According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, anywhere between 11% to 12% of
veterans who served in Iraq suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, while 15% of Vietnam
veterans suffer from PTSD. While the rate at which veterans are diagnosed differs based on
when and where they served time, it’s no secret that veterans and active military members alike
struggle with the trauma induced during their service.
However, what many people don’t realize is that stress manifests itself in the body. This means
that not only is it a mental disorder, but that it can be further compounded into a physical
disorder as well.
“The most common forms of physical pain are caused by tissue damage from an injury, stress,
or decay, which causes nerve fibers to signal the brain with a pain sensation,” says Jan
Wellmann, CEO at WaveLife.com. “We developed the WaveLife Energy Cell to safely address
common pain points while decreasing dependence on prescription pills.”
Credible lab reports tested the effects of the WaveLife Energy Cell by using cultured organ-
specific cells, and results clearly indicate effective treatment of cell cultures. For veterans, this
new technology could be game-changing in both treating stress and chronic pain.
How Stress Affects the Body
The stress hormones in your body trigger its “fight or flight” response. Whenever you feel
stressed, your body braces itself for battle: your heart begins to race and your muscles start to
tense. This knee-jerk reaction is in place to protect and prepare you in emergencies situations.
However, when those stress hormones are fired consistently with no physical battle in sight, it
creates long-term consequences for the body.
For instance, because stress hormones tighten your blood vessels, it raises your blood
pressure. High blood pressure and an increased heart rate cause damage to your arteries,
which could ultimately result in a heart attack. And lastly, long-term stress weakens your
immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and diseases.
According to one study called, Chronic Pain and Chronic Stress: Two Sides of the Same Coin?,
pain and stress share significant physiological overlaps. “Both phenomena challenge the body’s
homeostasis and necessitate decision-making to help animals adapt to their environment,” the study states. “Better understanding of the overlapping and distinguishing features of chronic stress and pain could provide greater insight into the neurobiology of these processes, as well
as contribute to rational drug development for these often comorbid conditions.”
Addiction to Prescription Pills
According to research, more than 20 million veterans across the United States struggle with
chronic pain. Many veterans who suffer from PTSD or from chronic pain stemming from combat-
related injuries are given prescription pills for anxiety and pain—both which are highly addictive.
Growing a tolerance for these drugs can quickly lead to withdrawals when attempting to wean
off of them. There is already an opioid epidemic in this country due to the addictive quality of
these clinically administered narcotics. While the VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI) has limited
the amount of prescriptions available, there’s still work to be done.
Using Vital Fields to Heal
The human body produces its own electromagnetic fields in very low frequencies. Every atom in
your body has its own electrical fields, and specific sections of your body generate electricity.
When you’re injured, the sensors in your body use these electrical signals to send a message to
your brain, which processes this as pain. Every little process in your body that keeps you alive
and healthy can ultimately be traced back to an electrical field.
Vital fields are instrumental to the Energy Cell technology. Vital fields are the life promoting
frequencies that are everywhere, all around us. In every direction, organisms are projecting their
own energy through natural electromagnetic vital fields. “Vibratory stimuli interact in the body in
a complex manner, and when energy in the body is manipulated by mimicking vital fields, it can
result in positive physiological effects,” says Wellmann.
You may not realize it, but you exist as a walking electrical field. Your body contains electrical
“generators.” Your vital field, or bio-energies, have different electromagnetic properties that
consist of specific deficiencies, stressors, and other characteristics. No two vital fields are alike,
just as no two fingerprints are alike. Often, these stressors are lurking beneath the tip of the
iceberg that represent many chronic and acute diseases.
With the right tools, you can leverage your body’s own self healing power to quickly regenerate
damaged or dysfunctional tissue, and that’s what technology like the WaveLife Energy Cell aims
It’s important to understand that veterans seeking relief from pain or addiction have many
treatment options available to them through the Veteran’s Association. Alternative medicine,
such as acupuncture, meditation, and relaxation have all been linked to healing properties.
Lifestyle management, such as healthy diets and exercise regimens, also help decrease stress.
Counseling and therapy are always, of course, great options that should be used in conjunction
with other forms of pain and stress management. Regain control of your body by taking the first
steps towards creating a plan designed specifically for you.
