CVS Health Fights Back on High Cost Drugs by Launching Industry’s Most Comprehensive Approach to Saving Patients Money

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New CVS Health initiative seeks to solve one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of consumer financial worry.

Recognizing the threat of rising drug prices and high out-of-pocket costs, CVS Health providing most advanced solutions for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

CVS Pharmacists are key resource for patients in identifying opportunities to maximize their prescription benefits and save money at the pharmacy counter in communities nationwide.

CVS Caremark mitigating impact of high drug costs by providing members and prescribers with robust information and innovative tools to choose lower-cost prescription drugs.

The high cost of prescription drugs is one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of financial worry for consumers across the nation. While CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) has made significant progress in mitigating the impact of high list prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers, for too many Americans annual out-of-pocket drug costs are still significant. In response, CVS Health announced today that it is fighting back by launching the most comprehensive program in the industry to help patients save money on their medications.

According to a recent national poll, commissioned by CVS Health, 83 percent of Americans said they were concerned personally about the impact of rising prescription drug prices.[1] As prescription drug prices continue to rise and enrollment in high deductible health plans grows, many patients are shouldering higher costs for their prescription medicine.

CVS Health will address this problem with a robust set of initiatives, including the new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder, which will enable the company’s retail pharmacists for the first time to evaluate quickly and seamlessly individual prescription savings opportunities right at the pharmacy counter. This new tool further enhances existing savings opportunities the company’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) CVS Caremark is currently offering its clients such as the preventive drug lists that make medications for many common, chronic conditions available at a $0 copay. In addition, CVS Caremark provides real-time, member-specific drug costs and lower-cost alternatives to prescribers through their electronic health record system and to CVS Caremark members through the member portal and newly updated app. These programs are part of CVS Health’s commitment to helping consumers find the lowest cost prescription drugs by offering more pricing transparency for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

“Today’s consumers are faced with higher prescription drug prices than ever before and many of them are now paying for a larger share of their prescription drug costs out of their own pockets at the pharmacy counter due to growth in high deductible health plans,” said Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, CVS Health. “Until now, patients haven’t had the appropriate tools available to them to help them manage these costs. To address this, CVS Health is giving expanded tools to patients, prescribers and pharmacists so they can evaluate prescription drug coverage in real-time and identify lower-cost alternatives. We are committed to finding the right drug at the lowest possible cost for patients to ensure they are able to access and stay on the medications they need. That’s our promise.”

At the Pharmacy Counter

The new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder enables the retail pharmacist to quickly and seamlessly review a patient’s prescription regimen, medication history and insurance plan information to determine the best way for them to save money on out-of-pocket costs – with the primary goal of helping the patient find the lowest cost alternative under their pharmacy benefits plan.

“Our direct experience is that patients who are confronted with high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter are less likely to pick up their prescriptions and are less likely to be adherent to their prescribed therapy,” said Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President, Retail Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy.

“Armed with the information available through our Rx Savings Finder, our more than 30,000 CVS pharmacists can play an important role by helping patients save money on their medications, providing advice on how and when to take them, and ultimately helping them achieve better health outcomes,” Hourican added. “We are beginning this process with our CVS Caremark PBM members and expect to roll it out more broadly throughout the year.”

The Rx Savings Finder will show pharmacy teams:

  1. First, if the prescribed medication is on the patient’s formulary and is the lowest cost option available.
  2. Second, if there are lower-cost options covered under the patient’s pharmacy benefit – such as a generic medication or therapeutic alternative with equivalent efficacy of treatment.
  3. Third, if the patient may be able to save money by filling a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day prescription.
  4. Finally, if neither a generic nor a lower-cost alternative is available, other potential savings options for eligible or uninsured patients where allowed by applicable laws and regulation.[2]

Pharmacists can also help patients enroll in the ExtraCare Loyalty Program and sign them up for Pharmacy and Health Rewards. Through Pharmacy and Health Rewards, patients receive $5 in ExtraBucks for every 10 prescriptions filled, earning up to $50 in ExtraBucks annually.

