7th Annual Wrangler National Patriot Tour Heads to Africa

Undisclosed Areas of Operation Africa -  For the past seven years Wrangler professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls along with Nashville Artists have traveled to remote U.S. Armed Forces Bases around the world to salute our Troops on Memorial Day. 

This year, five-time world champion hall of fame cowboy Rob Smets, of Texas will be joining the all-star line up in taking hats off for our Troops.   Past tours having taken the Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls to: Iraq, Afghanistan, Alaska and Pacific Commands multiple times, with this years tour placing their cowboy boots on the sub-Sahara and Horn of Africa. 

Accustomed to the atmospheric mood shift that occurs on Memorial Day each year, the professional rodeo athletes and musicians have perfected the art of raising spirits while solemnly honoring the sacrifices that have been made by our service members.  

“This tour was created to fulfill a request by DoD Armed Forces Entertainment to our organization, our normal programming is motivational/mentor oriented, but this tour was created as a sustainable tour that would be appropriate for the hollowed week in May each year.” says Robi Powers, founder of American300, adding, “Originally we were going to utilize our group of Olympians, but then I meet Jeff Chadwick of the Wrangler Corporation and we started talking about Cowboys and Cowgirls... the American western way of life, the need for guests that could represent our entire nation and way of life.” 

Chadwick, didn’t waste anytime reaching out to his Wrangler endorsees. “The hardest aspect was finding athletes who could afford to leave the circuit, May is well into the competitive points chase” recalled, Chadwick, adding, “I need not have worried, the response 8 years ago was overwhelming, now the hardest part is selecting the crew each year.” 

Whether sharing stories or listening to the same, the Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls along with Nashville star have perfected the art of being around troops.  This year with the addition of Smets, there’s an even larger sense of sacrifice being shared.   

“Rob spent decades throwing his body in front of 2,000+ pound bulls in an effort to give bull riders the necessary seconds needed to get up off the arena floor to safety,” says Chadwick, “ the troops are going to relate to Rob’s career and most importantly Rob, like all the team members are going to be able to convey the deepest appreciation on behalf of the entire country.” 

This year’s Wrangler Patriots include: Annie ‘Outlaw Annie’ Bianco, world champion mounted shooting cowgirl, Brittney Truman, professional cowgirl and Miss Rodeo Arizona, Rob Smets, world champion bullfighter, Lucas Hoge, Nashville country music star and his lead guitarist Thomas Becker.   The group will be led by Jeff Chadwick, former professional cowboy and Director with Wrangler Corporation and Robi Powers, founder American300 Tours and volunteer tour leader for DoD Armed Forces Entertainment office. 

With a goal of sharing ‘Day in the Life’ type experiences with our Troops and evenings kicking back to the sounds of Nashville country star Lucas Hoge - this Armed Forces Entertainment Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour is once again headed overseas... for the seventh straight year. 

About American300 Tours 

American300 is a all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit organization, established to support our Department of Defense and Department of State with quality mentor programming.  Each year hundreds of volunteers spend over 35,000 hours supporting 35 tours to remote and isolated areas of service around the world. More at: www.American300.org  and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 

About Armed Forces Entertainment

Armed Forces Entertainment is the official Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Air Force Generals Break Ice with Texas Coasties

Corpus Christi, Texas -  If southern Texas had wintery weather and thick ice, Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, could likely lay claim to performing every U.S. Coast Guard mission. 

Instead, minus ice-breaking duties, the yearly responsibilities performed by the Sector include over 450 search and rescue cases, assisting with nearly 600 person in distress calls and saving nearly 100 lives and hauling in over 5,500 Ibs of drugs.  All while maintaining vessel inspections, investigating marine related incidents and maintaining aids to navigation over hundreds of miles of coastline - to name a few. 

This week, a group of volunteers will be visiting Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi with one mission: to increase Service Members understanding of resiliency. 

Without power-point presentations, handouts or lectures, retired Air Force Generals: Brett Dula, Bruce Fister and Ed Mechenbier will spend time with Sector Coasties.  “Our goal is to place: likable, relatable and relevant mentors on the deckplate and give them time to ‘break ice‘ with Service Members.” says Robi Powers, founder of the nonprofit, who adds, “these gentlemen represent nearly 100 years of uniformed duty to our country that all started off in 1964 when they graduated together from the Air Force Academy.” 

