WWII Veteran Celebrates Epic 99th Birthday

Joe Lavinger from Bethlehem, PA was born on Wednesday, July 18th, 1923.  Some of the things that were happening at that time changed our lives forever. Read more

If I Can Dream

I believe we all have dreams…certain things that we want in life, maybe, for ourselves or for someone else.  How many of us wish that they had a MILLION dollars? That would solve everything, right? Wrong!

Many come into riches only to blow it away, often accompanied by despair, heartache, and worse.  Choices in life have consequences, and our lives are determined by our choices.  However, it isn’t that simple, sometimes the choices we make are under duress or influences outside of our understanding.

I experienced the homeless plight, firsthand, while visiting San Francisco many years ago.  That visit changed my life.  What stunned me was many were veterans!  It was unthinkable that our Nation’s Heroes were left to rot by the trolley tracks. The more I looked, the more I saw; homelessness was and is a big problem.  I called the mayor and wanted to ask how that this could happen? No resources, I was told, to devote to that problem.  The only action that was explained to me was that the city kept track on how they were found deceased!

That moment in time for me – the realization that horror was going on in plain sit, made me feel helpless.  So, I decided to do something about, is to create and start a charity that worked with veterans to keep them from becoming homeless or help them out of their homeless status.  Starting up a charity is a time consuming and lifelong endeavor.  I know, for I have 28 years of my life involved in this MISSION and I am grateful.

As we built our base and made connections, we learned how to help.  Veterans’ Outreach has helped veterans tens of thousands of times with financial assistance, food boxes, free apparel and household goods, and lots of TLC.  Yet, we see veterans that have issues with transitioning to civilian life and end up in trouble, trouble that could destroy the rest of their lives.  That bothered me, I wanted to do more.

When I least expected it, the LORD shined a “beacon of hope”, out of the great state of Kentucky.  A volunteer named Roger donated 110.5 acres of APPALACHIA that had been in his family for 100 years.

He asked me if I thought that I could use it to help veterans. I mulled over the possibilities for the best ways to help these hapless warriors.  Well, my dream was to help rid the nation of its homeless veterans, especially.  Giving their lives back was the mission.

My idea was to build a retreat where they could together and live for 6 months and work towards a deserved future.  Work the land and reconnect to nature, clear away the past through various therapies, build for the future with training that suits their skills.  Not just to have them expire in a cubical with the bare necessities of life, but to give them a way to share the American Dream, that they risked their lives for.  That is my DREAM.   The AMERICAN DREAM doesn’t have to be out of reach for them or be dead to them, with this MISSION.

Spiritually, Emotionally, Strengthening, Knowledge, Job Security, and Social Developments are all part of what we need, and should have, to navigate the elements of a successful life. I call it, “Heroes’ Passage, A Retreat for Veterans”.  You can read more about this project on our website veteransoutreach.org

Below are the lyrics to a song that I find inspirational, and I believe will be the theme song for this project which could be the “Beacon of Hope” for many of our veterans.

If you’ve never heard this song, check it out.

“If I Can Dream” by Elvis Presley

There must be lights burning brighter somewhere.

Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue.

If I can dream of a better land

Where all my brothers walk hand in hand

Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true?

 

There must be peace and understanding… sometime.

Strong winds of promise that will blow away

All the doubt and fear.

If I can dream of a warmer sun

Where hope keeps shining on everyone

Tell me why, oh why, oh why won’t that sun appear?

 

We’re lost in a cloud

With too much rain.

We’re trapped in a world

That’s troubled with pain.

But as long as a man

Has the strength to dream

He can redeem his soul and fly!

 

Deep in my heart there’s a trembling… question,

Still I am sure that the answer’s gonna come somehow.

Out there in the dark, there’s a beckoning candle,

And while I can think, while I can talk,

While I can stand, while I can walk,

While I can dream, please let my dream

Come true, right now.

Let it come true right now.

If you would like to help with this project, donations….100% of goes to this project. If you have a talent that you feel that you can help with? Please contact us. We thank you for your interests in making this dream for all veterans come true.

www.veteransoutreach.org

[email protected]

330-755-5792 (office)

330-398-2904 (cell)

Robert Wheeler outside of Veteran's Outreach Alabama.

