The VeteranShield Projectsm

                                                                                       ...It's not about glory; it's about Their Story.

FAQ's
How do I begin?
How was the VeteranShield concept conceived?
Why a shield?
What is a VeteranShield?
What is the purpose of a VeteranShield?
What is the minimum donation required to reserve a VeteranShield?
What is the purpose of the VeteranShield.org website?
What is the purpose of the VeteranShield nonprofit organization?
Who are the people involved in the VeteranShield organization? 
What is The VeteranShield Project?
What is the advantage of the VeteranShield Project over typical Veteran Memorials? 
What is the "Veterans on Parade" Program?
What is the "VeteranShield Ranks of Honor" Program?
What is the "VeteranShield In-Home Designer" Program?
What is the "VeteranShield Remembrance Poppy Wreath" Program?


How do I begin?

    The Veteranshield Project is currently in the prototype development and testing phase; the first production model is expected in early 2010.  For information on how you can reserve a VeteranShield now for only a $100 tax-deductible donation, please click here... and thank you for your support!

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How was the VeteranShield concept conceived?
   
 
    
To learn about the story behind the inspiration and creation of the VeteranShield, please visit the website of our founder: "Mark Withrow: Barbecuing & Memory Sharing".

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Why a shield?

    Throughout history, a shield has been the traditional means of identifying a warrior.

    The Greek historian Thucydides recorded that when Spartan men went to war, their wives (or mothers, or another woman of some significance) would customarily present them with their shield and say: "With this, or upon this" (Èi tàn èi èpì tàs), meaning that true Spartans could only return to Sparta either victorious (with their shield in hand) or badly wounded/dead (carried upon it).  If a Spartan hoplite were to return to Sparta walking, unwounded and without his shield, it was assumed that he had thrown his heavy shield at the enemy in an effort to quickly flee the battlefield; an act punishable by death or banishment. A soldier losing his helmet, breastplate or greaves (leg armour) was not similarly punished, as these items were personal pieces of armour designed to protect one man; whereas the shield not only protected the individual soldier but -- in the tightly packed Spartan phalanx battle formation -- was also instrumental in protecting the soldier to his left from harm. Thus the shield was symbolic of the individual soldier's subordination to his unit, his integral part in its success, and his solemn responsibility to his comrades in arms.

    The modern term "right hand man", meaning a well trusted individual, is said to derive from the shieldwall formation used in the phalanx. The shield, worn on the left, is used to cover both the wearer and the soldier to the left. Thus it was advantageous to have someone you trusted as your "right hand man" (positioned to your right).  The most experienced soldiers were often placed at the weak spot on the right hand side of a phalanx, where the outermost soldiers were unprotected by an overlapping shield. Over time the right hand side of Ancient Greek armies became a place of honour, where the best troops were stationed to prevent the exposure of this weak point.

    Heraldic shields have also existed from the dawn of art; they were originally developed by officers-in-arms, using a rigid and complex system of blazoning arms.  The study of Family Heraldry and Military Heraldry remain popular research subjects on the internet.

    The historical American precursor to the work of the VeteranShield organization is the
Reynolds Escutcheons of Military and Naval Service Company and its successors, which produced military escutcheons from 1868 to 1907, based on a patent secured in 1868 by Captain John P. Reynolds, formerly of the 19th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.

    The modern design and functionality of the prototype VeteranShield is based on a concept initially envisioned and developed from 2006 to 2008 -- and a patent pending design filed in 2009 -- by Sergeant Mark R Withrow, formerly of the United States Marine Corps.

