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A War Veteran's Identity Crisis

July saw a record number of suicides in the Army and among recent veterans. I was nearly one of them.

I suffer from both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, the two most common conditions of suicidal veterans. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming.

This summer, as has happened often before, I experienced severe depression, which leads to isolation. Then, when I was feeling most hopeless, I also started feeling tremendously reckless. I found myself feeling aggressive and impulsive, feelings that fuel erratic behavior. With each passing week of the summer, as I pushed yet another friend or family member away, it became easier to envision suicide as an option to break this insufferable tension.

Posted in Veterans News



Bill Would Expand Fertility Coverage For Veterans

WASHINGTON -- The roadside bomb that exploded outside Andrew Robinson's Humvee in Iraq six years ago broke the Marine staff sergeant's neck and left him without use of his legs. It also cast doubt on his ability to father a child, a gnawing emotional wound for a then-23-year-old who had planned to start a family with his wife of less than two years.

The catastrophic spinal cord injury meant the couple's best hope for children was in vitro fertilization, an expensive and time-consuming medical procedure whose cost isn't covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Robinson and his wife were forced to pay out of pocket, with help from a doctor's discount and drugs donated by other patients.

1126 Views | 128 Likes


Posted in Veterans News



For Ex-GIs, Next Battle Is Finding Job

By Beth Brown
San Antonio Express-News
September 20, 2012

The transition into civilian life hasn't been easy for Michael Jenkins.After 23 years in the Army, he retired as a sergeant first class in February. He has been unemployed ever since.

Jenkins is not alone in his struggle. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that while veterans have a nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, Gulf War-era II veterans — or those who have served in the military since Sept. 11, 2001 — have an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent. The country's overall unemployment rate is about 8 percent.

2291 Views | 162 Likes


Posted in Veterans News



Former War Commander Fighting For Funds To Combat Brain Injuries

More than 244,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with some form of brain injury over the past 12 years, according to Pentagon statistics.

They are the most common injuries among combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet little is known about how to treat these wounds or cure the illnesses that result from them, says Peter Chiarelli, retired four-star general and former vice chief of the Army.

For a nation that takes pride in taking care of its wounded soldiers, he laments, it is a shame that the so-called invisible wounds of war get so little attention.

Posted in Veterans News



Gen. Odierno Discusses Army Efforts To Limit Traumatic Brain Injuries

MATT LAUER: It is a startling number. More than 244,000 U.S. troops have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries, an issue that is front and center for the NFL, a league dealing with the problem of concussions among many of its current and former players. The league is now teaming up with the U.S. Army and National Institutes of Health to research ways to limit these types of injuries. Roger Goodell is commissioner of the NFL. Dr. Story Landis is the director of the NIH's Neurology Institute, and General Odierno is the chief of staff of the Army. Good morning to all of you. It's nice to see you.

General, that's a huge number, 244,000 returning military personnel with these brain injuries. I know the seriousness of those injuries varies from person to person, but it's a problem that has to be addressed.

GEN. ODIERNO: Absolutely, and one of the problems we have are soldiers coming forward first to say I have a problem. And so one of the things we're really focusing on is making sure that the same qualities -- mental toughness,physical toughness,dedication to mission accomplishment -- does not impede people from saying "I have a problem and I need to get help." That's why this initiative is important to us. We're now putting sensors in helmets, our kevlar helmets for the first time. About 7,000 soldiers have those in their helmets. As we're collecting more and more data, we're learning more and more information, but we have a lot of work to do yet.

Posted in Veterans News



Good News For Veteran Discharged Without Benefits

More than 20,000 men and women have left the Army and Marines in the last four years with other-than-honorable discharges, jeopardizing their benefits and leaving some of them struggling to find treatment for health problems.

Jarrid Starks, a troubled Army veteran who received the Bronze Star for Valor but was dismissed from service with an other-than-honorable discharge, has been granted health-care benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Starks was featured in an Aug. 12 Seattle Times story that examined the plight of veterans whose other-than-honorable discharges have put their veteran's benefits at risk.

Starks had been told that it might take a year or more for the VA to undertake a review to see if he is eligible for benefits.

Posted in Veterans News



Is The Army Doing Enough To Help Soldiers Suffering From Mental Health Problems?

By Greg Barnes, Staff writer
Fayetteville (NC) Observer

Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick stood in front of 14,000 soldiers on Fort Bragg in February with a message:

"We have got to stop the violence."

Just weeks before, Helmick had closed out the combat mission in Iraq and brought the troops home. Now, as he congratulated them for a job well done, he could not ignore some disturbing numbers. In just the past six weeks, he knew of six suicides and 25 accusations of spousal abuse.

Since Helmick retired in May, the violence at home has only gotten worse.

2231 Views | 81 Likes


Posted in Veterans News



Making A House Home For Veteran

Caleb Getscher's new home means a lot to him.

The 21-year-old Marine lance corporal lost both of his legs and part of an arm while on duty in Afghanistan last year. His parents' home in Chaptico, where he spends weekends when he is not at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, was not easy to get around in a wheelchair or with prosthetic limbs.

