Shocking Military Suicide Rates and Identifying the Signs

Suicide Prevention

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, which makes it an important time to move the conversation about suicide forward. While suicide is a national problem, it is one that also affects smaller communities, including the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community.

These brave men and women have suffered losses not only on the battlefield, but from suicide in recent years. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, each day there are around 20 veterans who commit suicide. What’s more, they report that veterans’ suicides account for 18% of the suicide deaths in the country, while they only make up 8.5% of the adult population.

“There’s clearly a serious issue with suicides among active duty military service members, veterans and their families, and it’s one that we are passionate about addressing,” explains Nicole Motsek, executive director of the EOD Warrior Foundation. “Only when people are aware of what is going on can they begin to affect change.”

Suicide is a major concern with veterans and active duty military members. It’s especially shocking when viewing the suicide rates of active duty Army members. According to a research report in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, the Army suicide rate increased 80% from 2004 to 2008. While the Army may have the most shocking suicide statistics, but no branch of the military is immune to the crisis. Among EOD technicians, suicide is considered to be at a crisis level. It’s an issue that the EOD Warrior Foundation is tackling and hoping to help change.

Suicide among EOD technicians is an issue that organizations such as the EOD Warrior Foundation are trying to not only raise awareness about, but are trying to help prevent. They are currently working with Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, of Columbia University. Dr. Gerstenhaber is the director of The Columbia Lighthouse Project, and has dedicated her life to saving others from suicide, as well as removing the stigma around the issue. She created the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) and has shown that this is a critical tool in preventing suicide. We must identify to find those suffering in silence.

Those who suspect someone they know may be considering suicide should seek immediate professional assistance. The C-SSRS supports suicide risk assessment through a series of simple, plain-language questions that anyone can ask. The answers help users identify whether someone is at risk for suicide, assess the severity and immediacy of that risk, and gauge the level of support that the person needs.

Users of the C-SSRS tool ask people:
• Whether and when they have thought about suicide (ideation)
• What actions they have taken — and when — to prepare for suicide
• Whether and when they attempted suicide or began a suicide attempt that was either interrupted by another person or stopped of their own volition

“The suicide rate for our veterans and active duty is around 50% higher than for their civilian counterparts, showing what a serious issue we have on our hands,” says Dr. Gerstenhaber. “This group of people have a tremendous amount of stress and they need to know it’s not a sign of weakness to seek help. We have programs in place that have been successful at helping to reduce the suicide rates, and we want to expand those to help others around the nation.”

These are questions everyone must ask. In order to continue working to eradicate suicide, we all must go beyond the medical model, and this is what the Dr. Gerstenhaber and the EOD Warrior Foundation are working together to do in the EOD community.

The EOD Warrior Foundation is an organization that helps the families of the 7,000 people in our military who are Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians, and perform bomb disposal duties. Engaging in the most dangerous job in the military, EOD technicians often sustain serious injuries, lose limbs, or are killed in action. The EOD Warrior Foundation helps this elite group by providing financial relief, therapeutic healing retreats, a scholarship program, care of the EOD Memorial Wall located at Eglin AFB, Fla. and more. Their work is supported by private donations and the generosity of those who support the organization. To learn more about the EOD Warrior Foundation, or see their fundraising events calendar, visit their site at:

About EOD Warrior Foundation
The EOD Warrior Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help EOD warriors and their family members with a priority on wounded EOD warriors and the families of fallen EOD warriors. Specific programs include financial relief, college scholarships, hope and wellness programs that include therapeutic healing retreats, and care for the EOD Memorial Wall located at Eglin AFB, Fla. To learn more about the EOD Warrior Foundation, or see their events calendar, visit their site at:

COVID-Related Help Available for Veterans through DAV

Disabled Veteran in wheelchair

Older veterans and those with disabilities are a particularly vulnerable population and DAV (Disabled American Veterans) is offering help while they shelter at home during the COVID-19 crisis.

There are three ways veterans can get help, while still allowing them and others to maintain social distancing:

1. Veterans needing assistance with everyday tasks, such as groceries or yard work, can use a free service to request such help. DAV’s connects veterans with community volunteers. Veterans are encouraged to request their needs, and families and other individuals may also register on behalf of a veteran.

