Project Update – April 30, 2014

It’s official!  The Words For Warriors Project is now a corporation…and I’m the President!  The great thing about this is that I can now accept donations from people who wish to offer them.  I’m not actively soliciting donations at this time but it’s nice to know that when I’m ready I can do so.  My plan is to get the first books out and into the hands of some of our veterans and then get feedback regarding the book upon this site.  One thing I’ve learned in life is that success breeds success and once there’s concrete evidence that the books have been well received, it will be much easier to attract additional funds to this project. I will continue supporting the Words For Warriors Project and distributing books with or without outside money but if other people want to help it just means more books to more veterans…faster!  Once I get some book reviews up it will help attract attention.  Everybody likes supporting proven endeavors with a bit of a track record.

It’s for that very reason that I’m so very grateful and appreciative of all of you who took a chance and made contributions to this first edition of the book.  I feel very honored by your trust in me.  Many of you weren’t quite sure exactly what I was going to come up with. I’m sure some of you had visions of me taking a stack of photocopied letters, stapling them in the upper, left-hand corner and passing them out.  Nevertheless, you kindly took your time to write some beautiful letters to our veterans.  I don’t take that lightly.  We’re all busy and have lots of demands on our time and attention but those of you who saw the value in this project came through with some of the most wonderful letters I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  Thank you!

I set today as the day I would send the book off to the publisher.  Although it’s a bit frustrating I must delay that by a few days.  This is because now that I’m an official corporation, I had to set up a business account.  I met with the banker yesterday and all the paperwork is in process.  I sign a few additional documents at 1:00pm tomorrow….which finalizes the business account (and will provide me with a business debit/credit card with which to order the books).  I could have rushed ahead and debited my personal account as planned instead of transferring funds for the book into the business account but now that I’m a corporation any money spent must come out of the “official” Words For Warriors account. It’s a boring explanation.  It doesn’t make me happy to wait a few extra days but it’s the proper decision.

The book is completely edited and ready to go…I can’t wait to get it to the printer.  I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out.  I changed a few minor things. The photo of the American Flag on the first page was switched out for another American Flag photo, I changed the font of some of the text and the background color of some of the pages.  I also switched the order in which some of the letters appear.  Nothing major was changed and the book looks great!

I am now in the process of doing the paperwork that must be submitted in order to get non-profit status for the Words For Warriors Project.  That should all be in by the end of next week then I just have to wait for government response.  There isn’t any way to tell how long it will take but a couple of attorneys have told me to expect it to be a few weeks to a few months.

Don’t worry if you check in here over the next couple of weeks and things look different.  I’m going to be playing with this website to see if I can create something more pleasing to look at.  I know how I want the website to look and I’ll be experimenting with it for a bit.

Although our first edition is complete, I’m still collecting letters for subsequent editions of the book so please feel free to tell friends about the Words For Warriors Project.  I’m always happy to accept new submissions!

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From Eric H. (Veteran of the USMC, Vice President of Investor Relations for an Oil and Gas company)

Dear Warriors,

I would like to express my pride and appreciation to all who have served our country in the Armed Forces. It’s an honor to be a part of such a distinguished group that promotes the values that made the USA great. I think back fondly on my time as a Marine and realize I will probably never experience that same kind of camaraderie and teamwork. The experience made me a much better person and is something I try to live up to a on a daily basis.

I send a special thanks to those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Your sacrifices have made us all safer. I’m certain you will continue to achieve great things whether you decide to stay in or to join me in the civilian world.

Semper Fi,

Eric Hagen

Vice President, Investor Relations, Oil and Gas Company

USMC, Captain, Infantry (1992-1997), 2d Battalion, 3d Marines

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Eric H.

From S. King (U.S. Army Veteran, 8 years)

To my Brothers and Sisters in arms,

I want you to know that I genuinely care about you and think of you daily. We as a nation have been at war for over a decade, and many, if not most of you have pulled combat tours. It is a brave and respectful profession, and I know you don’t always get the individual praise and acknowledgement that you deserve.

The best advice that I can share with you, is that if things are getting mentally hard to handle and you need some of the weight lifted from your shoulders, reach out and talk to someone rather than trying to carry the entire burden alone. This may be hard to do at first, but I promise it will be worth it. The most important thing that I learned is that you cannot take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself first.

