Opioid Pain Medication recently came under scrutiny by President Trump. Based on the fact that millions of people have misused prescription pain pills containing opioids, the drug is now unavailable to those who need it the most. This decision affects people with different levels of chronic pain, and have been taking the drug as prescribed by their doctor. United States veterans are feeling this decision in the worst way. These men and women are struggling with damages to their bodies from the perils of war, and other related reasons. When they go to their doctors, mostly at the V.A. Hospitals, they are given medication that is less effective for their particular ailment.
It is more difficult for them now with the new legislation. They were only given a certain amount of opioid drugs, but now they are only allowed a small dosage of the drug. This does very little for the pain that some of them experience. They live with this pain daily, and are now suffering more because of the President’s decision. They also have been treated like drug addicts because many of them requests this drug as the only medication that will relieve their pain. It appears that the government is not considering the needs of the people in this issue. It is difficult to say whether or not the drug is the major cause of many addictions, but for those living with chronic pain, it was pain reliever that worked.
13 homeless veterans are moving into their new houses in Kansas City. These “tiny homes” were specially designed with homeless and disabled veterans in mind. All 13 of the men were able to see their almost completed homes recently and all 13 are said to be ecstatic about the development.
Christ Stout, who is the current President of the Veterans Community Project estimates the cost per year of housing these veterans at 15,000 dollars each. In addition to each individual home there will be a large community area which will be populated with many of the services and professionals that these veterans will need to get back on their feet.
These tiny homes were originally developed on the west coast of the United States where soaring property prices have been a major driver of the homeless population. Many cities such as Oakland and San Jose have built similar communities and most of them hope to be up and running sometime in early 2018.
The Veterans Community Project currently has plans to house 37 more veterans in 37 additional tiny homes. These homes are meant to be semi temporary- basically enabling veterans to get back on their feet. Once a member of the program moves to new accommodations the cycles starts over and other veterans take their spots.
The goal is to end the revolving door problem of veteran homeless with a place to call their own. Being around other military veterans can also help with aspects of therapy and treatment programs.
Students at Catholic Memorial High School, an all boys school in West Roxbury, Massachusetts worked with both Lazarus Ministry and Lawlar and Crosby Funeral Home to put together a funeral and mass service for a homeless Army veteran. The students learned the veteran would go through the burial process with no family present as he, the veteran that they merely knew as John had no family left living in his life. They wanted to honor him as a thank you for all the sacrifices he had made for them, for the country by giving him the gift of family. So in early November of 2017, the students gathered to attend his funeral and a mass service was done by Catholic Memorial and Reverend Chris Palladino gave an eulogy.
Catholic Memorial High School President, Dr. Peter Folan went on to say that doing this allowed the boys attending Catholic Memorial to see, first hand, that they themselves can make a difference. That standing with or for “those that are marginalized” is important.
Most of the students did not know of John or any pieces of his story before his death, but the seniors who helped to carry his casket admit they learned a lot in the days following his death. He may not have had any blood family when he passed away, but he sure left behind a lot of love at Catholic Memorial High School.
Bernard Darty, an 83 year old holocaust victim has declared that he will be donating 1 million US dollars to wounded veterans. He is making this donation to thank them for their sacrifice in World War 2 and other wars. Darty was rescued from a concentration camp by US veterans and he wants to repay the favor to a younger generation of vets. While this donation comes many decades after his rescue he wants to show people that it is never too late to say thank you- especially to veterans who put their lives on the line for complete strangers.
The million dollar donation will go to the Wounded Warrior Foundation- one of the premiere veterans charities in the United States. Mr. Darty was quoted as hoping that his donation will inspire other generous Americans to donate what they can. Although his rescue from certain death was more than 70 years ago- he still remembers the day vividly. He hopes to show that procrastinating about helping people does not mean you cannot help at all.
