Understanding the Exceptional Family Member Program

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boy in wheelchair with military dad giving a kiss on his forehead

Managing the care and services for a family member with special needs is more manageable with the right support. The goal of the Exceptional Family Member Program is to help your military family with special needs thrive in military life. EFMP is more than just one program or connection point. It’s the work of three components: identification and enrollment, assignment coordination and family support. The resources, tools and services that are available to support your journey are organized as part of the EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations or EFMP ROC.

If your spouse, child or other dependent family member is in need of ongoing medical or educational services, your first step is to enroll them in the Exceptional Family Member Program. Enrollment is mandatory but once enrolled, you will have access to the services, support and information you need to become your family’s best advocate.

Each branch of service has its own mission and history with EFMP. However, there has been a focus over the past several years on creating more standardization across services to make it easier for families to find what they need, when they need it. We can minimize misperceptions and increase satisfaction by helping families understand how the system works and what to expect.

What is EFMP?

The EFMP is a Department of Defense program implemented by all service branches. The EFMP has three components all working together.

  • Identification and Enrollment is the point of entry into the EFMP. Enrollment in the EFMP is mandatory for active-duty military members who meet enrollment criteria. When a family member is identified with special medical or educational needs, those needs are documented through enrollment. Members of the National Guard or reserve may enroll according to service-specific guidance.
  • Assignment Coordination ensures the family’s special needs are considered during the assignment process. The EFMP makes every effort to help keep families together and support the service member’s career. The final decision for duty station selection will always be determined based on mission need.
  • Family Support enables the family to become its own best advocate by helping them identify and connect with resources, expert consultations, education and community support. EFMP Family Support provides in person support as well as virtual self-service support through online information and resources available on Military OneSource and through Military OneSource EFMP ROC specialty consultations.

Ways EFMP can help your service member’s family

Each installation has an EFMP Family Support office staffed with providers who can help your service member and their family in the following ways:

  • Find and tap into community resources, services and programs that will meet their needs.
  • Provide information and referrals and help your service member’s family develop a family services plan.
  • Offer training and other support to help your service member’s family be their own best advocate.
  • Provide a warm hand-off to EFMP Family Support at the next installation when your service member PCSs.

Tools and resources for families with special needs

EFMP and offers a number of tools and resources to support military families with special needs. Your service member and their family can tap into these to stay in the know and connect with the services they need.

  • EFMP resources, options and consultations provides enhanced support by phone or video. Special needs consultants can connect your service member and their family with experts in education, the military health care system and TRICARE, special needs financial planning, and more.
  • EFMP & Me is an online tool that allows your service member and their family to navigate services for military families with special needs, create customized checklists and stay organized.
  • The Exceptional Advocate is a quarterly e-newsletter that focuses on updates and information from the Exceptional Family Member Program.
  • The EFMP & Me podcast series covers all things EFMP and other topics of interest to military families with special needs, like caregiving, legal and long-term financial planning, PCSing with a family member with special needs and more.

Everything is easier when you have a network of support. EFMP can help your service member pull together the information, services and resources that will allow their family to thrive.

Source: MilitaryOneSource

Great Jobs for Veterans You May Not Have Considered

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air traffic controller looking out tower wimndow with headphones on

Law enforcement, IT management and the medical field are all career fields that you’ve been told are great for veterans. And while these jobs are fantastic for transitioning veterans in almost every way, they are far from the only options veterans can pursue in their post-military life. Suppose you’re looking for a career different from the “veteran norm” while still providing job security and reasonable salaries. In that case, one of these unique career profiles might be for you:

Dental Hygienist

Job Description: Dental hygienists examine patients for signs of oral diseases, such as gingivitis, and provide preventive care, including oral hygiene.

They also educate patients about oral health. Their job tasks usually include teeth cleaning, taking x-rays, assessing oral health and documenting patient care.

Desired Skillset:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Dexterity

Education: Dental hygienists typically need an associate degree in dental hygiene; they may also get a bachelor’s degree. Programs usually take three years to complete and offer laboratory, clinical and classroom instruction. Areas of study include anatomy, medical ethics and periodontics — the study of gum disease.

Annual Salary: $77,810

Air Traffic Controller

Job Description: Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of aircraft to maintain safe distances between them. They manage the flow of aircraft into and out of the airport airspace, guide pilots during takeoff and landing and monitor aircraft as they travel through the skies.

