Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Memory of Frank N. Boosamra

On April 7th, 2010 I lost a very good friend who I never met in person.  I had this posted on my old blog and wanted to re-share on here as I came across his "Joke" folder today and I thought of him.

April 7th, 2010
It is with a very heavy heart that I am typing this as yesterday I found out that one of the most amazing people I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with passed away.

Frank N Boosamra a retired member of the Canadian Forces after 32 years of service passed away on April 7th, 2010 and this write up is my tribute to him and for his family.

In April of 2007 I created a group in Support of The Canadian Forces and Frank was the 2nd or 3rd member of this group. I sent him a Face Book friend request and he volunteered to help out in anyway possible so I made him an administrator of the group. As the numbers grew and other ideas came along Frank was always there to offer support and help with anything I would create or come up with.

The first group I had started for sending coffee to troops had gotten some media attention and after the TV interview I had gotten a lot of supportive emails but my first negative email I had shared with Frank as I was upset about it. It had read something to the effect of “You should spend less time in Tim Horton’s eating donuts and hit a treadmill once in awhile”

Franks Response word for word “Dave, Our men and women serving and those veterans that gave their lives for us have given this moron the right to talk out of his ass, move along

I’ll never forget those words as long as I live and any time I do receive negative emails of any kind I think about what Frank said and will carry that with me for as long as I am involved in Support Our Troops efforts.

We then together came up with the idea of petitioning to Canada Post to issue a stamp honoring our war heroes. A little over a year later it came out with help from Frank and everyone who signed it.

Frank loved his humour and was one of the most sarcastic people I have ever met in my entire life, when you’re someone like me who appreciates sarcasm this goes a long way. That being said Frank would always take a dig when he could against my hockey team the Toronto Maple Leafs and here is one that made me laugh the hardest that he had sent me on November 1st, 2009.

I could count on some amazing jokes from him at least two to three times a week and I will certainly miss that.

Frank always spoke about his family and from reading all the comments on his Face Book page and memorial group its apparent how much he was truly loved and will be missed. I am a better person for having known Frank and will be forever grateful for all his help with my projects, humour and life in general. If Frank saw something in my status that had nothing to do with any of my groups or sites that he knew I was upset about he would be the first person to message me and ask if everything was ok, send his number and tell me his ears were always open.

You see, Frank & I never met in person and I have come across a lot of people in the last three years that i would call acquaintances but Frank you were a true friend, like a family member to me, and I will miss you. I know you’re in a better place right now making people laugh and your passing has only fuelled my desire to continue all the things that I do as part of my site and groups like never before.

I know if you could read this you would probably tell me to “Suck it up buttercup” as you said to me on one occasion but this has probably been the hardest blog I’ve had to write.

Thank You for your service to our great country, and may you Rest In Peace

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Interview with Cody Jackson - The One Boy USO

I recently was informed about a very special child in the Georgia region who regularly goes to his local airport to say thank you to our men and women returning from various deployments. His name is Cody Jackson and at the age of eight years old has shaken the hands of more members of our military than most of us will in our entire lives. We could all learn a lot from the dedication this young man shows to our men and women in uniform and hopefully reading this will inspire some of you to do the same.

I recently sent his mom Kelly Jackson a request for an interview and her and Cody both replied to my questions below.

Cody with his family

Thankasoldier : When did Cody start this effort and what lead him want to start welcoming home soldiers?
Kelly Jackson : Cody has thanked police and firemen since 2 years old and it was only after we explained 9/11 to him when he was 4 years old that he took thanking our military as his own mission. He would thank them where ever we might be, even chasing down veterans (looking for those hats)

Thankasoldier : What is the reaction of the troops when they see you coming to shake their hands?
Kelly Jackson : Most are so very busy, but you can tell by the smile they get that they are at the very least amused I would hope they are grateful, but I try to stay out of the way and let Cody do his own thing...I try and thank them afterward, but whatever conversation he has is usually between the soldier and the boy.

Cody : they say thank you and go on their way, it is the few that actually stop and kneel down to talk a little, and tell him they do appreciate it.

Thankasoldier : What is the most memorable moment you've had in the time you have been doing this?
Cody : there are a few, touring the USS Truman, Major Krick of the Marines giving me a full Marine uniform complete with name tapes, and of course just the smiles on the guys faces.

