DVBIC’s A Head for the Future: resources outlining prevention and recovery from TBI

Stories can deliver powerful messages. Witness the video stories of our own RLF ambassadors Wendell Guillermo and Christopher Lawrence, or of Amanda Burrill or Luis Carlos Montalván or Bradley Lee – veterans all, and all afflicted with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Their brief but impactful stories talk about the pain and difficulty of finding diagnosis, and also of the hope and power of recovery. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center’s (DVBIC) A Head for the Future website is a treasure trove of these inspiring stories.

A Head for the Future, launched in 2018, is DVBIC’s outreach campaign, providing to the military community some rich resources focused on TBI prevention, recognition, and recovery. DVBIC is a branch of the US Military Health System and functions as the Department of Defense’s center of excellence for TBI. Their mission: promote state-of-the-science care from point-of-injury to reintegration for service members, veterans, and their families to prevent and mitigate consequences of mild to severe TBI.

DVBIC manages care and support for veterans and family members at 22 different medical centers. But their newest venture, A Head for the Future, can reach the military – and non-military – community across the internet.

In addition to many inspiring video stories from veteran TBI champions, the site also concisely discusses how to recognize signs of a TBI and summarizes approaches to treatment and recovery. But perhaps most importantly, it reminds us of some very basic ways to prevent head injuries in non-combat situations through some brief video and print resources. Sign up for A Head for the Future’s newsletter.

TBI is all too common around the world. In addition to those who suffer from TBI because of combat-related incidents, in the US there are another 2.8 million TBI-related hospital visits annually. March is National TBI Awareness month, and this year March 13 will be marked as Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill, featuring awareness events and a congressional briefing.

Resurrecting Lives Foundation salutes the work of DVBIC’s A Head for the Future team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Guiding Light

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Jenny Hall, left, Manager of Alaska Fisher House, with Billy Chisum, Cardinal Health Onsite Customer Representative and RLF veteran ambassador, with 10 Philips Wake-Up lights distributed to the Fisher House guest rooms in January.

At the 80 or so Fisher Houses near military and VA medical centers across the US and Europe, families can stay close to their military or veteran loved one during a hospitalization.  Since the beginnings of Fisher House Foundation in 1990, hundreds of families have benefited from this free, temporary housing, helping them to focus as a family on getting better.

At the Alaska Fisher House, located near Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson in Anchorage, families and patients have the added challenge of light – or lack thereof.  Living in the far northern US means experiencing less than six hours of sunlight during the winter months. Science has shown the connection between lack of exposure to sunshine and poor human health, including vitamin D deficiencies, winter blues, and seasonal affective disorder.

Billy Chisum, Onsite Customer Service Representative at Elmendorf-Richardson for Cardinal Health, a 10-year Air Force veteran with three combat deployments behind him, and a Resurrecting Lives Foundation veteran ambassador, led the charge to bring therapy lights to the Alaska Fisher House.  Chisum himself benefited from light therapy provided by RLF and last year worked with RLF to distribute 20 lights to veterans in the Elmendorf-Richardson community.

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SrA Barbra Rivera

Earlier this year, through RLF and Cardinal Health, Chisum brought 10 more Philips lights to the Alaska Fisher House, to place in the guest bedrooms so that families can feel at their best.  “We are grateful to have received the lights provided by Cardinal Health as an amenity to provide Fisher House guests to use during their stay,” said Jenny Hall, Manager of the Alaska Fisher House.  “With the limited daylight during winter nights in Alaska, this is a perfect gift to offer our guests to aid in the healing and recovery process.”

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Last year’s veteran light recipients – including some recovering from TBI or PTSD – saw steady improvement in their moods by using the lights.  “I get a lot of positive feedback from [these] individuals,” said Chisum.  “Calmly waking up with a natural heart rate vs. an alarm clock, people seem to be in better moods than years past without the dawn simulator. Improvements to sleep/wake cycles were reported by many. People feel less groggy and ready to start the day more alert.”

