UTICA, New York – Fans of country music superstar Brad Paisley brought more than their tickets, friends and sing-a-long voices with them to Paisley’s recent concert in Saratoga Springs; they also brought food and cash donations for Feed Our Vets (www.feedourvets.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating hunger among U.S. veterans and their families,
It was the second year in a row that award-winning singer/songwriter Paisley invited Feed Our Vets to set up its trailer during his sold-out concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The venue hosted a food collection contest as part of the event, with the winner earning front-row seats to the concert and a meet-and-greet with Paisley. John and Jill Bailey of Albany were the winners, bringing in a hefty 346 pounds of groceries. The concert netted a total of 900 pounds of food and $400 in donations for Feed Our Vets.
“You can’t get much greater attention than when someone like Brad Paisley puts you in the spotlight,” said Richard Synek, founder and Executive Director of Feed Our Vets. “Brad is a great friend to Feed Our Vets. He cares deeply about helping to ensure that our veterans have adequate food and shelter for themselves and their families, and we’re grateful to call him a partner in our effort to do that.”
Paisley commended Feed Our Vets for its tireless efforts to help struggling soldiers. “You’re doing wonderful things for our veterans. God bless you,” he told Synek.
Founded specifically to reduce hunger among American heroes, Feed Our Vets operates food pantries in Utica and Watertown, and a mobile pantry that distributes food to veterans in underserved rural communities in upstate New York. The organization also supports veterans nationwide to make sure that they have access to sufficient food for themselves and their families.
Nearly 3 million American soldiers and their families don’t have enough to eat each month. More than 100,000 veterans are homeless and hungry on any given night, and about 1.5 million American heroes are at risk of becoming homeless and hungry. Synek said the food collected at the concert would provide meals to many deserving New York veterans and their families.
Memorial Day is more than just a chance to fire up the grill — it’s a day created to honor men and women who have died in military service. It’s an opportunity for kids and families to take some time, whether it’s a few minutes or a full day, to recognize and thank veterans, troops, and their families. You can go to your town’s Memorial Day parade, send a heartfelt letter of thanks, or volunteer your time in honor of those who’ve served. Here are 10 ways for kids and families to recognize and help veterans, military families, and those who’ve lost loved ones this Memorial Day.
Write a thank-you letter to a veteran or current member of the armed forces, whether it’s your grandfather or someone you’ve never met. A Million Thanks makes it easy to send a letter to men and women in the military, and making a card is a fun, hands-on activity for kids of all ages.
Barbecue for the Troops
This year, the USO is encouraging people to host Barbecues for the Troops, backyard fundraising events to support the morale-boosting efforts of the USO. Find out how you can host your own at BBQforthetroops.org.
Support Injured Service Members and Their Families
In Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, over 48,000 service members have sustained physical injuries, with at least 400,000 more facing post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues. The Wounded Warrior Project provides everything from outdoor rehabilitation retreats to career connections.
Visit a Veteran’s Cemetery
One of the most traditional ways to recognize Memorial Day is to visit one of the VA’s National Cemeteries for Memorial Day Ceremony. (You can find a list here.) Others also honor the dead by placing flags and flowers on veterans’ graves.
Stand Downs are just one part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to provide services to homeless Veterans. Stand Downs are typically one to three day events providing services to homeless Veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as health care, housing, employment, and substance use treatment. Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies serving the homeless.
View printable PDF of Upcoming Stand Down events (PDF).
Below are the events currently planned for the rest of 2013:
|Date||# of Days||Location||Contact||Phone Number|
|May 21-22, 2013||2||Mansfield, OH||Barbara Karam||216-391-0264 ext. 2025|
|May 22, 2013||1||Huntington, WV||LeeAnne Bills||304-429-6755 ext. 4601|
|May 23, 2013||1||Missoulla, MT||Brian Becker||406-721-4918|
|June 7, 2013||1||Tampa, FL||Harry McCurdy||813-610-5879|
|June 8, 2013||1||Amarillo, TX||Michael T. Serpa||806-355-9703|
|June 13-14, 2013||2||Kalispell, ID||Sean O’Neil||918-734-0739|
