‘Operation Deep Dive’ To Examine Veteran Suicide Causes and Factors

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Veteran with PTSD sitting down with hands folded

— America’s Warrior Partnership and University of Alabama Partner to Conduct First-of-its-Kind, Four-Year Research Initiative –

WASHINGTON – December, 2017 – America’s Warrior Partnership, University of Alabama researchers and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation have partnered on a four-year, $3.9 million research study that will examine the factors and potential causes involved in suicides and early mortality due to self-harm among military veterans. Funded by a $2.9 million grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, as well as additional investment from America’s Warrior Partnership and other in-kind supporters, “Operation Deep Dive” will use unique methodologies that have never before been applied to the research of veteran suicides. The goals of the research study are to identify the risk factors that lead to suicide within veteran communities and help guide the development of programs to prevent and reduce self-harm among veterans.

“This research endeavor is the first time that community environments will be incorporated into the research process, giving us a whole new level of insight into potential factors of veteran suicides,” said Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership and founder of the Community Integration model. “Studies to date have generalized the indicators of suicide without a focus on the role the community may play. Leveraging our organization’s focus on veterans and the communities in which they live, work and receive support services, combined with University of Alabama’s exceptional research team and unique approach, gives us a broader yet more specific perspective on veteran suicide risk factors.”

Operation Deep Dive is innovative in that it will study veterans across the spectrum of service, gender and lifespan. Conducted in two phases, the year-long Phase I will begin with a five-year retrospective investigation of the impact of less-than-honorable discharges on veteran suicides and suspected suicides, as well as the differences in suicide rates between those who received and did not receive support services from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).

“Previous research has focused primarily on individual-level risk factors, like prior suicide attempts, mood disorders, substance abuse and access to lethal means, but suicide is a complex phenomenon and those factors don’t paint the whole picture,” said Dr. David L. Albright, Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health and associate professor in the School of Social Work at The University of Alabama, and co-principal investigator of the study.

Phase II will incorporate the findings from Phase I into a three-year study that will include input from medical examiners, mental health experts, veterans and family members to conduct a “sociocultural autopsy” of all new or suspected suicides in America’s Warrior Partnership’s seven affiliate communities. This individualized data and a chronology of the veteran’s last year will be analyzed using a geospacial technique to identify trends, patterns, and indicators of former service members who take their lives. This same deep dive will occur in other communities where Community Integration is not yet active to provide a comparison. The results will explore how community context and engagement with local veterans affect the prevention of suicides.

“The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committed to helping veterans and reducing the suicide rate among all those who have served in our nation’s armed forces,” says John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “This project will take a unique approach to better understand what is happening at the community level and develop predictive modeling procedures to identify those at most immediate risk.”

Drs. Karl Hamner, director of the Office of Evaluation for the College of Education, and David L. Albright, Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health and associate professor in the School of Social Work, are the principal investigators for University of Alabama on the study. Both Dr. Hamner and Dr. Albright are committee chairs for the Alabama Veterans Network (AlaVetNet), which connects Alabama veterans to resources and services. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey recently signed Executive Order 712, which tasks the group in helping reduce and eliminate the opioid crisis as well as reducing the high veteran suicide rate.

America’s Warrior Partnership’s Community Integration model is active in nine communities across the country and has served nearly 37,000 veterans in three years. This model empowers communities through training, mentorship and structure to conduct proactive outreach to veterans by connecting existing resources and providing tools to create stronger collaboration among existing veteran service providers, bridging gaps in service wherever they may exist. The result is a more coordinated approach that holistically serves each veteran’s individual needs, ensuring no one slips through the cracks or does not receive essential support services.

About America’s Warrior Partnership

America’s Warrior Partnership is committed to empowering communities to empower veterans. We fill the gaps that exist between current veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with the veterans, military members and families in need: bolstering their efficacy, improving their results and empowering their initiatives. America’s Warrior Partnership is a force multiplier for warrior community integration that enhances communities where great Americans choose to live and contribute. For more information on the organization and how to get involved, visit www.AmericasWarriorPartnership.org.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committed to improving the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and addressing unmet medical need. The Foundation engages partners to develop, execute, evaluate and promote innovative programs to help patients with lung cancer and removing barriers to accessing care in the United States, HIV and comorbid diseases such as cervical and breast cancers and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa, hepatitis B and C in China and India and veterans’ mental health and well-being in the U.S. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, visit us at BMS.com/Foundation.

