Our day at the Beyond Tribute Press Event


On Thursday, May 21st, my husband Charles and I attended the Beyond Tribute Press Event. We were among many dignitaries, including Gen. (Ret.) Wesley Clark and Dr. Jill Biden. The room was filled with veterans and military service organizations that included Blue Star Families, MOAA, American Women Veterans, U. S. Vets, the McCormack Foundation, and others. The program was supposed to commence at 12 noon, but due to all of the excitement in the room, along with the networking, it began a little behind time at about 12:30pm. What a great event!

Beyond Tribute is a not-for-profit organization that has brought together leaders from business, the arts, veterans and civic groups, and ordinary citizens to change how they celebrate Memorial Day and Veterans Day by transforming holiday sales promotions into fundraising entities that actually help our wounded veterans and their families. Their mission is to “redefine our Memorial Day and Veterans Day holidays by engaging the American business community and its customers in a national campaign that will raise charitable dollars to benefit those who are struggling with the wounds of war, including the invisible wounds: PTSD, traumatic brain injury and combat-induced anxiety and depression. Funds raised go directly to top rated charities that help veterans in need throughout the USA.”

Actor and director Bob Balaban emceed the event and gave introductions to the speakers.
The speakers were Gold Star Mothers of America President Georgie Carter Krell, who was very personable (and took a liking to Charles), General (Ret.) Wesley Clark, Carmella LaSpada from the White House Commission on Remembrance (www.remember.gov), and finally, me and my husband. We spoke on our experiences of his two deployments and subsequent combat injuries, his three years at Walter Reed and our involvement with the scandal, and I mentioned Blue Star families. We received a standing ovation!

Please see the following news article for more information about how you can get involved with Beyond Tribute at , and go to the Beyond Tribute website at http://www.beyondtribute.org to sign the pledge.

Go Beyond Tribute for Veterans

This moving email is circulating the internet right now and I wanted to share it with everyone.  Particularly since it involves BSF members Pamela Stokes Eggleston and her husband Charles.  Beyond Tribute is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making Memorial Day and Veterans Day about more than just shopping.  It’s about teaching Americans to see the days for what they are and to give back to the community even if shopping is involved.

From: Sgt. Charles Eggleston (Ret.) and Pamela Stokes Eggleston
Subject: Go Beyond Tribute for Veterans

Each Memorial Day and Veterans Day, many of us take time to recognize the sacrifices of those men and women who have served in uniform. But around the country, these solemn holidays often end up meaning little more than a chance to buy things on sale.

As a veteran injured in the war in Iraq, I find this so disheartening, as does my family.

Our Story

Charles:

I recently retired from the U.S. Army. I was an active Army soldier, served two tours in Iraq, and was a Warrior in Transition (WIT) at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), where I’ve received treatment for the past three years. I received several duty related injuries during both tours in Iraq, most recently in Mosul, Iraq in 2005. I am a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. The other six soldiers in my unit didn’t make it; and I know just how blessed I am to be here today.

Pamela:

During Charles’ tours, I gained weight and I couldn’t sleep. Although I tried to stay busy working, caring for the house and gardening, I constantly worried about Charles. Unfortunately, the U.S. Army did not have a comprehensive outreach program in place to help me or to reach out to the thousands of spouses, families, and friends left behind to deal with long deployments. When my husband returned to Iraq from his R&R (rest and relaxation), I felt like my heart had been ripped from my chest.

Shortly after Charles returned to Iraq, he was hit by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blast.  Charles suffered from PTSD and had a mild to moderate TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).  I quickly became Charles’ caregiver.  I didn’t have any experience with these invisible wounds of war and had no support from the Army.  I quickly learned what I needed to know through the internet and in searching out other military families to get us through the tough times.

Due to the trials and tribulations that Walter Reed put my husband through, he has become an advocate for his fellow soldiers, utilizing his time, listening to the call of his heart, and fostering his strong desire to help his wounded comrades in any way possible. We had to fight for so much during Charles’ three-year tenure at Walter Reed, including the right to be respected and the right to receive fair and adequate medical ratings and benefits. I became an unwitting advocate for my husband, writing numerous letters to Congressmen and Senators. We helped bring the many problems at Walter Reed to light.

Charles:

Pamela and I are now both advocates for the military and its families.  It galls us that stores treat the military as simply an advertising hook to get people into stores for Memorial Day sales.  It’s time for those stores to give something back to the military.

There are many veterans and military organizations that are truly vested in helping military families and veterans.  Organizations like the Wounded Warriors Project and other veterans service organizations are vital to filling the gaps in caring for soldiers and their families, particularly when a soldier returns wounded and cannot work for extended periods of time. The burden for this, and many of our military families, is unfair and unjust.  This is where Beyond Tribute can help.

Beyond Tribute

Pamela and I recently became involved with a non-partisan, non-profit group called Beyond Tribute that’s mobilizing people around Memorial Day to convince stores to donate a portion of their holiday weekend proceeds to medical treatment for veterans.  By Veterans Day, we hope to be able to raise significant money for veterans in need from the very businesses that usually capitalize on these solemn holidays.

But before businesses will sign on, they need to see that people are committed to truly honoring former service members. Sign the Memorial Day pledge to shop at Beyond Tribute businesses today and together we can do a lot of good for some people who really need it, starting with this Memorial Day:

http://BeyondTribute.org

As an active duty soldier, I believed in my service.  I was doing the right thing, regardless of political maneuvering back home.  I was serving my fellow soldiers. I was serving America.  I was trying to make a difference.

By signing the pledge to shop at Beyond Tribute businesses on weekends honoring veterans, you’re doing more than committing to making a difference. You’re also showing businesses that their customers will reward them if they do the right thing. Sign the pledge now:

http://BeyondTribute.org

Anyone who has served, or has a loved one who’s served, knows how important this help is.

That’s why people like Walter Cronkite, General Wesley Clark, philanthropist Jerome Kohlberg, and Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City’s Samantha) have joined Beyond Tribute with me and Pamela and pledged to do their shopping at participating businesses, too.

Join us in signing the pledge to do your Veterans Day shopping at Beyond Tribute businesses. Then ask your friends and family to do it, too:

http://BeyondTribute.org

The troops we honor are real people, many of whom have very real injuries. This is something we can all do that will really help them.

Thank you for your support,

Charles and Pamela Eggleston

Pledge Title:   PLEDGE TO GO BEYOND TRIBUTE FOR VETERANS

Body:  Memorial Day and Veterans Day should be about more than honoring veterans, they should be about helping those who have sacrificed their health and well-being in the line of duty.

I pledge to support services for veterans suffering wounds of war by shopping at Beyond Tribute businesses over Veterans Day weekend.

Fields:
[First Name] [Last Name]
[email] [zip]

*** In the interests of full disclosure:  I am a paid new media consultant for Beyond Tribute.  I’m not paid that much, but hey, it’s a nonprofit and a great cause that I believe in.  Steph

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