It’s the New Year, and many of us will resolve to eat healthier. We might substitute fruit for candy as our 3pm snack, or start a health cleanse. Check out three easy habits to try for better nutrition and overall better health.

1. Skip the soda, sports and fruit drinks. Drink water instead: Here’s why:

2. Eat more whole grain bread and pasta. Several food chains have now jumped on the whole grain food train and so should you!

  • Subway, Bertucci’s, Carraba’s and Noodles & Company serve whole-grain pasta dishes.
  • Subway, Roti and Arby’s serve whole grain sandwich or pita bread, and several pizza chains including California Pizza Kitchen now offer whole grain pizza crust.
  • For a list of restaurants and food chains that serve whole grains, you can view this guide by the Whole Grains Council.

3. Make better breakfast choices:

  • Stay away from donuts, muffins, or granola bars high in sugar when opting for a quick breakfast. These foods are loaded with fat and sugar and can quickly add inches to your waistline.
  • A better alternative is oatmeal, cold cereal or a whole-grain English muffin or bagel. While all contain carbs, oatmeal and whole-grain cereals, muffins and bagels provide a helping of fiber and 75% less sugar – which not only helps your waistline, but is better for your heart, blood pressure, and risk of stroke. It can also lower your diabetes risk and so much more!

Making a major change to your eating is never easy. So just start small with one change every month. For more resources on healthy eating and what is in the foods you eat, visit nutrition.gov.

Esteban Santiago, who opened fire in the Fort Lauderdale airport last week, was only 26 years old. He was an Iraq war veteran who had received a general discharge from the military for unsatisfactory performance. He had recently undergone psychiatric evaluation after claiming he was hearing voices. The FBI had been involved. Santiago also had been accused of domestic disturbance, allegedly trying to strangle his girlfriend. Yet his gun was returned to him.

The signs were all there. But Santiago didn’t get the help he needed. This isn’t the first time this has happened. It certainly won’t be the last.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

As we enter the holiday season, #GivingTuesday is an ideal opportunity to way to give back. No matter who you are, where you live, what your income is or how old (or young) you are, everyone has something to give.

Join us on #GivingTuesday and throughout the year to make our community, country and world a better place for all. Working together, we can bring real and positive change. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Donate your time – The gift of your time can be just as valuable as money. Many of our member charities recruit volunteers year-round. Contact us for more information.
  2. Support your favorite health cause – It’s easy to directly impact the health causes that are most important to you. From military and veterans to Zika virus and children’s health, just choose what compels you to give. Visit our homepage and select  Causes to learn more.
  3. Help those experiencing homelessness – With cold temperatures on their way, millions of children, youth and adults are living on the streets. Join your friends and family to hand out blankets, warm clothes, food and toiletry items. Covenant House has 30 locations across the country, or find a homeless shelter in your community to support.
  4. Teach kids the power of giving – Whether it’s a small financial gift, donating their old toys to Salvation Army or volunteering for a local charity, it’s never too early for children to learn the importance of giving back. Share these experiences with your children now to ensure a future generation of caring givers.
  5. Be an organ or marrow donor – Give the gift of life by signing up to be an organ donor. Just one organ donor can save as many as eight lives. Also, check out Be The Match which manages the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world, saving thousands of lives every year.
  6. Bring doctors to doorsteps – Too many families don’t have access to quality healthcare. Organizations like the Children’s Health Fund bring high-quality care directly to America’s most disadvantaged children, giving them a greater chance for a healthy life. Support Drive For a Cure today.
  7. Support our military – Show appreciation for our military veterans and their many sacrifices by sending letters of encouragement, food and other items. The USO offers tips to help you put together a perfect care package for active-duty troops. Or, check out this list of resources we have compiled for veterans and their families.
  8. Protect the health of veterans – Whether their injuries are physical or mental, military veterans and their families deserve our support. Volunteer for Vets4Warriors, which provides a 24/7 helpline, or donate frequent flyers and hotel points to Fisher House Foundation, which houses the families of veterans while their loved one recovers. Learn more about supporting Hero’s Health.
  9. Start a workplace giving campaign – Many employers still don’t offer the opportunity to give at work. Ask your HR department if they would consider starting a workplace giving campaign, or add more options to an existing campaign. Partnering with Community Health Charities can help raise critical funds to help military veterans, children fighting cancer and more.
  10. Pay it forward – Be thankful for the people you care about and send them a text or note. Consider paying for coffee for the person in line behind you, or doing a random act of kindness for a neighbor like raking their leaves. These small acts make a big difference – not just for those you help, but for you as well.

