Fallen but not Forgotten… Troopathon Memorial Day Weekend Update
Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor all those who have given their lives while serving in the United State Military. All of us here thank the brave generations of military families that have answered the call to ensure we remain free. God Bless our fallen heroes, gold star families and all those that support our military. This past weekend we aired a special Troopathon Memorial Day edition to help support all the recent care package requests we have recently received and THANKS to so many generous donations that came in we are going to be able to answer each and everyone to provide support all over the world!
Memorial Day weekend is usually seen as the unofficial start to summer, a time to get a day off of work or school. A great opportunity for barbecues and to hold patriotic parades. Memorial day can be all these things but at its heart, the day is so much more. We must never forget that freedom is not free. We owe our very freedom to those brave souls who answered the call of our nation and who have paid the ultimate price to keep us safe.
Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day was established as an occasion to honor and celebrate Union Soldiers, who died in service to our country during the Civil War. After the conclusion of World War I, Memorial Day was expanded to include all American men and women who died serving their country in any military action or war. The current designation of Memorial Day came into use following WWII and with the passage of the 1968 Uniform Holidays Bill, Memorial Day was officially moved to the last Monday in May.
Please take a moment out of your day to remember those who sacrificed their lives in service to the United States of America.
Operation Cornhole: OV Cornhole Donates Custom Boards to Deployed Air Force Unit
Recently we received a very special request from a Senior Master Sergeant with an Aircraft Maintenance Squadron ( AMXS) operation out of Travis AFB. Our SMSgt had a problem he was hoping we might be able to help out with, so he reached out to Move America Forward Outreach Director, Scott Raab. According to Raab, “This squadron is now operating from an undisclosed location overseas in the Middle East where they are essentially locked down on base due to security concerns with nothing to do during their off hours. In addition, the USAF have also extending their deployment by an additional two months for each service member. They are hoping we can provide some cornhole boards to help with morale and provide some sort of R&R where his people can blow off steam and be together in their spare time. The game plan is the AMXS will fly them over to the Middle East location on the next supply flight if we can provide the boards. This would have a HUGE positive impact for these guys and gals oversea”
At MAF, we are always looking to fulfill our troop requests but this one, Operation Cornhole was a whopper. We wanted to see what we could do to make this happen so our Executive Director, Shawn Callahan, who just happens to be a cornhole aficionado himself, reached out to Joe & Becky Schwartz of OV Cornhole out of Sacramento and asked if there would be any way they might be able to help with this special request. Shawn was so determined to help this AMXS group that he even offered to purchase boards from OV Cornhole because he just couldn’t let this special request go unanswered.
As it turns out, Joe & Becky Schwartz, the owners of OV Cornhole responded with a resounding “Yes, we would love to help!” Becky said “About six times a year we do get hit up by various military establishments for donations. We actually just sent some boards off with the Coast Guard that was headed out and we recently shipped some off to a group at 29 Palms (Marines) that was headed out. When Shawn emailed us, it just worked itself out. We’ve been doing military donations probably six or seven years now for groups heading overseas. We are big supporters of our military so this was just a natural fit for us.”
In fact, the OV Cornhole website features an amazing variety of backyard, and tournament boards as well as accessories like bags and merchandise. One cannot help but notice OVC’s entire category of Flag/Military options, overall they have an amazing selection. Becky said “The USA branded ones are very popular, the flag ones, the ones with the Pledge and flag are very popular. The boards we are sending out for Move America Forward, is actually the first time we have done a real custom set for donation. It has their (the units) logos on it, usually we try to donate one of the American ones we have in stock, but as we are able we love to send them over boards they will have a special attachment to.”
We love supporting and highlighting an American business like OV Cornhole that represents American pride, determination and drive. Joe Schwartz started OV Cornhole out of his garage in 2008. Becky said “Joe started from humble roots, he had gone to a friends house and played cornhole, he really liked it and went home determined to make his own set. The type of craftsman that he is, he wasn’t going to do that set without perfection, and of course, it was a beautiful set. He took it to friends houses and people started asking him to build sets for them.” At the time Joe & Becky didn’t have a lot of funds with little kids at home but then friends ordered five sets from them, which is just what Joe needed to prompt him to go get his business license and he started working in his garage. Originally, he had to tape off and spray paint the boards, which was very tedious and time-consuming, then he went to vinyl decals, and now OVC has special printing presses that print directly onto the boards. “The roots of it have come a long, long way . He had a vision, and he believed in it and worked really, really hard to get to where we are today, so we can do these special donations” said Becky.
