The Invictus Games Focus on Issues Including Mental Health and PTSD

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Let’s Talk: Mental Health Awareness and the Invictus Games

It’s finally 2017, the year Canada will play host to the third and largest Invictus Games!

Toronto will soon welcome 550 wounded, ill and injured servicemen, women and veterans — from 17 nations — to compete in a dozen sports.

The Invictus Games will also give us an opportunity to talk more openly about many issues facing our military families. Issues like physical accessibility, employment transition and post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI).

This month, we are partnering with Bell Media, exclusive broadcast partner of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, to highlight the invisible injuries sustained by our soldiers as a result of their service. For the first time, Bell will be profiling a veteran in its annual Let’s Talk Day — a campaign they launched seven years ago to help remove the stigma around mental illness, which affects 1 in 5 Canadians.

We hope that the people across Canada who watch and participate in the Games will become more aware of these important issues and may even reach out to someone who may need their help. We look forward to playing our role in this important conversation and using these Games to improve the lives of many individuals and their families.

Happy New Year!

Michael Burns, Chief Executive Officer for the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee


Bell Let’s Talk Campaign with Invictus Games Alumni Bruno Guévremont

One of the biggest hurdles for anyone suffering from mental illness is overcoming the stigma. It is the number one reason why two-thirds of those living with mental illness do not seek help.

The Bell Let’s Talk awareness campaign encourages a national conversation about mental illness and helps fight the stigma and impact of mental health issues across Canada.

Last year, a record 122,150,772 tweets, texts, calls and shares were made as part of the campaign, helping to raise more than $6.1 million for mental health initiatives. The hashtag #BellLetsTalk was a number-one trend on Twitter in Canada and worldwide, with a total of 4,775,708 tweets made.

As the exclusive Canadian broadcast partner for the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, Bell has announced that Bruno Guévremont, captain of the 2016 Invictus Games Team Canada, will be the newest ambassador in the 2017 Bell Let’s Talk campaign.  A 15-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy, Bruno has struggled with post-traumatic stress injury since his release from the military. This will be the first time in the campaign’s seven-year history that a soldier or veteran will be profiled, and doing so will certainly help increase public awareness of the broad spectrum of mental health issues faced by members of our military community.

This month, help us make a change. Join the conversation around mental illness and take part in Bell Let’s Talk activities.

#IAM #BellLetsTalk Twitter Chat

Help us break the stigma around mental health by participating in our Mental Health Awareness Twitter chat on January 25, Bell Let’s Talk Day. From noon to 1 p.m. (ET) follow us on Twitter (@InvictusToronto) and show your support for those coping with invisible wounds by using hashtags #IAM #BellLetsTalk.

For every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, Bell will contribute 5 cents to programs dedicated to mental health!


Tune-In to the Newly-Launched Invictus Games Radio Podcast!

Most of us will never know the horrors of combat. Many servicemen and women suffer life-changing injuries, both visible and invisible, while serving their countries. The Invictus Games Radio podcast gives a voice to those working for — and impacted by — physical or invisible injuries to military servicemen, women and veterans. In this podcast series, we will bring to life the stories of those affected, their family members and the people who care for them, and in their own voices.

Invictus Games Radio provides the listener with the opportunity to get up close and personal with these stories and have the chance to truly understand the impact and sacrifice that military service has had on these men and women.

In our first episode, we explore post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with Col. Rakesh Jetly, psychiatrist with the Canadian Armed Forces and mental health advisor to the surgeon general. Canadian military who served in Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) as Invictus Games competitors prefer to call it, at almost twice the rate of the rest of the Canadian population. The problem is serious.

In this episode, Colonel Rakesh Jetly discusses the challenges of coping with and treating mental health issues for active and retired members of the Canadian military family.

Colonel Jetly is a well-known international speaker and the author of numerous articles published on the subject of mental health. His professional, knowledgeable and empathetic approach to mental health comes through loud and clear in this podcast conversation.

For more on this and other great stories, visit our website and make sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


Talking About Mental Health — Joel Guidon Shares His Story

Retired Master Corporal Joel Guidon served with the army and completed tours of duty in both Bosnia and Afghanistan. Upon his return, it was clear to Joel and his family that he was not himself. Before PTSD, Joel was motivated, active and enjoyed life. When PTSD hit, everything changed. The Invictus Games gave him an opportunity to turn his life around, and an outlet to cope with his stress injury.

