Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ready On the Right! Ready On the Left! All Ready On the Firing Line!

(Note: This is a sticky post and will remain on top until the Valour-IT fundraiser is complete; there will also be periodic Valour-IT status updates at the end of this post, clearly marked as such.  Scroll down for the normal daily blather, if it pleases you.  If it doesn't please you, read this post again!  And, please... hit that "Donate" widget to your right.)

Update, 11/11/2009:  Today is THE FINAL DAY of the Valour-IT fundraiser.  I've not been pushy about this cause, feeling instead that I've said my piece and you Gentle Readers know what to do.  That said... I'm disappointed that Team Zoomie has turned in yet another lackluster performance this year, seeing as how we're dead last in the team standings.  Won't you please hit that "donate" widget to your right and help preserve a modicum of dignity for the Air Force?  You know it's the right and proper thing to do!!  

And thank you all for your support.  Our injured vets will thank you, too.

That's the traditional way the Range Safety Officer clears the range for a course of fire just before he gives the "Commence Firing!" command… and anyone who's ever served remembers those words well. And those words ain't limited to just the Ground Pounders or Jarheads. Nope… everyone in Uncle Sam's armed forces qualifies with a weapon, even Squids and Zoomies, believe it or don’t. So… those words seemed an appropriate way to announce the kick-off this year's Valour-IT fundraiser. We ARE ready on the firing line!  

Those of you who've been coming around these parts for the past three years or so know all about Valour-IT. But if you don't know… here's what we're on about:
Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries.  Technology supplied includes:

·         Voice-controlled Laptops - Operated by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, they allow the wounded to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.
·         Wii Video Game Systems - Whole-body game systems increase motivation and speed recovery when used under the guidance of physical therapists in therapy sessions (donated only to medical facilities).
·         Personal GPS - Handheld GPS devices build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.

The experience of Major Chuck Ziegenfuss, a partner in the project who suffered serious hand wounds while serving in Iraq, illustrates how important these laptops and other technologies can be to a wounded service member's recovery.

Providing all of the above technologies requires money… and that's what the two-week fundraiser is all about: raising money to provide the technology to help our warriors during their recovery from wounds suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fundraiser runs from now until Veterans Day… November 11. And just to make things interesting Soldiers' Angels runs this fundraiser in the form of a competition between the military branches… Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and the Coast Guard (who don't have a stand-alone team this year; they're part of the Navy team). It should come as no surprise that EIP signs on to Team Zoomie every year.

That said, it may come as something of a surprise that the Air Force traditionally fights a rear-guard action in the Valour-IT fundraiser, meaning we always come in close to the bottom of the pack, managing to beat only the Coasties in previous years. We sure do want to change that this year and we will… with your help, Gentle Reader! You can get things started by clicking on the Valour-IT widget at the top of my sidebar, which takes you directly to the Team Zoomie donation site. You can donate to Valour-IT using your credit card, PayPal, or by electronic check. You can also mail a donation to Soldiers' Angels if you choose not to donate on-line by sending a check to this address:

Soldiers Angels
1792 E. Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104

Be sure to indicate your donation is for Valour-IT, on behalf of Team Air Force!

Soldiers' Angels has also done something new this year… they've developed a set of "Frequently Asked Questions" for those who need a little more info on Valour-IT. Here are a few selected questions from the FAQ:
Is my donation fully tax deductable?
Soldiers' Angels has been designated a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity by the IRS. Donations are tax-deductible and may be eligible for matching funds from donors' employers (ask your employer). Be sure to consult your tax advisor for further information.

For info on how to verify the 501(c)(3) status of Soldiers' Angels, click here.

How much of my donation goes directly to this cause?
100% of your donation will go directly to Project Valour-IT, which has no overhead ("overhead" costs are covered by Soldiers' Angels general funds).

What will my Valour-IT donation be used for? 
Your donation to Project Valour-IT will be used to purchase laptops and other technology that will support recovery and provide independence and freedom to severely-wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

In just over four years of existence, Valour-IT has provided over 4100 laptops to individual veterans, over 30 Wii game systems to VA facilities for physical therapy sessions, and over 100 handheld GPS systems to aid veterans with head injuries (TBI).

More information about Project Valour-IT and the powerful impact it has on the wounded warriors it supports can be found here.

Why is there a competition? Why is it divided among service branches?
The Valour-IT Veterans Day Fundraising "Competition" was a developed as a fun way to raise money for a very serious project.  Teams are purely for the sake of friendly competition, building on the natural inter-service rivalries of the U.S. Military.  Competition winners get "bragging rights," but the true winners are the wounded warriors who benefit from the results of the friendly competition.
Just like the service members themselves who tease each other with great enthusiasm but stand shoulder-to-shoulder in wartime, we're all part of the same family even when we're being competitive.  All funds raised go into the same Valour-IT account and are used to assist any wounded service member in need of Valour-IT's support, regardless of his or her service branch.