Desired Skillset:

  • Communication
  • Multi-tasking
  • Decision-making skills
  • Math proficiency

Education: Candidates who want to become air traffic controllers typically need an associate or bachelor’s degree, often from an AT-CTI program. Bachelor’s degree fields vary; examples include transportation, business or engineering. Other candidates must have three years of progressively responsible work experience, have completed four years of college or have a combination of both.

Annual Salary: $129,750

School Principal

Job Description: Elementary, middle and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily activities. They coordinate curriculums, manage staff and provide students with a safe and productive learning environment. In public schools, principals also implement standards and programs set by the school district and state and federal regulations. They evaluate and prepare reports based on these standards by assessing their school’s student achievement and teacher performance.

Desired Skillset:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication

Education: Principals typically need a master’s degree in education leadership or education administration. These master’s degree programs teach prospective principals how to manage staff, create budgets, set goals and work with parents and the community. Principals also need teaching experience.

Annual Salary: $98,870

Wind Turbine Technician

Job Description: Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, install, maintain and repair wind turbines. They are usually responsible for inspecting wind turbine towers’ exterior and physical integrity, performing maintenance and repairs and collecting turbine data.

Desired Skillset:

  • Physical strength
  • Physical stamina
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Detail-oriented

Education: Most windtechs learn their trade by attending technical schools or community colleges, where they typically complete certificates in wind energy technology. However, some workers choose to earn an associate degree. Windtechs usually acquire knowledge in mechanical systems, computers, electrical and hydraulic maintenance, first aid, rescue and safety and CPR.

Annual Salary: $56,260

Railroad Workers

Job Description: Railroad workers ensure that passenger and freight trains run on time and travel safely. Some workers drive trains, some coordinate the activities of the trains and others operate signals and switches in the rail yard.

Desired Skillset:

  • Customer-service skills
  • Hearing and visual ability
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Leadership skills

Education: Rail companies typically require workers to have a high school diploma or equivalent. However, employers may prefer to hire workers with postsecondary education, such as coursework, a certificate, or an associate or bachelor’s degree. Locomotive engineers and conductors must be certified by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Annual Salary: $64,150

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Trade-schools.net

The Power of Adaptive Sports

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U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Andrew Hairston in wheelchair smiling with amputed leg and other leg in a cast

By Kellie Speed

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Andrew Hairston never could have imagined he would lose his left leg here in the States after returning home from being deployed. While the accident certainly changed his life, his impressive outlook has him proving nothing is impossible.

“After I got back from deployment, we were moving into a new house when I was loading a mattress onto the truck and it fell off,” he told U.S. Veterans Magazine in a recent phone interview. “Just as I was picking it back up, someone hit me. When I was hit, I thought the vehicle hit my funny bone which was why my leg was numb.

When they got me into the back of the ambulance, they gave me some meds for the pain. I was upset and hangry at the time because I had just ordered Domino’s. When I heard someone say, ‘left leg amputation,’ that’s when it hit me.”

Despite his injury, the U.S. Virgin Islands native has not only found many reasons to be grateful, but also push himself to incredible limits.

“As a Marine, we go from being active and physical specimens and being the best at everything to being reduced to having a caretaker,” Hairston said. “I had to fight to get back to my old self. When I was injured, I had another reason to be glad I joined the Marine Corps. I had a phone call with my Colonel at the time and I was sent to Walter Reed. They have the best adaptive program in the Department of Defense. When I was there, I told them I wanted to go to the Paralympics.”

Now holding the title of the first para-cyclist in Virgin Islands history and being the only hand cyclist in the Marine Corps to win at the 2022 Warrior Games was “the greatest feeling in my entire Marine Corps career,” he said. “Hearing guys in other branches saying ‘there’s a guy killing it in cycling’ or ‘watch out for that Marine’ was incredible. When I was injured, my physical and occupational therapists told me that even though I lost a leg, they kept reinforcing that I can still do what I did before; I just needed to figure out how to do it now. I was able to prove to myself that I can still be active and take a walk with my wife (a Marine helicopter pilot) or play with my dogs and being able to compete really helped me with my recovery.”

