Deployed Dad Wrote Lunchbox Notes for His Daughter, One for Each Day He Was Gone

Deployed Dad Writes Lunchbox Notes for Daughter

Being deployed in itself is one of the bravest and most challenging things a person can do, but when you’re leaving behind your family and young children, it adds a whole new layer of difficulty. When Staff Sgt. Philip Gray found out he was being deployed to Afghanistan, he wanted to make sure his young daughter remembered every single day just how much he loved her.

On October 7, 2019, Staff Sgt. Philip Gray left Fort Drum, New York for his 10-month deployment. His wife Kristen and 7-Year-old daughter Rosie remained at home, but both were constantly at the forefront of his mind. To make sure that Rosie knew her dad was thinking about her, Kristen Gray came up with a brilliant idea.

Before Staff Sgt. Philip Gray left, he wrote 270 notes for his daughter, one for every day he expected to be overseas. Every morning of his deployment, Kristen slipped a single note into Rosie’s lunchbox. Sometimes they were holiday greetings that he couldn’t give in person, others were words of encouragement, but they all had one thing in common – each note was written with a whole lot of love.

“He wrote anything from, ‘You are super girl’ to ‘Smiling makes everyone else smile,'” Kristen Gray told Good Morning America. “He was very big on feel-good words for her and girl power. He made sure to tell her how smart she was, and run fast in P.E. and things that would really make her happy.”

Kristen shared some of the heartwarming notes on TikTok, each one signed “-Dad.”

@kris10grayyyReposting the original this Veterans Day. 🇺🇸 Thank you to @kellyclarksonshow for finding our story and sharing. 🤍 ##militaryfamily ##deployment

♬ original sound – Kristen Gray

Staff Sgt. Philip Gray’s deployment ended up being extended, but fortunately, this loving army dad made it home just days before his daughter’s birthday. Gray’s lunchbox notes helped him show his love for Rosie even from thousands of miles away. And when Rosie found out her dad was home, well, it’s abundantly clear how much she loves him right back.

@kris10grayyyHit 10k followers & wanted to repost my first video that brought me to TikTok. Wait for her reaction. 💙 ##happylife ##positivity ##militaryhomecoming

♬ original sound – Kristen Gray

Deployed Dad Stays In Touch With Kids Through Ring Doorbell

Kids Use Doorbell for Deployed Dad

Though there are certainly drawbacks to living in a world run by technology, advancements in technology provide incredible solutions to many of life’s problems. Especially during the era of COVID, technology has allowed us to stay connected when other modes of communication are no longer an option. Even before the pandemic, communication was a challenge for many – particularly members of the Armed Forces deployed overseas. Being deployed means leaving everyone and everything behind in order to bravely defend your country, and sadly, it often means missing out on some of your kids’ milestones and celebrations.

While stationed in the Middle East with Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division, Peter DeCrans bought his family a Ring doorbell, assuming it would help him keep his family safe while he was away. For those who don’t know, a Ring doorbell is equipped with a camera that connects to the homeowner’s devices. If someone presses the button on your Ring doorbell while you’re away from home, you can see the camera’s video feed from wherever you are.

This feature brings peace of mind when you’re away from home, knowing that you’re able to keep a virtual eye on your house from anywhere in the world. But for Peter DeCrans, this feature gave him an incredible gift – one that no doorbell in history has been able to provide (a very odd sentence, yes, but they’re just going to keep getting weirder as technology evolves).

Every morning before school, DeCran’s 7-year-old son Zerick and 5-year-old daughter Petroula recorded a video using their Ring doorbell. And throughout his 10-month deployment, Peter DeCrans was able to receive them – over 100 videos of his adorable kids to keep his spirits up and remind him why he’s doing what he’s doing.

The videos became a highly-anticipated part of DeCrans’s days, something he eagerly looked forward to and cherished enormously during his time away from home.

DeCrans told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, “It was one of the best things ever, a little slice of home. When you’re gone that long, you miss your kids, and you want to see them. It’s a way to feel connected to what’s going on.”

