Breakthrough Therapy for PTSD

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Army man sitting

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have hailed methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) a breakthrough treatment for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MDMA, also known as ecstasy, is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception.

After years of research, the medical uses of MDMA have officially been recognized by the U.S. government, with the FDA granting therapists the right to treat PTSD patients with the drug.

Forbes.com reports: MAPS, which has been championing and fundraising for MDMA research for roughly 30 years, explained in a press release that the FDA’s granting of a Breakthrough Therapy Designation indicates the agency “has agreed that this treatment may have a meaningful advantage and greater compliance over available medications for PTSD.” It also designates the agency’s intent to help develop and review the treatment faster than other candidate therapies.

According to MAPS, the nonprofit organization has reached an agreement with the FDA under the Special Protocol Assessment Process for the design of two Phase 3 trials for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for patients with severe PTSD in the near future.

“Reaching agreement with [the] FDA on the design of our Phase 3PTSD Therapyprogram and having the ability to work closely with the agency has been a major priority for our team,” said Amy Emerson, executive director of the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, in a release. “Our Phase 2 data was extremely promising with a large effect size, and we are ready to move forward quickly. With breakthrough designation, we can now move even more efficiently through the development process in collaboration with the FDA to complete Phase 3.”

The drug’s ability to help people with PTSD cope with the lingering effects of trauma is attributed in large part to its capacity to produce feelings of euphoria, empathy, and heightened emotional and physical sensations – in other words, perhaps, giving sorely stressed brains the kind of neurochemical getaway that begets a little peace of mind. Those effects also seem to motivate recreational users, but unlike the self-dosed Saturday night version, official MDMA-assisted psychotherapy involves three administrations of the drug combined with established psychotherapeutic techniques.

Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of MAPS, commented in a statement, “For the first time ever, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy will be evaluated in Phase 3 trials for possible prescription use, with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD leading the way. Now that we have agreement with FDA, we are ready to start negotiations with the European Medicines Agency.”

In Phase 2 trials completed by MAPS, 61 percent of the 107 participants no longer qualified for PTSD two months after they underwent three sessions of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, according to the group. After a year, that number grew to 68 percent, and among participants who had all suffered from chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD, on average for 17.8 years.

The randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 3 trials will assess the efficacy and safety of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in a group of 200 to 300 participants with PTSD aged 18+ at sites in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. As Science reported, the trials could begin as soon as next spring and wrap up by 2021 if MAPS is able to find the estimated $25 million needed to conduct them.

As Science reflected, “That an illegal dancefloor drug could become a promising pharmaceutical is another indication that the efforts of a dedicated group of researchers interested in the medicinal properties of mind-altering drugs is paying dividends.”

David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London, told Science, “This is not a big scientific step. It’s been obvious for 40 years that these drugs are medicines. But it’s a huge step in acceptance.”

Source: maps.org

America’s Warrior Partnership Expands Veteran Suicide Prevention Study to Seven New Communities

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— Operation Deep Dive to be conducted in Cincinnati; Syracuse, N.Y.; Mobile, Ala.; Houston; Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis; and Las Vegas —

America’s Warrior Partnership today announced the addition of seven nonprofit organizations and city government groups that will participate in Operation Deep Dive, a community-based veteran suicide prevention study led by America’s Warrior Partnership and University of Alabama researchers with support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

The seven new study participants are the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance (based in Cincinnati); Clear Path for Veterans (based in Syracuse, N.Y.); Veteran Recovery Resources (based in Mobile, Ala.); Combined Arms (based in Houston); Veterans Bridge Home (based in Charlotte, N.C.); the city government of Indianapolis; and the city government of Las Vegas.

“Since launching Operation Deep Dive a year ago, we have received a tremendous response from within the original communities where the study is currently being conducted,” said Jim Lorraine, president and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership. “Suicide prevention is a critical public health issue, so we greatly appreciate the support of our partners in expanding the scope of this project. We welcome the expertise of these seven new community groups, and we look forward to working together in guiding the development of more effective outreach and prevention programs nationwide.”

Each of the participating organizations will lead the creation of a Community Action Team, which will consist of local medical examiners, coroners, veteran-serving organizations, civic leaders, veterans and their families and caregivers. These Community Action Teams will work with University of Alabama researchers to shape, review and direct the project within their region.