2. Virtual Job Fairs: Veterans who have lost their jobs or are looking for meaningful employment can participate in free virtual career fairs that DAV is holding throughout the country.

Applicants can also get free job-seeking advice, such as tips for dressing for an online interview and best practices on writing a resume. A list of these career fairs can be found at

3. VA Benefits & Other Resources: DAV offers a range of additional services, such as connecting veterans with mental health professionals and helping them navigate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to access their military and health benefits. Support is also provided for families of veterans and their caregivers.

To access these services, visit or call (877) I AM A VET (1-877-426-2838).

Testing My Mettle to Earn My Medal: A Ragnar Trail Experience

Heath Hansen and buddy kneeling on ground holding an Airborne flag

By Heath Hansen

November 1st, 2017, I get a call from my buddy – my buddy rarely calls me; when we communicate, it’s through text messages. “What’s up, bro?” I asked. “Hey, my Ragnar teammate just got called for duty, he can’t make the race. We need a runner.” I didn’t know what a Ragnar Race was, but the name sounded interesting and I accepted the invitation. “Oh yeah, one more thing, every person on the team was in the Marine Corps. You and me are the only Army vets.” “Great.” I sarcastically replied.

I decided to read up on the Ragnar Race. The info revealed I had nine days to train for a race that required roughly 14 miles of running on my behalf. The race was located at the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, a 25,000 acre preserve in the middle of Southern California mountains, and would occur over the course of two days. The terrain would be treacherous – up and down mountains, patches of thick vegetation and rocky paths. On top of this, I wasn’t a runner – in fact, I hated running, with a passion. Luckily I did CrossFit workouts regularly and had a pretty clean diet. At least I wasn’t starting from rock bottom.

The next day I decided to go for a four mile run near my house in south San Diego. It sucked, but I finished without stopping and maintained a pace of about 8 minutes per mile. The next two days I was extremely sore, but managed to do a few more short runs leading up to the 10th of November.

On race day, we arrived at the venue and I realized the scale of a Ragnar Race. There were over a thousand people present across the area. We arrived at the campsite and made our way over to the team tent. Between the 8 of us, there was a broad age (and fitness) range. I knew I would perform above average, but still wanted to crush this competition. Every single one of them had Marine Corps tattoos. Being a former paratrooper, I knew I had to prove myself. They didn’t care whether I had time to train or not, this was still about inter-service rivalry and finding out who was the best. I extended my arm and shook each of their hands. “Hey, you know what ARMY stands for,” one of them asked? “Aren’t Really Marines Yet,” the dumbass laughed. “Do you know what USMC stands for,” I asked him. He looked at me quizzically. Pointing at him, I said, “U Suck My Cock,” and smiled. I wasn’t going to be the weakest link among a bunch of crayon eating Jar-Heads; the race had begun.

We would all be running a total of three legs during the competition, and, collectively, covering about 114 miles of trail. In between legs, we would have about eight hours of downtime to hangout in the team area, rest, eat and hydrate.

My first leg was starting – 8 miles. The hill I was climbing seemed to never want to end. I knew ascending for this long at a running pace would burn up my lungs quickly, so I took my time. It kept going, and going, and going. After what seemed like an eternity, I made it to the top and got back on a faster, longer stride. During my descent, I gazed off onto the horizon, the mountains looked incredible. The scenery made this one of the most gorgeous runs I had ever been on. As I progressed further, the sharp pain in the arches of my feet made it apparent that they needed some attention. I made my way down the mountain and found the finish line. Once there, I handed off the electronic tracker (to log our progress) to the next runner. He seemed surprised by how soon I had made it back. There were about eight hours left before my next section of the trail would begin, so I made my way to the first-aid tent to get checked out.

Heath Hansen running through camp with large backpack on
Heath Hansen during Ragner Race

I arrived at the tent and waited behind about half a dozen other competitors who also needed some work. Once they got to me, the paramedics were happy to help me out with the blisters that had formed on both of my feet. After disinfecting the sores, they patched me up quickly with moleskins and I was back on my way again, heading towards the campsite.

Once at the encampment, my buddy and I decided to grab some dinner from one of the Ragnar sponsors. From pizza, to potatoes, to pasta, we had a large selection to choose from; I decided to load up on carbs with pasta and meatballs. The meal was delicious and gave me plenty of energy for the rest of the race.

