12 Tips for Helping Teens Deal With a Parent’s Military Deployment

12 Tips for Helping Teens Deal With a Parent’s Military Deployment

A parent’s military deployment affects the children, no matter what age they are, including teenagers. And it’s often up to the remaining parent to deal with the fallout. Here are some helpful tips for helping teens cope. 

  1. Talk it Out

Once you know there is an upcoming deployment, sit down as a family and discuss how your teen feels. If your teen doesn’t want to open up, that’s okay. You can do the talking. Discuss how things may change when the other parent deploys, such as a shift in responsibilities or a change in a certain routine. Be ready to listen if your teen voices concerns or fears. 

  1. Plan Ahead

Before a parent deploys, it’s important that he or she spends some quality time with the children. Don’t leave this up to chance. Plan ahead and make sure your teen has time — even if it’s just a few hours — with his parent before the deployment occurs. 

  1. Give Your Teen Something to Hold On to

Before the other parent deploys, try to figure out something he or she can give your teen to hold on to, as a form of comfort. It could be a letter, a picture or an item that has special significance, such as a family heirloom.

  1. Check in Periodically

During downtimes, try to get a conversation going with your teen with the goal of getting him to share how he is feeling. Do more listening than talking. Don’t be offended if your teen doesn’t want to talk or share feelings. But do keep trying every now and again. 

  1. Reach Out to Others

Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people who are close to or interact regularly with your teen, such as teachers, coaches or even a school counselor. Explain a parent has been deployed and ask them to let you know of any signs they might notice that would indicate your child is struggling. 

  1. Keep Routines in Play

Just because one parent is gone doesn’t mean that you should change up routines. Instead, you should strive to keep the routines as stable as you possibly can. Believe it or not, a teenager can find comfort in keeping her routines. 

  1. Enable Communication

Make communication between your teen and the parent who is deployed as easy as possible. Consider email, texting, phone calls and video chatting as ways to help your teen stay connected. Try to be as flexible as possible. If getting to talk to a parent who is dearly missed means your teen will have to go to be an hour later on occasion, so be it. 

  1. Listen

Always be willing to listen to your teen, no matter what. If you seem like you don’t have time to listen or talk, then your teen may turn away from you. Even if your teen just wants to have a light conversation, tune in. Don’t try to turn every conversation into a counseling session. 

  1. Validate Their Feelings

A teen who is stressed and anxious can feel a wide range of emotions, and it’s your job as the parent to help your teen realize that the emotions are a normal response to the situation. You can share your own feelings about the deployment to help your teen gain a different perspective. 

  1. Keep Things in Perspective

If your teenager is struggling with a parent’s deployment, it’s probably unwise to share every piece of information you have about military actions that may be occurring. If your teen reads or watches the news, he may have questions for you. Choose your words carefully, and try to keep him from latching on to information that has a negative spin. 

  1. Share Tips for Handling Stress

Think about the ways that you deal with stress — also known as your coping mechanisms — and make some suggestions to your teenager. Journaling can be a good outlet to help relieve stress and anxiety. If your teen enjoys drawing or painting, that can serve as another good way to relieve stress. Exercising and listening to music can also be helpful. 

  1. Make Sure Your Teen Knows She’s Not Alone

Look into military youth programs for teens who are struggling with and feeling anxious about their parent’s deployment. You can also help your teen connect with a counselor. “Talk therapy can be extremely helpful in helping a teen “re-pattern” his or her thoughts, transitioning from anxious thoughts to new, healthy, and productive thinking,” according to Paridigm Malibu, a center that offers teen anxiety treatment

 

Substance Use Disorders Among Military Veterans

Substance Use Disorders Among Military Veterans

Contributed by Rosemary Williams, Silvermist Recovery

Substance abuse is a significant problem among U.S. military veterans. According to a study published in the journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, veterans are more likely to use alcohol and report heavy alcohol use than their non-veteran counterparts.1

The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that alcohol abuse is the most widespread problem among soldiers and veterans. Additionally, prescription drug misuse is on the rise among veterans, with opioids being prescribed at increasing rates for chronic pain.

A number of services and interventions are available through the military to help veterans recover from a substance use disorder. These include VA Medical Centers around the nation, although veterans must be connected to a center to receive help. Many private rehab facilities offer specialized services aimed at veterans and address a range of issues faced by members of the military today.

The stigma of addiction impacts our service members, with active service military members and veterans being reluctant to admit to a substance abuse problem. Fear of what others will think and denial that there’s a problem are other common reasons why veterans may decline to get help for an addiction.

 

The Scary Statistics of Drug Abuse and PTSD among our Veterans

75% of veterans who have experienced trauma from violence or abuse report problems with drinking and alcoholism.

33% of those who have lived through disasters, traumatic accidents, or serious illnesses report problems with drinking and alcohol abuse.

Alcoholism is more common among those who have chronic pain or continuing serious health problems due to traumatic experiences in their past or PTSD.

500,000 veterans with PTSD received treatment from the VA in 2011

27% of veterans who have received care from the VA for PTSD have a substance abuse disorder.

35% of veterans with an SUD (substance use disorder) also suffer from co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder.

20% of Veterans from our wars in the middle east suffer from PTSD.

Between 60% and 80% of Vietnam veterans have a problem with alcohol use.

Veterans age 65 or older who have PTSD are at an elevated risk for suicide if they also suffer from depression or have a problem with alcohol.

