Toby Keith and a veterans’ group teamed up to give a wounded Marine an all-terrain wheelchair

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Toby Keith and wounded Marine in his new wheelchair onstage during concert

Before Toby Keith took the stage for his concert in Pittsburgh, he had a special gift for retired Marine Corporal Brandon Rumbaugh.

While serving in Afghanistan in 2010, Rumbaugh was carrying a fellow Marine to safety when he stepped on an IED resulting in the loss of both his legs. After being fitted with a prosthetic he told CNN in 2012 that he worked hard for two years to beat the odds and walk again. Since then he has become a motivational speaker, sharing his story with others.

On Friday before the start of Keith’s show at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Rumbaugh was presented with an all-terrain wheelchair, courtesy of the country singer and a veterans’ nonprofit.

Rumbaugh told CNN affiliate WPXI he wanted this type of wheelchair because it will allow him be more active outdoors and play with his six-month-old daughter.

The Independence Fund, a nonprofit that assists wounded veterans, teamed up with Keith to give Rumbaugh the $16,000 wheelchair, along with backstage passes and a meet and greet with the singer.

As Rumbaugh was leaving the stage in his new wheelchair, the crowd started chanting “U-S-A!” The Marine enjoyed the concert from the side of the stage and even joined Keith onstage during his performance of “American Soldier.”

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

Former Naval veteran turned cyclist Dan Hurd crosses country to bring suicide awareness

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Naval veteran now cyclist Dan Hurd standing outside in front of packed bicycle

Dan Hurd’s infectious smile and true contentment rests gently with him wherever he goes. But this hasn’t always been the case. There have been many days where the voices of fear, shame, depression, and anxiety have made it hard to smile and trust others.

The years of sexual abuse, PTSD from time served in the military, battling years of painful addictions, and struggling to ever have any real peace eventually lead to him believing this life just wasn’t worth living anymore.

After multiple failed suicide attempts, Hurd was invited to go on a weekend ride with friends that would inevitably change the course of his life forever.

Here’s his personal account:

In 2017, I was in a dark place in life. I had tried to commit suicide for the third time and felt like my life was this dark void. After I was released from the hospital, I was in the stage of telling everyone I was better, but deep down, I still had no idea how to change my life or what direction to go in.

My best friend had tried for years to get me to go bicycling with him with no success. He was an avid rider and I never really had the motivation to join him. I rode
motorcycles, and in my mind, it would be a downgrade.

This time though, for several reasons, I ended up taking him up on his offer. With nothing to lose, I decided to ride with him and two mutual friends. We rode 20 miles. It felt good in the moment but I still felt the same after. A few days later we rode again. This time 30 miles. Again, in the moment riding felt good, but this feeling of being in a void lingered. What changed everything was the third ride I took with him the following weekend. We took a 166-mile trip.

I remember in the first half falling asleep while riding and barely made it to our destination. What helped me get through was the encouragement of my friend, who told me, “stop worrying about what we’ve done and don’t worry about what we got left; it’s left, right, left, one pedal at a time.” After that trip everything changed.

I realized what got me through it wasn’t worrying about the past or the future but only living in the moment. Taking it “one pedal at a time” became my mantra and my turning point. Hearing that was like someone throwing a glow stick in the void. My void wasn’t as deep as I thought.

I fell in love with bicycling and started planning longer trips. I became addicted, but it was a better addiction then my past choices of alcohol and drugs.

After only a few months of riding, I knew that I needed to do something EPIC.

Cycling proved to be so transformational for Hurd that he decided to sell everything he had, get a bike and begin a journey around the country, visiting fellow veterans he had served with in the Navy.

He traveled across 48 states in the continental United States. As the trip went along, it was obvious that it was meant to be more than just a trip to visit friends. The journey totaled 25,000 miles in about three years to raise awareness for suicide prevention. “Broken down on a daily basis that’s 22 miles a day, and that’s my dedication to service members that lose their battle every day to suicide,” Hurd said.

