War often moves medical practices and innovation forward or refocuses research into specific conditions. The knowledge gained by VA medical staff in treatment of traumatic brain injury extends far beyond the care of Veterans of OEF/OIF/OND. While combat injuries to our Servicemembers and injures to professional athletes gain media attention, TBI is most often caused by falls, vehicle accidents and violence. TBI is a major cause of death and disability worldwide, especially in children and young adults.
Sharing the knowledge gained in treatment of mild to moderate concussion VA’s Polytrauma/TBI System of Care has developed “Concussion Coach,” a mobile application that provides portable tools to assess symptoms and to facilitate use of coping strategies. This mobile app is available to Veterans and the general public and is intended to support treatment with a healthcare professional by providing portable, convenient tools for the user to assess symptoms and cope with concussion-related problems. While the app is a useful tool, it is NOT intended to replace professional diagnosis, medical treatment or rehabilitation therapies for those who need them.
Concussion Coach was collaboratively developed by VA’s Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services and the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology.
Concussion Coach is available for mobile Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, and IPod Touch) from the App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/concussion-coach/id713590872?ls=1&mt=8, and will be available on Google Play later in 2014.
Randy McCracken is a U.S. Army Veteran, former medic, computer specialist, and now a Communications Specialist for the VA’s Rehabilitation and Prosthetics Service in Washington, DC.
**FOR ONLY VA employees/occupants of 810 Vermont NW, WASHINGTON DC** ~ Applies to Friday, 07 March 2014
VA Offices located at 810 Vermont Ave., NW are CLOSED. Telework-ready employees must follow VA policies.
Due to an apparent collapse of the DC sanitary sewer line connected to the building, for the safety and welfare of employees, 810 Vermont Ave., NW in Washington, DC is CLOSED in accordance with direction from Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Emergency and telework-ready employees assigned to 810 Vermont should follow VA policies, including written telework agreements.
Please check employee email for additional information.
Sean Halsted shakes hands with a fan as he holds his son, Ethan, after completing the slalom super g competition Jul. 16 during the 29th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Spokane, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)
There’s a home video on YouTube that shows just how much one individual can accomplish, despite being paralyzed by free-falling from a helicopter. The video features U.S. Air Force Veteran and Paralympian Sean Halsted.
Sean’s wife, Sarah, made the video to document her husband’s rise from the wetland floor of Hurlburt Field, an Air Force installation in Florida, to the snowy peaks of Whistler Mountain in British Columbia.
Four years ago in Whistler, Sean competed in three events at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. He didn’t win a medal, but he kept training for a second chance. Sean is set to compete in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi (so-chee), Russia, starting March 7, 2014.
Sean’s sport is cross-country (Nordic) skiing. In this sport, participants pull (with poles), skate (when they are able), and cruise on long, slender skis along courses ranging from one to 20 kilometers in length. Sean is paralyzed from the waist down, so he competes in a kneeling position on a specialized sit ski, which takes any measure of skating out of the mix.
Click here to visit Sean’s Team USA profile
“It’s fun being out there in the woods and on the slopes, pushing yourself to the limit, all while being in a serene environment,” said Sean, who tried sled hockey and wheelchair basketball before going all-in on cross-country skiing.
Pushing himself is not new for the Pacific Northwesterner. He ran cross country through high school and rowed crew at Washington State University. The accident, which shattered his L1 vertebrae, happened during a search-and-rescue training exercise in 1998.
“My entire life was active, on the move, and suddenly it was gone,” he said.
Through early rehab, Sean said he began thinking his life would be spent on the couch surfing the Internet and playing Nintendo—which would have been completely foreign to him just a few months before.
“As a combat controller, you have these expectations,” he said. “You can’t accept sitting in your room.”
He struggled for two years before reluctantly attending the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic and finding inspiration. And it’s that 2001 experience at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic that he credits with igniting his Paralympic dream. “My jaw dropped,” he said of his first experience at the clinic.
