'Like' group's puppycam campaign, help a disabled vet get a therapy dog
The puppycam is part of Explore.org and DogBlessYou's efforts to help veterans who need therapy dogs.
July 16th, 2012
01:32 PM ET

'Like' group's puppycam campaign, help a disabled vet get a therapy dog

There's no shortage of puppycams on the Internet these days. Thousands of people spend hours watching Shiba Inus romp around and then fall asleep.

This is perhaps why a few groups are teaming up to try to turn the guilty pleasure of watching pups all day into a way to help disabled veterans.

Explore.org, in conjunction with DogBlessYou.org, has put up its own puppycam and says that for every 1,000 likes of the DogBlessYou Facebook, Pinterest and/or Tumblr pages, the group will donate a therapy dog to a disabled war veteran.

Watch the puppycam here or on Explore.org

"The mission of explore.org is to champion the selfless acts of others, to create a portal into the soul of humanity and to inspire life long learning. What is the easiest way to do this? Through dogs – they see our souls like no other," founder Charlie Annenberg says on the the DogBlessYou Facebook page. "That is why as we build Dog Bless You, I believe that its mission should be to champion the selfless acts of animals."

It's no secret that a big push for veterans has included enlisting man's best friend in hopes of helping heal some of the wounds of war. Like guide dogs for the blind, psychiatric service dogs aid people with mental illnesses, from anxiety disorder to bipolar disorder to PTSD. The dogs are trained to know when their owners are depressed or having a panic attack, for example, and the animals might calm them down by curling up in their lap or giving a nudge.

Check out the pups playing around and visit the links above if you want to like the group's efforts to help veterans. Do you know of a similar effort? Let us know in the comments.

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Filed under: Dogs • Military • Veterans
June 6th, 2012
09:03 AM ET

D-Day: Take a moment to remember

It was 68 years ago today that D-Day, one of the most decisive battles, marked the beginning of the end for World War II. On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops swept up the fortified beaches of Normandy, France, helping to defeat the Nazi regime in Europe.

But it was not without great loss. Nearly 10,000 troops were killed or wounded. It is the largest seaborne invasion in history.

The invasion's code name was Operation Overlord, commanded by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He wanted the troops to land in Normandy because it was west of where the German troops and artillery were gathered.

The invasion was initially planned for June 5, 1944, but rough seas forced a postponement. Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword were used as code names for the landing beaches.

D-Day itself is code, as well: D-Day and H-Hour stand for the secret time/day an operation is scheduled to begin. FULL POST

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Filed under: France • History • Military • U.S. • Veterans
May 28th, 2012
07:42 AM ET

Monday's live events

The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

11:00 am ET - Tomb of the Unknowns wreath-laying ceremony - On this Memorial Day, President Obama will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.  The president will then speak at a Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery around 11:20 am ET.

FULL POST


Filed under: Military • On CNN.com today • Veterans
Battleship USS Iowa begins journey down California coast
The USS Iowa makes its way under the Golden Gate Bridge at the start of its 400-mile journey to Los Angeles.
May 25th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Battleship USS Iowa begins journey down California coast

Decades after transporting President Franklin Roosevelt across the Atlantic and fending off kamikazes in the Pacific during World War II, the USS Iowa passed Saturday under the Golden Gate Bridge en route to its final home and duty as a living museum.

Fireboats shot water into the air to salute the battleship around 3 p.m. Saturday, as it was towed through San Francisco Bay and into the Pacific Ocean. Scores of people watched from nearby - some on ferries, others from onshore and on the iconic bridge - under blue skies dotted with puffs of clouds.

The USS Iowa fired nearly 12,000 rounds over its more than 50 years in service for the U.S. Navy before being decommissioned for a third and final time in 1990.

After more than a decade docked in the Port of Richmond near San Francisco, the ship is heading south to the Port of Los Angeles in the care of the Pacific Battleship Center, which plans to transform the ship into a museum by July, according to the nonprofit group's website.

FULL POST

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Filed under: California • Los Angeles • Military • San Francisco • U.S. Navy • Veterans
Last WWI veteran, a woman, dies at 110
Florence Green celebrates her 109th birthday in 2010. She died Saturday.
February 8th, 2012
10:38 AM ET

Last WWI veteran, a woman, dies at 110

The last known surviving veteran of World War I has died. Florence Green, 110, was a waitress in Britain's Royal Air Force.

