How veterans are working to keep Chicago’s children safe (Christian Science Monitor)
For school children, some Chicago streets can be a dangerous place. While the city of Chicago has seen steadily declining murder rates since the peak in early-1990s, some neighborhoods remain comparatively violent. The “crime gap” in neighborhoods like Englewood and Austin is reflected in murder rates some 10 times higher than the rest of the city. For students who must navigate these neighborhoods on their way to school, every day can be a struggle. The city’s 2013 closure of dozens of schools increased the commute times of many students, exacerbating the problem. This is precisely why a group of veterans working for the group Leave No Veteran Behind, through Chicago’s Safe Passage program work to protect children living in some of the city’s roughest neighborhoods. The non-profit program, started by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans Roy Sartin and Eli Williamson, “invests in heroes,” helping to find employment and education opportunities for out-of-work military veterans. “This isn’t just volunteerism, but actual work,” Eli Williamson, co-founder of Leave No Veteran Behind, told The Huffington Post. “It provides flexibility to go and look for alternate employment.” Safe passage relies on community organizations like Leave No Veteran Behind to hire and manage workers to staff the program’s routes. More than 400 veterans have participated in the Safe Passage program. On any given school day, roughly 130 veterans are out on the streets. “This has visibly decreased youth violence in these areas,” said Williamson.
VA researching LED treatments to battle Gulf War Illness (Photonics.com)
Following promising findings obtained from a pilot program, researchers at the VA Boston Healthcare System are testing the effects of light therapy on brain function in veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness, also known as Gulf War Syndrome. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs defines this condition as a cluster of medically unexplained, chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders and memory problems. The therapy, although still considered “investigational” and not covered by most health insurance plans, already is used by some alternative medicine practitioners to treat wounds and pain. Veterans in the study will wear a helmet lined with LEDs that apply red and near-infrared light to the scalp, as well as diodes placed in the nostrils, which will deliver light deeper into the brain. The light is painless and generates no heat. A treatment takes about 30 minutes. One trial already underway aims to enroll 160 Gulf War veterans. Half the veterans will get the real LED therapy for 15 sessions, while the others will get a mock version using sham lights. Then the groups will switch. In the end, all the volunteers will end up getting the real therapy, although they won’t know at which point they received it. After each veteran’s last real or sham treatment, he or she will undergo brain-function tests. “We are applying a technology that’s been around for a while … but it’s always been used on the body, for wound healing and to treat muscle aches and pains, and joint problems,” said lead investigator Dr. Margaret Naeser, a Boston VA research linguist and speech pathologist and a research professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine. “We’re starting to use it on the brain.”
VA needs to hire more doctors — how about veterans? (WNPR-Connecticut)
The federal VA is trying to cut down the amount of time veterans are left waiting for care by hiring more health care professionals. For former service members, working at the VA may not be a tough sell. Jose Burgos knew during college that he wanted to be a doctor. He went to Texas A&M on an Air Force scholarship where he studied bio-medical science and pre-med. After graduation, he was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force. But when it was time for him to pick a specialty or job in the military, Burgos said he decided to try something different. “So I saw on a list, Aircraft and Munitions Maintenance, and I was like, that sounds awesome!” Burgos said. “So I checked that off. I had never turned a wrench in my life until that point, so for me, it was a big culture shock going from medicine to a world full of mechanics.” Burgos became an Aircraft Maintenance Officer overseeing crews that worked on aircraft like the Strike Eagle and later, the F-22 Raptor. He enjoyed the work but medicine was still his passion. There were several moments during his deployment in Afghanistan when he strongly felt that desire to take care of people. Burgos recalled one time when he went to the clinic on base to pick up medication. “The emergency entrance was the only one that was open and there was backboards there stained in blood, and pictures on the wall at that hospital of people who had passed away. And I remember feeling like that’s my calling,” he said. That’s one of the reasons why he’s sharing his knowledge with his civilian colleagues. Burgos helped form the Military Medical Interest Group at Quinnipiac Medical School. He’s helping classmates get exposure to former service members so they understand what they’re going through. The need is important. These physicians in training will see many patients in their careers including veterans.
