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

10 Activities You May Not Know That Help With PTSD

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Two young beekepers in protective uniform working on a small apiary farm, getting honeycomb from the wooden beehive

By Kat Castagnoli, Managing Editor, DiversityComm, Inc.

More than 350 million war survivors around the globe suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, according to a 2019 report by the European Journal of Psychotraumatology.

And while there are many types of psychotherapy treatments, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and medication that can help treat PTSD, did you know that caring for bees, taking a swim with dolphins and donning a pair of hockey skates can help as well?

In honor of PTSD Awareness Month, we compiled a list of 10 activities and programs you may not have thought of that can help veterans, servicemembers and their families cope with PTSD:

  1. Horseback Riding – Stable Strides

StableStrides (stablestrides.org), based in the large military community of Colorado Springs, Colo., provides equine therapy for veterans, active duty servicemembers and military families. The non-profit promotes positive physical, behavioral, cognitive, emotional and social development by fostering a connection with horses.

  1. Beekeeping – Hives for Heroes

Hives for Heroes (hivesforheroes.com) is a national non-profit organization based in Houston, Tx., comprised of beekeepers and veterans that focus on honey bee conservation, suicide prevention and a healthy transition from service.

  1. Cycling – Petal Against PTSD

Pedal Against PTSD (paptsd.org) aims to raise awareness regarding the severity of PTSD and to share the benefits that the sport of cycling brings to all military veterans and their families. The organization is recognized in all 50 states, as well as certain countries overseas, and seeks to provides vets with quality bicycles, create a strong community outreach program and contribute funds back to the research and development of PTSD.

  1. Service Dog Training – Warrior Canine Connection

Warrior Canine Connection (warriorcanineconnection.org) is a Boyds, Md.-based organization that enlists recovering warriors in a therapeutic mission of training a dog from puppyhood to adulthood on how to become a service dog for fellow veterans with disabilities. As a result, Warrior trainers benefit from a physiological and psychological animal-human connection.

  1. Scuba Diving – Waves Project

The Waves Project (wavesproject.org) in Temecula, Calif., was established to help wounded veterans experience the freedom and challenge of scuba diving. The organization believes the unique properties of an aquatic environment are ideal for wounded veterans as they rehabilitate from various injuries, including amputations, spinal cord injuries, Traumatic Brain Injuries and PTSD.

  1. Surfing – Warrior Surf

Warrior Surf Foundation (warriorsurf.org) is a nonprofit program in Folly Beach, SC, that works to provide free surf therapy, wellness coaching, yoga and community to veterans struggling with PTSD, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

  1. Yoga – Veterans Yoga Project

The Veterans Yoga Project (veteransyogaproject.org) in Alameda, Calif., teaches over 100 free yoga classes each week for veterans and their families in order to improve the overall health and wellbeing of all veterans, whether they are currently struggling with severe symptoms or are focused on increasing resilience and giving back to others.

  1. Swimming with Dolphins – Island Dolphin Care

The Key Largo, Fla.-based Island Dolphin Care (islanddolphincare.org) provides a unique, dolphin-assisted therapy program for veterans, military personnel, caregivers, family members and Gold Star spouses, children and parents. Each program is tailored to meet the needs of the participants and there is no cost for veterans to participate.

  1. Bird Keeping – Parrots for Patriots

Many veterans have gained new meaning in life by taking in abandoned birds that have been trained and donated by Parrots for Patriots (parrotsforpatriots.org) – a non-profit organization located in Vancouver, Washington that matches unwanted or abandoned parrots with any veteran desiring companionship. To qualify, veterans pay a $25 application fee and agree to home visits and a training session before their adoptions are approved.

  1. Hockey – Veterans Hockey United

The mission of Veterans Hockey United (veteranshockeyunited.com) is to bring the veteran, military and first responder community together to grow the game of hockey through no-cost player and team registration. The organization’s focus is on providing a positive outlet to raise awareness on suicide prevention, end the stigma of PTSD and mental health issues, and perform fundraising in support of Gold Star families.

About DiversityComm

DiversityComm, Inc. (DCI) is the proud publisher of six nationally recognized diversity focused magazines: Black EOE Journal, HISPANIC Network Magazine, Professional WOMAN’s Magazine, U.S. Veterans Magazine, Diversity in STEAM Magazine and DIVERSEability Magazine. We are dedicated to inform, educate, employ and provide equal opportunity within corporate America in order to create a more diverse workplace. For more information, visit www.diversitycomm.net

Tips for New Military Spouses

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woman wearing a military cap and gree tee looking at smart phone smiling

If you’ve recently married into the military, or you or your spouse has just joined, you may be feeling both nervous and excited about the future.