“This project’s unique approach of building local teams to work with national researchers promises to provide new insights into the community factors that affect veterans and their families,” said John Damonti, President of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “Expanding Operation Deep Dive to these seven new communities will ensure the project’s results are as comprehensive as possible.”

Operation Deep Dive is the first research endeavor to assess the effects that community environments have on the potential factors of suicides among veterans. Conducted in two phases, the first phase included a five-year retrospective investigation of the impact of less-than-honorable discharges on veterans, 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).

During the second phase of the study, researchers will analyze information gathered by the Community Action Teams along with data from national sources, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and United Way Worldwide to identify trends, patterns and potential indicators of suicide. Results will ultimately guide the development of proactive, holistic prevention and outreach programs to reduce suicide and self-harm among veterans.

In addition to these seven new communities, Operation Deep Dive is currently being conducted in Atlanta; Orange County, Calif.; Buffalo, N.Y; Minneapolis, Minn.; the Panhandle region of Florida; and Greenville and Charleston, S.C.

For more information on Operation Deep Dive, visit AmericasWarriorPartnership.org/Deep-Dive.

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 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.

Helping Veterans Cope with PTSD during holidays

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army-man-sitting

The winter holiday season is regarded by many as a wonderful time of the year. However, the holidays can be a painful reminder of past times when life seemed better. Large groups of family and friends are often part of the holiday festivities, but this and other things may be stressful for someone with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Groups may tire a person out or make him or her feel overwhelmed. People may feel pressure to join family activities when they’re not up for it, or believe they must act happy when they’re not. People with PTSD may already find it difficult to get enough sleep or to relax and these added pressures can worsen those symptoms.

Someone with PTSD may be very sensitive to losses around the holiday.  Veterans and military families, in particular, tend to remember at the holidays those who did not make it home from war.  They may not know how to celebrate the holidays knowing those fallen heroes are no longer present.  There may also be recent losses: the death of a loved one, an emotional divorce, or separation from one’s children.  All of these circumstances may cause someone to feel melancholy about memories of holidays past.

Family and friends might ask the Veteran questions about his or her life or about PTSD. The person with PTSD may not feel comfortable answering these questions, but it is important that he or she keep in mind that their family may feel some of the same pressures, and may only be asking because they have a genuine concern for their wellbeing.

The holiday gathering may also be one of the few times family or friends are able to physically see the person with PTSD, and they may feel it is more appropriate they ask such questions in person rather than over the phone or online because they may think that is too impersonal. In either case, the person with PTSD has the power and right to not answer any questions.

Responding to sensitive questions

A polite way of handling these types of situations is by taking a few slow, deep breaths and calmly responding to someone, “I think it is nice of you to show you care by asking, but I’d rather not talk about that right now,” or “thanks for your concern, but I’m not comfortable answering questions about that.”  Then take the opportunity to redirect the conversation.  Ask that family member about work, their children, or their favorite sports team, and steer the conversation to safer ground.

Both people with and without PTSD can cope with holiday stress by following these tips:

  • Talk with your family about how you feel. Your family can help you. This does not mean you have to tell them everything, but let them know you’re feeling stressed.
  • Be honest about your stress level and let your friends and family know your plans ahead of time, especially if you are planning to take some time during the season to relax and de-stress by spending time away from home, work or people that bring stress into your life.
  • Set limits. Don’t join activities for longer than you can handle. You can choose when you want to be a part of the group.
  • Take breaks. Go for walks, or set aside a place where you can be alone for a while. This can keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Get plenty of rest. You may already have difficulty sleeping, but do your best to maintain your usual bedtime or wake-up. Naps should be taken sparingly, as they may further disrupt your nighttime sleeping patterns.
  • Keep up with exercise routines. If you normally do yoga, go jogging, or lift weights, try to keep up those healthy routines.  These activities are all healthy ways to relieve stress.
  • Fake it ‘til you make it. Sometimes people who are feeling depressed find that if they go through the motions, they just might catch themselves having fun.  While the pain from the past hasn’t gone away, this is a chance to begin making new positive memories one step at a time.

One of the best tips to remember when coping with holiday stress is not drinking too much alcohol. Many people have a few drinks, thinking it will relax them, but instead, alcohol causes many people to have less control over their emotions and behavior.  As a result, your symptoms may be worse or you may end up having problems with your family. For those who are in recovery from alcohol, the suggestion from family or friends to “have just one” can be a big challenge. Carrying a glass of ginger ale or cola with you can help sidestep those offers without you having to share your personal matters with everyone.