From thousands of miles away, DeCrans got the latest news from his kids. He heard about their days, new dances they learned, skills they proudly mastered – DeCrans was kept up-to-date on it all.

“It was just part of the routine,” he explained. “They’d get dressed for school, and then they’d swing outside and leave a quick message telling me about their day. … One day Zerick had really long hair, and the next day he had a buzz cut because he had a wood tick in his hair, and he didn’t want long hair anymore.”

In return, DeCrans recorded his own videos. Using a Kindle app he read stories to his kids, continuing a beloved activity the family did together while he was home. DeCrans was able to remain a big part of his kids’ lives from thousands of miles away, and it was all thanks to a doorbell.

First Black Woman Brigade Commander Makes History at U.S. Naval Academy

First Black Woman Brigade Commander

Accomplishing your dreams takes a huge amount of courage and determination, but when you’re the first to accomplish that specific goal, it takes a whole new level of drive. Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber from Illinois recently made history when she did exactly that – because of her hard work and strong resolve, she’s set to become the first Black female brigade commander.

The brigade commander position, the highest level of leadership within a brigade, is chosen through a rigorous application and interview process. In the 44 years that women have been able to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, only 16 women have been chosen for the prestigious position.

“Earning the title of brigade commander speaks volumes, but the title itself is not nearly as significant as the opportunity it brings to lead a team in doing something I believe will be truly special,” Barber said in a press release. “I am humbled to play a small role in this momentous season of American history.”

Only the top-ranked seniors are considered for the leadership position, and after detailed reviews of their qualifications and records, 30 are chosen for the interview process. Once the candidates are identified, they’re evaluated by the selection board. The brigade striper selection board consists of the deputy commandant of midshipmen, the six battalion officers, the brigade master chief, and the current brigade commander.

After the thorough evaluation and ranking of potential candidates, Barber was the top-ranking midshipman. Her accomplishments both in the U.S. Naval Academy and in her personal life demonstrate her fierce determination to improve the world. Barber coordinated a STEM outreach program to mentor middle school-age girls of color, completed an internship with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, she even holds the Navy Women’s Varsity Track and Field team record for the outdoor 4x400m relay.

The current brigade commander, Midshipman 1st Class Ryan Chapman, expressed his confidence in Barber. “She is a catalyst for action,” he explained. “A visionary, a listener, a doer, and a person driven by compassion, by faith, by a fierce sense of passion and heart full of love. Sydney is the perfect person to lead the brigade.”

Celebs Like Gary Sinise Surprise Veterans With Campaign To Pay off Mortgages

Twitter campaign helps Veterans United pay off veterans' mortgages
(YouTube/Veterans United Home Loans)

Last Wednesday was Veterans Day, a day to honor and celebrate the veterans that have sacrificed and served to give us the safety and freedom we have in the United States today. Over the years, Gary Sinise has put a huge amount of effort into helping veterans, even starting his own foundation to further the cause. This year, Gary Sinise and several other celebrities have teamed up with Veterans United to give a life-changing gift to 11 heroes across the US.

Veterans United is the largest VA purchase lender, helping veterans and their families become homeowners. This year for Veterans Day, Veterans United started the Make it Mean More campaign, turning “thank you for your service” tweets into generous donations.

The Make it Mean More website explains, “This Veterans Day, every time someone tweeted, “Thank you for your service,” we backed up their words with $25 to pay off Veterans homes.”

Yes, you read that correctly. For every person who tweeted “Thank you for your service,” Veterans United donated $25. I know what you’re thinking – Twitter is flooded with tweets thanking our troops every Veterans Day. There’s no way they donated $25 for every single one. Well, you’d be half wrong. Twitter is indeed full of thanks to veterans, but Veterans United fulfilled their end of the deal. 90,943 tweets and $2,273,575 later, 11 veterans had the remainder of their mortgages paid in full.

