Paws of War Receives Donation, Aims to Help More Veterans with New Location

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Paws of War

Paws of War, an organization that helps veterans and first responders to obtain and train companion and service dogs, is moving to a new, larger location. The new location will help them provide their important services to more veterans and first responders.

One local construction company, NDA Construction, lead a community effort that made all the difference. The new Paws of War location will be at 127-6 Smithtown Blvd in Nesconset, New York. They are in the same shopping center, but will now be in a new location within it. The public is invited to attend a grand opening event on Friday, October 19, 2018 at 11:00 am. Refreshments and a light lunch will be served.

“We have long outgrown our space and it was preventing us from helping more people,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “We are so grateful that NDA Construction and the community of sub contractors they brought on have stepped up to make it possible for us have a larger and more functional space. Their donation of time and resources has made it possible for us to help many more veterans and first responders. We couldn’t have made this move without their kind donation.”

The new space will be 3,400 square feet, which is double the size of the old location. It has been Paws of War Constructionbuilt out to provide more areas that will be used to help veterans during their training sessions. The group will now also be able to help those veterans and first responders who are wheelchair-bound or who use scooters. Their prior space was not sufficient for those in wheelchairs to properly participate in the training programs.

NDA Construction and its sister company NDA Kitchens have veterans working for them. The company is owned by Ed Rowland, who started it in 1992. Since that time, they have built a solid reputation for building and design. Through NDA Kitchens, they offer custom kitchen remodeling in the Long Island area.

“It would have been a real financial strain for Paws of War to try to move to a larger facility without receiving some assistance from a builder,” explained Rowland. “We believe in what they are doing and wanted to step up and help make it easier for them to continue doing it on a larger scale. We’re helping them, but then in turn they are helping people who have given a lot for all of us.”

Since the organization started in 2014, they have supported over 100 veterans with service dogs that were rescued from kill shelters and given the proper training. They have rescued 455 dogs from kill shelters and have graduated 102 dogs from the training program. Their mission is to help veterans and first responders who are in need of service dogs, whether for emotional issues, PTSD, depression, or for physical conditions. The new location will make it easier for them to help even more be able to get the assistance they need.

Paws of War Construction“I started in the program over a year ago,” says William Wurm, who is retired from the US Army and served in Iraq. “And now we are busting at the seams. This new space is going to be so ideal for all of us who make Paws of War a second home.”

Paws of War is an all-volunteer 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.

About 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.

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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.

Hampton Rose: The unbroken lens of a filmmaker

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Hampton Rose with his camer

Hampton Rose is a father of 7 who battles PTSD and was in two missions. He dreams of being a filmmaker to help other vets.

It’s 4 a.m. and instead of getting those precious hours of sleep – he’s doing homework. This moment of quiet gives him an opportunity to steal a few moments and get through his class assignments while the children sleep.

“Oh, yeah! I have seven kids and insomnia,” says the 46-year-old Hampton Rose who is about to graduate as he reflects on the constant juggle of a full course load in psychology, raising kids and completing homework before sunrise.

He’s straight to the point on his sleep disorder and the likely cause – a personal struggle with PTSD.

“I think more people should talk about it,” says Rose.

Rose is a military vet who served for 17 years and held several assignments including communications specialist. But, he switched jobs during his tenure and served as an Army medic, providing care in the toughest zones within Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I was called Doc, it was a sign of respect,” says Hampton about the nickname he earned within his unit. “I was a Charlie company senior medic. And as a medic you’re supposed to take care of the troops’ medical support, but what they don’t tell you is that you’re like their everything. Their doctor, their therapist, priest, big brother, and sometimes best friend, which is why I believe as medics, we suffer more because when a troop goes down, it’s not only a patient. Now, you’re looking at it with all eyes. And that’s the worst part, who wants to see all that in one person?”

In 2007, his career is nearly ended after a tumor was found inside his hip. For three months he spent time confined to a hospital and unable to walk.  “I couldn’t deploy and it was tough not being there for my fellow troops,” he said about his recovery period.