Continue on to the VA to read the complete article.

The John And Daria Barry Foundation Donates $2.5 Million To The Prostate Cancer Foundation To Establish A New Precision Oncology Center Of Excellence To Serve U.S. Veterans In New York

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Barry Foundation ceremony

The VALOR Ceremony honored hundreds of thousands of courageous U.S. veterans battling prostate cancer during National Veterans and Military Families Month in November.

Helping to advance revolutionary research in prostate cancer and delivery of precision treatments to U.S. Veterans, the John and Daria Barry Foundation has generously donated $2.5 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) to establish the John and Daria Barry Precision Oncology Center of Excellence at the Manhattan VA. John and Daria Barry acceped a special award on behalf of the Barry Foundation for their groundbreaking philanthropy.

The John and Daria Barry Precision Oncology Center of Excellence will serve as a precision oncology hub in the PCF’s preeminent network of centers working to fulfill the ambitious mission of improving the care of U.S. Veterans with prostate cancer in the New York metropolitan area and beyond. The PCF has committed to funding a series of precision medicine teams at leading VA medical centers and universities across the country.

The Barry family accepting award
The Barry family accepting award at the ceremony.

The John and Daria Barry Foundation’s gift will serve the nation’s heroes by delivering first-in-class prostate cancer care to U.S. veterans and will pave the way for transformational research that will have a far lasting impact on generations to come. One out of every nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among Veterans, accounting for a third of all male cancer cases.  African-American men, who represent the largest population group within the VA are 73% more likely to develop prostate cancer and are 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease than any other ethnicity. To date, little is known about the biological reasons for the alarming disparities. For more information, visit PCF.org.

Taya Kyle, Widow of Late U.S. Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, Announced as Keynote Speaker for Upcoming Brave B.A.S.H.

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Taya Kyle Keynote Speaker

TAMPA–ART International recently announced that Taya Kyle, widow of late United States Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, commonly known as the “American Sniper” after the title of his New York Times bestselling memoir of the same title, will be the keynote speaker at the organization’s upcoming Brave B.A.S.H. (Building Advocates for Successful Healing) gala.

The organization also announced an all-star musical lineup featuring country artists LOCASH, Billy Dean, Tim Rushlow, Monty Powell, along with jazz artist Anna Wilson. Sawyer Fredericks, winner of “The Voice,” will perform a private concert at an after-party in Ybor City. The Golf Channel’s Lauren Thompson will be emceeing the main event.

The Tampa event, scheduled for Friday, October 19th at The Gathering at Armature Works, is a fundraiser to support the work of ART International, a nonprofit formed by restauranteur and entrepreneur Chris T. Sullivan, with a mission of expanding the reach of Accelerated Resolution Therapy, or ART, and making it more widely accessible to individuals suffering from mental health issues.

Ms. Kyle published a New York Times bestselling memoir, American Wife, after her husband’s book was made into an Academy Award-winning film directed by Clint Eastwood starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. With humor and vulnerability, Kyle recounts the tremendous highs and lows in her unpredictable life as the wife and now widow of an American hero. She continues to be a contributor on television networks, is a passionate author with new books coming out later this year and next year, and is a public speaker inspiring others to find light in the midst of darkness.

Following the murder of her husband, Chris Kyle, Ms. Kyle founded the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation (CKFF) where she volunteers her time as executive director. The foundation continues Chris Kyle’s legacy of honoring God, country and family. With a team of people behind the mission and donations coming in from across the globe, CKFF is helping first responder and military families not only survive their life of service, but thrive.

ART is an evidenced-based psychotherapy that has demonstrated proven results in treating individuals with post-traumatic stress (PTSD). This treatment provides effective relief from strong physical and emotional reactions associated with PTSD in as few as one to five sessions, with the average being four sessions.

“What motivated me to get involved in connecting more patients and therapists to ART are the staggering number of military, active and retired, deeply and perhaps permanently damaged by PTSD; and the published data that speaks to the effectiveness of ART,” said Chris T. Sullivan, chairman of ART International. “One in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is diagnosed with PTSD. Brave B.A.S.H. will look to inspire attendees to support our mission of helping those who have protected us. I’m thrilled that Taya Kyle, along with our musical acts, have joined in to be a part of this special evening.”