While they graduated together as young Lieutenants, Mechenbier fell behind his classmates in career development, the result of spending nearly 6 years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam.  “So life threw me a curveball and I got beat up for a few years in a concrete closet, it didn’t stop me from living.” says the Silver Star and Gold Purple Heart recipient who was the last serving Vietnam P.O.W. when he retired a decade ago.   

Now after 3 years of visiting bases Ed Mechenbier has looped in classmates Dula and Fister.  “Everyone wants to know what the P.O.W. experience was like, but I think what’s more interesting is how Bruce was quietly one of our special operations command founders or Brett’s roles within nearly every leadership position the Air Force has to offer.”  says Mechenbier, adding  “That’s what makes the program so effective, it’s the antithesis of computer based training.” 

Real life stories and experience shared by individuals who want to make the force of today the best in duty to our country, families and communities - American300 Tours. 

For more information on American300 programming visit: www.American300.org 

American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit with a mission of supporting our Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Department of State.   No endorsement of nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org 

Service with Honor - Amanda Wirtz, USN

American300 Public Affairs - 25MAR16

Joint Base Pearl Harbor - For Navy cryptologist Amanda Wirtz, the harsh reality was that a group of fellow shipmates conspired in facilitating a horrific sexual assault. Instead of throwing in the towel, Wirtz focused on living and continuing to serve with a majority who were her brothers and sisters in arms - not animals. 

Despite that dreadful night, in the years that followed, the young sailor excelled and was assigned to dynamic duty assignments in Spain, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Canada and Washington DC.   It wasn’t until years and numerous duty assignments later, that the Petty Officer Second Class Wirtz would face a much larger foe: Dercum’s Disease.  With pain similar to shingles on steroids, tumors began popping up all over her body. Wirtz was medically discharged and forced to leave the service she loved.  With over 30 tumors removed, doctors heralded a harrowing refrain: there’s no way out… this is a rare, progressive and incurable disease.

The problem for the Disease was that this Sailor was a fighter! 

Ultimately, Wirtz would become a leading authority on her own disease.  She would also internalize and face the real truths behind her disease and life choices. “Early on, I contemplated suicide – my life had become my worst nightmare come true.  I decided that I would either kill myself or die fighting.  Having lost my life as I knew it, I jumped into the ring - I committed to do everything I could to help myself and others. I turned my pain into passion … and with perseverance, changed the entire trajectory of my life.” 

Over the course of numerous years of study and practical application, she developed a balanced combination of mental, emotional and physical strength training.  Combined with dietary refinement to name a few life changes, she stopped the tumors dead in their tracks and diminished the pain substantially.  “In the end it came down to asking myself the right questions and applying real effort to the answers.” 

This week American300 returns to Marine Corps Base Hawaii and the 15th Wing of the Air Force at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii with it’s ‘Service with Honor’ series featuring the nonprofit’s newest mentor - Amanda Wirtz.  

“Like so many of our mentors, Amanda came to us via word of mouth. Her story of never quitting is beyond compelling and her positive never look back outlook on life is infectious - contagious,” says Colonel John R. Bates Jr., a retired Marine Corps three-time combat wounded warrior who has been mentoring with the nonprofit since 2012,  adding “We have professional military education modules on resiliency which are being taught in military classrooms and online, American300 simply delivers real life examples of resiliency to support the teachings, make the subject matter more relatable.”

Wirtz, who is a renowned concert violin player, will also share her passion for music with the Marines and Airmen she meets.  “We vetted Amanda based on her incredible approach to life in the face of insurmountable obstacles, then we found out she has this amazing musical ability,” says Robi Powers, founder of American300, who points out, “Amanda saves no punches for how important facing the truth is in life, her approach to overcoming adversity on a daily basis requires constant personal accountability and effort - the musician in her is just an amazing bonus.” 

The all volunteer American300 Tours, support the Department of Defense’s comprehensive resiliency educational programs. Volunteer mentors deploy on a monthly basis throughout the world, sharing real life stories of resiliency in a way that service members find: likable, relevant and relatable.  For more information on how to schedule American300 guest visits to a specific command please contact the nonprofit via:   www.American300.org 

Everest Expedition Leaders Head to U.S. Military Bases in Middle East

Undisclosed Areas of Operation Southwest Asia -  DoD Armed Forces Entertainment office and American300.org are teaming up once again to present Everest - a professional edu-tainment tour featuring Himalayan expedition leaders: Tonya Clement, Chris Klinke, Eric Meyer, M.D. and Tom Whittaker.  

