Thursday, August 27, 2015

Setting Personal and Family Goals as a Caregiver

Written by Jennifer Mackinday

We had a plan. There was always a plan during my brother’s recovery after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury during combat operations in Iraq. We made appointments, scheduled testing, and kept a record of daily progress toward the physical improvements carefully set forth by our medical care team.

A plan for improvement is a must.  Our care plan, like most, focused on physical goals. Walking, talking, eating, and toileting – these are all common goals established in health care plans for patients who suffer severe TBI. If there is no plan, there is no direction on how to proceed. 

Jennifer's family, from left: Son Grant, Brother James, Jennifer, and Jennifer's husband, Rob 
Without a plan, there is often minimal progress. But we found ourselves, like many military families, without a care plan that included goals for improving my brother’s quality of life. There are so many stages of recovery that it can be easy to focus on short-term physical recovery and forget to plan for the crucial question your veteran will face:

“What do I do with my life now?”

The thing about plans is that if you don’t make them for yourself, then what real incentive is there to achieve them? After your veteran returns home, you have to make critical decisions and set achievable plans to maximize improvement and quality of life. Without a consistent plan to implement strategies for improvement, how can a recovering military family expect results?

American author Henry David Thoreau wrote, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

James and Jennifer
Our family decided that the clear path to recovery must include goal setting, then the hard work. After nearly a decade of focusing on physical recovery, our family’s objectives had clearly changed. As my brother’s primary caregiver, I had become centered on his needs and support. Meanwhile, my husband and son excelled at self-sufficiency. For us, the first goal was clear. Each of us needed to set achievable individual goals, and our family needed a common goal of improved quality of life with a focus on family-centered activities.

To maximize the benefit of goal setting, our family got specific. We couldn’t just set a goal of improving our quality of life. We needed to be SMART. That’s a fancy mnemonic acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goal setting. Spending the best part of my career in marketing, I had heard about SMART from numerous bosses, leadership seminars, and motivational speakers. But it wasn’t until NOT having goals in my life that I truly learned the reason for purposeful goal setting.

Improvement will only come if your plan involves conviction. You have to be dedicated to spending time working toward the goal and tracking your progress in order to succeed.  Self-accountability provides motivation to continue the effort!

So how are we doing achieving our goals as a family? Well, my brother enrolled in an equine therapy program that challenges his communication, problem-solving, and relationship skills. He’s focused on building confidence and strength through the development of patience and faithfulness--the center of equine activities. My son enlisted in the Marine Corps, and is learning that personal goal setting is a lot like mission planning in the military. My husband has rekindled his interest in all things landscaping, and is spending a lot more time outdoors, where he’s learned is the best place to realize how small your problems are.

James (L) and Grant (R) on the day Grant graduated from Boot Camp
For me, setting personal goals is tough. I’ve spent a huge part of my life taking care of others. When I read that statement, it’s perfectly clear that the best goal for me to set is one that only I can reach, that only I can control. As one of my favorite writers Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry wrote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” My goals have to be attainable, and in the SMART way of doing things, they also have to be measurable, relevant and timely.

Therefore, I’ve decided to run the Marine Corps 10k in Washington D.C. on my birthday. In honor of all the service members and their families who’ve sacrificed so much for our dear country, and in salute to my own precious son who joined the Marine Corps, fully knowing the consequences. But I’m also running for me. Each one of the steps I take training for those 6.2 miles this October 25th reminds me that I can do anything. I achieve any goal that I set for myself as long as it’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

And I didn’t learn that from a former supervisor, or a motivational speaker, I learned that from my caregiving. Deep inside of me I have the strength that’s to be rivaled, and if I believe in my goals, I can accomplish anything.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Warrior's Wish Grants Retired Army Veteran a Bass Pro Fishing Boat


Written By: Chrystal Thompson Keilers

Staff Sgt. Floyd Peters, USA (Ret.), along with his wife and five children, applied to A Warrior’s Wish® for a bass boat to take his family and fellow veterans fishing in the lakes surrounding his home in Jasper, Texas. After a combined 23 years serving our country in the active duty Marine Corps, Army Reserves, and active duty Army, he is now medically retired from the military and has been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with comorbid depressive disorder. Hope For The Warriors® granted Floyd's Wish for a Bass Pro 160 Tracker fishing boat so he could share his recovery process with fellow veterans, friends, and family. 

