New Technology Alleviates Tinnitus by Retraining the Brain to Ignore Ringing in the Ears

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In Time for Tinnitus Week: New Approach Used During Sleep Offers Hope to Millions of People Who Suffer From the Most Common Health Condition in the U.S.

LOS ANGELES—David Giles, 57, began suffering from tinnitus as a teenager, when a firecracker went off near his ear. Giles says the debilitating condition, commonly known as “ringing in the ears,” has grown overpowering without going away.

He is one of as many as 50 million Americans suffering from tinnitus. Musicians, factory workers, military veterans and many others endure its effects, including problems with concentration, sleep, anxiety and depression.

Giles, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, traveled four hours to a doctor in East Lansing Michigan to try the Levo System, an FDA-approved technology that mimics the specific sounds of a patient’s individual tinnitus. The patient listens to the sounds through earbuds while sleeping. Because the brain is most responsive to sensory input during sleep, it grows accustomed to the sounds after a few months of treatment. It is a radically different approach that retrains the brain to ignore “ringing in the ears.”

New research underscores the promise of this approach.

A recently released randomized study by the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the VA Portland Health Care System demonstrated improved clinical outcomes for tinnitus patients using the Levo System. The study was led by James Henry, PhD.

Study participants were assigned to the brain retraining technique using the Levo System or a commonly-used white noise masking machine. Patients using the Levo System reported the greatest improvement in tinnitus symptoms and the biggest decline in cognitive-related problems. These participants also reported the most significant improvement in their enjoyment of social activities and relationships with family and friends, key quality of life indicators.

For Giles, the Levo System was a life-changer. After a 90-day treatment, he reports that his tinnitus is no longer overpowering or debilitating, and has faded to the background, allowing him to enjoy his life as he once did.

Tinnitus affects a range of people, including those who are exposed to continuous noise. It is the leading service-related disability among U.S. veterans, according to the American Tinnitus Association.

The Levo System approach is grounded in the idea of personalized medicine. Rather than machines or doctors selecting sound matches in the customary fashion, patients choose the actual sounds they hear when they sleep. When patients take an active role addressing their tinnitus, they often feel a sense of mastery and control.

“It is gratifying to see so many people experience relief from a condition that has defied a long-term solution,” said Michael Baker, president and Oregon-based CEO of Otoharmonics Corp., which produces the Levo System. “Patients report the greatest improvement when they drive decisions about their treatment.”

The Levo System has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for marketing in the U.S. Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles is Otoharmonics’ majority stakeholder.

V.A. Study  http://AJA.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?doi=10.1044/2017_AJA-17-0022

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Travis Mills: A Profile in True Courage

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Travis Mills seated on couch wearing two prosthetic legs smiling

By Kellie Speed

Eight years ago, Travis Mills’ life was forever changed when he became one of only five servicemen from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ever to survive his injuries as a quadruple amputee.

Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne was critically wounded in action on April 10, 2012 by an IED on his third deployment in Afghanistan, but with a positive attitude, he refuses to let his injuries define him.

“In the beginning it was a little difficult not being able to look in the mirror for six months” he told us. “There were times when you wonder why this happened and how can you go back in time. After a while, you just realize that it’s never going to change so you might as well make the best of it.”

Mills said he had wonderful doctors, nurses, and medical staff as well as therapists (occupational, physical, driving rehab) that would get him back on his feet. His wife and his daughter were right there with him, literally every step of the way.

“I learned to walk with my daughter as she was learning how to walk,” he said. “Once you peel back the layers and realize this is the rest of your life, stop dwelling on it, get moving and reminisce about what you had, life gets a lot easier.”

Mills said the mental part was the toughest, and that he struggled with the ‘why?”

“Am I a bad person? Why didn’t I just die? Things like that go through your head,” he said. “I realized for the first five weeks of my injuries that I had to have someone feed me, have someone help me change my clothes, help me use the restroom, things that you wouldn’t think of. It’s like being an adult baby that can’t do anything for themselves. It has taught me patience.”