Tom Whittaker wasn’t the first person to scale and stand on the summit of Mount Everest, but he was the first to do it with one leg!  On May 27th 1998, the amputee climber, broke through boundaries established by the able-bodied climbing community, by planting his foot on the highest mountain in the world.  Twenty years later, dozens of climbers with disabilities have now accomplished what Whittaker was told couldn’t be done! Whittaker opened the door to the highest summit in the world. 

In 1975, Japanese climber Junko Tabei, became the first women to summit Everest, while at the same time, Tonya Clement, was entering her junior year in high school.  Clement didn’t start climbing seriously until she was in her 30‘s.  On May 19th, 2006 she reached the summit of Everest.  On that day, she became the 20th female to follow Tabei’s efforts, but not here route.  Clement’s path to the summit, utilized the far more difficult North Ridge making her the 5th out of 9 women worldwide to conquer Everest via the North Ridge. 

For climbers Chris Klinke and doctor Eric Meyer, Everest was a summit previously mastered when they found themselves in the death zone above 8,000 meters on K2 in 2008.  The treacherous, second tallest mountain in the world, had given way to a near perfect day.  The two climbers along with an international group of teammates where staged at Camp 4, at 8,300 meters. It was summit day! But due to a breakdown in both communication, and follow through on promises made amongst the various mountain teams, things were not going well.   After months away from home, and tens of thousands of dollars spent attempting to reach the summit, Klinke and Meyer (along with others on their team) had to make a choice - ascend or wait for another day.    

In the end, they chose to stand down and wait things out at Camp 4.  In retrospect, their decision saved their lives.  Over the next 48 hours, K2 experienced its deadliest days, with 11 climbers falling or freezing to death. 

With little fanfare and even less time behind microphones, American300’s team of expeditionary climbers will spend the majority of their time in operational areas far from big stage lights of standard entertainment tours. These special guests, and their stories of never quitting will spend their time with armed forces units serving in remote and isolated locations. 

Serving as team leaders for the climbers are veterans: Rob Powers, the founder of American300.org and John Bates, a retired Marine Corps Colonel and 3 time Purple Heart recipient.  “These climbers have incredible resilient stories to share, life experience that parallel that of military service in many ways,” says Bates, adding, “American300 guests have been doing these types of tours since 2006 when Powers started the project, and I know the Troops benefit enormously from these exchanges, because I’m one of them.”

Sharing resilient messaging that is relevant and relatable is a primary goal of American300 Tours, but often times the nonprofit’s guests also bring subject matter expertise to the units they interact with.   “As expedition leader, the number one goal is to get everyone home safely and that requires making hard decisions at times,” says Klinke, adding, “ I remind myself constantly that 90% of the deaths that occur on expeditions can be traced back to poor leadership decisions.” 

Whether sharing inspirational, motivational resiliency messages or adding new perspectives to leadership development, American300 Tours does not fall under the category of entertainment with the DoD, rather it’s due to the requests for this type of programming that American300 Tours teams up with the DoD’s entertainment powerhouse.   

“We love working with Armed Forces Entertainment, they allow our tours to go out and share jaw dropping real life stories and listen to the same,” says Robi Powers, adding, “by connecting and sharing, we all learn together how to deal with life’s challenges, learn how to make better choices - it’s not rocket science, it’s just a proven mentoring program that the Troops love and benefit enormously from.” 

The Department of Defense refers to American300 type programming as Edu-tainment reflecting the educational development opportunities that these tours bring to military bases. Wounded Warrior, John Bates, explains it best: “Troops love meeting and sharing with relevant and relatable guests – American300 programs have helped thousands make better sense of life’s struggles while casting a light on making the impossible - possible.” 

For more on American300 visit: www.American300.org 

About Armed Forces Entertainment

Armed Forces Entertainment is the official Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Generals Visit Remote Coast Guard Stations

Northern Maine -  American300 returns to remote United States Coast Guard Lifesaving Stations this week with decorated US Air Force retired General’s Bruce Fister and Ed Mechenbier.

For Major General Ed Mechenbier, the thought of one day becoming a subject matter expert on resiliency was the farthest thing from his thoughts while held captive in northern Vietnam for nearly six years.  Being the last serving Vietnam P.O.W. when he retired and obtaining the rank of Major General were also outside of his realm of thought.  Instead his focus in the late sixties and early seventies was on coming home with his fellow Service Members.  

“There was no detailed technical manual that prepared any of us for what we went through,” says Mechenbier, adding, “The focus was on the day at hand and how we could all get through the torture and grind of captivity together.”   

With a mission of sharing personal life stories and opening lines of communication with our current Service Members, American300 is visiting remote locations around the world in partnership with the Department of Defense and Homeland Security. 