Bass Pro Shops Managers, SSG Floyd Peters, USA (Ret.), and his family 
with Hope For The Warriors Staff member Chrystal

Chrystal and James, Hope For The Warriors® staff members, attended the a Memorial Day celebration in honor of the local Texas Army veteran and his family. Bass Pro Shops® hosted the celebration as a way to thank Hope For The Warriors® for working with them to purchase and grant this Wish. The local high school's JROTC and Honor Guard led the ceremony which was attended by community members, local American Legion and VFW members, and the store associates, who were dressed up in patriotic Bass Pro t-shirts!

Floyd shared that he is "truly honored for all of Hope For The Warriors® and what the organization has done for him and his family". They are heading out to Louisiana this weekend for an annual family camping trip with their boat in tow. The Bass Pro Shop® Managers sent Floyd and his family home with a gift card to purchase life jackets, poles, and other accessories!

This Wish was sponsored by our New York-based supporters, Michael Nehlsen and Jeff Molesko, and their Riding for Warriors fundraising campaign!

Thank you James, Jenn, Ashley & Anne for your support in making this Wish presentation possible!

A Warrior's Wish® honors the goals and desires of severely wounded service members, veterans, and their families. Wishes fulfill a desire for a better quality of life or support a quest for life-gratifying endeavors for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.

If you would like to be considered for a 2016 Wish, apply today by registering through our secure, private online registration system.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Team Hope For The Warriors: August


Team Hope For The Warriors® has bibs for the SOLD OUT Army Ten-Miler and Marine Corps Marathon 10K. Consider running with the team that seeks to restore Hope to military families or let your friends and family know about Team Hope For The Warriors® bibs!  

Below are the confirmed dates and races for 2015

October 11, 2015 – Army Ten Miler*

October 25, 2015 – Marine Corps Marathon 10K

October 25, 2015 – Marine Corps Marathon*

November 1, 2015 – TCS NYC Marathon

*Handcycle friendly race

Fundraising Tip:
Thank your supporters after they donate towards your fundraising efforts. Letting supporters know that you appreciate their support can go a long way in building a strong donor base. This will help when you want to contact the supporter again for next year’s race or for another race. Try to use a medium that you feel the donor would most appreciate. Some people like to receive a hand-written notes or letters, for others, an email thank you will suffice. Know your supporters and remember to show them you appreciate their efforts to support you!

Training Tip:

Check out this article in Runner’s World for some great tips on a successful Marathon.

Team Member Corner: Brad McNamara

Team Member Brad McNamara enlisted in the Army at the age of 29 and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division as an Infantry Paratrooper. His military career has been his proudest accomplishment in his life so far. ‪Brad has always been an athlete, so combining his athletic pursuits with support for service men and women made Team Hope For The Warriors a great fit for Brad.

In the mid-1990s, Brad competed in NCAA Division III Athletics playing both lacrosse and volleyball. He has also coached high school and college lacrosse. Currently, Brad continues to play lacrosse and was recently named the 2015 Long Island Shootout For Soldiers Man of the Game. Brad has been involved with the Long Island Run For The Warriors® and other Hope For The Warriors® programs since 2009. 

“Hope For The Warriors® Sports and Recreation platforms have opened up endless opportunities [for me] to meet and connect with various communities,” said Brad. “These encounters have allowed me to engage other service members and their families who may have needed to hear things from the soldier's perspective, from my perspective.”    

Program Information:

Educated Running Sessions:
Attention NYC Team Members, we will be holding FREE Educated Running sessions at JackRabbit Upper West Side, 140 W 72nd St New York, at 6:30 PM on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, August 25
  • Tuesday, September 1
  • Tuesday, September 8 

The sessions will cover warming-up and cooling down, speed work basics, and race day preparation. They are a great way to keep yourself inspired for your training.

Team Gear:
As a member of our Team, you can save 10% on all online store items. As you train, be sure to proudly wear the Hope For The Warriors® logo so that people know the reason for your hard work. Visit www.hopeforthewarriors.org/store and use the discount code TEAMH4W.

