Thursday, May 6, 2010

Way in advance of Memorial Day...

For once it seems like of all the current disasters in the world, none of the headlines are focused on the military. Which I suppose is a round about way of looking for good news. Over the last two weeks I found some actual, straight-up good news stories out of the US Armed Forces.

I wanted to use this first one last week since it came out on my blog day, but I didn't have anything related, so I held it.

The Boston Globe reported the US Navy has quietly allowed women to begin serving in the submarine forces. Recently I've been reading Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation," which honors folks who fought in World War II. Several of the chapters in that book focus on the women who wrought quite an upheaval on the policy of females in the military. Now, there weren't any women in subs then (or officially recognized as in combat for that matter), but women in the submarine service is one of the last barriers to be broken.

According to the Globe, "the Navy plans to start by assigning three female officers each in eight different crews of guided-missile attack submarines and ballistic missile submarines." The reasoning being these types of subs are the easiest (read: cheapest) to retro-fit to accommodate living quarters for women. I'm a little claustrophobic, so I would never want to do this, but good luck to 'em!

One thing the members of the Greatest Generation and today's military have in common is the call to serve. I mean, you'd really need a strong sense of duty to put yourself in the line of fire for others. And as you read profiles of soldiers and sailors and such, you find out exactly how many of the people who answered that call are genuinely good and decent human beings. One such good Samaritan found himself in the headlines a week or so back. The New York Daily News posted a story on Army medic and Iraq vet John Stone, who performed the Heimlich maneuver on Toby Weiss at a Yankees game and saved the rabbi's wife's life.

Clearly these men and women who do so much for us at home and abroad deserve as much as we can give them when they're done serving. The Houston Chronicle has a story on Meredith Iler, a fundraising superwoman who is contributing in a major way to easing those vets' transitions back to civilian life. She founded Helping a Hero, a company that raises money and collects land and work donations to build handicap-accessible homes for severely injured war veterans. The veterans end up being responsible for $50,000 of the purchase price. President of her own public relations firm, Iler donates 50 hours a week to Helping a Hero and has built 18 homes since 2005 and raised money for eight more.

(Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)

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