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Every veteran has a different experience serving our country depending on who they are, their position, gifts and talents. The Veterans’ gender does make it a different experience and for women it is very often a complex, varied experience. According to Department of Veterans Affairs, there are approximately two million women veterans in the United States and Puerto Rico serving. One of those million, Sarah Maples shares her story with The Atlantic. Maples is the director of National Security and Foreign Affairs at the Veterans of Foreign Wars. She previously served as an intelligence officer in the Air Force. She states that being a women is often inconvenient, both in military life and civilian life. In the article, Maples explains that the one of the military’s requirements is that women to assimilate to their male counterparts. The expectation is that women will act and behave the same way men do. Their performance is rated the same way men’s are and their achievements always are in relation to their male counterparts. If that isn’t challenging enough, women also are expected to tamp down their emotional responses to what they see.. The uniform also tends to downplay any feminine characteristics these women carry.   The message is clear: if you make your gender a noticeable feature, it can also be used as an undesirable feature as ammunition against you. Military women have said that they feel slighted in comparison to their male counterparts, that they don’t get the same promotion opportunities or the same recognition. This does happen outside military life, of course, but the implication is that even after putting in the work to appear less feminine, more like their male counterparts, they still aren’t regarded as highly. And that is a catastrophe with many layers. For example, women are often denied recognition for their military accomplishments. As you can see, women in the military do face an unfair stance. It truly is inconvenient. What makes it more inconvenient is that it does not end with removing women themselves from the military. Maples explains that, “The perceived invalidation of a woman’s service can also feel as if her experiences during or related to her service, to include combat, service-connected disabilities, and sexual harassment/assault, are also invalidated.” The military has work to do in this regard. Maples explains in the article that the successes of women like Senators Tammy Duckworth and Joni Ernst, Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Martha McSally who are among others that are helping to change the impressions people have of women who serve. Efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs, veteran service organizations, and others have decided to put focus on the needs of female veterans have helped improve their experience while transition into civilian life. It is truly amazing to have these women as role models due to the way they have stepped into their roles and proved to not be limited in serving their country. There will always be obstacles, but there is hope in changing the way females serving our country given what we’ve seen. Better outcomes and experiences are yet to come.
It is a well-known fact that PTSD is correlated to serving in our military. It is estimated by The National Center for PTSD that an approximate of 11 – 20 percent of the veterans that served in the Iraq and Afghanistan have developed PTSD. The estimated percentage from the Vietnam War veterans’ lifestyle that have developed PTSD is approximately 30 percent. It is a veteran requirement to have a complete Post Deployment Health Assessment, or PDHA, after come from their deployment stations. The assessment contains a maximum of 25 questions and a checklist of the symptoms of PTSD. After the veterans have self-disclosed the symptoms they have to the document, the information then goes to their record. It is believed that military veterans would be willing to talk about stress given the right settings and tools at their disposal, but the problem is that they have not found the right comfortable setting or confidantes where they can be freely share their experiences. Frontiers, came out with an emerging study that states that building rapport with a patient and having the interview kept anonymous, makes the task of getting someone to delve into deeper issues, is easier to outperform the PDHA by getting the veterans comfortable to open up and disclose the symptoms they may be having. Chris Malora, a former veteran created an equipment to help manage PTSD. Enter Neuroflow, which is a piece of equipment used for measuring neurological movements in the heart rate and the brain, it’s a great resource to observe PSTD symptoms of the patient in real time. This creation was overseen by Chief Clinical Officer Laurie Deckard at 5PALMS Ormond Beach residential facility that is specialized in the treatment of PSTD among women survivors of substance and sexual abuse in the military. The NeuroFlow is automated to operate using measurements that are heart rate and brain read to produce the measurements of a patients’ relaxation, stress and engagement level. The patient is though expected to be talking to the therapist while under the procedure because some patients might not be aware of what triggers their PSTD. The therapist then monitors the patient reactions as he or she talks and takes note of what causes uncomfortability in the patient. Patients often take a couple weeks to notice any significant change in their mental health when undergoing therapy. NeuroFlow on the other hand can easily prove if a patient is learning to cope up with the disorder by showing the improvements in their incremental levels. The motivation of the creation to be in existence was from the alarming rate Malora saw the fellow veterans were committing suicide. At least 20 veterans could die by suicide on a single day in 2014. Informational guides and videos are hosted on The National Center for PTSD’s website and anyone can view or access them from a computer or mobile phone. It is also confirmed by the Director of the Center’s Dissemination and Training Division in Palo Alto, California, Josef Ruzek, that there are 14 mobile phone apps that are PTSD oriented and have been created across platforms to be in use by veterans.