After Rose was cleared of the tumor, he rejoined his teammates and later deployed as part of a rapidHampton Rose response unit. However, in 2012, after serving for nearly two decades, his teenaged daughter Alexa asked him to stay and not leave home anymore – something that hit him harder than the tumor.

He decided to end his military career and one year later enrolled at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He selected to study psychology, because he desired to discover more about himself as he endures PTSD.

“The classroom and learning has been therapy,” he says. “And I wanted to know the ‘why’ of why I have twitches. I wanted to know my triggers.”

Rose suffers from severe social anxiety disorder too. Sometimes he gets gripped by fear to the point he cannot take a step.  A five-minute walking trajectory to the campus library can sometimes end up taking him 20 minutes.

“I even suffered panic attacks in class, it was horrible,” Rose said. “You think everyone is watching you. It’s beyond paranoia. But you have to remind yourself that you have to be patient, breathe and take your time, take your time.”

But there is a significant change for Rose, last year during a video class project, he was asked to produce a short film on any topic. Naturally, his work centered on the alienation he feels as a veteran and the difficulties he faces to reintegrate back to civilian life including attending school. The one assignment has resulted in three short films.

After graduation he plans to make it a go and launch a production company called “Nushottas,” borrowing from the street slang “shotta” for gangster, but also a nod to the transformation of the camera as his new weapon.

“Maybe I can help vets express themselves artistically and help others see the world the way I see it. I’m not broken, I just see it a little differently.”

After five years, Rose will now walk the commencement stage in December with dreams of meeting Spike Lee.

Author
Milady Nazir
The University of Texas San Antonio

Blind veteran pushing new documentary, anthem to bring attention to disabled vets

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Marty Klein on guitar

WOODSTOCK, N.Y.–A blind veteran from Woodstock has ambitious plans for his new full-length feature film and original theme song that grew out of it.

During the month of November, Marty Klein  was on a mission to get radio stations across the nation to play his “Veterans’ Anthem” and present his 54-minute documentary, “Why Can’t We Serve,” which he wrote, produced and directed, to a wide audience. He intends to keep the momentum going and shine the spotlight on helping disabled veterans.

The song, recorded at Natural Studios in Saugerties, features Klein on lead vocals. He is backed by famous musicians like John Sebastian on harmonica; folk singer Amy Fradon on backup vocals; Eric Parker on percussion; Jim Barbaro on guitar; and Cathie Malach on keyboard. Klein said the folksy anthem is intentionally upbeat to instill hope among America’s veterans.

Klein, who lost his sight to a rare eye disease called bilateral anterior uveitis while serving in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1960s, said the anthem was inspired by his film “Why Can’t We Serve,” which draws attention to high veteran suicide rates. According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans take their lives each day, amounting to about 8,000 deaths annually.

Klein said he could have been another statistic, particularly after his diagnosis, which included secondary glaucoma and minimal but progressive cataracts.

“Before that, I had 20-20 vision,” said the 70-year-old author, disability activist and yoga enthusiast, Marty in uniform shaking handswho was honorably discharged in 1970. “I had no idea that it would be the beginning of a total loss of vision.”

To make the film, Klein enlisted the talents of Hudson Valley photographer and videographer Mike Nelson as his cinematographer as well as other local experts and artists. He began working on the project in 2016 and raised funds to get it off the ground. The Kingston Veterans Association helped raise more than $8,000 for the project, according to Klein.

The movie, shot at various locations across the country, including California, North Carolina and New York, features interviews with veterans, policymakers and counselors. Among those interviewed are Bill Forte, the chairman of the Kingston Veterans Association, and Klein, who tells his story.

In 1967, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the Air Force, mainly to appease his patriotic father. After basic training, he went to weather school in Champagne, Illinois, fulfilling a childhood dream of being a meteorologist.

He was about to be sent to Vietnam when he was stricken with the disease.

