Commentary: Veterans Deserve Our Support Every Day

on Thursday, 26 November 2015.

By Marc Burgess, Special to Military Times 12:10 p.m. EST November 25, 2015

Our recent annual observance of Veterans Day marked a genuine, heartfelt "thank you" to the men and women who have bravely served our nation. But now that the celebrations are over, it's an appropriate time to ask an important question: Are we truly supporting America's veterans?

A landmark survey conducted by my organization, Disabled American Veterans, reveals a very mixed answer.

There are 22 million veterans in this country. They are our family members, friends and neighbors; indeed, we all likely know at least one veteran. But there is much that many of us don't know or understand about their experiences, attitudes and perceptions.

LCVFSF Increases Donation Options for Future Program Growth

on Tuesday, 11 October 2016.

Success is a wonderful thing. It is exhilarating and exciting, especially when it comes to helping others. But it can also be very limiting when it drains resources that need to be replenished in order to sustain growth.  

That is the state of affairs the Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation finds itself in as we complete our first full year of operation. Our robust growth has paid off, but we need to raise money to continue to serve our Service Member target population fully and efficiently. So, we are happy to announce two more options for our supporters to help us with donations.

The State of the American Veteran: The Chicagoland Veterans Study

on Thursday, 28 April 2016.

State of American Veteran (CHI) cover - April2016

The State of the American Veteran: The Chicagoland Veterans Study surveyed nearly 1,300 veterans, along with follow-up focus groups with 20 veterans, in Cook, DuPage, Lake and Will counties. The study was conducted in partnership with Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work.

The study found that many service members leaving the military and returning to the Chicagoland area are not prepared for the transition home and have a range of needs that cannot be easily addressed by a single organization.

...and One Very Heartfelt Thanks from the Troops

on Monday, 17 December 2018.

1LCVFSFCareRecips3

From: Lee, Joseph S MAJ USARMY MEDCOM LRMC (US)
Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2018 12:43 AM

Subject: Thank you from the 67th FST in Afghanistan...

Dear 300 Boodle Brigade, Abbvie Vets Group, and the Lake County Vets Foundation,

Just wanted to send you all a warm and heartfelt THANK YOU!!!! for all the stockings, Christmas decorations, and boodle we received from you all!! With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, it was a HUGE morale boost (and sugar high!) for all of us at the 67th Forward Surgical Team stationed here in Afghanistan. While our group is small in size, we have been able to share all your wonderful snacks and goodies with our patients and other soldiers we treat both on the Forward Operating Base and returning from combat missions. Because we are in such a forward deployed location, everything you sent us goes a long way and is deeply appreciated! Your "boodle boxes" took me back to my days of Beast Barracks and plebe year (Class of '03) - I think its great you all continue to share this small part of the Long Gray Line with our brothers and sisters in arms during deployment. I am attaching a picture earlier this week of everyone as we decorated the aid station here and enjoyed unwrapping your gift boxes. Once again, thank you all so very much for your love, thoughts, and prayers this holiday season. Go Army, beat Navy!!

Happy Holidays!

67th Forward Surgical Team
MAJ Joseph Lee
General Surgeon/61J
MSS-TK, Afghanistan

1LCVFSFCareRecips2

 

Risk of Over Thanking Our Veterans

on Tuesday, 02 June 2015.

By 

Traveling through an airport recently, I witnessed a now-commonplace ritual: military personnel getting head-of-the-line privileges in the boarding area. As we complete the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, one of the legacies of the longest war in our history is how the public has rallied to support those who served.

While this can seem superficial at times, there is not a vet alive who would prefer the other extreme. My father served in Vietnam, and the welcome home his generation received was a national disgrace.

Unfortunately, the modern-day lionization of veterans has itself gone too far. In Washington, this knee-jerk support has resulted in policy decisions that will hurt both vets and the larger public over time.

 

Make Your Health Records Work for You

on Thursday, 07 July 2016.

 
US Department of Veterans Affairs Seal
 
 
 
Make your health records work for you.

Dear Veteran,

Connecting your docs with the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health program shares important parts of your Veteran health record between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and your community health care providers who participate in this program. This allows your health care providers to access important information about your health, so they can provide you the best possible care.

This exchange occurs over a secure and private network known as the eHealth Exchange. This program is free and voluntary for Veterans, but VA needs your consent to share your health records (VA Form 10-0485).

sign up nowIf you have not already joined, go to the eBenefits website and sign up (It's free)! 
If you have technical difficulties, please call 1-800-983-0937 for assistance.

Thank you for agreeing to share your VA health data with your providers and, as always, we thank you for your service!

Sincerely,

The VLER Health National Program Office

PTSD in Military Veterans Causes, Symptoms, and Steps to Recovery

on Tuesday, 22 August 2017. Posted in News

Soldier with therapist

For all too many veterans, returning from military service means coping with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You may be having a hard time readjusting to life out of the military. Or you may constantly be feeling on edge, emotionally numb and disconnected, or close to panicking or exploding. But no matter how long the V.A. wait times, or how isolated or emotionally cut off from others you feel, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and there are plenty of things you can do to start feeling better. These steps can help you learn to deal with nightmares and flashbacks, cope with feelings of depression, anxiety or guilt, and regain your sense of control.