At the Doctor’s Office

Another component of the company’s comprehensive savings approach is the recently launched real-time benefits program, which helps bring greater drug price transparency to prescribers and CVS Caremark members. At the point-of-prescribing, providers are able to see the member-specific cost for a selected drug, based on a member’s coverage, along with up to five lowest-cost, clinically appropriate therapeutic alternatives based on the patient’s formulary. PBM members have access to the same information on the CVS Caremark app and member portal. Early results show that prescribers accessing the real-time benefits information through their electronic health record switched their patient’s drug from a non-covered drug to a drug on formulary 85 percent of the time. In addition, when the patient’s drug is covered, prescribers using real-time benefits switch their patient to a lower-cost alternative 30 percent of the time. When the prescriber switched to a lower-cost drug, the difference was approximately $75 per prescription.
“We have been working hard to keep prescription medications affordable for patients,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “In fact, in 2017, nearly 90 percent of our PBM plan members spent less than $300 out-of-pocket for their prescription medicines. While this signals progress, for those patients that cost is not insignificant. That is why we are committed to doing even more across our enterprise to help patients find and access the lowest cost drug at the pharmacy which ultimately will help improve clinical outcomes and remove higher downstream medical costs from the system.”

Using Pharmacy Benefit Management Solutions

CVS Health is also making a variety of PBM solutions available to help further drive down drug trend for its PBM clients and drug costs for the patients they support. The company’s Point of Sale (POS) rebate offering allows the value of negotiated rebates on branded drugs to be passed on directly to patients when they fill their prescriptions – and the savings from this program can be significant. In 2013, CVS Health led the industry with the introduction of POS rebates to clients, and today nearly 10 million members are covered by and able to benefit from the program.

In 2017, despite manufacturer brand list price increases on drugs near 10 percent, CVS Health PBM strategies reduced drug trend for CVS Caremark commercial clients to the lowest level in five years, keeping drug price growth at a minimal 0.2 percent. In fact, 42 percent of CVS Caremark commercial clients spent less on their pharmacy benefit plan in 2017 than they had in 2016. CVS Caremark helped members reduce monthly out-of-pocket costs and improve adherence to its highest level in seven years in key categories such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

Prescription drug trend is the measure of growth in prescription spending per member per month. Trend calculations take into account the effects of drug price, drug utilization and the mix of branded versus generic drugs as well as the positive effect of negotiated rebates on overall trend. The 2017 trend performance is based on a cohort of CVS Health PBM commercial clients, employers and health plans.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,800 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 94 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

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[1] The Morning Consult poll was conducted from February 22-26, 2018, among a national sample of 1992 registered voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

[2] Prescriptions submitted for reimbursement to Medicare, Medicaid or other federal or state programs are not eligible.

From Farmer to Fortune, How One Medical Device Revolutionized An Industry

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iwalk-free

Each year, many entrepreneurs bring their products to market. Yet, research shows that the majority of them will not make it. Among those new products each year, there will be rare items that not only make it, but that completely revolutionize an industry. That’s exactly what happened with the iWALK2.0, a medical device that is essentially giving crutches and scooters a run for their money and longevity. In fact, the company has seen such success from the sales of the device that they expect to hit their 100,000th unit sold this year.

“Crutches have been around for 5,000 years, but the iWALK2.0 has already earned its place in the industry as the device of choice for those who have a lower leg injury,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc. “Not only have we won multiple awards for the device, but the feedback we’ve gotten and the sales statistics we’re experiencing all point to a robust future for the iWALK2.0.”

The story of the iWALK2.0 begins with a farmer who created the original version to give himself an easier way to be more mobile while recovering from a lower leg injury. Little did he know he was sitting on a billion dollar idea. It was when Hunter came along and saw the potential in the product that the idea was brought to fruition for the mass market. Hunter purchased half of the company, took the device concept to a whole new level, and introduced it to the world.

During Hunter’s first year, the company had a million dollars in sales, confirming what Hunter had suspected, which was that this was going to be a successful product launch. A serial entrepreneur, he was no stranger to the hard work and dedication that it took to help products find their place in the market. While the device continued to do well, it really saw a huge increase in interest and popularity when Harrison Ford was seen using it. Ford then used it again, for a different injury, which further boosted awareness. Since that time, additional celebrities and athletes have used it, including surfer Kelly Slater and hockey player Nick Bonino, among others.