My next leg started at about 9 PM and was roughly three miles. Compared to the eight miles I had finished a few hours earlier, this felt like a walk in the park. It was nighttime, so my body temperature remained cool the entire time and I kept a fast pace throughout. I made it back to the finish line and headed to the team campsite for some rest. My next leg would start at around 6 AM. I sat under the team tent and talked to a couple of the guys who were preparing for their next part of the run. In between taking swigs of water and snacking on trail mix, I got to know a few of them pretty well. After a while, I walked over to my camping tent, got into the fart sack , and caught up on some sleep.

“Hey, Heath, get up, it’s almost time for your final leg,” my buddy uttered. I could barely move. Every muscle in my body was sore, my feet were swollen, and I had a headache. I didn’t want to do the last leg – just over three miles. But I had to prove myself and I knew all of my teammates were counting on me. “Let’s go, Army. Pain is weakness leaving the body,” one of the Marine veterans jabbed. Slowly, I slipped my shoes on and made my way to the fire (at Ragnar Village) near the starting line. Near the flames, I stretched and got myself limbered up for the last bit of this race. It was going to hurt, but I was going to do it. I was going to finish.

Heath Hansen
Heath Hansen

My teammate handed me the sensor as he finished his leg and I was off. The blisters on my feet ached and made every step excruciating. It reminded me of my time as an infantryman in Afghanistan, making my way up and down the mountains, regardless of how much it hurt. On deployment, I focused on the next step, every step, and just kept going. With this mindset, I maintained my pace for this final leg and tried to concentrate on the goal instead of the pain. Eventually, I could see the tents and the fire again. I was almost there. I made my way closer and closer to the finish line. I could see my team – all of them. They had made their way to the finish line to cheer me on. I had finished. It was over. I was done.

We walked back to the tent. It was now November 11th, 2017 – Veterans Day. We were all former servicemen and decided to celebrate the holiday, and the race, with a beer. There was no longer a sense of rivalry, we were just friends trading war stories about difficult spots on the trails we had just conquered. I was glad I had come out and helped these guys. The team, Los Chavos Del Ocho, made it all worth it. When I got home that night, knowing that I had not stopped a single time on the trail and kept a consistently fast pace, I slept better than I had in months.

A few weeks later, my buddy told me the final results of the race had been posted. Out of dozens and dozens of other competitors, our team had finished third overall in our division. He handed me the medals we had won as a unit – our effort had paid off, and my Ragnar experience was complete.

Heath Hansen was an airborne infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division and is a former police officer. After serving combat tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq he left the Army and received his B.S. in Business Financial Services at San Diego State University. He now resides in San Diego and travels extensively in Europe.

Mission Roll Call Launches Social Media Campaign for Military Veterans to Connect During COVID-19 Crisis

woman veteran searching online with her laptop on table

Crowd-sourced video series will empower veterans to maintain supportive communities as social distancing practices continue

Mission Roll Call recently announced the launch of “Be A Leader,” a new crowd-sourced social media video series that will empower veterans, their families and caregivers to virtually connect with each other and share their experiences during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Content shared using the #MRCBeALeader hashtag on social media will highlight stories and advice from veterans to encourage personal growth, optimistic communities and responsible behavior in the months to come.

“With a wealth of experience handling critical and stressful situations in a calm, positive manner, military veterans are ready to lead by example in this time of uncertainty,” said Garrett Cathcart, executive director of Mission Roll Call. “This campaign will give all veterans an opportunity to share how they are checking in on their buddies, entertaining their families, and staying active so others will be inspired to do the same as the nation continues to practice social distancing.”

In addition to videos created and shared by followers of Mission Roll Call’s social media channels, the series will feature insights and words of encouragement from individuals such as Medal of Honor recipients Sal Giunta and Clint Romesha, as well as retired NFL player and U.S. Army veteran Nate Boyer.

The “Be A Leader” campaign is an extension of Mission Roll Call’s goal to provide veterans with a platform where they can make their voices heard on the key issues impacting their lives. Mission Roll Call is a program of national nonprofit America’s Warrior Partnership that has connected with more than 535,000 veterans, family members, caregivers and advocates since launching in 2019.

