Teeing Up Our Nation’s Heroes For Recovery

Reflecting on the healing powers of adaptive sports after the World’s Largest Golf Outing

Earlier this month, I had the chance to witness hundreds of golf courses and golfers across the country join forces to participate in the World’s Largest Golf Outing (WLGO). As an avid golfer, seeing so many golfers take the courses was even more special for me because, for the fourth year in a row, the event sought to raise awareness and funds for Fisher House Foundation. 

For most WLGO participants, the tournament is another great way to hit the links, but for our nation’s heroes, golf and other sports can mean so much more. For many returning service members and veterans, the battle is only just beginning. Thousands of veterans have wounds both visible and invisible that require an incredible amount of strength to overcome. In fact, in 2016, approximately four million veterans reported having a disability related to their time in service (U.S. Census Bureau). 

After an injury and a world turned upside down, patients embark on the difficult path to recovery. Throughout the rehabilitation process, some turn to adaptive sports. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, those who participate in adaptive sports experience less stress, lower dependency on pain medicine, fewer secondary conditions and greater independence.

Captain Will Reynolds has experienced the healing power of sports firsthand. In 2004, Will was severely injured by in an IED explosion that led to 26 surgeries and the eventual amputation of his left leg. In an effort to relieve stress and set recovery goals, Will turned to sports, going on to compete in the Warrior Games and the Invictus Games, where he won three bronze medals and served as captain of the 2016 U.S. Invictus Games team.  

Or take a look at U.S. Navy Lieutenant Brad Snyder. In 2011, Brad stepped on an IED while helping victims of a nearby bombing, leading to severe injuries including a shattered eardrum and loss of vision. In his difficult recovery and journey back into civilian life, he found solace in swimming and went on to win seven gold medals at the Warrior Games and one gold medal at the Paralympics.

Fisher House is proud to support our military members throughout their recovery and to work with the unique organizations paving the way through adaptive sports. At the WLGO, it was incredible to watch community members of all ages coming together to honor our military and witness many recovering veterans and service members get out on the course and play. Through this support, Billy Casper Golf raised more than $308,000 to help us continue to our mission to serve our nation’s heroes.

At Fisher House, we know that the best medicine doesn’t always come from a doctor’s office. It can come from a family’s love, the connections we make with one another or the healing power of sports. We’re proud to stand with military families through the tough times and be there to witness their triumphs on or off the field. Giving back and standing beside our military can also come in a variety of different ways. Whether it’s through a donation, volunteering or simply thanking a veteran for their service, I urge readers to take the time to give back to our nation’s heroes.  

Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher House

Great Things for Returning Veterans To Learn

Great Things for Returning Veterans to Learn

Returning to civilian life after military life isn’t easy. It takes some time to adjust to your new lifestyle and your new routines. One question that a lot of veterans face once they return home is “What’s next?” Finding a job after the military is often tough because vets can’t imagine themselves doing anything else. But luckily, there are a ton of jobs out there that are looking for veterans. You just might have to learn a few extra things in order to get the job. Here are some great things for vets to learn when they get home to help them land a job and improve their lives.

How to Start a Business

Before you start thinking about how to get a job, why not create a job? Many veterans are able to turn the skills they’ve acquired into starting their own business. What’s something you’re passionate about or have an interest in? Start exploring the possibilities and developing business ideas. From there you’ll just need to learn a few other things, like how to write up a business plan, how to secure funding, how to find a location for your business, and how to bring in customers/clients. Starting a business isn’t easy, but you wouldn’t have joined the military if you didn’t like a challenge.

How to Teach

A great post-service career for veterans is that of a teacher. Teachers are always in demand, and your skills learned during your service will make you an attractive hire. Many veterans are looking for ways to continue serving their community after they exit, and teaching is a great way to do this. To become a teacher, you’ll likely have to earn your degree or some teaching certifications. What you need will vary from state to state, so check out the rules in your local area. In the meantime you may be able to start substitute teaching so you can try it out and see if you like it.

