RescueTouch Partners with PushUp Vets to Introduce the First Veteran’s Crisis Caller

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Keychain device could be key to reducing rate of suicide, violence among struggling veterans

RescueTouch and PushUp Vets have partnered to ensure not even one more struggling U.S. military veteran has to get to the point of suicide or violence. Their solution: The first veteran’s crisis callers on the market, BuddyCheck and PushUp, designed to instantly connect those who have served our country with the loved ones and services that can best help them in their time of need. The keychain device can be a simple, yet crucial addition that can easily be purchased by veterans, their moms, wives, daughters, and other family members.

RescueTouch, co-founded by volunteer EMT, former Air National Guardsman and current Coast Guard Auxiliarist Scott Lepper and Marines veteran Thomas Franks, and PushUp Vets, founded by Navy veteran George Schmall, partnered when Lepper heard Schmall’s personal story of emotional trauma following his service in Vietnam. Through RescueTouch CareCallers and a nationwide help alert system that connects to trusted family members, friends, or advocacy organizations rather than relying on impersonal and expensive call centers, Lepper was already helping seniors safely and affordably continue to live in their own homes. But when he connected with Schmall and heard the PushUp Vets founder’s passion and vision for preventing veteran suicide, Lepper knew RescueTouch needed to be part of the mission as well.

RescueTouch Partners with PushUp Vets to Introduce the First Veteran’s Crisis Caller

Lepper and his team of seasoned first responders and veterans went to work on adapting the RescueTouch CareCallers and help alert system to meet the needs of veterans experiencing mental health crises or at risk of death by suicide. The resulting products, the low-profile, keychain-sized BuddyCheck and PushUp, are the only veteran’s crisis callers available today.

With the push of a button, BuddyCheck immediately connects a veteran with up to five battle buddies, family members, friends or trusted healthcare providers anywhere in the U.S. via a reliable built-in two-way speakerphone and the world’s largest cellular network, while simultaneously texting them the veteran’s precise GPS location. PushUp uses the same network and technology to immediately call the Veterans Crisis Line, which offers help in the moment and connects veterans in crisis with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders.

“George Schmall really inspired us to use our existing RescueTouch technology to help our nation’s veterans, and when we sat down and took a good hard look at what’s actually happening to veterans and their families, we were determined to be part of the solution,” Lepper said. “Since 2001, the age-adjusted rate of suicide among U.S. veterans has increased by 32.2%, and among female veterans during that same time, the age-adjusted rate of suicide has increased by 85.2%. We extrapolated the data and determined that without help, 7,400 vets will die by suicide in 2017 if they do not receive help. We can’t sit idly by when BuddyCheck and PushUp have the power to save those lives.”

The bottom line: Help is available to veterans who find themselves in the fight of their lives after coming home–and, with BuddyCheck and PushUp, it’s as close as their fingertips.

Because RescueTouch and PushUp Vets agree veterans are not likely to obtain crisis callers on their own, the companies are actively seeking partners–agencies serving veterans, veteran outreach programs, and other organizations involved with veterans and their families–to get BuddyCheck and PushUp into the hands of more veterans. Organizations and companies interested in aligning with that mission can get involved by calling 800-209-3815. The BuddyCheck and PushUp Vet Callers are available at RescueTouch.com.

Hope For The Warriors Awarded Grant From Altria Group, Inc

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Grant to Support Master of Social Work Internship Program and Staff Capacity-Building

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (March 29, 2017) –  Hope For The Warriors has been awarded a three-year grant from Altria Group, Inc. to provide major support of its Master of Social Work (MSW) Internship Program. In addition, the grant will support staff capacity-building and leadership development activities.

Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope for veterans, service members and military families.

The goal of the Hope For The Warriors MSW Internship Program is to train tomorrow’s military and veteran mental health service providers by ensuring that interns enter the social work profession with a thorough understanding of the unique needs of military families. The program provides a progression in skills training – starting from military cultural competency, critical care case management and family support culminating in the provision of clinical services to Hope For The Warriors’ clients.

During the MSW Internship Program, interns gain first-hand experience by working under Hope For The Warriors’ licensed social workers. Learning opportunities include formal and experiential military cultural competency training; one-on-one interaction with service members and veterans and training and application of trauma-informed practices to client care.

Lorraine Bolduc, a MSW intern at Hope For The Warriors, said that she has been gaining valuable work experience from the program. “Hope For The Warriors has provided me a safe, secure and trustworthy environment to explore my personal desire to restore hope in myself and in my future aspirations to effect national change for the betterment of American military, families and communities.”