We Mourn the Passing of the Co-Founder of Alabama Veterans’ Outreach

Robert William Wheeler

( January 09, 1937 – June 10, 2022 )

Robert W Wheeler of Hartselle passed on June 10th at his home. He was a US Navy Veteran and the Regional Manager of Veterans Outreach of Alabama. He is survived by his wife Carol Wheeler. Graveside service will be on June 19th at 2PM at Hartselle Memory Gardens.  Hartselle Heritage Funeral Home is assisting the family

I knew Bob for 20 years and have been deeply blessed through that relationship.  He joined Veterans’ Outreach mission back in 2002, pretty much after he retired.  Bob was a Navy veteran and served during the Bay of Pigs operations.  I know very little about his personal life before Veterans’ Outreach.  He didn’t like to talk about himself.   He was smart, savvy, charismatic, funny, kind, and gentle.  He made a mark on this world, and he will be remembered.

He passed away at his home with his loving wife Carol caring for him to the end.  As fate would have it, he passed in the same week that the Hartselle Veterans’ Outreach Office building was dedicated to him as a Tribute, now called THE WHEELER BUILDING.   The building is now known as the The Wheeler building.  Bob wasn’t able to see his name on the building with his eyes, but his heart was deeply touched in his last hours of this life.  

It was his passion and expertise that went into Alabama and created a resource for veterans that will live on and continue to stand ready to assist veterans in need.  Bob retired from Veterans’ Outreach in January of 2022.  Carol, his wife, has stepped in place for her husband as the Manager.  

The following tribute was published in February, and we’d like to honor him again.

Bob Wheeler, Veterans’ Outreach’s Regional Manager of Alabama, has been a great friend and advocate for veterans in the state of Alabama.  He truly has been a “beacon of hope” for thousands of veterans in their time of need.

He started with the mission out of Columbus, Ohio in 2002 when he retired from a management career.  Columbus, Ohio is his birthplace, January 9th in 1937.  When he and his wife, Carol, decided to move closer to family in Alabama, he offered to develop the state by opening a full-service office to offer assistance to veterans.

Bob has been passionate and worked tirelessly to help veterans in need.  He found a good location in Decatur for our first office in Alabama and wasted no time in getting the mission in operation.  His wife, Carol, came on board to manage the office.  Carol had been very quiet in early meetings with Veterans’ Outreach, but after she got involved, she has become the heartbeat of that office.   She has even visited homeless veterans living under bridges in an effort to lend a helping hand.

After a few years of getting established, Bob said that he was tired of paying rent and was going to find a building to purchase for the permanent home of Veterans’ Outreach in Alabama.  Bob has proven himself to Veterans’ Outreach many times and this wasn’t any different.  He found a great location with a couple of acres in Hartselle Alabama.

While Bob was at home one evening, he suffered a bad heart attack.  He had to have a quadruple by-pass.  Before the operation, John Ely visited him from the corporate office.   John was pleased that Bob was in good spirits and anxious to get “fixed up” and get back to work. John could tell that Bob was on some strong relaxers for he was strangely laughing out loud at silly things!

So, he took the opportunity to ask Bob a question that he had asked several times before and Bob’s answer was always “If I tell ya’, I will have to kill ya’!”   With the passage of time, even military operations get declassified, and John took the chance during that hospital visit to ask him that question again.

“Well Bob, I can’t remember what you did while you were in the military?” Bob looked up at the ceiling and said that he was in the Navy, on the USS Sampson, in the Intelligence Division.  Have you heard of the “Bay of Pigs?”  He said that he figured it was all declassified since it had been more than fifty years ago.

John said that he had of course heard of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Bob explained that he was on the Sampson during the blockade and was on a secret mission to topple Castro’s regime. They had trained Cuban exiles in Guerilla warfare.  Bob lifted his eyes and shook his head, he said it didn’t go well, those men were either killed or captured.  The mission was a huge failure that took just two days to unfold.

That was a long time ago, Bob has spent his life living, loving, and caring for others.  His service as a young man made that unbreakable connection to the men and women that serve so selflessly in the United States Armed Forces.

At the age of 85, his work has come full circle, and he must retire due to health concerns.

Carol has picked up the reins and will continue to help Alabama’s veterans.

We honor Robert Wheeler with this Freedom and Service Award; and we thank him for his unselfish dedication to the mission of helping veterans in need.

May God Bless Robert Wheeler!

Memorial Day Honors the Nation’s Deceased Military

Most people think of Memorial Day as the kickoff of our summer season, but it means so much more and it began with a selfless act of brotherly love.

 

Last year, at this time, my brother…my hero…A Vietnam Veteran…was still alive. He passed away at the age of 77 the week of Independence Day, 2021.  I will always keep my brother’s story and passion deep in my heart, mind, and soul.