During the adjustment period, spouses take on new roles, adapt to new schedules and learn new ways of handling many of life’s obstacles. To successfully do so, it’s helpful to know about the military spouse support available to you.

What’s on the installation

Your installation Military and Family Support Center is a good place to start for anything from local recreational opportunities and a personalized introduction to installation services including spouse career and employment opportunities, personal financial management classes, activities for children and families, military spouse resources and more.

Staying positive during a deployment

The power of being positive, along with a little help from friends and family, can make time apart from your partner your time to shine. Follow our tips to stay positive and make that time go by just a little bit faster.

Living on an installation for the first time

You may experience many emotions if you’re planning to live on an installation for the first time as a military spouse. While it’s perfectly understandable to feel some uncertainty, there are several ways to ensure the transition is a success:

  • Be proactive and keep a positive attitude. Take advantage of opportunities offered to you on the installation.
  • Get your children involved in activities. The installation youth center offers a wide range of sports, activities, events and social clubs. This is also a great way to meet other parents.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Other families are getting used to the new installation too.
  • Participate in military community activities. Pay attention to upcoming events and join in the fun. You can try new things and meet new people at the same time.

Stay in touch with the military spouse online community

You might be amazed at what you can accomplish on your own and with a little help from other military spouses. The Blog Brigade is the place to read about tips from other military spouses around the world.

Spouse education and career opportunities

Continuing your education or advancing your career when you’re constantly on the move can be tough. But there are many employment and education resources that are only available to military spouses.

  • Whether you’re in need of help writing a resume or simply deciding what career is best for you, the MySECO website is your one-stop shop. MySECO provides education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering comprehensive resources and tools related to career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections.
  • Depending on your individual interests and skills, there are many job opportunities available to you. Get your resume ready and explore what’s out there, on and off the installation.
  • There certain preferences for military spouses when applying for Department of Defense civilian jobs. With the help of the Military Spouse Preference Program, you can build your career as you move with the military.
  • If your job requires a professional license or certification and you move due to a permanent change of station, you can apply for up to $1,000 in reimbursement of re-licensure or certification fees from your service branch.

Working overseas

A move overseas can shake up your world as new possibilities and experiences await you. Finding a job overseas as a military spouse presents a unique set of challenges. Here are some tips to help you with your search:

Confidential non-medical counseling

Both Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling Program offer services for life situations, such as coping with deployments.

Having a baby when your partner is deployed

When your partner is deployed, there are ways to bridge the distance before and after your child’s birth.

  • Enroll in the right TRICARE region.
  • Enroll in childbirth classes at your installation’s hospital or military treatment facility.
  • Get a medical power of attorney. Choose someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in the unlikely event medical staff can’t get your or your partner’s consent. Visit your legal assistance office for more information.
  • Familiarize yourself with local Red Cross procedures. This way, when you go into labor you can have your medical provider notify your partner.

When you become your spouse’s caregiver

When your spouse is severely injured or has a debilitating illness, you face the prospect of starting a whole new chapter of your life—one you hadn’t expected. Becoming your spouse’s caregiver presents a unique set of challenges that can affect you emotionally and physically, and can often seem overwhelming. Read about common reactions to becoming a caregiver, resources for support and tips on taking care of yourself throughout the caregiving process.

All military jobs take dedication, and being a military spouse is no different. We hope this list of resources can help you through any challenges that may arise along the way.

Source:  militaryonesource.mil

American Heroes

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Jeff Bosley wearing his Green Beret hat and in military uniform

By Annie Nelson

Tall, dark, and handsome describes the former Green Beret turned firefighter and now actor Jeff Bosley. You’ve seen him on the screen in Take Point, Seal Team, Ray Donovan, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He plays Nomad in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops III. He’s a true-life hero who served in the Special Forces–a secret society of the nation’s finest warriors that nobody knows, ones who are in it for the honor but never get the glory.

So how on earth did this Idaho native go from down-home good ol’ boy to badass Special Forces guy to a first responder …and then finally settle in the land of make believe? Join me as I learn a bit about Jeff–how he got to where he is today and where he’s headed.

Tell me a little about why you chose to go into the Army, then on to Special Forces …. what are some of your best memories from those years?

It was a convoluted journey, to be honest.  I have some random cousins and uncles who served, but I didn’t come from one of those heavily populated military families.  I spent many years chasing college degrees because that’s what I assumed you are supposed to do.  Then, after 9/11, I still resisted the urge to serve.  I had always wanted to, but the longer I put it off, the more hesitant I became.  I look back and think it was an odd fear of leaving the comfort of the normal life I had finally carved out.  Finally, when I was nearing 30, I decided if I didn’t do it, I would forever regret it.