“I sat there, watching people push themselves like I used to and wondered, ‘How much time did I waste?’” he said.
Established in 1986, the Winter Sports Clinic shows disabled active-duty Soldiers and Veterans that an active life is still attainable. “I saw them [fellow Veterans] with kids, with families,” he said. “I saw them living. All these things I thought that were taken from me, these people were enjoying.”
Since the clinic, Sean has pulled his way to a spot as one of four members of the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Ski Team. The sport has led him around the world, including to the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, where he finished among the top ten in the 1-km sprint, and the 10-km and 15-km competitions.
Sean and his wife also started a family: twins Ethan and Rileigh, 8, and Keelie, 3. Days once spent sulking are now spent balancing being an athlete and a father.
Despite all the adversity, Sean seems to have found his way again, and he believes the intensity and self-mastery that his sport demands may also help his fellow Veterans.
While he is determined to reach the medal podium at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Sean also thinks about other Servicemembers who become disabled and face the same obstacles he once did.
“Gold isn’t the be-all, end-all goal,” he said. “I mean, yeah, I want to win. But if I get someone off the couch and wanting to do something, that’ll mean just as much to me. If I can be that example that people can touch, people can see, [and] people can grasp, that’ll make the whole Paralympic movement grow.”
In other words, Sean hopes to inspire fellow disabled Veterans in the way that the Winter Sports Clinic inspired him.
“I’ve heard disabled people say, ‘I’m not going to do sports because I don’t need a charity medal,’” Halsted said. “You try it, and tell me if it’s still charity.”
Join VA, the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Health Administration for a Twitter town hall about women Veterans benefits and health care today at 2 p.m.
We’ll have experts on hand to answer your questions and to provide options and information that might help you out. Follow us on Twitter – use #WomenVets to tag your questions or search that tag to follow the discussion; or follow each account that we’ll be taking and answering questions from: @DeptVetAffairs, @VAVetBenefits and @VeteransHealth.
In the spring of 2012, consultations were held with Congress, the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, Veterans service organizations, military service organizations, VA’s unions and VA advisory committees and the American public via a Federal Register Notice.
The Strategic Plan incorporates VA’s FY2014-2015 Agency Priority Goals which are to improve Veteran access to VA benefits and services, eliminate the disability claims backlog and eliminate Veteran homelessness. The Strategic Plan also outlines longer-term goals and objectives that place a strong emphasis on defining success by Veteran outcomes; enhancing the quality of and access to benefits and services through integration within VA and with our partners; and developing our workforce with the skills, tools and leadership to meet our clients’ needs and expectations.
VA’s three strategic goals are:
Empower Veterans to Improve Their Well-being
Enhance and Develop Trusted Partnerships
Manage and Improve VA Operations to Deliver Seamless and Integrated Support
This plan puts an emphasis on putting the Veteran in control of how, when and where they wish to be served. It continues to transform VA into a 21stst Century organization to better serve our clients.
Elizabeth is in the office of policy and planning at the Department of Veteran Affairs. She is responsible for the development of the department’s five year strategic plan as well as facilitating implementation of the plan across VA. Elizabeth retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years as an officer and aviator.
Three years ago, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 created the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) that has helped many unemployed veterans access educational programs. This program came at a crucial time when veteran unemployment was at 8.3%. VRAP was specifically designed to cover veterans who are not eligible to receive GI Bill educational benefits. VRAP has helped qualified veterans who are 35 to 60 years old obtain up to 12 months of education benefits equal to the full-time Montgomery GI Bill. Since the program’s launch, it has come to support more than more than 76,000 unemployed veterans and helped our Nation honor the sacrifices they made to their country.