Veterans and community members who wish to participate can post content and follow the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using the #MRCBeALeader hashtag and tagging @MissionRollCall.

About Mission Roll Call

Mission Roll Call is the first-ever movement of its kind — one dedicated to giving every veteran a voice in advocating for the issues that are important to them. The program created a digital community where veterans, their families and caregivers can make their voices heard. Veterans can share their stories through comments on our social media pages and respond to online polls about the most urgent issues facing veteran communities. These messages, views and insights are delivered directly to policymakers and civic leaders with the goal of enacting lasting, positive change.

For more information, visit Mission Roll Call is a program of America’s Warrior Partnership. America’s Warrior Partnership is a nationally recognized nonprofit with a Platinum Guidestar Seal of Transparency.

Source: America’s Warrior Partnership

Coronavirus update from the VA regarding appointments, visits

Man having medical consultation in doctor's office

VA has implemented an aggressive public health response to protect and care for Veterans in the face of this emerging health risk. We are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal partners to monitor the outbreak of the coronavirus.

VA has administered over 100 COVID-19 tests nationwide while taking aggressive steps to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

These measures include outreach to Veterans and staff, clinical screening at VA health care facilities, and protective procedures for patients admitted to community living centers and spinal cord injury units.

What should Veterans do?

Any Veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should immediately contact their local VA facility. VA urges Veterans to call before visiting – you can find contact information for your closest VA facility.

Alternatively, Veterans can sign into My HealtheVet to send a secure message to VA or use telehealth options to explain their condition and receive a prompt diagnosis.

Calling first helps us protect you, medical staff, and other patients. Ask your VA health care team about the option of care by phone or video instead of an in-person visit.

We also ask that visitors who feel unwell postpone their visits to VA facilities.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the latest coronavirus information, including Symptoms, How To Protect Yourself, and What To Do If You Are Sick.

You can also read about VA’s public health response.

Continue on to The Department of Veterans Affairs to read the complete article.

Former Naval veteran turned cyclist Dan Hurd crosses country to bring suicide awareness

Naval veteran now cyclist Dan Hurd standing outside in front of packed bicycle

Dan Hurd’s infectious smile and true contentment rests gently with him wherever he goes. But this hasn’t always been the case. There have been many days where the voices of fear, shame, depression, and anxiety have made it hard to smile and trust others.

The years of sexual abuse, PTSD from time served in the military, battling years of painful addictions, and struggling to ever have any real peace eventually lead to him believing this life just wasn’t worth living anymore.

After multiple failed suicide attempts, Hurd was invited to go on a weekend ride with friends that would inevitably change the course of his life forever.

Here’s his personal account:

In 2017, I was in a dark place in life. I had tried to commit suicide for the third time and felt like my life was this dark void. After I was released from the hospital, I was in the stage of telling everyone I was better, but deep down, I still had no idea how to change my life or what direction to go in.

My best friend had tried for years to get me to go bicycling with him with no success. He was an avid rider and I never really had the motivation to join him. I rode
motorcycles, and in my mind, it would be a downgrade.

This time though, for several reasons, I ended up taking him up on his offer. With nothing to lose, I decided to ride with him and two mutual friends. We rode 20 miles. It felt good in the moment but I still felt the same after. A few days later we rode again. This time 30 miles. Again, in the moment riding felt good, but this feeling of being in a void lingered. What changed everything was the third ride I took with him the following weekend. We took a 166-mile trip.

I remember in the first half falling asleep while riding and barely made it to our destination. What helped me get through was the encouragement of my friend, who told me, “stop worrying about what we’ve done and don’t worry about what we got left; it’s left, right, left, one pedal at a time.” After that trip everything changed.

I realized what got me through it wasn’t worrying about the past or the future but only living in the moment. Taking it “one pedal at a time” became my mantra and my turning point. Hearing that was like someone throwing a glow stick in the void. My void wasn’t as deep as I thought.

I fell in love with bicycling and started planning longer trips. I became addicted, but it was a better addiction then my past choices of alcohol and drugs.

After only a few months of riding, I knew that I needed to do something EPIC.

Cycling proved to be so transformational for Hurd that he decided to sell everything he had, get a bike and begin a journey around the country, visiting fellow veterans he had served with in the Navy.

