Help Heal Veterans Hosts #VigilforValor to Honor Military Lost to War and Suicide

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Veteran with PTSD sitting down with hands folded

Help Heal Veterans (Heal Vets) will host a month-long virtual candlelight vigil in May to honor service members who have fallen in battle and military members who served honorably in war and fell victim to suicide later due to the invisible scars of combat.

Help Heal Veterans is a nonprofit that provides free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to veterans and active duty military who are suffering from the physical, psychological and emotional wounds of war, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

#VigilforValor kicks off May 1, the start of Mental Health Awareness month, and concludes on May 31, Memorial Day. The United States has suffered more than 100,000 military casualties of war since 1950, and in the last 10 years we’ve lost more than 65,000 veterans to suicide.

“Our hope is to shine a light on the remarkable lives of those who have been lost,” said Joe McClain, retired Navy captain and Help Heal Veterans CEO. “Often times we honor the war dead as a group and not as individuals. This year, we want to give people an opportunity to learn about the remarkable lives represented by people who have paid the ultimate price for this country.”

Participants in #VigilforValor will:

1. Create a candleholder, either of their own design or one made from a kit provided by Help Heal Veterans for a $20 donation. (Note: a large number of candle kits will be provided free of charge to select veterans/active-duty service members).
2. Customize the candleholder for the individual they wish to honor with a photograph, drawing, patch or other item. Those who don’t have someone in particular they wish to remember are encouraged to reach out in their community, school, church or search local news to find someone to honor.
3. Light a candle and share a picture of it along with their story on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #VigilforValor so we may pay tribute to them together.

For 50 years, Help Heal Veterans has been using craft therapy to help veterans and active-duty military heal the invisible wounds of war.

“We have seen first-hand the healing power of crafting,” said McClain, “and it has been especially important over the past year, when isolation placed an extra burden on recovering veterans and military and the usual sources of support were not always available or accessible.”

Studies show that crafting can provide therapeutic and rehabilitative benefits, including improving fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, memory and dexterity, and can help alleviate feelings of anger and the severity of negative behaviors triggered by PTSD and TBIs.

To learn more about Heal Vets and the organization’s COVID-19 efforts, as well as find out how you can help, visit HealVets.org.

Veterans who are in a crisis and need support can go to https://www.veteranscrisisline.net or call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

About Help Heal Veterans
First established in 1971, Help Heal Veterans has provided free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans for generations. These craft kits help injured and recuperating veterans improve fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, manage stress and substance abuse, cope with symptoms of PTSD and TBI, while also improving their sense of self-esteem and overall physical and mental health. Most of these kits are developed, manufactured and packaged for delivery at our production center headquartered in Winchester, California. Since inception, Help Heal Veterans has delivered nearly 31 million of these arts and crafts kits to veterans and veteran facilities nationwide, along with active duty military overseas.

Recognizing the Symptoms of PTSD

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People who live through a traumatic event sometimes suffer its effects long after the real danger has passed. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

While PTSD is often associated with combat veterans, any survivor of a natural disaster, physical abuse or other traumatic event may suffer from it. The good news is that with professional help, PTSD is treatable.

But the first steps in getting help are learning the risk factors, recognizing the symptoms and understanding the treatment options.

Knowing the risk factors

Several factors play a role in developing PTSD, such as individual personality, severity of the event, proximity to the event, the people involved in the event, duration of the trauma and the amount of support the person receives afterward.

You may be at higher risk if you:
 

  • Were directly involved in the traumatic event
  • Were injured or had a near-death experience
  • Survived an especially long-lasting or severe traumatic event
  • Truly believed your life or that of someone around you was in danger
  • Had a strong emotional or physical reaction during the event
  • Received little or no support following the event
  • Have multiple other sources of stress in your life

Recognizing the symptoms

Just as individual reactions to trauma vary, PTSD symptoms also differ from person to person. Symptoms may appear immediately after a traumatic event or they may appear weeks, months or even years later.

Although the symptoms of a “typical” stress reaction can resemble those of PTSD, true PTSD symptoms continue for a prolonged time period and often interfere with a person’s daily routines and commitments.

