Erratic Driving of Combat Veterans

A unique feature of the Iraq and Afghanistan deployments is that many U.S. military personnel were attacked while driving. VA clinicians are aware that many of these returnees now face challenges in daily driving back in the US. Furthermore, actuarial data recently released by USAA, the major insurer of active and retired military personnel, have confirmed elevated accident rates post-deployment.

A review of driving records for tens of thousands of troops before and after deployments by USAA discovered that auto accidents in which the service members were at fault went up by 13 percent after deployments. Accidents were particularly common in the six months after an overseas tour, according to the review, which covered the years 2007-2010.

Returnees report that roadside objects, overpasses and other reminders of traumatic driving events can elicit fear and distress and divert attention from genuine civilian driving risks. Such responses are perfectly understandable from the perspective of what we know about human psychological functioning. For some returnees, fear and distress during driving will be persistent and disabling, and lead even to driving phobia.

Another facet of the problem is that common civilian driving situations can enlist trained “combat driving” maneuvers such as sudden swerving and driving in the center of the road, actions that were protective while deployed, but increase risk now. Similarly, many returnees now resist using seat belts for fear of entrapment even though seat belts greatly reduce risk of serious injury in civilian driving. The U.S. Army has recognized OEF/OIF returnees’ driving problems in its web-based BATTLEMIND Training, however, the DoD and VA are now exploring more intensive methods of helping veterans regain their comfort and sense of safety while driving on civilian roads. One of these efforts is underway at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and involves in-car sessions with a driving rehabilitation specialist. Interested persons can email their phone number to [email protected].

The author of this article is Dr. Steven H. Woodward. Dr. Woodward is a licensed clinical psychologist at the National Center for PTSD / Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. He received his PhD from the University of Southern California.

The Continuing Cost of Conflict

The Continuing Cost of Conflict
by Megan Hazle, Communications Liasion, CIR
MaryAnn Frattarole, Director of Marketing, USC Telehealth

The sacrifice of our servicemembers is great, but not borne by them alone. Standing alongside our heroes in uniform are the heroes at home – their spouses, children, and families who also give and sacrifice and bear the toll of their loved ones in conflict around the world.

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, approximately 2.3 million men and women have served in the U.S. military since the conflict began in Afghanistan in 2001, many serving multiple deployments. As the U.S. military withdraws from these conflicts, many servicemembers will return home to begin their adjustment to life in the civilian world.

This new generation of veterans and their family members face unique challenges in transitioning back to civilian life—and therefore have unique needs. In addition to invisible wounds like traumatic brain injury, depression, and post-traumatic stress, servicemembers and veterans face unique challenges that also affect the health and well-being of their family members and caregivers – spouses, partners, children, siblings, parents, and other loved ones.

Family members, like spouses and children, often experience severe stress during their servicemember’s deployment and, upon their return home, must readjust to their presence in the home and family life – physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is common for children and teens of returning servicemembers to develop social and behavioral problems that become increasingly frequent at home and at school.

In addition to re-adjusting to a new civilian life and family pattern, a veteran and their family will often also need to adjust to a new home, location, school system, community, and social atmosphere, perhaps leaving a familiar support system the family had established with other military families and losing the relational connection with peers in the realm of military culture.

Although civilians also experience readjustment issues when they relocate, servicemembers, veterans, and their families are additionally affected by social stigma, military-related psychological trauma, military-related physical injuries, as well as a lack of understanding and resources in the community. Combined with other common stressors like single parenthood, divorce, unemployment, family obligations, and financial hardship, military-impacted populations are uniquely vulnerable to behavioral health problems. Without guidance or help, these challenges may become overwhelming and impede their reintegration into the civilian community and family life, which can cause a downward cycle of additional stress on a veteran trying to cope with their experiences and be a successful parent, partner, and employee.

Fortunately, strides are finally being made to acknowledge the physical, psychological, and emotional cost of war upon those serving and on their families, but we have a long way to go to remove the stigma of asking for help. New Internet technology is providing highly secure and HIPAA-compliant confidential therapy services so that active duty servicemembers, veterans, and their immediate families can get the help they need, when they need it, in the privacy of their own homes.