I chose Special Forces right out of the gate because I’d always wanted to serve and once I finally did, I knew I wanted to be in the Special Forces community: All or None.

How was your transition out of the military? How did you choose firefighting?

It wasn’t too bad.  Thanks to so much college prior to serving, my transition into the civilian world wasn’t too bad when it came to interviews and resume writing, etc.  I was actually in the middle of ETS-ing from Group [“expiration–term of service,” or leaving the military] when I first tested for the Fire Department.  I passed the requisite tests and then began the Fire Academy in lieu of the ETS process.  It was absolutely chaotic.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – NOVEMBER 11: Actor Jeff Bosley, Football Star Matt Vanderbeek, guests and Actor Robert Patrick attend The Disabled Veteran Business Alliance’s Annual Salute To Veterans Day Breakfast at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 11, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Desiree Stone/Getty Images)

I knew I wanted to continue serving in a small unit team capacity.  Law enforcement just started getting so hamstrung that I knew it wasn’t for me.  Firefighting was always appealing to me when considering options other than the military.  I was a volunteer firefighter in college, so it made sense to go back to it.  I loved the four-person shifts and how they emulated the tight-knit community of an ODA [“Operational Detachment Alphas,” which are small, versatile Special Forces teams].

When did you know perfecting your craft and solely focusing on acting was the right move?

As a kid, if I could have had some higher power come out of the sky and give me my wish, it would have always been to be in movies and television.  When I grew up, the practical side of me took me to the Special Forces.

However, after wrapping up my SF career, my firefighter career was missing something.  After the perfect storm of events, including divorce and other personal “stuff,” I finally said “fu** it” and went for it.  I had spent tons of time in the theatre and in college theatre, practicing, studying and performing…why not finally just go for it.? I guess I looked at it like I had nothing to lose.  Just like my decision to go into Special Forces–I’d forever regret it if I didn’t try.

How has your military training and experiences helped you navigate Hollywood and your pursuit of an acting career?

It helps me DAILY!  Whether grinning and bearing some inconvenience or navigating the city of with an SF-learned psychological warfare attitude…my entire career helps me tolerate the chaos, uncertainty and uncontrollable business that is Hollywood.  I’m continuing my formal acting studies and experiences, which helps me in the business and in the art and craft aspect of the city. But the skills learned during my SF service certainly help me become more marketable for certain roles.  Many roles demand weapons training or feature characters that have a history of military experience and so on.  Merging the craft of acting with the skills of SF often helps me stand out and deliver more believable performances because of the amalgamation of all I’ve seen and done.

Jeff Bosley in rugged jeans and tee-shirt modeling look with thumbs in pockets
Jeff Bosley – Courtesy Jeff Bosley

What is your view of the Flag controversy since you have served not only in the military but also as a first responder?

I abhor it.  Yet, patiently and frustratingly, I respect it.  I know the meaning and the message many argue it represents, but I personally cannot EVER support kneeling towards the flag after all I’ve seen and done.  To me, it is the last symbolic hope that we should all agree on and unite towards.  Anything less is wrong.  And I say that knowing that all I believe in and fought for is what allows this difference of opinions, and I firmly respect that.  We can disagree and still be friends.  I’ll just never do it.

What are some of your passion projects?

The kid in me loves comics and action and adventure.  I spent a lot of time working to get The Punisher brought to life and would love to see that come to fruition some day.  I’m also a huge fan of great books and novels, and there are a handful of series I’d kill to see brought to the screen. I’d love to play Sandman Slim or even the main character, Joel, from The Last of Us, a great video game for the PlayStation system.

Other than that, one of my closest friends in life and in filmmaking Scott Seagren and I are always working on his scripts, whether pitching them to Netflix (which we are currently doing with three under our Scruff Brothers Films umbrella), making them ourselves, or working to collaborate with others to bring them to life.  I love acting and circumstantially producing and directing, so any chance to do those as a career is a gift in my eyes.

To keep up with Jeff Bosley, be sure to check out www.jeffbosley.com. You can also follow him on Instagram @thejeffbosley, Twitter @thejeffbosley, Facebook @thejeffbosley, and Vimeo @jeffbosley.

Is a Service Dog Right for You? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Man in military uniform with German shepherd dog, outdoors

By Nat Rodgers

What are service dogs?

Service dogs are specially trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a chronic disability who cannot perform the work or task independently for him or herself. Service dogs can, for example, pick things up, guide people who are blind, alert people who are deaf or pull a wheelchair. They can also remind a person to take prescribed medications and calm a person with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack. It is important to note that service animals are working animals, not pets.

