Navy SEAL Jason Redman To Host Los Angeles Fundraiser for Warfare Disability to Benefit the Combat Wounded Coalition and The Overcome Academy-Award-Winning Actress Sharon Stone to Lead Live Fundraising Auction

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CWC

Event Hosted by Ferrari of Beverly Hills

Overcome Academy and The Combat Wounded Coalition will hold a February 15th Los Angeles evening fundraiser to raise awareness and support the sacrifices made by combat wounded warriors. Orchestrated by Retired Navy SEAL Jason Redman, a wounded warrior himself and founder of the Overcome Academy, the event at Peterson Automotive Museum will include a live charity auction conducted by award-winning actress, activist and philanthropist Sharon Stone to support the missions of the Overcome Academy and The Combat Wounded Coalition. The event is hosted by Ferrari of Beverly Hills. Associate supporters are RM/Sotheby’s, Ferrari Financial Service, Bruce Meyer and Ferrari Lake Forest.

To support this evening of true camaraderie that recognizes the importance of our combat wounded warriors’ sacrifices, charitable contributions can be made by visiting: www.combatwoundedcoalition.org. The February 15th event at the Peterson Auto Museum, located at 6060 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, will include drinks, entertainment and special guests.

Retired Navy SEAL, Jason “Jay” Redman is the author of The Trident, a riveting memoir capturing a 21-year career and journey in leadership serving with the US Navy SEAL Teams. He is a nationally sought after motivational speaker and the founder of SOF Spoken speaking company providing inspirational presentations across the country to Fortune 500 companies, sports teams and organizations. Severely wounded on a combat operation in Iraq in 2007, Redman would undergo almost 40 surgeries over the next four years. During his recovery, Redman and his wife founded and launched Wounded Wear, a non-profit organization committed to providing wounded warriors free clothing and clothing modifications based off Redman’s experiences with his own wounds and public reactions to his injuries. In 2015, Redman expanded Wounded Wear into the Combat Wounded Coalition.

The Combat Wounded Coalition™ is a nationally known Non-Profit Organization (Tax ID – 27-0426467) that inspires combat-wounded warriors, their families, and families of the fallen to Overcome through four program pillars – Pride – Power – Purpose and Peace. The Combat Wounded Coalition connects combat wounded warriors with vetted partner organizations to directly match and help fund warrior needs with partner services. The Combat Wounded Coalition then provides the oversight, management and accountability of warriors as they pass through the Four Pillar Pipeline tracking them before, during, and after receiving support and services provided by the CWC and our strategic partners.

In 2017, Redman observing and recognizing the growing difficulty for wounded warriors to transition successfully back into civilian life, created the Overcome Academy, a ground-breaking program with support from licensed retired Navy psychologists, certified disability specialists, leadership and trauma experts, Old Dominion University, and The Combat Wounded Coalition.

The Overcome Academy is a brand new, curriculum-based program, based in Virginia, operated through Combat Wounded Coalition, that teaches leadership, resiliency and communication skills for wounded warriors to get them back into their communities as leaders working with schools, businesses and youth mentorship programs. Though there are many programs that help warriors find educational opportunities and employment opportunities, one of the key problems is many warriors do not know who they are in the civilian world yet. The Overcome Academy seeks to assist them to understand who they are; what their purpose and mission is and most importantly how to lead themselves to accomplish it. The purpose of the Overcome Academy is to teach returning warriors how to be leaders within their family, workplace and community; how to build structure within their own lives, lead themselves and then how to take that knowledge and use it to lead others. www.OvercomeAcademy.org – Proceeds raised from this event will be targeted for the growth and development of the Overcome Academy. The first inaugural Overcome Academy class begins Feb 19th in Virginia Beach, VA.

After 21 years in the US Navy, Redman retired in 2013 and lives in Virginia with his wife and three children. Redman has appeared on multiple national news networks including Fox News, CBS, CNN and CBN. He has appeared on “Fox and Friends” multiple times and the “Huckabee” show. He has appeared in multiple documentaries including History Channel’s “Navy SEALs, America’s Secret Warriors.” Additionally, Redman is an actor playing the lead role in the film “The Perfect Day” and a supporting character on an episode of “Hawaii 5-0.”

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://business.facebook.com/combatwoundedcoalition

Twitter – https://twitter.com/cwc_org

Hashtag #overcomeacademy

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Award-Winning Actress Sharon Stone, Navy SEAL Jason Redman Attend Los Angeles Fundraiser for Warfare Disability to Benefit the Combat Wounded Coalition

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Sharon Stone

Overcome Academy and The Combat Wounded Coalition hosted a February 15th Los Angeles fundraiser to raise awareness and support the sacrifices made by combat wounded warriors. Orchestrated by Retired Navy SEAL Jason Redman, a wounded warrior himself and founder of the Overcome Academy, the event at Peterson Automotive Museum included a live charity auction conducted by award-winning actress, activist and philanthropist Sharon Stone to support the missions of the Overcome Academy and The Combat Wounded Coalition. Associate supporters were RM/Sotheby’s, Ferrari Financial Service, Bruce Meyer and Ferrari Lake Forest.

