I am a 49 year old disabled veteran and have been since 1990. My disability is like many others, I have two crushed disk in my lower back that occurred on my tour in Bosnia. I’ve worked hard on keeping my life heading forward with many highs and lows since leaving the service. I lived in Germany for 18 years and returned to the states in 2008. While in Germany I gained about 50 lbs right off the bat after leaving the service. My motivations were drinking German beer and eating all that good German food. I couldn’t get motivated to stay healthy. I was over 240 in no time at all after being 195 lbs most of my military career. About two years ago I started running again and my back is what would always stop me. But I keep going and started to lose weight with help from my amazing wife. (more…)

 

“What’s always intrigued me about you is you’re a progressive liberal with veterans as her main cause”, said my friend and mentor, Sergeant George O’Keefe, as we were catching up after his second deployment to Afghanistan. I understand why my leadership of Team Red, White & Blue Maine is surprising. A female civilian – with few ties to the military – is not your “typical” veteran advocate.

But, in actuality, I come from a long line of people who have pushed for social change. My grandmother was an outspoken advocate for women’s rights who became a State Senator at 52 and helped pass the Equal Rights Amendment in Vermont. As an attorney general, my uncle has led major cases against Big Tobacco and nuclear energy. Though she was never in the military, my mother firmly believed in “no man left behind” and instilled in me a powerful commitment to community service and a lifelong dedication to volunteering.

So, when news broke in 2007 of the horrific conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, I was galvanized to take action. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran (USMC) and the grand-daughter of a WW II veteran (Army), I grew up hearing stories of the courage, sacrifice, and honor of serving in the military. Wounded veterans coming home to moldy, rat-infested conditions was unspeakable to me. I felt that helping veterans feel respected and supported as they returned to civilian life was righting an awful wrong. (more…)

 

Imagine crossing the finish line to a race that you never thought you would get to do, but wanted so badly it hurt; to finally be able to participate alongside family and friends, rather than cheer from the side lines; to win in front of a crowd when others didn’t think it a possibility for you; to show people that while at first glance you may appear as a “poor little thing”, “handicapped”, “wheelchair dependent”, you actually can defy odds, steamroll over what people say “can’t be done,” and kick some major butt. (more…)