are here.
Why my government actually agreed to send troops to this God-forsaken place.
There are no natural resources. No oil, gold, or silver.
Just people.
People who have been at war for the last 40 plus years.
People who want nothing more than their children to be safe.
People who will do anything for money; even give their own life.
I look into the eyes of these people.
I see hate, destruction and depression.
I see love, warmth, kindness and appreciation.
Why do we fight?
For in this country, there are monsters.
Monsters we could easily fight on a different battlefield, at a different time.
Monsters that could easily take the fight to us.
Surrounding these mud walls and huts is a country in turmoil.
A country that is unable to rebuild itself.
A country that cannot guarantee a bright future for its youth.
Why do we fight?
Because, if we don’t fight today, on THIS battlefield,
then our children will be forced to face these monsters on our own battlefield.
I fight because I’m a soldier.
I fight because I’m ordered.
I fight, so my children won’t have to.

R.I.P Cpl Andrew Grenon 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How a tweet to a hashtag saved a soldiers life

I was up late last night not able to sleep and a friend of mine came online on Facebook chat who is a member of British Forces and all he said "Dave one of your Twitter followers saved my life" I asked to explain and what he told me left me speechless and he asked me I would share with my group members anonymously.

'' I don't want to have my name posted here but I wanted to share my story with members of "Thank A Soldier" & @Thankasoldier's Twitter followers as if it wasn't for one of them I wouldn't even be here right now to type this.  Last night a friend of mine had his status as "Twitter is for losers and kids with nothing better to do than try and get that Justin lad to talk back to them"

I beg to differ.

I had returned from my fourth tour in Afghanistan about a year ago and currently on medical release from the Forces due to an injury I suffered while on tour.  I have been having awful flashbacks since my last return like when I'm out getting groceries one evening with my now ex girlfriend I heard a baby crying and I started freaking out and had to leave the market and wait in the car.

If I'm out in traffic and I see an old beat up pick up truck stopped at a traffic light I will stay far back from it and have even done a uturn to stay away from them all together.  I haven't had a good night sleep since I can't remember but you know what I'm proud of everything I did and don't regret it one bit and would go back again  in a flash.

I have pills to make me sleep, pills to stop panic attacks, and about a month ago I had reached the breaking point, I posted this on my Twitter at 3am in the morning.

"What happens if I mix a full bottle of sleeping pills with anxiety meds"

I wanted to kill myself, to end all the pain and take no more pills, and I guess I wanted to see if anyone actually gave a shit.

Not even 60 seconds I got a response from a woman in British Columbia, Canada simply saying "Please follow me back if you need to talk"

She was one of @Thankasoldier's followers who had seen him send me a "Shout Out Tweet" on #SOT (Support Our Troops) hashtag a few weeks before.

We started sending a few messages back and fourth and she told me she was a friend of Dave Murphy's (The guy who runs Thank A Soldier) and she would call me if I wanted her too.  We connected on SKYPE and this woman and I talked for about four hours.

She was a military mother who's son in law who was not in the military took his own life a year ago so she saw the pain it causes the family and ofcourse her directly.  I was taken back that this stranger cared so much as I was talking with her on Skype more messages started coming in and strangers from all over the world as well as friends asking if I was ok and yes thanks to my angel from BC I was.

We talk every few days and she's almost become like a second mother to me, although my family and I aren't close they haven't really talked to me since my first tour to Afghanistan but I'm working on that.

I am not going to post her name but when @ThankAsoldier posts this I know she will see it and that is my way of saying Thank You.

Sorry this email is so over the place but my point is don't give up no matter what and there's always someone out there who cares........... even if it is 10,000 miles away.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Veterans response to Governor Christie

I received this email just now from a Veteran of the United States ARMY who gave me the ok to post this but wanted to remain anonymous, I will respect that request.

Dear Mr. Governor, 

I am a current member of the United States Army and currently deployed, I am not a front lines guy, I do not put my life on the line every day in combat but I am a soldier.  You see my job is to prep bodies of fallen soldiers killed in action for their journey home.  I also am involved in coordinating ramp ceremonies for fallen soldiers before they return home as well.  If you have never seen a ramp ceremony I might suggest you do a YouTube search on them but I guarantee none of them have "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston playing during them.

I've been doing this for almost four years now and have seen more men and women flying home in a flag draped casket that anyone in their lifetime would see but it's my job and how I serve the country.  Last year a close friend of mine was KIA and I prepared him for the ceremony, and got on the plane with him and accompanied him home.  There was no flags at half mass however about 1000 people lined the street near the church including members of The Patriot Guard who stood watch to keep certain members of the Westboro Wackos from protesting.