If the generous gesture isn’t enough to warm your heart, the video reveals will do the trick. 11 veterans received surprise Zoom calls of a lifetime, as celebrities explained that paying off their home loans was no longer something they had to worry about. As you can imagine, the veterans’ responses to the life-changing news was nothing short of extraordinary.

Gary Sinise revealed the good news to Bill, a Navy veteran and single father of four:

Chef Robert Irvine helped surprise Brandie, a retired Navy hospital corpsman and mother of nine:

”We hope this action says what words will never be able to”

“We all see social media on Veterans Day overflowing with ‘thank you for your service’ posts,” David Whitney, a PR lead for an advertising agency who works with Veterans United told The Dad. “And while those words aren’t without meaning, Veterans United set out to make them mean a whole lot more. Thanks to more than 90,000 ‘Thank yous’ tweeted on Veterans Day this year, Veterans United was able to change the lives of 11 incredible veterans.”

Man Takes His 95-Year-Old WWII Veteran Grandpa on RV Trip of a Lifetime

Grandpa's RV trip of a lifetime

Getting old isn’t for sissies, according to my grandma. Your body doesn’t work quite as well as it used to, kids these days seem to be speaking a completely new language – it’s a lot to handle after a lifetime of effort. For 95-year-old Johnnie Dimas, a WWII veteran, getting older also came with significant loss. He lost his wife of 67 years, and if that wasn’t enough, he lost his full-time caregiver. With his caregiver, Dimas could continue living at home and maintaining a certain level of independence. Without a caregiver, Dimas’s future was unclear.

Losing your independence is one of the most underrated challenges of aging. Dimas and his wife swore they’d never enter a nursing home, but with his wife and caregiver gone, the elderly veteran’s options were limited. Dimas’s grandson, Roger Gilbert, knew his grandpa wouldn’t thrive in an elderly care facility. Gilbert took things into his own hands, moving his grandpa from Illinois to Arizona two years ago to live with him and his wife Jo.

For most, aging means having fewer opportunities to explore and experience all that life has to offer. But for Dimas, thanks to his grandson, his age and circumstances meant that there was no better time than the present. Dimas, or Grandpa Johnnie, had a bucket list of places he hoped to see one day. Last October, Gilbert, Jo, and Grandpa Johnnie, embarked on the RV trip of a lifetime to turn the bucket list into a reality.


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A post shared by Sweet Mary Bus (@sweetmarybus)

The trio documented their journey on Instagram, sharing photos of memories that would last a lifetime.

“We know this won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile is easy. And we know this adventure is worthwhile!” the crew shared in an Instagram post. And with that, they were off.


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A post shared by Sweet Mary Bus (@sweetmarybus)

They visited national parks, Mardi Gras festivities, Las Vegas, and several WWII museums along the way. At The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Grandpa Johnnie even met a fellow WWII veteran. Dimas struggled with severe PTSD after enlisting in the U.S, Marines at age 17, and was treated with shock therapy at a V.A. hospital after returning to the United States. Though he went on to live a full life, the trauma of his experience never fully left him.


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A post shared by Sweet Mary Bus (@sweetmarybus)

“I think it was deeply cathartic for Grandpa to be able to process everything that had happened at such a young age,” Jo told Good News Network. “It was such an honor to see how people respected his service in WWII, and how fascinated they were by him and his stories. As we walked down the street people would stop Grandpa, shake his hand and thank him for his service. They didn’t often stop long enough to see how Johnnie would always well up with emotion and gratitude for their kind words, it touched him so deeply every time.”


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A post shared by Sweet Mary Bus (@sweetmarybus)

On the Sweet Mary Bus named for Grandpa Johnnie’s late wife, the trio explored. They laughed, learned, grew, and filled their days with love. On August 16th of this year, at age 96, Grandpa Johnnie passed away. Rather than spend his final days in a nursing home, Grandpa Johnnie spent them living his life to the fullest. And it was all thanks to Roger, Jo, and his Sweet Mary.

