USO at OIA – The USO Welcome Center at Orlando Int’l Airport will have the opening postponed until poss. end of July or beginning of August – TBD.  Some additional construction costs associated with the Welcome Center project were not anticipated and additional help is needed from the community, corporations, individuals, associations, clubs, anything would be of great help.  Contact Michelle Rogers, Development Manager at the USO Central Florida – Headquarters, 3353 West Vine Street, Kissimmee, FL 34741   michelle@ usocentralflorida .org  c: (407) 202-8178    O: (407) 483-4855

Corporate donations/sponsors can also contact Carolyn Avallone, USO Central Florida Director, 407.399.6902


USO Volunteers – Several of you have asked me how you can volunteer.  Please contact the USO Central Florida office at 407.483.4855.  With the center expected to be open from 6am-10pm, 7 days a week, they will need 500-600 volunteers, at a minimum, each month.  You can get more information about the short training program and the volunteer opportunities when you call the office.


Hurricane season is here – Be prepared and have a plan for your household.  Check with the elderly veterans in your family and your neighborhood to see about their preparedness.  Are you able to assist others in case of a Category 1 up to Cat 5 in Central Florida?


Veteran Infused Employment Workshop – June 20 – 23 – VIEW Workshop assists veterans and spouses with updating their job skills and information to obtain gainful employment.  Various seminars are offered.  It is preferred, but not required, that veterans pre-register – it saves time and assists with the staff planning.  Veterans who have transportation issues to Lake Nona may consider using the shuttle that runs every hour between Lake Baldwin and Lake Nona. The transportation pick up is outside by the canteen, double doors where the flag pole is.  There are also transportation arrangements that can be made for Veterans located in Daytona and Viera. This is provided on a first come, first serve basis. Call: Daytona     407-646-5000    Viera 321-637-3788  x42977  Workshop/seminars offered at Orlando VA Medical Center at Lake Nona, 13800 Veterans Way, Orlando, 32827.  For dates and seminar topics, contact Annie Artis at ellamay.artis@ va .gov  407-646-5500  ext.  28846.


WUCF-TV Special screening – Week of June 27 – WUCF TV (a local PBS channel) will air THE DIVIDE: Bridging the Military-Civilian Gap on Sun. July 4 at 7pm.  This special examines the Central Florida veterans community and highlights the work being done to close the divide between the military and civilian communities. WUCF TV is offering Central Florida veterans groups the opportunity to screen a portion of the special and host a panel discussion.  Screenings will need to take place the week of June 27.  Contact Jen for details at  jennifer.cook@ wucftv .org


Victory Casino Cruise – Tues. June 28 – Join Amvets Post 2006 of Leesburg on a bus trip and boat trip of fun.  $45 per person (includes bus, $20 free play and buffet on board.)  7am – 7pm.  Victory Casino sails from Port Canaveral.  June 20 is signup deadline.  Info:  John or Maryann  352.330.0513


National Association of the Blind (NAB) Conference – Thurs. June 30—Tues. July 5 – Rosen Shingle Creek Resort,  9939 Universal Boulevard, Orlando.  National Association of Blind Veterans (NABV)  Annual meeting and Reception on Fri. July 1 in Panzacola H2, starts at 5pm with light snacks and Cash Bar.  7pm- 10pm —Annual Meeting.   Veterans issues will be discussed, opening session Veterans Celebration assignments will be given including the Color Guard, and VA-issued equipment will be demonstrated.   NABV Annual Dues $5 Per Year, $100 FOR LIFE MEMBERSHIP.  All veterans and interested parties are invited to attend. This gathering would be of interest to veterans who lost their sight in the service of our country or have lost their sight after serving due to medical situations (diabetes, glaucoma, injuries, etc.)  Info:  our own local Dwight D. Sayer,  president@ nabv .org  321- 948-1466  See website at www . nabv. org

NABV is conducting a fundraising raffle.  Your support is appreciated.  See their website or be in attendance at the reception.  NAB Session at 9am on Sun. July 3 will recognize ALL veterans in attendance on stage for our Celebration of Freedom.  There will also be a number of vendors throughout the NAB Conference presenting visual assistance equipment that the VA issues through prosthetics and a chance to ask those vendors questions about the equipment.