Under the current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) authority to issue payments to VRAP participants will end March 31, 2014 – in the middle of the Veterans’ spring academic semester. Concerned that funds would be cut off before VRAP participants could complete their academic semesters, President Obama asked VA to explore all available options to ensure that eligible veterans are able to finish their Spring 2014 semester. Today, VA has taken steps to do just that. To enable VRAP participants to complete training for their current enrollment period, VA will make payments prior to March 31, 2014, to cover training from April 1, 2014 through the conclusion of a Veteran’s current enrollment semester or term or through June 30, 2014, whichever is earlier. For more information on the VRAP program, please go to www.gibill.va.gov or call the VA GI Bill Benefits line at 1-888-442-4551.
With programs like VRAP, we are ensuring that veterans are taken care of and have opportunities to succeed in their communities.
Curtis L. Coy is the Deputy Under Secretary of VA for the Office of Economic Opportunity. Colonel Rich Morales is the Executive Director for Joining Forces.
Editor’s note: This was originally posted on the White House Blog. On March 11, 2009, President Obama established the inter-agency White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure the programs and policies of the federal government are being crafted and implemented with the well-being of our women and girls at the forefront of our thinking and priorities. This post is part of a month-long series highlighting government-wide progress toward that goal. Read more posts here.
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama declared, “We are stronger when America fields a full team.” As we move to leverage the power of a fully represented “Team America,” VA is advancing the cause of our 2.2 million women veterans.
Women veterans are one of the fastest-growing populations of veterans. Now 10 percent, by 2020, they will constitute more than 12 percent of all veterans.
America depends on the traits veterans embody — dependability, resourcefulness, diligence, a team focus, and a can-do attitude – to make good on the President’s efforts to re-energize our economy. After serving our country in uniform, women veterans go on to serve our communities and our workplaces as a positive force for America’s strong and growing middle class.VA’s commitment to women veterans is second-to-none. Our department-wide Women Veterans Program, led by VA’s Center for Women Veterans, is the focal point of our advocacy – the nexus for enhancing access to our services, and the driver of our initiatives. Our work to better serve women veterans includes the following:
We’ve instituted comprehensive women’s primary healthcare programs at our facilities, where data reveal VA care for women is significantly higher in quality than care in the private sector.
VA has staffed our 151 medical centers and 56 regional offices with women veterans advocates.
We’ve delivered unprecedented levels of benefits to women. In FY 2013, compensation benefits were up 9 percent from FY 2012; education benefits were up 14 percent; and home loan guaranty benefits were up 28 percent.
Last year, our disability claims grant rates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder based on Military Sexual Trauma were near parity with grant rates for other types of PTSD claims.
Our Women Veterans Hotline (1-855-VA-WOMEN) answers questions about VA services and resources.
We’ve strategically enhanced our marketing presence in print, social media, and public service announcements. On March 6, 2014, at 2 p.m., VA will host a live Twitter Town Hall, during which VA subject matter experts will take questions and discuss the concerns of women Veterans. We invite you to join us via VA’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Use #WomenVets to submit questions and follow the conversation hosted by @DeptVetAffairs and @VAVetBenefits.
We’ve accelerated our women’s health research agenda across the board. As part of that ramp up, we’ve funded an initiative to build stronger research-clinical partnerships so we can fast-track research advances into direct patient care.
We’re listening to our clients: our National Training Summits on women veterans issues give women a larger role in determining the services VA provides.
In short, as VA works to serve the surge of women veterans in recent years, we have gained significant ground. But as the nation’s advocate for veterans, we won’t rest until we will serve all of them as well as they have served all of us.
Hosts: Onika Coke-Munoz and Kevin Walls
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 13:56
VA News is a weekly program designed to provide timely news and information about the Department of Veterans Affairs. The newscast is co-sponsored by the VHA Employee Education System and the Office of Public Affairs in partnership with other headquarters and field offices.
VAnatge Point recently sat down with Korean War Veteran and actor James McEachin for an interview. The above video is a small piece of that interview, with McEachin talking about his service during Vietnam and his acting career. VA News is producing a longer piece as well, which will be out soon.
