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What are Veteran Treatment Courts and how do they help?

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What are Veteran Treatment Courts and how do they help?

I host a radio weekly internet radio show on the VoiceAmerica Empowerment Channel called Life Altering Events (https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/3902/life-altering-events). People often ask me what exactly is a life altering event? I tell them this – It can be something we choose or something that is thrust upon us that dramatically alters the trajectory of our life.

On September 10, 2019 we will have a discussion about the Veterans Treatment Court program. My guests will be the Honorable David Abbott, presiding justice over the Sacramento, CA Veterans Treatment Court and Cindy Baldwin, a consultant with the California State Senate on Veterans Affairs Committee.

The choice to enter the military is a major life altering events. Most men and women enter the service between the ages of 18 to 22. At this young age, they have not had many life experiences. For many it is their first time away from home.  The military gives them a sense of purpose, a mission and provides self-esteem as they serve an important role within an organization. Some will stay and make the military their career. Most will not.

Given that the United States have been involved in war(s) or police actions or peace keeping missions, (call it whatever you like), for most of the 21st century these young service men and women have been exposed to many horrendous situations. They have seen and/or done things that no one should ever see let alone 18 to 22 year olds.

When their time of service is over, they go from being part of something bigger than themselves, something that give them a purpose as a warrior back  to civilian life as an unemployed and often hard to employ individual with no real purpose. The vast majority of our service men and women come home very different than when they joined. Many are physically disabled. A large number come home with some type of addiction. Almost all have suffered a major trauma such as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Sebastian Junger writes in his book “Tribe,” Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. This is particularly true for returning veterans. Their homecoming is better than it was for Vietnam veterans. Most people are quick to say “Thank you for your service,” which makes most veterans feel good for a moment, but what they really need is a job, a purpose, and to become part of a new community.

So our heroes try to assimilate back into a society where, at least initially, the cards are stacked against them. Many need help and treatment for their physical, mental, emotional, psychological, chemical and neurological disabilities/disorders. This further delays their successful re-entry process. They are told they must change, that the civilian world does not necessarily value their skills. Mark Balzer writes in his book “The People Principles,” Most people don’t hate change; however, people do hate being changed. What people want is to feel valued for who they are and what they do. Too many of our returning veterans do not feel valued.

As their frustration, anger and often depression increases some veterans become increasingly dependent on substances such drugs or alcohol to help them cope. Some are arrested for non-violent crimes such as DUI’s, or possession of a weapon or drug. They are not criminals they just need help. Treatment not punitive action is by far the best course of action. Fortunately Judge Robert Russell from my home town of Buffalo NY launched the first of the nation’s roughly 260 Veterans Treatments Courts in 2008.

What is a Veterans Treatment Court (VTC)?        With slight modifications, it follows the essential tenets of the 1997 U.S. Department of Justice publication, “Defining Drug Courts” a VTC is as follows:

  • The VTC model requires regular court appearances, as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions, and frequent and random testing for drug and alcohol use.
  • Veterans respond favorably to this structured environment, given their past experiences in the Armed Forces. However, a few will struggle, and it is exactly those veterans who need a VTC program the most. Without this structure, these veterans will reoffend and remain in the criminal justice system.
  • The VTC is able to ensure they meet their obligations to themselves, the court, and their community.

In short, the VTC says to our veterans, since you served our nation with honor and during your service you suffered a disorder or disability, you now have the ability to seek the treatment that will help you address the underlying reasons for many of your challenges. The VTC is a challenging program and the vast majority of veterans that have enrolled in the VTC successfully complete the intensive program and are able to take the next step toward a productive life.

While very helpful, VTC alone is not the end of the journey. Once the veteran has a better handle on the underlying issues, they still need to develop the transformational skills to secure a job, or career and a fulfilling life.

A new organization that helps our VTC graduates and other veterans develop transformational skills is Awakening Wholeness Inc., https://awakeningwholeness.org/ a charitable organization. Awakening Wholeness, Inc. (AWI), mission is to positively impact the lives of the people we serve by providing transformational educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices. Our goal is to equip the people we serve with all the tools they need to become physically, mentally, and spiritually ready to live productive, fulfilling, and sustainable lives.