To address these needs, USC Telehealth™ in conjunction with the University of Southern California Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families, with funding from the USC School of Social Work, recently launched a special military outreach program to support and serve California active duty servicemembers, veterans, and their immediate families by providing free confidential counseling services for at least 12 sessions (3 months or more). These no-cost services can be initiated by a servicemember or an adult in their immediate family residing in California.

To use these services, the technology needed includes: a recent computer or laptop with webcam, and high-speed Internet. To find out more about the program, visit Availability is first-come, first serve and there are current openings. To sign up call USC Telehealth at (866) 740-6502.

EANGUS Conference and Expo

The 2012 Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the U.S. 41st General Conference & Expo is the place for military personnel / families and industry to converge, share ideas, network with professional peers, learn about today’s trends affecting our military community and have a little fun too. Long Beach, CA is honored to host this prestigious event (8/25-29) which will be a perfect venue to establish lasting relationships.

Military personnel, ROTC enlistees, DoD civilians and family members (16 and up) are invited to attend a Career/ Education Fair that is part of an expansive tradeshow. The invitation for complimentary admission encompasses Sun, 8/25 (10am-4pm) & Mon, 8/26 (8am-2pm). A large representation of MILITARY FRIENDLY educational institutions will be in attendance.

The one of a kind, ESGR H2H Mobile Job Store ( will be activated and afford direct access to 3.5 million jobs posted by employers with a stated commitment to hiring veterans and is also available for use by service members families. H2H is managed by OSD-RA in partnership with Yellow Ribbon.

REGISTER NOW for the entire EANGUS Conference (a separate FREE admission is available for attending only the Career / Education Fair): (Click: News/Events – National Conference, click link: Career / Education Fair Invite – Registration.

Plus… you have an opportunity to WIN a valuable prize! Refer contact info for suppliers that would benefit by accessing a receptive audience of Army/Air Guard “end-users” / mid-management and TAGS, to EANGUS show management ([email protected]) to be automatically entered in a drawing with winner(s) to be announced in Long Beach.

Having More Patience

Finding a Better Way – Where’s the Truck? by Beth Steinke

find•ing/ˈfīndiNG/ (from Google)
Noun: 1) The action of finding someone or something: “the finding of numerous dead rats”.
2) A conclusion reached as a result of an inquiry, investigation, or trial.

It is the courageous act of making today better than yesterday that has me so in awe of Military Spouses. I challenged myself (and all of you) to find one thing that I could control and to find a better way. For me, I was creating my own chaos by staying in bed until the last possible moment each morning as if I somehow liked the drama that all that rushing around created. You know, the thrill of “Will I be able to make it to work on time if I sit here for two more minutes?” I am so excited to report that my push to get out of bed just five minutes earlier had a dramatic effect on each morning’s outcome. But, Mr. Chaos must have missed me. In the early days of my newly minted plan to find a better way, I made it to the car early not once, not twice, but three times – in THE SAME MORNING!! I calmly handled that crisis with expertise knowing I wasn’t going to be late for work – all because I had given myself that slight edge that put me on top of my morning. Confident and proud I headed off to work – on time.

Oh, but it was what was to come that makes this story great. The very next day – day three of the new me – as I pulled out of the garage, into the driveway – I stopped dead in my tracks. You see, for two years we have lived in this nice little community but for some reason, the neighborhood has all red curbs – no parking – including directly in front of our house. We have been told by our neighbors that it was not really a big deal if you needed to park there. For nearly two years that was indeed the case. The evening before my morning glory story, I noticed my son’s truck on the red curb. Being the “kind and caring” mother that I am, I hollered up the stairs for him to move his truck into the driveway. In an effort to avoid the annoying prospect of having to shuffle the cars around later, he opted to respond with a completely well thought out, teenage response of “Oh Mom, It’ll be okay.” Teenagers are expert at conserving their energy. I never really gave it a second thought – good sense and tired Moms must not be able to co-exist in the same space in time. Fast forwarding to the next morning, I suppose that you all can guess what happened. The sitcom that is my life would certainly have made this a hit episode.
There are so many takeaways from my little tale of terror (alright, that could be overly dramatic but I really thought the truck had been stolen). First and foremost, have an emergency fund. $260 for unexpected impound and towing fees could have meant the difference between eating that month and getting the vehicle back except for our emergency fund. My next big takeaway is to speak kindly. My son was mortified once he realized his truck was gone and I realized sharply (maybe for the first time) that I massively impact the stress level during a crisis situation. If I remain calm and go straight into problem solving mode, everyone responds in kind. And lastly, that giving myself a cushion of time at the beginning of the day by getting up just 5 minutes earlier, I can conquer almost anything.