Thankasoldier : What would you say to other young people who may not share the same views as you do?
Cody : It is the right thing to do. They don't have to risk their lives, they chose to do it and we should be thankful, I get teased a little bit but that doesn’t bother me any

Thankasoldier : We saw a soldier giving you a coin on the CNN story how many items have you received from troops and what would be your favourite?
Cody : I’ve gotten maybe 25 or so patches, coins, pins, and even awards. He cant think of one that is more special than the others...except maybe the ones given to him by his grandfather. Every one is special, they came from a hero

Thankasoldier : How many soldiers has cody said “Thank You” to ?
Kelly  Jackson : at least 10,000. January 4,2012 there are at least 5000-6000, Cody spent hours going down the line shaking hands. Many, many other trips there would be 500-600, just add it up along with all the others he sees day to day at the stores, amusement parks, etc.

Thankasoldier : When you're not at the airport welcoming home our serving men and women what do you like to do for fun?
Cody : I play baseball, boyscouts, i like to shoot and just play outside

Thankasoldier : I'm sure your parents are very proud of you how involved are they in what you do?
Kelly Jackson : We will help him with "advertising" to get his donations, drive him to and from airports, we are helping with his books for publishing, but generally we are just the gophers...go fer this, go fer that. He is the main power, if he said he was done, we would have to stop...but I don’t see that happening!

Thankasoldier : Not only do you welcome home our troops but you also send care packages to troops, how many of these have you sent over?
Kelly  Jackson : It would take months to collect $100 to send a package, and we would pay the $50 to ship it, so we havent had the opportunity to do a lot of shipping. Previous to the CNN airing, he only shipped 2 (a 6 month effort). We have since shipped 3 more, within one month. Quite a feat!

Cody : We have enough funds for another 3 boxes, then we will be out of funds again, and will have to start saving up!

Thankasoldier : Some Marines call you the "Little Marine" do you have plans to join the Marine Corps when you are old enough?
Cody : Yes, I want to be a sniper!!

Click Here to check out Cody's Facebook page "The One Boy USO" 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

One click of a button can make a difference

Last night I had the honour of attending the Heroes Hockey Challenge gala in Calgary, Alberta I met some amazing people every rank from Private to Colonel and got to shake a lot of hands and say Thank You.  I have a lot of memories last night that will stay with me forever however there is one that I have to share.

After all the speeches were done and the meal was over I had a soldier walk up to me and say "You're Dave Murphy right?" I nodded shook his hand and said "Thanks for what you do" he looked at me and said no "If it wasn't for your website I might not even be here today"

He told me that he had just gotten back from his second tour from Afghanistan and was having severe PTSD symptoms and couldn't deal with it any more.  He said when he was in a public place and heard a child crying he wouldn't know what to do with himself.  "I was on sleeping meds and I was ready to take the whole bottle one night and just end it, I logged in to Facebook and saw that a friend had shared one of your videos and I decided to watch"

He was referring to the "Operation You Are Not Alone" video I launched on YouTube on May 2011 and after seeing this, he messaged another soldier who had left a comment saying "Anyone want to talk, I've been through this and here to help"  He's now getting the help he needs and this blew me away as hearing stories like this coming from a YouTube video.

He brought me over to his table and got to meet his girlfriend and mother which was also amazing and overwhelming as his mother said "Dave if it wasn't for your project my son might not even be here" I was stuck for words.

That being said it takes one second to share the posts on "Thank A Soldier" and you never know what kind of difference you could be making.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Order Of St. George

January 25th, 2012

Today I am honoured and truly humbled to announce that I have been chosen to become a member of "The Order Of St. George". I just spoke with the Grand Master The Chevalier Gareth J. Green, CD, KGCStG Grand Master of Canada and The Americas and he informed me of the official news.

On Saturday October 13th, 2012 at the St. Pauls Anglican Church at 12:30pm I will be entered into The Order Of St. George. 
Seating at 12:30pm Service at 1:00pm
St. Paul's Cathedral Bloor Street
227 Bloor St. E, Toronto, ON M4W 1C8

Click here to R.S.V.P on Facebook 

When I started Tim Hortons for our Troops five years ago I was called to the Military Family Resource Center to meet Major John Haylock (Canadian Forces) who would be delivering the over $10,000 in Timmies certificates they had received through members of my Facebook page to send to Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

I had stayed in contact with him for years and sent care packages for him to give out to soldiers while he was on deployment and have kept in contact throughout the years.

He recently submitted my name for nomination for the Order and today it became official, I've had to keep this a secret for about the last month which is really hard for anyone who knows me but I can hardly explain in words on a blog how much this means to me.

