Mountain Brook to host Patriot Day Ceremony on 15th anniversary of 9/11



Photo courtesy of the Mountain Brook Fire Department.

The city of Mountain Brook last hosted the Patriot Day ceremony in 2013.

Homewood will join the cities of Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills this year to pause and remember the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. The annual Patriot Day ceremony, which rotates between the three cities each year, will be Sunday, Sept. 11, in Mountain Brook.

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jack Natter will serve as the keynote speaker at this year’s Patriot Day ceremony. Natter is an attorney and has served as a member of the Hoover City Council since 2011. He grew up in Trussville and Homewood, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1962 and retired from the Navy in 1998 after service both on active duty and in the reserves. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Natter returned to duty for a few weeks at the headquarters of the Navy’s European fleet in London, England, serving as Deputy of Resources and Readiness.

Beginning at 8:30 a.m., Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer will join Mountain Brook Mayor Terry Oden, Fire Chief Chris Mullins and Police Chief Ted Cook, as well as Vestavia Hills Mayor Butch Zaragoza and other members of the cities’ police and fire departments to welcome guests at the intersection of Hoyt Lane and Oak Street in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village.

Mullins, who is helping to plan this year’s event for the first time as Mountain Brook’s fire chief following the retirement of former Chief Robert “Zeke” Ezekiel, said he planned the event in 2013 when the event was last held in Mountain Brook. This year’s event, he said, will have an “identical footprint.”

The city of Homewood hosted the event in 2015 in front of City Hall, where Homewood High School’s The Network show choir performed several songs as a part of the ceremony. Lexi Bresnan, daughter of Homewood Fire Chief John Bresnan, performed a solo. City Council member Walter Jones sang the national anthem, and Brian Erickson of Trinity United Methodist Church gave the invocation. Brian Bowman played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes as doves flew out above the crowd at the end of the ceremony.

Mullins said the cities discussed the possibility of hosting the event on another day this year becauseSept. 11 falls on a Sunday, but they decided against it. “We felt it was important to reflect on that day,” he said.

Mullins said because the event is on a weekend day, the hope is that more community members will be able to take part in this year’s 15th anniversary of the attacks.

The ceremony was first organized after the Sept. 11 attacks as a way to always remember. The host city is in charge of organizing the main details, while the other cities participate in the coordinated effort by providing personnel and equipment.  

As in years past, Vestavia Hills will provide the large American flag set to be raised above the crowd using ladder trucks provided by the other participating cities.

Area residents, as well as off- and on-duty firemen and police officers, are all invited to attend, said Mountain Brook Police Chief Ted Cook. “Schedules and patrol duties permitting, of course,” he said.

The 45-minute ceremony, which brings together those who keep their cities safe and its residents to honor lives lost, will once again be steeped in tradition. A laying of the wreath and a bell ceremony will be part of the planned schedule, along with a moment of silence at the exact time two passenger planes struck the World Trade Center towers.

The ceremony will take place next to the Sept. 11 memorial, which sits outside the Mountain Brook fire. The beam, a 1,305-pound H-beam from the former World Trade Center site in New York, was dedicated during the Patriot Day ceremony in 2013.

VA provides service dog benefits to Veterans with mental health disorders

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it is piloting a protocol to implement veterinary health benefits for mobility service dogs approved for Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with mental health disorders. 
"We take our responsibility for the care and safety of Veterans very seriously," said VA Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David J. Shulkin. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to providing appropriate, safe and effective, compassionate care to all Veterans. Implementing the veterinary health benefit for mobility service dogs approved for Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with mental health disorders may prove to be significantly beneficial for some Veterans. The Service Dog Benefits Pilot will evaluate this premise." 
VA has been providing veterinary benefits to Veterans diagnosed as having visual, hearing or substantial mobility impairments and whose rehabilitation and restorative care is clinically determined to be optimized through the assistance of a guide dog or service dog. With this pilot, this benefit is being provided to Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with a mental health disorder for whom the service dog has been identified as the optimal way for the Veteran to manage the mobility impairment and live independently. 
Service dogs are distinguished from pets and comfort animals because they are specially trained to perform tasks or work for a specific individual with a disability who cannot perform the task or accomplish the work independently. To be eligible for the veterinary health benefit, the service dog must be trained by an organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International in accordance with VA regulations. 
Currently, 652 Veterans with approved guide or service dogs receive the veterinary service benefit. This Pilot is anticipated to provide the veterinary service benefit to up to 100 additional Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with a mental health disorder. cleanings, screenings, etc.), urgent/emergent care, prescription medications, and care for illnesses or disorders when treatment enables the dog to perform its duties in service to the Veteran. 