ART International is excited to create a memorable experience for their guests at the inaugural Brave B.A.S.H. A VIP reception for sponsors and patrons begins at 6:00 p.m. The gala and music jam, which will be emceed by Lauren Thompson, begins at 7:00 p.m. Guests will experience an electric musical evening featuring performances by award-winning artists LOCASH, Billy Dean, Tim Rushlow, Monty Powell and Anna Wilson during this one-of-a-kind music jam. The after-party, set for 11:00 p.m. at The Attic – Rock Brothers Brewing in Ybor City, will include a private concert by Sawyer Fredericks, winner of “The Voice”.

To purchase a sponsorship or tickets to Brave B.A.S.H or for more information on ART International, please visit artherapyinternational.org or call (813) 435-1374.

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About ART International Training and Research

ART International Training and Research Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was created and is supported by the Chris T. Sullivan Foundation and private funding sources. ART International offers training in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) to licensed mental health clinicians to increase access of treatment worldwide; provides financial support of the most current, effective and innovative clinical research related to ART; and develops financial assistance opportunities for those in need of the therapy.

ART has been successful in treating individuals with post-traumatic stress (PTSD) by reprograming distressing memories and negative images that are stored in the brain so that they no longer trigger strong physical and emotional reactions — and establish a positive change for adverse psychological conditions. For more information, visit artherapyinternational.org.

Larry Broughton: Warrior in the Boardroom—Meditation for Beginners

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Larry Broughton

You may think meditation is just for crossed legged gurus or new-age followers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone (and everyone) can meditate, and derive its many mental, physical, and spiritual health benefits.

Mediation has been practiced for thousands of years, and has become a vital part of the lives of many professional athletes, CEOs, hardened military veterans, and parents alike because of its many benefits. During meditation, you develop intentional focus—minimizing random thoughts about the past or future. Meditation can help with concentration, relaxation, inner peace, stress reduction and fatigue. Because it may also help reduce blood pressure, relieve anxiety, depression, pain and insomnia, many current service members and transitioning veterans are finding mediation to be a valuable tool to combat the rigors of everyday life, in and out of uniform.

Meditation is a combination of focus and relaxation (not strictly one or the other). Those who practice the art of meditation say they come away with a greater level of concentration, awareness, positivity, and restful nature throughout the day. The more you practice mediation, the quicker you can tap into that feeling of bliss … and the more likely you’ll find peace throughout your busy day.

There’s no need to go to a yoga center or seek out a teacher. You just need a quiet place in your home, or maybe even your office with the door closed. There are many ways to meditate, but the simplest approach is often the best, and that means taking away the negative thoughts that intrude on a positive attitude, and replacing the negative with the positive. The goal is to achieve calmness and focus, and with consistent practice, it will happen.

An overwhelming number of leaders and high-achievers suffer from stress, and meditation is a good way to reduce it. Stress interferes with concentration and actually makes you sick, but meditation is the perfect way to cope with it. When we clear the clutter of stress from our mind, we’re able to focus more and be calm.

You don’t have to have total silence during your period of meditation, and it doesn’t have to be a long time. Ten or 15 minutes will do, but go as long as practical and makes you feel good (six minutes works for me each day as part of my morning routine). If you’ve never meditated before, start with two minutes, and work your way up in 30- or 60-second increments each day. Some folks have never tried to silence their mind or thoughts in the past, and may find this “exercise” to be uncomfortable or difficult at first. But, like anything new, give it a chance, and stick to it for 30 days … I promise you’ll find it well worth your time and effort.

Your level of silence is up to you. Some prefer to shut out all audible and visible stimuli. Some like to have soothing music in the background. Some like to be in total darkness, while others like to sit near a sunlit window. And, yes, one or two scented candles could be used.

No need to worry about twisting your body into a pretzel during meditation. Find a position that’s comfortable for you. The goal isn’t discomfort. It’s peace of mind. But not sleep. If you find yourself drifting off to sleep, realize that this isn’t meditation, nor the goal. A good posture helps, whether standing or sitting. It aids in breathing.

Clothes should be loose and comfortable to aid in circulation.

Where does the mantra, or humming come in? Repeating the one-syllable words like “Om” or “hummm” helps clear your mind and focus your thoughts on the meditation itself. It’s hard to think of other distractions when you’re concentrating on repeating your mantra.