About The University of Alabama

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.

Wounded Army Chief Gifted Smart Home Through the Gary Sinise Foundation

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Wounded Army Chief Gary Linfoot in wheelchair in doorway of new home arms spread wide palms open and looking up thankfully with wife behind him

The Gary Sinise Foundation was established under the philanthropic direction of actor Gary Sinise, who has been an advocate of our nation’s defenders for nearly forty years.

The mission of the foundation is to serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. One of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s flagship programs is R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment), which builds specially adapted smart homes for our most severely wounded heroes.

U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary Linfoot and his wife, Mari, became the recipient of one of these new smart homes at a dedication ceremony.

Linfoot, a Los Angeles native, initially enlisted in the Army Reserve after graduating high school in the hopes of becoming a helicopter pilot. After attending Flight School and graduating a Warrant Officer in 1990, Linfoot joined the Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (SOAR(A)) in 1997.

On May 31, 2008, while conducting operations in Iraq, Linfoot’s helicopter suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure. The helicopter crash-landed, injuring Linfoot severely. Medics evacuated him to Germany for a spine stabilization surgery, and treatment took him from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to the Tampa VA Hospital, and finally the Shepherd Center in GA. His broken back paralyzed Linfoot from the waist down.

Gary and his wife Mari have raised three children over their twenty-six-year marriage. As with every other challenge they have confronted, they fight to overcome Gary’s disability together and have had remarkable success. Wearing an exoskeleton suit, Gary walked his oldest daughter Allyssa down the aisle on her wedding day in 2016, and he currently works as a helicopter simulator instructor pilot with the 160th SOAR(A) at Fort Campbell, KY.

Gary Sinise sent the following message to Linfoot that was delivered at the ceremony:

Gary Linfoot coming down the sidewalk in wheelchair with new large home in the distance on a large piece of grassy property
The Gary Sinise Foundation’s RISE program dedicates a specially adapted smart home to US Army CW5 Gary Linfoot in Adams, Tennessee.

“You are an inspiration my friend. What an incredible journey you have had. Seeing the video of you walking your daughter down the aisle in the amazing exoskeleton brought tears to my eyes. I am thrilled that you are finally here today, about to begin this brand-new chapter in your life. … I will look forward to a time in the future when I can come visit, take a tour of your new home, and personally thank you, Mari and your three children, Allyssa, Kylie and Hayden, once again for all you have sacrificed on behalf of this nation.”

“On behalf of everyone at the Gary Sinise Foundation, welcome home Linfoot family. Enjoy this wonderful day. May God bless you always, and may God Bless the United States of America you have so faithfully served. Army Strong! Your ‘Grateful American’ pal, Gary Sinise.”

R.I.S.E. constructs one-of-a-kind houses all across the country, specifically designed to meet the needs of a wounded hero, their caregivers and families, and provide a place to truly call home. These 100% mortgage-free homes ease the daily challenges faced by these heroes and their families who sacrifice alongside them.

To learn more about the R.I.SE. program and the Gary Sinise Foundation please visit: garysinisefoundation.org/rise/

She’s a U.S. Army Veteran and Minority Business Owner Who is Helping Clean up the Environment for You and Your Dog!

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Mary Lester Military Veteran in Uniform smiling with US flag in the background

Admit it; no one likes cleaning the bathroom. Most of us would gladly pay someone else to do the dirty work – if you don’t already – because we all know bathrooms can get downright filthy if left untouched.

And, of course, we always want to keep things tidy for ourselves and our guests. Now, take that same premise and apply it to your yard if you have a dog. You adore your furry friend, but you don’t necessarily want to clean up his business, even though you want to enjoy your beautiful yard. In fact, you would be willing to pay someone else to do your dirty work. If that’s the case, look no further than Pet Butler Tallahassee, which provides pet waste removal and other pet-related services to residential and commercial clients throughout Tallahassee, Crawfordsville, Woodville, Monticello and Lloyd. “We’re all spending more time at home and I absolutely love helping my customers improve their outdoor living space,” said 53-year-old Mary Lester, a U.S. Army veteran and first-time franchise owner who launched her minority-owned small business in January. “Helping keep green spaces free of pet waste benefits us all.”