“I had my own Vietnam,” he said. “Losing my vision was no picnic. I went through seven years of hell, being totally lost and had to recreate who I was.”

In the years that followed, Klein moved around the country before landing in Woodstock, where he would become a longtime counselor at Family of Woodstock’s crisis intervention center. He has also authored three books, two screenplays and created a CD program called “Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired.” He also is the founder of a holistic learning center in Tallahassee, Florida, which operated for eight years.

Marty Klein anthem songKlein said his goals for the film and song are not for personal gain, but to improve the lives of wounded military personnel and disabled veterans.

“My premise was that when these soldiers go to combat and come back wounded, there is no place for them in the military, so I decided to expose this with this film,” he said. “They get discharged and are given a disability check and that’s that.

“Many want to keep serving, but now, they’re floundering and don’t know what to do. The military unintentionally is pushing away a large number of people who would make it stronger and more diverse.”

Klein hopes that in some small way, the film will be a catalyst for change, but he said it will likely be an uphill battle.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all businesses and corporations hire people with disabilities,” he said. “This applies to most government agencies as well. The only exception is the United States military.”

Right now, Klein is pushing to get his song played at as many radio stations as he can and hoping to get his documentary screened at prominent venues, including next year’s GI Film Festival.

For the link to the film, please go to whycantweserve.com.

To listen to the song, A Veteran’s Anthem, download it here.

A new mission: retired Army veteran finds new way to serve her own

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Army veteran Becky Smith assisting veteran at the DAV

It seems the only thing retired about Army veteran Becky Smith is the word “retired.”

After a distinguished 20-year career in the Army, which included service as the Women in the Army Policy Officer at the Pentagon, Smith, and her husband, who is also a retired soldier, settled in the Clarksville, TN area. And while her email moniker might read, “retired2RV,” the reality is that the course of her days appear anything but. In fact, Smith is so busy assisting veterans through the charity DAV (Disabled American Veterans), that she and her husband sold their RV to a friend so it could actually be enjoyed for travel.

Smith, who was working in the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks, now represents her fellow DAV members in her multi-state region. On a recent Friday afternoon in September, Smith assisted veterans at the DAV’s Mobile Service Office (MSO) stop in her newly adopted hometown. The assistance, which ensures justice for her fellow veterans, ensures they receive their benefits.

“The feeling of helping a fellow veteran is incredible,” said Smith, who recently assisted a homeless veteran through the claims process. “We were able to help him go from being homeless living on $100 a month to receiving close to $3,000 a month. These are benefits he earned and should receive. I was happy to help him.”

Smith has been a lifetime member of the DAV for 11 years.

DAV and Hankook Tire are hosting a series of MSO stops across the nation to assist veterans and educate them and their families on the benefits and services earned in service. This program extends DAV’s benefits assistance to veterans who might not be able to access it otherwise due to distance, transportation, health or other various reasons. Hankook continues its promise to help American veterans through mobility by doubling the number of Hankook-sponsored DAV MSO stops year-over-year with 12 MSO stops across the nation this year.

To learn more about Hankook Tire’s relationship with DAV, visit dav.org/hankook.

About Hankook Tire America Corp.

Hankook Tire America Corp. is a growing leader in the U.S. tire market, leveraging investments in technology, manufacturing and marketing to deliver high-quality, reliable products that are safer for consumers and the environment. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Hankook America markets and distributes a complete line of high-performance and ultra-high-performance passenger tires, light truck and SUV tires as well as medium truck and bus tires in the United States. Hankook Tire America is a subsidiary of Hankook Tire Co., Ltd., a Forbes Global 2000 company headquartered in Seoul, Korea, and led by President and CEO Hyun Bum Cho.

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 1 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at dav.org.

Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation Supports Paralyzed Veterans of America on Veteran’s Day

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Brad Keselowski presents check to Bill Lawson

WASHINGTON (Nov. 13, 2018) — Earlier this year, NASCAR driver and 2018 Richtopia Top 100 Philanthropist, Brad Keselowski, announced his Checkered Flag Foundation would support Paralyzed Veterans of America’s employment program, PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment).

