Monday, April 17, 2017

USO Updates: Dog Tag Bakery Story (With Pretty Photos!)

Don't you love a story about a really, really good cause?

I sure do -- so much so that I wrote this one for the USO about a small, local non-profit in Washington, D.C. called Dog Tag Bakery.

Earlier this year, the USO was looking to highlight people, organizations, etc. around the country that exemplify the characteristic of being a "Force Behind the Forces" and I thought Dog Tag Bakery -- a bakery with a built-in job training program for transitioning service members -- was a perfect fit for the series.

Take a read...

Cassaundra Martinez doesn’t seem like someone who would be unemployed.
At 30, the former Army intelligence analyst and defense contractor, who boasts an impressive resume and a master’s degree from UMBC, should be in the middle of a rewarding, professional career. Instead, the mother of six and Military Spouse of the Year nominee is struggling to make professional strides.  
 In 2015, after one too many moves for her husband’s Army career, Martinez found herself unemployed, yet again, without any job prospects in sight. Despite applying to numerous positions in her family’s new duty station, Martinez couldn’t find work for over a year.  
"At that point I really lost my network. I lost all of my connections. I lost the rapid [pace] that I was growing at,“ Martinez said. "It was a struggle." 
That’s when Martinez, who’s family is currently stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, heard about the fellowship program at Dog Tag Bakery in nearby Washington, D.C.  
The work-study program, which provides transition support and hands-on professional development to disabled veterans and service members, military spouses and caretakers, seemed like the perfect fit. Martinez immediately applied and is now part of the fifth cohort of fellows to participate in the one-of-a-kind program.

Like what you read (and see -- I took the photos too!), then go to to see the rest!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

USO Updates: My Video for the USO/NBA Tour in Afghanistan!

Remember when I posted about my amazing work trip to the Middle East a few weeks ago?

Well, today is the day when I finally get to show you the awesome fruits of my labor from when I was shooting the recent USO-NBA entertainment tour in Afghanistan--yay!

The video footage I shot in Afghanistan was used by the NBA "Beyond the Paint" team to make this wonderful feature video piece about the USO-NBA tour and the impact of the tour -- both for the service members and the NBA/WNBA stars who took part in the tour.

I don't want to give too much away, so just watch!

Oh! FYI -- All of the footage in this piece was shot by yours truly, although the NBA "Beyond the Paint" team did all the editing.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Route 75 Flashback: Anchorage, Alaska Nature Snaps

Remember last year when I talked all about my awesome, epic USO Route 75 trip last year?

You know, the one where I got to travel around the country and tell the awesome stories of the USO for the organization's 75th anniversary last year?

Well, I was digging through my archives earlier this year and found some long-long scenic shots from our time in Alaska for Route 75 and just had to share. Although we were only there for a few days and were busy shooting most of the time, my travel companion (and fab former boss!) Eric and I had a few free hours to enjoy some of the beautiful sites and wildlife near Anchorage.

We actually headed to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center for a few hours to make sure we saw some of the local (usually elusive) wildlife, leading to some fabulous shots!

Take a look!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Around the World (Almost) In 7 Days: USO Trip to Afghanistan with the NBA

I don't know about you, but 2017 has been absolutely crazy for me.

Between starting my last semester of grad school, getting a new fabulous freelance client and being super busy at my job at the USO, it's been a whirlwind of fun.

And by whirlwind, I mean AROUND the world kind of whirlwind. But actually... read on.

Earlier this spring (right around the time of the NBA All-Star Game), I had the chance of a lifetime to travel overseas to the Middle East (as part of my full-time job with the USO) to shoot footage of a USO-NBA entertainment tour.

Yup, you read that right. I got to travel overseas to -- of a places -- the Middle East as part of my job. How incredible, right?

The USO-NBA tour that I was covering visited service members currently serving in throughout Afghanistan, but, specifically, in and around Bagram. Having never have been to the Middle East, I was incredibly excited about being a part of this tour and soaked up every minute of the journey.

From the long journey there, to meeting service members, to witnessing the impact of the USO-NBA tour on morale, to the overseas base experience, to the 9 hour layover in Dubai -- I loved every minute of the trip and learned so much.

I'll be sharing the fruits of my hours of video-shooting here later (along with some 'deets about where my footage aired!) but until then, enjoy some of my travel photos!