Pat Tillman and his brother Kevin pictured together in Afghanistan.
Ten years ago this April, I lost my husband Pat while he was serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. During his life, Pat never stopped learning, leading and living the ideals he believed in. He was a soldier, athlete and scholar, and he was deeply committed to a life of service both in and out of uniform.
After his death, our family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation to continue his legacy and fuel the potential of service members, veterans and military spouses who answered the call to serve after 9/11. In 2008, not long after passage of the historic Post-9/11 GI Bill, we created the Tillman Military Scholars program to provide academic scholarships and further invest in their higher education and career goals.
Today, the Tillman Military Scholars program unites the best talent and leadership from the military to continue making a significant, positive impact for our country and communities. Since its inception, the program has grown in both scope and impact investing more than $4.6 million in scholarships for 290 Tillman Military Scholars pursuing degrees at every level from undergraduate to Ph.D. at 85 academic institutions nationwide. As a community, Tillman Military Scholars demonstrate extraordinary academic and leadership potential as well as a deep desire to impact change for our country and communities through their studies in medicine, law, business, government, education and the arts.
For the 2014-2015 academic year, we invite eligible student veterans and spouses nationwide to apply to join our 6th Class of Tillman Military Scholars. The application to apply for the Tillman Military Scholarship will remain open until Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 11:59:59pm EST. Applicants who are pursuing undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate degrees as a full-time student at a public or private, U.S.-based accredited institution are welcome to apply. For more details on how to apply and to learn more about our 15 University Partners nationwide, please visit this page.
As a foundation, we recognize that military veterans and spouses face numerous challenges during the transition from military to civilian life and have unique needs that often prevent successfully completing a degree. To supplement the GI Bill, the Tillman Military scholarship covers direct study-related expenses, including tuition and fees, books and living stipend. Scholarships will be granted for the 2014-2015 academic year and are eligible for renewal.
Of the 60 Tillman Military Scholars chosen annually, each has a goal, a determination, and a drive that sets them apart. We welcome applicants who not only share Pat’s core values, strength of character and commitment to service in and out of uniform, but also demonstrate the potential to go out into the world and change it. To explore the profiles of current Tillman Military Scholars and see what distinguishes our most successful applicants, visit our scholars page.
Marie Tillman is the President and Co-Founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation, established in honor of her husband, NFL Player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman who was killed while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan in April 2004. To learn more about the Tillman Military Scholars program, visit our site.
Marie Tillman is president and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation
Learn more about Pat Tillman scholar Sam Innocent and last year’s Leadership Summit at the links below:
There’s a home video on YouTube that shows just how much one individual can accomplish, despite being paralyzed by free-falling from a helicopter. The video features U.S. Air Force Veteran and Paralympian Sean Halsted. Sean’s wife, Sarah, made the video … Read More → […]
Join VA, the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Health Administration for a Twitter town hall about women Veterans benefits and health care today at 2 p.m. We’ll have experts on hand to answer your questions and to provide options … Read More → […]
WASHINGTON, DC—In this week’s address, President Obama highlighted the momentum building across the country to give Americans a raise and reiterated his call for Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. The President has already signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for people working under new federal contracts. Companies la […]
Coral Reef Senior High School Miami, Florida 3:05 P.M. EST THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Miami! (Applause.) Hello, Cuda Nation! (Applause.) Hello! It is good to be here at Coral Reef Senior High. (Applause.) You guys are just happy because it’s warm down here all the time. (Laughter.) I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the rest of the country is col […]
Classroom in Coral Reef Senior High School Miami, Florida 2:47 P.M. EST THE PRESIDENT: One of the reasons we're down here, Michelle and I are both working on encouraging school districts to adopt some terrific stuff that's being done down here in order for young people to know if they’ve done the work, if they’re being responsible, they’re outstan […]
Representing the United States Veterans for claims of service connected disabilities and pension before the Department of Veterans Affairs.