Hunter knows that there is more that goes into a successful company than just having a great product. His secrets to entrepreneurial success include:

  • Have a clear vision before you start anything, and stick with it – no matter what.
  • Do your homework and lay a strong foundation before you make your first commitment.
  • If others say you can’t do it, prove them wrong.
  • Don’t give it 100%. Give it 150%… or more.
  • Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
  • Mediocrity is the enemy of excellence.
  • Build a strong team.
  • Watch your finances – daily. Always know exactly where you are.
  • Be proficient at changing hats minute by minute. Advanced multi-tasking capabilities are essential.
  • Know when to quit. Here’s a hint – never.

“Creating a truly great product is really hard. Building a truly great company is even harder,” adds Hunter. “But if you are dedicated to your vision, work hard, and believe in what you are doing you will increase your chances of success. Believing in yourself is a large part of the equation. I’m thrilled with where the iWALK2.0 is and in its future.”

Sales have soared, the company has won awards for the design and concept of the device, and it is literally revolutionizing the industry. Increasingly, people are opting for the iWALK2.0, which resembles a high-tech pirate’s peg leg, and makes it easier for them to be mobile while they are recovering from a lower leg injury. The iWALK2.0 attaches just below the knee, attaching to and recruits the user’s leg, giving people the ability to stand and walk as they normally do, thus replacing the need for crutches or a scooter. With this route, they are hands-free, which allows them to do things they are used to doing, such as walking their dog, drinking their coffee, using their cellphone, or carrying groceries. In 2017, sales were up 50% over the prior year, and on Amazon the sales were up 154% over the prior year.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, easy to learn to use, it’s intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or down stairs.

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit iWALK2.0 video on You Tube.

About iWALKFree

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc. It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at iwalk-free.com

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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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United We Stand: Recognizing Black History Month

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henry johnson

In the early pre-dawn hours of May 14, 1918, Army Pvt. Henry Johnson, part of the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment, took part in a five-man patrol to defend against enemy ambushes in the Argonne Forest in France.

At 2:30 a.m., 24 German soldiers attacked the patrol’s position. Johnson defended his comrades by throwing all the grenades he could find at the enemy and then fired his own weapon until it jammed. When the enemy soldiers swarmed the trench Johnson was defending, he fought them off with the butt of his rifle and then his bare hands.

Johnson, wounded 21 times, sent the Germans into retreat. This encounter became known as “The Battle of Henry Johnson” and was reported in national newspapers in the United States later in the year.

France subsequently awarded Johnson the Croix de Guerre avec Palme (War Cross with Palm), France’s highest award for valor. And in a memo later that same month, Gen. John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force during World War I, called Johnson’s actions “a notable instance of bravery,” and Johnson was promoted to sergeant.

But after the war, Johnson was nearly completely disabled due to his wounds. Despite his noted heroics, he and other black soldiers were denied medical care and disability pay. He would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama on June 2, 2015, but the recognition came far too late. Johnson died in poverty at 32 years old, according to the Smithsonian and a study released by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).

As we celebrate Black History Month, the EJI offers a historical and detailed account of the injustices black veterans like Johnson endured in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including instances of violence and abuse, inequality of military pay and denial of earned veterans benefits.

During World War I, more than 350,000 African Americans served in segregated units. When World War II erupted, more than a million were drafted or volunteered to serve. The Korean War saw the decommissioning of some, though not all, segregated units, despite a 1948 executive order to integrate the military. And after entering the Vietnam War, America saw the highest proportion of black service members—but also casualty rates as high as 25 percent.

In spite of African Americans’ proud military heritage predating the Revolutionary War, the EJI study sheds light on the treatment of black veterans after service.

“It’s important that, as individuals and veterans, we show that the history of how our country treated minority veterans in the past is not a pleasant one,” said DAV (Disabled American Veterans) National Commander Delphine Metcalf-Foster, whose father was a Buffalo Soldier. “We should never forget the painful lessons this teaches. DAV knows the veteran community is made stronger by diversity, and we will continue our mission of advocacy for all veterans.”

The entire EJI report can be found at eji.org/reports/online.