Some well respected people are members of this order such as former General Rick Hillier, Lewis Mackenzie & Andrew Leslie and I am honoured to join them.  The Order of St. George does a lot of work for military charities and I hope I can help them with all of their efforts in the future.

I want to say THANK YOU to Major John Haylock for thinking of me for this amazing honour and I will certainly do my best to make them proud.  Some amazing things are coming up with our page and website such as "The Wall Of Gratitude" and another secret project I have in the works so I have no plans in slowing things down a notch.

Thank You all for being a part of my efforts whether its following on Twitter, Sharing on Facebook, sending photos for Gratitude Project and everything else, none of my efforts would be anything without my amazing group members who take part in all of them and show our men and women serving from all countries we support them.

Thank You 
Dave Murphy - Calgary Alberta

If you are within driving distance of Toronto 

April 2007 - Meeting Major John Haylock who delivered Tim Hortons Certificates to soldiers for our Facebook page 


Monday, January 23, 2012

Elton Adams releases new single "Canadian Girls"

MCpl Elton Adams has released a new song this week called "Canadian Girls" featuring Canadian Country recording artist Julian Austin.   We have featured Elton's music on our page many times and his song "What A Soldier Left Behind" has over 40,000 views on YouTube.  Elton and I also worked together for a project to promote PTSD awareness which featured his song `Hard` and has over 54,000 views too.

``The song Canadian Girls is dedicated to Canada's amazing strong and independent women. The song covers all areas of success for Canadian women especially Canada’s precious female soldiers.`` - Elton Adams

You can get this song on Elton's website for $0.99 and also here a sample of it on his webpage.  Elton has also said that if you buy his first album, he will send the song for free as well as a signed copy.

For every SHARE of this photo on Facebook you`ll be entered to win a FREE signed copy of Elton`s CD and the song Canadian Girls.  Plus you will receive ONE bonus entry in to our HEROES HOCKEY JERSEY contest.

Also for every tweet via the  button you will also receive a bonus entry in to both contests.

Lets show this fine soldiers support and help him get his music out there.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Toronto Maple Leafs - Canadian Forces Night

On Saturday night the Leafs lost 3-0 to New York Rangers on the Canadian Forces special appreciation night at Air Canada Centre (ACC,) and the crowd was very receptive to the ceremony.

It was a very moving ceremony and over 400 troops were on hand as season ticket holders of the Leafs donated their tickets to the men and women of the Canadian Forces. One of the real highlights of the evening was when soldiers from the Warfare Centre in Trenton repelled down from the rafters. One of the soldiers even ripped open his uniform to display a Maple Leaf t-shirt to an astounding applause.

The Maple Leafs often hold special nights and this one was particularly special as there was not a dry eye in the rink or across Canada on CBC, during the opening ceremonies. A class act by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE,) as they are well know for running a classy organization.

You can also purchase Canadian Forces Night merchandise with a portion of the proceeds going to military charities on the Real Sports website.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Veteran's Surprise Proposal

MCpl Daniel  Gray-Owen

MCpl Daniel Gray-Owen is a member of the Canadian Forces who I met about three years ago on Facebook when he was about to go on tour in Afghanistan nd got to speak with him many times during his deployment.

I met him in person for the first time in December of 2009 when we hosted a live concert at the Royal Canadian Legion here in Calgary featuring another soldier MCpl Elton Adams. When he returned from his most recent tour he had something very special lined up for his girlfriend Stephanie.

Stephanie is a comedian and she had a live show scheduled and didn't think MCpl Gray-Owen would be home for a few days after.  Little did she know that he was home two days earlier and hiding back in the kitchen for three hours waiting for Stephanie to take the stage for her performance that night.

"I meet her in Medicine hat in 2005 we talked and that was the last time i saw her unitl about a month later and asked her out but she fake numbered me. I seen her a few months later and gave her shit for it. I then asked to hang out with her but she made the excuse that she was hanging out with her Dad and he didn't like boys around when he was out with her daughter but it turns out that her dad was a friend a local DJ at the club that I always went to. When I showed up at the table I was like Steve he was like Dan and Im guessing she was like SHIT. We went out for our first date the next day

In 2008 I got posted out east and she was moving to Calgary to start her career in movies and stand up, I lost track with her for about a year but got to see her before I deployed. We got to spend one last night together before I left to go to Afghanistan" - Mcpl Daniel Gray-Owen

A very special Golden Retriever

So let me tell you about Tori, a very special Golden Retreiver

In January 2011, Tori, a 10.5-year-old golden retriever, signed up to walk 250 miles to help Troy & Mareike Yocum raise funds for struggling military families through Drum Hike/Hike for Heroes. 275 miles later, she succeeded in raising almost $4700 for the cause!

