29 August, 2005

Looking for Levity

Feelin' a bit blue today, so I thought this might lighten things up around here (But you still have to read the post below, okay?).

According to The Classic Dames Test, I am...

Katharine Hepburn

"You are the fabulously quirky and independent woman of character. You go your own way, follow your own drummer, take your own lead. You stand head and shoulders next to your partner, but you are perfectly willing and able to stand alone. Others might be more classically beautiful or conventionally woman-like, but you possess a more fundamental common sense and off-kilter charm, making interesting men fall at your feet. You can pick them up or leave them there as you see fit. You share the screen with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant, thinking men who like strong women."

"Quirky and independent?" I'll buy that. "Fundamental common sense" and "interesting men fall at your feet?" Ha! Must be in a parallel universe. ;)

Not so fast, gentlemen! There's one for you, too. Let me know what kind Classic Leading Man you would make.

UPDATE: as if there were any doubt...

My life is rated PG.
What is your life rated?

H/T Miasmatic Review

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More Than Just a Laptop

Many articulate bloggers have detailed why Valour-IT is such a special project. They've described it in emotional, practical, and patriotic terms. But today (thanks to Kat, The Middle Ground), I've found some scientific terms. While it's touching to think of wounded warriors being able to chat online with their loved ones or email guys still in the fight, right from their hospital beds, access to a computer can even affect the healing process.

Anyone (civilian or military) who suffers a traumatic injury or experience is going to have significant emotional issues to deal with, issues that will affect his or her ability to do what is needed to recover. In the short term:

Real and symbolic damage in the form of injury, separation or death of significant others, loss of property, destruction of social networks etc., result in feelings of loss and damage to esteem and identity.
In the long term, if these "feelings of loss and damage to esteem and identity" are not addressed and mitigated, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop.

Now, stop and think about how many of the traumas, described in the quote above, an injured warfighter lying in a hospital stateside may have experienced.

  1. Injury: from moderate (i.e. burns, broken bones) to severe (i.e. loss of a body part or its function).
  2. Separation or death of significant others: including survivor's guilt, concerns about having reacted correctly in the fight, etc.
  3. Destruction of social networks: before the injury, almost every aspect of life was centered around the warfighter's military unit; the bonds were probably unlike anything he'd ever experienced, but now he is stateside and his unit is still "over there."

Talk about a double (triple!) whammy! The article goes on to discuss how these traumas can be coped with successfully:

Coping styles vary from action prone to reflective and analytical, from emotionally expressive to reticent. Clinically, response style is not as ultimately important as the degree to which coping efforts are successful as defined by the survivor's ability to:

--Continue task-oriented activity
--Regulate emotion
--Sustain positive self value
--Maintain and enjoy rewarding interpersonal contacts

Look carefully at that list above. If you are a survivor of a multi-traumatic event (severe injuries, battle, death/injury of fellow warfighters, separation from your brothers, etc.), lying in a hospital bed, how could a computer help you cope successfully?

With access to a computer, you could:

  1. Continue task-oriented activity. This could be anything from maintaining a blog (as CPT Z does), to making sure your bills are paid, to planning that awesome vacation you're gonna have to celebrate your recovery.
  2. Regulate emotion. Of course, a great deal of that is personality-related. But being able to find things to amuse and encourage yourself when you are upset or discouraged is much harder to do when you are confined to bed. But with a laptop you could lose yourself in a down-loadable book, laugh yourself silly on the South Park website, or reach out to the friend who always lifts your spirits.
  3. Sustain positive self value. This is where the words like "independence" and "freedom" pop up. When you can do the kinds of things described in numbers 1 and 2 above, you are reclaiming a bit of the independence your injury tried to steal. You are taking care of yourself and your business. You have a least one corner of your life where you are in charge. That's huge.
  4. Maintain and enjoy rewarding interpersonal contacts . This is the other huge one. Ask anyone who's been through terrible trauma; they'll invariably mention at least one person who "made all the difference." But what happens if that person (the buddy who saved your life or the sweetheart who can't afford to drop everything and come to you) is on the other side of the world? That's where the email, IM, and even voice chat come into play. It's your lifeline.
But wait! What if your wounds prevent you from typing or operating a mouse? The door slams shut.

Then someone places a voice-controlled laptop in front of you and turns it on. Your entire world shifts. You have a powerful tool for your emotional and physical recovery now open to you.

Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops: It's a whole lot more than just the "warm fuzzies."

I'll leave you with Rachel again:

This project will make a massive difference to the lives of wounded soldiers. Giving them access to the outside world, as well as the independence that voice-activated computers will bring, is such an honourable way to thank them for the sacrifices they have made for our well-being. [bolding added]
Click here to donate. Done it once already? Do it again.