Retired Navy SEAL, Jason “Jay” Redman was severely wounded on a combat operation in Iraq in 2007. During his recovery, Redman and his wife founded and launched Wounded Wear, a non-profit organization committed to providing wounded warriors free clothing and clothing modifications based off Redman’s experiences with his own wounds and public reactions to his injuries. In 2015, Redman expanded Wounded Wear into the Combat Wounded Coalition. www.combatwoundedcoalition.org

The Combat Wounded Coalition™ is a nationally known Non-Profit Organization (Tax ID – 27-0426467) that inspires combat-wounded warriors, their families, and families of the fallen to Overcome through four program pillars – Pride – Power – Purpose and Peace. The Combat Wounded Coalition connects combat wounded warriors with vetted partner organizations to directly match and help fund warrior needs with partner services. The Combat Wounded Coalition then provides the oversight, management and accountability of warriors as they pass through the Four Pillar Pipeline tracking them before, during, and after receiving support and services provided by the CWC and our strategic partners.

In 2017, Redman observing and recognizing the growing difficulty

Jason Redman
Retired Navy SEAL Jason Redman Host of LA Fundraiser for Warfare Disability-Photo Credit: Darcy Fehringer-Mask

for wounded warriors to transition successfully back into civilian life, created the Overcome Academy, a ground-breaking program with support from licensed retired Navy psychologists, certified disability specialists, leadership and trauma experts, Old Dominion University, and The Combat Wounded Coalition.

The Overcome Academy is a brand new, curriculum-based program, based in Virginia, operated through Combat Wounded Coalition, that teaches leadership, resiliency and communication skills for wounded warriors to get them back into their communities as leaders working with schools, businesses and youth mentorship programs. Though there are many programs that help warriors find educational opportunities and employment opportunities, one of the key problems is many warriors do not know who they are in the civilian world yet. The Overcome Academy seeks to assist them to understand who they are; what their purpose and mission is and most importantly how to lead themselves to accomplish it. The purpose of the Overcome Academy is to teach returning warriors how to be leaders within their family, workplace and community; how to build structure within their own lives, lead themselves and then how to take that knowledge and use it to lead others. www.OvercomeAcademy.org – Proceeds raised from this event will be targeted for the growth and development of the Overcome Academy. The first inaugural Overcome Academy class begins Feb 19th in Virginia Beach, VA.

Sharon Stone Photo Credit:
Darcy Fehringer-Mask

 

Kirstie Ennis: Going “Full Throttle”

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Kirstie Ennis

By Brady Rhoades

Veteran Kirstie Ennis is one of the best Paralympian snowboarders in the world, and she’s also eying the seven great summits, recently climbing 19,341-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and 16,024-foot Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. On one leg.

As a Marine Corps sergeant. in Afghanistan—a helicopter door gunner—she wrecked a leg when the helicopter she was in crashed. That leg was amputated above the knee in 2015.

Her jaw was destroyed, she lost teeth, she injured discs in her spine, and she suffered facial lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD.

In the process of undergoing more than 40 surgeries, she came to a realization, acquiring a come-to-terms toughness and wisdom that would help motivate her to train as a snowboarder for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang County, in the Gangwon region of South Korea.

And to attempt to conquer the tallest peaks on all seven continents.

Countless times a day, she repeats one of her mantras: Stop worrying about what you lost. Look at what you’ve got. Or: What counts is what’s behind your rib cage and six inches between your ears.

She’s only 26, but her near-death experience offered an invaluable lesson on how precious time is.

“I go full throttle,” she said. “I come up with obnoxious goals and I go after them.”

It’s hard to believe that this fifth-gear athlete chasing Paralympian goals—and literally ascending historic heights for an above-the-knee-amputee mountain climber—spent months in hospital beds, nearly lifeless, filled with doubt, enveloped in depression. She wondered how she’d ever get around, go on. What would she do? Would she ever wear a dress again? Would anyone ever be attracted to her?

Idle time can be a wounded warrior’s worst enemy. Fathers can be their best friends.

“Dad said, ‘People in the Middle East couldn’t kill you, and now you’re going to collapse?'” she recalls. “The light went on and I said, ‘I made it home. Nobody owes me a damn thing.'”

Kirstie Ennis

Ennis had to mine for the toughness that is at her core, but her sense of humor? That comes effortlessly.

The same year her leg was amputated, she participated in the Walking with the Wounded event, in which wounded warriors trek 1,000 miles, ending at Buckingham Palace in London. Ennis left dozens of dog tags bearing the names of fallen comrades along the way. She also met Prince Harry, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry, not one to shirk his duties, logged many miles during the event. At one point, he turned to Ennis and complained that his knee ached.

“I looked over and was like, ‘That’s (expletive) cute, really,’” Ennis said. Prince Harry cracked up.

Ennis and Prince Harry became fast friends. At the conclusion of her walk, she presented the final dog tag to him.

Their embrace was photographed and zoomed across the wires, making her a celebrity in a matter of minutes.

For her service to the country, Ennis has earned the NATO Medal, Combat Action Wings with three gold stars, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan National Campaign Medal, two Letters of Appreciation, Certificate of Commendation, and a Certificate of Appreciation.

But who says you can’t be uber-tough and sexy?

ESPN called, asking her to grace the cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s 2017 Body Issue, with rather risqué photos of her on the inside pages. They wanted her to climb Joshua Tree, sans clothes.

She had her doubts. But Ennis tends to run toward challenges, toward fear.

“I thought about it and considered the demographic and the people Kirstie Ennisthat would see it, and I realized that it wasn’t about me anymore,” she said. “Any man, woman, or child facing some sort of adversity has the potential to be inspired by these pictures of someone who has only been missing her leg for a few years go out and do things she wasn’t doing with two legs.”

