female vets

Women have served in every major American conflict since the Revolutionary War. Female veterans who have served our country deserve to receive the resources and support they have earned through their service and sacrifice.

“Soldier On: Life After Deployment” is a new documentary which follows three female soldiers as they struggle to readjust to civilian life. The women face a number of challenges, including the difficulty of renegotiating relationships with friends and family, substance abuse, psychological depression, physical health problems, PTSD, and employment difficulties.

Although the percentage of female veterans in America has more than quadrupled since the 1970s, women often find that VA medical centers aren’t equipped to serve the unique needs of female veterans. While male and female veterans experience similar challenges surrounding the transition into civilian life and the trauma of combat, among women in the military there is a significant need and demand for resources that are specifically designed for female veterans.

A number of initiatives have emerged to serve both female veterans and active duty women alike. Highlighted below are some of the more recent campaigns that are making an effort to serve female veterans and soldiers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has teamed up with Women Veterans Interactive (WVI) to launch a social media campaign surrounding the state of our country’s female veterans. Here are several areas around which their collaboration will raise awareness:

Products and Equipment for Women. For women who serve, the frustration of dealing with ill-fitting gear is real. In addition to physical limitations, research suggests that wearing ill-fitted and uncomfortable gear has a negative impact on female soldiers’ cognitive performance and ability to make decisions. The integration of women into all military combat positions — including elite special operations — has put increased pressure on the Army and Marine Corps to solve issues of ill-fitting body armor in particular. 

Operation Dress Code, a regional clothing drive for women veterans, began operations this month in San Diego. The clothing drive collects women’s clothing and professional workwear to help female veterans represent themselves with confidence and authenticity in the workplace.

Resources for Homeless Female Vets. There are an approximately 55,000 homeless women veterans in America. By and large, supportive housing programs for veterans aren’t suited to the needs of women veterans and veterans who are raising children as single mothers. Molly Potter has spent the last year spearheading fundraising efforts for organizations like Final Salute, a Virginia-based nonprofit that advocates for homeless female veterans and their kids.



Earlier this year, at the formal ballroom inside the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square, the Federal Enforcement Homeland Security Foundation (FEHSF) recognized “Law & Order” producer Dick Wolf, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, and scores of FBI, DEA, and Secret Service agents. “Most of the guests were carrying concealed weapons,” joked writer Richard Johnson.

Although most Americans know the federal government provides assistance to families of servicemen and women who are killed or wounded in battle, many are less familiar with the formal support that is extended to families of wounded or deceased federal law enforcement agents–our greatest protectors.

The FEHSF serves federal agents, officers, and their families when they need it most. Below, I’ve outlined some of the great work that the FEHSF does.



The FEHSF provides financial support to families of agents and officers who are wounded and/or killed in the line of duty, or facing severe medical conditions.


College Scholarships

To honor their parents’ sacrifice, the FEHSF offers college and education scholarships to children of Federal Law Enforcement Agents and Officers who are killed in the line of duty.


Support Services in Other Situations

You can learn more about the various situations to which the FEHSF extends support here.

WCAP athletes

Photo Courtesy of

“Being an Olympian is the best way to represent the United States.” Spc. Paul Chelimo

It’s no surprise that the greatest military in the world also produces some of its greatest athletes and competitors. There have been many American veterans who have represented Team USA in the summer and winter Olympics over the years. In 2016, the 555-member Team USA in Rio included 16 athletes who serve in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force. On the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team, there are 30 veterans and active duty service members competing in Rio.

Since the Army debuted its World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) in 1997, 55 soldier-athletes have participated in the Olympic Games. The Army’s WCAP received media attention in Rio due to WCAP runners on Team USA who’ve taken advantage of the expedited path to U.S. citizenship that WCAP offers.

It’s too easy to overlook U.S. Olympians who continue to serve our country long after the games have wrapped up. Below is a list of elite athletes who, in addition to serving our country, represented Team USA in the 2016 Rio Olympics. I’ve also included a fantastic infographic put together by Veterans Call that spotlights American military veterans who have won a gold medal in their sport.

