US Soldier Fights to Bring Puppy Dragged by Rope Out of War-Torn Afghanistan

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U.S. Soldier standing in uniform holding his shelter dog in his arms

Timothy Boyd is a U.S. soldier stationed in war-torn Afghanistan. He will soon be heading back to his hometown of Dallas, Georgia. He desperately wants to bring back Misha, a puppy he saved and has cared for during his stay there.

If he has to leave her behind, her fate like so many others, will be certain death. He has reached out to Paws of War pleading for assistance in transporting the Misha to America, so he can keep her and let her live out her days in a safe country with those who love her.

“We can’t stand by and let this dog fall back into the hands of cruel people. There has been a fantastic and lasting bond created between Misha and Timothy,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “We understand his concerns in having to leave her in a place that is very hostile toward dogs, so we are doing everything we can to help make his wish come true and bring the dog to the United States.”

It’s difficult enough for a soldier to spend time in a war zone, with blasts and danger in every direction. But when you add in a puppy that has no idea what is going on, and it falls into the hands of the opposition, it’s a life of cruelty and abuse, often leading to death. That’s what could have happened with Misha, but a US soldier came along and everything changed.

Timothy is the Task Force Viking 1SG stationed at the COP De Alencar, formerly known as Camp Blackfish, Afghanistan. He is part of an infantry unit that is assisting Special Forces in fighting against ISIS-K. Needless to say, they are in a combative area, where fighting and explosions are a daily part of their lives. Misha is a dog that was rescued by the former SF Team when soldiers saw her being dragged by her neck. They rescued her, brought her back to their camp, and gave her proper medical treatment. She then became a part of their family, and over time, strong bonds have been created.

To help make it possible for Timothy bring Misha back to the U.S. with him, Paws of War has enlisted the help of Nowzad Dogs, a charity that helps rescue the animals in Afghanistan. There is a lot of red tape that they will need to go through in order to bring Misha back, and there are expenses involved. Through the Mission Misha campaign, they are seeking donations from the community in order to help make the transport possible. Transporting just one dog costs upward of over $6,000.

“I am desperately trying to bring this loving fur baby back to my home in Georgia, where she will live a quiet life away from this war-torn country,” says Timothy Boyd. “I appreciate any and all assistance that people can provide in helping to make Mission Misha a successful operation. She needs to come home with me. I can’t imagine it any other way.”

Those who would like to donate to Mission Misha can go to:

https://pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/projects/73291-bring-misha-home-from-war-torn-afghanistan.

Paws of War is an organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, and provides service and therapy dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD.  The War Torn Pets Program brings companion animals from war zones to the U.S for military members. To learn more about Paws of War or make a donation to support its efforts, visit its site at: pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War

Based in New York, Paws of War is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to helping both ends of the leash. The mission of Paws of War is to train and place shelter dogs to serve and provide independence to our United States military veterans who suffer from TBI and/or PTSD. To learn more about Paws of War, visit the site at pawsofwar.org.

Operation Airdrop

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Operation Airdrop video logo

Operation Airdrop was held on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th, in Fort Worth and Arlington, as a combined effort between the Airpower Foundation, The All Veteran Group, Fort Worth Oral Surgery, Baylor Scott & White, Armed Forces Bowl, Lockheed Martin, Classic Chevy, Harris, JPS, Tarrant Regional Water District, Bell Fort Worth Alliance Airshow, Alliance Aviation Service, The Vintage Flying Museum, The Texas Rangers, The City of Fort Worth, and The City of Arlington.

Mike Elliott, President of the All Veteran Group and a retired U.S. Army Golden Knight, performed a parachute demonstration with his team over the city of Arlington, and a tribute on the ground in Fort Worth due to weather.

Colored smoke traced the sky as they parachuted over the city of Arlington symbolizing the loving appreciation we all feel for our healthcare workers, first responders, and our fallen military heroes.

The Airpower Foundation relies on the generous donations of our sponsors and supporters to continue our mission in support of all who serve and their families.