His deep passion to share his gift of cycling with others, along with his desire to raise awareness about suicide prevention, was how the One Pedal At A Time Movement was created.

Now after 20+ states and thousands of miles later, you’re invited to be a part of this journey and learn to take life, one petal at a time.

Join the movement! #OPAATMOVEMENT

To learn more, visit: ridewithdanusa.com or opaatmovement.com

ROGUE WARFARE: THE HUNT

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Rogue Warfare:The Hunt movie promo poster with images of the cast

When the leader of an elite team of soldiers is captured by terrorists, it is up to the team to find and rescue him before it is too late..

In theaters and On Demand digital April 3, 2020.

Starring
Will Yun Lee, Jermaine Love, Rory Markham, Bertrand-Xavier Corbi, Katie Keene, Fernando Chien, Gina Decesare, Michael Blalock Essam Ferris, with Chris Mulkey and Stephen Lang

Directed By
Mike Gunther

Written By
Andrew Emilio DeCesare

 

 

 

WATCH THE TRAILER!

 

Prince Harry, Jon Bon Jovi Team Up for Invictus Games

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Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (L) chats with US singer Jon Bon Jovi as he arrives at Abbey Road Studios in London on February 28, 2020, where they met with members of the Invictus Games Choir, who were there to record a special single in aid of the Invictus Games Foundation

Prince Harry is collaborating on a new project with singer Jon Bon Jovi, potentially singing, for the upcoming Invictus Games for wounded soldiers.

Bon Jovi’s new recording of “Unbroken” is set to be released next month and will be on his new album, according to NBC’s “Today.”

“I had written a song that was important for what we’re doing,” Bon Jovi told NBC. “I just sent him a letter. I don’t know Harry, but he embraces my idea.”

The song was written for veterans living with post-traumatic stress syndrome, and Prince Harry’s Invictus Games feature wounded veterans competing in events such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing.

The song will feature the Invictus choir made up of participants, and might even include Prince Harry signing – aka, “the artist formerly known as prince,” Bon Jovi told NBC.

Asked “can Harry sing,” Bon Jovi responded: “You’ll have to wait and find out.”

The Invictus Games is where Prince Harry introduced his then-girl friend Meghan Markle three years ago.

Photo Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Continue on to NewsMax to read the complete article.

Service Beyond the Battlefield

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Live to Give bottle of water sitting on a table with blurred image of people in the background

I knew I wanted to join the Army by the time I was 20 years old. In the months leading up to that birthday, I had taken some time to try to discover my career path and what I wanted to do with my life. After some self-reflection and looking inward, I realized that I wanted my life to serve a greater purpose than myself. I wanted my life to have meaning.

Two months after my 20th birthday, I arrived at basic training, ready to start my career and future with the United States Army. I served for 12 years, including seven years in the special forces.

During my time serving, I was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and it was there that I lost my leg to sniper fire. The weeks and months that followed the injury were some of the most difficult that I had ever experienced. It was a devastating injury that would impact my life forever, but I was not ready to let it define my life. Following my recovery and rehabilitation, I attended Special Forces Sniper School and became the first amputee to graduate.

I often think about my decision to serve my country, even re-enlisting after losing my leg. The impact that my experiences have had on me is hard to describe, but it is an impact that I feel every single day.

While joining the Army taught me so many lessons, the biggest lesson I learned was how to live a life of selfless service, a life for others. The mentality of focusing on myself was not an option anymore. Instead, it was all about the team and serving a greater good.

I learned so much while in the Army, and leaving it was not easy. Once my time in the Army had come to its conclusion, the transition into civilian life was difficult to say the least. Not only was I transitioning from my career, I was also transitioning with my health. I was not only having to learn how to live my life as an amputee, but now also as a civilian. Throughout this transition, I would consistently question myself with what I was going to do next and how I was going to provide for my family. And for a while, I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew that I had to keep moving.