Last year when we did The Gratitude Project I received a photo of Tori for the project.

Tori also visits with veterans in local hospitals


Here`s a video of Tori`s journey to raise funds for military families:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vote for The Military Wives Choir for Best Single

Adele, Ed Sheeran, Example, Jessie J, JLS, Olly Murs, One Direction, Pixie Lott, The Wanted & The Military Wives Choir.  What do they all have in common?  They're all up for "BEST SINGLE" at this years Brit Awards on Febuary 21st.

Their song "Whereever You Are" recently won the Chrismtas Number one single this past holiday season and with your help we can turn the music world upside down in the UK by helping them win Best single this year.

Winning this award would keep the profile of the single high and therefore help to add to the money already raised for both the charities they are supporting SSAFA Forces Help and Poppy Legion (Royal British Legion) and imagine the shake up it would cause in the music world if a group of military wives were to wing BEST SINGLE OF THE YEAR!

 Members of the Military Wives Choir at the BRIT Awards Nominations Launch Party

You don't have to be in the UK to vote as I just filled out the voting form and will post the steps below.

2. Click on Register to create an account (this takes two minutes)

3. Cast your vote for `The Military Wives Choir by selecting them and clicking on vote

4, Share this link on your Facebook by simply copying and pasting on to your Facebook wall or you can join our Facebook page and click the share button on our post.

If you haven`t heard this amazing song the video will be below.  Thanks everyone are you ready..................

Memorial for fallen Canadian soldiers returns home

The cenotaph has long been a sombre fixture at the airfield, located behind the two-storey Canadian headquarters and a few paces from the spot where tents for journalists once stood. In mid November a team of engineers started the process of dismantling the memorial and today it arrived back on Canadian soil.

Every name on every plaque had been safely removed and placed in wooden crates and the memorial is currently in storage in a undisclosed location in Ottawa.with plans to have it publicly displayed eventually in the Ottawa region.

I`ve posted a video from The Canadian Army news about the repatriation of the memorial back in November 2011.

Video via Canadian Army News 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The History of Thank A Soldier

In April 1994 I was involved in a stabbing attack by three guys and severly injured.  Two off duty 
firefighters thankfully were driving by and saw me on the sidewalk and not only saved my left leg from 
being amputated but saved my life.  For years after that I would on random occasions drop of Tim Hortons 
coffee to firehalls just to show my gratitude.

April 2007
I had heard that a Tim Hortons had opened for Canadian soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan 
and that they were paying for coffee.  Even though all funds from that location went back in to programs 
for our soldiers Tim Hortons for our Troops group on face book launched, for sending Tim Hortons coffee 
to soldiers in Afghanistan, In the nearly four years that it was open we sent over 50,000 in free coffee 
certificates with messages of support on the back.

September 2007 
Operation Pen Pal launched on Face Book, purpose matching soldiers and civilians from members of the Coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and soldiers around the world. To date we have matched over 9000 soldiers and civilians at no cost to anyone.  Note : This group does not exist as it has just been merged with our current Facebook page an addresses are provided when they become available.

October 2007 
Group created called Petition to Canada Petition To Canada Post For A Support Our Troops Stamp
Purpose: A petition to Canada post to issue a stamp honouring the sacrifice of Canadian Heroes it 
received 6600+ signatures and and letters were sent to the stamp committee and this stamp honouring 
veterans and current soldiers which was released in  October of 2009

December 2008 
my website coffee4ourtroops.com had been hacked and shut down by a group of people in a foreign region claiming they found security faults in my website. I was devastated when I had seen this. Almost two 
years of work, photos from soldiers, guest book messages, all gone, I was almost ready to quit. I talked 
to a mother of a fallen soldier and she told me the things I do for the soldiers and their families mean 
too much and that I had to think about the soldiers who lose their friends while serving. They don’t 
quit, they get up the next day and have to soldier on and that is what I did. I was determined to get it 
back in some way.

April 2008
 Support For Military families and Injured Soldiers group was created on face book
Purpose: A Networking site for connecting families of soldiers, and Injured soldiers to each other
I have met so many amazing family members of soldiers through this group and injured soldiers and its 
making a big difference as these people are meeting each other.  Note : this group has also merged with 
our current Facebook page

May 2008 
created an application on face book called “Military Gifts” just a fun application for the military 
community to send photos to each other on face book, weapons, memorials, jets, ships, base logos, all in 
small photos that go on each others profile when you send them.

March 2009 
I joined Twitter after hearing that a show in the USA called "Red Eye" was making fun of Canadian 
soldiers who were ending their combat role in 2011. they said they were going to be "Taking a Break" and 
"Doing artwork" and basically making a mokery of our soldiers.  This was on a day when we had lost four 
soldiers in Afghanistan and I joined to give them a piece of my mind, hahah little did I know I would 
meet some amazing people and military related folks through the page.

December 2009
the Thank a soldier cause was launched as I wanted to merge all my groups in to one Facebook page and at the time this was the best way to do that.  In three years it grew to over 4.1 million members 

March 2010 
The Gratitude Project Launched : I asked group members to send in photos holding thank you 
signs and was expecting enough to make one video of people holding these signs scrolling.  We received
enough photos to make 10 ten minute long YouTube videos and the resposne was amazing.  Even celebreties like Gene Simmons, Shannon Tweed, Trooper, Julian Austin, Jason McCoy got involved and sent in photos for this amazing project.

January 2010 - Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed send photo for The Gratitude Project, post to their twitter page and websites.  This was probably one of the biggest things to ever happen to our page as the number of people participating and joining the page started to grow like wildfire.

May 2010 - A powerful YouTube video was launched called "The Battle Of The Mind " to promote PTSD awareness, it received over 50,000 views on youtube and some pretty powerful comments and has actually helped soldiers going through the same thing meet each other.

January 2011 - The "Thank A Soldier Monthly" was launched, a newspaper style blog where group members can submit stories and write ups with whatever is on their mind.  We have posted over 100 articles in the one year of existence and allows me to update more frequently about our projects and other groups doing great things.

October 2011 - The Wall of Gratitude idea was posted and will be launching in the next month.

November 2011 - Attended the Grey Cup with a member of the Canadian Forces and his father in Vancouver and also his wife came along for the trip.  His wife had nominated him for an "All Star Dad" contest via Facebook for a trip for him and his family to go and after they had won they invited me along.  We got to meet Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed at the game too which is something I will never forget

December 2011 - "Thank A Soldier" Facebook page is launched.   Even though the "CAUSES" application had been amazing in the past three years a lot of members were not interacting and the numbers were slowing.  I had sent out a member survey and people said they wanted a page where they didn't have to leave Facebook as an app to access our page so thus the creation of the "Fan Page" format.  In one month its grown to over 40,000 members and is by far the most interactive effort to date.

There are a lot of things I didn't post in this timeline and some things I cherish and keep to myself, alot of the military community have met through our website and pages.  Alot of civilians have become friends with soldiers via pen pals and family members of fallen soldiers have helped each other grieve.  I hope this post has helped you better understand that what we do is not a charity or a non profit its a movement.  A place for people to share whatever they like in the common theme of showing gratitude for our men and women in uniform.

Thank you all for being a part of the last nearly 4.5 years and to those just finding out about our site, thanks for checking it out and looking forward to what the next four years bring.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Christmas Cards 4 Veterans - Thank You Everyone

Christmas Cards for Veterans

A few weeks before Christmas I had posted a blog with an address to send cards to Veterans at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Ontario and I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to send one over.

I want say thank you to everyone at Sunnybrook Hospitals Twitter Page who were glad to accept my request so close to Christmas and helping us make this happen for our Veterans.

This was Sunnybrooks note today on Facebook : 
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre With the help of Thank A Soldier, this winter people from across North America sent holiday cards to our WWII and Korean War veterans. On December 25 and 26, over 200 of our vets received the cards and read their messages of gratitude. Thanks will never be enough! 

A Sunnybrook Veteran reads a card from one of our members on Christmas Day 

Their Recreational Therapist enjoyed handing them out and watching the reactions and also I heard from a friend on Twitter that one of the Veterans had sent a thank you note back to them which is amazing. 

Every year leading up to Remembrance Day you can donate a flag in the name of our fallen heroes and send a message of thanks for their courage and sacrifice.

The flagswill  be placed on the lawn in front of Sunnybrook's Veterans Centre on November 11 so Canada's Veterans can see that citizens across the country recognize and value their courageous contributions.

