RLF veteran ambassador, delivers featured address at Lockbourne, Ohio Memorial Day celebration

Corey O’Brien, RLF veteran ambassador, delivers featured address at Lockbourne, Ohio Memorial Day celebration

Christopher “Corey” O’Brien, a US Army and Ohio National Guard veteran with multiple deployments behind him, teacher at Hamilton Township (Ohio) High School, and member of RLF’s Board of Advisors, was the featured speaker at the 2018 Memorial Day celebration at the village of Lockbourne, Ohio. We are proud to share the video of his very touching address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUkqsprpAzA

Born in Massillon, Ohio, from a military family (between Corey, his father and grandfather, they have 56 years of military service covering four different conflicts), Corey earned an undergraduate science degree from the Ohio State University, and a Master’s degree post-deployment in Education, also at OSU. He has taught science at Hamilton Township for 12 years, and also serves as liaison for military-connected families.

The Ohio Department of Education recognizes military-friendly schools with the Purple Star Award. Hamilton Township High School was in the first round of Purple Star recipients. Lockbourne Air Force Base/ Rickenbacker International Airport is located nearby.

Corey was instrumental in the establishment of Resurrecting Lives Foundation’s transcendental meditation program, which provides grants for veterans to learn the techniques of meditation to assist in managing stress.

We Honor the Fallen

For 150 years, American citizens have been honoring military members who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, as it was formerly known, began in 1868 as a formal day of honor and gratitude to our dead defenders. Resurrecting Lives Foundation is deeply grateful for all those military members who have done what was necessary to secure our most basic rights.

Various versions of this poem have appeared in emails and on the internet, and we are proud to share here the original version, published by the author, a US Army veteran, in 1970. We have no doubt that Mr. Province includes all members of all branches of service in his definition of “soldier.” We honor all those who have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, and we thank you for our Freedoms.

It is the soldier, by Charles M. Province

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Copyright © 1970, 2010 by Charles M. Province, U.S. Army; www.pattonhq.com

RLF in the Community

Once again, City BBQ Restaurants raised thousands of dollars solely for the support of RLF’s programs for veterans. Their sales of refillable tumblers in early 2018 netted $8700. Thank you to City BBQ and all their customers!

Golfers in the Columbus, Ohio area, should mark your calendars for the annual Cardinal Health-organized golf outing to benefit RLF, August 26 at the Golf Club of Dublin, Ohio. Last year the event raised more than $35,000 for our programs. Sign-up forms will be available on the RLF website in June.

Honoring the Fallen

An example to us all of a patriot who so clearly honored the fallen is the late Paul R. Vogel, Sr., of Chesterton, Indiana. In his many roles, from soldier to veteran to ceaseless champion for the causes of veterans from all branches of service, Paul set a high bar in his impact on the community.

As part of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Indiana chapter 14-2, he rallied to provide funds and support for many veteran groups, including Resurrecting Lives Foundation. He and chapter Treasurer Theo Gray helped develop a grant proposal for the national CVMA foundation in order to fund the groundbreaking RLF-sponsored research proving brain injuries could be sustained from IED or RPG blasts.

And as CEO of Calumet Park Cemetery and Funeral Chapels, Paul initiated Veterans’ Services to honor the laying to rest of veterans in very special ways.

RLF founder Dr. Chrisanne Gordon called Paul “one of our most important supporters, a champion of veterans’ causes from every branch of service, every war, every conflict, every situation.” She said, “Paul took RLF under his mentorship very early on in our mission to provide our veterans with a thriving life after military service, especially our vets who may be struggling with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). … Paul taught me what it was like to return after war, sharing experiences in the Vietnam Era; …kept us going, serving veterans who required assistance for employment or education opportunities.”

To “appreciate” means to “recognize the full worth of.” RLF appreciates the late Paul Vogel, all our military members and veterans, and all those who support the work of our organization.

From the Board

From the Board:
J. Skylar Burgess
Colonel (USAF, Retired)
RLF Board member and Chair, Veterans Employment Initiative
Managing Director with Deloitte & Touche

 

As a Board member and Chair of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation Veterans Employment Initiative, I became involved with RLF to more effectively help our veterans with the (unseen) remnants of their military service lead more productive and fulfilling lives.

