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Cell Phones for Soldiers Blog

Celebrate Veterans Day With Gratitude And Service

November 6, 2018

Just like that other special occasion in November, Veterans Day is a day of extraordinary gratitude in the United States. On Sunday, November 11, we honor all veterans, past and present, for their service and sacrifice, and we affirm our commitment to never forget their work to protect and defend our nation. We are so thankful.

There are plenty of opportunities to take action in support of veterans in your community and beyond, today and every day. Here are some ideas:

Find an event, bring your kids!

Today, join crowds at your local Veterans Day parade or ceremony to show your support. Bring your children and talk to them about the importance of service, both in the military and outside it.

Volunteer

Check with your local veterans’ services organization to see whether they need help with special events, regular duties or other work. There may be a veteran in your community who needs help with yard work or household chores, transportation to appointments, or simply some friendly company from time to time. Go where the need is.

Share the stories of our oldest veterans

Sixteen million Americans served in World War II. While the nation lost 400,000 troops during the four years of WWII, millions returned home to reenergize a war-fatigued nation. They built homes, started businesses, became parents and continued to serve. Many of them reenlisted to fight in Korea when the time came. Today, fewer than 500,000 are left from WWII, out of the 16 million who went to fight; and 2 million Korean War veterans survive. We lose more of older veterans every day. If you have a WWII or Korean War veteran in your life, and they are comfortable telling their story, ask them to share it with you. Keep their stories alive by recording them and sharing them with the next generation.

Advocate

Write or call your local, state and federal representatives to ask them to increase and protect funding for veterans’ services, including for medical and mental health care, including suicide prevention, that will help heal our nation’s bravest from the physical and psychological effects of war.

Hire

If you own or manage a business, implement a veteran-friendly hiring policy and offer to train veterans in your field. Military service requires leadership, reliability, teamwork and discipline, all traits that make great workers in any industry. Too many veterans leave the military without good employment prospects, which can make the transition to civilian life even more difficult.

Give

Veterans Day is a perfect opportunity to make a charitable contribution to an organization that supports veterans. Here at Cell Phones For Soldiers, our program Helping Heroes Home provides emergency grants for veterans to help with things like eviction avoidance, internet service, home repairs and more. We’ve given aid to more than 3,100 veterans, and aim to help more, with your support. Learn about Helping Heroes Home and donate today. 

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The Impact of Mesothelioma for Military Veterans

September 25, 2018

September 26 is Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Cell Phones For Soldiers has partnered with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance to spread the word about this devastating illness and the risks for our veterans and service members.

American service members and veterans risk everything to serve our country all while proudly defending our freedom. Alongside the dangers, the triumphs, and the hardships associated with this honor—soldiers risk their well-being in a number of ways. Emotional trauma and physical scars are not the only souvenirs our troops return home with. United States veterans are disproportionately riddled with a risk for rare cancer.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer with poor survival rates. The only known cause of this disease is exposure to asbestos, a toxic, naturally occurring mineral that was heavily used across a variety of industries from 1930 through 1978. Tiny asbestos fibers enter the body through inhalation or ingestion. Once these fibers are inside the body, inflammation and scarring may occur, which ultimately leads to the development of cancerous mesothelioma cells.

There is a long latency period between initial asbestos exposure and the onset of mesothelioma symptoms, sometimes taking 50 years to develop. Veterans are disproportionately at risk due to the heightened possibility of asbestos exposure during their military service. Thirty percent of all Americans with mesothelioma cancer are veterans who were exposed during active duty.

A Health Concern for Veterans

Of the many mesothelioma cases, American military veterans have some of the highest rates of diagnosis. While veterans in all branches of the military are at risk, Navy veterans top the list of accidental exposure. Asbestos was widely used in naval ships and shipyards as a key component in over 300 different materials.

Each of the other military branches also used asbestos, not to the extent of the Navy, but still created the opportunity for potential exposure. The development of the disease is mainly dependent on two factors: time of service and the involved occupation.