Update: minor editing for clarity

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28 August, 2005

A Special Bond

Much is made of the "Special Bond" between the U.S. and Britain. But one of our most stalwart allies in Afghanistan and Iraq has been Australia. I told you about Rachel and the donor from Australia last week. The donor had posted the "thank you" from Valour-IT (no, I didn't write it). We received the following letter in response to our "thank you":

Hi there!

Thank you for the email. I wanted to draw your attention to the last two paragraphs...

Our information shows you to be located in Australia. It is heartening to know that news of our efforts has travelled so far.

If you are a citizen of Down Under: "Good on you, mate!" Your support of this project spotlights the strong bond of friendship between the peoples of our two countries, for which we are equally grateful

Believe me when I say it is us (the huge majority of us anyway) who are greatful to our US friends for their help in WW2. If not for you we would be speaking Japanese, this is a fact. Our government of the day had already planned to concede half of Australia to the Japanese. They had planned to call all troops in Australia to defend us accross what became known (I think) as "The Brisbane Line". Basically handing half the nation to the Japanese.

The US saved the day, most of the old timers will tell you this with little encouragement. Unfortunately we, just like you, have left wing sad cases who try to rewrite history, and try to belittle all we two nations stand for. I do not believe there are two other nations on earth seperated by so much distance who share so much in common.

I will go to my grave supporting the American alliance. It was actually my mother who made the donation through me. She has no credit card or paypal.

Thank you for such a great cause and God bless your great nation.

Hats off to our courageous Allies, and to the great generation (of both our countries) who fought so hard for freedom, ultimately making our Special Relationship today possible.

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26 August, 2005

Valour-IT Update

Dear visitor, if you are dropping by due to the kindness of Captain's Quarters or Day by Day (or many of the other bloggers that have recently linked)... Welcome to my very humble corner of the blogosphere. I had barely started blogging before Valour-IT took over my life. So, there's not much here that isn't on that subject. And what isn't may or may not be worthy of your attention. So, browse around as you will, but the only really important link is on the right--the link for Project Valour-IT's main website (and donation page). If you doubt the good your donation can do, see this and this. If you want to know more about the history of Valour-IT, try this.

Now to the Valour-IT News...

Great news! Thanks to Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters, and Chris Muir of Day by Day, things are already hopping around here (Three donations before 7:00 pacific).

AND Chris Muir has generously made Valour-IT the subject of his cartoon today! Be sure you take a look at it. Thank you, thank you, Chris!

And maybe it was Chris' cartoon that made Ed Morrissey take note of us. Whatever the inspiration, he has an excellent post on the subject. He also gave a link to this humble little blogger (*eyes bugging out*)! Thank ye kindly, Captain, for both. :)

And now it's back to the sickbed for me... *waving feebly*

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Bubble, Bubble...

Toil and trouble... (Yeah, I probably misquoted that). Anyway, the toil and trouble are affecting Valour-IT.

Been sick all week. And then my computer apparently caught the disease; in its case, it was fatal. I came into work early this morning, to allow for a little computer time before work, and am now discovering that the work thing wasn't really wise (Oooh, look at all the fuzzy shapes and swirly colors!). So, I'm headed home to a weekend that will likely not include much computer access. Thanks to my generous employer, I will have a laptop for the weekend!

If you have any Valour-IT questions or issues, please look to John Donovan or Barb Way for assistance (thanks, you two!). They know how to contact me, if necessary.

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24 August, 2005

Valour-IT: It's a Small World...

Seawitch has been blogging in support of Valour-IT since the very beginning. It turns out she's had quite an effect on her corner of the blogosphere, which includes a group of Australian bloggers. When Valour-IT recently received a donation from Australia, I was able to trace it back to Seawitch's Australian friends. And this led to my discovery of a vivacious, young, Australian blogger named Rachel, of Legless in Perpetuum. She posted this in response to Seawitch's request to spread the word about Valour-IT:

Seawitch, that is an absolutely amazing and bloody important cause that you are supporting. As I have a high-level spinal cord injury I also use a voice-activated computer. I have my little microphone that I speak into, and because I can move my arms I have a trackball mouse[...]I know what it is like to be stuck in hospital for a long time with nothing to do and no access to the outside world[...]

This project will make a massive difference to the lives of wounded soldiers. Giving them access to the outside world, as well as the independence that voice-activated computers will bring, is such an honourable way to thank them for the sacrifices they have made for our well-being. [bolding added]

For all the times I've tried to speak or write about why this project is so important, I'm sure I've never said it half as well as Rachel just did.

Excuse me. I think I've got something in my eyes... While I'm gone, you can use that "Donate" button on the right.

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Political Gamesmanship vs. Support

A tale of two Chucks...

The Gamesmanship: The big political story of the weekend was Republican Senator and Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel's statement that, "We are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam...The longer we stay, the more problems we are going to have."