WWII Women Veterans: A Historical Highlight
by Liz Zaczek
March is dedicated to women’s history so it seems like the perfect time to discuss the role of women in the military during World War II. Reluctant to enter the war when it began in 1939, the United States quickly committed itself to total war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That commitment included utilizing all of America’s assets—women included. Approximately 350,000 women served in our nation’s military during World War II. These female veterans, during their time in active service, drove trucks, performed maintenance and repaired airplanes and other military vehicles, while others served in clerical roles throughout the branches of our country’s armed services. Playing an important role in the war effort, WAACS, WAVES, WASPS, SPARS and others performed important duties both stateside and overseas freeing up their male counterparts to join the front lines on the battlefields. While most American History textbooks contain passages dedicated to WAACS and WAVES very little information is presented about several of the lesser known, yet just as important, female military forces and the important role these brave women played in our Navy’s, Coast Guard’s, Air Force’s and Army’s war efforts.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States officially entered World War II. A year later, President Franklin Roosevelt signed a law creating the Women’s Reserve branch of the Coast Guard and the service began recruiting women for this new force. Initially it was assumed that the women volunteering to serve in the forces would have few useful skills other than typical “women’s skills” like clerical work and telephone switchboard operation. However,several newly enlisted women surprised their male superiors demonstrating their value and worth to the war efforts. A former police officer proved she could shoot as well as a man and a former professional photographer demonstrated her abilities and became a photographer’s assistant documenting the war…just to name a few.
The SPARS took their name, an acronym, from the US Coast Guard motto, “Semper Paratus” and its English translation, “Always Ready”. Captain Dorothy S. Stratton, head of the SPAR forces, is credited with creating its moniker and carving its place in American history. Captain Stratton, on leave from her position as Dean of Women at Perdue University served as a Lieutenant in the Navy Women’s Reserve (WAVES) before accepting her post with the US Coast Guard. After estimating that it would need 8,000 enlisted women and 400 female officers, at its peak there were 12,000 female members of the SPARS distributed across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.Members took over many duties on the homefront including rigging parachutes, serving as radio operators, lab techs, nurses and cooks. Many of these female military members rose through the ranks faster than their male counterparts and often hid their rank insignia from them so as to not cause strife.Among the most unique duties and assignments for these patriotic young women was the operation of the LORAN (Long Range Aid to Navigation) system. This leading edge system tracked and calculated the precise location of ships at sea. Notable among the SPARS operating stations across the United States was the station located in Chatham, Massachusetts staffed by an all female crew, the first of its kind.
During their time in active duty, these women rose the ranks and held 43 different ratings from Boatswain mate to Yeoman. Originally signing on for “duration plus six” (months),within a year of the Allied victory the SPAR reserve forces were deactivated.
Prior to World War II, the U.S. military showed little interest in using aircraft and flight nurses to evacuate wounded soldiers from the front lines. The global war, however, forced the U.S. Army and Air Forces to revolutionize military medical care through the development of air evacuation (later known as aeromedical evacuation) and flight nurses.Over 1,000 women trained at the Bowman Field in Louisville, Kentucky as Flight Nurses through the United States Air Force and Army. From these newly trained specialized soldiers 18 medical air evacuation squadrons were formed. The first class of flight nurses formally graduated from the Bowman Field facility on February 13, 1943 however several squadrons of the newly formed unit were deployed to front overseas before the graduation, and in some cases, their training was complete. 2nd Lt. Geraldine Dishroon, the honor graduate, received the first wings presented to a flight nurse. In 1944, Dishroon served on the first air evacuation team to land on Omaha Beach after the D-Day invasion.
These squadrons evacuated over 1.5 MILLION sick and wounded soldiers, sailors and Marines from battlefields across the warfront saving countless lives. Pioneers of in-flight intensive care, the flight nurses tended to soldiers mid air as they flew across Europe, the Pacific and Asia transporting them safely from battle aid stations to inter-theater and intercontinental stations and home to the USA. The planes, predominantly C-46’s, C-4’s and C-54’s, became airborne hospitals with the all female squadrons providing care from take off to landing.
As part of their training the flight nurses’ training consisted of aero-medical physiology, field survival, map reading, crash procedures, and physical conditioning.. Nurses needed to be and stay in top physical condition to best care for their patients during these rigorous flights. Since these planes were also used to transport military supplies and thus were not painted with a red cross to indicate their non-combat status, these evacuation flights were vulnerable to enemy attacks. For this reason, flight nurses and medical technicians were considered volunteers.
Flight nurses were truly unique for their time. Not only did they operate under their own authority, they also outranked the male surgical technician that accompanied them.In the 1940s, only trained physicians could start IV’s and oxygen on a patient. The flight nurses were the first not only to do these tasks but did them flying over hostile and dangerous environments. They also had to deal with extreme medical emergencies, including shock, hemorrhage, and sedation.
