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.
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.
There are a lot of choice for veterans to leverage their time in the military to get great financial services at a competitive cost. The fact that so many businesses and bank are geared towards veterans is a blessing but one institution stands out among the rest – and has for nearly a century.
The financial institution was founded in 1922 after a group of Army veterans took it upon themselves to secure their own need for auto insurance. In doing so, they provided for their fellow veterans. The USAA of today carries that tradition on, with 12.4 million members and offering auto insurance, along with insurance for homeowners and renters, retirement planning, and, of course, banking services. When other banks were teetering on the edge of failure during the financial crisis, USAA actually grew. This is an institution that is as solid as a dollar.
USAA’s original purpose is still one of its best offerings – and one of the best offerings. Even in competition with the civilian world’s best insurers, going with USAA can save its membership at least 0 on their premiums, even for high risk drivers who may have a DUI or more on their records. JD Power even gave USAA a 5/5 rating on their customer service and satisfaction records.
They also offer a car buying service that can sometimes save their members money in buying any kind of vehicle.
Everyone knows too much credit debt is not a good thing, but having a card open with a low balance enlarges your purchasing power and is actually good for your credit report. Still, it’s important to be responsible with your credit. That being said, that kind of responsibility includes deciding which card is right for you. USAA offers a few credit cards designed to fit the lives of military members, veterans, and their families. The USAA Rewards American Express Card and Reward Visa offers the best cashback bonuses a military member can find. USAA’s credit cards also offer some of the lowest interest rates and APRs found anywhere.
Easy banking services
Any bank or financial institution who says they offer the best interest rates on savings accounts may have a bridge to sell you. Most savings accounts can offer two percent at the most. While USAA doesn’t offer quite that much, its banking services are stellar. Since they have few physical locations or ATMs, the bank offers reimbursements on ATM fees and no monthly service fees. On top of that, there’s no minimum balance and their rates are still competitive. They also offer free funds transfers between accounts.
If you’re planning for retirement and want a low-risk security, you could hardly do better than some of USAA’s mutual fund offerings. USAA manages its own mutual funds and, in the face of the 2008 financial crisis, the USAA Income Fund (USAIX) posted a 19 percent return while much of the rest of the market struggled to break even or even minimize their expected losses. The reason? While USAIX invests heavily in corporate debt, the fund’s mantra is still about minimizing risk.
TV doctor pose!
Other services and support
There are a couple of life insurance options, including one for military members only if SGLI isn’t enough. On top of that, they can get great rates for health, dental, and vision insurance as well as umbrella insurance for protection against things not covered by other kinds of insurance, like legal judgements. For per month you can be protected from lawsuits up to id=”listicle-2640236181″ million. But this veteran-oriented financial institution does so much more
USAA sponsors amazing veteran-oriented events and organizations – like the Military Influencer Conference, a three-day conference of service members, veterans, and spouses who work to elevate the military veteran community. The 2019 Military Influencer Conference is sponsored by USAA and brings together the brightest stars in the military-veteran entrepreneurial community to learn and share their business-building knowledge.
If you want something done right, you do it yourself.That’s a mantra we’ve all heard before but is it really conventional?Some may say yes, but the reality is that you can’t do everything yourself. At some point, in some fashion, you’re going to need more done than you have hours to complete and you will need to outsource some aspects of your business. However, the presence of this necessity doesn’t make the process any easier.Especially when your business is your passion. It’s hard to give up control until trust is gained.
Eric Mitchell along with his wife Lucie, who both spent several years working for successful startups in the Silicon Valley, and both being acquired multiple times, decided to pursue a new venture together in 2014. Eric wanted to give back to the community he loves,and with love of country and belief that service never ends, Eric asked Lucie to put her dreams as an aspiring educator on hold temporarily as they launched a company with longtime friend Matt Hannaford — and LifeFlip Media was born.
“We understand that everything is mission critical for our clients and we treat them exactly as that — a mission,” says Eric Mitchell, CEO of LifeFlip Media.
Built on the mission of demonstrating to the American public the value of the Warrior Class, Eric Mitchell created LifeFlip Media as a way to give back to his community.What is the Warrior Class?It’s the class of patriots that are the backbone of this country and the very ones who make this country as great as it is.It’s members of the military, their spouses and family.It’s the first responders of our communities and all of those who support them in all that they do.