I am happy and grateful to be alive today, living a more peaceful life than I ever imagined possible. It has surely been a struggle living with my anger and service injuries, but in recent years, I have quit smoking, am educating myself on healthy food choices, am exercising as much as my body will let me, and have finally learned that happiness is a choice. How I react to situations is a choice. It is a new concept for me, but I am beginning to see things in a whole new light.

The only reason that I am sharing this is that I want you to know that when things feel like they are so broken, so out of alignment, and you think they will never be “right” again, hang in there and reach out and talk to someone. Know that you have choices and that YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. You are not expendable, you truly do matter, and you are not alone.

In my eyes, we are all brothers and sisters…we are family, regardless of branch of service or rank. Every day I think of our country’s veterans, the brothers lost by my side, and those of you who are currently serving, including my nephew and my two boys. I cannot look at Old Glory flying in the wind without thinking of you.

I am grateful and thankful for every one of you.

This We’ll Defend,

S. King

S. King

S. King

 

From Andrea H. (Dental Hygienist)

My father in-law was a veteran of WWII where he served in the Asiatic/Pacific Theater. He enlisted after Pearl Harbor while a senior in high school. I was very proud of him and really enjoyed spending time listening to his stories. Even with macular degeneration, he managed to type up his memories and his service record. I made it my mission to help him get his medals as he had never received them. And we accomplished that. He truly was a man from the Greatest Generation. He never knew a stranger and was always there to help anyone who needed it.

My son served for eight years in the USMC, and did a tour of Iraq. I’m very proud of my son’s service to his country, but I also know that the son we sent over there is not the one who came home. Although this is not all negative, as a mother you never want your child to have war experiences. But at the same time, I know he was well trained to do his job, and he was supported by his fellow Marines.

I am very proud of both of these men in my family. Some of the hardships they endured, like 48 hours straight of being shelled while in a foxhole on a beach in the South Pacific, or being in 116 degrees in the desert while wearing full combat gear, Kevlar vest, and ammo vest in blowing desert sand and living with such creatures as the camel spider, we can’t even relate to.

What these men, Our men, and their families went through for us, it seems we could never repay. What I try to do is to always walk up to anyone in a uniform and thank them for their service. Even if all they are wearing to identify them as military is one of those hats.

God Bless our veterans for all they gave to our country. No matter the politics of the time, these men and women didn’t even think twice about putting their lives on the line for all of us. And God bless the families at home. Not only do I want to give them my gratitude, but I also want us as a country to make sure to give them all the benefits and pay that they deserve.

Support our Troops,

Andy (Andrea) H.

This is me with my son Brandon.  I'm holding a photograph of my father-in-law.
This is me with my son Brandon. I’m holding a photograph of my father-in-law.
My son with one of his sons.
My son with one of his sons.

 

From Robert K. (Professional Photographer)

Pin-Ups have been a part of American history especially throughout the military. It’s most iconic period was during WWII. Those images reminded those that were fighting what they were fighting for and gave them the strength to continue fighting on. In honor of that history I love creating pin-ups and think they are still just as important today. These pin-ups represent how thankful I am for the sacrifices those in the military make to protect our country and our freedom!

Robert K. MsBombshell-1 MsBombshell-3

From Ernie M. (Veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Retired Pilot)

At the tender age of nineteen, I got my first “real” job. Sure I had newspaper routes, hardware store clerk and gas station attendant duties prior to this job, but this was “real.” I was hired as a Fleet Service Helper, a cleaner for Trans World Airlines, a premier airline in that day. Within 3 months, I was transferred to a Ground Service Helper position, a “gas man.” That involved a 10 cent an hour pay raise and liberation from “honey bucket” duties!

Up on the wings, fueling aircraft, I would occasionally visit with the Flight Engineer. I soon recognized that airline operations were good, but working as a cockpit crew member was more desirable than any ground job. I joined the U. S. Air Force and enlisted as an Aviation Cadet. After a seven year career in the USAF piloting KC-97 and KC-135 aircraft, I returned to TWA as a Flight Crew member and retired 28 years later as a B-747 Captain.

My work experience taught me many things. Don’t be afraid to start a career on the bottom. A good work ethic will give opportunities for promotion. The military gives lots of responsibilities and authority to young and somewhat inexperienced personnel. That doesn’t happen in the civilian world. Feel proud in what you do. You should feel as good about doing an excellent job as a Captain as you did as a Cleaner. Remember, “A chain has many links; all links must be strong or the job will not be done with success.”

