The Home Depot Foundation Pledges Quarter of a Billion Dollars to Veteran-Related Causes by 2020 3

Yesterday’s post was about a very unhappy man who was mad at

(insert name of home improvement store here)

for not being eligible for a military discount.

https://theleansubmariner.com/2018/10/24/lifer/

I was thinking after I posted that story that many people are not aware of how much some companies work very hard to support actual veterans-in-need causes.  Because I have worked with different groups over the years, I am a bit more familiar with them. It may surprise you as well.

This announcement was made in 2016 on Home Depot’s web site.

The Home Depot Foundation Pledges Quarter of a Billion Dollars to Veteran-Related Causes by 2020

The Home Depot Foundation has focused on U.S. military veteran support since 2011. Today’s increased commitment will help address continued veteran challenges, including:

More than 39,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. More than one million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks and subpar living conditions.

“We consider it a duty and honor to give back to our veterans,” said The Home Depot Foundation board member and chair Giles Bowman. “We know they experience many challenges when they return from service and their home shouldn’t be one of them. This increased commitment demonstrates our dedication to serving our nation’s heroes.”

The announcement kicks off The Home Depot Foundation’s sixth annual Celebration of Service. Celebration of Service is a two-month-long campaign focused on improving the homes and lives of U.S. military veterans and their families. From September 1 through Veterans Day, Team Depot, The Home Depot’s associate-led volunteer force, will work with local and national nonprofit organizations to complete projects for aging, combat-wounded and homeless veterans.

Since that time, they have also made massive donations for disaster relief in some of the major hurricanes and storms around the country. In 2018 alone, they have increased their charitable giving to over $4,000,000.

http://ir.homedepot.com/news-releases/2018/10-12-2018

I have to assume that many of the areas affected by the storm are home to veterans and will benefit from the generosity of Home Depot and others.

I am very sorry the gentleman didn’t get his $1.50 discount on that hammer he wanted. He probably spent that much in gas as he drove across town to (insert name of the other home improvement store here).

But I did want to give a shout out to Home Depot for their awesome work with veterans of all kinds.

If you want to learn more about their story, you can go here:

https://corporate.homedepot.com/community/honoring-our-veterans

https://www.youtube.com/user/homedepot

Thanks to all who honor our veterans in meaningful ways.

Mister Mac

By the way, this is not a paid endorsement… just wanted to let some sun shine on a nice group of people

Still serving – More resources for veterans and their families 1

Once in a while, I get emails from people who have checked out the web site and found one of the pages meaningful. I recently got this email and wanted to share it with my readers.

Our veteran population is growing day by day and the issues and concerns they will have to face do not stop when they hang up their uniforms. We think of them sometimes but the problems they face are real and exist every day. Overcoming a long term health issue can be challenging when facing it alone so any additional resources mean making the difference between success and failure.

The Leansubmariner will continue to do its best to bring connections to people still fighting the country’s battles, even the ones they sometimes have to fight in silence.

Mister Mac

 

Hi,

I’m writing to thank you for the resources here you’ve put together to help those who serve. My father-in-law is a disabled vet and lung cancer survivor, and it has meant the world to be able to find resources to help him pay for everything he needs. You’re really doing a great service for people like him – I cannot thank you enough.

I’m happy to pass on some other pages we’ve found useful, in case you or your viewers might think so too:

Aging Vets – How to Plan Wisely for Your Future
Residential Leases and the Military – Your Rights
Resources for Vets & Families Living with Cancer
Military Veterans Resource Center
Assistive Tech for Veterans and Military
Guide to Military Moves
Behavioral Health for Veterans
Mental Health Needs of Vets & Families
Justice for Vets

Thanks,

Meagan C.

Something Meaningful 11

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Long time readers of my blog know that I have some very strong feelings about Veteran’s Day. As someone who served his country in times of war and peace, I am always humbled when another person recognizes me as a veteran and thanks me for my service. I have struggled for a long time with a quick response that would be meaningful and am gladdened to just have the ability to say “You are Welcome”.

