Check out more happy reunion videos over at mental floss.
Today is Veterans Day to honor the men and women who have served this country, but have you stopped to consider who serves the soldiers if they go overseas and have no human family members to watch over animals in their absence?
Well, that's where NetPets's MilitaryPetsFOSTER Project comes in. The nonprofit has a huge database of foster homes in all 50 states as well as several foreign countries willing to house dogs, cats, fish, birds, horses, and more for up to 16 months. Acting as matchmakers, they help find a local party willing to take care of a beloved animal while the owner is stationed elsewhere. By using this service (or others), have you ever taken care of a military pet?
Yesterday Michelle Obama marked Women's History Month by visiting servicewomen at the Women's Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. She not only commended their service, but also their efforts to close the gender-equality gap.
Funny then that the empowering event ended by inviting the women to tea (what else do we drink?) and, I can only imagine, freshly baked scones (with seasonal fruit). Why so negative? I'm not. Amused? Yes. Annoyed? No.
It was, after all, nothing more than a friendly gesture. And a shout-out to Eleanor Roosevelt, who extended the same invite to servicewomen in World War II. Since no other first lady has invited servicewomen to the White House, the idea was met with cheers and laughter. Not surprising, considering a handful of women attending served in World War II.
To see pictures of the event, check out my slideshow.
As we saw in last weekend's Saddleback Forum, being able to compare and contrast what the candidates are saying is not only infinitely useful, it's pretty compelling. The occasion to whip out the measuring stick hit us again this week with McCain and Obama both addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.
Appropriate to the audience, Obama and McCain hit on Iraq and their plans as commander in chief.
Pundits have gone nuts parsing and analyzing the fact that Obama mentioned Biden (Veeeepstaaakes) in his address while hammering that McCain is focusing on the wrong fight — and that McCain leveled firm charges against Obama's national security credentials, pointing out his shifting positions on the surge and calling him out for voting against funding for the troops.
Despite all this, I can't help but be a rhetorical purist. What did they say, and how does it compare? Here's how they talked about success in Iraq.
Are you a purist? To see what they said and links to the full text of the speeches, read more
Eight members of Veterans for Freedom, a political action committee, are currently in Iraq on a taxpayer-funded mission. The group has ties to John McCain's campaign and has produced ads critical of Barack Obama.
On the "Back to Iraq" trip, these veterans of the Iraq War are returning to the streets they patrolled, but this time with the goal of observing and reporting progress that has been made, along with work still left to be finished. With the help of the US military, they have been embedded with the troops.
Skeptics say that the group, which backs any candidate that "supports victory," should not have the American public finance the trip — they argue that the purpose of the mission is to selectively gather "facts" supportive of John McCain's position on the war. Does this sound to you like a campaign tactic or valuable citizen reporting?
Not just because my own personal WW II vet will be 90 on Monday, I've been thinking about not only the people, but the history that's leaving us at a rate of over 1,000 a day. They're not Spring chickens anymore, and that's what makes these stories of WW II vets in the news so striking.
When a young man knocked on the door of WW II vet Art Iwasaki looking for school donations, Iwasaki had no idea he'd wind up 15 minutes later with a gun pointed to his face. The young man was back and demanding money. Iwasaki feigned deafness pointing to his hearing aids and told the kid to write it down. Stalling until he could shout to get his daughter's attention (who was upstairs working) the robber was caught off guard. While the robber's attention was on Iwasaki's daughter, Iwasaki picked up his bamboo cane and brandished it at the robber, pushing him out the door.
The bravery is nothing new for this vet: he served in the most decorated Army infantry group in US history.
Unfortunately those decorations can also be prime targets for thieves. To see how, and the powerful kindness of strangers, read more
One might assume those who'd fought for their country would be an important and respected voting population. One might also assume that the Department of Veterans Affairs would be in favor making that happen, much easier. One would be el wrongo.
Voting rights groups are ganging up on the Department of Veterans Affairs for its decision to ban voting registration drives among the veterans living at federally run nursing homes, shelters for the homeless and rehabilitation centers across the country.
Though the voting drives make it easier for veterans to have a say in the process, the VA is pulling the plug, citing the Hatch Act — which bans federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity. It's the "federally run" part of the facilities causing the VA to be ballot-shy. A spokesman for the VA says they, “wanted to ensure that our staff remains focused on caring for our veterans instead of having to determine the political agenda of each group that might try to enter our facilities.”
The president of the League of Women Voters counters, “it just seems wrong to the league that the VA is erecting barriers to voter registration for our nation’s veterans. They appear to be using technicalities to block many veterans from registering to vote.”
Both Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized the ban. More than 100,000 people live for at least a month in one of these facilities every year. That's a lot of potential votes from a population who should be heard. Is the VA right? Would voting drives disrupt care and create a partisan atmosphere?
In honor of Memorial Day, I wanted to share information about this heartwarming program with you! To assist the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Puppies Behind Bars has launched the Dog Tags plan to match disabled soldiers with specially trained Labrador Retrievers or Golden Retrievers to assist them in their daily lives, performing tasks ranging from opening the door to helping to pick up dropped items. These dogs not only are new life companions for the veterans, but the fully-trained service dogs would run each person around $30,000 if left to pay for it on their own.
In Colorado this weekend, hundreds of high school seniors turned their tassels and graduated — one of them had just been waiting for it longer than the others. Forty-two years longer, to be exact. Dennis Collins, now 60, walked across the stage on Saturday and collected the diploma that he'd sacrificed by heading off to Vietnam in 1966.
Collins says of his decision to go, “Vietnam was becoming a big issue. It was just kind of what you did. I was raised to believe you served your country and whenever you got out, you served your community.” He continues, “In Vietnam, you didn’t like it or not like it. It was something you did because it was something your country said to do. … It was my duty to do it, and I did it.” To see how Collins was able to graduate and more scenes from this Memorial Day, read more
The New York Times reported on research this weekend showing links between at least 121 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and violent crimes. Using reports from local newspapers, court records, and interviews, the Times uncovered case after case where military personnel returned from war showing symptoms of combat trauma and were later charged with murder.
An inquiry into homicides involving all active-duty military, as well as new veterans, in the six years surrounding the present wartime period showed an 89 percent increase in incidents to 349 instances, up from 184. About 75 percent of these cases involved Iraq- and Afghanistan-war veterans.
Brockton D. Hunter, a criminal-defense lawyer in Minneapolis, was quoted in the piece as saying,
To truly support our troops, we need to apply our lessons from history and newfound knowledge about PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) to help the most troubled of our returning veterans. To deny the frequent connection between combat trauma and subsequent criminal behavior is to deny one of the direct societal costs of war and to discard another generation of troubled heroes.
The Times piece is part of a special series entitled, War Torn.