|June 14, 2013||1||Tucson, AZ||Mark Jensen||520-792-1450 ext. 5559|
|June 14-15, 2013||2||Klamath Falls, OR||Tammi Deforrest||701-616-5368|
|June 15, 2013||1||Sand Point, ID||John Davis||509-462-2500 ext. 4001|
|June 15, 2013||1||Bozeman, MT||James Korth||406-582-9224|
|June 21-22, 2013||1||Chicago, IL||Jeanne Douglas||708-383-3225|
|June 27, 2013||1||Coer d’ Alene, ID||John Davis||509-462-2500 ext. 4001|
|June, 2013||1||Shawnee, OK||Mary Culley||405-456-3876|
|July 19, 2013||1||Dayton, OH||Omar Varise||937-268-6511 ext. 7589|
|July 19, 2013||1||Long Beach, CA||Charlie Lonon||562-826-5373|
|July 27, 2013||1||Atlanta, GA||Tammy James||404-321-6111 ext. 7436|
|July 27, 2013||1||Coer d’ Alene, ID||John Davis||509-462-2500 ext. 4001|
|August 6-7, 2013||2||Minneapolis, MN||Jonelle Glubke||612-313-3246|
|August 14, 2013||1||Vancouver, WA||Joseph Fettig||503-819-8055|
|August 16, 2013||1||Dayton, OH||Omar Varise||937-268-6511 ext. 7589|
|August 22, 2013||1||Memphis, TN||Ovul Ince||901-523-8990|
|August 22-24, 2013||3||Marysville, CA||Deborah Bruner||530-921-0765|
|August 23-24, 2013||2||Dorchester, MA||Rebecca Faherty||617-839-5307|
|August 24, 2013||1||Jacksonville, FL||D. Raul Patton||904-396-8755|
|August 2013||1||Browning, MT||Kathy Momberg||406-338-2111|
|September 1-3, 2013||3||Nashville, TN||Dan Helm||615-873-6037|
|September 6, 2013||1||Helena, MT||Terry Stephens||406-447-6045|
|September 10, 2013||1||Akron, OH||David Effron||330-724-7715|
|September 12, 2013||1||Asheville, NC||Allison Bond||828-298-7911 ext. 5506|
|September 12-15, 2013||3||Des Moines, IA||Kimberly Neal||515-699-5999 ext. 4036|
|September 13, 2013||1||Houston, TX||Jeri Gates||281-808-1175|
|September 14, 2013||1||Poplar, MT||Dan Hutchinson||406-653-6326|
|September 14, 2013||1||Hamilton, MT||Daniel Mayer||406-360-5435|
|September 14, 2013||1||Knoxville, TN||Joan LePage||423-926-1171 ext. 7910|
|September 19-21, 2013||2||Rock Island, IL||Sarah E. Oliver||309-786-1614|
|September 20, 2013||1||Dayton, OH||Edith Darden||937-268-6511 ext. 2463|
|September 20-22, 2013||3||Cumberland, RI||Bill Carr||401-273-7100 ext. 1673|
|September 21, 2013||1||Milwaukee, WI||Barbara Gilbert||414-342-2224|
|September 21-22, 2013||2||Colville, WA||John Davis||509-462-2500 ext. 4001|
|September 21-23, 2013||3||Compton, CA||Charlie Lonon||562-826-5373|
|September 24, 2013||1||Aberdeen, SD||Pat Moore||605-940-9852|
|September 26-27, 2013||2||Montgomery, AL||Tyrinda S. Caver||334-558-8602|
|September 26-28, 2013||3||Great Falls, MT||Rodger McConnell||406-799-6709|
|September 27, 2013||1||Alexandria, LA||Rena Powell||318-466-2773|
|September 27, 2013||1||Ft. Walton Beach, FL||Sally Eddins||850-217-0054|
|September 27, 2013||1||Salem, OR||Rosy Macias||503-362-9911|
|September 27-28, 2013||2||Wenatchee, WA||John Davis||509-462-2500 ext. 4001|
|September 27-29, 2013||3||Tustin, CA||Charlie Lonon||562-826-5373|
|September 28, 2013||1||West Palm Beach, FL||Maria Cabrea||561-422-8223|
|September 28, 2013||1||Latham, NY||Donna Vaughn||518-626-5150|
|October 4, 2013||1||Dover, DE||Elizabeth A. Byers-Jiron||302-349-4898|
|October 4, 2013||1||Springfield, MA||Luz Marcano||413-731-6000 ext. 6114|
|October 4-6, 2013||3||Ferndale, CA||Kermit Thobaben||707-822-1624|
|October 5-6, 2013||2||Libby, MT||John Davis||509-462-2500 ext. 4001|
|October 9-10, 2013||2||Detroit, MI||Linda Jones||313-576-3870|
|October 11, 2013||1||Mountain Home, TN||Joan LePage||423-926-1171 ext. 7910|
|October 12, 2013||1||Moses Lake, WA||John Davis||509-462-2500 ext. 4001|
|October 12-14, 2013||3||Nashville, TN||Dan Helm||615-873-6037|
|October 15, 2013||1||Columbus, OH||Carl Landry||614-257-5206|
|October 17, 2013||1||Mobile, AL||Kelly Estle||251-219-3971|
|October 17, 2013||1||Wausau, WI||Amanda Kalis||608-372-3971 ext. 66452|
|October 17, 2013||1||Lexington, KY||Elisha Kiefer||859-233-4511 ext. 3|
|October 19, 2013||1||Troutdale, OR||Jeremy Hov||360-696-4081 ext. 31274|
|October 19, 2013||1||Augusta, ME||Greg Skillman||207-623-8411 ext. 5408|
|October 19, 2013||1||Santa Maria, CA||Jorge Rodriguez||805-905-9476|
|October 25, 2013||1||Greenville, NC||Melinda Gates||252-830-2149 ext.3224|
|October 26, 2013||1||Yakima, WA||Ron Opsa||509-574-5200|
|October 26, 2013||1||Atlanta, GA||April M. Edwards||404-321-6111 ext. 2412|
|October, 2013||1||Oklahoma City, OK||Mary Culley||405-456-3876|
|October, 2013||1||Billings, MT||Meridith Cox||406-256-3322|
|November 1, 2013||1||Columbia, SC||Travis Thomas||803-776-4000 ext. 7695|
|November, 2013||1||Billings, MT||Meridith Cox||406-256-3322|
|TBD, 2013||1||Rapid City, SD||Clint Olive||605-890-2533|
|TBD, 2013||1||New Castle, WY||Clint Olive||605-890-2533|
|TBD, 2013||1||Lemmon, SD||Clint Olive||605-890-2533|
|TBD, 2013||1||Kyle, SD||Clint Olive||605-890-2533|
|TBD, 2013||1||Kennebec, SD||Clint Olive||605-890-2533|
