Project Update – May 19, 2014

Now that I’m distributing the book, I thought I’d let you know where the book is going.

So far, I’ve placed 6 books at my local VA outpatient clinic, 2 in a VA clinic in Colorado Springs where I was visiting, 5 at a VA outpatient clinic in Golden CO, 1 at the VFW in Golden and sent four to USA Hockey (they are our Paralympic hockey team and have four veterans on the team). I have one being placed in a VA in Maine and one in West Virginia. There are a few on the way to an Air Force base where at least one will find a home at a local Fisher House. One is at Pathway Home in Yountville, California.

Dropping off books this weekend!
Dropping off books this weekend!

I’m also incredibly pleased to say that I’ve been able to give a few copies to a company called Wounded Wear for their use and send a personal copy to the President of the company, Jason Redman (whose words in his recent book The Trident partially inspired me in this undertaking). That’s right, I cold called (via email) his company and he was kind enough to write back.

I’ve also been able to send out copies to many veteran friends and acquaintances which makes me very happy, indeed!

I’m delighted to say that the feedback from the book has been quite positive and it’s the best feeling in the whole world!

The first edition is out but I’m not done yet. I’m still asking people who want a unique way to show our veterans some support to write letters and send photos of themselves. I will definitely be doing a second edition and hopefully many more. Currently, the project is entirely funded by me and my cookie jar. I am scheming ways to get additional funds but whether I do or not, I will continue to distribute books. Outside money just means more books out to our veterans…faster.

Do you want to be in the next edition of Words For Warriors?

If you would like to be in my next book, I invite you to send a letter along to words4warriors1@gmail.com. Please understand this isn’t a writing contest. It’s not about fancy language or perfect grammar. A few simple words from the heart is all that is necessary. its something meaningful you can do and it doesn’t cost a penny, just a few minutes of your time.

 

 

Project Update – May 11, 2014

Delivery of the first shipment of the first edition of Words For Warriors!
Delivery of the first shipment of the first edition of Words For Warriors!

This is the lovely sight that greeted me when I finished my workout on Friday.  There were boxes at the front door containing my first order of Words For Warriors.  I was very excited to finally have the books in hand.

I opened one of the boxes and took out the top three books.  Those have a special home waiting for them.  One is going on my shelf, to be saved until the end time just in case I meet up again with the Marine I used to write back and forth with on Bodybuilding.com who had the tagline “The Marines are at war, America is at the mall.”  If you read the About Words For Warriors Project page here, you’ll understand.  One of the books is for the Sailor who wrote a passage in his book that made me want to bring this project to fruition.  I don’t know him.  I have no idea how to contact him, but in case I figure it out one day, I’ll save it for him.  One is for Gary Dolan, who has been so kind since the moment I first started writing to him.  He’s a wonderful man and has encouraged me every step of the way with this project (and others).

The first three books out of the box are being  saved for particular people.
The first three books out of the box are being saved for particular people.

I’m anxious to get the book into the hands of some of our veterans.  I’ve already got the first batch ready to go out on Monday.  I’m happy to report that 4 of them will be going to USA Hockey.  One copy is for Josh Sweeney and the other three are for his teammates who are also veterans.  One is going to the PATHWAY HOME program in Yountville CA.  If they like the book once they see it, I let them know I’d send individual copies for the men in their program (I believe there are 12 residents there currently). Several copies are being sent to veterans who wrote letters for the Words For Warriors Project and a few copies will be going out to personal friends (all veterans, of course).

In just one week or so (depending on shipping time) there will be Words For Warriors books in Oklahoma, California, Virginia, Colorado, Utah, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and West Virginia.

Starting Monday I’ll begin the process of distributing books to VA hospitals/clinics.  So far have one set to be placed in a VA in Maine and one in West Virginia.  

This part, the distribution is SO fun for me.  What a pleasure….I wish I could win the lottery.  I could just go around collecting letters, making books and giving them to our veterans!  Actually I’d do a lot more than the books but I’d definitely keep publishing as part of my efforts.

It’s Mother’s Day today…and I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing than thinking about how to keep pushing the Words For Warriors Project forward and getting books ready to go out in the mail tomorrow!

Happy!
Happy!

 

 

Project Update – May 7, 2014

I’m very happy to report that the book was sent off to the printer yesterday.  Just a little longer and I’ll have a box of books on my doorstep and I can begin phase two of this project.  I have created a partial distribution list and will go to the post office today to get mailers so I can address them and have them ready to go once I have the books in hand.  No delays…I want Words For Warriors out there ASAP!

I met the most interesting man yesterday.  I heard him say he had been in the Navy.  He joined up when he was very young.  I’m guessing he’s a WWII veteran.  I gave him one of the Grateful American coins I carry around and we ended up having a great conversation.  He gave me a couple of books of his and we exchanged information.  In a few weeks, I’ll go back to visit him with a copy of Words For Warriors for his library.  He seems eager to chat and from a few of the stories he told me I think a letter from him would be a marvelous addition to the Words For Warriors Project.

Don’t forget, I’m still collecting letters.  If you have people in your life who you think would enjoy being part of this project, please direct them here.  The more letters I get the better the next edition of Words For Warriors will be!

Let our veterans know their hard work is appreciated!
Let our veterans know their hard work is appreciated!

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!

let-your-kind-words-change-someone-elses-day

 

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 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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photo 1

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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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.

2koji

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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Project Update – April 7, 2014

I’m happy to report that the hardback prototype book I ordered more than met my requirements.  I love it and will be proud to distribute a book of this quality.  I haven’t received the soft back version yet so will reserve judgment on it until I have a chance to inspect it.  I took some photos so you can see exactly what the book looks like.  Please note that not all the submissions that will be in the final copy (of the first edition) are included in the prototype book.  This was sample for me so I could tweak text color, photo placement, font size etc.  The prototype book is 29 pages, the first edition of Words For Warriors will be about 40 pages (unless I get a slew of new letters in the next couple of weeks in which case it may have more).

This gives you an idea of the size of the book.  It's not itty bitty and the text and photos are easy to see.
This gives you an idea of the size of the book. It’s not itty bitty and the text and photos are easy to see.

 

This is the cover.  The cell phone photo washes it out a bit but the color is a nice vibrant red and the flag really pops on the front.
This is the cover. The cell phone photo washes it out a bit but the color is a nice vibrant red and the flag really pops on the front.
An example of what the book looks like inside.  Despite the little blur of the cell phone photo, the text and photos are clear and crisp.
An example of what the book looks like inside. Despite the little blur of the cell phone photo, the text and photos are clear and crisp.

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This letter from Gary Dolan had his photos on the right hand side of the spread and the text of his letter on the left.  I decided to reverse the order which seems more logical and like a better placement to me.  That's why I ordered the prototype book.  So I could see how the layout feels when you hold the book in your hands and read it.
These pages had Gary Dolan’s photos on the right hand side of the spread and the text of his letter on the left. I decided to reverse the order in the final printing which seems like a more logical and better placement to me. That’s why I ordered the prototype book….so I could see how the layout feels when you hold the book in your hands and read it.
Another couple of pages...
Another couple of pages…

 

 

May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door. (Irish Blessing)