RLF salutes Chisum, and many other Anchorage volunteers, who work with the veteran community to help those that suffer with PTSD and TBI.  Shown here are volunteers at several holiday fundraisers for Alaska Fisher House.

Turn the Lights On opens 2019 on nationally aired “The Frankie Boyer Show”

Turn the Lights On opens 2019 on nationally aired “The Frankie Boyer Show

Chrisanne Gordon, MD, founder and chair of Resurrecting Lives Foundation, brought the plight of veterans with TBI to a national discussion on internet radio’s The Frankie Boyer Show on January 10. The interview, focused on the hope of treatment for TBI and on what more the country can do for our veterans, opened a series of planned discussions on veterans with TBI or PTSD on a national scale. Listen to the interview on BizTalkRadio at https://archives.warpradio.com/btr/frankieboyer/011011.mp3.

See Dr. Gordon’s book tour schedule here.

Local Television Shows to Spotlight Dr. Gordon’s Book and Resurrecting Lives Foundation

While recovering from a TBI, it is difficult to become introspective. You spend so much time and energy just getting through the day’s reduced activities that there is no energy left for reflection. Nearly a decade later in my recovery I finally had the room for reflection and realized that my recovery was also my boot-camp for my work with veterans struggling with TBI.

–From Turn the Lights On! A Physician’s Personal Journey from the Darkness of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to Hope, Healing, and Recovery, by Chrisanne Gordon, MD, and Andrew Miller

Local television audiences in Cincinnati, San Antonio, Houston, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh will have the chance to hear about RLF Founder and Chair Dr. Chrisanne Gordon’s own boot-camp experience as she stops at select cities during March and April.

Resurrecting Lives Foundation (RLF) was born in 2012 in order to drive advocacy and raise awareness for returning military members and veterans who have suffered from TBI. Dr. Gordon’s story of recovery from her own TBI – including the defining moment that launched her drive to change the system – is spelled out in her 2018 book, Turn the Lights On!, available through Amazon.

Over the last 48 months, according to the Department of Defense, more than 64,000 more service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Additionally, reports indicate that approximately 750,000 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are struggling with service-related TBI and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a form of brain injury). Healing and recovery are possible for these veterans – but diagnosis comes first, and this is a difficult process that requires an increased awareness of what TBI looks like to healthcare providers and first responders, as well as employers, family members, friends, and community leaders.

Researchers have now proven the link between TBI (a physical injury to the brain) and PTSD, (a chemical injury to the brain); these injuries share many of the same symptoms of hypervigilance, avoidance of persons and situation, isolation, and depression. This also complicates diagnosis. Dr. Gordon credits a young veteran with opening her eyes to this dilemma, and sparking the ember that eventually led to the foundation. Here’s a further excerpt from her book:

Like the injury itself, the realization dawned on me rather abruptly while I was evaluating my first veteran at a VA outpatient clinic in Ohio. After requiring the young soldier to complete a computer-based, multiple-screen evaluation, I chose to take it too, out of curiosity. To my surprise, according to the VA program, I was diagnosed as having PTSD, not TBI. I related to my patient in that I shared many of his symptoms of hypervigilance, avoidance of crowds, lowered frustration threshold, and decreased tolerance to noise and light. I then explained that I sustained my injury while putting up Christmas lights, and his immediate reaction ultimately changed my life. I’ll never forget it.

No sooner had I muttered the words, “decorating the house for Christmas,” he seized my wrist, looked me squarely in the eye and proclaimed, “So what you mean, Doc, is that I’m not crazy!”

Wow! That hit me like a Humvee. Here, staring at my face for a reaction, was a young soldier who had survived serving two tours of duty in Iraq and eight IED explosions asking me — no, begging me – to legitimize his condition as a physical injury, not a mental illness. In that moment, I asked myself two questions: (1) just how many thousands of patients with brain injuries think they’re crazy? And (2) how can we, as physicians, correct this stigma of hopelessness?*

Read more of this riveting story of “hope, healing, and recovery” in order to raise your understanding of the symptoms, diagnosis, recovery, and support possible, especially for our veterans; an order placed here through Amazon Smile will return .05% of the purchase back to RLF.