Soldiers, Addiction, and the Struggle for Help

TRANSCRIPT
Every year 20,000 soldiers are go to the Army’s substance abuse clinics they go there either because they’re sent by their commanders because they’ve had some kind of alcohol or drug-related problem or they go there because they simply need help at the clinics they get screened and assess to find out whether they have any kind of drug or alcohol related problems. Psychologist wanted to cure who just retired as the director of clinical services for the army program talks about what that program has to accomplish the mission of the clinical ASEP is to support army readiness through providing clinical services to the soldiers who are impaired with substance abuse issues after 14 years of war America’s soldiers can be suffering from any number of issues they can have post-traumatic stress disorder traumatic brain injury be having chronic pain with wounds or injuries and they may even have thoughts of suicide a nexus for these problems can be the abuse of alcohol or pain medication in terms of trends we see particular drugs becoming popular in some locations but the most abused drug is alcohol still and it’s been that way practically forever in the Army in 2010 the Army shifted his program for treatment of soldiers from the Surgeon General’s Office to the installation management command the people who run Garrison’s what followed after that was that they lost a lot of talented counselors and clinical directors and the quality of care suffered one result one a cure says if many of the soldiers should get help we’re missed last year over 7,000 soldiers were screamed and not enrolled that is considerably larger than the number of soldiers in the Brigade Combat Team so it’s it really is an issue of concern the consequences of leaving a soldier to languish and alcohol abuse or drug abuse can be tragic some of the soldiers that were screened and not enrolled have gone on to commit acts of violence and sometimes have killed themselves after that as well so while we can’t say that we could have saved folks we can say that we need to do a better job of treating them here explain as it is possible to fix this problem but it takes a collaborative effort it takes integrated services to help soldiers that can have a group of problems all happening at one time a lot of collaboration is required in treating substance abuse because many times there are numerous health factors that have to be addressed and the soldier has to be treated as a whole person and not just treating one part at one place I’m not even talking to other providers the mourn this story visit usatoday.com you

Veterans, Trauma and Addiction

Combat veterans have a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Each year, around 12 percent of veterans who served in the Gulf War, 20 percent who served in Iraq, and 30 percent who served in Vietnam develop PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.2

Additionally, 23 percent of female veterans reporting being the victim of a sexual assault while serving in the military. In general, half of women who are sexually assaulted will develop PTSD, which is a major risk factor for substance abuse and addiction. All told, up to 75 percent of veterans who have endured trauma from sexual assault or combat report problematic drinking problems.

 

In 2008, 22% of U.S. Officers in Afghanistan and Iraq suffered from PTSD or depression and only around half of them were treated. As a result, healthcare costs were $ 923 million. If everyone received quality treatment immediately, that cost would have been reduced to $ 785 million.

The link between trauma and addiction is well-established. A study in the journal Addictive Behaviors points out that about half of people in recovery from an addiction have a history of PTSD.3 One in six veterans have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the point it negatively impacts their daily lives. It’s common for people with PTSD to self-medicate symptoms with drugs or alcohol. Symptoms of PTSD may occur immediately after a trauma, or they may set in months or even years later.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • An inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Risk Factors that can lead to Veteran Addiction

There are certain risk factors identified that can indicate if a veteran is more like to struggle with a substance use disorder(SUD) in the future. PTSD is the most common risk factor, however other risk factors include:

  • Insomnia
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Relationship or problems at home
  • Isolation

While in the military, you work with a team during battle. During treatment, medical professionals become the team supports to address the mental health concern or substance use disorder.

Trauma-Informed Treatment

For veterans who have experienced trauma or have symptoms of PTSD, a trauma-informed treatment programoffers the best chances for successful recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.4 A trauma-informed approach to treatment seeks to increase a sense of safety.

The trauma informed approach recognizes that:

  • The impact of trauma is widespread and affects all areas of an individual’s life
  • There are many pathways to recovery, and a holistic approach is best
  • The current body of knowledge about trauma must be incorporated into policies, practices and procedures
  • Actively preventing re-traumatization is an important focus in treatment

Truama informed treatment draws on research-based, trauma-focused therapies that help individuals:

  • Accept their experiences rather than avoid them
  • Improve the way they interact with their thoughts and emotions
  • Develop tolerance for distress
  • Reduce suicidal thoughts
  • Achieve feelings of completeness and freedom
  • Develop control over thoughts, emotions and behaviors

Trauma-focused therapies include acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and mindfulness-based meditation.

Medications Used in Treatment

In some cases, veterans may be prescribed medications to assist with the detox process or to help maintain sobriety. Medications frequently used during the detox process include:

Medications used to help maintain sobriety after detox include:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone
  • Disulfiram
  • Acamprosate

When Is It Time to Get Help?

Once alcohol or drug use becomes compulsive despite the problems it causes, professional help is recommended to end the addiction for the long-term. People who meet two or more of the following criteria are diagnosed with a substance use disorder, which may include heavy substance abuse, addiction, and/or dependence. 

Substance Use Disorder Categories

MILD: by meeting two to three of the following criteria

MODERATE: by meeting four or five criteria

SEVERE: by meeting six or more of the criteria.


  1. Using the substance in ways that puts you or others in dangerous situations
  2. Experiencing relationship problems related to the substance abuse
  3. Neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school because of your substance abuse
  4. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using suddenly
  5. Needing increasingly larger doses to get the same effect
  6. Abusing drugs or alcohol for a longer period of time or in larger amounts than you intended
  7. Wanting or trying to cut down or quit but finding you can’t
  8. Spending a lot of time using or recovering from using drugs or alcohol
  9. Experiencing physical or mental health problems as a result of your substance abuse
  10. Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  11. Experiencing cravings for the substance

Once alcohol or drug use becomes compulsive despite the problems it causes, professional help is recommended to end the addiction for the long-term. People who meet two or more of the following criteria are diagnosed with a substance use disorder, which may include heavy substance abuse, addiction, and/or dependence. A substance use disorder is characterized as mild by meeting two to three of the following criteria, moderate by meeting four or five criteria, or severe by meeting six or more of the criteria.

What to Expect from Treatment

Getting help for an addiction can dramaticallyimprove your quality of life and sense of well-being. It may also save your life. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 6,000 veterans die by suicide each year.5 In 2016, the suicide rate for veterans was 26.1 per 100,000 individuals, compared with a rate of 17.4 per 100,000 among non-veterans.

