Tour Station Seven: The American Legion, U.S. Military Veterans Center

Located on the second floor of the Center’s Learning and Resources building, The American Legion is the second national veterans service organization (VSO) to establish an official presence at the U.S. Military Veterans Center in Second Life. Their information desk includes a clickable laptop that loads the official website of The American Legion. A clickable signboard toward the left of the information desk provides information about services provided by The American Legion. To leave a message for The American Legion’s representatives in Second Life, click on the suggestion box on the information desk, then wait for the “beep” which will appear as green text in chat. When you see the word “beep” in green letters, simply type your message and press enter to send it to the suggestion box.

The American Legion’s group in Second Life allows anyone to join as a Friend. However, if you are in real life a member of The American Legion, please address an Instant Message to Taz Mubble and include your real life name, city, state and membership number. He will then be able to locate you on The American Legion membership database and add you to the SL group as a Member.

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Tour Station Six: VFW Post Extension, U.S. Military Veterans Learning and Resource Center

Nomad Albatros, a group owner and a RL Post Commander maintains the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Extension, located to the left of the main entrance of the U.S. Military Veterans Learning and Resource Center. At the information desk, you will find a clickable laptop, which will take you to the official VFW website, and a suggestion box. If you have time or inclination, click the suggestion box and fill out the notecard with your comments, but please do not forget to sign it before submitting it.

In the far left corner you will find various clickable plaques that will provide you information about who the VFW is and the services they provide. By clicking the map, you are directed to a website to find a local VFW near you. Should you need assistance from a National Service Officer in regards to a VA claim, please contact Nomad with the state you currently reside in and he will provide you with a notecard with the NSO contact information specific to your location. Please keep in mind the services provided by the VFW are open to all veterans, regardless of whether or not you are currently a member of the VFW.

In the middle of the window, we have a multimedia presentation that pays tribute to current VFW membership, proudly displaying the mantra of the VFW, honoring the dead by helping the living. To date, more than 12 people have been referred to National Service Officers for assistance in filing VA claims or VA centers for PTSD counseling.

In the far right corner you will find Post Traumatic Stress Disorder resources, not only for military service members, but for their family members as well. The information provided include specific information regarding diagnosis and assessment, treatment, a counselor locator, and information about the types of problems families with someone suffering from PTSD can have as well as things to do to cope.

Lastly, on the far right wall are some of the medals required in order to join the VFW. By clicking the poster, you are directed the online membership form.

Should you want to talk to Nomad directly, or if you are an active VFW member and would like to join the VFW group, please use his plaque at the Help Desk to send him an IM.

Tour Station Five: Disabled American Veterans, U.S. Military Veterans Learning and Resource Center

Disabled American Veterans has created this area at the U.S. Military Veterans Center; the main DAV Campus consists of six regions or “sims.” The white signboard on the left launches a National Service Officer directory when clicked; the red map on the right launches a DAV Chapter Locator. A clickable laptop on the DAV information desk launches the official DAV website where you can learn how to join as well as what services DAV provides. A clickable easel nearby provides a Landmark to teleport to the main DAV Campus. You will also notice a clickable easel next to the information desk…it will send a message to DAV’s representative – Reanea Burnstein. Lying on the information desk is a clickable issue of DAV magazine. As you explore the DAV area, be sure to pick up a t-shirt and examine the photo display of the six-region facility they are constructing to deliver information, outreach and services to veterans. If you are in real life a member of Disabled American Veterans, send an Instant Message to Annee Hotshot or Reanae Burnstein with your real life name and DAV membership number. You will then be added to the DAV in Second Life group and have access to the entire DAV facility, including the members-only areas.

Tour Station Four: U.S. Military Veterans Learning and Resource Center

Welcome to the U.S. Military Veterans Learning and Resource Center. As you enter the building, you will pass a Donation Box, but please do not feel obligated in any way to contribute. We do however appreciate the support of our many friends.

As you continue forward, notice the two magazine racks…a blue one for VFW Magazine on the left and a red one for DAV Magazine on the right. Each of these is clickable and will open the respective magazine in a browser.

Please take a moment to glance left, overhead, straight ahead, and right when you enter the building. To the left is our VFW Post Extension, operated by a real-life VFW Post Commander, Nomad Albatros. Overhead you will notice a bronze plaque honoring the veterans who seek and provide information and support. And to the right is a nationally authorized Disabled American Veterans office in Second Life.

Straight ahead is the Information and Help Desk–we have provided a bell to ring that pages staff to provide services such as Center tours, look up needed resources, and admit veterans to the U.S. Military Veteran group. Vet Center Guides provide tours of our area and assist with admitting veterans to the group with the correct service. Members of the Management Team can also be paged to provide accurate information about such topics as how to locate your state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, VA benefits eligibility, joining a Veterans Service Organization, applying for VA disability, how to obtain your DD214 and more. And of course anyone in the Management Team can admit visitors to the U.S. Military Veteran group.

If you need assistance from a Manager/Owner, look at the Help Desk for names lit up in green. This indicates that the corresponding Management Team Member is online and can be paged to the Veterans Center to assist you. Please click on the photo of any staff member whose name is lit up in green to send an Instant Message requesting assistance.