Flags are available in 2 sizes for a $20 or $50 donation and are eligible for a tax receipt.  Help get the word out about  Operation Raise a Flag today.

Real Life Call Of Duty

So as I sat down last night to relax with a few hours on the Playstation 3 I popped in the game "Call Of Duty" for the first time ever and not having ever played it before I was impressed with how realistic it was and the amazing graphics.  I took a moment to think about people I know that have been on the frontlines and have come face to face with a Taliban ambush.  As I kept getting shot by others playing the same game and "Respawning" I believe is the term I thought about our troops who don't get a reset button, or can't turn off a video game console if they get mad at it.

I then got up this morning and saw Funker530's new video of Canadian soldiers walking in to a Taliban ambush and in the video you can hear one of the soldiers yelling "Get the M72 OUT" and thought to myself how lucky we are to be able to walk down our streets without hearing someone yelling that or having to worry about stepping on an IED.

Please visit Funker530's YouTube channel and see some REAL LIFE combat footage

I've also posted the video below that you can watch right here but Funker530 has 149 videos of REAL footage that you won't see on any evening newscasts. Please also join the Afghanistan Combat Footage - Funker530 Facebook page and SUBSCRIBE his YouTube channel also

WARNING :  Contains some foul language

Please also check out MILITARY MINDS:

This isn't some video game, it's real life that our soldiers face every day.

If You're on Twitter please click the TWEET button below to share this with your friends

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hockey Night in Afghanistan

I received an email today from the wife of a Canadian soldier who is currently deployed with the U.S Air Force and she shared something awesome with me that the Edmonton Oilers & The Oklahoma City Barons did for our troops overseas.

"My Canadian husband is deployed overseas with the U.S. Air Force. The Canadians and American's at the deployed location got a great surprise and a real lift in spirits in December when they received a shipment of hockey sticks, gloves and t-shirts from the Oklahoma Barons Ice Hockey Team. There are Wednesday night games scheduled now and it brings a little bit of home and some friendly competition to the base. Between missions, it's a great morale booster, fantastic exercise and inspires a lot of camaraderie.

So a big thanks to the Barons and to their parent club, the Edmonton Oilers, who generously ensured that halfway around the earth, the Canadian spirit is alive and well and our game is being enjoyed by Canadians and Americans, giving them a needed reprieve from the serious business of the mission. Equally as important to the serving members is knowing that the Barons and Oilers were thinking of them, half a world away." - Wife of a Canadian soldier

Click the above image for full size view 

I want send out a huge shout out to the Edmonton Oilers & Oklahoma City Barons for doing this for our men and women serving our great countries and giving them a huge morale boost.

Thank You 

Many former and current NHL players have made the trip to Afghanistan in the past to play hockey with our troops, most recently former players Pierre Turgeon, Tiger Williams and Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald

"Everyone's thankful that we're here, but I've got to be honest with you, it's just a privilege for us to be here, t's so much fun to be around these guys and we enjoy it — big time." - Pierre Turgeon,

CBC's Don Cherry has also made a morale visit to our troops along with Brian Burke & Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Below is a video showing soldiers playing hockey in Afghanistan last Christmas and features an interview on the bench with a Canadian soldier.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thank A Soldier themed Facebook Timeline Covers

Recently on Facebook users have the option to put a "Cover Page" on their Facebook profiles and I thought it would be a good idea to make up a few with our "Thank A Soldier Banner" and theme that people can download.

This is an example photos are available for download below
This is an example of how the logo will look on your Facebook page and I will post instructions below on how to download and upload to your Facebook pages if you like.

Please if you are going to use these as your Facebook Profile do not edit out the links to our webpage or Facebook page as that would defeat the point of getting the word out about.

How to download and install Facebook Timeline Covers.

To Download from this page:
1. Click the image that you would like to use as your Facebook timeline cover
2. Right click on it and select Save
3. Save the file to your desktop

To load image to your Facebook timeline cover
1. Click on your Facebook profile page
2. Click on "Add Cover"
3. Select Upload file
4. Select file from desktop
5. Select Save changes

NOTE: Once you've downloaded a photo and have it set as your cover page feel free to take a screen shot of your profile and post it on the "Thank A Soldier Facebook Page" I will post instructions below the images of how to take a screen show of your profile also if you're unsure of how to do that.

