Help for Veterans

By Sal Arrigo, Jr.  |  2015-12-14

Mary White is an Air Force veteran who was one of the first females stationed at Mather Air Force Base. After serving her country for 10 years, White now puts her energy into helping all veterans as the District 13 Commander of Team Amvets, an agency within the state of California—they can be reached at (916) 320-0804 or via their website at www.teamamvets.org.

I asked White about the services her office provides and was surprised by her answer: “We serve all veterans, in all branches of service, including the Merchant Marines. How many military service organizations can say that?”

White’s office serves El Dorado, Sacramento, and Yolo counties. One of the programs White and her Amvets help organize is: Sacramento Stand Down, a three day event that was most recently held this past summer at Mather Air Force Base (AFB). The event, attended by more than 200 U.S. military veterans, provides essential services and comfort to veterans and their dependents, and has been doing so since Sacramento Stand Down was created in 1992. The mission of the organization is to end homelessness for veterans in Sacramento County, for more information on this visit www.standdownsacramento.org/.

In addition to assisting with Sacramento Stand Down, Amvets provides clothing for veterans who may have a job interview or, as White stated, “fill in the gaps” in essential services for veterans if they need help weaving their way through the maze of bureaucratic paperwork. There are approximately 180,000 veterans living in California with about 10 percent being women.

At the recent Air Show at Mather AFB, the Amvets had a booth that functioned as a clearinghouse for veterans, especially those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “My organization was helpful in saving 28 veterans from committing suicide because they found the help they needed,” said White.

It is reported that a veteran commits suicide every 22 minutes in the United States and, as a reminder, I was given a wristband by White that is inscribed “22 Everyday,” referring to the suicide crisis concerning our veterans. If a veteran calls the (800) 273-8255 crisis line, they will get a counselor to help them deal with their immediate emotions. White told me that veterans do not like to call for help because they believe the myth that “the cops will come and get you,” meaning that they might be detained for psychiatric evaluation.

There has been progress on the PTSD issue. White tells me that Amvets was instrumental in getting the California Department of Motor Vehicles to issue licenses to veterans that indicate the veteran suffers from PTSD and the act of being pulled over for a vehicle violation may heighten the agitation level of the driver. It does not mean these drivers are dangerous, it just means the officer is aware of who they are dealing with.

White asked me to remind the general public that Amvets would like to get additional support for their organization through financial contributions. Also, volunteering for the organization is always appreciated and is a great way to give back to “those who served.”

 


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Veterans Training for Civilian Careers

Brandpoint  |  2015-12-09

Chuck Sevola

(BPT) - Today, veterans are returning to civilian life by the tens of thousands, eager to apply their highly refined talents in sustainable careers. Yet, national employment numbers reflect the challenges veterans face in pursuit of this goal. The September Bureau of Labor Statistcs unemployment rate for Gulf War Era II veterans decreased to 5 percent, which is the same for both men and women. Overall unemployment for all Veterans over 18 years old is at 4.3 percent (4.1 percent for men, and 5.9 percent for women). Overall unemployment stands at 5.1 percent. The only segment where veteran unemployment is worse than general population unemployment is women veterans (5.9 percent vs 5 percent). The improvement in veteran unemployment suggests veteran hiring programs implemented by companies such as Prudential are having a real impact helping service members transition to civilian employment.

Throughout its long history, Prudential has had a deep appreciation for the service and sacrifices of veterans. In 2010, the company established The Office of Veterans Initiatives to help prepare military service members and their spouses for meaningful careers. Headed by Chuck Sevola, a former communications officer in the U.S. Army and staffed by veterans, Veterans Initiatives works to strengthen relationships with corporations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies so they can collectively provide educational and employment opportunities to veterans and their families.

“Veterans bring significant value to the workforce, including practiced leadership skills, discipline, the ability to perform in stressful situations, and a solid work ethic,” says Sevola. “We recognize the sacrifices made every day by these men and women and believe their experience and leadership can only make our company stronger.”

Veterans Initiatives established VETalent, a partnership between Prudential and Workforce Opportunity Services, a nonprofit organization that helps companies build strong talent pipelines through unique work-study programs. VETalent, a nine-month work-study program, prepares veterans and spouses of active duty service members for careers in information technology, sales and business operations. Participants receive extensive job training and classroom work followed by on-the-job training to qualify for full-time career opportunities with Prudential or other companies.

