Old Glory

Friday, May 6, 2016

What It's All About... A Special Thank You Letter

Wings for Our Troops "in loving memory of CPL Chad S Wade" does not do what we do for accolades or showmanship, we do it to give back and say thank you to our service men and women while trying our best to honor our son that gave all. 

I'm not going to do the writing/speaking this time, I'm going to allow the Fulford family do the talking.  Thank you Nicole and Austin not only for your service and sacrifice each day for us, but for the kind words you spoke about Wings for Our Troops and for allowing us to share your story and pictures.  We truly appreciate you giving us this opportunity to assist your family.  It was our honor to do so.

Please take the time to read this thank you letter and if you know someone in active service that needs our assistance in getting home, please let them know about Wings for Our Troops "in loving memory of CPL Chad S Wade".

Thank You Letter From The Fulford Family

This letter has been almost a month in the making.

This organization, Wings for our Troops, is one that we will never forget. I don't know  how to thank you all for what you do, but I hope this letter finds every person involved in the organization, so they can know what kind of gratitude we have for what you do. This is our story and what you have helped bring to my family.

My husband Austin, has had a whirl wind spinning around him for the last 6 months, he really hasn't caught much of a break in terms of stress. Between moving with a wife who was 7 months pregnant, having his grandfather almost pass away just one month before our recent crises (the same week as the birth of our son), then the news that his father had been hospitalized...his prognosis was grim, the doctors didn't know if he would even make it through the night. 

I began to look for airline tickets, we had gone through the same process a month before this with his grandfather, as airlines tend to do the ticket prices had gone up exponentially.  Luckily his grandfather had shown signs of improvement, so we did not follow through with sending my husband home at that time. Knowing that his fathers condition was so severe the doctors couldn't even guarantee him making it another day, there was no hesitation to start the process of getting him to Georgia. Trying to purchase tickets to fly across the country, two days before you intend to fly, is the most financially terrifying experience.  I called my mother, who in the past has saved me quiet a bit of money when I would fly home to visit during my younger service years, and she didn't hesitate to start seeing what kind of discounts she could find. My husband and I had decided I would not make the trip with him because it would be impossible for us to afford it. That's when I got the call from my mother saying she had gotten in touch with an amazing woman within your group. Tami you are wonderful, it was such a pleasure to speak with you, I could tell this is a cause that you are passionate about, I hope you know you have touched our lives forever. 

Tami gave me all the information on what WFOT needed to submit our situation to your board, she was very diligent and it took no time to get an answer on whether or not WFOT would be able to help us. When she called to tell me we BOTH had tickets and would be flying the next morning so my husband could be with his father...I could not believe it. To top it off, I would be able to bring my 7 week old son with me, in hopes of his grandfather getting to meet him at least once. 

Thanks to WFOT my husband did get to see his father again. The reunion was overwhelming, even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. His father, lying on the hospital bed, with dozens of wires and tubes connecting to various machines and monitors crying out to his son as he walked into the room. Austin, in full paper protective gowns and bright blue rubber gloves, trying to console his now sobbing father who despite his condition and all the wires and tubes is now desperately trying to get out of the hospital bed to hug his son who he hasn't seen in almost three years.  My husband held his hand and put another on his shoulder, telling him it was alright and he was there, to not get out of the bed and everything was alright.  

Austin's father Tommy's condition started to improve dramatically, he had to stay in the quarantine area the entire time during Austin's visit, but each day he either maintained health or improved slightly. We are so please to bring the news that he is still improving slowly, and the doctors are optimistic that his health should keep improving. It will be a long road to full recovery, but with hard work and diligent care, it is possible he will make a full recovery. My son Henry and I were unable to visit with Tommy, due to the seriousness of the infection he had contracted. The doctors almost didn't let my husband in for fear he would bring it home to the baby, however with the proper personal protection precautions it was possible. Henry and I were able to visit with Henry's great grandfather and great grandmother while my husband spent his days at the hospital with his father.  Henry's great grandfather is 89 and just recently went through some very difficult health problems himself, we are so thankful to get the opportunity for Henry to meet him. His great grandmother is 91 years old and does an amazing job  caring for her husband.

I hope after reading this letter you were able to feel all the gratitude our family has for what you do. Thank you so much again, you've touched our lives and there are not enough ways to express how much we appreciate it. I am including a few photos of us from the trip, the video is of my husband and his father being reunited...we chose to share this very personal video with you because without you this would not have been possible. 

