There are many ways that you can Support The Troops. You can send care packages, help the families while the soldiers are deployed, volunteer, and then there's running...
Anyone who knows me, knows that I will do ANYTHING to help our troops! And they are probably the only people that can get me to run a 9K!
Yup, it's about 5.4 miles... And for a DJ at WAAF, that's a LOT!
I know I can do it, because I've done it before!!!
But, I need your help to meet my fundraising goals!
I'm running for "My Guys"... Who will you run for?
Get the feeling of crossing Home Plate at Fenway Park, and help the Home Base Program!
They do such amazing work with our troops!
The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program serves New England by identifying, motivating, and clinically treating wounded service members and veterans with combat stress and traumatic brain injury and their families. The Home Base Program serves the nation as a model for private-public collaborations as an educational resource about the invisible wounds of war that now effect an estimated 30 percent of those who served or are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. We are also working on the development of new treatments for post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
In New England, an estimated 50,000 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are affected by TBI and/or combat stress. These invisible wounds of war are complex, individualized and extraordinarily challenging for all those affected. Families of veterans affected by combat stress and/or traumatic brain injury often need support as they seek ways to better understand and support their loved veteran. Many veterans struggle with the stigma associated with these injuries and may be reluctant to seek care.
Many veterans struggle with the stigma associated with these injuries and may be reluctant to seek care. While anxiety and distress may not be as obvious as the physical wounds of war, the scars are just as painful and deep.
Through a range of activities and events, the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program informs and educates the community about combat stress and/or traumatic brain injury as we seek to mitigate the stigma and encourage veterans and their families to get the support and care they deserve.
Since the number of professionals specifically trained to diagnose and treat these injuries is inadequate to handle the growing demand, the Home Base Program also offers opportunities for health care professionals from across New England and beyond to increase their understanding of how to help veterans.
Most people are surprised to hear that I've been to Iraq & Afghanistan, but I don't shoot guns. I went shooting for the first time AFTER I got home from Iraq in 2006. Maybe I should have learned BEFORE I went to the Middle East! Well, today I decided to change all that!
I met a guy named Phil in Afghanistan and went on some missions with him and his guys.
(Phil is on the right in the picture below)
Phil recently introduced me to Matt Devito from Downrange Firearms Training. Matt said that no matter how inexperienced I was, if I took his class, I would be able to shoot! He was right. Today I headed to NH, and took a 4 hour, private class and I brought Andrew our video guy along to capture it all on HD video (just in case I did something stupid!).
Here I am with Matt and Phil. We made the biggest guy, hold the smallest gun! :)
The video is on the way, but until then... Check out some of the pictures and more importantly the firepower that I wrapped my hands around!
Here's what was on the menu!
Andrew our video guy, captures Matt explaining what to do and what NOT to do!
Let the shooting begin!
WWII M1 Garand
Trying to learn how to be a sniper, watch out evil pumpkins!
Thank you Matt, for a great class! Now that I've started shooting, I'm addicted!
I can't wait to take your next class!!!
(Note the S&W 500 in my hand. YES, I shot that too. Wait until you see the video!)
With the 11th anniversary of 9/11 upon us, it brings mixed emotions for me. Obviously, the sadness of that day is the first emotion that I feel. The vulnerability of being attacked on our own soil, was something that my generation had heard about but never experienced. We were truly afraid. Pride is the next emotion that comes to mind. I was proud of how we stood as a nation, and united in our grief, anger, and patriotism. I was also proud of our team here at WAAF, for switching gears on a moments notice and doing something none of us ever thought we would have to do... the news. We became a well oiled machine, and you allowed us to be part of a day that none of us will ever forget.
The flag we hung in the WAAF studio that morning, still hangs today. It's hard to go through a day, without looking at it, and remembering.
Five years later, I headed to Baghdad, to say Thank You to our local troops, who had volunteered to go after the people responsible for that terrible day. I got to see with my own eyes, just how brave and selfless our troops could be. I spent the day of 9/11/06 with the 181 Engineers at Camp Cropper, and the night at a USO concert featuring Drowning Pool. They asked me to introduce them on stage, and it was one of the most emotional things I have ever done in my life.
Five years later, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I headed to Kabul, Afghanistan to visit our local troops. They were still, after all of these years serving our country proudly, and deserved to know that we hadn't forgotten about them. Unlike Baghdad, where I moved around a lot, I stayed with the same guys for the entire trip and went out on missions to visit other bases and other units. You can't spend that much time with people, and not get close. I made lifelong friends there.
A year has gone by, and another somber anniversary is upon us. But, I also have some great memories of this date, and I am conflicted by them. Obviously, I still remember the victims, and their families. However, I can't help but smile, thinking about all of the amazing people that I have met during my trips overseas. So, I went back, and looked at all of the video that we shot in Afghanistan, and there was a lot of serious, and emotional stuff. But in 2 1/2 weeks, you are bound to have a little fun, no matter where you are.
