Preventing Suicides in the Military

Although suicides in the military weigh heavily on the shoulders of leaders and the military community, the U.S. Government and military officials have taken long strides to understand suicides and to work to prevent them. The stress of deployment, combat and other factors related to the military are often some of the causes of depression and military suicide.

Suicide rates have risen drastically in the past few years and officials have made it a priority to help soldiers assimilate back into normal society after serving their time with the military. Healing and prevention have become major focuses of post-service life, for soldiers, families and military leaders. Maintaining efforts to reach out to soldiers and their families is crucial, especially as many soldiers are unable to admit they feel depressed *or* simply don’t understand the problem.

According to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, “Suicide is a tragedy that all leaders must address.” Mullen has driven greater focus toward better understanding and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other behavioral health issues associated with military combat and deployment.

The military has utilized the technology available for instant communication as a means to helping service members cope with the stress of deployment. Using Skype, Sight Speed and other online communication programs, soldiers can talk with behavioral health specialists and discuss their feelings, emotions and the issues they are encountering. Military leaders hope that utilizing this route will help ease stress and increase healing. This is just one step being taken to help diminish the larger issue of military suicides.

Healing and prevention are not solely reliant on soldiers *or* behavioral health specialists, though. Family plays a large role in identifying and treating emotional issues. There are a few warning signs that can be noticed when a person feels depressed *or* suicidal.

He *or* she:

  • Cannot think clearly.
  • Cannot sleep, eat *or* work appropriately.
  • Cannot stop the pain.
  • Cannot make decisions.
  • Cannot make the sadness go away.
  • Cannot see any way out of the depression.
  • Cannot see a future without pain.
  • Cannot get anyone’s attention to address the issue.
  • Cannot seem to get *or* maintain control of himself, *or* his emotions.

If you notice any of these symptoms from anyone close to you, there are some tips you can use to help support the person and steer he *or* she away from suicidal thoughts:

  • Be open, direct and honest with the person. Talk with a “matter-of-fact” manner.
  • Be non-judgmental. Avoid talking about the “right *or* wrong” of feelings, emotions *or* suicide itself. Steer away from lecturing about life.
  • Be a great listener. Show compassion and acceptance of the person’s feelings.
  • Offer your interest, support and availability.
  • Refrain from “daring” the person to actually do it.
  • Don’t react negatively *or* shocked.
  • Encourage seeking help and support and do so yourself. Don’t promise secrecy.
  • Seek advice *or* help from professional suicide prevention *or* crisis intervention agencies.
  • Don’t remain inactive. Collect any potentially harmful elements, including guns, large collections of pills.
  • Stay positive, but avoid insincere reassurance.

The Veteran’s Affairs Department has founded a national suicide prevention hotline to help ease the weight of depression and suicidal emotions in service members and veterans. A program from the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA), the hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and service members can talk with trained professional counselors. To access the hotline, call 1-800-273-8255 and press “1”.

For more information on treating combat-related depression, mental health articles, PTSD articles *or* information on military family and spouse support, visit MilitaryConnection.com. If you are a civilian mental health professional, the Army is seeking to employ nationwide overseas help to make a difference in suicide prevention. Please check out Army Civilian Mental Health openings and the outstanding benefits offered in their ad in the MilitaryConnection.com Virtual Job Fair by clicking here.

Newest Jobs on Military Connection

We’re back with another installation of MilitaryConnection.com’s job search assistance program! We constantly have jobs available for viewing on our site for all kinds of professions, all over the country. Just register as a job seeker *or* employer to check ‘em out!

  • Physical Therapy, Clinical Specialist, Inpatient/Outpatient-float – Rockville/Takoma Park/Silver Spring, Maryland (Healthcare)
  • Physical Therapy, Outpatient – Silver Spring/Rockville, Maryland (Healthcare)
  • Occupational Therapy, Inpatient/Outpatient-float – Rockville/ Takoma Park/ Silver Spring, Maryland (Healthcare)
  • Occupational Therapy, Inpatient – Rockville, Maryland (Healthcare)

Tip #2: The Follow-Up Call – Many recruiters and job experts stress the importance of a follow-up call after submitting a resume *or* attending an interview for any position. The follow-up call reinforces your interest in the position, your willingness to put forth extra effort in order to obtain it and also solidifies a connection between you and the hiring manager. These days, a hiring manager may find stacks of applicants on her desk for a single position, so following up your resume with a personal call will help plant you in her mind.

Check back next week for even more job opportunities and job search tips! And remember, MilitaryConnection.com is here for you, so if you have any questions, comments *or* even success stories about your job search, feel free to share them with us and we’ll help you find the answers *or* simply give you a high five!