While only a trained medical professional can diagnose PTSD, possible signs of the disorder include:

Re-experiencing trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder frequently includes flashbacks, or moments in which the person relives the initial traumatic event or re-experiences the intense feelings of fear that surrounded it.

Avoidance/numbness. As a result of flashbacks or other negative feelings, people suffering from PTSD may avoid conversations or situations that remind them of the frightening event they survived.

Hyper arousal. Feeling constantly on edge, feeling irritable and having difficulty sleeping or concentrating are all possible signs of PTSD.

Children can also suffer from PTSD. In children, PTSD symptoms may differ from those seen in adults and may include trouble sleeping, acting out or regression in toilet training, speech or behavior. Parents of a child with PTSD may notice the child’s artwork or pretend play involves dark or violent themes or details.

Understanding the treatment options

Even suspecting you have PTSD is reason enough to get a professional opinion, especially when free help is available around the clock to service members and their families.

If you’re not sure whom to talk to, start with any of the following:

  • Military treatment facility or covered services.You can locate the nearest military treatment facility and covered services in the civilian community near you through the TRICARE website.
  • Your healthcare provider.If you receive health care in the community through a civilian provider, you can start by talking to your doctor.
  • Local Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.If you are eligible to receive care through a VA hospital or clinic, find the nearest facility through the Veterans Health Administration website.
  • Military Crisis Line.If you or anyone you know ever experiences thoughts of suicide, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255. The Military Crisis Line staff can connect you with mental health support and crisis counseling services for a wide range of issues.

Remember, you are not alone. Free help is available 24/7 to service members and their families. Seeking help is a sign of strength that helps to protect your loved ones, your career, and your mental and physical health.

Source: Militaryonesource.mil

1st Female Sailor Completes Navy Special Warfare Training

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For the first time, a female sailor has successfully completed the grueling 37-week training course to become a Naval Special Warfare combatant-craft crewman — the boat operators who transport Navy SEALs and conduct their own classified missions at sea.

Navy officials said they would not identify the woman or provide more details on her — a routine military policy for special operations forces.
She was one of 17 sailors to graduate and receive their pins on Thursday. She is also the first of 18 women who have tried out for a job as a SWCC or a SEAL to succeed.

The sailor’s graduation marks just the latest inroad that women have made into some of the military’s most difficult and competitive commando jobs — just five years after all combat posts were opened to them. She will now head to one of Naval Special Warfare’s three special boat teams.

“Becoming the first female to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline is an extraordinary accomplishment and we are incredibly proud of our teammate,” said Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, the commander of Naval Special Warfare. “Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive and leadership attributes required to join our force.”

“She and her fellow graduates have the opportunity to become experts in clandestine special operations, as well as manned and unmanned platforms to deliver distinctive capabilities to our Navy, and the joint force in defense of the nation,” Howard added.

Of the 18 females who have sought a Navy special operations job, 14 did not complete the course. Three of them, however, are currently still in the training pipeline, one for SWCC and two attempting to become SEALs. Overall, according to the Navy, only about 35 percent of the men and women who begin the training for SWCC actually graduate.

A year ago, a female soldier became the first woman to complete the Army’s elite Special Forces course and join one of the all-male Green Beret teams. One other female soldier has finished training and will report to her assigned Special Forces group next month, and another will be attending the Military Freefall School next month, and then will report to her team.

So far, no women have successfully completed Marine special operations training. Marine spokesman Maj. Hector Infante said that since August 2016, nine females have attempted to get through the assessment and selection process. He said two candidates made it through the second phase, but didn’t meet performance expectations and, along with a number of male counterparts, didn’t get selected to continue.

He said that only about 40 percent of the more than 1,200 Marines who went through the course since 2016 successfully completed it.

Continue on to Military.com to read the original article.

The Importance of Listening to Our Veterans

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Ten years ago, I toured the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, with a group of World War II veterans, including Charles Utz. We stopped at the rear of a B-17 bomber, and Charles began talking.

He told me of being shot down on Christmas Eve 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a tail gunner, and the plane was in flames. But the trapdoor in the tail was stuck.