Now that "My Guys" are all home safe and sound, here is a little anniversary gift. Some of our greatest hits... The laughter through the tears.
Labor Day Weekend 2012, I'll be spending it with friends and family, BBQing, skydiving, riding my motorcycle, and enjoying the last weekend of summer. A far cry from last year!
Labor Day Weekend 2011, I was leaving Logan airport early Saturday morning, heading to London, then Bahrain, and finally to Kabul, Afghanistan. It was my second trip overseas (Iraq 2006), and the first for my producer Mike. We spent months planning, training, passing medical tests, gathering gear, preparing our electronics, writing our wills, and mentally getting ready for the trip of a lifetime. We were headed in Kabul, through the commercial airport as 2 civilians, anxious to meet our military escorts, members of Hammer company 1-182 Infantry, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
When we landed, my luggage was missing, including my body armor. It was held up in London's strict baggage inspection. My first convoy was going to be free of any safety equipment, or so I thought. Within 2 minutes of meeting the guys that we would spend the next 2 weeks with, these strangers were all offering to give me their vests, and helmets so that I would be safe. I'm sure their families would have been proud and frightened at the gesture. I spent 45 minutes in the M-ATV hoping that we didn't get attacked because one of "my guys" was wearing no safety gear, and while it was their job to protect me, I could not have something like that on my conscience.
Our days were filled with a mixture of jokes, picture taking, ball busting, sweating, preparing for missions, going on missions, taking tours of facilities, more sweating, blogging, packing, unpacking, eating, sweating, and trying to do a radio show in 120* heat thousands of miles away from home.
Our nights were filled with much of the same. It was an emotional rollercoaster from the time you woke up, until the time you went to bed. BTW, with our schedule we were going to sleep at 0400 and waking up at 0600. No rest for the wicked!
Just like my trip to Iraq in 2006, my favorite times were spent hanging around with the guys. Sitting at the chow hall table, enjoying the US militaries fabulous food (my favorite was the red jello), or smoking cigars at a picnic table learning how to play cards. I made a few close friends in Baghdad on my first trip, so I knew that I would leave Afghanistan with a new group of brothers... I just had no idea how many!
During the trip, I was exhausted, sick with a terrible cough from the dry and badly polluted air, sore from the heavy gear and cramped quarters, scared, emotionally raw, slaphappy, overwhelmed, and strangely, I couldn't get enough of it. I loved every minute! I tired my best to sit down every day and blog about what life was like for me, and more importantly for our local heroes who were halfway through their year long deployment.
The 2 weeks went by in a blink, and before we knew it, it was time to come home. Once again, we had a very scary time at the airport. People always ask me what the scariest part of the trip was... That answer is easy. Any time that I wasn't surrounded by the military. In other words, Kabul International Airport, and in my private room to sleep. Troops weren't allowed inside the airport at all, and my room was a metal box, with no windows and only one door. Not a place to be during an explosion. I didn't sleep very well in there. I preferred the chair in the QRF shack (and so did Mike), surrounded by the noise of my guys! I would rather be on a convoy, at night with them, rather than in a quiet bed alone, sounds stupid I know. But, they made me feel safe and I knew that I was.
I cried the entire day getting ready to leave Afghanistan (I was told that I'm the only person that ever has), I cried during the convoy to the airport, and the entire flight from Kabul to Bahrain. Once in Bahrain, I drowned my sorrows in a long drink list courtesy of my new found brothers, and they watched me and Mike plow through it on Skype. It's amazing how drunk 2 Bostonians can get in an Irish pub, in the Bahrainian airport with a 3 page drink list from the Infantry! We sobered up halfway to London. Ouch!
Before we knew it, we were at Logan again. It was Sunday night in Boston, and we still smelled like Kabul. We missed our guys something awful, and spent the next the next 5 months packing care packages for them, chatting online with them, and making plans for their return. They were 5 long months, and we made a LOT of plans.
It seemed like forever, but early one morning, 5 months ago, I watched "My Guys" (as they had become known), walk off a plane, and smell the 'fresh' air of Boston for the first time in a year. I cried again.
The last 5 months have been spent getting to know them in a different way, out of their uniforms, calling them by their first names, meeting their families, attending their weddings, riding their motorcycles, playing with their kids, and watching them struggle to get back to "normal". I've talked them through divorces, and layoffs, buying and in some cases losing homes, drinking to celebrate, and drinking to forget. Crying from laughter, and from sadness and guilt. It took me a few weeks to get back to 'normal' after only being there for 2 weeks, but I am changed forever by the experience. Now imagine how it is for them? 5 months later, and they still have large pieces of themselves overseas. They look the same from the outside, but their insides are changed forever.