Source:  Dav.org

Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine and Legendary Soul Man- Sam Moore Join Code of Support Foundation Advisory Board

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Sam Moore-Chef Robert Irvine

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 11, 2018– Code of Support Foundation (COSF) is honored to announce that Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine and Legendary Soul Man™ – Sam Moore have joined COSF’s Advisory Board. In recent years, Chef Irvine and the Legendary Soul Man – Sam Moore have demonstrated their unwavering support of our nation’s military service members, veterans, and their families by creating awareness by leveraging their own celebrity profiles to engage the 99% of Americans who benefit from the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes.

Code of Support Foundation announces that Legendary Soul Man™ – Sam Moore and Chef Robert Irvine have joined COSF’s Advisory Board. In recent years, the Legendary Soul Man – Sam Moore and Chef Irvine have demonstrated their unwavering support of our nation’s military service members, veterans, and their families by creating awareness by leveraging their own celebrity profiles to engage the 99% of Americans who benefit from the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes.

Code of Support Foundation announces that Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine and Legendary Soul Man™ – Sam Moore have joined COSF’s Advisory Board. In recent years, Chef Irvine and the Legendary Soul Man – Sam Moore have demonstrated their unwavering support of our nation’s military service members, veterans, and their families by creating awareness by leveraging their own celebrity profiles to engage the 99% of Americans who benefit from the service and sacrifice of our nation’s…

“Chef Irvine and Legendary Soul Man™ – Sam Moore’srespective passion combined with their steadfast commitment of engaging our civilian population is a true testament to Code of Support’s vision to bridge our nation’s civilian-military divide. We are thrilled to have Chef Irvine and Sam Moore join the distinguished ranks of Code of Support’s Advisory Board,” says Major General Alan B. Salisbury, USA, Ret., Chairman, and CEO of Code of Support Foundation

COSF Advisor Board Members include Medal of Honor Recipient COL Harvey (Barney) Barnum, Jr., USMC, Ret.; former 16th Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Gen Peter Pace, USMC, Ret.; former NFL quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins Sonny Jurgensen; and Men’s Basketball Head Coach for Duke University Mike (“Coach K”) Krzyzewski, among others.

“Anytime I get to contribute something meaningful to the lives of our men and women in uniform, it’s an honor that adds purpose and value to my own life. When you get to do so alongside great people, it makes it a true joy. I am thrilled to join Sam Moore and all the wonderful members of the Code of Support Advisory Board and I am ready to work to improve the lives of the best and bravest among us,” says Robert Irvine. 

“I am honored to be able to continue my support of those who serve and have served in our military by joining the Code of Support Foundation’s Advisory Board and to support COSF’s efforts by bringing greater awareness to the contributions made by our nation’s service members and veterans who’ve sacrificed so much to ensure our freedoms,” says Sam Moore – Legendary Soul ManTM.

Chef Irvine, a former member of the British Royal Navy, is a world-class chef and TV personality. In 2014, he founded the Robert Irvine Foundation to support veterans and veteran causes in need of assistance. The Foundation works to help those individuals and organizations that are committed to enriching the lives of military personnel (active, retired and veterans) and their families. A portion of proceeds from Robert Irvine Foods is given to the foundation in addition to public donations. Throughout the year, Chef Irvine can be found attending troop rallies held by the Gary Sinise Foundation as well as touring regularly with the USO. Maximizing his culinary skills, Chef Irvine visits with service members and their families while dishing up fine cuisine and providing cooking classes.

Chef Irvine has been honored with three distinguished recognitions for his dedication to the armed services and our country’s heroes including being selected by the Office of the Secretary of Defense as this year’s Spirit of Hope Award winner. The honor recognizes those who go above and beyond to provide aid to those who serve our country. Chef Irvine is also a designated U.S. Navy Honorary Chief Petty Officer and a recipient of the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment and Support of Our Service Members.

Legendary Soul Man™ – Sam Moore’s Grammy award-winning voice has been heard around the globe, across multiple music genres connecting audiences of all generations for more than 60 years.  Over the span of his critically acclaimed career, Moore’s music has been a universal and driving force to help bridge gaps among social divides. His recent artistic endeavor to bring greater awareness of the nation’s armed services and veterans has been met not only with rave reviews and standing ovations but has also re-engaged civilian audiences who have experienced an awe-inspiring sense of patriotism. Within the past year, Moore has performed exclusive renditions from his American Patriot album of iconic American classics for several veteran fundraisers including the Opening Ceremonies of the 2017 Warrior Games in Chicago, Johnny Vet: Freedom Isn’t Free in Washington, DC, and Guitar Lessons for Heroes in New York.