Ennis appeared in the Body Issue, along with other great athletes, such as Javier Baez (baseball), A.J. Andrews (softball), and Malakai Fekitoa (rugby).

The daughter of two Marines, Ennis enlisted out of Florida when she was 17 years old, in 2008. She served for four years as a helicopter door gunner and airframes mechanic when disaster struck on June 23, 2012.

While on her second deployment in Afghanistan, Ennis’ CH-53D helicopter crashed in the Helmand Province.

Badly injured, she fought to remain on active duty but was medically retired in 2014. After her below-the-knee amputation on November 23, 2015, Ennis contracted the antibiotic-resistant MRSA and, because of a resulting infection, doctors were forced to remove her knee a month later.

“A below-the-knee amputation is night-and-day from above-the-knee,” she said. “You have to relearn everything. You’re basically a toddler.”

When she was told that surgeons would have to perform above-the-knee surgery, she said she “lost it.” She cried. She wailed.

“It’s one curveball after another,” she said.

She still struggles, emotionally. “I’d be lying if I said it’s easy,” she said.

Two years after her life-altering surgery, she’s adapted, and she’s developed coping skills, which is a critical component of recovery.

Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t.

Set lofty goals.

Stay busy.

And true to her military training, be of service to others.

“When I’m having a bad day, I help someone who’s missing three limbs,” she said. “There’s this common misconception about what strength is. In the grand scheme of things, we’re in this together. You have to realize that you have to turn to somebody.”

Some of her best days involving helping other wounded warriors—whether it be through her notoriety as a star Paralympian or simply visiting a hospital.

“I know I’m on a platform,” she said. “I want to inspire people to reach their potential.”

She recalls a wounded warrior uttering eight words that she’ll never forget and that make her journey—as harrowing as it has been—worth it.

“You inspired me to walk another 10 steps,” the woman said.

 

New Technology Alleviates Tinnitus by Retraining the Brain to Ignore Ringing in the Ears

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Tinntinitus

In Time for Tinnitus Week: New Approach Used During Sleep Offers Hope to Millions of People Who Suffer From the Most Common Health Condition in the U.S.

LOS ANGELES—David Giles, 57, began suffering from tinnitus as a teenager, when a firecracker went off near his ear. Giles says the debilitating condition, commonly known as “ringing in the ears,” has grown overpowering without going away.

He is one of as many as 50 million Americans suffering from tinnitus. Musicians, factory workers, military veterans and many others endure its effects, including problems with concentration, sleep, anxiety and depression.

Giles, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, traveled four hours to a doctor in East Lansing Michigan to try the Levo System, an FDA-approved technology that mimics the specific sounds of a patient’s individual tinnitus. The patient listens to the sounds through earbuds while sleeping. Because the brain is most responsive to sensory input during sleep, it grows accustomed to the sounds after a few months of treatment. It is a radically different approach that retrains the brain to ignore “ringing in the ears.”

New research underscores the promise of this approach.

A recently released randomized study by the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the VA Portland Health Care System demonstrated improved clinical outcomes for tinnitus patients using the Levo System. The study was led by James Henry, PhD.

Study participants were assigned to the brain retraining technique using the Levo System or a commonly-used white noise masking machine. Patients using the Levo System reported the greatest improvement in tinnitus symptoms and the biggest decline in cognitive-related problems. These participants also reported the most significant improvement in their enjoyment of social activities and relationships with family and friends, key quality of life indicators.

For Giles, the Levo System was a life-changer. After a 90-day treatment, he reports that his tinnitus is no longer overpowering or debilitating, and has faded to the background, allowing him to enjoy his life as he once did.

Tinnitus affects a range of people, including those who are exposed to continuous noise. It is the leading service-related disability among U.S. veterans, according to the American Tinnitus Association.

The Levo System approach is grounded in the idea of personalized medicine. Rather than machines or doctors selecting sound matches in the customary fashion, patients choose the actual sounds they hear when they sleep. When patients take an active role addressing their tinnitus, they often feel a sense of mastery and control.

“It is gratifying to see so many people experience relief from a condition that has defied a long-term solution,” said Michael Baker, president and Oregon-based CEO of Otoharmonics Corp., which produces the Levo System. “Patients report the greatest improvement when they drive decisions about their treatment.”

The Levo System has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for marketing in the U.S. Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles is Otoharmonics’ majority stakeholder.

V.A. Study  http://AJA.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?doi=10.1044/2017_AJA-17-0022

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Army Sergeant First Class Wade Mitcheltree Receives ELAN-Controlled Custom Smart Home from the Gary Sinise Foundation

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Gary Sinise Foundation

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA, February 6, 2018 — During his second tour in Afghanistan in 2012, U.S. Army SFC Wade Mitcheltree was severely injured by an IED, resulting in the loss of both his legs and his right arm below the elbow. When Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) learned of Mitcheltree’s bravery, they awarded him a brand new specially adapted smart-home in Tigard, Oregon, that allows him to independently manage day-to-day tasks with ease.

Randy Reagan of Quadrant Systems, the integration firm that managed the project’ technology integration, knew that an ELAN Entertainment and Control System was the best smart home platform for Mitcheltree and his family. “ELAN is by far the most intuitive control system out there,” Reagan said. “It’s very simple for the homeowner to understand how to use it without having an expert show them. The icons are large, and the lighting controls are laid out on the touch panel the same way they are on the keypads on the wall. It’s perfect for Wade, his wife, and his two sons.”