Amazon recently pledged to hire 25,000 people before or within 2021 by Amazon. Within the first 18 months of the pledge, the company is making great progress. From virtual customer service to communication and computing roles, military employees are filling the roles across the company. With an aim of hosting veteran workforce having professional conversations with business and policy leaders in the South and Chicago, the Amazon is teaming up with the George W. Bush institute for the success. Earlier this week, Amazon shared that the company has employed across the United States of America. At least 17,500 veterans and military spouses, with numbers almost doubling by 2021. The roles are both part time and full time positions, in various parts of the company. Amazon also treats their employers well with comprehensive benefits. Amazon’s Senior Vice President of HR., Beth Galetti remarked that the company is more than pleased and proud to have the remarkable military talent of 17,500 and more leaders employed in their company. In their efforts to advocate for hiring more veterans, Amazon has implemented an effective training program that lasts 16 weeks and is meant to equip the veterans with the necessary skills to work effectively at Amazon. Amazon has also partnered with some veteran NGOs that help in training the veterans with the technical skills. Some of these organizations are Camo2Commerce from the state of Washington State and the Maryland’s Corp. We can’t wait to see what Amazon does in the next five years.  
Arizona State University’s TRIO Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) is a program that offers free college-preparatory courses for veterans that either come from low-income backgrounds or are firs- generation college students. This program has been awarded federal funding for 44 years. The Pinal County Veterans in the new grant cycle have been offered the opportunity to participate in the VUB in an annual frequency. An approximate of 140 interested college bound veterans will have the provision of the programs’ services. The program currently has a sum of thirty people. The Director of the VUB, Veronica Hernandez, explains that the program gives excellent learning opportunities for veterans, most who transfer higher education from the military skills they possess. She continued to state the importance of the program that it gives step by step guide to the veterans and important support systems in their college accomplishments and success. The mission of the VUB is to give motivation, assistance and support to the Veterans in Maricopa County for higher education. The VUB program is free for all the veteran participants and supported by the U S Department of Education. It services four of ASU’s campuses that include individual online courses and academic coaching, one on one learning sessions that are focused on financial literacy and goal setting skills, help with the process of admission to ASU or any other colleges and having continued support the whole of their academic career life, even after they have completed the program. Other activities that are included, are attending a Broadway show in the ASU Gammage and attending or participation to football games. George Campbell, a 75 year old army veteran describes that the purpose of VUB is to give motivation to veterans in the pursuit of knowledge and camaraderie. Campbell served in the Air Force. He addressed that the bond of serving is one major part of why veterans spend time with each other. The bond is unbreakable. Esprit de corps.
John Smith is a veteran. He served his country for 16 years. In 1996, left the army. Since then, his lives had been marked by stints in jail. He is hopeful that he will be able to eventually break the cycle of incarceration in his life. This house is a proving to be a good step. Recently, Smith, who is 55, has moved to a new housing unit that is exclusively for veterans. The housing unit is at the Jefferson County detention facility and hosts 32 people. All of his housemates have been disciplined legally at some point in their lives, which is a point of bonding with the housemates.Smith realizes that being around other veterans who support each other, it is a positive way to regain the discipline to veterans and boosts the morale. Among the benefits offered by this particular housing unit arrangement is that there is quicker access to classes and training facilities, healthcare options, in addition to the housing. When interviewed via telephone, John Smith shared about his activities that he completes that make his schedule. They include his scheduled VA classes, yoga, anger management classes, conflict resolution and successful community re-entry. This arrangement is provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs. The Jefferson County jail is a second county lock up unit to house veterans in a single unit in the state. Each unit has a vision of being accessible to training and services that are aimed at preventing the veterans from returning to jail. This is a growing trend. A similar program was started in 2013 by El Paso County Criminal Justice Center. They house 71 prisoners. Jails in the Pinal Country, Ariz., Middlesex County, Mass., and other states have embraced the similar veteran-housing programs. It is our duty to protect and help serve our veterans.  
Almost one century ago, Armistice Day was established. The year was 1919 and world war I had just ended. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938.President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" The Armed Forces has made a particular impression in our nation and have really cemented our reputation. So on November 11th, Americans honor those who have given their lives for our country, whether it be with their lives, time and careers. Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, especially giving respect to veterans are living. Those who serve our country come from all different walks of life. The experience instills a sense of security and bonds them with experience. You become a part of family and devotion. Since America’s inception there have been several wars: Revolutionary War, world wars, the Civil War, Vietnam, just to name a few. With each war, we have changed and adapted to the consequences of war and we have learned to bond together, regardless of agreement of the nature of war. There are many ways to honor Veterans Day. Call or write a letter to a veteran. Serve a military family a meal. Listen to their stories, if you have the opportunity to hear them. Engage in commitment, whether it be financial or personal. Make sure you honor and respect those who have fought for your livelihood. Say thank you and mean it. Sources: https://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp
Bryan Jones is undergoing a rehabilitation and treatment program with the Veterans Treatment Court, and is in Phase 3, which is the last stage. He has just 3 months left. But how did Jones get here? In September 2016, Jones participated in a standoff with police According to a police report, he fired several shots towards the police at his home toward his former girlfriend. His former girlfriend had apparently broken up with him following an argument and looked to retrieve her things, but Jones didn’t want that to happen. What followed was that Jones called the Veterans Affairs suicide hotline to report that he was suicidal. After the tragic experience, he was treated at the Community Hospital in Munster later transferred to the VA psychiatric ward in Chicago and finally to Lake County Jail. Jones had previously finished an 18 month stint with the Veterans Treatment Court which helped a lot in getting him a second chance in the program late 2016. The court that is specialized for veterans has 64 participants, 12 will be graduating from the program come next week on November 15th. However, Jones is not in the list of the graduates. Jones has since started his own peer support program, IGY6 NWI, which has been designed to offer education, fellowship, and intervention for service personnel. The IGY6 stands for I Got Your 6 Back.  He feels a sense of purpose that was instilled in him by the military, and that’s why IGY6 is very important to him. The group welcomes all veterans, any age or gender. Jones is now a certified peer specialist.  He has his weekly meetings on Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the Crown Point area. (For more information, call Jones at 219-293-5795 or email at bryj0619@gmail.com.)  
