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.

VA Weighs PTSD Care that Avoids Traumatic Memories

on Friday, 21 August 2015. Posted in News

 An instructor with Joined Forces Yoga teaches a class for Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) offered by Joined Forces Yoga at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, April 23, 2015. (U.S. Army photo/ Sgt. Sierra A. Fown)

An instructor with Joined Forces Yoga teaches a class for Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) offered by Joined Forces Yoga at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, April 23, 2015. (U.S. Army photo/ Sgt. Sierra A. Fown)

VA Weighs PTSD Care that Avoids Traumatic Memories

NAPLES, Italy — Revisiting a traumatic event in a therapy session can open a door to relief for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But confronting bad memories may not be the answer for everyone.

After years of emphasizing trauma-focused psychotherapy as a preferred treatment for PTSD, researchers and clinicians with the Department of Veterans Affairs are considering forms of therapy that steer clear of traumatic memories, including those focusing on mindfulness.

Although relatively new and backed by less research than other therapies, the treatments could expand practitioners’ options and could offer patients a greater say in their care, a top VA clinician said. That, in turn, could lead to better outcomes.

“I think the coming years will be a maturation of the field, the realization that there’s more than one door,” said Harold Kudler, chief consultant for VA Mental Health Services.

Swords into ploughshares: Veterans find opportunities in farming

on Thursday, 18 June 2015.

WASHINGTON – Dan Mikulecky had an epiphany during his 2004 deployment to Iraq with the Montana National Guard.

He had joined the Guard for college, but wasn't sure the direction he wanted to go in life post-deployment. Being out in the Iraqi countryside, however, it became clear to him: he wanted to return to rural Montana and become a farmer.

When he got back to the U.S., Mikulecky received a preferential veteran's loan, agricultural training and financial advising through Northwest Farm Credit Services. He purchased land in Rudyard, Montana and grow it into a thriving wheat and grain farm.

"The hours from the service and the hours that you put into agriculture are very closely related," Mikulecky said. "Yeah, it's a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, but we're self-starters, always trying to go the extra mile."

Scuba, Parrots, Yoga: Veterans Embrace Alternative Therapies for PTSD

on Sunday, 18 September 2016.

Veterans swimming with whale sharks this month at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta as part of their therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.CreditMelissa Golden for The New York Times

ATLANTA — Thomas Harris slid into the cool, salty water of a 6.3-million-gallon tank at the Georgia Aquarium here and let himself float limp as kelp.

Mr. Harris, a former Army medic, gazed through a diving mask at a manta ray the size of a hang glider doing slow somersaults above shifting schools of silver fish. A 21-foot whale shark brushed silently by, inches from his face, its broad, spotted back taking up his entire view. Immersed in the moment, he forgot about the world.

This is not a weekend hobby. It is part of his therapy for the post-traumatic stress disorder he has been grappling with after his tours in Iraq. And like Mr. Harris, more veterans are turning to these sorts of outside-the-office treatment.

The broad acceptance of PTSD after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has posed an unexpected challenge. Acknowledging PTSD has only spurred a wide-ranging debate over the best way to treat it.

Traditional medical approaches generally rely on drugs and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. But this combination has proved so unpopular that many veterans quit before finishing or avoid it altogether. This has given rise to hundreds of small nonprofits across the country that offer alternatives: therapeutic fishing, rafting and backpacking trips, horse riding, combat yoga, dogs, art collectives, dolphin swims, sweat lodge vision quests and parrot husbandry centers, among many, many others.

Peer Support Specialists Help Heal America's Veterans

on Tuesday, 02 December 2014.

baren flag
In April 2012, Berg was the battalion guide for the change of command ceremony at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. He was in Security Platoon, General Support Motor Transport (company), 1st Maintenance Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Division. This was about a year after coming out of the U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment and returning to duty.

Veterans Aren't PTSD Basketcases; They're Disciplined And Committed

on Monday, 01 December 2014. Posted in News

GUEST POST IN FORBES WRITTEN BY Paul A. Dillon,
President/CEO of Dillon Consulting Services LLC, a U.S. Dpt of Veterans Affairs certified Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business

The stories keep coming—relentlessly. Daily in the national media—on TV, radio, online and on the printed page—are heartrending tales of broken young veterans returning from the recent wars, and their heroic caregivers. Young people, burdened by all types of injuries, seen and unseen–blown off limbs, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, and mental illness dominate the national discussion regarding those who most recently have served. The terrible shootings at Ft. Hood and the Washington Navy Yard only reinforce how damaged these veterans must be.

And, surely, without a doubt, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have taken a terrible toll on the 1% of our citizenry who have stepped forward to defend the other 99% of our national population. According to a report published by the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, in the 13 years since the 9/11 attacks our nation's military has been deployed and in a state of war, more than 2.5 million young men and women have volunteered to serve and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan—and, as of May 2014, more than 6,668 have been killed and over 51,785 have been physically wounded.

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.

VA Releases Report on Nation’s Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide

on Friday, 05 August 2016.

More than 55 Million Veterans’ Records Reviewed From 1979 to 2014 From Every State in the Nation

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today released its findings from the nation’s most comprehensive analysis of Veteran suicide rates in the United States in which VA examined more than 55 million Veterans’ records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation. The effort advances VA’s knowledge from the previous report in 2012, which was primarily limited to information on Veterans who used VHA health services or from mortality records obtained directly from 20 states and approximately 3 million records.. Compared to the data from the 2012 report, which estimated the number of Veteran deaths by suicide to be 22 per day, the current analysis indicates that in 2014, an average of 20 Veterans a day died from suicide.

A link to the report may be found here.

Social Work with Service Members

on Friday, 28 June 2013. Posted in Counseling

A free online 5-course training module available for all social workers. It includes community resources, evidence-based practices, military cultural competency, military sexual trauma, and social work with military children. This course will not be limited to social workers who specifically work with veterans and military families, but also private practitioners, clinical social workers, agency social workers, policy practitioners, educators, and researchers. View Training

 

Please Don't Thank Me for My Service

on Saturday, 07 March 2015.

Hunter Garth, 26, a veteran who fought in Afghanistan: "I pulled the trigger.  You didn't. Don't take that away from me."  by Matt Richtel, The New York Times.

HUNTER GARTH was in a gunfight for his life and about to lose.

He and seven other Marines were huddled in a mud hut, their only refuge after they walked into an ambush in Trek Nawa, a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan. Down to his last 15 bullets, one buddy already terribly wounded, Mr. Garth pulled off his helmet, smoked a cheap Afghan cigarette, and came to terms with what was happening.

I'm going to die here with my best friends, he recalled thinking.

I didn't know any of this, nor the remarkable story of his survival that day when I met him two months ago in Colorado while reporting for an article about the marijuana industry, for which Mr. Garth and his company provide security. But I did know he was a vet and so I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service.

No problem, he said.

It wasn't true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Mr. Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn't want to be thanked for their military service?