 

Please visit AirpowerFoundation.org and consider making a donation.

From the Corps to Corporate America

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Headshot of Laurie Sayles

U.S. Veterans Magazine asked Laurie Sayles, president and CEO of Civility Management Solutions (CivilityMS), and Jackson Dalton, president and founder of Black Box Safety, Inc., to share what it was like for them to transition out of the military and into the boardroom.

Laurie Sayles with Civility Management Solutions

Founded in 2012, CivilityMS provides professional consulting services as an SBA 8(a) certified, verified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Economically Disadvantaged Woman and Woman Owned Small Business (EDWOSB/WOSB). The firm’s status as a SDVOSB is verified with the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) and the Veterans First Contracting Program.

USVM: Tell us about your transition from military life to one as a business owner.

Laurie Sayles (LS): I am from Chicago, IL, and have always sought out a means of having my own money or supplementing my income. I was a baby-sitter to single women in the low-income projects complex I resided as a young girl and I modeled professionally during high school, all before I joined the USMC. So, I often say that I have always been an entrepreneur.

But after getting out of the USMC, I returned to supplementing my income. I tried medical billing as a home-based business only to learn it was a scam. I also became a wellness coach and a bootcamp fitness instructor, to name a few.

My journey was long after transitioning because there was no outreach during the 90’s for military personnel leaving the USMC. For example, TAPS didn’t exist, and no one in the marketplace really cared that you were a veteran. Also, the Internet was not what it is today and there was no support to help translate your MOS. It was a more challenging time.

But I wanted to work in corporate America, so I took a job for $17,000 in 1989 as a receptionist. With that, the journey began to learn the difference of being a civilian in this space as an African-American woman with no degree. Within a short period of time, I began to take English, grammar and speaking courses to help me modify my means of communication.

I climbed the corporate ladder from receptionist to administrative assistant, to an executive assistant, to an operations director to a project manager over a 20-year period. Then in 2012, I became president and CEO of Civility Management Solutions.

USVM: How did your experience in the military influence your skillset as a business owner?

LS: My experience from the military has a huge influence in my skillset as a business owner. Again, being an African-American woman in business adds more challenges that many cannot identify with unless they belong to this ethnicity. But, thanks to being a woman that served in the Marine Corps, I am accustomed to operating in a man’s world and a world that is full of alpha males! The Marine Corps is not known to be, “The Few, The Proud, The Marines,” just as a slogan—it’s a culture and a lifestyle. As I often say, if you re-enlist in any branch of the military, it really speaks to you adapting and accepting that culture completely, otherwise you get out after first term. No one—and I do mean no one—that knows me personally walks away not knowing that I served in the Corps. It shows up in my demeanor and my strength as a business owner.

USVM: What advice would you give someone transitioning from the military into becoming a business owner?

LS: Make sure you start your homework early when you know your end date. There is so much to offer us when we get out of the military, and finally this country is beginning to recognize this fact. Our discipline, leadership, resilience and determination set us apart from anyone else who never served. So, with running anything … you’ve been trained while you wore the uniform; trained to operate in high integrity; and trained to leave no man behind. All three of these lead to you being a strong leader willing to take full responsibility for your actions. Help others be successful as you become successful.

Do take advantage of all the training being offered by the SBA in your State, affiliates of the SBA, and programs offered to veterans of the military. Get yourself affiliated with associations and advocacy groups that focus on the type of work you want to do as a business owner.

Lastly, network, network and network some more to find people that you can engage with. And get yourself some mentors! Each one will add different values and you can call on them as needed.

Jackson Dalton and Black Box Safety, Inc.

Headshot of Jackson DaltonBlack Box Safety, Inc. specializes in the prevention of serious injury in the workplace by supplying safety equipment for government agencies and organizations. Dalton is a Board-Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and holds a Master’s degree (MPH) in public health—only 17 percent of CSPs hold both (Board of Certified Safety Professionals, 2017) —as well as a Bachelor’s degree in business administration.