    
Other design influences on the modern American VeteranShield -- including the clean and simple layout of the internal collage template1 -- were the result of extensive background research into many different historical, traditional and modern shield designs:

    The prototype American VeteranShield product design was developed only after taking into account a number of practical and ethical considerations:

  • Durability (weather resistance; aging properties)
  • Toughness (ability to pass the "hammer test")
  • Flexibility (maximum display usage; ease of changing out collage media)
  • Simplicity (minimum number of parts; ease of disassembly/repair)
  • Portability (light enough to easily carry or move)
  • Reliability (minimal maintenance required)
  • Visibility (maximum collage area; brightest possible LED illumination system)
  • Adaptability (easily swappable component upgrades)
  • Safety (low-heat, low-power 12v D.C. LED system; remote control on/off/dimmer)
  • Security (theft-prevention lock system and optional motion alarm)
  • Trackability (embedded passive RFID transponder tag and GPS chip)
  • Sourceability (maximum amount of American content) 

    Our U.S. design team works continuously to improve and upgrade the American VeteranShield, in order to ensure that we always provide the best product possible to efficiently support the long-term mission and goals of the VeteranShield Project.

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What is a VeteranShield?

    The VeteranShieldtm is the first product issue of an exciting new memorykeeping and display technology: the Personal Outdoor Displaytm (POD) Design System1.  It has been specifically designed to finally provide, at long last, a practical and long-lasting means for our Veterans -- and their friends and familes -- to "Save, Shield, and Share"sm the precious memories of their service and sacrifice to our nation.

    The actual POD product is the close consumer cousin to a piece of commercial equipment that has been a staple of the outdoor advertising industry for years: the standard backlit (illuminated) graphics display box, sign or fixture.  Examples of these can be seen in any modern urban environment, at almost any shopping mall, trade show, bus shelter, or on top of taxicabs.

    However, PODs represent a revolutionary new hybid consumer product/service category.  A true POD digital design system is a unique combination of the following elements:
  • A singular focus on producing a custom, limited-edition, print-on-demand, high-definition digital collage or artwork, uniquely designed for (or by) the end-user and incorporating original design elements (i.e. photographs, memorabilia, etc.) provided by the end-user, and mounted in a custom backlit outdoor display.
  • lightweight and portable product design.
  • modern LED backlighting and superior light-diffusing acrylics.
  • the latest in web-based digital collage software, together with personalized templates and specialized, targeted design elements.
  • in-home desktop design capabilites, instant online proofing and final order placement, and single-print, wide-format digital production.
  • the durability and weather-resistant characteristics usually associated with traditional commercial iluminated outdoor advertising displays, without the standard drawbacks of excess cost, weight, lack of flexibility, and large volume production runs.

    The POD Design System is able to offer truly exciting new possibilites for families, friends and communities to keep, protect, and publicly share their collective memories together, while also providing new opportunities to join together in both online and real-world celebrations and outdoor observances.

    This unique combination of features and benefits has been fully realized in the embodiment of the American VeteranShield.


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What is the purpose of a VeteranShield?

    
The three main purposes of the actual VeteranShield product are:

1.    To publicly celebrate and honor the life of military Veterans, living or deceased.

2.    To provide a safe and secure repository for a Veteran’s Photojournal, and Spouse's/Parent's/Children's Photojournals.

3.    To raise public awareness and contributions, so as to create new tools and real opportunities for our homecoming and disabled Veterans -- and their heroic families -- to help them deal with (and heal from) the war experience; thus providing the means for them to function, thrive and prosper together in the civilian world.

Through the use of a PC and free, easy-to-use software and templates, the story of a Veteran’s life and service can be quickly and brilliantly told and displayed in the form of a customized and illuminated outdoor digital collage.

    Larger Individual and Corporate donations are now being solicited to provide VeteranShields for all honorable Veterans (and their families) who are experiencing financial hardship.  Please visit our Corporate Sponsorship page if your company or organization would like to contribute funds to sponsor Veteranshilds for a specific group or category of Veterans.

    
Low-income honorable veterans (or their families) are encouraged to make a confidential application for a sponsored VeteranShield.   Please contact our office at Applications@veteranshield.org. to apply for a confidential Sponsorship Application.

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What is the minimum donation required to reserve a VeteranShield?