#GivingTuesday is November 29, but we have the opportunity to give back and improve our world every day of the year. Please join all of us at Community Health Charities to create healthier, happier communities for everyone.

When we see a community mobilizing to address critical health challenges, we at Community Health Charities want to do our part. In communities across the U.S., we bring together leading charities working on the most critical health challenges that affect people’s quality of life and well-being.

In the East Bay, just outside San Francisco, California, Black, Hispanic and Asian women experience a higher loss of life to breast cancer – but these lives can be saved with increased access to screenings and early diagnosis. This includes placing a high priority on breast cancer screening and treatment of African-American women, who are estimated to be 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than Caucasian women according to recent statistics. These women are mothers, daughters and sisters who are not getting the early screening that they need to keep them alive.

On Tuesday, October 25, we launched the East Bay Breast Cancer Fund, bringing together Black Women’s Health Imperative, Better Health East Bay and Susan G. Komen. This new fund changes how we raise dollars for critical health needs in communities by supporting the great work of these incredible organizations working locally in the East Bay to advance the goal of better breast health for all women.

We have already rolled out this fund in workplace giving programs in more than 150 businesses in California, including City of Oakland and City of Berkley workplace giving campaigns that are currently underway.

You can help a women #GetScreened today by supporting the East Bay Breast Cancer Fund. It takes one $400 gift, or $33 per month, to give a woman a screening – and a chance to save her life. Give Now

Your support of the East Bay Breast Cancer Fund, managed by Community Health Charities, will help:

  • Increase breast cancer screenings
  • Provide resources to educate women on healthy living options
  • Advance research for risk-reduction and treatment
  • Improve access to health services and life-saving treatments

This blog post by Jim Hickman, CEO of Better Health East Bay, details their plans to improve early breast cancer detection, treatment and patient support services.

I also invite you to learn more about our national High Impact Funds, which address critical health causes across the country. Whether national or local in scope, Community Health Charities continues to strive to make a difference for the millions of Americans who face health challenges.

July 4, 1976: On America’s birthday, I found myself at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center being handed a white plastic bag and led on to a bus. We left the base and made our way to Solider Field in Chicago where we were lined up, asked to don our plastic bags and stood there as we were photographed. I now am part of a world record at a great football stadium — a world record for being part of the largest human American Flag.

This was the start of a 46-year ride of service to my country, and it was an amazing start. From Great Lakes, I was fortunate enough to pull a temporary “sales” assignment working with the recruiting command out of the Glenview Naval Station. My company commander in boot camp told the Navy that it appeared I knew a lot of people in the Chicagoland area, as almost every day somebody showed up at the gate with cookies or other snacks. I never received any of these but apparently my Commanding Officer loved them. After my recruiting assignment, I reported to the Naval Air Station in Meridian Mississippi where I completed my “A” school and was awarded the rate of Disbursing Clerk. I finished in the top three of the class and as a result ended up with “shore duty” for my first assignment: a remote post in Winter Harbor Maine. Not bad but I signed up for blue water, warmth and ports of call.

Maine proved to be a maturing experience. One of only two disbursing clerks, I had to learn to work independently and put in many hours. In addition to my day job from 6am to 6 pm, five days per week we stood watch every other day. I was assigned to the base fire department and ambulance which also covered many of the area towns as they did not have fire service. I was a young 18-year-old going out on accident calls, delivering a baby and doing CPR. It was definitely a time to grow up. When my time came to leave Maine, I wished I could stay, but the cold would be left behind as I joined the commissioning crew for the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) – just me and 6,000 of my shipmates who were ready to set sail on adventure.