How can service dogs help Veterans with mental health conditions?

Veterans with substantial mobility limitations associated with a mental health disorder for which a service dog has been identified as the optimal way to address the mobility impairment may be eligible for veterinary health benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Health Mobility Service Dog Initiative. A substantial mobility limitation indicates that most common life and work activities (i.e. leaving the house, getting to medical appointments, using public transportation, etc.) are impaired or prevented for the person more than half the time.

Under the Mental Health Mobility Service Dog Initiative, this benefit has been offered for veterans with a mental health condition. It provides comprehensive coverage for the canine’s health and wellness and any prescription medications necessary to enable the dog to perform its duties in service to the veteran.

How can a veteran apply for VA veterinary health benefits?

A veteran should meet with a VA mental health provider to begin the application process for this benefit. The mental health provider and care team will evaluate and determine whether the mental health condition is the primary cause of the veteran’s substantial mobility limitations. The team will also assess whether a mobility service dog would be the optimal intervention or treatment approach for the veteran. If the team considers a service dog to be the optimal intervention, they will apply to receive the benefit on behalf of the veteran by contacting the VA Offices of Mental Health Services and Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service at VHAPSASClinicalSupportTeam@va.gov.

Each veteran’s case is reviewed and evaluated by a prescribing clinician for the following:

  • Goals that are to be accomplished through other assistive technology or therapy
  • Goals that are to be accomplished through the use of a service dog
  • Ability and means, including potential co-caregivers, to care for the dog currently and in the future

The veteran will be informed if the veterinary benefit has been granted. Veterans approved for the benefit are then referred to ADI-accredited agencies, assistancedogsinternational.org, to apply for a service dog.

What is covered by the VA veterinary health benefit?

Veterans with working service dogs are provided veterinary care and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids Service. VA does not pay for the dog or for boarding, grooming, food or other routine expense associated with owning a dog. Additional information about VA’s veterinary health benefits can be found at www.prosthetics.va.gov/ServiceAndGuideDogs.asp.

In late 2016, the Center for Compassionate Care Innovation partnered with the VA Offices of Mental Health Services and Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service to extend eligibility for veterinary health care, specialized equipment and travel support to veterans with chronic mobility issues associated with a mental health disorder. These benefits help veterans with some of the costs involved with caring for their service dogs when they receive them from an approved agency accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI).

For more information on the benefits of service dogs please visit: assistancedogsinternational.org.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

How the Military Supports Diversity & Inclusion

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Four diverse U.S. military soldiers in side to side collage

As someone who cares about a service member, you may have questions about how the military ensures equal opportunity and acceptance of individual differences among all its members. The DOD has taken steps to root out bias, ensure the military reflects the nation’s diversity and promote an environment in which every member is treated with dignity and respect.

Over the coming months, there will be an effort to get input from service members – both officers and enlisted – to hear their views and concerns about diversity and inclusion in the military.

Some changes have been implemented to advance diversity and inclusion. Military leaders have been charged with making equal opportunity and inclusion a priority. Your service member may have already benefited from some recent changes, including:

  • Removing photographs and references to race, ethnicity and gender from personnel files in promotion and selection processes. This eliminates the risk of bias when considering a candidate for a promotion, assignment, training, education or command.
  • Enacting stronger protections against harassment and discrimination including prohibiting discrimination because of pregnancy.
  • Training to detect and respond appropriately to bias – both conscious and unconscious. Service members and leaders are also receiving training on recognizing and understanding the impact of their own biases and prejudices.
  • Reviewing hairstyle and grooming policies for racial bias.
  • Training for commanders on guiding discussions on discrimination, prejudice and bias.

As an ongoing effort, the DOD collects and analyzes information to identify prejudice and bias, measure the effectiveness of its actions and expose areas requiring improvement.

Longer-term steps toward diversity and inclusion

Building upon the above, the Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion has recommended further steps to improve racial and ethnic diversity and broaden equal opportunity in the military. These recommendations include:

  • Updating recruiting content annually to reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup.
  • Diversifying senior-level positions so they reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup.
  • Identifying and removing barriers to diversity in aptitude tests while retaining a rigorous screening process.
  • Identifying and removing barriers to senior leadership for diverse candidates.
  • Disclosing demographic information about promotion selection rates. This will improve transparency and reinforce the DOD’s focus on achieving equity across all grades.
  • Creating a diversity and inclusion mobile app and website that will allow service members to easily connect with each other and locate resources.
  • Prohibiting involvement with extremist or hate group activity.

To ensure continued progress, the DOD has established the independent Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in the Armed Services. This committee will continue the work of examining any and all issues that will improve equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion in the military.