“American300 visits represent the antithesis of computer based resiliency training, but at the same time we fully support our current education and development models,” says Mechenbier, who for the past four years has mentored on American300 Tours countless times. “I’m a warm weather kind of guy now-a-days, but if visiting our northern New England remote Coast Guard Stations in the middle of winter is what it takes to help make our force stronger, then I’m all in.”   

The wounded warrior fighter pilot won’t be alone on this tour, he’ll be joined by Air Force Academy classmate Lieutenant General Bruce Fister.  Bruce joined the all volunteer effort after running into Ed and Rob Powers, the founder of American300 at an Air Force Special Operations Command leadership retreat this past summer.  

“When I saw the chemistry between these two retired General’s and found out that Bruce was actively serving in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, I told Ed that we had to get him on the American300 team.” said Powers, adding, “We rely on likable, relatable and relevant guests with amazing life stories to inspire new ways of looking at the mission and life.” 

Like Mechenbier, Fister has dealt with life’s curveballs while leading at the smallest and largest levels in the military. Powers, notes that they both visited a remote Coast Guard Station this past fall and received outstanding reviews, “Putting that much life experience on deckplate in a down low ‘all about our Service Members Day in the Life’ format - inspires greatness and brings out the best in all of us.”  

American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 non-government organization with a mission of supporting the Department of Defense and Homeland Security comprehensive professional development programs. No federal endorsement is intended or implied - American300.org 

US Olympic Team Members Stand Together with ESA

San Salvador - The rowing machines were roaring as the meters piled up on the ergo's digital displays - as the training session came to an end, Dan Beery, was smiling. Beery, has returned to El Salvador as part of an ongoing exchange program between the nations independent ESA Olympic Committee and American nonprofit American300.org 

Aside from bringing a wealth of knowledge, Beery aimed to instill a message of hope to the ESA National Rowing Federation athletes and staff, which up until recently received financial support from the government.  “Over the past several years the El Salvador Olympic Committee has experienced a complete defunding by the government,” says Beery, who is on his second ONETeam American300 Envoy to the country, adding, “just weeks ago it was announced that rowing along with several other sports federations would receive zero support from the government - that’s rough for athletes like Roberto Lopez, a 2012 ESA Olympian who is attempting to make his 2nd Olympic Team in Rio Brazil this summer.”  
ESA Olympic Committee's Felipe Flores
with Coach Bob Soldivera and Olympic 

and World Champoin Dan Beery

According to Beery, the bright light at the end of the tunnel is in the ESA Olympic Committee’s establishment of great coaches across many disciplines that are doing amazing work. Additionally, he points to private and corporate supporters, that despite the government’s removal of tax deductible donations - are still contributing funds to the non-government organization ESA Olympic Committee. 

“We aren’t down here to fund programming, and we have no political agenda, our mission is to create a spirit of friendship and mutual understanding that breeds growth and ultimate success,” say Rob Powers, founder of ONETeam American300 Envoys, adding, “Sean Colgan, a US Olympian turned us on to the struggles the ESA Olympic Committee is facing.  As a result, we’re bringing athletes and coaches down to show these ESA Olympic Committee members that there are US Olympic Team members who stand beside them... that the Olympic Family stands together.” 

Standing together with athletes who live and train in one of the most dangerous urban cities in the world (over 730 El Salvadorians were killed in January of this year alone) isn’t for everyone and the US Department of State's travel warning for El Salvador continues to provide a stern warning to Americans to be very smart when traveling here. 

Coach Soldivera, Rob Powers and Dan Beery
Fortunately, ONETeam American300 Envoys are in partnership with the countries Olympic Committee and guests enjoy El Salvadorians overall admiration for it’s Olympic athletes.  “We drive for miles through gang controlled areas, gang members see the ESA Olympic Committee van coming, and smile while waving at us instead of hitting the speed dial button on their mobile phones to alert fellow members." says Powers. 

On this most recent visit, Beery and Powers were joined by Air Force Veteran and US Shooting Coach Bob Soldivera who was surprised by what he encountered.  He pointed out the level of professionalism displayed by the ESA Shooting Federation. “They have the right staff, coaches, and athletes - what they don’t have is the financial and government inner-agency support to secure the necessary levels of equipment to develop at a rate equal to their talent levels.” 

With the El Salvador Olympic Committee sending close to a dozen athletes to the Rio Summer Games in August, the American nonprofit’s goal is to work with Eduardo Palomo, President of the ESA Olympic Committee and his staff to see that number double by the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.  