Click the below images for larger size image to download

How to take a print screen and take a screen shot CLICK HERE

1. Go to Thank A Soldier Facebook
2. Click upload photo
3. Upload your saved photo showing your new Thank A Soldier Time Line video

If you would like to share this post to Twitter copy and paste the following :

Check this out   themed FB Timeline Cover


Saturday, January 7, 2012

What to send to soldiers

Today I received over 200 addresses of soldiers currently serving overseas and within 30 minutes of posting on "Thank A Soldier" facebook i received over 300 emails.  My most common question was "If I send a care package what do I send"

Here is a collection of items requested by soldiers I have sent care packages too:

1. White Socks
2. Pepperoni sticks
3. Toilet paper
4. Deodorant 
5. Crystal lite, Gatorade , flavored teas (regular & herbal),
6. Potato chips
7. Pop tarts, granola bars, fruit roll ups
8. DRY SOUP: (Ramen Noodles / Cup-O-Soup: just add water)
9. Sports pages from newspapers, or sports magazines, or Hometown newspaper
10. Toothbrushes and toothpaste
11. Deodorant
12. International phone calling cards
13. Gummi Bears, sour candy, suckers, Halloween treat type candy
14. Hand and face whipes
15. batteries
16. Small Stuffed Animals (they like to give these out to the kids when they are on patrol)
17. Pens and notepads
18. Hand Cream (moisturizer)
19. Beef Jerky
20. A hand written letter

From a girlfriend of a soldier :
My boyfriend is currently in Afghanistan and I send him a package once a month and a written letter more than once a month.. In the package I send his favorites.. beef jerky, popcorn, gummie worms, chex mix, we’re from texas and he loves the texas longhorns so I get the texas football magazine and he loves UFC so I send him the tapout magazine, I’ve sent him a baseball hat, shirts from his favorite baseball teams, tapout shirts, under armour work out gear, socks, pictures, waterguns, frisbees, bubbles, football, something they can have fun with on their down times, just sending something from home and him seeing that package makes his day so much better.. oh and I spray everything with my perfume on it:)

From a soldier currently in Afghanistan:
I’m actually in Afghanistan now and I’ll tell ya, each person is different. (duh) but some stuff like tobacco is one thing, dip and cigarettes that you can get while deployed have a lot of extra stuff put in them so they’ll keep longer, so they end up tasting and feeling funky. The best thing ever though.. Beef Jerky! Trail mix, drinkings, poptarts. ect… but the best thing you can do is simply write and ask what, Whoever, would like. ya know?

From a female soldier:
As a female that had deployed, it sounds crazy, but the things I wanted the most were little things that still made me feel like a girl. Lip gloss, soft blanket, “good” shampoo and lotions. Someone sent me a soft robe (sounds funny), but it was my favorite, and I would wear it every night in my tent. I still have it and my kids know that’s one of mommy’s favorite things.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Discounts for The Military Family

Today I received this in my email from the wife of a Canadian soldier and was asked if would share this on my blog.  A lot of people consider the military family the invisible rank and a lot of the times we forget the sacrifice that loved ones of our soldiers give up while their loved ones are on deployment.

I recently traveled home during christmas with my three small children (under 6),while my Canadian husband is deployed for the 6th time in 7 years (this time with the USAF for 6 months). I was shocked to hear that United Airlines would not recognize our Military ID and deployment orders as being a part of the military. I was told that unless my husband was with me that my family was not classed as military. I was so disappointed in the lack of regard they hold for military families. 

As much as the member themselves serve, so do the families. The mothers, fathers and/or partners that hold families together to support those deployed. Most of the time we are without family support as we are posted far from our families. Military families for year after year do this with pride so that others can enjoy their freedom. I cannot believe that a large airline company would treat any deployed military family in the way that they did with us. 

I thought you might be able to help bring some attention to this issue for the Airlines to support all military personal, including those who wear the "Invisible Uniform" Cheers,


Dear *********** :
I am sorry you continue to be disappointed with United.

I regret that my colleague was not clear with our Military baggage policy. Active U.S. Military and their accompanying dependents on personal travel are allowed 3 bags up to 70lbs/32kg with a maximum dimension of 62 linear inches. As you're husband was not traveling with you the general domestic baggage policy applies.

We recognize you have a choice of airlines, and we thank you for choosing to fly with United on this occasion.