Diverse and inclusive ranks are essential to morale, force cohesion and readiness. Your service member plays an important role in maintaining an environment that values and respects individual differences.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

For Veterans, Recognizing and Treating Hearing Problems Can Enhance Lives

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Today’s solutions conveniently target noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus through digital technology.

By Brian Taylor, Signia Hearing Aids

The U.S. military is an authority on the study of hearing loss. The Department of Defense (DoD), for example, operates the Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE), in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to enhance operational performance and quality of life. The VA, for its part, runs the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research, a leader in the treatment of hearing issues, including tinnitus — that ringing in the ears that afflicts about one in 10 Americans but disproportionally affects veterans.

It stands to reason the DoD and VA are experts in the field because hearing loss and tinnitus are among the most common disabilities suffered by veterans. In fact, it’s VA policy that once a veteran is enrolled in VA health care, he or she is automatically eligible for diagnostic audiology. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America1, 2.7 million veterans receive treatment or disability compensation for hearing problems. It is in veterans’ best interest to avail themselves of these services because hearing loss, diagnosed early, is eminently and conveniently treatable through modern technology.

Awareness of Hearing Loss is the First Step
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates 26 million U.S. adults have suffered damage to their hearing from exposure to noise. In that context, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has in the past cited data indicating that veterans are 30 percent more likely than others to suffer severe hearing loss.

Most people who decide they need hearing aids are in their 60s and 70s, however about half of all military veterans—many of whom are at a higher risk of tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss — are below the age of 55. In other words, many Americans address the effects of hearing loss later in life, but veterans often grapple with symptoms, such as tinnitus, earlier.

Veterans have higher rates of tinnitus than the general public, in part because many were exposed to excessive noise — machinery, engine noise, artillery fire and more. Tinnitus isn’t the same as hearing loss, but studies have shown it can be a harbinger of things to come. And there are other symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss to be aware of, especially because younger veterans may not expect them to pose a problem.

Noise-induced hearing loss leads to difficulty discerning high-pitched sounds. When a veteran has problems hearing high frequencies, it impacts communication and their ability to understand voices. It may not be obvious there’s a problem, because hearing loss is often associated with a lack of volume, but noise-induced hearing loss can present secondary symptoms, such as fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

Then there’s the issue of “hidden” hearing loss, which the DoD, HCE and others have been studying. Put simply, people with hidden hearing loss experience some of the same symptoms as those with noise-induced hearing loss — they’re distracted in noisy settings or they mishear what people are telling them — but when they visit an audiologist, their hearing tests come out normal. We’re just beginning to understand hidden hearing loss, but we know about it because patients report their difficulties communicating and seek solutions to lead fuller lives.

Modern Technology Can Impact Hearing Positively
Such solutions exist today in the form of digital, network-enabled hearing aids. The words “hearing aid” may conjure up images of bulky devices worn by older individuals. But because it’s become clear many millions of people — across a spectrum of age and demographics — would benefit from new solutions, hearing aids have evolved tremendously.

For starters, today’s devices aren’t big, beige and bulky. Like other consumer electronics, hearing aids are smaller and sleeker, made possible by digitization. Some even resemble consumer earbuds and come in attractive colors.

Moreover, they include advanced capabilities. Traditional hearing aids focused primarily on amplifying sound; today’s hearing aids can also target specific frequencies and filter out background noise through real-time signal processing. And they’re easily rechargeable, which is not only convenient, but also ensures accessibility for veterans with limited dexterity.

Other features in select modern hearing aids include:
• “Own voice” processing, a feature that recognizes the wearer’s voice and processes it separately from other sounds, overcoming a common complaint of people with hearing aids who perceive distortion when they speak.
• Face mask mode, an especially important feature during the COVID-19 pandemic, that helps overcome muffled speech by people wearing masks and improves communication.
• Acoustic motion sensors, which sense movement and automatically adjust settings to delivering highly personalized hearing throughout the wearer’s day.

Today’s hearing aids can also specifically treat tinnitus. My company makes hearing aids that are available through the VA and incorporate a technology called notch therapy. With notch therapy, a hearing care professional identifies the pitch of a patient’s tinnitus and programs a frequency notch into their hearing aids to match that specific pitch, which can then suppress the tinnitus. Other therapies available in hearing aids introduce tones or other sounds that effectively distract the brain from the tinnitus itself.

Finally, in this age of smartphone apps and ubiquitous Internet connectivity, hearing aids can be programmed and adjusted online — an important feature for veterans whose nearest VA facility may be miles away.