He traveled across 48 states in the continental United States. As the trip went along, it was obvious that it was meant to be more than just a trip to visit friends. The journey totaled 25,000 miles in about three years to raise awareness for suicide prevention. “Broken down on a daily basis that’s 22 miles a day, and that’s my dedication to service members that lose their battle every day to suicide,” Hurd said.

His deep passion to share his gift of cycling with others, along with his desire to raise awareness about suicide prevention, was how the One Pedal At A Time Movement was created.

Now after 20+ states and thousands of miles later, you’re invited to be a part of this journey and learn to take life, one petal at a time.

Join the movement! #OPAATMOVEMENT

To learn more, visit: or

10 Most Affordable Cities in America for Veterans

Close up of male hand packing cardboard box with spouse in the background

Numerous cities in America offer a high quality of life, but sometimes those cities are not always the most affordable for veterans looking to utilize their VA home loan.

Finding a balance between affordability and economic wellness is important whether you’re a young professional fresh out of college, or a service member looking to relocate.

Veteran’s United has compiled a short list of affordable places for veterans to consider when relocating to help avoid breaking the bank. Let’s take a closer look at the areas that topped the list.



10 Most Affordable Cities in America for Veterans

Laredo Texas

#1 – Laredo, TX

Laredo is a small Spanish villa that is located in South Texas. Laredo managed to secure the top spot on the list this year. Many people are drawn to the city because of its rich culture and affordable cost of living.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 90.7
  • Veteran Population – 5,080
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.40%
  • Median Annual Salary – $37,890
Corpus Christi

#2 – Corpus Christi, TX

Various residents are able to stretch their dollar a bit further living here due to the low cost of living. Corpus Christi is a city on the Gulf of Mexico that has tons of beaches and other attractions to enjoy.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 94.3
  • Veteran Population – 25,153
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.60%
  • Median Annual Salary – $43,325

#3 – Lubbock, TX

Lubbock is a city in West Texas that is known for is music, and its culture rich museums. Lubbock is also home to Texas Tech University among other colleges in the area.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 93.7
  • Veteran Population – 12,018
  • Unemployment Rate – 4.80%
  • Median Annual Salary – $36,653
El Paso

#4 – El Paso, TX

El Paso is a city with a lot to offer. Some of those things include hiking in some of the local parks, enjoying some music at the Don Haskins Center, or enjoying a day at the El Paso Zoo.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 87.4
  • Veteran Population – 44,580
  • Unemployment Rate – 6.90%
  • Median Annual Salary – $39,379
San Antonio

#5 – San Antonio, TX

San Antonio is a vibrant city in South Texas that offers a unique sightseeing, shopping, outdoor activities, and historic sites to visit. Luckily for those looking to call San Antonio home, it also a really affordable place to live.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 88.7
  • Veteran Population – 107,359
  • Unemployment Rate – 6.40%
  • Median Annual Salary – $40,978
Oklahoma City

#6 – Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City is the capital of the state of Oklahoma and offers a great cuisine, cultural attractions, and outdoor activities to enjoy.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 85.4
  • Veteran Population – 42,000
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.20%
  • Median Annual Salary – $40,920

#7 – Arlington/Fort Worth TX

Arlington is another great affordable city to consider when looking for places to live. There are amusement parks, and you can even take a tour of the Global Life Park, which is home of the Texas Rangers.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 108.90
  • Veteran Population – 19,153
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.50%
  • Median Annual Salary – $43,264

Forth Worth is an affordable city for those who may be looking to settle down in a place with rodeos, sports and much more.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 95.3
  • Veteran Population – 42,375
  • Unemployment Rate – 5.80%
  • Median Annual Salary – $43,877

(Note: These two areas were combined due to their close proximity.)


#8 – Columbus, OH

Columbus is that capital of the state Ohio and offers great coffee, local music and dining.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 92.0
  • Veteran Population – 41,428
  • Unemployment Rate – 6.30%
  • Median Annual Salary – $35,384

#9 – Tulsa, OK

Tulsa is the second largest city in Oklahoma. Tulsa offers a a large range of activities such as visiting that Tulsa zoo, the Philbrook Museum of Art and many other attractions.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 86.0
  • Veteran Population – 24,324
  • Unemployment Rate – 6.70%
  • Median Annual Salary – $36,050

#10 – Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville is typically known for it’s sandy beached and great fishing, but it also serves as a great place to call home.

