As one of the founders of Veterans Week NYC, we are delighted to announce our fifth annual Veterans Week in the New York City area. The week is packed with events celebrating veteran service to our country, including three Veterans Advantage events:
Nov. 9 or 11 (date TBD): a special private movie screening of Dear America and Sully at the Imax Theatre on 34th Street, sponsored by Verizon Fios.
Nov. 11: The Veterans Advantage float in the NYC Veterans Day parade, sponsored by AVIS/Budget.
Nov. 13: The fifth annual Heroes Meet Heroes at the New York Athletic Club, sponsored by Northrop Grumman.
Come join us for these great events! For more information and to RSVP, go here.
This week we honor Arnold Palmer as our HeroVet. We first profiled Arnie as a TopVet in 2014, but with his passing last weekend, we had an opportunity to celebrate his substantial charitable activities and award him HeroVet status posthumously. It is only when we look at Palmer’s whole life, on and off the course, do we realize how special a man he was -- from helping to build hospitals, popularizing the game that he loved so dearly to being recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
He was a role model for all and made golf a national sports favorite with the rise of television. The likes of the Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Jordan Spieth can all trace their gratitude back to Arnie and what he has done for the game.
In 1959, when television was the high-tech trend of the day, organizers at the Masters in Augusta were eager to show big TV crowds at golf’s first major. Palmer was defending champion and no doubt the biggest draw for any newbie. So when Augusta National’s co-founder Clifford Roberts thought of giving free tickets to GIs at his former installation, Camp Gordon (now called Fort Gordon), our troops all flocked to following Arnold Palmer. “Arnie’s Army” was born!
“I can’t remember another time, other than my stint in the Coast Guard, when so many uniformed soldiers surrounded me. A year later, when I won my second Masters title, I thanked the ‘army’ of supporters who came out to follow me,” Palmer said on his personal website, arnoldpalmer.com.
And the rest was history.
No doubt by now you have read all the news reports and retrospectives this week about what transpired on that fateful day 15 years ago, 9/11/2001, but only a few of these reports ever come through the lens of the American military veteran.
For those of us old enough to remember, it was a tragic day that filled us with a kaleidoscope of feelings, ranging from fear to anger and sadness for those we lost. Remember the fear of opening your mail? Remember stocking up on duct tape in case of a dirty bomb? Remember the day when you first took off your shoes before getting on a plane?
9/11 turned the page on history to the "new normal," where the world is now defined as “pre” and “post” 9/11. We now call it “Patriot Day.” For Veterans Advantage, we were here, and we realize how much of the lives of our members has changed over the years because of that day. From the paycheck challenges of active duty families to the transition when they enter civilian life, we have seen what you have seen first hand. And now, for vets of all eras, the years down the line when the camaraderie is long gone, but the memories remain – we understand every step of the way.
One of the great things about Social Media is the power of sharing, and during times like these, it serves a cathartic purpose. Share your feelings on our Facebook page today, and I will be sure to share some of the most noteworthy ones in a future blog post.
Heads up! With the Labor Day weekend, we have the intersection of one of the busiest shopping holidays of the year with back-to-school shopping hitting its peak. With exclusive benefits, Office Depot, Greyhound and Foot Locker have been supporting Veterans Advantage members for a combined 20 years – each with 20% everyday savings.
Our son is returning to College this weekend and we're definitely going to take advantage of the Office Depot and Foot Locker discounts. The benefits are tremendous when you tally up all the times students and family members can use these benefits throughout the year.
Although he is well known these days for the dramatic family battle over control of his media empire, Sumner Redstone should also be remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit to become the media force that he is today, and – most importantly – his charitable spirit. As this month's HeroVet, he is an important role model for all of us who have served and continue to serve.
Now that the Olympic Games in Rio are complete, I am sure you agree it has been a memorable experience! From the opening ceremonies to last night’s thrilling close, it has been a thrill a minute for Veterans Advantage, with headlines from VIPs, our military athletes, and family members of veterans.
