Archive for September, 2011

In the Role of Caregiver

Sep 28 2011

The Marcum Family has not had it easy. After two tours in Iraq, Tom Marcum returned to his wife with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), altering his behavior and moods. He used to be a doting husband to April, his high school sweetheart.

Now Tom has trouble controlling his anger and impulses, and needs constant care and attention. April spends most of her time making her husband take his medications and shuttling him to appointments.

The Marcums are not the only family to go through this after a servicemember returns from war, and they certainly will not be the last. Recent legislation has offered caregivers like April Marcum more resources to help with what has become a new full-time job, but many still struggle, and sometimes even develop health and anxiety issues related to their caregiver role.

The New York Times told the Marcum’s story in Looking After the Soldier, Back Home and Damaged, including a moving personal interview with the couple, and insights from other caregivers dealing with the effects of war.

You can also watch Tom and April Marcum share their insights and experience on the Community Reintegration Panel at the USNI/MOAA Defense Forum Washington, which just took place yesterday in Washington, D.C.:

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USO’s Career Opportunity Day TOMORROW!

Sep 27 2011

The USO, Hire Heroes USA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce partner to offer veterans an opportunity to connect with employers in a one-on-one setting.

Career Opportunity Day is an event connecting prospective employers with wounded warriors and their spouses in a stress-free environment. Participants will engage in mock interviews and be provided prospective job openings to build on the foundation established at transition workshops put on by the USO in partnership with Hire Heroes USA.

The Career Opportunity Day event is limited to 20 employers and 75 wounded warriors and their spouses in order to create a comfortable atmosphere where both parties can engage and network.

  • Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
    8:30am to 3:00pm
    *Best time to attend is 8:30am-12:00noon
  • Springfield Hilton
    6550 Loisdale Road
    Springfield, Va. 22150

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Retroactive Traumatic Injury Benefits No Longer Just For OEF/OIF Injuries

Sep 27 2011

Published by under Health & Living

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is extending retroactive traumatic injury benefits to Servicemembers who suffered qualifying injuries during the period Oct. 7, 2001 to Nov. 30, 2005, regardless of the geographic location where the injuries occurred.

Effective Oct. 1, the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Traumatic Injury Protection benefit, known as TSGLI, will be payable for all qualifying injuries incurred during this period. This retroactive benefit is payable whether or not the Servicemember had SGLI coverage at the time of the injury.

The Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2010, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in October of 2010, removes the requirement that injuries during this period be incurred in Operations Enduring or Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). This is welcome news for the many Servicemembers who suffered serious traumatic injuries while serving stateside or in other areas outside of OEF/OIF during this time period, but until now have not been eligible for TSGLI.

National Guard and Reserve members who were injured during the retroactive period and suffered a qualifying loss are also eligible for a TSGLI payment, even if the cause was not related to military service, such as a civilian automobile accident or severe injury which occurred while working around their home.

Although applications are currently being accepted by branch of service TSGLI offices, benefits will not be paid until Oct. 1, 2011, the effective date of the law.

Apply online for a TSGLI payment, or contact their branch of service TSGLI Office (contact information available at above link).

For more information on eligibility and filing a claim, read the full press release from Veterans Affairs online.

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Psychology Professor Presents Suicide Research to Congress

Sep 26 2011

Published by under Health & Living

Professor of Psychology and suicidologist David Jobes gave briefings to members and staff of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Sept. 14, as part of an initiative co-sponsored by the National Center for Veterans Studies (at the University of Utah) and the American Psychological Association.

In observance of National Suicide Prevention Month, Jobes spoke about his experiences studying suicide prevention over the last 28 years in a private House Members Roundtable and later spoke to a standing-room-only public crowd at a Senate briefing.

“In my career I have not encountered a more challenging development than recent increases in suicide among members of the U.S. military,” Jobes said at the briefing. “We have seen that courageous warriors find it difficult to admit having mental health problems — perceiving it to be a sign of weakness and vulnerability.

“We must not turn our backs on those courageous Americans who have volunteered to serve their country to fight for our freedom,” he said. “For what they do for us, we owe them nothing less than our best possible commitment to this important life-saving cause.”

Jobes has worked with veterans since the early 1980s. He has also collaborated with active members of the military in suicide research, training, and prevention programs. Last year, he served as one of seven civilians on a 14-member Department of Defense Suicide Prevention Task Force, which submitted a report to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in August 2010.
The task force found that “access to quality mental health care is crucial, but this requires mental health adaptations to the unique challenges of contemporary military mental health needs,” Jobes said at the briefing.

He is on the forefront of studying these adaptations. Thanks to a $3.4 million grant from the Army, he and a research team from CUA are working with suicidal soldiers at Fort Stewart, a U.S. Army base in Georgia. The project — named Operation Worth Living — involves a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of Jobes’ Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) approach to the prevention of suicide.

The study began in March and runs through April 2015. It involves active-duty service members from the 3rd Infantry Division of the Army, many of whom have been deployed to combat zones multiple times since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

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VA Begins New Program to Serve Veterans Living Abroad

Sep 22 2011

Published by under Health & Living

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has instituted a new program to provide comprehensive compensation and pension (C&P) examinations to U.S. Veterans living overseas.

In June, VA staff traveled to Camp Lester in Okinawa, Japan, to join with members of the Department of Defense in providing C&P exams to Veterans. Over the course of their three week trip, the team completed 247 examinations on 39 Veterans. Due to the success of the pilot program, a return visit is planned for Sept. 19-30.

Typically, VA uses local physicians and the assistance of U.S. Navy personnel for disability examinations overseas, but these trips allow VA practitioners more familiar with VA protocols and requirements to provide the Veterans’ examinations.

VA’s C&P examination program includes providing a medical assessment to evaluate Veterans’ current disabilities that may be related to their military service. If VA has previously determined a Veteran has a service-connected medical condition, the examination helps determine the current severity of the condition, which could affect the amount of VA disability compensation payable or entitlement to additional benefits. One Veteran can require separate examinations for various conditions. On average, Veterans receive four examinations during the VA C&P process.

In addition, VA conducted its first international C&P examination in Okinawa using telehealth technology on April 13. To date, six Veterans have participated in remote C&P examinations between VA’s National Telemental Health Center location and the U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa. VA is using telehealth technology to reduce the number of Veterans awaiting examinations overseas and to ease their burden of travel.

VA plans to explore other opportunities to provide similar services to additional destinations in Europe and Asia where U.S. Veterans live.

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