Reagan built the home’s system around an ELAN gSC10 controller, with an ELAN g1 for secondary control and an ELAN S86A for audio distribution. Multiple ELAN touch panels and remotes were integrated throughout the two-story residence so that the Mitcheltree family can access the platform from any room of the house at any time. With just the tap on a screen, the family can manage the home’s audio, video, lighting, climate and security systems.

“Even if Wade is on the second floor, he can have full control over the whole house using any of the touch panels or his own iPad,” said Reagan. “If someone rings the doorbell, he can easily see and talk to them through the ELAN Intercom, and even unlock the door. We set up ‘away’ and ‘welcome’ scenes on the ELAN system, so that he can easily configure the entire home with just the touch of a button.”

For entertainment, Quadrant Systems also installed a robust multi-Gary Sinise Foundationroom audio system, which includes of SpeakerCraft in-ceiling speakers and Sunfire subwoofers. The entire system is easily controlled through the ELAN platform, so each member of the family can stream any music they choose throughout the whole house or just in one room. This versatility, along with the crystal-clear audio from SpeakerCraft and Sunfire, makes their new home the perfect place to entertain friends and family.

Reagan and his team also installed an impressive security system that Mitcheltree can arm and manage through both a physical keypad and the ELAN platform. It includes a complete and comprehensive DSC system, and is also connected to the motorized locks on the exterior doors. “Through ELAN, Wade and his wife can easily secure their house from their bed or anywhere in the world using their iPads,” said Reagan. “This gives them an incredibly important peace-of-mind and an enhanced sense of security, which is especially important as they have children.”

Judith Otter, Executive Director of the Gary Sinise Foundation, emphasized how important the customized features of the home were to Mitcheltree and his family. “They’ve been through a long and emotional journey working toward Wade’s full recovery, and this home allows them to relax and worry less about daily tasks,” Otter said. “The ELAN system is especially important for Wade, as it allows him nearly complete independence, which otherwise may not have been possible. We’re grateful for the involvement of everyone behind the ELAN brand as we work to continue providing American heroes with a completely customized specially adapted smart home.”

For high-res images of the home, click here. To watch a video of the home dedication, click here.

About ELAN
ELAN, now part of Nortek Security & Control, develops an award-winning line of whole-house entertainment and control solutions distributed through a comprehensive channel of select dealers throughout the United States, Canada, and countries worldwide. The ELAN 8 update was honored with the “2017 Human Interface Product of the Year” award and continues to expand its intuitive functionality. To learn more, visit www.elanhomesystems.com.

About Nortek Security & Control
Nortek Security & Control LLC (NSC) is a global leader in smart connected devices and systems for residential, security, access control, and digital health markets. NSC and its partners have deployed more than 4 million connected systems and over 20 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, GoControl®, Linear®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, security dealers and consumers.

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC is a subsidiary of Melrose Industries PLC, a global investment company specializing in acquisition and performance improvement. With over 50 years of innovation, NSC is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit nortekcontrol.com.

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PAVE Employment Event Series Connects Veterans to a World of Opportunity

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PVA

WASHINGTON, D.C.—PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment), a leading provider of vocational counseling and job placement assistance for veterans a flagship program under Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), will be conducting six PAVE Employment Events that bring veterans and transitioning service members together with prospective employers to overcome the significant barriers they face in the workplace. Events will be held in key markets across the U.S. in 2018.

PAVE is open to all veterans, their spouses and the caregivers of disabled veterans. PAVE counselors work to connect those individuals with a network of over 1,200 corporate partners committed to supporting veterans and their families. Services are offered to veterans, spouses and caregivers at no cost and once a participant joins the program, they are a partner for life. This ensures the long-term success of the veteran workforce and gives participants the confidence needed to take on whatever challenges lie ahead.

“We have this great group of veterans entering the workforce that has already undergone extensive training but in many cases, needs a little assistance navigating the job market,” said Shelly Stewart, national program director for PAVE. “It’s incredibly rewarding to help guide them through that process and watch them flourish.”

While PAVE is open to any veteran, spouse, or caregiver, the program is run by the Paralyzed Veterans, an organization chartered over 70 years ago to ensure paralyzed veterans receive the benefits they deserve through their service. This has placed PAVE in a unique position to address the needs of paralyzed veterans in the job market, such as mobility, accessibility, and other physical challenges.

“PAVE has been an integral part of our recruiting efforts and helping us place veterans in our organization. They put veterans’ needs first,” said Thomas Birch, recruitment consultant for Xceed Group.

In 2016, there were roughly 20.9 million veterans in the U.S. That accounts for about nine percent of the civilian non-institutional population and a major contributor to the American workforce. PAVE Employment Events give organizations the opportunity to directly connect with this vast pool of potential employees and play a pivotal role in the lives of veterans looking to take the next step in their careers.

“PAVE events are a rich environment for a job opportunity,” said Leon Mallery, Air Force veteran and PAVE participant that secured a job as a result of a PAVE event. “There are employers eager to spend one-on-one time with you and see if there’s a way you can fit into their organization.”

For more information on how veterans, spouses, caregivers, and employers can join the PAVE program and participate in upcoming Employment Events click here. For additional details on the event in Tampa, click here.