I joined the Navy in 1972 and had every intention of serving someplace where the action was. Call it youthful ignorance, call it just plain naivety, or just call it a lack of understanding of the sacrifices many men and women actually endured. But I was convinced that I was supposed to serve and survive to a ripe old age. The service I actually did was  much less dramatic than I had imagined it would be. I became a submariner and served on five different boats with varying lengths of time in either a shipyard or at sea. While we sacrificed our time and endured some level of dangers, I am fully aware that the many years I spent under water paled in comparison to those who served in combat. I make a small joke from time to time about the aggressors we faced as being less personal; they were never actually aiming their weapons at me personally, just the sub in general (which makes it less intrusive I suppose).

My brothers and sisters who faced actual hostile fire knew combat as a much more personal affair. Someone with a gun was intentionally trying to kill them. Not very much about that is oblique or hard to imagine. The one with the better shot, advantage or opportunity was destined to be the victor. The combat was no longer about slogans or jingoes or flag waving. It was about survival. The men and women who found themselves locked in this kind of war more often thought about getting back alive or making sure they had their buddies six.

We as a nation, owe these people a lot. They were our hands and feet and placed themselves between us and people who want to do us harm. We will rely on their reliefs for a long time to come. The world is still a dangerous place and no amount of well wishing handwringing diplomacy has seemed to diminish that fact at all. Don’t get me wrong. I want the dreamers and the idealists to continue to try and find a way to bring peace to the world. I pray for them to do so. But I also pray that we will continue to have men and women willing to step up and do the things needed to protect all of us until that day comes.

For the restaurants and service companies who always line up to show their gratitude, I have a request. To all the restaurants that are offering me a free meal on Veteran’s Day, I want to sincerely thank you for your gesture. Its very nice of you to remember. I actually have plans that day. Here’s an idea though… maybe you can offer that free meal to one of my homeless brothers or sisters that really needs it. You don’t even have to wait until November 11, because I am sure they are pretty hungry tonight. While you are at it, can you have your corporate offices contact the White House and Congress and remind them they have a sacred obligation to care for the people who they sent off to fight the wars they engaged in? Imagine if everyone on that long list that always appears this time of year really did that for our brothers and sisters still trying to get all the way back home? God Bless You.

Special note: This is a personal request. I in no way would dishonor the men and women who really deserve the recognition like those who survived being shot at, bombed, gassed, taken prisoner, or depth charged. You are my heroes and you deserve so much more than a free meal once a year. But go ahead and enjoy the meal offered. God Bless you too.

To my country: It was and always will be my greatest honor and achievement that I was able to wear your uniform and provide one small contribution to your freedom. I would gladly do it again.

Mister Mac

submarine

Coming Home 5

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. (Robert Frost)

Can there be any better feeling than coming home after a journey?

It’s always exciting for me to travel around the world and in the past forty two years I have been blessed to see many places. I keep a journal of sorts and record each place I have visited or traveled through on my way to somewhere else. The journal is actually an old Atlas that my brother gave me a long time ago and in it you will find written the names of cities and destinations that I have been blessed to see. As of last count, there are over 700 places written in the book which includes all fifty states and a pretty good representation of the world’s go to places.

Atlas

I have flown in everything from a Boeing 707 to the newest Airbus jumbo jet. In my earlier days, I got to ride in a web sling seat on a C130, the C5 Cargo plane and just about everything with wings the Air Force had. My favorite ride was in a Navy COD off of number two catapult on the USS Nimitz near the coast of San Diego.

At the end of each trip though, I am always glad to reach American soil again. This feeling goes back a long ways. Forty years ago this month was one of the first times. I think that flight set the standard for the hundreds of trips that I have taken since then.

In the fall of ’73 before I left for my first run, my Grandparents came to Hawaii to see me. Grandpa Bob (whom I was named for) was always a larger than life kind of guy and Grandma Areba was a wonderful example of a compassionate lady. We spent a lot of their time going out to dinner and seeing the island.

Bob Hawaii 4 Bob Hawaii 6 Bob Hawaii 3 Bob Hawaii 2

I had been away from home for over a year at that point and was very homesick. Having them visit was a pretty good respite but truthfully, I was pretty nervous about my first patrol. I didn’t realize it at the time but it would be the last time I was the old Bob. I did not realize at the time that I was saying goodbye for the last time. I left on patrol shortly after the visit. The rest of this story is about the start of a long journey home.