Shepherd’s Men run 911 miles for injured veterans (MyFoxAtlanta.com)
One in five of the almost 300,000 service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan need treatment for post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. The VA is neither set up nor equipped to handle this new American crisis. The SHARE initiative at Shepherd Center in Atlanta is a one of its kind program for these injured veterans. The Shepherd’s Men are a group of soldiers, veterans, and civilians dedicated to raising not only money for SHARE, but also awareness. They are literally hitting the pavement, running 911 miles from ground zero in New York to the Shepherd Center to help accomplish this. For more on how you can help or just follow their progress go to their website shepherdsmen.com.
70 years later, Navy veteran receives medals for WWII service (CBS-Chicago)
Seventy years late, a 91-year-old Navy veteran finally has the medals and ribbons he earned for his service during World War II, reports WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger. Months before the United States entered the war, Joe Hoppe enlisted in the Navy. He was inspired by seeing newsreels of the Nazi blitz of London. “Being 17, what can you do? But, you can do something. And I feel we did something,” Hoppe said. He, his brother and two childhood friends went off to war. The three others didn’t make it home alive. While he saw action in every theater of the war, Hoppe felt that compared to those who died, he wasn’t worthy of the medals and honors he’d earned. But, after Senator Dick Durbin arranged for him to be awarded what he’d earned, he says he came to realize, it was his duty to accept them. “I can honor the other veterans and all the veterans of every war. And if I don’t participate in these things, I’m not honoring anybody,” Hoppe said. Senator Durbin surprised him at his Northwest Side senior citizen’s home Monday, presenting Joe Hoppe with his long overdue military medals and decorations. The honor means a lot to Joe and to his daughter Alison, who wanted the world to know how much her dad sacrificed for all of us. “My Dad’s always been a real humble guy… he doesn’t brag but he really deserves this,” she said.
Tennessee leads the nation in combating veteran joblessness (Murfreesboro Daily News Journal)
Tennessee is leading the nation in addressing unemployment among military veterans, officials said Monday at a Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce event in Murfreesboro. “Unemployment among National Guard was twice state average,” said Steve Brophy, vice president, Government Affairs, Dollar General. After learning that fact, he decided to try to fix the issue in Tennessee, he said. He said veterans bring valuable assets to the civilian world, both soft skills and hard skills, and that why he worked with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to develop Paychecks For Patriots. Brophy said at “Bridging the Gap: Helping Employers Understand How to Effectively Hire Veterans.” The event served as an opportunity for 200 human resources professionals to explore and understand best practices for hiring and retaining military veterans in the workplace. It focused on a range of topics, like a labor market update, what veterans want employers to know, how to support veterans within an organization and connections at Fort Campbell. One of the main topics was efforts by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to address unemployment among veterans. Brophy spoke about how the idea for Paychecks For Patriots was born in 2011 when Dollar General expanded into California. As the company looked for qualified employees, he found Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, which is a nationwide program formed to help states invest in creating employment opportunities for active duty and other military veterans. Brophy brought that seed of an idea back to Tennessee where Melinda Kelsey helped him plant and nurture it into Paychecks For Patriots.
Veterans decrease pain with alternative medicine (Chillicothe Gazette)
Ask Guy Aregood what life was like two years ago, and he will tell you it was filled with much more pain than he is experiencing now. “I took up to seven or eight pills a day,” Aregood said. “Now I’m down to three.” Aregood, a Cold War veteran of the Army Medical Corp, is a patient in the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s program for alternative healing for those suffering from chronic pain. The program began seven months ago, according to Dr. John Welch, a chiropractor for the medical center. “For veterans, being independent is very important,” Welch said. “We enjoy camaraderie, but when we are with our families, we want to be able to do things on our own.” The program has served 225 veterans so far, Welch said, and focuses on the alternative healing methods of aqua therapy, Tai Chi, chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga and battlefield acupuncture; a technique allowing patients to have minimally invasive acupuncture. The goal, according to Welch, is to reduce the need for prescription opioid use. Aregood said he suffers from lower back pain and had a difficult time walking for more than five or 10 minutes before being enrolled in the program. Since he has begun, Aregood has lost 40 pounds and gained mobility. Each stage of the program lasts four weeks, Welch said, as veterans work to increase core strength to both heal and prevent injuries. “The feedback we’ve been getting has been overwhelmingly positive,” Welch said. “As a military person, you’re taught no pain, no gain. We don’t practice that here.” For Aregood, who said he suffers from PTSD, healing in the mind is just as important as healing in the body. “The exercise just seems to calm your mind,” Aregood said. “If your mind isn’t right, your body isn’t right.”