For most servicemen, asbestos exposure was unavoidable, and the dangers then were completely unknown. Veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War are most likely to develop mesothelioma. In later conflicts, some veterans would be likely to encounter asbestos in older vehicles, machinery and equipment. Iraq War veterans may have been exposed to asbestos from the destruction and debris of old buildings.

The Overuse of a Miracle Mineral

Asbestos quickly became known as a miracle mineral. Composed of six different naturally occurring minerals, asbestos was a staple across various industry usages. The fibrous material is strong, durable, heat resistant and flame retardant. Asbestos was a popular additive for many American manufacturers, including the United States military. It was a manufacturing mainstay from the Industrial Revolution until the mid-1970s, when the federal government banned most asbestos use. Despite the known dangers of asbestos, this carcinogen is not completely banned in the U.S., only now better regulated.

Symptoms to Look Out For:

Symptoms of mesothelioma are often mistaken with the symptoms of other more common diseases. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of potential signs of this disease, especially if you have a history of handling asbestos-containing materials. Common mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Anemia, fatigue, hoarseness
  • Dyspnea – difficulty breathing
  • Hypoxemia – low oxygen level
  • Dysphagia – difficulty swallowing
  • Abdominal pain / swelling
  • Fever / night sweats
  • Peritoneal or pleural effusion – fluid buildup
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coughing, chest pain

Several factors will play a part in when and how symptoms of mesothelioma develop. The most important aspects to consider include a person’s occupation, the duration of asbestos exposure, and the specific type of asbestos used.

Asbestos & Mesothelioma Resources:

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) lists occupations that have exposed veterans to asbestos. Some of the most common include shipbuilding, insulation work, construction, demolition, mining and milling.

Identifying the top medical treatment is a priority for those diagnosed with mesothelioma. To assist the search for the top mesothelioma cancer treatments available, explore the best mesothelioma experts in the country.

United States veterans may be eligible for government assistance if their health problems are linked to asbestos exposure. In some situations, family members may also become eligible for monetary assistance.

Finding a mesothelioma lawyer who is familiar with asbestos laws and litigation in your state is critical to ensuring you get the compensation you deserve.

Additional information about asbestos-related health problems is available from the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

On a Day of Remembrance, a Commitment to Support Our Troops

September 10, 2018

Many members of the new senior class in America’s high schools were just infants 17 years ago on September 11, 2001. Some weren’t even born yet. They don’t have any memory of the terrorist attacks on that crisp, blue Tuesday morning in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

These new high school seniors have lived through a rapidly evolving time, during which evolving technology has changed the way we communicate, the way we buy products, how we travel, and even how we listen to music. In Lower Manhattan, city blocks destroyed in the attacks have transformed into a beautiful memorial and museum, as well as thriving centers of commerce.

Despite the changes, one thing has remained constant for this generation and the rest of America. Since this date, 17 years ago, our military has in some capacity or another been involved in the War on Terror: a complex, deadly, and often borderless struggle against violent extremists.

In the years immediately following the terrorist attacks, our country rallied behind the men and women of our military as they ventured into a new kind of war. The number of deployed troops at any given time has increased and decreased as America and our allies have made advances and scored victories against terrorist groups.

But deployments remain a reality for hundreds of thousands of brave men and women—and their families—every year. We need to continue to care for them.

If you are old enough to recall the horrific events of September 11, 2001, we ask that you remember that the fight for peace and freedom is ongoing.

In 2004, Brittany and Rob Bergquist, then ages 13 and 12, decided to start Cell Phones For Soldiers, after seeing a news report about a local Soldier who got slammed with an exorbitant cell phone bill during his deployment. Since that date, Cell Phones For Soldiers has provided more than 350 million minutes of free talk time through calling cards for the troops, and recycled more than 15 million cell phones and mobile devices. With the help of generous donors, our mission continues.

