September 29, 2011
Rotary Club of Jersey City luncheon, Casino in the Park, Lincoln Park

            Tanks that I have known and hitched a ride in during my ROTC/Reserve days: M-48, M-60, and a prototype MBT-70.

            Patrick Ramos, speaking for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), is a U.S. Army veteran who served as a tank driver from 1997 to 2001. He is now a fundraiser for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Operation Rebound, and the Pat Tillman Foundation, as well as a Triathlete and Marathoner preparing for the 2012 Ironman competition. Following are excerpts from his Power Point presentation.

            WWP was founded in 2003 by veterans “to honor and empower wounded warriors who incurred service-connected injuries on or after September 11, 2001” has as its mission “a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they recover and transition back to civilian life.” WWP programs for the MIND: Combat Stress Recovery Program, including Project Odyssey, and Restore; Family Support, including Caregiver Retreats. Programs for the BODY: Physical Health and Wellness, including Soldier Ride, and WWP Packs. Programs for ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT: TRACK, Transition Training Academy, and Warriors to Work. Programs for ENGAGEMENT: Benefit Service, International Support, Peer Mentoring, Warriors Speak, and WWP Resource Center.
            Hankow Hypatia (club President-Elect, ROTARIAN of the Year, etc.) and I sat with Mr. Ramos and veterans both young and old. A future posting will cover veterans’ education benefits that are under attack from politicians of both parties, and problems encountered by veterans who enroll in for-profit schools. I gained personal experience on this subject while working for an allied health college in New York City.

            Now back to the M-48 tank. Several years ago my home town moved its war memorial plaques to higher ground. A military vehicle restoration group lent us an M-48 with a machine gun cupola on top of the turret. The township had to remove hanging traffic lights so it could clank up the main street unhindered. I still remembered how to clamber up onto the tank hull—and slowly and creakily managed to do so. Then I looked at the narrow width of the hatches. My waistline was 28” back in the day. I’d never get into, let alone out of, that tank today.

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

Operation Rebound

Pat Tillman Foundation

Navy SEAL Foundation (found on Naval Special Warfare site)

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