Coach Soldivera with ESA Shooting Federation Athletes
Bob Soldivera sees it this way: “I’ve been coaching athletes for over 40 years here in America, athletes that have an endless supply of ammunition - the best that money can buy.  El Salvador Olympic hopefuls are on a rationed competition ammunition program, have air rifles that haven’t been overhauled in years - but they are still punching out the bullseye in training. There are 2020 Olympians all over the place down here, they just need some help.” 

American300 is a non-government 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of increasing the resiliency of our US Government Service Members, their families and areas in which they live and operate in around the world.   To date, ONETeam American300 Envoy work in El Salvador has been made possible through a grant from the Colgan Family Foundation. 

Any Given Sunday... two stories of never quitting

U.S. Bases Europe -   Armed Forces Entertainment presents ‘Any Given Sunday’ which will travel throughout England, Kosovo and Germany at the end of January and early February - 2016. 

For US Army Reserve Warrant Officer Jennifer Housholder, facing life and death is just part of the job description.  It’s the type of baggage that comes with being a UH60 helicopter pilot flying missions in the Middle East.   But on one Sunday in particular, Jen, like far too many members of our Armed Forces, was facing a complex enemy that no one really wants to talk about. 

Her Enemy - Suicide 

As a little girl Jen was exposed to abuse.  The kind that for most only resides in nightmares.  Similar to most children, Jen compartmentalized the trauma and moved on in life.  Never realizing the debilitating and destructive force that memories can become. 

“All I knew was that by ending my life the pain would go away... and the pain needed to  stop, it had consumed me,” says Jennifer aka ‘Hous’ as she is fondly referred to by friends and fans of her musical group ‘Hous Band’, she adds, “that Sunday eight years ago, sitting in my room in the middle east was the darkest moment of my life.” 

In the end she didn’t go through with the act, despite the hand written farewell note and means with which to accomplish the task. “At the last moment I pulled back and found sanity in the form of reflection on three fundamental resiliency blocks that I didn't’ even realize I possessed: hope instilled by my mother, faith in God and a bond with my fellow soldiers, who I knew I’d be letting down if I took the selfish way out.” 

Today Hous is a US Army and Air Force Master Resiliency Trainer and continues serve in the Reserves on weekends while working full time for the Air Force as a flight test engineer at Edwards Air Force Base.   During her free time she’s the lead singer along with friends in ‘Hous Band’ a group she started nearly a decade ago. 
 For Bear Pascoe, Sunday’s have ultimately provided his family with a source of income his entire adult life.  From the moment he entered the NFL draft and was picked up by the NY Giants, to his seasons after winning a Super Bowl Ring, Sunday’s have been the ultimate test of worth and job security. 

For big name players the pre-season is mostly just a warmup, but for Bear and the majority of NFL players, both young and old, each pre-season game could be their last.  

Every day, every practice and every play is a go no go test.  An opportunity to shine or disappear.  Understanding the workings of the NFL 53 man roster selection process is so complicated it takes a near college degree in the ‘NFL Cut Down’ process to understand it. 

“You have to choose what type of player you’re going to be,” says Pascoe, who grew up on a ranch wearing cowboy boots far more then athletic footwear growing up, he adds, “I always believed in modeling my play both on and off the field after the best, those who we all look up to as the true champions of sport, the players we want our kids to emulate.” 

I get paid to play football, but football doesn’t define me 
as a husband and member of my community 

Both Jen and Bear are members of an all volunteer nonprofit effort called ‘American300’ which supports the Department of Defenses Total Force Fitness program.  Joining the two on this pre-Super Bowl 50 tour are former Fresno State College strength and conditioning coach Andy Bennett, who trained Bear during his college years and Hous Band member Alex McKee, who works alongside Housholder as a test engineer at Edwards Air Force Base in California. 

“This is a great group of people that Service Members and their families are going to love to meet and get to know,” says Gretchen Powers, who will be leading the tour throughout Europe alongside Armed Forces Entertainment manager George Degrella, adding, “ it’s a tour that’s going to feature two very different stories of never quitting on Sunday’s, filled with NFL workouts and just plan awesome music in the workspaces.” 

