Don’t miss SGT. Will Gardner, the movie, coming to select theaters and On Demand, January 11!

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SGT. Will Gardner tells the story of Iraq War veteran Will Gardner (Max Martini) who is suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) he sustained with his platoon while in combat.

His injuries make it difficult for him to reintegrate into society. After a series of setbacks, he embarks on a spirited motorcycle journey across America with the goal of reuniting with his son.

Along his journey, he tries to pick up the pieces of the life he’s lost since returning from combat. His PTSD causes frequent flashbacks to the Iraq War which he survives by having frequent conversations with Sam (Omari Hardwick), his best friend and war buddy.

SGT. WILL GARDNER will be released in select theaters, VOD, and Digital on January 11, 2019 from Cinedigm.

 
 

Director: Max Martini
Writer: Max Martini
Stars: Max Martini, Omari Hardwick, Gary Sinise. See complete cast list

WATCH THE TRAILER!

Facebook: @sgtwillgardnerthemovie
Twitter: @SgtWillGardner

2GIG and ELAN Smart Home Gifted by the Gary Sinise Foundation Provides U.S. Army CPT Jake Murphy with the Control He Needs

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Disabled Veteran with his family standing outside their smart home

While on a mission in Afghanistan on July 23, 2011, a pressure plate improvised explosive device detonated beneath U.S. Army Captain Jake Murphy, immediately taking his left foot and causing an anoxic brain injury that put him into a coma.

Against all odds, Murphy emerged from his coma four weeks later and was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he eventually lost both of his legs.

Recognizing Cpt. Murphy’s immense bravery, the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program provided him and his family a specially adapted smart home with technologies by Nortek Security & Control in an effort to help improve and simplify everyday life for the family of four.

“When designing this home for Captain Murphy and his family, simplicity was key,” said Jason Hanifan of Comware AV, the ELAN dealer that designed the home technology solution. “With that in mind, we personalized the ELAN Control System to make it easy for the whole family to control all the integrated technologies in the 3,598 square foot home.”

Comware AV built the system with an ELAN gSC10 as the main system controller, with an ELAN S1616A providing audio distribution and a 8×8 HDBaseT™ Matrix for video. The Murphy family can manage their home’s security, audio, video, Lutron® lighting, fans and shades, plus thermostats, and door locks through ELAN HR30 remotes in the family room and master bedroom, ELAN 7” Touch Panels in the kitchen and master bedroom, as well as through the ELAN app on their smart devices and with voice control through ELAN’s Amazon Alexa® integration.

With security being essential to the family, Hanifan and his team installed a 2GIG security system with over 40 sensors wirelessly connected to a 2GIG GC3 panel, which is integrated into the ELAN control system. According to Hanifan, “In addition to the intrusion sensors, we added 2GIG Glass Break Detectors to monitor for the sound of breaking glass in the home, 2GIG Motion Detectors, ten 2GIG Smoke Detectors, plus Carbon Monoxide Detectors.”

Murphy and his family can easily review the status of their home’s doors and windows before leaving the house or turning in for the night, using the GC3 panel, two 2GIG SP1 secondary touchscreens or any of their ELAN interfaces. If a door is left open, the 2GIG system will annunciate exactly which doors or window are open, and where. For further security, an ELAN network video recorder captures video from six ELAN surveillance cameras, all which can be managed from within the ELAN app.

To simplify the home control, Hanifan and the Comware AV team personalized automated scenes, such as “good night,” which automatically locks the doors and adjusts the lights, or “away” which automatically locks the doors, turn off the lights and sets the thermostats to a certain energy-saving level. “By initiating the ‘relax’ scene, the lights will switch to their designated level and the TV will go on,” said Hanifan. “With ELAN, the scene options are endless, which is ideal for Captain Murphy and his family. For example, when he wakes up in the morning he simply needs to say ‘good morning’ and everything will adjust to his desired settings. It’s that easy.”

For the Murphy family, music and entertainment are important aspects of home life. The Comware AV team installed 18 SpeakerCraft AIM282 speakers to maximize audio performance, and added a 1,000-watt Sunfire HRS10 subwoofer so the family can really “feel” the entertainment in the media room.

To ensure that all of the home’s technology receives uncompromised power for optimal operation, the system components plug into a Panamax M4315-PRO power conditioner with BlueBOLT® remote power management, while a Panamax MB-1500 battery backup guarantee protects the system in case of a power outage.