They have been bound together by a year at war, and even though I knew them for a short time during their deployment, I am bound to them forever as well. They are the best people I know. They are generous, selfless, brave, funny, loyal, truthful, blunt, crass, sensitive, and loving. I put my life in the hands of strangers, and it was returned to me in the hands of friends. I have been forever changed because I met them, and knowing that they are out there, protecting all of us, helps me sleep at night.
Happy Anniversary guys, I love you all more than you will ever know. Thank you for your service, your sacrifices, and your gift of friendship and love. I only hope that someday I can repay what you have given me.
Memorial Day weekend, is the unofficial start of summer... Many of us head to the backyard for a BBQ, or head North to the beach or to the Cape for the long weekend. But, we should not forget that this is a solemn weekend of remembrance. The sacrifices of our troops, the ultimate sacrifices, made by so many so that we can enjoy those BBQ's and beach days should be honored this weekend as well.
There are 300 Million people in the United States, and 1/2 of 1% serve in the armed forces. After 10 years of war, it amazes me that there are still people in this country that do not know someone who has deployed, but there are people like that. People who are lucky enough to watch the news and not be afraid, people who spend birthdays, and anniversary's with those that they love. People that go to bed every night, snuggled up to their soul mates without a care in the world. But the 1/2 of 1% of this country have missed those birthdays and anniversaries. They go to sleep alone, and their loved one's avoid the news, because it's too hard to think of the worst case scenario.
Fortunately for us, most of our brave service members come home at the end of a deployment. They come home different, but they come home. There are those, who do not. Those that have fallen, fighting for what they believe is right. THAT, is what Memorial Day is really about. Remembering them. It's the least that we can do. Remember the families that will never be whole again.
But, it's not just about this war, it's about all of them. Millions have died for those BBQ's and beach days... MILLIONS! And even if you don't know someone who has served and died in the last decade, I promise you that there is someone in your families past who did in another war, in another time. The 300 million of us, owe everything that we have to those brave, fallen warriors, who gave up everything for us.
This weekend 750,000 bikers will make their annual ride to Washington DC to pay tribute to our nations heroes for Rolling Thunder. But, you don't have to ride a motorcycle to our nations capitol do remember the fallen. Just remember!
This Memorial Day, I will be thinking of 2 of those brave soldiers...
PFC Jonathan Roberge who was the first KIA from my home town of Leominster since Vietnam.
and Sgt. Edward Grace who I had the privilege of meeting in Afghanistan.
Enjoy your weekend, just take a few minutes out of it to remember why we have Monday off!
This morning, I may as well have won the lottery. The last of My Guys were coming home from Afghanistan! I woke up at 2:15 this morning, to get ready to meet the plane at Logan. I was invited on a "Super Secret Squirrel" mission to surprise the guys before the Welcome Home ceremony in Melrose. Once the got off of the plane, they were bussed over to Terminal E for what I am sure was the best tasting Dunkin' coffee that they have ever had! The line was LONG, but well worth it!
At 6:30, it was time to get the buses on the road to reunite these guys with their families... FINALLY! With a State Police escort, the buses made it out of Logan, through the tolls and tunnel, and onto 93 North faster than anything I have ever seen! Traffic? What traffic!
The city of Melrose rolled out the red carpet for the 182. The fire department raised their ladders over Main street, and hoisted a HUGE flag for the buses to drive under. People came running out of their homes to wave at the returning heroes, and people waited patiently as the buses passed by, only honking their horns in support.
As we approached Memorial Hall, hundreds of loved ones lined the streets with banners and flags, screaming "Welcome Home and We Love You". The soldiers filed inside and got into formation so that they could be addressed by their Commander, LtCol Stewart.
After a brief greeting, and words of thanks from the command, they were released to their families. Kids ran to their Dad's. Wives and Mothers cried with happiness. Buddies hugged, and posed for photos and some soldiers even held their new babies for the first time. It was a very emotional scene. The room began to empty very quickly, as these battle tested soldiers could not wait another minute to complete the last leg of their journey home. A hot shower, a home cooked meal, and a good nap in their own beds were all on the itinerary.
It was an honor and a privilege to visit these men in Afghanistan, and it was just as much of an honor to meet their loved one's today. To put faces and names to the stories that I had heard over the many late night conversations in Kabul. These men are a testament to all that is good with America, and it's due to the amazing families that they all come from.
Thank you 182, for taking me in and protecting me while I was with you, and thank you to your families for the sacrifices that you have made during your soldiers absence. We all owe you a debt of gratitude... Something a simple "Thank You" does not feel like enough to repay.
Here are some videos from the local news crews of the scene... It was such an honor to be a part of this special day!
Take a look at Afghanistan from the air! I got to fly around the 'Ring of Steel' for about an hour, touring the bases, neighborhoods, and mountains that surround Kabul! Sometimes it's tough to figure out where you are because it looks like it could be anywhere... and other times, it can only be Afghanistan that you are looking at!
Thanks to the chopper pilots and the 26 MEB for setting this up for us!