Scholarship awarded to the son of a retired Marine
Story by Keith Hayes
The son of a Chief Warrant Officer 3 since retired from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, was awarded a scholarship by the Defense Commissary Agency, August 13.
Gabriel Maynes, 17, the son of Jose Maynes, U.S. Marine Corps retired; and Rozalyn Maynes, childcare specialist, Child Development Center; received the Scholarship for Military Children sponsored by the DECA and The Fisher House Foundation at a ceremony at the MCLBB Commissary.
The Fisher House Foundation operates a series of Comfort Houses located near military medical facilities that offers a “home away from home” for the families of hospital patients in crisis.
Jodi Dawn Ballestracci, Barstow Commissary grocery manager, told the gathered crowd that the competitive nature of the scholarship awarding required the applicants to write an essay citing two examples of how being a child of a military service member has influenced their education goals.
Gabriel said he described in his essay how his Marine Corps father was a driving force for setting the future of his educational aspirations. The following are excerpts from his scholarship winning essay:
“My dad has always wanted me to be greater than him, he wants to see me grow up to be a better man than him. After this revelation, I realized where my life is leading to - college. From that point on, I strived to be a better student, athlete, and person.”
“Being a child of a military service member has taught me many things, but the most important of them is the motivation to be greater, to achieve higher than thought possible.”
Gabriel said he’ll be attending Barstow Community College to fulfill his general education courses, “and then hopefully I will transfer to University of California San Diego where I want to major in engineering,” he explained.
This is not Gabriel’s first scholarship. “I’ve also won a $2,500 scholarship from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and some other scholarships when I was in high school,” he said.
“The commissary system has long supported promotions which focus on education,” Ballestracci said. “The Scholarships for Military Children compliments many worthwhile scholarships awarded through installation activities, organizations affiliated with the military community or funded by local vendors, and will help ease the burden of educating our children today.”
DECA in conjunction with The Fisher House Foundation yearly awards 500 $2,000 scholarships to family members of commissary patrons every year across the globe based on information from The Fisher House Foundation website at: https://www.fisherhouse.org/newsmedia/articles/now-is-the-time-toapply-for-fisher-house-foundation-sscholarships/:
“The Scholarships for Military Children Program was created in recognition of the contributions of military families to the readiness of the fighting force and to celebrate the role of the commissary in the military family community. It is the intent of the program that a scholarship funded through contributions be awarded annually for each commissary operated by the Defense Commissary Agency worldwide.”
Attending the awarding ceremony was Sgt. Major Sergio MartinezRuiz, base sergeant major, MCLBB, who informed the audience that this scholarship cannot repay the sacrifices made by service members but it is a small way to recognize those whom have spent days, weeks and months away from home while their families keep things going.
“DECA and The Fisher House Foundation have awarded 9, 412 scholarship to the sons and daughters of deserving commissary patrons over the years,” he said. “When you put it in perspective, 9,000 scholarships are not a lot when compared to the military population, so you should feel privileged and honored that you received this scholarship. It says a lot about you and your performance.”
“I knew Gabriel was exceptional ever since he was at the Child Development Center in Hawaii. He just loves to learn, he wants to learn and he has been doing that his entire life,” Rozalyn Maynes said. “I am super proud of him. There were quite a few applicants so winning this scholarship is quite an achievement.”
“He sets the bar for the other children in our house,” Jose Maynes said. “He’s doing really well and we’re extremely proud of him.”
“I hope this is just one step forward into his future and what he does with his life,” Maynes concluded.
An Answer to Prayers
from Senator Deb Fischer
Army Captain Robert Yllescas, a Polk County native, was assigned his first active duty assignment on September 10, 2001. The next day our world changed forever. America shifted its focus to combat terrorism and claim justice for the lives of nearly 3,000 people lost on September 11th. After years of training and earning the admiration of his fellow soldiers, Rob learned of his deployment to Camp Keating in Afghanistan, located in the most dangerous territory at the time.
On October 28, 2008, Captain Yllescas was wounded by a remotely-controlled IED.