Moore is the recipient of numerous awards including the coveted NARAS Heroes Award, an AFTRA AMEE Lifetime Achievement Award, the ETAM Living Legend Award, Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, and a MOBO Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame for “Soul Man,” and in 2016 his star was permanently placed in the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.

About Code of Support Foundation 
Founded in 2011, Code of Support Foundation (COSF) is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides essential and critical one-on-one assistance to those service members, veterans and their families who have the most complex needs and are on the brink of crisis. COSF is dedicated to leveraging the nation’s full spectrum of resources to ensure all members of our military, veterans and their families receive the support services they need and, through their collective sacrifice, have earned. COSF’s integrated programs include personalized, holistic long-term case coordination services that serve all service eras across the nation. To learn more click here.

About Robert Irvine
With more than 25 years in the culinary profession, Chef Robert Irvine has cooked his way through Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas, in hotels and on the high seas. As the host of one of the Food Network’s highest-rated shows, Restaurant: Impossible, Irvine saved struggling restaurants across America by assessing and overhauling the restaurant’s weakest spots. Irvine was previously the host of Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible and Worst Cooks in America, has authored two cookbooks, Mission: Cook! and Impossible to Easy, and one healthy living book, Fit Fuel: A Chef’s Guide to Eating Well and Living Your Best Life. Irvine is currently on tour with his new, interactive live show Robert Irvine Live, and appears regularly as an expert guest on national morning and daytime talk shows. Irvine recently established the eponymously named non-profit organization, The Robert Irvine Foundation, in an effort to support military personnel and their families. For more information on Chef Robert Irvine click here.

About Sam Moore – The Legendary Soul Man™
The first 20-plus years of Sam Moore’s sensational career began by lending his unmistakable lead vocals to soul duo Sam & Dave. The 1967 smash hit “Soul Man,” catapulted the duo’s career up the Pop and R&B Charts, selling more than 10 million records worldwide and ultimately an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Moore also scored critical acclaim and numerous awards as a solo artist for more than 35 years, performing at some of the world’s most iconic and notable venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Hollywood Bowl, Ryman Auditorium, The Grand Old Opry, Royal Albert Hall, Nippon Budokan, The John F. Kennedy Center, The White House, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. Moore has recently joined Florida International University (FIU) as an Artist in Residence for their Center of Humanities to build a program around the artist histories that shaped our culture through music. For more information on The Legendary Soul Man™ – Sam Moore click here.

Variety Presents Inaugural Salute To Service Event

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Variety Salute to Service

Variety, the authoritative entertainment industry news source, presented their inaugural SALUTE TO SERVICE event, a celebration of the notable efforts and contributions by various individuals shining light on military services and related organizations.

The event was held at Cipriani 25 Broadway on Thursday, January 11th.  In partnership with National Geographic, Variety was thrilled to gather an intimate group of distinguished individuals who have been selected as honorees, as well additional service members, supporters and contributors as guests.

Through their courageous, humanitarian and philanthropic efforts, these individuals have supported our troops and veterans, some serving themselves, and have created significant differences in the lives of service members and their families. Variety’s Salute to Service honorees were featured in the issue on stands January 10th.

“As the leading entertainment voice in the industry we feel it is timely and important to honor the bravery and heroism of our military service members and those who have dedicated their time and efforts in supporting our troops and their families,” said Michelle Sobrino, Group Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer, Variety.  “Along with our PMC Vice Chairman and former Variety Publisher, Gerry Byrne, a United States Marine Corps Vietnam veteran who introduced the luncheon, we are proud to recognize this incredible group of people and are grateful for the dedication of those who continue to highlight the unwavering work of our armed forces protecting our great nation.”

The honorees included:

Founder and owner of Carolines on Broadway and founder of the New York Comedy Festival, Caroline Hirsch, who is also a co-founder of Stand Up for Heroes and a board member of The Bob Woodruff Foundation, both of which support injured service members, veterans and their families.

