Monday, August 27, 2012

Our Interview with Pte Derek Derenalagi Wounded Warrior & Paralympian

On 19th July 2007, Derek was in Helmand Province, clearing a helicopter landing site and went up to high ground to get a clear view of the area. As his vehicle reversed to park, it hit an IED and exploded. Derek says ‘I remember lying there with my legs shattered and people around me screaming. I looked up to the sky and said a prayer: Lord Jesus, if you need to use me to motivate others about Your Kingdom, please give me back my life again.’

Back in Camp Bastion, Derek was pronounced dead but amazingly, one of the doctors saw a slight pulse movement. He was operated on and then taken back to the UK. For the next two weeks, he was in an induced coma. When he eventually woke up, his wife and a doctor were by his bedside. He asked if he could go to the loo but his wife, Ana, replied, ‘I’m afraid you can’t as you’ve lost your legs’. Derek was shocked: ‘I couldn’t believe it because I could feel that I still had my boots on and my feet were very warm.’

Derek was kind enough to do an interview for our blog and below are some of the questions our members wanted to ask as well.Please take a moment to join Derek's Facebook page and wish him well in the Paralympics after reading this.

Thank You

TAS - How many people have come up to you and said you can't do this, and what do you say to them? Many people approached me saying that its' impossible to get into the Paralympics in 4years as it takes more than 4years to prepare for it and being a novice there was no way I could do it. I even had a coach who once said that if I don't get selected he'd be happy to assist me selling pop corn outside the gates. Another seasoned coach upon hearing of my intentions at the initial stage sounded skeptical and said the Olympics is a level of it's own and you don't just breeze into it in a span of 3-4 years.......

 TAS - What Branch of Service were you in and your rank?
I still serve in the Infantry Regiment - i.e the Worscester, Sherwood and Forresters Regiment- still a serving soldier and I am a Private.

TAS - What would you say is the most common missconception people have
about disabled athletes and Wounded Warriors?

That we are severely handicapped in all areas, emotionally, physically, socially and mentally.
People often see disabled people as below them in these areas of life. They do not accept them as normal people

TAS - What event will you be competing in and have you competed before?
Discus event in the F57 Catergory. And NO, I have never done discus before, i only picked it up after my injury.

TAS - Our Facebook page has members from every corner of the world, what
would you like to say to them?
I love the quote by Zig Ziglar because i feel it sums up what i have been through which is "It's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts"

Some of our members wanted to ask you a few questions also :

Mirelle Leone - When did you start training and what's your training
schedule like?
I started training in general soon a year after my injury and rehab. But my paralympic ambitions were birthed at my hospital bed iin 2008 whilst watching the Beijing Olympics. I vividly recall telling my wife that i wanted to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Paralympic Games. I didn't know in which sport but i knew within me that I wanted to be a paralympian.
A few months later in November 2008 as part of the Ministry of Defence's Battle Back programme, funded by the Help for Heores charity. I was selected to be part of a training camp at theUnited States Olympic Training Center at Chula Vista, California where there were also injured US Veterans and Wounded Warriors. After that camp, I was so determined to fulfil my ambition, i tried out several sports and I settled for Discus, Javelin and Shotput since they were conducive to my injury. i've narrowed down to one discipline which is Discus. I now train 8 hours a day. Four in the morning and four in the afternoon. I wind down at the weekends, Saturday is just light training at the gym and Sunday is my complete rest day.

Brian Foulk - First I would like to thank you for your sacrifice and your family's sacrifice. Being a vet myself, I couldn't imagine what I would be like mentally to be severely wound. What gave you the motivation to make these great accomplishments, and did it start right away? Thank you and
God Bless.

After my injury I was left thinking, What now? I thank God that I have a supportive family, especially my wife who has stood by me and held my hand through it all. She has been my driving force and motivation and has never ceased to encourage me. Together we have leaned on our faith, as born again Christians and trusted totally in the Lord to see us through.

Sharon Ehrmann-LeBarron - How long have you trained for this physically and emotionally?
Four years in total- my initial rehab included

Louise Burns - which is a more exciting way to represent his country: in the army or at the Paralympics?
Both- I chose to be in the army and I've always wanted to be soldier from my childhood. I consider it an honor and a brave act of courage for soldiers to go out and protect their country especially when their life is in danger and there is the threat of death hanging over them. It is exciting in its own 'military' way. Something that only a military man will ever know.

Being in the Paralympics is exciting too in its own way. It has its demands which can be gruelling and tough but dedication and motivation is key to enjoying it. Representing ones country in the sports arena is both a phenomenal and awesome experience. I am enjoying it so much- it's a true labor of love for me and I do not see my self retiring form it ever. I will go on for as long as I can right to my ripe old age.

 Karla Dorman - Who is your hero and why?
I have many people i look up to. Mostly positive people who inspire me to do positive things and who encourage me to keep moving onwards and upwards.