Currently, Dr. Gordon’s spring television and radio appearances include:

Let’s Just Talk with Kathryn Raaker-LIVE / Saturday, March 2: 10:00 am
Nationally syndicated radio show, aired throughout OH, WV, PA, MD and more: 3,000,000 million listeners

Staying Young Radio / air date to be announced in March
Nationally syndicated radio show that airs on over 40 stations across the country

Cincinnati, Ohio: Monday, March 4: 9:15 am
Good Morning Cincinnati at 9, on WKRC/ CBS 12

San Antonio, Texas: Monday, March 11
Daytime at 9, KABB/ Fox 29 from 9-10 am
San Antonio Living, KABB/ Fox 29, from 10-11 am

Houston, Texas: Tuesday, March 12: 8:00 am
Morning News Houston/ KRIV-TV Fox 26

Cleveland, Ohio: Monday March 25
Live on Lakeside, WKYC/ NBC 3, 11:05 am

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Wednesday April 10: 10:00 am
Pittsburgh Now, WXPI/ NBC 11
 

Let 2019 be the Year of Involvement

Let 2019 be the Year of Involvement

When our communications director asked if I wanted to make a few comments about the year 2018 in review and all that had been accomplished by Resurrecting Lives Foundation, I told her I would have to think about it. MANY things were accomplished, of course, due to the support of hundreds of volunteers, donors, and, of course, Veterans and their families:

• We continued to increase awareness regarding TBI diagnosis and treatment from coast to coast, literally – from LA, and the Milken Foundation brunch co-sponsored with the MVAT veterans’ non-profit in LA – to Quebec City and the NATO presentation for the Reserve Medical Officers.

• We established a newsletter which assisted on the internet and on Capitol Hill -bringing the voice of those who were struggling to eyes that could provide solutions in legislation and in communities.

• We collaborated with companies such as Cardinal Health and Honda of America and the Huntington Bank to develop strategies for veterans’ employment; not just hiring veterans, but full employment.

• We collaborated with the Ohio Diversity Council to provide employers with simple strategies for workplace adjustment, assisting long-term employment for veterans with TBI/PTSD.

• We welcomed a new Board member and several new Advisors. We did all that, and more, thanks to the compassionate generosity of supporters; our board; and especially our Veterans and their families.

But, to be honest, I do not want to talk about the ground that we have taken; I want to speak about the ground that lies before us. I do not want to look back, but forward. I want all of us connected to Resurrecting Lives Foundation to embrace the year ahead and its countless opportunities to take more ground; to discover more opportunities; to deliver more services; to resurrect more heroes; to educate the communities and the nation about America’s #1 greatest natural resource: our all-voluntary military members, Veterans and their families.

As Benjamin Franklin, founding father of our nation so aptly stated: Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Let 2019 be the year of involvement.
Over the past several years, with the support of our loyal patriots we have been involved in hundreds of presentations for TBI awareness; we taught employers, and health care providers, and community leaders and military officers and veterans and their families about diagnosing and treating TBI; we discussed necessary legislation with our lawmakers in Ohio and on Capitol Hill.
Now, in 2019, is the time for involvement. It is only through involvement – at your work place, your community, your hospitals, your schools, your places of worship – that all will learn about the reintegration struggles that exists for individuals and family members who offer their lives to protect our freedoms.

Encourage your workplace to employ veterans; to become involved in their training and adjustment to the civilian world. Form veterans support groups at your place of employment.

Make it a priority to learn about military culture and involve yourself in military celebrations on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Assist in your community with the reintegration of our new veterans and their families when they return home, or settle for the first time in a community post military service. Provide education on public transportation, schools, financial responsibility, childcare and health care. Remember, the majority of our young veterans entered the military directly from high school and they have not become familiar with these processes.

Establish fund raisers and sports events, events that involve family activities and offer chances for our veterans to become as integral a part of the civilian community as they were in the military community.