Whitney Houston was a great singer, and yes she had donated some "Pocket Change" of her multi millions to charity but for you to lower the flag in her honour is a slap in the face to every one of those soldiers I have sent home.  You say that the flag have been lowered for every soldier from New Jersey under your administration which is great but again I some how feel when you do this for a "Drugged out pop star" that will in my opinion be tainted.  

I am not saying that soldiers are perfect and that none of us have ever done drugss or had to go in rehab either, no one is perfect and we all have our faults but when our heroes return home people also don't dig up their life story and see any bad things they may have done but still they have all served for our country, put their lives on the line for every citizen out there and given the ultimate sacrifice.  I feel sorry for her young daughter who is now without a mother, my thoughts and prayers do go out to Whitney Houstons family & friends.

To all the families who have lost love ones to any sort of conflict my thoughts and prayers are with you all and your sons and daughters were all heroes and always will be to me.

Due to my current active role I am not signing this with my name but I wanted speak my mind as per our decision.

Flags at half mast for real heroes

So Governor Christie of NJ wants to lower the flags on all state buildings for the day of Whitney Houstons funeral, I feel this something that should be kept for our men and women of our military branches and all first responders.  I post this with no disrespect intended however she was a singer who solder hundreds of millions of albums and this makes here a HERO?

"Whitney Houston was an important part of the cultural fabric of this state,’’ said Christie, who said she is the same category of New Jersey entertainers as Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Bruce Springsteen.  She was a cultural icon for the state and her accomplishments in life were a source of great pride to many people in the state and for the state as a whole. On that basis, I think she’s entitled to that recognition.‘’ Gov. Christie - NJ

Just wondering what everyones opinion is on this?  I know for me personally it makes me a little sick to my stomach.  That being said I'm posting a photo for Canadian, American and UK soldiers who have been killed. I would post all the flags but these three countries are were 90% of our group members are from.

Read this Veterans response to Governor Christies decision

Another great read which I feel is related to this whole situation was written by the father of a fallen Canadian soldier Cpl Mike Seggie check out "What is a Hero" by Jim Seggie

NOTE : As shown in @GovChristie's twitter page below fallen soldiers from NJ have had the flags lowered for them and that has already been acknowledged.  The point of this that has people upset is that something they feel should be reserved for members of our military, first responders and such.

If you would like to contact Governor Christie you can do so on his webpage

Send him a message on Twitter 

Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625

Here are a few replies @GovChristie has sent to people on Twitter :

Here are some comments from our Facebook page :

Danielle Reesor After 9/11 the American government made the executive decision to keep the casualty reports as well as those KIA from the American public. I agree that the flags should not be lowered for any person due to their popularity and should only be lowered for those who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Wayne Eric Dickson Flying half mass should only be for any person that represents the U.S Governemt, City or State that are highly reconized in the publics eye. Example: Police Officer, FireFighter, Military, Governemt Leaders etc. Celebrities are not considered any of these. If this is the case, then we should fly the flag at half mass for every celebrity that passes away.

John MasterGuns Lewis Whitney Houston was a beautiful lady. An amazing talent. Her death at such a young age, regardless of the circumstances, was and is tragic. The governor of New Jersey has issued a proclamation that the flag is to be flown at half-staff Saturday in her honor. But Whitney does not rate having our national colors flown at half-staff in her honor. Section 7M of the Flag Code clearly states -

"In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff, and the same authority is provided to the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to present or former officials of the District of Columbia and members of the Armed Forces from the District of Columbia. When the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia, issues a proclamation under the preceding sentence that the National flag be flown at half-staff in that State, territory, or possession or in the District of Columbia because of the death of a member of the Armed Forces, the National flag flown at any Federal installation or facility in the area covered by that proclamation shall be flown at half-staff consistent with that proclamation."

Whitney Houston was an icon of the entertainment industry. She was not a present or formal official of the State of New Jersey nor was she a member of the Armed Forces of this country. She does not meet the minimum standards for having the flag flown at half-staff in her honor, and accordingly Governor Christie should withdraw his proclamation. But he won't, because at this point it would be political suicide to do so. And yes, I know that the flag has been flown at half-staff in honor of others who don't meet the minimum standards of this honor. That still doesn't make it right. Every time we honor someone by doing this, it cheapens the sacrifices that millions have made in service to this country, and they are the ones who earned the right to have the flag flown at half-staff in their honor.

