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Time for Some Summer Fun

Summer is here and usually that means going on vacation and spending some time with the family.  Make this summer a summer to remember by taking advantage of some of the great spots available to military members and their families for free all summer long.  Throughout the country, there are places you can go and attractions you can visit for free if you are active military personnel.  Below are some of the places you can visit and some useful links.

Check out the Blue Star Museum Initiative which allows active-duty military personnel and their families the opportunity to visit some fantastic museums for free.  Click on the state you are looking to vacation in to see if you can check out some of the local attractions for free (www.nea.gov/national/bluestarmuseums/index2013.php).  The attractions are free from now till Labor Day, so plan your trip accordingly.

If you live closer to Milwaukee, consider visiting The Milwaukee Art Museum (http://mam.org/visit/) which offers free admission to veterans and their families with a military i.d. 

Active military personnel are also eligible to receive a free annual pass to all U.S. National Parks.  More information on the pass can be found at www.store.usgs.gov/pass/military.html.

If none of those places are on your vacation list, perhaps a theme park is.  Many theme parks offer free admission to military personnel and their families on the 4th of July.  Some even include veterans as well.  Check out a list of participating theme parks at www.veteransunited.com/money/july-4th-military-discounts-and-deals/.

Want to catch a baseball game? The Chicago White Sox also offer free admission to active military personnel during select White Sox home games.  Details can be found at http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/cws/ballpark/cws_ballpark_guide_dir.jsp#m.  The Kane Co. Cougars are also hosting a Military Appreciation Night on July 6th where military members, veterans and their families will get in for free.  More information can be found here.

As Dr. Seuss said, “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”  Enjoy your summer and enjoy some of the sites and sounds of our nation as a small thank you for your service.

Quick Links and Resources

  • Here's an interesting article that gives some insight into the effects of war on our veterans and how it leads some to contemplate suicide.  Since this is a growing issue for our military and one that has been a hot topic within the past few months, I figured it would be worth sharing with all of you.  As a civilian with no military experience or background, I found it to be very illuminating and informative. Please pray for our military personnel and consider how you can serve those that have served our country.  Many of them are suffering with invisible wounds of war that they carry with them and you may have no idea about.  Thank them, listen to them and care for them.  Let them know how much you appreciate their sacrifice and honor them for serving for your freedoms and rights.
  • Here's a neat little story about what some veterans are doing this 9/11.  Many of the veterans attempting this climb are disabled and hoping this stories inspires other veterans to climb their own mountains (whether figuratively or physically).
  • Here's a good article regarding why you should hire veterans for your business and some of the unique qualities they bring to the table because of their military background. If you are a veteran this is worth reading because it gives you some ideas about how to sell yourself to prospective employers. If you are an employer, these are just some added benefits you receive when you hire a member of the United States Armed Forces.  We highly recommend that you do so.
  • Wondering if there is anything to watch on TV this weekend?  Why not turn on the tube and catch HLN's presentation on "Stories of Courage" hosted by Robin Meade.  This hour-long special will focus on some inspiring stories of our brave military men and women and can be seen on Saturday and Sunday at 1 P.M. (Central Time) on HLN.  Tune in and be inspired! For more on this presentation click here.
  • Our media rarely picks up a news story involving our military men and women that is positive, so when I came across this article by CNN, I was shocked.  It's a good article that not only details what an Iraqi veteran is doing to help those in need in Syria, but also gives some insight into the struggles and challenges many of our military members face when they return home from deployment. While the article is a bit political and by no means paints the military in a hugely positive light; it is a feel-good story involving a veteran.  Additionally, I was able to overlook the political leanings of the piece because I think the difficulties and struggles Peter goes through are not that much different than that of many other veterans. You can read the article here.
  • Wreaths Across America is an organization that does great work across the United States in making sure those that have died for our country are properly honored.  Last week, Wreaths Across of America distributed wreaths to cemeteries across the United States ending with a National Remembrance Ceremony at Arlington.  They also assist and support the sending of thank you letters to our brave men and women in uniform.  Truly a great organization!  Check them out at http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/
  • Here is a great article on what churches and organizations around the country are already doing to assist veterans who have come back from the front.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/vets-return-home-churches_n_1084982.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003  This article shows that anyone can be involved in assisting our veterans with the struggles and difficulties they face upon arrival home. MOGC provides training for individuals who would like to provide assistance to our men and women in uniform.  Learn more about how you can be a "military champion" by going to our website (http://militaryoutreachgreaterchicago.com/champions/)
  • As more and more veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan begin coming home the demand for jobs will continue to increase.  The Armed Forces wants to help vets find jobs and has partnered with various employers throughout the country to provide jobs for those returning home.  Thousands of jobs are available to vets here in the greater Chicago area and can be found at https://www.employerpartnership.org/ If you would like help finding a job here in Chicago or want to talk to someone who wants to help, please call or email Ken Marks who serves the Illinois area as a Program Support Manager.  Ken can be reached at (910) 574-5286 or by email at kendall.g.marks@usar.army.mil
  • Check out the link for more information on businesses that are involved in showing their gratitude towards those that are or have served. http://www.army.mil/article/6890 /Businesses_offer_free_meals__deals_on_Veterans_Day/
  • Veterans and active military members can enjoy a free meal at Applebees on Veterans Day.  Check it out at http://www.applebees.com/menu/vetsday Also check out the Thank You Movement at http://applebees.com/thankyoumovement
  • The Congressional Medal of Honor was recently bestowed on some World War II veterans who are finally getting their due.  Check out the story at  Veterans Get Medal of Honor
  • AER increases grants to injured Soldiers The Army has increased the Army Emergency Relief grant to help those that are injured in the line of duty.  Click on the link for more information about this much needed increase.

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