After a 32-year-year military career that included a stint in Afghanistan, Lester retired from the Missouri Army National Guard three years ago. The Tallahassee native, who also worked as a Public Affairs Specialist, returned to her hometown to turn her passion for pets into a business. However, Lester has learned that many pet owners in the Tallahassee area are unfamiliar with pet waste removal services. In using social media to advertise Pet Butler Tallahassee, Lester found that while many embraced the service, others needed to be educated on its benefits. “I quickly realized there’s a big misnomer about pet waste’s impact on our environment,” said Lester, who also had to cope with launching her business on the cusp of a shelter-in-place order. “A lawn mower and even Florida’s torrential downpours do not take pet waste away and there’s a greater community benefit to picking it up.”

Indeed, just like the dark corners of your bathroom, if you have a dog you never know what you might encounter with each unwary step through your backyard. So far, Pet Butler Tallahassee has removed more than 1,330 pounds (or more than two-thirds of a ton) of pet waste from residential and commercial properties. However, that’s a small fraction of the roughly 16 tons of dog poop (32,000 pounds) generated PER DAY by the estimated 43,500 dogs in Tallahassee according to TAPP (Think About Personal Pollution), a campaign by the City of Tallahassee’s Stormwater Management to help educate individuals on ways that small, personal changes in home and yard practices can keep local lakes and streams cleaner.

Dog waste has four to 10 times more bacteria than human waste because dogs can eat almost anything, and as a result, have a generous supply of intestinal bacteria. Pet Butler Tallahassee is on a mission to help raise awareness of the importance of proper collection and disposal of pet waste. “If we’re not scooping the poop and discarding of it properly, we are potentially contributing harmful contaminants to our local water,” said Lester. “Pet Butler has a civic mission that resonated with my desire to support my community through pet services and my interest in working with non-profit pet organizations and environmental organizations such as TAPP, with its clean-water initiatives.”

In Pet Butler, Lester found a franchise brand with a modernized business model that offers large, protected territories that foster scalable growth and strong recurring revenue, which has helped make Pet Butler No 1 in the “No. 2” business for thousands of clients across North America. Roughly 85 million U.S. families, or 67 percent of households, own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In the U.S., pets include 90 million dogs and 94 million cats. In 2018, pet services accounted for $72.56 billion spent and was estimated to grow to $75.38 billion in 2019.

Lester and her team of pooper scoopers service homes weekly, twice weekly and every other week and also offer a one-time accumulated waste pick-up service. Customers can also have their lawns treated with a yard odor eliminator and disinfectant. Pet Butler Tallahassee is offering a special introductory price for new customers – $5.99 per week (or about the cost for two of your barista-made morning coffees) for the first two months. There is an additional $10 discount offer for first responders on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic. The service is particularly well-suited for common areas within apartment and condominium complexes.

For those who are longing for someone else to do their dog’s dirty work for them, Lester said Pet Butler Tallahassee has been met with enthusiasm when they learn of it.

“Literally, people stopped at traffic lights have put down their windows and asked me if this is “really a thing,’” said Lester, whose truck serves as a mobile billboard highlighting Pet Butler’s slogan, “We Scoop Poop!” “I’m here to pick up after their dogs and dispose of the waste in a safe and environmentally sound way. And we also clean out litter boxes, as well.”

For information visit https://www.petbutler.com/locations/tallahassee-area-pooper-scooper or call 850-396-0783

About Pet Butler

Pet Butler Franchise was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of +43 years old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 26 states with long term plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years. Pet Butler provides an opportunity for pet lovers to turn their passion for pets into a business. To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit www.petbutler.com and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn.

To inquire about a franchise call 844-777-8608 or go to petbutlerfranchise.com.

Marine Corps Marathon canceled for first time in 45-year history because of pandemic

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large group of Marine Corps marathon runners

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed yet another event for long-distance running enthusiasts.

The Marine Corps Marathon, with its picturesque course that takes runners through some of the most historic parts of Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., will not be held in person in 2020 for the first time in its 45-year history. The main event had been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 25.

“We explored various approaches to safely execute a live event and held numerous meetings with Marine Corps leadership, local government and public health officials,” said Rick Nealis, director of the Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) in a statement. “We understand this is disappointing news for many, but we could no longer envision a way to gather together in compliance with safety guidelines.”

Race organizers will instead offer participants opportunities to register and complete distances for certification via the Marine Marathon website.

“Health and safety are our top priorities during this challenging time,” said Libby Garvey, Arlington County Board Chair. “The Marine Corps Marathon is a treasured event and tradition in our community that Arlingtonians look forward to each year. As we celebrate the race’s 45th anniversary this year, we will be enthusiastically and virtually cheering on each runner. We can’t wait to welcome these dedicated athletes and fans back to Arlington in person in 2021.”