As Military Spouses, we face challenges like this all the time. But, by changing one small thing at a time, we can take back some power from what often feels like a life spinning out of control. The power of getting up five minutes earlier gave me a welcome confidence to handle this unexpected and stressful situation. And I was only 15 minutes late for work!

Money, time, bad habits, focus, attitude – what is your challenge? I want to hear from you. Email Beth at [email protected]

Beth Steinke’s bio

Beth is a proud, active duty Navy wife who has faced head on the peaks and valleys of a military life. She knows all too well the struggles of deployment, the thrill of homecomings and the uncertainty of next year. Together, she and her husband, Roger have raised 3 boys. The oldest has been in the Navy for 6 years and the youngest son attends college at California State University, San Marcos. The middle son is still searching for his passion in life. For many years, Beth worked on behalf of military families with Operation Homefront, a non-profit supporting military families struggling with the challenges of deployment and pain of injury recovery. At their current duty station in San Diego, CA, Beth works for a business coaching and training company as part of their corporate development team.

Beth Steinke is a Military Spouse and a Military Mom. I am in awe of all Military Spouses and Military Moms. They serve too and handle so much. They do it very well. I am also impressed at the these goal-driven women who can move mountains. Happy Mother’s Day to all.

Debbie Gregory,

What To Look For At Veteran Schools

What To Look For At Veteran Schools
Regardless of what veteran school, veteran college, veteran university, veteran trade school, veteran vocational school or Veteran certificate program you choose, is right for you, there are some things to consider. There are a few aspects to look for that will make your transition from military to Veteran Student easier. Make sure that your veteran school of choice has a staff familiar with working with veterans. This means that the staff is comfortable working with veteran financial aid, including the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Make sure the school is accredited by the VA so that you can use your benefits that you have earned. Choose a veteran school that has a military personality. Ideally, your veteran college will have an advisor specifically designed to work with military veterans.

Special Counseling is helpful to and is another factor to help veterans be successful. When looking at a school, it is important to find out what veteran job placement resources are available and how many veteran students obtain employment. We also encourage you to make sure that the veteran education institution of your choice accepts your GI Education Benefits to cover the costs. In particular, the Post 9/11 GI Bill should cover your tuition and provide you $1,000 a year for books and supplies as well as tax free living expenses. It should not be necessary for you to take out expensive loans to cover your education. If you do need any loans, make sure you are not responsible for high rates of interest.

Unless attending a vocational school, as a veteran you will want your veteran college to have a wide array of majors and classes to choose from so you will not feel locked down by lack of choices. We encourage you to check out a variety of different schools to see which college or school offers the most veteran-friendly facilities and organizations. Schools with large populations of veterans may have designated veteran housing and school clubs or groups that meet regularly and that will help your transition for military to veteran education. Veteran-geared schools and colleges are some of the best options for veterans and should be taken advantage of as soon as possible. Don’t forget to also include in your analysis online schools for veterans and veteran distance education options.

It is also important that the veteran schools recognize that veteran students are special and have special needs. Many student veterans are older than other students and have had very different life experiences including deployment and combat. We encourage schools for veterans to recognize this and provide a support systems to help. Veteran student networking groups and veteran student clubs enable Veterans to learn from other Veterans. Choose a veteran school that has a military personality. Ideally, your veteran college will have an advisor specifically designed to work with military veterans.

Vacation for Veterans & Military

Vacations for Veterans & Military
Government Vacation Programs for Veteran military and government employees are designed to help those that deserve rest and relaxation the most. Once honorably discharged, veterans may find it hard to find the time and/or finances to fund a vacation for their family. That is why there are non-profit and for-profit programs available specifically designed to provide vacations for veterans. Vacations for veterans packages are wide-ranging depending on the company, donations available and services offered. While there are packages that include complimentary lodgings for a few days or a week, many programs offer deep discounts on travel, lodgings, entertainment and food. Vacations for veterans and vacations for military include packages that are offered nationally and internationally at various locations and dates. Veterans of the U.S. military, you have given everything for your country, now let those who are willing give back to you with vacations for veterans.