Drug and alcohol abuse can increase the risk of suicide, and it can lead to a range of serious physical and mental health problems. Getting help reduces these risks and leads to a happier, more fulfilling life. A new military study shows that non-medical counseling offered through military resources resulted in improvement for more than three months after counseling ended.

Counseling is frequently offered through military organizations, however, you have the freedom to accept treatment at a civilian facility.12 For active service members, it is possible for your commander to find out about your treatment through insurance claims or referral requests. Commander involvement may be encouraged as the support of others during recovery can contribute to your success.

Rehab works for most people who choose a high-quality program and participate fully in their treatment plan.

Recovery starts with detox, which is followed by addiction treatment. When treatment is complete, an individualized aftercare plan helps you navigate the early weeks and months of solo recovery.

 

How to Find Help

Veterans and active-duty servicemen and women from all branches of the military can find help for a substance use disorder through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs mental health services.6

Active-duty Army personnel can contact the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) for information and treatment resources.7

Active-duty Navy can find support, education and treatment resources through the Navy Alcohol Abuse Prevention (NAAP) program.8

The Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) program offers a substance abuse program for active-duty Marines.9

For active-duty Air Force personnel, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) program provides information and treatment resources for those needing help ending an addiction for good.10

Another healing resource for military personnel is a Strong Bonds retreat, which helps to increase resilience, reduce stressors and tighten family bonds. While Strong Bonds retreats don’t address or treat substance use disorders, they can reduce some of the factors that contribute to substance abuse and addiction.11 Retreats are available for singles, couples, and families.

Housing And Other Help

There are resources available to help veterans secure housing, employment, healthcare and other needs. An individualized treatment plan developed with a case manager should identify and connect you to helpful resources to resolve concerns beyond mental health or a substance use disorder. Some resources include:

HUD-VASH is a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that connects veterans experiencing homelessness with housing resources to resolve the housing emergency via rent assistance. The program uses the Housing Choice Voucher Program to assist with the cost of re-housing veterans into rental units.

SSVF helps veterans secure permanent housing solutions with supportive assistance and case management.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) services help with job training, employment, resume development, and job seeking skills coaching. There is also assistance avilable for veterans looking to start a business or independent living services for those unable to work.

Speak with a case manager about your individual needs to create a plan that will work for you.

VA and Vet Center facilities can be found online at www.va.gov and www.vetcenter.va.gov

Hope is the Foundation of Recovery

There are many pathways to recovery, but at its very foundation is hope, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Whether you’re a veteran struggling with a substance use disorder or a loved one trying to help your hero, holding on to hope for a better future guides your pathway forward. A high-quality, holistic treatment program is one pathway that’s research-based and proven to help people end a substance use disorder once and for all. Treatment really does work, and it can work for you.

 

This publication is provided by Silvermist Recovery.


Resources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5587184/
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2720425/
  3. https://www.samhsa.gov/nctic/trauma-interventions
  4. https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/data-sheets/OMHSP_National_Suicide_Data_Report_2005-2016_508.pdf
  5. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/ptsd-overview/basics/how-common-is-ptsd.asp
  6. https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/res-vatreatmentprograms.asp
  7. https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/my-fort/asap-services
  8. https://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/21st_Century_Sailor/NAAP/Pages/default.aspx
  9. https://www.usmc-mccs.org/services/support/substance-abuse/
  10. https://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/Resources/Health-Promotion/Drug-Abuse/
  11. https://strongbonds.jointservicessupport.org/
  12. https://www.militaryonesource.mil/health-wellness/mental-health/substance-abuse-and-addiction/military-policy-and-treatment-for-substance-use

Translating Your Military Career to a Resume

Translating Your Military Career to a Resume

Contributed by: Julia Nex

 

Okay, you’ve made the decision that it’s time to transition from military service and start a new adventure in the “civilian world,” but how do you translate your military career into a language and skill set that is clear and understandable to prospective employers?

 

Whether you are exiting military service after your initial service obligation or retiring after 20+ years of dedicated service to the nation, translating your career skills to a resume takes a well thought out approach, but we’ll get you there with some great tips as you move forward.

#1: Gather All Your Personal Items

If you have an “I Love Me” book with all your awards, promotions, training certificates and evaluations, you are off to a great start! You will need these to reflect upon what you have accomplished during your career, as well as build a timeline of assignments and responsibilities to communicate your experiences.

#2: Translate Personal Evaluations and Assignments

Review your personnel records and performance evaluations, as this will help you not only build a timeline but scope the duties you want to highlight on your resume. What was your job title? What level of command did you serve? How many personnel were you responsible for managing? Also, reflect upon your leadership experiences to highlight how you helped others achieve success through training, mentoring and counseling.

While “Squad Leader” or “Shift Leader” doesn’t easily translate into civilian employment, “supervised training and resources to employ a 10-12 person security force” does have application and understanding. There are great tools that can assist veterans with translating their military occupational specialty to civilian jobs. It’s more complicated than this, but you get the gist of it!

 

#3: Training, Certifications and Education

 

Today, many of the training courses have civilian equivalents or are actually accredited by professional organizations that are known to civilian employers already. For example, technical skills like communications technician, health care specialist, human resource and financial management, dental hygienist and vehicle mechanic translate into civilian career opportunities. If you have professional certifications, that is a bonus, and one you can highlight for your employer.

 

Civilian education is straightforward, so if you have a degree or certification from a university, college or professional trade school, it goes on your resume. Include the name and address, degree obtained, major or specific skill, date of completion and if you were recognized for academic performance (i.e., summa cum laude, national honor society, honor graduate, etc.). Employers like to know they are hiring quality people who excel academically.

#4: Honors and Personal Accomplishments

 

While military awards like the Congressional Medal of Honor, Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart are more recognizable, most American military medals, ribbons and badges don’t easily translate into the civilian sector. But that’s okay because many of your professional and personal recognition–i.e., distinguished honor, honor graduate or performer of the quarter/year–do have an application in business or other civilian sectors. If you and your team received an award from the military or professional association or won a competitive competition, you can highlight this accomplishment. It demonstrates you can be part of a high-performing team.