When the VETalent members graduate from the program, they work as full-time consultants for Prudential, after which time they become eligible for full-time employment offers from the company. To date, Prudential has hired 88 veterans and/or spouses from VETalent and another 192 have been hired by other companies. In addition, another 40 veterans and/or military spouses are in active programs at Prudential and other 82 are in programs with other companies, helping to earn the company the recognition of “Top 100 Military Friendly Employers” and “Best for Vets” for six consecutive years.

Since its inception in Newark, New Jersey in 2010, VETalent has expanded to additional Prudential sites in Dubuque, Iowa with Northeast Iowa Community College, Dresher/Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania with Penn State-Abington University; Jacksonville, Florida with the University of North Florida; Hartford/Shelton, Connecticut with Western Connecticut State University; Roseland/Newark, New Jersey with Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology; and El Paso, Texas with El Paso Community College. The program also has been implemented by 26 other companies across 20 additional locations.

Service members who will be leaving the military soon and those who have an interest in information technology or business careers can visit www.wforce.org/veterans/program-overview and www.prudential.com/veterans to learn more about the VETalent program or about Prudential's other programs for Veterans.


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Sell This Winter, Reduce Competition

Brandpoint  |  2015-12-08

(BPT) - Stop waiting - go ahead and put your home on the market. Even now, with temperatures dropping, airports bustling and retailers prepping Black Friday deals, it’s a good time to sell.

In fact, Greg Jaeger, vice president at USAA Bank and former real estate agent, says waiting could decrease potential buyers, especially if mortgage rates increase soon and price some out of the market. Delaying a sale also could increase your competition and stress.

“Those who sell their homes in the winter can reap financial and emotional benefits since they are not waiting until everyone else is trying to sell,” Jaeger says.

Less Competition

Your home has a greater chance of standing out from the crowd in the winter months, December through February. In the summer, you have to compete with other sellers looking to lure buyers expecting deals. To be sure, sales trends are different among colder and warmer states. And summer is often a more ideal time for families with young children to plan moves before school starts. However, you may be overlooking another group of buyers, Jaeger said.

“During the summer, buyers look like families. In the winter they look like investors,” he said.

Sellers often are able to ask more for their homes in winter, Jaeger said. A study by online brokerage firm Redfin found average sellers earn above their asking price December through March than they do in the summer months. In addition, in winter months a home is on the market for an average of 26 days, compared to 33 days in non-winter seasons, according to Redfin’s data.

Less Stress

There’s a certain ecosystem to the home buying process, which includes realtors, home inspectors, appraisers, the title company and the bank processing the loan. That ecosystem is tense when activity is the busiest, Jaeger said. In peak buying season, there’s overwhelming demand to process transactions, with potentially an overwhelmed system for processing them.

“You can help reduce the typical home buying and selling stress by selling your home during the winter ‘shoulder season’ and working with experts who really understand your needs,” he said.

Those needs often are more complex when the military is involved. While the military’s Permanent Change of Station season typically prompts many military families to sell their homes during the busy summer months, duty can call in the winter too.

“Working with an experienced real estate agent, such as a USAA Real Estate Rewards Network agent who focuses on serving the military community, can help keep extra stress at bay,” he said.

To learn more or to find a USAA Real Estate Rewards Network agent near you, visit usaa.com/findanagent.


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Military Seeks Better Alternatives for Treating Pain Among Vets and Troops

NewsUSA  |  2015-12-01

(NewsUSA) - For years, the military has worried that an over-reliance on prescription painkillers was putting both veterans and active-duty troops at risk of addiction, serious adverse reactions to the drugs, and accidental death. The problem was found to be greatest among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan -- particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder -- who, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, may have been given "inappropriate prescriptions" for opioids in a misguided attempt to quickly relieve their suffering.

Finally, change appears to be coming as the military expands its use of alternative treatments like chiropractic care.

In fact, Dr. Robert D. Kerns, the national program director for pain management at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told the New York Times that the study "encourages" his department as well as the Pentagon's health system, "to build on our existing initiatives."

That would be welcome news to Congressional committees following up on last year's Veterans Health Administration scandal.