This group has often been misrepresented and stereotyped within the media, leaving many outside of the community with false pretenses of aggression, mental instability, and lack of education.LifeFlip Media set itself on a course to change that narrative.Matt Hannaford, President of LifeFlip and one of the few “civilians” on the team, agrees.“I look for us to continue to be loud as the voice of the Warrior Class. We’ve created a great team and it’s time for us to build upon it. We want to take the image of the American soldier and make it great again.”
“Over the past year, I have witnessed LifeFlip Media breach the national media market for veterans. Eric and his team have managed to get more air time for veteran-owned companies than I have seen in my professional career. It is about time that the warrior class has a voice in mainstream media,” said Samantha Brown, former COO of Irreverent Warriors.
Care about what you do
One of the most difficult and important aspects of a partnership is the ability to create and sustain an unobstructed flow of ideas and communication.Being able to understand where your clients are coming from can give you a better idea of where they are heading, which can provide powerful insight.LifeFlip has been able to streamline its process by having a small team of people who possess values that reflect the ones instilled in them from the military as well as working with clients whose values align with their own.
“Being a veteran can be great for PR but it also comes with a lot of misunderstanding and challenges. Having a team that understands this because they come from the same community and also have experience in the PR world gives them the ability to successfully pitch myself and other veterans. This helps secure the vital exposure that allows us to not only survive but to also grow,” says Eli Crane, CEO of Bottle Breacher and former Navy SEAL.
Leanness and Efficiency
“We have a smaller team, but we care more,” says Mitchell.In only a few short years, LifeFlip Media has been able to belly up to the table and feast on their market share with the big names in the PR space using a small but mighty team with a diverse skill set.As a Marine veteran, LFM’s Director of Digital Media, Aaron Childress, understands the power of a small cohesive unit: “We have hit on a set of skills that no other firm can touch. From top to bottom, we offer every digital media line item needed for a brand to succeed and we do all of this with a smaller team, lower overhead, and quicker turnaround than anyone can offer. It’s a lighting strike of favor and good fortune and the top leadership at LifeFlip Media has capitalized on it at the correct time.”
5 Values of LifeFlip Media
Eric Mitchell put emphasis on core values as he explains, “We hold values yet don’t look at them as ours.We look at them as belonging to our community.”LifeFlip Media has made great strides during its short time in existence and has leaped its way past other players who have been in the game for far longer.They are undoubtedly different from your run-of-the-mill PR firm but what sets them apart from their counterparts is that LifeFlip possesses values that they truly live each day.
LifeFlip Media believes in serving their clients first so the client can serve their customers in return. Everyone at LifeFlip Media strives to have their client success speak for the team.
The team believes that no client is the same and neither should the approach be as they build and execute on strategies. In addition, when a wrench is thrown into plans, the team is agile and has the ability to adapt and overcome.
Possessing a team with a diverse skill set allows LifeFlip Media to deliver to their clients the reliability and execution speed that veterans and those associated with the military expect. With the team’s ability to work as a unit and communicate while assaulting forward on strategy execution, the LifeFlip Media team’s discipline is key.
At LifeFlip Media, the team’s diverse backgrounds and experience allows for innovation and thinking outside of the box. LifeFlip’s team understands how PR integrates with other aspects of a business and needs to work in partnership with marketing and sales rather than as a separate division completely.
With a team made up of Marines who live by the Semper Fi warrior ethos as well as other team members who understand that loyalty is at LifeFlip Media’s core translates directly into business success.
Retired Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills went out on a foot patrol on April 10, 2012. It was his third tour in Afghanistan. He woke up on his 25th birthday to find that he’d stepped on on improvised explosive device, or IED, and that he’d suddenly become a quadruple amputee.
David Vobora was an NFL athlete who’d been dubbed “Mr. Irrelevant” after being the last draft pick of the season in 2008. While playing for the Seattle Seahawks, Vobora blew out his shoulder. It would ultimately force him to retire from the NFL at just 25 years old.
In the intervening years, Mills and Vobora forged an unlikely friendship.