For more information follow the tour on facebook:  ‘American300 Tours’  or visit the nonprofit on line at:  www.American300.org   No federal endorsement of sponsors or organizations is implied or intended - American300.org 

Armed Forces Entertainment is an office of the Department of Defense.  Visit this DoD Office at:  www.armedforcesentertainment.com 

Trust in Change... stories of taking a leap in faith

Minot Air Force Base -  American300 returns to this Air Force Global Strike Command Base to share stories of alternative thinking and never quitting.   With ESPN Winter XGames medals and one of the fastest qualifying runs recorded at the Olympics, Erin Nemec was looking at the potential of bringing home Olympic Gold for Canada at the Torino Italy Winter Games. 

The problem was that her ‘teammates’ had other plans for the 5’ 2” blonde, blue eyed wunderkind who unlike her teammates made the team as a walk on.   To make matters worse, Nemec had qualified for the team at a western event, far away from her teammates snowboarding headquarters of Quebec. 

“Her teammates turned on her as the Canadian media teams swarmed her after the qualifying run in Tornio,” says Kevin ‘Cacuts’ Nemec, Erin’s husband, adding, “They turned their backs on this ‘outsider’ to ‘their team’ and did everything possible to alienate Erin, make her feel unwanted and undeserving.” 

Not exactly the type of pre-race environment that breads success 

In the end, the superstar snowboard boardercross racer from British Columbia ended up not qualifying for the finals.  “It gets even better, the teams french speaking equipment and wax technician had her run on a backup board during the qualifications, he convinced her that saving her best snowboard for the finals was the way to go.”  says Kevin, who at the time was coaching America’s top snowboarders out of Colorado far away from the drama unfolding half a world away in Italy.  

After the Olympic Games, Erin made the decision to leave the Canadian team and finished off her career training and traveling with the US Snowboard Team.  To this day she is still the winningest female ESPN Winter XGames Snowboard Boarder Cross racer. 

“I learned a lot about what it means to be a teammate, support others and create an environment of success,” says Erin who now is a mother of two boys that she and Kevin are raising in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  “It really comes down to trust and I just didn’t trust my teammates or coaching staff to look out for my best interests anymore.” she added.  

Trust is a powerful word.  Erin and Kevin will be joined in visiting Airmen of the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, by Navy SEAL retired Chief Mikal Vega.   After getting blown up and torn up countless times, Vega sought out medical treatment.  Like many Service Members he found himself surrounded by prescription medication without the willpower to avoid spiking the effects with alcohol. 

“I was killing myself slowly and the crazy thing is that because the drugs were making me numb I didn’t even realize it,” says Mikal, who has become a successful major motion picture actor and now director of the veterans support nonprofit ‘Vital Warrior’ that he founded. 

With pain in his back that was debilitating, Mikal took the advice of a teammate and entered the world of Rolfing message therapy.  Instantly the effects of the deep muscle therapy and muscle/nerve alignment started to release him from the grips of pain.  He then added acupuncture and over time his pain diminished, his mind started to clear, and he was able to ween himself off the medications and alcohol.  He then entered the world of Kundalini Yoga as taught by yogi Bhajan. 

There was a time when as a SEAL I would have laughed at doing any type of Yoga

Today, Mikal’s daily routine starts off with 1- 2 hrs of concentrated Kundalini Yoga techniques... it’s simply how he starts his days off no matter where he is or what he’s doing. It can get kind of loud and it isn’t always without pain, but it’s one of the major reasons why Vega is a 22 year retired veteran and not a 22 a day statistic, referring to the most recent data suggesting that 22 veterans commit suicide a day in America. 

“We’ve been working with the Airmen of Minot Air Force Base for 4 years now, they know our nonprofit is all about sharing stories of never quitting,” says Robi Powers, the founder and tours host, he adds, “This base has had over 20 different guests share personal stories and experiences with a goal of showing that no matter what life throws at us, we can push through the adversity and realize success, that there’s always cause for hope in a better tomorrow.” 

Follow the monthly base tours around the world at: www.American300.org 

American300 is a all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit, non-government organization with a mission of supporting the Chief of Staffs Total Force Fitness objectives.  No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org 

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Military Reunion 2015

Las Vegas, Nevada -  For the 6th straight year American300 partnered with Wrangler and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to showcase the duty and sacrifice of some amazing United States Armed Forces Members.

We'll have a story to add shortly #longlivegreatcowboys #longlivetroops

Navy SEAL and Army Ranger Visit Ketchikan Coasties and Sailors

KETCHIKAN, AK - If asked to add up their injuries and friends lost in war and post combat mental health related tragic endings, Mikal Vega and Howard Mullen would have to sit down and spend hours with pen and paper in hand. But it’d never happen.“Spending time dredging up negative memories is the last thing I want people doing” said US Navy SEAL Chief retired Mikal Vega, in front of a packed crowd of Coasties during American300‘s latest visit to the Base and Station along with SECNAV Back Island Navy Service Members and Support Staffers this week. “I was on that road, and thanks to doctors who fed me pills and sympathy I ended up nearly killing myself.” Vega added.