Most sincerely,

The Fulford Family

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Another one comes home

We were honored to bring another soldier home this week for pre-deployment leave. 

To say he had a easy breezy flight home would not be a true statement.  Without going into details, he and a buddy found themselves in a stressful situation that nearly caused this trip home not to happen, but in true military form and the relentless determination of a mom these young men made it home. (Plus a little paying it forward by the Pianalto family themselves) 

This one was a little bonus trip as this soldier returned home to Northwest Arkansas.  I have to say, that was pretty cool. I just wish I could have made it to the airport to help welcome him home myself. 

The pictures below show exactly what this is all about. Seeing these families reunited even if only for a short visit. 

Our thoughts and prayers will be with Infantry Specialist Pianalto and his family on his deployment as well as the rest of his unit. 
       Picture courtesy of Pianalto family
      Picture courtesy of Pianalto family

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sending another home

It is pure joy and honor that we were able to send LCPL Stonerock home to spend some much needed family time with a seriously ill grandfather. This story doesn't just have to do with sending him home for a visit. His grandfather has been his father figure most if not all of his life and he has been diagnosed with what is likely a terminal illness. He is 76 years old and believes he has lived a good long life, so extreme treatment is likely not an option for him (his choice). 
We were fortunate enough to be contacted by the USMC at Camp Pendelton FRO (Family Readiness Officer) to see if we could help this Marine and of course we were eager to help. 
His mother & grandfather were over the moon to get him home in time in the event things don't go as positively as they would like and it was our honor to do this for them.   His mom kept insisting she pay us back. No, I said. That's not what this is about. This is about thanking them for their service and making sure we give back even in the smallest of ways. 
This foundation was born out of the desire to show our gratitude and appreciation for our service men/women as well as the families that support them in their service and sacrifices for our country. This is the least we can do and it is our honor to do so. 
Now one of my favorite parts of this story outside of sending him home. I had requested a picture of her son and she said she would even send one with him and his grandfather. I thought, bonus. Well, when she asked her dad if she could take his picture and send it to us he said "not while I'm sitting in this chair" (he was in a wheelchair) so he insisted on standing even as weak as he was. I instinctively asked her if her father was a veteran by chance and she said, yes, he was in the Army. Ah, the fact that he would not be pictured in a wheelchair made perfect sense now.  We are honored to send any of our service men/women home but when we are making a 76 year old veteran happy at the same that's just icing on the cake. Thank you Stonerock family for your sacrifices to our country and for allowing us the honor of sending your son/grandson home. God bless your family as you travel this journey. 
   "Picture courtesy of Momma Stonerock" 

Monday, March 30, 2015

2015 Whitey's Chicken Cook

What a success!  We raised $2,070.00 selling chicken and if that isn't impressive enough, we did this on the Saturday that most everyone in our area was starting their Spring Break!  We had so many family and friends that showed up to help with everything from grilling the chicken to bagging and selling.  While it is always a ton of work it is also very fun and so fulfilling. 
The satisfying feeling you get isn't just with how much money you raise (for me anyway), but it's seeing people come together to raise money for others and in our case, our military men and women.  It doesn't get much better than that.  People put anything may have had on a Saturday after working all week to donate their time and efforts to raise money to send our troops home.  To sit back in my shoes and watch that on Saturday, March 21st was truly emotional for me.  I truly appreciate each and every person that volunteered to work the chicken cook regardless how much time you had to spend there.  I truly appreciate each person that purchased chicken or in many cases just gave money and asked for nothing in return.  I truly appreciate our local fire department in Rogers, AR that show up nearly every year and park their truck there with the American Flag flying from the ladder and if they are there and a child walks up, they stop and show the child the truck and talk to them.  It is so amazing to see. 

If you have never had the chance to join us, I encourage you to come out next year.  Even if you don't purchase a thing or even work, just to see that kind of community kindness come together will warm your heart.

To all of you that came out and worked, bought chicken, or t-shirts, or just donated money, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  You were inspirational in helping us send our troops home!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

WFOT Fundraiser - Whitey & his Crew's Chicken Cook

April 26, 2014 Rogers, AR Chicken Cook

Don't miss it!  First, don't miss a chance to support our troops and second, enjoy some delicious grilled chicken!

April 26th at the Whitey Chicken Pit on HWY 12 next to Harps and Garners, by the RR tracks in Rogers, AR.  Chicken comes off the grill around 10:30 to 11:30 am.  Come early as the chicken goes fast.  We will also have t-shirts and stickers for sales as supplies last. 

