Memorial Day is right around the corner and while you’re relaxing in a patio chair with a loaded hot dog, you might want to reflect on the holiday itself. It exists for a reason.

Nobody knows that better than Cym Lowell, author of Jaspar’s War (Rosemary Beach Press, 2014) and the creator of Operation: Next Chapter. Lowell, an international tax attorney and Vietnam veteran, decided to give back to the men and women who have served our country. That’s what Operation: Next Chapter is all about.

Lowell donates 100 percent of the proceeds from his books (his newest, Harvest of Gold, comes out this year) to the Soldiers’ Angels Valour-IT program and the Patriot PAWS Service Dogs organization. The former program has raised about $17,000 and donated 100 adaptive laptops to our injured heroes. This allows those healing from amputations, paralysis, eye injuries and brain trauma to stay in touch with their loved ones.

Jennifer Cernock, vice president of Soldiers’ Angels; retired Army Capt. James Van Thach; and author Cym Lowell.

As for Patriot PAWS, it’s a group dedicated to providing service dogs free of charge to our seeing-impaired veterans. More than 70 dogs have brought happiness and relief to veterans in 25 states. It’s no easy feat, either, as each dog requires up to two years of training and that training costs around $27,000. Interestingly, prison inmates have taken on the task of helping to train these dogs, which has in turn lowered recidivism rates.

It’s a win-win, really. This Memorial Day, if you want to honor our country’s heroes – and read a great story – pick up Jasper’s War and help a wounded warrior.

Recommended Reading:

The Genesis of the Memorial Day Holiday by Dr. Richard Gardiner and Daniel Bellware (Columbus State University, 2014)

For some holidays, we think we know the whole story. But in truth, there’s much more beneath the surface. For instance, did you know that according the Veteran’s Administration, at least 25 cities in the U.S. claim to have originated the Memorial Day holiday? Obviously, we need some enlightenment so we turn to the facts found in this book. We also learn that many supposed truths are actually myths, and the truth may be a surprise.