Today, the motivational speaker, actor, author and advocate for veterans and amputees whose motto “never give up; never quit” continues to inspire everyone he meets, while living “a pretty normal, hectic, crazy all-American dream life” with his wife, Kelsey, and two children.

Mills and his wife founded the Travis Mills Foundation to assist post 9/11 veterans who have been injured in active duty or as a result of their service to our nation. Through the foundation, they have created a Veterans Retreat where veterans and their families receive an all-inclusive, all-expenses paid vacation to Maine to participate in adaptive activities.

“The original vision in creating the foundation was just care packages overseas, because I would see a lot of guys who wouldn’t get care packages,” he said. “I thought, ‘let’s just send them peanut butter M&Ms, beef jerky that’s peppered, of course, because that’s the delicious one, and a few other items.’ So, we started with that idea.”

Then Mills, who could still go kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding and snowboarding, would take these trips with his wife and enjoyed them so much, it sparked his next idea. “I thought how great it would be to bring people out and show them they can do things adaptively with their family?” he said. “It just kind of progressed to a small camp in the woods with little cabins to this huge facility. We don’t even say camp anymore because it’s more of a retreat at a huge estate (the former Elizabeth Arden Estate). We have been able to expand greatly.”

Mills’ advice for veterans who may be struggling with injuries suffered during combat? “I just tell people never be too strong to reach out for help, and understand there are ways to get over post-traumatic stress. And if they are physically injured, every day is a step in the right direction,” he said. “I am always so grateful and thankful when I think about what could have happened. I lost some really, really close friends of mine, and their families would give anything to have them back—their children, parents, spouses, their siblings and friends would give anything. So, when I think about it in that aspect, I know I was given a chance to live, move forward and make the most of every day.”

The $100 Bet That Forever Changed Kaleb Wilson’s Life

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Kaleb Wilson in wheelchair on a pier with his wife in his lap

Seven years ago, Coast Guard veteran and PVA member Kaleb Wilson took a $100 bet that changed his life.

Some friends dared him to jump off a pier. He was 22 years old, and he figured he’d do it—it’s $100, right?

So, he dove in headfirst and hit the bottom, shattering several vertebrae. Instead of celebrating his win with friends, he found himself in a New Orleans Trauma Center, paralyzed.

One Goal

With his sweetheart Brittany by his side, he fought tooth and nail with one goal in mind: He wanted to walk down the aisle on their wedding day. She had been there for him during his recovery and rehab, and now he made it his mission to be there for her, standing across from her at the altar, and dancing at their wedding. With a lot of love, support, and hard work, he made it happen.

Wilson had been interested in joining the military ever since he was a little boy. He was a swimmer in high school, and started looking into programs with the Navy and the Air Force. But it was the Coast Guard that caught his attention. He was drawn to rescue swimming. “I knew it was where I needed to be,” he says.

He was a part of the Coast Guard for three years. After he graduated from boot camp he was assigned to a station in New Orleans, where he worked doing search and rescue missions, intercepting drug shipments, escorting vessels into the Gulf, and patrolling rivers and lakes. He loved his job, and he enjoyed the culture in New Orleans. He was a young man enjoying his career, living in a lively city, in love with a beautiful girl. Wilson was on the list to go to “A” school in November of 2012 when he took that fateful dare that landed him in a wheelchair.

A New Normal

Becoming paralyzed presents a whole host of challenges, of course, not just for the injured, but for those closest to them. Wilson and Brittany had to work together with trust and focus in order to adjust to their new normal. They relied on each other, and became stronger together. He proposed in 2013; they married in 2014, both of them standing for the ceremony.

Kaleb, in wheelchair and Brittany Wilson pose outside with their two young daughters, all smiling
Kaleb and Brittany Wilson with their two daughters

They also relied on Paralyzed Veterans of America. During rehab and recovery, PVA helped Wilson with benefits information, and later on, with vocational rehab benefits allowing him to return to school to pursue a chemical engineering degree. A couple of years ago, Wilson competed in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in swimming, and was inspired to join the Mountain State chapter of PVA, serving on the Board and as Treasurer.