Author of New York Times Bestsellers “The Other Wes Moore” and “The Work”, CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, creator of monthly “Future City” Radio Series powered by Prudential on Baltimore’s NPR news station WYPR and Army Combat Veteran Wes Moore.

ABC News chief global affairs correspondent and co-anchor of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”, Martha Raddatz, who also wrote the book “The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family”, which was turned into a mini-series for National Geographic starring Kate Bosworth and Michael Kelly

Actor/Comedian and star in the upcoming Warner Brother’s war drama 12 Strong, Rob Riggle. Riggle is a retired United States Marine Corps Reserve officer and has worked with multiple veteran organizations.

Mikal Vega, is a retired Naval Special Warfare Operator who spent 22 years as a SEAL and is currently working as a technical director on NBC’s “The Brave”. He is Founder and CEO of the organization Vital Warrior.

“CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor hosted the exclusive luncheon, made up of approximately 150 invite-only guests, comprised of retired and active service members and their families, service contributors, entertainment and media insiders. The United States Marines Corps provided a Color Guard.  At the event, National Geographic showed exclusive footage from their upcoming eight-part documentary series “Chain of Command”, narrated by Chris Evans. The series premiered on Nat Geo on Monday, January 15th.

National Geographic has a rich and trusted legacy of covering stories of war and the impact on people dating back to World War I.  Looking at world events and the impact on people and culture is part of their DNA.  They like to say “Geography” is the study of people over places, and both “The Long Road Home” and “Chain of Command” continue that legacy by showcasing the people, the impact and the culture surrounding important world events.

About Variety
Variety remains the seminal voice of the entertainment industry for 111 years and counting.  Featuring award-winning breaking news reporting, insightful award-season coverage, must-read feature spotlights and intelligent analysis of the industry’s most prominent players, Variety is the trusted source for the business of global entertainment.

Read by a highly engaged audience of industry insiders, Variety’s multi-platform content coverage expands across digital, mobile, social, print and branded events and summits.

In 2015 Variety’s “Actors on Actors” on PBS was awarded the Emmy for best entertainment programming at the Television Academy’s 67th Los Angeles area Emmy Awards. “Actors on Actors,” which is an interview special that features pairings of prominent actors discussing their craft, was produced by PBS SoCal in partnership with Variety Media, LLC. Follow Variety on Facebook facebook.com/variety; Twitter, @variety; Instagram, @Variety; Pintrest and Snapchat. The Variety Group – Variety, Variety.com, Variety Insight, Indiewire, LA 411, NY 411 – is owned by Variety Media, LLC, a division of Penske Media Corporation.

About National Geographic Partners LLC
National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 128 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the non-profit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

About PMC
Penske Media Corporation (PMC) is a leading digital media and information services company whose award-winning content attracts a monthly audience of more than 180 million and empowers more than 1 million global CEOs and business thought-leaders in markets that impact the world. Our dynamic events, data services, and rich content entertain and educate today’s fashion, retail, beauty, entertainment and lifestyle sectors. Headquartered in New York and Los Angeles with additional offices in 11 countries worldwide, Penske Media is the way global influencers are informed, connected, and inspired. To learn more about PMC and its iconic brands, visit www.pmc.com.

 

SEAL-Tested, NASA-Approved—Harvard Medical School grad to depart residency for astronaut training

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Jonny Kim

By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer

Jonny Kim was in the grocery store when the call came: He would have to exchange his emergency room scrubs for a space suit.

“I was happy, jubilated, excited—all these emotions,” Kim said. “My wife was there. I told her and she was jumping up and down in the grocery store. So we looked silly. I was about to pay for the food.”

Kim, a 2016 Harvard Medical School (HMS) graduate, was one of a dozen candidates picked by NASA in June for its next astronaut class. A year into a four-year residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Kim will put his medical career on hold so he can learn to fly a plane, spacewalk, operate the International Space Station’s robotic arm, and master other skills NASA considers essential.

This isn’t the first time Kim has exchanged one high-pressure career for another. Before going on inactive reserve to pursue his medical training, he was a Navy SEAL with more than 100 combat missions under his belt. His military honors include a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.