“Om” is said to represent the one-ness of all creation, including the heavens, earth and underworld.

If you want to take a class with others, you can; but if you’re the self-starter type, you can find many guided mediations on YouTube that fit your style and level of comfort.

What’s been your experience with mediation? Are you up to a 30-day mediation challenge? Let me know about your experience.

Yes I Can—Program and Book Discovered by a Veteran, for Veterans

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Ray Simmons' Yes I Can Book

Yes I Can’s Guide to Better Living for Veterans

My name is Ray Simmons, and I am the President and Founder of Yes I Can, a non- profit organization. I wrote the book “A Guide to Better Living for Veterans” hoping it will transform the lives of Veterans in a positive way.

It was Joe Gallant, a Vietnam Veteran that inspired me to write this guide. He shared some stories with me about how many Veterans return home after fighting for our country, feeling unappreciated for all the sacrifices they’ve made for this country. Not to mention, our Veterans are committing suicide at such a high rate. This guide touches on several different subjects such as; Negative Attitude, Positive Attitude, Self Esteem, Motivation, Goals, Persistence, Patience, Procrastination, Art of Listening, and Communication. We included these subjects in our guide hoping it will change the psyche of our Veterans; generate values that are practical, meaningful and supportive of a healthy, vital lifestyle.

My goal is to make sure that every Veteran receives a Guide for Better Living as a gift from us, the Citizens of America whose freedom they fought to protect. I’m asking you to please help me put a guide in each Veterans hand. You can help a Veteran that you know by purchasing a Guide for him or her. If you don’t happen to know a Veteran you can still donate a guide to one. Did you know that there are 892,221 veterans in New York State? If each one of our Veterans were afforded the chance to receive a guide, it will be a life changing experience for a low cost of $9.99!

If you would like to learn more about Yes I Can or purchase a guide, you can visit our website at YesICanvets.com or if you would like to assist us in anyway to fulfill our goals in providing a guide to our Veterans, feel free to call our offices toll free number 1-888-612-3893 or 914-497-5509. All donations are tax deductible!!!!!

Thank you for giving me the wonderful opportunity to share a few valuable lessons that I have learned in my lifetime. The main purpose of this book is to help our Veterans change their perspective from negative to positive. I also want to heighten there self –esteem. For example, if it is low, this guide will give them the motivation that is necessary to reach any goal in life!

-Ray Simmons, Author of Yes I Can: A Guide to Better Living For Veterans.

In addition to our guide for better living, we offer a 8-week life changing program:

About the Program:
Purpose of Program: The purpose of the program is to bring a successful mind set to our CAN DO format. We will generate values that are practical, meaningful and supportive of a healthy, vital lifestyle for our participants.

Duration of Program: The program is delivered through workshops twice a week for one hour a day over the course of eight weeks.

Purpose of Subjects: The workshop is made up of ten subjects that will change the psyche of our Veterans. Below is a brief synopsis of each subject’s purpose.

The first subject is Negative Attitude. The goal of this subject is for participants to identify where negativity comes from. Throughout the workshop, we point out how negativity is habit forming, just like drugs, alcohol, and food. In addition, we show how negativity can affect your health, even shorten your life. As a result, it will help our participants rid negative habit(s), if they possess one.

The second subject is Positive Attitude. This subject points out the benefits of having a positive attitude.  Throughout the workshop, we show the participants how having a positive attitude can keep them healthy, help them to live longer, as well as prevent diseases.

The third subject is Self Esteem.  Throughout the workshop the participants will gain an understanding that having a high positive self -esteem is extremely essential for a happy and fulfilling life and they are what they think they are. This subject will help them to think highly of themselves. As a result, the participants will have high positive selves esteem and love to appreciate themselves. Also, realize how special they are.

The fourth subject is Motivation. This subject will help the participants identify what motivates their thoughts and actions. They will understand that their thoughts and actions create their realities. As a result, they will be aware of what motivates them so their realities will be what they desire them to be.

The fifth subject is Goals. This subject teaches the participants how to set goals and fulfill their goals in life.  They will learn that life means to have purpose and goals. On the contrary, death means to do nothing and go nowhere. As a result, this subject will motivate the participants to soar to heights that they didn’t know they could reach.

