Troops to get $30 million perk-me-up from Starbucks


Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, tells CBS News that the company will spend $30 million to help Iraq and Afghan war veterans get job training and fund research into PTSD and brain trauma.

“The truth of the matter is, and I say this with respect, more often than not, the government does a very — a much better job of sending people to war than they do bringing them home,”  Schultz says. “These young men and women who are coming home from multiple deployments are not coming home to a parade. They’re not coming home to a celebration. They’re coming home to an American public that really doesn’t understand, and never embraced, what these people have done.”

Schultz plans to hire 10,000 veterans or their spouses over the next five years.


Video: Veteran, 95, stops runners in their tracks


Joe Bell is a fixture on his block in San Jose, Calif., writes his neighbor, Julia Prodis Sulek, a San Jose Mercury News reporter.

The 95-year-old still has his uniform from World War II, so on Sunday when a local race benefitted a foundation in honor of Pat Tillman, the Arizona Cardinal who left football to become an Army Ranger, there stood Bell in full regalia in front of his house, cheering the runners on.

What happened next made Sulek document “this sweet moment.” Continue reading


Grab a hankie: 8-year-old makes soldier’s day


myles-noteA boy who never got the chance to know his father, an Army sergeant killed in Iraq, is keeping alive the selfless spirit of his dad.

Myles Eckert was going to eat lunch with his family at Cracker Barrel in Toledo, Ohio, last month when he got a windfall: He found a $20 bill in the parking lot.

“I kind of wanted to get a video game,” Myles tells CBS News.

But after he spotted a man in uniform in the restaurant, he changed his mind.

The 8-year-old decided to pay it forward and wrote a note to Lt. Col. Frank Dailey:

“Dear Soldier — my dad was a soldier. He’s in heaven now. I found this 20 dollars in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It’s your lucky day! Thank you for your service. Myles Eckert, a gold star kid.”

Dailey was touched. “It’s incredible being recognized in such a manner. I look at it (the note) every day,” says Dailey, who in turn  paid the $20 forward.

After Myles and his family were through with lunch, he asked his mom if they could go visit his dad, Sgt. Gary “Andy” Eckert Jr., who was killed by a roadside bomb in 2005. Myles was 4-weeks-old, his dad was 24.

His mother snapped this picture of Myles telling his dad all about it:


To learn more about the Eckert family, go here.

To watch the CBS News report, go here.



Video: Returning military dad pops out of box to surprise 3-year-old


Over Presidents Day weekend, a YouTube video from September went viral.

It’s easy to understand why.

Joshua Carr, who declined to specify his rank or branch of service in an interview with Stars & Stripes, was on his second deployment and about to return home from Afghanistan when he had an idea:  Because his daughter, Bridget, was about to celebrate her 3rd birthday, why not turn himself into the present? Continue reading


Food stamp purchases at military commissaries up 5%


U.S. troops and their families used food stamps to buy $103.6 million worth of groceries in fiscal 2013, MoneyWatch reports.

The amount nearly doubles the $52.9 million in 2009, and it’s a 5% hike from 2012.

Newbie soldiers earn about $18,300 per year, and a two-person household would qualify for food stamps on that income, MoneyWatch notes.

Which begs the question: Why are we paying active-duty troops so little?


Houston Starbucks grills wounded warrior with service dog


A veteran of the Iraq war is telling a Houston TV station how he was “harassed and humiliated” when he tried to enter a local Starbucks with his service dog for a meeting on behalf of Canine Companions for Independence.

Special Forces Maj. Yancy Baer lost his left leg from the knee down to cancer, diagnosed when he twisted his ankle during his third tour of duty in Iraq in 2009. His Lab-retriever mix, which he received only 14 weeks ago, helps him with many everyday tasks.

Baer was visiting Houston on Wednesday to share his story when he went to the ubiquitous coffee shop for the meeting.

“A gentleman from Starbucks meets me at the door and says I can’t have her in the store,” Baer tells KHOU.  When Baer explained to the Starbucks employee that Verbena is his physical service dog, he was rudely told: “You’re not blind.” Continue reading


Updated: Taliban claim to have captured U.S. military dog. But he’s British.


FromTalibanVideoUpdated: The BBC is now reporting that the dog looking “mournful” in the video was working for British forces.

Original post: The Taliban have released a video showing what looks like a U.S. military dog, which they say was captured during a raid in eastern Afghanistan in December.

“This dog was named after a colonel,” one of the Taliban fighters says on the video, according to the Telegraph. “It had a flash light on it and its neck wore a GPS.”

The BBC correspondent in Kabul says the use of military canines has been controversial. “Dogs are considered unclean by Afghans,”  David Lyon reports.

Now that the Taliban’s “war trophy” has been paraded in front of cameras, the dog’s future “does not look good,” the BBC says.

A NATO spokesman tells the Marine Corps Times: “We are aware of the reports, but have no confirmed operational reporting.”

Updated: Read more about the captive Belgian Malinois here.


Navy orders ‘floating base’ for quick Special Ops attacks


The Navy has awarded a contract to convert a cargo ship into a “floating base for up to 200″ Special Ops troops and the biggest, baddest military helicopter, the Navy’s MH-53E, David Axe reports in War Is Boring blog.

“This is going to be a seriously capable ship,”says Tim Colton, a maritime consultant. One that the government has been trying to keep quiet, Axe notes.

“The call for bids went out through normal public channels,” Axe writes. “But the vague official descriptions of the vessel’s purpose have helped her escape wide notice.”

The floating base will allow Delta Force and SEAL commandos to sneak up on the enemy using jet skis, Axe says.

Read more at War is Boring.