“Why wouldn’t NASA want him?” said David Brown, head of MGH’s Department of Emergency Medicine and MGH Trustees Professor of Emergency Medicine at HMS. “We wanted him. Harvard Medical School wanted him. Everyone wanted him.”

Kim, 33, has come a long way from the shyness and small dreams of his Los Angeles youth. Buffeted by family instability and a difficult time at school, he didn’t see in himself the qualities he admired in others: the courage of the astronauts whose posters adorned his walls, the quiet professionalism and odds-defying determination of the Special Forces. As high school graduation neared, it seemed only a radical step could get him off the road to nowhere. So he enlisted in the Navy and asked to become a member of one of its elite SEAL teams. The recruiter could promise only the chance to try. For Kim that was enough.

“I didn’t like the person I was growing up to become,” he said. “I needed to find myself and my identity. And for me, getting out of my comfort zone, getting away from the people I grew up with, and finding adventure, that was my odyssey, and it was the best decision I ever made.”

SEAL training was just as tough as advertised, Kim said. He considered quitting during “hell week,” a five-day stretch of near continuous training in cold, wet conditions.

“They let us sleep for a couple of hours in nice sleeping bags, one of only two naps you get in five days of training,” Kim said. “And when you’re snuggled up in this warm sleeping bag and they wake you up and immediately make you go in the frigid ocean, it was the closest I ever came to quitting. I had that taste of comfort, and then it was taken away from you. The cold was magnified because your body’s so broken. When you’re exercising, you can push through the pain. When you’re cold, you’re just by yourself.”

Once past the initial phase, Kim had additional training that prepared him for service as a navigator, sniper, point man, and combat medic. Combat was inevitably very different from what he envisioned as a high school recruit, and Kim said he still feels a duty to close friends killed in fighting.

“I don’t watch a lot of war films and documentaries anymore,” he said. “Losing a lot of good friends galvanized me and made a lot of my remaining teammates make sure we made our lives worthwhile. I still, to this day, every day, think of all the good people who didn’t get a chance to come home. I try to make up for the lives and positive [impact] they would have had if they were alive.”

Kim traces his interest in becoming a doctor to a day in 2006 in Ramadi, Iraq, when he was serving as a medic and two close friends were shot. Both eventually died. Kim treated one in the field.

“He had a pretty grave wound to the face,” Kim said. “It was one of the worst feelings of helplessness. There wasn’t much I could do, just make sure his bleeding wasn’t obstructing his airway, making sure he was positioned well. He needed a surgeon. He needed a physician and I did eventually get him to one, but … that feeling of helplessness was very profound for me.”

The doctors and nurses who worked on his friend made a lasting impression on Kim. Three years later, in 2009, having joined a Navy program through which enlisted personnel can be commissioned as officers, he left for undergraduate studies at the University of San Diego, with the intention of ultimately going to medical school.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in math in three years—the Navy required full course loads during the academic year plus summer school—and then, in 2012, arrived at Harvard Medical School.

Among the people he met early in his HMS career was Assistant Professor of Neurobiology David Cardozo, associate dean for basic graduate studies, who served in the Royal Canadian Navy and acts as an informal mentor for veterans on campus. The Medical School’s community of veterans is small, numbering about 20 at any one time. Students with special operations backgrounds are even fewer. Though Kim was one of the School’s most decorated veterans, Cardozo was struck by how modest he was.

“He’s the steadiest person you could imagine,” Cardozo said. “He’s very gifted and he has a depth of character that’s unequaled. He did wonderfully here.”

During his third year at HMS, Kim entered a mentoring program and met Brown, who heads the hospital’s Emergency Department. After graduating, Kim decided to specialize in emergency medicine and joined the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency, a cooperative program between MGH and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Kim wasn’t expecting to go to astronaut school—not yet, at least. He joined more than 18,000 other applicants for the NASA class—recruited every four years—as a first step, hoping to improve his chances in the next selection process, once his medical training was complete.

“So we were all surprised and thrilled when he was selected, but not really all that surprised,” Brown said. “He’s just a remarkable young man … incredibly committed, absolutely unafraid.”

Kim said he’s ready for whatever NASA asks. Due in Houston in late August, he recently left the residency program to prepare for the move with his wife and children.