How to do Construction

Some veterans would prefer to work with their hands, so learning how to do construction is a good choice for them. With construction work you get to spend the day doing tough labor, but at the end of the project there’s an enormous sense of pride. You may need some skills or certifications before you can begin, but these aren’t too tough to get. For instance, you could check out a local vocational school to learn things like welding. Or you could even get an online forklift certification. Think about what type of construction work you want to do, then look into the skills and certifications necessary to land a job doing it.

How to Manage Your Finances

Whatever job you get, it’s important that you learn how to manage your money properly. You don’t want to land a job and quickly find yourself in debt or realize too late that you didn’t plan well for your retirement. Look for some local classes in your area that can teach you about budgeting, saving and investing. These money management skills can then not only help you in your personal life, but you can even use them to land a job.

Computer Proficiency

These days many jobs are all about computers. Even a lot of entry-level jobs will require that you have proficiency in things like social media, spreadsheets or word processing tools.  To make your resume more attractive for whatever job you’re after, it’s good if you have some basic computer skills. Most areas offer classes either at schools or your library, or you can even find some online courses. Don’t worry if computers aren’t really your thing at the moment – mastering the basics isn’t too difficult. And who knows, you may develop a love for computers and end up getting a job like a computer systems analyst or web designer.

Mechanical Skills

Finally, another option for those of you who want to work with your hands is getting some mechanical skills. There are many jobs you can do where you’re fixing or installing machinery or equipment, but you’ll need some training before you do. Consider looking into becoming a certified HVAC technician, a mechanic, or even an electrician. You can do this through vocational schools or perhaps an apprenticeship program. Once you have these skills, combined with your military service, you’ll be an attractive hire for any business.

So, take some time to think about what type of job it is you’d like to do. Then get started acquiring the skills necessary to do it. The military gives you plenty of skills to get a job, but adding in a few extra never hurts.

Texas Continues to Deliver Resources Veterans Can Use for Their Startups

Texas Continues to Deliver Resources Veterans Can Use for Their Startups

When your service in the military ends, a big question then looms in front of you – what next? Many veterans embark on their new career, using the skills they learned in the service to land a job. Others use the opportunity to start that business they’ve always dreamed of.

Small business ownership is a great option for veterans, as it requires many of the skills you gained during your service, such as passion, leadership and ingenuity. Best of all, there are many resources available to veterans to help them start the business, especially if you live in a place like Texas. Here are just a few of the types of resources Texas provides to veterans looking to create a startup.

Learn How to Start a Business

As is often the case for both veterans and non-veterans alike, you have a strong desire to start a business, but you have no idea where to begin or how to do it. You feel like you’d be excellent at running a business once it’s started, but getting there is a mystery. Luckily, there are some great organizations that can provide all the information you need.

For example, there’s the Veteran Entrepreneur Program run by the Texas Veterans Commission. This program provides a ton of information and resources. They work with veterans along every stage of the startup journey, providing guidance wherever you may need it. They can also provide you with a “Veteran Verification Letter” for your business and put you in contact with other businesses owners in the area.

 Another option is the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), which also provides veterans with resources for starting their own business. This one is located in Edinburg, so perhaps it’s a little closer to home depending on where you live. But no matter what area of Texas you’re currently residing in, you can rest assured there is some program nearby that aims to help veterans learn how to start a business.

Get Help Winning Contracts

Once you have your startup running, you may need to secure some contracts. If you’ve never done this before, you may need some help learning not only about how it works, but about how you can win them. For this you can turn to a resource like The Angelina College Procurement Assistance Center. The ACPAC is a nonprofit that assists businesses in East Texas in securing contracts from government agencies. They provide workshops, counseling assistance, and much more. If you’re in the area, schedule an appointment and see how they can help you.

Make Connections

Another important aspect of running a successful business is forming connections with other business owners in the area. By networking and making connections with other business owners, you can find ways to improve your business and generate new customers. However, it’s not always easy to make these connections when you’re first starting out.