Ty Nosaka - My brother is in a wheelchair, has been for 12 years. He has become a hermit and is angry and depressed ,he is paralyzed from the waist down. What advice, if any, would you give him and others? Being in a wheel chair is not the end of the world. There's much more to life out there. If you become a hermit, get angry and depressed you will only aggregravate your problems. You're wasting your precious energy on being negative. That energy could be diverted elsewhere like for starts, changing your mindset to that of being positive. It all starts in your mind. Thats how I managed my injury, I believed in myself and where all odds were against me, i refused to believe that- and I moved on- no matter how long it was going to take me, i firmly believed that i would walk again and I did, gradual at first after 2 months to a span of 4 years now- and I am up and about on my prosthetic legs.

Its not how far you fall but how high you bounce back from your adversity that counts, and dont carry your mistakes around with you, place them under your feet instead and use them as stepping stones and remember obstacles will be put your way but they are there to see if want you really want is worth fighting for. And, always surround yourself with positive people who support you!

Jennifer Chamberlain - Thank u first and foremost. What made the decision to go and do this. What motivated u in a way that was positive? I was inspired by the Beijing 2008 Olympics from my hospital bed and my biggest supporter and the one who believed in me the most- my wife who really encouraged and drove me.

Renee Mair - What a source of inspiration. My question: what advice would you have for someone training and entering the Paralympics? What can one expect in the form of training requirements and application process? Set yourself a goal and work towards it. Focus is key. Be positive always and stay motivated. You have to always better yourself each day. Stay committed. Competition will be tough but if you have prepared yourself well and done the ground work you should not have any problems.

 Jill Carleton - do you feel you get the support they need to train; if they need additional resources?
 I do, I am well looked after by my sponsors Vauxhall Motors UK and they have done such a wonderful job looking after my sporting needs. Without them I believe it would have been difficult. I am thankful that I have this relationship with Vauxhall who are an absolute God send to my sporting career.

Finally I wish to add, that as a born-again Christian, i am thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ for all He has orchestrated in my life. I wouldn't be where i am today without my Creator, my fortress and my rock. He has led me through my adversities and brought me out at the other end with my feet firmly grounded. To HIM alone I give the glory.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thank A Soldier - Message Board


The last time we sent out a "Member Survey" one of the most requested things was to launch a online message board for members so we have done just that.  This is day one and will continue to grow once we get more suggestions and people adding their own threads but please check it out and leave a suggestion on the page of what you would like to see.

I will eventually be looking for moderators if it goes well.

feel free to email if you're interested in helping and we'll go from there.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Team TAS NFL Fantasy Draft

There has been some interest on our page in doing an NFL Fantasy Draft for "Team Thank A Soldier" so we have launched an online league.  

We are setting this up as a $20.00 entry fee and 50% of the pot will go to the winners military charity of choice.  (Note some people have said they will do 100% but we will leave that decision to the winner)

You can pay two ways 

1. Via paypal 

2. email with "NFL Draft" in the title and you can do an Interac email transfer

Once you have submitted your payment please email with "NFL Draft registration" in the subject line and include your name & user name that you have chosen.

To join up in the league you can go to our TEAM PAGE

League ID: 1111470
League Password: thankasoldier
The Live draft will take place on Aug 26, 2012 at 10:00am MDT

There are only 20 spots in total and if we have enough demand we'll do a second one and put the teams against each other.


I will be posting standings on the "Thank A Soldier" page once a month


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Our Top 10 photos of the year - VOTE

These are our top ten photos of the year and we want you to vote for your favourite.  These ten photos have have received a total of over 16,000 shares and have reached over 680,000 people on Facebook alone.

These photos are not ranked in order of shares or comments, don't forget to vote for your favourite at the bottom of this page.


10. The Schneider Military Tribute Trucks : 

9. Children with a "Thank You Troops" sign : 

8. Military Dog Faces :  This post received a lot of comments mostly from currently serving soldiers saying how "Accurate" this photo was.

7.  United They Stand, United We Support

6.  Puppy sleeping in the shade : This photo at first rec'd a lot of comments as people first thought the guns were laying on the puppy in this photo.  Not the case, the weapon in the background is on a stand and the weapon in the front is resting on it.

5.  It's not about the War, It's about the WARRIOR : 

4. Say Hello to my little friend

3. Photo in helmet

2.  I walk in these boots so you won't have to

1. Golfing with hand grenades


Monday, August 13, 2012

Stars Earn Stripes - Review

Tonight was the night of the "Stars Earn Stripes" premiere on NBC and when I first saw the commercial for this show a few weeks ago during the London 2012 Olympics I laughed to myself as I was pretty sure what to expect.

Celebrities attempting military training followed by "I don't know how these men and women do it" followed by them saying they have gained a new respect for what our men and women go through. I then read a few articles about seven Nobel Peace Prize winners saying the show "Glorifies War" & calling for it to be axed.
Well I am not a Nobel Peace Prize winner, I'm just a regular Joe who already has that respect and admiration for what our men and women serving go through as I know so many of them and their families personally. I haven't heard the "Glorifies War" spiel since a middle school in Saskatchewan turned down a request sent to me for kids to send letters to troops because it promoted and "Glorified War" that decision was reversed after I sent the story out to my page members and inbox's were flooded with emails from supporters.