Several memberships are available to those interested in joining. All require prospective group members to provide satisfactory demonstration that he or she is genuinely a U.S. military veteran/active duty, a family member of a vet, or in real life supports veterans and/or active duty service members. We do this in the course of friendly, casual conversation to screen out role-players and pretenders. We do NOT require submission of a DD214. Typically we invite current members of the group, particularly those of the same service and time period, to report to the Veterans Center to welcome the newcomer. One of the singular events in a day at the U.S. Military Veterans Center is the arrival of fellow veterans at the teleport landing point to welcome one of their own to our growing family.

When those vets are satisfied that the newcomer is truly a veteran, they notify the Management Team Member or Vet Center Guide on duty so that the newcomer can be admitted into the group.

Also note the computers on the Help Desk. One of them launches this blog. The other opens the official website of the National Native American Veterans Association, a Veterans Service Organization.

Tour of the U.S. Military Veterans Center Station Three: The Eric D. Hillenburg Museum

Welcome to the Eric D. Hillenburg Museum. At the center of the photo is a monument which summarizes the loss of this Marine in action at Falluja, Iraq. Take note of the date of death inscribed on the face of the monument, then zoom in on the snapshot at the base of the photo. Lance Corporal Hillenburg was killed in action two days before Christmas, 2004. The snapshot is the last known photograph of Corporal Hillenburg and was taken 21 December, 2004.

To the left of the monument is an Information Post. Click on it to open a page of websites that provide more information about Lance Corporal Hillenburg. As we saw at the Memorial Garden, some gave all.

Inside the Museum we have placed historic recruiting posters on display to the left, and military art to the right. As you enter the museum, you will also see a display of our nation’s founding documents, the United States Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. Nearby is another information post which will open a web page at the National Archives which tells about our nation’s founding documents.

Each member of the United States armed forces swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It is indeed fitting and proper that they should be displayed in view of a monument to a man who upheld his oath with his own life.

Upstairs in the Museum you will find the Charter Members Display, including a photo frame containing five portraits, one for each of our five charter members. These individuals founded the U.S. Military Veteran group as well as the U.S. Military Veterans Center which is the group’s headquarters. You will see their names again inside the Veterans Information and Learning Center at the Information/Help Desk.

As you continue to the right of the Charter Members Display you see an array of photo frames, one for each of the five armed services, containing Second Life portraits of our group members. In addition, a sixth frame has been provided for those group members who wish to contribute photographs of their active duty service. Each individual who qualifies for membership in the U.S. Military Veteran group becomes a part of history in this ground-breaking effort to provide information, support, outreach and services to veterans, active duty service members and their families.

You will also see a rectangular frame off to one side. This frame was created for a real life snapshot that didn’t display correctly in the square frame format. An information post has been provided to give a notecard to those visitors interested in learning more about this veteran, HONDO Slade, who inadvertently set off the chain of events that would result in the construction of the Veterans Center and the creation of the U.S. Military Veteran group in Second Life.

Incredibly, the U.S. Military Veterans Center began with two friends–HONDO Slade, and his companion Asdzaa Oh who created a group so HONDO could wear “U.S. Navy Vet” over his head on a tag. Neither he nor Asdzaa foresaw the cascade of events that would follow this simple act.

When you look at HONDO’s portrait, remember that great things can come of seemingly simple, insignificant acts. As our group membership increases, so does the potential for others to become an exponential influence for the cause of the U.S. Military Veteran. This all started because of one man. And now we number in the hundreds, each making a seemingly small difference.

Consider that our example has confirmed to two of the national Veteran Service Organizations–Disabled American Veterans and The American Legion–that Second Life is a powerful way to reach out to vets. Disabled American Veterans has built and maintains six regions, or sims, in Second Life, featured in the May/June 2008 issue of DAV Magazine.

What if HONDO had not asked Asdzaa to make him the tag? Or if Asdzaa had not immediately set out to learn how to fulfill HONDO’s request to show others in Second Life that he is a veteran? Would Cowboy Wayne have recognized HONDO as a fellow vet and been inspired to build a headquarters for the group? Would the national IT department staff of Disabled American Veterans have discovered the power of Second Life had they not discovered the Veterans Center and the little band of friends–including HONDO who is in real life a member of DAV–who began building it? At the time, these small developments seemed so ordinary, but now have the looks of history, for they are at minimum a part of DAV history, having been briefly mentioned in their national magazine.

Each of you has thus become a part of that history by participating in the U.S. Military Veteran group. And each of you no doubt will someday learn that your supposed insignificant influence in fact made all the difference in the world to someone else. Look around at the Veterans Center…just one example of the result of insignificant actions.

Tour of the Veterans Center Station One: Teleport Landing Pad

This is where everyone lands when they teleport into the Veterans Center. We’ve added some features to make the Veterans Center more user-friendly. To the right of the avatar is a Site Map and legend. The round white disk in front of the person on the teleport landing pad is an area teleport. And the green post in front of the avatar is a Vote Box…be sure to click on it to let Linden Labs know you had an enjoyable visit.

Use your camera controls to zoom in on the text below the map to read more about the buildings and features here at the Veterans Center. Mouse over the text. Next, hold down your Alt key. You’ll see that the hand changes into a magnifying glass. While holding down the Alt key, just move your mouse forward to zoom. Or use your trackwheel.

Our Area Teleport is easy to use. Just click on it, then pick your destination from the blue heads-up display (HUD) menu. Then click on the column of light to teleport!

Finally, please remember to click on the Vote Box when you land or if not, when you leave.