He originally lived in Poland with his family when the Germans invaded in 1939. After leaving Poland for France the family was again put in peril when the Nazi forces invaded France in 1940. His family and tens of thousands of other Jews were rounded up from their neighborhood and sent to camps. While many were not as lucky as him- the American troops that saved his life have left an indelible memory on him.
The state of Wisconsin will soon become the first in the country to implement a “Green Alert” system that will assist families and law enforcement officials in locating at-risk military veterans that become missing.
Advocates of the program are hoping that other states will soon follow the lead of Wisconsin and implement the Green Alert system that works in a similar way to the Silver Alert and Amber Alert systems that have been utilized to in the cases of missing elderly persons or children.
The idea for the program came from Gwen Adams and her husband Johnnie whose son, Corey Adams, a 45-year-old Air Force veteran went missing last year. Adams had served the country in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Afghanistan and was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Police informed the Adams’ that they were unable to assist them in locating their son because he was an adult and his situation did not meet necessary criteria.
Gwen Adams urges officials to implement the system nationwide and said during a phone interview that she did not want to see any other family endure what her family was forced to endure. Adams explained that there are no laws on the books to allow for police officials to look for at-risk missing veterans.
Nationwide, 20 United States veterans commit suicide each day according to a study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is quite likely that these numbers are quite a bit higher as some states are not willing to share this information.
Many US Military Veterans in Manatee, County, Florida have faced combat. This can often leave scars on vets, both physical and mental. Instead of using body armor and search dogs they are using spatulas, pots, pans and everything else you would normally find in a commercial kitchen. These vets work at Vets2Chefs which is a 12 week culinary school course for veterans.
Vets2Chefs was created in 2014 by Bryan Jacobs, who was in the Marines as a combat paramedic. The program comes under the umbrella of Vets2Success, which aims to provide a full schedule of services to veterans. This includes mental health care, financial assistance, and even cooking classes like at Vets2Chefs.
Jacobs was inspired to create Vets2Chefs after his own experiences and the experiences of his comrades in arms led him to believe someone needed to step up and make a change. Bryan learned how to cook early in life. He was taught by his Grandfather, who also happened to be a World War 2 combat veteran. Jacobs is using some skills he learned from his Grandpa, along with a few he learned along the way to help veterans heal through the joy of cooking.
While his classes are practical the main focus is helping returning veterans to feel more normal. They are also populated entirely by veterans so this creates a safe space where they can relax and relate to other veterans. Jacobs hopes that his program can be replicated in other states and cities to help other vets.
Green Structure Homes Delivered (commonly known as GSH Of Alabama, LLC) is a company headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama. They are disaster relief construction contractors who provide housing for families and businesses after a disaster strikes a region. They recently announced that they had signed a new contract with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and the United States Department of Homeland Security. The contract was signed so that GHS of Alabama could provide contemporary modular homes to those whose residences were made unoccupiable by Hurricane Harvey. The contract is worth $28.5 million and all of the homes will be delivered by March 2018. Learn more about Barbara Stokes at Crunchbase.
In a statement about signing this contract, Chief Executive Officer Barbara J. Stokes said that she and her team at GSH of Alabama were gratified to support those who had lost so much to Hurricane Harvey. She said that her company supplies the highest quality structures to their customers at a great value. She also noted that they are made in the U.S.A. in Huntsville. Additionally, she pointed to advanced safety features such as an automatic fire suppression system so that residents stay safe while using them. Follow Barbara Stokes on Linkedin.com.
GSH of Alabama was founded in 2008 by Barbara Stokes and her husband, Scott. Scott is the chief operating officer of the firm. They provide structures to both the government and those in the private sector. In addition to manufacturing these structures, they also design and engineer them as well. Together, Barbara and Scott Stokes have a combined 30 years of experience in providing disaster relief.
Barbara Stokes brought experience in the sciences and manufacturing to her role at GSH of Alabama. She has undergraduate degrees in both physics and engineering that she earned at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. She minored in a number of other fields including management, thermodynamics, and manufacturing. Once she graduated she entered the manufacturing industry and has several years of experience working for The Boeing Company as well as Pisces Corporation. In her careers at these two firms she learned extensively about government contracting which has definitely helped her in her role at GSH of Alabama.