He has attended two Games so far, most recently in Louisville, where he brought home seven medals in swimming, rugby, and field events. “It’s nice to be around people who are in a similar situation as I am, who understand what you are going through,” he says. “Brittany loves it, too, because she gets to socialize with other wives who know what we’re dealing with, and we get to come together with friends who live around the country.”

Giving Back

He and Brittany are in the process of moving to Illinois, where he will transfer his membership to the Vaughn chapter of PVA and do some volunteering for fellow veteran Noah Currier with his Oscar Mike Foundation.

“It’s not just money that keeps these programs running, it’s volunteers, too. I don’t want to be somebody who just takes, takes, takes. I want to give back.”

Today, Wilson is a loving and happy husband, and delighted father of two little girls, with a third child on the way. He is also a proud veteran of the United States Coast Guard.

“Seven years ago, I sustained my injury that ended my time actively serving in the Coast Guard, but that did not take away the fact that I still am a Coastie. I still feel at home around my fellow Coasties; I still feel connected in the way I always have. I may not serve beside them anymore, but I will always be a part of them!”

Source: https://blog.pva.org & craighospital.org/blog/wilsonwedding

VA resumes in-person benefits services halted by the COVID-19 response

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woman working at VA meeting with veteran about benefits wearing face mask for social distancing

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced  the reestablishment of in-person benefits services in select locations throughout the country.

Currently, there are 11 regional offices (RO) open to the public and more are expected to reopen in the coming weeks as reopening phases will vary by RO and local conditions.

“During the last few months, VA regional offices continued performing our essential mission virtually — to provide benefits to Veterans and eligible family members,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “We have robust safety measures in place that will allow us to resume in-person services while protecting the health and safety of Veterans, their families and our team members who serve them.”

ROs will continue adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines which includes the use of social distancing, face coverings, hand sanitizer and asking sick individuals to stay at home.

Veterans can continue to interact with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) virtually for accessing benefits information online or when filing a claim online. For claim-specific questions call 1-800-827-1000. To check the availability of an RO near you, visit VA benefits offices.

VBA’s return to normal, pre-COVID-19 public-facing operations align with White House guidelines for re-opening. Read more about our response to COVID-19.

Source: va.gov

America’s Warrior Partnership Study Reveals Gap in National Understanding of Suicide Among Military Veterans

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Despite the bipartisan acknowledgement that suicide among military veterans is a national crisis, research indicates that records under-represent the actual impact of veteran suicide in communities across the country.

The finding was revealed by Operation Deep Dive (OpDD), a community-based veteran suicide prevention study led by national nonprofit America’s Warrior Partnership and researchers from the University of Alabama with a grant funded by the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.

One component of OpDD has researchers comparing state death certificates with Department of Defense (DoD) records in 14 states. Completed analyses within two of these states – Florida and Minnesota – reveal that 153 veterans who died by suicide were unaccounted in Florida records, while 68 veterans who died by suicide were unaccounted in Minnesota records. Comparisons underway in the remaining 12 states indicate these local occurrences may be present in other communities.

“We do not share these findings to point the finger at a state for inconsistencies in record keeping, but to ensure the country is aware of how much we do not know about the unique impact of veteran suicide in different communities,” said Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership. “Correcting these errors will take a concentrated effort that empowers community organizations to proactively connect with veterans before they encounter a crisis. Congress is on the right path with the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Healthcare Improvement Act, but time is running out. We urge the U.S. House of Representatives to pass this bill before the current session of Congress ends so that communities will be better equipped to prevent veteran suicide.”

Lorraine delivered this petition as testimony in two Congressional hearings held during the week of Sept. 7: the “House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing on Suicide Prevention” and the “Senate Hearing on Veteran’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.” The nation’s renewed call for immediate action coincides with National Suicide Prevention Month, an initiative for mental health advocates and communities to unite in promoting suicide prevention awareness throughout September.

Operation Deep Dive researchers are currently conducting interviews to investigate veteran lives lost to suicide or a non-natural cause of death. Researchers seek individuals who are 18 years of age or older and have lost a relative, loved one, friend, or co-worker who was a veteran to suicide within the last 24 months. Both the interviewee and the veteran must have lived in the same community – which must also be one of the 14 states where OpDD is active – prior to the veteran’s death.