    A VeteranShield reservation can be held for only $100, plus a pledge for an additional $400, which is due in full prior to final production and delivery. Therefore, the current Minimum Required Donation Amount (MRDA) required to secure a VeteranShield is a total of $500.00, as of March 31st, 2009.  The current MRDA may be adjusted up or down at any time, depending on the final design configuration and actual raw material costs existing at the time of the initial VeteranShield production run.  For example, if the cost of oil (and, therefore, petroleum-based plastic resin) should again rise significantly, or if a number of presently optional components (i.e., GPS tracking chip, Motion alarm system, etc.) should later be incorporated as standard features, the MRDA may also be increased.

    The VeteranShield organization reserves the right to adjust the final VeteranShield specifications and VeteranShield MRDA at any time, in the best interests of protecting and serving our overall mission.  Although all tax-deducctibe donated funds are nonrefundable, they never expire as a credit on the account of the donator (and all credits are fully transferable to any VeteranShield at any time in the future).

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What is the purpose of the VeteranShield.org website?

    
The three main purposes of the VeteranShield.org website are:

1.    To provide an online display (Hall of Honor) of every VeteranShield created, along with a personal library of supporting military-related photographs and documents, searchable by the Veteran’s name and hometown.

2.    To provide a sense of national community among the VeteranShield.org membership.

3.    To raise contributions for the aid of disabled Veterans and their families.

Every VeteranShield produced will be available for viewing on the VeteranShield.org website, along with biographical information on the honored Veteran.

    
Each contributor who commissions a VeteranShield will also receive a free 1-year membership in the VeteranShield organization.  Subsequent yearly memberships will cost only $12.00 for all VeteranShield patrons; membership fees will be kept low to encourage long-term participation.  Members will receive a quarterly magazine, among many other benefits.

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What is the purpose of the VeteranShield nonprofit organization?

The below two paragraphs have been copied directly from our organization’s certified Articles of Incorporation, on file with the California Secretary of State:

This corporation is a nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation and is not organized for the private gain of any person.  It is organized under the Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law for public and charitable purposes.

The specific purpose of this corporation is to honor and recognize the lives and service of all U.S. Veterans by allowing members to participate in the personal preservation and creative outdoor display of the individual photographs, collages, personal journals, memorabilia, etc., of related or personally known military Veterans or comrades in arms, both in their local communities and online, and to provide assistance to disabled Veterans and their families in their efforts to successfully reintegrate into civilian life.

While the above statements provide the “bare bones” goals, concepts and values underpinning our 501(c)(4) organization -- to enhance public awareness, interest, and appreciation of the sacrifices of our country's Veterans -- please continue to explore our entire web site to learn exactly how our programs hope to accomplish and expand upon our stated goals, by working exclusively from the "bottom up" to build out and expand our grassroots programs.

    Why are we incorporated as a public nonprofit?  Because of our founder's belief that the photographs and memorabilia of all our cherished U.S. Veterans are a sacred trust for all American families; therefore, it just wouldn't be right for any individual or corporation to enrich themselves by building up a for-profit company that would treat those priceless digital images as mere commercial "inventory", to be sold off at a later date to the highest bidder.  That's why we've taken the steps necessary to ensure that the Veteranshield organization and the VeteranShield Project will remain in the public trust forever; lock, stock and barrel.

    
VeteranShield.org is not a "tin cup" charity.  It's a highly unique nonprofit economic initiative, focused on providing specialized end-user products and services which have been expressly designed to create awareness within U.S. communities of the service, sacrifice, and contribution of local American Veterans and their families, and to publicly celebrate their lives.  By doing so, we hope to create a sustainable flow of money from the private sector to build and support its in-house Veteran assistance programs, with any remaining funds donated directly to qualified charities operating established Veteran and family assistance programs.

    
We believe that the VeteranShield Project -- and our unique status as an entrepreneurial, bottom-up, problem-solving nonprofit -- will finally provide a fresh and realistic solution to the almost total lack of public recognition of our Veterans now occuring in America's neighborhoods over the traditional Memorial and Veterans Day holidays.  This has been a long-standing and much-examined problem within U.S. society; many well-meaning, standard nonprofit charities (and even a well-intentioned White House commission) have, unfortunately, been utterly unable to resolve this vexing problem, even after spending millions in charitable contributions and tax dollars.