“I had 25 good years with my arms and legs, and now I got the rest of my life to still keep living and pushing forward,” Mills said during an interview on “The Ellen Degeneres Show” yesterday.
“Something was missing,” Vobora, who is now a personal trainer, said. He noted that his work with professional athletes and wealthy clients was failing to fill a void in his life.
When Vobora met Mills, “I just knew I had to work with him.”
Mills talks about his predicament with lots of humor. When thanked for his heroism, Mills somewhat shrugs and replies, “I didn’t do more than anyone else. I just had a bad day at work, you know; a case of the Mondays.”
His wife, with whom he is expecting their second child, is equally humorous. “I’m in it for the handicapped parking,” Mills quotes her as having said shortly after his leg had to be amputated.
There are many famous people who served in the United States Military. Some were drafted, some had the choice between jail or service, and some felt the call and volunteered.
From World War II to 9/11 and beyond, these celebrities served their country before they became famous — except for Elvis. Elvis was always a star.
Note: There are some celebrities who are already well known for their military service (like everyone’s favorite Gunny, R. Lee Ermey). You won’t see them on this list, since our goal was to point out celebrities whose military service isn’t as well known.
In no particular order, these are ten awesome celebrities who served in the U.S. Armed Forces:
Rob Riggle served in the United States Marine Corps for over 20 years. After graduating from the University of Kansas, he went through Officer Candidate School. Though he originally had the intention of becoming a pilot, he realized that he wanted to pursue comedy, so he became a Public Affairs Officer instead. After his Active Duty service commitment was complete, he transitioned into the reserves, where he served for 14 more while doing comedy and acting full time.
Riggle served in Liberia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan during his time in service. Now retired, he continues to help the veteran community through initiatives like his Rob Riggle InVETational Golf Classic, a veteran-celebrity golf tournament that raises money and awareness for veteran non-profits, like Semper Fi Fund, an organization that assists service members and their families.
Jackie Robinson playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
(Photo by Bob Sandberg)
2. Jackie Robinson, United States Army
Jackie Robinson was drafted to the United States Army in 1942, where he was assigned to a segregated Army cavalry unit before applying to Officer Candidate School. His application was delayed due to the color of his skin, but, after protests by heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, he was accepted. He commissioned as a second lieutenant in January, 1943.
In August, 1944, he faced court-martial for refusing to give up his seat on a bus near Camp Hood, Texas, a segregated location known for its racism.
On July 6, 1944, Robinson took a seat on a civilian bus next to a white woman on Camp Hood and the driver ordered him to move to the back of the bus. Robinson refused and the military police were called to arrest him. Angry from the way he was treated and frustrated at the rampant discrimination on the post, Robinson refused to wait for the MPs in the provost marshal’s office and was escorted to the hospital under guard and under protest.
He was charged with two accounts of insubordination. His defense would win out, however, and Robinson was freed. He medically retired from service due to a bone chip in his ankle and went on to become the first African American to play Major League Baseball.
It looks like a mug shot, but that’s an OG CAC picture on the left.
3. Bea Arthur, United States Marine Corps
The late Bea Arthur served as a truck driver in the U.S. Marine Corps. She enlisted into the Women’s Reservists during World War II at the age of 21 under her maiden name, Bernice Frankel. A handwritten letter of hers states,
“I was supposed to start work yesterday, but heard last week that enlistments for women in the Marines were open, so decided the only thing to do was join.”
She was stationed at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. She was honorably discharged after the war at the rank of Staff Sergeant. She would marry a fellow Marine, Private Robert Aurthur, and go on to have a successful career in the arts.
Any fan of Arthur’s incisive Dorothy on Golden Girls won’t be surprised to hear that Arthur’s enlistment interviewer described her as “argumentative” and “officious — but probably a good worker — if she has her own way!”
4. Bob Ross, United States Air Force
Robert Norman Ross, better known as the friendly painter Bob Ross, enlisted in the Air Force at age 18 and went on to serve for 20 years. While stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, Florida-native Ross saw snow and mountains for the first time, which would influence his serene landscape choices as he began his prolific painting career.
It might be surprising to know that while in the Air Force, Ross became a Drill Instructor.