In this video, Joel speaks honestly about his struggle with post-traumatic stress, and how adaptive sport changed his life. It’s important that we encourage an open conversation about mental health and related struggles. Let’s talk.


Signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, with Psychologist Vivien Lee

PTSD has emerged as a leading issue for Canadian military veterans, especially those who served in combat missions in Afghanistan. Psychologist Vivien Lee from Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has treated many of those vets, whose lives fell apart when they were repatriated to Canada. We spoke to her about her work with veterans and how to identify signs of PTSD.

Key Symptoms of PTSD: 

Intrusive thoughts:  Nightmares and flashbacks. Memories just pop into their head and they can’t get them out. Triggers like a car backfiring and they think it’s a gunshot or bomb going off.

Avoidance: Actively trying to push traumatic memories out of their head.  It can involve a lot of drinking, drugs or anything to numb their brains.

Negative changes in thought process:  Some veterans see themselves as damaged or broken. They may blame themselves for things that happened, especially if they lost a member of their platoon. They rely on each other for their lives, and it feels very much like losing a family member.

Hypervigilance: During a combat mission, they constantly have to look out for threat. While doing so keeps them alive, it’s not adaptable to everyday life. They can go into a grocery store and be constantly scanning for danger. Veterans with PTSD can’t turn that part of their brain off.

The good news is that the growing awareness of the prevalence and impact of PTSD means that more veterans are coming forward to seek help, and are getting the treatment and support they need.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation Releases Best Practices for Organizations Providing Emergency Assistance to Veteran and Military Families

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The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant economic downturn have had a profound financial impact on millions of Americans, including our nation’s veterans and military families.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) quickly pivoted their 2020 grantmaking plans to get critical funding into the hands of their partners, enabling emergency financial assistance (EFA) for veterans when and where it was needed most. Based on insights gathered from their grantees, BWF has now released “Emergency Financial Assistance: Best Practices,” the latest issue in their Stand SMART for Heroes research series, to share key findings that can help organizations minimize risk and maximize impact for veterans and their families.

In April 2020, BWF released a pivotal research paper, “Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social, and Mental Health Needs of America’s Veterans,” indicating that half of veterans between the ages of 25 and 44 had less than $3,000 to $4,000 in savings before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Additionally, 15% of veterans were employed in industries that were most likely to be impacted by the pandemic.

In anticipation of increased need, BWF leveraged their findings and expedited their 2020 grants to provide direct support to the military and veteran population during the pandemic, broadening their usual granting criteria to include applications from programs providing EFA. At the same time, BWF developed a survey to evaluate applicants for risk and professionalism. The results of that survey formed the basis for this latest research paper publication.

“Providing support to cover rent, groceries, home or vehicle repairs, or other unexpected expenses can help veterans maintain stability in the short term, so that they can thrive in the long term,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, Chief Executive Officer of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “By sharing what we’ve learned from our network through our latest issue of Stand SMART for Heroes, we’re shining a light on this urgent need while also providing an important resource to organizations that want to help.”
For more information, and for funders interested in supporting emergency financial assistance programs, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org/stand-smart-for-heroes/.

About the Bob Woodruff Foundation:
The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) was founded in 2006 after reporter Bob Woodruff was wounded by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq. Since then, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has led an enduring call to action for people to stand up for heroes and meet the emerging and long-term needs of today’s veterans, including suicide prevention, mental health, caregiver support, and food insecurity. To date, BWF has invested over $76 million to Find, Fund and Shape™ programs that have empowered impacted veterans, service members, and their family members, across the nation. For more information, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org or follow us on Twitter at @Stand4Heroes.

Tens of thousands of veteran caregivers now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine through VA

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Hands of a doctor in latex gloves fill a syringe from vial of covid vaccine going to give an injection isolated on white

By Leo Shane lll
Military Times

Tens of thousands of caregivers providing critical medical support to disabled veterans will be eligible to receive coronavirus vaccine doses soon under a new policy announced by the Department of Veterans Affairs this week.

The move comes after a coalition of veterans groups lobbied for the caregivers to be pushed to the top of the vaccine list, arguing that they deserved to be included in the first wave of medical professionals being protected against the deadly illness.