If you think that was anything more than political gamesmanship, consider what else he said, "We should start figuring out how we get out of there...But with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."

I know my brain's fuzzed up from illness, but it sounds like he just said that we can't leave because it would destabilize the Middle East, but we need to get out because we're destabilizing it. Thanks for the help, Senator. It's awful easy to stand on the sidelines and take potshots, isn't it? Especially when you've got "prospective presidential contender" affixed to your name these days.

Fine, that's the dirty business of politics. But it's also a betrayal of what the Senator himself learned by hard, personal experience 30+ years ago...

Froggy nails it in a very un-PC rant:

Twenty years ago Chuck Hagel probably would have the lesson of Vietnam burned into his soul. That lesson being, of course, that the United States cannot be defeated on the battlefield, but is vulnerable only when politicians back home lose bowel and bladder control and start defecating on the mission and urinating on the public’s support for the war. But to have committed the same sin that doomed his comrades and him in decades past means he must have sold out those principles long ago[...]

[...]The implication in making the Vietnam analogy is that the United States should somehow follow a similar path that failed completely in Southeast Asia… pull our troops out now. Not only did we shamefully and unnecessarily lose a war, we subjected millions to torture, re-education camps, and genocide.

A commenter at Froggy Ruminations raised the spectre of the Senator as a Blue Falcon. I'm not sure, but it's pretty darn close.

Shameful beyond words.

And now for the support: For a very different kind of Chuck (one who knows how to keep the faith with his fellow warfighters), check out Barb's great post on Valour-IT: what it does and why it matters so much.

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A Different Angle on Fundraising

Well, I think the crud that's gotten me sick has now turned to eating my brain. Since I've got nothing meaningful to say, here's someone who does...

Huntress has some excellent suggestions for fundraising, at the bottom of a very nice post about Valour-IT:

...find some creative fun exciting ways to raise donations; how about a bowling for donations tournament, or a neighborhood car wash, or a bake sale...

I hadn't thought of this kind of fundraising at all. It sounds like the perfect project for a Scout Troop, a church youth group, or a school. Now that Huntress has gotten me thinking, how about a "Dance-a-thon" or a reading competition at your local school (students collect a small donation for each book a classroom reads).

So, how about it, all you Valour-IT supporters? I know you can only make your personal dollars stretch so far, but there are great opportunities out there for groups! And this is a wonderful learning activity for school-age children, whether they're doing a reading competition or learning about what it means to serve simply by their association with the project.

Finally, Huntress closes with an excellent suggestion for the media:

And to all those in media that spent WEEKS chasing after me for interviews, why not give the George Smith story a rest, and help draw attention to this wonderful project by giving it some coverage. [link added]

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22 August, 2005

My Twenty-four Minutes of Fame

Well, all my adoring fans (Neffi, Boquisicio, that means you!) can now enjoy the dulcet tones of my angelic voice right on their own computers. ;-)

Seriously, Holly Aho (Valour-IT's awesome webmaster) suggested I do an interview for one of her podcasts so that we could draw attention to Valour-IT. I was happy to do it with that goal in mind, so here's the result [ 23 MB; don't even bother trying to download it via dialup].

Holly has truly been a Soldiers' Angel, as she's done so much for Valour-IT. So, huge thanks to Holly for giving the project a further boost through this interview, hosted on her blog.

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Linky Love

Well, I've found the solution to lack of time to do what I need/want these days... get sick! Taking the day off from work today ($#%@ little, darling, lovable Germ Factories on Legs I work with!) gives me the chance to post some linky love. There's too much good stuff out for me to share it all, but here are some high points...

The San Diego milbloggers (so close, yet so far!) had a bash last night, and Sean included pictures! Now we know what everybody looks like, though it might require a bit of detective work. For example, the top picture has the lovely Mrs. Smash in the foreground, so I think we know whose arm that is around her, haha!. Oops! My first serious blog error; the lovely lady in question is Kevin's friend, Grazie (and no, that's not Smash with his arm around her). She looks a lot like what I recalled of Mrs. Smash's publicity photos. Many apologies to both lovely ladies.

And speaking of San Diego bloggers, Lex exceeds his usual level of high quality with a post on the "Arab mind." He may not have the answers, but he's definitely got all the right questions. Also, if you haven't been following his "Rhythms" serial story, you've been missing out! Start here (heart-quickening) and here (heart-touching) to get hooked, then go back to the beginning.

On the Valour-IT front, Bloodspite of Techography has put up an excellent post in support of Valour-IT today.

Ok, imagine you're injured. Lying flat on your back. You can't write. You can't type. Your hands are bandaged so you can't use a phone. Your family is over 12,000 miles away and you're in a bed surrounded by folks in white.

Where do you draw your support from? Who do you turn too? What about your wife/husband/kid back home?

