Military Family Month

November 23, 2010

President Obama has proclaimed November Military Family Month, noting that military family members “serve,” too, and also require community support.

“I call on all Americans to honor military families through private actions and public service for the tremendous contributions they make in support of our service members and our nation,” the President said in his proclamation.

Experts in both the military and civilian sectors found that the U.S. will be facing increasing addiction and mental-health problems among returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghan war. All returning veterans face adjustments, but for some, dealing with traumatic experiences can lead to diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, substance abuse and addiction. These problems not only affect the individual, but can have a profound impact on families and communities.

The Military Helpline is here for military families to use as a free, confidential resource. Not only for dire needs, such as suicide or PTSD, but for assistance in navigating the system so that families can get the benefits and support they’re entitled to.

We are so thankful for the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifices of every person who has served – either as a member of the military or of the family that serves as well. Make sure they know assistance is available by spreading the word about this 24/7 service. 888-HLP-4-VET (888) 457-4838 – or on the web at http://www.militaryhelpline.org.

-Tom

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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


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


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


The Conversation

August 31, 2010

(Editor’s note: Tim is one of our Military Helpline specialists and is scheduled for active duty as an Army Lieutenant this coming February)

“Why don’t you like to talk about the Army?” she asked.

“It’s not that I don’t like talking about the Army, it’s that I don’t like thinking about how it will pull us apart.”

This has become my reality.

Tears began to roll down her face as I spoke about my time here, and that it would come to an end, as all good things do. Eventually I would be called off to do a job that not many people want, or choose.

Lost in thought about all that I would be losing and leaving, and sitting next to me, was someone that was also looking into the future at something that eventually she was going to lose.

As we drove on, fighting back our own very real fears of the future to come, I turned to see her, sitting quietly while those tears of fear began building up in her eyes. I reached across and held her hand gently. No words were spoken, through that touch, that bond, we both understood.

But we didn’t understand.

We probably never will. The changes that will happen are as obvious as the differences between a man and a woman. I am leaving to do a very un-natural and dangerous job, while she stays here, in school, never to see what I go through. Life for her, and for all my friends and family will carry on when I’m away, just as it has in the past. For me, life will become sweeter in a way. All the effort, long nights, early mornings, being away from those I love for long periods of time, they will all finally be justified.

While I am privileged and honored to carry the flag of this nation into areas of strife and contention, I must also carry the burden that I will be leaving those I consider closest in my life. This weight will be much heavier than any load I will carry on my back, it is not visible, and I will never show its true weight.

Watching the tears roll down her face, the burden becomes very heavy.

-Tim


Oregon National Guard Families Key To Drug Prevention

August 6, 2010

Oregon National Guard Families Key To Drug Prevention

“How do I help a National Guard member when I don’t know what the problem is?”
“Where does a family member turn when their soldier is in emotional crisis?”
“What is the proper protocol to help an OEF/OIF veteran?”

These are some of the tough questions facing Oregon National Guard families.

The National Guard faces unique challenges in tackling reintegration issues.

Where Soldiers on active duty have access to military health care and the constant support of peers and leaders, National Guard Soldiers spend just one weekend a month with their unit, making it difficult to track changes in behavior and mood. Families serve as a vital link for identifying emotional changes.

How do families get the word, how do they find out what is going on with their Guardsman? The Military Helpline is a confidential resource that can help.

Early detection is the key in helping Soldiers deal with problems – and good communication plays an important role in detecting a problem. Often, family members and friends have pieces of information – things a Soldier has told them or actions they have witnessed – that together paint a clear picture of what a Soldier is going through.

The Yellow Ribbon program provides National Guardsmen and their families with information, services, referrals and proactive outreach opportunities throughout the deployment cycle. These Yellow Ribbon events are scheduled throughout the state and spaced at 30-60-90 intervals. Each soldier is given the information through his unit.

Oregon Partnership’s Military Helpline can furnish the information, resource and referral when needed. Concerned family members are highly encouraged to call (888) HLP-4-VET (888 457-4838) or find us online at www.MilitaryHelpline.org .

We are citizen volunteers here to help Oregon’s citizen soldiers and their families…one phone call at a time.

– David D.


A Heart For Service at the Deschutes County Fair

August 2, 2010

Hanging in the corners of the tent, on display for all those who passed by, were the uniforms of the men who had worn them during this nation’s most turbulent times. Decorated with ribbons and cords, medals and awards, they hung as a testament to the character of those who sat under the cover of a tent away from the hot sun. Each ribbon and award that hung from their chests gave them more right than most to expect something, but they didn’t . They sat there laughing and smiling, trading jokes and stories as they waited to help the next veteran in need of their grace.

As I sat there in the presence of such experienced and accomplished individuals, a feeling of inexperience washed over me. They laughed and joked, told stories and were never short on giving a young 2nd Lieutenant advice. Advice that I will never forget.

We were largely ignored by the rest of the fair. Most people didn’t seem to pay much attention to us, others just seemed to glance on their way to the rides or shuffled towards the livestock areas. It didn’t seem to bother those with the ribbons on their chests. Never once, in all their stories, in all their experiences, did they ever speak a word of animosity or frustration towards the nation they had given so much to.

The veterans always sat together.

As the sun climbed high on a hot afternoon, the depth of what we all shared shown through. A young private in the National Guard came up, in uniform. No doubt ordered to assist with a detail, he walked up to the booth to speak with the veterans. The feeling of inexperience that had come over me earlier in the weekend, was running down his face like beads of sweat, his eyes wide, staring at the symbols of heroism they wore. Men who’d seen combat and came back to tell of their experiences stood around talking with this young private, fresh from basic training. The old veterans paid no attention that he had never seen combat, or that he was a mere private in the grand rank system of the military, nor that he has been in the military less than a year. They spoke and gravitated towards him for one simple reason.: He, at age 19, wore the same uniform that the veterans had.

As we sat under the blazing sun patiently waiting to help those who had once worn a uniform; I began to realize that the low turnout of veterans to our area and being mostly ignored by the general population did little to deter those who sat there, waiting to help.

It was a symbol for how things truly are, the men who earned those medals and ribbons go largely unnoticed in public, but that never stops them from showing up, always being there, and always looking out for one another.

-Tim