Upcoming Event Times and Locations:
• February 7, 2018 – Tampa, Florida
• April 11, 2018 – New York, New York
• July 11, 2018 – Nashville, Tennessee
• October 17, 2018 – San Diego, California
• February 13, 2019 – Seattle, Washington

About PAVE:
PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment) provides vocational counseling and job placement assistance to veterans, spouses and caregivers across the country. Our unique, no-cost program offers assistance with a variety of customized job search strategies that position our clients for success. Through the generous support of both private and public partnerships, the PAVE program strives to place at least one veteran, caregiver or spouse every day.

PAVE also provides on-going support to employer partners who want to leverage the unique training and skills of our nation’s veteran workforce. By partnering with PAVE, employers will recognize why hiring veterans is good for their bottom line. PAVE strives to find the best jobs for veterans and the best veterans for jobs.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America:
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For over 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation, and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 74 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families, and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

‘Operation Deep Dive’ To Examine Veteran Suicide Causes and Factors

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Veteran Suicide

— America’s Warrior Partnership and University of Alabama Partner to Conduct First-of-its-Kind, Four-Year Research Initiative –

WASHINGTON – December, 2017 – America’s Warrior Partnership, University of Alabama researchers and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation have partnered on a four-year, $3.9 million research study that will examine the factors and potential causes involved in suicides and early mortality due to self-harm among military veterans. Funded by a $2.9 million grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, as well as additional investment from America’s Warrior Partnership and other in-kind supporters, “Operation Deep Dive” will use unique methodologies that have never before been applied to the research of veteran suicides. The goals of the research study are to identify the risk factors that lead to suicide within veteran communities and help guide the development of programs to prevent and reduce self-harm among veterans.

“This research endeavor is the first time that community environments will be incorporated into the research process, giving us a whole new level of insight into potential factors of veteran suicides,” said Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership and founder of the Community Integration model. “Studies to date have generalized the indicators of suicide without a focus on the role the community may play. Leveraging our organization’s focus on veterans and the communities in which they live, work and receive support services, combined with University of Alabama’s exceptional research team and unique approach, gives us a broader yet more specific perspective on veteran suicide risk factors.”

Operation Deep Dive is innovative in that it will study veterans across the spectrum of service, gender and lifespan. Conducted in two phases, the year-long Phase I will begin with a five-year retrospective investigation of the impact of less-than-honorable discharges on veteran suicides and suspected suicides, as well as the differences in suicide rates between those who received and did not receive support services from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).

“Previous research has focused primarily on individual-level risk factors, like prior suicide attempts, mood disorders, substance abuse and access to lethal means, but suicide is a complex phenomenon and those factors don’t paint the whole picture,” said Dr. David L. Albright, Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health and associate professor in the School of Social Work at The University of Alabama, and co-principal investigator of the study.

Phase II will incorporate the findings from Phase I into a three-year study that will include input from medical examiners, mental health experts, veterans and family members to conduct a “sociocultural autopsy” of all new or suspected suicides in America’s Warrior Partnership’s seven affiliate communities. This individualized data and a chronology of the veteran’s last year will be analyzed using a geospacial technique to identify trends, patterns, and indicators of former service members who take their lives. This same deep dive will occur in other communities where Community Integration is not yet active to provide a comparison. The results will explore how community context and engagement with local veterans affect the prevention of suicides.

“The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committed to helping veterans and reducing the suicide rate among all those who have served in our nation’s armed forces,” says John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “This project will take a unique approach to better understand what is happening at the community level and develop predictive modeling procedures to identify those at most immediate risk.”

Drs. Karl Hamner, director of the Office of Evaluation for the College of Education, and David L. Albright, Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health and associate professor in the School of Social Work, are the principal investigators for University of Alabama on the study. Both Dr. Hamner and Dr. Albright are committee chairs for the Alabama Veterans Network (AlaVetNet), which connects Alabama veterans to resources and services. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey recently signed Executive Order 712, which tasks the group in helping reduce and eliminate the opioid crisis as well as reducing the high veteran suicide rate.

America’s Warrior Partnership’s Community Integration model is active in nine communities across the country and has served nearly 37,000 veterans in three years. This model empowers communities through training, mentorship and structure to conduct proactive outreach to veterans by connecting existing resources and providing tools to create stronger collaboration among existing veteran service providers, bridging gaps in service wherever they may exist. The result is a more coordinated approach that holistically serves each veteran’s individual needs, ensuring no one slips through the cracks or does not receive essential support services.

About America’s Warrior Partnership

America’s Warrior Partnership is committed to empowering communities to empower veterans. We fill the gaps that exist between current veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with the veterans, military members and families in need: bolstering their efficacy, improving their results and empowering their initiatives. America’s Warrior Partnership is a force multiplier for warrior community integration that enhances communities where great Americans choose to live and contribute. For more information on the organization and how to get involved, visit www.AmericasWarriorPartnership.org.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committed to improving the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and addressing unmet medical need. The Foundation engages partners to develop, execute, evaluate and promote innovative programs to help patients with lung cancer and removing barriers to accessing care in the United States, HIV and comorbid diseases such as cervical and breast cancers and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa, hepatitis B and C in China and India and veterans’ mental health and well-being in the U.S. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, visit us at BMS.com/Foundation.

About The University of Alabama

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.

Resource to Help Veterans Struggling with Substance Use Disorder

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Substance Abuse

They volunteered their service, their time, and they risked their lives: the veterans of the United States. Unfortunately, for many women and men who retire from the military, when they retire, they have memories they wish they didn’t.