USVM: Tell us about your transition from military life to one as a business owner.

Jackson Dalton (JD): I was injured while serving in the Marine Corps. As a direct result of the injuries I sustained, I went through 3 leg surgeries and was not able to walk for a year. While serving, I was hurt at work—essentially an occupational injury. From this experience, I have made it my mission in life to ensure that others aren’t hurt at work, so that they can continue to do the things that they love to do.

As a direct result of my Marine Corps experience, I transitioned from the military into a career in occupational health and safety. I pursued a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Public Health, and spent over 10 years working as a Safety Engineer. Three years ago, it was my desire to help more people in a more meaningful way so I left my job at 3M and started my company, Black Box Safety, Inc., which is a supplier of safety products and safety training to government agencies and organizations that are looking for ways to reduce risk and help their employees stay safe and healthy.

USVM: How did your experience in the military influence your skillset as a business owner?

JD: My experience in the Marine Corps instilled two traits: Grit and bearing. Grit is the ability or decision to persevere in the face of extreme hardship and danger. Bearing is the ability to maintain a calm and confident demeanor in the face of adversity and uncertainty. I learned that the most contagious thing in the world is not infectious disease—it’s human emotion. As a leader, if I lose my bearing and communicate emotions of fear and stress, those emotions will be transferred to those I’m leading. I served as a squad leader in the Marine Corps and today I serve as President of Black Box Safety, Inc., where I am responsible for the health and welfare of 2 full-time employees and 4 part-time employees.

USVM: What advice would you give someone transitioning from the military into becoming a business owner?

JD: This is the advice that I would give to someone transitioning from the military to entrepreneurship

  1. Take advantage of every educational opportunity available including but not limited to: Post-secondary education funded through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Dept. of VA Vocational Rehabilitation Ch.31,; free business start-up courses offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) [SBA offers free business courses online at SBA.gov]; apply for a free SCORE mentor; podcasts featuring business start-up advice; and finally an often-overlooked resource that proved to be of great value and benefit to me, Shark Tank and YouTube.
  2. Join an incubator that is composed at least partially of active-duty and veteran business owners. I benefited greatly from the camaraderie I found by applying to a veteran incubator called Tactical Launch. I went through this incubator 2 years ago, and I am still close friends with many of the members of the cohort and many of us continue to be successful in business. The camaraderie is necessary when starting a business, especially if you are the sole founder. It’s actually the number one thing that servicemen and women miss the most when transitioning out of the military.
  3. If you are able to do so, start your business now. Many business startups require very little in the way of capital and expense. Most can be started out of your home with a phone, a laptop and a lot of determination. The biggest mistake I see in other founders is the desire to have everything ready prior to launch. A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow.

2 WWII veterans who are lifelong friends celebrate 96th and 97th birthdays together

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WWll veterans pictured smiling lifelong friends celebrate birthday together

World War II veterans and lifelong friends celebrated their 96th and 97th birthdays together in Whittier, California on Sunday. U.S. Army Veteran Randel “Randy” Zepeda Fernandez is turning 96 this week. His best friend of nearly 90 years, U.S. Coast Guard veteran Salvador “Sal” B. Guzman, just turned 97.

Fernandez’s son, Steve Fernandez, decided a major event was in order to mark the momentous occasion.

So he organized a massive celebration that drew a parade of community members, firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and even mariachi musicians.

“This is amazing. I didn’t expect it to be this big,” Steve Fernandez said.

Both veterans said they were surprised by the outpouring of gratitude.

“I knew nothing about this,” Guzman said.

The men’s friendship dates back to childhood.

“We’ve known each other since the second grade,” Randy Fernandez said. The men attended elementary school and junior high together, before they both attended Garfield High School, they said.

Randy Fernandez helped liberate concentration camps and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which helped organize the event. Guzman patrolled the Northern California coastline on horseback from 1943 to 1944.