"In a way, that the last veteran should be a lady and someone who served on the home front is something that reminds me that warfare is not confined to the trenches," Retired Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye told Time.

"It reminds us of the Great War, and all warfare since then has been something that involved everyone," Dye, director-general of the RAF Museum, told Time. "It's a collective experience. ... Sadly, whether you are in New York, in London, or in Kandahar, warfare touches all of our lives."

Green was 17 when she joined the Women's Royal Air Force in 1918, two months before the armistice, the BBC reported.

She recalled her wartime experiences in a 2008 interview, retold in Time.

"I met dozens of pilots and would go on dates," she said. "I had the opportunity to go up in one of the planes but I was scared of flying. I would work every hour God sent. But I had dozens of friends on the base and we had a great deal of fun in our spare time. In many ways, I had the time of my life."

Two weeks shy of her 111th birthday, Green died in her sleep Saturday night at a home care facility in King's Lynn, Norfolk, according to the BBC.

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Filed under: United Kingdom • Veterans
January 28th, 2012
04:17 PM ET

Flag-waving parade crowd in St. Louis honors veterans

Sunny skies, a large billowing U.S. flag and an appreciative crowd greeted hundreds of Iraq war veterans who marched Saturday in St. Louis in a first-of-its kind "welcome home" ceremony.

Some participants rode motorcycles, while others rode in military trucks or on floats.

Many more veterans walked, waving to thousands who lined downtown streets.

Even a local institution, Anheuser-Busch's Clydesdale horse team, took part in "Welcome Home the Heroes."

Grassroots organizers billed the parade and related activities as the first such event in a major U.S. city.

FULL STORY
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Gotta Watch: Santa like you’ve never seen him before
Santa feeds his reindeer.
December 13th, 2011
11:32 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Santa like you’ve never seen him before

We’ve all know Santa makes his list and checks it twice. But that’s not all he does. We’ve got an insider’s look at what Kris Kringle does to prepare for his big day. It may not all be what you expect.

Reindeer games – Santa’s reindeer need year-round care for their epic 24-hour journey on Christmas Eve. Now, you can check in on Dasher, Dancer and the rest 24 hours a day, seven days a week via webcam. Each day at 5 p.m. ET, Santa comes out to feed his reindeer and check his mailbox for letters from kids around the globe.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Gotta Watch • Holidays • Military • Veterans
Why many vets are struggling to get jobs
Some troops’ skills are great for civilian jobs, but licensing and jargon sometimes keep them from getting offers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says.
November 11th, 2011
01:29 PM ET

Why many vets are struggling to get jobs

They worked in some of the most adverse conditions in the world, often achieving their missions while under fire on the battlefield. But while the men and women of the U.S. military are highly trained in job skills and leadership, their experience doesn't always immediately translate into jobs in the civilian sector.

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum)


The unemployment rate among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is several points higher than the national average. The unemployment rate for veterans who left the military after 2001 was 12.1% last month, leaving about 240,000 veterans out of work, according to the White House. The national jobless rate is 9%, according the Department of Labor.

Fourteen percent of veterans who served in the National Guard or Reserve units are jobless, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business association.

And the rate is worse for all post-9/11 veterans under the age of 24, said Kevin Schmiegel, the chamber’s vice president of veterans’ employment programs. "Roughly one out of every four in that cohort is out of a job," he said.

Veterans’ unemployment rate is expected to rise as the U.S. troop drawdown in Iraq shifts into high gear virtually all of the 39,000 troops still in Iraq in October will be withdrawn by December 31. Also, about 100,000 National Guard members and reservists will be demobilized in the coming months. Most of those men and women will enter the civilian job market.

The U.S. House next week is expected to pass a bill already passed by the Senate that will give employers up to a $5,600 tax credit for hiring a veteran who has been unemployed for six months.

But the incentive may not be enough for many veterans to get a job.

FULL POST

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May 30th, 2011
07:48 AM ET

Monday's live video events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the bad weather targeting parts of the United States.

Today's programming highlights...

Ongoing coverage - Endeavour's final mission

10:55 am ET - Obama attends wreath-laying ceremony - President Obama marks Memorial Day by participating in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Elections • Florida • Military • Natural Disasters • New Hampshire • On CNN.com today • Politics • Shuttle • Space • U.S. • Veterans • Weather
Flags for fallen soldiers
May 28th, 2011
08:04 PM ET

As Memorial Day beckons, soldiers pay respect to war dead

As the nation prepared to celebrate Memorial Day by relaxing with family and friends, some U.S. soldiers partook in a far more somber ritual: Visiting the gravesites of fallen comrades.