His mother, Barbara Yllescas-Vorthmann received the news shortly after. She began to plan her trip from Nebraska to Germany, where her son was moved after he was evacuated from Afghanistan. No distance could stop her from being by her son’s side, but the reality of securing living arrangements was daunting. She wondered not only if there would be a hotel close to the hospital, but if she would be able to afford the cost of staying for weeks at a time. She came to terms with staying with her son on his hospital room floor if necessary.
After arriving at the airport in Landstuhl, Germany, Barbara was told she would be staying at the Fisher House, a home where families of service members and veterans can stay free of charge while their loved ones are receiving care in the hospital. She had never heard of it, but she was grateful and relieved the Army had arranged a place for her to stay.
The house was “beautiful and welcoming – and most importantly right next to the base hospital.” The staff at the Fisher House answered her questions and offered help in any way they could. After her son was stabilized, they were both flown to Walter Reed Hospital outside of Washington, D.C., where she settled into another Fisher House nearby.
“It was so nice to feel like we were part of a home situation. There was a beautiful laundry room, a gorgeous kitchen, a big living room – everything we needed.” Barbara explained that she developed friendships with the other residents in the Fisher House at the time, “We became one large family.”
Sadly, Captain Robert Yllescas passed away one month after his injuries.
Barbara continued, “I could never begin to thank the Fisher House Foundation enough for making the worst time in my life manageable. And that they gave me the means to stay by my son’s bedside while he fought to live.”
I was deeply moved to hear Barbara’s story at the groundbreaking ceremony for Nebraska’s own Fisher House at the Omaha VA Medical Center. The Fisher House will provide a home away from home for the families of our military and veterans receiving care here in Nebraska. The facility will be 15,000 square feet with 16 fully-furnished suites, a large kitchen, dining room, elevator, and full laundry room. There are currently 84 Fisher Houses in operation at military facilities across our nation, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
In 2018 alone, Fisher Houses around the country housed over 28,000 families. The homes have saved our military service members and their families more than $407 million in lodging and transportation expenses, since 1990.
The Fisher House groundbreaking is a clear representation of Nebraska’s deep respect for veterans and all of our service members. The foundation’s motto is “Because a family’s love is good medicine.” It’s a simple message, but as we’ve seen, it carries profound comfort and peace of mind to those who need it most.
As Barbara Yllescas-Vorthmann told the Omaha World-Herald, the Fisher House was “a blessing in one of the darkest times… an answer to prayers.”
Alongside the construction of the new Omaha VA Ambulatory Center, which is slated to be completed next year, I could not be prouder of the work being done to provide our veterans with the highest quality care. We know progress like this doesn’t happen by chance, it’s the result of innovative ideas and determination. I’ll be continuing to work hard to improve health care for our nation’s heroes and their loved ones any way I can.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.
The Fisher House Is A Blessing
Written by Pat Henlsey
Early in the morning hours, my stepmom passed away. We jumped in the car in South Carolina and started our twelve-hour journey south to be with my elderly father (who is over 100 years old). On the way down, we get a phone call that my father was being transported to the VA Hospice facility in West Palm Beach by ambulance. Needless to say, we were filled with grief and anxiety not knowing what we would face when we got there.
When we arrived at the hospice unit, the people embraced us with compassion and kindness. The social worker asked us if we might be interested in staying at the Fisher House there on the complex and we had no idea what this was. We had booked a night at a local hotel near my parent’s house which was 40 minutes away from the hospice unit, but we would not have been able to stay there for an extended period.
When I found out that the hospice unit had 24-hour visitation, we were so thankful that they had room for us at the Fisher House. The house has eight extremely comfortable rooms with private baths and a large smart TV. In the house, the kitchen, living room, and dining room are open to everyone plus free Wi-Fi for all. We were issued a key to our room and a key to get through the hospital when we went to visit my dad.
Staying at the Fisher House enabled us to do so much! We were able to help my father transition into his new accommodation as well taking care of my stepmom’s funeral arrangements and probate details for him. By staying at the house, we could visit my father at breakfast, lunch and dinner and help him with his meals as well as running our errands in between meals. By spending so much time with him, we were able to help him process his wife’s recent death as well as having to move out of the home he lived in for the past thirty years. What a traumatic experience for him! I’m so grateful that were able to be there for him to help him during this time. If we had not been at the Fisher House, there is no way we would have been able to spend this much time with him.