Since it was launched in 2012, the MSW Internship Program has placed more than 40 students. These interns have provided more than 20,000 hours of program support in the clinical health area to Hope For The Warriors during this period.

“We’re extremely grateful to Altria Group for its three-year commitment to our Master of Social Work Internship Program,” said Robin Kelleher, co-founder, president and CEO of Hope For The Warriors. “Thanks to this grant, we’re able to substantially increase the quantity and quality of case management and care coordination services, allowing us to serve more military personnel and their families.”

For more information on Hope For The Warriors, visit hopeforthewarriors.org, Facebook or Twitter.

 

About Hope For The Warriors: 

Founded in 2006, Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope for post-9/11 veterans, service members and military families. Hope For The Warriors has served approximately 10,000 through a variety of support programs focused on transition, health and wellness. The nonprofit’s first program, A Warrior’s Wish, has granted 162 wishes to fulfill a desire for a better quality of life or support a quest for gratifying endeavors. In addition, Run For The Warriors has captured the hearts of more than 22,000 since 2010. For more information, visit hopeforthewarriors.org, Facebook or Twitter.

Atria Group, Inc:

Altria’s wholly-owned subsidiaries include PM USA, USSTC, Middleton, Nat Sherman, Nu Mark, Ste. Michelle and PMCC.  Altria holds an equity investment in AB InBev. The brand portfolios of Altria’s tobacco operating companies include Marlboro®, Black & Mild®, Copenhagen®, Skoal®, MarkTen® and Green Smoke®.  Ste. Michelle produces and markets premium wines sold under various labels, including Chateau Ste. Michelle®, Columbia Crest®, 14 Hands® and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars™, and it imports and markets Antinori®, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte™, Torres® and Villa Maria Estate™ products in the United States.  Trademarks and service marks related to Altria referenced in this release are the property of Altria or its subsidiaries or are used with permission.  More information about Altria is available at altria.com and on the Altria Investor app.

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PTSD Risk Can Be Predicted by Hormone Levels Prior to Deployment, Study Says

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Up to 20 percent of U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder from trauma experienced during wartime, but new neuroscience research from The University of Texas at Austin suggests some soldiers might have a hormonal predisposition to experience such stress-related disorders.

Cortisol — the stress hormone — is released as part of the body’s flight-or-fight response to life-threatening emergencies. Seminal research in the 1980s connected abnormal cortisol levels to an increased risk for PTSD, but three decades of subsequent research produced a mixed bag of findings, dampening enthusiasm for the role of cortisol as a primary cause of PTSD.

However, new findings published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology point to cortisol’s critical role in the emergence of PTSD, but only when levels of testosterone — one of most important of the male sex hormones — are suppressed, researchers said.

“Recent evidence points to testosterone’s suppression of cortisol activity, and vice versa. It is becoming clear to many researchers that you can’t understand the effects of one without simultaneously monitoring the activity of the other,” said UT Austin professor of psychology Robert Josephs, the first author of the study. “Prior attempts to link PTSD to cortisol may have failed because the powerful effect that testosterone has on the hormonal regulation of stress was not taken into account.”

UT Austin researchers used hormone data obtained from saliva samples of 120 U.S. soldiers before deployment and tracked their monthly combat experiences in Iraq to examine the effects of traumatic war-zone stressors and PTSD symptoms over time.

Before deployment, soldiers’ stress responses were tested in a stressful CO2 inhalation challenge. “Healthy stress responses showed a strong cortisol increase in response to the stressor, whereas abnormal stress responses showed a blunted, nonresponsive change in cortisol,” Josephs said.

The researchers found that soldiers who had an abnormal cortisol response to the CO2 inhalation challenge were more likely to develop PTSD from war-zone stress. However, soldiers who had an elevated testosterone response to the CO2 inhalation challenge were not likely to develop PTSD, regardless of the soldiers’ cortisol response.

“The means through which hormones contribute to the development of PTSD and other forms of stress-related mental illness are complex,” said Adam Cobb, a UT Austin clinical psychology doctoral candidate and co-author of the study. “Advancement in this area must involve examining how hormones function together, and with other psychobiological systems, in response to ever-changing environmental demands.”

Knowing this, the scientists suggest future research could investigate the efficacy of preventative interventions targeting those with at-risk profiles of hormone stress reactivity. “We are still analyzing more data from this project, which we hope will reveal additional insights into risk for combat-related stress disorders and ultimately how to prevent them,” said Michael Telch, clinical psychology professor and corresponding author of the study.

