Casting a Vote is a civic responsibility, and I believe every member of the armed forces and every Veteran should consider voting to be a personal duty.
The oath we took when entering the military said, in part, “I … will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
Voting is an act of supporting the Constitution, and it is a means for service members and veterans to perform their duty.
In the same oath, we pledged to obey the orders of the president of the United States. As the commander in chief, the president has the authority to commit U.S. forces to combat operations.
Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and military families have a personal stake in the competence, judgment and character of the commander in chief, and voting is the proper vehicle to voice their opinion and choice for civilian leadership.
What’s at Stake
Selecting a commander in chief has far-reaching implications for troops, including rules of engagement, funding for military benefits, disposition of captured terrorists, characterization of terrorist attacks against military personnel, treatment of deserters, and personnel policies. It also includes roles for women in combat, homosexual and transgender policies, and more.
It is the commander in chief who nominates the secretary of defense, the secretaries of the military services, and other political appointees. It is through these appointees that the commander in chief’s policies are implemented across the Department of Defense.
Just as important are the commander in chief’s selections for other key government agencies, including the State Department, CIA, FBI, NSA, Supreme Court and Department of Veterans Affairs. Each of these organizations deeply and directly impacts the lives of troops and military families.
Federal, State, Local Elections
In addition to voting for a presidential candidate this November, 33 senators, 435 congressmen, plus state and local officials will be on the ballot. Each of these officials will have an impact on troops and their families.
Congress will approve the defense budget and VA funding. State and local officials govern schools, first responders and tax issues that directly impact military families.
Military personnel have a responsibility to make informed decisions when selecting men and women for public office.
Be an Informed Voter
John F. Kennedy said, “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
The Army defines duty as, “Accept responsibility for your own actions and those entrusted to your care.”
Prior to voting, troops should educate themselves on the issues and the candidates. One valuable resource is GovTrack, a web-based tool that allows one to quickly see how incumbent congressmen and senators vote on issues such as VA funding, defense funding, funding for foreign aid, removal of sanctions against hostile governments, etc.
Register to Vote. It’s Easy
In order to vote, service members must register. It’s a very easy process. Simply complete the Federal Post Card Application using the FPCA online assistant, or pick up a hard-copy version from your Voting Assistance Officer or nearest U.S. Embassy or consular office.
Double-check that your contact information is accurate in case your election office needs to reach you.
‘A Vote Is Like a Rifle’
Theodore Roosevelt said, “A vote is like a rifle: Its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”
Members of the armed forces have exceptional character, and they adhere to time-honored codes of conduct and values, including duty, honor, integrity, loyalty, personal courage, respect and selfless service.
As we approach Election Day, it is essential for troops, veterans and their families to register to vote; become informed about their local, state and federal candidates; and educate their friends and family.
We all swore to support and defend the Constitution, and our oath has no expiration date. Do your duty and vote.
By: David Dodd
Retired Army Col. David Dodd served more than 27 years in the military, including two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. He serves as the director of operations at Shields of Strength, and on the Board of Directors of Point 27 outreach to veterans, military families, first responders, athletes and the chronically ill.
The feedback from those who were strengthened and encouraged by the Shields of Strength continues to pour in.
C.O.P.S. to Point 27: “You made a huge impact.”
Chris Kahmke, a retired Law Enforcement Officer and current Director of Development for the nonprofit organization Concern of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) arranged for the distribution of the Thin Blue Line Shields to families who attended the National Police Week events in Washington DC. Kahmke said that the necklaces meant a great deal to the family members of Fallen Officers.
Kahmke said that every attendee at the C.O.P.S. conference that week was given a Thin Blue Line Dog Tag Necklace; and that the Folded Flag Necklaces will be presented to families attending the C.O.P.S. first-year survivor retreats.
In an email to Point 27, Kahmke wrote: “I want you to know, I saw child after child, spouses, co-workers wearing the necklaces throughout the conference. I have been approached by Chapter Presidents and Survivors asking who was behind this token of generosity. So on behalf of all our current and past survivors, thank you. You made a huge impact. You gave our survivors a daily reminder of their sacrifices, that they could wear in honor of their fallen officer(s).”
Fallen Police Officer Gold Star Family Members wearing Thin Blue Line Shields of Strength
National Police Week
National Police Week is a collaborative effort of many organizations dedicated to honoring America’s law enforcement community. Principal organizers of National Police Week held in Washington DC, include the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which sponsors the annual Candlelight Vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial; the Fraternal Order of Police/Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary, which organizes the Peace Officers Memorial Day Service at the U.S. Capitol; and Concerns of Police Survivors, which holds the National Police Survivors’ Conference.