I flirted with military service from my junior year of high school in Columbus, Ohio until I finally pulled the trigger and joined the Air Force through the Air Force Officer Training School the year after I graduated from The Ohio State University. I spent 6½ years on active duty serving in Major Air Command and Headquarters level personnel assignments before transitioning to a civilian career in medical sales.
The transition I made was very challenging and became even more of a factor when I rejoined the Air Force through the Air Force Reserve. I retired after spending an additional 23 years in the reserve component serving in Milwaukee, Dayton, and Pittsburgh.

It was often a challenge balancing my military commitments with my civilian employment, especially as I moved into more senior level positions in my civilian career. With that said, I was fortunate in that I was employed in sales and sales-related roles that afforded me a tremendous amount of flexibility. Many of my reserve colleagues did not have that luxury and experienced significant challenges with deployments, annual tours of duty and many times with the monthly training requirements.

I noticed a significant change following 9-11 when employers started to place more value on the sacrifices service members were experiencing. At Deloitte, I was fortunate to find an employer that relished the veteran’s service experience and made great accommodations, and also provided opportunities. I became involved with Deloitte’s CORE Leadership program (Career Opportunity Redefinition and Exploration). The CORE Leadership and Fundamentals programs help transitioning veterans identify their unique strengths and brand to pursue a career that is a good fit for their attributes. CORE Leadership, lasting three days at Deloitte University, has supported the transition of over 1,000 veterans since 2013. To date, 94 percent of these participants who have told us they’re actively in the job market have found employment, and 100 percent reported the program was a valuable time investment. Although CORE is not a recruiting event, 43 alumni have joined Deloitte. This program is primarily focused on junior military officers (less than 10 years’ service) and has gained significant support with employers throughout the USA.

I met Dr. Chrisanne Gordon when I participated in the Cardinal Health Annual Golf Outing to support RLF. I was impressed with the mission and saw a real parallel with my passion helping veterans within Deloitte. The vets that RLF focuses on have unique challenges much different than what I experienced. I felt very strongly that my experiences with my own transitions and the experiences with Deloitte’s programs would be an asset to the RLF mission. That is why I became involved. If I can give back and help someone make that transition smoother I have helped one of America’s heroes.

Chris Lawrence Honored as TBI Champion

RLF veteran ambassador Chris Lawrence joins the league of TBI Champions on A Head for the Future, a U.S. Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) website that focuses on resources aimed at the prevention, recognition, and recovery of traumatic brain injury in the military. Chris, a veteran of the U.S. Marines, is the second RLF ambassador to be named as a Champion by DVBIC, joining U.S. Army veteran Sgt. Wendell Guillermo, whose video story was published in March.

After he sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from an improvised explosive device (IED) detonation while on tour in Iraq, Chris was told he probably wouldn’t walk again. Now he’s running and boxing and has graduated from the police academy. In fact, he relies on being active to cope with his TBI symptoms.

Here’s Chris’s story of recovery in his own words:

I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. I joined the Marines at 18 and was stationed at Camp Pendleton with 3rd AABn, B Co. I deployed to Iraq in April of 2007. In August 2007, while conducting a foot patrol, insurgents detonated an IED on a bridge I was crossing. The bomb went off beneath my feet. I was medivaced to Navy Hospital Bethesda, MD.

While in the hospital people spoke of “TBI.” I had no idea what they were talking about. I went through multiple surgeries and was transferred to Navy Hospital San Diego, CA to recover. I realized my memory had gotten worse and I had difficulty concentrating. I had a TBI evaluation and was told I had a mild TBI.

I was diagnosed two years after my injury and told by the Neuropsychologist that I already began compensating and didn’t need treatment. A few months later, I started college and had to learn how to learn again. I realized I had to study harder and longer. I completed my AA degree and decided to become a police officer. I graduated the police academy with honors. I now patrol in Chula Vista, CA. My TBI still affects me. I take many notes and use my cell phone to stay organized and on time.

“We are highlighting this veteran’s compelling story to show others that treatment is available and recovery from TBI is possible,” said Scott Livingston, director of education at DVBIC. “Our hope is that our nation’s heroes can connect with Lawrence — or others who have shared stories with A Head for the Future — and begin their own path to recovery.”