“Both veterans reunited in the 1950s and bought their first homes on the same street in Montebello, raising their families together,” the sheriff’s department said in a written statement.

Continue on to CBS News to read the complete article.

Remembering America’s Military

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Memorial Day

Throughout American history, men and women have loved our country so deeply that they were willing to give their all to preserve its safety and freedom. On the last Monday in May, our nation honors the selfless heroes who gave their lives to defend the land we love and the freedoms we believe everyone deserves.

Memorial Day was first observed as Decoration Day on May 30, 1868. People visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries. Often people decorate the graves of the Civil War soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition.

Ways to Honor Our Fallen Heroes
This tradition continues on Memorial Day when we reflect on the courage of service members who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Here’s what you and your family can do to remember these heroes this Memorial Day:

✪✪Display the flag—The U.S. flag is flown at half-staff from dawn until noon on Memorial Day. Some people also choose to fly the POW/MIA flag to honor prisoners of war and those missing in.

✪✪Visit a cemetery—Honor the memory of a family member or another veteran by putting flowers on their grave.

✪✪Join the national moment of silence—Pause wherever you are at 3 p.m. for a moment of silence to remember and honor the fallen.

✪✪Attend local parades—Many cities and towns have Memorial Day parades to remember those who gave their lives for our country.

✪✪Wear red poppies—Red poppies are worn on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

How to Land a Government Contract

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A headshot of Katie Bigelow

By Katie Bigelow, founder, Mettle Ops

Government contracting is not for the faint of heart. The barriers to entry are high and the regulations are complicated and overwhelming. If easy money is the goal, government contracting is not the way to get it. We lose 99 bids out of 100. Can you take that kind of beating and keep going?

The first steps to government contracting are pretty simple. Register with Dun & Bradstreet. Don’t pay them or anyone else to do it. Regardless, of how it seems, it is a free service. They will give you a DUNS number. Use that to register in Sam.Gov where you will get a CAGE code. Don’t skip the opportunity in Sam.gov to complete the SBA Dynamic Small Business search. Read all the regulations that you are committed to follow. Next, register with Beta.sam.gov and look for opportunities to bid. When you find something that looks good, read the whole thing. That’s right. Read all 76 pages paying particular attention to the Performance Work Statement, Section L, and Section M. Submit your bid per their instructions. That’s it. Too easy.

I don’t actually know anyone that has made any real money doing it this way. No doubt there are people out there that simply followed the prescribed path and struck it big. More often, there are people that followed the path and ended up in the pokey, too.

The hard truth is that nobody in this business is rooting for you. I have never found a Government Small Business office that did anything other than put your name on a list and provide a PowerPoint presentation.

Government Contracting Officers, as a general rule, don’t want to do lots of small contracting actions for small businesses. They want to execute fewer contracting actions for big businesses with big dollar amounts. One of my first customers tried to offer me a $14 million contract. The contracting command gave us all a giant “NO!” We were too small, too new, too much of a nuisance.

“Go work for a prime for 5 years,” is the verbatim advice we’ve received from contracting officers. Large government primes have lots of attorneys, lots of money, and lots of shareholders to please. They use small businesses, strip the name of the small business off the work and offer it as your own. It’s not illegal. If you don’t mind, this may be the route for you. It’s not the route for me.

Here’s my secret sauce: Work really hard. Do all the things I mentioned in paragraph 2 and then work hard. We take every opportunity we can afford to meet people, to shake hands, to share what we’ve learned. We don’t shy away from making referrals, even if we get nothing in return. We wear our character on our sleeves, our business cards, and our websites. We were warfighters and always will be at heart. There is a standard of values that comes with that.

We are students of our industry. Take DAU classes. We read and connect and learn. We reach out personally to potential customers every single day. Our goal is to understand more about government contracting than even our customers know. We aren’t trying to outsmart them. We are trying to provide great value to them.