For more information on Operation Deep Dive, including the latest findings and details on how to participate in an interview, visit https://www.americaswarriorpartnership.org/deep-dive.

In addition to OpDD, America’s Warrior Partnership offers a wide array of services to community organizations seeking their local veterans’ assistance. One of them is The Network, a national coordination platform that expands veteran-serving organizations’ reach by connecting them with national resources.

VETERANS CRISIS LINE | A service member or veteran in crisis can call 1.800.273.8255 and press 1 or send a text message to 838255 to connect for help.

VIDEO | Operation Deep Dive

About America’s Warrior Partnership

America’s Warrior Partnership is committed to empowering communities to empower veterans. We fill the gaps between veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with veterans, their families, and caregivers. Our programs bolster nonprofit efficacy, improving their results, and empowering their initiatives. For more information, visit AmericasWarriorPartnership.org

@AWPartnership #awpartnership

This Veteran is Helping Fellow Vets Transition to Civilian Life Through Video Gaming

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video gamer online with headphones on looking at monitor

One medically retired veteran of the U.S. Army is helping recreate the brother and sisterhood people often find in the service through his YouTube channel that focuses on gaming—and self-care.

After Christopher Boehm left the army, he learned from a friend the staggering statistic that 22 veterans die each day by suicide.

Being injured and having a past struggle with alcohol abuse, he connected with the pain of these veterans.

He decided then that he wanted to help others leaving the service smoothly transition to civilian life.

When he learned that the U.S. Army uses Twitch, a live streaming platform for gamers, for recruitment purposes, he knew he could do something similar to connect with veterans and prevent the social isolation and depression that exists in the veteran community.

Christopher set up his own YouTube channel, Bayonet X-Ray, where he plays video games live for 22 minutes at sunrise each morning—representing the 22 veterans that die by suicide each day.

While gaming, Boehm shares strategies for combating PTSD and depression, daily motivation, and tips on healthy eating and breathing. He also provides general camaraderie for isolated veterans.

“My goal is to connect with veterans that can’t access other services,” explains Boehm. “This YouTube channel is my way of helping my brothers and sisters, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to stay connected and break up the day to day monotony.”

Boehm has a kind, peaceful voice, and his YouTube channel isn’t just for veterans: It’s for everyone. Check it out today.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

How I Got Into The Best Shape Of My Life At 51

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King Cuz promotional poster

by Ellis King

Most are generally surprised to find out my actual age of 51. “How do you look so young and fit? That is a question I get often and with a grand smile I pass on the great advice I received from my father; if you take care of your body, your body will take care of you!

As a retired Navy Veteran for 26 years and spending 4 years in amateur boxing, I’ve developed my own blended fitness program that combines the physical military training with the intensity of boxing training. This approach I consider my “Ageless” workout plan consists of building and maintaining lean muscle mass while decreasing body fat to achieve a healthy body and mind.

Growing up in a large family of 6 brothers and 5 sisters in southern Georgia and whose father is a Brick Mason and Farmer, hard work and fitness came hand to hand.

Being the shortest of all my brothers and the only twin to my younger sister,  I’ve prove to myself that my strength matched their sizes and never needed their support.

During most of my tours in the Navy, I was appointed as Command Fitness Coordinator (CFC) where I’ve trained Sailors to pass a physical fitness assessment (PFA) twice a year!

I’ve developed a deep passion to continue this training after retirement and my results have been amazing!  I’m truly am at the best shape of my life!

Earlier this year I started to conduct live virtual workout sessions to support others looking to make improvements to their health regardless of their past fitness level which can be done from the comfort of their own homes.

Since COVID-19 made its entrance in 2020, the world has never been the same and now more than ever we need to make health and fitness our top priority. The truth of the matter is with a weak immune system, poor diet, and lack of exercise we’ve been a huge target of health issues before this pandemic occurred. The stakes are much higher now and we must do all we can to defeat it.

I am honored to mentor and coach others on their path to fitness success.