Charity Navigator:
For the fourth year in a row, Hope For The Warriors® has received a four-star rating on Charity Navigator. This exceptional rating, achieved by only 8% of the nonprofits they evaluate, highlights Hope For The Warriors® financial responsibility to the service members, military families, and families of the fallen we support. Team members can continue to ask people to donate towards fundraising goals with confidence! We invite you to view their latest evaluation of our efforts on the Charity Navigator website.

A Warrior’s Wish®:
This year, Hope For The Warriors® will grant 11 wishes to support service members, veterans, and military families. The nature of these Wishes will vary in scope from business, fitness, financial, and outdoor-related. The enrichment process will continue long after the Wish is granted to promote stability within the lives of these heroes and their families. As the Wishes are granted we will share the stories in the upcoming newsletters. Learn more about A Warriors Wish®

For more information please contact Steve Barto at sbarto@hopeforthewarriors.org.

Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Race Festival:
Hope For The Warriors® will have a team in the 2nd Annual Dragon Boat Race Festival at the harbor of Port Jefferson Village, NY on Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 9 A.M. Please visit http://portjeffdragonracefest.com for more information or contact Jennifer Friedel at jfriedel@hopeforthewarriors.org if you are interested in participating with Hope For The Warriors®. 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Series:
The Rock ‘n’ Roll race series has teamed up with everydayhero as their official fundraising platform. You can now run in any Rock ‘n’ Roll event and raise funds for Hope For The Warriors! Beginning March 1st, every race participant will be asked if they want to fundraise on behalf of their favorite cause during the race registration process. When you register and are asked to choose your charity, pick Hope For The Warriors® and you will automatically be given a Rock ‘n’ Roll everydayhero fundraising page!  

USA Track & Field (USATF):
Hope For The Warriors® is now a USATF Organization and if you are also a USATF member you can now run for Hope For The Warriors® as an organization! Furthermore, you can compete in the USATF championships. For more information please contact Steve Barto at sbarto@hopeforthewarriors.org.

Run For The Warriors®:


Registration is now open for the following Run For The Warriors® events:

  • 6th Annual Sunset Run For The Warriors® Register
  • 5th Annual Harmon Meadow Run For The Warriors® Register
  • 2nd Annual DMV Run For The Warriors® Register
  • ASA Sponsored Run For The Warriors® Register
  • 8th Annual Long Island Run For The Warriors® Register

For the complete list of races visit www.runforthewarriors.org.

Representing the Team:

Be sure to shoot us an email with your race schedule and where you will be wearing your Team jersey. Each time you wear your jersey, you help our mission to restore self, family, and hope. Feel free to share photos and special stories too!


Important Links For Social Media:

Twitter When you tweet be sure to use #TeamH4W

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Military Caregivers: Less Clutter Equals Less Stress


Amanda, from the Hope For The Warriors Caregiver Group and I had a canted conversation on Hope For The Warriors Talk Radio about how wonderful it feels when you spend a little time each day sprucing up your life and your home. It is important for military caregivers to be organized and clutter free. Many caregivers take care of military veterans who have been diagnosed with the signature wounds of war; Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Sometimes it's hard for those with TBI and PTSD to stay organized and even harder for them to find things after they put them down someplace. Caregivers play a crucial role when it comes to keeping the home organized, clean and safe. During the radio show, we talked about reasons caregivers fall behind on housework and how easy it can be to declutter and thrive in your home. 

Brittney Biddle, from the Hope For The Warriors Facebook Caregiver Group shared a tip that she uses a Thirty-One Hang Up home organizer in her office, her children's bedrooms and even has one hanging on her laundry room door. 

Kim is another caregiver in our group, she said she uses a dry erase board to post notes to her veteran every day before she leaves for work. Megan uses this neat chalk board calendar.


The most important tip I have for caregivers is to be well structured and organized. This will help you in every day life. I'd like to encourage everyone to listen to the Military Caregivers: Less Clutter Equals Less Stress episode on Hope For The Warriors Talk Radio. You'll hear great tips and receive encouragement on how to get rid of clutter and some of the stress that goes along with it.  