“It wouldn’t budge,” he explained. “I could see the flames growing around the engines and knew it was just a matter of minutes until they reached the fuel tank. I said to God, ‘If You let me out of here, I promise to spend my life serving You and man . . . ‘”

Charles’ voice trailed off, and his eyes brimmed with tears. “And that’s what’s always bothered me,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve lived up to that promise.”

Charles is among the tens of thousands of veterans who have shared their stories with us at the Veterans Breakfast Club. As a historian, I thought that holding veteran storytelling events would be a way to learn history from the people who lived it. I didn’t know that simple acts of listening would draw us so close so quickly and hold such therapeutic value . . . for them and me. For older veterans especially, sharing their stories is the last stop on their Hero’s Journeys.

One of the most difficult phases of the Hero’s Journey is the Return. In myth, the Hero often refuses to deliver the Grail, to bring back the knowledge gained on adventure. The Hero remains detached and alienated or enters a “deep forgetting,” unable to integrate extraordinary experiences abroad into ordinary life back home. Think of the veteran who comes back and never talks about it.

Old age provides the last chance to accomplish this integrative task.

Storytelling is the most powerful and public form of integrating past experience and gifting it to younger generations. Our veterans, I discovered, are eager to tell their stories when they know there are listeners prepared to hear them. Helping veterans complete their mission should be our mission as citizens.

Listening is hard in today’s noisy and strident social media culture. It takes a quiet mind and open heart, full attention and reserved judgement. It also takes patience. Veterans’ stories usually don’t unfold neatly in one sitting. Most have an open, searching quality, like Charles Utz’s. Meaning is revealed haltingly over time, often with struggle.

But if you, as a listener, can quiet the noise and coax a veteran through their story, you can receive a life-changing gift in return, something best summed up as wisdom.

Gaining wisdom is like earning a Medal of Honor. No one in their right mind would ever court the circumstances required to receive it. Both are granted through suffering, loss, sacrifice, and service to something greater than yourself. All of us have the capacity for wisdom, but few want to pay the price. Old age will lead us there eventually, if we allow it to.

War has the power to force wisdom upon its fighters all at once. It quickens the process by hurtling young men and women through a premature reckoning with their own mortality. If the warrior can accept the self-transformation wrought by war, then they can bring back to the world exceptional insight, perspective, and a deepened understanding of what really matters.

The veterans I’ve met at the Veterans Breakfast Club are humbler than the rest of us, more grateful for what they have, less distressed by grievance, and more dedicated to serving others. They are people of wonder, awe, and compassion. If you surround yourself with such persons, their qualities can rub off and attach to you like flecks of gold dust.

Charles Utz needed help completing the Journey that began in the tail of that B-17 in 1944. I helped simply by listening and prompting him to finish his story. In doing so, I got to reflect on how I might choose to live if I’d suddenly been granted another shot at life.

I invite everyone to take a moment to listen to our veterans share their stories. You’ll grow from the experience and may even discover your own Hero within, capable of wrestling open your own trapdoor and crossing the threshold into a new world.

By Todd DePastino

Todd DePastino is the founding director of Veterans Breakfast Club (VBC), a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to creating communities of listening around veterans and their stories to ensure that this living history will never be forgotten. As a historian, Todd is author and editor of seven books, including the award-winning Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front (W.W. Norton), a biography of the famed WWII cartoonist. He has a PH.D. in American History from Yale University and has taught at Penn State Beaver and Waynesburg University, where he received the Lucas-Hathaway Award for Teaching Excellence. Learn more about VBC and its mission at www.veteransbreakfastclub.org

Navy Federal Credit Union Report Reveals New Financial Habits for Military Families During the Pandemic

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Navy Federal Credit Union recently released a new report on the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on military families.

The survey of more than 1,100 active duty servicemembers, veterans and military spouses illustrates the new financial habits military families picked up, their financial plans for the coming months, differences in saving and spending across generations, and the disparate impact of the pandemic on military spouses.

