Leaving One Branch of Service for Another

September 30, 2010

(Editor’s Note: Tim Hasty leaves today to go into active service as a Lieutenant in the US Army. He has been a tremendous help to us in setting up our Military Helpline while waiting for his deployment orders)

My time here at Oregon Partnership working in drug prevention has refined me; I knew I was ready when those bars were pinned to my shoulders. I knew I was ready when my peers started to look to me for leadership, guidance and advice. I knew I was ready when I had come to peace with life changing in drastic ways. I knew I was ready.

Getting the news that I was going to have to wait to do what I had trained so hard to become was painful. I feared I would lose everything that I had become. The fine tuned skills of what I thought it meant to be a leader, to be responsible, to take responsibility, keeping myself to a high standard, I agonized about how I would lose all of that.

Instead of losing it all, my time here on the Military Helpline refined me. Polished me, turned me from a rough neck hard nose grunt into a something I have strived to become. I came here as a tough kid full of himself and his accomplishments. In my time here the world has grown before my eyes. I am sitting here today a man, fully versed in the ways of the world and how the matters of a single person do have an effect on people.

Compassion can save someone’s life. My view of life has been painted a different shade as a result of my time here. I arrived fresh faced and ignorant, I am leaving with a knowledge of how people care about each other, that life is not as harsh as I was taught and that caring is a good thing. It has made me a better soldier. I understand the struggle now.

Today is my last day here. It will be the last of many things for me and the first of many. The last time I answer the phone for those in need. The first time my country will call me during a time in need. The last time I will have the pleasure and honor of working with some of the most dedicated individuals I have come to know; the first time I lead the finest men this country has to offer. The last time I come to work in clothes of a civilian, the first time I wear the uniform of an officer in the United States Army. It is the beginning and the end of many things.

As I move on from this place, I think not of the job, but of the people. I came here to help those in need, and it was I who received the most help.

– Tim


All The Way, Sir!

September 29, 2010

Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
Some people come into our lives, leave imprints on our hearts, and we are never ever the same.

Tim Hasty is one of those people who has come into the lives of Oregon Partnership, left imprints on our hearts, and we will never forget him. On October 1st, Lieutenant Tim Hasty will be placed on active duty with the United States Army. For the past 5 months he has performed the duties of Military HelpLine Specialist. His unique insight and military perspective brought tremendous value to the operation as a whole.

The job of Military Specialist was defined by Tim’s hard work and dedication. He helped design and implement many of the procedures in use today. The mailing of 10,000 Military HelpLine informational postcards to Oregon Veterans was one of his many brilliant ideas.

In being activated, Tim will be embarking on a rigorous military training schedule. As an Infantry Officer he is destined to Fort Benning, Georgia to attend among other things, Airborne school. I graduated from Airborne School in 1974, so I understand what lies in wait for Lt. Hasty. Yet having seen him perform here at Oregon Partnership, I have full confidence in his ability to master not only jump school, but also Ranger School.

From jump school, Tim is slated to be assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Designated as the “All American” Division”, the 82nd is an elite strategic response force. Members of the 82d are forever banded together by an “espirit d’corps” and a greeting unlike any other in the Armed Forces to date – “All The Way!”

Having served in the 82d Airborne Division myself, I want to extend my welcome to the brotherhood. I am happy to have had Tim on the Oregon Partnership military team, he will be missed. However, I am even more proud to know that he will be one of the newest members of “America’s Honor Guard” and would like to salute him here with his first: “All the Way, Sir!”

We wish you well. You will be missed.

-David D.


A Rare Chance to Stop an Epidemic Before It Gets Out of Hand

September 27, 2010


In the field of drug abuse prevention we’re always playing “catch-up” – tackling seemingly unstoppable juggernauts that have years of momentum. We almost never have a chance to get ahead of an emerging drug of abuse.

We have that opportunity now.

“Synthetic marijuana,” sold under various names, like “K2” and “Spice,” is quickly establishing a foothold among our Nation’s youth. At Oregon Partnership we recently received a call from a mother whose son woke her up in the middle of the night, screaming, convulsing and hallucinating from smoking synthetic marijuana. At the emergency room his heart was racing, his breathing was labored and he was begging his mother “Please don’t let me die!”