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Andrew Hairston para-cycling in formation with others

Hairston first competed in a four-mile race in Central Park. “It was the first time that I felt like myself,” he said. “As a Marine, we have to win everything, but I came in third place. That gave me the Paralympics bug. I have done a few marathons now in hand cycling and am getting ready to do three more.”

With two gold medals for cycling, a silver medal in archery and silver and bronze awards for track to his credit, Hairston’s continued determination to succeed has reinforced he is still the same specimen he was when he joined the military — just a little bit different now.

Hairston created a nonprofit called Salvage Life with the goal of inspiring others to lead a healthy and active lifestyle with a focus on veteran and disabled communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Knowing that people back home are disabled and not able to get the same support that I had here in the states was the reason I started the nonprofit,” he said. “As I continue in my recovery, I was able to host the first adaptive sports clinic in the Virgin Islands just before Warrior Games. I showed guys how to shoot archery and wanted to show people that you can make things work for someone with a disability. After my injury, I said if I can help just one person, it would be a success. I got to help eight people; that’s the best part of it.”

U.S. Veterans Magazine Wins Two Awards in One Week

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Tonya Kinsey smiles while holding award in her hands

U.S. Veterans Magazine, the premier resource magazine for transitioning service members, service-disabled veterans, veteran business owners and their spouses and families, has been awarded two prestigious awards in just one week.

The first award was received on November 7th from Veterans Legal Institute (VLI). Each year, VLI reviews the contributions given by their partners and chooses a group to recognize for their continual support of veterans. This year, U.S. Veterans Magazine was the recipient of VLI’s Community Partner of the Year award for its dedication and contribution to veterans.

The second award was received just a few days later, on November 9th from the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC). Every year, the Board of Officers at NVBDC reviews the activity of their corporations, members, certified veterans and partners, and recognizes individuals and groups for their dedication to going above and beyond to support veterans. This year, U.S. Veterans Magazine and its Partnerships Division Lead, Tonya Kinsey, were the recipients of the Media Partner of the Year Award.

“I am extremely proud of the work U.S. Veterans Magazine is doing through important organizations that value our veterans and give them vital resources when they most need them,” Kinsey stated of the honor, “I have worked closely with both organizations to help them expand their platform and highlight their stories.  We truly value their partnerships and are honored to have received recognition from both organizations!”

“We are so honored to receive these awards from these two veteran-focused organizations,” U.S. Veterans Magazine Publisher and Founder, Mona Lisa Faris, said of the awards. “Our partnership with each of these organizations works so well because our mission statements align. We were created to help veterans advance and both VLI and the NVBDC have the same goal.”

About U.S. Veterans Magazine

U.S. Veterans Magazine (USVM) is the premier resource magazine for transitioning service members, service-disabled veterans, veteran business owners and their spouses and families. USVM is the link between the qualified students, career and business candidates from the ranks of our nation’s veteran organizations, educational institutions, corporate America and the federal government. We provide our readers with relevant and timely information about employment, recruitment, supplier diversity, education, wellness and benefits. We recognize the immense value veterans offer as employees, and link job seekers with companies eager to hire them. Our publication connects entrepreneurs with opportunities to grow their businesses, and for those seeking educational prospects and scholarships, we share the information they need to support their academic success. Visit our official website at https://usveteransmagazine.com/

About Veterans Legal Institute (VLI)

Veterans Legal Institute® (VLI) is an organization that provides pro bono legal assistance to homeless, disabled, at risk and low-income service members with opportunities for healthcare, housing, education, employment and more. VLI is dedicated to help current and former service members foster a sense of self-sufficiency for the future. To learn more, visit their official website at https://www.vetslegal.com/

About the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)

The National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is the original Veteran-Owned Business Certification organization developed by veterans, for veterans. The NVBDC is dedicated to providing credible and reliable certifying authority for veteran-owned businesses of all sizes to ensure that valid documentation exists for veteran status, ownership and operational control. The organization even offers a FASTRACK process, allowing businesses who are already certified with other certifiers to qualify for Veteran-Owned Business Certification in as little as 30 days. To learn more, visit their website at https://nvbdc.org/

A Letter From the Editor–What’s Your Legacy?

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Retired Marine Paul Masi pauses by the name of his high school classmate, Robert Zwerlein.