Many of them have mental disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but for many others, substance use disorder is also an issue.

Alcohol and drug addiction is a common concern for the entire country. This is especially true for our veterans. Active duty drug use is low; however, veteran drug use is unfortunately extremely prevalent.

There are a number of reasons that veterans suffer from drug and alcohol addiction is prevalent among veterans. Emotional and mental health issues, chronic pain issues, and difficulty transitioning back into civilian life are among the reasons that veterans struggle with substance misuse.

The best way to treat veteran drug and alcohol addiction is prevention. It’s essential that service members are provided with the resources they need to transition back into civilian life. It’s also important for veterans to be able to seek the counseling they need to take care of any mental health issues they may have as a result of their service.

In this resource from The Recovery Village, veterans are provided with helpful information on the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. The resource is available here: therecoveryvillage.com/resources/veterans/

Senate bill would expand life-changing caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras

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Caregiver

If enacted, recently introduced Senate legislation would strengthen and reform the Department of Veteran’s Affairs health care system and create a new integrated community care program.

Sponsored by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson and Ranking Member Jon Tester, the bipartisan “Caring for our Veterans Act of 2017” also includes a critical provision that would extend comprehensive VA caregiver benefits to veterans severely injured during and prior to the Vietnam War. Following a two year period, the program would expand to include veterans of all eras.

Fairness for all veteran caregivers is a priority for all disabled veterans and DAV (Disabled American Veterans) members, and passage of this legislation would finally address the inequity facing too many unsung heroes who care for the men and women who served and sacrificed. The Senate VA Committee will vote on the measure this week.

Earlier this year, DAV released a report on caregivers, “America’s Unsung Heroes” because much of the American public is not aware of the dedication and sacrifices caregivers make supporting our nation’s heroes. Most caregivers go unrecognized and their needs unmet. Based on current law, VA is prohibited from providing comprehensive support for caregivers of veterans severely disabled before September 11, 2001. Many of them are now aging and their caregivers’ ability to continue in their role is compromised—access to comprehensive assistance would help sustain their efforts. Additionally, supporting family caregivers can be less costly to the federal government than treating veterans through institution-based options.

“Perhaps most importantly, it allows so many injured and ill veterans remain in their homes with family,” said DAV Past National Commander Dave Riley, a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer and quadruple amputee, whose wife Yvonne is ineligible for caregiver benefits due to his dates of service. “I am able to get out of bed every morning and rest comfortably at night because of her. Yvonne is my caregiver—one of America’s unsung heroes who takes care of the millions of disabled veterans living in America. She is why I am urging Congress to extend the VA’s comprehensive caregiver assistance benefits to all disabled veterans of all eras.”

DAV continues to work tirelessly advocating on Capitol Hill, but we need your help.

Sign and share our petition to urge Congress to extend the VA comprehensive caregiver assistance benefits to disabled veterans of all eras. You can also click here to hear from impacted veterans and their caregivers first-hand, including the Rileys, and learn more about DAV’s efforts to change laws and policies to ensure equal access to comprehensive benefits, supports and services for caregivers of all wartime veterans.

How One Vineyard is Helping Warriors All Year Long, Especially During the Holidays

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NICEVILLE, Florida – (November 20, 2017)– This holiday season there will be millions of bottles of wine sold. According to the Wine Institute, there are 11,496 wineries in the country, and each year there are around 949 million gallons of wine consumed.

Many people like to give wine as holiday gifts, take a bottle to holiday dinner parties, or keep some on hand for when company stops by to celebrate the season. Of those wineries, there is one, Tackitt Family Vineyards, that has made the commitment to help warriors with every bottle sold. “This holiday, people can easily help our warriors by opting for EOD Cellars wines when selecting a wine to drink or give,” explains Nicole Motsek, executive director of the EOD Warrior Foundation. “We are honored to have the support of Tackitt Family Vineyards, who give back so much. They truly appreciate all that these warriors have done for our country and make it easy for people to give back simply by purchasing their wines.”

Leon and Cindy Tackitt, owners of Tackitt Family Vineyards, offer a line of wines called EOD Cellars, and a portion of every bottle sold goes to the EOD Warrior Foundation. That money is put to good use helping warriors and their families who are in need. The foundation provides financial support to warriors who need financial assistance with everything from college scholarships for their family members to picking up the tab for therapeutic treatment to help with such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder.

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.

EOD Cellars wine collection includes four varieties of red wines and two types of white wines, and they are available in boxed gift sets and 6-packs. EOD CellarsThe wines are available for purchase online, as well as in select stores. The wines range in price from $21 per bottle to $32 per bottle. They have all been specially bottled to support the EOD Warrior Foundation. Tackitt Family Vineyards is a small, family-owned winery that is located in Paso Robles, California. They specialize in premium wines and offer several varietals for the EOD Cellars Wine. Specific wines in the collection include The Keeper, Basic Blaster Red, Senior Blaster Red, Master Blaster Red, Willie Pete White, and Det Cord White.

“We appreciate everything these warriors have done, and are pleased to be able to help give back,” added Leon Tackitt, winemaker and owner of Tackitt Family Vineyards. “This holiday season, every time they opt for an EOD Cellars wine, they will not only be getting a great tasting wine, but they can feel good knowing that they are also helping warriors. It’s an easy way to help others with every wine purchase.

To view the EOD Cellars wine collection, visit the Tackitt Family Vineyard site online: tackittfamilyvineyards.com.