Staff Sgt. Bradley Falls, an Afghanistan veteran, said he deemed it an honor to come to Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery and plant fresh, crisp flags in the burial plots of soldiers past.

“It’s especially an honor for us when you’ve been on the other side of it and now you can come here and you can bring honor to their final resting place,” Falls said.

“We all know somebody buried here personally,” he said as he leaned down and jabbed a small flag into the soil.

Sgt. Cherry Smith, an Iraq veteran, said she has a greater appreciation for the sacrifice of men and women in uniform.

“Now that I’ve actually served and came from Iraq, (I realize) they paid the way, so without them we wouldn’t be here,” she said.

But the stoic remembrances were not just left to service members. Civilians also have found ways to memorialize U.S. soldiers killed in combat.

Numerous cities around the nation planned Memorial Day observances to honor the U.S. armed forces.

High school student Ricky Gilleland, 17, runs a website that serves as a virtual database for soldiers killed in the line of duty.

Looking at his website, Preserveandhonor.com, Ricky said he is struck by how young the men and women were who have given their lives for their country.

“It’s sad because I come here and look at the birth dates and death dates and I think, ‘These are kids not much older than me,'" he said.

The site has received more than 1 million hits since its October launch.

Ricky said his intent is to provide families with a way, however small, to commune with their dead loved ones and appreciate their sacrifice.

“I hope that they can go on (the website) and feel a little bit of comfort in knowing that they’re not just a number of casualties, or anything like that, they’re actual people.”

Also, the nation's military leaders expressed admiration for soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and bases around the world.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates choked up recently when talking about the responsibility of sending Americans off to two wars.

"I've done my best to care for them as though they were my own sons and daughters," Gates said when he was at the White House last month. "They are the best America has to offer ... And I will miss them deeply."

"Virtually every day since taking this post, I've written condolence letters to the families of the fallen," Gates said in a videotaped Memorial Day message. "I will always keep all of you in my heart and in my prayers as long as I live - as should all Americans."

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, recalled the loss of his buddies while he served in Vietnam.

He said his Memorial Day will be spent at home in El Paso, Texas, visiting the Fort Bliss National Cemetery and the grave of his father-in-law, who served in World War II and Korea.

"The experience of Vietnam, at least for me, is not just reserved for Memorial Day," Reyes said from his Washington office. "I think back to the buddies I lost in Vietnam."

"War is not like it is in the movies ... there is no music. There is constant fear, body parts, death."

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Filed under: Medal of Honor • Military • Veterans
Judge blocks VA from barring 'Jesus Christ' from Memorial Day prayer
More than 6,000 people are expected to attend a Memorial Day ceremony at Houston National Cemetery.
May 27th, 2011
11:55 AM ET

Judge blocks VA from barring 'Jesus Christ' from Memorial Day prayer

A federal judge in Texas has told the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that it cannot censor a pastor's invocation at a Memorial Day ceremony.

The VA had ordered the Rev. Scott Rainey to remove a phrase using Jesus Christ from the prayer, arguing the line excluded other beliefs held by veterans, KHOU-TV in Houston reported.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes disagreed, writing the government cannot "gag citizens when it says it is in the interest of national security, and it cannot do it in some bureaucrat's notion of cultural homogeneity," according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Courts • Judge • Justice • Lawsuit • Military • Texas • Veterans
Gotta Watch: Dogs of war
Jacko is honored for his military service.
May 6th, 2011
11:43 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Dogs of war

The recent mission to capture and kill Osama bin Laden has only underscored the need for military canine units. It was recently revealed that part of the SEAL team included a dog , who was choppered in to help identify possible threats to his team. These videos highlight stories of heroic military dogs during times of peace and war.

Deployed canines honored - A dog who survives six IED explosions surely deserves a war monument. Jacko is just one of many dogs to be honored at the F. Walton working dog memorial.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Dogs • Gotta Watch • Military • TV-American Morning • Uncategorized • Veterans
Gotta Watch: Jessica Lynch then and now
Private Jessica Lynch is rescued by fellow soldiers April 1, 2003 at a hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq.
April 1st, 2011
11:27 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Jessica Lynch then and now

A terrified but brave young soldier was rescued by her fellow soldiers in an Iraqi hospital eight years ago today. You may remember Private Jessica Lynch's story as the first successful rescue of a female prisoner of war. We've put together some video that tells her story and where she is now.

