Dogs create healing space for veterans - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

Dogs create healing space for veterans

After 20 years of government service, Terry Henry battled chronic and debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, opioid addiction, and multiple suicide attempts. Just when he thought all hope was lost, a Golden Retriever named ADDIE changed everything.

“ADDIE was the first service dog to come in and quite literally save my life, on more than one occasion. ADDIE gave me a purpose to live,” Henry said.

It all started when Henry’s daughter, Kyria, became passionate about training Golden Retrievers as a young child, eventually creating the non-profit paws4people® in 1999. Since that time, the organization has trained and placed over 1,200 assistance dogs.

Accredited by Assistance Dogs International, paws4people® is focused on training psychiatric service dogs for children and veterans battling invisible wounds. Currently, it maintains 450 active client / dog teams. One of the things that sets the organization apart is how it purposefully seeks out the more severe cases.

The team and their dogs work with veterans teaching them how to Control, Regulate, and Mitigate® their symptoms through K9-centric exposure-based Intervention Transfer Training™ utilizing licensed therapists as part of the training team.

In the beginning, Henry was one of those cases. He would gladly help Kyria drive around as she brought her therapeutic dogs to nursing homes and schools, but he was not OK.

“I went down into the hole in the ’90s with depression and anxiety,” he explained.

Dogs create healing space for veterans

Henry was open in sharing that he became addicted to opioids and that he attempted suicide on three occasions. Thankfully, Kyria’s business grew to the point where she needed more hands-on help, and Henry found himself training and handling one of the dogs. He shared that although he was training her, ADDIE ended up training him. She was able to alert him and bring him back during episodes of stress and depression — effectively saving his life.

In 2009, they began placing service dogs with veterans. The expansion into this untapped community resulted in the successful rehabilitation of countless veterans and service members. The approach was formally recognized as K9-centric Post-Traumatic Growth® and the concept of ADDIE’S Way was born.

ADDIE’S Way is an 11-acre state-of-the-art facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, that paws4people® believes will transform lives. While still under construction, there are big plans in place for an early summer opening.

The facility will have a commercial kitchen and dormitory-style rooms for clients of the program. Puppies are birthed and trained in the facility’s Puppy Development Center. The puppies play a critical role during the initial phase of the ADDIE’S Way 24-week program, by encouraging clients to reconnect with their emotions. During phase two of the program, clients work with a shelter rescue dog teaching them basic obedience skills so they can be adopted out into the community, thus saving the dog’s life.

In the last phase, clients are paired with their own psychiatric service dog. It is during this phase of extensive training that the client learns how to utilize their psychiatric service dog to Control, Regulate, and Mitigate® their symptom set.

“We go through a matching process to determine which dog responds best to each client. Every person has a unique disposition based on their current symptoms and coping mechanisms, so it is important to let the dogs choose the person they respond best to,” Henry explained.

“Once the connection begins to take effect, the psychiatric service dog becomes an important tool the client learns to work with. We also teach the veteran how to ‘talk’ to their dogs. Often, the dog proves to be more effective than talk therapy alone. We are finding that moral injury connected with the veteran’s PTSD is also being effectively addressed by our program. And of course, veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma are becoming a large percentage of our client base,” Henry continued.

The dogs are placed nation-wide. One of the reasons for establishing the campus is to support those in need far beyond the Carolina borders. Those who receive a psychiatric service dog are involved with paws4people® for life. They are required to re-certify their dog each year and the team will ensure that veterans are using their dogs to continue their path of K9-centric Post-Traumatic Growth®.

Henry wishes that he had a place like ADDIES’ Way that he could have gone to back in the 90s. That is why he has worked so hard and so long to create such a place. Although he still suffers from depression, night terrors, and flashbacks even 30 years later, he’s simultaneously thriving – and that’s exactly what post traumatic growth means.

While paws4people® doesn’t claim to be the cure, it is an effective and extraordinary tool for veterans to use on their journey of post-traumatic growth.