Bob Hawaii 5

 

Returning from patrol

The USS George Washington had returned from patrol and conducted another intensive refit. The patrol had been exciting in a lot of ways. This patrol was chosen to do a test firing of four ballistic missiles and as one of the “hot runners” on board, I was given the opportunity to pick one of the missiles that would be fired. I had mess cranked most of the run and was finishing up my qual card when the Captain asked me to pull the numbers out of the ball cap. The test was very successful from what I remember and I finished my cranking duties just in time to join A gang in the refit turnover. Thankfully, I was used to not sleeping so the next ten days went by pretty quickly.

Coming back from patrol was like coming back to the world after having been locked in a cave. We had very little communications since family grams were the only way people could reach us. And of course, there was no such thing as email or the internet so telephones were the only way to reach half way around the world to say help to the family. Besides, you were so busy, who had time. The last few days before coming into port were sleepless too but for a different reason. Sine your world is put into limbo while you are on patrol, all of the unfinished business from before patrol came back to pay you a nightly visit.

In my case it was a fight with my Father that had gotten out of control. Plus I was hearing less and less from my fiancée even before the patrol and had received no family grams from her at all. When we arrived and the sacks of mail arrived, there were no letters either. As much as you try and put that into the back of your mind, it finds its way back to the front pretty quickly. But as I said, the work is pretty hard and you finally fall into a routine to push it all out of the way.

The day finally arrives and you do the turnover topside (in the rain of course… this is Guam after all). Down the hatch to retrieve your seabag, back up and over the brow to the Proteus. Down the long gangplank (hoping the OOD doesn’t notice that you haven’t had a haircut in a really long time). The waiting bus takes you and your shipmates to Anderson AFB where a civilian aircraft under contract is waiting to take you back over the seas on a long flight to Hawaii.

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We had purchased some duty free liquor which was not as well regulated back in the day and it wasn’t long before it worked its way into the crew’s hands. Later flights would not be like this one as the rules changed, but this one turned into a real party. At one point the stewardesses stopped coming to the back of the plane.

After the warm buzz of the booze wears the excitement down a bit, some slept and some just sat staring straight ahead. You can only imagine what was going on in some of their minds. Getting ready to see your newborn baby for the first time. Trying to figure out a way to explain to your wife how you lost $500 in the patrol long poker game. Wondering if your wife would even be at the airport after that horrible fight you had before you left. Or thinking about the girl back home and how good it would feel to finally hold her. So much to look forward to. And always that one creeping thought in the back of your mind… in less than seventy days, you would be heading back again.

What happened after that is for another story. The joys and disappointments of coming home from any journey are as many as the waves in the sea. While many return trips from patrols were traumatic, I can hardly imagine the trips home that my brothers and sisters in arms made as they returned home from their own personal “patrols”. I remember seeing the soldiers in the airports in the early seventies as they returned from South East Asia. They seemed to have a certain look that can only be described as “distant”. Most of those boys are in their sixties and seventies now. Since that time, more have joined them as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted for such a long time. Some came home physically, but many have just never made it back mentally.

So where is home?

They say that once you have seen Paris it’s hard to get the boys to stay down on the farm. What that really means is that war and service during periods of conflict change you. I truly believe that people who have never served can sympathize with returning vets but can never really understand the things they saw and went through. The reason so many men come back and become drifters and homeless is because they can’t find that home they once had. They often just don’t fit. I have had three men very close to me who chose to end their lives rather than continue the struggle to come all the way home. I have had others that led destructive lives that passively subtracted days and years from their lives in their own personal struggle. As the young men and women from the current struggles return, their numbers are increasing too.

Maybe that’s why I have done what I once thought was unthinkable. I have become my Dad. I have belonged to the American Legion for over thirty years and now am actively working with the local post. I recently joined the VFW which had also been one of Dad’s passions. USSVI Sub Vets, MOAA, and the Navy League all fill up the rest of my dance card.

It’s not because I like the hats all that much. It’s because these organizations are the best hope of making sure a fickle congress and an even more fickle public never forget that they have a contract with those who serve. Less than one percent of the population has carried the burden for their fellow citizens and that is burden which must be met with a sacred trust to protect them when they need it most. The VA has an unprecedented backlog of cases and can’t seem to fix the problems. Congress recently decided to try and pay some of the enormous debt it has on the backs of the very service members they promised they would protect. The organizations I have listed are the last thin line between honoring a promise and breaking faith with those who have given so much.