One way to start is by looking at organizations like The Texas Military Officers Association. This nonprofit is for current and veteran military officers who want to become business owners. They have monthly gatherings where the members can meet to discuss their business plans and make connections. This particular organization is located in the Austin area, but there are plenty of other ways to network throughout Texas.

Get Discounted Supplies

Finally, your business will need some supplies to operate. As a military veteran, you can get a discount at places like Office Depot and OfficeMax to help supply your business. If you need to set up an entire office space, there are other ways to get discount supplies.  For example, let’s say you wanted to install some cubicles in your new office space. According to ROSI Office Systems, a provider of used cubicles in Houston, you can “save up to 70% with used or remanufactured cubicles.” This is just another way that Texas businesses make it easy for veterans to get started on a tight budget.

Make the Most of Available Resources

Veterans are used to operating within a team. Once you leave the service, it’s important to remember that there is still a team of people you can rely on, especially when it comes to starting up a business in Texas. There are many organizations and non-profits standing by to provide you with all the assistance you could possibly need, from planning your startup to landing your first customers. So, once you decide that you want to start your own business, don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Make the most of the resources that are available to you, and before long you’ll have the small business you’ve been dreaming of.

4 Ways You Can Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

4 Ways You Can Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

Contributed by LA Police Gear

Veterans face a difficult task when returning to civilian life after a military career. Vets from the post 9/11 era have even more trouble with the transition to the civilian world than those of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

 

Finding a job outside the military world can prove frustrating because civilian employers translate military experience differently. A supervisor in the military may only qualify for an entry-level career or job in the civilian world. There’s a significant communication barrier as far as understanding what people in the military experience or what the job involves. Also, many veterans never learned the skills required to search for work. This problem alone often overwhelms veterans.

 

Let’s not forget that not everyone transitioning out of the military is healthy and able to find work. Injured veterans face many struggles because, when they come home, they can’t work. They face things like PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), mental health problems, and severe injuries such as the loss of limbs. There are resources and organizations that provide help for veterans, and even you can help them adjust to civilian life.

 

Why Veterans Find It Difficult to Transition to Civilian Life

Veterans often find that their civilian friends and family don’t understand what military life is like and the experiences they face. This barrier creates a large communication gap and the feeling of loneliness.

 

Returning to family roles is hard. Vets must re-integrate into the household and re-develop their role in the family. 

 

In the service, the military provides everything you need, such as shelter, clothing, food, and other necessary items. They even have schedules for everything in your life like work, mealtimes, and sleep. Transitioning back into the civilian world means that the veteran has to furnish all of those necessities not only for themselves but often for their family as well. This situation can be truly distressing.

 

When it comes to work, the civilian world is tremendously competitive. In the military, you’re trained to work as a team, but, in the private sector, people focus on getting themselves ahead instead of working together as a team. Teamwork is such a massive foundation to military success that veterans find the extreme competitiveness selfish and unfit for the greater good of everyone.

 

Help for Veterans

Many organizations exist that provide support for veterans, and there are ways you can help as well. Here are some ways to help veterans.

 

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Sponsor a Companion Animal for Vets with PTSD

Over one-third of all Afghanistan and Iraq veterans experience PTSD. Managing PTSD is not just difficult for the vets but for their friends and family as well. It’s hard to deal with the ghosts of war and military service. Companion dogs provide comfort and support.

 

There are programs where donors can sponsor a K9 and receive updates about the dog’s life with its veteran and their family, as well as its training. By sponsoring a dog, you’re saving the life of the dog and a veteran.

 

K9s For Warriors provides highly trained service dogs to military veterans to help them recover and heal from both emotional and physical scars. Sponsorship includes training the dog to be a service K9, training materials, equipment, and medical care.

 

Help Homeless Veterans

It’s heartbreaking that so many of our military heroes end up jobless and on the streets. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ started the Stand Down Program to help homeless veterans battle street life. 

 

The program was named after the military term “stand down,” which applied to exhausted combat military units that were taken off the field of battle to “stand down” in a secure place where they could rest. 