We have a solution. And you can help.
In other Valour-IT news, we're about halfway to our Bethesda goal, after only 12 days of operation. In fact, 10 laptops and software, etc., are in the mail already (a couple will be pushed over to Walter Reed for urgent needs there). If you want to volunteer your skills in various areas, check out the opportunities.

On a related note, CPT Z and Soldiers' Angels were featured in a Washington Post article. He even has some good things to say about the reporter! He's been doing a lot of great posting. Just go to the top and scroll on down (don't miss the awesome pics!).

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21 August, 2005

The Press and Chickens (It's not what you think)

We here at Valour-IT were all a-twitter this weekend, expecting at least a mention in the Washington Post. A reporter had sat with the Ziegenfuss family and a Soldiers' Angel volunteer for hours, and Project Valour-IT had reportedly been discussed quite a bit, among other topics. My phone number and name were given to the reporter, and spelling and pronunciation were checked with me. Everyone involved and those of us at Soldiers' Angels and Valour-IT had high hopes for a busy week, based on the article.

The article went out today and Chuck and family and the Soldiers' Angels volunteer were painted in rather nice terms, fortunately . But, no mention of Valour-IT... not even a hint. *sigh* It's a funny quirk the press seems to have--they get to choose write they write about, haha! And it read a bit like maybe the editor had taken a chainsaw to it, so who knows...

At least they gave CPT Z's website address. His current top post is about Valour-IT, so maybe we'll get some spillage from there.

But, back to the press drawing board, I guess. And something about chickens and counting...?

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Blog Filler

The best thing about online quzzes? They make for eye-catching posts with almost zero effort... perfect for brain-dead people like me! :)

Much More Emotional


The graph on the right represents your place in Intuition 2-Space. As you can see, you scored well above average on emotional intuition and about average on scientific intuition.Keep in mind that very few people score high on both! In effect, you can compare your two intuition scores with each other to learn what kind of intuition you're best at. Your emotional intuition is stronger than your scientific intuition.

Your Emotional Intuition score is a measure of how well you understand people, especially their unspoken needs and sympathies. A high score score usually indicates social grace and persuasiveness. A low score usually means you're good at Quake.
Your Scientific Intuition score tells you how in tune you are with the world around you; how well you understand your physical and intellectual environment. People with high scores here are apt to succeed in business and, of course, the sciences.

This quiz was quite interesting to me because I've always been told I had great emotional intuition, but sciences have always been a struggle for me ("struggle" meaning I actually had to study for an "A," haha!). I would have hoped to get more than 47% scientific, though. I suppose I could could comfort myself in that I'm "average" in that category, haha! But "average" these days seems to be an ever-lowering bar. Oh well, can't be perfect... ;) then I'd be an intolerable egotist--which I guess would then make me imperfect! Hmmm... Life's such a balancing act. ;) *GRIN*

And yes, John, this is further proof that I am an emotional, non-linear, verbose and squishy female. ;) And without girls like us around to bug you, you guys would be a bunch of grunting geek engineers! :D

H/T Cassie

UPDATE: Apparently, I didn't notice the ads accompanying the quiz; NOT WORK SAFE! My apologies for anyone who may have discovered that the hard way.

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20 August, 2005


Well, as you can see, I haven't posted in six days. I couldn't come up with anything that didn't involve Valour-IT! I thought that if I moved all the Valour-IT news off Fuzzilicious Thinking and put it on the project blog, I would "get my blog back." Maybe so, but I didn't get my brain back to go along with it! My brain's still filled to the brim with Valour-IT. No matter where I post, I fear it's still gonna be Valour-IT.

So, my 4 or 5 dear friends who actually care if I write: it's gonna have to be "Valour-IT (almost) all the time, (almost) every time--at least until the Project gives me my brain back!

Yesterday I saw that CPT Z had posted for only the second time since Project Valour-IT began. One of his posts today was the first time he's written about Valour-IT. Suddenly it was all real. I mentally went back to 15 days ago and couldn't comprehend how I'd gotten to to where i find myself today. As I said in comments at CPT Z's blog, "Had you told me 3 weeks ago that I would be involved in this way, I would have thought you insane." (Either that, or that he'd been chewing on the fentanyl lollipops again!)

No one could ever have convinced me I would EVER be in a position called "Project Team Leader" for a charitable project. Sure I lead at my job--I lead classrooms full of little children! (Although, that's a lot more like herding cats than it is leading anybody, haha!) But outside the classroom I have usually stayed quietly in the background. I even tried to keep my involvement in this project anonymous (Silly, I know; I'll probably be publically "out of the closet" after the Washington Post article this weekend).