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: eodwarriorfoundation.org.

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: eodwarriorfoundation.org.

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Sources:
Wine Institute.Wine Consumption in U.S. wineinstitute.org/resources/statistics/article86
Wine Institute.Number of California Wineries. wineinstitute.org/resources/statistics/article124

Hindsight is 20/20—Airman looks back with wisdom on his harrowing experience

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Adam Klein-Veteran

By Adam Klein

After graduating from Gloucester County College with an associate’s degree in criminal justice in 2005, I was unsure where I wanted to go from there. I decided I would enlist in the U.S. Airforce. I went to a recruiter and was told that I weighed too much, 214 pounds, and I would need to get down to at least 186 pounds before I would be eligible for enlistment.

I told the recruiter I would return in two months. She gave me a look that said she doubted my time table. But as in other areas of my life, when I’m told I cannot or I will not, I double down. Losing the weight was grueling, but whether through determination or sheer stubbornness, I did it. By the end of the two-month period, I went back to the recruiter weighing 165 pounds. She was surprised, to say the least.

The MOS I chose was military police, mainly because I wanted to do something in law enforcement in the privatesector. Boot camp at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas felt like a whirlwind. Looking back, I can say I enjoyed the chance to push myself and grow. After boot camp, my technical school was also located at Lackland. I have fond memories of my time there, learning life lessons and meeting fellow airmen who would become dear friends—some went on to be stationed at my first duty station at Peterson Airforce Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Colorado was a beautiful place, and I enjoyed experiencing all the seasons—sometimes all in one day! My unit was the Bootcamp21st Security Forces Wing. I had what is referred to as a Panama schedule, which gave me two or three days off at a time. I was fortunate to be able to visit different sites around the base, such as Seven Falls and the Garden of the Gods. I loved hiking and mountain climbing—anything that allowed me to be out in nature.

I enjoyed both my time at work on the base and the time I was able to explore the wonders around me. However, that all changed on July 3, 2006. Scheduled to go on deployment within the next few weeks, I was enjoying some time off with my fellow unit members. We decided to go to a local bar for some fun and socializing. I was the designated driver for one of my friends, so I stuck with soda for the evening. Everything was normal until the end of the evening, when a fight broke out between some of the people at the bar. As everyone was exiting the bar, I felt a sudden tingle go up my spine. I was unaware of what was happening and suddenly my right arm went limp. I was in a state of shock, and the person I was driving suggested that maybe it was a pinched nerve. He offered to let me stay at his place and see if it would be better in the morning. Even in my state of shock, I knew I wanted to drop him off and get back to my base. Looking back, of course, I realize I should have gone directly to the hospital, but that is why people say “hindsight is 20/20.”

Bootcamp

Back in my room on the base, I could tell my right leg was starting to go limp as well. I knew I needed to get help. I called my fellow security forces on duty and requested an ambulance. The officers arrived at my room and immediately assumed I was intoxicated. I tried to explain that I’d had nothing to drink—I was having a medical emergency. When the EMTs arrived, they too believed I must be drunk. As they transported me to the hospital, I felt as if I were sliding off the bottom edge of the stretcher—I kept trying to push myself back up. I was also making an unusual noise, which prompted hospital staff to request that the officers administer a breathalyzer test to determine my alcohol level. Not surprisingly, the test registered 0.0, and the staff finally realized that this was a medical, not an alcohol-related, emergency. The last thing I remember that night was heading over to get a CAT scan. It turns out, I was making that unusual noise because I was losing the ability to breathe on my own. Before I reached the CAT scan machine, I sank into a coma and woke up a full week later to my family from New Jersey standing around my bed.

The first thing I noticed was that I was hooked up to several machines; within an instant, I had a horrible realization. I couldn’t move any part of my body except my eyes. One of the machines was a breathing machine, as my lungs were not strong enough to allow me to breathe on my own. At that point, I broke down and started to cry—I was scared, confused, and angry. My doctor didn’t know what was wrong with me at first. A week passed before he diagnosed me with acute transverse myelitis, a crippling inflammation of the spinal cord that affects the entire central nervous system. The disease is so rare that only about 1,000 people in the world are affected by it. My doctor only diagnosed it as quickly as he did because he’d seen a case of it when he was a resident 20+ years ago. The prognosis was not good, as those who are affected with the disease are usually put into one of three categories: one-third tends to recover with minimal lasting issues, a second third only recovers partial mobility, and the last third tends to never recover their mobility. My odds were even worse, because I initially experienced an acute version of the disease.

After the initial shock wore off, I forced my mind to go back to my military training. I was not going to let this situation beat me. I was in the ICU for four weeks before I was removed from the ventilator. Doctors performed a tracheostomy so I could talk and attempt to start eating again. In another week and a half, I finally I regained the use of my arm. At that point, I felt some hope that I was going beat this, regain the use of my body, and fully recover. I knew the journey was not going to be easy, but I kept reminding myself that I was a soldier and I would overcome this. I also was blessed to have the support of my family—both by blood and my service brothers and sisters. After eight weeks in the ICU, I was flown to a rehab center in northern New Jersey.

