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Ever Wished You Had A Friend Who Could Tell You What War Is Like? Here Are Almost 100.

Whether you’re for the war or against it, the stories of the lives it's touched deserve to be told. This project has collected almost a hundred voices that have changed because of experiences in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"100 Faces of War Experience: Portraits and Words of Americans Who Served in Iraq and Afghanistan." All photos provided by artist Matt Mitchell. Here is the entire portrait gallery.



Jeffrey Michael Lucey
Letter Written Before Embarking on a Dangerous Mission
Baby,
If you have this letter, I am no longer around. This was not written to make you cry, but to let you know that because of you I lived a happy and complete life. Because of you I was able to experience what real love is and how wonderful the feeling, to truly be in love. Of course we also showed each other how frustrated we could really get but I wouldn’t even change that. You were the only person I ever loved but I don’t want that to be so for you. Live your life and enjoy every moment. I will always be there with you, watching you, and since you’re alive don’t play dead; live and find love again. Make some guy as happy as you made me, but make sure he treats you better than I did. You are an angel and deserve to be treated like a goddess.
After returning Jeffrey Lucey took his own life as a result of post-traumatic stress.

Scott Palmer
Statement Spoken Into a Recorder
It was my third day in country...the first guy from our company got killed.
We were using light skinned Humvees. We'd be packed, usually 8 to 10 guys per Humvee, in four vehicles going down the road. We'd basically be used to draw fire. You can't draw out guerrilla insurgents unless you have some reason for them to attack you--you know what I'm saying? So we spent a lot of time in unarmored vehicles playing sitting duck. Waiting to draw fire or hit one of these mechanicals. We filled up ration boxes--cardboard boxes--with sand taping them and tying them to the sides of the Humvee. People would get hit in Humvees--a lot--over there and those MRE boxes didn't do much but slow us down.

When I got back I went to school. During my first semester at Holyoke Community College a team of U.S. Army recruiters had this blinged out Humvee. It was like a recruiting model Humvee, with a big "Go Army" logo on the side. It had a huge amp, enormous cables, and sub-woofers-- it was probably a several thousand dollar sound system with a big 100 disc CD changer in it.
And I think that is... At the time I thought that was the most disgusting, misleading, thing to advertise the military with. What they should have done is have some pictures of what Humvees really look like, and what they look like after they get hit with improvised explosive devices and while people are still in them.

Nicole A. Costigan
Letters home
February 2007 – We recently transported one soldier who was intubated, but still alert during the flight. He asked me for a pen and paper. He asked if he was going to die. He asked us to please not let him die. I’m not giving out paper anymore.

April 2011 – While I was packaging my patient in the ICU for the flight to Germany, I noticed giant tears rolling down his face. Ten feet from us an American flag was being draped over a young soldier’s body. I followed other staff members into the ER. We all lined up at attention and gave this young soldier a salute as his lifeless body was wheeled by us. I can’t begin to describe what I was feeling at that moment. I felt like he was there, crying with the rest of us because his life was taken much too soon.

I have the best job in the Air Force. It’s not a pretty job and I’ll never be the same person I was before I left for my first deployment. I’ve seen how war has scarred lives in more ways than any of us will ever be able to comprehend. It has ruined a part of me too, deep inside, but I will continue to do it because it is the most rewarding experience I will have in this lifetime.

Rick Yarosh
Written Statement
Whether it's a look in the mirror, or the thought of a lost friend , it all goes back to that day.
Sergeant Luis Montes, Specialist Andrew Loe and I loaded into our Bradley, ready for a full day of patrols. After a short time, our vehicle was hit by an IED. The fuel cell ignited and engulfed us in flames.

We escaped the Bradley exceptionally fast. I escaped out the top hatch of the turret. I knew I needed to get off the vehicle. With my face on fire, I didn't know where the edge of the Bradley was and when I did find the edge I didn't know where the ground was. When I jumped off the Bradley I broke my right leg, severing an artery, which resulted in an amputation.

“Stop drop and roll” is no way to put out a fire when you're covered in fuel. I found that out while I was rolling on the ground, doing nothing but setting the grass on fire. I ended up rolling in a canal, which extinguished the flames.

The lost friend I speak of is Sergeant Luis Montes, he passed away due to his injuries seven days later. Specialist Andrew Loe survived with 20% burns, but the thought of that incident goes through his mind every day. I'm lucky and blessed to be here, I'm able to share my story with others.
That day started the same as every other day, but that day has never ended.





















Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on 07.22.15



"So just recently I went out on a Match.com date, and it was fantastic," begins Dr. Danielle Sheypuk in her TEDx Talk.

If you've ever been on a bunch of Match.com dates, that opening line might make you do a double take. How does one get so lucky?!

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date.

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date. Photo by Thinkstock.


But don't get too jealous. Things quickly went downhill two dates later, as most Match.com dates ultimately do. This time, however, the reason may not be something that you've ever experienced. Intrigued? I was too. So here's the story.Gorgeous!

Gorgeous! Photo from Dr. Sheypuk's Instagram account, used with permission.

She's a licensed clinical psychologist, an advocate, and a model — among other things. She's also been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. And that last fact is what did her recent date in.

On their third date over a romantic Italian dinner, Sheypuk noticed that he was sitting farther away from her than usual. And then, out of nowhere, he began to ask the following questions:

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

This article originally appeared on November 5, 2013


When I saw these incredible photos Angelo Merendino took of his wife, Jennifer, as she battled breast cancer, I felt that I shouldn't be seeing this snapshot of their intimate, private lives.





















The photos humanize the face of cancer and capture the difficulty, fear, and pain that they experienced during the difficult time.

But as Angelo commented: "These photographs do not define us, but they are us."

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Police arrest man suspected of scamming an elderly woman.

There has been a rise in scams against the elderly during the pandemic. According to the FBI, American seniors were scammed for $1 billion dollars in 2020, up $300 million from the previous year.

To stay connected with friends and family during the pandemic, more seniors joined social media, opening them up to new avenues for fraud.

“The combination of online shopping and social media creates easy venues for scammers to post false advertisements,” the FBI report said. “Many victims report ordering items from links advertised on social media and either receiving nothing at all or receiving something completely unlike the advertised item.”

But when scammers came after 73-year-old Jean Ebbert in Long Island, New York, they had no idea they were dealing with a law enforcement veteran. Ebbert is a former 911 dispatcher, so she knows exactly what a scam looks like.

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