The sixth subject is Persistence. This subject teaches the participants how to continue to pursue goals when faced with opposition. They will learn how to endure the storm of disappointments no matter how many times the door of rejection closes. As a result, they will know that a winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.

The seventh subject is Patience. This subject teaches the participants how to calmly tolerate delay. They will start to realize anything worth having is worth waiting for. As a result, they will become wise enough to know that there is a time for everything and you can get where you need to be if you just be patient.

The eighth subject is Procrastination. This subject teaches the participants the value of getting the job done today and not waiting for tomorrow. The goal is to help the participants realize that every minute that passes, is a minute that they’ve missed an opportunity. In addition, they are taught how to manage their time so that they will learn to appreciate time and its value.

The ninth subject is the Art of Listening. This subject teaches the participants how to be an empathetic listener. Throughout this workshop, they will learn the art of listening to understand, opposed to listening to reply. In addition, we point out how important it is for someone to know that you truly understand his or her problem. As a result, the participants will listen to understand.

The tenth subject is Communication. This subject teaches the participants that communication is the most important skill in life. They will learn how to read body language because sixty percent of a message is told by the body not the words.

Get the details about the program and order your copy of the book today at yesicanvets.com

PTSD at Work: How Managers Can Help

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Woman with PTSD

By Jordan Brewer, Talent Acquisition Manager and Veteran Liaison at Aveanna Healthcare

Every workplace has its own stressors—from deadlines to workload and everything in between. But when you combine the stress of the daily grind with the chronic anxiety of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a simple “day at the office” can seem like anything but.

Such is the struggle faced by the millions of veterans with PTSD. As they transition into civilian life—a world of résumés, interviews and deadlines—they’re still shouldering the anxiety of their worst, most grueling days in service. How can we help them?

For starters, we have to meet them where they are: As a recruiter at Aveanna Healthcare, a pediatric home care company that made it its mission to hire veterans (and as a five-year Navy vet myself), I’ve learned that PTSD comes in all shapes and sizes. Not every service member has it, and of those who do, not everyone expresses it the same way.

For example, PTSD can range from an occasional forgetfulness to something more intense, like anger, and it affects those who saw combat along with those who didn’t. Some people experience it for a short while after service, while others have the anxiety follow them for years to come. And not everybody who has it knows they do.

But regardless of the traits and duration of an employee’s PTSD, there are a few things every manager and co-worker can do to help:

  1. Learn to spot the signs. I always tell people that PTSD isn’t what you see in the movies. There may not be some huge outburst or war flashback. Sometimes, the signs may be subtler, like if someone forgets little things or has trouble concentrating. Another indicator might be if they interact with colleagues differently—being more terse or withdrawn in a gradual or sudden fashion.
  2. Communicate. Employees may just need someone to listen—or they may not. But never let someone struggle in silence without at least asking if you can help. However, you also have to know when to walk away. Everyone manages stress differently, and like war, some battles just take time to work through.
  3. Embrace flexibility. I’ve seen veterans do best when their managers accommodate their needs in creative and flexible ways, as opposed to asking everyone to meet some uniform policy. Rearrange their schedule so they can miss the anxiety-ridden morning traffic jam, allow them to take frequent breaks during the day to recharge, or give the option to telecommute once a week. Ask them what works best for them, and go from there.
  4. Consider workspace design. See if you can change anything about the employee’s physical workspace to meet their needs. For example, if they feel anxious when startled, place their desk facing the door so that they can see as people approach, rather than being surprised from behind. If crowds or noise trigger them, consider placing them in a quiet spot instead of areas with high foot traffic, like near the elevators or break room.
  5. Engage and train HR. At Aveanna, we hire for about 180 locations—but as a recruiter, my job isn’t just to fill one opening and then move on to the next one. Rather, recruiters should be involved at every step of that person’s employment over the long haul. As challenges arise that could be attributed to PTSD, such as employee-to-employee conflict or performance issues, it’s important to have a human resource staff trained to help job candidates through the process with compassion and understanding.
  6. Create a resource list. When I tell veterans about the multitude of free resources they have available to them from nonprofits, licensed therapists and other local groups, they’re amazed. That’s why it’s integral to build up a resource list and a strong referral base to send employees when they need help.

No two veterans are the same—so PTSD will never be a one-size-fits-all issue. But with a little compassion and genuine flexibility, we can help veterans feel included, welcome and heard in the workplace.