A phrase that I always say is to “lean forward and fight hard” and that is what pushed me through this difficult time.

This mission remains true with the work that I do today. As a veteran and an amputee, I know how important it is to honor those who have put their lives on the line, thank them for their service and of course, give back to them, so that they too can experience the American dream that they fought so selflessly to protect.

Last year, I co-founded a bottled water brand called Live to Give. With every purchase, we donate 50% of our net profits to organizations that support military, first responders and their families.

While I can no longer physically serve my country as I did in the Army, building Live to Give and a team of people who want to give back is my new way of serving my country.

About the Author
John Wayne Walding spent 12 years in the United States Army, including seven years in the Special Forces Group at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. After losing his leg in battle in 2008, John went on to become the first amputee to graduate Special Forces Sniper School. Today, John serves as co-founder of Live to Give, a beverage company that donates half of its net profits to first responders, military members and their families.

Milo Ventimiglia Brings the Impact of War Home

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Milo V. Featured-Shaking hands-USVM

By Sara Salam

Understanding the effect war can have on an individual and their family is something Milo Ventimiglia knows intimately. His dad, Peter Ventimiglia, served two tours of duty as a soldier in Vietnam.

Ventimiglia has friends who served more recently, and he almost went into the Navy himself at age 18. This military connection has retained its significance in his life, though he ultimately has pursued a different path.

This path includes a career in the world of Hollywood, where Ventimiglia has earned fan acclaim for roles such as Jess Mariano in Gilmore Girls, Peter Petrelli in Heroes, and most recently, Jack Person in This Is Us. He’s even spent time behind the camera in a director capacity.

Now in its fourth season, This Is Us is an NBC series chronicling the lives and families of two parents, and their three children in several different time frames. Ventimiglia’s character, Jack Pearson, is the protagonist and late husband of Rebecca; the couple are the parents around which the main storyline centers. Jack is also a Vietnam veteran.

Inspired by his father’s service, Ventimiglia weaves sentiments conveyed to him by his father into Jack’s character.

“It was very easy to reflect on stories I’d heard from my father and then kind of tie things together,” he said. “It very much informed who Jack became – coming from combat, coming from war, looking out for his brother and really looking after the guys that he served with.”

Ventimiglia himself is active in expressing and garnering support for military service members.

Last year, Ventimiglia spent time with military leaders and Defense Department personnel at the Pentagon, with the goal of developing new ways to strengthen the civilian-military connection.

Several months ago, Ventimiglia took part in the 21-push-up challenge, in which 21 push-ups are executed to bring awareness for veteran suicides. He is actively involved with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization (IAVA), which supports veterans who need help when they return home from war.

He has performed in USO shows for deployed troops and been visiting military bases for about a decade.

“We did 10 shows over six days, covering 17,000 miles, 18 flights, five countries and eight time zones,” the actor said of a recent USO tour. “It was the first tour that I’ve been on where we were actually putting on a show.”

When it was his turn to perform, he would ask a service member to join him onstage to act out a scene from This Is Us.

Milo Ventiglia and cast of This is Us
This Is Us: (L-R) Ron Cephas Jones, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Chris Sullivan, Siddhartha Khosla, Justin Hartley, Mandy Moore, Susan Kelechi Watson, Michael Angarano, and Milo Ventimiglia attend NBC’s This Is Us attend event in Hollywood. PHOTO BY RACHEL LUNA/GETTY IMAGES

Themes of War

Season 3, for example, delves deeply into how Jack’s time in Vietnam as a solider shaped him.

Season 4, in contrast, focuses on more of Jack and Rebecca’s story before they became parents. However, the themes of Vietnam are present in their love story.

“The Vietnam stuff informs the new love, let’s just say, because it’s fresh in Jack’s mind, it’s fresh in Jack’s heart,” Ventimiglia told The Hollywood Reporter. “He is someone who’s just home from war, but yet he wants to move forward in his life, he wants to embrace this feeling of home he’s getting from this woman…It’s a bit relieving to be away from the war moments and play new love, but at the same time it’s heartbreaking, too, because we know how that story ends. Jack dies in his 50s. So, the whole is basically just one big heartbreak.”