In response, Dr. Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, released a memo this week asserting that individuals registered with the department’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers can be given the vaccine “in a coordinated manner with the veterans for whom they provide care.”

More than 6,700 Veterans Affairs patients have died from virus complications in the last 10 months.
Leo Shane III

Specifics on an exact timeline for vaccinations was not released. The memo states that decisions will be made “in balance with site-specific resources, needs, vaccine availability, hesitancy to accept the vaccine, and status of the pandemic locally.

In an interview with Military Times, Stone said that he is shifting many of those vaccination decisions to local officials, in an effort to provide coverage to more individuals.

“We need to leave it up to people at the besides, to make sure they are making the best decisions for veterans,” he said. “When someone brings a veteran in to give them the vaccine, they can easily identify what the other needs are.”

For caregivers like Jennie Beller, the news is welcome relief.

Read the full article on militarytimes.com

WWII veteran becomes first VA patient to get COVID-19 vaccine

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female VA patient receiving vaccine

Less than three days after the first COVID-19 vaccine received government authorization, a World War II veteran in Massachusetts became the first Veterans Affairs patient in the country to get the shot.

The VA Bedford Healthcare System’s shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived Monday morning and the facility began to administer doses within a few hours.

Margaret Klessens, a 96-year-old resident of the Community Living Center in the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, received the shot Monday at 12:07 p.m., the VA Bedford Healthcare System announced in a statement.

Thirteen minutes later, Andrew Miller, a housekeeper in the environmental management services became the first employee to get the jab.

Elsewhere in Massachusetts, shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were arriving and hospitals are preparing to begin administering them to staff this week.

Boston Medical Center said Monday it received its first shipment of 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID19 vaccine.

Continue on to wvcb.com to read the complete article. Department of Veterans Affairs photo via Twitter.

VA announces initial plans for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced a preliminary plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccinations it will implement once the Food and Drug Administration issues an emergency use authorization for a vaccine.

VA has worked in close coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Operation Warp Speed to plan for COVID-19 vaccination of VA staff and Veterans.

VA will first provide vaccinations to front-line VA health care workers and Veterans residing in long-term care units in 37 of its medical centers across the country.

The centers, listed below, were chosen for their ability to vaccinate large numbers of people and store the vaccines at extremely cold temperatures.

Health care workers will be among the first to receive vaccinations because they are at high risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19 to other staff members and patients, and their health is critical to ensuring the continued care of Veterans.

Veterans in VA’s long-term care facilities will be the first patient group to be vaccinated. As vaccine supplies increase, additional Veterans will receive vaccinations based on factors such as age, existing health problems and other considerations that increase the risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.

VA anticipates a limited vaccine supply immediately after FDA’s approval, but expects more supplies to be available in short order.

“VA is well prepared and positioned to begin COVID-19 vaccinations,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Our ultimate goal is to offer it to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.”

The 37 VA sites chosen for initial distribution of the vaccine will closely monitor patients and staff for side effects and log this information in its vaccine monitoring and tracking system. This is the same system VA uses to monitor reactions to all vaccines, including those for the flu and shingles.

VA will report directly to the CDC data on all vaccine doses administered by VA. The department will also provide general, public updates on the number of people who receive the vaccination at these sites, similar to how VA posts COVID-19 testing figures.

The 37 VA sites are spread throughout the country and include:

Birmingham (AL) VA Health Care System

Phoenix (AZ) VA Health Care System

Greater Los Angeles (CA) VA Health Care System

Palo Alto (CA) VA Health Care System

Eastern Colorado (CO) VA Health Care System

Connecticut (West Haven Campus) VA Health Care System

Washington DC VA Health Care System

Orlando (FL) VA Health Care System

Augusta (GA) VA Health Care System

Edward J. Hines Jr. VA Hospital (IL)

Lexington (KY) VA Health Care System

Southeast Louisiana (New Orleans) VA Health Care System

Maryland (Baltimore) VA Health Care System

Bedford (MA) VA Health Care System

Ann Arbor (MI) VA Health Care System

Minneapolis (MN) VA Health Care System

Harry S Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital (Columbia MO)