Synthetic Marijuana is cheap. It’s undetectable by traditional marijuana (THC) screening methods. And, in most states, it’s legal. In fact, youth refer to it as “legal marijuana” and word is spreading quickly that it defies the usual detection screenings.

It is sold in head shops and hookah stores as incense with a broad wink and a note that it’s “not for human consumption.” But people, seeking a high, are smoking it, and some have been showing up in emergency rooms with agitation, hallucinations, vomiting, high blood pressure and elevated heart rates. One of the chemical compounds sprayed on synthetic marijuana – JWH-018 – binds with the brain’s receptors that bind THC, but at four to five times the impact of THC.

Several countries, including Britain, France and Germany have banned K2 and similar products. Additionally, nine states have also banned these products and several others have legislation in development to ban them.

We need to seize the opportunity to get ahead of this problem by taking similar action across the United States.

– Tom


Taco Bell & Portland Trailblazers Golf Tournament Benefits Oregon Partnership.

September 23, 2010
#1 NBA draft choice Greg Oden visits OP event

OP President Judy Cushing, Portland Trailblazer Greg Oden, OP Special Events Director Barbara Caplan

How cool is this?

Taco Bell and The Portland Trailblazers teamed up with 179 golfers to raise money for Oregon Partnership’s mission to end substance abuse and suicide. The 9th Annual “Bell-Blazers Classic” was blessed with good weather and nearly-perfect course conditions at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club on Tuesday, September 21. A full complement of celebrities joined in to make it a very enjoyable day.

What really stood out for me was the sincerity of the participants.

After most tournaments the golfers scatter, but at the Bell-Blazers Classic they stayed to hear about the drug prevention work of Oregon Partnership. Tom Cook, the head of the Taco Bell Franchise holders association , made an emotional personal endorsement about the importance of what we do to combat the ravages of drugs and alcohol. He challenged the participants to step up and join in that work with their personal donations. Mr. Cook also made a point to emphasize the Military Helpline (www.militaryhelpline.org) and the fact that 20% of our nation’s suicides are veterans.

It was moving to see so many people embrace these efforts with their hearts, minds and wallets.

– Tom


Getting Help from A Big Team

September 20, 2010

Oregon Partnership moved recently.

Moving, as we can all attest to, is never a “fun” thing to do. It’s full of lots of hard work, frazzled nerves, and long hours. But in the end, all of the hard work pays off when you are in your beautiful new digs. Our move is no exception. Our new space is fantastic. Our call center, which is still being transformed, will be “world class”. And this is all really cool stuff!

During this process, we also had to move a crisis line. Well, to be technical – five crisis lines. So this magnifies the “hard work” involved. When you move an office in general there are a lot of vendors and organizations involved. When you move a crisis line, it seems like there’s probably more.

Let me share the list with you:
* Phone/data provider (consisting of several team members performing different functions)
* IT/Phone equipment service provider
*National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
*Phone line/cabling contractor
*Property management company
*Contracting/construction company, security door contractor, and county inspector.

Not to mention connections within Oregon Partnership (OP).

So when all of these busy, independent organizations come together to move a crisis line the potential for scheduling issues, equipment issues, etc. is very high.

However, with lots of thoughtful planning and creative ideas from many different parties, the whole operation went quite smoothly. Of course, there were bumps a long the way. I’ll tell you about the most interesting one, and then wrap up;

In order to move a crisis line, we had the unique challenge of keeping the line operating when it went down at one site, and equipment was being transferred to another site. In order to do this, we devised a “fail over” method that transferred our calls to backup phones. Easy, right? Well not necessarily.

We had decided that we should test the failover system first, to see if it would failover correctly. It didn’t.

We tested this “pre-move”, and in order to do so, had to take all of OP offline (no phone or internet) for about an hour, early in the morning. When we went into test mode, calls were not being transferred correctly to the failover phones.

We had a technician, based in Colorado I believe, running programs and testing switches in order to get it right. We had time pressure to complete the test, so that we could get OP back up and running. The technician worked quickly, and efficiently, and was able to devise the correct switching to enable the failover system. Towards the end of the test period, after we had already worked out the kinks and tested it, the technician said to me, “let’s test it one more time, I wanna make sure it’s right, you guys aren’t a flower shop, you know?”

With that, the tech vocalized what I think everyone on every vendor’s team felt, but had not yet said…. “you guys are saving lives…. We want this to work for you”. And that kind of thing comes from the heart. It came from the heart of every organization that was involved in helping us move. It was more than “just a job” for them. And it’s more than that for us too.