Visit www.paws4people.org to learn more about its programs and resources.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA study shows video games can help with mental health issues

A recent study with a small sample of veterans trying to recover from mental health issues found that video games can help in overcoming such problems as PTSD and substance abuse disorders.

The researchers concluded that although the impact of video games may vary based on the user, clinicians may wish to discuss video game play with their patients to help them “optimize their use of games to support recovery.”

“Gameplay may promote a mindfulness-like psychological [escape] but can also provide users with benefits of confidence, social connection, personal growth, and opportunities for employment or even leadership,” the researchers wrote. “These benefits are accessible to people with disabilities for whom traditional treatments, leisure activities, or social interactions may be challenged by circumstances or limitations. Games could be implemented in large populations very inexpensively, thus acting as potentially very cost-effective recovery supports or mental health treatments.”


Some of the participants, the researchers also note, described using video games to “distract from overwhelming symptoms, including suicidal thoughts and drug or alcohol use.”

Dogs create healing space for veterans

The study included 20 veterans — 15 men and five women — who ranged in age from 25 to 62. Sixteen of the 20 vets reported they had PTSD or trauma-related symptoms. Most of the participants said they had more than one current mental or behavioral health diagnosis, with PTSD and depression being the most common combination. Three people had more than one type of trauma, such as combat — or training-related trauma, military sexual trauma, or childhood sexual abuse.

Dr. Michelle Colder Carras, a public health researcher, led the study, which appeared in November 2018 in the journal Social Science Medicine. With extensive research experience in video game play and in mental health recovery, she interviewed the veterans on the value of the games. (She shares that she’s also played video games herself and has recovered from her own mental health problem.)

Dogs create healing space for veterans

In the study, the video game genres included sports, puzzles, gambling, role-player action, fantasy settings, and shooter games. But Colder Carras emphasizes that the genre or specific game isn’t what necessarily helped with recovery. The benefits, she says, stemmed more from the connections the veterans made with other video game players; the distractions they created for themselves by playing the games and removing their focus, for example, from alcohol or drugs; and the meaning they derived from the games.

“Meaning derived from game narratives and characters, exciting or calming gameplay, and opportunities to connect, talk, and lead others were credited as benefits of gaming,” the researchers write. “Responses often related closely to military or veteran experiences. At times, excessive use of games led to life problems or feeling addicted, but some veterans with disabilities felt the advantages of extreme play outweighed these problems.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mad Dog Mattis chosen as Secretary of Defense

President-elect Donald Trump announced at a rally in Cincinnati that retired Marine Gen. James Mattis is his choice to serve as Secretary of Defense.


Mattis, whose service included command of the 1st Marine Division during the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom and United States Central Command until being retired early after clashing with the Obama Administration over its nuclear deal with Iran, was seen as the front-runner for the position.

Mattis is not the first retired general to be asked to hold the position. In 1950, General of the Army and former Secretary of State George C. Marshall took over after Louis Johnson was fired by President Harry S Truman, and held the position for a year before stepping down. Like Marshall, Mattis will require a waiver from Congress to fill the position.

Dogs create healing space for veterans
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric A. Clement)

Mattis served in the Marine Corps from 1969 to 2013. He received his commission through ROTC after graduating from Central Washington University. He commanded 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, assigned to Task Force Ripper, during Desert Storm. He later commanded the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and in the initial part of Operation Enduring Freedom, became the first Marine general to command a naval task force. His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster in lieu of a second award, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device, and the Meritorious Service Medal with two Gold Stars in lieu of a third award.

The decision drew praise from many. David French, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, wrote at National Review Online, “He is clear about the Iranian threat, has worked closely with Israel, and has served as the supreme allied commander of transformation for NATO and the chief of Central Command. In other words, few men have been as closely involved in American military planning and war fighting as Mattis.”