“I was the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work. The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it. I promised myself that if I ever got away from it, it wasn’t going to be that way anymore.”
True to his word, he developed The Joy of Painting, his famous program where he taught others to paint with an uplifting and soft-spoken demeanor that has become famous around the world.
5. Adam Driver, U.S. Marine Corps
Adam Driver, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Kylo Ren in the Star Wars franchise, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and became an infantry mortarman after the 9/11 attacks. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton with 81s (eighty-ones) Platoon, Weapons Co. 1st Battalion 1st Marines and was training for his first deployment when he sustained an injury that would result in a medical discharge.
After his service, Driver founded a non-profit organization called Arts in the Armed Forces, which brings high-quality arts programming to active duty service members, veterans, military support staff, and their families around the world free of charge with the intention of bridging the divide between civilians and the military.
Of his military career, Driver once said, “In the military, you learn the essence of people. You see so many examples of self-sacrifice and moral courage. In the rest of life you don’t get that many opportunities to be sure of your friends.”
6. Montel Williams, United States Marine Corps and United States Navy
Talk show host Montel Williams enlisted in the United States Marines Corps after high school and completed basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, before going to the Desert Warfare Training Center at Twentynine Palms, California. After impressing his superiors with his leadership skills, he was recommended for the Naval Academy Preparatory School at Newport, Rhode Island. He was then accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Upon graduation, he became a cryptologic officer for the United States Navy. He served in Guam before transferring to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where he studied Russian for a year before putting his linguistic skills to use for the National Security Agency. He served aboard submarines for three years before he decided to separate from the military and pursue public and motivational speaking full time.
Elvis Presley inventing ‘Blue Steel’ during his military service in Germany.
7. Elvis Presley, United States Army
After one deferment to complete the film King Creole, Elvis Aron Presley reported for U.S. Army basic training at Fort Hood on March 24, 1958, where he was assigned to the Second Armored Division’s ‘Hell on Wheels’ unit. His induction was a major event that attracted fans and media attention.
After basic, Presley sailed to Europe aboard the USS General Randall to serve with the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany. By March, 1960, Sergeant Presley finished his military commitment and received an honorable discharge from active duty.
Reflecting on his service, Presley once told Armed Forces Radio and Television that he was determined to go to any limits to prove himself — and he did, though his career as an artist was never too far from reach. Shortly after returning to the United States, he shot the film G-I Blues, a musical comedy where Presley played a tank crewman with a singing career.
8. Jimi Hendrix, United States Army
Jimi Hendrix, one of rock’s greatest guitar players, served a brief, thirteen-month stint with the famed U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division — nicknamed the “Screaming Eagles” — just a few years before his epic rise to rockstardom in the late 60s. Hendrix wanted to enlist as a musician but had no formal music training, so he opted for the 101st Airborne Division.
Months after joining the Screaming Eagles, life as a paratrooper began to wear on Hendrix’s morale. He was constantly reprimanded for dereliction of duties.
Jimi just wanted to play his guitar. His days as a paratrooper came to an end on his 26th jump when he broke his ankle.
Hendrix began exploring the Fort Campbell area nightlife before venturing down to nearby Nashville where he began jamming with local bluesmen. It was in that vibrant music scene that he met fellow service member and bassist Billy Cox. In September, 1963, after Cox was discharged from the Army, Hendrix and Cox formed a band called the King Kasuals, but it was later in New York City where Hendrix would catch the break that would help him become the rockstar he’s remembered as today.
9. Kurt Vonnegut, United States Army
Kurt Vonnegut enlisted in the United States Army during World War II. In 1944, then-Private First Class Kurt Vonnegut was captured by the Nazis during the Battle of the Bulge. He, along with boxcars full of fellow POWs, were taken to the German city of Dresden and forced to work – until the city was firebombed by the Allies. Vonnegut and a few others survived the devastation, in what looked like a different, horrifying new world.
Slaughterhouse Five is named after the underground bunker in which he waited out the bombing. The book is the story of a man who became “unstuck in time,” floating back to the past at seemingly random times. It has become one of the most famous PTSD flashback stories and one of the most banned books of all-time.