According to Scott Schaeperkoetter, Director of Operations for the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, the smart home system has completely transformed everyday life for the Murphy family. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to improve the lives of these veterans and with Nortek Security & Control’s line of smart home and security solutions, we’re able to completely customize the smart home technology in each home to fit the individual needs of the veteran and their family,” he said. “We’re honored to be able to support their journey to regain their independence.”

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

About Nortek Security & Control
Nortek Security & Control LLC (NSC) is a global leader in smart connected devices and systems for residential, security, access control, and digital health markets. NSC and its partners have deployed 5 million connected systems and over 25 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, Linear®, GoControl®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for security dealers, technology integrators, national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, and consumers. Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC has over 50 years of innovation and is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit nortekcontrol.com.

Emmanuel Kelly, formerly of X Factor, to open for Snoop Dogg at Salute The Troops Music and Comedy Festival

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Emmanuel Kelly- performing onstage with Chris Martin

Salute The Troops Music and Comedy Festival announced today that Emmanuel Kelly will perform at the Fox Theatre in Pomona, CA on Saturday, March 23rd in direct support of Snoop Dogg. Emmanuel was born in Iraq, is a child of war and was rescued by US Service Members.

He has performed on the X Factor and has most recently been on tour with Coldplay and has recorded tracks with Imagine Dragons.

Emmanuel was born with severely underdeveloped limbs due to chemical warfare in his community. In 2000, he was adopted by humanitarian Moria Kelly and moved to Australia where over the next several years, he had eight life-altering surgeries. Through rehabilitation, Emmanuel learned how to walk, drive a car, dress himself and more.

Read more about Emmanuel’s story via Billboard: billboard.com/meet-emmanuel-kelly

After being discovered on X Factor and fulfilling his goal of becoming the first “differently-abled pop star” Emmanuel is passionate about raising money for disadvantaged, differently-abled children, and cancer research. Emmanuel has now performed in front of audiences of up to 100,000 in venues like the Sydney Opera House, and MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

On the addition of Emmanuel to the Salute The Troops roster, co-founder of the festival, Nate Parienti said this: “This really adds a unique twist to our event and crystallizes the message of Service members, activist artists, veterans, children of war and the general public coming together to heal through music and comedy.”

Watch Emmanuel’s X-Factor performance: youtube.com/watch?v=IY37l4PDsao

About Salute The Troops:

Salute The Troops Music And Comedy Festival was founded by Nate Parienti and co-founded with John Wertz (USMC 2001-2006) of Semper Fi Productions. Salute The Troops will take place at iconic Goldenvoice venues, The Fox Theatre and the Glass House from Friday, March 22nd – Sunday, March 24th in downtown Pomona, CA. The event is aimed at raising awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress and the epidemic suicide rates among returning soldiers and veterans. Two-day tickets are on sale now at SaluteTheTroops.com

Every Day is a Dog Day for One Marine Veteran

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John and Daisy

By Brian Robin

The biggest rock star playing at Pechanga Resort Casino isn’t Pitbull. It isn’t Tony Bennett. Nor is it Michael Bolton, Paula Abdul, or Steven Tyler, all of whom have performed at the Temecula, California, resort this year.

No. The biggest rock star at the largest resort/casino on the West Coast slowly walks on four legs, wears a vest, and performs four days a week for 10 hours a day, helping to keep Pechanga team members and guests safe. And unlike the aforementioned, you can see her for free all over the property, not just in Pechanga’s entertainment venues.

Daisy—a 4-year-old lab/terrier mix rescue dog—is Pechanga’s reigning rock star. So much so that Pechanga’s management had to send out a memo to its team members not to pet her while she works. And when Daisy works, her job makes her the poster girl for an innovative, productive way of keeping Pechanga’s property and guests safe, while providing a renewed sense of life and purpose for one Marine veteran.

Daisy belongs to John Tipton, a 62-year-old Marine veteran who saw action in such places as Beirut, Grenada, and Iraq during the first Gulf War. Places and action that left the retired gunnery sergeant with post-traumatic stress disorder and turned the Vista resident into a self-described “grumpy grandpa” who was unemployed for three years.