By Danielle Jackola

As we honor the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I had the privilege of speaking with Jan Scruggs and learning about “The Story Behind the Wall” (page 12). Our conversation prompted some introspection, and I considered my legacy.

As a MilSpouse, I have dedicated my time and treasure to serve our military and military families. My husband retired five years ago. I have continued as a mentor and volunteer by connecting veterans and their spouses to employment opportunities.

There are many ways people are called to a life of service.

In our Veterans Day issue, we celebrate you and commend your service to our country. Many of you continue to serve our military, veteran organizations and your communities in various capacities, working to improve the world.

As The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley has had an enduring impact on music and his fans. When Presley was drafted into the Army in 1957, he was eager to prove to naysayers that he could make it as a Soldier. He was “proud of his service” and continues to be the most famous veteran. In our cover story, we reflect on Presley’s time in the Army on page 86 and recognize other “Famous Veterans Throughout History” on page 64.

In this issue, we share Hot Jobs on page 10 for those seeking employment or a career change. For business owners taking the “First Steps on the Road to Certification” to expand their business, visit page 60 to get started. The “PACT Act Passed,” and we share everything you need to know on page 126, including how to file a claim.

On Veterans Day and throughout the year, U.S. Veterans Magazine honors you. We stand in gratitude for your commitment, bravery and the sacrifices you have made in service to our country.

— Danielle Jackola
Editor, U.S. Veterans Magazine
Sr. Manager of Veteran Affairs

Image caption: Retired Marine Paul Masi pauses by the name of his high school classmate, Robert Zwerlein.
Photo credit: Tom Williams/Cq-Roll Call, Inc. Via Getty Images

FOX Nation’s 4th Annual Patriot Awards Ceremony Benefitting the American Red Cross is Tonight

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Fox Nation Patriot Awards

By Kellie Speed

FOX Nation is hosting its fourth annual Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida, tonight. You can catch the patriotic show live at 7 p.m. ET on FOX Nation, and it will also be offered in a repeat presentation on FOX News Channel on Sunday, November 27, at 10 p.m. ET.

Each year, the awards show honors standout Americans who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in support of this great nation. The event gives true American heroes the recognition they deserve.

“It is the awards show that America needs and that America deserves,” said FOX & Friends Weekend co-host and Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Pete Hegseth, who will return for his fourth year as the emcee.

Hegseth will join FOX News Media personalities Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Greg Gutfeld, Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade, Judge Jeanine Pirro, the cast of The Five, Harris Faulkner, Will Cain, Rachel Campos-Duffy, Dan Bongino, John Rich, Mike Rowe, Nancy Grace, Lawrence Jones, Johnny Joey Jones and Abby Hornacek.

This year’s Patriot Awards include the Most Valuable Patriot Award, Heroism Award, Service to Veterans Award and Back the Blue Award. Additionally, The Five (weekdays, 5 p.m. ET), Tucker Carlson Tonight (weekdays, 8 p.m. ET) and Gutfeld! (weekdays, 11 p.m. ET) will present live shows at the venue.

Last year’s Patriot Award recipients included “Most Valuable Patriot” Olympic Gold Medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock; Award for Heroism recipient Lt. Col. (Ret.), Former Green Beret Scott Mann for his work in Afghanistan with Task Force Pineapple; “Modern Warrior” recipient Army Sergeant First Class John Goudie, and the “Courage” award recipient posthumously awarded to Todd Beamer in United Airlines Flight 93 (accepted by his parents David and Peggy Beamer).

They also paid a humbling tribute to the nation’s 13 fallen heroes killed on August 26, 2021, during the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan – Marine Corps Lance Corporal David L. Espinoza, Marine Corps Sergeant Nicole L. Gee, Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Darin T. Hoover, Army Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss, Marine Corps Corporal Hunter Lopez, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Rylee J. McCollum, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Kareem M. Nikoui, Marine Corps Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Marine Corps Corporal Humberto A. Sanchez, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jared M. Schmitz, Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak and Marine Corps Corporal Daegan W. Page.

Keep an eye out in the next issue of U.S. Veterans Magazine for a full feature on the event.

For more information, be sure to visit nation.foxnews.com

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) : Victories for Veterans

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DAV victories PSA

Give a Minute to Support Victories for Veterans. America’s veterans are on their most important tour—the tour of their lives. DAV, a leading nonprofit, is helping more than 1 million veterans in life-changing ways each year.