The only answer I have to the above paragraph is that I'm not really leading. Somehow I got caught up into this amazing project with people of great enthusiasm, creativity, and skill. They just needed someone to "stir the pot" and give them a place to put it all. So instead of leading anything, I find I'm desperately trying to keep up as I attempt to wrap my brain around volunteers' big ideas, and master Soldiers' Angels organizational structure, PR/media, marketing, non-profit procedures and concepts, management of adults, fundraising, negotiation, and basic business practices all at once, so that I can understand what they want to do and keep them from trampling each other in their exuberance!

The first week was insane, but I think it's finally starting to settle down, as the "lift-off" work is done and it's "running itself" a bit. But as I look at the parts of myself I've discovered in the last few weeks, I know this will be one of those before/after points in my life: a time when I can see so clearly that I'm no longer what I thought I was before.

And the other thing I've learned from this is that I have some extraordinary friends: from John's organizational/management skill to Sgt. B's heart-touching writing, BillT's quiet passion, Beth's idealistic courage, and Lex's marvelous use of the English language. Plus, the rest of the amazing Castle Denizens, all the other bloggers who have put their excellent skills and connections to work on this, and the other amazing volunteers who've lent themselves to the cause. And of course there's CPT Z, our visionary and inspiration. How did I get so lucky to know such wonderful people?!

You know, I'm gonna avoid it like the plague, but if the day ever comes that someone tries to thank me for what I've supposedly done, I'll gonna be one of those terribly cliched people who says, "I didn't really do it; it was the wonderful team that gathered around a shared dream." Because that's the truth. And why I was blessed enough to be swept up into this amazing project, I'll never know. But I'll be forever grateful for the opportunity.

But the best outcome of all of this is that our wounded warriors are going to get a piece of their independence back. And that is truly "what it's all about." I haven't focused too much on that fact in this little meandering essay because looking too closely at that brings almost more emotion than I can handle. Yes, it's paradoxical, but to think that I had any hand in helping those who will use these computers is humbling beyond my ability to express. As I wrote above, I'm so grateful to be along for the ride.

What strange roads life sweeps us down...

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14 August, 2005

All About Captain Ziegenfuss...

Holly Aho (Soldier's Angel, and Valour-IT's Webmaster Extraordinaire) will be posting a podcast interview with Alice, Carren, and CPT Chuck Ziegenfuss on her blog this evening.

CPT Ziegenfuss was the inspiration for Valour-IT, so be sure to go listen as he talks about how he's doing and what having a voice-controlled laptop has meant to him.

Update: Greyhawk has an excellent summary of CPT Z's story, for those who don't already know it.

Update 2: The podcast has beeing delayed for (hopefully just) one day. Keep your eye on Holly's Blog for more details.

[cross-posted at Valour-IT Blog]

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13 August, 2005

How to Help

So you want to help? Here you go...

How to Help Project Valour-IT:

  • Donate here (ask if your employer provides matching funds)
  • Send the project homepage link to friends and family
  • Blog about it, and ask your fellow bloggers to do the same
  • Join the Fusileers
  • Contact your local TV, newspapers, and radio stations with information about Valour-IT (watch here for recent press releases, etc. Get tips here.)
  • Organize a church, school or youth group fundraiser
  • Ask if you can put up a flyer at your work, place of worship, and club or community organization (or give a presentation, if that's your skill--email for materials)
  • PLEASE contact FbL or John if you want to approach a major media outlet/figure or a large company, so that we don't overwhelm anyone.

Note: This list will be updated continuously as opportunities develop.

(After today, most of the day-to-day information relating to Project Valour-IT will be posted on the project blog. I will post updates about the project here at Fuzzilicious Thinking every few days, or if there is particularly exciting news. The links to the project website and the project blog will remain in the upper right hand corner of the sidebar.)

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All About Project Valour-IT

If you're looking for the place with everything you'd ever wanted to know about Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT, you've found it!

Project Valour-IT Websites:
Official Website (Full details, donations, etc.)
Blog (Daily updates, planning, and current needs)

History and Development of the Project:
Software for Soldiers
Software for Soldiers (update)
He's Baaack (Inspiration)
Why it's Important
A Tale of Two Fathers (Motivation)
Project Valour-IT Begins

Castle Argghhh! Posts and Links:
Castle Argghhh! Fighting Fusileers for Freedom

Notable Posts by Various Bloggers:
Fusileers: Project Valour IT Needs YOU (Righty in a Lefty State)
Valour-IT (The Gun Line)
Operation "Valour IT" (Blackfive)
(For additional bloggers who have posted about the project, see the Project Valour-IT Blogroll on the right)


Project Valour-IT is in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, beloved father of CPT Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, at the younger Ziegenfuss' request. CPT Ziegenfuss was injured while serving in Iaq, and is currently recovering. His experiences trying to blog despite serious hand injures were the immediate inspiration for this project, in which he continues to be involved.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me, using the "email me" link in the upper right hand corner of this page. Thanks!