We hope you enjoy our latest coverage of the games: the extraordinary and exceptional Simone Biles has captured our imagination at the gymnastics venue - like Gabby Douglas, also from a military family, did in 2012. Simone’s story is extra special because of her immigration to the United States, rising from personal challenges with great support from her maternal grandfather, a U.S. Air Force Veteran.
Inspirational stories like Simone's demonstrate the virtues of service. To see a young girl capture her dreams as an athlete, citizen, and member of the veterans community, I could not be more proud of the freedoms that military service have preserved for us- to enrich our lives every day.
In our latest newsletter, we profiled military athletes competing in the Rio 2016 Olympics. Today, we highlight Veterans Advantage Advisory Board Member and two-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer, Donna de Varona, who is attending her 18th summer Olympics this month in Rio.
At 13 years old, Donna was the youngest participant in the 1960 Olympic Games. She went on to break 20 world records for swimming and win two gold medals four years later at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Donna is not only a fearless swimmer but also a consummate professional as she broke gender barriers in sports broadcasting in the mid-1960s. With great persistence and tireless effort, she also helped pass and protect Title IX of the Equal Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions receiving Federal funding. This provision has helped millions of young women obtain sports scholarships and pursue their athletic dreams. Donna is the recipient of the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic Movement, awarded for her distinguished contributions to the Olympic Movement in the cause of sport. Vietnam Veterans may remember Donna when she toured in-country with the USO in 1969.
Currently, Donna and her Army veteran spouse John Pinto, are in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games. She and John are pictured here with two Olympic gymnasts and gold medal winners, Nadia Comaneci and her spouse Bart Conner. Nadia was the first ever gymnast to score two perfect 10’s for Romania and Bart (also scoring a perfect 10) won gold for the U.S. in the 1984 Olympics.
As we thank Donna for all her contributions to Veterans Advantage and to world athletics, we remind you to tune in and root for Team USA, as the Rio 2016 Olympics begin to heat up!
Donna also serves on the Executive Board of Special Olympics International and is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Women and Sports Commission. Most recently Secretary of State Hilary Clinton appointed her to the United States Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls through Sports.
In our last newsletter, we saluted Verizon for its longtime support of Veterans Advantage through its expanded package of benefits. Today, we announce another expanded benefit with longtime partner Amtrak - an exclusive 15% discount on Amtrak Vacations rail fares!
"See the country you served" is the familiar slogan we use to promote our partnership, and our new partnership with Amtrak Vacations is the perfect example of how that works. Your rail fare travel discount covers over 300 rail vacations to thrilling destinations – cities, landscapes and National parks – with options to depart from more than 500 Amtrak rail stations across the country. I encourage you to check it out today.
Speaking of timing, we thought you would enjoy reading this week's VetFamily profile of Ciara – both of her parents are vets! With NFL Camp coming up, Seattle Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson suits it up for the first time as a married man, after he and Ciara tied the knot earlier this month. She also won three MTV Video Music Awards, and starred in an MTV-produced movie. MTV's annual Video Music Awards is next month.
Next month we celebrate our fifth anniversary with our exclusive partnership with Verizon Wireless that delivers our members valuable discounts on all wireless and landline services. Today, a big shout out to Verizon Fios, who thank our members with between $5 and $10 monthly savings on a double- or triple-play home entertainment package. For many families where phone/internet/TV bundles are a must for the home and kids, this is a savings that goes right to your pocket every month.
And if you are not in the Verizon Fios coverage area, no problem. Verizon can also configure packages that include DIRECTV service. Check them out today.
It seems like just yesterday when we got back from the Invictus Games, honoring those who served our nation, on the world stage through intense Paralympic competition. Yet, here we go again, ready to fly our colors while Team USA takes on the World at the Summer Olympic and Paralympic games in Rio. It's one of our favorite times at Veterans Advantage - once again the spirit of athletics reflects the special bonds of military service. We hope you enjoy our Cover Story this week about several unique athletes who are also part of our U.S. Military family.