What causes PTSD in veterans? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes known as shell shock or combat stress, occurs after you experience severe trauma or a life-threatening event. It’s normal for your mind and body to be in shock after such an event, but this normal response becomes PTSD when your nervous system gets “stuck.”

Your nervous system has two automatic or reflexive ways of responding to stressful events:
Mobilization, or fight-or-flight, occurs when you need to defend yourself or survive the danger of a combat situation. Your heart pounds faster, your blood pressure rises, and your muscles tighten, increasing your strength and reaction speed. Once the danger has passed, your nervous system calms your body, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, and winding back down to its normal balance.

Immobilization occurs when you’ve experienced too much stress in a situation and even though the danger has passed, you find yourself “stuck.” Your nervous system is unable to return to its normal state of balance and you’re unable to move on from the event. This is PTSD.

Recovering from PTSD involves transitioning out of the mental and emotional war zone you’re still living in and helping your nervous system become "unstuck."

Changes to MST-Related PTSD Claims Processing Means More help for Veterans

on Monday, 02 April 2018. Posted in News

Image of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) poster

Women are disproportionately likely to have experienced sexual harassment and/or assault during their military service. This trauma, referred to by VA as military sexual trauma (MST), can result in conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a cascading impact on all aspects of life. (Click here for more information on military sexual trauma and treatments available for resulting conditions from VA.)

Due to increased awareness of this problem and the challenges of providing corroborating evidence in many cases, VA has taken a number of steps over the years to better serve MST survivors applying for disability compensation for conditions caused by MST, beginning with relaxing evidentiary standards in 2002. Because events involving sexual trauma are not always officially reported, VA looks for “markers” (i.e., signs, events or circumstances) that provide an indication the traumatic event happened, which include but are not limited to records from rape crisis or mental health counseling centers, tests for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, statements from family members or roommates, transfer requests, deterioration in work performance, episodes of depression or anxiety without an identifiable cause and relationship issues – a longer list is available here.

In response to an identified gap in the percent of claims granted for PTSD caused by MST compared to other causes, such as combat-related PTSD, additional changes were made. These include conducting special training for VA regional office personnel who process MST-related claims beginning in 2011 and offering specialized training to medical examiners who provide input on these cases in 2012.

How effective have those efforts been? The table below shows the percent of PTSD issues granted for MST-related and non-MST related claims. In FY11, there is a substantial gap: 59.5% of non-MST related PTSD claims were granted, compared to only 35.6% of MST-related PTSD claims, a nearly 24 point gap. Three years later, in FY14, the gap had shrunk to less than six points, with grant rates of 54.1% and 48.5% respectively. So far this fiscal year, the gap is only around one point, with grant rates of 54.6% for non-MST related claims and 53.4% for MST-related claims.

Impact of Changes to MST-Related PTSD Claims Processing

The dramatic narrowing of the gap, from over 20 points six years ago to virtually indistinguishable today, shows the success of those efforts. The Veterans Benefits Administration and the Center for Women Veterans will continue to analyze data to sustain these improvements in equitable decision-making.

For help with disability compensation related to MST, read more here and contact the MST coordinator at your local Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office.

Stanford Scholar Helps Veterans Recover from War Trauma

on Tuesday, 02 December 2014. Posted in News

Stanford Report 

September 5, 2014

Newly published research by Stanford scholar Emma Seppala shows how meditation and breathing exercises can help military veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Adam Burn practicing yoga

Adam Burn, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, practices yoga techniques to help combat stress. A Stanford scholar has found that breathing-based meditation dramatically reduces PTSD in veterans.

BY CLIFTON B. PARKER

For several years, Emma Seppala, associate director of Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and lead author of the article, has been studying the effects of breathing-based meditation practices on veterans suffering from PTSD.

"This is the first randomized controlled study on a form of meditation or yoga for veterans with PTSD that has shown such long-term, lasting effects," she said in an interview.

PTSD, which affects about one in five veterans, is typically triggered by the experience of a terrifying or life-threatening event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts and emotions. Returning vets suffering from PTSD have extremely high suicide rates, Seppala said.

VA Memorial Benefits for Veterans and Family Members

on Thursday, 06 April 2017.

Pre-Need Application Form

VA takes special care to pay lasting tribute to the memory of Veterans who served and sacrificed and that of their families. VA meticulously maintains 135 VA national cemeteries in 40 states and Puerto Rico and is working to increase access to accommodate Veterans and eligible family members close to home. In a few years, 95 percent of Veterans will have a burial option in an open VA, state or tribal veterans cemetery located within 75 miles of their home. Some benefits are also available for Veterans who choose burial in a private cemetery.