To date, I have only won 4 government contracts since 2015. The first was for $70,000, then $14 million, then $19 million, and the most recent another $19 million. Since I told you we won 1 out of 100 or less, you can do the math to see how many times we lost. Decide if this is the industry for you. If it is, call me. Maybe we can do it together.

Katie Bigelow is the founder of Mettle Ops, a woman-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned, disadvantaged small business. WBE, WOSB, EDWOSB, NVBDC, CVE, VOSB, SDVOSB, U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Certified 2027

Is America still the home of the brave?

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homelesss veteran sits on bench outside looking solemn

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, veterans were already experiencing homelessness at a higher rate than the civilian population. While we hunkered down in the comfort and safety of our homes, our veterans’ situation worsened. As of April 2020, veterans are 12.5%[1] more likely to pass away if exposed to the virus, making homeless veterans even more vulnerable.

Is America still the home of the brave if in these challenging times our heroes are left alone to fend for their lives in the streets of LA? Where is home for our heroes? What do we tell the Funderbergs of America who were once young kids fighting in Vietnam and are now 63-year-old men deprived of their dignity? Have we as a nation failed them in some way?

We ask, because we as American citizens who proudly sing about being “The Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave,” we are all responsible for making sure that the Funderbergs who proudly fought for our nation are taken care of.

New Directions for Veterans (NDVets) was founded by veterans for that precise reason, to empower men and women who served in the military, and their families, to lead productive and fulfilling lives. For more than 25 years, we have been providing transitional and emergency housing, food, clothing, counseling and vocational assistance to veterans in Southern California. NDVets currently operates eight permanent supportive housing facilities, with six additional properties scheduled to be completed and filled by the end of 2020.

We also run the nation’s first transitional housing for veterans that returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Residents leave NDVets with housing, a job, savings, renewed self-confidence and a support network of mentors and peers.

A misunderstanding NDVets tackled from the get go is that housing does not fix the problem. A majority of our homeless veterans survive with lingering effects of PTSD and substance abuse. The truth is mental health and sobriety is the key to ending the homeless crisis and taking our veterans out of the vicious cycle of homelessness.

At NDVets we assess our veterans to see what their needs are and create an individualized plan to ensure they feel supported. We offer clinical services, therapy sessions, and neurofeedback support. We provide the life skills and money management classes necessary for them to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

As you can imagine, we are now going through difficult times. The pandemic has impacted us and our veterans in a variety of ways, putting a strain on our organization whilst creating new challenges to tackle. Veterans feel more isolated, their mental health is declining and we fear the worst.  We’ve had to create a safe environment for our case and frontline workers, slow down the moving of veterans into available apartments, and are now  struggling with unbudgeted expenses such as hiring temporary workers.

While we partly rely on funding from the VA, most of our funding comes from grants and donations. Without you, we wouldn’t be here, without you, the veterans we house would be in the street.

California’s economy is one of the largest in the world, competing with that of Germany or the U.K, yet LA houses the largest population of homeless veterans in the country. That means that we can do better, we must do better.

Whether it is through volunteering, sewing masks, in-kind donations or donations, we must all think of ways we can give back to our veterans. They’ve done so much for our country, it’s time we do the same for them.

This year we will be holding two big charity events, to which you are all invited:NDVets Logo

– The 1st Annual Veteran’s Valor Golf Classic: Monday, August 17, 2020, at the exclusive Braemar Country Club in Tarzana.

The New Directions for Veterans Honoring Our Hero’s Gala 2020: Wednesday, October 21st, 2020, at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. An opportunity to honor both our veterans and those advocating for them.

The funds raised through the tournament and the Gala will be used to help continue supporting the veterans in our programs with the services that they need to become self-sufficient productive members of society once again.

We invite you to reserve your sponsorship or foursome today by contacting Dawn Zamudio, our Development Manager at (626) 627-6552 or via email at dzamudio@ndvets.org.  You can also visit our website at www.NDVets.org for more information.