 

This program consists of one- to three-day events that provide health screenings, shelter, clothing, and food to unemployed and homeless veterans fighting a different kind of war for survival on the streets. Contact your local VA hospital to find a Stand Down program close to you. If you know a homeless veteran or one at risk of homelessness, contact 1-877-4AID-Vet to find them help through Veterans Affairs. Despite how it may seem, the VA does try to help as many homeless vets as possible.

 

Build a Home for an Injured Veteran

There’s a fantastic program called Building Homes for Heroes that constructs homes specifically modified for severely injured vets who want to live independently. Injured veterans need a safe place to live that accommodates their physical injuries. The greatest part of the program is that the veteran doesn’t have to pay anything for the home. Building Homes for Heroes also provides help with financial planning.

 

Organizations that Provide Help for Veterans

Here are some other organizations that help vets

 

 

  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

 

Founded in 2004, this organization realized there was a considerable gap between public perception and what was actually happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. No one wanted to acknowledge what soldiers experienced and dealt with. Their mission is to educate veterans on healthcare, mental illness, GI Bill benefits, and more, as well as connect them with other vets.

 

IAVA is a broad network of post 9/11 VEOs (veteran empowerment organizations). They also work with elected officials to ensure that vets aren’t ignored and they receive the care that they deserve. 

 

 

  • Wounded Warrior Project

 

This organization connects injured veterans with many programs that help them transition to the civilian world. They understand that each vet faces their own unique challenges when leaving military life behind. A couple of these programs are Physical Health and Wellness and The Combat Stress Recovery program. 

 

Other organizations include:

 

  • National Association of American Veterans (NAAV)
  • American Legion
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
  • AMVETS
  • America Wants You
  • Veterans Support Organization (VSO)
  • VetJobs
  • USO
  • Vista College
  • GI Bill

 

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If you have a veteran in your life, show them your appreciation with a high-quality LAPG military gift. LAPG also has some excellent selections of holiday gear.  Remember, we should be honoring our military veterans and not ignoring their plight.  

 

Meta Data: Our military veterans come home battle weary and mentally worn down. Many find the transition to civilian life extremely difficult. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can help a vet, as well as organizations that provide support in a variety of ways.

 

5 Survival Tips for Transitioning Your Kids to College

5 Survival Tips for Transitioning Your Kids to College

It’s that time of year again – the Back to School lists are published, supply shopping has begun and for many parents, a big step is looming – when your child is ready to leave the nest and head to college for the first time. For military parents, this can be a complete flip of how most of your life as a parent has gone. If you have been in the active duty, you have been the one to pack your bags and head off for months at a time. While you might be accustomed to not seeing your child every day, are you ready for that child to have all of the adventures away from you? Are you concerned with how you will handle it when the tables are turned? You aren’t alone! Read on for 5 easy tips that just might ease your child’s college transition!

Why is A Successful Transition Important? 

Let’s be honest – this is an exciting transition for them, but a terrifying one for you! As excited as you might be for your child to make this next step, it is new. It is likely the biggest adjustment you have faced as a parent since the day you brought your precious bundle home. You have already done all of the “big” things – like paying the deposit to secure their spot and starting tuition payments, but there are many little things that go into this transition as well. The successfulness of this time period sets the stage for the next four years! Approximately 25% of college enrolled freshmen withdraw before graduation. That number increases when the college attendee is the first in their family to go to college. Making the transition from live-at-home kid to independent-yet-still-attached college student smooth may help your child see their degree through to completion. 

 

#1: Set up a joint account that both you and your child have access to regularly

Keep the lines of financial dependence open…for now

 

Kids are expensive. From day 1, your precious angel has been costing you more money their you ever imagined. The needs have changed, however, and the cash flow is no longer going towards diapers and wipes. You shouldn’t be contributing cash towards a night out with friends or a new tattoo – however stressing over expenses that your child has never considered prior to now might encourage an early arrival home. For example, a simple sinus infection might be easily addressed at the school’s health center. If an antibiotic is needed, the stress of having to pay for needed medicine might stress your child more than ever. Parents need to remember that some of these things, which are completely commonplace in the adult world, are new and perhaps intimidating to the average college freshman. 