UPDATE: Donations to Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT are tax-deductible and eligible for matching funds (if an employer provides that option). For questions about the IRS standing of Soldiers' Angels as a charity, click here to open the IRS search page for Registered Charities. Enter the exact text "Soldiers Angels" and select "all the words." If it's there, it's a registered charity.

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And Now for Something Completely Different...

Surfing the local blog waters in a zombie-like fashion last week, I found the following quiz. Turns out it's based on actual personality tests. Only a week ago I would have laughed at the results, but working on Valour-IT has shown me I have skills I wouldn't have expected. But I guess it's like I said when I started this blog, "If I get passionate about something, the words come pouring out." Maybe that's how this whole wonderful insanity of me heading up something as big Project Valour-IT got started in the first place...I must've talked my way into it!

Anyway, I am...

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz

Harry Potter Personality Quiz

by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Take it for what it's worth...


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Valour-IT Update

In the news today:

Project Valour-IT has its own blog! For daily news updates, the latest fundraising totals, volunteering, Fusileers activities, and more, go here.

Yayyy!! We have more than enough donations to purchase our first three (or four) fully-equipped laptops for Bethesda, and expect to be able to ship them out next week.

We've had some wonderful donors, including one today who wants to give enough to purchase one complete laptop system.

Soldiers' Angels has offered to help us purchase the first 25 laptop carrying cases. Thank you, Patti!

We now have a blogroll of bloggers who have made posts in support of Project Valour-IT. (If we missed you, or you would like a copy of the code, email Fusileer 6).

Several people are working their big-time media contacts to improve project visibility. Keep your fingers crossed!

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10 August, 2005

Project Valour-IT Begins

I'm far too tired to make this eloquent or beautiful. The Castle and Barb say it so much better than I could, but here are the bare facts...

Project Valour IT is now up and running at Soldiers' Angels. No link from the homepage yet, so go directly to the project webpages.

There's been a bit of a stumble over the PR handouts. They should be available before noon today (knock on wood). In the meantime, visit the Soldier's Angels project website for general info, background, contacts, and most importantly right now... donations. Please don't hesitate to email me with any questions or suggestions you have.

So many people are involved in this in such important ways that I am overwhelmed by the possibilities of this kind of creativity, generosity and knowledge put to such a noble use. Particular thanks go out to Holly Aho for her marvelous website design and programming skills, and the men of Castle Argghhh!, who are pretty much coordinating the Internet/blog side of things. Deepest thanks, beyond my ability to express, go to all the wonderful people who continue to help make this happen.

Speaking of which, several very big big wigs are already expressing sincere interest in Project Valour-IT, simply from hearing of it by word-of-mouth. I will let you all know if/when anything comes of it.

Now, for more than 3 hours of sleep tonight... *exhausted grin*

UPDATE: added links for Holly Aho and Argghhh!.

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09 August, 2005

Project Update

I'm running on adrenaline at this point (sleep? food? Yeah... I think I may have a passing familiarity with them, haha!), up to my eyeballs in final planning and coordinating for the Wednesday kick-off. Corporate suppliers have been lined up, and wonderful, providential things have been happening. Check out Castle Argghhh! for a little more info.

An official webpage will be up on the Soldiers' Angels website by Wednesday morning. If you have any questions, suggestions, or offers of help before then, click "email me" under the picture on the right. I will be checking my email all day, and have a package of background info I can supply to anyone who wants it.

In the meantime, huge thank yous to the amazing people already involved. Why don't you join us? We're saving a place for you...

UPDATE: Go here to offer graphic design assistance.

UPDATE: As of 8/10/05 we are up and running at Soldiers' Angels

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07 August, 2005

Project Name Update

We have one nomination for a project name:

The SFC William V Ziegenfuss Heroes' Electronically-aided Reach to Text Project, aka "The H.E.A.R.T. Project" (thanks, Boquisucio!). I like it a bunch. I'm concerned that it's quite a mouthful, but it's up for consideration.

Please keep the suggestions coming. We've got to have a name by Monday night.

And More Project News:
Once again, Holly Aho is proving her title of Soldiers' Angel. She has offered her services in design of the project webpage on the Soldiers' Angels server. She's a genuine expert on professional webpage design and I'm sure she'll be a tremendous asset in getting the word out effectively.

UPDATE: We have another nomination! Getting Injured Veterans Electronically-connected, aka "Project G.I.V.E." Or a variation on that--Operation GIVER: Getting Injured Veterans Electronically Reconnected.

UPDATE 2: CW4BillT of Castle Argghhh! has kindly sent his readers here to help choose the name. All ya'll please feel free to comment, suggest and opine on the matter.

And please check out the post below to learn why, whatever the name, the project will be in honor of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, beloved father of CPT Chuck Ziegenfuss (and drop by CPT Z's place to encourage him as he deals with hearing-related surgery that seems to have him uncharacteristically out-of-sorts).