 

If you have been published, professionally or personally, highlight this fact as it demonstrates a willingness to advocate for your profession or contribute through writing and research.

 

Being humble is one thing and a great attribute of our military service members, but remember it ain’t bragging if it’s the truth!

 

#5: Keep It Simple, Use Plain Language

 

You are “institutionalized” by your military service from the moment you stepped onto the yellow footprints, and you’ll be challenged to communicate in simple language. A well thought out resume will represent you well and help prospective employers get to know you upfront. Keep it simple, direct and to the point!

 

As you write your resume, first, lose the acronyms immediately as they don’t always translate across civilian-military communities–let alone across military services. Then review your resume and the job you are applying for to ensure you use “keywords” to communicate you are a match for the job being advertised. And lastly, check and double-check your resume for grammar and spelling errors to present the best “written” persona possible.

 

#6: Personal Security Clearance

 

If you have a security clearance, highlight this fact so prospective employers know you are vetted for access to classified materials at the SECRET, TOP SECRET or have had a Counterintelligence Polygraph. These are important and highly marketable certifications, especially if you seek to work in commercial industry, government contracting or government services. Keep it current, which means it must have not exceeded its 10-year expiration past the last single scope background investigation or SSBI. Check with your local unit security manager to confirm the date in the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS).

#7: Personal Interests

It’s important to let people get to know you and possibly make a connection with your future employer. While you don’t have to go into details about your family, communicating your genuine interest in academic research, professional organizations, outdoor activities and collectibles can let an employer know you do more than just work. Make a connection, but be honest so you can hold a conversation if during an interview your personal interests come up in conversation.

 

#8: Security Classification Review…Just in Case

A reminder, and not for everyone, if you were assigned to a national intelligence agency (i.e., National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial Agency), you will want to highlight these assignments on your personal resume. Remember you have a lifetime obligation to not share classified information or specific details about these agencies. If you are unsure, it’s a good practice to submit for a pre-publication review and ensure you are safeguarding classified or sensitive information.

Lastly, once you have completed your resume and you have had others review it, you can use LinkedIn, USAJobs and other web-based forums to publish your resume and get the word out you are transitioning and ready for the next adventure in your life.

Best of luck and happy hunting as you go forward with your life! And, for a grateful nation and the American people, THANK YOU for your dedication and service to the nation!

Julia Nex is the Content Strategist at Medals of America. In her spare time, you can catch her cooking, embroidering, or watching Hell’s Kitchen.

The Home of the Free Because of the Brave: Memorial Day 2019

The Home of the Free Because of the Brave

 

You’ve heard it said before: we are the home of the free because of the brave. Or perhaps “all gave some, but some gave all.” Or even, in the words of Lee Greenwood, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free and I won’t forget the men who died and gave that right to me!” There are countless colloquialisms, sayings, poems and songs that can be applied to Memorial Day.

 

An unofficial holiday that sprung from the ashes of the Civil War, Memorial Day, as we know it, came to be in 1971. The fourth Monday in May each year, today is the day we remember the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom as Americans.

 

Memorial Day, for my non-military family, was about barbeques and family, laughter and fun. There was a parade that went through Rosebank in Staten Island, NY, but I don’t remember paying much attention to the reason behind the holiday. Fast forward to 2010, and I attended my first Memorial Day service in honor of a soldier who was no longer with us. My husband’s grandfather, who lived to be nearly 90, served in WWII. His son made the military a career and just a month after Grandpa left us, his little town in Northern NJ honored him and his sacrifices on Memorial Day.

 

It was breathtakingly beautiful and achingly heart-wrenching, all at the same time. I found myself gasping for air as they handed flowers to his daughters. I didn’t know him when he was in the service, but it didn’t matter. As they honored him that day, I couldn’t help but envision Grandpa as a young soldier, in his crisp uniform, ready to take off and storm the beaches at Normandy.

 

Determination, Integrity, Resourcefulness: The Military Spouse

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

“On a personal note, I am a Gold Star Widow and am raising two beautiful daughters.”

 

That’s the line that randomly caught my attention on Tuesday and prompted me to comment and reach out to Ali Banholzer. As luck and fate would have it, we were both added to a “Women in Maryland Professional” group on facebook and that line was part of her introductory statement in the comments of our mutual welcome. Initially, I was lukewarm regarding my inclusion in yet another facebook group. However, Ali’s comment about her background (which also included details about her professional life as a successful business owner) captured the interest of the reporter in my heart. Gold Star Widow? Entrepreneur? That sounds like a story to be told.

 

Fortunately, Ali was open to spending some of her time on the phone with me and answered my facebook message right away. A day after our initial exchange, I picked up my phone and dialed Ali’s shop. Within minutes, our conversation had begun and I was almost immediately lost in her story. In the words of Jimmy Buffet, “some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic,” but she certainly had a good story.

 

Since I began writing for Military Connection, I am always on the lookout for people who are on a journey that can be considered inspirational who are willing to share their story to benefit others. When I explained this to Ali, she jumped right on my bandwagon and immediately identified herself not only as one of those precious people, but she volunteered herself as a resource, ally and mentor for anyone finding themselves in similar shoes.

 

Before her life as a military spouse, Ali was a criminologist with her local police department. Accomplished and sporting degrees in her field, she was making moves professionally. Fast tracked and moving up in the world, that all turned upside down when she agreed to a blind date with David Banholzer in 1995. While there was no doubt they enjoyed each other’s company, both Ali & Dave figured their blind date would lead to a few months of fun but nothing more. Neither anticipated a future, but that is exactly what they found in one another.   

 

Dave was a pilot in the Air Force. It wasn’t long after their honeymoon that the newlyweds got the orders to pack their bags and leave Fairchild AFB in Spokane, WA. So the criminologist and her AF Captain headed east to Scott AFB in Illinois. The move proved problematic for Ali’s career advancement. Dave had to live within a certain proximity of the base and Ali’s best employment option was well outside that circle. The logistics of maintaining the life of a military spouse as well as the accomplished career as a criminologist became impossible, as this move would prove to be the first of seven over the next 11 years.