Through their work with California Cornhole Association they do a great deal of community and corporate outreach which allows them to support causes like Move America Forward and this special group of service members.
“We are very proud of our military, proud of our country. It has always felt right to us to stand behind those men and women who are serving. We know the sacrifices our military is making for us, so if a small thing like a cornhole game can provide them with some fun and socialization and a little competition , then for us, it’s a no-brainer” concluded Becky.
We are so proud of our partnership with OV Cornhole for this special request. We encourage our readers to check out their website (https://ovcornhole.com/). As an added bonus, OV Cornhole is offering a special site-wide 10% coupon code MAF10 exclusively for our Move America Forward supporters, valid through 7/30/22. So if you are in the market for your own set of very cool cornhole boards or accessories, take advantage of this offer just for you.
A Father’s Story of Service
SFC James Menard, US Army, (recently retired) knows first-hand what it feels like to leave your wife and children behind heading off for another long lonely deployment. During his active duty career, spanning over 20 years, SFC Menard deployed on five separate occasions with two tours to Korea, two in Afghanistan, and a tour in Iraq. Only one tour was six months in duration, the rest were all a year. In total, Menard was deployed over four and a half years. During this time, he became a father to two young boys, the oldest is now graduating from high school and his younger son is a 10th grader.
With Father’s Day coming on Sunday, June 19, we wanted to highlight James’s story of service and sacrifice and the long separations our men and women face during the course of their military service. “Father’s Day is even more of a day of remembrance that you are not where your family is at. It puts a toll on you as a father that you are not there with your family. Missing holidays is especially hard because you’re not there to celebrate with your family. The world keeps going, they are still there, doing BBQ’s and recognizing their missing mother’s and father’s but you are not there to share that. It’s extremely tough. The thing you can’t make up for is time, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.” said Menard.
James’s eldest son was born in 2003, and in 2004, 2006, and 2007 SFC Menard was deployed first to Korea then to Iraq. “It was extremely hard” said James, “Your kids are young and small, and with my oldest, I missed a lot of his growing up. With my youngest I only deployed twice, so I had a lot more time with him than my older boy. Award ceremonies, all the events I missed, it’s tough. I only went to Iraq once, but it was a very unsettling experience, like this could be it. Iraq was very unstable and very scary. In Iraq, I worked in the 47th combat support hospital , it was a grim reminder that nothing in this world is guaranteed. It was a very emotional time, a very hard time in my career.”
When asked about what it felt like to receive care packages, here is what James had to say, “Sending care packages to the troops, be it Mothers Day, Fathers Day, birthdays and holidays, it is extremely important because it gives our troops the opportunity to receive that letter of appreciation and those goodies that are missed during times of celebration.”
“Just to know that those care packages would come and people would send their notes of support, it just meant the world and were reminders that we were cared for. A care package for me meant a care package for everybody I served with. We all shared and vice versa. It’s never a care package for one person. It’s a give and take relationship and everyone benefits.” said Menard.
James is an essential part of our team and serves an an Ambassador for our program to the community as a direct liaison helping get care packages to military families all across the nation. “I am very appreciative of being able to serve and it means a lot to me and to my family to be recognized. It means a lot to have an opportunity to give back to the same organization that helped to support me during my deployments. Move America Forward is an awesome organization that fills a need for our troops.” said Menard.
FEATURED PRODUCT: Jerky Offers Delicious and Portable Protein Convenience for our Troops
We pride ourselves with providing care packages for our troops packed with items sure to bring comfort and a taste of home to our hard working military members. Beef jerky is highly prized by our deployed service members since jerky has a long shelf life, does not require refrigeration and is light weight and easily portable making it an ideal on the go snack or mini-meal. As a bonus, it tastes a whole lot better than the MRE rations troops often depend on while serving far from home or on patrol.
Most jerky is made from lean cuts of muscle meat so a serving of jerky typically provides up to 15 grams of lean protein, and is low in carbs and fat while still delivering micro-nutrients like potassium and zinc. Jerky is also high in iron, magnesium, and vitamin B12. Although jerky is higher in sodium, our troops often sweat profusely due to the rigorous tasks they perform so in this case, a little extra sodium is not such a bad thing.
We like to keep it interesting by offering a wide variety of jerky options in our care packages. Troops can look forward to the possibility of finding anything from a sweet teriyaki to a bold peppery jerky or a traditionally smoky flavor, who knows maybe even a wicked good habanero jerky sure to keep our troops on their toes reaching for the water bottle to quench that fire!