We wish you the best with all of your future travel.
 Michelle ****
Customer Care
United Airlines


Since posting this article I have also received the following from soldiers and their families:

.I was recently making a booking with Disney for our family and they confirmed me with the military rate...When I called to add something to the vacation they informed me that we could not receive the military rate...even though my husband did two tours and was injured on his second tour...I told her that we all fight together...didn't matter it cost us almost double sad but true


my unit from Alaska is deployed we got our two weeks of leave in October to go see family and friends. well one of my buddies was got to the airport and the line was long. when he got to the counter they told him sorry we cant check your baggage its to close to boarding time. well instead of making a way to get his baggage to his destination on another flight the next day or something they told him he can call and book another flight for 1300 more dollars! that's outrageous this man is going to serve your country for a year and you wont put his bags on another flight so he can go see his mother! i was beyond disturbed when i heard this. 

anyways thats my horror story with airlines and military. but i have also had good ones i sat down to lunch with a buddy of mine before we parted )both military) and when the check came we were told dont worry about it the couple over there said thank you for your service. it was very nice and thats not counting the endless amounts of beers people have bought me :) thank you for all your support!

I have been on both sides....a serving member and a military spouse. Military families are not nearly respected enough. For instance, Via Rail Canada offers a discount to military members, and to their families as long as they are traveling together. But if the military member is not traveling with you? Forget it. I would argue that in some ways the family at home has a harder time than the serving member. The serving member has a clear mandate and focus, the remaining family members have to do everything without an integral part of the family, and often have to do it without a support network. When I took my kids to meet my husband in the states while on his LTA, lots of people were happy to congratulate him and offer him a beer. The rest of us were ignored and/or forgotten.


This blog was originally posted as a story about how a military family was mistreated by an Airlines in the US and I've shared the other updates I've received but have removed the names and personal information.  I think all military families should receive military discounts regardless of if their loved one is with them or not. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

In Memory of Cpl Mark Robert McLaren

Cpl. Mark Robert McLaren MMV
1st Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment
Former member of The Hastings & Prince Edward Regiment
Born - September 7, 1985 - KIA Afghanistan - December 5, 2008.

In December of 2008 Canada lost it's 100th soldier in Afghanistan Cpl. Mark Robert McLaren MMV was serving his country and was involved in an roadside attack and sadly lost his life.  Many members of the general public in the Peterborough, Ontario region came out to show their respects at his funeral and also every overpass was lined with supporters when he came down the "Highway Of Heroes" from Trenton, Ontario.

More than a year after he was killed by a roadside bomb, Peterborough's Cpl. Mark McLaren was honoured with the Medal of Military Valour as he was recognized for pulling an Afghan interpreter to safety while on patrol.

On Nov. 6, 2008, Cpl. McLaren's joint Canadian-Afghan patrol was ambushed in Kandahar Province. The attack seriously injured the team's Afghan interpreter who was paralyzed and exposed to further enemy fire.

Today Jo-Anne Mclaren posted the below photo to the "Thank A Soldier" Facebook page :

"This is our son Cpl. Mark Robert McLaren MMV. He was killed in Afghanistan December 5, 2008. His Dad has been creating photos from pictures he has taken and some he has received like this one of Mark. The tree is across the street from where we live and this was the first major snowfall here in Peterborough. These photos are helping with his healing and mine as well. We miss him every day, every hour, every minute...." - Jo-Ann McLaren"

She was overwhelmed with all the messages of support that started to come in from people all over the world and I told her "This is just the way the people of my page are" and thus the reason I chose to list it as a "Community" and not a "Fan Page"

I do what I can to keep the names of our fallen heroes alive so they just don't become a number or a statistic on a website and when we did "The Gratitude Project last year I received this photo from Cpl McLaren's family to submit for our project.

R.I.P Cpl Mark Robert McLaren - May you never be forgotten 

The Reason - By Dan Gray

I posted the above photo earlier on our Facebook page and a friend of mine who writes poems for our military wrote up the following poem.  I hope you like it.

This is the reason I do it, this baby in my hand, 
The reason I wear this uniform, the reason I serve my land, 
The everyday freedoms of walking up and down the street, 
not worried for a moment of any evil their may be, 

I choose to fight the evil in countries far away, 
To toil in sand and desert sun for many a day, 
To see things unspeakable and face fear square on, 
right now the only task I have is getting my baby home.

I want them to look up at me and put that smile on their face, 
I want them to understand what I do when it calls me away,
but right now I want them for a few more minutes just to sleep, 
till we get home to mother and a fine dinner to eat.

This baby is the reason for me to fight for peace, 
so they never will have to do the things or see what I have seen, 
So when they grow up there may be peace the world round, 
now I may quiet so as not to cause my baby to make a sound.