Statistics show that, on average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall
For attendees, one of the strongest centerpieces of Police Week is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., that features the names of the nearly 19,000 Law Enforcement Officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
The Memorial is designed with four bronze lions, two male and two female; each watching over a pair of lion cubs.
Below each lion is carved a different quotation:
“In valor there is hope,” from Tacitus
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are as bold as a lion,” Proverbs 28:1
A quote from President George H.W. Bush, “Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve both democracy and decency, and to protect a national treasure that we call the American dream.”
The fourth quote is comprised of the words of a surviving widow of a Fallen Police Officer, Vivian Eney Cross. The quote reads: “It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived.”
Fallen Police Officer Gold Star Family at Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Washington, DC
Subsequent to the National Police Week, Point 27 has been busy encouraging Law Enforcement Officers and family members of Fallen Officers with gifts of Thin Blue Line Shields of Strength dog tag necklaces and Folded Flag Pendant Necklaces. Gifts have been made to the Dallas, Beaumont, and Arlington, Texas Police Departments, the Kennesaw, Marietta, and Forsyth, Georgia Police Departments, the Santa Barbara, CA, Police Department, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. God’s Word engraved on a simple piece of metal is a powerful reminder of hope and strength. These Words encourage and strengthen Police Officers and Family Members of Fallen Officers during the toughest of times.
Letter from Officer Will McGary Memorial Foundation
Mr. Dodd, sir,
I am sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I received your note enclosed in the box of Shields of Strength necklaces. I would be honored to share what they mean to me and what I hope they will mean to those to whom we distribute them.
First, please, let me thank YOU for your service to our country. I saw from your signature line that you are a retired US Army Colonel. I am proud to be affiliated with you, sir. If there was anything I ever wanted to do, it was to serve my country. I never got the opportunity to do so, but I am grateful to every one of you who did.
Now about the Shields of Strength. I volunteer for the Officer Will McGary Memorial Foundation which was established in 2013 after the death of 26 year old Officer Will McGary while in the line of duty. Will’s mother is my best friend. I became very actively involved in the Foundation in early 2015.
This past May, I accompanied the McGary family to Washington, D.C. to the annual fallen law enforcement officer’s candlelight vigil and visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall where we saw Will’s name inscribed for all of eternity along with the other brave officers who gave their lives. It was emotionally overwhelming and touching.
We were registering for C.O.P.S. events that second day we were there when I was handed a thin blue line necklace. I have an instant attraction to anything bearing the American flag, so I was immediately drawn to the necklace. So many things about it grabbed my attention that I stood there for some time looking it over. First of all, it was a dog tag necklace. This, along with the flag, immediately paid homage, in my mind, to our US veteran heroes. The addition of the thin blue line in the flag reminded me that our law enforcement officers are all that stand between good people and the whims of a lawless society. Anyone stepping into the role of law enforcement officer is truly placing himself in harm’s way in this present world and that entitles him/her to great respect from the rest of us. Perhaps the most emotional part of this gift, to me, was when I turned it over and saw that beautiful verse, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” My heart was truly touched by this. Amidst all the loss, the grieving families I was surrounded by, the pain I was bearing with my dearest friend of the loss of her only son, it was like a quiet reminder from heaven that Will died keeping the peace in the greatest country in the world. He was doing what he was passionate about doing when he was killed. He was protecting his fellow man and his fellow officers surrounding the scene of an accident when he was struck by an impaired driver. If it had not been Will that had been struck that night, it is unknown how many other lives may have been lost instead, and if I know Will, he would not have tolerated that.
Will was an especially blessed peacemaker, because he chose organ donation during his lifetime, and we know of three lives who were changed and saved because of this choice. Two teenage girls received his kidneys, and a middle-aged man received his heart. They attend our events as they are able. So you see that this blessed peacemaker never stopped giving, even in death. What a legacy for a 26 year old man! We chose to turn this tragedy into a triumph by establishing the Officer Will McGary Memorial Foundation. We support law enforcement officers and the youth of our community. I hope you’ll visit our website to find out more about Will and about us.
As for those we intend to distribute the Shields of Strength to, it my hope that, whatever their situations, they will be reminded of the same things I was. I know, as patrons of a car show fundraiser event, it is likely that many of them have never been touched by tragedy such as this. I hope that, after viewing the slideshow we will have displayed, they will be solemnly reminded to respect our law enforcement officers and to honor those that have given their lives to the cause of peacekeeping. I hope they will realize that God blessed them by allowing them to be citizens of this country of ours. I pray God will use the scripture on the necklace to speak to their hearts, for we know His Word never returns to Him void, but it accomplishes that which he sends it to do. I believe this.