Learn more at www.50andfit.org

Infinite Hero Foundation Announces the New Task Force 22 Initiative for September National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

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Veteran with PTSD sitting down with hands folded

Infinite Hero Foundation (IHF) believes our military and veterans have sacrificed mentally and physically for our country, and it is our job to continue to support innovation to ensure they get the support they need to heal.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and, with the impact the pandemic has had on the mental and emotional health of our military heroes and their families, they need us now more than ever. In response, Infinite Hero created Task Force 22. Those who have joined Task Force 22 are generously donating 22 minutes of their time, one minute for every veteran suicide that takes place each day, to help raise vital funds for mental health and suicide prevention programming. In addition to the dynamic group of Task Force 22 members, we have partnered with companies who are committed to supporting our military veterans, many of them are veteran-run, and they have joined forces with Infinite Hero to be part of this campaign.

The campaign officially kicks off on September 10th, which is a World Suicide Prevention Day. To get involved, people can visit https://www.infinitehero.org/task-force-22/ to donate to Task Force 22 and also enter for a chance to win prizes ranging from 22-minute phone calls with celebrities, a lifetime subscription to AllTrails account, Black Rifle Coffee subscription, and more.

“Suicide prevention and brain health remain a key challenge for our veterans and their families.  Infinite Hero strives to inspire collaboration of the top minds in technology, community, medical research, and mental health care to find solutions that revolutionize the way we treat the injuries of war,” said Colin Baden, President, Director, and Founder of Infinite Hero Foundation. “The Task Force 22 initiative sheds more light on the importance of providing veterans with tools necessary to cope with the mental and emotional stress they have encountered while serving our country”.

Infinite Hero welcomes you to be part of Task Force 22 in honor of suicide prevention month and to help us to bring much-needed attention to the conversation around brain health and suicide prevention, two of Infinite Hero’s key pillars that drive our mission. The opportunity to win one of the amazing auction packages that are part of Task Force 22 will launch September 10th, visit www.infinitehero.org for all the details.

Task Force 22 Members:

  • Chef Andre Rush: Andre is a celebrity chef, MSG (Ret) United States Army, and a suicide prevention advocate. @RealChefRush & www.chefrush.com
  • CWO4 Hershel “Woody” Williams, USMC, Ret.: Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams is a retired United States Marine Corps warrant officer and United States Department of Veterans Affairs veterans service representative who received the United States military’s highest decoration for valor—the Medal of Honor—for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. He is also the Co-founder of the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. www.hwwmohf.org & @HWWMOHF
  • Jason Redman: Retired Navy SEAL and NY Times Best Selling author of The Trident and Overcome relates the tactics Navy SEALs have used for decades to lead, build elite teams, and how to deal with the highest levels of adversity.  Jason teaches how his Overcome Mindset helped him rise above a leadership failure, vicious enemy ambush, and even a debilitating business crisis.  Jason’s incredible story, positive message, and vibrant energy on stage make him a highly demanded speaker both nationally and even internationally. https://jasonredman.com & @jasonredmanww
  • Carey Hart: Carey is a freestyle motocross rider turned street bike builder and hooligan racer who, out of his passion to support our veterans, founded the military charity, Good Ride. www.goodriderally.com – @hartluck & @goodride
  • Jack Beckman: Jack is an Air Force Veteran, Funny Car World Champion & driver of the Infinite Hero Funny Car. https://gofastjack.com & @fastjackbeckman_fc
  • Jack Carr: Jack Carr is a former Navy SEAL, with over 20 years of service in Naval Special Warfare, who led special operations teams as a Team Leader, Platoon Commander, Troop Commander, and Task Unit Commander. Jack is also the New York Times bestselling author of The Terminal List, True Believer, and Savage Son. www.officialjackcarr.com & @jackcarrusa
  • John Brenkus: John Brenkus, CMO Kill Cliff, six-time Emmy-Award winning creator, host, and producer of ESPN Sport Science. Brenkus also authored The Perfection Point, which hit the bestseller lists of New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.  Brenkus is a gifted director and producer of tv, film, and documentaries who also created and hosted The Brink of Midnight Podcast. He is a highly sought-after motivational speaker and talented musician. www.johnbrenkus.com/ & @brinkofmidnight
  • Morgan Luttrell: Former Navy SEAL Lieutenant & Former Senior Advisor of Veteran Relations with the Department of Energy. A 14-year military veteran with multiple deployments around the globe, Morgan Luttrell has made it his mission to assist veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s) post-traumatic stress syndrome, chronic pain, and addiction in finding more effective treatments. @mojoluttrell
  • Sammy L. Davis: Medal of Honor Recipient Sammy L. Davis Private First Class, U.S. Army Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division and author of You Don’t Lose ‘Til You Quit Trying: Lessons on Adversity and Victory from a Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient.