 

He was proud of the mission and support that Veterans’ Outreach has given to so many veterans over nearly 3 decades with respect and honor in most every way, shape, and form.

 

Today without my father, Pearl Harbor Survivor and brother gone, our son, Captain Ben, carries the freedom torch for our family.

 

Really, every veteran, I look to them as brothers and sisters. Our charity lives for them by serving and honoring them.

 

This Memorial Day, take a moment in prayer, to give thankful tribute to all our veterans that are no longer here with us!

 

Below is the history of our Memorial Day that I had placed in last year’s Memorial Day Newsletter edition. I think that it is worth repeating again!

 

Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp.

 

They dug up the bodies and worked for two weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people, led by 2,800 black children where they marched, sang and celebrated. 

 

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.

 

Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. 

 

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

 

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. 

 

After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

 

The city of Waterloo, New York, was designated as the “Birthplace of Memorial Day” via a Congressional resolution and Presidential proclamation commemorating a patriotic observance held in that town one hundred years earlier.

 

The story of Memorial Day begins in the summer of 1865, when a prominent local druggist, Henry C. Welles, mentioned to some of his friends at a social gathering that while praising the living veterans of the Civil War it would be well to remember the patriotic dead by placing flowers on their graves. 

 

Nothing resulted from this suggestion until he advanced the idea again the following spring to General John B. Murray. Murray, a civil war hero and intensely patriotic, supported the idea, wholeheartedly, and marshaled veterans’ support.

Plans were developed for a more complete celebration by a local citizens’ committee headed by Welles and Murray.

 

On May 5, 1866, the Village was decorated with flags at half mast, draped with evergreens and mourning black. Veterans, civic societies and residents, led by General Murray, marched to the strains of martial music to the three village cemeteries. There were impressive ceremonies held and soldiers’ graves decorated.  One year later, on May 5, 1867, the ceremonies were repeated. It has been held annually ever since.  

 

Waterloo held the first formal, village wide, annual observance of a day dedicated to honoring the war dead. On March 7, 1966, the State of New York recognized Waterloo by a proclamation signed by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. 

 

This was followed by recognition from Congress of the United States when the House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 587 on May 17th and May 19th, 1966 respectively. 

 

This reads in part as follows: “Resolved that the Congress of the United States, in recognition of the patriotic tradition set in motion one hundred years ago in the Village of Waterloo, NY, does hereby officially recognize Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day …”

 

On May 26, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed a Presidential Proclamation recognizing Waterloo as the Birthplace of Memorial Day.

 

I hope this gives you a little more reverence to the meaning of this solemn day!

Share this entry to all Americans!

Arlington National Cemetary

22 Things You Never Knew About Arlington National Cemetery

Reader’s Digest, Emily Goodman Updated: Oct. 22, 2021

Arlington National Cemetery honors those who have fought for our country’s freedom and is also steeped in a treasure trove of rich history.

Read more

A Rose is Still a Rose, Like all Veterans

Second Anniversary Edition

This April 2022 edition of our VetNet Newsletter marks our one-year anniversary.  This newsletter had been dreamed of and talked about for a decade.  The down time caused by the Pandemic allowed us to finally bring this dream to reality.  We serve and honor our service men and women every day, we hope that you are enjoying the stories and videos that build up, and never tear down.

Veterans’ Outreach began using a rose as a gift to donors, and it has become symbolic.  The quote goes like this,” a rose is still a rose by any other name which smelled just as sweet” …. comes from the Shakespearean play, “Romeo and Juliet.”

Why did we adopt that saying and shorten it to fit our charity’s MISSION? It was amply appropriate because many people asked in the beginning of our mission’s development, which veterans, from what era, do we serve?  We serve all veterans! No matter what color, creed, sex, and from any war or era they served in.

An “Army of ONE” says it best.  Veterans’ Outreach is the epitome of an equal opportunity server, they served us and we serve them.  Our motto is “to serve and honor”.  I think everyone should get behind that obligatory declaration.

Furthermore, a rose was a symbol of the civil wars in England…Both of those warring factions, the Houses of York and Lancaster, had roses for their iconic symbols! The White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster and they battled endlessly for the Throne of England during the 100-year war, 1337-1453!  That was between France and England. Talk about having your plate full!

The Rose has a great deal of meanings, like “Stop and smell the roses!” We can also elaborate further on that possible meaning and ask every patriot to stop, relax, and reflect on what we have in our lives and why we have it.  Freedom, Liberty, Security, Identity, are just some of the blessings that we all share because of our veterans’ sacrifices. There is no greater love than when one gives all of himself to another.