Welcome home to the United States. Hopefully your future will feed on good events you may have experienced.

(My 22 year old grandson is visiting on leave with his bomb sniffing dog, “Issi” after their tour in Afghanistan. He will soon be experiencing a civilian transition when his tour is up next year.)

 

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From Hunter R. (Student – Age 16)

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

Opening my eyes this morning, the first thing I saw was my room, as humble and unchanged as ever. I heard the cliché bird chirping of my alarm going off and I groaned as I forced myself out of bed. There is nothing to be afraid of in my morning. The monotony is satisfying and something that I know will stay consistent.

As a protector of this country, there is not that satisfying monotony. Waking up in a different area constantly, to new sounds and strange people, is normal. During times of fighting, fear is evident from the time your eyes open to the time your eyes close.

Fighting for something you consider worthwhile is the most courageous endeavor you can face. Anyone can become accustomed to routines, but it takes a true hero to be willing to face the unknown. As warriors, fear is not a wall, but an obstacle that can be taken over with willpower. There is nothing more valiant than to fight for what you believe in. Thank you for putting yourselves into the unknown, and being the epitome of strength.

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From Rob A. (Veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Pilot, Writer)

Wendell was a Flight Instructor in the B-17 during WWII. Twenty-five years ago he saw something that few others saw from a long-haired, want-to-be metal head, social reject. His kind words helped steer me onto a path towards becoming an Air Force pilot. His widow told me she framed three letters written to Wendell. One writer stated that he would follow Wendell “To hell and back.” The second writer simply told Wendell “to go to hell” and my letter that I sent to his family after he passed away. If Wendell taught me anything, it is to “Not be afraid to live your dreams.”

Bert was a Marine in the South Pacific assigned as a Crew Chief to Pappy Boyington’s outfit. Bert’s simple stories of life and death drive home the reality of those desperate times. Bert has just celebrated his ninety-seventh birthday and the one constant in life other than his faith a Higher Power is the oath he made to himself as a starving Marine. Never pass up chow.

Danny was drafted to fight in Vietnam. He served his tour and returned home to a land divided. He was one of those who directly suffered the taunts and spit of fellow Americans. The shaming nearly ended his life. In the months after he returned, Danny threw all of his medals into the river. I pray that no one ever has to relive the days when one felt shame to wear the uniform in public. After Vietnam, Danny discovered that the key to life is love.

I served for thirteen years as an Air Force C-130 pilot deploying to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. We all join for different reasons. Some want adventure while others do it for the benefits. Many didn’t have a choice because of a draft or it was their only way out of a bad place in life. The reasons are as numerous as the stars. We learn tradition, honor, and sacrifice in basic training, our Training Instructors teach us that the only way to survive is to rely on those in the fight.

When the chips are on the line, the odds are stacked against us and it is time to “Go Downtown” we all realize that we don’t fight for nation, glory, fortune or fame. We fight for the person next to us; we move mountains for someone who is in a bad way just because we know they would do it for us. We live by the code of “No One Left Behind” and dare the enemy to try to stop us.

I love the phrase used by Vietnam Veterans, “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.” When a person takes the oath and wears the uniform, they stand on the path started by our forefathers at Valley Forge. Like Wendell, Bert, Danny and all those who served, you are an American Hero. I salute you, encourage you and pray for you. Give Em Hell!

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Iraq

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Project Update – April 15, 2014

Here is a better look at some of the inside pages of Words For Warriors.  I’m happy to say that the first edition of the book will be going off for printing at the end of the month.  The turn around time is a couple of weeks so that means I’ll be able to start the book distribution mid-May.  Very excited about getting Words For Warriors into the hands of our veterans!

*These are screenshots.  They’re a little better than the cell phone photos but any bit of blur you see is not representative of the actual book.  Photos and text are crystal clear in the hard copy of the book*

This is the dedication page in the front of the book
This is the dedication page in the front of the book.  It’s what you see when you open the front cover.  It says, “This book was created as a celebration of your service.  It represents a collaboration between citizens with a non-military background and your fellow veterans.  We wanted a place to express our thoughts and give voice to our appreciation and support.  America owes you a debt of gratitude which cannot be repaid but it most certainly can be acknowledged.  This book is for you, our veterans, crafted with great love and respect.”