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Who are the people involved in the VeteranShield organization?

    Our current Board of Directors consists of a select group of dedicated citizens who have volunteered to serve on a part-time basis.   We are hoping that the recognized need for a more substantial and personalized way to honor our country’s individual Veterans – a need that VeteranShield.org will uniquely fill – will allow our new nonprofit organization to continue to attract experienced and civic-minded individuals to serve on our Honorary Board.

    
It is envisioned that additional motivated and highly-qualified individuals will come forward to volunteer to serve on the formal Board of the non-profit VeteranShield organization in the near future, especially once a director’s indemnity policy is in place.

    We are honored that the First Lady of California, Maria Shriver, has generously agreed to actively promote the VeteranShield Project through her Military Family Initiative website, and has graciously provided us with her enthusiastic letter of support.

    
It should be noted that, to safeguard our status as a nonpartisan, apolitical and independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit NGO, the by-laws of the VeteranShield organization allow no active political candidates, electees, office holders, lobbyists or appointees -- or active-duty service members -- to serve on any board of our organization; however, fully retired honorable public officials and prior-service military personnel are highly valued, welcomed, and encouraged to apply for board membership.

    If you would be interested in serving on a VeteranShield board or committee, please inform our founder (mark@veteranshield.org) of your interest as soon as possible after you have reserved your VeteranShield.


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What is The VeteranShield Project? 

    
The VeteranShield Project is the mainstay of our organization’s mission.   It is best described as a "public display of affection" for our nation's troops.  The Project serves as evidence of the fact that, when people care enough, they can come together online and accomplish things of a scope and longevity that were previously impossible; in other words, they can do big things for love.