These findings add to a series of published reports from theTexas Combat PTSD Risk Project, a study funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency aimed at identifying biological, psychological and environmental vulnerability factors that predict the emergence of PTSD and other psychological problems among soldiers deployed to Iraq.

Study Shows Volunteering Improves Mental Health in Veterans

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BY BRYAN LETT, DAV

Participants showed lower rates of PTSD and depression following 6 month volunteer program…

Ian Smith served eight years in the Army and deployed to Iraq twice before exiting the service in the early part of 2009. He got by working three jobs while attending school in a suburb of Nashville, Tenn. He lived on his couch, often with a pistol in hand, rarely slept and relied heavily on alcohol. Smith even seriously contemplated suicide, having pressed the gun to his head on more than one occasion.

All that changed when he began to invest himself in volunteer work.

“It was the single most important course correction in my life,” Ian said. “The entire trajectory of my personal and professional life changed and accelerated faster than I could have ever imagined. I feel that volunteering is the most self-rewarding thing that I have ever done. Serving a purpose greater than myself was the best medicine for me.”

Ian excelled in his volunteer work and eventually earned an internship under former first lady Michelle Obama, working for her Joining Forces Campaign geared toward helping veterans.

Ian Smith served eight years in the Army and deployed twice to Iraq. He credits his volunteering for overcoming his struggles with PTSD and starting a new life.

Today, Ian works for the VA and is a part of their Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI), where the goal is to improve the health and care of veterans.

A recent study from Saint Louis University found a possible correlation between volunteer work and improvements in mental health, suggesting volunteering yields positive advancements in mental health and social productivity.

Researchers studied 346 post-9/11 veterans who completed the volunteer program between 2011 and 2014. The participants volunteered 20 hours a week for The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit that deploys veteran volunteers on specific projects for up to six months.

Before volunteering, more than 50 percent of participants said they had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 23.5 percent reported symptoms of depression. By the program’s completion, only 43 percent showed signs of PTSD and just 15 percent still had signs of depression.

“All veterans in the service program showed improvements in overall health, mental health and social functioning,” said Monica Matthieu, lead researcher and Ph.D., assistant professor of social work at Saint Louis University.

Matthieu said at first she was skeptical that volunteering could decrease symptoms of PTSD, but the data is beginning to sway her.

For Tim Smith, an Iraq War veteran, transitioning out of the Army in 2007 was proving difficult. He hadn’t found a job in six months and with each passing day reintegration into civilian life was becoming more challenging. He lost eight of his friends while deployed to Iraq in 2004, and his PTSD was becoming worse with so much time on his hands. Then he started to volunteer and the experience changed his life.

“It was a huge factor in where I am at now,” said Tim. “I was a pretty private person, but I’ve opened up and it has opened a lot of doors for me. It was an opportunity to work and be a part of a team again.”

Today, Tim has what some would call the American dream — he owns his own cleaning business and employs 43 veterans. Tim is married with two small boys, and his wife, Terri, credits his volunteering with his ability to start his own business.

“He just seemed defeated, but once he started volunteering he got that twinkle in his eye again,” Terri said. “He was making a difference again in other people’s lives, and it was a stepping-stone to providing for his family. He started the cleaning company as a result of volunteering.”

Researchers from the Saint Louis study say veterans may benefit from volunteer work during their transition back to civilian life.

“Ultimately, we need more options for healing to be inclusive for all who experience trauma, not a one size fits all approach,” said Matthieu. “Each individual has to be empowered to find their own path to healing and recovery.”

For Ian Smith, the benefits are clear and should be shared among veterans.

“In every town in America there is a veteran that that wants to give back to others in a positive way,” said Smith. “Ask them to serve, include them in your community, and allow them to share their unique talents and strengths. Veterans have stepped forward to serve this great country for generations, so let’s encourage them to continue to serve here at home.”

If you or anyone you know is interested in getting involved or could benefit from volunteering for veterans during the month of March, follow this link to learn more about DAV’s Forward March campaign www.dav.org/forwardmarch/. For a more comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities with DAV please visit www.dav.org/help-dav/volunteer/volunteer-locally-help-veterans/.

SpeechVive now available for Parkinson’s patients in 20 VA medical facilities nationwide

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SpeechVive Inc. announced the completion of the 20th VA Medical Center training for the use of the SpeechVive device.  SpeechVive is an ear-worn technology that immediately improves speech loudness, clarity, and rate for people with Parkinson’s disease.