Kristofferson trained as a Ranger and a helicopter pilot, eventually reaching the rank of Captain while stationed in Germany. But then he received orders to West Point to teach English.
He chose to separate from the Army to pursue a music career instead, but served in the Tennessee National Guard when he needed to make ends meet. It was during that time when he infamously stole a helicopter and landed it on Johnny Cash’s lawn, a bold move that would pay off when Cash, a fellow veteran, recorded Kristofferson’s song and began an epic musical friendship.
In 2003, he was presented with the “Veteran of the Year” Award at the 8th Annual American Veterans Awards.
Photo courtesy Benjamin Jones, a visual information specialist for the Long Beach VA Medical Center.
These days, Jeff Henson is doing what he believes has been his calling in life. He’s showing people who have attempted or have had thoughts of suicide that there is another way.
The Air Force Veteran (pictured above) is a volunteer at Save A Warrior. The nonprofit provides counseling in mental health, wellness and suicide prevention to Veterans, active-duty military and first responders. More than 1,100 men and women have gone through the program since it began eight years ago.
Many of these people, Henson explains, are missing “their family, their tribe” with whom they once built a friendship and camaraderie in the military or elsewhere. A lot of them not only have PTSD, he says, but PTSD and moral injury, which is essentially a conflict with one’s personal code of morality.
A Veteran may feel guilt, shame or self-condemnation for violating his or her moral beliefs in combat by killing someone, witnessing death or failing to prevent the immoral acts of others.
The will to live
Henson believes moral injury is a form of “complex PTSD” that can also stem from negative circumstances in one’s childhood.
“We introduce a Veteran to a tribe of 12 other Veterans who came to Save A Warrior at the same time as total strangers. They can leave as ‘brothers’ with an understanding that it’s not always what happened down-range that has them stuck in life. We provide hope and magic that is the will to live.”
Henson has been there himself. Diagnosed with PTSD and void of hope, he went through the Save A Warrior program in 2016 while in Veterans’ treatment court in Orange County, California.
Flashbacks from the Gulf War
His court time stemmed from a domestic violence incident in 2013. At the time, he was experiencing many of the classic PTSD symptoms: nightmares, mood swings, anxiety, depression, isolation and flashbacks. When the incident happened, he had flashed back to a moment when he unintentionally witnessed a decapitation in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, during the Gulf War in 1990, and he lost control.
Study links PTSD with criminal justice involvement
Earlier this year, a VA study in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that Veterans with PTSD — compared to those without — are six times more likely to experience run-ins with the law.
The researchers say it is unclear what is driving the ties between PTSD and criminal justice involvement. They say the general strain theory may partially explain the results. That theory asserts that the risk of criminal behavior is higher among people who have experienced traumatic events and report negative effects, such as high levels of anger or irritability,
It gave me hope
Meanwhile, as part of getting his life back together, the 59-year-old Henson is pursuing a doctorate in psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
He’s also trying to give back to the organization that gave him so much.
“Save A Warrior did not save my life, but it gave me hope,” he says. “It’s the difference between `being alive’ and `living.’ It’s also about being of service. I’m one of the shepherds who helps people through the process that I went through.
“When we’re kids, we’re told by our parents not to use four-letter words,” he adds. “I dispute that because hope is a four-letter word. And hope is powerful.”
Air Force Capt. Mark Harper was probably worried about the lack of network connections and other technology in 2007 when he was sent to Djibouti, Africa, to take over a staff section there. Unfortunately, his colonel hadn’t gotten the message about Djibouti’s limited network access and ordered Harper and his crew to start making weather podcasts for Djibouti.
A podcast. In 2007. For a group of people with limited internet access. The “Good Idea Fairy” had struck again.
Shocker, it had a limited listenership and the crew wasn’t happy while making it. But since the order came from a colonel, they would need at least a general to shoot it down.
Unfortunately for them, their attempts to sabotage the program in front of a visiting two-star didn’t exactly go according to plan. Check out the whole story, complete with a colonel falling asleep on a grateful captain, in the video embedded above.
Today there are over 40,000 nonprofits that focus on military and veteran issues, according to Charity Watch.
Most of those registered as nonprofits are chapters of larger organizations, but some of them are single chapter projects that focus on specific needs within the veteran community.