For the past few decades, it’s not uncommon to hear about our fellow American citizens losing faith in the government. Take Congress for example: A recent survey showed that the current public confidence in Congress is just slightly above 10%. This is more than 30 points down from what the results were in 1986. Congress found by fixing and changing partnerships that formed the Congress what it known to be today has changed the public’s perception of government. They have since utilized organizations to help expand knowledge and compassion concerning veterans. With Honor is part of an organization that has US military roots. With Honors provides guidance and strategic support to the new generations of veterans who are more than ready to run for any public office, especially in Congress. They accept Democrats, Republicans and Independents, the candidates only have to pledge that they will govern based on principles and not on politics. Veterans in the congress are known to be more disciplined and offer a special sense of duty to their responsibilities. As today only 19% are in Congress, which is the lowest in history. Aspiring for a political seat can be challenging for a veteran, mostly due to finances or location from home district. Nevertheless, the generation of veterans in the Congress has been working hard and so far have shown great promise in leading our country. Come 2018, more than 100 veterans have made their intentions public of running for U.S House seats. With Honor plans on making sure the most capable and promising veterans are able to run. They pray for a golden opportunity for these next generation of veterans to be able to serve the country again.
November is National Veterans and Military Families Month. A recent survey report by AARP reports that veterans are suffering as victims of scams twice as often as the other members of the public. In the last five years, military personnel or veterans have lost double what civilians have in terms of cash. Veterans are being targeted because they are considered to be more vulnerable due to a combination of technology and patriotism. A scenario could go like this: A veteran could feel more comfortable talking over the phone with somebody who claims to be a veteran. Since they feel more comfortable, they may ask fewer questions when asked to donate some money for a scam charity that claims to offer support to veterans. A national campaign, Operations Protect Veterans, will soon be launched so as to help veterans be more aware of scams. You can learn more at the following website: www.aarp.org/ProtectVeterans. Also in the works are organizations that will have volunteers operating a 24 hour long telephone bank in a program known as the “reverse boiler room." Vets will be getting calls with important tips and information on how to protect themselves instead of getting calls from the con artists and crooks. About 80% of veterans encountered scams that were targeted specifically for veterans or the military. Here are some tips to help yourself maneuver through this day and age of scams: Be on the lookout for benefit buyout offers, despite your financial situation do not be tempted to take loan or cash in exchange for your future disability or pension payouts. It’s a very expensive way of borrowing money. Fundraising that are intended to benefit telemarketers instead of veterans. Before you make any donation to a group do some extensive research on the organization. We have investment advisers who claim to offer additional government benefits if you overhaul your investment holdings. Contact your local veterans’ office for clarification on all the veterans’ benefits that you are eligible to get.Con artists will pretend to be a veteran, someone working for the VA or some big well known veteran organization. The correct number of the Veterans Choice Program is 866-606-8198.  
Veterans Day will be celebrated November 10th and to the many veterans in the country, it will be an important day. Although not everyone in America will celebrate, it’s important to ask why! I’m going to answer the following questions: What is the importance of Veterans to the society? Why should every American appreciate a veteran? November 11th happens to be Armistice Day, the anniversary of the day in 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending World War I. Americans have since celebrated this day in honor of all those who fought in this war. After World War II, Armistice Day became Veterans Day. Today, some confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The former is purposely to honor all those who have given their lives in the service of the nation. The latter honors everyone who has ever served, both living and dead. Veterans give us a chance to appreciate and honor those who served and lived. It is more than just wearing ball caps written “U.S. Marine” or “U.S. Army” Veterans often have several issues to deal with socially, medically and economically. It does fall to us as a society to make sure that they fit back into the fold without feeling like an outcast.  Many have also managed to successfully join the society, startup companies, ministries, nonprofits. So as you celebrate Veterans Day, say more than a “Thanks for your service” to the veterans you will encounter. Make this year’s Veterans Day be a little different.