The VA is a leader in teleaudiology, enabling remote access to its hearing aid services through veterans’ smartphones, tablets or PCs. Hearing aid makers supplement teleaudiology with features that allow hearing care professionals to conduct their fitting remotely.

Better Hearing, Better Lives
Today, more people suffering from hearing loss are embracing solutions that not only turn up the volume but conveniently and automatically improve their ability to communicate naturally. Because veterans are likely to have suffered tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss in the service of their country, they can rest easier in the knowledge that these solutions are available to them through the VA.
By recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss, seeking assistance and embracing the role of new technology, veterans can enjoy the path to enhanced human performance with clear hearing.

Brian Taylor, AuD, is the director of clinical content development for Signia. He is also the editor of Audiology Practices, a quarterly journal of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, editor-at-large for Hearing Health and Technology Matters and adjunct instructor at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Taylor has authored several peer reviewed articles and textbooks and is a highly sought out lecturer. Brian has nearly 30 years of experience as both a clinician, business manager and university instructor. His most recent textbooks, “Audiology Practice Management” and the 3rd edition of “Selecting and Fitting Hearing Aids” were published in 2020.

Sources:
hearingloss.org/wp-content/uploads/HLAA_HearingLoss_Facts_Statistics.pdf?pdf=FactStats
cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6028a4.htm
statista.com/statistics/250267/us-veterans-by-age-and-gender/
pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28885938/

Normandy Commemorates D-Day With Small Crowds, But A Big Heart

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background with 3d texts, army helmet and remember and honor D-Day text

Article originally posted on NPR

When the sun rises over Omaha Beach, revealing vast stretches of wet sand extending toward distant cliffs, one starts to grasp the immensity of the task faced by Allied soldiers on June 6, 1944, landing on the Nazi-occupied Normandy shore.

Several ceremonies were held Sunday to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the decisive assault that led to the liberation of France and western Europe from Nazi control, and honor those who fell.

“These are the men who enabled liberty to regain a foothold on the European continent, and who in the days and weeks that followed lifted the shackles of tyranny, hedgerow by Normandy hedgerow, mile by bloody mile,” Britain’s ambassador to France, Lord Edward Llewelyn, said at the inauguration of a new British monument to D-Day’s heroes.

On D-Day, more than 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats. This year on June 6, the beaches stood vast and nearly empty as the sun emerged, exactly 77 years since the dawn invasion.

For the second year in a row, anniversary commemorations were marked by virus travel restrictions that prevented veterans or families of fallen soldiers from the U.S., Britain, Canada and other Allied countries from making the trip to France. Only a few officials were allowed exceptions.

At the U.K. ceremony near the village of Ver-sur-Mer, bagpipes played memorial tunes and warplanes zipped overhead trailing red-white-and-blue smoke. Socially distanced participants stood in awe at the solemnity and serenity of the site, providing a spectacular and poignant view over Gold Beach and the English Channel.

The new monument pays tribute to those under British command who died on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy. Visitors stood to salute the more than 22,000 men and women, mostly British soldiers, whose names are etched on its stone columns. Giant screens showed D-Day veterans gathered simultaneously at Britain’s National Memorial Aboretum to watch the Normandy event remotely. Prince Charles, speaking via video link, expressed regret that he couldn’t attend in person.

On June 6, 1944, “In the heart of the mist that enveloped the Normandy Coast … was a lightning bolt of freedom,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly told the ceremony. “France does not forget. France is forever grateful.”

Most public events have been canceled, and the official ceremonies are limited to a small number of selected guests and dignitaries.

Denis van den Brink, a WWII expert working for the town of Carentan, site of a strategic battle near Utah Beach, acknowledged the “big loss, the big absence is all the veterans who couldn’t travel.”

“That really hurts us very much because they are all around 95, 100 years old, and we hope they’re going to last forever. But, you know…” he said.

“At least we remain in a certain spirit of commemoration, which is the most important,” he told The Associated Press.

Continue on to read the full article on NPR.

Small Business Loans & Grants for Disabled Veterans

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According to recent statistics, there are almost 17.5 million veterans in the United States. Of these veterans, 4 million of them are suffering from a service-related injury with disability ratings ranging from 10% and above. Meanwhile, there are 13 million who have received disability ratings for non-service-related injuries.

This means the majority of them are suffering from one form of disability or another. That’s why it’s really not surprising, and incredibly critical, that there are a lot of small business loans and grants for disabled veterans in the U.S., especially for those who are thinking of starting a business.

Here are some of them:

Small Business Association Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan
This is one of the most popular programs that the Small Business Association (or SBA) offers, and for good reason. It offers a low-down payment and more flexible payment options. SBA also offers a counterpart of this loan program for non-veterans, but they will not be able to enjoy the discounted rates and other privileges provided to veterans.