I gave my necklace to my 16-year-old son when I returned from D.C. and he was moved by it. These necklaces are in every way the kind of item with which we wish to represent our Foundation. They speak of God, honor, and American heroes and that, to me, about sums it up.
I thank you very much for your very generous gift, and I hope that in days to come, we can get to the place that we can afford to regularly purchase these from you as part of our giveaways. I saw a variety of styles on your website that I loved as well and I hope the time will come that we are able to place a nice, big order. Until then, I have prayed that God will bless the work of your hands.
I am attaching a couple photos at the Wall in D.C.
Memorial Wall for Fallen Police Officers, Washington, D.C.
Officer Will McGary Family Members at Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
I will send photos of our event after it takes place in September. God bless you.
M.O.M., a military support group in Mount Pleasant, Texas will include over a thousand Shields of Strength, which Point 27 gave for inclusion in care packages the support group will send across the world to soldiers who will be separated from their families over the holidays.
Prayer, Honor, Awareness
The M.O.M. organization is an outreach to the country’s military service men and women. The group has set a mission to provide care packages to military members deployed or stationed in the U.S. and overseas, and has stated a commitment for:
praying for the safety and well-being of military troops
bringing community awareness to the sacrifices they are making to preserve freedom
honoring Veterans for their military service.
Kelly Cooper, Marine Mom and Director of M.O.M., loves to share Shields of Strength with her son and other Warriors
Kellye Cooper heads the East Texas M.O.M. group and spearheads the Mount Pleasant Carry The Load rallies.
Cooper’s son serves in the U.S. Marines.
“As a small nonprofit, without Point 27 supporting M.O.M., we could never afford to give out the amount of Shield of Strength Dog Tags that we are giving to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. I honestly cannot put into words how this all makes me feel because I am truly overwhelmed at what Point 27 means for the Mission of MOM,” Cooper said. “Sharing God’s Word with the men and women who are serving and sacrificing is the best Christmas gift we can give.”
Thousands remember the moment the deadliest terrorist attack took place on American soil. That experience was no different for decorated U.S. Army (Ret) Col. David Dodd, who remembers it was a time of high spiritual warfare.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Dodd had no idea that he and his new command, the 86th Signal Battalion, would soon deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and later support Operation Iraqi Freedom, in America’s War on Terrorism.
Shields of Strength Dog Tags
Days before the deployment, Dodd’s sergeant major was in a Christian bookstore where he found some dog tags engraved with the scripture Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“I thought that that dog tag would be something that would encourage our soldiers during deployment,” Dodd told CBN News.
Dodd ordered 500 of them, one for every soldier under his command for that initial deployment to Afghanistan following 9/11, from Shields of Strength, a company founded by Kenny Vaughan.
“Obviously, the Shields wouldn’t stop a bullet, and they weren’t good luck charms, but they were reminders of the power of God’s Word,” Dodd remembers. “My wife Sharon and I would pray for each of the soldiers in my command before we gave them the Shield of Strength and just before they boarded the transport for Afghanistan.”
Dodd said it was one of the toughest experience but knew it was something he was called to do.
Take Fight to Enemy…Pray
“Everybody in that unit wanted to go forward and take the fight to the enemy and away from the United States,” he said.
Dodd’s unit stayed until 2002 and, amazingly, there were no casualties. But he has not stopped praying for the military or the nation.
“I believe there is a determined enemy. There is somebody who has declared war on us, still at war with us. They’re not going to stop fighting us. And for our nation to be safe and to be victorious we need to have God on our side and we need to turn to God and ask for his mercy, his protection, and his grace,” Dodd said.
“I often pray 2 Chronicles 7:14,” he added. “That if we would humble ourselves and turn from our wicked way and pray and seek God’s face that he would forgive our sins and heal our land. It is my prayer still today that we would humble ourselves and seek God’s face.”
Shields of Strength and Point 27
Dodd has shared more than 10,000 Shields of Strength with members of the military and U.S. and international leaders during his active military service.
Now he is building up members of the military, veterans, and families of the fallen soldiers, first responders and families of fallen responders; through a nonprofit called Point 27.
by: Talia Wise
Talia Wise serves as a multi-media producer for CBN News Newswatch, CBNNews.com and social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia attended Regent University where she earned a Master’s in Journalism and the University of Virginia. She lives in Newport News, Virginia.