Gary Sinise Foundation Steps up To Help the Grieving Family of a Vietnam Veteran

Gary Sinise Foundation Helps Pay Grieving Family's Bills

Actor turned philanthropist extraordinaire Gary Sinise has been helping veterans and their families for nearly a decade, since founding The Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011. Sinise’s foundation has provided adapted homes to wounded veterans, served over 400,000 meals to defenders across the country, and even taken over 1,750 children of fallen soldiers to Disney World. Sinise has been recognized for his impact, receiving a Patriot Award among other national honors. And COVID-19 didn’t stop Sinise and his foundation from doing what they do.

One of the most amazing things about Sinise’s work is that his foundation takes the time to assist many individuals and families in need as soon as the need arises. Over the summer, a Vietnam veteran named Henry Cordero passed away. The loss of a family member is devastating enough, but Cordero’s daughter Jennifer Ruelas found herself facing a mountain of her father’s outstanding medical bills and various other expenses.

With nobody else in her family able to help, Ruelas was solely responsible for dealing with the thousands of dollars of debt. While she made enough to cover her own cost of living, Ruelas had no way to add a pile of debt to her own expenses. On top of the heartbreak of losing her father, Ruelas now had to face the strain of paying back bills that weren’t hers with money she didn’t have.

Prior to her father’s death, Ruelas had already taken a financial hit after becoming his caregiver in 2018 when he was diagnosed with dementia.

According to the Gary Sinise Foundation’s article, Ruelas had told her boss, “My father is my life. He is my best friend, so when he is sick, I am going to leave. So if you guys can’t accept that, then I can’t work here.”

Cordero had been incredibly generous throughout his life, helping family members purchase their own homes and volunteering with communities in need. Ruelas wanted to help her dad as he helped her throughout her life and did the best she could with the resources she had. After her dad’s passing, Ruelas and her husband worked to try to pay his remaining bills, but even their combined incomes barely made a dent.

Ruelas contacted the Gary Sinise Foundation after a friend mentioned that they may be able to help. Finally, Ruelas got some desperately-needed relief – the foundation’s H.O.P.E. initiative paid Cordero’s remaining caregiving fees as well as his cremation costs. With a large chunk of debt no longer weighing on her, Ruelas was able to breathe a bit easier – all thanks to Gary Sinise’s life-changing foundation.

National Museum Helps Oldest Living World War II Veteran Celebrate 111th Birthday

Lawrence Brooks and Victory Belles
(YouTube/The National WWII Museum)

As people who have the privilege of enjoying the freedom and safety of life in the US, we owe a huge amount of gratitude to veterans. Veterans sacrifice their own safety, time with their families, and sometimes their lives to ensure that we are able to live our own lives in relative safety.

Veterans are essential to the sense of security we have living in the US, and we do what we can to show how much we appreciate them. Actor Gary Sinise created a foundation to support veterans and their families in 2011 and continues to provide assistance nearly a decade later. Earlier this year, a 104-year-old veteran received over 70,000 Valentine’s Day cards, from people around the country who wanted to make his day a bit brighter. Now, the world’s oldest World War II veteran is getting the birthday celebration he deserves.

Lawrence Brooks, a veteran who served during World War II in the 91st Engineer Battalion, has been celebrating his birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans since he turned 105. Due to the pandemic (what else is new), the museum had to put together a safe and socially-distanced celebration – and they absolutely did not disappoint.

According to a post they shared on Instagram, the museum arranged a performance by a vocal trio called The Victory Belles, a military flyover, a birthday cake, and nearly 10,000 birthday cards they collected from a national card drive.


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The National WWII Museum celebrated the 111th birthday of Mr. Lawrence Brooks, a New Orleans native and the oldest known U.S. veteran of World War II, at his home last Saturday. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we arranged a socially distant birthday celebration. The Victory Belles, performed a series of numbers including “Happy Birthday,” and Mr. Brooks enjoyed military plane flyovers courtesy of the @aeroshellaerobatic and @bigeasywingcaf. We additionally presented Mr. Brooks with a cake and nearly 10,000 birthday cards that were collected as a result of a national card drive. #WorldWarII #worldwar2 #WWIIVet #happybirthday #oldestlivingwwiiveteran⁠ ⁠ Click the bio link and then this image to watch the full video.