“It was a pretty rough couple of years. I’d walk into job interviews, and they’d take one look at me and then look at the dog. You could see it in their eyes and hear it in the tone of their voice. They wondered what was wrong with me,” he said.

Now, the grumpy grandpa is a grateful grandpa. Under a program Pechanga instituted over the summer, John and Daisy are the first six-legged safety patrol team at the resort. Armed with a radio, water bowl, and beef jerky treats, they spend four days a week patrolling the hotel lobby, hallways, pool, casino, parking garages, and golf course, looking for things that are out of the normal routine for the bustling resort.

John Tipton and Daisy_4
John Tipton and Daisy taking a break from walking the 4 to 6 miles a day at Pechanga

“It brought me back to being a human again. It brought me back to doing the things I would normally do again,” Tipton said about his new position as DPS Specialist. “It takes the right person in the right spots for something like this to happen, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be here. A lot of people have said ‘It’s about time someone gives those with disabilities a chance,’ so I think our society is trending in the right direction.”

Those were Robert Krauss’ exact sentiments. Pechanga’s vice president of public safety and also a former Marine, Krauss lives ahead of the curve when it comes to next-level ways to keep guests safe. For example, Pechanga’s two security robots—one stationary and one mobile—Krauss introduced to the resort this summer. But not even security robots “Rudy” and “Buddy” have stopped traffic with appreciative guests like John and Daisy.

“These individuals have so much to offer our society that it’s a waste not to consider those with disabilities and their service dogs,” Krauss said. “The first time I heard John’s story, I knew he wasn’t the only one with issues finding a job where he could bring his service dog to work with him. I just knew we had to do something to help.”

“We have a need in the public safety department. They have a special skill set that I’m specifically looking for. Who better, with everything they’ve gone through and all the training and service they’ve provided for us. That’s exactly what we’re looking for here.”

Krauss said they’re looking for eight more veterans and their service dogs to join Tipton and Daisy, who has become the poster girl for more than just Pechanga. She’s the poster girl for the proverbial who-rescued-who happy dilemma many pet owners embrace.

“I’ll tell you this (about) the best part of having a service dog,” Tipton said. “Because everyone will tell you they got the best. But I do. That’s it. She’s the best-looking girl here.”

About the Author

Brian Robin is a copywriter at the Pechanga Resort Casino.

Understanding Veteran-Owned Business Certifications

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Terms like 8a, SDVOSB, VOSB, and CVE can be confusing for many veterans related to what they might be eligible to use and what the status means to their company.

Why should I get a Veteran certification?

If you are selling to the government or if you are selling to major companies that do business with the government, a Veteran certification gives you more tools in your marketing toolbox—it may give you leverage in some contract bidding. Each year, the federal government is required to buy a certain percentage of their purchases from small businesses and businesses that have minority or presumed disadvantaged status.

Sometimes the government reaches its goals through bid preferences. In a bid preference, if a non-certified company and a certified company both bid $100,000, the certified preference company bid might be viewed as $95,000, thereby giving them the winning bid.

In other cases, the procuring agent might decide that only a certain classification of businesses could bid on a particular contract. This is referred to as a “set aside” solicitation. In the set aside scenario, a procurement officer may decide to only open the bidding process to a minority or preference class of business. Any company that did not have the required certification would not be able to bid on the project. One limitation to this setting is that if there are not at least two businesses of this classification bidding, the bid may have to be reissued and opened to a wider group. In some cases, a procurement officer may be able to justify a sole source contract, but that is the exception, not the rule.

What are the types of Veterans certifications available?

Currently, the federal Veteran status certifications and the agencies that confirm them are:

  • Small Business Administration (SBA) 8a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small business (SDVOSB). The SBA 8a SDVOSB requires an application process to validate the certified status. For the certified SBA’s 8a SDVOSB, only Veterans who are service-connected disabled Veterans can apply.
  • Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB). This status is self-certified by the business owner in the System for Award Management (SAM) Website.
  • Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). This status is self-certified by the business owner in the SAM Website.
  • Veteran Administration (VA) Certified Veteran Enterprise (CVE) Veteran Owned Small Business. The VA CVE is primarily used for the VA’s Vets First program. It is not a substitute for the SBA 8a certification.
  • VA CVE SDVOSB. As noted above, the CVE is mainly for doing business with the VA.

Am I Eligible?