By using an automatic cue to speak louder in a noisy environment, SpeechVive aids people with a condition called “hypophonia” or “soft voice,” which causes Parkinson’s patients to speak in a hushed, whispery or even a hoarse voice. This condition can impair the ability for people with Parkinson’s to communicate effectively.  It is estimated that as many as 90% of people with Parkinson’s disease experience speech and voice changes while only 3-4% are referred for speech therapy to address it.

The clinical data collected from a multisite clinical trial demonstrates that SpeechVive is effective in 90 percent of the people using the device. “Our team is working diligently to train speech pathologists in VA medical centers, giving them a new tool to use when helping veterans with Parkinson’s disease,” said Ashleigh Lambert, CCC-SLP, is a speech language pathologist and the clinical manager for SpeechVive.

Veterans with Parkinson’s disease can be seen by a speech pathologist at their VA to see if SpeechVive is appropriate for them.  The VA considers SpeechVive a prosthetic device and provides it to veterans free of charge.

More than 1.5 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s and it is one of the most common degenerative neurological diseases.

VA Facilities offering SpeechVive include:

  • Cincinnati VA Medical Center
  • Cleveland VA Medical Center
  • Maine VA Medical Center, Augusta
  • Salem VA Medical Center
  • Madison VA Medical Center
  • Tampa VA Medical Center
  • Brooklyn VA Medical Center
  • St. Albans VA Medical Center
  • New York City VA Medical Center
  • VA North Texas Medical Center, Dallas
  • VA South Texas Medical Center, Kerrville
  • VA Puget Sound, Seattle
  • VA Puget Sound, American Lake
  • Phoenix VA Healthcare System
  • San Francisco VA Healthcare System
  • Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, New Orleans
  • VA Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain
  • VA Medical Center Honolulu
  • Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks, Fayetteville
  • Veterans Home, South Paris, Maine
  • VA West Palm Beach, Florida

About SpeechVive

SpeechVive is a Lafayette, Ind.-based corporation formed in 2011. The company is dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals with speech problems due to Parkinson’s and other diseases by enabling people to speak more loudly and communicate more effectively with their loved ones. www.speechvive.com

8 Tips for Managing Stress for Service Members

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Stress is an interesting animal. A little stress isn’t always bad: it can be an effective motivator, and the adrenaline that stress creates can help improve both mental and physical performance. But too much stress can negatively affect your performance on duty, your relationships, and your physical and mental health. Fortunately, there are many ways to control and reduce stress and increase health and wellness. You can learn and apply stress management techniques to help limit your stress and stay more relaxed in your military and home life.

How to manage your stress:

  1. Take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep and exercise, eat healthfully and be sure to drink water throughout the day.
  2. Build a positive outlook. Try to maintain a “can-do” attitude. Focus your energy on things that make you feel good.
  3. Laugh often. Laughter can help you to stay upbeat. Watch a funny movie, share jokes with friends and look for the humor in everyday life.
  4. Learn how to relax. Take a few deep breaths and envision yourself in a peaceful place. You can also take a walk, listen to soothing music or read a good book.
  5. Make time for activities you enjoy. Schedule “me time” to do something fun.
  6. Learn to recognize when you’re stressed. Excessive stress can cause symptoms like neck or back pain, headaches, upset stomach, trouble sleeping and fatigue. Try to recognize these signals before they become overwhelming.
  7. Focus on the things you can control. When you feel anxious, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to change this situation?” If the answer is no, try to let it go.
  8. Simplify your life. Get organized at home. File paperwork, clean out the kids’ rooms and get rid of anything you don’t need or use. Learn to say “no” to obligations and activities that will overload your schedule.

If your efforts to control your stress don’t seem to be working, you might find it helpful to talk to a professional. You can get free confidential, non-medical counseling from Military OneSource via telephone at 800-342-9647. Military and family life counselors are also available through your installation Military and Family Support Center.

Source: www.militaryonesource.mil

Square Deal for Vets

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Square Deal for Vets is a War Veterans organization. The goal is to channel and organize a new national movement of veterans and caregivers and provide them with a platform to engage in a wide array of political, media and advocacy activities on the local, state and national level in support of veteran’s needs and priorities. Square Deal for Vets will work with the President, Congress, stakeholders and the media to ensure that the “Square Deal” that they were promised in 2016 becomes a reality.

By harnessing the talent, intensity and capabilities that made history in 2016, SquareDealforvets.org will cut through the clutter and provide a clear and consistent message that the sweeping reforms that they played a role in creating are achievable and are in the best interest of America’s wounded heroes and their caregivers.