"We have said for a long time that sending a veteran out of the door with a bagful of pills is not a solution," Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said in investigating allegations that a Tomah, Wisconsin, Veterans Affairs hospital was prescribing "excessive dosages of opiates."

As more research pours in, chiropractic care continues to gain supporters. A 2013 study published in the journal "Spine," for example, found that 73 percent of participating active-duty military patients with acute low back pain receiving a combination of chiropractic manipulative treatment and standard medical care rated their global improvement as "pain completely gone," "much better" or "moderately better."

Just 17 percent in the same study who received only standard care said likewise.

To learn more about chiropractic care or to find a chiropractor in your area, visitwww.F4CP.org/findadoctor.


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The Few. The Proud. The Marines.

Sal Arrigo  |  2015-11-19

Recently I had the privilege to meet Commandant Mark P. Hite of the Marine Corps League, Elk Grove, Calif., and Detachment 1238. Hite was a combat Marine during the Vietnam War, having served from 1964 through 1970. He achieved the rank of Staff Sargent E-6 and was attached to the 6th Marine Regiment. I told Hite that I heard about the phrase: “Once a Marine, always a Marine;” and asked him if this rings true for him? “I am a Marine in another phase of my life,” was his answer.

The “other phase” of Commandant Hite’s life is working to help fellow Marines and their families through the Marine Corps League. Established in 1923 and receiving its Federal Charter in 1937 through an Act of Congress, the League’s mission is to “join together in camaraderie and fellowship for the purpose of preserving the traditions and to promote the interests of the United States Marine Corps…”

There are several programs within the League that Marines work toward for the betterment of the community. For example, the Toys-for-Tots program, a well-known program of the Marine Corps, is assisted by the League through collecting and distributing toys to needy children, and by raising needed funds for the program. The League also has a scholarship program to help students with their college expenses.

One aspect that many people are unaware of is the Semper Fi Fund (www.semperfifund.org). Semper Fi, always faithful, is the well-known motto of the U.S. Marine Corps. This fund provides “immediate financial assistance and lifelong support to wounded, critically ill and injured Marines and FMF (Fleet Marine Force) Corpsmen and their families.” The fund, established in 2004, has issued 103,000 grants totaling more than $118 million dollars in assistance, with little to no red tape. Hite told me that nearby housing is provided for families when a Marine is rehabilitating or spending time in the hospital. “It is a major hardship for families” Hite said.

Commandant Hite mentioned that his grandfather was a Marine and that he always admired him for serving. I thanked Hite for his service and let him know that it was an honor for me to interview him. In fact, it is quite admirable what the Marine Corps League is doing in the greater Sacramento region. They are a nonprofit organization and if you are interested in making contact with them, try calling Commandant Mark P. Hite at (916) 687-8208 or send an e-mail inquiry to elkgrovemcl1238@mail.com. Their meetings are held the first Thursday of the month at the Elks Lodge in Elk Grove.


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Citing the tragic death of a veteran at the Mather Veterans Affairs hospital last year, Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. introduced a bill to implement additional accountability measures at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country.

His bill, the VA Quality Care Act, includes additional oversight measures to ensure all problems at VA facilities are reported, communicated, and fixed across the network.

“The tragic death of this veteran illustrates problems within the VA system that must be addressed,” Bera said. “My bill increases transparency and reporting so that any issues in the delivery of care at one facility are shared with other facilities in the system. The information from my requested investigation suggests that VA facilities are not sharing best practices and other quality improvement measures effectively. This bill will ensure doctors, nurses, and staff are all operating efficiently and effectively and collaborating across health centers to deliver the best care possible to our nation’s heroes.”

Last October, a Sacramento County Vietnam veteran died after a do-not-resuscitate bracelet was incorrectly placed on his wrist. Bera requested an investigation with the Office of the Inspector General; their report found that Mather was responsible for a “delay in life-saving intervention.”

“Our service members have sacrificed for our country and it is our responsibility to ensure they receive top quality care,” Bera said. “Based on the findings in the Inspector General report, there are institutional problems that are seriously affecting the quality and delivery of care. Reporting requirements in my bill will help correct and improve care. We must do all we can to ensure this does not happen to any other veterans.”

Source: Office of Congressman Ami Bera


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