Being the newest nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the fleet, they put us to sea to show us off around the world. The work was hard but the rewards were great. We travelled to St. Thomas, St. John, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Cuba (where I stood watch on the fence), Spain, Portugal, Italy (six ports), Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, and Israel. They were fun times but not without work. We worked 12 on, 12 off schedules at sea and had to stand watch while in port. A lot of guys would take my watch for me so I could go ashore more – this of course was in exchange for them to get front of the line privileges on payday (we paid everyone in case and lines were long).

While I was part of the Cold War Navy, we were brought in to a tough time when 52 American Diplomats were taken hostage by Iranian students. We were responsible for prepping and delivering equipment and supplies for a failed rescue mission which resulted in the death of eight shipmates on 4-24-1980. The crisis lasted 444 days and ended one minute prior to President Regan taking office. I still think of the shipmates I lost during my service. I think of them on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day as they gave the ultimate sacrifice: All gave some, some gave all.

When I enlisted to serve this great country, I took an oath – an oath that has no expiration and one that is payable with dedication, service and, if duty calls, giving my life. It reads:

“I, David Selzer, do solemnly swear that 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; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

My service is one of the greatest honors of my life. To my fellow Veterans, thank you for your service. To all those who were not able to experience the great privilege of serving our country through military service, thank you for allowing me the great honor of serving you. Having travelled the way I have and seeing what I saw — good and bad — I can tell you we live in the greatest country on earth!

One final thought:  Many of my shipmates and I suffer from some of the side effects of military service — things you just do not think of. For me, sleeping ¾ of an inch under a steel flight deck has left my hearing impaired, and two years of standing while working on steel decks has had an adverse effect on my knees. These are not complaints but simple facts. Some of my shipmates have severe long-term disabilities as a result of their service for all of us. I think of them today and personally donated to the Hero’s Health Fund in their name. The money raised to support organizations that help our veterans is needed, as so many veterans (like myself) do not qualify for VA services. It is unfortunate but it gives all of us the opportunity to now serve those who served for us.

Not All Battles are Fought in a War Zone

Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Dale Beatty remembers the day his life changed forever. On November 15, 2004, Dale was injured when an IED explosion flipped his Humvee, causing him to lose both legs. “It’s amazing how clear everything becomes when you think your next breath could be your last,” Dale says.

After sacrificing and serving our country, heroes like Dale deserve to have every opportunity – for good health, for support and for employment – when they return home. But unfortunately, that is not always the case. The Hero’s Health Fund, managed by Community Health Charities, connects the most trusted health charities with caring donors who want to make a difference in the lives of first responders, military service members, veterans and their families.

For Dale and so many others like him, the return home can be just as challenging as their time on the battlefront. It’s often a matter of healing the wounds we can’t see – nearly one of every four active duty military members shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or other mental health conditions. The threat of suicide remains unusually high. Returning to civilian life can be a time of joy, but also a time of emotional upheaval for the entire family. And for those with loved ones who never make it home, the healing process must begin.

Whether their injuries are physical, mental or both, the families who care for these heroes need a tremendous amount of support. Thanks to Fisher House Foundation, a participating charity in the Hero’s Health Fund, Dale’s wife Belinda and his children were able to stay by his side throughout the recovery and rehabilitation process. “Living in the Fisher House was home away from home,” Belinda says. “I was never alone and I could always talk to someone – you’re surrounded by love.”

Dale’s story has a happy ending. Today, he plays in a band, golfs and works to help other veterans. But he isn’t sure what would have happened if he hadn’t received help. “Without Fisher House, I don’t know what my prognosis would have been, or where I would be now not having my family next to me,” he says. “I remain forever grateful.”

The Hero Health’s Fund supports these fully-vetted and trusted organizations:

Fisher House Foundation – Lodging for veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers

March of Dimes – Support for active duty military families, especially during pregnancy and when baby arrives

National Alliance on Mental Illness – Support for veterans with PTSD, depression and other mental health conditions

National Hospice and Palliative Care – Compassionate care for veterans at the end of life

Operation Restored Warrior – Healing programs for veterans and their families

Pet Partners – Therapy pets and animal-assisted interventions

Snowball Express – Serves and connects the children of fallen military heroes

Our military fights for us – let’s fight for them. Learn more about Community Health Charities and how the Hero’s Health Fund supports the mental and physical health of our nation’s heroes.