Beyond her position at GSH of Alabama, Barbara Stokes and her husband also have three young children. She spends her free time with her family and also does volunteer work for a variety of nonprofits in the Huntsville region.
In an an article article published on the Huffington Post by Shad Meshad, President of the National Veterans Foundation, an 84-year-old World War II veteran from Finland summed up his experience by stating, “War changes you, there’s no denying that. It’s useless say it doesn’t or that you’ll get over it. You don’t.”
I remember being in high school and one of my classmates decided to dedicate the next years of his life to the United States Marine Corps and go to Afghanistan. It was something I’d never heard before. Everyone else was deciding what college they wanted to go to or what car they might get as a graduation present. Years later, on the eve of college graduation, my roommate announced he had also joined the Marine Corp and would be deploying for training on Parris Island that summer. We all talked about it. We were scared for him, but mostly I was scared for his family. I knew his parents, and his sister was in a few of my classes. I read a lot about war that summer and I realized that soldiers become faceless, a huddled mass in a foreign land fighting small battles for the massive freedoms we often take for granted, but they’re people, too. They put their lives on hold and leave families behind so we can live with and love ours fully. So next time you see a veteran, take a moment, think about your family, and ask him how his is doing.
President Trump has ordered members of his cabinet to devise a plan to improve and expand mental health care for U.S. veterans.
The president signed an executive order last week “supporting our Veterans during their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life.” The order instructs the secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs to coordinate efforts to reach the goal of greater care for those who have served in the military.
“We will not rest until all of America’s great veterans receive the care they’ve earned through their incredible service and sacrifice to our country,” Trump said.
The plan will include providing men and women who have left active duty with 12 months of mental health benefits, a 24-hour veteran hotline, and suicide prevention services.
Suicide among returned servicemen and women has increased since the American invasion and intervention in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2013, a study conducted by the US Department of Veteran Affairs showed that between 1999 and 2010, 22 veterans were committing suicide daily. That is nearly one suicide every 65 minutes.
Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shuklin said that decreasing the suicide rate among veterans is on the top of his list of priorities.
Suicide rates among military veterans vary from state to state. Montana, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico have the highest suicide rates among veterans, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs report released in September. The frequency of Post Traumatic Syndrome, proximity to VA centers, and opioid painkiller usage were all variables in the statistical study.
The report estimated that currently, about 20 veterans commit suicide daily.
It was February of 1970 when Bob Calderon’s life changed. He was a 19-year-old Marine that had just been blasted by a grenade in Vietnam, shrapnel so embedded in his legs that doctors had to amputate them above the knee.
But this didn’t stop the Vietnam veteran from living a full life. He eventually graduated from being wheelchair bound to walking with prosthetic limbs. He played basketball and found himself on a trip to New Zealand to compete in the USA World 9-Ball Billiards Championships. He even had his luck of the draw with women, marrying three times.
Unfortunately, the first two failed due to post-traumatic stress disorder. His third wife, Laura, died of breast cancer in 2012 while his son, Shawn, died of liver disease in 2017. With the loss of the two closest people in his life, Calderon found himself needing peer support more than ever. It was at a support meeting, one day, that Calderon found himself paired up with Mae, a two-year-old yellow lab courtesy of Southeastern Guide Dogs.
Today, Mae is the force in Calderon’s life. Her upbeat attitude, intelligence, and willingness to play have opened up a new chapter in the life of a depressed veteran. In fact, Calderon is eager to show off his new buddy whenever visitors ring the doorbell. Mae can open doors, fetch her leash, and can pull Calderon’s wheelchair to him in the case that he takes a fall.
As a result, Calderon now has a new companion in his life he can talk about his day too. She’ll listen for hours on end about anything from group therapy sessions to trips to the mall. For now, she is the most important thing in his life.