My two cents on this show is that it shows a "Taste" of what our military go through in training and clearly it wouldn't be 100% accurate for security reasons but for people with no connection at all to the military who have no idea what our troops go through at all this show could be a good thing. It reminds me after the "Hurt Locker" got very popular and then you'd see people picking apart all the inaccuracies of that movie and how it was "Hollywood'ized" this show may not be that different.

I have seen some people tweeting and posting on their facebook saying that this show is a disgrace, yet these are the same people who tweet & Facebook about Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, Bachelor Pad & other shows.

Enough Said.......

On the plus side, this show is bringing attention to various military charities and gives the regular civilian a `taste` of what our men and women go through.

Here is what some of our page members on Thank A Soldier Facebook had to say :

Our whole family is enjoying it, our teenage daughters think the SEALS are Hot, and my son and I are crushed between Eve and the SCAR 16's! - John P. - Military Family

All I can say is WOW..I am civilian but my family has served for generations..this show shows what they really went thru..again WOW Yanette S - Civilian

It's interesting and not babified training and gives me a better impression of what our highly qualified operators do. Kudos for trying to bring what they do to light and broaden our understanding of what the military do. - Andrew W.F

I love the fact that these celebrities are understanding what our men and women go through on daily basis. Of course we all think it is hard but going through that shows them that it is much harder then you could ever imagine. And they are only getting a taste of it all.I'm a military family member. - Natasha C - Military Family Member

I liked it I am impressed as to how the stars have developed a new respect of their military. I would like to see something similar with my brothers and sisters In arms here in Canada - Lisa O.

I'm civilian.. I ❤ it!! The show really gives me a deep appreciation of all military!! - Kelly - Civilian

The stars are far more respectful then I thought they would be. I appreciate the seriousness with which they are approaching the tasks. Thank you that. Daughter and GF of Air Force Vets - Julia W.

im a civil but my family has some roots in the army but this show is really cool u get to see what these guys go threw to protect our countrys im so proud to be a Canadian and would like to thank them for our freedom - John S.

makes me appreciate soldiers & 1st responders so much more. - Karen R.

I'm in the military and it always impresses me when a high ranking officer will stop and take the time to thank each soldier for what they do. Just as General Clark did at the beginning of the show. - Matthew K.

Its fun to watch these "action" stars trying, but, givin respect to Terry Crews - Tim R.
I`m in the military and I think it`s a joke - Kyle H.

for those of us not in the military it helps show us at least a little bit of what you do in training. If these stars can help ordinary people understand a little bit of what you guys do then I say go for it. I really enjoyed the show and will continue to watch it whenever it is on. God Bless All the Military and their families. You guys are true heroes - Leanne W.
Civy, but enjoying the high paid part of society get a small but spicy taste of what our uniformed (and under paid) part of society does to protect us - Ward B.

seems to be good glad to see the money going to good charities. - Thomas F. - Veteran

what an ending!! I'm glad they chose appropriate stars who actually appreciate the work the troops are doing...- Susan C.

I just finished watching it. I'm a Marine's wife I've got mixed feelings. No military op would send ppl that can not swim. Period. You would be a threat to all. But I appreciate they are trying to bring to light a sample of what goes on. - Avril D.

Let ordinary Joes and Janes try something like this for once, not just the celebs. On the flipside, great charities and exposure for the military! - John L.

Army Wife / Army Mom enjoying it with the family . Very interesting . Shows just a taste of what the Military goes through on a daily basis . Great show ! - Nichole

really enjoyed this show...our daughter is in the military reserves and it really brought home what she does when she is in the field. 0 Margaret M

Nice that the money is going to charities ... the helo-cast and water extraction were dumbed down a bit ... OK alot ..But entertaining ... Listening to these "stars" exclaim "the real thing" ... was really hard to take ... as for a better ... - Michael S.

thought it was a good, although tempered, representation of what our men and women of the armed forces go through on a daily basis. Great to see the emphasis put on these important people from our country. - Edwin J.

While it does not fully depict what all the brave men and women face, it at least might open the eyes of some ppl who turn a blind eye!! Also I like the fact that the celebs are fighting for a charity! And that no matter what the charity gets a donation! Also brings attention to the country about the charities they are fighting for!! - Emile W.

Excellent series. Just hope it didn't give the impression that this is what these soldiers and law enforcement do every single day, just a select few. - Eric JH

I am ex military, married into military, with I think this show is giving a small view into military training. I don't think it is glorifying war. You can turn to any channel and see weapons, explosions, etc. At least this show has real soldiers on it. Money is being raised for some wonderful charities, and that is great! - Danielle B.

It should be Politicians earn stripes. Then maybe the military wouldn't be treated like second class citizens by the government that's so quick to put them in harms way. Like they said when I was in, “You’re here to protect democracy not experience it.” - Kelly T.

NBC says "This show is not a glorification of war, but a glorification of service.”