Thanks for reading!

Katy

Hot Off the Press! The Newest Jobs This Week From MilitaryConnection.com

Hello Folks! Welcome to the first installment of Military Connection’s job search assistance program I talked about in an earlier post. In an effort to help our service members, veterans and their families succeed in an otherwise deflated economy, we will be posting the newest jobs from our Job Board each week, both on our blog and on Facebook. I will also be highlighting a job search **or** interview tip that may boost your chances at scoring that gig you want.

So here it is, the first chapter of what will hopefully be a helpful and interesting journey:

  • Production Supervisor – Jeffersonville, Indiana (Manufacturing)
  • Physician &amp,amp, Surgeon (Multiple Opportunities): Orthopedist, Urologist, Primary Care – Tulare, California (Healthcare)
  • Director of Finance &amp,amp, Administration, Europe – University of Maryland University College (Administration)
  • CDL Truck Driver – Williston, North Dakota (Transportation)

To view job descriptions and apply, register as a Job Seeker at MilitaryConnection.com.

Tip #1: If your resume is light on actual experience, utilize your cover letter to expand your strengths and accomplishments, even if the experience is outside of the specific field of work you are seeking. Use your cover letter as a chance to really let the hiring manager understand why you are right for the job. If you have an unending motivation for success, mention that in your cover letter and explain why your specific skill sets make you an invaluable member of any team.

Be sure to check back next week for more great job opportunities and job search tips from MilitaryConnection.com!

Thanks for reading,

Katy

Letters from Hollywood – Leeann Tweeden

Leeann Tweeden

As a host for NBC’s “Poker After Dark” and modeling for Maxim magazine, Leeann Tweeden has had national exposure on a number of different fronts. She became the face of Rethinking Autism, a website dedicated to educating the public about Autism, in 2009 and continues to speak out openly about Autism. The USO of Illinois awarded Tweeden the “Heart of a Patriot” award in 2008 for her work entertaining our troops.

To All Our Men and Women Serving In Uniform,

A heartfelt THANK YOU from a grateful American.  I have always counted my lucky stars that I was born in this great nation of ours.  If I was born in Afghanistan let”s say, I would not have the life that I have been fortunate enough to live.  Because of men and women like you, and those that have come before, I have been given freedoms like owning a house, being able to drive a car, and be in the entertainment business as a model and sportscaster.

My father served in the Air Force in Vietnam, as a chief mechanic on B57 bombers in Phan Rang.  He told me what it was like to deploy to a place he didn”t even know where it existed on a map.  He talked about turning 21 and being able to get a beer on base in the Philippines while on leave.  And probably the one thing that made the biggest impression on me was his story of having Bob Hope and Raquel Welch visit them in the jungles on a USO Tour!

At the time (I was probably about 8 years old) I didn”t understand why Hollywood celebrities would travel into a war zone.  My dad explained that the USO and Bob Hope would travel to these locations to ”bring a touch of home” to those who were a long way from it.  He said entertainers would go to express their thanks and it would take their minds off the war for those few hours.  He still talks about that USO tour to this day…

I remember when I got the first call to see if I wanted to entertain the troops on a USO tour!  I couldn”t believe it…I just said YES YES YES, hung up the phone and immediately called my dad and said ”guess what?!”  Since I have not put on the uniform, I feel like this is my way of serving my country.  I feel it”s the least I can do to give back to those of you who give so much.  The saying of, ”you sign a blank check up to, and including, your life” became very clear to me the first time I traveled into theatre.  To date, I have been on 15 USO tours…13 to Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.  Some might think I”m crazy, but once you go, you have to go back!

I have visited many of the wounded who have made their way back to Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals.  I am amazed by them every single day.  They have to overcome so much, but they do it without complaining and with an inner strength that inspires me.  You are not forgotten and we will take care of you!

And one last thing…please thank your families for me too.  They serve right along with you and sometimes I think it”s harder on them.  They”re the ones who have to sit at home waiting for your email *or* your call.  Most of the time they”re in the dark about what”s happening with you, and hearing things on the news only heightens their fear.  I know what it”s like to send your loved one off to war.  My husband (we just got married on July 4th, 2010!) is a C130 AF pilot who has deployed about 8 times now between Iraq and Afghanistan.  He is my hero.  And I pray for him every time he”s in harm”s way.  When he”s gone, I sleep with my laptop on the bed next to me so I can hear the ”you”ve got mail” chime in the middle of the night letting me know he made it back to base safe and sound.

Again, I can”t thank you enough from the bottom of my heart.  You all make me PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!