Here at We Are the Mighty, we wanted to explore some of those advocacy groups you might not have heard of in a bit more depth.
The Military Health Project & Foundation is based in San Francisco and is run by Jacob Angel. Founded in April 2013, the nonprofit was originally designed to address mental health issues through pushing national legislation.
Angel tells us it took the nonprofit eight months to realize where it was failing.
“We were making the same mistake that the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense were making,” he says. “We were treating mental and physical health care as two separate areas of care.”
The nonprofit re-aligned itself to better connect mental health and physical health, and in March 2014 it went to work garnering support for the Excellence in Mental Health Act, a bill that Angel says eventually became law after a long battle.
“Thus far, the program is going very well,” Angel says. The law, according to Angel, makes counseling and other mental health service available to everyone “regardless of socioeconomic status or insurance coverage.”
In March 2015, The Military Health Project & Foundation announced the creation of the Military Support Fund, a dedicated financial resource to address coverage gaps for military and veteran families.
Angel tells that since its creation, the Military Support Fund has assisted 40 families in securing funding for specialized medical services and equipment.
Chief Petty Officer Carla Burkholder’s son was the recipient of a $2,500 grant for specialized medical equipment from The Military Health Project & Foundation.
“It feels like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” she wrote.
The organization is focused on addressing both physical and mental health needs through direct assistance and legislation.
“We are now a hybrid organization,” Angel says.
The Military Health Project is the advocacy wing where the nonprofit helps to create policy that addresses the ever-changing needs of the military and veteran community through legislation.
The Military Health Foundation works to provide for military and veteran families in the interim.
“They should not have to wait for treatments that they require and frankly deserve.”
It should come as a surprise to no one that the men and women who fought for the United States are the ones who care most about how it’s run — and the people who run it. For the third year in a row, American military veterans are shown to volunteer, assist neighbors, join civic groups, vote, and engage public officials at rates higher than non-veterans.
The finding comes as a result of the 2017 Veterans Civic Health Index, a study conducted in cooperation with Got Your 6, a veteran’s empowerment nonprofit designed to encourage and enable veterans to continue serving in their local communities while fostering greater cultural changes in the United States, and the National Conference on Citizenship, a Congressionally-chartered national service project dedicated to strengthening civic life.
Civic health, defined as a community’s capacity to work together to resolve collective problems, has been shown to positively impact local GDP, public health, upward income mobility, and has other benefits that strengthen communities. By releasing this annual study, Got Your 6 and its partners aim to eliminate common misconceptions about veterans, while highlighting the civic strength of America’s returning servicemen and women.
The study found that veterans are what it calls “the strongest pillar of civic health” in the United States and calls on the country to adjust the way it frames veteran reintegration. Consistent with Got Your 6’s mission, the study aims to help in changing the perception of veteran transition from one of a series of challenges to the opening of a potential source of leadership and training.
Significant findings from the study include:
(2017 Veterans Civic Health Index)
73.8 percent of veterans always or sometimes vote in local elections versus 57.2 percent of non-veterans.
(2017 Veterans Civic Health Index)
Veteran volunteers serve an average of 177 hours annually – more than four full work weeks. Non-veteran volunteers serve about 25% fewer hours annually. Delivering critical services to a community without regard for wages or reward is a vital service to local areas in the United States.
In this, specifically, the female veteran population goes above and beyond the call of duty.
(2017 Veterans Civic Health Index)
In terms of involvement, 11.5 percent of veterans have attended a public meeting in the last year versus 8.3 percent of non-veterans. The rate at which veterans belong to a local or national civic association was significantly higher as well. These groups can have a large collective impact on American communities.
(2017 Veterans Civic Health Index)
Some 10.5 percent of veterans worked with their neighbors to fix community problems, compared to 7.7 percent of non-veterans. But engagement goes beyond fixing problems, it’s also about stopping them before they start — something veterans are proactive in doing.
More than that, engaging one’s community forms the bonds that can bring people together in good times and in bad. Veterans who transition from the military tends to miss the closeness and brotherhood aspects of their service, leading them to more often reach out within communities.