Dogs create healing space for veterans
General Mattis speaks to Marines in 2007. | U.S. Marine Corps photo

Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness called the nomination “great news” when contacted by the author. In a follow-up e-mail with WATM, she said, “I could not be more pleased by the news.”

“President-elect Donald Trump has just lifted the spirits of men and women in all branches of the services, worldwide. Our allies and Americans who voted with national security in mind have good reason to be pleased by this choice,” she added. “Since 2009, the armed forces have suffered due to resources taken away and burdens of social engineering loaded on.

“Friends of mine who know Gen. Mattis or have served under his command are confident that he will turn things around by restoring sound priorities: combat readiness and lethality, not politically-correct mandates and social goals,” Donnelly said. “I expect that that there will be carefully-considered, incremental changes, which will put the needs of our military and national security first.”

Mattis does have a history of colorful comments. In a speech on Feb. 1, 2005, he said, “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.” The comments did not result in any formal discipline.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This proposed legislation could make it easier for troops to receive care packages

While deployed, there’s always a bit of joy that buzzes around the squad when a care package arrives. Troops gather around their squad leader as they disperse the sweets, trinkets, and amenities given by the charitable folks back home. It’s not uncommon for battle-hardened warfighters to genuinely crack an enormous smile when they receive something that reminds them of home.

Recently, certain regulations consolidated the shipping rates for packages being sent to an Army Post Office (APO), Fleet Post Office (FPO) or Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) mailing address — which only put added financial strain on those kind-willed folks sending packages. The costs can also really add up for charities who send mass quantities of care packages. Ultiltaemy, this means fewer care packages being sent to the troops still fighting overseas today.

There is a glimmer of hope. U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross of New Jersey’s First District recently introduced the “Care Packages for Our Heroes Act of 2019,” or H.R. 400, that aims to greatly reduce the costs and spread more cheer among the troops.


Dogs create healing space for veterans

The secret to make a bunch of grown badasses smile like children? Girl Scout cookies…

(Photo by Steven L. Shepard, Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs)

All shipping rates for packages that crossed different shipping zones drastically increased January, 2018. While a package going to Michigan from California saw an increase of .60, any package sent from Smalltown, USA, to troops stationed in the Middle East had to pay nearly double.

Logistically speaking, the care package left the hands of postal employees long before they were dispersed at mail call. Any package sent would arrive at a postal gateway before being given to military personnel to complete its journey to a remote destination. The added costs are mostly meaningless seeing as the package is delivered by US military personnel once it leaves the US.

Congressman Tom MacArthur of New Jersey’s Third District tried last year to reverse these increases with a similar bit of legislation — Care Packages for Our Heroes Act of 2018, or H.R.6231. He aimed to curtail the costs and make it much cheaper to send troops a care package. This legislation would have listed any package to (or from) an APO/FPO/DPO address as Zone 1/2, making the weight of the package a non-factor in shipping costs so long as the contents fit inside a flat-rate box. This bill, unfortunately, did not succeed and MacArthur was unsuccessful in his reelection campaign.

The cost to send care packages remains unreasonably high, and organizations like the Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey have had to reduce the number of packages sent purely because of the financial red tape.

Dogs create healing space for veterans

Because our troops are still out there, and they need your support.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Meredith Brown)

Now the torch to raise the morale of troops has been passed to fellow New Jersey Congressman Donald Norcross, a chair on the 115th Congressional Committee of Armed Services.

He’s proposed “Care Packages for Our Heroes Act of 2019,” which aims to cut the red tape and make the price of sending a care package comparable to the cost of sending a letter.

This bill will positively affect the lives of the countless troops still in harm’s way. Please contact your representative and let them know that you support “Care Packages for Our Heroes Act of 2019”, or H.R. 400.

Articles

Smooth talking your way through gear turn-in is a stinky proposition

Army Capt. Rebecca Murga had the same goals as anyone else at gear turn-in after deployment: get rid of this sh*t and get back home. But she made a rookie mistake when she left Afghanistan without double-checking her gear against her clothing list.