Chief Mikal Vega, US Navy SEAL retired

Instead the busted up Naval SEAL Operator turned to eastern medicine as an alternative to traditional therapy and slowly started to become human again. “I started off with deep muscle message, acupuncture and then became a student of Kundalini Yoga as taught by yogi Bhajan.” With this transformation in care came a new beginning and life for Vega.Today, the Wounded Warrior turned Hollywood actor, can be seen in major film productions like Transformers and TV Series like CSI to name a few. He also founded ‘Vital Warrior’ a 501c3 nonprofit which works to share the teachings of Kundaline Yoga as taught by yogi Bhajan with fellow Service Members who he hopes can experience the same life changing and saving benefits that he’s been blessed with.
Mikal and US Army Ranger hall of fame member combat veteran, Master Sergeant ‘Mad Max’ Mullen, retired are part of a force of volunteers who have joined Robi Powers, the founder of American300 to spread resilient messaging across the service branches and globe. “Call our programming the antithesis of computer based training, what we do is provide one on one real world life lesson sharing delivered by fully vetted volunteers who are: likable, relatable and relevant.” says Powers, a former US Army Mountain Warfare Instructor and National and Olympic Teams athlete and Coach, he adds, “We visit the same areas of operation over 2-3 years bringing individuals who have experience worth listening to.”
For Coast Guard BM3 Micah Grey, American300 programming first landed on his cutter’s deckplate at midnight 2 years ago. “Back then I was a non-rate deckhand pulling a duty officer shift, I didn’t know what these guys were doing dropping in on us,” says Grey who was one of the last to ‘strike’ up into the Petty Officer ranks of the sea going service. “Robi brought some world champion cowboys and cowgirls into the galley in the middle of the night and the next thing I know my favorite song (Bob Dylan’s Wagon Wheel) was being played by a Nashville country music star. It’s surreal when I think back on it now that I’ve met so many different American300 guests and understand why they come visit us.” said BM3 Grey.
With a who’s who of guests like: Tom Whittaker the first amputee to summit Mount Everest, General Edward Mechenbier, nearly 6 year Vietnam Prisoner of War, USAF retired, Steve Swanson, 3x NASA Expedition Astronaut and International Space Station Commander, along with many others the goal of American300 resiliency tours at places like Coast Guard Base and Station Ketchikan is to deliver as many resilient real world stories over a 2 year span of time as possible.

Robi Powers, US Army and Olympic Teams Trainer - founder American300.org
The nonprofit conducts between 30-32 tours a year around the world and has been working with the Coast Guard’s Ketchikan teams for nearly 2 years now. “I’ve met a lot of amazing people through American300 Tours, but, Ranger Mad Max is my new favorite,” says MK2 Nick Wall, who serves as a engine room specialist on the 175’ Coast Guard Cutter Anthony Petit, “I mean I’m down in the engine room with Mad Max and all he has to say is how proud he is of my abilities, my service, my fellow shipmates... here I am pulling duty as a mechanic and this decorate combat warrior just wants me to know how important and proud of me he is, I still can’t get my head around it... I’m mean this guy is a warrior after all.” Nick, shakes his head as he drifts back from the moment earlier in the day when he led the Army Ranger through his ship and most importantly his engine room.

MSgt. Howard 'Mad Max' Mullen - US Army Ranger retired.
“I’m still working full-time for the Army down at Fort Benning, Georgia says Mad Max, but when Robi calls up and asks if I can join a tour I’m happy to flex and burn up the leave time,” says Mullen, who has been on half a dozen tours with Powers over the years to bases as far away as Afghanistan.
As Mullen puts it: “If I could put my Ranger uniform back on I’d do it in a second, but volunteering as a American300 mentor is the next best thing and I’m happy and honored to serve my brothers and sisters who are pulling the duty today, besides these Coasties in Ketchikan are outstanding, I’d have to say they are ‘Mad Max Approved’ even.”
For more information about American300 visit: www.American300.org
The nonprofit also has a facebook site: ‘American300 Tours’
American300 is a non-government all volunteer ( NGO/AVO ) 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of supporting our Department of Defense and Department of State - Total Force Fitness initiatives. No federal endorsement of nonprofit is implied or intended - American300.org

Mayor Nutter Presents Liberty Bell Award to American300 Founder

City of Philadelphia - Former Army Soldier, National Team Athlete and Olympic Teams Coach, Robert ‘Robi’ Powers, who founded the all volunteer nonprofit, American300 was honored this past week by Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter at a special reception in the City. 

