Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Aspen man's vodka venture supports veterans | AspenTimes.com

Aspen man's vodka venture supports veterans AspenTimes.com: "ASPEN — If you’ve tried to buy vodka in the Roaring Fork Valley in the last month, you might have noticed a local newcomer on the top shelf, between the Gray Goose and the Ketel One.

The black-and-gray bottle of Jokä vodka comes looped with dog tags featuring the soldiers’ creed — and a label that touts it as the “Spirit of Aspen.”

“It’s selling,” said Roger Carlson, manager of the Grog Shop. He explained that Jokä is even more likely to sell when people realize the proceeds support veterans."

“It seems word is getting around that there’s a crazy guy out there that knocks on doors … and tries to sell vodka for the benefit of veterans,” said Joe Nedlin, the energetic Aspenite behind the new vodka. Of late, Nedlin has been searching for a product to raise money for veterans in the same way Paul Newman’s salad dressings have garnered millions for charities.He’s tried golf clubs, golf accessories and beauty products — all sold under the label Aspen Black Diamond. But he said even though the golf clubs are featured at places like the Aspen Club, he’s found they’re hard to sell. Ditto for beauty products. His vodka, on the other hand, appears to be taking off.

The vodka, said Nedlin, is made by Bend Distillers, in Bend, Ore., using a recipe he helped design. For sweetness, it’s made only from corn. And it’s filtered five times through charcoal and crushed lava. The name comes from his own nickname when Nedlin was in the Army Reserves — “The Joker.”Nedlin said the slogan “Spirit of Aspen,” is both a pun on the word “spirit” and a nod to Aspen’s passion for philanthropy.“People of Aspen have such a spirit about them,” he said. “How can you beat people like this?”Jokä vodka sells for between $25 and $28 a bottle, a price Nedlin said puts it at the low end of top-shelf vodkas. In the first month, he’s sold 720 bottles to local restaurants and bars — including the St. Regis Hotel in Aspen and Sneaky’s Tavern in Snowmass — and nearly every liquor store in the valley.

According to Nedlin, $3 of every sale goes to veterans, meaning he’s raised over $2,000 in the first month of the project.“I’m not asking you to give money, to make a donation,” he said. “I’m saying [that] I’ve got a great vodka and if you’re so inclined to buy vodka, buy Jokä.”Though Nedlin has created his own 501(c)3 nonprofit, Charity Assistance Advisors, he won’t be distributing the money himself. Instead, the money will be distributed by the Grand Junction chapter of Blue Star Mothers, an organization of women with children serving in the military.Chapter president Wendy Hoffman affirmed the needs of veterans by noting that nationwide, one in three homeless people are veterans.

In Grand Junction, she said, that number is even higher.According to Hoffman, the money from the vodka sales will be distributed both to individual veterans and to organizations that serve veterans.Right now, Nedlin — the sole sales man for the vodka — is keeping both sales and donations in Colorado.“That’s all my car will travel,” he jokes.But both he and Hoffman say that some day, it would be nice to take the brand and the partnership with the Blue Star mothers nationwide.

But Hoffman cautions that it might take some effort to convince other chapters that it’s a good partnership. Even in Grand Junction, she said, a few woman have raised concerns about supporting veterans through the sale of vodka.“With 7,000 members out there, a lot more will be concerned about the fact that it’s vodka,” Hoffman said.Nedlin acknowledged the concern, but said for him, everything is out weighed by the great need among U.S. veterans.

“I wouldn’t sell anything if people would put their hands in their pockets and just donate,” Nedlin said. In the meantime, he’s going to keep selling vodka for veterans.“I’m 67 years old, how many more years do I have?” he said. “I have to make every day mean something.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Berthoud Fallen Soldier Honored in Iraq

Wednesday, Jan 21st, 2009
By Staff Sgt. Alex Licea3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, IRAQ -- A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Paratrooper, who was killed in eastern Baghdad, was honored for his ultimate sacrifice during a memorial ceremony at Forward Operating Base Jan. 16, 2009.
Staff Sgt. Justin Bauer, a 24-year-old infantryman from Loveland, Colo., was assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. He was killed in action when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle during a combat patrol Jan. 10 in the New Baghdad District of eastern Baghdad.

More...Berthoud Fallen Soldier Honored in Iraq

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury

"The Department of Defense today announced the opening of a 24-hour outreach center to provide information and referrals to military service members, veterans, their families and others with questions about psychological health and traumatic brain injury.

The new center, which is operated by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), can be contacted around the clock, 365 days a year, by phone at 866-966-1020 and by e-mail at resources@dcoeoutreach.org.
“We’re providing 24/7 support to assist callers with questions regarding psychological health and traumatic brain injury,” said Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, M.D., director of DCoE. “Getting the best possible information and tools, hassle-free, will empower and strengthen warriors and their families to successfully manage what can be confusing and disturbing circumstances.” "

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury: