Operation Bigs Needs You in San Diego

Nov 20 2014

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County’s military mentoring program, Operation Bigs, was launched in 2004 to help provide an extra layer of support to local military families.  Since the site-based Operation Bigs program first launched, it has served more than 1,300 Navy and Marine Corps children at 9 schools throughout the county.

The need for caring, committed mentors to support the children of those who defend our country remains urgent and spans far beyond these nine sites. To respond to this need Big Brothers Big Sisters is expanding Operation Bigs to serve children of active duty military, veterans, and children of the fallen throughout San Diego County through our Community-Based Mentoring programs.

Operation Bigs is looking for volunteers to spend time with the children of our active duty military and veterans! Volunteers can choose from these two programs:

  • Community-Based Mentors spend approximately 8 – 10 hours per month with a child, doing free or low-cost activities in the community
  • Site-Based Mentors spend one hour a week doing fun activities with a child at his or her school or after-school site.

If you like to have fun, have a heart for children and a desire to support our military families in a very real way, please contact us to learn how you can become involved.  For more information, visit the website at www.sdbigs.org or contact Maureen Hopman, MaureenH@SDBigs.org; (858) 746-9180.

Check out the Operation Bigs flyer for more information.


Photo of newly matched big brother Freddy and little brother Kayden from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of San
Diego County Facebook page.

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“Video Game for Good” Free to U.S. Veterans Until Year’s End

Nov 19 2014

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In response to high numbers of U.S. veterans who face emotional and other challenges in civilian life but resist getting help, a New York City tech company has just launched a unique interactive learning experience designed to make a difference.  Available online, or as a downloadable app, Together Strong uses gaming technology and interactive role-plays with virtual humans to help veterans practice conversation skills they can later use to motivate a friend to access health care, counseling, or other support if needed.

With its peer-to-peer focus, Together Strong taps into the bonds of never-leave-a-buddy-behind military culture.

TogetherStrong_logo_stacked_standardAs a public health service, Kognito, the developer, is making the program available for free, nationwide, from Veterans Day until the end of the year.  The goal is to get hundreds of thousands to download the app or use the online version, which are available at JoinTogetherStrong.com,  iTunes and Google Play Store.  A version in Spanish is forthcoming.

Together Strong was originally developed by the Veterans Affairs of NY/NJ Healthcare Network and Kognito.

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MOAA Chapter Honors Local Veterans

Nov 18 2014

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Former U.S. Marine Corps Corporal and Korean War veteran Ernest J. O’Banion was recently recognized for his military service by the New River Chapter of MOAA. While Corporal O’Banion was just the first local vet to be recognized by this chapter, he will certainly not be the last!

The new initiative started by the New River MOAA Chapter is meant to honor and recognize their local veterans by acknowledging their service with personalized “dog tags” and a service-specific lapel pin, in addition to a certificate of appreciation. If you’d like to nominate a local veteran, you can self identify, or family members may nominate a deserving veteran, for similar recognition by any of the following three methods:

  1. notify the leadership of any local veterans service organization where you or your family member is already a member;
  2. contact the New River Chapter, MOAA’s veterans outreach officer, Lou Burge at 336- 877-1919;
  3. or visit the New River Chapter’s website and click on “Veterans Recognition,” and fill out the nomination form.

Read the full story about Corporal Eric O’Banion in the Jefferson Post!

And if you’d like to get involved in efforts like this in your area, find and join your local MOAA chapter!

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Operation Got Your 6 With The Penguins of Madagascar

Nov 12 2014

GOT YOUR 6 LOGOThe penguins of Madagascar explain the meaning behind Veterans Day, the unique skills veterans posses, and the challenges facing them when they come home – complete with all the military jargon you can handle!

Watch and share this video to get the conversation started about our returning veterans. Download and use Got Your 6’s Discussion Guide to learn more and help you get the conversation started.

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VA’s “Road to Veterans Day” Report

Nov 10 2014

Published by under Health & Living

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that the “Road to Veterans Day” initiative, announced on September 8th by Secretary Robert A. McDonald, has resulted in significant progress for Veterans over the past 3 months. During that time, VA has taken deliberate actions to improve service delivery for Veterans, rebuild trust, increase accountability and transparency and put the department on the path to long-term excellence and reform.

50to64testsTo improve service delivery, VA has prioritized efforts to accelerate veterans off of wait lists and into clinics through the Accelerated Care Initiative begun by Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson this summer. Significant improvements have resulted nationally:

  • Scheduling more than 1.2 million more appointments in the past four months than in the same period last year. In total, VA medical centers have scheduled over 19 million veteran appointments from June to October 1, 2014.
  • Reducing the national new patient Primary Care wait time by 18 percent.
  • Completing 98 percent of appointments within 30 days of the Veterans’ preferred date, or the date determined to be medically necessary by a physician.
  • Authorizing 1.1 million non-VA care authorizations, a 47 percent increase over the same period last year.

Another component of the “Road to Veterans Day” initiative that will continue past Veterans Day is the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) “Blueprint for Excellence,” which lays out strategies for transformation to improve the performance of VA health care now —making it more Veteran-centric by putting Veterans in control of their VA experience.

As part of the “Road to Veterans Day,” Secretary McDonald has reaffirmed VA’s homelessness program and the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Claims Transformation Strategy.  VA remains committed to working with its federal, state and local partners to end homelessness among Veterans, which has been reduced by 33% since 2010. With the backlog of disability claims reduced by 60% since its peak in March of 2013, VA is also on track to eliminate the backlog in 2015 and will continue to expand online claim-submission capability in all programs.

Read the full “Road to Veterans Day” report.

Read the full press release from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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