  • Cost of Living Index (based of U.S. Average of 100) – 91.3
  • Veteran Population – 79,192
  • Unemployment Rate – 7.60%
  • Median Annual Salary – $39,775

Factors that Affect Affordability

To determine the top affordable cities in America for veterans, Veterans United analysts collected data from the 100 most populated cities in the United States and compared the following dimensions (Economic Wellness, and Affordability).

We evaluated the strength of each city across those dimensions using 4 relevant variables. Each city was then scored and ranked in each of the 4 variables by multiplying the city’s rank by that variable’s weight. The final rankings were determined by the city’s total score, with the lowest score representing the best city for Veterans to live.

Here’s a quick run-down of each metric:

  • 2018 – 2019 Q3 Cost of Living Index (Double Weight)
  • Veteran Unemployment Rate (Full Weight)
  • 5 Year Rate of Job Growth (2013 – 2018) (Half Weight)
  • Median Veteran Income (Double Weight)

Final Thoughts

The places on this list are not only affordable, but they also offer a rich culture and history with tons of attractions to enjoy. Use our affordability calculator to estimate your loan pre-approval amount based on your income and expenses.


Data was collected from the US Census Bureau – American Community Survey, Council for Community and Economic Research, US Census Bureau – American Community Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics (CES-SA), and Veterans United Home Loans.

Prince Harry, Jon Bon Jovi Team Up for Invictus Games

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (L) chats with US singer Jon Bon Jovi as he arrives at Abbey Road Studios in London on February 28, 2020, where they met with members of the Invictus Games Choir, who were there to record a special single in aid of the Invictus Games Foundation

Prince Harry is collaborating on a new project with singer Jon Bon Jovi, potentially singing, for the upcoming Invictus Games for wounded soldiers.

Bon Jovi’s new recording of “Unbroken” is set to be released next month and will be on his new album, according to NBC’s “Today.”

“I had written a song that was important for what we’re doing,” Bon Jovi told NBC. “I just sent him a letter. I don’t know Harry, but he embraces my idea.”

The song was written for veterans living with post-traumatic stress syndrome, and Prince Harry’s Invictus Games feature wounded veterans competing in events such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing.

The song will feature the Invictus choir made up of participants, and might even include Prince Harry signing – aka, “the artist formerly known as prince,” Bon Jovi told NBC.

Asked “can Harry sing,” Bon Jovi responded: “You’ll have to wait and find out.”

The Invictus Games is where Prince Harry introduced his then-girl friend Meghan Markle three years ago.

Photo Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Continue on to NewsMax to read the complete article.

Suicide Prevention: One Marine’s Story

Jason Mosel standing at podium speaking into micrphone

Jason Mosel remembers the hardest day of his life. It was the day his friend and fellow Marine, Geoffrey Morris, was blown apart by a rocket-propelled grenade. This memory almost killed him.

Mosel served three tours of duty, two of them in Iraq. After he came home, he thought he was the same person he’d always been. But his wife, his friends, and his family knew better. As time passed, Mosel tried to ignore the fact that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was drinking too much, and all the while his mind was slowly convincing him to do what nearly two dozen soldiers and veterans do every day in the U.S.

And in 2005, Mosel very nearly became part of that grim statistic.

But Mosel’s life began to change in 2013, when he participated in an obstacle course that pushed him physically and mentally.

As a Marine accustomed to adapting to survive, he found a way to fight against his suicidal thoughts: burpees.

He discovered that he could build his own recovery through extreme exercise.

“I did not know this moment would change my life,” Mosel says. “I found something that was missing, a community of people and a sense of accomplishment by pushing myself to a limit that I didn’t think was possible, then going beyond that.”

Mosel attempted to set a new Guinness World Record of 5,000 chest-to-ground burpees in 12 hours, stopping only to eat, hydrate, go to the bathroom, and rest for a minute or two between sets.

But he refused to stop.

He had made a promise to his friend Morris, a promise to fellow soldiers and veterans, a promise to himself.

But why? Mosel said that extreme physical activity saved him. A strong body helped him build a strong mind.