Team Penske partners’ Alliance Truck Parts, Snap-On and Würth have also joined these efforts, and on Friday, Keselowski presented a check for $25,000 to Bill Lawson, former president of Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Started in 2007, the PAVE program provides career assistance and vocational support to transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, and caregivers across the country. Through the PAVE program, clients receive high-touch engagement as they look for meaningful employment. PAVE staff work with members of the veteran community to provide one-on-one support with resume development, sharpen interviewing and networking skills, and build a strong LinkedIn profile. PAVE operates through eight locations nationwide and in 2018, PAVE staff has placed 319 individuals with meaningful employment opportunities.

“Supporting America’s heroes is something that is very important to me, so I’m glad the Checkered Flag Foundation and Paralyzed Veterans of America partnered earlier this year,” said Keselowski. “I’m incredibly thankful that some of my Team Penske partners joined myself and the foundation in our efforts to support this program. This donation will allow Paralyzed Veterans of America the opportunity to continue to serve veterans by providing them, their families and caretakers with career support via the PAVE program. It’s very fitting that we were able to do this on such a special weekend, where we honor and remember all of the veterans who have served.”

Paralyzed Veterans of America not only supports disabled veterans, but all veterans. The organization advocates for quality health care and governmental benefits on behalf of veterans who have rightfully earned them. In addition, the organization is also a champion in fighting for job opportunities for veterans.

“We must be diligent in our efforts to combat unemployment and underemployment of veterans. This summer the veteran unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, an increase from a year ago. But, most concerning, is that nearly one-third of veteran job seekers are underemployed at a rate 15.6 percent higher than non-veteran job seekers,” said David Zurfluh, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “When organizations such as Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation support our veterans’ employment program, together we are able to improve the lives of veterans, making them unstoppable in their quest for meaningful employment.”

For additional information about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s PAVE program, or to make a donation, visit pva.org.

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About Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation

Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation honors and assists those who have sacrificed greatly for our country. Since 2010, the foundation has supported more than 250 organizations and individuals in order to help veterans and first responders during their road to recovery. There are numerous ways for those interested to become involved. Visit CheckeredFlagFoundation.org for details.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America

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

As a life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Learn more at pva.org.

DAV and Hankook Tire support veterans with Mobile Service Office

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DAV-Hancock Tire

The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and Hankook Tire recently hosted a Mobile Service Office stop at Gateway Tire & Service Center in Clarksville, TN to assist veterans and educate them and their families on the benefits and services earned in service.

This program extends DAV’s benefits assistance to veterans who might not be able to access it otherwise due to distance, transportation, health or other various reasons. Hankook continues its promise to help American veterans through mobility by doubling the number of Hankook-sponsored DAV MSO stops year-over-year with 12 MSO stops across the nation this year.

Photo : Brian Cowart, Chief Development Officer of the DAV with Larry Cantu, who served 20 years in the Army and is the Sr. Vice Commander of the local DAV chapter #45, and Jay Kim, Vice President of Corporate Strategy of Hankook Tire.

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 1 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at dav.org.

Navy SEALs swim, bike, run 69.2 miles, raising $50,000 for military families

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Navy Seals

SEGUIN ISLAND, Maine – A group of servicemen and servicewomen, including Navy SEALs, recently battled ocean waves, a sixty-mile bike ride and a 10K run as part of Camp Sunshine’s 2018 Stone Coast Challenge.

The challenge, along with the Landing Party and Meet the SEALs Gala, raised more than $50,000 to allow military families with children with life-threatening illnesses to attend Camp Sunshine.

“All things being equal, military families inherently bear a larger burden than civilian families,” said event founder, Mike W. “So when a child of a military family is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness it has a comparatively acute impact and we’re trying to provide those families with some relief.”