Arnold Dugas i wonder how many times she went into a war torn country to put her life on the line but no she became a singer then turned unto the world of drugs and partying and now she wants to be a hero in the eyes of a state that means in nj it must be fine to go out and get blasted and should be ok because they want to lower the flag . i my self have been to some of the not so friendly places of the world.

Winifred Barnes Reward the negative, by glorifying addiction. Neglect the Public Servants; complain about the overtime when you are sitting down to a Christmas Feast,and your neighbor is out in the middle of a blizzard paving the way for you to place your fat butt at the table. Support our troops, and our Public Servants.

Margaret Davis not a good idea. Whitney was a singer and did humanitarian work but so did Mother Teresa and I don't remember a flag at half mass for her. I believe this would be an insulting to the men and who this honor was intended for. That's my thoughts on the subject.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Act Of Valor - My Review

Tonight I went to see "Act Of Valour" at a pre-screening here in Calgary, Aberta.  I went in to this movie knowing the main actors in it were real US Navy Seals so I wasn't expecting any Academy Award type acting skills as these men were not actors they are SEALs.

The movie took years to film and was surprised to find out that in some cases filming took place in segments of four hours or less as parts of this were shot during members of the teams deployment operations.

As for movie itself, I won't give away any of the story line but it was pretty intense, a lot of first person camera views that put you right in the action.  There are also some pretty powerful scenes showing the family side of the military world and not only were real SEALs used in this movie but also their family members.

There were parts of the movie where the theatre was in total silence, a few parts where I could see people covering there eyes and some pretty funny moments.  I am not a critic, but knowing so many men and women who serve and their families personally parts of this movie really hit me but again I won't give away any spoilers but I think everyone should see this film.

I took a friend of mine to see this with me tonight and this is what her thoughts were :

"This movie gave me more of an inside view of real missions and hand to hand combat. This movie again showed me the real heroes of this world fighting for our freedom, so we can sleep safe at night. I honestly don't know how these Men and Women are so brave and strong. I'm not one for 'war' movies, and I had to look away at certain moments. But if you want to see a movie that really truly has meaning and significance, please take 2 hrs out of your life and watch." - Karin - Calgary, AB

"In the '70's my unit did a fair bit of training with the US Special Forces. Although there was certainly some "reality stretching" in some scenes, and the soldiers in attendance did a bit of groaning, while the civilians did the "oohs and aahs", I have to say that most of the field tactics and procedures were reasonably accurate. The eqpt has sure changed since my day, with electric Gatling guns(GAU-17/A) mounted on assault boats(SWCC), night vision, and individual comms... More importantly, sensationalism aside, the film does give the average person a peek into the level of loyalty and respect these men have for each other, and their combined commitment to the task at hand. When you hear a soldier tell you that unless you've been there, you wouldn't understand, this film should help give you an idea of what they mean. What many may not know is that when Special Forces soldiers are killed in the type of covert ops depicted, the families are told very little of the circumstances surrounding the death. In most cases, the where's, when, and whys are never answered; in the name of national security. Overall a pretty good flick!" - Canadian Veteran

The film is scheduled to be released on February 24, 2012 WATCH THE TRAILER BELOW

In 2007, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh of Bandito Brothers Production filmed a video for the Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen SWCC which led the Navy to allow them to use SEALs. After spending so much time working closely with the SEALs, McCoy and Waugh conceived the idea for a modern day action movie about this covert and elite fighting force.

As Act of Valor developed with the SEALs on board as advisors, the film makers realised that no actors could realistically portray or physically fill the roles they'd written and the actual SEALs were drafted in to the film. None of the SEALs' names will appear in the credits of the film

Please take a moment to check out some of our other articles : 

How a tweet to a hashtag saved a soldiers life

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A tribute to a fallen Hero

Pte. Chad Horn was killed in Sept 2008 with two other soldier Cpl. Andrew Paul Grenon and Cpl. Michael Seggie in Afghanistan. Chad was ten days away from returning from his deployment back to Calgary, Alberta. I joined his Memorial Page on Facebook and planned to attend his funeral here in Calgary as it was open to the public.

This was my first military funeral and you see the flag draped caskets on TV returning home but I would never be able to put in to words the feeling when you see one coming down the isle of the church. It was there that I met a lot of Chad's family and hear the stories shared by his friends during the funeral. I quickly found out what an amazing young man he was.