The Global War on Terror has been a fact of life for nearly two decades. Soon enough, some of our country’s high school seniors will graduate and join the ranks of the world’s greatest military as it continues to fight back against terrorism, and we will be behind them with our support and gratitude.

Our Troops Are Still Fighting For Us, And For Freedom Across The World

August 26, 2018

Support HeroesFor civilians without a family member or close friend in service, it can be easy to forget that our military is still actively engaged in a global war on terror.

In the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the subsequent entry of the United States military into Iraq and Afghanistan, we saw regular news stories about developments in those regions; now, well over a decade later, the war has turned into background noise for many people. Battle deaths are relegated to local news stories, powerful wins against ISIS are fodder for political debates only.

We must resist that thinking. Even if you don’t personally know someone who is deployed, please remember that more than 1 million Americans in uniform are deployed all over the world. They need our support, even when we don’t see their stories on the news.

You can help those troops stay in touch with their families and friends at home by donating to Cell Phones For Soldiers. We use cash donations and the income from recycling your donated cell phones and mobile devices to purchase calling cards for men and women in service. To date, we have given more than 350 million minutes of free talk time.

The families of these men and women don’t have the luxury of forgetting about the war. They live it every day, and they deserve to hear from their loved ones without worrying about cost or security risks.

The need remains. Last year, we averaged sending 4,000 calling cards per week. Please help us continue our mission to provide a lifeline for America’s bravest and donate to Cell Phones For Soldiers today. Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

4 Great Reasons to Support Cell Phones For Soldiers

July 31, 2018

We’re proud of the work we do here at Cell Phones For Soldiers to support our troops and help veterans in need. Since 2004, we have worked to make a difference in the lives of the brave men and women who serve (and have served) our country in uniform.

And we couldn’t do it without our donors.

Thousands of people and organizations have helped Cell Phones For Soldiers help others, by donating old cell phones and other mobile devices and raising money for our cause. Donors understand the meaningful work we’ve done for the last 14 years, and we’d like to share some of the reasons you should give to Cell Phones For Soldiers to help us continue our mission.

  1. We help our troops stay connected with their loved ones.

Though international calling is less of a hassle than it was when we first started, many deployed troops find that having a personal phone is impossible during a tour, either because of cost or security reasons. Our Minutes That Matter program has given more than 350 million minutes (and counting!) on calling cards to deployed men and women so they can call home. Maintaining connections with home during a deployment is critical to morale and to reassuring families at home.

  1. We recognize the challenges our veterans face.

The transition to civilian life can be mentally, physically and emotionally stressful, and veterans are unemployed at a higher rate than nonveterans. Sometimes that means they can’t meet financial obligations—utility bills, rent, communication costs—and need a little boost. Our Helping Heroes Home program has provided one-time grants to more than 3,000 veterans. We believe that our veterans are owed a lifetime of support for their work protecting our country.

  1. We’re green!

Our name is a bit of a misnomer. Instead of giving recycled cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other devices directly to military servicemen and women, we recycle them for their valuable parts that can be sold and reused. This serves a number of environmentally friendly purposes: it keeps electronic waste from landfills, where harmful materials can cause damage to human health and fragile ecosystems; recycling plastic helps us do our part to keep non-biodegradable material out of our oceans; and recycling the rare earth metals used in electronic devices reduces the need for mining.

To date, we have recycled more than 15 MILLION mobile devices!

  1. It’s easy to give.

You can contribute to Cell Phones For Soldiers by donating money directly and securely through our website, or by sending us your old cell phones and mobile devices. You can either print off a shipping label here and send in your recycled items or find one of thousands of drop-off sites by doing a location search.

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and we rely on your tax-deductible donations to help us help our country’s bravest men and women. Even a small donation makes a difference—give today!

Upgrading Cell Phones for the New School Year? Recycle Your Old Devices to Help Our Heroes

July 18, 2018

It’s hard to believe that retailers are already announcing back-to-school sales, because it feels as if summer just started!