The Stone Coast Challenge is designed to resemble the ups and downs that families with children with life-threatening illnesses face every day. The challenge began with a three-mile, open-ocean swim from Seguin Island to Popham Beach, a 60-mile bike ride from Popham Beach to Crescent Beach, and finished with a 10k run in Cape Elizabeth.  The general public gathered for the subsequent Landing Party at Fort Williams Park to see the participants finish the triathlon. That evening’s Meet the SEALs Gala was a formal reception with the participating SEALs and special dignitaries at Ocean Gateway in Portland.

Camp Sunshine is a free-of-charge, award-winning retreat on the shores of Sebago Lake in Casco, Navy Seals-Camp SunshineMaine that provides retreats year-round for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. At Camp, attending families join other families on similar journeys and experience the benefits of empathy and encouragement, rest and recovery, and hope and inspiration.

Since 2014, Navy SEALs and other servicemen have been competing in physically daunting tasks for Camp Sunshine. The SEALs have participated in a 13-mile swim across Sebago Lake (2014), a reverse triathlon that begin at the top of Mt. Washington (2015), a combination triathlon around Sebago Lake (2016), a 10-mile open ocean swim around California’s Coronado Island (2017), and most recently a 26.2 mile paddle around Coronado Island (2018).

For more information about the event or to make a donation, please visit sealsforsunshine.org.

About Camp Sunshine
Founded in 1984, Camp Sunshine provides retreats combining respite, recreation and support, while enabling hope and promoting joy, for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child’s illness.

Camp Sunshine

Camp Sunshine’s program is offered year-round and has distinction of having been designed to serve the entire family in a retreat model. The program is free of charge to families and includes on-site medical and psychosocial support. Bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness. For more information, visit www.campsunshine.org.

The New York City & Vicinity District Council of Carpenters Raises a Quarter of a Million Dollars for Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors

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Jared Allen with NYCDCC and Disabled Veteran

New York, NY–The New York City and Vicinity District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC) recently hosted its annual charity golf tournament to sponsor Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors (JAH4WW).

The District Council successfully raised a quarter of a million dollars for JAH4WW, an organization that works to build and remodel handicap accessible homes for injured U.S. military veterans. The tournament was held at Crystal Springs Resort in New Jersey, and received a great turnout of supporters.

Over the past four years, the District Council has raised $675,000 for the organization, and union carpenters from across the country have volunteered to build homes for U.S. military veterans and their families to honor their service and sacrifice for our country.

This year, the work of JAH4WW hits close to home for the District Council. In addition to $250,000 NYCDCC golf dayraised by the District Council, $75,000 was donated by the District Council Charity Fund and the NYC District Council of Carpenters Benefits Funds Charity for one of the District Council’s own members, Arian Kohler.

Arian Kohler is a second-year apprentice with Local 157 and an Afghanistan War U.S. Marine veteran. While on a volunteer mission with HEART/911 this summer to rebuild homes devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, Kohler tragically lost his leg as the result of a collision with a vehicle while on foot. The incident nearly cost Kohler his life.

“Our partnership with Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors is a great source of pride for entire District Council. It is an incredible cause championed by an extraordinary organization. We’re humbled to play even a small part in paying back those servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much for us, said Joseph Geiger, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New York City and Vicinity District Council of Carpenters. “For us, this year’s sponsorship hits particularly close to home. We are proud of our brother, Arian Kohler, for his service to our country. He serves as an example to all of us, not only in the way he served his country as a Marine but also the way he’s continued that life of service to others as a civilian including volunteering in Puerto Rico.”

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About NYCDCC

The New York City District Council of Carpenters is a representative body comprised of nine individual Locals and 22,000 union members. The District Council functions as the voice for thousands of New York City’s most dedicated and skilled Carpenters, Millwrights, Dockbuilders, Marine Divers, Core Drillers, Timbermen, Concrete Carpenters, Cabinetmakers, Floorcoverers and Industrial Workers.

2018 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year overcomes invisible injuries to help fellow veterans, community

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DAV's Callie Rios-Disabled Veteran of the Year

Transforming adversity into a life of service, “Callie brings heart. And brings kindness to the chapter. She helps bring unity, helps bring some of the glue of the organization together.”