While serving in Vietnam, a grenade took Michael Naranjo’s eyesight. His fingers became his new way of seeing. Starting with a lump of clay, he learned to create objects of beauty with his hands. Today, he’s a successful sculptor. Each year, DAV helps more than a million veterans like Michael in life-changing ways — helping them to get the benefits they’ve earned.

Support more Victories for Veterans®. GO TO DAV.ORG

Is the MIlitary “Too Woke” to Recruit?

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A drill instructor gives instructions to new soldiers

The Army missed its recruiting goal by about 15,000 new soldiers in 2022, coming up 25% short of its goal at a time when each of the services were struggling to meet their benchmarks.

Military officials worry that all of the branches have had to reach deep into their pools of delayed entry applicants, a move that puts them behind in recruiting for the new year.

Military recruiters have leaned on tried-and-true factors to explain the challenges, including low unemployment and a dearth of applicants up to physical, educational and behavioral standards.

But the truth is, no one keeps detailed data on what’s stopping America’s youth from signing up. Experts and senior military leaders point to the perennial factors of competition from the private sector and a dwindling number of young Americans both qualified and interested in military service. But what they don’t have much information on is why that propensity is going down, and whether the country is undergoing an ideological shift in attitude toward military service.

Read the Fulll Story on Army Times

Navy Gold Coast Conference 2022 – Event Wrap Up

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Event floor with large screen and people watching the speaker facing away from the camera - NDIA Gold Coast 2022

This year’s Annual Department of the Navy Gold Coast Conference, held September 6-8, 2022, focused on Thriving as a Department of the Navy Small Business in a World of Global Challenges.”

In its 34th year, the Navy Gold Coast Conference is the nation’s premier Navy-centered small business procurement event and the only procurement event co-sponsored by the Department of the Navy’s (DON) Office of Small Business Programs. The Navy’s primary purpose in co-sponsoring the event with the San Diego Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is to educate, guide and assist businesses in providing vital goods and services to meet government needs, particularly in the Navy and Department of Defense.

Navy Gold Coast Conference event photo of a small business defense contractor at a table with a woman who works for the navy to help grow his businessThis year’s Navy Gold Coast Conference attracted over 1,700 defense industrial base attendees, and almost 250 booths lined the exhibit hall with representatives from government acquisition offices and small, medium and large businesses. Many of these are owned and operated by service-disabled veterans (SDVOSBs) or participants in the federal government’s 8(a) Business Development Program. The federal government’s goal is to award at least 3 percent of all federal contracting dollars to SDVOSBs and 5 percent to disadvantaged businesses each year, and the Navy Gold Coast Conference

This year’s Navy Gold Coast Conference sponsors included Bank of America (Platinum), Unanet and Deltek (Diamond), Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, L3 Harris, BAE Systems, Raytheon Technologies (Gold) and over 40 small business sponsors.

Navy Gold Coast Conference photo of a large group of people standing and talking to each other in the event islesnavyNavyThe Keynote presentation was from the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), the Hon. Carlos Del Toro. Additional presentations included a discussion on Small Business and the Future by the Hon. Isabella Casillas Guzman, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); a briefing on Getting Started in Government Contracting from Mr. Michael Sabellico, Senior Procurement Advisor of the San Diego Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC); and a round table discussion on DON Supply Chain Readiness including Mr. Jimmy Smith (SES), Director, DON Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) and RADM Peter Stamatopoulous, Commander of Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP).

In addition to professional networking and small business matchmaking, a wide variety of issues affecting small business federal contracting were covered, including Exporting, Accounting Requirements, Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR), Mentor Protégé Programs, Racial Equality and Support for Underserved Communities, Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and How to do Business with the DON and Other Government Agencies

Navy Gold Coast Conference is also the venue for the NDIA San Diego Chapter’s Twice a Citizen Award. This award is given to Reserve Service or National Guard members from the San Diego Area. Nominees demonstrate leadership, self-sacrifice, commitment to service and outstanding overall performance. Nominees must also have provided exceptional professional performance while participating in contingency/support activities outside drill weekends. This year’s winners are Chief Petty Officer Joshua R. Berman, Chief Petty Officer Joseph A. Pisano, Chief Melanie A. Maldonado and Commander Ron Giusso.