Thanks.

– David C.


PTSD – A reaction by normal people to an abnormal situation.

September 12, 2010

PTSD

“PTSD is a reaction by normal people, to an abnormal situation – and there is nothing normal about war. “

This is the phrase we on the Military HelpLine use over and over to help soldiers, family members and other veterans understand the emotions they may be experiencing. We know that family and community awareness can be a life giving safety net.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of PTSD is a major step forward in battling the stigma and the effects.

Some of the PTSD symptoms of avoidance and numbing are:
Loss of interest in activities and life in general
Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
Sense of a limited future

PTSD is treatable; a person is not broken for life because of it. Soldiers, veterans and family members are given coping skills and learn to be aware of potential triggers.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder, it is important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is confronted, the easier it is to overcome.

It is only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. However if you try to numb yourself and push your memories away, the symptoms of PTSD will only get worse. We work hard to normalize the emotions of PTSD. The idea is to give one the tools to cope and the techniques to survive.

Soldiers are fond of saying, “I got your back.” It gives them a sense of safety, loyalty and strength. The Military HelpLine has your back. Many of our volunteers have served in military service. I was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. When I get callers with military background, I can honestly say “I got your back.” I have walked in those boots, I have shouldered that rifle, I have lived that life.

That experience in my life has paid dividends. Now I get to help those who ask for and need the understanding, the empathy and the support. As part of the Military HelpLine, I am honored to be a part of the solution for PTSD.

By making the community, family members and veterans aware of the signs and symptoms, we can help to end the stigma and begin the healing.

– David D.

(Editor’s note: While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms, as listed below.)
Re-experiencing the traumatic event
* Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
* Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
* Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
* Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
* Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)

PTSD symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing
* Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
* Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
* Loss of interest in activities and life in general
* Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
* Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)

PTSD symptoms of increased arousal
* Difficulty falling or staying asleep
* Irritability or outbursts of anger
* Difficulty concentrating
* Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
* Feeling jumpy and easily startled

The Military Helpline is staffed 24/7 and is a free, confidential service. (888) 457-4838 (888) HLP-4-VET


Suicide is Preventable

September 9, 2010

Suicide.

Such a loaded word…laden with a sense of stigma. One of the main goals when speaking with suicidal individuals and their loved ones is to decrease the feeling of shame that surrounds this act. As crisis line specialists, we believe that suicide can be prevented.

If you suspect that someone you know may be experiencing thoughts of suicide, it’s okay to ask, “How are you doing?” or “Are you alright…you seem kind of down.”

These are invitations that enable the suicidal person to discuss what he is experiencing. This may be the first time that another person may have been so direct with him. The opportunity for the individual to discuss possible suicidal thoughts may serve as a catharsis and offer true relief.

Listen to what the person at risk is saying. Pay attention to the emotions which are swirling under the words. Don’t try to fix her. It’s fine to say “I care.”
Familiarize yourself with some of the warning signs of suicidal behavior: Ongoing depression, a sense of hopelessness, financial and/or relationship issues and a family history of suicide. Other risk factors may include substance abuse and/or gambling.

Encourage your loved one to ask for help; you may find that you also need some emotional support. Asking for assistance may be the first step down the path of breaking the isolation that so frequently is associated with suicidal thoughts and behavior.

At Oregon Partnership our Crisis Line Specialists are trained to offer specific assistance for those folks who are struggling with the act of killing themselves. One goal is to develop rapport as well as an emotional connection. We are willing to walk down that path of darkness and despair…listening to all the pain and hopelessness that the individual is experiencing. Understanding the person’s current situation is essential to being able to offer meaningful assistance.
Hopefully, a safe plan will be developed and appropriate resources will be offered. The person will be offered a follow-up call, most likely scheduled for the same day, in order to ensure that the caller is still safe. This follow up call is significant…it continues to carry the message that we care.

A myth exists that if you talk about suicide to a depressed person you may be “planting the idea in the person’s mind.” In my experience this is completely untrue. If an individual is feeling hopeless and is struggling, chances are good that she has considered this ominous option. So, please don’t be afraid to address the situation.

You could be saving a life.

– Leslie

Oregon Partnership Lifeline: (800) 923-HELP or (800) SUICIDE