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Guest Blog: Supporting Veterans with Mental Health Issues

Contributor: Helios Warriors, Marsha Bennett, Executive Director & Gulf War Veteran The statistics concerning veterans with mental health issues are startling. According to the National Center for PTSD, between 11 and 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress and nearly 20% of soldiers involved in these wars have experienced a traumatic brain injury. These issues are certainly not new to those who have served in the armed forces. Veterans from every conflict throughout history have suffered from symptoms ranging from sleep disturbances, apathy, exaggerated startle response and personality changes to extreme anger and suicidal thoughts. An alarming 22 veterans commit suicide every day, according to a 2011 VA statistic. (more…)

Signs of PTSD and What to Do Next

“Stay busy, stay focused on what’s up ahead. Keep going. No matter what, don’t think. Don’t talk about it. Can’t sleep. Brain is a spinning top that turns and jumps, try to quiet it and the invisible hand hits the reset button, round and round we go again. Drink. Drugs. Anything to numb it out. Can’t deal with your BS right now. Avoid That! No point going there. No, pull back. Push those guys away. Nobody needs me in their lives, I’m too messed up. The world is better off without me. I can’t turn my brain off. Can’t sleep. Avoid. Push them away…” (more…)

A Long Road Back to Normal

The following is a conversation that took place with a homeless veteran we met at a stand down event last year. His true account goes to show just how long the road back to normal can be for too many veterans. “The government needs to do more to help homeless vets. I should know. I was one of them.” (more…)

Guest Blog: HERL Trains Vets in Manufacturing

  Dr. Rory Cooper (left), Director of HERL, talking with a veteran in his program. We at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) – a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh and VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System – take great pride in our work with Veterans. Our efforts are aimed at improving every aspect of their lives and the lives of their families, whether through programs to assist with the transition from the military to enrollment in STEM-related fields of study, or research that will improve their level of satisfaction and participation in everyday life activities. (more…)

Guest Blog: Vets Explore Self-Expression Through Art

By: Kristen Hughes Director of Arts in Healing The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts Support from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation has enabled Arts in Healing to provide 10-12 hours per week of visual art, music, creative writing, drama and dance to veterans served through the Robley Rex VA Medical Center and to test-drive the concept for a veteran/civilian cooperative called “Warrior’s Heart Community.” [caption id="attachment_5523" align="alignright" width="282"] A community member viewing artwork created by veterans in Warriors’ Heart Community pilot project[/caption] Warrior’s Heart Community recently completed a highly successful 9 week pilot project, based on steps outlined in The Warrior’s Return, by Dr. Ed Tick of Soldier’s Heart. The process involved veterans sharing stories about their combat experiences and ensuing struggles with civilians who listened non-judgmentally and without attempting to fix or offer advice, serving as Sacred Witnesses to

For Many Vets, Misconduct Discharges A Sentence to Homelessness

It’s no secret that veterans often find themselves at a disadvantage when exiting the military. Financial difficulty, family stress, and uncertainty about job prospects can often be a formula for disaster for these veterans, and many wind up homeless. But then there are other veterans who become victims of their own irresponsibility, and are branded as such for years to come. According to the LA Times, a study among Post-9/11 VA patients from 2001 to 2011 showed that around 5.6 percent were discharged from the military for misconduct. However, that small percentage accounted for over 28 percent of veterans who became homeless in their first year after leaving the military. Note that this does not include service members with a “dishonorable” discharge, as they are not eligible for VA services. The group surveyed here was discharged for misconduct – usually

Guest Blog: Vets Rehabilitate in the Great Outdoors

By: Sandra Budak Executive Director Honoring Our Veterans Honoring Our Veterans is committed to helping our nation’s veterans heal. We are very fortunate to have the Disabled Veterans National Foundation partner with us in this endeavor. We truly believe we are making a difference in these warriors’ lives. This June, seven combat wounded veterans from across the country enjoyed water sports recreation in stunning Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Without the Foundation’s generous support, we would not be able to offer these rehabilitative therapy programs. With beautiful lakes at the base of the spectacular Teton Range and a nationally designated scenic river, Jackson Hole is the ideal location for water sports recreation. The activities we offer wounded veterans during this session strengthen physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. We offer these programs to wounded veterans at no charge; airfare, transportation, lodging, activities, equipment and meals

Guest Blog: 3 Booming Tech Careers for Disabled Veterans

By Rick Kuehn, CEO at GruntRoll; exited the Marines  in 2010 as a Corporal. One of the many challenges facing disabled Veterans is finding suitable employment. Veterans suffering from PTSD often find difficulty in working in tight-quartered, high-energy environments like the standard American workplace. As a result, some Veterans are turning towards work-from-home professions to overcome the incompatibility some face with a traditional office environment. The youngest generation of combat Veterans are blessed with the distinct advantage of having grown up with technology, and possess a natural affinity to it. These fields are so in-demand that many of the positions aren’t being filled. In a generation of unemployed college graduates, you can find a lucrative career working from home without stepping foot into a classroom. 1) Software Developer The Software Developer is currently the number one most in-demand profession in the

Guest Blog: Make it Count

By the Student Veterans of America President and CEO, D. Wayne Robinson. As you settle into the new semester, make it count by lending a helping hand By the time you’re reading this, classes have started up on college campuses around the country and the semester is in full swing. The scene is much the same as in years previous: syllabi have been handed out and summarily discarded, students justify ignoring the professor with a PowerPoint presentation they’ll wait to open until the night before the final, and the lecture halls have stratified themselves into the barely conscious in back, and overly alert and eager in the front. You may notice one difference, however. Around campus and in among the mixed enthusiasm in the classroom are a handful of veterans. You may also notice that that handful is just a

Clarence: An Inspirational Story on Overcoming Traumatic Brain Injury

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="584"] Clarence[/caption] Meet Clarence. Clarence is the young veteran working at the mill machine in the photo you see above. He has been out of the military for 3 years now, having served in combat right out of high school. Clarence is currently finishing out the Advanced Inclusive Manufacturing (AIM) program at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) at the University of Pittsburgh. This program is one that teaches veterans like Clarence the basics of machinery, which will give them a leg up in a high-demand field. Clarence suffered a major traumatic brain injury (TBI) during a deployment. Now he has a form of visual agnosia, in which he lacks the ability to visually recall images in his mind. He told us during our visit to the HERL lab that remembering how an object should look when