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Two Motorcyclists Ride Cross-Country Fulfilling A Warrior’s Wish®


On July 1, 2015, Air Force Veteran, Michael Nehlsen, and Jeff Molesko began a cross-country motorcycle trip, called Riding For Warriors, to raise funds and awareness for Hope For The Warriors®. Their journey started in Seattle, Washington, and ended on July 12, 2015, in Union, NJ. The duo logged over 4,344 miles and traveled through 14 states gaining support for military families. Michael, a New York native, and Jeff, a New Jersey native, made many stops along the way, including: the Jimi Hendrix Memorial, Mount Rushmore, several national parks, and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

“As a young man, I had the privilege to serve my country [...] During this time I saw and experienced intimately the sacrifices service members and their families were expected to make,” said Michael. “I continue to be deeply appreciative of the struggles faced by our service members, and am committed to helping them achieve their goals.”

Together, Michael and Jeff raised over $40,000 from Riding For Warriors which went to support A Warrior’s Wish®, a program within Hope For The Warriors®. A Warrior's Wish® honors the goals and desires of severely wounded service members, veterans, and their families. Wishes fulfill a desire for a better quality of life, or support a quest for life-gratifying endeavors for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty. 


Riding For Warriors successfully raised over $40,000 to support the following Wishes: two road bicycles for two Army veterans serving in their community as peer mentors to other veterans, a bass boat for an Army veteran actively engaged as the Veterans Minister in his East Texas community, and woodworking tools and equipment for two service members seeking a new means of supporting their family upon separating from the Marine Corps.

Riding For Warriors has given these incredible veterans and military families the opportunity to improve their lives and accomplish new goals. Hope For The Warriors® would like to thank Michael, Jeff, and all of their supporters for restoring Hope around the country. Find out more about A Warriors Wish® and learn how you can help support the Wishes of deserving service members!

Michael and Jeff are still fundraising for Riding For Warriors! They plan on meeting a $50,000 goal and they are currently at $45,000. Please consider supporting Riding For Warriors today! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Caregiver Restores Self and Hope at Workshop


Navy Spouse and Caregiver Linsie Ojad
In both March and June of 2015 Hope For The Warriors® hosted daylong Caregiver Workshops, which focused on self-care and mindfulness practices for military caregivers. Linsie Ojad, attendee of both workshops and caregiver to her husband, Lieutenant Aaron Ojad, United States Navy, shares her story on how the workshop activities gave her hope for a life of less stress and renewed her mind to care for her husband and herself.

"The workshop is really a gift for everyone that attends. I found each workshop session extremely beneficial - it was hard to choose between the eye-opening and honest discussion session, the relaxing yoga, the delicious lunch with the inspiring speaker, the art therapy session, and the applied theatrics session.

The one technique I have used most since these workshops are the art therapy tools.  The Zentangle set gifted to us has been so big for me; giving me a focus point and creative outlet as I take some much needed quiet time.  This has really had a lasting effect for me.  Each facet has had a lasting effect in its own way really, for example doing some simple yoga stretches in the morning to loosen tight muscles, or writing out my intents for the future like I learned in the theatrics session.  These have helped me be mindful of my own body and my needs. It has also helped me stay focused on making sure that I am getting my tanks filled so I can be stronger for others.  It's a common analogy heard today about "putting on your own oxygen mask first", yet we rarely hear actual life application examples, let alone have the ability to be nurtured and taught how to do them!

The Caregiver Workshops take place four times a year and are truly a special time for caregivers to bond, relax, and learn to find hope in new practices that are not only beneficial to their service member or veteran, but to themselves. Hope For The Warriors® staff member and caregiver Patti Katter says, “It’s a very powerful thing to watch military and veteran caregivers connect with one another. Many caregivers walk in the door of our workshop feeling lonely and overwhelmed, but by the time they leave – they are leaving with new friends, new resources, and new hope.”

To learn more about Hope For The Warriors caregiver and family programs, please click here. If you are interested in participating in the next workshop join the Facebook support network for military caregivers by clicking here.


Also, we invite you to learn more about Hope For The Warriors® annual Spouse/Caregiver Scholarships that provide aid in continued education at a reputable, accredited university, college, or trade school for spouses/caregivers as they assume critical roles in the financial well-being of their families. To learn more click here.