As with any military profession at the time, flight nursing did not come without its risks and dangers. Those brave women had to keep the fighting men alive while combating the dangers in the air over the European and Pacific theaters. Many women were taken as POWs after crash landing behind enemy lines. In all, sixteen flight nurses were killed during the war.
Eventually, about 500 flight nurses served as members of 31 medical air evacuation transport squadrons operating worldwide. It is a tribute to their skill that of the 1,176,048 patients air evacuated throughout the war, only 46 died en route. Seventeen flight nurses lost their lives during the war.
The United States Army Nurse Corps tended to the wounded and ill soldiers on land and in the air in cooperation with the Air Force’s Flying Nurses. By 1945, more than 57,000, the largest number of nurses on active duty in the history of the organization, Army nurses were assigned to hospital ships and trains; flying ambulances; and field, evacuation, station, and general hospitals at home and overseas.
Serving as part of the Army Nurse Corps did not come without the dangers their male counterparts faced on the front lines. In May 1942, with the fall of Corregidor in the Philippines, 67 Army nurses became Japanese prisoners of war. During their thirty-seven months in captivity, these women endured primitive conditions and starvation rations, yet they continued to care for the ill and injured in the internment camp hospital. In Anzio in January 1944 ,army nurses dug foxholes outside their tents and cared for patients under German shellfire. Their bravery and perseverance bolstered the spirits of the soldiers who shared the same tough experience. Two evacuation hospitals, with their complement of nurses, landed in Normandy in June 1944, four days after the invasion.
After the war, a wide range of public health missions required that Army nurses supervise communicable disease measures as former enemy countries were reorganized. In Hiroshima, these female officers cared for victims of the atomic bombs. In Munich, they prevented a mass epidemic among displaced persons camps. In Hamburg, the healthcare professionals established prenatal and well baby clinics. In Heidelberg, they helped people recover from the psychological impact of the devastating effects of the war.
The Corps’ military status continued to evolve in the time after the war. In one year, the branch’s active duty membership dropped from 57,000 to 8,500 nurses. On April 16, 1947, the government combined the Army Nurse Corps into the medical department of the United States Army and authorized a minimum number of no less than 2,558 nurses. It also provided permanent commissioned officer status for members of the Corps with the ranks of Second Lieutenant through Lieutenant Colonel. Specialized requirements in military nursing became the focus of the postwar era. Recruits completed courses in anesthesia, psychiatric treatment, operating room and community health nursing and hospital administration.
The war ended with the armistice on August 14, 1945. As life began to return to normal across the country and the world, these courageous female veterans suddenly found themselves being encouraged to return to their civilian lives and roles. While many did, others, with new found post-war experience confidence, used the skills they learned in the military to redefine the roles of women in the workforce. In the decades that followed, while progress was slow, serving their country in those important roles empowered the women to fight for the right to work in non-traditional jobs for equal pay and equal rights in the workplace and beyond.
Reflections on the Value of Being Military Friendly
Contributed by Alan Rohlfing
What does the term “military friendly” even mean? It wasn’t really a thing in the 80s. Not in the 90s, either. I seem to recall that it all started 10 or 15 years ago, this effort by organizations to be known as military-friendly to its customers. It’s kind of an ambiguous term, many times without much concrete detail…so it begs the question: what value does that term hold for those of us from the military community?
When we talk about a company or organization being military- or Veteran-friendly, it always seems like they fall into one of three groups: stores, schools, or employers. And while some of us get to feel the love from one of those groups just about every time we get out to run some errands, with the others we may not give it much thought if we aren’t a college student or working for some national, top-notch workforce. But let’s take a deeper dive into each of these groups, if only for a moment…
The stores. Being labeled as military-friendly in the retail environment almost always means that the store (brick and mortar or online) offers some kind of military discount. That discount usually falls in the neighborhood of 10 percent off, but there are certainly exceptions and caveats to that. Some stores offer those discounts all year long, some only on certain days of the week (Tuesdays seem to be the popular choice), and still others offer up their discounts only on major holidays, like Veterans Day or Memorial Day. Some offer their discounts only to those still actively serving, and others make their offer to both active and retired members of the US Armed Forces.
Examples abound of local, regional, and national companies that give 15-20% off, but then again, some cap it at 5%. Some companies offer up a ‘free shipping’ discount, and there’s even a cellular service provider (or two) that have a special rate plan for military folks.