Preparing for Combat

As part of his preparation for the Vietnam-specific scenes, Ventimiglia participated in a boot camp that taught the basic operating procedure of a solider and a solider of the Vietnam era. But he notes that the process and protocols are but a fraction of the required research to fully embody Jack’s character.

“Emotionally understanding what was going on at that time in the world, but in particular in the U.S.—young men being drafted and really how the draft was going to drastically change someone’s life and put them on a course that a lot of guys just couldn’t recover from—that was something that was as much preparation as learning how to operate an M16 rifle, protocol in military, and battle scenes.”

Ventimiglia also leveraged Tim O’Brien’s personal account of the war to inform his character. O’Brien is the author of The Things They Carried, a collection of linked short stories about a platoon of American soldiers fighting on the ground in the Vietnam War. This work is based on his own experiences as a soldier in the 23rd Infantry Division.

While Ventimiglia synthesizes the soldierly aspects of battle from primary sources, like his dad and O’Brien, he makes sure to parlay the sentimental undertones that shape who Jack is.

“There’s always an emotional touchstone that I have to be aware of within the technical aspect of playing war,” Ventimiglia said. “Because of who Jack is and what he’s going through, I can’t just dive him into ‘super-militaristic guy with the golden heart’; he’s the guy with the conscience. But in this case, the guy with the golden heart is attached to a rifle.”

Most of the Vietnam narrative was shot at Lake Piru in California, but production also took place actually in Vietnam.

Milo Ventiglia at premiere
Milo Ventimiglia attends “The Art Of Racing In The Rain” New York Premiere in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/WireImage)

“For me, I was very aware,” Ventimiglia said of shooting in Vietnam, “and maybe a little self-conscious of wearing an American uniform over there.”

The actor pointed to a particularly striking moment during a break from shooting near two lotus fields. Wearing the full battle dress uniform—complete with a rifle slung on his shoulder—Ventimiglia was standing in place when an older man on a bicycle came upon him.

“He kind of looked at me, looked at me again and said something to himself and kept riding,” Ventimiglia said. “And Dustin Nguyen, who was my costar who played Bao, he starts laughing … I guess the guy [said], ‘An American soldier, what the hell is he doing here again?’”

A Personal Battle

Ventimiglia’s character doesn’t like to talk about his experiences in war, because he doesn’t want anyone to bear the burden of knowing.

“[Jack] doesn’t want anybody to have to shoulder that or be concerned for him, because Jack and who he is and being a man of that era, I think he bottles it all up and he shoulders it. He gets through it for himself. He doesn’t want anybody else to have to help him deal with it. He just will keep it concealed forever, which ultimately he does.”

Ventimiglia understands this personal paradox, and does his best to convey how these emotions can play out amongst family and friends. He sees it in his dad.

“My dad is such a great man,” he told PEOPLE’s Jess Cagle. “I know even though he presented himself as put-together, I know that war impacted him and affected him; I would start to pull those feeling I saw from my own father into Jack.”

Organizations like America’s Warrior Partnership are committed to empowering communities to address issues like veteran mental health. It fills the gaps that exist between current veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with the veterans, military members and families in need: bolstering their efficacy and improving their results.

For example, Community Integration is an America’s Warrior service model that emphasizes holistic support inclusive of mental health, ensuring veterans are empowered to achieve a better quality of life.

“He may be past physical war, but it doesn’t mean he’s not in private war—personal war,” Ventimiglia said of Jack in an Entertainment Weekly (EW) interview. “Those fractures and cracks that you just never recover from. We’re going to see him go through that experience post-war, really trying to reconnect and restart. What is life after Vietnam?”