Dogs create healing space for veterans
Capt. Rebecca Murga tries to find a missing Gore-Tex item while turning in items at the Central Issue Facility. (Go90 No Sh*t There I Was screenshot)

That’s how she ended up at the Central Issue Facility with a desperate need to go home and no Gore-Tex. And since Army property values never match civilian price points, she’s left with the option of paying hundreds of dollars or weaving a Gore-Tex from cobwebs and unicorn dreams.

Anyone who has dealt with DoD civilians knows that it’s a recipe for frustration, but Murga manages to smooth talk her way through the facility only to find herself faced with something worse.

Dogs create healing space for veterans
Something much, much worse. (Go90 No Sh*t There I Was screenshot)

See how Murga’s conscience clouds her homecoming in the No Sh*t There I Was episode embedded at the top.

Watch more No Sh*t There I Was:

This is a perfect example of how ridiculous boot camp is

This is why the military shouldn’t completely outlaw hazing

Why you should never run through smoke you didn’t throw

That time Linda Hamilton asked a Marine to the ball

MIGHTY TRENDING

The VA needs Arizona veterans to tell their stories in Tucson

The Make the Connection team is looking for Veterans who want to share their stories about seeking support for mental health challenges and take part in a national mental health campaign.


The same obstacles that may at first seem insurmountable to an individual are much less daunting when faced by a team. More than 500 Veterans and military family members have already stepped up to be that team for their brothers and sisters by sharing their stories in videos on MakeTheConnection.net, a mental health website from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Make the Connection helps Veterans and their loved ones realize that reaching out for support and seeking mental health treatment is a sign of strength, and thousands of Veterans have found help to overcome their challenges.

The Make the Connection team will be conducting more on-camera interviews in Tucson, Arizona on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 and is looking for Veterans who want to share their stories about seeking help and overcoming mental health and other challenges. Veterans who participate in the video shoot will receive a stipend to offset their expenses for time and travel. When the videos are posted on the Make the Connection website, only the first names of participants are used.

Since its launch six years ago, the Make the Connection campaign has spread positive stories about Veteran mental health via Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Veterans featured on the website and in social media have served in every branch of the armed forces and in every U.S. conflict since WWII through today’s current military engagements. They also represent the full diversity of the military community. Each Veteran has coped with conditions such as addiction, anxiety, depression, serious mental illness, PTSD, and the effects of military sexual trauma and traumatic brain injury.

Veterans who want to tell their stories to help fellow Veterans should email their name, phone number, and email address to outreach@maketheconnection.net or call our outreach team directly at 1-520-222-7518 by Friday, April 13th in order to be considered.

To learn more, please visit www.MakeTheConnection.net/Outreach.

Veterans

This medic criss-crossed an IED belt for hours to save wounded Rangers

Spc. Bryan C. Anderson was part of an Army Ranger assault force sent after a high-value target in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan on Oct. 5, 2013. When the team landed, an insurgent successfully fled the target building and began running away. An element of soldiers moved to catch him but they were struck by a suicide bomber and triggered two pressure plate IEDs.


Anderson rushed to the aid of the wounded even though he knew they were in the middle of a pressure plate IED belt.

Related: This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

“I wasn’t concerned with my life,” Anderson said in an Army Times interview. “I was concerned that I had buddies who were bleeding out back on the compound.”

Over the next few hours, Anderson crisscrossed the IED belt treating the wounded.

During a particularly harrowing 30 minutes, seven IEDs detonated within 10 meters of Anderson, according to his official award citation. Though some of his patients from that night died, two severely injured Rangers survived because Anderson continued rendering aid despite experiencing his own traumatic brain injuries.

“The whole time I’ve been in Regiment, I’ve taken my job very seriously,” Anderson told an Army journalist. “Sometimes you are the only medical provider on the ground and when something bad does happen, all of a sudden you become the leader and everybody looks to you for what to do next. I wanted to be that calm voice in the middle of all the chaos on what the next step needed to be.”