Square Deal is a national grassroots organization that will work to ensure that the momentum created by America’s veterans continues in the Trump Administration. Our heroes will now have a direct role in the reshaping of the VA.

Click here to learn more about Square Deal for Vets and their mission to help the nation’s veterans. 

Navy Expands Suicide Prevention Program Service-Wide

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The program began as a pilot in the Pacific Northwest, but now is being implemented across the Navy.

The Navy has rolled out a program aimed at providing added support for sailors considered at risk for suicide.

Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life, or SAIL, was announced service-wide earlier this month and is now available at all Fleet and Family Support Center locations.

The voluntary program works by linking sailors who have demonstrated suicidal behavior with Fleet and Family Support Center counselors trained in assessing suicide risk. Those counselors remain in contact with the participant for three months, said Capt. Michael Fisher, director of the Navy Suicide Prevention Branch. They can help identify stressors, like financial issues, and link the sailor with resources, he said.

Participation in SAIL is not intended to replace therapy. “A caring contact is all it is,” Fisher said.

SAIL is patterned after the Marine Corps’ Marine Intercept Program, which began in 2014. A pilot of the Navy’s version began in August in the Pacific Northwest. At least 91 sailors accepted SAIL’s services out of 175 referrals between Aug. 28 and Feb. 3, according to Navy data.

Read the complete article on Task & Purpose.

8 Tips for Managing Stress for Service Members

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Stress is an interesting animal. A little stress isn’t always bad: it can be an effective motivator, and the adrenaline that stress creates can help improve both mental and physical performance. But too much stress can negatively affect your performance on duty, your relationships, and your physical and mental health. Fortunately, there are many ways to control and reduce stress and increase health and wellness. You can learn and apply stress management techniques to help limit your stress and stay more relaxed in your military and home life.

How to manage your stress:

  1. Take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep and exercise, eat healthfully and be sure to drink water throughout the day.
  2. Build a positive outlook. Try to maintain a “can-do” attitude. Focus your energy on things that make you feel good.
  3. Laugh often. Laughter can help you to stay upbeat. Watch a funny movie, share jokes with friends and look for the humor in everyday life.
  4. Learn how to relax. Take a few deep breaths and envision yourself in a peaceful place. You can also take a walk, listen to soothing music or read a good book.
  5. Make time for activities you enjoy. Schedule “me time” to do something fun.
  6. Learn to recognize when you’re stressed. Excessive stress can cause symptoms like neck or back pain, headaches, upset stomach, trouble sleeping and fatigue. Try to recognize these signals before they become overwhelming.
  7. Focus on the things you can control. When you feel anxious, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to change this situation?” If the answer is no, try to let it go.
  8. Simplify your life. Get organized at home. File paperwork, clean out the kids’ rooms and get rid of anything you don’t need or use. Learn to say “no” to obligations and activities that will overload your schedule.

If your efforts to control your stress don’t seem to be working, you might find it helpful to talk to a professional. You can get free confidential, non-medical counseling from Military OneSource via telephone at 800-342-9647. Military and family life counselors are also available through your installation Military and Family Support Center.

Source: www.militaryonesource.mil

The Invictus Games Focus on Issues Including Mental Health and PTSD

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Let’s Talk: Mental Health Awareness and the Invictus Games

It’s finally 2017, the year Canada will play host to the third and largest Invictus Games!

Toronto will soon welcome 550 wounded, ill and injured servicemen, women and veterans — from 17 nations — to compete in a dozen sports.

The Invictus Games will also give us an opportunity to talk more openly about many issues facing our military families. Issues like physical accessibility, employment transition and post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI).

This month, we are partnering with Bell Media, exclusive broadcast partner of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, to highlight the invisible injuries sustained by our soldiers as a result of their service. For the first time, Bell will be profiling a veteran in its annual Let’s Talk Day — a campaign they launched seven years ago to help remove the stigma around mental illness, which affects 1 in 5 Canadians.

We hope that the people across Canada who watch and participate in the Games will become more aware of these important issues and may even reach out to someone who may need their help. We look forward to playing our role in this important conversation and using these Games to improve the lives of many individuals and their families.

Happy New Year!

Michael Burns, Chief Executive Officer for the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee


Bell Let’s Talk Campaign with Invictus Games Alumni Bruno Guévremont

One of the biggest hurdles for anyone suffering from mental illness is overcoming the stigma. It is the number one reason why two-thirds of those living with mental illness do not seek help.