The rehab place was known for its work with spinal injuries. They classified my injury as a C4 incomplete spinal cord injury. During most of the days in rehab, I was stuck in bed because of a stage-four pressure ulcer. To help the ulcer heal, I was given a Clinitron® therapy bed, which is made up of sand that is constantly heated and moving to promote healing. The bed was very hot, however, so I eagerly awaited my therapy sessions, my one chance a day to get up out of bed. I was always dressed and waiting in my wheelchair. One day, I waited and waited, but no one came to pick me up. Able to use only my left arm and left leg, I slowly wheeled myself to my therapy session one foot at a time. I was not going to miss that session! When I finally arrived, my therapist asked, “Who brought you down here?” I replied, “No one. I didn’t want to miss my session, so I wheeled myself.” He couldn’t stop laughing and said, “Well, I guess you don’t need to work out today, after getting yourself here.” I first gave him a hard stare, then laughed and told him, “Like hell, I’m still getting my session!” After that, the therapist never sent anyone to push me. I admit I was then and still am very stubborn, but I have always understood that many people in our lives can help us push ourselves, we must be willing to take the first steps and keep going when the road gets long and hard. I believe we need to keep pushing until we’re six feet under or, in my case, seven feet under, because I will crawl out if given the chance!

I was in the rehab center for a little more than four months before I could go home. It was the Friday before Christmas. I was very happy to go home, even if still in a wheelchair and using the special hospital bed for my pressure ulcer that was still healing. I was not naïve—I knew the transition was going to be difficult because of my neurological issues, but I also knew I’d progressed far enough to move to the next stage of my recovery. Living in my parents’ home again had its own set of challenges. While they were willing and able to offer space and support, it took time and effort to get used to asking for assistance with basic needs. Life has a way of keeping us humble and allowing us to realize how fragile we are.

I continued therapy to regain strength and mobility. I truly believed I would overcome this disease and return to the Air Force. Statistically, studies show that people who have faith in their recovery are more likely to have a better outcome than those who believe recovery is unlikely. I remember that my first neurologist, an older physician, told me I would probably never walk again or progress much further in my recovery. He told me and my parents that he would be trying to simply ensure that I did not degrade further. While I was angry and taken aback by this, it fueled my decision to find another doctor who would be an active part of my support system, regardless of the prognosis.

While still working with outpatient therapy, I decided that no matter what my future held, I wanted to help others and find meaning for my own life. I decided to go back to school to earn a bachelor of science in human services management. Because I was still in a wheelchair, I elected to attend my classes online, but I wanted to be able to walk to accept my diploma. For the next few years, my life consisted of two main tasks: working on my degree and pushing myself physically. Even when my insurance decided I had plateaued and they would no longer pay for my therapy, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer. When the day came to graduate, my twin brother, who was also graduating with his bachelor of arts, walked with me down the aisle, and I accepted my degree on my own terms, on my own two legs.

It took a few more years of working on my mobility before I couldVeterans Administration walk without a cane. Around that time, I was feeling deeply grateful for my support system, and I decided I wanted to provide that same support to others. I enrolled in Rutgers University–Camden’s social work master’s program. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay for the program, because I’d used my G.I. Bill funds. At Rutgers, veteran liaison Fred Davis showed me how to access additional funds available to veterans with disabilities. Fred not only helped me get reimbursed for the year of tuition I paid but also introduced me to fellow student veterans who provided much-needed emotional support. These other soldiers understood the stressors and conditions I’d gone through and still struggled with. Rutgers has a strong understanding of the veteran experience, and its faculty works hard to make supportive resources available. Rutgers has a real stake in the success of their veteran students, and it shows.

During the second year of my master’s program, I interned at the Philadelphia Veteran Medical Center—this was exactly the population I wanted to serve. Working with some of the veterans, I sensed resistance until they learned I was a fellow veteran. Then their whole demeanor changed and their guard went down. My experiences at the medical center reinforced my belief that I was meant to work with fellow veterans and individuals with disabilities. Graduating from Rutgers University was one of the proudest days of my life. Without Fred Davis and my fellow veteran students, the road to that diploma would have been much more difficult.

One of my other passions is learning about different cultures and places. During my summer break, I backpacked through Europe to see how other people lived, experiencing the world I hoped to improve. Although my mobility was still a challenge, I refused to allow it to hinder the pursuit of my goals. My disability would not be an inability—I would focus instead on my abilities. My 30 days in Europe was only the first of many times that I would discover how strong I was when I challenged myself.

Adam Klein

After graduating, I applied for a two-year fellowship position in a congressional office through the Wounded Warrior Program. Three weeks later, I received an employment offer, and I was thrilled. Not only would I have the chance to work on behalf of a great program, but I would also be working as a veteran case manager in the office of Congressman Donald Norcross, from the 1st District in New Jersey. I already knew that Congressman Norcross was passionate about the care and treatment of veterans, as well as the working class. I was excited to be working under his leadership.

Over the next two years, I learned about veteran needs and the resources they could receive through a congressional office. If our office was unable to assist, we made every effort to find out who could. I also met with other organizations and individuals who were working to improve the lives of veterans. The time I spent in that position gave me a better perspective on the needs of my fellow veterans and the laws and policies being suggested to find those resources and solutions. As the fellowship came to an end, I still had my passion to serve veterans, and this time I wanted more of a one-on-one experience. Rutgers-CamdenFortunately, I was offered a veteran service officer position at the New Jersey Camden County Office of Veteran Affairs, where I could still help veterans access the resources for their individual situations. My future plans are to further my mobility, enhance my knowledge in the service of my fellow veterans and people with disabilities, and finally prove that having a disability should never overshadow your ability to help better the world.