Our Executive Director Leonardo Cuadrado, retired Captain,U.S. Marines Corps (USMC) likes to say “ In the Marine Corps we were always taught never leave a Marine behind both in garrison and in the combat zone, these veterans have served our nation honorably and it’s time for us as a nation not to leave any veteran behind.” Help us make America the home of the brave, help us support our nation’s heroes.

[1] National Coalition for Homeless Veterans CEO Kathryn Monet, House Hearing on Homeless Veterans and COVID-19 Pandemic, April 28, 2020.

Why Veterans Make the Best Candidates for the Workforce

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A male body wearing a suit that is half black and half camoflauge

Recently, LinkedIn released its “Veteran Opportunity Report,” a list of data that serves to better understand the reality of transitioning veterans into the workforce. The data shows that Veterans are more likely to have a college education, more work experience, and a lower turnaround rate than those who have never served in the military.

These are all ideal qualities for job hiring and yet military veterans are still having a difficult time securing jobs due to the myths about hiring veterans. In fact, the same LinkedIn report stated the unemployment rate of veterans has increased by a whopping 34 percent. However, educating yourself and being aware of the myths are some of the first steps to understanding why military veterans can be some of the best employees for a company, regardless of what the company specializes in.

Myth #1: Veterans don’t have proper work experience

Yes, the culture on the battlefield is different from the culture at home, but military personnel are trained in several areas that result in trusted and efficient employees. In the military, the consequences of mistakes and the criticalness of executing orders are much higher than that of the workplace. Veterans are trained on how to properly ensure that their missions are carried out carefully and efficiently, which transfer over to completing workplace tasks and duties. Many also believe most veterans do not have the mental health to keep a job, but this, as the LinkedIn data show, is incorrect, as they stay at their jobs longer than those who have not served.

Myth #2: Veterans don’t have the capacity to be leaders

This need for attentive, efficient workers also transfers over for a need of management. Managers undergo a significant amount of stress, while trying to manage a group of employees. Veterans on the battlefield also undergo the stress of managing those they are in charge of, but at the risk of bigger stakes and stresses. Veterans are already used to a much higher level of stress when it comes to managing others, which gives them even more of an advantage when they manage employees with a lower level of stress. In fact, veterans are 70 percent more likely to take leadership roles than those who have not served.

Myth #3: Veterans Have a High Turnover Rate

In fact, the opposite is true. LinkedIn’s Report states veterans are actually more likely to stay with their companies for 8.3 percent longer than an employee who has not seen military culture. They are also 39 percent more likely to be promoted in filling larger roles than their counterparts.

It can be hard to know if an individual can take on a needed position, especially when rumors and misconceptions fly around on an entire culture. But taking a look at the data and experiences of veterans can help potential employers to understand how efficient their businesses can be if they hire the ones who know how to lead and succeed.

USO Supports Service Members During Military Appreciation Month

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USO members and servicemembers stand on the dock in front of Red Cross Ship

May kicks off Military Appreciation Month, and the USO will continue its mission delivery to the military and their families. The USO has been on the front lines providing for the emergent needs of the Armed Forces during the COVID-19 pandemic. The USO’s mission of strengthening service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country is more critical than ever before.

The USO has proudly provided support to almost 150,000 service men and women and their families in just six weeks throughout the Western States through virtual programming, front-line support and distanced programming to quarantined isolated service members and family.

The USO has quickly mobilized to transition to military virtual programming including story-time for families, fun classes for kids, health and wellness for spouses and service members, and live engagements with celebrities and athletes. During the month of May service members in Alaska, California, Arizona and globally will have engagement with leading entertainers and celebrities including Eli Manning, Ciara, Trace Adkins, Ne-Yo, Sarah Silverman, Craig Robinson and more.