The Bell Let’s Talk awareness campaign encourages a national conversation about mental illness and helps fight the stigma and impact of mental health issues across Canada.

Last year, a record 122,150,772 tweets, texts, calls and shares were made as part of the campaign, helping to raise more than $6.1 million for mental health initiatives. The hashtag #BellLetsTalk was a number-one trend on Twitter in Canada and worldwide, with a total of 4,775,708 tweets made.

As the exclusive Canadian broadcast partner for the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, Bell has announced that Bruno Guévremont, captain of the 2016 Invictus Games Team Canada, will be the newest ambassador in the 2017 Bell Let’s Talk campaign.  A 15-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy, Bruno has struggled with post-traumatic stress injury since his release from the military. This will be the first time in the campaign’s seven-year history that a soldier or veteran will be profiled, and doing so will certainly help increase public awareness of the broad spectrum of mental health issues faced by members of our military community.

This month, help us make a change. Join the conversation around mental illness and take part in Bell Let’s Talk activities.

#IAM #BellLetsTalk Twitter Chat

Help us break the stigma around mental health by participating in our Mental Health Awareness Twitter chat on January 25, Bell Let’s Talk Day. From noon to 1 p.m. (ET) follow us on Twitter (@InvictusToronto) and show your support for those coping with invisible wounds by using hashtags #IAM #BellLetsTalk.

For every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, Bell will contribute 5 cents to programs dedicated to mental health!


Tune-In to the Newly-Launched Invictus Games Radio Podcast!

Most of us will never know the horrors of combat. Many servicemen and women suffer life-changing injuries, both visible and invisible, while serving their countries. The Invictus Games Radio podcast gives a voice to those working for — and impacted by — physical or invisible injuries to military servicemen, women and veterans. In this podcast series, we will bring to life the stories of those affected, their family members and the people who care for them, and in their own voices.

Invictus Games Radio provides the listener with the opportunity to get up close and personal with these stories and have the chance to truly understand the impact and sacrifice that military service has had on these men and women.

In our first episode, we explore post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with Col. Rakesh Jetly, psychiatrist with the Canadian Armed Forces and mental health advisor to the surgeon general. Canadian military who served in Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) as Invictus Games competitors prefer to call it, at almost twice the rate of the rest of the Canadian population. The problem is serious.

In this episode, Colonel Rakesh Jetly discusses the challenges of coping with and treating mental health issues for active and retired members of the Canadian military family.

Colonel Jetly is a well-known international speaker and the author of numerous articles published on the subject of mental health. His professional, knowledgeable and empathetic approach to mental health comes through loud and clear in this podcast conversation.

For more on this and other great stories, visit our website and make sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


Talking About Mental Health — Joel Guidon Shares His Story

Retired Master Corporal Joel Guidon served with the army and completed tours of duty in both Bosnia and Afghanistan. Upon his return, it was clear to Joel and his family that he was not himself. Before PTSD, Joel was motivated, active and enjoyed life. When PTSD hit, everything changed. The Invictus Games gave him an opportunity to turn his life around, and an outlet to cope with his stress injury.

In this video, Joel speaks honestly about his struggle with post-traumatic stress, and how adaptive sport changed his life. It’s important that we encourage an open conversation about mental health and related struggles. Let’s talk.


Signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, with Psychologist Vivien Lee

PTSD has emerged as a leading issue for Canadian military veterans, especially those who served in combat missions in Afghanistan. Psychologist Vivien Lee from Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has treated many of those vets, whose lives fell apart when they were repatriated to Canada. We spoke to her about her work with veterans and how to identify signs of PTSD.

Key Symptoms of PTSD: 

Intrusive thoughts:  Nightmares and flashbacks. Memories just pop into their head and they can’t get them out. Triggers like a car backfiring and they think it’s a gunshot or bomb going off.

Avoidance: Actively trying to push traumatic memories out of their head.  It can involve a lot of drinking, drugs or anything to numb their brains.

Negative changes in thought process:  Some veterans see themselves as damaged or broken. They may blame themselves for things that happened, especially if they lost a member of their platoon. They rely on each other for their lives, and it feels very much like losing a family member.

Hypervigilance: During a combat mission, they constantly have to look out for threat. While doing so keeps them alive, it’s not adaptable to everyday life. They can go into a grocery store and be constantly scanning for danger. Veterans with PTSD can’t turn that part of their brain off.

The good news is that the growing awareness of the prevalence and impact of PTSD means that more veterans are coming forward to seek help, and are getting the treatment and support they need.

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