The question of eligibility is where things get to be a little murky at first. Any Veteran, honorably discharged from military service can self-certify as a VOSB in SAM if they meet the following conditions:

  • The Veteran or Veterans must own a minimum of 51 percent of the business.
  • The Veteran or Veterans owning the business must show control of the day-to-day operations of the business and must be the highest-ranking officer of the company. In some cases, where a Veteran is severely disabled, some of that operational control may be handled by a spouse or other family member.
  • To qualify for the Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), the disability must be a service connected disability and must be shown on the DD214 document issued when discharged from the service.

For the three certifications issued by the SBA or the VA, the same requirements listed above apply, but must all be supported by documentation to prove ownership and control. Although the documentation may at times seem cumbersome, it is used to verify that the business is indeed owned and operated by the Veteran. This protects the true Veteran-owned businesses and allows them to compete competitively.

Source: Florida SBDC at University of South Florida

U-Haul Helps Veteran Family on Military Makeover with Montel

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U-Haul® puts its 74-year commitment to honoring veterans in the spotlight on “Military Makeover with Montel” during the show’s new season on the Lifetime channel.

U-Haul, founded by a WWII Navy veteran and his wife in 1945, signed on as a Military Makeover sponsor for the Aaron Middleton family throughout a six-part mini-series that documents the transformation of their St. Petersburg home.

The emotional first episode can be streamed at militarymakeover.tv and re-airs at 7:30 a.m. ET on March 7. Emmy Award-winning talk show host Montel Williams, having served 22 years in the military between the Marines and Navy, headlines the program.

“Military Makeover with Montel” TV Schedule (all airings at 7:30 a.m. ET on Lifetime)

Episode 1 March 7; available now at militarymakeover.tv
Episode 2 March 15 & 21
Episode 3 March 22 & 28
Episode 4 April 5 & 11
Episode 5 April 19 & 25
Episode 6 April 26 & May 2

 
A rich veteran history, coupled with an ongoing commitment to hiring and honoring vets, spurred the decision for U-Haul to sponsor a Military Makeover family.

“Veterans laid the foundation for U-Haul after WWII, serving as many of the Company’s first Team Members and initial customers after returning home from war and looking to move their families to a better life,” stated U-Haul employment manager Tony Hinojosa, a 22-year Army veteran active duty who appears on the show.

The Military Makeover team utilizes several popular U-Haul products and services while organizing and renovating the family’s home:

  • U-Box® portable moving and storage containers, which serve as on-site driveway storage at the Middleton house and also as long-term storage in secure U-Box warehouses. U-Box containers have 257 cubic feet of space and one-ton capacity, and can be shipped almost anywhere in the world.
  • Moving Help®, an online marketplace where customers shop and compare local Moving Helpers® who provide labor services such as loading and unloading, packing and unpacking, cleaning, and U-Box pick-up and delivery.
  • The Ready-To-Go Box®, one of the Company’s newest ecofriendly products – a durable plastic, space-saving box rented by the week at rates comparable to buying cardboard boxes.

“The opportunity to help the Middleton family, after all they’ve been through, is truly our privilege,” Hinojosa added. “It’s great to see how our products are being used to create a more seamless, convenient home makeover process.”

U-Haul has been honored repeatedly as a leading veteran-friendly employer and actively recruits veterans for their skills, work ethic and results-oriented approach.

U-Haul is committed to honoring veterans through its assistance to veteran organizations and causes; participation in national Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades; dedication to preserving Pearl Harbor and paying homage to its fallen; and sponsorship of The Tribute Journey with Gold Star Mother and artist Kathryn Cross. U-Haul is the national sponsor of nonprofit Humble Design®, which assists single-parent and veteran families escaping homelessness by providing donated furnishings and decorating services to turn empty new residences into dignified homes.

Visit myuhaulstory.com and search “veterans” to learn more.

About U-Haul

Since 1945, U-Haul has been the No. 1 choice of do-it-yourself movers, with a network of more than 21,000 locations across all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. U-Haul Truck Share 24/7® now offers customers access to U-Haul trucks every hour of every day through the self-service options on their internet-connected mobile devices. U-Haul customers’ patronage has enabled the U-Haul fleet to grow to 161,000 trucks, 118,000 trailers and 42,000 towing devices. U-Haul offers nearly 632,000 rooms and 55.2 million square feet of self-storage space at owned and managed facilities throughout North America. U-Haul is the largest installer of permanent trailer hitches in the automotive aftermarket industry and is the largest retailer of propane in the U.S.