It’s time to come home.

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Find a group that knows who you are. Support that group with your service. Encourage others to come home too. We need you now more than ever.

Mister Mac

Coming Home

 

Our Homeless Days are Over 10

For my regular readers, I must apologize about the lack of new content recently. Work has been very busy and we have spent most of our free time doing all the chores needed to prove to the bank that we shouldn’t remain homeless. Considering how many of my brother and sister veterans remain homeless, I consider my self to be very blessed.

00110015     Sub Museum Pearl Harbor   006  Va Beach House 001

We have moved about twenty times in the past 32 years which is pretty incredible if you think about how many moves that truly is. I think the worst period was somewhere in the middle when we moved from Seattle to Hawaii to Scotland and on to Norfolk VA in less than 4 years.

Our new house is in the country with a rolling hill setting and a little pond in the corner. I suppose its not much compared to some, but for us it is a great chance to start over for hopefully the last time. Angus the dog has been for one visit and we are hoping he adjusts to the stairs.

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He had never even seen stairs in the inside of a house prior to where we are staying now so it came as a bit of a shock.

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Did I mention we are in the country?  During one of our early visits, we saw a ten point buck run across the lower end of the lot. A few days ago when I went to let the locksmith in the house I got there just in time to see the blue heron fly away from the pond. I also stopped at the nearby hardware store for a few of what I am sure will be many supplies and met the local security guy named Bob.

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 Bob is a brindle bulldog and very laid back. I think we are going to get along just fine.

Next door were a few bison and the male seemed somewhat upset that the other two were not stampeding. By the time I left, they were.

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Lots of work to do. The pool is closed for the winter and we are putting a new coat of paint and fresh carpets inside. But we are both excited about the possibilities. I will finally have enough wall space to put up all the plaques and pictures from all those years sailing the seven seas. We even have a zombie room which is a lot more fortified than I had hoped it would be.

One of the plaques will be from my days thirty years ago on the USS San Francisco (SSN 711). I am proud of all my boats but she will always have my best memories overall.

711 boat 010

Great crew, great ship. But as I read the news this morning, I saw she is in Korea helping monitor the crazy guy up in Pyongyang. God be with you guys as you sail in a ship that was built with dedicated hands. She has been maintained and repaired through many troubled times. I hope you don’t have to do anything other than just monitor. But I also know you will do your job with integrity and pride.

Me, I will be picking up some more supplies this weekend under Bob’s watchful eye. I’ll say a few prayers too. I am looking forward to country life and will not take kindly to anyone who screws that up.

Mister Mac

(There’s) Always something there to remind me… 1

“I walk along the city streets
You used to walk along with me,
And every step I take reminds me
Of just how we used to be.
Oh, how can I forget you, girl
When there is always something there to remind me
Always something there to remind me”

The Sunday after Easter is always one of the poorest attended Sunday’s in the year. Even ministers often take the weekend off and hand their pulpit over to someone who they are not afraid of making too much of a mess of things. Only the most faithful are there and they spend their afternoon chatting about how empty the place was.

For me, two of the loneliest days are the day after Memorial Day and the day after Veteran’s Day.

The parades are all over, the speeches have been tucked away for another year, and the warm embracing feelings of the community are checked off of the “things to do” list. Time to get back into the old routines and close the cabinet where we keep the banners, faded old pictures and what passes for compassion.

There are two groups of people who become invisible again on days like today.

The first set is the ever growing population of warriors who have found the transition back into the world a bit more difficult than others. You see them on off ramps near the interstate highways. They also show up on inner city streets and food kitchens. A few weeks ago I was coming back across the Ben Franklin from New Jersey into Philly. The roads and interchanges down there are maddening to say the least. Getting back to the turnpike forces you through a maze of traffic, all of whom need to be in some other lane.

That’s where I saw him.

He had a cardboard sign that simply said “Help me I’m Hungry … Iraq war vet”. He couldn’t have been more than 25 or 26. His face was sunken in, hair shaggy, olive green t-shirt and definitely looking like he had seen better days. I normally donate through the mail to agencies that are purpose filled and resource centered. That’s the excuse I use anyway. Anonymous means I don’t have to look at them too often.