If you can't attend please spread the word.  We would like this year to be even bigger than last year. 

Wings for Our Troops "in loving memory of CPL Chad S Wade" was founded after our son was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan.  We were fortunate enough to get him home before he deployed for 11 days and it was the best 11 days of our lives.  We didn't know this would be the last time we would see our son alive so enjoying every minute like we did means more now than it did then.  We want to make sure all families and their military member has the same opportunity as we did.

Most do not realize that when these young men and women go home before and/or after deployments that the cost of this travel is out of their own pockets.  They make a very modest salary so as you can imagine, coming up with the money to purchase airline tickets can really hurt them financially or it causes them to be unable to visit home before or after.  We don't want finances to be the reason they do not go home to spend precious time with their families so that is why we exist.  We have also added family emergencies to our mission statement.  We have discovered that many of our enlisted service members are stationed a good distance from home.  In the event of a family emergency it is obviously sudden allowing them very little time to come up with the funds to pay for travel home.  That is where we come in.  We are honored to have so much support both financial and emotionally to allow us the opportunity to help any of these young men and women get home to their families. 

One thing I want to stress (mainly for our military service members), this is not a handout.  We are a non-profit foundation that would like to show our sincere appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our Arms Forces.  We are a grateful Nation and we want to do this for them to show them (in a small way) how grateful we really are.

If you know any enlisted service member that needs our help like this, please tell them about us.  Spread the word as much as you can and if you are in the area of Rogers, AR on April 26th we would love to have you stop by, purchase some chicken, t-shirts, or stickers and just see how CPL Chad Wade's buddies come together as well as the community to not only honor him, but to support and show thanks to our military! 

2/1 Marines Echo Company Afghanistan 2010

Sunday, March 16, 2014

AR Run for the Fallen 2014

What an honor to have been able to participate and see how these young men and women honor the Fallen Heroes of Arkansas.  Sadly they had to add extra miles this year so the run actually lasted from Friday morning until the afternoon on Sunday.  They would run typically from 6:30 am (around there) and run until around dinner time.  They would get up the next morning and do it all again.  They would have new runners every 6 miles to take over and give the first set of runners a break to rest up and re-hydrate.  They would run carrying flags for the military branches and the USA along with the Fallen Hero they are honoring at the next stop.

They would run and each mile marker they came to they would stop, read a short bio of the Fallen Hero, place the flag with the picture of the Fallen Hero and the bio on one side and a picture that a child from a local AR elementary or middle school drew on the back side in the ground where it will remain all year.  Once the flag is placed, the runners who are standing at attention the entire time of this stop, they would salute the Fallen Hero.  Each runner gave me a hug and shook Tebo's hand before continuing their run.

Something we learned while there on Friday is that these flags and pictures/bio cards are maintained all year where they remain.  If they happen to be in front of someones home, those home owners take care of and maintain these memorials throughout the year.  There are some spots that have multiple memorials at the same location and they are all maintained throughout the year.  That made me feel humbled and proud at the same time.  Americans are truly good people and they care about our military.  We saw evidence of this Friday and many other times as well.  It definitely makes you proud to call this country home.

This run started in Altus, AR and ended up at the AR State Capitol in Little Rock, AR. to complete a 140 mile run to honor all the Fallen Heroes of Arkansas.  It truly was a sight to behold and to say we were honored by this show of respect and remembrance is an understatement. 

The mission of the Arkansas Run for the Fallen is to raise awareness for the native Arkansans who fought and died supporting the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).  Their purpose is also to provide support, hope, and healing to families grieving the death of a loved one in military service regardless of relationship or circumstance of death.  They support organizations that enable the healing process for Arkansas residents whose lives have been affected by the GWOT.  I encourage you to check out their website at www.arkansasrunforthefallen.org to see all the work these folks do.  They will have photos from previous runs as well as the run they are doing this weekend.

Next year Tebo and I would like to be more involved and hopefully sponsor these runners and this effort as well as attend the ceremony in Little Rock. 

I have pictures we took on Friday at mile 10 at the Johnson County line where Chad's spot was in the link below through Snap Fish.  You can also go to YouTube and search under AR Run for the Fallen and you can see video of the stops along the way of some of these heroes they were honoring and I would imagine a video of the closing ceremony in Little Rock as well.  The video of them honoring one of the Fallen will give you a glimpse into what these runners do for each and every Fallen Hero in the state of AR.  It would be my hope that all states will begin to have runs like this to bring awareness and show honor to these Fallen Heroes and the support to their loved ones.  It is truly something you will never forget.