Actor Milo Ventimiglia laughs with Air Force Lt. Col. Elizabeth H. Scott during a visit to the Pentagon
Actor Milo Ventimiglia laughs with Air Force Lt. Col. Elizabeth H. Scott during a visit to the Pentagon.

Directorial Debut

Ventimiglia, who was recently nominated for his third consecutive Lead Actor Emmy, has expanded his role with This Is Us to include director. His directorial debut, episode five of season four, “Storybook Love,” follows his own character and his pregnant wife as they host their first family get-together in their new house. The episode also follows a still-grieving Rebecca a year after Jack’s death hosting a dinner after Kevin – her son –shared his marital news.

Ventimiglia leveraged his role as the actor embodying Jack as well as Jack’s own proximity to the characters. He says this gave him a depth of understanding and appreciation for their roles in the narrative.

“I watch the show from almost a studious place where I’m focused on the making of it, the look of it and the feel of it. Aside from acting on the show, I’m a fan.”

Because of the anachronistic approach the show takes to storytelling, it’s crucial the stories and timelines are consistent throughout the narrative.

“I love the working backwards of this show,” Ventimiglia told The Hollywood Reporter. “We know that Jack lost his life in a fire. How are we going to get there? It’s informing where we’re going to be going.”

Announcing the new home for Sky Ball!

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Sky Ball announcement promo poster

Arlington, Texas —  The  Airpower Foundation  is proud to announce the new home for the upcoming  Sky Ball XVIII ; at the brand-new, state-of-the-art,  Texas Rangers Globe Life Field  in Arlington Texas. On the weekend of August 21 st  and 22 nd  2020, the largest and most impactful civilian military support event in the nation joins the Major Leagues.

“We are ecstatic to welcome the Airpower Foundation and their world-famous Sky Ball event to Globe Life Field. The work that the Airpower Foundation does for our military is truly extraordinary and we are honored to be their host for 2020 and beyond.” Said  Sean DeckerEVP, Sports and Entertainment, Texas Rangers Baseball Club.

Since its inception as the premier fundraising event for the Airpower Foundation, an all-volunteer organization, Sky Ball has raised over $20 million. Thanks to generous sponsors, Sky Ball has grown from a single evening fundraising dinner to a weekend of tributes honoring our nation’s military and their families. Activities over the weekend’s festivities include educational outreach programs to local schools, a Friday evening concert dedicated to our military and families, a portrait presentation-luncheon honoring a fallen military hero, all of which culminates with the Sky Ball Saturday evening Gala.

“The Airpower Foundation has displayed an unwavering commitment when it comes to supporting our military veterans across this great country,” said  Jeff Williams ,   Mayor of   Arlington . “The foundation’s legacy of recognizing their sacrifices, and taking care of military families, is an inspiration to all Americans. We’re incredibly honored to welcome the prestigious Sky Ball to Arlington, the home of the future National Medal of Honor Museum, and we’re grateful for the instrumental leadership of Airpower Chairman Sid Eppes for helping us showcase why The American Dream City has a patriotic spirit that’s second to none.”

“We couldn’t be more excited with this opportunity to host our 18 th  annual event at the brand-new ballpark with the Texas Rangers.” Said  Sid EppesChairman of the Airpower Foundation . “This extraordinary new venue will allow us to raise more funds than ever before, making an even larger impact changing the lives of our nation’s military, veterans, wounded, their families, and the families of our fallen military heroes.”

Over the past twenty years, Airpower Foundation has grown to fund more than 72 programs across the country annually, ensuring the funds raised directly impact and support those who need it the most.

For more information on individual and sponsorship opportunities, please visit  AirpowerFoundation.org

Airpower Foundation

The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with its roots dating back to 1958, when Air Force General Curtis LeMay and businessman/philanthropist Frank Kent created the Fort Worth Airpower Council dedicated to supporting the military community at Carswell Air Force Base.