    It is an innovative undertaking with regards to the following:
  • We aspire for it to grow into one of the largest public art projects ever undertaken, funded entirely by the commissions of private Patrons or Foundation/Corporate Sponsorships.
  • It will be funded mainly by private commissions or sponsorships.  However, The VeteranShield Project will not be a “charity”, per se; rather, the Project will serve as the core impetus of a self-sustaining “nonprofit business”.  Our “business” will be the public honoring of the sacrifices of our nation’s Veterans and their families.
  • Each individual VeteranShield will be funded by private and/or corporate contributor(s) (“Patron(s)”), or a combination thereof.
  •  Each individual VeteranShield will be created to the design specifications of a single individual (“Commissioner”), who shall be responsible for collecting and providing all related photographs and personal anecdotes, and will have final approval on the completed collage design.
  • Each individual VeteranShield will honor the life of an individual Veteran (“Honoree”), by showing them in the context of their family, friends, and/or comrades-in-arms.
  • Each individual VeteranShield will be protected and displayed by an individual (“Guardian”), who shall be active members in the VeteranShield organization and preferably located in the hometown of the Honoree, during the standard 3-day observance of each Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other appropriate holidays; Guardians may also be individual Patrons, Commissioners and/or Honorees, or their individual family members and/or friends.  In addition, Guardian Trustees (i.e., Guardians who have successfully protected and displayed a VeteranShield for more than 5 years) who also agree to protect and annually display three (3) or more VeteranShields within their hometowns will receive annual recognition as a Guardian Curator. 
  • Each VeteranShield collage that is commissioned will be designed and created by either the Commissioner and/or a volunteer Artist, and the final product will be produced and hand-assembled by a volunteer Artisan.  The use of paid staff or outside contractors to accomplish such tasks shall be kept to an absolute minimum. 
  • American VeteranShields shall, whenever possible, be constructed from materials which are 100% American-sourced; furthermore, they shall be 100% manufactured and assembled by American workers, preferably disabled or formerly-homeless U.S. Veterans, or family members. 
  • American VeteranShields will be made available only in a single, standard model and design, following the example of the egalitarian standardization of grave markers in our National military cemeteries, and honoring the ancient military ideal of brotherhood in remembrance: quia aequalis potestatis sumus ("we are all equal here").
  • The only symbolic difference between VeteranShields shall be in the collage area, wherein a special recognition of those Veterans who have died while serving on active duty shall be provided. Such recognition shall be in the form of a unique digital element - a single large Gold Star - to be affixed on the upper blue field at top dead center, immediately under the top peak of the VeteranShield frame (in heraldic terms, the area designated as the center chief), positioned directly above the Veteran's name and hometown.  All such Gold Star collages shall, following mounting, be referred to as Memorial VeteranShields.
  • A VeteranShield is never sold; instead, it is reserved by a contributing patron (in recognition of a minimum tax-deductible donation, currently $500.00), and then custom-designed, assembled, and commissioned as a public remembrance honoring the life and service of a deserving Veteran and their family, for public display within their selected community.  All VeteranShields shall remain the property and responsibility of the nonprofit VeteranShield organization, in perpetuity.  NOTE:  Patrons are also permitted to commission a VeteranShield as a gift to their own family members or - if they are the honored Veteran - themselves.
  • Every VeteranShield produced shall be serially numbered, and assigned in order at the time they become fully commissioned.  All shields shall be registered by 1) Veteran's full name; 2) Hometown and State; 3) VeteranShield serial number.
  • All collages designated as officially approved by VeteranShield.org shall become the property of the nonprofit organization and posted online for public display on the VeteranShield.org website ("Hall of Honor").  However, all individual items (i.e., original photographic images, milblogs, documents, etc.) provided -- or submitted for use -- by any original Commissioner in the creation of a VeteranShield collage shall remain the property of 1) the Honoree Veteran (or his/her legal heirs), or 2) the original Commissioner.  In addition, the orginal submitter may elect to place any such original images in perpetual trust with the VeteranShield Project by providing written notice of their intention to do so.
  • Should any VeteranShield ever become damaged or broken, it may be returned anytime to our organization for free repair, replacement or decommissioning.  Also, once a VeteranShield has been in the possession of a recognized Guardian Trustee for five (5) years, it is automatically covered for replacement due to loss, theft, or vandalism.  NOTE: This is far more than just the typical "lifetime" product warranty for a consumer product.  It's an ironclad policy that will enable our nonprofit organization to properly accomplish and sustain its long-term mission: the on-going personal honoring and public remembrance of our nation's Veterans.  To fund this policy, a portion of all donated VeteranShield commissions shall be placed into a Perpetual Care Fund, with management oversight provided by the board of the organization.

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What is the advantage of The VeteranShield Project over typical Veteran Memorials?
    
    Two words: our VeteranShield Guardians.

    The traditional model for permanently honoring local Veterans - a public memorial, statue or monument, usually erected in the town square or park -- has now proven to be anything but permanent.  Unfortunately, such memorials make attractive and exposed targets for cowardly vandels (as shown by the recent staining of The Wall in Washington, D.C.) and in countless numbers of local incidents across our nation.

    Our proud volunteer Guardians have each personally agreed to keep, maintain, protect, and display their VeteranShields as long as possible.  When they eventually can no longer perform their duties, those Guardians can proudly "pass the torch" to a new generation, by returning their VeteranShields to our organization for re-placement with another Guardian living within the same community.    

    This kind of long-term individual responsibility and loyalty is central to providing the kind of personal protection which all of our sacred Veteran tributes, memorials, and statues truly deserve.

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What is the "Veterans on Parade" Program?

    
This program will allow our organization to quickly introduce the VeteranShield program to the American public, and to maximize membership growth over the coming years:
  • The VeteranShield has been specifically designed to allow it to safely weather year-round exposure on a moving vehicle.
  • The leadership and staff of the organization will create and manage supporting Veterans On Parade programs that will be designed specifically for various large-vehicle segments.
  • The Veterans On Parade program will be initiated immediately after the funding and production of the Founders 500 VeteranShields.  The program shall be introduced slowly through test marketing, and allowed to grow at a natural, healthy rate of expansion.