 

Ali is resourceful and while she was sad to leave criminology, she embraced a new career with TRICARE. Even that career would be short-lived – because the duo would soon find their way to Travis AFB in California. Her move to California brought about more change for Ali, as it was during their time there that she and Dave welcomed their first daughter, a baby girl, in 2001.

 

Throughout his entire career, Dave’s ultimate goal was to Command Air Force One. He often told Ali that while this was his dream, flying Air Force One was like winning the lottery. You needed all of the skills and training to have a chance, but you also needed the stars to align perfectly in your favor to be given the opportunity. When Dave got the nod to fly Air Force Two out of Andrews AFB, it was a no-brainer that the family move to the East Coast to come one step closer to realizing Dave’s dream.

 

Baby girl #2 joined the family in 2003 and while Ali loved being a stay at home mom, the hours were long and the office space isolating. She craved adult interaction. She wanted to use her brain. Having walked away from criminology, Ali took a look at what brought joy into her day-to-day life, other than her family, and after careful consideration and thought, opened up Midnight Oil Scrapbook Designs when her youngest was six months old.     

 

As a family, they moved from Washington to Illinois to California to Maryland to Rhode Island, back to Washington and then finally back to Maryland. As an entrepreneur, she grew her business – and grew it well. In 2007, the scrapbooking industry took a hit when the housing market boom collapsed. Fortunately, Ali was prepared and the majority of her equipment could be used as crossover equipment for the apparel design industry.

 

While they moved from state to state, she grew her apparel design business and her husband continued to move up in rank. He spent some of his career piloting Air Force Two, flying the Vice President and staff around. In February 2014 Dave Banholzer was named “#14,” the 14th Presidential Pilot of The United States of America’s Air Force One. There is only one pilot named as the Commander at a time, and it is the pinnacle point in a career. (Air Force One is currently on Commander #16).

 

Air Force One Commander is typically a position that ends in retirement, and it was the Banholzers plan for Dave to stay in the position until 2022, until their youngest daughter was finished with high school. Life had other plans for the Banholzer family. Dave had been having pain in his ankle. His ankle was twitching.

 

One ordinary Saturday morning in May 2014, Dave called Ali’s attention to his twitching ankle to show her the physical manifestation of the pain he had been experiencing. While showing her the twitch, he looked at her, grabbed his chest, collapsed into her arms. She lowered her husband – all 6’3”, 200 pounds of him –  to the ground. He was having a grand mal seizure. Her oldest daughter called 911 while Ali tried to prevent him from aspirating.

 

Their neighbors, some of them in the Air Force as well, rallied to help Ali and the girls (who were just 10 and 12 years of age). Emergency crews came and took him to Calvert Medical Center. Preliminary scans showed that Dave – who had passed his mandatory physical just 6 months prior – had a 4cm mass on the front left lobe of his brain. Commander Banholzer was flown to Walter Reed.

 

On May 17, just three days later, Dave endured 9 hours of brain surgery. Surgeons delivered his waiting family the news of their nightmares. “If I were you, I would retire and start making memories.” Dave had Glioblastoma, Grade 4 Brain cancer. He was terminal.

 

While they had to wait for final pathology to know for sure, doctors advised the family that they likely had 14 or so months, but maybe six of those would be “good.” The doctors at Walter Reed suggested that they run, not walk, to Johns Hopkins, so his care and treatment plans were transferred to Hopkins right away.

 

Ali is clearly no stranger to the adversities that might be faced by a military spouse. She had already abandoned her anticipated career in criminology when it didn’t necessarily fit well with her multiple moves across the country. She found a way to make waves as a business owner in three different states – that were literally a country apart. This hurdle, however, seemed insurmountable.

 

Ali worried about the viability of a commercial business during a time of personal turmoil. Deciding to put her focus on the care of her husband and two young daughters, Ali scaled down to one employee and brought her business back to her basement. By focusing on managing what they had instead of growth, she was able to maintain their current customers throughout a difficult and trying time.

 

Ali tells me that they were blessed. Though Dave was no longer allowed to pilot, he remained seizure free and therefore in command of Air Force One until February 2016, 20 months after his diagnosis. Throughout that time, he started each morning with radiation therapy on his brain before heading into work. He ran three miles every day. He faced three additional surgeries and recovered to come back to work each time. They called his cancer “The Beast” and he fought “The Beast” with every fiber of his being.

 

Commander Banholzer took his last breath on November 4, 2016.

The man who had been given an optimistic six months to live had survived against the odds for 28 months – and most of those were good. Regardless, the loss of love leaves a hole in your heart that never truly heals. Ali might be indomitable, but she is still human. The military spouse was suddenly a Gold Star Widow – and while she and the girls had plenty of support from their friends still in the service, it was a completely different social landscape and they all needed time to adjust. She took six months to mourn and regroup before reopening a commercial space in April 2017.

 

Since then, “growth” does not begin to describe the progress that MODS has seen. Average industry growth is 4%. Their growth? About 50%. (Their first quarter 2019 was a 64% increase over first quarter 2018).

 

As always, Ali and her company are Military Proud. She currently employs three military spouses and a military child in addition to other staff members. She always looks to hire military first. In fact – she is currently gearing up for her busy season and is looking to hire some part-time, temporary employees to fill in, as-needed for the business. While they are open to anyone who fits that description, they are looking to the military community first to fill that need.

 

The commercial space in Huntingtown is over 4000 square feet and features a sales showroom.Their work ships internationally, though the predominant customer base is Calvert County, MD.

 

I asked Ali for words of wisdom for other military spouses in similar situations. Her biggest piece of advice was this: Fail Forward. In her opinion, there is really no such thing as failure. Everything is a learning opportunity. When her plans needed to change, Ali sat back and looked at her skill set, her personal assets, her life and then plugged in what she needed for success.