Daring nighttime rescue - Video leaked several years after her rescue shows the moment when U.S. military came to her aide after being held in a hospital for nine days.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Iraq • Military • Veterans
Gotta watch: 'The Wall', remembering Geraldine Ferraro, Heaven's gate suicides
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial holds the names of 58,267 men and women who were killed or remain missing in action.
March 26th, 2011
02:55 PM ET

Gotta watch: 'The Wall', remembering Geraldine Ferraro, Heaven's gate suicides

1982: Groundbreaking at Vietnam Memorial – On March 27th 1982 a group of 125 veterans gathered between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument to break ground at the future site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs spearheaded the movement to lobby congress and raise money through private funds to build the memorial. The black granite wall holds the names of 58,267 men and women who were killed or remain missing in action.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Democratic Party • Gotta Watch • Military • New York • Obituary • Politics • Uncategorized • Veterans • Vietnam • War
Wednesday's intriguing people
Bob Barker was a Navy fighter pilot in World War II.
March 9th, 2011
11:39 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Bob Barker

The former host of "The Price is Right" and World War II veteran is donating $2 million to the Semper Fi Fund, which provides assistance to U.S. military veterans and their families.

Barker "is hoping that his donation and support for our young Veterans will inspire others to give and commit to making sure that not one young Marine, sailor, airman and soldier or their family members are in need during their long-term recoveries," the organization said in a statement.

Two years ago, the former Navy pilot donated $3 million to help the Defense Department build a center to treat brain injuries in military personnel.

He's also known for his support of animal-rights causes and used to sign off "The Price is Right" with the line, "Don't forget to have your pets spayed or neutered."

FULL POST

The last doughboy passes
Frank Buckles, the last U.S. World War I veteran, died in his home of natural causes early Sunday morning.
February 28th, 2011
02:00 AM ET

The last doughboy passes

CNN Senior National Editor Dave Schechter has written extensively about World War I veterans. He filed this blog post after learning of the death of the war's last U.S. veteran:

I never met Frank Buckles, the last American veteran of World War I, who died at 110-years-old in his sleep early Sunday at his farm in West Virginia.

Nonetheless, I feel a loss because over the past 20-plus years I was drawn into a small community of people who kept track of the dwindling numbers of American veterans of “The War To End All Wars.”

My professional interest began many years ago when my wife, then a producer at CNN, worked on a project about centenarians and brought home the newspaper of an organization for World War I veterans and their families. On the personal side, my mother’s father trained as a pilot at Kelly Field in Texas but never deployed, while my father’s father served in the American Expeditionary Force in Europe, likely inhaled poison gas and served as the allied military’s legal authority in a sector of Germany (an experience he wrote about for The Sunday New York Times Magazine).

Among those most keenly devoted to the surviving doughboys has been David DeJonge, a portrait photographer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who devoted countless hours to photographing World War I veterans and bringing attention to their stories. In recent years, DeJonge accompanied Buckles to the White House, the Pentagon, the Capitol and a small, tree-shrouded memorial to the World War I troops from the District of Columbia on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Others with this particular bent have included a now-retired employee of the Veterans Administration, who patiently answered my questions when it came time for my annual note on the numbers of living veterans from America’s wars; the woman who worked for another federal agency full-time but who, on her own time, ran that organization for WWI veterans until their ranks were reduced to only a few dozen; and the radio producer from Texas, who recorded interviews with several of the last survivors for a public radio special narrated by Walter Cronkite.

DeJonge is among those publicly advocating creation on the National Mall of a national memorial to World War I. Just last week in West Virginia, he announced creation of the National World War I Legacy Project, which will  include a documentary DeJonge is producing about Buckles titled “Pershing’s Last Patriot.”  Buckles, who enlisted at 16 and saw duty in England, France and Germany, took this cause seriously, wanting recognition not for himself but for all of those who served in that conflict.

I have written before that if we honor those who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam on the National Mall, then similar recognition is due those of the 20th century’s first major war.

After years of decay, at long last the existing monument to the World War I troops from the District of Columbia is being cleaned up. To create a national monument, I’d like to see it expanded, perhaps with figures of soldiers peering over a trench, bayonets fixed and gas masks at the ready, ready to charge over the top.