By Charity Edgar

When Callie Rios joined the military, she took an oath to defend her country and was prepared to face any enemy on behalf of the nation.

But she never expected to be attacked by a fellow soldier.

“I joined the military because I was a single parent, and I was looking for better job opportunities, a better life for my child,” explained Rios of her decision to enlist at age 18. “I followed in my family’s footsteps and became the first female in my family to join the military.”

Rios’ first duty station was in South Korea, and she thrived in the Army. But life was about to change drastically when she returned stateside.

“There was a turning point in my military career at Fort Knox when I was the victim of a sexual assault,” recalled Rios. “It really changed my perspective. I did not really find much support in my unit; I didn’t really find much support anywhere. It was a very lonely time for me.

“I came back out of it, and now I’m ready to help other women who were in the same situation as I was.” Rios is active in DAV Chapter 58 in Midland, Texas, serving as the junior vice commander.

“Callie brings heart. And brings kindness to the chapter,” said Chris Molsbee, the chapter’s senior vice commander. “[She] helps bring unity, helps bring some of the glue of the organization together.”

Molsbee emphasized that having Rios onboard has been critical for engaging other women veterans. He also commended her volunteer efforts.

“As the junior vice commander of the chapter, she is an intricate part of all of the charity events that we do,” said Molsbee.

In 2017, the chapter raised the most funds nationwide—more than $40,000—during Golden Corral’s Military Appreciation Night at the restaurant location in neighboring Odessa.

Rios is especially proud of her efforts to support fellow women veterans and military sexual trauma survivors. In 2017, Rios spearheaded a women veterans conference, Heroes in Heels, sponsored by the chapter. Incorporating mental health practitioners for former servicewomen with invisible wounds was an event priority.

“During our last year’s conference we had clinicians here that could talk to first responders, that could talk to veterans and kind of give them some insight on where they can get help and how they can get help,” explained Rios, who previously served as a deputy sheriff, patrolman and public safety officer in her civilian career.

“They also got to see some of us female veterans out there just rocking it, making sure everybody is taken care of, working toward a better future for all of our veterans,” she added. “It shows them there’s good things, there’s still good people, there’s still good things in life to be had.”

Rios understands firsthand how difficult it can be to overcome injuries that are invisible to everyone Callie Rios-Disabled Veteran of the Yearelse. She channels the trauma she sustained in the Army into supporting fellow veterans. This personal experience is what drives her commitment to ensuring others don’t hesitate to seek out mental health assistance.

Rios also invests a lot of time at Midland College. Previously a student veteran, Rios now holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, so she understands the unique challenges former service members face on campus.

“She reaches out to people. She doesn’t sit back and wait for them to call her,” said Kay Schipper, an Air Force veteran and the VA coordinator for Midland College. “She’s always been there when I’ve called her when I’ve had a need, or a student [veteran]’s having a need.” Navy veteran Daniel Ortega agreed.

“Any program that DAV can touch to help the veterans lives improve, she’s all over it. It doesn’t take anything but a phone call to get her attention and to get her involved in that veteran’s life,” said Ortega, a graduate turned employee at the college.

Rios’ dedication to giving back extends beyond serving her fellow veterans. She also supports her community as a volunteer in the Texas State Guard, a military force that supports humanitarian missions throughout the state by augmenting the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard.

After an honorable discharge from the Army, Rios found herself missing the sense of belonging she had found in the military.

“I was looking for something to help me transition to civilian life, and the Texas State Guard gave me a home,” she said.

“[Staff] Sgt. Rios has almost nine years in the Texas State Guard, which speaks to her volunteerism,” said Col. Jeremy Franklin, who commands the 39th Regiment. “Sgt. Rios actually deployed in response to Hurricane Harvey. She worked in an American Red Cross shelter operation. She also served in a pod, which is where we dispense supplies to civilians impacted by the disaster.”

