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

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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/

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

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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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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

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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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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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.

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

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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

Gary Sinise Foundation Launches Emergency COVID-19 Combat Service

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While we are doing our part in fighting COVID-19 by social distancing and taking the necessary precautions, we are grateful to those on the frontline fighting the effects of the disease head on. But as we do our part to protect ourselves, how are those on the frontline being helped?

One of the programs striving to assist frontline workers is the Emergency COVID-19 Combat Service, created by the Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF). We interviewed Elizabeth Fields, COO of GSF, to find out more.

When did the GSF decide to form the Emergency COVID 19 Combat Service Initiative?

On March 9, 2020, a few days before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the Gary Sinise Foundation made grants available across the country to first responders in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) when answering coronavirus-related service calls. We also moved quickly to make financial assistance available to any military service members, veterans, and first responders affected by COVID-19, as well as their families.

This was the very beginning of our Emergency COVID-19 Combat Service, officially launched on April 1, and since then – in addition to meeting the urgent needs of our first responders, service members, and veterans – the campaign has grown tremendously and expanded to provide critical support to health-care professionals and all of our frontline workers.

What prompted GSF to create it? What is the main purpose?

As COVID-19 spread rapidly across the nation, we at the Gary Sinise Foundation thought: Just as our first responders and all of those on the front lines are working so hard to protect us, we want to do everything we can to protect and support them. So, we launched the Emergency COVID-19 Combat Service, which is an extension of our mission to serve and protect those who so bravely protect our nation – our first responders, military, veterans, their families and those in need – which we do 365 days a year.

Have you already sent out grants? If so, how many, and where?

Since announcing, the availability of grants for first responders and those battling this pandemic, the Foundation has made significant strides through our Emergency COVID-19 Combat Service. We’ve donated PPE and key decontamination equipment to 54 first responder departments across the country, provided 5,074 pieces of PPE and large-scale decontamination equipment to first responder departments on the front lines of COVID-19, and assisted 25 states in the fight against this pandemic.

What has the response been to this initiative?

Elizabeth Fields Headshot
Elizabeth Fields, COO of Gary Sinise Foundation

The Gary Sinise Foundation has received an outpouring of support from our partners, as well as the military, veteran, and first responder communities we proudly serve. The Emergency COVID-19 Combat Service launched with a video call-to-action from our founder and chairman, Gary Sinise, and this video has inspired people across the country to pitch into this collective effort on a grassroots level. In these uncertain times, it has been incredible to see our country come together to support those who so bravely defend our freedom and safety, 365 days a year.

Anything else you would like to add?
If you are interested in learning more about our Emergency COVID-19 Combat Service, or any of the Foundation’s programs, please visit us at garysinisefoundation.org.

U.S. Veterans Magazine would like to thank first responders, veterans, service members, medical professionals, and everyone on the frontline fighting COVID-19.

How Military Training Prepares Doctors for COVID-19

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Dr. Alice F. Healey, a College Professor of Distinction at the University of Colorado Boulder, has studied and crafted her expertise in translatability in training—the transfer of knowledge from past experiences into new scenarios.

Through her studies, she has found that skills taught in one kind of context doesn’t usually transfer to a different scenario. However, Dr. Healey recently ran one test of this experiment that has shown otherwise.

In a study done in collaboration with NASA, Dr. Healey ran an experiment in motoric and perceptual aspects in which test subjects were called to use one hand to study a sequence of numbers and use the other hand to solve the sequence. The results proved that in, at least, motoric and perceptual aspects, knowledge can be transferable.

The ability to transfer knowledge between fields might not come across as surprising, but it does serve as evidence for COVID-19 medical workers who previously served as veterans. Military veterans fight to protect people every day knowing they are putting their lives at risk, while medical doctors are normally confident that the ailment that they treat their patients for will not be a danger to themselves. With the arrival of COVID-19, medical professionals are now fighting to save their patients while dealing with the new stress to protect themselves. Military veterans turned medical professionals, however, are believed to cope with the stress of possible infection more effectively than those without a military background.

Former veterans turned medical professionals Matthew Groth, Kevin Manusos, and Jason Wood expressed to Forbes magazine that they believe their military background has helped them to better manage time, make sacrifices, adhere to discipline, and think quickly and critically under stressful circumstances.

“Getting yelled at brings you to a stress level you’re not comfortable with. You actually get used to that stronger stress response,” Manusos told Forbes of his military experience. “I think if you did well in combat, if you could mentally handle the stress, you would transition well into stressful situations anywhere.”

Empowering Veterans to Address Mental Health Challenges

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America's Warrior Partnership Operation Deep Dive-team members stand together in front of poster board for support group

By Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and while veterans and their families are leaders in navigating stressful situations, there are times when they can use some help to overcome a challenge. Whether the severity of a mental health issue ranges from mild to critical, there are programs and services tailored to help veterans navigate their unique situation.

