Spirit of America's Blog
Why I Do It
A week ago I was in Ukraine where Spirit of America is helping US troops save lives and end a Russian-backed war. Earlier this year I was in Iraq with our troops providing assistance to help stop the savagery of ISIS.
Many of my friends and family ask why I do it.
The bottom line is I feel a real sense of duty. I care deeply about the world we hand over to the next generation. It's personal. I have two boys. I know the freedoms and ideals that America stands for are the best hope for the peace, opportunity and well-being I wish for my sons. I also know America's troops are on the front lines of defending our security and our freedoms. They allow the rest of us to live in comfort. We depend on their success. No strategy can work if those serving on the front lines fail.
The boy who wants peace for Christmas
I'm just back from Ukraine where Spirit of America is helping American troops and diplomats stop the war and suffering caused by Russia's aggression. Isaac Eagan, SoA field ops director, and I were there for two weeks.
We spent most of our time in the east of Ukraine where thousands have been killed in the last 18 months. In one village, about one mile from the front lines, we visited an elementary school. A Christmas tree made a bleak situation warm and hopeful. We talked to this boy.
SoA Launches FM Radio to Support Ukrainian Troops on Front Lines
Greetings from Ukraine,
Spirit of America is supporting the first FM radio station for Ukrainian soldiers serving on the front lines against Russian-backed fighters in Ukraine. You can support this project here.
The radio station plan was developed in partnership with US troops and diplomats in Ukraine and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. We announced the project at a press briefing in Ukraine's capital today.
Thwarting the Islamic State
Today we'd like to share an update about the support Spirit of America has provided to those on the frontlines in the struggle against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in northern Iraq. For months, we have been helping make the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga – one of the United States' best partners in this conflict – safer and more effective as they liberate their country and take the fight to the extremist group. We first told you about this effort here.
Kurdish peshmerga have been critical in stopping the advance of the Islamic State
Kosovo Women’s Vocational Training a Success
Today we'd like to provide an update regarding a women's empowerment program Spirit of America recently supported in southern Kosovo. This program, which we first told you about here, was designed to help impoverished women in communities threatened by violent extremism stand up for themselves and their families, thereby providing a powerful counter to extremist ideology and influence.
Because they had no way to earn an income, the women in these vulnerable villages did not feel empowered to have a voice in their communities' affairs. The US Army civil affairs team working to build resiliencies against extremism in Kosovo found a solution to this problem: they identified an organization that could provide the women training in making cheese and other products they could then sell in local markets. The women may have lacked marketable skills, but they did all have cows whose milk could support this endeavor.
The US team, their Kosovo Security Forces partners, and women from some of the villages stand behind the SoA-provided equipment needed to turn the training into businesses
Support Training for Special Ops Civil Affairs Forces at Operation SLUSS-TILLER
Nicholette and I recently returned from supporting US military training at Fort Bragg, NC. We participated as role players in the culminating exercise for the Special Operations Civil Affairs Qualification Course (CAQC), Operation SLUSS-TILLER. Civil Affairs (CA) officers and NCOs act as liaisons between the military and civilian authorities and populations using their regional expertise, political and cultural awareness, and professional skills to address local issues. As a former CA officer, I was excited to participate in this training and was impressed by how far the course and the exercise had progressed since I was a student and participated in Operation Certain Trust. The name of the exercise was changed from to Operation SLUSS-TILLER in honor of a member of the Civil Affairs regiment killed in action in Pakistan shortly after graduating the CAQC.
Chris and Nicholette (Far Right) accompanied a team of CAQC students on a field assessment and local engagement during Operation Sluss-Tiller
Why I’m joining Spirit of America
General James N. Mattis
United States Marine Corps, Retired
I would like to thank you for your past support of Spirit of America. I have seen the impact. It has truly saved lives.
I served 44 years in the US Marine Corps. I started out as an infantryman, receiving my commission at the end of the Vietnam War, and retired as the Commanding General of US Central Command. In that capacity, I commanded US troops throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. I saw the brutality of our enemies and the heroism of our people.
I met Jim Hake, Spirit of America's founder, in December 2003. I immediately recognized Jim's leadership and entrepreneurial drive. I knew his concept would be a key asset in the war of ideas we were fighting—a trump card against our enemies' message of hate. Spirit of America gave us an organization that unapologetically takes America's side. Over the years, I saw Spirit of America's remarkable commitment, and I saw results. Because of the generosity of people like you, SoA delivered over and over again. Now, Spirit of America is a unique and trusted partner of our military - supporting the safety and success of our troops wherever needed.
Ukraine First Aid Kit Distribution a Success
I just returned from western Ukraine, where I had the opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony for the Ukrainian soldiers being trained by the US Army. At the end of the ceremony, the US paratroopers and I passed out Spirit of America-provided first aid kits.
The US soldiers did a tremendous job training their Ukrainian counterparts over the past two months, covering a broad range of critical skills that will make them far more capable of protecting their country from the Russian-backed separatists in the east. One of the most important of these skills was first aid – the ability to save lives in combat when proper stabilizing treatment in the first hour after being injured is crucial to survival.
As we told you before, the Ukrainians unfortunately lacked the basic supplies to make full use of this training. One of their medics explained to me that on his previous deployment to the front lines, people were dying needlessly because they didn't have effective ways to stop bleeding and bandage wounds.