We are also hosting a special Veterans Health session on November 16 at the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2016 Corporate Citizenship Conference in Washington, DC: Exploring Cross-Sector Collaboration to Advance Military, Veterans and First Responders’ Health. We’ll kick off the event with a keynote by First Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and then an interactive panel moderated by Fox News Anchor Heather Nauert. The panel will feature Major General (retired) Mark Graham, Brigadier General (retired) Allyson Solomon, Marianne Downs from Lockheed and Kerri Childress, a Navy veteran and VP of Communications for Fisher House. Join us to hear more about the mental and physical health of our veterans and what we can do to help.

Community Health Charities is all helping people live healthier lives, whether they are facing a long-term personal health challenge or a crisis affects the overall health and wellbeing of their community. When natural disasters like Hurricane Matthew threaten the health and safety of others, it’s important to respond quickly and efficiently. That’s why we worked swiftly with our partner charities to create the Hurricane Matthew Response Fund.

Hurricane Matthew has barreled through the Caribbean and is making its way up the Eastern U.S. coastline, devastating communities from Haiti to Charleston, South Carolina. More than 400 lives have already been lost and many more injured. In the wake of this monstrous weather event, communities are scrambling to get access to basic needs – like food, clean water, shelter and medical services – to remain healthy and safe. The devastation of Hurricane Matthew is estimated to be nearly $50 billion.

Your support of the Hurricane Matthew Response Fund, managed by Community Health Charities, will provide families with:

  • Water filters
  • First aid
  • Hygiene kits
  • Blankets
  • Food
  • Housing
  • And much more

Please give now.

The Hurricane Matthew Response Fund supports emergency services provided by these leading charities:

Funds will be distributed to these charities who are actively working in emergency relief in Haiti and all areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. 100% of the funds raised will go to charity.

Our trusted charities are accountable, audited, and vetted using standards developed by the BBB WiseGiving Alliance, the National Health Council, and Guidestar.

Working together, we can do something right now to help. We can make a meaningful difference for the children, individuals, seniors and families whose lives, homes and health are at risk from Hurricane Matthew. Thank you for joining us.

The nation’s largest workplace giving campaign – the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) – is now underway. With donations topping nearly $200 million each year, the CFC raises critical funds for our member charities, bringing vital services and support programs to communities across the country.

Join me in championing the health causes you care about most by posting a #ShowSomeLoveCFC selfie today and encouraging others to participate as well. You can make an impact by giving to one of many health causes supported by Community Health Charities and our members.

What health cause do you care about most?

  • Access to health care – Ensure that vulnerable populations across America have access to the care and health management tools they need
  • Camps for kids – Provide life-changing camp experiences for children with long-term health conditions
  • Children’s health – Improve child well-being by supporting the best children’s health charities in the United States
  • Community health – Provide critical health resources to communities affected by natural disasters and other crises
  • Education – Put an end to bullying, teenage pregnancy and other barriers to a safe and healthy learning environment
  • Human trafficking – Fund prevention and support services to end the trafficking of women and girls
  • Military & veterans – Protect the physical and mental health of our nation’s military, veterans and first responders
  • Research – Help find a cure for the diseases that impact that most Americans
  • Women’s health – Ensure that young women receive the health services and support they need to prosper

The next steps are easy. Use this sign to tell your friends, family, co-workers and others why you support health causes and how you are choosing to #CauseAnImpact. Take a selfie and then post it on social media to encourage them to join your efforts to fight for the health cause that is most important to you.

How does it work? Simply choose the health cause that is most important to you and then spread the word on social media using the hashtags #ShowSomeLoveCFC and #CauseAnImpact. It takes just a minute of your time, but the impact can be immeasurable for the millions of Americans living with health challenges.

For example: I will #CauseAnImpact for Women’s health (fill in your choice here) with @HealthCharities. #ShowSomeLoveCFC

Working together, we can ensure the continued success of the CFC and make a meaningful difference for our member charities – and the millions of Americans they help each day.

To learn more about Community Health Charities, please call 800.654.0845 or contact us today. You can also find us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.