Why do we need Veterans Treatment Courts and organizations like Awakening Wholeness? Let me give you some facts:

Most veterans are strengthened by their military service, but the combat experience has unfortunately left a growing number of veterans with issue such as PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

  • One in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment.
  • One in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffer from a substance use issue. Research continues to draw a link between substance use and combat-related mental illness.
  • Left untreated, mental health disorders common among veterans can directly lead to involvement in the criminal justice system.

Let me give you some frightening statistics:

Suicide – Between 20 and 22 veterans commit suicide daily.

Homeless

  • Over 630,000 homeless people in America. 67,495 are veterans.
  • Over 1 in 10 homeless people in America are veterans. Source Military Wallet April 10, 2019
  • Over 968,000 veterans lived in poverty in the last year.
  • 20,000 veterans with government sponsored mortgages lost their homes in 2010.
  • 76% of homeless veterans experience alcohol, drug, or mental health issues.
  • 2% of veterans ages 18-24 are unemployed.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions, but we shouldn’t. Here is some surprising information about homeless veterans:

  • 89% received an honorable discharge.
  • 67% served 3 years or more.
  • 47% are Vietnam veterans
  • 15% served before Vietnam
  • 5% are Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Incarcerations:

  • An estimated 181,500 veterans are incarcerated, including 131,500 in prison and 50,000 in jails
  • 8% percent of all federal and state inmates are veterans
  • 55 percent, of imprisoned veterans told department researchers they’d been told they had a mental health disorder

As Judge Russell stated when he formed the first Veterans Treatment Court, “Treatment not punitive action is by far the best course of action.” The VTC’s are good first step. Organizations like Awakening Wholeness provide that next critical step for successful re-entry.

Don’t miss this enlightening discussion on September 10 at 8:00 AM PST – https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/3902/life-altering-events

 

March 1, 2018: Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery – Psychology and Disasters

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Variety
March 1, 2018: Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery – Psychology and Disasters

Many organizations have plans to help their employees evacuate buildings and get to safe locations and then is the extent of most employee-related BCM plans. But disasters affect people differently and sometimes those impacts aren’t know right away and don’t appear until well after the situation. This episode will take BCM/DR practitioners to a deeper level and offer some insight on what additional topics need to be considered when creating long term employee focused safety and response plans. We speak with Registered Psychologist Dr, Oren Amitay who will talk to us about PTSD and how disaster affect people in different ways.

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Psychology and Disasters

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Variety
Psychology and Disasters

Many organizations have plans to help their employees evacuate buildings and get to safe locations and then is the extent of most employee-related BCM plans. But disasters affect people differently and sometimes those impacts aren’t know right away and don’t appear until well after the situation. This episode will take BCM/DR practitioners to a deeper level and offer some insight on what additional topics need to be considered when creating long term employee focused safety and response plans. We speak with Registered Psychologist Dr, Oren Amitay who will talk to us about PTSD, how disasters affect people in different ways, how people respond to disasters and how we can recognize when someone is experiencing long term trauma – that might not have been easily identified at the time of the traumatic situation.Show Promo.jpg

Helping Those Who Have Experienced Disasters

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Variety
Helping Those Who Have Experienced Disasters

The 2018-03-08 episode will dig a bit deeper into how disasters impact our behaviors and ongoing responses to traumatic situations. We’ll talk with Clinical Psychologist Dr. Rickey Miller, who will discuss the various ways in which people respond to situations and how we can help people overcome their anxieties and stresses related to the disasters they have experienced or witnessed. Many organizations will have emergency response plans to address evacuations and basic employee safety concerns. This episode will take BCM professionals to a deeper level and provide insight on other topics that may need to be addressed in their employee plans to ensure ongoing support for employees when faced with traumatic situations.fullick-Promo-Variety.jpg

Color Helps Heal Trauma by Paula Joyce

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7th Wave

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Trauma describes a wide range of experiences that include single occurrences as well as on-going incidents. Some examples are: traffic accidents, the sudden death of a loved one, all forms of abuse, natural disasters, medical disasters and war. The effects of trauma vary. Most psychologists believe that you can survive trauma and alleviate the symptoms. They do not, however, believe that people can truly heal from trauma, thrive and even experience what is now called posttraumatic growth. It turns out that some new approaches to healing trauma result in personal growth that is dramatic enough to warrant the descriptive title of transformation. People create positive change, develop a new identity and find new meaning in life. Their new found strength and wisdom gives them the tools they need to prevent and process future trauma. Please join us Thursday to learn how Emotional Transformation Therapy can do all this. Visit: ettia.org (International) ettcenter.com (Dallas and Bedford, TX).