I had become good friends with his mother Anita and she invited me to the following Remembrance Day ceremony in Calgary in which she would be the Silver Cross Mother, here I got to meet more of Chad's family and listen to them share funny memories of him and you could see the pride in their eyes.

About a year ago I met Sarah B. who in her spare time draws soldiers and have featured her other work on our page. I asked her if she would draw a photo of Pte Chad Horn for me to give to his mother and today I got to do just that.

This is the original photo she used and I learned today after chatting with Anita that the cat's name was Scooba and Chad would mention the cat a lot in his letters home and even had a sent a video of him. Anita also told me that the watch in the photo Chad is wearing she also wears now as it was one of the few things that made it back from Afghanistan. Anita also said she had thought about this photo a few days ago when a friend of hers had posted a photo of their son with a similar photo.

I want to thank Sarah B. for taking the time to do this for Chad's family and here is the photo she drew.

For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice - The words Pte Chad Horn had tattooed on his back

Pte Chad Horns mother Anita with the photo of her son

Friday, February 10, 2012

Military Minds - Member Drive

Military Minds was started in May 2011 by Cpl. Chris Dupee (Canadian Forces) after returning from his most recent deployment in Afghanistan.

In May of 2011 I opened up Military Minds mobile powerwashing, my goal was to have a Military themed company to employ veterans that were out of work. I personally found it disturbing that these Soldiers would put their lives on the line for their country yet not be able to find a job once back home. The saying hero to zero was those guys to a tee. I was lucky enough to be employed full time by the military but the reservists that I was working with were not. - Read the full history here 

I met Chris on Facebook about three years ago when he was on tour with a FOB unit in Afghanistan, I had sent out an email at my work about sending over a care package and quickly we had enough to send about six boxes of good over to him and the guys in his unit.  

Cpl Dupee then released a YouTube video speaking out about PTSD and his own battle with it which has already helped a few other soldiers come forward for help.  If 10,000 people watch one of his videos and it helps one soldier then it is worth it.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thankasoldier - The Shorty Awards

It has come to my attention tonight that we have been nominated for a SHORTY AWARD in the category of #SOT (Supporting Our Troops) which is a great honour.  A few years ago we won a Mashable award for Best non profit use of social media which was amazing and it was shortly after that some very well known people heard about our site and what we do and this would be help us get the word out even more.

If you are a proud member of Thank A Soldier and would like to submit a nomination there are two ways to do it.

To vote go to the SHORTY AWARDS PAGE and type in your own reason why you think our pages and groups are worth of one of this award.

NOTE : When you go to the above page leave the category as OTHER as #SOT is the category

Do not change any of the text that comes up just add something after "I nominate @ThankASoldier for a Shorty Award in #sot because" then add whatever you like after that. If not your vote will not count.
Thank You

Nominate Dave Murphy for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!Nominate Thank A Soldier for a social media award in the Shorty Awards

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A lot of things happened in the world today

Alot of things happened in the world today and a quick look on the Twitter trending topics will show you some "Important Events"

Ricky Martin was on Glee, Owen Nolan retired from the NHL, Ricky Williams retired from the NFL, there was a new show named "The River" premièred, The New York GIANTS had a Super Bowl parade, LMFAO played a concert in Calgary, someone named Jason & Chardonnay had a relationship that went wrong, some guy named "Malik" posted a photo of himself in boxers, Roberto Luongo made an amazing save, there was a fight in the Leafs Vs Jets game and OH YES the last remaining World War One veteran passed away at 110 years old.

What's her name? 

Florence Green

Florence Green signed up in  the Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) 93 years ago in September 1918, when she was aged just 17. She was the last surviving person to have served in WWI following the death of British-born sailor Claude Choules in Australia last year.  During the First World War she worked at Narborough Airfield and RAF Marham, Norfolk, as an Officer's Mess steward.

You can read more about Florence on the website 


Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm Proud to call WO Andrew Maclean a friend

WO  Andrew Maclean (CF) & Dave Murphy (Thankasoldier)
Before you read this post I want you to picture yourself on a hike in the mountains, you're on a trail near the edge of a steep drop.  You're with a friend but they are far up ahead of you and you slip on a rock and fall down the hill.  Luckily you catch yourself on a ledge and have a branch and something to hold on to.  Your friend comes back to find you but is unable to get to you so he calls for help.  You are in such a remote area that a Search and rescue tech from the military is called in to save you.  Is your first question to this soldier 
"Are you a homosexual?"............... Read on!