The Rose is used in so many other ways to symbolize an idea or thing. The Rose to us at Veterans’ Outreach is our Veterans. I would like you all to consider buying a Rose for a veteran you love or to honor all our veterans that served and the service men and women that are still protecting us today

Please go to veteransoutreach.org for your “ROSE of Honor”.

The World’s Eyes are Open and We Don’t Like What We See

Fellow Americans, like you, we are shocked and disillusioned by a single man’s power and evil brutality.  The sheer immensity of what is happening in Ukraine is more than I would have thought could happen in modern day.  The idea that one man can rally millions of people to march into their neighbor’s land, even their brothers and sisters land, just doesn’t even seem realistic.  “Misinformation” is a buzz word here in our homeland, but there it is the “root cause” of the situation unfolding before us on our many screened devices.   What we are witnessing, from the Russian people’s point of view, is what they believed was saving their brothers and sisters from inhumane treatment – I feel sure that many have been watching the situation from the worlds’ view and are certainly questioning the motivation of the march into Ukraine.  Imagine how they must feel when they learn the truth!!

 From Ukraine’s view, people like you and I were just living their lives, going to work, raising their children, and enjoying freedom.  We all saw the escalation along the border, but they didn’t think it would really happen and now there they are.  Their entire lives gone, people are dying, they have lost their homes, their jobs, and everything they ever worked for.  More than a million are displaced refugees that just a couple of weeks ago were responsible working citizens of a free nation.  Millions more are hiding in subway tunnels and basements not knowing what will happen next.  They are led and inspired by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a man who was once an actor and comedian.  He and a team from a television production company started the political party “Servant of the People”.  In just a few months, Zelenskyy was able to unseat the incumbent President of Ukraine.  His recent quote “I need ammunition, not a ride!” embodies his dedication and love of his people. 

 Furthermore, my heart aches for the once proud Russian people. This evil in their midst needs to be dealt with by them, especially. The one Russian Grandmother cried out, “Now I am a murderer, too!

 This is all surreal, but the world’s leaders must step up and stop the madness.  When we elect people to power, we need to really search their character to decide who can lead when crises happen.  The US, and the other countries of the world, need to boycott those companies that still deal with Russia.  

 Our military, and its position in the world should be on the mind of all of us.  Can you now fathom the incredible importance of our men and women in uniform?  If not for our military might and self-sacrificing soldiers, we would not be the nation we are today.  We need to keep our soldiers on the forefront of our thoughts and prayers. Remember to never stop thanking them for our freedom.

 As I grow older, I think more and more about what I will be able to leave behind.  We will all leave a legacy of some type, what will yours be?  What will Putin’s be?  What will Zelenskyy’s be?  Most of us won’t have our names in the history books, but Putin and Zelenskyy will – that has power and everlasting meaning.

 May God bless America, our men, and women in uniform, and may God bless the efforts of the Ukrainian and the Russian people to keep their countries and cultures alive.

 

American History Trivia Challenge

1)What city is the host of the All-American Soap Box Derby Day?

A. Seattle, Washington

B. Bridgewater, Massachusetts

C. Flint, Michigan

D. Akron, Ohio

 

2)How much did the price of beef rise because of inflation during the American Revolution?

A. 50%

B. 1000%

C. 33,000%

D. 75,000%

 

3)Where was the majority of the Battle of Bunker Hill fought?

A. Bunker Hill

B. Pete’s Hill

C. Breed’s Hill

D. It was never fought

 

4)Where is the original copy of the Declaration of Independence?

A. The Museum of Natural History

B. National Archives Building

C. Chapel Hill, NC

D. Gettysburg, PA

 

5)On what was the Declaration of Independence written?

A. Wax paper

B. Thomas Jefferson’s wallpaper

C. Chinese paper

D. Parchment

 

6)On what did Congress forget to vote, causing a controversy in the Midwest United States?

A. Ohio being admitted to the Union

B. Women’s suffrage

C. The “Lazy Bill” Bill

D. The Highway Bill

 

7)On what day did most people sign the Declaration of Independence?

A. July 4

B. August 2

C. November 13

D. January 29

 

Answers: 1D, 2C, 3C, 4B, 5D, 6A, 7B

Alabama Regional Director Retires from Veterans’ Outreach (Navy Veteran Served at Bay of Pigs) 

Bob Wheeler, Veterans’ Outreach’s Regional Manager of Alabama, has been a great friend and advocate for veterans in the state of Alabama.  He truly has been a “beacon of hope” for thousands of veterans in their time of need.