Anderson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and named the Army Special Operations Medic of the Year in 2014.

Watch the video below on YouTube to learn more about Anderson and his achievements as an Army ranger.

Veterans

A new TV show wants to raise money for veteran causes with family entertainment

Stu Newmeyer and Laurie Stillman are a husband-and-wife comedy duo who are taking their show on the road. Specifically, they’re headed out of the casinos and nightclubs of the American West and headed for Newsmax TV. 

Dogs create healing space for veterans
Comedians Stu Newmeyer and Laurie Stillman (Image courtesy of SponsorMagic Media)

The reason for the move is they’re looking to highlight the special causes and concerns facing American military veterans, as well as their businesses and charity projects, while raising money for those projects.

“The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour” is family entertainment, which is not a genre easily found on television screens these days. Like the hilarious variety shows of days past, including “The Dean Martin Show,” “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” and “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,” Stu and Laurie want to bring back the good feeling of watching wholesome entertainment that the whole family can feel good about. 

Dogs create healing space for veterans
Publicity photo of Sonny Bono and Telly Savalas from the television program The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

For Stu and Laurie, the difference is that they’re using the airtime to also remind Americans about veterans and military members, the struggles they face when returning home, and what we all can do to help. Most importantly, they’re highlighting veteran-owned businesses and veteran-run non-profits to help build awareness for those brands. 

“These people volunteered to give a significant part of their lives to keep us and our country safe at a time when the rest of us weren’t really sure what the future had in store,” said Stu Newmeyer. “The best way to thank them is by supporting them in a real, direct, and effective way. For us, it’s family entertainment.” 

“The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour” will feature comedy sketches, musical acts with A-list talent, and regular surprises for the viewer to enjoy. The show will also include live, in-show segments featuring veterans, their businesses, and their causes. The show’s sponsor, the VTN Commerce Club, will provide viewers with the means of purchasing products and services directly from those veteran-owned businesses.

Viewers interested in supporting veteran-owned businesses on the show can sign up for the VTN Commerce Club’s online store for a $15 monthly fee. A part of that fee goes directly to the veterans the shopper chooses to support. Once a member of the club, they can can purchase directly from veteran vendors featured on the show.

“Our show will also feature contests, promotions, and giveaways so we can encourage buyers to buy from all veteran-owned businesses, to hire more veterans, and for businesses to offer discounts to military members and veterans,” says Newmeyer. “And driving internet traffic to those businesses’ website is also a very important part. The more people learn and buy, the better off everyone is. The businesses get the revenues and the buyers get a great, high-quality product.”

Some of the businesses participating “The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour” include Combat Boxes, a monthly subscription box filled with vet-owned products, Scars & Stripes Coffee, which empowers veterans to open their own franchises, and the Women Veterans Alliance, a national organization that seeks to empower and positively impact the lives of female veterans. 

Learn more about the “Stu and Laurie Variety Hour,” how to join the VTN Commerce Club as a buyer or vendor, or find out more about the businesses signed on to participate by visiting VTN Commerce Club Website.

“The Stu and Laurie Variety Hour” will air Sundays on Newsmax TV starting on May 16, 2021.. The fourth show of every month will be a two-hour telethon to raise donations for veteran causes.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How Amazon is tackling the veteran unemployment problem

By 2021, Amazon has pledged to hire 25,000 U.S. military veterans across all of its operations. More than that, they are also dedicated to hiring veterans reservists, spouses, and family members – regardless of rank or military specialty. These “Amazon Warriors” as the company calls them, come to Amazon through a number of programs, each focused on a different aspect of veterans’ lives. This includes wounded warriors, active and transitioning veterans, student vets, and more.


You can catch Amazon and its employees active in all area of veteran culture, from the Old Glory Relay to RED Fridays and even doing 22 pushups every day. Amazon even partners with the Department of Veterans Affairs to create certification programs for vets with no costs.