Additional information about VA's service dog program can be found
at ideDogs.asp
The VA veterinary service benefit includes comprehensive wellness and sick care (annual visits for preventive care, maintenance care, immunizations, dental

3rd Annual Alabama Veteran's Reunion

It is very important to the city of Tuscaloosa to honor our veterans who have served and continue to serve our nation. We are proud to host the 3rd Annual Alabama Veteran's Reunion on August 26-28, 2016. This weekend will be dedicated to commemorating our current service members, veterans, and their families. Come meet our featured speaker, Major General Janet Cobb, at our Veterans Appreciation Dinner on Saturday. Maj. Gen. Cobb, is a Distinguished Military Graduate of University of Alabama ROTC and is well decorated with a multitude of awards for her service in the United States as well as overseas. The itinerary for the reunion include; a MyVA Community public forum and reception, the Veterans Appreciation Festival, the Veterans Appreciation Dinner. All of the events are free to attend, except for the formal Veterans Appreciation Dinner. The formal dinner event is $35 a person or $60 for a couple. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to honor our Alabama Veterans! For more information and registration details, please


Presidential Proclamation -- National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, 2016.



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In 1950, when Communist armies from the North stormed across the 38th parallel, brave American men and women though weary of combat in the wake of World War II stepped forward to defend their brothers and sisters on the Korean Peninsula. Over the course of 3 years, through unforgiving weather and severe danger, nearly 1.8 million Americans joined in the fight and faced down Communism pushing the invading armies back and protecting a people on the other side of the world. As we mark the 63rd anniversary of the Military Armistice Agreement that brought an end to this war, we pause to honor the strength and resilience of our Korean War veterans, whose spirits and stories serve as an inspiration to continue advancing freedom's cause.

Rising from occupation and ruin, the Republic of Korea today shines as a thriving, modern country, whose people can take comfort in knowing that the commitment of the United States to their stability and security will never waver. Fifty million South Koreans now live in freedom, reaching for their dreams and pursuing opportunities in a vibrant democracy and dynamic economy always realizing they have a partner who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in defense of peace and prosperity. Our lasting friendship and unbreakable alliance are sustained by the beliefs we hold in common and the values we cherish.

As we pay tribute to the Americans who gallantly helped forge this bond, we know our solemn responsibilities to our fallen and their loved ones persist long after the battle ends. More than 7,800 Americans are still missing from the Korean War, and we will not stop working to live up to our obligations to their families. We owe all our service members an enormous debt of gratitude. To honor the full weight of the sacrifices made by those who serve, we must uphold our Nation's promise to our veterans when they return home, and fulfill our commitment to all who wear the uniform in our name.

On National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, we pay tribute to the American patriots who fought for freedom and democracy throughout the Korean War, leaving behind everyone they loved to secure the blessings of liberty for a country they never knew and a people they had never met. For the heavy price they paid, we will forever honor the legacy of their service and uphold the ideals they secured through this hard-won victory.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 27, 2016, as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor our distinguished Korean War veterans.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.


Flag Flying Days

One thing many people do not know is that there are designated days to fly the

American Flag. The American flag is a beloved symbol of the United States and

should be displayed properly on all days when the weather permits, especially on

designated flag flying days. Flying the American flag is also one way to show your

support to all of the veterans that have served for our country. There are a variety of

other ways to support the veterans as well. This includes volunteering at veteran

support activities, donating money to veteran support charities, or even delivering

meal or care packages to veterans. The following infographic was created by A Stars And Stripes Flag Corporation, and it proudly presents the American Flag Flying Days.



 Laurie Olsen

 Laurie Olsen

Through All Their Preparation

Through all their preparation

Through all their sweat and tears

Through their final hours

Through their greatest fears

They have faced many enemies

In which they’ve paid the price

To fight for our freedom

An unselfish sacrifice

As we reflect on those times

On what they did that day

There’s not enough words

That can express what I must say

This is the greatest country

That will ever be

Because of what those fallen soldiers

Did for you and me

So as we give thanks

Let’s hold our heads up high

And place your hand over your heart

As Old Glory continues to fly

We commemorate you all

By thanking you today

For our independence

On this special day


Derrick Graham



For All The Sacrifices You Have Made

For all the sacrifices you have made

It was a difficult thing to do

For all the long deployments

It was something you had to do

For all of the letters

I received along the way

The words meant so much

I thought of you each day

For all the times you spent

For making our world so safe

For all the precautions you took

To make this a better place

For all the restless nights

You all stayed on alert

For all the relentless bombs

That landed in the dirt

For all the scary moments

For placing yourself in harm’s way

For you loyalty and dedication

And all the nights you prayed

For all the holidays that came by

And for those you didn’t see

Because you were on the battlefield

Protecting the world for me

You all will never be forgotten

I wish I could give you more

But all I have is these words

And this is what I thank you for



Derrick Graham


Is Your Email Address Killing Your Job Search?

Is Your Email Address Killing Your Job Search?

The job market is competitive and employers are simply inundated with applications.  Richard Bolles, in his 2016 edition of What Color is Your Parachute, says that employers receive an average of 118 to 250 applications per advertised position.  Out of necessity, the first task facing employers is to eliminate as many applicants as possible in order to get the stack of resumes down to a manageable number and then look deeper.  One of the easy discriminators is email address.  Really?  Email address?  Yes!  

Why Veterans Need An Op Order For Life

Why Veterans Need An Op Order For Life

Why do we plan for life events like a job search, or buying a house so meticulously but forget to plan for the unexpected? What I am talking about is taking care of your family. What happens if you were in a car wreck and couldn’t work anymore, or even worse needed someone to care for you? How about if you die unexpectedly, what happens to your family?