Next year’s Gold Coast is scheduled for 26-28 July 2023 in San Diego.

Veteran PTSD Recovery with the Invictus Foundation

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Professional psychologist giving advice to military patient. Psychological therapy for war veteran, PTSD

Veteran PTSD Recovery – The Invictus Foundation is [at] the forefront of efforts to help veterans, active-duty service members and their families suffering the terrible effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and an array of behavioral health issues stemming from their experience in the crucible of war. TBI, PTSD and behavioral health issues afflict hundreds of thousands of people who have selflessly served in defense of our nation,” states Peter Whalen, founder and CEO of the Invictus Foundation.

To address this urgent need, the Invictus Foundation plans to build a series of eight specially-designed regional treatment centers of excellence (COEs) with the naming convention Invictus Foundation Centers of Excellence for TBI & Behavioral Health. These nationwide Veteran PTSD Recovery centers will serve veterans, active-duty military and their families, families of the fallen, public safety personnel and the community. They will receive the most advanced and proven care to address the complex symptoms of TBI, PTSD and an array of other behavioral health issues to return people to their activities of daily living within a new normal brought about by their experience in war and other psychological trauma.

Healing mind. Cropped shot of middle aged military man during therapy session with psychologist. Soldier suffering from depression, psychological trauma. PTSD conceptPatients at the centers will come from a diverse and inclusive subset of the community population they serve. These subsets will be rank-ordered preferentially, starting with veterans and their families, active-duty military and their families, families of the fallen, public safety officers and community members. Patients will receive comprehensive, interdisciplinary and individually tailored evaluations and treatment during Veteran PTSD Recovery.

Each Invictus Center will incorporate a variety of specialties: neurology, neuropsychology, audiology, ophthalmology, speech pathology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, family therapy, plus art and music therapy. They will also have physiatrists, psychiatrists and psychologists and offer orthotics and prosthetics.

The first Invictus Foundation Center of Excellence for TBI and Behavioral Health will be constructed in the Seattle area, with its opening planned for the summer of 2025.

Professional psychologist giving advice to military patient“The philanthrocapitalism fundraising model often referred to as a social funding model, will be utilized for the capital construction campaign. It is a model used by the Bill Gates Foundation and Bill Ackman’s Pershing Foundation, to name but a few. Investors have a choice of investing for purely philanthropic reasons or an adjusted rate of return on investment, given their affinity for the vision and mission of the Invictus Centers for Veteran PTSD Recovery. The philanthrocapitalism model will be harnessed with a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) governance that will allow investors to realize gains through the real estate the Invictus Centers are built upon as well,” states Mr. Whalen.

The Invictus Foundation’s capital construction campaign efforts will be supported and overseen by the Vice-Chairs of the Invictus Foundation Board of Directors, Wayne Ross and Bryan Hoddle. Mr. Ross has an expert knowledge base in developing partnerships in the oil and gas industry. In contrast, Mr. Hoddle has a specialist knowledge base in consulting with military and veterans’ organizations on the treatment of injured soldiers and veterans with Veteran PTSD Recovery. He is often referred to as the Soldier’s Coach. For more information or a prospectus on the Invictus Foundation’s Centers of Excellence for TBI and Behavioral Health, please

email info@invictusfoundation.org.

 

Focusing on ‘What Is Real’

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Annie Nelson and Seth Griffith stand in front of Aerial Recovery Group sign

By Annie Nelson

Sitting across the table from him, you see a handsome well trained, dark-haired dark-eyed, well-built man. Staring off into the windows with a gaze I could tell was of a land far away. Former Air Force TACP officer Seth Griffith is at dinner with friends, but his heart and thoughts are back in Ukraine, where he just returned from. I have the honor of calling this veteran hero —  friend and wanted to share his story, especially since he and so many of his brothers in arms are still serving as civilians in the war zone of Ukraine. Serving not in the fight but in the humanitarian rescue of the children caught up in this war. Saving the orphans. However, to understand how Seth got to the front lines of Ukraine, you should first know his journey.

Seth grew up in the suburbs of St Louis, Mo. He chose the military path because he was in a place where he felt he needed to grow up. As an athlete, the military offered him a way to use his athletics and teamwork mentality to excel in a team environment.