  • Hillary Bor (track and field, U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
  • Paul Chelimo (track and field, U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
  • Glenn Eller (shooting, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)
  • Sean Furey (track and field, U.S. Navy)
  • Vincent Hancock (shooting, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)
  • David Higgins (shooting, U.S. Air Force)
  • Edward King (rowing, U.S. Navy)
  • Shadrack Kipchirchir (track and field, U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
  • Leonard Korir (track and field, U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
  • Dan Lowe (shooting, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)
  • Michael McPhail (shooting, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)
  • John Nunn (track and field, U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
  • Steffen Peters (equestrian, German Army)
  • Joshua Richmond (shooting, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)
  • Keith Sanderson (shooting, U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
  • Nathan Schrimsher (pentathlon, U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
  • Cale Simmons (track and field, U.S. Air Force)
US veterans who won gold medals

Memory lane: Gold Medalist Veterans [photo courtesy of]

meningitis bacteria


Who is most susceptible?

  • People living in close quarters i.e. college students and boarding school students who live in dorms, athletes who share locker rooms and water bottles, kids at summer camp.
  • Although there is no known medical reason why meningitis–which is transmitted through saliva–would spread more readily among gay and bisexual men, these specific populations are disproportionately affected in New York, Chicago, and Southern California. Federal, state and local public health officials are working together to investigate the recent outbreaks in these regions.
  • Adults with compromised immune systems (cancer patients, HIV+ individuals).
  • Smokers and others who share cigarettes.
  • Intravenous drug users.
  • Those who live in hot climes. Exposure to airborne dust and high temperatures are significant risk factors for contracting bacterial meningitis, a new study demonstrates.
  • People who haven’t been vaccinated! NOTE: there is a meningitis vaccine. Get vaccinated–especially if you are a college student.

Genetic Factors?

Although meningitis itself isn’t congenital (people aren’t born with the disease) or genetic (inherited), a person’s susceptibility to meningitis has been shown to be heritable. That is to say, scientists believe a person’s parents who contract viral and bacterial diseases more easily pass on their increased susceptibility to their kids.


  • Children under age five are most at risk.
  • Teens and adolescents also have an increased risk.
  • Adults older than 60 have an increased risk.

What vaccines are available?

There are no vaccines to offer protection against all forms of meningitis and meningococcal disease.

  • There is a new vaccine that protects against Meningitis B. The CDC recommends that people receive the serogroup B vaccine between the ages of 16-23, with a preferred age of 16-18.
  • It’s recommended that all adolescents get meningococcal A, C, W and Y vaccine at age 11-12 with a booster dose at 16.
  • Meningitis C vaccine – given to babies at three and 12-13 months.
  • Pneumococcal Meningitis vaccine – given to babies at two, four, and 12-13 months.



This year, the United Service Organization (USO) celebrates its 75th anniversary. Since its earliest days during World War II, the USO has dispatched America’s most talented entertainers to boost the morale of American service members deployed in far corners of the world. Reading a list of early USO performers is reading a who’s who of Hollywood’s decorated stars: Bob Hope, Raquel Welch, Marlene Dietrich, Fred Astaire, Jack Benny, John Wayne, and Elizabeth Taylor among them.

Out of appreciation for America’s troops and the organization which has served their spirits, here is a glimpse of the USO’s most celebrated performances since 1941.


Bob Hope, 1944

Bob Hope did his first show in Vietnam in 1963, and footage from that South Pacific tour was made into a successful TV special. American troops stationed in Vietnam eagerly anticipated Bob Hope’s Christmas Show each year. From 1964 to 1972, Hope visited South Vietnam on annual trips to visit troops during the holiday season. Bob Hope was a mainstay of the USO since its inception during World War II. (Above) Bob Hope performs for American Troops during WWII in 1944.


Marilyn Monroe USO

On her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio in 1954, Marilyn Monroe performed for American soldiers in Korea.



James Brown in Vietnam, 1968.


Sammy Davis, Jr. 1972

Sammy Davis, Jr. entertains troops in Vietnam in 1972, shortly before the end of the war.


Jay Leno 1991

Jay Leno performs comedy in 1991 for soldiers during Operation Desert Shield during the Gulf War.


Kid Rock Afghanistan

Kid Rock performs for American troops in Afghanistan, 2003.

All photos are courtesy of and the United States Army.


College-ChecklistNow that graduation season is behind us, 18-year-olds are crowding the aisles of Bed Bath & Beyond, picking out extra-long twin sheets and mini fridges for their first year of college. Looking for tips on how best to organize your dorm room? Not sure how to deal with your future roommate’s body odor?