The USO during COVID – 19 has activated its small team to facilitate:

  • Weekly deliveries to essential military personnel throughout the region of supplies of food and toiletries
  • Care package deliveries to quarantined military, including units returning from deployment
  • Morale boosting and meal deliveries to National Guardsmen volunteering at local food banks, field hospitals and in the community
  • Providing support to the USNS Mercy docked at the Port of Los Angeles with morale boosting activities and meal donations

During Military Appreciation Month activities are increasing, upcoming USO support events throughout the West Coast include:

  • USO Alaska:
    • May 8: Eielson AFB is hosting a spouse spa bag and USO mask give away to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Visit Alaska.USO.org to donate and learn more about coming events.
    • COVID – 19 impact #’s to date: 59,978
  • USO Arizona: 
    • May 9: MilSpouse Appreciation Luncheon Serving 150 with lunch and spa bags at Davis-Monthan AFB. Visit Arizona.USO.org to donate and learn more about coming events.
    • COVID – 19 impact #’s to date: 54,443
  • Bob Hope USO: 
    • May 13, 20 and 27: Weekly Wednesday Lunch for USNS Mercy serving local eats to the Sailors and Marines providing ground support and security for the USNS Mercy
    • May 20: LAAFB Spouse Appreciation Event hosting virtual event for spouse appreciation month complete with grab bags and entertainment. Visit BobHope.USO.org to donate and learn more about upcoming events.
    • COVID – 19 impact #’s to date: 13,937
  • USO Nevada: 
    • May 8 and 15: May Lunch on the USO and Dinner on the USO which is intended for families at Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases.  Visit Nevada.USO.org to donate and learn more about upcoming events.
    • COVID – 19 impact #’s to date: 11,178
  • Northern California: 
    • May 12: Providing over 900 military medical staff at David Grant Hospital at Travis AFB with sweet treats in honor of Nurses Appreciation Week and their support during COVID-19
    • May 15: Distributing Spouse Appreciation kits to over 200 military spouses at Beale and Travis Air Force Bases. Visit NorthernCalifornia.USO.org to donate and learn more about upcoming events.
    • COVID – 19 impact #s to date: 4,600
  • USO San Diego: 
    • May 8: Military Spouse Appreciation Day Take the Night Off Dinner Kits and Swag Bag Giveaway  at USO Liberty Station and USO Camp Pendleton
    • May 16: Armed Forces Day USO and San Diego Padres Mobile Drive-Through Food Distribution at Petco Park. Visit SanDiego.USO.org to donate and learn more about coming events.
    • COVID – 19 impact #’s to date: 26,840

To learn more about USO West’s COVID-19 response, upcoming donations, Military Appreciation Month Activations and more visit BobHope.USO.org.

About the USO:
The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort and support. The USO is a private nonprofit organization, not a government agency. Our programs and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. To join us in this important mission, and to learn more about the USO, visit USO.org or at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Empowering Veterans to Address Mental Health Challenges

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America's Warrior Partnership Operation Deep Dive-team members stand together in front of poster board for support group

By Jim Lorraine, President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and while veterans and their families are leaders in navigating stressful situations, there are times when they can use some help to overcome a challenge. Whether the severity of a mental health issue ranges from mild to critical, there are programs and services tailored to help veterans navigate their unique situation.

During times like this, it is important to connect with resources that are available to help.

Accessing Mental Health Support

First and foremost, as I have, you should memorize the number to the Veterans Crisis Line. Any veteran who is experiencing an urgent crisis should call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, or text 838255. The Veteran’s Crisis Line enables veterans to reach caring and qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. These counselors can help veterans who may be feeling anxious, lonely, or are thinking about suicide. Veterans in crisis or need of help can reach out to the hotline for connection and immediate support.

For situations that are less urgent but no less severe, there are physical and virtual resources that veterans may be able to use. For example, in your community, there could be a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, Community Based Outpatient Clinic, or Vet Center. In addition to these programs, there are community behavioral health and health centers that can address many less urgent stressors. A great point of contact in the local community would be your local County Veteran Service Officer. They likely know of local resources and can facilitate your connection. Lastly, you may seek peer support from local Veteran Serving Organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Team Red, White, and Blue, or the American Legion.  However, if you are unable to navigate your community resources, you can contact the America’s Warrior Partnership Network, who will reliably connect veterans with a service provider from outside of their community, such as Vets4Warriors or the Cohen Veterans Network that specialize in peer and mental health support.