 

“Truly evaluate what you love. Do you love interacting with people socially? Do you love being creative and designing? Don’t get hung up on titles and degrees. You do not need an MBA to be successful in business!”

 

Ali is the first to speculate that an MBA might have moved her along the path with a little more speed – but she is quick to point out that she is still here and the future is very, very bright. “Look at what you love and see how you can make a career out of it. It doesn’t mean everything can be a career. You do need to do your homework and your research.”

 

She also advises that slow growth is good growth. She started with cut vinyl that utilized the same equipment as her scrapbook supply work. She made banners and shirts…and once that was full and successful, she added silk screening. After silk screening, she added embroidery. The machines she purchased are industrial and built to last. It might have been a little frustrating during the process, but the industrial equipment was worth it for her business model in the long run.

 

Not every hobby or skill translates into a career as fluently as Ali’s creative passions. Self-employment is never a get-rich-quick scheme and always takes more than just a little hard work, dedication and elbow grease. Self-employment can be extraordinarily fulfilling, particularly for the military spouse who spends most of his or her time performing one of the most important roles of all: supporting our active duty service men and women as they serve our country.

 

Are you a military spouse looking to make some extra money? Ali and her staff are coming into their busy season and they are looking to hire some part-time, seasonal help. If you are interested in being part of this military-friendly group, please email Ali at alison@mosdinc.com.

    

Fisher House Foundation: Helping Veterans in New York

The James J. Peters Medical Center in the Bronx, NY is known for its innovative work. An industry leader in spinal cord work and injuries and kidney transplants, the research and development happening in exoskeletal advancements are second to none and inarguably helping our wounded Veterans in need.

 

It is that very specialization that bring wounded men and women to the Bronx for treatment as opposed to other VA medical centers. With our wounded soldiers and veterans come their families. While residents of New York City might not have travel complications with the Bronx location, that isn’t the case of many of the men and women who walk through the James J. Peters Medical Center.

 

When a service or combat related injury occurs, the immediate response is to the soldier or veteran who is the recipient of the injury. Once the injury has been assessed and stabilized, there is a secondary tier of issues that require addressing for the families of the soldier or veteran.

 

The majority of rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries occur in the first six months after the injury. The rehab can be intense and a veteran needs a wide range of emotional, physical and medical support to achieve success. A potential key to that success is ensuring access to family. For veterans who live outside of New York City when they are not deployed, this is often a major hurdle.

 

It is a hurdle that the Fisher House Foundation is working to overcome. One house at a time.

 

For nearly thirty years the Fisher House Foundation has been working to provide housing for the families of the wounded warriors who are receiving care in Military or VA hospitals across the country. Since 1990, over 8 million nights of accommodations have been provided for more than 335,000 families. While a night or two doesn’t always seem significant, the actions and results of the Fisher House Foundation have resulted in more than $400 million in savings for the families of the wounded.

 

I had the opportunity to spend some time on the phone with Ken Fisher, CEO of the Fisher House Foundation. Ken is a Bronx native, and since I am from Staten Island, NY, speaking with him sounded like being at home. Aside from being an expert on the Bronx, Ken is also an expert on the issues that face our service members and veterans and the Fisher House legacy.

 

In the coming days, The Fisher House Foundation will be opening two new Fisher House Foundation Homes in the Bronx that will service the families of the wounded veterans and soldiers being treated at the James J. Peters Medical Center.  The two houses will feature 16 suites for families, so that as many as 16 different families will be able to support each other. Why the Bronx?

Bottom line: Because the Bronx needs the Fisher House. The Bronx VA is a busy one. The James J. Peters Medical Center is a regional hub and point of referral for veterans and servicemembers in need of treatment. The center itself specializes in spinal cord injury, robotic surgery, amputee services, traumatic brain injury assessment and care, polytrauma, kidney transplant and dialysis. Veterans and soldiers in need of these services come from across the country seeking treatment; family members are required to stay in hotels or support their loved one from afar.

 

The two new Fisher Houses in the Bronx will not only serve as a safe space for the family members of those veterans and soldiers, but for paraplegic veterans who are enrolled in the exoskeleton program.

 

Per Ken Fisher – the families that stay in a Fisher House Home have two big things in common: they don’t know much about the area and they have a loved one that is receiving treatment at the nearby VA. Says Fisher, “this is where the families start to heal.”

 

Fisher estimates that around 1,000 families will come through these houses in the Bronx each year. Both houses are within walking distance to the Bronx VA. As always, there is no cost to stay in a Fisher House Home. Fisher House takes the perceived burden of associated costs away for these families.

 

Not only did FIsher push for this NY project, he pushed for this project to be NYC made. The plan for the 12,000-14,000 square foot buildings began nearly two years ago. This project, though similar in feel to the other 82 houses in the Fisher House program, has a special NYC feel to it. The architectural elements reflect the local Bronx environment and structures.

 

Both of these new Fisher House homes were 100% union built – an important detail for local boy Ken Fisher. He was sure to let me know that not only were these houses union projects, but there were many veterans who actually assisted with the construction of the homes. Even more of those union workers were related to a veteran.

 

Needless to say, The Bronx NY Fisher House Homes are something that not only Ken Fisher and all of the Fisher House Foundation can be proud of, but all of NYC as well. It is the perfect complement to the James J. Peters Medical Center, which is the oldest VA facility in NYC with over 75 years of service to veterans.

6 Veteran Benefits You May Not Have Heard Of

One of the most common benefits for veterans are their disability payments, such as Veterans Compensation or Veterans Pension. Most veterans know if they are injured while working, they are entitled to compensation for their workplace injuries if negligence can be proven.