Shelley, the manager, made sure that there were healthy options for meals available. If we had not been at the house, we would have spent a lot of time going to fast food places which would not have been good for us at this time. It is so easy to eat unhealthy choices during stressful times. My husband enjoyed the many salads that were available, and I enjoyed the hot dinners that I could heat up. We also enjoyed the variety of yogurt and coffee and tea that was offered. Each family also had a drawer in the kitchen that could be locked to store any personal food items.
Shelley and the staff always treated us like family and made us feel like we were at home more than just a guest. They were always willing to listen to you if you needed to talk and never acted like they had something more important to do. On the Friday before Father’s Day, they even had a dinner for the family and the veteran being treated at the VA. What a thoughtful thing to do!
It was heartwarming to meet other people who were staying at the house and sharing our experiences with each other. It made me see how this Fisher House was helping people from all over the country and what a special place it is!
There will never be enough words to express the gratitude that we feel for Shelley and the staff of the Fisher House and also The Friends of the Fisher House who through their efforts have enabled us to stay here. They all are true angels!
How Veterans Can Train Their Brain to Sleep Better
courtesy of Department of Veterans Affairs
Many Veterans have trouble sleeping, but don’t know how to improve their sleep.
“I was determined to say…you go to bed early so you can get your rest. But it’s not the case at all.”
For Veterans like William who have difficulty sleeping, finding effective ways to sleep through the night can be challenging. Sometimes the things people do because they aren’t getting enough sleep, like taking naps, drinking alcohol before bed, or setting an early bedtime, undermine their ability to get a full night’s sleep.
VA’s online training course Path to Better Sleep helps Veterans learn healthy techniques to improve sleep quality, and features videos of Veterans like John sharing their sleep challenges and discussing skills they learned in the course that helped them fall and stay asleep.
“One of the rules that they told us about is…if you don’t fall asleep within twenty minutes… get up, do something relaxing, whether it’s read a book (or watch TV).”
The course teaches techniques that can help you break the association between your bed and being awake, as well as how to eliminate distractions from your bedroom, and how to schedule your sleep.
Path to Better Sleep is free, completely confidential, and can be taken online independently or in-person with your doctor. The course is based on the leading treatment for insomnia (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia), and includes a Sleep Check-up Tool and downloadable fact sheets that you can print out and bring to your doctor to help you understand your sleeping problems.
“If you’re dealing with insomnia and you want help, there’s help out there. You just have to be open-minded and willing to do what is required of you to do it. And I’m not going to say it’s going to easy because it’s not. But…you can’t expect something to change if you’re not willing to give it a chance.”
A Homey Feel
This is our son Raidyn. He was born premature 10 weeks early on February 17th weighing 3lbs 10oz. He needed to be admitted to NICU right away since he was so premature. We were able to stay at the hospital for a couple of days until I was discharged. I was terrified of having to go home, off post, and to leave our son behind. Fortunately, my husband and I were invited to stay at the Fisher House, which is right next to the hospital. My mom flew out the next day to be our side during this time. She had her hotel set and ready to go, and she was actually able to stay at the Fisher House with us! It took us by complete surprise, and we were so grateful to have my mom be able to stay right across the hall from us, for the entire time she was here. It was amazing to have one less thing to stress about.
We have continued to stay at the Fisher House, as our son is still in the NICU and will be for a while longer. Being able to stay so close has been a lifesaver! We are able to be by our son's side multiple times throughout the day and night. The Fisher House has amazing accommodations. I'm able to do my laundry, cook meals in a wonderfully designed kitchen, and sleep comfortably in my own room. It has a great homey feel and has been our home away from home during this tough time. Caretakers Jim and Michael have been great people to talk to as well. They check on my husband and me every day, making sure our son is doing good and that we were okay. It has been amazing having the support of the Fisher House to help us through this rough time, without it, I don't know what we would have done.
from Christa and Adric
2019 Fisher House Volunteer of the Year
Continuing Her Father's Legacy
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A Mother's Strength
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by Kerri Childress
When people donate to a charity, they want to make sure their hard-earned money is making a difference. We all do. And we want to know that the nonprofit’s funds are going to programs that make an impact.
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