Household Expenses and New Financial Habits

As a result of the pandemic, Navy Federal found that the majority of military households cut expenses and adopted new financial habits in 2020, with 89 percent of respondents indicating that they spent less on an expense in 2020. The most common expenses cut include:

  • Vacation travel (63 percent)
  • Eating out (58 percent
  • Entertainment (57 percent)
  • Self-care (41 percent)
  • Clothing (40 percent)
  •  
    Military families did more than just cut back on their spending though, with 77 percent indicating that the upheaval of 2020 caused them to embrace at least one new financial habit. The most common new financial habits reported were:

  • 43 percent cut back on daily spending
  • 36 percent kept track of finances more closely
  • 27 percent established or added to an emergency savings fund
  • 26 percent paid off credit card bill monthly
  • 25 percent used digital/contactless payment
  • 23 percent maintained a monthly budget
  • 20 percent set up autopay for bills or recurring payments
  •  
    “The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every facet of our lives, and our members have taken this turmoil in stride and adapted their financial habits to face this new challenge,” said Clay Stackhouse, a retired Marine Corps colonel and regional outreach manager at Navy Federal. “At Navy Federal, we’re passionate about supporting military communities and dedicating resources to ensure they have financial tools and knowledge needed to meet their financial goals. Our proactive approach and ongoing dedication to our members allowed us to support military families during this challenging time.”

    Military Families Re-emerge: Summer Spending and Travel

    As more Americans are vaccinated and it becomes safe to travel; dine out at restaurants, shop or visit entertainment venues; and see family and friends, most military families plan to re-emerge this summer and start spending again. Overall, 69 percent of military families report they plan to do more or just as much in summer 2021 as they did in past summers. Similarly, 64 percent report they will spend either more money or just as much money as usual this summer. Still, a significant portion of military households plan to maintain their pandemic spending habits, with 35 percent indicating they will spend less than in past summers. Other key findings regarding summer include:

  • Military families report they plan to travel more frequently (43 percent), go out to restaurants and bars (31 percent) and shop in-person at stores (25 percent).
  • More active duty servicemembers (34 percent) plan to go out and do more things this summer than in the past than veterans (21 percent) and military spouses (23 percent).
  • Most military families plan to bring back vacation travel (60 percent).
  •  
    Differences Across Generations and the Impact on Spouses

    When looking at different age groups of servicemembers, veterans and spouses, differences begin to emerge across generations when it comes to pandemic spending, new financial habits and post-pandemic outlook. Navy Federal found that:

  • The younger you are, the more likely you were to pick up a new financial habit
    1. 18-34 (86 percent)
      35-54 (76 percent)
      55+ (66 percent)
  • Younger people in the military community are more likely to have increased the amount of food they have ordered for delivery or pickup
    1. 18-34 (46 percent)
      35-54 (33 percent)
      55+ (36 percent)
  • Younger people report feeling high levels of uncertainty or feeling stuck more so than older generations
    1. 18-34 (26 percent)
      35-54 (21 percent)
      55+ (12 percent)

    Additionally, the research study showed that military spouses experienced a greater impact from the pandemic, and its effects will likely last, even as the pandemic wanes:

  • Of households who reported they cut childcare expenses in 2020, 55 percent indicate they plan on delaying or not bringing back this expense.
  • 46 percent of active duty spouses report cutting back on self-care during COVID compared to just 31 percent of servicemembers.
  • 81 percent of active duty spouses reported a higher level of uncertainty about post-pandemic life.
  • Navy Federal uses the data and insights it gleans from this research to provide timely and relevant financial tools in support of its members’ financial journeys. Navy Federal has been continually recognized for its dedication in delivering exceptional service for its members, ensuring members are educated and can achieve their financial goals though all life stages.

    About Navy Federal Credit Union: Established in 1933 with only seven members, Navy Federal now has the distinct honor of serving over 10.5 million members globally and is the world’s largest credit union. As a member-owned and not-for-profit organization, Navy Federal always puts the financial needs of its members first. Membership is open to all branches of the armed forces and their families. Dedicated to its mission of service, Navy Federal employs a workforce of over 23,000 and has a global network of 345 branches. For more information about Navy Federal Credit Union, visit navyfederal.org.

    Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Opportunity Employer.