Continue on to USA Today to read the complete article.

Former IT Specialist, Navy Reservist Says Background Will Aid Success in New Career as Small-Business Owner

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Brian Notestein headshot

(Colorado Springs, CO)—Having already enjoyed successful stints as an IT specialist and Navy reservist, Brian Notestein is more than prepared for his next venture as one of the newest franchise owners with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®, the No. 1 home inspection company in North America.

Launching operations in July, the Colorado Springs resident will serve homebuyers and sellers throughout El Paso, Teller and Pueblo counties.

Notestein, who previously spent 20 years in IT and 24 years as a Navy reservist, expects that experience to play an important role in his new position as a small business owner with the most respected brand in the home inspection industry. “My previous experience in customer service and support, resolving tough problems and learning and working with new technology, will be beneficial to me in my role with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors as I help new homebuyers in understanding what to look for in purchasing a new home,” Notestein said.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for more than 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked for 23 years on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its eighth consecutive year as No. 1 in its category on that coveted ranking. In addition, the company has 5-Star status with VetFran, a program offered by the International Franchise Association that provides discounted franchise fees to veterans. “I chose to partner with an established and successful company like Pillar To Post Home Inspectors in order to follow a proven system that essentially removes the trial and error processes that could be expected by going it alone,” Notestein said.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are more than 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® for 23 years in a row, the past eight years as No.1 in Category. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com. To inquire about a franchise, go to www.pillartopostfranchise.com.

This Former Manufacturing Executive and Veteran Credits Military Skills for Foundation for His Pillar To Post Home Inspectors Business

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Larry Presby stands in fron of his Pillar To Post Home Inspectors work vehicle

(DALLAS, TX)—Larry Presby, Dallas resident and veteran, recently launched operations as a franchisee with the No. 1 home inspection company in North America, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors. He services Collin County in North Texas which includes sections of Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Frisco, and many other small rural towns and cities.  The former manufacturing executive and veteran turned his attention to detail into a new career that can benefit others.

“I served in the 18th Combat Engineer Brigade in Europe,” says Presby. “Looking back on my time in the service, I realize that many building blocks were established to provide me the foundation I used to succeed. Teamwork and systems are two of the key parameters that I took with me through my corporate career and now guide me in developing my home inspection business.”

“After making a home purchase, I became aware of the importance of a quality home inspection. The bare bones home inspection report I received did not highlight numerous issues and cost me many agonizing hours and dollars which launched a new path of interest. As a result of my new knowledge and countless hours in remodeling and construction, I became my family and friends’ advisor when reading their inspection reports,” said Presby.  “After being in the corporate world for many years, it was time to devote myself to another passion of helping others. As a home inspector I know I can fulfill this. I want to make sure people can make informed decisions about their home purchase which will becomea place in which they will create their safe haven.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for over 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked for 23 years on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its eighth consecutive year as No. 1 in its category on that coveted ranking. In addition, the company has 5-Star status with VetFran, a program offered by the International Franchise Association that provides discounted franchise fees to veterans.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are more than 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® for 23 years in a row, the past eight years as No.1 in Category. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com. To inquire about a franchise, go to www.pillartopostfranchise.com

Indian Motorcycle Continues Support Of Veterans Charity Ride & Motorcycle Therapy Adventure To Sturgis For 2020

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two military veterans riding on a side car motorcycl with others following behind during the event

Indian Motorcycle®, America’s First Motorcycle Company, today announced its continued support and sponsorship of the sixth annual Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) to Sturgis.

This year, in addition to using the organization’s unique brand of motorcycle therapy to aid combat veterans dealing with PTSD, the veteran-operated, non-profit organization will implement a “service before self” initiative to show appreciation to first responders who have been working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Veteran’s Charity Ride uses “motorcycle therapy,” a proven remedy that provides therapeutic solutions to help fellow veterans move forward and adjust to civilian life. The 2020 ride will include 15 total veterans – nine new veterans, along with six returning veterans who will serve as mentors.

“During these extraordinary times, getting our veterans out of the house and supporting them with the liberating power of motorcycle therapy is more important than ever,” said Dave Frey, U.S. Army Veteran and Veterans Charity Ride Founder. “To be able to combine those efforts and honor our selfless and invaluable first responders during this unprecedented pandemic makes this journey even more gratifying. In light of COVID-19, we will be implementing necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy, as we come together to heal and support one another on our ride to the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.”