The mission of the Airpower Foundation has grown since its formation in 1999 and is now a nationwide, all-volunteer program dedicated to supporting active duty, reserve and National Guard families. Airpower also supports projects to assist wounded service members, children of our fallen military, veterans of previous wars and educational projects to make sure the next generation understands the honor and sacrifice of wearing the cloth of this country. Thanks to our generous sponsors and supporters, the Airpower Foundation currently funds over 72 grants annually nationwide.

The Airpower Foundation board of directors is a diverse group of professionals who volunteer their time and are dedicated to the proposition that freedom is not free. It is their noble mission to assist deployed military families, wounded service members, and veterans of past wars. They spend countless hours visiting military installations and families, assessing needs and grant requests. They are instrumental in providing leadership to organize and execute numerous projects every year in support of military families.

airpowerfoundation.org

Sky Ball

Sky Ball is the premier fundraising event for the Airpower Foundation and has raised over $20 million since its inception thanks to our generous sponsors. Sky Ball has grown from a single evening fundraising dinner, to a weekend of events honoring our nation’s military and their families. Events over the weekend include educational outreach programs to local area schools, a concert for military and families Friday evening, a portrait presentation luncheon honoring a fallen military hero, which all culminates with the Sky Ball Gala Saturday evening.

Paralyzed Veterans of America to host Wheelchair Rugby Tournament for wounded heroes and adaptive athletes

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Paralyzed Veterans of America logo

Paralyzed Veterans of America will host 12 wheelchair rugby teams from across the country to compete in its 3rd Annual Code of Honor Quad Rugby Invitational.

The tournament brings together national league wheelchair rugby teams made up of disabled military veterans and civilian adaptive athletes, to compete in a 3-day round-robin style tournament. A wheelchair rugby skills clinic will be held prior to the start of the tournament to introduce novice players to the sport.

The clinic is free and individuals with disabilities as well as rehab health professionals who are interested in learning more about the sport are invited to attend.

The Quad Rugby Invitational is one of many year-round adaptive sports opportunities Paralyzed Veterans of America provides for disabled veterans and other individuals with disabilities.

WHEN:    Friday, February 7, 2020
Wheelchair Rugby Skills Clinic         10:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Opening Ceremony                          11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Competition begins                          12:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

                 Saturday, February 8, 2020
Competition                                      8:45 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

                 Sunday, February 9, 2020
Competition                                      9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
                 Championship Game                        10:30 a.m.
Closing Ceremony and Awards        11:45 a.m. (approx.)

  

WHERE:   The St. James
6805 Industrial Road
Springfield, VA 22151

The St. James is a 450,000 square foot sports, wellness and active entertainment destination in the Washington, DC metro area. Paralyzed Veterans of America hosted its 2019 Code of Honor tournament at The St. James, making it the first adaptive sports event to be held at the facility.

WHO:      Paralyzed Veterans of America (host)

Eleven Division II teams from the U.S. Quad Rugby Association (USQRA) and PVA’s at-large team comprised of military veterans:

Northern Virginia Mutiny
Maryland Mayhem
MedStar DC NRH Punishers
PVA at-large team
Brooks Bandits
Philadelphia Magee Eagles
NEP Wildcats
New York Warriors
Oscar Mike Militia
Raleigh Sidewinders
Richmond Sportable Possums
Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch

For more information or to view the full tournament schedule, please visit pva.org/codeofhonor.

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.

About The St. James
The St. James is the premier sports, wellness and entertainment destination in the country. Our mission is to maximize human potential by designing, developing and operating sports, wellness, entertainment and hospitality programs, services and experiences that engage, inspire and empower people to pursue their passions and be their best at play, at work and in life. The St. James aims to serve as the center of the universe in every community where it is located by delivering the most comprehensive combination of best-in-class sports and wellness venues, developmental and elite coaching, training and competition, five-star lifestyle experiences and family centered active fun all in an environment that engages, inspires and delights everyone that comes through our doors. The St. James, which opened its first location just outside of Washington, DC in the fall of 2018, plans to open its second complex in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnshire in the fall of 2021. For more information, please visit thestjames.com.