Paws of War to Take Therapy Dogs to Nursing Home

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Therapy Dog

Dogs can often brighten the day of anyone, providing them with companionship, laughs, and giving them a reason to smile. The senior residents at the Dominican Village Assisted Living Community, located at 565 Albany Avenue in Amityville, New York, will be all smiles on June 15, 2018 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. That’s because the Paws of War organization will be stopping by with seven therapy dogs to visit with the residents, many of whom are veterans and retired police officers.

“This is going to be a real treat for the residents of Dominican Village,” says Joanne Contegiacomo, director of the dog therapy program at Paws of War. “Many of these heroes we will be visiting are humble, yet have saved many lives. We want them to know their courage and valor has not been forgotten.”

Paws of War is an organization that focuses on serving veterans, law enforcement, and first responders. Some of the seniors that the therapy dogs visit are suffering from such conditions as dementia, while others are in good health. Numerous of the veterans that will be visited have been awarded Purple Hearts. Everyone typically gets something beneficial from the time they spend with the dogs. Paws of War is also partnering with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) New York lodge 911 to provide this beneficial service to the assisted living community. The FOP will also have therapy dogs at the event.

Therapy DogThe purpose of the visits is to provide the residents with an opportunity to connect with the dogs, have their spirits lifted, and to benefit from the calming, soothing nature that they bring with them. According to the National Institutes of Health, interacting with animals has been shown to decrease stress-related hormones and lower blood pressure. Other studies have shown that interactions help to reduce loneliness, boost your mood, and provide feelings of social support.

“Being able to take our dogs there to spend an hour is exciting,” added Joanne Contegiacomo, director of the dog therapy program at Paws of War. “It’s our mission to help and give back when and where we can, and we know this is going to help lift some spirits.”

Paws of War is an non profit organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, and provides service and service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD. To learn more about Paws of War or make a donation to support their efforts, visit their site at:pawsofwar.org

Therapy DogAbout Paws of War
Paws of War is a 501c3 organization devoted to helping both animals and veterans. The Paws of War goal is to train and place shelter dogs to serve and provide independence to our United States military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war such as PTSD. In turn each veteran can experience the therapeutic and unconditional love only a companion animal can bring. To learn more about Paws of War, visit the site at pawsofwar.org

Iraq War Veteran Awarded Brand New Vehicle Through TrueCar DrivenToDrive Program

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U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Goodrich

TrueCar and AutoNation today donated a 2018 Honda Ridgeline to Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Goodrich at a special event held at the AutoNation Honda Dulles in Sterling, VA.

The vehicle donation marked the second year of the DrivenToDrive program, a partner program between TrueCar and DAV (Disabled American Veterans). DrivenToDrive was created to help injured veterans regain the freedom they’ve fought and sacrificed so much for, by helping them get back behind the wheel of vehicles retrofitted for their needs.

Father of two kids, Goodrich suffered traumatic brain and leg injuries in combat while serving the country during deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The injured leg is confined to a brace which prevents Goodrich from driving or sitting in a compact vehicle for more than 20 minutes at a time due to discomfort and pain.

“After my time in the service, my wife and I decided to dedicate our lives to helping other veterans rehabilitate and recover through art therapy,” said Sgt. Goodrich. “I would not be able to reach and help as many people without the help of this new vehicle.”

Goodrich’s military-themed art has garnered national acclaim, with his work having been exhibited at the National Museum of Health and Medicine and appearing in a number of national publications.

“AutoNation is honored to join with TrueCar in recognizing Sgt. Michael Goodrich and his family for their service and presenting them a brand new Honda Ridgeline,” said Marc Cannon, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for AutoNation.

In addition to Goodrich and his family, the event was attended by AutoNation CMO Marc Cannon, Assistant Executive Director of DAV National Service and Legislative Headquarters Randy Reese, and TrueCar CEO Chip Perry.

For more information about DrivenToDrive and its mission, please visit truecar.com/driventodrive.