But as you’re getting ready to send your kids back to school or off to college, you may be preparing to take advantage of those sales and upgrade your mobile devices: cell phones, smartphones, and tablets. When you do, please recycle your old electronics with Cell Phones For Soldiers!

Recycling your old cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other devices with Cell Phones For Soldiers helps our troops stay connected with their loved ones while they’re deployed, and helps veterans with one-time emergency funds to handle difficulties in transitioning to civilian life. We take donated devices and recycle them for their valuable components, then use that income to provide free calling cards for our troops, or grants for veterans. To date, generous donations have allowed us to give more than 300 million minutes of completely free talk time and have helped more than 3,100 veterans.

Recycling your cell phone with us also serves another wonderful purpose: it keeps electronics out of the landfill, where they can have harmful effects on human and wildlife health, as well as cause damage to fragile ecosystems. Never put your old cell phones in the trash! Instead, recycle them with Cell Phones For Soldiers and help our country’s heroes in the process.

To donate cell phones, smartphones, tablets and digital music players to Cell Phones For Soldiers, either find a drop-off location near you, or mail your devices.

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  

This Fourth of July, Celebrate Freedom

July 3, 2018

The Fourth of July brings about images and fond memories of fireworks and parades, of family and friends celebrating, beach vacations and backyard barbecues. It is a wonderful day to be an American, and to honor the great things that make our country home.

Historically, we observe the ratification on July 4, 1776 of the Declaration of Independence, signaling the establishment of the United States of America and freedom from British rule, and setting forth foundational values for our country that have lasted centuries: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

In the 242 years since, millions of Americans have fought at home and abroad to ensure the survival of those values, and the rights laid out in our Constitution. Our military and the men and women serving in its branches have enabled the United States to develop and preserve those rights.

Of course, freedom for all Americans did not come with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Our country has seen, in movements toward equality among races, socioeconomic classes and genders, and in battles against tyranny across the globe, Americans’ active desire for independence, over and over again. Our pursuit of independence is a unique and beautiful part of what makes the Fourth of July much more than an historic remembrance. Freedom isn’t a one-time fight.

So, as you celebrate the Fourth of July, we hope you will reflect on the concept of freedom, and the men and women who work tirelessly to preserve it for all Americans. There are 1.3 million Americans in uniform stationed around the world. Hundreds of thousands of them are deployed internationally, while we celebrate at home.

Please take a moment today to feel grateful for the service of our military and our veterans.

At Cell Phones For Soldiers, we honor those brave men and women every day by helping them stay connected with their families and loved ones. We also help veterans with one-time grants to meet the challenges of returning to civilian life. If you would like to donate to our cause, either by sending in your old cell phone or mobile device to be recycled, or by donating cash, you can do so here.

Thank you, and have a Happy Fourth of July!

You Can Make A Difference: Hold A Cell Phones For Soldiers Collection Drive

June 26, 2018

You don’t have to be famous, or have a ton of money to donate, to make a big, positive impact on the lives of our troops and their loved ones. You don’t even have to be an adult! We are supported all the time by community-minded individuals and organizations who hold drives on behalf of Cell Phones For Soldiers.

A Cell Phones For Soldiers collection drive is a great way to unite a community behind a common cause: helping our deployed men and women in uniform call home for free. Our organization also helps veterans in need.

Whether you belong to a religious community, local club or organization, sports team or are a student in school, holding a collection drive is an opportunity for you to raise awareness for a great cause, as well as receive publicity for your organization.

And you can get creative with your drive! Ask people to turn in an old cell phone, smartphone or mobile device instead of an admission cost to a community event; offer discounts for people who participate at your business; or turn it into an all-day event.

Students at Lake Orion High School in Orion Township, Michigan, have raised thousands of dollars for Cell Phones For Soldiers since 2014 through an innovative fundraiser, Cell Out for Soldiers. Instead of donating a device, participating students pay a small amount of money and give up their own phones for a day. The money helps Cell Phones For Soldiers provide free calling cards to our troops, and the phone-free day helps students connect with one another face-to-face.