UTICA, New York – Feed Our Vets (www.feedourvets.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating hunger among U.S. veterans and their families, received 4,250 pounds of donated food from the first Canstruction project ever held in Central New York. Canstruction is an international hunger campaign that holds building competitions around the globe as a way to restock community food banks.
The cans were donated by the community and fashioned into elaborate structures – such as a canal boat and a house
with a front porch – by teams from GPO Federal Credit Union, MetLife, Sodexo and Zion Lutheran Church. Each team had to use at least 500 cans, and each project had to be at least eight feet tall. The food was then given to Feed Our Vets for its food pantries, and also to the Greater Utica Community Food Resource, Inc.
“We were honored to be a recipient of this exciting charity event,” said Richard Synek, founder and Executive Director of Feed Our Vets. “Canstruction is a very successful campaign calling attention to the hunger needs in our country and meeting those needs in a very fun and creative way. We are grateful to the organizers and the teams that competed on our behalf, and for the platform Canstruction provided us to share the specific needs of U.S. veterans with the public.”
Nearly three million American soldiers and their families don’t have enough to eat each month. More than 100,000 veterans are homeless and hungry on any given night, and nearly 1.5 million are at risk of becoming homeless and hungry. Synek said the 4,250 pounds of food generated by the Canstruction competition would provide 3,000 meals to veterans and their families.
Founded specifically to reduce hunger among American heroes, Feed Our Vets operates food pantries in Utica and Watertown, and a mobile pantry that distributes food to veterans in underserved rural communities in upstate New York. The organization also partners with food pantries nationwide to make sure that veterans have access to sufficient food for themselves and their families, including offering pickup times designated just for veterans.
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a new hotline — 1-855-VA-WOMEN — to receive and respond to questions from Veterans, their families and caregivers about the many VA services and resources available to women Veterans. The service began accepting calls on April 23, 2013.
“Some women Veterans may not know about high-quality VA care and services available to them,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The hotline will allow us to field their questions and provide critical information about the latest enhancements in VA services.”
The hotline is staffed by knowledgeable VA employees who can provide information about benefits including health care services for women. Callers can be linked to information on claims, education or health care appointments as well as information about VA cemeteries and memorial benefits. Staff can answer urgent questions and provide referrals to homeless and mental health services as well as provide Vet Center information.
Women make up nearly 15 percent of today’s active duty military and 18 percent of National Guard and Reserve forces. The population of women Veterans using VA benefits including health care is growing rapidly. Since 2000, the number of women using VA health care more than doubled, from nearly 160,000 in 2000 to more than 354,000 in 2012. Based on the upward trend of women in all branches of service, the number of women Veterans—and female VA users—will keep climbing.
VA is committed to making improvements for the growing population of women Veterans, including the way it communicates with them. In 2010, VA established an outbound call center to contact women Veterans and encourage them to enroll in VA health care.
“In VA health care alone, women constitute only 6 percent of VA patients, but those Veterans have a high perception of the quality care they are receiving,” said Irene Trowell-Harris, director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans.
“Many women who served don’t self-identify as Veterans and therefore don’t think they qualify for VA benefits. We need to correct existing misinformation and misperceptions so we can serve more women Veterans with the benefits they’ve earned.”
Women Veterans are entitled to apply for the same benefits as their male counterparts, which include health care and pharmacy benefits as well as education benefits, disability compensation, home loans, employment assistance and more.
The hotline (1-855-VA-WOMEN) joins numerous other VA hotlines that provide critical information and assistance to Veterans, such as those for Veterans in crisis and in danger of becoming homeless. Veterans can also receive information and apply for benefits online at VA’s www.eBenefits.va.gov and manage their health care at MyHealtheVet.va.gov.