With Love and Respect,

Leeann Tweeden

Letters from Hollywood – Diane Venora

Diane Venora has years of classic performance under her belt, starring opposite many great actors of the 21st century. She is best known for her work in various Shakespeare roles, for which she has received great reviews over the years.

Diane VeronaDear Soldier,

I””m sitting at my dining room table thinking about you—-over there–fighting the war with the bad guys who hate us and want to take us out. I””m thinking about you from Hollywood California where I””ve worked for many years in an industry that””s been good to me—-full of blazing innovation, vision and new technology for entertaining the world. But lately, due to what appears to me as a lack of vision, **or** political pride, **or** the arrogance of ignorance, **or** downright ingratitude concerning what it took and takes to make these United States of America the “last, best hope” for the world—we have made movies that have been less than supportive of our military””s efforts to win the war on terror. I ask you to forgive us.

The very idea of FREEDOM brings me back to you. It””s all about you. Without you guys fighting the “good fight” there is no USA. There is no Hollywood, there is no innovation, no vision, no entrepreneurial adventures, no economy, no sitting at this table on a peaceful, cool California night, no NOTHING–period. I don””t know how to tell you how profoundly, inspiringly, undeniably incomparable and critically important you are to me, to my family and to our nation.

I feel small and humbled in the light of your unselfish service and sacrifice. I””ve lived all over the world and only here have I been able to think, breathe, speak, and move freely. So far.

There are many of us passionate patriots here in Hollywood. We cheer you on, we applaud you, we appreciate you, we love you terribly. And tonight, I wanted to tell you so. God bless you forever and ever. I am hugging you all close to my heart.

Diane Venora

Career Success May Just Be Click Away!

These days, everyone can use a little help getting a job *or* beginning a new career. Thanks to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and new legislation, service members, veterans and their families have more opportunities than ever to earn successful careers by achieving their education *or* training goals. The Yellow Ribbon program reaches even farther by providing extensive financial assistance for students looking to attend colleges *or* universities.

But even with the proper schooling *or* training, it can be difficult to obtain a position in the current economic climate. With the unemployment rate still staggeringly high, every bit of help, well, helps.

MilitaryConnection.com strives not only to provide its users with useful resources and information, but it also puts forth a large amount of energy and passion for connecting applicable users with careers that interest them. We want to see our users succeed in the workforce and are willing to work to make that happen.

In order to better serve our audience and help our users find work as in an increasingly dismal job market, MilitaryConnection.com will be highlighting the newest job positions posted on our site each week. We will post these jobs on our blog as well as our Facebook page in hopes of opening up lines of communication and connecting users with positions they might not be cognizant of otherwise.

You can follow us on Facebook *or* Twitter, to get the most up-to-date job information we have to offer. Check back often for the newest job postings!

Questions? Comments? Send them to [email protected].

Thanks for reading!

Katy Cryns

Soldiers’ Angel Receives Presidential Citizens Medal

Maryann Phillips

WASHINGTON (Aug. 5, 2010), PRNewswire-USNewswire—Maryann Phillips of Soldiers’ Angels is a 2010 recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal for her self-sacrificing service to the wounded and their families at the U.S. military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany.  Established in 1969 by Executive Order of the President, the Citizens Medal is the second-highest government honor a civilian can receive and recognizes “citizens of the United States of America who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”

Those who know Ms. Phillips are not surprised that the President deemed her worthy of national recognition for her work as the volunteer leader of Soldiers’ Angels Germany.  “The Board of Trustees and all Soldiers’ Angels are so proud of MaryAnn,” said founder Patti Patton-Bader.  “Her acts of care and compassion are nothing short of phenomenal and we are honored to stand wingtip to wingtip with her.”

While maintaining a residence in Wyoming, Ms. Phillips lives and works in Germany, where for the last five years she has devoted herself to caring for America’s wounded military personnel and their families five hours away from her at LRMC. As a volunteer, Ms. Phillips regularly spends hours at the bedside of wounded or dying soldiers, distributes gifts of support to patients and medical personnel, coordinates donations, and leads a staff of local German and American volunteers.  She also spends dozens of hours at home each week, completing paperwork and reassuring stateside families of patients she has met at LRMC.

Ms. Phillips was awarded the medal by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday, along with 12 other recipients.  Past military-related recipients have included General Colin Powell, entertainer Gary Sinise and WWII veteran Bob Dole.  The President invited nominations from average citizens for 2010, inspiring military bloggers intimately familiar with Ms. Phillips’ work to nominate her over her strong and self-effacing protests.

According to the official citation, Ms. Phillips received the Medal for “putting her patriotism into action on behalf of our troops and our nation.”