Write to your state and national lawmakers and request better health care for veterans, through the expansion of the Choice Act; better veteran employment opportunities through new legislation to replace the ailing HIRE Act; and better education for veterans through the inclusion of trade schools to enhance or teach new skills to the newly discharged military member.

Give of your time, talent, and treasure to veteran support groups. In 2019, RLF is planning our inaugural TBI Awareness Days at two community hospitals in central Ohio; your donations to our foundation can help to make that a reality. But your talent and time are so needed by veteran support groups in all communities across America- show that our veterans matter by giving of yourself.
2019 is the YEAR to become involved, to get things done; to take ground, before the distractions of another election year arise.
Look back for a moment, and be thankful for all that has been accomplished – Look forward for while and realize how your involvement can impact a community; restore a family; save a life. Tell- Teach – Involve.

With sincere appreciation for all the past support; and incredible anticipation of what is to come,

Chrisanne Gordon, MD
Founder, Resurrecting Lives Foundation

 

 

 

 

Thanks

Thanks

November is a time to remember all that we have to be thankful for. It is also the month we remember our veterans – men and women from all corners of the country who have committed their lives for a period of time in order to serve and protect. Some have given their lives; some return and continue to serve; some return and remember. All have given a part of themselves.

John F. Kennedy noted that, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Resurrecting Lives Foundation expresses deep gratitude to all service members of all branches: we will never forget.
We are humbled by your commitments, and in awe of those who say, as our RLF ambassador Corey O’Brien says below, “I did my job.”

 

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Shell Shock to Traumatic Brain Injury: what’s changed in the last 100 years?

Chrisanne Gordon, MD, Founder and Chair of Resurrecting Lives Foundation, and Brigadier General (Retired) Gerald Dieter Griffin, MD, PharmD, a member of the RLF Board of Advisers, presented “The Evolution of TBI Diagnosis, the Revolution of TBI Treatment” at the NATO Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Officers Summer Congress in August, 2018. This article is, in part, based on their presentation.

Sleeplessness. Blurry vision. Temporary loss of hearing, smell, and taste. Shivering. Loss of memory. These symptoms were exhibited by young men injured in blasts in 1914 and 1915, arising from “the effects of shell-shock,” according to Charles S. Myers, MD, Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps. Myers’ article, “A contribution to the study of shell shock,” published in the February 13, 1915 issue of The Lancet, was the first to use the term in the published medical literature.

On November 11, 2018, the world commemorates the Armistice that ended World War I, “the war to end all wars.” Over the last 100 years we have not, unfortunately, seen the end of war. We continue to see returning service members injured in horrific ways, not least of which is the often invisible wound of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Injury and trauma from warfare have been documented since the early times of human history. But with the introduction of modern technological weapons during the first World War, the nature of that trauma has escalated, even while the science to diagnose those “invisible injuries” has continued to advance.

As noted by Dr. Gordon and BG (Ret.) Dr. Griffin, every conflict has its own injuries, illnesses, drugs, technologies, and reintegration policies. But survival wounds in the last century are clearly similar: “shell-shock” and traumatic war neurosis in World War I, battle fatigue in World War II, post-traumatic stress disorder in the Vietnam War, and traumatic brain injury in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/ Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

At the start of World War I, shelling and shrapnel brought a huge increase in head injuries to soldiers in the trenches. Said Britain’s The Illustrated War News on November 17, 1915, “Head-wounds have been more than usually numerous during the war, owing to the trench-fighting, and more than usually severe, owing to the extensive use of shrapnel. … Our Army has now followed the French by adopting steel helmets, calculated to stop shell-splinters and shrapnel. Even in cases of extreme risk, not only has death been avoided, but injuries have been confined to bruises or superficial wounds.”

This was an optimistic statement so early in the war. But officials were shocked and stymied by the head wounds. Initially thought to be physical injuries, or “commotional,” due to the commotion rocking the brain in the cranium, British soldiers who experienced these wounds received a uniform “wound stripe,” and eventually a war pension. But the symptoms – including trembling, headaches, tinnitus, confusion, dizziness, and sleep disturbances – started appearing in military members who were not directly in the line of the blasts. The diagnosis soon became a psychological one: neurasthenia, or a “nervous breakdown.” Removing the physical diagnosis in place of a psychological one meant the soldier received no “wound stripe,” no rehabilitation leave… and no war pension. The debate over whether “shell shock” was physical or psychological (or even both) continued for decades.