When it comes to freshman dorm feng shui, there are plenty of packing guides and advice columns to consult.

But all too often, these lengthy checklists fail to include an item that should top the to-do list of every college-bound student: vaccinations. If you haven’t done so, schedule a doctor’s appointment for your son or daughter. Meningitis immunization is invaluable to their health.

What are the different meningitis types? 

There are different types–referred to as ‘serogroups’–of meningitis. The standard vaccination, called meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY), protects against four out of the five serogroups: A, C, W and Y. The CDC recommends that students receive the MenACWY vaccine before starting college, and, in some states, it’s required.

Which vaccines do students need?

Most college students receive the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, but not the vaccine that protects against the bacterial form of meningitis known as “serogroup B.” In recent years, several meningitis outbreaks on college campuses have been serogroup B outbreaks, which the standard MenACWY vaccine does not protect against.

The vaccine for serogroup B (MenB vaccine) has been available in the United States since 2014. Since the serogroup B vaccine is still relatively new, your medical provider may not carry it in their stock. You can use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find vaccine serogroup B providers near you:

My child received the meningococcal conjugate vaccine as a teenager. Does she need to be vaccinated again?

The CDC recommends a booster shot for college-bound students who received their initial vaccine prior to their 16th birthday.

On college campuses that experienced meningitis outbreaks in recent years— everywhere from Yale and Princeton to Santa Clara State and Georgia Tech— students were only vaccinated after the outbreak hit. Surely, it is time for the meningitis B vaccine to be added to the CDC’s current vaccination recommendations.


When one learns of the horrors of bacterial meningitis–fast-spreading rashes, amputated fingers and limbs, and in some cases, death–it seems unfathomable that such an infection claims lives every year, especially when there is a vaccine to prevent it and treatments to cure it.

Since 2002, the National Meningitis Association has worked diligently to bring education, awareness, support and funding on meningitis prevention to families, communities, and medical professionals. Among their many programs, including Moms on Meningitis (M.O.M.s) and Together Educating About Meningitis (T.E.A.M.), the NMA recently held their annual Give Kids a Shot! Gala in New York City.

Hosted at The Pierre Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side on Monday, May 9th, the gala honored Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch with the Nancy Ford Springer Award, Carl Buher and Michael Laforgia with the T.E.A.M. Outstanding Service Awards, and Paul Lee, MD with the Health Achievement Award.


Of them, NMA President Lynn Bozof said,

“This year’s honorees truly embody the National Meningitis Association’s mission and we are thrilled to celebrate their extraordinary contributions at this year’s gala. We are thankful to everyone who has given so generously so that we can continue our work to help protect our children from the devastating effects of meningitis.”

Attracting a number of notable attendees, I found myself within the graces of event chairs Lenore Cooney, Sara Herbert-Galloway, Errol Rappaport and Gary Springer. Honorary Chairs included Ambassador and Mrs. John L. Loeb, Jr., Liv Ullmann and Donald Saunders and Nick Springer.


It was quite an outstanding and emotional event, with live performances by the talented and spectacular Darius de Haas, who is currently featured in Broadway’s “Shuffle Along,” and Tito Puente Jr., musician and bandleader. The lively tunes created an exceptionally memorable ambiance in the hotel perched on the southeast corner of Central Park.



In addition to the incredible performances was the highly-anticipated and much-celebrated NMA Silent Auction. Featuring invaluable experiences like tickets to a New York Rangers game, including dinner with Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert and an exclusive VIP experience from NASCAR Spring Cup, complete with access to the Pit, driver meet-and-greet and a ride in the Pace car, it was surely a night that won’t soon go forgotten.


All funds raised from the Give Kids a Shot! Gala went on to support the work of the National Meningitis Association.

For more photos of the event, visit NMA’s Facebook page here!

Gala flyer courtesy of the National Meningitis Association.


About the NMA 

The National Meningitis Association (NMA) works to protect families from the devastating effects of meningococcal disease by educating the public, medical professionals and others about the disease and vaccines available to prevent it.