Now he is able to live more comfortably in an addition built to that house, thanks to a program administered by Patuxent Habitat for Humanity. Volunteers and elected officials gathered at the house Aug. 25 to dedicate the new living space.

Posted in Veterans News



Nursing Schools Examine Efforts To Care For Veterans

Colleges sign on for Joining Forces national initiative

With nurses often at the front lines of medical care, there's a movement in the Chicago area and across the country to ensure that nursing students are better trained to tend to a new generation of patients who are military veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the National League of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and other industry groups are calling on nursing schools to take a pledge to do more to educate students on handling veterans and their families. The pledge is part of Joining Forces -- a campaign championed by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to support veterans. Hundreds of nursing schools have already signed on, according to nursing groups.

1060 Views | 92 Likes


Posted in Veterans News



Planned Invictus San Diego facility would treat veterans, and later civilians, who have had amputations or traumatic brain injuries

By Gretel C. Kovach, U-T

A group of military, veteran and community health care heavyweights began meeting last year in San Diego to think big about improving treatment for amputation and traumatic brain injury.

The plan that took shape is unlike any nationwide, organizers say: a community center offering medical treatment, family and mental health counseling, job placement and education services under one roof.

Posted in Veterans News



She's One Of Us

Petraeus -- Holly, that is -- makes mark on military by putting herself between soldiers and swindlers

By Rick Hampson, USA Today

When 18,000 members of the Army's 101st Airborne Division flew back to Fort Campbell, Ky., in 2004 after a year in Iraq, Holly Petraeus was there to meet them, no matter the hour, the weather or her other duties.

Posted in Veterans News



Soldiers' Mental Health: An Emergency

By Arnold Fisher And Bill White
New York Daily News
October 10, 2012
Pg. 32

Be Our Guest

Anyone who believes that our country’s methods are adequate for helping veterans re-adapt to society as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down need look no further than at the following data: In the year 2012, 211 members of the United States Armed Forces took their own lives.

At least 53 of them committed suicide in July and August. That is more than the total number of battlefield deaths in those months. This is a crisis that has gone largely unaddressed in this political cycle, and it’s unacceptable.

Posted in Veterans News



Veterans Help Themselves By Helping Others

Nonprofit grooms ex-military for jobs via service projects

Jeffrey Hall knows the look of an empty pantry.

“I do remember some days when we only had crackers in the house,” said Hall, 45, who recalled frequent trips to a food bank on the North Side. “A family of four, and crackers and water.”

Hall left Chicago to join the Navy, but he will return this week as a fellow with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit group dedicated to involving veterans of recent wars in meaningful service projects. More than 100 veterans will gather in Chicago this weekend to prepare for six months of work at nonprofits across the country.

1588 Views | 87 Likes


Posted in Veterans News



Vets Struggle To Go From War To Work

Civilian employers are reluctant to hire them, they say.

By David Zucchino

WASHINGTON -- Matt Pizzo has a law degree, can-do attitude, proven leadership skills, and expertise in communications and satellite technology from his four years in the Air Force.

Posted in Veterans News



Wal-Mart Therapy Tried By Pentagon For Traumatized Troops

By Gopal Ratnam and Michelle Fay Cortez, Bloomberg News

No one knows better than Connie Chapman that almost 150 years since troops came home with "soldier's heart" after the Civil War, the U.S. military is still struggling to identify and treat what's now called PTSD.

Posted in Veterans News



War Might Be Making Young Bodies Old

BOSTON -- A litany of physical or emotional problems spill out as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans make their way, one by one, to the 11th floor of a VA hospital in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

The tragic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or battlefield concussion are all too evident. Even more alarming for researchers is emerging evidence that these newest American combat veterans -- former GIs and Marines in their 20s and 30s -- appear to be growing old before their time. Scientists see early signs of heart disease and diabetes, slowed metabolisms and obesity -- maladies more common to middle age or later.

Posted in Veterans News



Warrior Transition Command Launches 'Hire a Veteran' Campaign

STORY SUBMITTED BY J.D. LEIPOLD, ARMY.MIL

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Army's Warrior Transition Command unveiled its three-pronged Hire a Veteran education campaign plan Monday.

The plan aims to help employers understand that wounded warriors can bring a wealth of leadership experience and skills to the table and to their bottom line.

"This campaign is about setting conditions, not just preparing our Soldiers for a new career as a veteran, but also preparing employers about this unique population who has so much to offer," said WTC Commander Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop in kicking off Warrior Care Month at the National Press Club.

1428 Views | 100 Likes


Posted in Veterans News



Wounded Soldiers Get Lesson In Resiliency

By Greg Barnes, Staff writer

Kyle Maynard implored Fort Bragg's wounded soldiers to set impossible goals for themselves and then strive to reach them.

When he had finished speaking, about 300 strong from Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion responded with a standing ovation.

Posted in Veterans News



Wounded Warriors Are Fighting A New Kind Of War

A wide-ranging inspection of Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion found that the program for physically and mentally wounded soldiers has shortcomings - notably a need for better leadership.