He started with the mission out of Columbus, Ohio in 2002 when he retired from a management career.  Columbus, Ohio is his birthplace, January 9th in 1937.  When he and his wife, Carol, decided to move closer to family in Alabama, he offered to develop the state by opening a full-service office to offer assistance to veterans.

Bob has been passionate and worked tirelessly to help veterans in need.  He found a good location in Decatur for our first office in Alabama and wasted no time in getting the mission in operation.  His wife, Carol, came on board to manage the office.  Carol had been very quiet in early meetings with Veterans’ Outreach, but after she got involved, she has become the heartbeat of that office.   She has even visited homeless veterans living under bridges in an effort to lend a helping hand.

After a few years of getting established, Bob said that he was tired of paying rent and was going to find a building to purchase for the permanent home of Veterans’ Outreach in Alabama.  Bob has proven himself to Veterans’ Outreach many times and this wasn’t any different.  He found a great location with a couple of acres in Hartselle Alabama.

While Bob was at home one evening, he suffered a bad heart attack.  He had to have a quadruple by-pass.  Before the operation, John Ely visited him from the corporate office.   John was pleased that Bob was in good spirits and anxious to get “fixed up” and get back to work. John could tell that Bob was on some strong relaxers for he was strangely laughing out loud at silly things!

So, he took the opportunity to ask Bob a question that he had asked several times before and Bob’s answer was always “If I tell ya’, I will have to kill ya’!”   With the passage of time, even military operations get declassified, and John took the chance during that hospital visit to ask him that question again.

“Well Bob, I can’t remember what you did while you were in the military?” Bob looked up at the ceiling and said that he was in the Navy, on the USS Sampson, in the Intelligence Division.  Have you heard of the “Bay of Pigs?”  He said that he figured it was all declassified since it had been more than fifty years ago.

John said that he had of course heard of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Bob explained that he was on the Sampson during the blockade and was on a secret mission to topple Castro’s regime. They had trained Cuban exiles in Guerilla warfare.  Bob lifted his eyes and shook his head, he said it didn’t go well, those men were either killed or captured.  The mission was a huge failure that took just two days to unfold.

That was a long time ago, Bob has spent his life living, loving, and caring for others.  His service as a young man made that unbreakable connection to the men and women that serve so selflessly in the United States Armed Forces.

At the age of 85, his work has come full circle, and he must retire due to health concerns.

Carol has picked up the reins and will continue to help Alabama’s veterans.

We honor Robert Wheeler with this Freedom and Service Award; and we thank him for his unselfish dedication to the mission of helping veterans in need.

May God Bless Robert Wheeler!

The Bay of Pigs | JFK Library

uss sampson cuban missile crisis bay of pigs – Bing images\ 

Our Military Are The Gatekeepers

Wow…Just imagine the chaos that would ensue on this planet of ours. Evil is everywhere and it wants to control us and take away our true being, ourselves, our very essence of whom we are. 

Our military and their transitioning back to being normal…well…a great deal of them are back never to normal…like before their visit to war. 

To HELL AND BACK AND THAT IS NOT JUST SHORT OF THAT GATE TO HELL…BUT BEYOND! 

I saw that gate and beyond through my father, brother, son, son-in-law, and Great Uncle’s eyes, stories, and their own physical and mental injuries. The terror and determination that they had was very ethereal.

It was hard to imagine, for me, to still comprehend their visit to the other side!

That covers, WWI, WWII (Pearl Harbor), Korea, Vietnam, and finally Afghanistan. They all had lifelong agonies!

The blood and minds that is taken by that Devil…That Evil…is apparent and a constant reminder all around us in the form of those surviving veterans. 

They were there at and beyond that GATE! They are to keep that EVIL from escaping. Its desire to be soul harvesting worldwide is the most dangerous of all plagues! 

The planning by those DEMONS is in full swing to unleash and foment on all people of the world, that is the goal!

 Our American Soldiers have been successful so far but keeping that Devil behind that GATE, will always be the task of our service men and women. 

Our family, friends, and strangers sign up to be those “Angels of Democracy”, which we will always be grateful for that American Spirit that is righteous in their promise to protect and serve!

I would like to say even more clear, than I humanly can, that we love you, stand by you, and are very grateful to all our veterans, and those still serving for our strong FREEDOMS, that we enjoy. Keeping that DEVIL behind that Gate is no easy task!

May you all have a wonderful New Year that will show you new and meaningful beginnings! To all of those fellow Americans I would like to ask that you extend a Hearty thank you to those men and women, our protectors!