One of Amazon’s best programs is an employment plan for wounded vets designed to fill skill gaps due to service-related wounds, injuries, and illnesses. Through education, advocacy, and training for wounded warriors, this one-of-a-kind program seeks America’s wounded vets to show the world the possibilities and potential these prior-service workers still have.

Amazon also launched the Amazon Military Leaders Program in an effort to find innovative, experienced talent to transition from military service and into the senior leadership at Amazon. It just makes sense – in order to fill the most necessary roles at the top of one of the world’s biggest and most profitable companies, Amazon wants to look for those people who volunteered for some of the most dangerous and critical jobs out there.

This company also goes above and beyond for National Guardsmen and Reservists who are activated or called away to training. Not only does the company ensure the member has job when they come back, as required by law, Amazon seeks to place the employee in a role they would have worked if they had never left their Amazon job at all. What’s more, if the pay the military member receives from serving is significantly less than their Amazon pay, Amazon will make up the difference.

“There are veterans and active duty service members from the Guard and Reserve at every level of the company,” says Ardine Williams, Amazon Web Services’ Vice-President of Talent Acquisition, who also happens to be a former Army officer. “That population, that community, makes it really easy for us to not only do the right thing but also do what we say we will do.”

When Amazon isn’t hiring veterans and preparing service members for their post-military careers, they are supporting other organizations with the same intent, mission, and drive. Amazon is a sponsor of the Military Influencer Conference, a three-day business development and networking event that brings together non-profit startup accelerators geared toward vet-owned businesses, successful veteran entrepreneurs, and like-minded veterans who are looking to change their lives by starting their own enterprises.

To learn more about what Amazon is doing for veterans in terms of training and employment, check out Amazon’s military page. To learn more about the Military Influencer Conference, check out the speakers list, or find a Military Influencer Conference close to you, visit MilitaryInfluencer.com and take a look around. It could be the first step to an entrepreneurial career.

Veterans

Helping Veterans with therapeutic exercise and holistic interventions

Kinesiotherapy (KT) is a rehab profession that provides therapeutic exercise and holistic interventions to improve well-being and functional abilities. It has been used to help Veterans on an ongoing basis since WWII. Today, VA is the single largest employer of kinesiotherapists (KTs), treating more than 100,000 Veterans in Fiscal Year 2019.

During recent challenges, KTs quickly shifted necessary outpatient evaluations and treatments to virtual care. This ensured Veterans’ safety while also providing specialized rehabilitation for inpatient Veterans requiring extended physical reconditioning.

KTs across the VA health care system today are educated and specialty trained at the undergraduate and graduate level. They support the complex needs of the Veteran population by focusing on skilled rehabilitation, improved function and quality of life.

Todd Keanan, registered kinesiotherapist and certified driver rehabilitation specialist, uses VA Video Connect (VVC) virtual technology to evaluate Veterans living in Jacksonville to recommend adaptive driving equipment for a new vehicle. It saves Veterans costly travel time. (2019 photo)

Their unique holistic approach involves the Veteran as well as their family and caregivers. They emphasize the psychological, as well as physical, benefits of therapeutic exercise within acute, post-acute, outpatient and home-based rehabilitation services. They also provide health and wellness coaching, disease prevention and comprehensive whole health practices.

In use since World War II

KT first was used during WWII when KTs implemented whole health therapy to accelerate the return of soldiers to active duty within physical reconditioning units established by the U.S. Armed Forces.

Pictured above, Abraham Hancock, registered KT and certified driver rehabilitation specialist at the Tampa VA, oversees the KT driver rehabilitation clinic’s simulator. It provides the Veteran and the clinician feedback before progressing to on-the-road instruction with adaptive driving equipment. (2019 photo)

Determination for appropriateness for driver rehabilitation evaluations utilizing VA Video Connect (VVC) technology is always made on case-by-case basis. When the Veteran is well known to the therapist from previous on-road assessments and the Veteran’s Primary Care Physician has documented medical clearance with no cognitive, visual or physical changes that would require a face to face evaluation, the Veteran is a good candidate for VVC.

