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AARP & Sky Blossom: The Allen Family

Start Date:2/23/2021

Start Time:7:00 PM CST

Duration:60 minutes


Sky Blossom is a raw, candid look at the 24.5 million teens and twenty-somethings caring for a veteran parent or grandparent. Caring for family with tough medical conditions, they stay at home doing things often seen only in hospitals. They are cheerleaders, work part time, and go to college — but also live double lives — quietly growing up as America’s next greatest generation.

In tonight's excerpt, we meet the Allen Family, residing in Tennessee. Cheer, ballet, Friday night lights. Deryn lives in the “heart of America.” Only when she gets home, she puts on Dad’s legs, like when she was eight. “I’m always with him,” Deryn realizes college will change that. The tight family of four will be missing her. This event is live only and a recording will not be available after the event concludes.

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Allen Family

Although double-amputee Chaz may look different from other dads, his daughters Deryn and Ryann wouldn’t have him any other way. I’m always with him, making sure everything is good, daughter Deryn says. While serving in Afghanistan, Chaz stepped on a 40-pound bomb, losing both his legs and requiring fused arm. Despite it all, Chaz always keeps a positive outlook on life. I don’t want to get stuck and feel ‘woe is me’. No, I can’t do that. Chaz says. Inspired by her experience as a caregiver and army wife, Jessica wrote a guide about financial fitness for military caregivers and families to help others who share her experiences. Of caregiving, Jessica says: It’s not my responsibility. I feel like it’s my honor.

Richard Lui

Director and MSNBC News Anchor

Richard Lui is a veteran and award-winning journalist with more than 30 years in television, film, technology, and business. Currently at MSNBC and previously with CNN Worldwide, he is the first Asian American man to anchor a daily national cable news program, and a team Emmy and Peabody winner. Richard’s directorial debut, the documentary, “SKY BLOSSOM” is nominated for an AARP Movies For Grownups Award. Learn more at

Veda Brooks

Director, Georgia Women Veterans Office

Georgia Department of Veteran Service

Born in Compton, California, Ms. Brooks is the fifth of six children. She served 15 years in the U.S. Army, including a deployment with the 2nd Armor Division as a combat medic during Desert Storm. Following her retirement, she moved to Florida to pursue a degree in social work from the University of West Florida. Brooks returned to California with her degree to work for the Calvary Christian Center as the Outreach Director. Her responsibilities included working with homeless veterans and assisting veterans transitioning from prison or rehabilitation programs. Ms. Brooks joined the GDVS in August of 2014 as a Veterans Field Service Officer in the department’s Newnan office. In 2015, Brooks joined the GDVS Appeals division and served as the department’s American Legion service officer. Based out of the GDVS central office in Atlanta, the Women Veterans Office will focus full-time on women veterans’ issues across the state. One of Ms. Brooks’ primary responsibilities is informing Georgia’s women veterans of the availability of benefits and assistance that they may be unaware of. This will include educating and working with GDVS field service officers to create a network of support for women veterans’ issues. Ms. Brooks provides direct assistance to women veterans, including filing benefits claims, providing counselling for military sexual trauma, and hosting programs for women veterans around the state. She assists women veterans in connecting with resources available at both federal and state levels, including programs offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Women Veterans Office is also tasked with working with state veteran’s treatment courts, Suicide prevention and awareness and Homelessness. Ms. Brooks is a registered mentor in the Coweta Veteran Court, these courts are modeled on drug treatment and mental health courts, providing an alternative treatment plan for veterans charged with felony and misdemeanor offenses. Ms. Brooks is the GDVS Veteran Homeless and Resource primary contact. She finds and connects veterans to VA programs, community resources, and build partnerships with National Organizations to provide whole person approach. Ms. Brooks, Co-Lead on the Georgia's Governor's Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families. As co-lead she is forming cross-system military and civilian consensus on priorities, strengthen the continuum of care and sharing evidence-based practices, policies, and strategies.

Ashley Hudson


Elizabeth Dole Foundation

Ashley Hudson resides in Little Rock, Arkansas and is a partner with Kutak Rock LLP, representing and advising healthcare clients on operations and regulatory compliance. In 2020, Arkansas Money and Politics named Ms. Hudson one of its 100 “Legal Elite” and recognized her as one of the top healthcare lawyers in Arkansas. In 2015 and 2016 Ms. Hudson was named a “Rising Star” in the area of Employment Litigation by Mid-South Super Lawyers®, a distinction conferred upon no more than 2.5% of Arkansas attorneys who are under the age of 40 and have been practicing for 10 years or less. In 2009 Little Rock Soiree magazine named Ms. Hudson as one of the “Women to Watch” in central Arkansas in recognition of her accomplishments in the state’s legal community, her contributions to the community at large, and her potential for future success. Ms. Hudson was presented with the Maurice Cathey Award for valued contributions to The Arkansas Lawyer in June 2016 and serves on the journal’s editorial board. She also sits on the foundation boards for both the University of Arkansas Foundation, Inc. and the University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College, is the President of the Overton Inn of Court, and was the 2018-2020 Elizabeth Dole Foundation Caregiver Fellow for the State of Arkansas. She is married to Cliff Hudson, and they have four children – Lucy, 12, Sadie, 9, CJ, 7, and Abby, 5. She was recently elected as a state representative in the Arkansas General Assembly for District 32, which encompasses a large portion of West Little Rock. Ms. Hudson received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and political science from Vanderbilt University in 2001. She received a Master’s in Comparative Politics and her law degree from the University of Arkansas, Leflar School of Law in 2007.

Captain Harold Beaver

I enlisted into the US Air Force on 9 February 1971 and earned the rank of Technical Sergeant before being selected for Officer Training School and becoming a Second Lieutenant in April 1985. I served in a variety of leadership positions throughout my military career. During the Vietnam War, I served In-Theater as an avionics Instruments Technician and kept both the B-52 Bombers and F-4 Jets flying over Vietnam. After commissioning, I serve my Operational Duty time, and earned my Combat Crew Badge, as an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile, Minuteman III, Missile Launch Officer and Flight Commander. I was serving as a Disaster Preparedness Officer, in line to go in-country, during the Desert Storm War, but the war ended, and I went to Japan instead. Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Japan was my last duty assignment before my military retirement. The US Air Force prepared me for a history of success and excellence at juggling multiple tasks and working under pressure in leadership positions in both military and educational settings. By applying strong operational skills and meticulous attention to details, both learned and honed in the military, I am very much at home creating environments that thrive with operational excellence. Most recently, as the principal at Brookmeade Elementary School, Memphis, Tennessee, I was responsible for providing instructional leader responsibilities for the effective budgeting, systems operations and management of the instructional faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders to ensure a safe and orderly school environment for teaching and learning. My education background includes a B.S.Ed. degree in Adult Occupational Education; a M.S.Ed.. degree in Counseling & Guidance; and a M.S.Ed.. + 30 Hrs certification in School Administration and Supervision K-12, from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; Eastern Illinois University; and The University of Memphis, respectively. My military education included, Associate of Applied Science in Electronic Technology, Community College of the Air Force; Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership School; Academic Instructor School – Maxwell AFB; Missile Operations School, Vandenburg AFB, CA; Disaster Preparedness School, Lowry AFB, CO; Nuclear – Biological HAZMAT School, Kirtland AFB, NM, and Squadron Office School, Maxwell AFB, AL. As a lifelong servant to all mankind, while retired, I continue my service to all through my volunteer hours spent with several Veterans Organizations, Memphis City Beautiful Commission, Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Memphis Crisis Center, AARP – TN, and my local church.
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