“I’m going to be a student at the bottom of another totem pole trying to learn as much information as possible,” he said. “I’m excited for the adventure. I think it’ll be another occupation where I say, ‘I can’t believe I’m getting paid for doing this.’”

Photo credit: Rose Lincoln/Harvard University

 

‘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/

Rutgers Graduate Student Pens Memoir of Marine Service in Afghanistan

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Mark A. Bodrog

By Tom McLaughlin

The words read like something out of a well-crafted action thriller. But make no mistake, for 1st Lt. Mark A. Bodrog, the images are still real, the memories still fresh.

“As if the gates of hell had opened up, my Marines and Afghan soldiers started to pick up their rates of fire, sending hundreds of machine gun rounds down range at the enemy compounds,” writes Bodrog in his gripping new memoir, Second Platoon: Call Sign Hades: A Memoir of the Marines of the Combined Action Company. “They opened up with a barrage of 40mm grenades from their grenade launchers and rocked even more compounds with their Light Anti-Tank Weapon rockets.”

A former first lieutenant and infantry officer in the U.S. Marines, the Rutgers–Camden alumnus and graduate student looks back at the critical role his unit played supporting Operation Enduring Freedom 10.1, in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in his new book published by iUniverse.

Bodrog’s platoon of Marines and sailors was one of two selected by his battalion to integrate fully with the Afghanistan National Army Soldiers, in order to create a combined action company (CAC) capable of conducting counterinsurgency operations throughout their area of operations and adjacent battle spaces. As he recalls, the two platoons of U.S. Marines lived in a camp side by side with two platoons of Afghan soldiers in a one-to-one ratio.

“We did everything together, including eating, shaving, sleeping, fighting, and even taking classes together,” recalls Bodrog. “We became one fighting force against the Taliban.”

Bodrog’s platoon would carry out a variety of missions, including combat engagements and rescue situations, during the formation of the CAC. He felt that it was his duty and obligation to document the accounts of his men and these missions in order for the general public – along with the families of these Marines – to understand what life was like for these young servicemen in Afghanistan.

As he recalls, much of what he saw reported in the media did not match the reality on the ground, and typically focused on negative aspects of the war, rather than the selfless acts of heroism that he saw on a daily basis.

“My Marines embodied the American dream; they were the hardworking guys that you never read about,” says Bodrog, a longtime resident of Mount Laurel who now resides in Camden. “As a platoon commander, it was my honor, duty, and privilege to write this memoir for my men. They are heroes in every aspect, and their stories should never be forgotten.”

Bodrog is quick to point out that the memoir not only immortalizes his men, but the bold few who, in the wake of 9/11, fought to preserve America and the American way of life, and asked for nothing in return.

MArk A. Bobrog-Afganistan

“The war in Afghanistan is considered to be America’s longest and least talked-about war,” shares Bodrog. “Less than one percent of America’s population answered our country’s call after 9/11 and even fewer made the life choice to become United States Marines.”

Bodrog adds that the memoir also has practical applications for the future of combined action companies. He explains that the counterinsurgency strategy was “designed to win the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people. Combined action programs had been earlier implemented by the Marines during the Vietnam War, which consisted of embedding Marines with local Vietnamese citizens. However, Bodrog says, his battalion took the tactic to the next level by creating a combined company of marines, sailors and Afghan soldiers. He maintains that the U.S. military can now benefit from the stories, training techniques and lessons learned during his battalion’s partnership with the Afghans.

“It was very frustrating, there was a lot of mistrust, and we went through a lot of friction, which I detail in the memoir,” he says. “It was a lot of trial and error, but we learned what worked and what didn’t. If we are ever in that counterinsurgency position again, it might help to save lives.”

Mark A. Bodrog
Mark A. Bodrog

Bodrog earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Rutgers–Camden in 2007. A year later, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in Quantico, Va. He has held the billets of platoon commander, weapons platoon commander, assistant operations officer, executive officer and company commander. He served two combat deployments to the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom 10.1 and 11.2.

His personal awards include a Letter of Appreciation, a Certificate of Commendation, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation, two Afghanistan Campaign Medals, and the National Defense Service Medal.