This year’s ride to Sturgis will start on July 29, 2020 in Moab, Utah where the group will cruise through the mountainous roads of Utah, stop in the cities of Craig and Fort Collins, Colorado and ride through some of the nation’s most scenic backroads and highways before arriving at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota on August 7, 2020. The travelers will be riding a variety of Indian Motorcycle models, outfitted with ReKluse auto clutch systems and custom-built Champion Sidecars for amputee and paraplegic veterans. The journey provides an experience for veterans to bond by implementing team-building exercises that allow riders to share stories and memories of their service during a two-week, mind-cleansing motorcycle ride.

For years, VCR has supported veterans by creating a healing atmosphere through motorcycle riding and camaraderie when stopping at several small towns to commemorate and honor our nation’s veteran heroes. This year, the event will have an added focus on lives outside of veterans, extended to first responders who have courageously held the frontlines in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.  By following strict safety and sanitary guidelines, VCR will extend an additional hand out to these frontline workers by providing personal protection equipment and hosting barbecues at select tour stops.

“Our nation’s veterans and healthcare workers are an inspiration, and we’re grateful to be a part of an experience that honors their selflessness and sacrifices for our country,” said Reid Wilson, Vice President for Indian Motorcycle. “We’re honored to continue supporting the Veterans Charity Ride and are humbled by their work and positive impact on our veterans.”

The Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis was conceived and developed by veteran Army Paratrooper Dave Frey and Emmy Award-winning producer and director Robert Manciero, leveraging the therapeutic effects of motorcycle riding to create an adventure of a lifetime for wounded veterans.

To support the Veterans Charity Ride, donate, or to learn more visit IndianMotorcycle.com and VeteransCharityRide.org. Riders can also follow along on Indian Motorcycle’s social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and Veterans Charity Ride’s social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

ABOUT INDIAN MOTORCYCLE®

Indian Motorcycle is America’s first motorcycle company. Founded in 1901, Indian Motorcycle has won the hearts of motorcyclists around the world and earned distinction as one of America’s most legendary and iconic brands through unrivaled racing dominance, engineering prowess and countless innovations and industry firsts. Today that heritage and passion is reignited under brand new stewardship. To learn more, please visitindianmotorcycle.com.

ABOUT VETERANS CHARITY RIDE

Veterans Charity Ride (VCR), started by veterans for veterans, is a non-profit organization that delivers Motorcycle Therapy and additional life changing, life-saving holistic programs specifically designed to assist wounded and amputee combat veterans with their needs and the issues they deal with on a daily basis. Helping our fellow veterans through outreach, action, activities, education and follow-up is what drives our organization. The end result of our program is a healthier and happier, more capable individual, who is now living life in a much better physical and mental condition, and able to help and support other veterans to do the same. Visit veteranscharityride.org to learn more and support this worthy cause.

Foundation Trains Shelter Canines as Service Dogs for Disabled Veterans

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service dog trainer pictured with service dog in his arms

Miracles happen every day at CAMO Foundation, and the angels who perform them are the 4-legged variety. Dedicated to providing service dogs specifically trained for the unique needs of disabled veterans, the nonprofit organization in Palm Beach Gardens, FL is the only organization in the country that uses mature dogs rescued from local pounds.

The brainchild of Mike Lorraine, a professional dog trainer with 20 years experience, the foundation is located on a picturesque farm in south Florida, co-owned by Lorraine and a local area businessman, Joe Mullings. Their mission is simple: Provide military veterans who are physically or emotionally challenged with shelter dogs who have the right qualities—intelligence, focus, drive—to be service animals.

Yes, shelter dogs! Most service dogs are raised as puppies. However, Lorraine believes that there’s a certain fearless, stoic quality that makes select shelter dogs the perfect match for injured combatants. You might say that they’ve both seen conflict and survived.

One of CAMO’s biggest success stories so far is 26-year-old Matt Kleemann, a former Navy diver who specialized in underwater repairs on submarines. While driving home along a snowy road, he swerved to avoid a deer and plunged over a cliff. When he awoke, he was paralyzed from the chest down. Wheelchair-bound, he says, “The original plan was for me to just get my dog, Charlie Brown, but Mike saw potential in me. So, I started to come down every day.” Today, Matt serves as a mentor to visiting veterans.

Continue on to CAMO Foundation to learn more.

