My dear friend and a man whom I was blessed to know when I was a social worker at the VA posted this on his Facebook page today:
Today, April 30th, marks the 40th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the loss of the Vietnam war. Today remember the 55,280 men who died there. We lost the war but they gave their lives serving their country. I think about them every day. Semper Fi, "Always Faithful"
While we did the very best we could to serve our veterans as they returned home from war or after completing their military service, we were woefully inadequate to fully meet the needs of our nation's veterans and their families. I remember when we weren't allowed to treat family members because they were not included in our "count" for statistical reporting purposes. Fortunately, there are organizations outside of the VA that are available and are critical to filling in the service gap that sadly exists within the VA. Often times, veterans are still mistrustful of the VA. Having organizations like the Arredondo Family Foundation and Veterans Outreach Centers provides energy, and creativity to address issues affecting the military and veteran population.
When Melida Arredondo, co-chair of the Board of Directors for the Arredondo Family Foundation put out the call on Facebook asking for people to host fundraisers for the Foundation, what seemed like in the blink of an eye, military family member and family member of a 4/15/13 Boston Strong Survivor, Michele Boynton organized Ride to Survive - Suicide Prevention Awareness to benefit the Arredondo Family Foundation. Her entry into this world foreshadowed the hurricane that she is as she writes:
I was born at Camp LeJeune in the middle of a hurricane ...my dad a Marine Medic on duty and my mom tried to drive to Onslow County Hospital...water came up to the windows of the car...2 Marines pulled my mom out of the car and walked her back to base in waist deep water to have me!
On June 14 starting at 10am at the Gardner Fish and Gun Club, there is a motorcycle ride and cookout with live music and a raffle. Michele single-handedly orchestrated and garnered the support of veterans groups and local police and fire departments.
Stephen Bassett, pictured below with Michele, Melida and Carlos Arredondo, the outreach coordinator for the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center in Gardner along with the Gardner chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America have been supporting Michele on her mission.
Suicide in the military and among the veteran population has sadly reached epidemic proportions. The Arredondo Family Foundation works to raise awareness, provide support and resources to military families whose lives have been touched by suicide, and work with partner organizations to prevent suicide. They also provide much needed support to siblings and will be using monies from the Foundation to fund a sibling scholarship at UMass Boston.
This event is an opportunity for veterans and their families to come together on a summer's day in New England to feel that sense of camaraderie and community that is often lost after one is discharged from the military. The sense of isolation and the feeling that no one understands the culture and the aftermath of serving in the military can lead to devastating consequences. But with Ride to Survive and the services that the Arredondo Family Foundation (AFF) offers, there is healing. There is hope. There is life!
Please join us on June 14th to celebrate veterans and to support the AFF.
Motorcycles - $20
Riders - $10
and that includes the cookout
Cookout is available for purchase for those not riding.
LIVE Music and raffle tickets....Only 200 tickets are being sold. They are $100 but the pot is $3000 for 1st prize $1500 for 2nd and $500 for 3rd....so the odds are really good! Visit the group page on Facebook if you are interested in purchasing tickets. You can also go in with a group of friends to purchase a ticket. All motorcycles will be given a raffle ticket.
I am deeply honored and blessed to have been invited to share my journey as a survivor of paralytic polio, 9 years of childhood domestic violence and two family suicides and how I have learned and am learning to journey well. I will be signing copies of my book, "Journey Well" and donate 50% of book proceeds to support 4/15/13 Boston Strong Survivors.
Come one come all to support our nation's heroes and to enjoy a day to celebrate survival, thriving, love and community!
Be blessed. Journey well. To all good things....
My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.
When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.