 

Gary Dolan wrote quite a bit and had lots of great photos so he has a two page spread.
This letter is from a veteran (Army Ranger) and Attorney.  He wrote quite a bit and had lots of great photos so he has a two page spread.
A letter from a retired Medical Technologist/Grandma and an Amateur Historian
A letter from a retired Medical Technologist/Grandma and an Amateur Historian
A letter from a business man and dog lover and one from a Marine who just won an Olympic gold medal
A letter from a business man and dog lover and one from a veteran (Marine Corps) who just won an Olympic gold medal
A letter from a Korean War veteran (Navy) and an Oil and Gas Executive
A letter from a Korean War veteran (Navy) and an Oil and Gas Executive
This is a two page spread from a veteran (Navy SEAL),  Strength and Conditioning Specialist and military fitness trainer
This is a two page spread from a veteran (Navy SEAL), Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Military Fitness Trainer
A letter from an Attorney and one from an Analyst
A letter from an Attorney and one from an Analyst

 

A letter from me, Gym Rat and Academic Editor at a Research University and one from a small business owner.
A letter from me, Gym Rat and Academic Editor at a Research University and one from a small business owner.
A letter from a 15 year old student and one from a Finance Analyst
A letter from a 15 year old student and one from a Finance Analyst
A letter from an Engineer and a letter from a veteran (Navy),  Aircraft Maintenance Manager
A letter from an Engineer and a letter from a veteran (Navy), Aircraft Maintenance Manager

There are lots more pages but those examples give you a good idea of what the book looks like inside.  When the book goes to print, I’m estimating that it will have about 50 pages.

Remember, this is an ongoing project so please spread the word.  I’m always delighted to get new submissions and even if a submission ends up being too late for this first printing, there will be subsequent ones!  New letters are always happily accepted.

 

 

From Koji K. (Amateur Historian)

The day after we moved into my Long Beach neighborhood in 2001, an elderly man hobbled across the street to help my very pregnant wife wheel the trash bins out to curbside. “The old man” living across the street was a World War II combat veteran. When I learned he had fought against the Japanese in the SW Pacific, I feared the worst because of our Japanese ancestry.

Twelve years later, I was honored to have been asked to be a pallbearer at his funeral…to carry him on his last journey on this Earth. I was ashamed to have even thought he would show hatred towards me twelve years earlier after having fought for our country.

His handshake was always firm and warm and he loved me as his own son. He taught me forgiveness as even he had learned to forgive in spite of having given his all on “those stinking islands”, referring to Guadalcanal, Rabaul and Okinawa.

Now he is gone. But then and now, I and my two young kids – whom he treated so lovingly – thank him for all we have today. I prized his friendship, wisdom and most of all, his sacrifices for his country so long ago – so much so that I named the child my wife was carrying that day twelve years ago after him. It was an honor to name my son Jack.

None of what we have today would be possible if not for not for the unselfish sacrifices of our men and women in uniform…such as you. Because of our armed forces, we have food on our tables, freedom and are free of tyranny in our daily lives. While not perfect, we live in the greatest country in the world because of you. Let no one tell you any different.

We welcome you back home and thank you.

Gratefully,

Koji K.

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From Terri J. (Stained Glass Designer)

To those who have served:

I am proud to be an American in every sense of the word. I still get chills when I sing the Star- Spangled Banner and I have been singing it for many years. An acknowledgement of “Thanks” to both you and your families. To our soldiers for risking your lives and to your families for not having you around. I have always loved an old Trace Adkins song called “Til the Last Shot’s Fired.” I have shared a small bit for those who are not familiar.

“Say a prayer for peace
For every fallen son
Set our spirits free
Let us lay down our guns
Sweet mother Mary we’re so tired
But we can’t come home ’til
the last shot’s fired.“
-Trace Adkins

Thank you.

To all the men and women still serving this country, I hope you return home safe and soon.

Peace and blessings,

Terri J

Terri

From Ryan W. (Engineer – Age 36)

 

We take for granted each day what an amazing place we live in, and more importantly, why this place is so great.  it is so because of our service men and women  I’d like to thank each of those who helped create such a great country and those who are still serving to keep us safe and free.  What each of you is doing matters and is appreciated.  Thanks for your service.

Sincerely,

Ryan W.

 

 

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