The photo above is of me and WO Andrew Maclean who I met at UFC 129 in Toronto with MCpl Jody Mitic and other members of the Canadian Forces. I met Andrew on Facebook a few years previous to this and this was the first time I got to meet him person. I have a huge respect for him as I do of all of our Canadian Forces.

If you had of told me before a few days ago when the below article was on CBC News website entitled
Gay soldier says he received threat in Afghanistan that andrew was gay I would have never guessed and does it change my opinion of him in anyway HELL NO.

I only found out the article when someone emailed me and said "Hey did you know the soldier that soldier in one of your UFC photos came out as being gay" ....... I won't go in to how the rest of that conversation went but needless to say I wouldn't be able to post it on here.  To the people who were leaving all the nasty and hateful messages on the CBC news site your dose of "Keyboard Courage" wouldn't amount to an ounce of what this fine soldier has of real courage and bravery.

WO Andrew McLean, a CF Search and Rescue Technician was one of the founders of the soldier On program which is a grass roots movement that provides assistance to ill and injured military personnel and their families on relevant physical fitness, health promotion and sport activities conducive to optimizing functional independence.

I want to say Thank You to WO  Andrew Maclean for all his work over the last six years with the Soldier On program and I am proud to know you.

Dave Murphy - @Thankasoldier

A note from WO Andrew Mclean (Posted with full permision)


I would like to extend a heart felt THANKYOU for your show of support the past couple of days. I am not at all surprised at the depth of character of those whom I know and call my friends, I have also received msgs from people I do not know and that speaks volums to their character as well. THANKYOU

It was an hour long interview expressed in 2min so believe me when I say there is more. The interview did focus on the percieved concern I had for my safety but I was able to mitigate that down to probably not (I believe I was justified in asking myself that question due to the environment I was in) No one should have to ask that question regarding the people they work with!

The note was a negative and it hurt and offended me as a person and I believe the uniform that I represent, I am a team player and what happens to one happens to all. I am far from perfect but I along with many I know work hard at the pursuit of excellance. That will never change.

As for the whole coming out thing, a few of my friends knew already and the past couple of years if someone asked I told them. (not many ask because it does not matter) I would say it was not so much of hiding but more on the side of trying hard to fit in and after years of trying reality catches up.

I will continue to push forward and I know I am not alone.

Without Regard for my personal comfort or self advancement
That Others May Live

Thank you all once again for your support and friendship.

WO Andrew Mclean

Click below to watch the story on CBC news

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tattoo artist responds to Lisa Khoury

Earlier today I posted an article a "Reporter" wrote about how meaningless and pointless tattoos are, I posted the article on "Thank A Soldier" and quickly people started posting their tribute tattoos on the page and something ugly turned in to something amazing.  A friend of mine Ivan Henderson who is a tattoo artist sent me the following response and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Ms. Lisa Khoury,

please allow me to introduce my self. My name is Ivan Henderson. I have been an owner operator of a tattoo shop for approximately 28 years.  My intent with this message is not to impress you nor to intrigue you into the world of tattoos. My intent is to inform you intelligently and without judgement.

I will admit I have not read the article that has raised concern to my friends, but enough information has crossed hands and a trust in my friends allows me to trust what they have come to me with.

My understanding is that you find tattoos to be “classless and worthless. How you have come to this conclusion I am unsure. Be it personal taste, how you were raised, religion or a bad man/woman with a tattoo frightened or hurt you. In any event I assure you tattoos can be classy and full of worth to its owner and often times to those who view it.

My throat has recently been tattooed with the image of a white poppy. Although white poppies have many meanings, I have chose the one that best suits what I wanted to represent. I tattoo outside of a Canadian military base and am very close to the community and the people that live within. Soldiers for many missions around the world are deployed from this base and some have not come home. I have personally known over 50 soldiers/friends who have died overseas, be it in an aid type of deployment or in a war type of deployment. 
The tattoo on my throat represents all soldiers who have ever died at war. Including other countries. I extend it to include those soldiers who died doing what ever they may be doing in the name of our country and military. Is this not a class selfless act in itself. Getting a tattoo to represent something so meaningful?

Have you ever heard a mother tell you how her husband has shaken their child to death and seen the pain in her eyes? I have, watching her pouring over a stack of images that cause this young childless mother to heave and cry as she chooses a design for a child that can never come back. Her decision made by using little Melissa,s birth flower to represent her death and that oh so blue that used to be the blue in her living eyes. Is this a classless or meaningless tattoo?