Meet the Active Pearl Harbor Veteran that Just Turned 100

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veteran witha huge grin in a shriners hat waving with U.S. flag in the background

On the morning of December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Adone “Cal” Calderone had just finished his breakfast aboard the USS West Virginia, when his ship was attacked by eight torpedoes and four bombs from a Japanese air raid.

The 21-year-old soldier was trapped and wounded on the ship from the attacks, taking shrapnel to the face along with other injuries. “The doctors wanted to keep me longer,” Calderone said of his injuries, “I wanted to get back out there.”

Calderone would go on to serve the Navy for a total of six years.

Now a World War II veteran and a survivor of the Pearl Harbor bombings, Calderone resides in Stark County, Ohio, where he just celebrated his 100th birthday.

Calderone enjoys music, driving, staying active, and sharing his experiences from the war. “Dad really gets around,” Calderone’s son, Greg, told Stars and Stripes. “It’s amazing that he’s 100 years old.” Calderone’s 100th birthday officially makes him the oldest known living Pearl Harbor survivor.

“If feels good to be 100,” Calderone said, “It’s so nice, very nice.” Calderone spent the day celebrating with about a dozen of his family members and friends, including his wife of 75 years, Carrie, at a surprise birthday gathering in front of his house.

When asked what the secret was to his 100 years, Calderone gave a smile and reported without hesitation, “Good wine.”

How Do Wounded Veterans Live with Trauma, Stress, and Disability

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Veteran with PTSD sitting down with hands folded

With today’s advanced medical technology and improved body armor, more people are surviving traumatic events, only to suffer posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In a combat setting, these events can happen suddenly and unexpectedly and cause life-changing injuries that inhibit the mobility of a survivor for the foreseeable future.

And some damage is invisible to the untrained eye. Traumatized veterans have a completely different set of challenges than other wheelchair users. Injured veterans are at risk for developing PTSD. It may even follow them in the form of combat stress, a normal reaction to the atypical conditions of a combat environment.

With the right tools, it does get better. A traumatized veteran can transition into their new life and take on challenges one step at a time.

The Challenges of Limited Mobility and PTSD
Each day brings new challenges for a wheelchair user to overcome. Older buildings often have limited accessibility, sidewalks, and other terrain can be tricky to maneuver, and it may take more time to get in and out of a vehicle without a wheelchair lift. Some days are better than others, but life improves as caregivers and wheelchair users work in tandem to tackle a day’s tasks.

Things are a bit different for traumatized, disabled veterans.

Physical disability and PTSD can occur simultaneously, leaving them with a different set of psychological and emotional challenges. Everyday tasks can trigger a bad reaction or a flashback to the traumatic event. There might be a steep learning curve, but veterans are survivors, after all. One just needs to remain cognizant that there could be a mental burden from the trauma that needs to be addressed.

Social Support is Key
Survivors of trauma, especially if their mobility changes, might not know exactly what they need as they adjust to their new life. It’s important for caregivers and loved ones to be understanding. New wheelchair users are not used to leaning on others, yet this is the time they need that strong support system the most.

Most importantly, friends and family need to remember that a disability can serve as a reminder of a trauma, and the rest of the world does not have this context. Those without physical disabilities may find it difficult to empathize with wheelchair users, let alone ones who have experienced trauma. Certain day to-day activities or conversations can trigger PTSD when a veteran least expects it.

Symptoms to Watch Out For
For some caregivers and loved ones, it’s easy to focus on mthe physical change and miss emotional or psychological symptoms. In addition to doctor’s appointments, it’s important to also see a mental health professional for a full diagnosis. Though PTSD and combat stress may seem similar in the beginning, it’s important to be able to tell them apart. Know the symptoms: disturbing thoughts, feelings, dreams, mental or physical stress, difficulty sleeping, and changes in thought patterns or their personality.

Symptoms of combat stress can include anything from fatigue, loss in concentration, to decreased reaction time. Familiarize yourself with the indicators. After adapting to life with limited mobility, as a caregiver or wheelchair user, you may identify a few symptoms of PTSD or combat stress through changes in behavior. Though combat stress tends to subside after a veteran returns to civilian life, in some cases, prolonged combat stress may even lead to the development of PTSD.

The only way to know for sure is to get a diagnosis from a licensed professional. Not only that, but veterans with PTSD can only find relief through therapy. Therapists work with individuals, couples, families, and groups to overcome PTSD, combat stress, or other psychological and emotional difficulties.