(2017 Veterans Civic Health Index)
It should also come as no surprise that the youngest generation of veterans (23.4 percent of all veterans are younger than 50) is a diverse one, inclusive of more females (one in six) and ethnic minority groups. The United States, as a whole, is becoming more diverse and the veteran population is a reflection of that diversity.
As a subset of U.S. population (just nine percent of Americans are veterans), vets are more likely to lend a hand to their neighbors and fellow citizens, leading the charge in recovery operations for the multitude of natural disasters that affected the U.S. in 2017.
With these numbers, we can reasonably expect veterans to continue being at the forefront of civic action in American communities. This is the country veterans earned through hard work and, in some cases, sacrifice. The maintenance of the nation understandably means a great deal to this relatively small group of Americans.
If the result of this study predict a trend for the future, the country is in good hands.
The Gary Sinise Foundation announced that Dr. Mike Thirtle has been named as the organization’s next chief executive officer. Established in 2011 by award-winning actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise, the Gary Sinise Foundation’s mission is to serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. The Foundation achieves its mission through programs and initiatives designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.
Gary Sinise has been leading the Foundation since its inception 10 years ago, growing the organization exponentially and consistently exceeding its annual goals. As the Foundation’s chairman, Sinise and the Board of Directors selected Thirtle to lead the Gary Sinise Foundation as the organization expands and ascends to new levels of delivering on Sinise’s commitment to serve and honor our nation’s heroes and their loved ones.
“As the Gary Sinise Foundation enters our second decade, it is my great pleasure to announce our new Chief Executive Officer, Mike Thirtle,” said Sinise. “With over 20 years of military service, 12 years at the RAND Corporation, and 7 years as president and CEO of the nonprofit Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Mike brings tremendous experience to GSF, and I am looking forward to working with him on the GSF mission of service for our defenders and their families.”
Thirtle — who will officially assume the role on July 12 — joins the Foundation with a passion for serving others and a broad background in philanthropy, non-profit leadership, strategy and policy analysis, business consulting, higher education, and military service. He will report directly to the Board of Directors and will lead the day-to-day programs of the Foundation.
“I am deeply honored to serve Gary, the Board, and the staff at the Gary Sinise Foundation as we support the millions of defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families across our nation — the true heroes and guardians of our freedom,” said Thirtle, an Air Force veteran. “It is because of their sacrifices that we enjoy the fruits of freedom and for which we are all grateful. My wife, Juli, and I look forward to being part of the Gary Sinise Foundation family and supporting Gary and this amazing cause.”
Retired Air Force Gen. Robin Rand will continue to serve as CEO until Thirtle assumes the position of CEO on July 12. Sinise recruited Rand in 2018 for the position of CEO after he ended a long career of active-duty service in the Air Force, retiring as a four-star general. He was selected by Sinise for the role given his deep understanding of the needs of the military and veteran community and his passionate desire to give back, which Sinise felt were crucial to elevate the Foundation and further its mission.
Sinise praised Rand’s contributions saying, “I am extremely grateful to Gen. Robin Rand for his leadership of the Foundation these past 2-and-a-half years beginning in October of 2018. We have certainly faced tremendous challenges during this time, especially with the 2020 global pandemic, yet under Robin’s leadership, the Foundation has continued to excel, sailing full speed ahead with tremendous growth throughout this period. He is a gifted leader and a good friend. On behalf of all of us at the Foundation, I thank him for his dedication and time with GSF, and especially for his 40 years of service to our country in the United States Air Force.”
Rand shared his reflections, saying, “The mission of the Gary Sinise Foundation is so noble, and it has been a tremendous honor to serve at the GSF for the past 33 months. I’m forever grateful.”
Veterans are a cut from the finest moral cloth of society. Military service offers upward mobility in the social ladder across all cultures. Officers from humble beginnings have earned a seat at the table of high society by showing gallantry in battle. The character traits honed by veterans are what social clubs look for in members. Membership is a great way to engage with like-minded people to create powerful connections at the local level. Veterans fit in quickly at country clubs for various reasons.
Veterans have charisma
Even the Marine Corps has golf courses on her bases domestically and abroad. The need for recreation to keep up moral is always on the mind of great military leaders. The financial barrier to entry is reduced to enjoy these types of facilities on base. Many offer amenities such as banquets, tennis courts, wedding facilities and saunas that make it easy for active-duty troops to access.
