Tools to Maximize Independence for Disabled Veterans

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For disabled veterans, simple tasks can get in the way of everyday activities. Not being able to put on your shoes, type on a computer or get down your front steps can make the difference between leading a fulfilling, independent life and feeling distraught and helpless. Know that having an impairment doesn’t mean you have to struggle with your day-to-day life. Assistive device options The purpose of assistive aids is to help maintain or improve your functioning and independence. They can enrich your physical, mental or intellectual wellbeing. In short, these tools make it easier for you to do everyday activities, such as getting dressed, moving around or cooking. Independent living aids This is a sample of the devices that can help you stay independent in your home. Consider these choices: In the kitchen: Mechanical reaching tools: Ask someone to

Guest Blog: How to Talk With Your Veteran About Assisted Living

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Assisted living facilities are growing like wildflowers in many communities. What do they offer, and how can you talk with your veteran about considering one? Assisted Living Basics Assisted living facilities are housing for elderly or disabled people that provides some level of assistance, but not total care. This assistance may include meals, housekeeping and help with daily activities like bathing, as well as nursing care, such as disease or medication management. Assisted living also provides safety and security 24 hours a day, opportunities for socialization, local transportation to nearby stores and doctors’ offices, and entertainment.  Before you talk with your veteran about potentially moving to assisted living, do a little homework. This conversation is not easy. Knowing the details about assisted living facility options before you talk is helpful. Review the shared decision-making form provided by the U.S. Department

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 (www.sheepdogia.org), 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,