Thin Blue Line Shields of Strength Dog Tag Necklace and Folded Flag Necklace engraved with scripture.
Thin Blue Line
A Thin Blue Line, comprised of men and women in blue uniforms, stands between good and evil. These brave souls enforce America’s laws and they provide order and security for America’s communities. They face danger on a daily basis, and sadly, many are injured and/or die in the line of duty. Long hours, violence, stress, and criticism challenge even the strongest. In light of demanding and relentless pressure, Law Enforcement Officers and their families need encouragement and support.
Encouragement and Strength
Point 27 is providing encouragement and strength by giving Police Officers and Deputies custom “Thin Blue Line” dog tags produced by Shield of Strength. The design is an American Flag with a thin blue line as the center strip. The back of the dog tag is engraved with Romans 5:9, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be called the Sons of God.” These dog tags are a constant reminder of God’s Word and they hang just inches from the Police Officer’s heart.
To honor family members of Fallen Officers, Point 27 gives Police and Sheriff Departments a Folded Flag Pendant necklace engraved with John 15:13, “Greater Love has no one than this: to down one’s life for a friend.” The pendant is a replica of a folded American Flag presented to family members during funeral service for a Fallen Officer. Point 27 wants to strengthen and encourage these special family members and to let them know we will not forget their Fallen Officer.
National Police Week
In mid-May, Point 27 gave 3,000 Thin Blue Line Shields of Strength to police officers and 600 Folded Flag Necklaces to Families of Fallen Officers during annual National Police Week 2016 held In Washington D.C. The several-day event honored police officers across the nation and recognized the sacrifices they and their families make every day, with special honor to the families that lost loved ones in the line of Police duty.
No one knew then that the summer of 2016 would be one of the most dangerous and deadly periods on record for Police and Law Enforcement Officers.
Dallas Police Ambush
Following the murder of five Dallas Officers, Point 27 reached out to the Dallas Chief of Police to offer Thin Blue Line Shield of Strength Dog Tags for his officers and Folded Flag Necklaces for family members of the Fallen Officers. The officers ambushed on the night of July 7 were: Dallas Police Officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith and Patrick Zamarripa. The fifth officer killed was a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Officer Brent Thompson.
Point 27 sent Shields that were presented in a brief afternoon ceremony on July 29 at the main headquarters of the Dallas Police Station. The gift would be sufficient to provide every Dallas Police Officer with a Thin Blue Line Shield of Strength. For the families of the officers killed in the shooting, Point 27 sent 50 Folded Flag Necklaces, and offered more, if needed. DPD Executive Assistant Chief David Pughes received the Shields of Strength on behalf of Dallas Police Chief David Brown and the Dallas Police Department.
His head bowed and eyes tearing, Officer Pughes listened to the words of a letter from Point 27 Director David Dodd: “Thank you for your leadership, courage and perseverance in the face of great adversity. We pray for God’s mercy, comfort and strength for you and the brave men and women you lead.” Holding a Thin Blue Line Shield and a Folded Flag Necklace up before the modest crowd, Officer Pughes said, “This means a lot to our officers and the families. We will hold this close to our heart. On behalf of all the men and women in our department. Thank you.”
God’s Word Provides Strength For The Fight
Dallas Assistant Chief of Police Tammie Hughes said many of the officers had seen the Thin Blue Line Shields and were eager to receive the dog tags, and many from the department expressed pleasant surprise at the generous show of support from a nonprofit organization in another state.
That day, when the officers in corner cubicles of the Human Resources Department of the downtown DPD Headquarters – the staff officers who had been charged with helping the families of the Fallen Dallas Officers plan the funerals and memorials for their loved ones killed in the shootings — heard about the Folded Flag Necklaces for the surviving family members, their demeanors changed markedly. Their heads came up, their shoulders squared and the officers instantly sat a little taller. Their faces appeared less weary as their expressions heartened. They said they were eager to give the necklaces to the family members who had lost their loved ones in the nighttime shooting. God’s Word engraved on the necklaces will provide strength for the fight that lies ahead in the days, weeks, and years to come.
Dallas Police Sgt. Warren Mitchell told a Dallas Morning News reporter, following the ceremony: “When you often feel like you’re unappreciated, the support from across the country just leaves you speechless. Going through such a tragedy, there’s no way to take away the pain. But it certainly can ease the pain to know that you’re not going through it by yourself.”