Being eligible for the discount depends on the company, and sometimes it feels like we have to jump through many hoops to qualify. You may only have to show a copy of your military ID or DD-214, but some will require eligibility verification through platforms like ID.me, a service that simplifies how individuals securely prove and share their identity online (but even some brick and mortar stores require registration with them, too).
Long story short – whether you find yourself in your neighborhood big box store on a weekly basis or you only take advantage of 10% off a cup of coffee every now and then, you can save a tidy sum of money over the course of a year by ‘redeeming’ your military discount. And if you aren’t sure whether a place at which you’re doing business offers one, it doesn’t hurt to ask…some businesses don’t advertise the discount (I’m just not sure why they wouldn’t).
The schools. By that, I mean colleges and universities that offer certificate- and degree-producing programs, and there are variable criteria for them earning the military-friendly tag. After so many of us went back to college upon earning our GI Bill benefits in the 2000s and 2010s, and especially after the rash of school failures that left many student Veterans high and dry – there’s been a very concerted effort to set, measure, and publish standards for all of us to use in our “where should we study” decision making process.
Military Friendly ® is a group that does just that, by evaluating over 8,000 schools on benchmarks that measure an institution’s commitment to its student Veteran population in graduation rate, retention rate, loan default rate, and job placement rate. Check out their latest list of military-friendly schools here.
The workforce. This is a really subjective one, because how we feel about our places of work typically depend on much more than whether they meet a few military-related criteria. Perhaps the most well-known list of these employers also comes from Military Friendly ®. Just as they did for colleges and universities, the group organizes a yearly list of Military Friendly Companies and Military Spouse Friendly Employers.
If you work for a company that hasn’t “made the list,” what does that mean? Well, I doubt many of you will give notice and start the job search all over again, but it may make you look critically at how you can improve upon your employer’s culture. Most of the people who might find value in a list of military-friendly companies, though, are undoubtedly job-seekers, and I know more than a few over the years who have actively sought work with a verified, certified military- and Veteran-friendly employer.
National lists like those don’t account for many of the smaller, more local companies; if you’d still like to size up your own workplace, here are some things you might consider: Has the company taken on a specific hiring initiative? Do they reach out to separating Service members and Veterans Service Organizations, looking for job-seekers? Do they have an onboarding program specifically for those from the military community? Do they have Veterans groups in-house already? Do they welcome members of the National Guard and Reserve to their workforce, and keep their families close when deployments crop up? These ‘criteria’ aren’t from any official list, but they’re a good start…
At the end of the day, whether or not you find any substantive benefit from an organization claiming to be military-friendly, know that there’s still a ‘sea of goodwill’ out there. If it’s only to get a free meal on a national holiday, or 10% off my home improvement supplies, or to try and get on with an employer that really understands the military community…I appreciate the gesture, and I imagine most of you do, too.
Art Therapy in the Military Community
Contributed by Alan Rohlfing
In the summer of 2018, I started down a new path. I was never one to avoid technology, but as a crusty old artilleryman, I would rather send high explosive artillery rounds downrange using charts and darts than the automated indirect fire systems we were fielding on a regular basis. But this time, I was fresh to the engagement app scene, helping our little company use the web and social media to make connections and make a difference.
And, a little over a year ago, I wrote an article for our blog called The Healing Power of Art, where I barely skimmed the surface…of how therapeutic art can be. To help dial in and, at the very least, pen a good article, I had to dig in and get my boots muddy. I was fortunate to find a very talented and very giving subject matter expert right here in St. Louis, a 20-year US Navy Submarine Veteran who has both passion and determination to go along with his artistic talent.
That submariner is Scott Beaty, a man for whom the visual arts have long been a format for creative expression, emotional healing, strength, and a sense of purpose. Shortly after he retired from the Service, Scott realized his love for art was also a gateway to his own healing and mental health. Discovering therapy in art, he began pursuing it all the way to earning a Master’s Degree in Fine Art and founding the organization he leads today.
When Scott founded the organization Visions for Vets in 2015, he discovered a way to help Veterans find freedom, purpose, and mental health close to home …through teaching and creating art and building strong Veteran camaraderie. Visions for Vets is a non-profit art school that enriches the lives of military Veterans while empowering them through the healing power of the arts. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Visions for Vets is an independent non-profit, not affiliated with or funded by any government or VA program. Art as therapy wasn’t necessarily born here, but it sure found a home in Visions for Vets.
