Greater Cleveland Fisher House

By Tom Sweeney
It is a simple, straightforward story about wounded veterans and their families. It is about mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children.
When our young men and women voluntarily join our armed forces, each swears to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Brief though it may be, it is a solemn oath. Come hell or high water, young troops pledge their lives and honor to protect us.
Long after the winds of war die away, deep shadows of pain and suffering continue, though hardly noticed by us.
The Greater Cleveland Fisher House will bring light and comfort to the families of those troops whose lives were damaged or irrevocably changed as they lived up to that oath.
Our aim is clear, and vital. A Fisher House will provide comfortable housing at no cost to families whose veterans are in the Stokes VA hospital or as a VA patient being treated by the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth and others.
Fisher Houses are not new; they are gifts from Zachary Fisher, who passed away in June, 1999. At present, 62 Fisher Houses dot the map of America.
Building one in Cleveland will be an honor as well as a fulfillment of our civilian anthem during World War II, “To wait and pray for them ’til they all come home.” Today, as a combat veteran from Vietnam, I add this, ” … but if they are broken, we will fix them as best we can and do it with the help of their families, the Fisher House, and everyone from Greater Cleveland who ‘gives a damn’.”
Our VA hospital ranks No. 1 in the U.S. for its eight “Centers of Excellence,” and is a ‘step-down’ treatment center for patients from Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals. We care for veterans and those veterans need the medicine that only family can give.
The most valuable element in healing is the hug and hand of a parent, a wife, a husband or a child. Families who are part of the treatment have much greater odds of staying intact. It’s the relationship.
Remember, our veterans took an oath and took a chance on us. They bet their lives on us. It is now our turn to volunteer to serve those who volunteered to serve us.
Here’s the good news and the better news. The Fisher House Foundation will evenly split the cost of a Greater Cleveland Fisher House.
The better news is our Fisher House will have 18 suites in the 16,000 square foot home. There is no charge to families. Our Fisher House will cost $6 million to build. We are asked to raise half of that. We are just over the $2 million dollar mark and fully expect to break ground next year.
The Greater Cleveland Fisher House is a fully registered 501c.3 and all contributions are tax deductible by federal law.
You see, the “Call to Duty” is now ours. That call is to every business, corporation, government, veteran organization and every supporter of veterans.
In short, ‘give a damn’ and with the help of their families let’s ‘fix those who are broken’ as best we can.
It is our own oath. Take it. It is a debt that is legitimately owed. When we honor and help our veterans, we bring honor to ourselves.
Tom Sweeney, President
Greater Cleveland Fisher House
Combat Veteran, Vietnam

The Tax Man Cometh

By Carole Grady
DD 214 Financial Editor


Internal Revenue Service

I am sure that you have everything in order to do your taxes this year but, if not, here are some helpful tips.

If you are going to have your return done by a paid preparer please, please do not bring a bag of receipts for him/her to go through. It will cost you more; have everything itemized by category.
Be sure to bring all W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, student loan information, and anything that concerns your taxes.

If you donated clothes and furnishings to a legitimate charity, be sure to have all those items written down and itemized; i.e., five new shirts, daybed, six pairs of shoes, two tennis racquets, etc.
Keep your receipts as back up.

If you are going to do your own return using a computer program, be sure that you know the tax laws, especially if you have investments or have your own business, and file a Schedule C.

The tax laws for travel, entertainment, depreciation, use of home office can be tricky. The money you would pay an experienced tax preparer can save you in the long run.

If you do use a paid preparer be sure that it is not someone who closes down on April 15th and cannot be found until next year. If you get a letter from the federal, state or city governments, you will need to be able to contact the preparer for advice.

I hope all of you have faithfully done your taxes every year and are in Uncle Sam’s good graces. If not, one thing to know is that if you did not file in, for example, 2001, there is no statute of limitations restricting the IRS from added penalties and interest. This only applies to not filing at all, not late filing.
Another bad thing about not filing, if you were due for a refund that year you will not be able to claim it if the return was due more than three years ago. This applies to Earned Income Credit as well.
If you owe this year and you cannot pay the full amount you can request an additional 60-120 more days to pay without a user fee. If you need more time contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 to make installment arrangements. JUST BE SURE TO FILE YOUR RETURN ON TIME!

Happy 2015!

Carole Grady

The Spoils of War Go to Contractors in Afghanistan

Wartime-contracting-commissionThe Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan estimated that between $31 billion and $60 billion was lost to fraud during U.S. operations in those countries. The Justice Department says it brought 237 criminal cases from November 2005 to September 2014 arising from war-zone misconduct — often contracting fraud.

“We just were not equipped to do sufficient oversight and monitoring on the front end, and we didn’t have sufficient accountability mechanisms on the back end, which led to enormous problems,” said Laura Dickinson, a national security law professor at George Washington University.