UPDATE 3: As of 8/10/05 we are up and running at Soldiers' Angels

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06 August, 2005

A Tale of Two Fathers

As you know if you’re a regular reader, the experiences and blogging of injured CPT Chuck Ziegenfuss have been an inspiration for the project we've been developing, as Chuck and I discovered we had a shared vision of providing voice-to-text software to any injured soldier who could benefit from it. It turns out we share more than that...

This morning I received an email from Chuck in which he wrote of his hope that the project could be named after his father. He wrote with great affection and humility about a man he obviously respected and loved very much. Here’s the story...

Sergeant First Class (SFC) William V. Ziegenfuss was a career U.S. Army medic, and served in Viet Nam. After seventeen years in the army he was given a medical discharge because the ravages of Agent Orange-related cancer in his digestive tract made him undeployable. Throughout his life he was devoted to the army and his fellow soldiers, helping them in every way he could. Sixteen years after his army career was over, his final gift was his personal collection of over 100 videos to soldiers and veterans in the cancer ward to break up what he knew from personal experience was the monotony of surgeries, therapies, and chemotherapy treatments. He was obviously a very loving and generous man.

This touched me because I have been remembering my father lately, too. He enlisted and volunteered for Viet Nam as a surgical tech. He was placed in the hospital in Da Nang, but due to some administrative restrictions/foul-ups, he ending up fulfilling his last months of enlistment working at Walter Reed, where Chuck is now recuperating. He went on to become a Christian minister and was dearly beloved by his congregants.

To my knowledge, no one ever connected it to any exposure to Agent Orange, but my father contracted leukemia and died from a related condition when he was 34 years old and my sister and I were both under the age of twelve. Though he pastored just two small congregations, his memorial service was scheduled for the largest church in town, and on that day the facility was packed with people of all religions and walks of life. Even the local gas station attendant knew and loved him, once saying to him in my presence, "No way you’re a minister...you’re just a regular guy!

Anyone who knew my father will tell you what an extraordinary man he was. A man of great social gifts with the ability to be at home in any environment, he was known for his humor, generosity, and compassion, among other laudable traits. And the most important thing he taught me was the value and dignity of EVERY human being. From the most unbelievably humble shack of the poorest family in our neighborhood to the Vietnamese war-bride next door, to the finest house in town, he taught me to see past the outside and recognize the deepest human needs and connections that make us all equal under the surface.

And so it hit me yesterday that this project would have been "right up his alley." He had a genius IQ, and so the curiosity-filled geek in him would’ve reveled in the mechanisms of the voice-to-text software. But the loving and compassionate person who recognized the humanity that binds us together would’ve loved the idea of using that software to reconnect wounded soldiers with the world around them. He would have instinctively understood the value of the project and been its greatest champion. The force of his amazing personal skills would’ve been put to work gathering volunteers and emptying pockets; he probably could’ve talked anyone into donating anything.

But like Chuck’s father, he only impacts the world from a distance now. And like Chuck’s father, his impact resonates through his children. So today, the children of two great men are working together to accomplish something that both men would surely be doing themselves if we were still blessed with their presence on this earth.

So, here's to a project in memory of two great men, to the benefit of many more of the same... May they all live forever in the hearts of those who know their stories!


Don't forget! August 10 is the big day!

We still need some help, though! We’ve got the first part of the name, now--the “SFC William V. Ziegenfuss” part. But the name "The SFC William Ziegenfuss Laptop Computer Project" just doesn’t have any panache; that last part needs some work! ;) Please help us!

UPDATE: As of 8/10/05 we are up and running at Soldiers' Angels

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05 August, 2005

It's Happening!!!

It's all but official! You are among the first to know...

A program to provide voice-based computer access to military personnel with hand and arm injuries at a variety of military medical facilities is being finalized under the auspices and guidance of Patti Bader and Soldiers' Angels. Program details and a website for donations and volunteers will be up by Wednesday, August 10th.

If you are interested in receiving the Soldiers' Angels press release on Wednesday, please email me and I will make sure you get on the list.

Right now we need your help in naming the program. "Software for Soldiers" isn't really accurate, since we intend to provide entire laptop setups. We need a short name that clearly communicates what it's about: giving soldiers with hand and arm injuries access to the communication and independence opportunities of computer use. PLEASE share your ideas in the comments, 'cause I'm drawing an absolute blank!

And to all of you who have already lined up to offer your time, support, and expertise: THANK YOU! I can hardly wait to see what we are going to accomplish together!

UPDATE: As of 8/10/05 we are up and running at Soldiers' Angels

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04 August, 2005

Why it's Important

Fuzzilicious Thinking seems to be developing into an adjunct of CPT Ziegenfuss' TC Override. But what he is going through is such a wonderful example of why I am so serious about finding a way to provide all our soldiers who may have wounded hands and arms access to a computer that they can use.