A post shared by The National WWII Museum (@wwiimuseum) on

The museum’s vice president, Peter Crean, told FOX News after last year’s celebration, “We absolutely love Mr. Brooks. We’ve told him, ‘As long as you keep having birthdays, we are going to keep having birthday parties for you here.’”

Though circumstances didn’t allow for Brooks to celebrate at the museum itself this year, Crean kept his promise by bringing the celebration to Brooks’s home. The 111-year-old smiled from his porch, surrounded by balloons, a birthday banner, and everyone who came to celebrate with him (from a safe distance). Though Brooks lost his wife Leona in 2005 to Hurricane Katrina, he is surrounded by the love of his five children, 13 grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren.

Brooks told FOX, “I’ve started to think about not having many birthdays left. But I’m not worried about it, because God has let me live this long already. I think it’s because I’ve always liked people so much. Oh yes, I do.”

Let us throw our birthday greeting onto the ever-growing pile – happiest of birthdays Mr. Brooks, and thank you for your service.

12-Year-Old Finds Marine’s Dog Tag and Returns it to His Family

12-Year-Old Finds Marine’s Dog Tag and Returns it to His Family
(YouTube/CBS Evening News)

Finding buried treasure is every kid’s dream. Whether it’s a pile of gold coins, precious gems, an entire sunken ship – we’ve all fantasized about what we would do if we stumbled upon some valuable loot. Twelve-year-old Kolton Conrad always kept his eyes peeled when kayaking with his family in the hopes of stumbling upon some sort of treasure, and on the 4th of July, Kolton’s attentiveness paid off.

As Kolton and his family paddled down Ohio’s Hocking River, they stopped to pick up some trash. Near a sandbar, Kolton noticed something sparkling in the shallow water and immediately pulled it out. It wasn’t treasure, exactly – at least not the treasure Kolton expected. The 12-year-old held in his hand an old dog tag, and written on it was the name “Rhonemus”.

Because the name was so uncommon, Kolton’s mom figured that posting the dog tag on Facebook might be the easiest way to track its owner down. Fewer than six hours after the fateful post, Kolton’s mom got a message from a woman named Crystal Potts. Potts explained that her friend Kimberly Greenlee had a brother, a Marine veteran named Steven Rhonemus. Rhonemus unfortunately passed away at age 24 in a motorcycle accident, just months before his wife gave birth to their first daughter. The tag in Kolton’s possession was a piece of the Rhonemus family’s history, one that they had assumed was lost forever.

The two families arranged a meeting so the dog tag could be reunited with the people who so dearly missed its owner. Though Kolton was nervous before the meeting, his mom reassured him just how enormously impactful his good deed would be.

Upon meeting Greenlee and giving her back a small piece of her beloved brother, Kolton’s fears were replaced with joy. Greenlee recalled the incredible moment to CNN, “I just threw my arms around him and wanted to cry. I was just amazed that little boy knew the deep meaning of those tags and knew what it would mean to our family. I just hugged and hugged him.”

Greenlee plans on giving the dog tag to her niece Jewell, who is Steven’s daughter. Jewell never met her father, and due to a fire, she only had five pictures of him. Upon hearing the news, Jewell was moved to tears. “I’m not sure why now, 46 years later this came about,” she told CNN, “I’ve always felt like maybe he was watching over me and I felt like maybe this is a sign that he is with me still.”

A much-needed sign from her dad was life-changing for Jewell, as well as Steven Rhonemus’s entire family. Kolton Conrad may not have found the buried treasure he’d been dreaming about on that 4th of July outing, but he did find someone else’s treasure – a treasure that was absolutely priceless.