UNBROKEN- A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

unbroken-pbI first learned of Louis Silvie Zamperini in early July, 2014 when I read of his passing in the Plain Dealer. It referenced the book Unbroken, his true life experiences. I saved the obituary to make sure I read the book. When I did read it I learned his incredible story of a troubled childhood, competing in the U.S. Olympics, surviving a World War U.S. Army Air Force Pacific Ocean air crash, being adrift in a life raft for forty seven days, capture by the enemy, beatings, torture, freedom, anger, despair, alcoholism and eventual redemption. Now that I’ve read it I can only say his life story moved me deeply. Author Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit, spent seven years researching, interviewing and writing his story. She, like Zamperini, is also an amazing human being.
Louie, as he’s called, was born in Olean, New York to Italian immigrant parents Anthony and Louise. Because he contracted pneumonia when two years old, Louie’s physician-recommended a warmer climate. West went the family, all the way to the Torrance, California of 1919. Like many other irascible young boys, his childhood was marred by continuous troubles he created for himself. The police knew him by name from the numerous situations he found himself in. His brother Peter tried to be his mentor by encouraging him to compete in school sports, especially track events. With his attention and energy finally diverted to positive activities, Peter’s support paved the way for Louie to develop into a world-class runner. It lead to winning a spot on the 1936 U.S. Olympic Team. The nineteen year old “Torrance Tornado” ran in the 5,000 meter race in Hitler’s Berlin, finishing 8th.
With Germany’s military rampaging in Europe, he saw war clouds drifting towards the U.S. By then he was a student at the University of Southern California. Although he was focused on the entering the 1940 Olympics in Japan, he had learned that learned that anyone who enlisted before being drafted could choose their branch of service. Early in 1941 Louie went for the Army Air Corps. Events, however, interceded. The Olympics in Japan were cancelled when America was attacked later that year at Pearl Harbor, drawing us into World War Two.
Training as a bombardier, Louis was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. Author Laura Hillenbrand takes the reader through his training and assignments in Iowa, California, and Hawaii. He was assigned to the 372nd Bomb Squadron of the 307th Bomb Group, Seventh Air Force. He had hoped to be assigned to a B-17 but instead he found himself in the bomber nobody wanted, Consolidated’s B-24 Liberator, nicknamed “the Flying Boxcar,” a plane plagued with mechanical problems.
On May 17, 1943 a rescue mission was formed to hunt for a lost B-24. The only plane available for Louie and a scraped-together crew was an unreliable B-24 nicknamed the “Green Hornet.” Although it had “passed inspection”, they were wary to fly it. On that mission it failed its crew and crashed in the Pacific. Only two others survived, Indiana native and pilot Russell A. Phillips (“Phil”) and Ohio tail gunner Sergeant Francis P. (Mac) McNamara. After Louie secured the two rafts that floated free from the plane, Mac began wailing “We’re gonna die,” words that later, unfortunately for him, proved prophetic. However, Mac emerged from his semi-comatose state of shock and redeemed himself by using one of the raft’s oars to fight the sharks that attempted to leap aboard the tiny raft and pull them into the sea. Forty seven days later, after having been strafed by a Japanese fighter and using his ingenuity to survive, survivors Louie and Phil were captured by the Japanese. That began an torture ordeal that few could survive and only ended in August, 1945 when the war ended.
Unbroken’s story doesn’t end there. Upon his return home he descends into alcoholism to deal with his despair, anger and other spiritual demons. He has constantly recurring nightmares of the torture and beatings by his Japanese nemesis Watanabe. After his wife and friends persisted in getting him to go hear a Christian evangelist named Billy Graham , who was preaching the word of God in Los Angeles, he eventually is able to discard his anger and negative lifestyle. Only then did his nightmares disappear, as did the murderous hatred he had for his tormentor.
As I read through this book I discerned parallel stories woven between the covers by its author, Laura Hillenbrand. Her storytelling gifts are numerous, beginning with her attention to the myriad technical details about life in the Army Air Corps of the Pacific wartime era. She tells of its men and equipment, their suffering, joy and remembrance, all of which puts the reader inside their flight jackets, living quarters, aircraft and their lives, before, during and after captivity. She contributes the real-life experiences of courageous men who went through it all and lived to tell her about it. And she manages to also tell the story of the thousands upon thousands lost at sea and land.
The movie version of “Unbroken” is being released on Christmas Day, 2014, directed by Angelina Jolie. I plan on seeing it. Movies, through my eye, can never do a good book justice. In this case I hope I’m wrong. After you see it make sure you pick up the book as well. It will, I’m sure, complement the movie.
For information on where to purchase the book go to:

To watch a trailer of the film go to:

Stolen Valor

Interesting video from Ryan Berk, a veteran of Easy Company 2/506 calling out a fake ranger at Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, PA

A Soldier’s Thanksgiving Day Poem



A Soldier’s Thanksgiving Day Poem
Author Unknown

Instead of family and friends for Thanksgiving you will
Chow with your comrades tonight
One to your left, the other to your right.
Your regiment, your battalion,
Have now become family and friends
Living day to day in a personal sacrifice
On a mission to defend.
You are the hero’s who’s faces we may never get to see
But the pride and glory that’s lives in a soldier heart
Biers one word
On this day
We give thanks and honor to those brave and true
Our banners, we will proudly wave
The Red, White, and Blue
We will give our thanks not only to our God
but also to every soldier for our bounties, that be.
For they give meaning to words
Home of the brave Land of the Free.
To the soldiers in the mess hall
Eating their thanksgiving feast,
to the troops in the desert eating another
Meal ready to eat.
May peace, hope and strength
Travel with you along the way
And may these wishes find you
On A Soldiers Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Thanksgiving to our veterans and those who serve our country.