 

Opening a joint account not only gives you the capability to help your child when needed, it allows you a window into their day-to-day spending habits. With freedom comes responsibility and the combination can prove destructive without a guiding hand!

 

#2: Go through a list of some basic life skills that will come in handy

Adulting means taking care of your space, too!

 

Laundry. Grocery shopping. Vacuuming. Dusting. There are so many things you do on a regular basis to keep your house in order, and your child has likely taken them all for granted. Will they have access to a full kitchen at school? Or just a mini fridge and microwave? Do they know that even the minifridge needs to be cleaned out regularly? Have they explored the value of a vacuuming? Take the time to put together a list of your day-to-day chores and then look to see what your child has attempted before and what would be brand new. 

 

Odds are good that your child has had chores prior to now and that he or she knows how to take care of some basics around the dorm room. If you want to avoid an entirely pink wardrobe, it is worth the extra few minutes to make sure they know that red sweaters can’t be washed with the white t-shirts and socks!

 

#3: Make their room a home

Remind your child that home is their favorite place.

 

Does your child have a favorite blanket that she uses whenever she sits on the couch? A mug that he drinks soup out of whenever he is feeling under the weather? If you can’t part with the original, try to find a similar replicate to send with your child for when he or she needs the “comforts of home.” If you have traveled for active duty, there might be items of significance that your child has held onto over the years. Make sure those things are there and providing the same comfort they did when you waved goodbye to your 6-year-old. Most college dorms don’t allow things like candles – but if you have particular scents around your home, look for flameless alternatives that will produce the same familiar and comforting scent. 

 

This is likely their first home away from home, at least for an extended period of time. For military kids whose parents deploy, the sense of comfort might not always be with the parent, but with items that remind the child of their parents.

 

#4: Insurance provides peace of mind

You just never know what might go wrong…

 

Health insurance – keep your child on your health insurance plan as long as possible. Odds are good that your plan, whether it is TRICARE or something else, is better than anything they might have access to on their own. Health insurance is the big one that usually comes to mind – but is your child taking a car on campus? Is that campus in another state? You might want to check with your car insurance provider as well. Additionally – having your child out of the house for months at a time might actually save you some money! Other insurances to think about are things like phone and laptop insurance. Crazy things can happen in a college dorm room, and a $150 to replace a phone or laptop is far more affordable than a new device! 

 

#5: Remember what made you happy

It will likely make your child happy too!

 

Did you love getting care packages when you were deployed? Cards with little love notes from your child? Cookies baked with love? Necessities that were abundant at home but scarce overseas? Your child might find him or herself in the same boat! Care packages make even the worst day a little brighter. Remember: on a college  campus, nothing is sacred. If you are sending cookies, school supplies or candy – make sure you send enough to share! 

 

The little touches of home remind your child that you care and can help combat homesickness. 

 

And Finally…

 

College is a big deal. It is just as big of a change to you, your spouse, your household and your child as the day you brought that baby home from the hospital! There will be days when you want to drop kick your soon-to-be college freshman all the way to that dorm room – and there will be days when you want to just hold him or her and never let go. All of those emotions are normal, expected and necessary! Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart – and sometimes, neither is childhood!

 

A Guide to Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life

A Guide to Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life
Contributed by LA Police Gear

According to the Department of Defense, about 1,300 military members transition out of military careers and into civilian life each year, and studies show that nearly two-thirds of them reported that the transition was difficult. Data points to a few different reasons for this—lack of resources for former soldiers, physical and emotional traumas relating to their time served, and the fact that businesses simply don’t seem to understand the needs of these uniquely skilled candidates.

