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.
It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 30 years since the premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. At the height of Hollywood’s fascination with the Vietnam War, Full Metal Jacket is a raw reality drama that brings home "the hours of boredom, the seconds of terror" in war. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, it is considered one of Kubrick's finest films.
This week’s CelebVet, R. Lee Ermey, a Vietnam Vet and Marine Corps Sergeant, is best known for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the film, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Since then, Ermey has made movies which have made America laugh, cry and stand up and salute. We hope you enjoy reading his story.
We also want to recognize three of our premier partners who provide you with special benefits online and at their physical locations. Together, Greyhound, Foot Locker, and Office Depot have delivered nineteen years of exclusive benefits for Veterans Advantage members! Learn more and check out their locations and sites today.
The date of the founding of our first military forces and the most powerful symbol of the freedoms we have forged throughout our history are forever linked: America’s Army was founded on June 14, 1775, the same day as our U.S. Flag. Today, Flag Day, the official day of commemoration of the founding of our American flag, is celebrated each year on June 14th, the U.S. Army’s Birthday.
This year, we recognize that our flag has been steadfastly representing the nation for over 241 years, on our patriotic holidays-- President's Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Veterans Day--on private properties and in public venues, in battle and on our bases, peacetime, and wartime, the flag flies with meaning at full mast and half.
Above all, our flag symbolizes everything we stand for in this great country of ours. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, our flag has guided and comforted untold numbers of servicemembers through the best and the worst of times. I’m sure each of us recalls a time when our nation’s stars and stripes have been presented to the family in a military funeral as a symbol of respect and gratitude for a veteran’s past service or perhaps the fellow military member for their ultimate sacrifice to our country.
On this same day, in celebration of the Army’s 241st birthday, we recognize our total Army Force and their contributions our national defense. So remember to take the opportunity to show your gratitude to someone who served in the Army or is currently serving— simply thank them, or more importantly, take the time to engage them in a personal conversation about their service experience. Where are you stationed? What’s your MOS? It will mean a lot to them, and you’ll learn something, too.
This is the time of “grads and dads,” celebrating school graduations of family and friends. Our daughter graduates from college this weekend and we were thrilled to learn that she is also a commencement speaker! We couldn’t be more proud. Being the outdoor lover she is, I know she’s going to love a golden congratulatory bouquet from 1800Flowers. They have the best selection of flowers and other gifts. Remember - Veterans Advantage members have an exclusive 30% discount, good every day of the year! So, check out our benefit with 1800Flowers today.
Father’s Day, June 19, is right around the corner, too. Dell and Apple products make perfect gifts for this occasion, especially since you have great savings with Veterans Advantage.
I hope you enjoy this week’s feature story on Deshauna Barber, a symbol of inspiration for women and our military. As our nation pauses to commemorate the Army’s 241st birthday on June 14, we honor the service of our soldiers who serve, Army Veterans and their families. With service members like Deshauna, our Army is ready for the future!
Military Appreciation Month in May is an annual celebration of patriotism. It also reaffirms our mission to make sure we honor service every day. From our popular 50% off member “thank you” sale completed last week, to our support of Team USA at the Invictus Games earlier this month, your service to our country is always in our hearts and minds.
Memorial Day on May 30 culminates this month of recognition. It is a time to recognize our service members who made the ultimate sacrifice and serves as a solemn punctuation mark for the entire month. This Memorial Day Weekend, we remember those Americans who gave their lives in service to their country. We honor the service and sacrifice of these men and women and their families. It is also a time when our thoughts and prayers turn to those who continue to serve our country in harm’s way.
Do your part. Participate in our National Day of Remembrance on Memorial Day, 3:00 p.m. your local time. Take a moment of silence to reflect on those who have given their lives, and to those and their families who continue to serve, so we can remain free.