Tune in Live every Thursday at 8am PST to Uplift Your Life: Nourishment of the Spirit

Dr. Edward Tick, Internationally Known Healer and Writer to Join Dr. Paula Joyce on Uplift Your Life: Nourishment of the Spirit

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7th Wave
Dr. Edward Tick, Internationally Known Healer and Writer to Join Dr. Paula Joyce on Uplift Your Life: Nourishment of the Spirit

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Join us Thursday on Uplift Your Life: Nourishment of the Spirit to learn how veterans and communities can heal and turn pain into strength and wisdom.  Recently I was listening to a news report that about 4% of Drone pilots suffer from PTSD. This seemed to surprise the newscaster since the pilots are not physically on the battlefield. It did not, however, surprise me. These pilots are still responsible for the deaths of fellow human beings. Regardless of the reasons for their actions, the fact remains that the person pulling the trigger or guiding the bomb or drone is still taking a life. They are aware that the person killed was a son or daughter, possibly a sibling or spouse, parent, friend, co-worker, relative, neighbor. Lives are changed because of their actions. Even if their actions were necessary and even if they don’t develop PTSD, the taking of a life affects a person’s mind, heart and soul. The returning warriors may even question themselves as the moral and ethical human beings who they thought they were.

Yoga & Alternative PTSD Therapy

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Yoga & Alternative PTSD Therapy

Yoga and meditation while dealing  with PTSD, TBI and MST.

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Pamela Stokes Eggleston: MBA, Senior Consultant. Since 2004, Pamela’s goal has been to raise awareness of the challenges military families and veterans face upon returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since her husband was combat injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Pamela can identify with military spouses and caregivers who are often ignored. She has worked in the public policy, criminology, research and business management fields for over 18 years, serving as a consultant, peer reviewer and grant reviewer for numerous agencies including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the VA, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), the Department of Labor, the National Resource Directory, and as an advisor on Congress-supported publications, and as Development Director for Blue Star Families. She is a member of the National Black MBA Association; additionally, she serves as an Advisory Board Member of Tee It Up for The Troops and on the Business and Professional Women Foundation’s Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Advisory Council.

Lorinda Fontaine Farris: Lorinda has been a practicing nurse practitioner for fourteen years, in the military for 27 and a spouse for 17 years. Of those 17 years of marriage, Lorinda shared her husband, Doug,  with the Army for fourteen of them.  Her husband retired from the Army four years ago; ironically, she has now worked for the Army as a government civilian for four years continuing to care for military women, spouses and retirees. Lorinda loves what she does for a living and is honored to be caring for her fellow military comrades. Lorinda and Doug have two ‘children’, their cats, Moxie and Glacier.

Tune in for a new episode with the Hosts of the American Heroes Network on the Voiceamerica Variety Channel.  Listen for this weeks episode “Yoga & Alternative PTSD Therapy” Tuesday January 28th 8am Pacific Time.

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 It has been said that we are only a generation away from forgetting our history. Disabled American Veterans struggle every day to overcome life-changing sacrifices. Their stories provides a vital part of history that has contributed to our American tradition. American Heroes Network provides a way for individuals, corporations and small businesses to support our Heroes by helping our veterans and their families rebuild their lives. They help aim our veterans, looking for jobs, in the right direction, help provide homes for our troops, assisting individuals and their families who have been severely injured while serving in the U.S. military and providing scholarships for families of our Fallen Heroes.  This will be a weekly hour long show joined by our military heroes and people and organizations that make a difference. American Heroes Network airs live Tuesdays at 8 AM Pacific, powered by Voice America Variety.

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