RLF salutes Chris and Wendell for their service, persistence, and accomplishments.

Healing through technology: Using bytes to heal the brain part 2

“[This program] is a win/win situation for the vets learning strategies to improve their skills and my graduate interns who are learning how to work with individuals with PTSD/TBI.” — Donna Colcord, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinic Director at the Bowling Green State University Speech and Hearing Clinic

A key mission of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation is to focus attention on the hidden wounds of our returning military – traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – and heal them through proper diagnosis and prompt treatment. Getting that initial diagnosis is often the first hurdle to recovery, sometimes because those afflicted do not have immediate access to clinics or therapy. In Wood County, Ohio, and in Akron, teams of trained clinicians are working to close that gap, partly through a grant from RLF.

In January we told you about two initiatives enabling veterans who suspect they are living with TBI/PTSD to participate in no-cost comprehensive speech/ language/ cognitive evaluations and treatment plans. These programs, at Bowling Green State University Speech and Hearing Clinic and at University of Akron School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, use technology to deliver some services in part virtually, via “telehealth,” enabling the specialist and the patient to link together where it might not be possible physically.

Both programs are up and running and engaging veterans to make forward progress in their diagnosis and recovery.

“The TBI/PTSD program offered at BGSU is providing treatment individually tailored to each client’s needs and includes teaching compensatory strategies to improve recall skills,” said Donna Colcord, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinic Director at the Bowling Green State University Speech and Hearing Clinic. “These strategies include teaching the client to utilize multiple ways -auditory, verbal, visual and tactile – to improve their recall of information.” Such strategies include methods like visualization, repetition, and breaking down information into smaller bits.

Technology plays a part via support and reminders to accompany these strategies. “The use of notebooks for written reminders, use of whiteboards to list important tasks, use of smartphones, Siri, and so on, are all supports that can be helpful in increasing recall skills,” said Colcord.

Meanwhile, at University of Akron, a structured, 10-week program known as Compensatory Cognitive Training focuses on issues such as managing fatigue and tension, attention and concentration, problem solving and planning. While this program has been in use at several Veterans Administration Medical Centers (VAMC) for some years, the implementation at UA is the first in a university setting. Additionally, “the telehealth connection between the UA Audiology and Speech Center and the Cleveland VA Hospital is now complete, which will allow veterans on campus to connect directly with staff at the hospital,” said Janis Lorman, M.A., CCC-S/A, Visiting Assistant Professor of Instruction at UA School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. “Our program continues to coordinate with the UA Office of Accessibility to provide study skills as well as other accommodations as needed.”

The impact of increasing access to diagnosis and treatment has been concrete.

“Individuals with TBI and/or PTSD often have difficulty with immediate and short term recall skills, which impact their ability to complete daily activities completely or in a timely manner,” said Colcord. At Bowling Green, 3 of 4 veterans enrolled in the program are attending consistently and reporting positive results. “Improving recall skills increases the client’s confidence and ability to handle day to day tasks, which improves quality of life for that individual and their loved ones.”

At University of Akron, 2 of 4 student veterans initially enrolled in the program have completed it, while 2 others are continuing. “Both of these student veterans have integrated organization strategies into their lives,” said Lorman. “They have both given high ratings to the CCT program, finding the strategies ‘extremely helpful;’ one veteran stated she had ‘less forgotten appointments’ and ‘better schedule management.’”

“The pilot phase launched with veterans currently on campus at UA. However, this spring we will continue to do outreach to recruit more veterans from the university and surrounding community. The goal is to offer a range of services in the UA Audiology and Speech Center: individualized therapy, group therapy, telepractice, and coordinated telehealth sessions with the Cleveland VAMC.”

Donna Colcord at BGSU notes that “the program for our vets is running smoothly this semester and we are planning on continuing throughout the summer sessions at the University. It is a win/win situation for the vets learning strategies to improve their skills and my graduate interns who are learning how to work with individuals with PTSD/TBI.”

RLF is committed to finding and removing barriers for veterans to recover from brain injuries. Through these grants, new services are being defined to extend diagnosis and treatment through telecommunications, so that even the invisible wounds can be healed.