Unfortunately, Frank Buckles did not live long enough, not even nine decades after the war ended, to see honor properly paid to his comrades. Now that he has passed, let that honor be paid in memory of this patriot.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: History • Military • Veterans • War
Last living U.S. WWI veteran dies
Frank Buckles is seen on his 109th birthday in February 2010, in his home in Charles Town, West Virginia.
February 27th, 2011
11:03 PM ET

Last living U.S. WWI veteran dies

Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. World War I veteran, has died, a
spokesman for his family said Sunday. He was 110.

Buckles "died peacefully in his home of natural causes" early Sunday morning, the family said in a statement sent to CNN late Sunday by spokesman David DeJonge.

Buckles marked his 110th birthday on February 1, but his family had
earlier told CNN he had slowed considerably since last fall, according his
daughter Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who lives at the family home near Charles Town, West Virginia.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Military • Veterans
Arlington refuses burial of U.S. ally from Vietnam War
Members of the Hmong community attend the funeral of Hmong war hero and community leader General Vang Pao on Friday.
February 4th, 2011
10:53 PM ET

Arlington refuses burial of U.S. ally from Vietnam War

The family of a man who fought alongside U.S. troops in Vietnam have been told their relative will not be allowed to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Major General Vang Pao led thousands of Hmong soldiers as they fought alongside the United States against the North Vietnamese Army during the war in Southeast Asia, according to a news release from Congressman Jim Costa of
California.

Costa, on behalf of Pao's family, asked the Army to grant an exception to Arlington's rules to allow Pao to be buried in the nation's most hallowed burial ground.

Pao died recently of complications from pneumonia, according to Costa.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Laos • Military • Veterans • War
Study: Vets face greater risk of mental health issues during pregnancy
December 22nd, 2010
06:39 PM ET

Study: Vets face greater risk of mental health issues during pregnancy

Women war veterans who became pregnant after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan were twice as likely as other female vets to experience mental health problems, according to a study published this week in the "Journal of Women's Health."

The study, "Pregnancy and Mental Health Among Women Veterans Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan," aimed to  determine the prevalence of mental health problems among veterans who received pregnancy-related care in the Veterans Health Administration system.

A review of more than 43,000 women who completed their service between 2001 and 2008 found that pregnant veterans were twice as likely as those without pregnancy to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Overall, 32% of women pregnant veterans received one or more distinct mental health diagnosis, compared with 21% of women veterans without a pregnancy-related condition.

If untreated, such mental health issues during pregnancy could result in preterm delivery, low birth-weight or impaired cognitive and emotional development, the study said.

"Like the men, many women returning from military service may experience mental health problems, but the juxtaposition of pregnancy and mental health-related issues is of special concern because pregnancy itself can precipitate or exacerbate mental health conditions," the study's authors wrote.

But because women do not receive pregnancy care through the Veterans Health Administration, little is known about pregnancy outcomes or how the women cope with their mental health issues during pregnancy.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Health • Health Care • Military • Veterans
November 23rd, 2010
12:21 PM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Rep. Frederica Wilson

The Florida Democrat hasn’t even taken office, but she is already gearing up for a fight over an age-old U.S. House rule.

Wilson is a connoisseur of hats, especially sequined cowboy ones, and she doesn’t take kindly to being told that the House doesn’t cotton to its members rocking Stetsons in its chamber.

“It's sexist,” Wilson told The Miami Herald. “It dates back to when men wore hats, and we know that men don't wear hats indoors, but women wear hats indoors. Hats are what I wear. People get excited when they see the hats. Once you get accustomed to it, it's just me. Some people wear wigs or high heel shoes or big earrings or pins. This is just me.”

Wilson had to take off her hat for her official congressional picture, a ruling she said she plans to appeal.

The odds are against the flamboyant freshman, according to PolitiFact. The hat ban has been in place since 1837, and was upheld during the 1970s when Rep. Bella Abzug pushed to sport her trademark broad-rimmed hats.

It will likely take a full House vote to overturn the rule, PolitiFact reported.

But Wilson does not seem deterred. Though she recently said she doesn’t know how many hats she owns, she told the Tampa Bay Times last year that she owns about 300, some of which are custom-dyed to match her suits.

Though it would be unreasonable to expect a photo gallery of all the hats, which take up an entire room in her house, the Miami New Times is showcasing 25 of its favorites.

FULL POST

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