Military Veterans and Trauma Survivors Honored at The Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C .

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Artist Susan J. Barron is bringing her acclaimed portrait series, Depicting the Invisible: A Portrait Series of Veterans Suffering from PTSD, to The Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square in Washington D.C., now through April 15, 2019.

The members-only Army and Navy Club will open its doors to the public on Saturdays (except March 2) from 11am to 2pm throughout the duration of the exhibition.  The Club’s dress code requires a coat and tie for men and comparable attire for women.

A private exhibition opening for members and guests was held at the Club on February 15, featuring a live conversation with the artist and author Charles W. “Chuck” Newhall III.  Newhall is the author of “Fearful Odds, A Memoir of Vietnam and Its Aftermath,” and is the most recent veteran to sit for a portrait with Barron.

Depicting the Invisible features fifteen American military veterans who have survived the trauma of war and are living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Barron’s oversized black-and-white photographic portraits are hand-painted with the subjects’ stories in their own words.  Staring into the camera, these veterans display both their strength and vulnerability.  The elegance of the images is juxtaposed with the brutality of the narratives, revealing complex layers of meaning.

Barron’s intent is to illuminate the veteran’s experiences and to initiate a conversation around the sensitive issue of PTSD. “Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day in our country,” says Barron. “The invisible wounds of war are just as devastating as the visible ones. My mission is to bring awareness to the PTSD epidemic and to provide a platform for veterans to share their stories.”

“The Army and Navy Club is proud to host ‘Depicting the Invisible,’” says General John Altenburg, Chairman of The Army and Navy Club Library Trust. “Susan’s work captures the PTSD epidemic through a deeply intimate lens, instilling her veteran subjects with dignity while building empathy in all who see her work. This important exhibition brings much-needed awareness to the triumphs and challenges facing our combat veterans today; it is my hope that all who see this show will be inspired to make a difference in the veteran community.”

The Veteran Experience

One work depicts Corporal Butler with his dog as he recounts the horrors of war: “When I got back from Iraq, I’d have this one recurring nightmare—I had to watch my buddy die.” Butler was united with his service dog after his second suicide attempt. In another work, Sergeant Carter sits in a wheelchair and reflects: “I’m paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of my life. I spent 16 months in a VA hospital, and I saw that it could be so much worse.” In the portrait of Sergeant Trotter, the story of her rape by a fellow soldier confronts the intersection of military sexual assault and the #MeToo movement.

Also on view, A Table for the Fallen is an interactive work, where individual visitors are invited to sit at a table for one and to create a personal tribute to a fallen soldier whom they wish to honor.  A discreetely arranged camera will record each guest’s experience, and Barron will use the footage to compose a video work.

An art book of the portrait series has been published. The proceeds from the book’s first edition will go to Freedom Fighters Outdoors (FFO), an organization that supports veterans in their struggles with PTSD. Signed copies of the book will be available for sale at the opening reception.

About

Barron is a nationally recognized and internationally collected artist. Her figurative and politically motivated paintings have been shown in galleries from San Francisco to New York, including at New York City’s Caelum Gallery and HG Contemporary gallery, the Kevin Butler Gallery in Massachusetts, the First Frontier Collage Society in Texas, and the Lark Creek Gallery in California.

Her work has been featured on Fox 5 News, New York 1, and in the New York Daily News, the New York Post, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, and Metro.

Following a 2009 trip to Cambodia, where she witnessed firsthand the barriers to education that children in the third world face, Barron founded The Pencil Promise, a company that helped make education available for children in need. With Barron as CEO, the company brought women’s empowerment programs and school supplies to Cambodia, Laos, Kenya, India, and Cuba through 2017.

In 2017, Barron decided to help closer to home with her work, Depicting the Invisible: A Portrait Series of Veterans Suffering from PTSD, which debuted in November 2018, raising awareness about the PTSD epidemic among the American veteran community.

A graduate of Boston University, Ms. Barron studied art at the Art Institute of San Francisco and Yale School for the Arts.

For more information on the artist, please visit:  SusanJBarron.com.

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.

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.

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.