Therapy for those who survived head wounds ranged from rest, quiet, and nutrition, to the extremes of electro-therapy, and rehabilitation near the front, so that the recovering soldier could reacclimate to the environment of warfare.

Dr. Myers concluded that the symptoms he wrote about in the 1915 Lancet article cited above were likely due to hysteria. But soldiers who witnessed the damage of explosions knew that physical or psychological, the damage was real. Of the First Battle of Ypres, Lt. B. H. Waddy wrote in 1914, “My first bullets frightened me, while my first shells did not; but with the evidence now before my eyes that the latter possessed invisible powers of destruction as well as visible, there was born in me a fear, a hatred of shellfire stronger than any other I have ever experienced.” “B.H.Waddy: Survivor’s account of 2 battles,” by Waddy, Bentley Herbert. The Great War Archive, University of Oxford / Primary Contributor via First World War Poetry Digital Archive, accessed November 10, 2018, https://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/gwa/document/8697.

Study of war trauma continued through the 20th century’s conflicts in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Psychological injuries, long-lasting post-concussive trauma, and PTSD have all gained the legitimacy of diagnosis; we continue to understand more and more about TBI.

Now, 100 years post-Armistice, over 3.7 million service personnel have been deployed to the war zone in Iraq and Afghanistan, many with multiple deployments. TBI has been estimated in nearly 20% of the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and an estimated 30% have PTSD. And we now understand that most military-related TBI comes from blast exposure.

Due to the evolution of military technology, blasts and artillery cause exponentially more damage than in 1918. But also due to scientific advances and the evolution of scientific research, we can now identify changes in brain physiology at a cellular level; due to the evolution of newer diagnostic techniques, especially neuroradiology studies, we can now even look inside the brain.

Through the early 1970s, our diagnostic procedure for head wounds was largely the x-ray. Advances in computer science and medicine during the end of the 20th century brought us lightyears forward through various imaging techniques, including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which lets us see nerve tracts and the brain; neuroradiology now enables us to map the brain. RLF is proud to have supported the DTI research conducted under Michael L. Lipton, MD, PhD, at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, contributing to the body of evidence proving that blast waves themselves are a source of TBI in military personnel.

Today, devices the size of cell phones enable scans for TBI in combat, thus enabling treatment as quickly as possible. This evolution of diagnostics has given way to a revolution of treatment for brain specific injuries.

Biomarkers, or biological substances that can act as clues in the body, are being developed to detect the presence of TBI. Treatment in the immediate phase after TBI now provides damage control through procedures like immune therapy, temperature and volume therapies, and aggressive symptomatic care for the trauma of TBI. PTSD therapies include “exposure” therapy, or repeated exposure to the conditions of the event which caused the trauma to begin with – much like those WWI solders rehabilitating near the front – to cognitive therapy and psychopharmaceuticals. Mindfulness training, including meditation, is gaining ground as a positive and non-invasive means to recovery. Rehabilitation delivered through virtual reality, as the fledgling company Gray Matter Innovations focuses on, complements these approaches.

Progress in science and medicine since Armistice Day, 1918, has enabled a generation of brain-injured warriors to recover from an injury that only tens of years ago was thought not to be an injury at all. Still, not all those who suffer from TBI or PTSD have been diagnosed – the first step in recovery – and prompt diagnosis is best, since both TBI and PTSD are now wounds that can be healed.

RLF honors all military service members who put their lives on the line for our freedoms, and we advocate for continued advances in diagnosis and treatment for these invisible injuries – as well as for prevention of TBI with peace and understanding among all nations.