His stepfather was in the Air Force and had always told him there were some unique jobs the Air Force could offer him, and he should investigate them. He did just that, and the TACP job excited him. For those not familiar, a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) officer directs lethal and nonlethal joint firepower anywhere, anytime battle calls for it. They are also the primary Air Force advisors to the U.S. Army, joint multinational and special operations ground force commanders for the integration of air, space and cyber power. They are considered Special Warfare Airmen. Seth felt he could go to Army schools and work alongside the combat arms side of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps — all of which got his blood pumping!

He served for just over 20 years before he retired, serving seven deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2002 and 2012.

His transition away from this military into civilian life was a struggle. A struggle until now. Where he has landed into a new team! He struggled to connect with a lot of people in corporate America. “I met some great people, don’t get me wrong, but the mentality was a very different ‘team’ environment or lack thereof than I was used to. I excelled in each position but spent several years in the construction and homebuilding industry bouncing around, trying to find the right fit. Turns out if it wasn’t the fit, I just had other passions of serving.

Finding my current position with the Ariel Recovery Group has truly filled a void and brought fulfillment back into my professional life.”

Our conversation continued, and I decided to cross the bridge of PTS and ask if he had any challenges with it. Seth’s response was very candid.

I do. Triggers hit us all differently, and I do not use any PTS as an excuse for behaviors and dislike any victim mentalities. I knew what I was signing up for — volunteered. My triggers are centered around emotional numbness and past alcohol consumption. Deployments and crazy schedules, once you get home from deployments to keep you proficient for your next deployment date (that you sometimes knew before your current deployment was even complete), is a hard pace for someone who is struggling with PTS, mental or financial issues or adjusting to a divorce. And we do not want to miss the next deployment, so we underplay injuries so that we can go do our jobs when we are counted on.

I try to focus on “what is real” to power through. My amazing wife Jenna taught me that phrase and has provided me with a far better understanding of trauma and trauma-related responses than I had before. Living with PTS is very doable; you are newlywed with a new RIGHT job and thriving just proves you can succeed. You just have to keep the never-quit mentality and keep doing the work.

Now to Ukraine, how did you get there? Please tell me about the Ariel Recovery Group.

Aerial Recovery Group is comprised primarily of retired or separated special operations vets who are highly skilled, trained and have the outside-of-the-box mindset to rapidly deploy into sometimes very dynamic situations and be the ultimate humanitarian operators to deploy at a moment’s notice. We deployed to natural disasters like the earthquakes in Haiti last year, the flash flood in Waverly, Tenn., Hurricane Ida, the tornadoes in Mayfield, Ky. and anything we had the bandwidth to respond to.

We also respond to manmade disasters like the Afghanistan crisis that occurred late summer last year (we were very involved) and Ukraine. I’m currently back for my second deployment to rescue orphans and refugees from areas under attack and evacuate them into safe zones in the country where we can keep them secure and move them again quickly if the ground situation changes drastically from where it currently is.

What specifically is your role with the organization? I understand this organization is a nonprofit.

I am the Director of Disaster Response for Aerial Recovery Group/Aerial Recovery.

Seth, how did you guys decide to get involved in Ukraine?

Anytime there is an event in the world, we immediately look at how our company can go and serve. We have some very strong NGO partners, and we mutually support each other. In Ukraine, it was a no-brainer, just like Afghanistan was, to rapidly deploy and start saving lives. We already knew we would be getting involved in the crisis. Preexisting partnerships gave us an additional reason to be there so we could get in with the government and start rescuing orphans and anyone who wanted to be immediately evacuated from areas currently in high threat.

Last but not least, what is next for you?

Personally, I would love to travel more with my wife and family and unwind and unplug from the world a little bit. I love my job and have found a renewed purpose for me. In general, my family and friends have become my hobby, and I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. When your free time is limited, you make the most of it or at least try to after you’ve had a cool-off period.

So, if a buddy wants to go shooting, I go shooting. Hiking, count me in. Family dinner — that’s the priority hobby for that moment! But other than that, my hobbies are pretty much anything outdoors, or enjoying on, in or under water sports during the warm weather months or in the part of the world we are in at that minute. Lastly, and this is the one thing I really do just for me, football. I love the sport, and it’s a way for me to unplug from everything else for around three hours and be a big kid again.

Photo: Annie Nelson and Seth Griffith

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