If you’re planning on making the big transition, know one thing before all else: You’re not alone. While it may feel like it, there are a number of places you can, and should, look to for support. This will help you reintegrate into a civilian neighborhood, community, and job so you can set yourself up for a stable, successful life outside the service. We’re here to help you make the process move as smoothly as possible for our heroic American military members who are separating from the forces.

Leverage Your Resources
If you’re just beginning to toy with the idea of leaving your unit, it’s a good idea to seek advice and support from the professionals or those who have gone through this transition themselves. Some of the best places to look for assistance include:

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) – The VA’s TAP program exists for the sole purpose of helping vets reintegrate into regular life. In practice, this means providing soldiers with the tools, training, and resources they need to find housing and work outside the military. Visit your local transition office to see what this program can do for you or use their online tools throughout the transition process.

Installation Briefings – Your installation should have occasional briefings to provide transitioning soldiers with advice and assistance before they re-enter civilian society. These briefings may offer tools on how to dress for interviews, use the internet for job-hunting, properly negotiate, etc. Your installation should also provide you and your spouse with one-on-one assistance for up to 180 days after discharge.

USAA Transition Checklist – The USAA has become much more than just a bank an insurer to military families. They also provide many vital skills to help aid in the transition. For example, they offer a useful step-by-step transition checklist that you can customize to meet your transition timeline, goals, and budget. The association also offers a separation assessment tool and savings options to help make the transition go as smoothly as possible.

Transition Assistance Organizations – In addition to VA-funded resources, there are also a number of independent nonprofits and groups that exist specifically for aiding military members during their transitional period. Here is a great list of some groups that do this kind of work. It includes many of the veteran’s organizations you’re already familiar with, including the American Legion, Wounded Warrior Project, and the USO.

Vets Who Have Made the Transition – While you’re still living on base and surrounded by military members, try to connect with one or two vets who have recently made the transition. They, most likely, will be much more aware of the immediate challenges, tricks, and resources than anyone who works for the above programs. You can even do this online through digital military mentorship programs like Veterati and eMentor.

Leverage Your Skills
As a member of the armed forces, you undoubtedly learned many unique skills that prepared you for your next endeavor. Teamwork, preparedness, strategic thinking, problem-solving, physical strength—these are all in your wheelhouse, and employers will be able to put them to good use.

Consider WARTAC – The Warrior Training Advancement Course (WARTAC) is a collaborative program between the VA and the Department of Defense that exists to train transitioning warriors to work for the VA, primarily processing disability claims. Though this may not serve your long-term career goals, it can certainly provide you with some solid, stable work while you’re easing back into civilian life or while you’re doing job training or taking college classes.

Get Your VMET – Your Verification of Military Experiences and Training (form DD 2586) serves as an overview of your entire military career and training record, complete with any specialty training, awards, and certificates. You should have this on hand, alongside your DD 214, to add to your resumés, job applications, and online job sites. The TAP can help with obtaining these documents if you don’t have them on hand.

Play Up Your Experience – Even though it may not seem like your intrepid military skills would be considered desirable in a typical civilian work environment, such as in an office, the traits you’ve honed while in the service are extremely attractive to most employers. Be sure to make your military service—and the skills you gleaned from it—the crown jewel of your resumé. Just make sure not to lay the military jargon on too thick in a way that’s alienating to potential employers.

Go for Military-Friendly Fields – Inherently, some fields of work are much friendlier to vets than others. For example, many members of the military transition directly into law enforcement—about 19 percent of police officers served—and first response work. Though the police gear and tactical skills required for the job definitely cross over from one field to another, there are differences to consider. What’s more, veterans should have an in-depth psychological evaluation before entering this field, as the high-stress nature could re-trigger certain traumas.

Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier
Many veterans struggle with their identities when they leave the armed forces. One thing that’s important to remember when you take this big leap is that, just because you’re no longer considered active duty, it doesn’t mean you’re no longer a soldier. Your time served was not in vain, especially if you use everything you learned to set yourself up for the post-service life you’ve always wanted. Ideally, the skills and experiences you took from your service will propel you to exciting new avenues in civilian life.

 

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.