Scott talks further about the experience: “We’ve found that once Veterans have gained confidence in their newly-found, rekindled, or enhanced art skills, they’re ready to serve all over again. Service is at the heart of Visions for Vets and we seek to help Veterans continue the mission through art, building important relationships in their communities and engaging in outreach to bring the power of the healing arts to those in need of peace and joy.”
While a tremendous resource for those that need it, Visions for Vets never claims to be an official form of therapy; art therapy is typically facilitated by a professional art therapist to support personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns. Art therapists are master-level clinicians who work with people of all ages across a broad spectrum of practice. Honoring individuals’ values and beliefs, art therapists work with people who are challenged with medical and mental health problems, as well as individuals seeking emotional, creative, and spiritual growth.
If you’ve seen the healing power of art in action, you know the life-changing effects it can have on our Brothers & Sisters that struggle. Of course, not all Veterans that connect with art have a post-traumatic stress diagnosis, but for those that do, art is a great option for healing. For years, art has been shown to improve interpersonal skills, increase self-awareness, and boost self-esteem. It can mean relief for that PTS and other issues stemming from military service. Clinically speaking, this helps reduce tension and anxiety, which can relieve pain and set a strong foundation for the process of healing or coping with lifelong disabilities. A 2012–14 survey at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE, the outpatient clinic dedicated to treatment of Traumatic Brain Injuries at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland) ranked art therapy among the top five most helpful techniques used to treat veterans.
In addition to Visions for Vets and plenty of other local groups with the same mission, there’s an emphasis on the power of the visual arts at the national level, as well. The Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) have their own platforms in the Creative Forces Network and the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
Creative Forces is a network of caring people made possible by a unique collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, DoD, the VA, and state arts agencies; a network made up of creative arts therapists, artists, doctors, military service members, veterans, community leaders, and policymakers who believe in the transformative and restorative powers of art. Those professionals use the creative arts as an effective rehabilitative therapy to help veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities by encouraging expression in a non-threatening way. Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in local creative arts competitions, culminating in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
So, before you move on to other things, here’s my ‘ask’: connect with the ‘art as therapy’ concept. For those of you looking for a military charity to support, I encourage you to learn more about organizations like Visions for Vets and the people behind them. If you have a battle buddy or know someone else who could benefit from the therapeutic effects of art, help them make the connection. And if it’s you that needs to experience the healing power of art, then by all means, create!
Obtaining your VA Benefits can sometimes be a slow and arduous process. There are more than 12 million Veterans over the age of 65. These Veterans, who have served in WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and to Iraq and Afghanistan, are often battling for the benefits they deserve and many times have to fight to get. While we can all agree that Veterans shouldn’t have to fight for the benefits they rightfully deserve, understanding their struggles can better help to solve this ongoing issue.
One of the biggest barriers to receiving benefits is the lack of necessary proof for the Veteran. A Veteran must provide proof of their current disability and demonstrate the medical link between their disability and their service time. For some, this link is easier to prove than others. Combat injuries that are well documented within a soldier’s service record are easy to prove. However, for servicemembers who face a disability years after they have served, the causal link is much more difficult to prove.
In addition to proving the link between the current disability and the decades-old injury that caused it, Veterans need detailed statements as to how the disability has negatively impacted their lives. Private medical records, VA medical records, and statements from family, friends and any other medical and social work providers can help. Proving the severity of the disability can be a long process with many necessary and frustrating steps along the way.
For many veterans, the struggle begins with actually obtaining service records. In 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) destroyed most of the records collected prior to that point. The VA is required to assist Veterans in finding and obtaining their service records, but Veterans might be able to speed up the process if they are able to ensure that all locations have been notified of the need.
In addition to the NPRC, Veterans can also contact The United States Army and Joint Services Records Research Center (JSRC), the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), and the Naval Historical Center. JSRRC specializes in supporting Veterans who need to prove PTSD and Agent Orange claims. NARA stores the official records to all those who were discharged from the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The Naval Historical Center houses deck logs and ship histories, which might prove critical when attempting to substantiate an Agent Orange claim.
When all else fails, buddy statements can serve as evidence of service time and injury. However, even this is not without difficulty. Elderly servicemembers might not be able to connect with their service buddies for a variety of reasons.
Once a Veteran has obtained the necessary proof, there is still an incredible backlog to actually obtain benefits. In many cases, the backlog is more than two years. Additionally, the Board of Veterans Appeals has a three-year backlog.
In many of these cases, time is not a luxury. These veterans are sick and aging. It is estimated that around 3,000 Veterans die each year while waiting for their disability benefits.