New virtual employment service provides support for disabled veterans anywhere, anytime

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disabled veteran in wheelchair looking online for employment

Paralyzed Veterans of America announces a new virtual engagement initiative from its employment program, PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment), that specializes in helping veterans with disabilities find meaningful employment. PAVE Connect bridges a critical gap, reaching those who do not have the time, means, or ability to attend traditional employment or educational events.

In recent years, PVA has observed that traditional hiring and employment fairs are ineffective for many PAVE clients — the overlooked and undervalued veteran workforce. Veterans with disabilities, especially those who are significantly injured or ill, are less likely to attend large public events with crowds or in locations that are not easily accessible.

Through PAVE Connect, members of the veteran community can:

  • Interact with PAVE employment experts through virtual meetings.
  • Meet employers eager to hire from the military and veteran community.
  • Access an online library of timely, relevant career information — on their schedule and from any device.
  • View recorded presentations and access other tools and resources on demand.
  • Discover a wide range of meaningful education, volunteer, and employment opportunities.

“I am thrilled to add PAVE Connect to our list of services,” said Lauren Lobrano, PVA’s director of PAVE. “Virtual technology provides yet another meaningful way to reach and serve our clients. If a veteran is underemployed, they can’t take the time away from their current job to pursue a better one. If a veteran has a significant disability, yet is capable and employable, big events can be a deterrent. PAVE Connect helps level that playing field and maintains our proven one-on-one, high-touch approach.”

PAVE employment analysts and vocational rehabilitation counselors work with clients to overcome barriers to employment at all stages of their life. The unique, no-cost program offers assistance not only to veterans across the country, but also to transitioning service members, spouses, and caregivers and specializes in assisting those with barriers to employment.

“Employment is a vital part of feeling independent, especially if you’ve been injured or have a disability,” said Hack Albertson, national vice president of PVA and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “I was introduced to Paralyzed Veterans of America through the PAVE program. The support I received made such an impact, I committed my career to giving back and helping other veterans like myself. Now with PAVE Connect, our reach extends further to meet those who need us most.”

PAVE Connect sessions, led by employment experts, cover topics such as transitioning from military to civilian employment, interview preparation, requesting accommodations in the workplace, effective resume tips, and more. PVA’s employment and educational partners will also participate in select sessions, offering exceptional networking opportunities and insight into the opportunities available within their organizations. The first several PAVE Connect pilot sessions provided clients with informative dialogue and useful resources as they work toward finding meaningful employment.

Watch past PAVE Connect sessions, view the upcoming schedule, and register to participate in a session for free at pva.org/pave.

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.

FDA agrees to expand access to ecstasy for PTS treatment

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Young depressed military man talking about emotional problems with psychotherapist at doctor's office

MDMA, an illegal psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy or molly, could be used to treat post-traumatic stress, researchers say. But access to the drug for testing has been difficult, even though the Food and Drug Administration in 2017 designated it as a “breakthrough therapy” for PTS treatment.

Veterans experience PTS at a higher rate than the rest of the population. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 11-20 percent of veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTS, compared to about 8 percent of non-veterans.

Clinical tests of the drug are in their third phase, but people whose moderate or severe PTS  is resistant to other treatments could potentially benefit from early access to MDMA, according to the nonprofit research group, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

MAPS plans to allow early access to “potentially beneficial investigational therapies for people facing a serious or life-threatening condition for whom currently available treatments have not worked,” according to a MAPS news release

Phase 3 clinical trials are ongoing for the drug’s use in treating PTS, but the new approval from FDA will allow a select 50 patients at up to 10 sites in the U.S. earlier access to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Clinical trials are expected to be completed by 2021, meaning the FDA could approve the drug as soon as 2022.