StreetShares Foundation
StreetShares Foundation is an organization that was specifically established to help veteran business owners. They have various loans and financing programs. In fact, they even award grants to veterans who qualify for their reward opportunities annually.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Program
This is technically not a loan or financing program; however, it will still prove to your advantage to apply for it. This government program seeks to assist veteran-owned small businesses by doing business with them in the form of government contracts.

All you need to do is to get your business registered through the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (or OSDBU). This will add your startup to their roster of small businesses to call upon if they found themselves in need of the products and services that you offer.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Small Business Grants
The best thing we love about grants is that you won’t have to repay them anymore. You are not getting this money for free, though. You will be required to follow the terms of the money provided. Not to mention that it can be quite difficult to get approved given the number of applicants each year. va.gov

The Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehab and Employment Ownership Track
Here’s a program that is specifically designed for veterans with disabilities. In fact, you must have a disability that serves as an employment barrier in order to qualify for it. We highly recommend this program, especially for those who have a high disability rating.

Small Business Administration Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
This is closely similar to the OSDBU program wherein qualified businesses will be granted an opportunity to qualify for contracts that can, in turn, reap revenue. The only difference, though, is that these contracts will not strictly come from the government. https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/veteran-assistance-programs#section-header-0

Increasing Your Chances
The programs we have listed above are definitely not the only ones that are available out there. There are a lot of government offices, organizations and even companies that offer financing aid to disabled veterans. The ones that we have featured above are simply the most popular choices, and thus, more easily accessible. However, please feel free to research your options further.

In the meantime, allow us to share with you tips on how to increase your chances of qualifying for any program that you wish:

• Always check the eligibility requirements. Don’t waste your time getting the paperwork ready and waiting for a response. Make sure that you are eligible from the get-go by verifying your eligibility.
• Take care of your business credit history. Most of you are probably researching loans and grants to start your business. This doesn’t mean that existing business owners won’t qualify for these programs anymore. Quite the contrary, it is easier for a small business with an excellent business credit history to get accepted to these programs.
• Stay organized. There is a lot of paperwork required for any loan or grant application. Those with existing businesses already are typically required to present business and personal tax returns for at least the past three years. Other requirements may also include financial statements, business certificates and business plans, among other important documents.
• Find out your exact need. Finally, you should determine where you are going to use your loan or grant money and how much before even thinking of applying to a program. In this way, you will be able to make sure that the program you’re applying for and its benefits will be enough for your needs. It will also come in handy during interviews.
We hope that you have found our information helpful in finding the program that your small business requires to take flight. It is the least we can do in exchange for the service you have provided. Good luck!

Jim Hughes is a content marketer who has significant experience covering technology, finance, economics and business topics for about 3 years. At the moment he works as content manager in OpenCashAdvance.com.

Steven Spielberg And Tom Hanks Working On New WWII Series

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Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are officially working on a new WWII-inspired series with star director, Cary Joji Fukunaga.

He is signed on to direct the first three episodes of the 10-part series. Fukunaga is also in the midst of working on the upcoming James Bond film No Time to Die, which has been put off to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Masters of the Air is the name of the series, which is based on the Donald L. Miller book of the same name. It follows American bomber pilots of the U.S. Eighth Air Force who aimed to bring the fight straight to Hitler inside the borders of Nazi Germany. It’s considered to be the third installment of the Band of Brothers and The Pacific set of World War II miniseries.

Read the full article on Do You Remember.com.

Jon Huertas – From Airman to Actor

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By Kat Castagnoli

He may perhaps be best known as Miguel on NBC’s Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning family drama, This Is Us.

Yet actor and Air Force veteran Jon Huertas is no stranger to bringing his real-life military experience to other roles as well. For eight seasons, Huertas starred as detective and Army veteran Javier Esposito in the ABC series, Castle. He also appeared as Ramirez, a Marine Recon Sniper Spotter, in JAG, and retired Marine Sergeant Jack Kale, in NCIS.

A pivotal role for Huertas was in David Simon’s HBO miniseries, Generation Kill, as Sgt. Tony “Poke” Espera.

The series offered a unique perspective on the 2003 invasion of Iraq – an event that hit home for Huertas, who served an eight-year stint in the Air Force in both Operation Just Cause (Panama) and Desert Storm (the first war in Iraq) as an aircraft nuclear/conventional weapons specialist.

Bringing even more veteran diversity and inclusivity to the film and television industry is on the actor’s radar and also part of his latest venture.