SeaWorld/Busch Gardens opportunity – “Waves of Honor” permits any U.S. active duty military,  activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman to one complimentary admission per year for military personnel and as many as three direct dependents.  This applies to any of the “SeaWorld Family” of parks across the country – In Florida this includes SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens and Adventure Island in Tampa.  (Unknown about Aquatica in Orlando.)  Plus, receive a 50% off discount on a SeaWorld Orlando Fun Card for any qualified service members and veterans including active, retired, honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military (limit 5).  Check out their website for specific requirements.


SeaWorld Orlando Holiday special – Fri. July 1 – Mon. July 4.  See the website for specifics requirements.

  • SeaWorld Military Appreciation – Fri. July 1 – the Park opens one hour earlier just for military, veterans and up to three guests. Ride the newest super coaster, Mako, before the public enters and lines form.  73mph and lots of ‘air time’: 9 out-of-the-seat moments. (Urp – summer morning breakfast loop-de-loops – there go my Cheerios…!)
  • July 2 and 3 – Country music icon Lee Greenwood performs at Bayside Stadium.  More than 30 albums including song ‘…and I’m proud to be an American, ‘“God Bless the USA.”  Concerts begin at 6 pm and are included with park admission.
  • 4th of July – Magnificent fireworks displays at SeaWorld Orlando begins at 10pm, including patriotic-inspired show featuring the Florida National Guard’s 13th Army Band. Included with park admission at from Bayside Stadium.


WUCF-TV Special – Sun. July 3 – WUCF TV (a local PBS channel) will air “THE DIVIDE: Bridging the Military-Civilian Gap” at 7pm.  This special examines the Central Florida veterans community and highlights the work being done to close the divide between the military and civilian communities. WUCF TV is offering Central Florida veterans groups the opportunity to screen a portion of the special and host a panel discussion.  Screenings will need to take place the week of June 27.  Contact Jen for details at  jennifer.cook@ wucftv .org


Leu Gardens – Mon. July 4 – Free admission to the amazing 50-acre botanical oasis minutes from Downtown Orlando.  Part of their ‘Free First Mondays’ promotion.  1920 North Forest Avenue, Orlando, 32803 407.246.2620


“Freedom Isn’t Free” – Mon. July 4 – A live music/multimediae event to honor our hero responders.  Doors open at 6pm. Free Event with supper. Donations accepted. We would love to have as many of our warriors with their families present here that evening so we can honor them.  By Your Side Ministries, 13355 W. Colonial Drive in Winter Garden, in the Strip Mall Behind the Taco Bell between Marco Tile and Greenburg Dentist.   RSVP necessary: dave @byyoursideministries .com


Fireworks at the Fountain – Mon. July 4 – Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. The patriotic America’s birthday celebration includes a large children’s play area and live entertainment beginning at 4pm., including a performance by the Orlando Concert Band. Fireworks will light up the Downtown skyline starting at 9:10 pm.


City of Orlando Mayors’ Veterans Advisory Council – Thurs. July 7 – 1:30pm monthly meeting (first Thurs. of each month) of numerous organizations and individuals for the benefit of local veterans and active duty personnel. Planning of functions (ie: POW/MIA ceremony, Veterans Day parade) and awareness of events and services is shared. Designated representatives allow groups to coordinate efforts. If your Orlando area vet/military associated group isn’t attending, it should plan to get involved. Networking before and after the meeting. See website at  cityoforlando. net  Office of the Mayor, Mayor’s Committees, Veterans.   Contact Chairman Michael Waldrop for attendance and location information. mwaldrop@ blue-cord .com


FAVOB After Hours – Wed. July 18 –Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses (FAVOB) hosts this After Hours event at Orlando Harley-Davidson, 7pm-9pm. Come join us for drinks, fellowship and networking.  3770 37th St, Orlando, 32805 in southwest Orlando along I-4 near John Young Parkway.  Free for FAVOB members, $10 donation from non-members.  Open to all civilians and veterans alike….You don’t have to be a vet to support the veteran business community!  www. FAVOB. org  Info:  jrice @ supportingstrategies. com   Sponsors welcome!