    Through the Veterans on Parade Program, our organization will be able to offer the families of Veterans the opportunity to have their VeteranShields on almost 24-hour public display, and to allow members of the public to learn more about the individual Veterans who have served, and are now serving, our country.

    
It is also our hope that the sight of illuminated VeteranShields moving down the road at night will serve as a daily inspiration in communities everywhere, and remind Americans that the service and sacrifices of this nation’s Veterans are not forgotten.

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What is the "VeteranShield Ranks of Honor" Program?

    
This program will allow our organization to support the growth of local, hometown VeteranShield chapters that are naturally formed on a grassroots basis, and thus to maximize membership growth over the years.  The program is inspired by the following eulogy delivered by Winston Churchill:

“The only guide to man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor.”

The VeteranShield Ranks of Honor Program will be unique in that it will allow non-Veterans - such as Veteran family members and friends - to publicly parade on behalf of, and in honor of, both living and deceased Veterans:

  • The lightweight and rugged VeteranShield has been specifically designed with an optional, detachable strap and/or handle to allow it to be easily carried by an individual, along with a built-in power supply for illumination.
  • The leadership and staff of the organization will create and manage supporting Veterans Ranks of Honor programs that will be designed specifically to encourage VeteranShield owners to sign up online to participate in hometown parades to honor their local Veterans.

The sight of 20 (or 200, or 2000) lighted VeteranShields, gently swaying in the darkness while being carried at dusk by their proud family members, friends, or former comrades-in-arms, would be a stirring sight in and by itself, or in combination with any Veteran’s Day hometown parade or marathon walk.

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What is the "VeteranShield in-Home Designer" Program?

    
One of the most demoralizing, yet common, injuries being suffered by today's wounded Veterans is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from IED attacks.  Often, a returning Veteran suffering from TBI is unable to seek suitable work outside their home, or can only do so after they have undergone many years of rehab.  The fact is, these types of brain injuries are often devastating to the family life of young vets.  After the injured Veteran returns home, it is not uncommon -- and, unfortunately, will probably become even more so -- to find that the spouse or parent of a TBI vet must quit their own job to become a full-time caregiver to their TBI Veteran.  Thus, the disabled vet and his or her immediate family  (usually spouse/children) is put under the tremendous stress of too little productive work (other than care-giving), too much time on their hands, and not enough money coming in.

    
For the caregiver spouse, the extreme stress and boredom of feeling completely cut-off from the outside world is a common symptom, as the days too often fall into a deadly dull routine of caring for their injured Veteran, watching TV together, and waiting for the (small) government disability check to arrive.  Also, it is not uncommon for the injured Veteran to suffer from feelings of intense guilt over becoming a burden to their family; in fact, the disabled Veteran is often in real danger of becoming so isolated, desperate, and depressed that they may actually come to feel that suicide is their only option.

    
In order to avoid such tragedies, the VeteranShield organization plans to help improve the quality of life of such disabled Veterans - and their loyal family caregivers - by working to design, develop and implement a VeteranShield In-Home Designer Program (IHDP) that an entire family can participate in.  It is our hope that the IHDP will become a powerful tool to assist injured Veterans in their recovery, by making it as easy as possible for them to learn how to design and assemble a VeteranShield in their home (literally designed “on the home computer” and assembled "on the kitchen table")...and to be well remunerated to do so.

    
It is our further hope tha the VeteranShield organization will be able to begin our work in this area by establishing our own small research workshop in the Sacramento area, where our volunteers can work together with disabled and formerly homeless Veterans to personalize and assemble the Shields.  We will definitely experiment and learn from this limited endeavor; if it shows promise, we should eventually be able to expand the concept to the point where we can purchase/lease all of the equipment and tooling required to actually produce (i.e., manufacture) 100% of the American content in-house, thus providing full-time employment opportunities to disabled Veterans, while continuing to grow our residential rahab model.  If this expanded model then proves to be successful, we could then duplicate such workshops and home studios across the nation.