How about the guy who carried his friends face off of the battlefield in his own personal helmet, then rode beside his headless friend for two hours as they made there way back to the base camp. His tattoo would have class and meaning when it represents what he saw, felt and endured in those horrific days as well as what he will see, feel and endure the rest of his life. Does this not represent class and meaning?

These are but a few instances where I believe tattoos have class and meaning. I see selfless decisions made on an almost daily basis where people labor over which tattoo best represents their mom who just past away from cancer as well as many other heart wrenching situations. I have to admit. I have cried with some and laughed with others, as not all tattoos are about sad endings. Even the guy that had me repair is eyebrows because he had burned his face badly in a motorcycle crash. He never again wore painted eyebrows and low lying hats to hide his disfiguration.

From what I understand you wrote with passion on the topic. I now beseech you to have compassion and at the very least walk away knowing that for some if not most, their tattoos mean a lot and put them in a class of their own.

Ignorance is a bad thing if you do not learn from it. Tolerance is something we can all use just a bit more of. Tattoos are treated very much like the black who were enslaved by the whites. As time goes on and people learn, both situations are becoming better as is this world in so many ways. Be a part of the movement Ms., Khoury.

If this message causes you to want to reply, you may contact me at even if it is a negative reply or if you would like to debate the issue in an intelligent way.

Thank you for taking the time to read from a different point of view.
Ivan Henderson

This past Remembrance Day Ivan & the staff of his shop took part in "Poppy Day" where they did over 100 poppies tattoos in a day in honour of our fallen veterans.  I think this letter says everything I have been trying to gather together with my thoughts in the past eight hours, Thank You Ivan.

Do you have a meaningless tattoo? (Sarcasm)

Photo courtesy of J&J Lawrence Photography

Today someone linked me to a news article that says tattoos are classless and worthless" written by Lisa Khoury but I beg to differ. I myself have a tattoo of the "Support Our Troops Decal" that many people put on their bumpers to show support for our soldiers and I am far from "Classless"  I decided to get the tattoo four years ago as a tribute to the fallen soldiers families I have met and for my friends I met that were serving our countries overseas.

I have also in the last five years received numerous photos from members of my page who have gotten tribute tattoos to fallen comrades or loved ones and I featured some of them in a YouTube video for "The Gratitude Project"  (YouTube video below)

My Support our Troops tattoo
"Can you get meaning out of a tattoo? Arguably. If you want to insert ink into your skin as a symbol for something greater than yourself, then maybe you are proving a point to yourself or the rest of the world." - Lisa Khoury


Here is my response to Lisa Khoury : 

Hi Lisa, I want to say thank you for writing such a ignorant article today, you see I'm probably the only person that will say that to you and if you are wondering why?  As I posted your story on my "Thank A Soldier" facebook page, people began to post their photos of their meaningful tattoos. Families of fallen soldiers emailed me there tributes and people came together in something very special and positive.   All Day I struggled as to what I would write to you that anger turned in to something positive.
Dave Murphy - Thank A Soldier

If you have a "Meaningful" tribute tattoo that you would like to post head on over to "Thank A Soldier" and post your photo and story as to why you had it done.

If however you would like to email your thoughts to Lisa Khoury CLICK HERE

The above is a series of tributes done for Pte. Chad Horn and features Chad's tattoo he had done himself.  Before he was KIA serving our country in Afghanistan Chad got the words "For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice" tattood on his back.  Chad was killed in September 2008 and the tattoo in the top right is his mother Anita's tribute.  To the left is his sister Tiffany's tribute and also Jim's tribute to his stepson.  I met members of the Horn family shortly after his death and had the honour of meeting many of them at his funeral here in Calgary.  Anita is one of the classiest women I know and every time she talks about her son you can see the love in her eyes.  This is their families way of remembering their son & brother and I don't think I need to say anymore about how meaningful a tribute it is.

This tattoo is Damian Dyke's tribute to fallen soldiers the quote across his soldiers is from a DMX song and reads :

""If it takes for me to suffer for my brother to see the light, Give me pain till I die, but please Lord treat him right"

Photo via Silvia Pecota Artiwork

Damien served as a personnel support worker for the Canadian Forces for four years in Afghanistan and this was his way of showing respect to our fallen heroes.The tattoo was inspired by a Slyvia Picota painting called "Croix"

Collection of photos of my group members tattoos

Ivan Henderson is a tattoo artist near CFP Petawawa, in Ontario and this is his response to Lisa Khoury  CLICK HERE TO READ