To view our pictures from Friday, March 14, 2014 just click on this link at http://www2.snapfish.com/snapfish/fe/l=en_US/p/Organizer/AlbumID=11764550007/s_c=0/s_mvm=MVM/s_se=FDR/s_pt=GFT,POS,PSP,REP,PMB,JWL,GEN,PL2,HMB,MMB,HRS,PO2,CAL,CR2,DMB,PRE,CBG,PC4,SLM/s_st=RegReqEu#state=%7B%22pl%22%3A%7B%22uc%22%3A2%2C%22aid%22%3A11765713007%2C%22vp%22%3A%22g%22%2C%22sb%22%3A5%7D%2C%22ovm%22%3A%7B%22v%22%3A%22s%22%7D%7D.

Thank you to all that make this run happen each year.

Who better to talk to you about PTSD than Veterans themselves

You might believe you have a handle on your PTSD, but do you really?  If you have been prescribed medication, are you taking like you are directed?  How are your relationships?  Not just with co-workers and friends, but more importantly, how are your relationships with your partner and family?  These are all very important questions that I don't ask lightly.  It is so important for you to take PTSD seriously and for your sake, the sake of your spouse, family, and especially your children or future children, you need to make sure you are doing all you can to get better and stay healthy.

In some of my research I came across this video as well as other links within the page that I feel is certainly worth watching and checking out.  Check out http://maketheconnection.net/conditions/ptsd?utm_source=adcenter&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=post%20traumatic%20stress%20disorder%20military&utm_content=ptsdveterans&utm_campaign=ptsd.  If you have been diagnosed with PTSD or know someone who has, you should watch this and listen to what these Veterans have to say.

Reaching out for help and seeking counseling is not a sign of weakness.  In fact, to me, it is a true sign of courage.  The only way you can get better and live a full and healthy life is to get better.  I know many of you believe you can do this on your own.  You may even tell yourself or others, "hey man, I've got this".  Do you?  Are you reaching your goals and living your life to your fullest potential?  Are you happy and do you have healthy, happy relationships with others?  If you are married, how is it?  If you are married and struggling with PTSD, it will impact your marriage.  Is your marriage to the person that you love, your soul mate, worth losing due to either pride or denial?  I hope and pray not.

PTSD is real, but it doesn't have to be the center of your life forever.  You can get help and manage it and one day you will realized that you have kicked PTSD's rear!  How great would that feel?  You can look in the mirror and tell yourself, this war and these terrorist did not win against me.  How amazing would that be?

Here is another link that is so worth checking out. http://www.ptsdresolution.org.  There are resources out there that are available, all you have to do is take that first step.

We have lost too many way too soon because of this disease.  I for one do not want to lose anymore or see relationships destroyed or homelessness and all the other sad and unfortunate situations that can come from not facing this disease head on and kicking it's butt.

The first step can be difficult, so how about reaching out to one of your brothers/sisters in arms and talk to them honestly about what you are going through.  If you are a Veteran that has someone reach out to you and share their struggles, take them seriously.  You may not have the answers, but you can always support them and encourage them to get the professional help they need.

If you are a Veteran that has struggled with PTSD and you are fighting/beating it, reach out to some of your brothers/sisters in arms and make sure they know you understand and you are there to listen and share your experience like the ones in the above attached video.

Please take a few minutes to not only watch the video, but check out the useful links connected to it and make that connection with other Veterans and most importantly, take that first step.

We are a grateful Nation and we want to see you not only excel in life, but thrive and get everything you certainly deserve and more.  You deserve it and there are many of us out here that want to see you achieve it!

You CAN do this, but you canNOT do this alone.  I know there are those out there that believe they can, but I am telling you that after all I've read and watched over the last 3+ years, you cannot do this alone.   Below are some images that I found when Googling PTSD images and families.  I believe these pictures paint a picture and for me, they are pictures of hope.  The more people are aware of PTSD and what it is and the impact it is having on our Veterans and the ones that love them, the better the chances are that more and more will get the help they need and live the life they deserve.  

Please do not be the next one we have to say good-bye to.  We are all tired of the good-byes, we would rather be saying, see you next time.  God bless each and every one of you and thank you from my family to you and yours.