CPT Z is obviously enjoying his "new toy" very much. His wife, Carren, has made another post, and she writes of what the newly-acquired voice-to-text software has already meant to her husband's continuing recovery:

I know Chuck is much happier now that he is able to blog, despite the fact that the voice recognition thing can be a hassle sometimes. He is very grateful to have it. He loves to see how many people comment when he posts. This blog is really an amazing thing for him and very instrumental for his healing. Alice and I can only do so much...

Not every soldier who needs the voice software is a blogger, of course. But I'd guess it's not the blogging itself that's the point with CPT Z, it's about the opportunity for self-expression and the way it allows him to reach far beyond the hospital walls. A soldier without a blog would still use a computer in much the same way: to communicate across the miles and maintain contact with a circle of people who are supportive of his recovery.

Speaking of... nothing is official yet, but things are falling into place. Mostly we're just waiting to communicate with the medical institutions potentially involved so that we can identify the extent of the need and how best that need would be filled. But as soon as that part of the picture is clear, we will be ready to hit the ground running with the PR and fundraising effort. Yes!! I can hardly wait!

That's why this developing project is so important.

UPDATE: As of 8/10/05 we are up and running at Soldiers' Angels

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Software for Soldiers


Amazing, wonderful, stupendous things are happening! Details soon, I promise (sorry to be such tease about it).

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03 August, 2005

He's Baaack!

The voice-to-text software that a reader gave CPT Ziegenfuss apparently arrived yesterday and he is no longer doing two-line posts.

As he says, the drugs "got to him" and made him all mushy (who wouldn't be mushy, when showered with the love and support he has received?). But if you think he's lost his edge, just check out the post-script, LOL! It's wonderful to have him back in "full voice."

Isn't technology grand? He can express himself completely and he doesn't need anybody speaking for him or taking dictation or otherwise doing something he can now do for himself. This is what we want to do for all the soldiers in his condition--give them some freedom and independence while connecting them with the rest of the world.

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02 August, 2005

Software for Soldiers (update)

[I debated whether to make this post, since I have so little I can be specific about. But I'm so excited, and I wanted to let you all know that things are starting to become clearer.]

Lots of great things are happening in the developing drive to provide adaptive software and equipment to soldiers with hand/arm wounds so that they can use computers! Unfortunately, I can't be specific yet. But here's what's up (we still need more help in all these areas, as well as any ideas, assistance, and input someone may have):

  • We have an offer for significant donations of basic software like Windows XP and Microsoft Office
  • Several people in a position to offer assistance, advice, and contacts have stepped up
  • A number of people have said they are very excited, and willing to pitch in whenever a specific need is identified

Best of all, an organization that assists deployed/wounded military members has offered to "help make it happen" (details haven't been discussed).

Now we just need to figure out what exactly what we want to do. But it's starting to gather momentum...

CPT Ziegenfuss is focused on helping out his fellow soldiers at Walter Reed, but hopefully we can reach far beyond just that location, and help a great number of our wounded soldiers feel more independent, as well as better-connected to their families/friends and their buddies still in the field.

This is so exciting! (Have a mentioned that yet?)

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Numbers Game

I'm sure many of you remember hearing that Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (the military hospital that handles nearly all the sick and wounded soldiers coming from Afghanistan and Iraq) recently treated it's 25,000th patient from the battles of the GWOT. I had never seen the breakdown of those numbers: how many were injuries vs. illnesses, etc. But Greyhawk has the details, and they are rather surprising.

Before you click that link, stop and think about what you would guess the distribution of those 25,000 patients is... how many combat injuries, non-combat injuires and how many general illnesses you think are contained in that staggering number.

Now, I almost hesitate to post the following because I don't want to diminish either the number or breadth of life-changing injuires to those wounded in combat. However, be sure to notice the statistics for amputations. Of course, these numbers don't include those who may keep a limb with severe nerve damage, those with severe head trauma, or those who suffer other limb injuries from which they will never completely recover. But the numbers are still quite surprising when one considers the vague impressions we receive from news coverage on the subject. (Now you can go read the link. Come back when you're done, if you would).

Keep those amputation numbers in mind as you read the following:

As Greyhawk points out, the media brings the cases of the most gruesome injuries to the forefront, and so we often read about soldiers who are challenged with these kinds of injuries. Usually they are quite heroic in their courage, determination, and sheer perseverence, which is inspiring to those of us who doubt we have what it takes to deal with what they face. But that seems rarely to be the point of the newspaper and TV profiles. As is often the case, we've been shown a rather distorted picture when it comes to discussions of injuries to those serving in Iraq and (less so) Afghanistan. I hesitate to throw rocks at the diverse and amorphous entity we call "the media," so I'll leave you the opportunity to decide why and to what (if any) end...

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