MDMA is a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen, producing an energizing effect, distortions in perception, increased self-awareness and empathy and “enhanced enjoyment from sensory experiences,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“The resurgence of research into using drugs such as MDMA to catalyze psychotherapy is the most promising and exciting development I’ve seen in my psychiatric career,” Dr. Michael Mithoefer, acting medical director for MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, said in a statement.

MAPS hopes FDA will provide additional expanded access once it shows the drug helped its first 35 patients.

Patients who participate in the treatment take a dose of the drug in a controlled clinical environment as part of a course of psychotherapy. They’ll also be responsible for the costs of their treatment, unlike in the clinical trials.

After the drug is approved, patients will still not be able to take MDMA at home, and won’t fill prescriptions at a local pharmacy. The drug will only be available through a certified doctor in a supervised therapeutic setting, MAPS said.

The expanded access or “compassionate use,” requires at least one therapist involved in treatment have a medical or clinical doctorate degree.

Selection of the 10 sites that will offer the treatment is expected to be announced in the coming months. More than 120 sites have applied, according to MAPS. Once the program starts, patients can apply to their preferred site.

Continue on to ConnectingVets.com to read the complete article.

Army veteran who said prosthetic legs were repossessed to get new pair from VA

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veteran Jerry Holliman pictured whose prosthetic leges repossessd

Last August, two months after doctors amputated his left leg, Holliman received a pair of prosthetic legs from Hanger. He had begun therapy sessions with the company at the Collins State Veterans Home to learn how to properly walk.

That all came to halt on Dec. 23 when a representative from Hanger repossessed his prosthetic legs after learning the VA would not pay for them. It was a huge blow to Holliman’s hopes of being able to return to home in Hattiesburg, Miss., for the holidays.

“It’s like somebody walked up to you and gave you a punch in the gut,” Holliman said. “Why would you come and take a veteran’s legs?’

The set of prosthetic legs were returned to Holliman a few days later. However, Holliman said Hanger would no longer make the needed adjustments that allowed him to properly use the prosthetic legs until someone paid for them.

The VA told Holliman that the prosthetics legs were obtained as a private purchase, which precluded them from paying for them on his behalf. Instead, he said he was told to use Medicare to pay for them. He refused that option because he said using Medicare would have required him to pay a co-pay.

Krisita Burkey, the vice president of public relations and communications at Hanger, told Fox News in a statement that patient privacy laws prevented the company from talking about Holliman’s case specifically. However, she said, “Hanger does not take back prosthetic devices once a patient signs for the delivery.

“A signed verification of delivery is a necessary step in the delivery process due to regulations, but actual payment is not required upon delivery to the patient,” the statement continued. “Payment is typically received from the applicable payer, whether it is a private insurer, Medicare/Medicaid or the VA, at a later date.”

Walker told Fox News that Holliman had come to the VA’s prosthetics department in Jackson shortly after his left leg was amputated. Holliman inquired about the VA making him a pair of prosthetic legs, but Walker said the VA was unable to begin the process at the time.

“We cannot begin a prosthetic evaluation until the skin is completely healed because of the pressure and the things that are required to wear and use a prosthetic device,” he explained.

Walker, who was given permission by Holliman to speak about the case to Fox News, said the 69-year-old never followed up with the VA after that visit. Instead, he said Holliman went to a private clinic and then to Hanger to obtain prosthetic legs.

“We want veterans to use us,” Walker said. “If a veteran chooses to go outside of our system, we cannot, unfortunately, take on the responsibilities for private purchases and that’s the case.”

Holliman denied that he had gone to Hanger on his own to get prosthetic legs. He said he had no authority to make his own appointments and was following directives from medical personnel at the state-run veterans home where he’s resided for the last year.

After the VA’s decision to give him a new set of prosthetic legs, Holliman told Fox News he accepted an appointment for later this month. However, after this ordeal, he remains skeptical.

“I can’t walk on proposals. I need to see it [to] fruition,” Holliman said. “I’m trying to recoup my life. I can’t do it on my own. I need the help of the VA.”

Continue on to FOX News to read the complete article.

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