There is another group of people who benefit from Rios’ dedication to giving back: her kids. “I think volunteering sets an example for them,” said Rios. “They see me do it, they want to do it, and it gives them more exposure to other people, and it also teaches them values.”

“I am proud to honor Callie for her commitment to veterans, her family, local community, Texas and the nation,” said DAV National Commander Delphine Metcalf-Foster. “Her resilience as a survivor of military sexual trauma and commitment to supporting men and women battling invisible injuries undoubtedly provides inspiration to our fellow injured veterans and their families. Her humble spirit and positive attitude are living testaments to DAV’s mission of empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.”

“I volunteer and I give back so much because I love people,” Rios stated. “If they can find a piece of my story that connects with them and helps them in any kind of way, it’s worth it for me.”

 

Hankook Tire Hosts DAV Honorees at 2018 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard

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DAV MLB Attendees at baseball park

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Master Sergeant Jeff Johnson and Captain Jonathan Moak have at least two things in common: First, they’re avid baseball fans. Second – and more importantly – they serve in the United States military.

Photo Left to right: Master Sergeant Jeff Johnson, Deonne Johnson, Captain Jonathan Moak.

Hankook Tire America Corp., the Official Tire of Major League Baseball, thanked Johnson and Moak for their service by hosting them as honored guests at the 2018 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday, July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

The rapidly growing global tire company welcomed Moak, Johnson and Johnson’s wife, Deonne, as part of its relationship with DAV [Disabled American Veterans], which selected the honorees. Hankook also invited its special guests to spend time in its suite, where they spoke with company leadership and met Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr.

“The game was fantastic,” said Johnson, a resident of La Plata, Maryland who has served as an Aircraft Ordinance Specialist and Flight Chief in the United States Air National Guard. “Having the opportunity to see the best players up close like this is, of course, wonderful.”

Moak, a Captain in the United States Army Reserve from Alexandria, Virginia, agreed.

“The experience was incredible, and visiting the suite hosted by Hankook Tire America Corp. leadership was a very special time,” Moak said.

Johnson’s 20-year Air Force career includes three tours in Iraq and stints in Turkey, Curacao and at bases across the United States. Moak deployed as an Infantry Officer in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and recently transitioned to the Individual Ready Reserve after 13 years of service. Both are DAV members who ardently believe in the organization’s mission.

“DAV provides the connection for veterans to the benefits earned through service to country,” said Moak. “DAV helps vets transition to civilian life and gives the resources and tools necessary to do so.”

“My experience with [DAV] as I am transitioning to retirement has been exceptional,” Johnson said. “They provide highly knowledgeable professionals, free of charge, to help separating military members get all required information squared away and confirm we can access the benefits and services we’ve earned.”

The ticket giveaway is one of many ways Hankook Tire America Corp. is serving DAV in 2018. The company is partnering with tire dealers to host 12 mobile service stops, gave $175,000 to the organization and will sponsor a new seven-passenger DAV Transportation Network vehicle that will drive Nashville-area veterans to their medical appointments.

“Hankook Tire was delighted to host these courageous guests at the 2018 MLB All-Star Game,” said Wes Boling, Public Relations Manager for Hankook Tire America Corp. “As we enter our fourth year of partnership with DAV, we are honored to have an opportunity to serve those who have served us.”

To learn more about Hankook Tire’s relationship with DAV, visit www.dav.org/hankook.

About Hankook Tire America Corp.

Hankook Tire America Corp. is a growing leader in the U.S. tire market, leveraging investments in technology, manufacturing and marketing to deliver high-quality, reliable products that are safer for consumers and the environment. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Hankook America markets and distributes a complete line of high-performance and ultra-high-performance passenger tires, light truck and SUV tires as well as medium truck and bus tires in the United States. Hankook Tire America is a subsidiary of Hankook Tire Co., Ltd., a Forbes Global 2000 company headquartered in Seoul, Korea, and led by President and CEO Hyun Bum Cho.

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 1 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at dav.org.