 

 

 

 

Sharing Conversations about TBI

To shine more light on the difficulties of diagnosis and treatment – and the hope of recovery – of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), RLF Founder and Chair Chrisanne Gordon, MD, has been holding conversations with a number of organizations in the last few months. She’s been discussing her book, Turn the Lights On!, and her personal journey of recovery from her own TBI.
In October, Dr. Gordon spoke with the delegates to the Ohio Convention of the Blue Star Mothers of America. All 15 Ohio Chapters were represented at the Columbus event, with an audience of about 50. The annual convention also features a Memorial service honoring the organization’s lost moms and veterans through the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In photo on left: Anne Parker, National President of the Blue Star Mothers, is surrounded by Ohio Convention delegates.
In the photo on the right are (left to right) Karen Stillwell, President, Department of Ohio; Dr. Gordon; and Brenda Russell, Past President of Department of Ohio.

In early November, Dr. Gordon spoke at her alma mater, Duquesne University, in a program sponsored by the school’s Office for Military and Veteran Students. An audience of about 30 students, faculty, and alumnae from the Rangos School of Health Sciences’ Department of Occupational Therapy and from the School of Law engaged in a lively discussion regarding TBI care as well as the implications for defending the veteran in criminal court.
Faculty members supporting the discussion included Dr. Jaime Munoz, the Occupational Therapy department chair, Daniel W. Kunz, JD, Adjunct Professor of Clinical Legal Education at the School of Law, and Don Accamando, D. Ed., Director of the Office for Military and Veteran Students and a retired US Air Force veteran.

Left to right in the photo: Daniel Kunz; Dr. Gordon; and Don Accamando.

 

One Hundred Years of the American Legion

By Ralph P. Bozella

RLF is fortunate to have as a partner in our war on military TBI The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission and its TBI/PTSD Committee. Ralph P. Bozella, Chair of that Commission, advocate for veterans, and member of the RLF Board of Advisers, has written this piece for us, commemorating the centenary of the American Legion.

A century ago, at 11:11 a.m. on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns of the Allied Forces, including the doughboys of the USA, and the Central Powers led by Germany fell silent, and the awful conditions of trench warfare ended. These forces were mired in what was called the Great War and The War to End All Wars, but became historically to be known as World War One. As we now know this war did not end all wars, but led to a more horrific global conflict in World War Two, and other wars involving US forces to include Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Gulf War One and the continuing War Against Terrorism which has been fought in Iraq and now in Afghanistan. Through the years the armistice of World War One has morphed into what we now celebrate as Veterans Day – a day to honor all those who have worn the uniform of the United States military forces.

The end of World War One, however, did bring about the beginnings of a most influential veteran service organization – The American Legion, as an American Expeditionary Force consisting of officers and enlisted men in Paris, France, organized as the first American Legion caucus.

One hundred years later The American Legion can proudly stand behind its accomplishments of advocating for creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau, which became the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The Legion also can claim credit for drafting a document which as the GI Bill became law and can arguably be called the greatest piece of social legislation ever passed. When VA stated that Agent Orange was not the cause of cancer and other diseases in Vietnam veterans, The American Legion commissioned its own study from Columbia University to prove otherwise and the presumptive claims to Agent Orange related illnesses for Vietnam veterans was born. The American Legion has also led the fight for VA compensation for Gulf War One related illnesses and is now turning its sights to effects that military personnel are suffering due to toxins produced by the Burn Pits used on military bases today.

Along with advocating for veterans affected by environmental toxins, The American Legion is championing the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), through its Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation (VA&R) Commission which houses the Legion’s TBI/PTSD Committee. This committee studies the mental health issues of veterans and hosts seminars and publishes information on the subject. In 2012 The War Within: Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Findings and Recommendations was published, followed by its latest publication on the subject, The Road Home. To view these booklets and other American Legion publications online please visit https://www.legion.org/publications
As World War One ended, The American Legion began it mission of advocating for veterans, national defense, Americanism and children and youth, and is still serving America in this capacity today. For more information about The American Legion, to include membership eligibility, please see https://www.legion.org/

Ralph Bozella, Chairman National Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission
The American Legion

Help RLF to Help Others

Despite snow, poor driving conditions, and the danger of excess, November is a generous time when we all show our appreciation for family, friends, and strangers. #GivingTuesday, an event that takes place on the heels of Thanksgiving and in the start-up of holiday shopping frenzy, began in 2012 as a collaborative way to raise the profile of nonprofits during the gift-giving season. This year, RLF will participate in #GivingTuesday, raising funds for our inaugural local community TBI awareness programs being planned for March, 2019 at medical centers in Central Ohio.