    Methodology: These are the results of a survey of more than 1,100 active duty servicemembers (n=255), veterans (n=543) and military spouses (n=334). Current and former military household interviews were conducted online among Navy Federal Members as well as a general population component through Maru/Blue. Data were aggregated and weighted on age and military affiliation status. The survey was fielded March 24 – April 6, 2021.

    Biden administration formally launches effort to return deported veterans to U.S.

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    Male Hispanic Armed Forces Soldier Celebrating His Return Holding American Flag.

    The Biden administration unveiled plans Friday to bring hundreds, possibly thousands, of deported veterans and their immediate family members back to the United States, saying their removal “failed to live up to our highest values.”

    Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered his department’s immigration agencies to “immediately” take steps to ensure that military families may return to the United States. He said the department would also halt pending deportation proceedings against veterans or their immediate relatives who are in the United States, and clear the way for those who are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

    “The Department of Homeland Security recognizes the profound commitment and sacrifice that service members and their families have made to the United States of America,” Mayorkas said in a statement Friday. “We are committed to bringing back military service members, veterans, and their immediate family members who were unjustly removed and ensuring they receive the benefits to which they may be entitled.

    President Biden had promised on the campaign trail to direct DHS during his first 100 days in office to stop targeting veterans and their families for deportation and to create a process for veterans deported by the Trump administration to return to the United States.

    Veterans advocates have expressed concern in recent weeks that few veterans or their relatives have returned, while others remained in deportation proceedings. Many deported veterans also say they have been unable to access benefits such as health care from overseas.

    In a memo Friday, the heads of DHS’s immigration agencies said they will review policies to ensure that military veterans and their relatives are “welcome to remain in or return to the United States.” Officials said they would also work with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department to ensure that veterans can access their health benefits, including coronavirus vaccinations, and that recruits can take the oath of citizenship, including while at basic training.

    DHS will establish a “Military Resource Center” online with a toll-free number and email address to help families with their immigration applications.

    Read the complete article on The Washington Post.

    10 Activities You May Not Know That Help With PTSD

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    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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    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.

    The Gary Sinise Foundation Launches National Network to Combat PTSD

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    Gary Sinise headshot looking over to the right smiling

    Actor, humanitarian and veteran supporter Gary Sinise and his Foundation have launched The Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network — a cognitive health and mental wellness network providing transformative care to veterans and first responders experiencing post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries and substance abuse.

    The Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network builds on the work of the Marcus Institute for Brain Health and the Boulder Crest Foundation’s Warrior PATHH program, and will establish 20 treatment sites nationwide to serve thousands of veterans, first responders and their families.

    Both are personally motivated to improve and expand upon the care provided to veterans and first responders, and the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network marks the first time that Marcus and Blank have partnered together since cofounding The Home Depot.

    “We’ve lost more veterans to suicide than we have on the battlefields of the Global War on Terror. Our veterans and their families put their lives on the line for us and they deserve the highest level of care available.” said Marcus.

    “We’ve found the perfect partner in the Gary Sinise Foundation to scale this idea into a national network that will provide cutting-edge care and improve the quality of life for our nation’s heroes. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTS) affect nearly 1 out of every 3 military personnel deployed to war zones since 2001. An estimated 30 percent of our nation’s first responders also experience symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress.

    Though dubbed “invisible wounds,” the changes in psychological health that accompany these conditions have very visible manifestations, such as depression, anxiety, suicide and substance abuse, impacting of the most critical times in our history,” added Blank.

    Addressing an Epidemic of Invisible Wounds The national network’s name stems from Arthurian legend: Avalon was the sanctuary where King Arthur was taken to heal physically and spiritually after being wounded in battle.

    In that spirit, the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network is designed to address and help heal the epidemic of “invisible wounds” that afflict too many of our nation’s veterans and first responders. Traumatic brain injuries not just the veterans and first responders themselves, but their families as well. Unlike physical wounds, invisible wounds can be passed from one generation to the next.

    Tragically, these invisible wounds too often can lead to suicide.