However, according to The Barnes Firm, personal injury lawyers in San Diego (https://www.thebarnesfirm.com/contact-us/san-diego-personal-injury-attorney/), if you get injured on the job and you’re a disabled veteran, always be sure to speak to your lawyer about any compensation you’re already receiving. You want to be sure a personal injury settlement won’t have a major impact on your current benefits. While many people understand the most popular veterans benefits, there are still several benefits out there that are under the radar and it’s important to consult a lawyer who is familiar with personal injury law, so you avoid any conflicting settlements.

“There’s a whole framework of resources out there,” Joseph Montanaro, a financial planner with USAA’s military affairs advocacy group, told Kiplinger. Don’t assume you’re not eligible, he says. And recognize that spouses and dependents may qualify, too.

Here are a few veteran benefits that you may not have heard of:

The Aid & Attendance Program
Long-term care can quickly eat away at savings and will be difficult for any family that struggles to provide for day-to-day necessities. The Aid & Attendance program is designed to help struggling veteran senior pay for long-term care. This money will help them cover the cost of rising nursing home costs and various assisted living programs. Veteran couples can receive up to $25,000 in aid per year, and surviving spouses can receive around $13,000.

To qualify, you should have less than $80,000 in assets, not including ownership of one vehicle and one home. On the same token, the Department of Veterans Affairs also offers a caregiver support program to help navigate military benefits, which can be especially useful for senior veterans. This support program will also help you navigate the complicated barriers of veteran aid.

There are companies that specialize in the VA Aid and Attendance pension application process. Visit Veterans Home Care for more information on how they can help you.

Free Tax Preparation
No matter what your financial situation is, preparing your taxes is never a fun ordeal. In fact, it’s not uncommon for stress levels to rise during dreaded tax season. However, through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (whose offices are found in military bases), you can have your taxes prepared for free. Not only does this relieve you of the burden that comes with filing your taxes, but it can also ensure your taxes are filed correctly. Accountants in these offices have plenty of experience dealing with military-specific tax issues, which can become complicated quite easily.

Hire Your Friends & Family to Help
For veterans and family members who are receiving help from their trusted loved ones, there’s a little-known benefit that will allow qualifying vets to pay their family and friends for their caretaking. This is called the Veteran-Directed Care Program and it makes it easy for those who you depend on for tasks like laundry and basic living tasks to be compensated for their time and devotion. This payment can be upwards of $2,000 per month.

Hearing Aid Services
According to the VA, nearly 3 million veterans are currently receiving disability benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus, a ringing in the ears. With so many people suffering from hearing loss after service, it’s crucial that they have the right remedy. At the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation for the American Legion, veterans do not have to wait for a referring physician to secure an appointment with a booking specialist. Your VA insurance will cover the cost, whereas insurance through government programs like Medicare typically do not cover this.

VA Foreclosure
If you’re a veteran looking for a home, you’re in luck. The VA maintains a lengthy list of all the homes that have been finances with VA loans and gone into foreclosure. Veterans will be able to sort through this list of properties and purchase homes at discount level; all homes included in the list are also eligible for VA financing, which means a bulk of the finance researching has been automatically filtered for you.

American Corporate Partners
Finding employment after service can be one of the most troubling tasks for veterans. Fortunately, with programs like American Corporate Partners, you can work with mentors who can connect you with top companies for employment opportunities. This program doesn’t just provide you with the right connection; they also help you get prepared for the interview process and will work with you to ensure the odds are in your favor.

6 Self-Employment Options For Those Getting Out Of The Military

The world has changed immensely when it comes to the variety of opportunities to earn at times without even leaving the comfort of your couch at home. After being discharged or retiring there is a chance that you want to work for yourself so you can spend as much time with your family as possible. The ability to make your own schedule after being on a tight schedule for years can add a sense of freedom that you have been missing. More and more people are taking the self-employed route rather than working at an office. The following are options for self-employment that will help you earn as well as tips to succeed.

Freelance Writer

Freelance writers are in demand for a variety of different types of written content. This can vary from everything to product descriptions, website copy, blog posts, and guest post articles. The need for content comes from the need for businesses to rank high on the search engines for specific keyword phrases. Working on your writing skills is perfect for those that are currently in the military as you will have quite a bit of time to do so if deployed. Writing is much like any other art form as you can improve immensely after a bit of practice. Utilizing freelancer platforms can be a great way to find clients to start earning from your writing immediately.  

Drop Shipping

Drop shipping is the process of selling a product online with the wholesaler taking care of the shipping and inventory management. This does not take very much money up front as you do not need anything but a platform to sell on whether it is eBay or your own ecommerce website. The trick is finding the right products that offer quality as well as a good deal so you can increase the wholesale price without impacting sales to take your portion. Finding a reliable wholesaler is the most important factor in this as a wholesaler that is constantly running out of inventory or shipping extremely late can alienate consistent customers quite easily.

Personal Chef

Becoming a personal chef can be a great option for those that have cooked for large numbers of people in the army. You can have a variety of clients that you can make meals in their homes on different days of the week. For people constantly having to travel for business this can be a great option as they will not have to grocery shop or go out to eat. Marketing yourself online is imperative if you want to find the right type of clients. Offering to cater an event for cheap then marketing personal chef services can also be quite effective. If people simply love your food then they are going to be willing to pay extra to have you make it in their home when their budget allows.

Get Your Real Estate License

The real estate industry can be great for those people that enjoy helping people find their dream homes and are detail oriented. There is going to be a plethora of different forms to fill out when a buyer is making an offer or to pre-qualify a buyer with a lender. This will leave your schedule open unless you have to be at a closing or are out showing clients their next potential home. The ability to see great deals on properties can also allow you to start investing in real estate after you have established yourself. Take the time to look up the classes that you can take that will make the real estate exam in your state a breeze.

Tutor Online

There are opportunities to earn money tutoring online whether it is English or a math class. The platforms to earn are not difficult to find but you do need to be proficient in what you are teaching. Tutors often times are given ratings so do not ruin your rating by trying to tutor a subject you are not the best on. Great tutors will find consistent clients to tutor allowing them to stabilize their income monthly.