Soldiers’ Angels is an award-winning 501(c)(3) with hundreds of thousands of volunteers providing aid and comfort to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military families through a wide variety of hands-on projects and volunteerism. For more information, visit www.soldiersangels.org or call 615-676-0239.

A Heroes’ Hero

Dwight Radcliff was someone who truly made a difference in the lives of many homeless veterans.   Dwight was an a tireless worker for U.S. Vets, Inc. which helps thousands of veterans and their families find jobs, homes and counseling.  US Vets recently broke ground on a $35 million affordable housing complex for low-income vets in Los Angeles.  Radcliff joined the group in 1997 after his own struggle with substance abuse and homelessness.  Radcliff played guitar and went on tour with Stevie Wonder in the 1980s. When he died, he played with a vet band called Living Proof. MilitaryConnection.com sends its heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of Dwight Radcliff.

Official Statement regarding the death of Dwight A. Radcliff

Dwight Radcliff

Los Angeles, August 2, 2010 – It is with deepest regret that U.S. VETS announces the passing of its President and Chief Executive Officer, Dwight Radcliff, 55, who died suddenly on Saturday, July 31, 2010 at Marina del Rey Hospital near his home.

“There are truly no words that I can use to describe Dwight Radcliff.  He was the most caring, sensitive, practical man I have ever met,” said Keith Ellis, U.S.VETS Chairman of the Board. “I had the honor to serve as his mentor while he was serving as mine; he has taught me what giving back really means.  The U.S.VETS Board of Directors and staff are committed to serving veterans 365 days of the year, although Dwight will not be here to lead us, we will move forward in his name and continue his legacy.”

Dwight Radcliff, a Veteran, died fighting for the rights of all veterans.  He will be sorely missed and will never be forgotten by all those veterans and family members whose lives have been touched by his dedication.   Dwight often referred to veterans as heroes. He will forever be remembered as a heroes’ hero

Dwight Radcliff served in the United States Air Force from 1971 to 1974.  Following a successful career at the Veterans Administration, he joined U.S. VETS in 1997 after serving as the original VA Social Work Associate for the inaugural U.S. VETS site in Inglewood, California.  In 1997 he developed and implemented the signature program “Veterans In Progress,” which has now been implemented at all U.S. VETS locations across the nation.  He received numerous awards for his service to veterans, including the VA Special Contribution Award, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans “Unsung Hero Award, U. S. VETS’, “Employee of the Year, 2000”, and commendations from Congresswoman Maxine Waters and other civic leaders.

Based on his leadership, his distinguished service, and his commitment to veterans, Dwight was appointed by the U.S. VETS Board of Directors as President and CEO in December 2008.  As CEO, Dwight Radcliff led the U.S.VETS team through one of its most difficult — and most successful – periods.  He was instrumental in developing the staff and programs that serve thousands of veterans in ten facilities across the United States.   Today, U.S. VETS is the largest non-profit provider of veteran housing programs in the country, and is a recognized leader in providing housing, counseling, career development and comprehensive support to veterans and their families.

The Board of Directors, the Staff, and the veterans of U.S. VETS extend our heartfelt sympathy to Dwight’s family, who will remain in our thoughts and prayers throughout this difficult time.

Funeral services are pending at this time.

New School Year, New Lessons Learned

As the beginning of a new school year races closer, we are yet again facing the same dilemma we find year after year: Spider Man or Cars folders?

The end of summer is an exciting time for both children and parents. Kids are enjoying the last of their free time, stretching out daily by the pool or playing in the park until night fall. Parents are finishing the budget, setting up doctor appointments and stocking up on lunch bags and poster board.

It’s times like these that the weight of a deployed military member sits heavy on the shoulders of those left to keep the pieces together. One parent scheduling parties and appointments, driving to the mall for new clothes, organizing school supplies, registering for school, planning meals, budgeting the checkbook, etc. It can be overwhelming to say the least.

In all the hustle and bustle of preparing for a new school year, it is important to take time out for family. If possible, schedule a Skype chat session with your deployed loved one to let him or her get a chance to join in on the excitement. Have your children write letters to their mother, father or sibling serving overseas that capture the joy, questions, fears or goals about the upcoming year. Make this family time a priority in your school planning. It will help ease the stress and relieve some of the “single parent” pressures.

Take time out for yourself, as well. Especially as the school year progresses, you will be faced with multiple frustrations, aggravations and stresses that come with the territory and it is imperative you are braced to deal with them. Have your service member talk with your children about being good students, finishing homework on time, going to bed early and simply listening to you with the least amount of struggle. These small pieces of advice will sink in more effectively coming from the deployed family member.