About TrueCar
TrueCar, Inc. (NASDAQ: TRUE) is a digital automotive marketplace that provides comprehensive pricing transparency about what other people paid for their cars and enables consumers to engage with TrueCar Certified Dealers who are committed to providing a superior purchase experience. TrueCar operates its own branded site and its nationwide network of more than 15,000 Certified Dealers also powers car-buying programs for some of the largest U.S. membership and service organizations, including USAA, AARP, American Express, AAA and Sam’s Club. Over one half of all new car buyers engage with the TrueCar network during their purchasing process. TrueCar is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, with offices in San Francisco and Austin, Texas. For more information, go to truecar.com. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

About DAV
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with more than one million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at dav.org.

About AutoNation, Inc.
AutoNation, America’s largest automotive retailer, through its bold leadership, innovation and its comprehensive brand extensions, is transforming the automotive industry. As of March 31, 2018, AutoNation owned and operated over 325 locations from coast to coast. AutoNation has sold over 11 million vehicles, the first automotive retailer to reach this milestone. AutoNation’s success is driven by a commitment to delivering a peerless experience through customer-focused sales and service processes. Through its Drive Pink initiative, AutoNation is committed to drive out cancer, create awareness and support critical research. AutoNation continues to be a proud supporter of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and other cancer-related charities.

Please visit investors. autonation.com, autonation.com, autonationdrive.com, twitter.com/autonation, twitter.com/CEOMikeJackson, facebook.com/autonation, and facebook.com/CEOMikeJackson, where AutoNation discloses additional information about the Company, its business, and its results of operations.

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Managing Your Emotions When Your Spouse is Deployed

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Having your spouse deployed can bring up a wide range of emotions, starting from when you first learn about the deployment and continuing until after your spouse has returned home. You may experience fear, anger, loneliness, joy, relief, and anticipation. Follow these tips to help you cope with your spouse’s deployment.

Before the deployment

As departure day nears, some spouses begin to feel:

  • Confused, stressed, resentful, or depressed
  • Detached or withdrawn as their service member invests more time and commitment in the mission
  • Hopeless and impatient
  • Emotionally and physically distant

To help keep things positive and loving with your spouse during the pre-deployment period, it’s important to:

  • Keep the lines of communication open. Talk about your feelings and discuss what you expect from each other during the deployment, including how you’ll communicate.
  • Create opportunities for lasting memories during the separation. Spend time together in a relaxed atmosphere to create memories that will sustain you during the deployment.
  • Get to know other military spouses who are going through the same experience. Get involved with family readiness activities and other unit or installation events.

During the deployment

During the first weeks after your service member leaves, you may feel sad, disoriented, anxious, and angry. However, soon you will experience a growing sense of self-confidence and independence. These suggestions can help you cope:

  • Find things to look forward to. Take a class, volunteer, or start a project you’ve always wanted to do.
  • Reach out to others who are in the same situation. Plan an event with other families who are coping with a deployment, or find a support group through your military community.
  • Don’t try to hide your feelings. It’s normal to feel sad, lonely, or angry when you’ve been separated from your spouse.
  • Concentrate on what you can control, and try to focus on things you can control, like spending time with family and friends or signing up for a class or volunteer opportunity.
  • Learn some stress management techniques that work for you. Try out some different ways to relieve stress, such as an exercise class, a journal of your thoughts and feelings, meditation, or deep breathing.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy meals, and drink plenty of water.

Homecoming and the post deployment period

The post deployment period can last from a few weeks to several months. Along with your relief and joy, there may be an adjustment period for you and your spouse. This may be especially difficult if your service member is having difficulty disengaging from combat or is suffering from combat stress.

Focus on the following to reduce stress for you and your family:

  • Maintain a positive, nonjudgmental attitude. The right attitude will help lower stress and frustration when getting back together doesn’t seem to be going the way you expected.
  • Talk openly and honestly about your experiences during the deployment and how you’ve changed. It can help you re-establish a foundation of healthy communication and encourage your service member to trust you with his or her deployment experiences.
  • Try to be patient. It may be some time before you and your spouse feel relaxed and comfortable together.
  • Make plans. Making plans together, whether it’s for a weekend outing or something more elaborate, can help you focus on your life together and help you feel closer.

Asking for help

Speaking with a counselor can help you manage emotions and challenges that come up throughout the deployment cycle. The following services offer free face-to-face confidential non-medical counseling:

  • Military OneSource. In addition to confidential face-to-face counseling, you can meet with a counselor online, by phone, or through secure video connection.
  • The Military and Family Life Counseling program. This service is available through your installation’s Military and Family Support Center.

Source: militaryonesource.mil