St. Louis (MO) VA Health Care System

Omaha (NE) VA Health Care System

Southern Nevada (North Las Vegas) VA Health Care System

Raymond G. Murphy (NM) VA Health Care System

New York Harbor (Brooklyn) VA Health Care System

Western New York (Buffalo) VA Health Care System

Durham (NC) VA Health Care System

Cleveland (OH) VA Health Care System

Oklahoma City (OK) VA Health Care System

Portland (OR) VA Health Care System

Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center (Philadelphia PA)

Pittsburgh (PA) VA Health Care System

Caribbean (Puerto Rico) VA Health Care System

Memphis (TN) VA Health Care System

Dallas (TX) VA Medical Center

Michael E. DeBakey VA Health Care System (Houston TX)

Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital (San Antonio TX)

Richmond (VA) VA Health Care System

Puget Sound (WA) VA Health Care System

Milwaukee (WI) VA Health Care System

Veterans seeking additional information should visit the VA COVID-19 vaccine webpage, contact their care team or visit their facility website.

Source: VA.gov

Top holiday gifts for U.S. Veterans

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During their service, most members of our military missed holidays with family and friends. Make sure this season is merry and bright with these special gifts picked just for U.S. Veterans.

• Give a gift to disabled veterans all across the nation. The DAV Spare Change program allows you to round up purchases on a credit or debit card to automatically donate your “spare change” to support our America’s heroes. Enroll before you go holiday shopping, and do good with every purchase!

• To strengthen its decades-long relationship with the U.S. military, Ford has launched an online store stocked with holiday ideas. One hundred percent of profits from Ford’s Proud to Honor merchandise will benefit two nonprofit military organizations. Shop for shirts, caps, tumblers and more at ford.com/proud-to-honor/store.

• DAV (Disabled American Veterans) celebrates 100 years of service and support for America’s injured and ill veterans and their families. Pick up some caps, hoodies, pins and more at davstore.org and share in the centennial celebration while supporting our nation’s ill and injured heroes!

• Smells like “oh, cool, we’re moving again.” Light up the holidays with the perfect candle for military wives.

• So many veterans enjoy fishing. Rapala launched an exclusive Americana Collection with items for the rookie novice angler to the gearhead technical angler, like this Rapala® trucker cap featuring a red, white and blue Rapala® logo. A portion of each purchase goes to helping our nation’s veterans. Shop the Americana Collection.

• A&W has a history of raising funds to help provide critical programs and services to veterans and their families at no cost. Treat a veteran to an A&W Root Beer Float this holiday season. Find an A&W location near you.

• Remember, give a gift that keeps on giving. To enroll, shop anywhere and help veterans, visit davsparechange.org or text DAV to 26989. Your spare change can provide big gifts for our disabled veterans.

Marriage Enrichment Programs

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With deployments and frequent relocations, military relationships can be put to the test. You’ve aced military life. Now can you bring that same strength and sense of adventure to your marriage?

You can access free, confidential, relationship consultation services like Building Healthy Relationships, as well as non-medical counseling through Military OneSource. Call 800-342-9647 or chat online with our trained professional consultants.

Also, each military service branch offers programs designed to enrich marriage and maintain a healthy relationship by helping couples develop better communication skills and rekindle the romance.

These programs are generally:

  • Run by chaplains and supported by commanders, Military and Family Support Centers, and installation family readiness programs
  • Non-faith-specific
  • Either low-cost or free to service members and spouses

To find out about programs available through your service branch and installation, check with your chaplain or local Military and Family Support Center. Through the center, Military and Family Life Counselors are available on installations and embedded in units.

Here are some service-specific programs:

Army

Installation chaplains offer the Strong Bonds Program. The program features:

  • Weekend retreats that help couples build relationship resiliency
  • Specific retreats for couples, families, single soldiers and for those facing deployment
  • Activities for unit members who are on the same duty cycle

Marine Corps

The Marine Corps offers the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program. This program:

  • Benefits newlyweds and seasoned couples alike
  • Helps couples improve their communication skills and build strong relationships
  • Offers workshops through chaplains and Marine Corps Family Team Building

Navy

Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operations offer marriage enrichment retreats. More information is available on the Navy’s ChaplainCare website. These getaways include:

  • Weekend retreats that help couples focus on their relationships while enjoying food, fun and romance
  • The opportunity for couples to learn about handling conflict, growing their marriage, building intimacy, communication and understanding each other

Air Force

The Air Force Chaplain Corps offers the MarriageCare program. Check with your installation’s chaplain to see what’s available in your area. The MarriageCare program offers:

  • Weekend retreats to help couples to revitalize their marriage while taking a break from military duty
  • A chance to work on communication, forgiveness and other skills
  • Other programs offered by chaplains on Air Force installations

MilSpouse Toolkit

From education on military culture to navigating resources, this track is beneficial for new spouses who may be experiencing a disconnect from their family and need to identify a support system in their new community. This track focuses resources to assist new and current military spouses with adjustment to the military lifestyle, developing coping skills and resources for resiliency.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

Veterans with Crohn’s or Colitis, We Need Your Input!