Drive For A Ridesharing App

Driving for a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft can allow you to earn supplemental income or earn a decent full-time income. This is going to take quite a bit of documentation as you do not want to be overtaxed for the money that you are earning. Tracking gas mileage is also important so you can write off the depreciation of your car due to driving for the app. This is a good way to learn a new city or to meet interesting people. For those that are not social this could be one of the worst jobs you can give yourself.

After retiring or being discharged from military service it is more than possible to work for yourself for a while or permanently. Take the time to assess your valuable skills to see how you can start earning nearly immediately!

Connecting you to what’s important: Hot Job Opportunities

Did you know that the team of MilitaryConnection.com is in constant contact with many corporations and agencies that specialize in job placement? In addition, we send out emails regularly with some of the most appealing job prospects for military veterans. While our home base of operations is in Missouri, our job posts are from coast to coast. Check out our most recent email – we cover California to Massachusetts!

Military Connection’s Hot Employment Opportunities Newsletter

Do you have open positions and are actively recruiting retired military personnel? We want to hear from you! Contact Marcy@militaryconnection.com to get more information on how to add your job posting to our growing job board! We could be the key to your next Veteran hire!

Education Begins with the Young: Teaching Respect for our Veterans

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso
 
Earlier this year, my 12-year-old daughter came home annoyed. She had to write an essay – an “Americanism” essay. I asked her why she was so frustrated. Her topic was specific – “what can you do to help homeless veterans in your community.”
 
She didn’t know where to begin.
 
We got in the car and I brought her to a main intersection near our home – one where I knew a gentleman would be. A gentleman who holds a sign that says “homeless vet – please help.” We have helped him in whatever ways we were able this winter – gloves, a blanket, water, warm meals – all without my children realizing that this man had a story.  
 
I would have loved to sit with him and hear his story – have her hear his journey first hand. The center median of a busy intersection during rush hour isn’t the place to safely stop and chat. Though she wasn’t able to hear his tale first hand, I think my goal was accomplished. Her eyes – naive to so much of the world still – were opened to the very real problem of veteran homelessness in our very own community.
 
She then took her search to The Google and learned that there is a homeless shelter walking distance from our house. She looked up “resources for Veterans” and found herself on the VA’s site.She clicked local centers and found one very near to her school. As she searched, we talked. We talked about why homelessness happens. We talked about what goes on when an active duty servicemember becomes a Veteran and the changes that come with that transition. We talked about the possible challenges and pitfalls.
 
Unfortunately for my girl, our conversation left her with more questions than answers. However, she was able to create a plan on how homeless veterans could be helped in our community. She submitted her essay into her English/Language Arts teacher the next day, and her teacher (as well as the other fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade teachers from hers as well as four other area schools) forwarded the essays along to the local American Legion.
 
Fast forward to March. I stood outside of IHM, awaiting my children when my oldest came running up to me and said “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy. Read this.” She pointed to the envelope in the side pouch of her back pack. The envelope contained a letter from the local American Legion, congratulating her on winning first place in the Americanism essay contest!
 
A week later, we were invited into the American Legion monthly meeting for a presentation of the local winners. My heart was bursting with pride as my child read her speech in front of her family, friends and American Legion members. As proud as I felt for her, my heart still felt a bit heavy that this topic should even be the subject of a middle school essay contest.
 
However, the more I thought about it, I realized the importance of this topic and why it is necessary to educate our children about veterans and those that face homelessness.
 
Having not grown up in a military family, much of my initial time as a staff member for MilitaryConnection.com has been spent gathering information, learning about the military and understanding a culture that I have always proudly supported but never fully understood. We have all seen someone standing outside in the elements holding a cardboard sign that said “Veteran and Homeless.” I’m sure most of us look at that sign and think “something needs to change.” Not many of us know how to start that change.
 
I am so very proud of my daughter for thinking outside of the box with her solutions and the way she can personally help in our community. The solution to homelessness among our veterans is within our grasp. These men and women know hard work. They know dedication. They have served our country and in many cases, seen the worst that warfare can show. Their homelessness isn’t a choice, it is often a byproduct of their experiences.
 
One of the highlights of my professional career has been interviewing and writing about Scott Beaty, a 20-year Naval Submarine Veteran who found himself in dire straights after his return to civilian life. Beaty, a PTSD sufferer and advocate, has helped countless veterans in similar circumstances by connecting them with art therapy. Through Veteran Art Connection, our online art gallery, veterans who utilize art therapy are able to share their work and in doing so, become entrepreneurs who can sell their creations.
 
We will continue to be leaders in our solutions to the problem of Veteran homelessness. As a parent, I will continue to teach my children how they can help and be hands-on to work to eradicate this issue for future generations.
 
Rosie’s original essay, as submitted to the American Legion, is below:
 
Helping Homeless Veterans
 
I can help by helping. I can help homeless veterans get jobs. If they can get a job then they can get money. If they have money then they can retain the money for a home, so they won’t be homeless anymore.
 
To start my program, I will find a team of veteran volunteers who are willing to go to homeless shelters and recruit homeless veterans. I would go to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Loch Raven Boulevard and ask them to help me to find volunteers. Our volunteers will work with veterans once they are enrolled in our program. We would make contact with the Fisher House Foundation to request assistance in finding long term housing for our initial group of veterans.
 
We need to help our group of homeless veterans find jobs. To do this, they need an address, interview clothes and help with applications. Our volunteers will help them write applications. To make sure that they are dressed nicely for their interview my school and the attached church can start a nice clothing drive and have the homeless come pick something nice to wear for their job interview. Before their job interview they will need to get ready it would be my plan to have the clothing bank near showers so they can get ready in one spot. Then we will need to get them to their interview. I can do this by gathering people to drive them.
 
Our volunteers will help our veterans stay employed and teach them how to use their money to stay in their home. My plan will help get homeless veterans off the streets and out of shelters. If we all work together, then this plan will work. It is better to work for what you need.