Spearheaded by two RLF Board members, Col. (Ret.) Owen Lee (USA, Medical Corps), MD, and Chris Brown, MD, MPH, the events will aim to increase awareness of TBI and of resources for TBI in two specific local communities. At Licking Memorial Hospital, Newark, Ohio, and Adena Health Care in Chilicothe, Ohio, the programs will include TBI/ PTSD screenings and educational sessions on TBI, providing resources to connect vets and their families to other local agencies.

Beyond #GivingTuesday, as you shop for groceries, party supplies, gifts, and clothing, you can provide our veterans’ programs with a percentage of your spending, at no cost to you. Shoppers in the Columbus, Ohio area can link their Kroger Rewards Card to RLF (we are organization 91686) and a percentage of your dollars spent will be donated to our programs. Or, if you are an Amazon shopper, enter the site through https://smile.amazon.com and choose Resurrecting Lives Foundation as your charity before you shop – Amazon will donate .05% of all your purchases to RLF.

And thank you to the most generous small town in America, Scopus, Missouri, who raised $8000 for RLF’s programs with a community fest in August. Read the whole story here to find out how even the chickens helped out!

 

 

RLF “Telehealth” Grant Continues to Enable Therapy

Technology plays a large role in daily life, and in the health setting it has long been an integral part of diagnosis. Through a grant from RLF, technology is now a cornerstone in therapy delivery for veterans with suspected TBI or PTSD at two universities in Ohio.

As we told you about in January and in May, programs in place at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Speech and Hearing Clinic and at University of Akron (UA) School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, are recruiting veteran students for no-cost comprehensive speech/ language/ cognitive evaluations and treatment plans. Both programs are using technology to deliver some services in part virtually, via “telehealth,” enabling the specialist and the student to link together where it might not be possible physically.

At UA, the Audiology and Speech Center continues to offer the Compensatory Cognitive Training (CCT) program to veterans within the community, including students. Four veterans have completed the program and several have said they would recommend it to other veterans, rating the attention and memory strategies provided in the program as “extremely helpful.” This program has been in use at several Veterans Administration Medical Centers (VAMC) for several years, but the UA implementation is the first in a university setting, and is enhanced by a “telehealth connection” between UA and the Cleveland VA Hospital, used as needed.

CCT focuses on enabling veterans to manage their fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, and tension; improve attention, concentration, and memory; and increase planning and problem solving abilities.

Faculty lead Angela Reif, PhD, CCC-SLP and clinical supervisor Janis Lorman, MA CCC S/A, are stepping up recruitment efforts for more veterans who would like to complete the program, speaking with veterans about CCT and the school’s free hearing services for student veterans at both a September UA football tailgating event (pictured below) in collaboration with campus military organizations including Student Veterans of America and American Legion Post 808, and at UA’s Veterans Day program.

Because this program is open to community members as well as students, Reif has addressed American Legion Post 808, sharing information related to the effects of concussion and TBI and how CCT can help. Recruitment efforts for student veterans and veterans within the community will continue, and speech services for veterans who would like to participate in cognitive training continues to be available.

At BGSU, where the program is offered with individually-tailored treatment including compensatory strategies to improve recall skills through multiple senses, technology in the form of notebook computers, whiteboards, and smartphones is used heavily for support and reminders. According to Donna Colcord, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinic Director at the Bowling Green State University Speech and Hearing Clinic, two of the veteran students completed the program after making significant gains in their skills. An additional veteran continues this semester, and the team is gearing up to locate more veteran students to bring in for the spring semester.

Veterans at BGSU or UA, or throughout the Akron community, who are interested in exploring screenings and services, should contact the clinics through the links above.