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If you are a veteran of the U.S. military, and have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, we need your input!

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation invites veterans affected by these diseases to participate in a survey that will help us understand their healthcare needs. Participants of who qualify and complete the survey can be entered for a chance to win a $300 gift card

Start our survey now!

The mission of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is to cure Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who are affected by these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research; providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public; and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD.

For more information about the Foundation, visit: www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org

20 US Veterans, Aged 28-92, to Skydive at the National WWI Museum and Memorial this Veterans Day

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In commemoration of Veterans Day, the National WWI Museum and Memorial serves as a fitting place to honor those who have served — and continue to serve — our country. To recognize these men and women, admission to the Museum and Memorial is free for veterans and active duty military personnel from Saturday, Nov. 7 through Sunday, Nov. 15. General admission for the public is half-price on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11.

A “Legacy Jump” will kick off the Nov. 11 Veterans Day activities at 6:30 a.m. CT Led by Purple Heart Recipient, former Navy SEAL and extreme sports enthusiast, Ryan “Birdman” Parrott, the “Legacy Jump” will feature an All Veteran Group parachute team who will tandem skydive a veteran from each war – World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan War & Iraq War, as well as Sept. 11 – and land on the Museum and Memorial’s North Lawn. The veterans range in age from 28 to 92.

Parrott will cap off the jump with a symbolic WWI Soldier & “Missing Man” BASE Jump from the 217-foot Liberty Memorial Tower in honor of POW-MIAs and a war that is talked about infrequently. The “Legacy Jump” will bring together generations of veterans, including news host Pete Hegseth, to raise funds and awareness for veteran and first responder causes through the Bird’s Eye View Project.

“We’re excited to host this special ‘Legacy Jump’ on Veterans Day,” says Dr. Matthew Naylor, president & CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial.  “We are proud to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country.”

Additionally, the Museum and Memorial will offer a wide variety of events throughout Veterans Day. A free, public Veterans Day Ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. CT in the Memorial Courtyard with a keynote address from Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will deliver a special reading. This year’s abbreviated ceremony, along with all other Veterans Day special events, will be held outdoors with social distancing and masks to ensure the public can celebrate our veterans safely.

Following the ceremony, at 11 a.m. CT, locally-based Cars 4 Heroes will be giving away 11 vehicles to veterans on the North Lawn. The bi-annual Walk of Honor dedication ceremony takes place at 2 p.m. CT, followed by a special outdoor performance from the Kansas City Symphony. Their Mobile Music Box will be on the Southeast Lawn from 3 – 5 p.m. CT.

Support for Veterans Day is provided by Jackson County Executive and County Legislators and Weather or Not.

VETERANS DAY ACTIVITIES: Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020

LEGACY JUMP

When: 6:30 a.m. CT

Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, North Lawn

What: Organized by the Bird’s Eye View Project and led by Purple Heart Recipient, former Navy SEAL from Team 7 and extreme sports enthusiast, Ryan “Birdman” Parrott. An All Veteran Group parachute team will tandem skydive a veteran from each war – World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan War & Iraq War, as well as Sept. 11 – and land on the Museum and Memorial’s North Lawn. Parrott will cap off the event with a symbolic WWI Soldier & “Missing Man” BASE Jump from the 217-foot Liberty Memorial tower.

VETERANS DAY CEREMONY

When: 10 a.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, Memorial Courtyard
What: Join us for a moving ceremony honoring our nation’s veterans with a keynote address from Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Mayor Quinton Lucas will deliver a special reading. This year’s abbreviated ceremony will be outdoors to ensure we can celebrate our veterans safely. Please dress warmly, practice social distancing and wear a mask. FREE to the public.

