Guest Blog: Supporting a Clean and Sober Lifestyle for Returning Vets

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How Family Members Can Support a Clean and Sober Lifestyle for Their Returning Vet By Anna Ciulla A loved one who returns home from active military service is often not the same person they once were, having witnessed and experienced traumatic events the likes of which can be hard to fathom. This new reality can be difficult to adjust to—not just for the returning service person but for their immediate family, who naturally wonder how they can help their loved one make a smooth and healthy transition back to civilian life. In this period of re-acclimating to civilian life, it’s important to keep in mind that returning vets are more vulnerable to substance abuse and self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, due to various factors: Chronic or acute pain from one or more war-related injuries Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),

Guest Blog: How a Veteran Can Heal from Traumatic Memories

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How a Veteran Can Heal from Traumatic Memories By Anna Ciulla An experience of active combat can be incredibly traumatic, which is why there is such a high prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among the veteran population. These less visible battle scars—the traumatic memories, flashbacks and other symptoms that can cause daily torment long after active duty has ended—are a reminder of the great sacrifice that fighting to defend our country entails. But that sacrifice doesn’t have to take a lifetime toll. There are ways to cope with and ultimately go on to overcome traumatic memories that any vet can benefit from knowing about: Trauma-Focused Psychotherapies—in particular, Eye Movement Densensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), and Cognitive Processing Therapy—have helped a significant proportion of people with PTSD find healing. In fact, a handy “Treatment Comparison Sheet” from the U.S.

GUEST BLOG: What is a ‘Sheep Dog’?

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Giving wounded heroes ("Sheep Dogs") a new outlook on life Military veterans and first responders, who we refer to as “Sheep Dogs,” have an innate need to serve and help those around them. At Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (, we recognize this and strive to provide continued service opportunities that offer the physical challenges and camaraderie that is often missing after a shift or tour of duty ends. We do this through three major programs: Disaster Response Missions, Outdoor Adventures and Holiday Assistance. Through our Outdoor Adventure Program, Sheep dogs that have been injured in the line of duty are provided with meaningful and impactful experiences which help them reengage in a healthy lifestyle and improve their well being. Through this program Army Specialist Scott West was sponsored to participate in one of our skydiving adventures. A Life of Recovery

GUEST BLOG: Caring for Elderly Veterans

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The Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Center works diligently to support elderly veterans By: Yvonne Napolitano, Executive Director The Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Center (SJRC) is located in rural, Prescott Valley, AZ. SJRC is the only adult day health program in northern AZ and is just one program of more than 5000 adult day health centers across the nation. SJRC provides therapeutic, personalized care services for those having varying chronic illnesses and disabilities including but not limited to, Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia, diabetes, physical/cognitive impairments like traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, developmental disabilities, and mental illnesses. SJRC is proud to be serving veterans which are approximately 50% of its daily attendees. Thanks to the late founding SJRC Executive Director Susan J. Rheem (1947-2010) and her advocacy efforts at the national level in the 1980’s,

Guest Blog: Career Training is Vital to Many Veterans

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Institute for Career Development Discusses Veterans' Need for Job Training  One hundred years ago, ICD launched a first-of-its-kind center to rehabilitate returning WWI veterans with service-related disabilities.  Three years ago, we saw that a new approach was needed to meet the needs of today’s veterans, particularly those serving in the military post-9/11.  Since then, ICD’s Veterans for Employment (VFE) program has helped hundreds of veterans with diverse skills, experiences, and interests start satisfying careers. Our staff coaches veterans on writing resumes, searching for jobs, interviewing and other integral career skills. Most importantly, the staff goes the extra mile to meet each veteran where they are and to tailor services accordingly, connecting each veteran to the resources that work for them. In today’s complex employment environment, professional networking can be the key to finding the right job and getting promotions.  Yet,

Guest Blog: Hidden Pain

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By: Ana Yelen, Healing Warriors Program When we first launched Healing Warriors Program, one of our staunchest supporters, told us the reason our program was so important for her.  This woman, a teacher, mentor and medical professional, shared with us a story she had been unable to share in over 30 years: the anguish of her dad’s death, over what they called shell-shock and we call PTSD, quietly trickled out.  It was a heart-wrenching story, made even more tragic by the fact that thirty years later, we continue to lose veterans at alarming rates because of pain and post traumatic stress. But the problem is complex and finds expression in a multitude of ways, from the homeless veterans living day to day, to the veteran who has transitioned back to civilian life and is seemingly reintegrated into their prior life. 

GUEST BLOG: Healing and Empowering Military Families to Thrive

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Project Sanctuary works with DVNF to support heroes in need Not an hour goes by for Jim* without reliving the horrors of that day. One moment he was on a fairly typical mission in Iraq. The next he lay trying to clear the dust from his eyes and inventory the full extent of his injuries. The months that followed seemed like a series of snapshots, each one building upon the last to ensure Jim’s survival. Doctors had prepared him that the odds were against his walking again. After three surgeries, recovery became Jim’s new mission and perhaps the most grueling of all, trying to make his body move as it had before. Post-traumatic stress and a traumatic brain injury induced nightmares, flashbacks and migraines. Jim often found it ironic that the virtues of freedom and independence for which he had

Are You Sleeping?

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By Ana Yelen, Executive Director, Healing Warriors Program A good night’s sleep is more elusive than we think. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services studies assert that sleep disorders affect between 50 – 70 million Americans, or about 20% of the population. In the armed services, sleep issues are the de facto norm because of training, job schedules, and the need for a military force that is on-call and available at a moment’s notice. But the cost of long-term sleep deprivation is high and linked to depression, anxiety and worsening of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “More so than even the amputations and traumatic brain injuries that have come to define the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, insomnia is the hidden wound that America’s warriors are bringing home. It’s largely unnoticed, under-prevented and untreated.”1 At Fort Hood, Texas, Dr. Vincent Mysliwiec,

Guest Blog: Honoring a Military Family

After reading They Marched Into Sunlight, a powerful book about two days during the Vietnam War, written by Pulitzer Prize Winning journalist David Maraniss, Robin Becker, Artistic Director of Robin Becker Dance, felt compelled to create an evening-length dance. Deeply moved by the integrity, honor, and commitment of both those who fought the war, and those who fought against it, Robin Becker embarked upon the creation of this dance hoping that the universal language of the body would reflect and offer the same sense of healing that David’s words evoked in her. In the audience during the company’s performance at Georgetown University was Lieutenant Clark Welch, one of the featured veterans in David’s book. Lieutenant Clark Welch was one of the most decorated soldiers during Vietnam. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his action at the battle of Ong

Guest Blog: Finding Restoration and Hope

The Healing Warriors Program team understands that managing pain, and the anxiety of Post Traumatic Stress, is critical for restoration of quality of life. For this reason, we work in partnership with the veteran’s medical team to provide an integrative approach to healing, one that includes restoration, wellness and hope. (more…)