Learning jargon, such as tee time, is an advantage for when a veteran is invited as a guest at a private club. Civilians at private golf courses have everything money can buy – except what you have done. Veterans are mysterious and offer a point of view they have never had. Members quickly hang on every word from a combat veteran’s lips. You will be surprised how many country club members have sons and daughters as officers in the military or that they themselves have served.
Veterans quickly pick up on decorum
There isn’t much to the science of etiquette. At first it is overwhelming to be sure, but through exposure it becomes routine. No one truly cares if you do not know the difference between wines or which side you place your water glass. They had the opportunity to learn it young and understand that a simple mistake isn’t the end of the world. In fact, you will find that members will take you under their wing to make you feel like you belong – because you do.
In order to join most country clubs you will need two written recommendations from members, along with three to five other members supporting you. What members are looking for is the willingness to learn. Vets are natural story tellers that command attention, an advantage for those seeking support for your goal.
The Army, Navy and Marine Corps have their own country club
There was much discussion during the summer and early fall of 1924 about the need on the part of Army, Navy, and Marine Corps officers stationed in the Washington area for outdoor recreation facilities. This need sprang from the realization that such officers, with modest salaries and generally without other means, were hard put to meet expenses for the necessities of life, let alone afford the high initiation fees and dues associated with membership in existing private country clubs of the area.
Army Navy Country Club, Arlington, VA
Prestigious social clubs actively welcome veterans despite having strict application policies. Prior service members and civilians can sit down and relax together. Joining a country club is a good idea for the bold and ambitious. It will surprise you how quickly a vet will adjust to a new world full of business opportunities. Across the nation there are many country clubs that cater to veterans and have reciprocal memberships with other country clubs. Another fact about country clubs is that once one accepts you, other clubs welcome you as well. This multiplies your ability to make connections exponentially. Veterans have charisma and that makes them fit in quickly within all stratus of society.
The transferability option under the Post-9/11 GI Bill allows service members to transfer all or some unused benefits to their spouse or dependent children. The request to transfer unused GI Bill benefits to eligible dependents must be completed while serving as an active member of the Armed Forces. The Department of Defense determines whether or not you can transfer benefits to your family. Once the DoD approves benefits for transfer, the new beneficiaries apply for them at Veterans Affairs.
The option to transfer is open to any member of the armed forces active duty or Selected Reserve, officer or enlisted who is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and meets the following criteria:
Has at least six years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval and agrees to serve four additional years in the armed forces from the date of election.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jorge Intriago)
Has at least 10 years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval, is precluded by either standard policy (by service branch or DoD) or statute from committing to four additional years and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.
Transfer requests are submitted and approved while the member is in the armed forces.
Effective July 12, 2019, eligibility to transfer benefits will be limited to service members with at least 6 years but not more than 16 years of active duty or selected reserve service. So service members with more than 16 years of service should transfer benefits before July 12, 2019.
This 200th episode of Borne the Battle features Air Force Veteran Aerial Johnson, better known by her wrestling name “Big Swole,” Aerial shares her time in the military and how she transitioned into civilian life to eventually became a professional wrestler.
Johnson joined the Air Force in 2008 to be a fire truck mechanic. She was stationed at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. On April 3, 2008, on a day she and her family would come to call her “second birthday,” Johnson was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease after being told she had half an hour to live. She survived a round of emergency surgery and was told that she would never be able to have children or engage in high-impact sports. However, Johnson didn’t let her diagnosis stop her from doing what she wanted to do. When her Crohn’s disease worsened, she had to leave Air Force in 2010 but she didn’t stop to pursue other dreams.
Hull returned to her hometown of Clearwater, Florida, where she started interacting with a local community of professional wrestlers. She became an independent wrestler herself, and after a few years she signed with All Elite Wrestling and has appeared on both AEW Dark and AEW Dynamite.
In this episode, Hull discusses how she overcame the struggles of Crohn’s disease and embraced the lessons she learned in the military to develop the “Swole mentality” of giving everything her all. She is a reminder to people everywhere that with discipline, anything is possible.