Madeline Swegle Becomes the First Ever Black Female Fighter Pilot

Madeline Swegle Fighter Pilot

We tell our kids as they grow up that they can be anything they want to be. The reality is, someone has to make history – why not them? Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle of Burke, Virginia was one of the few who actually did it. After years of work, she graduated from the Naval Academy and proceeded to complete a Tactical Air (Strike) training program, making her the first Black female tactical fighter pilot.

She was congratulated by the Chief of Naval Air Training on Twitter with a hearty “BZ”, meaning “Bravo Zulu” – the term combines Bravo and Zulu nautical signal flags, and is regularly used in The Navy to say “well done”.

This historic milestone has been a long time coming, and surprisingly, wasn’t attainable until very recently. It wasn’t until 2016 that all military positions were even open to female applicants. It was also in 2016 that Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris became the first Black woman in the Air Force to achieve the lieutenant general rank. stated that in 2018, Black fighter pilots made up an incredibly small 1.9% of all pilots assigned to four of the most common fighter jets (the F/A-18 Hornet, EA-18 Growler, E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound). That same year, females only made up 7% of all pilots in the Navy.

Clearly, there is still a long way to go in terms of increasing diversity in the Navy. However, that’s part of what makes Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle’s accomplishment so worthy of celebration. She is making history and paving the way for others to do the same. She is empowering other Black females to follow their dreams, even in a field that is still very new to welcoming them with open arms.

Swegle is receiving well-deserved praise from around the world.

From her best friend,

From former naval aviators,

And even from her little sister.

And now, from us. Congratulations Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle!

“My Dad, My Hero” Campaign Helps Kids Honor Their Military Dads

“My Dad, My Hero” Campaign Helps Kids Honor Their Military Dads
(YouTube/Lincoln Military Housing)

Being an amazing dad already means that you’re a hero to your kids. When you’re a military dad though, you’re doing hero double-duty and deserve to be recognized as such. Lincoln Military Housing, a partnership between Lincoln Property Company and the Department of Defense, has helped over 36,000 military families find housing across the country. They know firsthand how much military families sacrifice, and they realize just how heroic these military parents are to their country as well as their kids.

Being the child of a military parent (or two) can be challenging, with fairly frequent moves as well as long periods of time where they may not be able to see their parent in person. Lincoln Military Housing decided that kids needed a way to honor their military dads, and they launched the “My Dad, My Hero” campaign to capture the love and admiration these kids have for their dads.

“It is important as a community that we highlight and celebrate our military children and their fathers. Whether their father is deployed or supporting a spouse in the military, they all provide a great service to our country. Our goal was to honor them through a story told by their very own children,” Ashley Gorski Poole, VP of Marketing and Communications for Lincoln Military Housing, explained on PRWeb.

The touching video features pictures of military dads with their children, handwritten notes, and heartfelt tributes to their beloved dads shared by the kids themselves. The campaign collected over 90 videos, letters, and pictures from military families seeking a way to properly honor their heroic dads. To help kids feel like they’re part of a community of kids just like them, and as a way to thank kids for their submissions, Lincoln Military Housing is sending each kid who contributed to the “My Dad, My Hero” campaign a special challenge coin.

Challenge coins are an important tradition in the military. Challenge coins are given to show membership in a certain group or to recognize a special achievement. Not only did these kids get to honor their dads in a beautiful way, but they also got to take part in a tradition that is undoubtedly meaningful to their dads as well.

Thank you military dads (and all other members of the military, of course), you’re our heroes too.

WW2 Vet Turns 100, Raises 40 Million and Debuts No. 1 Single

Captain Tom Moore

Few heroes of the young Corona era have captured a global audience quite like Captain Tom Moore. Captain Tom is a WWII veteran, and the former British Army officer made news for his astronomical fundraising efforts for COVID-19 relief and the National Health Service. He started out with modest goals for his fundraiser-walk; to raise $1,200. To date, he has raised nearly $40 million, making it the biggest fundraising walk in history (according to the Guinness Book of World Records).