Advocating for New Resources and Programs

In addition to raising awareness of existing resources, one of the most important things that veterans can do this month – and throughout the rest of the year – is to advocate for new policies that will better support their brothers- and sisters-in-arms who live with a mental illness. One of the most cutting-edge pieces of legislation is Senate Bill 785, also called Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019. This bill unanimously passed the Senate and is one of the most significant pieces of legislation to improve mental health and end veteran suicide. We strongly encourage a bipartisan and bicameral approach to make this bill law.

Advocacy is especially critical in the national fight to reduce suicide and self-harm among veterans. One of the initiatives contributing to this effort is Operation Deep Dive, a four-year study currently being conducted by America’s Warrior Partnership and researchers from The University of Alabama with support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. The project is examining community risk factors involved in suicide and non-natural deaths among veterans in 14 communities across the country. By the study’s completion, researchers will develop a methodology that any community can implement to identify the unique risk factors of suicide among their local veterans and then address those factors through a customized support program.

As part of this study, Operation Deep Dive researchers are currently interviewing individuals who have either lost a loved one, friend, or acquaintance who was a veteran to suicide or a non-natural cause of death. These interviews will enable researchers to examine how a veteran was engaged within their community before their death, and more importantly, what can be done to better support veterans in the future.

To participate in an interview, individuals must be 18 or older and live within one of the 14 communities where Operation Deep Dive is taking place (the veteran must also have lived in that same community before their death). More information about the interviews and details on how to participate are available online.

By advocating for new policies and supporting essential programs, veterans can ensure their fellow service members who struggle with mental health challenges can build the quality of life that they have earned through their service.

About the Author

Jim Lorraine is President and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership, a national nonprofit that empowers communities to empower veterans. The organization’s mission starts with connecting community groups with local veterans to understand their unique situations. With this knowledge in mind, America’s Warrior Partnership connects local groups with the appropriate resources to proactively and holistically support veterans at every stage of their lives. Learn more about the organization at AmericasWarriorPartnership.org.

A Military Wife’s Guide to Suicide Prevention

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Depressed soldier leaning against the window covering his face with his arm

Aleha Landry is one of the many people who has a military spouse suffering from a form of mental illness from military experience.

Through her personal experiences tending to her husband’s mental health conditions and her knowledge of the rising suicide rate among military personnel, Landry does everything in her power to help those suffering from these conditions.

Through her husband’s struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, Landry has had a look at the various military-implemented mental health programs that help military personnel in these specific instances. Though in place for good reason, Landry has expressed her husband’s distaste for the programs, as they claim to be a solution for an issue that is as complicated and complex as mental health. To bring awareness to what veterans are actually feeling in times of mental health issues, Landry writes letters to Air Force leaders and members of Congress.

Though she is yet to receive a response to her letters, Landry does offer three helpful tips that she believes should be implemented into the mental health programs for military personnel.

  • Therapists working through these programs should either be stationed to stay in one place or at least have a five-year commitment to where they are currently located. Many of the therapists that Landry’s husband has seen have relocated in a short span of time, forcing him to retell his story and rebuild trust over and over again. Lancey believes that having one therapist who is guaranteed to stick around would allow for trust, understanding and healing to be better implemented.
  • Guarantee off-base counseling. This would allow for those seeking therapy to have a wider range of choice in finding the right counselor, rather than feeling the pressure to have to talk with a specific person.
  • Reduce the redundancy in progress questionnaires. Many questionnaires given to track the mental progress of military personnel are redundant and frustrating, according to Landry, who believes asking the questions once and having them answered to a therapist rather than on a sheet of paper would decrease frustration and give patients the sense of being cared for.

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