During times like this, it is important to connect with resources that are available to help.

Accessing Mental Health Support

First and foremost, as I have, you should memorize the number to the Veterans Crisis Line. Any veteran who is experiencing an urgent crisis should call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, or text 838255. The Veteran’s Crisis Line enables veterans to reach caring and qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. These counselors can help veterans who may be feeling anxious, lonely, or are thinking about suicide. Veterans in crisis or need of help can reach out to the hotline for connection and immediate support.

For situations that are less urgent but no less severe, there are physical and virtual resources that veterans may be able to use. For example, in your community, there could be a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, Community Based Outpatient Clinic, or Vet Center. In addition to these programs, there are community behavioral health and health centers that can address many less urgent stressors. A great point of contact in the local community would be your local County Veteran Service Officer. They likely know of local resources and can facilitate your connection. Lastly, you may seek peer support from local Veteran Serving Organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Team Red, White, and Blue, or the American Legion.  However, if you are unable to navigate your community resources, you can contact the America’s Warrior Partnership Network, who will reliably connect veterans with a service provider from outside of their community, such as Vets4Warriors or the Cohen Veterans Network that specialize in peer and mental health support.

Advocating for New Resources and Programs

In addition to raising awareness of existing resources, one of the most important things that veterans can do this month – and throughout the rest of the year – is to advocate for new policies that will better support their brothers- and sisters-in-arms who live with a mental illness. One of the most cutting-edge pieces of legislation is Senate Bill 785, also called Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019. This bill unanimously passed the Senate and is one of the most significant pieces of legislation to improve mental health and end veteran suicide. We strongly encourage a bipartisan and bicameral approach to make this bill law.

Advocacy is especially critical in the national fight to reduce suicide and self-harm among veterans. One of the initiatives contributing to this effort is Operation Deep Dive, a four-year study currently being conducted by America’s Warrior Partnership and researchers from The University of Alabama with support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. The project is examining community risk factors involved in suicide and non-natural deaths among veterans in 14 communities across the country. By the study’s completion, researchers will develop a methodology that any community can implement to identify the unique risk factors of suicide among their local veterans and then address those factors through a customized support program.

As part of this study, Operation Deep Dive researchers are currently interviewing individuals who have either lost a loved one, friend, or acquaintance who was a veteran to suicide or a non-natural cause of death. These interviews will enable researchers to examine how a veteran was engaged within their community before their death, and more importantly, what can be done to better support veterans in the future.

To participate in an interview, individuals must be 18 or older and live within one of the 14 communities where Operation Deep Dive is taking place (the veteran must also have lived in that same community before their death). More information about the interviews and details on how to participate are available online.

By advocating for new policies and supporting essential programs, veterans can ensure their fellow service members who struggle with mental health challenges can build the quality of life that they have earned through their service.

About the Author

Jim Lorraine is President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership, a national nonprofit that empowers communities to empower veterans. The organization’s mission starts with connecting community groups with local veterans to understand their unique situations. With this knowledge in mind, America’s Warrior Partnership connects local groups with the appropriate resources to proactively and holistically support veterans at every stage of their lives. Learn more about the organization at AmericasWarriorPartnership.org.

A Military Wife’s Guide to Suicide Prevention

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Depressed soldier leaning against the window covering his face with his arm

Aleha Landry is one of the many people who has a military spouse suffering from a form of mental illness from military experience.

Through her personal experiences tending to her husband’s mental health conditions and her knowledge of the rising suicide rate among military personnel, Landry does everything in her power to help those suffering from these conditions.

Through her husband’s struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, Landry has had a look at the various military-implemented mental health programs that help military personnel in these specific instances. Though in place for good reason, Landry has expressed her husband’s distaste for the programs, as they claim to be a solution for an issue that is as complicated and complex as mental health. To bring awareness to what veterans are actually feeling in times of mental health issues, Landry writes letters to Air Force leaders and members of Congress.

Though she is yet to receive a response to her letters, Landry does offer three helpful tips that she believes should be implemented into the mental health programs for military personnel.

  • Therapists working through these programs should either be stationed to stay in one place or at least have a five-year commitment to where they are currently located. Many of the therapists that Landry’s husband has seen have relocated in a short span of time, forcing him to retell his story and rebuild trust over and over again. Lancey believes that having one therapist who is guaranteed to stick around would allow for trust, understanding and healing to be better implemented.
  • Guarantee off-base counseling. This would allow for those seeking therapy to have a wider range of choice in finding the right counselor, rather than feeling the pressure to have to talk with a specific person.
  • Reduce the redundancy in progress questionnaires. Many questionnaires given to track the mental progress of military personnel are redundant and frustrating, according to Landry, who believes asking the questions once and having them answered to a therapist rather than on a sheet of paper would decrease frustration and give patients the sense of being cared for.

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