Observing drivers with Video Connect

Using VVC, Keanan can observe Veterans transfer safely into their vehicles. He sees them stow their wheelchairs and demonstrate basic operational controls (such as making turns and using gas/brake) in a parked position.

The Veteran does not have to come in-person to the VA hospital for the KT Driver Rehabilitation Clinic outpatient appointment to make recommendations for the same adaptive equipment to be placed in a new vehicle. This also applies to the final fittings and inspections once the adaptive equipment was installed.

VA celebrates the profession of Kinesiotherapy and the KTs who are dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our service members and Veterans.

For more information on VA KT, please visit www.rehab.va.gov/KT/ and inquire about KT services within your local VA facility Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Veterans

Hollywood wants screenwriters — specifically veterans. Here’s how to apply.

The Hollywood dream is a realm of cutthroat deals, alliances and family dynasties stretching to the industry’s humble beginnings. Veterans never shy away from a challenge. However, even the bravest need back up navigating the waters of the entertainment industry. The Writers Guild Foundation has a one-year mentorship program designed to provide guidance to military veterans embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. They provide resources and tools that nurture their passion to become successful. This is how you can apply to The Veterans Writing Project and make your voice heard.

How does the program work?

The WGF’s Veteran’s Writing Project selects from a pool of applicants and pairs them with a mentor who is successful in the entertainment industry. It starts with a weekend-long retreat followed by monthly workshops and special events. You can rest assured that the mentor is an active member of the Writers Guild of America, one of the most prestigious entertainment unions.

screenwriter application screenshot

How to apply

Before embarking on a mission, military members are given a lengthy five-paragraph order with a 40 minute mission brief. Luckily, we’re civilians now and we can speak in layman’s terms. Here are the five W’s:

Who

U.S. military veterans and active duty service members that are 21+ years old and a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident are eligible to apply. Although experience is a plus, it is not a requirement. The most important thing a veteran should have is a passion for screenwriting and a commitment to completing one screen play or TV pilot during the program. Around 50 veterans are accepted into the program per year.

What

What you need to apply is a resume, a brief personal statement consisting of 500 words or less, a copy of your DD-214 with your social security number redacted, a writing sample no greater than 10 pages in length, and some sample loglines. Loglines, for the uninitiated, is a sentence or two that describe the idea of your story.

When

The deadline to apply is Friday, March 26, 2021 at 11:59 PST.

Where

Due to the impact of COVID-19, current sessions are hosts via zoom but the program will resume in-person meetings when social distancing guidelines are lifted. The in-person sessions will take place at the WGF’s Shavelson-Webb Library in Los Angeles, CA. The program is free but those selected who reside outside of the Los Angeles will need to cover their own expenses related to transportation and lodging. Take this into account if you are active duty and need to request leave to attend the program during the in-person meetings.

You can apply using the submittable link here.

Why

The program has nurtured writers since its founding in 1966. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is associated with the Writers Guild of America West. The WGF’s mission is to promote the history of screenwriting. Veterans are natural story tellers and the WGF can be the compass to navigate your career as a screenwriter and represent our community on the world stage. Veterans fight for the freedom of speech, yet so many are left voiceless. Apply and be the leader our brother and sisters need.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How this Army vet clears unexploded ordnance in Vietnam

The United States dropped more than seven million tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia between 1957 and 1975, more than twice what it dropped on Europe and Asia during all of World War II. That’s a lot of ordnance. This doesn’t take into account the rockets, mortars, tank rounds, etc. used by American and allied infantrymen on the ground in Vietnam. An estimated ten percent or more of that tonnage didn’t explode – which means it’s still there.


It also means someone, now nearly 50 years later, is going to find it – a mother, father, or child. That’s where Chuck Searcy, a U.S. Army veteran, comes in. He’s on a mission to clear those UXOs.