    “When I formed the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011, it was rooted in a personal mission to provide support, “This cognitive health and mental wellness network will help heal the invisible wounds afflicting too many of our veterans and first responders, transforming struggle into strength, and lifelong post-traumatic growth.”
    – Gary Sinise

    The Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network will expand on the Marcus Institute for Brain Health’s and Boulder Crest Foundation’s expertise and successes to create a nationwide, integrative traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress treatment and training network. By leveraging the science of  posttraumatic growth — a framework that explains the positive transformation that can occur following trauma— the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network will empower veterans and first responders to cope with and overcome trauma, and in doing so, transform lives.

    The Motorcycle Club Helping Wounded Veterans

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    The back of an American Infidels motorcycle club member jacket displayed on man in group of other riders greeting each other in a room

    By Kellie Speed

    What started out with two US Marine veterans in Massachusetts looking for a way to help fellow veterans has turned into a federally recognized war veteran organization with numerous nationwide charters.

    “The motorcycle club culture was founded on veterans so we were only trying to get back to our roots,” said James Crosby, who co-founded the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club with Matt Nelson. “We have been able to give people that have lost their way purpose in life and that purpose being in the community and watching out for the people that they care about whether it’s people in the club or their family.

    We constructed the Club based on three major points of people’s lives – family, work and club. Those are the three major things that you need to be fully invested in in your life. If you are going to be in the Club, you’re going to need to be able to give the same type of effort to all of these. We were just trying to take the approach that we care and we were able to create this environment that people want.”

    Whether the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club is organizing nationwide runs for fallen warrior brothers like Mike “Wildman” Kennedy, Rob “Tinkle” Richards and Stephen “Jackel” Jackel, their mission is simple – honor the many freedoms we enjoy, which are “a direct result of the bloodshed on the battlefield by the warriors that have come before us.”

    “When I was in Iraq, this was something I had talked about with one of my buddies, Staff Sgt. William Callahan, who unfortunately ended up dying, so he’s part of this story,” Crosby said. “With the American Infidels, Matt and my goal was to create something – a purpose for people, for a portion of the population that signed up to do more for others and to be part of something bigger than themselves. What we do with the Club is we teach people how to get involved in their community and take care of each other. Semper Fi, always faithful – you don’t know what it truly means until you get out. You have no idea what you just signed up for because you just joined the biggest group of families. We are empowering people to stand up, have a voice and work with each other and that’s just what we have done with the Club.”

    The Club provides numerous undertakings on behalf of our nation’s veterans. “Each charter must accomplish the mission to stay in the organization or they will be removed,” Nelson added. “Some do free hunting trips, motorcycle runs and benefits that give directly to wounded vets or other vets causes, suicide prevention, career help through our network of friends, politicians and advocates, legal help, navigating healthcare available to vets, and on the day-to-day, we are supporting each other and fellow vets through the hard times of life. That’s probably the most underrated yet most beneficial. Getting people to socialize and help network before the real hard times come upon someone.”

    Nelson worked to have the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle American Infidels motorcycle club members on a ride with several riding together in row Club become federally recognized. “Due to our membership criteria, we decided to file officially and follow the federal regulations in regards to 501c19 War Veterans’ Organizations,” he said. “There are two types of 501c19 veterans’ organizations – war veterans’ and veterans’ organizations. We keep 90 percent war time veterans and 10 percent “other,” which includes non-war time veterans and patriots. To put it in a common analogy, we are a step above the American Legion because the Legion is a veteran’s organization, not a war veteran’s organization. Being the latter, we are able to issue tax deductible receipts for donations to our organization without the need for a secondary 501c3 regular type charity with more specific guidelines.

    It’s a lot of red tape that we’ve done on our own and have recently contracted out to professionals. My proudest moment as one of the founders is when the brothers accomplish a mission. No matter how small. Especially when it’s helping a brother or sister vet in crisis. It’s not easy and it’s urgent so the ability for our network to react is extremely rewarding. Sadly, sometimes we hear of things too late or we just can’t affect the situation in a positive way. Those are the hardest and most discouraging moments. It’s a double-edged sword. Secondarily, when there are great social events and you can see the crowd and brothers having a great time.”

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      August 16, 2021 - August 19, 2021
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