Above all, remember your support systems: your friends, your family, your military spouse support group. All of these will serve as crutches in times of distress and will help you get through the school year with as much ease as possible.

So, when the smallest decisions seem to be the toughest (i.e. which superhero folders to purchase), remember that you’re not alone.

Do you have questions or suggestions for single parent families as they prepare for the upcoming school year? Please send them to [email protected].

Thanks,
Katy

Changed for Life – A Visit with a Real American Hero

This is the story of an American Hero, Robert Henline, from our dear friends at The Iraq Star Foundation.  Bobby was severely injured while serving our nation.  His story is one of courage and overcoming adversity.  Bobby is the same amazing person on the inside.  My friend, Micaela Bensko, is an international photographer with a heart of gold.  She and her mom, Maggie Lockridge, a nurse, founded The Iraq Star Foundation.  This amazing group provides pro bono surgeries for severely wounded warriors such as Bobby Henline.

I encourage all of our users to support The Iraq Star Foundation so they can help other heroes such as Bobby.  Go to www.iraqstarfoundation.org.   Remember, freedom is not free.  Bobby and others have paid a dear price for it.

MilitaryConnection.com salutes Robert Henline – an American hero and an awesome comedian!

Debbie Gregory, CEO
MilitaryConnection.com

*  *  *  *

Tempered Steel…The Story Behind the Henline

July 8 2010

The door opened and a waft of cool air released from the frame, expelling the San Antonio heat from my skin. A kind, bellowing voice welcomed me in, accompanied by a nervous growl from Duke, his bohemoth Mastiff raised with gentle hands but wearing the genetic twitch of an electrocuted rabbit. Bobby Henline’s home is the haven of hope, possibilities, and through his wife’s exquisite execution, a Martha Stewart homage to all that is still right in this world, in spite of what happened to him in Iraq, where he was severly injured in an IED explosion in 2007.

As I waited for the day’s photo sessions of wounded warriors to begin, my eyes crawled the walls of pictures of his beautiful wife, Connie, and his three children. My eyes stopped on four frames lined up like soldiers saluting their leaders, each photo matted with a poem written by Robert, before and after his accident. His wife’s photo held with the matting a poem he wrote the week prior to the explosion, from the front lines to his love. Each child’s photo with their own personal expression of devotion and pride, each a private dedication to their altered lives since their father changed.

Only Robert didn’t change on the inside, he is still the same wise cracking jokester he was before, only now perhaps even bolder, with greater courage and fearlessness. When most patients are burned as severely as he is, with 38% of his body covered in debilitating scars, their spirits are often injured beyond repair. For Robert his injuries opened a door of unusual opportunities which have changed his perception of life’s purpose and given him a new mission, a mission without weapons of iron, but the weapons of Tempered Steel.

Tempered Steel is an organization started by Iraq Star soldier Scott Stephenson and his mother Luana Schneider after he was seriously wounded and disfigured in Iraq in November 2006. Their mission is to break down the barriers between wounded and disfigured veterans and those who only see their scars. The goal is to exchange fear for enlightenment by exposing the very real human stories behind the wounds of war, and I am honored and humbled to have been asked to shoot their Tempered Steel Photo Introspective of wounded military veterans.

Scott and Luana contacted other severely wounded military members and asked for their participation and involvement in the portrait sessions, and the response was overwhelmingly, “YES”.

The images will be accompanied by personal interview accounts culminated by Amanda Cherry-Haus. Amanda and her husband MSG James Haus were recently featured in an interview with Bob Woodruff for World News with Diane Sawyer addressing the alarming rate of veteran suicides.  As a military spouse of a soldier with severe PTSD, Amanda has educated herself on the issues gaining certification on PTSD treatment and causes.  She is currently starting her own charity called W.O.M.A.N.-Women of the Military Advocacy Network, to focus on the unique needs of military women and families while working with Tempered Steel.

We shot our first sessions in San Antonio at Robert Henline’s home, with such an incredible response by those involved, that an additional day of sessions was added. Since then, the project is moving full steam ahead.We look forward to a traveling gallery exhibit to the cities of San Antonio, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., San Diego and Los Angeles with images also accompanying Tempered Steel’s injured vets as they travel the country sensitizing our youth to the value of acceptance by speaking to Junior Highs and High Schools across the country.

Robert Henline, graced with the armor of humor, insight, wisdom, and irony, is now a professional comedian. He has embraced his new extreme makeover and travels from club to club with the most outrageous of comedy routines, never skipping a beat and reminding the public of the power of the human spirit and the beauty that lives within the most unexpected places.