Task Force 22 Partners:

About IHF: Infinite Hero Foundation exists to connect our military, veterans, and military family members with innovative and effective treatment programs for service-related injuries with an emphasis in the areas of brain health, family support, suicide prevention, leadership development, and physical rehabilitation.

To learn more, please visit https://www.infinitehero.org/mission/

Financial Resources Available During the Pandemic

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An army soldier standing with his wife, speaking to a doctor.

In light of the public health crisis brought about by COVID-19, many Americans across the country have seen their lives suffer. Veterans and military families are no exception and have experienced both the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

The Veterans Administration (VA) has adjusted its operations and existing programs during the COVID-19 outbreak, but veterans’ benefits and services should not be affected. Veterans will continue to receive their benefits and survivors will continue to be provided.

However, more help is available for veterans in need of financial assistance as a result of the pandemic.

VA Compensation and Pension Benefits

Tens of thousands of veterans can access VA benefits. But during the pandemic, VA has changed how it administers and processes these benefits. For their safety and security, especially for those with underlying health conditions, all 56 regional VA offices are closed to the public for in-person services.

Compensation and disability evaluations usually done in person are currently evaluated electronically, via “tele-C&P” exams, virtual-tele-compensation and pension. Regional offices continue to operate, but now communications with health care providers, which determine how much money veterans can get, are being made via computer.

There is a significant backlog of these benefit cases and the pandemic added to it, delaying access to health care and other benefits. Veterans can wait more than 125 days for a decision. “These benefits are worth tens of millions of dollars to veterans amid the pandemic,” informs Gregory Cade, an attorney at Environmental Litigation Group P.C., a community toxic exposure law firm in Alabama.

During the pandemic, VA makes it possible for veterans to submit late claims and appeals, alongside requests for extensions on submissions.

Exceptionally, the appeals for veterans diagnosed with COVID-19 will be expedited.

VA Caregiver Support

Veterans in need of home-based care and their families are eligible to receive money to cover various necessary services by participating in the Veteran Directed Care program.

The CARES Act has made special provisions to help veterans in need of home-based care navigate the uncertain path ahead. During the pandemic, no in-home visits will be required and they can enroll or renew their participation in the program through telehealth or telephone.

Veterans and their caregivers who can’t get to the post office or a printer due to COVID-19 will not be penalized for sending in late paperwork. Also, their caregiver can still be paid for services, even if they are out of their home state and can’t travel due to COVID-19 restrictions and health concerns.

Other Military-Focused Efforts

A good starting point for veterans who suffer from COVID-19’s economic impact would be their branch’s relief organization, such as the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) or Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

Also, veterans and their families can get help for expenses not covered by current military support systems from several organizations:

  • The Red Cross works in conjunction with military relief societies to provide help.
  • Operation Homefront has a financial assistance program.
  • The Gary Sinise Foundation has a dedicated emergency Covid-19 campaign that provides financial assistance to veterans and service members.
  • PenFed Foundation has launched a COVID-19 relief fund. The program has closed after receiving over 6,000 applications in four days. But it may open again.

Additional Financial Help

Veterans who suffer from serious health conditions, such as cancer, and their immediate family members find themselves in a complicated situation during this period. This is not only because they are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 but also because they need to continue their treatment but may lack the financial resources.

Therefore, they need to know that there are other options available to them. For instance, they can access legal help. When veterans are diagnosed with any disease stemming from asbestos exposure that took place in the military, they can recover money from one or more asbestos trusts, whether they already receive benefits from the VA or not.

