Semper Fi Fund gives $100 million to injured veterans (San Diego Union-Tribune)
As the Semper Fi Fund moves into its second decade, the nonprofit has given out more than $100 million to injured service members and their families. Over the past decade since it was founded, the Oceanside-based nonprofit has helped more than 13,000 wounded and critically ill veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The effort, spearheaded by a Marine wife, Karen Guenther, began with $500. Guenther, who was working as a registered nurse at Camp Pendleton, saw the combat wounded coming back from Iraq. She got together with several friends, whose husbands were deployed, to come up with ways to lift the spirits of the injured Marines. The women started by putting together welcome home bags filled with things a mother would give, like socks, sweatshirts and phone cards. Then they got the idea of helping the Marine’s families from across the country visit them in the hospital. Each woman put in $100 to start what is known today as the Semper Fi Fund. Since then the fund has received donations from community groups, individuals, foundations and businesses, earning top marks from Charity Navigator and Charity Watch. The part-time staff is augmented by more than 100 volunteers and overhead is about 6 percent. The nonprofit expanded its efforts to support veterans of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces with post 9/11 combat injuries not only in the hospital, but after they get out and continue recovery.
100,000 Jobs mission has led to hiring of more than 200,000 veterans (Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire)
The 100,000 Jobs Mission announced today that its coalition of private companies has collectively hired more than 217,000 U.S. veterans through the end of 2014 and is now committed to hire another 100,000 veterans for a total of 300,000. “Four years ago, service members struggled to find meaningful jobs because many employers did not fully understand how to apply veterans’ skills and experience to their businesses. Since then, the 100,000 Jobs Mission has connected more than 200,000 veterans to good jobs that put their skills to good use,” said Maureen Casey, director of Military and Veterans Affairs for JPMorgan Chase, a founding member of the coalition. “But our work isn’t done yet. With nearly one million military members returning to civilian life over the next few years, the 100,000 Jobs Mission is committed to continuing its mission of helping U.S. veterans and military spouses obtain meaningful careers.” The 100,000 Jobs Mission was founded in 2011 by 11 companies, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., that pledged to hire at least 100,000 veterans by 2020. The coalition reports its hiring results quarterly and shares best practices for hiring and retaining veterans in their organizations. Many of these can be found on jobsmission.com. Since the coalition’s establishment, membership has grown to 184 companies that represent nearly every industry in the U.S. economy.
Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen provides new home for veteran (ChicagoBears.com)
Bears defensive end Jared Allen presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday in Minnesota, marking the completion of a handicap-accessible home for an injured war veteran. Through his “Homes for Wounded Warriors” foundation, Allen provides financial assistance to make homes accessible for veterans who return from war with debilitating injuries. The five-time Pro Bowler builds, purchases or remodels homes to fit the new lifestyle the disabled veteran faces. The house in Minnetrista, Minn., was built for Marine Corporal Colin Faust, who was badly injured while serving in Afghanistan in 2010. Faust lost his left leg and suffered severe injuries to his right leg and left arm after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED). Allen created the foundation in 2009 after returning home from a USO trip to U.S. military bases in the Middle East. He was moved by the commitment, dedication and sacrifices that American soldiers make and wanted to say thank you to them by doing something to make their lives easier once they returned home. Since the foundation’s inception, it has raised more than $3.5 million with the goal of donating 10 homes a year to wounded warriors.
Study: HVR biofeedback therapy can treat veterans with PTSD (Army-Technology.com)
The heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback therapy can treat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a study by the Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles (VOALA) has claimed. Undertaken at Los Angeles transitional residence, the study involved 33 male combat veterans aged between 22 and 50, all of who were from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom / Operation New Dawn. The study measured the effects of using biofeedback over an eight-week programme, divided into two phases, to help control PTSD. During the first phase, the participants were introduced to the concepts of biofeedback, HRV, cardiac coherence (CC) and physiological stress responses, and received instruction on biofeedback use and an emotion-regulation technique combining positive thoughts or imagery with deep, controlled breathing. The second phase consisted of once-weekly HRV biofeedback coaching groups that used emotion-regulation techniques during real-life situations. The groups also helped veterans train their HVR on personal biofeedback devices and keep a journal of their experiences. Supported by a grant from UniHealth Foundation, the study included emWave, a heart rhythm monitoring system that was installed on laptops assigned to participants during group sessions, and an infrared photoplethysmography sensor and software capable of displaying real-time HRV patterns and coherence levels. Supplementary features included a breath pacer, pulse monitor and games designed to assist participants in reaching CC, as well as emWave2, a portable HRV monitor to help veterans practise biofeedback outside of groups. Around 27 successfully completed all eight sessions, while six were discharged early. All results were documented in an article, titled: ‘Implementing Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback Groups for Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.’
Texas woman who fought to improve care after son’s suicide will attend bill signing (NOLA.com)
Susan Selke, whose Marine Corps son Clay Hunt committed suicide after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, says her son became frustrated with bureaucratic fumbling and inertia as he sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. She’s been fighting for better care since her son’s 2011 suicide, and Thursday (February 12) is scheduled to be at the White House as President Barack Obama signs the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American veterans Act into law. “While we are a little bittersweet, because it is too late for our son Clay, we are thankful knowing that this will save many lives,” Selke, a Katy, Texas, resident, said after the Senate passed the bill 99-0 last week. The House passed the bill 403-0 on January 12. The bill, which had strong support from the Louisiana congressional delegation, provides for better access to information on mental health, improved training and deployment of “best practices” for the VA and non-profit mental health organizations. It creates more outreach for returning veterans, sets up an impartial review of VA mental health treatment options and provides financial incentives to psychiatrists who work with veterans.
Veterans group strives to help other vets with jobs, housing opportunities (Fredericksburg.com)
A peer-run support group is taking its local impact to the next level with Veterans on Board, an organization designed to find housing and job opportunities for former service members. The group that began in summer 2014 as the VA-trained Fredericksburg Area Veterans Peer Support Group, then rebranded as Veterans Helping Veterans, is beginning the process to becoming a nonprofit organization while simultaneously furthering partnerships and programs for former service members. “Veterans on Board is about helping veterans in any way that we can, be it with housing, food, trying to help them find jobs, getting them back and forth to doctors’ appointments and getting their claims processed [through the Department of Veterans Affairs],” co-founder and treasurer Brad Largent said. Largent, along with founders Jim Doty, Norris Hassell and Nathaniel Singleton, found Veterans on Board to be a natural progression for the organization that began as a weekly support group for former service members with post-traumatic stress disorder or other combat-related mental health challenges. “We had a lot of people showing up that were living on the streets, and they’re hungry,” Largent said, “so we decided we wanted to find a way to get them off the street and get some food in their bellies. Because you can’t help someone’s head if they’re hungry—[they] want to eat first.” That expanded mission, to help veterans better adapt to the community, has meant up to 40 hours of work per week for members creating relationships with entities like Quin Rivers and the Virginia Employment Commission.