LIVING HISTORY VOLUNTEERS

When: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, Memorial Courtyard and Paul Sunderland Bridge
What: History is brought to life with our Living History Volunteers who will be available for social distanced pictures. FREE to the public.

CARS 4 HEROES CEREMONY

When: 11 a.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, North Lawn
What: For 24 years, Cars 4 Heroes has provided free, basic, reliable transportation to Veterans, First Responders and their families, that otherwise are not able to obtain transportation for themselves. Join us for a moving ceremony as the organization hands over the keys of 11 cars to deserving individuals.

WALK OF HONOR DEDICATION CEREMONY

When: 2 p.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, Memorial Courtyard
What: More than 100 new Walk of Honor granite bricks will be dedicated during a special ceremony. The Walk of Honor is divided into three sections: bricks dedicated solely to those who served in World War I; bricks dedicated to veterans of any military service; and bricks that honor civilian friends, family or organizations. Walk of Honor bricks are dedicated twice each year during Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies. FREE to the public.

KANSAS CITY SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE

When: 3 – 5 p.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, Southeast Lawn
What: At a time when audiences cannot visit indoor venues, the Symphony is taking the music on the road to reach music lovers and families in every corner of the metropolitan area. Kansas City Symphony’s new outdoor stage on wheels, the Mobile Music Box, will be on the Museum and Memorial’s Southeast Lawn for a 3 p.m. CT performance. FREE to the public.

About the National WWI Museum and Memorial

The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum and Memorial holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war. The Museum and Memorial takes visitors of all ages on an epic journey through a transformative period and shares deeply personal stories of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice. Designated by Congress as America’s official World War I Museum and Memorial and located in downtown Kansas City, Mo., the National WWI Museum and Memorial inspires thought, dialogue and learning to make the experiences of the Great War era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations. To learn more, visit theworldwar.org.

About the Birds Eye View Project

The Birds Eye View Project (BEVP) uses extreme sports to raise funds and awareness for veteran and first responder charities. Veteran and former Navy SEAL, Ryan “Birdman” Parrott knew that it takes big events to make a significant impact. That’s what this is. That’s why we are here. One man’s idea of running from Dallas to Waco in 24 hours to raise $100K for charity, turned into a charity that performs over-the-top stunts to impact those who need it most – veteran and First-responders injured in the line of duty – raising funds and awareness for small charities that need help doing their awesome work.

Photo Credit: The National WWI Museum and Memorial

Best Wellness Apps

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Your wellness is a top priority, and there are many resources out there to help you manage stress and access all the benefits and tools that will help you stay strong in body and mind. Below are self-care mobile applications developed within the Department of Defense, Veteran Affairs and other partners. All mobile applications are free and all are for iOS and/or Android devices.

Breathe2Relax
Trains you on the “belly breathing” technique that has proven benefits for your overall mental health. Use the app’s breathing exercises to learn and practice on your own or as part of a stress management program supervised by your health care provider.

App Store

Google Play

Positive Activity Jackpot
Helps users who may be overwhelmed by depression find nearby enjoyable activities. Can’t decide?  Let the app’s jackpot function make the choice.

App Store

Google Play

LifeArmor
Touch-screen technology allows the user to browse information on 17 topics, including sleep, depression, relationship issues and post-traumatic stress.

App Store

Google Play

Virtual Hope Box
Contains simple tools to help users with coping, relaxation, distraction and positive thinking using personalized audio, video, pictures, games, mindfulness exercises, activity planning, inspirational quotes and coping statements.

App  Store

Google Play

Parenting2Go
Helps veterans and service members reconnect with their children and provides convenient tools to strengthen parenting skills. The app addresses challenges that come with parenting children of all ages and backgrounds.

App Store

Breathe, Think, Do
Laugh and learn as you help a Sesame Street monster friend calm down and solve everyday challenges. This app helps your child learn Sesame’s Breathe, Think, Do strategy for problem solving.

App Store

Google Play

Moving Forward
Provides on-the-go tools and teaches problem solving skills to overcome obstacles and deal with stress. The app is designed for veterans and service members, but is useful for anyone with stressful problems.

App Store

Provider Resilience
Offers self-assessment and stress reduction tools along with a dashboard to track your daily resilience rating.