Posted in Veterans News



Wounded Warriors Face New Enemy: Overmedication

All Things Considered (NPR), 4:10 PM

ROBERT SIEGEL: When sick or seriously wounded troops return home from combat duty, most are assigned to special units called Wounded Warrior battalions. These units aim to give thousands of soldiers and Marines the month they need to recover.

Posted in Veterans News



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Brain Injury Association

The Brain Injury Association provides information on brain injury, research, conferences, publications, prevention and education, survivors' voice, assistive technologies, and information and referral. Phone: (800) 444-6443

Posted in PTSD / TBI



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Brain Injury Resource Center

HeadInjury.com provides brain injury information, education and support to foster self-advocacy and self-care in partnership with families, doctors, rehabilitation facilities and lawyers. Phone: (206)621-8558

 

Posted in PTSD / TBI



Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is a part of the U.S. military health system. Specifically, it is the TBI operational component of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). Founded in 1992 by Congress, DVBIC’s responsibilities have grown as its network of care and treatment sites has grown.

Posted in PTSD / TBI



Life Improvement Following Traumatic Brain Injury (LIFT)

Life Improvement Following Traumatic Brain Injury (LIFT) is an interventional pilot study to test the effectiveness of a telephone-based and in-person Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) intervention for treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) following Traumatic Brain Injury.

Participants are randomly assigned to receive one of the following: 1) Telephone-based CBT, 2) In-person CBT, or 3) Usual care (control).

1360 Views | 241 Likes | 1 Comments


Posted in PTSD / TBI



National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury (NRCTBI)

The mission of the National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury (NRCTBI) is to provide relevant, practical information for professionals, persons with brain injury, and family members. We have more than two decades of experience investigating the special needs and problems of people with brain injury and their families.  With input from consumers and nationally recognized experts, we have developed a wide variety of assessment tools, intervention programs, and training programs. 

1589 Views | 249 Likes


Posted in PTSD / TBI



image for Realistic Hope A Traumatic Brain Injury Community

Realistic Hope A Traumatic Brain Injury Community

The undisputed "experts" at living a fulfilling life with a brain injury are those who "have been there done that."

The purpose of this site is to connect the survivors, their family, friends and caregivers who" have been there done that" to those looking for answers to accomplish the same.

Every brain injury is unique, however, everyone's roadmap has the same elements

Learn how others have traveled their journey and build your unique roadmap.

1495 Views | 223 Likes


Posted in PTSD / TBI



TBI Facts - US Army Website

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption of brain function resulting from a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury.

TBI FACTS:

  • TBIs can occur on the battlefield, on the football field, on the playground, in a car accident, and even at home.

  • There are four categories of TBI including mild, moderate, severe and penetrating.

  • A mild TBI (mTBI), which is also known as a concussion, is the most common form of TBI.

1430 Views | 221 Likes


Posted in PTSD / TBI



image for Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide

Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide

The Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide website is an online book by Dr. Glen Johnson, a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Clinical Director of the Neuro-Recovery Head Injury Program in Traverse City, MI. The website is setup like a book with links to chapters, and the information is focused specifically on TBI and is given very concisely in laymen's terms.

The goal of this online book is to better prepare the person with the head injury and family for the long road ahead.

1688 Views | 173 Likes


Posted in PTSD / TBI



Blinded Veterans Association (BVA)

Blinded Veterans Association (BVA)

The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) is a U.S non-profit organization that was established to "help veterans and their families meet and overcome the challenges of blindness".

Services from BVA are available to all veterans who have become blind, either during or after active duty. The BVA has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. BVA is a 503(c)(3) registered nonprofit; for the 2008-2009 Fiscal year, BVA's income was $4.2 million.




image for Veterans Farm and Adam Burke - 5 Hour Energy

Veterans Farm and Adam Burke - 5 Hour Energy

Adam Burke served a 16-month tour in Iraq and was injured in a mortar attack two weeks before coming home. "It really broke me down and it took years to recover from this injury," remembers Adam. The army vet currently suffers from PTSD and from migraines caused by a traumatic brain injury. He found farming helped him.

After running into a young homeless veteran at a mall, Adam decided there needed to be more programs out there to help vets reintegrate back into society.

In April 2010 he started Veterans Farm in Jacksonville, Florida.

The farm trains veterans during six to nine month fellowships and gets them back on their feet. Fellow Shawn Rankin came to farm from Michigan after no one would employ him due to injuries sustained serving in the Navy. He was homeless and now has a house and is starting a farm.




Apps Designed to Help Wounded Warriors

Handheld technology helping to heal the invisible scars of war.

1623 Views | 194 Likes


Posted in Veterans Videos



Army Surgeon General on Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and Army Medicine is taking this time to increase awareness about it. Watch this video to see Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho's message to the soldiers about how the Army is leading the charge in care, education, and technology to treat those with traumatic brain injuries.

1397 Views | 225 Likes


Posted in Veterans Videos



Occupational Therapy Team helps Wounded Warriors

In a deployed environment servicemembers are subject to risks such as post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Cases vary in severity but some can be treated in theater allowing servicemembers to return to duty. The Occupational Therapy Team is just one of the specialized groups that work together to help the wounded warriors.

1499 Views | 174 Likes


Posted in Veterans Videos




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