On The Horizon – Participation and Sponsorship opportunities:


3rd Annual Every Day Is Veterans Day Event – Fri. Sept 9 – Offering FREE vendor tables to non profit veterans organizations.  Vendor/Sponsorship opportunities available.  Hosted by Vitas Healthcare and OneSeniorPlace.  The keynote speaker this year is Col. Danny McKnight, who’s combat duty was the basis of the book and movie “Black Hawk Down”.  Info:   Michelle Steffano  407-949-6733 michelle@ oneseniorplace .com


PFT Challenge – Sat. Oct 1 – Marine Corps Physical Fitness Challenge is open to all.  Sponsored by the Central Florida Marine Corps Foundation.  7-10am at Jay Blanchard Park, 2451 N Dean Rd, Orlando, 32817.  Info:  Sean at sean.c.osmond @ gmail .com


Orlando Navy Recruit Training Center Reunion, Oct . 12-16 – 652,000 former Orlando Navy boot-camp recruits and personnel are invited to come back to Orlando and reunite with other former recruits, celebrate their service, recognize the company commanders who shaped them into Navy sailors, and tour the city park named after their former training ship. Contact Renata Cannon, Chairperson or Tracey Tillman, Vice Chair, at rtcorlandoreunion@ gmail .com for more information or to secure a sponsorship. More details forthcoming! www. rtcorlandoreunion .com   Yearbooks no longer wanted are welcomed.


Run Forrest Run 5K – Sat. Oct 22 – Benefiting The Gary Sinise Foundation, this family event will feature food and live entertainment.  Sponsored by Villagers for Veterans.  Info:  Marie Bogdonoff  516-220-5068 villagersforveterans @gmail .com




City of Orlando has a list of 19 FREE fun things to do this summer.  Check the City of Orlando website, News & Events, City News for the list.


Free Admissions to military – Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America.  Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Google:  ‘Blue Star Museums’ for the list.  There are 2000+ across the country and several participating museums in the Central Florida area.  More get added through the summer.   And thank the museums for participating!

NOTE:  Have a thin wallet?  This is also a good suggestion list for non-military parents (especially visitation parents) for ideas of things to do with the kids other than expensive theme parks.  And to get them away from the TV and electronic gadgets…. They may learn something and have fun, too!


A Call to Serve – Veterans and people who love a veteran – Have PTSD, depression, or just plain bored?  Getting out and involved helps and makes a difference with you, others individuals and our communities.

  • Hands On Orlando(HOO) is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt corporation, founded in 1999, that inspires, educates and empowers people, companies and groups to make a difference through volunteer action. “Sign Up, Show Up, Have Fun, MAKE A DIFFERENCE! ™” Hands On Orlando is an affiliate of HandsOn Network, Inc.  Individual people and community organizations can volunteer on managed projects.  This includes painting, weeding, planting, etc.  In the Central Florida area, contact Brittany Chaney, Frontline Families AmeriCorps Member and Hands On Orlando,  Brittany@ HandsOnOrlando .com    (o)  407.740.8652 (c)  407.375.9389  Website at HandsOnOrlando .com
  • The Mission Continues– Empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. We deploy veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their actions will inspire future generations to serve.  Groups are organized into Platoons.  Orlando 1st Platoon – contact Daniel Kalagian at dkalagian@ missioncontinues .org   or  Eric Weiss, 2nd Platoon Leader Orlando    eweiss@ missioncontinues .org
  • Team Rubicon– volunteers are military veterans, first responders, medical professionals, and disaster relief experts. If you’ve got experience, special skills, and a desire to help, they want you on the team.  It’s hurricane season….

Team Red, White and Blue (RWB) – Members are veterans and civilians that conduct consistent and inclusive physical and social interactions. The chapters deliver consistent, local opportunities for veterans and the community to connect through physical and social activity. They host regular fitness activities, social gatherings, and community service events.

Team Rubicon and Team RWB (Red, White and Blue)are joining forces to harness the power of veterans and support successful military to civilian transition.  The respective organizations have built programs that allow veterans to proactively combat their challenges with a heavy dose of purpose, camaraderie, and accomplishment. The partnership encourages veterans to be active with both organizations. Together, our organizations will provide veterans a full spectrum of opportunities to feel the camaraderie, purpose, and pride that they left in the military.

Sign up online or contact me for the local contact sources.


INFO to keep and share – because we care


Veterans in crisis – For you or someone you know – Confidential Hotline:  1-800-273-8255, #1.

Or:  Website at  veteranscrisisline   provides 24/7 confidential chat online assistance;

Or:  text 838255  for  24/7 confidential assistance.  They are there because they care….


Camaraderie Foundation in Central Florida provides resources for private and confidential Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) counseling for warriors and their families.   It works.  It has saved lives, marriages and families.  Contact 407-841-0071



Caring and sharing,


Cathy Haynes

Member/supporter/volunteer of numerous veteran and military organizations in Central FL


chaynes11629@ yahoo .com