App Store

Google Play

Big Moving Adventure
With Sesame’s Street’s Big Moving Adventure, your young child can create his or her own Muppet friend and help him or her through the moving process, including: Packing, saying goodbye, expressing feelings, traveling, and making new friends.

App Store

Google Play

COVID Coach
The COVID Coach app was created for everyone, including veterans and service members, to support self-care and overall mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

App Store

Google Play

Source: militaryonesource.mil/health-wellness/recommended-wellness-apps

PTSD Breakthrough

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Jonathan Lubecky in dress blues looking over shoulder smiling with others in the background carrying US flags

By: Matt Saintsing

When it comes to treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nothing is better than trauma-focused psychotherapies, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

By centering on the memory or meaning of harrowing and often painful events, veterans can process and make sense of their most stressful experiences in war.

But momentum is steadily growing behind the use of alternative medicine to battle the symptoms of PTSD, including one illicit substance that’s showing tremendous promise in recent studies. MDMA, commonly known as the street drug ecstasy or Molly, is culturally linked to the rave scene of the 1990s. First synthesized in 1912 for pharmacological purposes, the CIA experimented with the substance as a potential psychological weapon during the Cold War.

More recently, however, it’s shown to significantly reduce PTSD symptoms when paired with psychotherapy. The research has been so promising that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted the drug “breakthrough” status and is fast-tracking final phases of clinical trials, in the hopes of developing a new countermeasure to PTSD.

Army and Marine Corps veteran Jonathan Lubecky told DAV—a nonprofit organization that helps over a million veterans each year— that he knows the challenges of living with the invisible scars of war all too well. While he was deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, in 2006, an enemy mortar crashed down inside the portable toilet he was using. He was left without a single physical scratch, but he would later learn he suffered a traumatic brain injury and developed severe PTSD.

(Above image: Wearing his dress blues, Lubecky is an advocate for alternative therapies, including MDMA, which he says helped to cure him of PTSD).

This event marked the beginning of a life-changing and dangerous journey involving daily suicidal thoughts, which he acted on five separate times. After retiring from the Army in 2009, he began self-medicating with alcohol and marijuana, masking the underlying problems. He also tried the medication prescribed to him by the VA, at one point taking 42 pills per day. But help seemed beyond his grasp.“Most of what I was thinking was, is this going to be my life for the rest of it? Nightmares every night?” he said. “I felt like the world would be better without me in it.”

But in 2014, Lubecky signed up to take part in a study involving MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, organized and conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), an organization working to advance the science of potentially beneficial compounds like MDMA.

MAPS’ multiple clinical MDMA trials have shown to reduce PTSD dramatically. Under close observation, Lubecky ingested MDMA three times over 12 weeks in conjunction with psychotherapy sessions. “It worked,” said Lubecky. “Five years later, and I still don’t have PTSD, and I haven’t done MDMA since.”

According to Dr. Michael Mithoefer, the acting medical director for MAPS and a psychiatrist who is heavily involved in the clinical trials, MDMA can break down barriers some may have with PTSD and encourage trust—a vital component of a patient-therapist relationship.

According to Mithoefer, MDMA helps reverse the brain functions that can paralyze people when trauma is triggered. MDMA’s ability to overcome fear and defensiveness, increase empathy and compassion, and heighten introspection can significantly improve psychotherapy for PTSD. Of the 103 patients that had chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD who completed MAPS’ Phase 2 trials, just over half no longer met the qualification for PTSD diagnosis in the months following treatment.

At the one-year mark, 68% no longer qualified. The stunning results were published in the journal Psychopharmacology in May 2019. Phase 3 trials, the final step of research required by the Food and Drug Administration before deciding to approve a drug for treatment, are currently underway at 14 sites across the United States, Canada and Israel. Mithoefer is hopeful that following these stages, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy could be an accepted treatment for PTSD by 2022.

However, MDMA, like other psychedelics, remains illegal and can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Under the current regimen, MDMA is never given as a take-home drug, and patients only receive it two or three times over several months.

“DAV is supportive of nontraditional therapies, complementary and alternative medicine, and expanded treatment options for veterans,” said National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “Anything that can safely help our veterans heal from the lasting psychological impacts of war, particularly for those who tried treatment before without success, is worth studying further, which these trials are attempting to do.”

To learn more about how DAV helps veterans, visit DAV.org.

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