During the ceremony, Mayor Nutter reeled off a list of Powers major accomplishments: “Robi not only co-hosts the Philadelphia Marathon with me, he runs a nonprofit mentoring program that provides a critical mentoring service to our troops on military bases around the world.” This is a personal achievement, and we’re very proud of him as a city,” said Nutter, who presented Powers with the city’s Liberty Bell Award. 

“Robi is just an amazing veteran who has distinguished himself as one of the most widely recognized military mentors in the country,” Nutter said.  “He is in the singular category of military supporters who have dedicated themselves to the service of taking care of our men and women in uniform.” 

Powers, who recalled the 8 years of working with the city to conduct Mayor’s Office sponsored outreach events for the Troops, said the recognition by Mayor Nutter and the city, “is very humbling and will be shared with all of the volunteers at American300, who continue to work with those who protect and serve so that freedom and liberty may continue to ring loudest throughout the world.” 

For more information on Powers’ nonprofit effort: www.American300.org 

Philly Mayor Shouts From the Roof Tops for the Troops

City of Philadelphia -  For the 8th straight year American300 and the city of Philadelphia Mayor's office have partnered to extend a hand of brotherly and sisterly love to our Troops.

Year one took Robi Powers, founder of American300 and the co-host of the international marathon to the Middle East.  Years 2 - 5 featured staging 'Philly Spirit Run First Wave Races in Germany at US Army Garrison Bavaria's Hohenfels small Army base.

For the past two years, and final years of Michael A. Nutter, Mayor City of Philadelphia's time in term limited service ... it will be the United States Coast Guard that feels the 'extra love'.

From all of us at American300.org we'd like to extend the most sincere thanks to Mayor Nutter and staff of the Philadelphia Marathon.  The past 8 years have flown by, but the connections our mentors and team have made with US Armed Forces members have carried on and will never be forgotten.

On the eve of the event we wish all Godspeed in their endeavors tomorrow.  As American300 friend and supporter, the legendary Olympic team runner Billy Rodgers likes to say:  May the wind be at our back.

To Mayor Nutter and Team, you've got the best life savers in the world running with you today... thank you for sponsoring their efforts and more importantly thank you for showcasing our Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Civil Service support staff over the years.

On behalf of our entire team - heart felt thanks!

v/r  Robi Powers - founder American300.org

For more information on American300 Tours please visit: www.American300.org 

Devotion to Duty... after the fight!

USCG Station Indian River Inlet -  Sharing life experiences and fostering positive growth will bring Major General Ed Mechenbier and Lieutenant General Bruce Fister to US Coast Guard Heavy Weather Motorboat Lifesaving Station in Delaware next week. With over 10,000 hours of combined Air Force flight hours, (300+ hours in combat), Generals Bruce Fister and Ed Mechenbier are living aviation legends. 

Major General Mechenbier spent 6 years as a Vietnam Prisoner of War being tortured repeatedly and subjected to some of the harshest conditions imaginable.

Lieutenant General Fister, flew over 7,000 flight hours, 220 combat missions and commanded at the Squadron, Wing, Numbered Air Force and Major Command levels.

“It’s not everyday that small remote stations get General Officers on deck, especially from a different branch of service,” says Rob Powers, founder and host of American300 Tours.  “These two Generals are walking examples of Coast Guard core values in action.”

Resiliency expert Powers says he has been asked why these two Generals are taking time away from their families to visit with the lifesavers assigned to duties under Sector Delaware Bay.  “The answer lies in continued service to their fellow service men and women.”  Powers said.  “These two generals could have focused on retirement and wet fishing lines.  They have earned that.  But instead they want to share their personal stories of heartache and triumph.  Sharing their spirit of never quitting.”

Powers indicates that this is what American 300 Tours are all about.  A spirit of - Never Quit - shared by veterans engaged on a personal level.  “It’s going to be an amazing couple of days as these two Generals open up and share about their personal devotion to duty with over 70 years of honorable service to our country.” Rob Powers said.

For more on the all volunteer efforts of American300 Tours visit: www.American300.org 

American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit with a mission of supporting resiliency programming throughout the Department of Defense and Homeland Security.   No federal endorsement of nonprofit is implied or intended - American300.org