Is this competition supported by the military or the Department of Defense (DoD)?
The U.S. Military and Department of Defense are not affiliated with this competition.  Government employees or members of the military who participate in this fundraiser are acting as private citizens.
Soldiers' Angels (which runs Project Valour-IT), is a private, civilian 501(c)(3) nonprofit led and governed by patriotic civilians who want to ensure individual service members know that they are remembered and supported.

If you have more questions you can read the complete FAQ here.

Now… please, please help us support this cause. I left out the usual "worthy" adjective in front of "cause" because that is simply self-evident. I know times are hard, but these times are harder still for wounded warriors… and your contribution to Valour-IT will make life easier for those who have sacrificed so much. Thanks in advance.

Update, 10/27/2009 1400 hrs   We had a fantastic first day, what with well over $13K raised.  But... true to form, Team Zoomie ain't doin' so well... and we're in last place as of this writing.  See for yourself:

Aiiieee.  I'm thinkin' this has a lot to do with Ol' Joe Stalin's famous quote about "quantity has a quality all its own," which is to say those guys who like to play in the mud have twice the folks on their teams.  I know... this sounds like I'm whining, but I'm just not USED to bringing up the rear.  And don't tell me about last year's fundraiser, either.  (insert Big-Ass grin here)

Linkage:  If you haven't read Blog-Bud Jim's Valour-IT post, please go over there now.  Jim's new to Team Zoomie this year and is one HELLUVA writer (as most of you already know).  

Update, 11/01/2009:  Lotsa cool stuff available at the Valour-IT auction on eBay... including military themed books and prints, an original graphic from Day-By-Day artist Chris Muir (autographed by Chris), autographed Nolan Ryan baseball memorabilia... and more!   All proceeds go to Valour-IT... check it out!


  1. I've partially written my posting concerning this, Buck, and will be putting it up at my place on Wednesday, probably.

  2. "Nope… everyone in Uncle Sam's armed forces qualifies with a weapon, even Squids and Zoomies, believe it or don’t."

    Funny that you mention this today...theoretically, according to the rules, AF members are supposed to qualify on their duty weapon (M9 for officers, M-16/M-4 for everyone else) AT LEAST once a year. I got told today that my M9 qual from over 2 years ago will remain valid indefinitely until I deploy, but that I shouldn't expect to qualify on anything other than the M9.

    There's a valid reason for all of this (budget, primarily, coupled with the fact that with my job I really have no need to remain proficient) but it's still kinda funny.

  3. Slight correction...I think the minimum qual requirement is actually once every two years. Anyway, point being that unless you are getting set to deploy qualifying is a one time deal.

  4. re: weapons qualification. Funny how things DON'T change. I qualified on the M1/M2 carbine every year for the first four years I was in... and then USAF "suspended" annual quals in 1968 when the Vietnam war heated up... it was a cost issue. I went to the range exactly ONCE in the next 17 years, and then only because I had to qualify on the .38 revolver as a Security Police augmentee. Believe it or not: I have NEVER fired an M-16.

  5. Done, Buck. And contributed, too. I hope others will do likewise!

  6. Dang, Jim... you wrote a danged good piece there! Are you SURE you're not in marketing?

  7. The first one was a .22 single shot at an indoor range at NTC/RTC San Diego. Now the site of million dollar townhomes?!?!?!?!?It was boot camp, then.
    The second and last was when I was TAD/TDY to Station Security at Whidbey. .38 Service Revolver, 12 Gauge Shotgun and Oleo-Resin Capsicum.
    And I got my widget for Valour-IT up.
    And thanks Buck, for putting me on your blogroll.
    Fair winds and following seas.

  8. Glenn: It would be depressing if I counted up the number of bases and sites I served at that are closed today... as it would include EVERY radar site -- they're ALL gone. But there ain't no million dollar town homes on those mountain tops, LOL!

  9. "Believe it or not: I have NEVER fired an M-16."

    And this means you are officially old school.

  10. Here's a good question for a geeky statistics type (which I'm probably more of than you, Buck, but anyway): What is the total of personnel for each branch of the military, and then how does that work out when you figure the contributions per person?

    There's got to be some statistical way for you (us) to win this thing :-)

  11. Jim... I'm no statistician by ANY means, but... Nice try, but since the Marines are winning and they're the smallest branch by far... well: Non-starter. ;-)

    From smallest to largest (source: The Wiki):

    Marines: 203,000 active
    USAF: 327,452 active
    Navy: 332,000 personnel
    Army: 1,090,000+

    Of course we could always be like the Norks, the Iranians or the Russians and just SAY we won. Works for them, right?


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