And people from around the world, united by his message of hope, sacrifice, and togetherness have answered the call with more than dollars. Over the last few weeks, leading up to his 100th birthday, they’ve been sending Captain Tom birthday cards. A lot of them. At press time, he had received more than 125,000 from well-wishers around the globe. There were so many cards, it overwhelmed the local post office and his grandson’s school had to pitch in to help sort them all.

Captain Tom’s birthday is a big enough celebration to get even the most revered figures in the U.K. to send their thoughts.

It’s quite the life when flying fighter jets in World War II isn’t the most important thing you’ve done, but Captain Tom’s fundraising efforts have inspired people from every pocket of the globe. Of course, he’s revered nowhere like he is at home.

And you know your birthday is a big deal when not only do you get a card from the queen, a freaking flyover (!) but also your very own WWE championship belt.

Captain Tom’s birthday month has been full of magic, as he also became the oldest person to have a No. 1 hit single (those words barely make sense in that order, but these are the times we’re living in).

The more you read about Captain Tom, the harder it is to be unmoved. The way people have responded, with their own acts of fundraising, generosity, and positivity, is nothing short of breathtaking.

Happy Birthday to a true living legend and a hero for our times. Here’s to 100 more (you never know).

104-Yr-Old WW2 Veteran Becomes Oldest Person to Defeat COVID-19

Bill Lapschies Survices COVID-19
(YouTube/CBS News)

A World War II veteran in Oregon has done nothing but kick ass his entire life. The 104-year-old man has lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918, served in World War II, and now has become the oldest COVID-19 survivor on the planet. If you’re scoring at home, this makes him one of the only people who has beaten two global pandemics.

Bill Lapschies contracted the coronavirus at his nursing home in Oregon in early March. Naturally, his family was worried, as the disease has affected the elderly much more severely. But this was not his first rodeo, the man has lived through some world wars, a pandemic, and a Great Depression, so late last week, Bill was officially considered recovered.

Just a few days later, he turned 104. He told a local news station he is feeling ‘pretty good.’

Bill is officially the oldest survivor of COVID-19, eclipsing a 101-year-old woman in China and a 103-year-old woman in Iran.

His family honored him with a socially-distant birthday party. But really, this is just one more feather in his cap. The man beat the Nazis, of course he was gonna take down the coronavirus.

One of the comments on the YouTube clip of his story on CBS News sums him up the best: “Once a warrior, always a warrior. The highest respect to this man.”

Here at The Dad, we hope you, your families, and communities stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the latest information, please utilize online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.

Families Are Opening Their Homes to Foster Ailing Senior Veterans

Families Open Homes to Veterans
(YouTube/CBS This Morning)

Enlisting in the military is one of the truest sacrifices and one that few families fully understand. On top of that, outside of the requisite “Thank you for your service” and maybe the occasional seat-swap on a plane, support can be limited. So it’s always heartwarming when people make the extra effort.

One strong example is how some families are stepping up to help aging and ailing veterans. Tens of thousands of United States vets live in nursing homes, and thousands more are homeless, but now hundreds of families have started to open their homes to foster an elderly veteran.

The Medical Foster Home program pairs senior veterans who can’t live on their own with a family willing to take in and care for those who have served. The program is now in 44 states and foster families can take in up to three veterans to provide them a more comfortable place to receive care.

A spokesman for the program said it’s a long-term commitment and usually a permanent one for many families. They try to match veterans with homes in their hometown to keep things as familiar as possible, and currently, the program has more than 700 families involved.

One family told The Washington Post that it was an honor to have a veteran living under their roof. And the veteran said he loved his new family and wanted to ‘be with them till the day I die.’ The program is among the higher-rated ones in the VA and a spokesman told Southern Living magazine the vets and new caregivers become family and even go on vacations together.

“These people really are angels,” he said. “They’re doing such amazing things. Every vet deserves the right to live in a home and remain where they thrive.”

The slogan for the program is a fitting one: “Where our heroes meet angels.”

If you are interested in participating, you can contact your local VA.