NMA was formed in 2002 by parents whose children died or live with permanent disabilities from meningococcal disease. Like many families, NMA’s founders were unaware that meningococcal disease vaccination could have prevented their anguish. Since NMA was founded, great strides have been made in meningitis prevention. NMA has supported the creation of broad recommendations for meningococcal vaccines to protect all preteens and teens, worked to advocate for state vaccination requirements and helped increase awareness and vaccine uptake. The organization also provides emotional support for individuals and families who have experienced meningococcal disease. To accomplish its goals, NMA develops programs and resources that reach audiences on national and grassroots levels. Parents, disease survivors and other family members help carry out NMA’s mission by conducting community awareness activities across the country through two key programs: Moms on Meningitis (M.O.M.s) and Together Educating About Meningitis (T.E.A.M.).

For disease and prevention information, downloadable resources and personal stories from M.O.M.s and T.E.A.M. members, please visit WWW.NMAUS.ORG.


I came across a recent Chicago Tribune article honoring the life of a dedicated USO volunteer, 98-year-old Lucille Serafin. She passed away last month after a life of service to her family and armed forces. For years, up until a hip injury last year, Lucille was a constant fixture on Sundays at Midway International Airport where she’d welcome service members and their families at the USO welcome center.

Some of the quotes about Lucille really stuck with me:

“She was our oldest volunteer, the oldest in the state of Illinois, and one of our most energetic,” said Bob Stone, director of the USO Midway Center. “She was a favorite among many of our regular visitors, like reservists. They’d walk in and ask, ‘Where’s Lucille?'”

“She was a character but in the very best way,” said fellow USO volunteer Peggy Wojciechowski. “She was this little old lady with the friendliest personality and more energy than a person half her age. Everybody just loved her.”

A native to the Chicago area, Lucille spent her entire life raising her family and serving the area. After 28 years working in the banking sector, Lucille joined the USO in 2001 as a retiree. “Volunteering at Midway is a great experience, full of a lot of laughs and good conversations with airport passengers and employees,” Serafin said in a 2012 Chicago Department of Aviation news release. “I’m busier now than when I worked many years ago.”

Hearing stories like Lucille’s just warms my heart and inspires me to want to do more. Her dedication to the troops and their families just goes to show what kind of impact one person can have on lives. Imagine what we can do together!

Be sure to read Lucille’s full profile over at the Chicago Tribune link above. To find out how you can volunteer with the USO, click here.


In 1997, Cindy Krejny’s daughter Erin had spent the week back home with her family for spring break. That Sunday, she left back for school. The next day she went to eat with her friends when she began to feel sick, numbness in her arms and neck pain.

At 2:30 her friends took her to the hospital. By 5:15 she was pronounced dead. The Krejny family never got to say goodbye to Erin because they lived three hours away.

Cindy was like all too many parents at the time, completely unaware of meningitis and its vaccine. Today, she works with the NMA to make sure parents are informed of the proper steps to vaccine their child so they won’t have to experience the terrible effects of the disease that can potentially kill within 24 hours.

Unfortunately, meningitis awareness is not as prevalent as some may think. A 2014 Harris Poll revealed that more than two in three mothers have little to no knowledge of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations to prevent meningococcal meningitis. Another alarming stat revealed that 28% of the 2,000 mothers polled believed that the first meningitis shot was needed around 11 years old, but the second around age 16 was not. For your high schooler or freshman in college, you can’t risk skipping the second dose.

Be sure to visit the NMA to learn more about meningitis and its prevention. And be sure to visit their blog, Parents Who Protect, to read more from parents like you and I.

Source: Fort Hood Sentinel

Source: Fort Hood Sentinel

2016 marks the USO’s 75th anniversary. For three-quarters of a century, the USO has supported servicemen and women in many ways. From entertainment to keeping families connected, the USO endeavors to strengthen America’s military members however possible.

The most iconic figure to support the USO has to be the late Bob Hope. Through his countless tours and overall support, Bob Hope helped lift the spirits of our bravest while reminding folks back at home of the support these individuals need. Today, the USO is thankful to have celebrities and other generous volunteers donate their team whenever possible. Taking up Bob Hope’s lead over the years include entertainers and athletes from all walks of life including James Brown, Stephen Colbert and Larry Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals.

Today, the USO continues to support our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as 160 centers that touchdown on every continent outside of Antarctica. With thousands of staff and volunteers, the USO strives to match the diligent service these brave men and women provide every day.

Take a look at the USO’s efforts in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan:

If you’d like to donate to the USO, click here for more information.