It Takes Real Strength to Ask for Help
It can be difficult to ask for help or address symptoms of PTSD head-on. But after making the choice to seek help, veterans will wonder why they waited so long. It eases the mental burden, freeing up energy to focus on adjusting to life in a wheelchair.

When an injured veteran’s ready to seek support, start with some of these resources:
• Wounded Warrior’s Combat Stress Recovery Program, woundedwarriorproject.org
• Veteran’s Crisis Hotline, activeheroes.org, 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255
• The National Center for PTSD’s About Face, ptsd.va.gov/apps/AboutFace

Caregivers need to be cognizant of what PTSD entails to fully comprehend what a new wheelchair user is potentially going through. It can affect their day-to day life in unforeseen ways. By arming yourself with the right resources, veterans in wheelchairs and caregivers can address and understand these problems one step at a time.

Source: vantagemobility.com

Veteran Plants Roots In Tampa For Family With Floor Coverings International Business

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Mark McMurray pictured outside in front of his floor coverings vehicle with large samples displayed

Mark McMurray, 55, is no stranger to hard work and challenges.  After serving in our country’s military for many years he decided to go the corporate route. He was a consultant to many large public corporations and small private businesses, both in house and as a management consultant. It was during those years spent consulting with small, branch-based businesses that he decided to open his own business, buying the Floor Coverings International of North Tampa franchise which opened in early 2017.

He chose Floor Coverings International after much due diligence. The 150 plus unit franchise based in Norcross, Georgia, offered many of the key elements McMurray was looking for.

“I liked the thought of providing a great product and bringing a mobile showroom filled with samples of 3,000 types of flooring to people’s homes. That’s great customer service and convenience. And I get to build a dedicated work team at the same time.  That’s something that appealed to me from my military background,” said McMurray.

Having advised many business owners Mark offers his own advice to others looking for the same opportunity Mark found via a franchise model.

“The potential franchise you end up with should be something that you are naturally interested in; they should have the kind of model that fits your management/leadership style, be in the right territory, be affordable, and have a trustworthy and supportive franchisor and network, and the ability for you to build on its value.  It’s not easy to find a suitable candidate with all those criteria!  I had heard of Floor Coverings International during my previous career and had heard great things about the culture of the company.”

After years of moving around McMurray said he’s thrilled to have embraced Tampa for the past twelve years as his home and this mobile business has plenty of room for growth giving him the opportunity to work with his family too.

“I am thrilled that I get to be back at work with my wife, a CPA, and my father in law who is a general contractor. We are building something together along with my kids. That is very special to me.  And this industry excites all of us and is always supplying us with new challenges. The rate of beautiful new products coming on to the market is exciting, and the colors and trends change over time.  Luxury Vinyl Planking that is water resistant is growing in popularity and performs really well in Florida with the heat and humidity.  It gives the look and feel of hardwood, and our customers are really loving it which is very exciting.  Scraped hardwoods and reused woods are also coming out with some gorgeous new visuals, so there’s really a lot happening in the industry.”

Even through the Covid19 crisis, McMurray depended on the support team of his franchisor, Floor Coverings International to keep things going while following proper guidelines.

According to McMurray, “During the COVID-19 crisis, Floor Coverings International of North Tampa took all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees.  For In-Home Consultations, our employees were masked, gloved, wore booties, and disinfected all samples and items brought into our customers’ homes.  We’ve also conducted “Virtual Appointments” with our customers to discuss their projects and look at samples together.  Watching how things evolved and grew in the virtual space was most interesting, and we’re happy to work with our potential clients now however they feel most comfortable.

Our focus always has been providing excellent customer service, and it will remain so during this challenging time for our community.  We primarily work with residential customers who are updating the look and feel of their home, and that seems to have continued during the time when everyone had been spending so much time at home. Homeowners are seeing their homes in a whole new light after the quarantine, and they are ready to make some exciting new changes when the time comes to get back to normal.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Norcross, GA based Floor Coverings International which has ranked consistently as the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America by Entrepreneur Magazine. The 150 franchisees and their Design Associates offer a unique in-home experience with a mobile showroom that comes directly to the client’s door. More than 3000 flooring choices are available to view in the home with and along-side the existing decor. The company will open several more locations throughout the U.S. and Canada through franchise expansion in the next 5 years. For franchise information, please visit www.opportunities.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location go to floorcoveringsinternational.com.

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