Also, veteran firefighters who’ve been exposed to aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) and suffer from kidney, testicular, pancreatic or liver cancer can seek compensation from chemical manufacturers.

There are many services available to help during this time. Veterans have served, and organizations and lawyers are available and will do all they can to serve them now, during this unprecedented and challenging period.

Environmental Litigation Group P.C. is a national community toxic exposure law firm dedicated to helping victims of occupational exposure to toxic agents, including asbestos and the PFAS in AFFF.

Wounded Army Corporal Inspires Boston’s Wounded Vet Run

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Vincent Mannion-Brodeur in his army uniform on the field

By Kellie Speed

When Jeff and Maura Brodeur received the devastating call that would change their life forever— that their only son had been critically injured in Iraq and may not make it—they never could have imagined how far he would come today.

U.S. Army Private Vincent Mannion-Brodeur was just 19 when he was deployed to Iraq where he served as a Parachute Infantryman in the B-2-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division and Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Honor Guard.

On March 11, 2007, the Massachusetts native was checking a house for insurgents when an improvised explosive device detonated, killing his sergeant and leaving him with deep shrapnel wounds that ravaged his upper torso. In addition, his left arm was nearly blown off and he sustained a traumatic brain injury that required the removal of his cranium and part of his frontal lobe.

As a courageous recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Vincent, who retired as a corporal, became the inspiration behind Boston’s Wounded Vet Run, a motorcycle run that honors wounded veterans of New England.

“Ten years ago, Vincent was the first recipient of the Boston Wounded Vet Run, which was used to supplement a VA Special Adaptive Housing Grant he earned that took two years of paperwork to complete,” said Jeff Brodeur, Vincent’s father and an Army veteran himself, adding that Vincent will be honored once again this year at the tenth annual Boston’s Wounded Vet Run being held in September.

Vincent Mannion-Brodeur holding an award
Vincent Mannion-Brodeur holding an award

“He was in a wheelchair at the time so we used that money to put in new stairs and a new walkway. We used the funds raised to make modifications for accessibility to the outside of our home. It’s really nice to have him being honored again on the run 10 years later because it all started with Vincent and Andy (Biggio) who is the founder.”

Since Boston’s initial event a decade ago, the motorcycle runs have increased in popularity, now becoming available in major cities nationwide raising money to provide assistance to severely wounded veterans like Vincent to improve their quality of life. All proceeds from the runs go directly to veterans to assist with housing modifications or mobility and transportation needs, including wheelchairs and cars, along with other basic requirements.

After surviving a yearlong coma, lengthy hospital stays, 47 surgeries and years of rehabilitation to relearn the simplest of tasks—from walking and talking to eating and showering—Vincent and his family have become an inspiration. Overcoming all odds after being told he might never be able to walk or talk again, Vincent, who can often be found smiling, saying, “God bless America,” still faces lifelong daily challenges but that hasn’t broken his fun-loving spirit.

His parents, who are both veterans, fought successfully to become the first on the East Coast—and one of the first families in the nation—to have their son transferred to a private medical facility to continue his care, paving the way for many other wounded soldiers.

Vincent Mannion-Brodeur holding an award with his doctor
Vincent Mannion-Brodeur holding an award with his doctor

The Veterans Administration initially wanted to transfer Vincent to its Tampa trauma facility but his parents were concerned over the level of care he would receive. “Boston has some of the best hospitals in the nation and we won approval for Vincent to receive private care for his severe TBI at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital instead of having to go to a Veterans Administration facility,” said Jeff, an Army veteran and also the National President of the Korean War Veteran’s Association. “The polytrauma hospitals back then didn’t offer the specialized care that we knew Boston could provide.”

Their steadfast determination in finding the best care and rehabilitation for their son paved the way for the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, authorizing the Veterans Administration to, “establish a wide range of new services to support certain caregivers of eligible Post 9/11 Veterans.” The additional benefits offered to families of veterans now include a monthly stipend, health care coverage, and travel expenses (including lodging and per diem) while accompanying veterans undergoing care, respite care and mental health services and counseling.

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/

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