He realized he couldn’t change the past but could control the future. “Slowly I started to put down the bottle and lace up my running shoes,” Mosel said.

“Though it sounds cut and dry, it was anything but that.”

Mosel described the daily battle he endured while fighting off his demons and confronting himself in the mirror. His turning point came through acceptance of his new reality. He emphasizes that this is what drives him to push harder and overcome the inevitable obstacles life throws in his way.

Best and Worst States for Hiring Veterans

Soldier with tablet standing in front of a blurry map

During the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan Vets hovered between 13%-15%. Thankfully, that number as of December 2019 decreased to 2.8%. today released a study on the Best and Worst States for Hiring Veterans using the most recent data from state and federal governments, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau and the Veterans Affairs Administration.

The rankings were determined by analyzing government hiring practices, unemployment rates, median income, veteran business ownership and job training investment per veteran in every state.

Here are key national findings from the study:

  • The 10 best states for hiring veterans include: New Jersey, Alaska, Virginia, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Dakota, Georgia, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
  • The 10 worst states for hiring veterans: Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Wyoming, West Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
  • Highest average salary is in Virginia ($56,140) and the lowest in Arkansas ($33,584).
  • Only six states saw vet unemployment increase in the last five years: North Dakota, Ohio, Idaho, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Vermont
  • Four states put vets on the front of the line for civil service jobs: New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.
  • Veteran-owned businesses are most prominent in Oklahoma and South Carolina

Read the complete breakdown of the Best and Worst States for Hiring Veterans here.

VA Maryland Health Care System Invites Women to Continue Making History with VA

woman veteran searching online with her laptop on table

This Women’s History Month, the VA Maryland Health Care System invites women veterans to continue making history with VA. “For the Department of Veterans Affairs, Women’s History Month means more than just celebrating our women veterans – it means making sure they’re proud of the role we play in the remaining chapters of their story,” said VA Chief of Staff Pam Powers. “We will continue to build on the legacy that America’s women veterans have carved out by listening to them, respecting them, and serving them with the dignity this country owes them.”

Women comprise about 10 percent of the veterans VA serves nationwide, and that number is set to increase, as women are about 20 percent of our military forces.

For decades, VA’s principal patient base was men. But today’s VA facilities provide comprehensive primary care for women, as well as gynecology, specialty care and mental health services. In the last fiscal year, 41 percent of all women veterans were enrolled in VA, and we expect that number to keep climbing as customer service and patient experiences for women veterans continue to improve.

Since VA started tracking outpatient satisfaction in 2017, we’ve seen women’s trust in VA climb higher and higher. In 2019, 83.8 percent of female veterans trusted the care they got at VA, and initial data in 2020 is on pace to see that trust score rise to nearly 85 percent.

“The VA Maryland Health Care System offers a host of services geared toward women veterans,” said Zelda McCormick, Women Veterans Program Manager at the VA Maryland Health Care System.

Services include, but are not limited to designated women’s health providers throughout our facilities offering primary care for acute and chronic conditions, preventive care such as immunizations, cancer screenings, and gender specific care, including family planning and preconception counseling, and osteoporosis screening and management.

In addition, women veterans can access wellness programs such as health coaching, peer support and community resources, among others.

“Although we don’t deliver babies at our facilities, we do support obstetric care delivered by community partners and provide women veterans with necessary items such as breast pumps,” said McCormick noting that the health care system has hosted three annual baby showers for expectant or new mothers enrolled in VA health care.

The VA Maryland Health Care System also offers mental health and specialty care, providing treatment for depression, mood and anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use, addiction treatments, intimate partner violence, in addition to management of chronic and complex conditions.

The VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) provides a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health and outpatient care to veterans at three medical centers and five outpatient clinics located throughout the state. More than 52,000 veterans from various generations receive care from VAMHCS annually.

Nationally recognized for its state-of-the-art technology and quality patient care, VAMHCS is proud of its reputation as a leader in veterans’ health care, research and education. It costs nothing for veterans to enroll for health care with the VA Maryland Health Care System and it could be one of the more important things a veteran can do.

To enroll for VA health care, interested veterans can call 877-222-8387 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or they can visit and click on “Apply now for VA health care.”

SOURCE: VA Maryland Health Care System

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