Types of Veteran Vacations
Vacations for veterans packages comes in all shapes and sizes in order to accommodate your ideal vacation and family size. Keep in mind that many discounts or complimentary vacations are donated and there may be a waiting list or application involved to qualify for particular veteran vacations.
Donated Vacations for Military and Veterans: Many Americans realize what sacrifices military veterans make, and they want to say ‘thank you.’ Families often donate vacation lodgings, timeshares, etc. for veteran vacations. These lodgings are pre-paid. In order to qualify for these veteran vacations an application and proof of honorable military service is often required. In many instances there is a waiting list involved and times are assigned as they become available.
Discount Vacations for Veterans and Military: Whether you are looking for discounts on airfare, amusement parks, lodgings, cruises etc. many travel brokers offer a discount to active duty and veteran vacations. You may want to consult a travel agent who may have a pre-made list of the best veteran discounts available. Some veterans and their families prefer the discounted veteran vacation because they have a larger say in when their vacation takes place and there is not a waiting list.
Memberships for Discount Vacations: Become a part of a veteran vacation club or website in order to stay on top of the best deals offered to veterans. There are also discount cards specifically designed for active duty and veterans that give deep discounts with their travel and entertainment partners. These memberships are often free or charge a minimal amount. Veteran vacations are available at prices starting as low as $50/night. Government Vacations for military, veterans and veteran employees can include cruises and resort stays world-wide.

Please contact us for discounts on vacation: [email protected]

Veteran Jobs

Jobs for Veterans
Finding jobs for veterans can seem intimidating, but as a veteran, you have some of the most sought after skills and qualities in the employment world. Veterans make ideal candidates no matter their career paths because they know how to work under pressure, deal well with emergencies, they are determined and loyal to their position and extremely hard workers. Your time in the military, mixed with other applicable civilian training, should help you find a job shortly after re-entering the civilian world. Veteran jobs are out there and available, even in this economic climate. Your responsibility as a job-seeking veteran is to make yourself indispensable to a company by highlighting your skills and completing any necessary higher education *or* training.

Getting on the Veteran Job Market
Choosing a veteran job *or* career path will be up to you, and you should take the steps necessary to attain your career goal as a veteran. Once you have decided on a veteran job, you will need to determine if you need additional training. Whether complete undergraduate/graduate degrees, vocational schools *or* on the job training, any pertinent education will only help you find a job as a veteran. With *or* without additional training, as a veteran you will need to update your resume. Resumes should list the jobs and responsibilities you held in the military and any specialized skills that will help you stand out. Many veterans looking for jobs may be out of practice writing resumes and being interviewed. There are career counselors and professionals available to assist you in being prepared for your veteran job.

Along with resumes, jobs for veterans will most likely be looking for letters of recommendation. These should be from professionals that you have worked for *or* under and someone who will highlight your strengths. Veterans seeking jobs are encouraged to request their letters of recommendation as soon as they can as the process may take a while. After the resume, cover letter and recommendation letters are complete, the veteran is ready to begin seriously networking and looking for veteran jobs on general *or* specialized websites. Keep in mind that there are entire online forums and sites dedicated to helping veterans find jobs.

Top Veteran Job Areas:
While there are several fields and jobs available to veterans, the top veteran jobs in the U.S. are in the following fields:

Healthcare Jobs For Veterans: Whether working in civilian *or* army hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, private practices, etc. These include Nursing Jobs for Veterans, Physician Jobs For Veterans and more – Register & Check out the Directory of Healthcare Employers on this site:
Government Jobs For Veterans: The federal and state governments offer several veteran jobs working in everything from Defense jobs for Veterans to Transportation jobs for Veterans. Veterans receive preference to for government jobs.
Business Jobs For Veterans: With fast-paced momentum and high standards, jobs for veterans with a business *or* Administration jobs for Veterans background find entrepreneur *or* corporate elements rewarding. – Check out – an association for veteran and military business owners
Law Enforcement Jobs For Veterans: Whether working as a lawyer *or* in law enforcement, veteran jobs can usually be found easily. Register & Check out all the law enforcement agencies –
High Technology Jobs For Veterans: Computer/Engineering: Intelligence is one of the leading military aspects, and so in comes as no surprise that veterans seeking jobs would end up here.
Trades Jobs For Veterans: – This is a market for HVAC, Welding and many other vocational jobs for Veterans..