Dogs create healing space for veterans

Chuck Searcy is a Georgia-based Army vet on a new mission.

Searcy co-founded Project RENEW in 2001, a million effort to clear unexploded weapons from the former war zone while teaching children about the bombs and helping those affected by them.

Since the war’s official end in 1975 – when North Vietnam invaded and forcibly unified the South – more than 100,000 Vietnamese civilians have been killed by unexploded ordnance in the country. Some of them were farmers or other kinds of laborers, clearing paths through fields as they’ve done time and time again. Others injured by the bombs were metal scrappers, gathering what they could to make extra money.

Dogs create healing space for veterans

Ten percent is a lot of explosive still sitting around.

In 2017, Searcy and Project RENEW cleared some 17,000 munitions found in the middle of Vietnam. Over the project’s lifetime, the group has cleared more than a million. Searcy first returned to Vietnam in 1995, the year after the United States formally normalized relations with the still-Communist country. Back then, he was helping kids find orthopedic devices for missing limbs, but he kept reading about the problems with explosives in the countryside.

“We kept reading about kids and farmers getting blown up by unexploded ordnance,” Searcy told Georgia’s Ledger-Enquirer. “Why aren’t we helping?”

Now they do. When someone finds a bomb and reports it, the group will send out a team to dispose of it as they always have. But in the last 20 years, they’ve become more proactive, more methodical. They not only interview villagers asking about bomb sightings, they examine U.S. Air Force databases, reviewing every single bombing run of the war.

Dogs create healing space for veterans

Chuck Searcy now and in his Vietnam-era years.

While often times, the difference can be difficult to measure, there is one important number to follow, and that is how many people were killed or injured by unexploded ordnance in a given area. In Quang Tri, a province that saw some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War, the number killed or wounded in 2001 (when project RENEW began its education program) was 89. In 2017, the number dwindled to two.

Veterans

VA medical, pharmacy copayments cancelled through Sept. 30, 2021

Due to American Rescue Plan, copayments paid April 6, 2020, to present will be refunded


In March 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and President Joe Biden signed it into law. As a result, all copayments for medical care and pharmacy services provided during the period of April 6, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, are canceled, along with any fees or interest.

VA wants you to know that supporting your financial well-being is one of our top priorities.

Key facts on how the ARP will impact Veterans:

  • Cancel copayments for medical care and pharmacy services incurred on and after April 6, 2020.
  • No assessment of copayments for medical care and pharmacy through Sept. 30, 2021.
  • VA is working quickly to process those cancellations and refund Veterans who have been making payments on their accounts for medical services received during this period.
  • Continue to send statements for information only through Sept. 30, 2021. These statements keep Veterans informed of their balance, which will be due when collections resume in October 2021.
  • The mailing of patient statements and collection of copayments for health care and prescriptions will resume on Oct. 1, 2021.

Your VA health care continues

There will be no change in the quality and availability of VA health care during this time. You can schedule appointments and communicate with your providers in the same manner you have been.

If you are concerned about copayments you owe for health care and pharmacy provided prior to April 6, 2020, you an apply for a debt relief program.

For more information on financial relief, Veterans can visit https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/revenue_ops/Financial_Hardship.asp or call the Health Resource Center at 866-400-1238, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

VA will work with all Veterans who apply for debt relief to determine the best possible solution.

For information on charges owed for care and prescriptions prior to April 6, 2020, debt relief options and/or account number information, Veterans can call the VHA Health Resource Center at 1-866-400-1238.

Resources for Veterans

Non-health debts and overpayments

This blog post excludes separate and exclusive information on non-health benefits debts and overpayments, which are handled by the Debt Management Center (DMC). This blog post duplicates that post, but excludes DMC content, focusing only on fees, copayments and debts on medical care and pharmacy services.


VHA Office of Community Care – Revenue Operations contributed to this story.

This article originally appeared on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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