Alongside fellow collaborator Kenny Stevenson, Huertas recently launched the production shingle, WestSide Stories. He says the new company has several projects in various stages of development – most of them featuring at least one military veteran or active-duty character.

“With our company, we have ‘diversity’ at the heart of every story we want to tell,” he said, “and for me personally, having an active-duty member of the uniformed services or a veteran with a positive portrayal of that type of character is paramount to each and every one of our stories.”

Three men outside on a a show set. They're all wearing police vests and the middle man is pointing towards the two of them.
CASTLE – “Reckoning” – In the second installment of the Castle two-parter, stakes rise as the 12th Precinct matches wits with serial killers Jerry Tyson (3XK) and Dr. Kelly Nieman. (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on the Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Television Network. (Walt Disney Television via Getty Images/Colleen Hayes via Getty Images)

In addition to adding more military/veteran positive roles on the big screen, Huertas is also an advocate for giving Hollywood executives, directors, writers and producers more access to military bases – Air Force in particular – so those on-screen portrayals are more accurate as well.

“One reason I think it’s important to see what the Air Force does is that it’s a lot more than fighter planes and bombers,” he said. “There are so many things the Air Force does that gets overlooked because most stories about a military event or conflict involve the Army, the Marines or Navy, with the Air Force in just an air support role.

“Which is so important…. it’s how you win wars,” Huertas explained, “But it’s also important to shine a light on the other people who volunteer their lives in service of this country. The more we can show people, the more they’ll want to tell stories about it.”

A Born Actor
Born in New York City to a Puerto Rican father and a Caucasian mother, Huertas was raised primarily by his grandparents. He began acting when he was just 10 years old, taking part in school plays. Reportedly, Huertas once had to sing a solo at his strict Catholic school and his performance so moved a nun – who had instructed him to do so as a punishment – that the experience helped him make up his mind to pursue acting.

Cast of This Is Us
(L-R) Milo Ventimiglia, Jon Huertas, Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore, Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz and Susan Kelechi Watson attend ceremony on March 25, 2019 in Hollywood, Calif.

“The Air Force was an important stepping stone leading into my entertainment career,” Huertas said. “It allowed me to take advantage of getting a higher education, and I found it and the men and women I served with were very supportive and that’s what you need to succeed in this business, and any really, the support of your people.”

Huertas finished his college degree in theater while in the Air Force. He landed his first uncredited role in 1993 in The Webbers, but in 1998, portrayed Joe Negroni in the romantic drama, Why Do Fools Fall in Love? alongside Halle Berry, Paul Mazursky and Ben Vereen. That same year, he landed the role of Antonio in the television series, Moesha, and later played Brad, a witch hunter, in the popular ABC television hit, Sabrina the Teenage Witch – a role for which he was nominated for a 2000 ALMA Award.

But it was Huertas’ role of Detective Esposito in ABC’s police drama, Castle, that earned him and his co-star, Stana Katic, an award for Best Performance in a Drama Episode at the 16th Annual PRISM Awards.

Huertas’ latest projects include a new horror film he both appears in and produced called, Initiation, in May. He also directed a short film that will be debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival in June called, Two Jacked, about what happens when the world’s worst carjacker meets the world’s most notorious armed robber.

Apart from his Hollywood roles, Huertas regularly attends charity events benefiting veterans, including Wounded Warriors and Puppies Behind Bars. The Wildlands Network and the Aware Foundation are other organizations close to his heart. Married in Tulum in 2014, Huertas also enjoys spending time with his wife of seven years, Nicole Bordges.

A couple standing in front of a yellow wall at the Emmys
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 22: (L-R) Nicole Huertas and Jon Huertas attend the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Influential Roles
Huertas believes both his military and LatinX roots have definitely influenced how he approaches his roles on screen.
“The Air Force shaped me and I think that we as creatives can show that there are different ways to be influenced in our lives,” Huertas said. “And serving your country can be a very profound way to achieve that.”

He says his background helps him navigate how he protects his characters by knowing when, who, and how to talk to the right person when it comes to any changes that would help round out or authenticate that character’s objective or backstory.

Huertas says this specifically comes from learning and respecting the military’s ‘chain of command.’
“That chain has always served well,” Huertas says. “I think following a good chain of command helps someone identify a great leader, and you want that person to be supporting you in the success of your character or the story you are trying to tell.”

And while there is improvement in incorporating more LatinX characters in entertainment, Huertas feels much more can be done.

“What we see in the media inspires us both positively and negatively,” he said. “So, for me, I feel it’s our responsibility – and more specifically, my responsibility since I’ve been able to create a small platform – to step up and try to project real LatinX heroes onto audiences in hopes of inspiring more people to strive for what they are capable of.”

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