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I rolled down the window and gave him a five. The light changed and he became invisible again as I drove off.

There are others too. Many have jobs but still have the nightmares. Some drink and some do drugs but have built up enough defenses that keep you from seeing them in pain. They see each other though. There is a look that is only shared between brothers (and more often now sisters).

Truly, there is always something there to remind them.

The second group that become invisible again after Memorial Day even have their own flag.

Once the ceremonies are over and the wreaths have been laid, the whole notion of POW/MIAs becomes wholly owned by activists and families who still have no answers about their loved ones. The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel (DPMO) is the focal point within DOD for conducting Prisoner of War Missing person reports.

From their web site: http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/vietnam/

“Immediately after the Paris Peace Accords were signed on January 27, 1973, Operation HOMECOMING returned the 590 POWs captured in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (two POWs from Vietnam and a Cold War POW were released from China). The MIA families and some government officials, however, expected a greater number of returnees, giving rise to concerns that POWs had been withheld. This gave rise to the urgency of the accounting mission. Although Article Eight of the Accord called for mutual assistance among the parties in accounting for the missing, in the immediate postwar period, continuing hostilities precluded access to many sites. After the POWs came home, the U.S. still listed some 2,646 Americans as unaccounted-for, with roughly equal numbers of those missing in action, or killed in action/body not recovered”

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There have been some success stories.

Air Force Colonel Robert M. Elliot of Springfield, Massachusetts

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On February 14, 1968, Elliot was flying his F-105D Thunderchief on a strike mission over Hanoi, North Vietnam, when he was hit by a surface-to-air missile. He radioed to the other pilots in the flight that he had been hit and they witnessed his crash. None of the other pilots saw any ejection attempt nor heard any emergency beeper signals, but one reported seeing a streaming (unopened) parachute at approximately 3,000 feet.

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/rmelliot.htm

Between 1968 and 1999, Elliot’s status was a subject of near misses, rumors, missed identifications and more rumors. His family had to have gone through some kind of hell while all the drama carried out. In the end, investigators were able to determine the real story and aided by his daughter, his remains were returned. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2000.

Yesterday the Commander in Chief placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It is a traditional role of the CinC to pay homage to our lost service members and remind us about the sacrifices made in freedoms name. I turned the sound down and within a few minutes had to switch over to another station.

I can almost hear some people saying in their minds right now, “Bob, what a partisan thing to say… can’t you leave the man alone on Memorial Day?”

Well, maybe I could have if I hadn’t read an article written by Adrian Cronauer in the American Legion magazine the night before. Adrian was an Air Force veteran and the man behind the famous character in the movie “Good Morning Vietnam”. Adrian also served as special Assistant to the Director of DPMO from September 2001 – March 2009.

In the June 2012 issue of the Legion Magazine, Adrian brings to light two things in his article “The Deepest Cut” that make Obama’s words and actions less than meaningful.

First, the Obama White House has nearly abandoned a commission established by President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin to help account for U.S. personnel who disappeared behind the Iron Curtain. Was that part of the behind the scenes agreements between Obama and his new friend Vladimir Putin (the former head of the KGB)?

In 2011, the Obama administration questioned the scope and budget for the DPMO group. Failing to achieve a budget (again) the deep and draconian cuts will directly impact the office and support structure needed to continue the work that has been done to restore our brothers in arms to their families. While this is just as much about Congress failing to act, it also lays directly at the White House’s feet.

Words are cheap. Actions speak volumes.

It is long past time for the “Leader” of the free world to stop campaigning long enough to actually solve some of the problems he said he was going to address. All the new found love for those of us who served in the Vietnam era seems kind of hollow once you know what’s going on in the background.

Seeing those homeless vets growing in number and knowing that most of our missing will remain missing for a much longer time makes it hard for me to forget that we have not done enough… there is always something there to remind me.

Mister Mac

Update for June 1 

Apparently Democratic Mayor Nutter from Philadelphia must read my blog.

The men who beg near the Franklin Parkway are being given notice that compassion is no longer welcome.

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/06/01/city-begins-enforcement-of-ban-on-outdoor-feeding-programs/