If you’d like to help troops and veterans by holding a Cell Phones For Soldiers drive, you can get started here. Then contact your local newspaper, TV station or community groups on Facebook and let people know what’s happening!

Remember to tag Cell Phones For Soldiers in photos of your events on Facebook, so we can share your great work with our supportive and patriotic community!

Happy Father’s Day To Our Military Dads

June 12, 2018

We’ve all seen those reunion videos. The ones from school assemblies, games, or church celebrations, where the son or daughter of a serviceman doesn’t know that Dad is in the audience, or behind the umpire’s mask, or in the Santa suit.

The raw emotion in those precious moments stirs our hearts and brings tears to our eyes. We can almost feel what the military kid is feeling: Dad is home, Dad is safe.

There are more than 500,000 kids in America with a deployed parent. With men outnumbering women in active duty, that’s a lot of fathers who are spending time away from their families, missing big moments in their kids’ lives and waiting for those happy, heartwarming reunions—whether they’re caught on camera or not. Some of our troops even become fathers for the first time when they’re overseas, missing the births of their kids in order to protect our country.

And it’s a lot of fathers who won’t spend this Father’s Day weekend with their families.

It’s important—for our troops and for their families at home—to be able to check in during deployments. A phone call can catch them up with milestones big and small: a baby’s first steps, a great report card, a teen’s new driver’s license. Military spouses and kids can get reassurance that Dad is working hard and doing well, and they can talk about the realities and challenges of deployment that only these brave families truly understand.

At Cell Phones For Soldiers, our mission is to keep our military families in touch, with free calling cards they can use anywhere on the planet. We also help veterans through our Helping Heroes Home program, with one-time grants to help with everything from communication needs to emergency rent payment.

This Father’s Day, we ask that you support our mission, to help keep military families connected, and help veterans adjust to the challenges of civilian life.

You can help Cell Phones For Soldiers in two easy ways: by donating an old cell phone, smartphone or mobile device (used or new, working or not!), or by making a cash donation.

We are wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all our military and veteran fathers!

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

This Memorial Day, Pay Tribute to the Fallen

May 22, 2018

Since our country’s earliest days, brave men and women have given their lives to protect America’s safety and values. The ultimate sacrifice is so named because it is the greatest possible example of service over self.

On Memorial Day, we recognize and remember those people and their loss, and we offer comfort to the loved ones they have left behind. Although for many people, Memorial Day is a day off and the unofficial start of summer, for others, it is a solemn day of mourning and remembrance.

Here at Cell Phones For Soldiers, our mission is to help active-duty troops and veterans, and you can get involved with our cause by donating funds or recycling your old cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. If you’d like to get involved, you can learn more here.

But Memorial Day is not about the living. It’s not necessarily a day to say “thank you for your service” to men and women in uniform or veterans; in fact, it may be painful for some who survived combat while their close friends and members of their company or unit did not.

There are many ways to honor Memorial Day that respect our fallen men and women and their families, as well as pay tribute to their ultimate sacrifice on our beloved country’s behalf:

Attend Memorial Day services in your community. Cities, counties and states honor local and regional heroes who have given their lives in service with parades, White Cross ceremonies, moments of silence and days of community service.

Fly your American flag. On Memorial Day, flags are lowered to half-staff.

Visit a national cemetery or local memorial and reflect on the service of the fallen.

Learn the stories of your community’s heroes; often, public libraries and historical societies will contain records about local men and women who lost their lives in battle. Share stories about their heroism with your family to build a deeper understanding of your community’s contributions to American history.

Reach out. Your friends and family members who have served in the military may approach Memorial Day with mixed feelings, including sadness or anger. Let them know they have your support.

We hope everyone reading this has a peaceful and reflective Memorial Day.