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

Best Wellness Apps

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Soldier working on a laptop with US Flag in the background

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.

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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America's Warrior Partnership Logo (002)

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.

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.

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

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Central Michigan

Upcoming Events

  1. Veterans Legal Institute Networking & Fundraiser Event
    November 9, 2020
  2. Vietnam POW 47th Remembrance
    November 14, 2020
  3. VA Healthcare Online Summit 2020
    December 2, 2020 - December 4, 2020