    
On a related note, Post Traumatic Stress “Disorder” (PTSD) is now a recognized injury-related disability by the Veterans Administration.  Through our VeteranShield programs, our organization plans to work closely to set up studies with volunteer physicians and VA psychologists to try to find answers to the following questions:
  • Will involving a disabled PTSD Veteran in the day-to-day and up-close personalization and assembly of large numbers of VeteranShields help that individual to heal, by helping the Veteran to realize the huge amount of appreciation which the families, friends and comrades-in-arms of Veterans have for the personal sacrifices, service and memories (good and bad) of all Veterans?
  • Will participation in our program (for even for as little as 30 days) help the Veteran suffering from PTSD in their fight against the recurring effects of their injury?

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 What is the "VeteranShield Remembrance Poppy Wreath" Program?

The Flanders poppy has been a part of Memorial or Remembrance Day ritual since the early 1920s, and remains a strong tradition throughout the member countries of the old British Commonwealth (i.e., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.). 

During the First World War, the red poppies were seen to be among the first living plants that sprouted from the devastation of the battlefields of northern France and Belgium. Soldiers' folklore had it that the poppies were vivid red from having been nurtured in ground drenched with the blood of their comrades. The sight of the poppies on the battlefield at Ypres in 1915 moved Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the poem In Flanders Fields (see The Recitation for more information). Flanders poppies also featured prominently in several other literary responses to the carnage of the Western Front. In English literature of the nineteenth century poppies had symbolised sleep or a state of oblivion; this symbolism was carried into the literature of the First World War, but a new, more powerful symbolism was now attached to the poppy - that of the sacrifice of shed blood.

An American, Moina Michael, read McCrae's poem and was so moved by it that she wrote a reply and decided to wear a red poppy as a way of keeping faith, as McCrae urged in his poem. Michael worked for the American YMCA and at a meeting of YMCA secretaries from other countries, held in November 1918, she discussed the poem and her poppies. Madame Guerin, the French YMCA secretary, was inspired by Moina Michael’s idea, and she approached organizations throughout the allied nations to sell poppies to raise money for widows, orphans and needy Veterans and their families, and the tradition of buying and wearing a commemorative poppy on Memorial Day was begun.

    In 1924 the VFW (and, shortly thereafter, the American Legion Auxillary) began to offer American-made artificial poppies for distribution on Memorial Day throughout the U.S., to raise contributions in the cause of Veteran's welfare, or    

Unfortunately, the Poppy tradition has waned in the United States, particularly in the years following the Viet Nam war. 

However, during the Viet Nam era, a somewhat similar custom was begun of commissioning and wearing personalized bracelets, which bore the name and other details of a known POW or MIA service member.  Like the poppy, these remembrance bracelets were sold to raise funds to aid and support the families of prisoners of war and missing in action service members.

The VeteranShield Remembrance Poppy Wreath Program (VRPWP) is a fund-raising program that is built upon rebuilding and honoring both of the above traditions of remembrance.  Through the application of modern technology, that tradition has been updated to provide a method for an online community of friends and supporters to annually honor and connect with Veterans and their families through the gifting of personalized Remembrance Poppies. The VRPW Program consists of the following elements:

§  An online Registration Portal – This will provide an easy method of ordering and personalizing Remembrance Poppies on the VeteranShield.org website. 

§  Personalized Remembrance Poppies – Poppies shall be sold in sets of two, and each set will come complete with individual red, white, or blue ribbons which shall be personalized as follows:

                  i.    Veteran Poppy: To be personalized with the Current Year, Name and Hometown of Patron, and Message of Remembrance.  This poppy shall be sent to the individual who has possession of the VeteranShield, for attachment to the VeteranShield Wreath Ring.

                 ii.    Patron Poppy: To be personalized with the Current Year and the Name and Hometown of Veteran.  This poppy shall be sent directly to the Patron, for wearing as a lapel decoration on Veteran’s Day.

§  VeteranShield Wreath Ring – This shall be attached to the circumference of the VeteranShield.  It will provide an easy and permanent attachment point for Veteran Poppies, and will act as the base upon which to create a wreath of personalized Remembrance Poppies surrounding a VeteranShield.

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