Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's Time to Fight for Them--What Do You See?

I love this new flyer.  I love the photo and the powerful headline.  I love the red strip that immediately captures the eye.  I LOVE the little girl, clinging to this man.

Yesterday, we posted this flyer on our Facebook page and asked that people repost.  It was amazing to track. 

From the moment I gazed at this photo, a story immediately unfolded in my mind, evoking an emotional response.  However, it occurred to me that each of our stories are unique.  We each make assumptions of who the man and little girl are, their relationship, where they are, where they've been and why this little girl is hugging him so tightly. 

The first story that came to my mind is that this father has returned from a combat deployment and his little girl is hugging him so tightly--making up for the year he was not home. 

But really, this could be the moment the two are saying good bye, before the deployment.  Or it could be Memorial Day or Veterans Day or some other occassion that this little girl is holding a flag, honoring our military.

I made the assumption that this man is her Father, but he could easily be her Uncle or an older brother.  The hardest story for me to grasp--he could also be the best friend of her Father--a man who did not return home. 

Regardless of who they are, the headline fits.  It is time to fight for our military families, to support their needs and to restore their lives.  Restore the family unit, their goals, their dreams and their hopes.

I invite each of you to share this flyer.  You may share it electronically or print it off and post where you work, go to school, church or other places.  Invite people to support our military families and Hope For The Warriors®.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bicycles Built For Two

This weekend, I made the short drive to beautiful Tyler, TX and attended the Beauty & The Beast Bike Tour.  The tour is organized by the Tyler Bicycle Club and included distances ranging from 13 to 67 miles.  The tour began at the KE Bushman's Winery & Celebration Center and took cyclists along miles of Tyler countryside (Beauty) and one, really challenging hill (The Beast).

This year, proceeds from the event went to a local nonprofit, Texas Wounded Warrior Foundation.  They are a great organization, lead by Dick Goetz--a man with a talent in golf and a heart of gold.  The group holds a golf event each fall for wounded service members and the entire city of Tyler has done a great job honoring the warriors who attend.

For the bike tour, Texas Wounded Warrior invited Team Hope For The Warriors® to attend.  One warrior who attended was a Marine currently in rehabilitation at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.  He is a single arm amputee and an avid athlete who likes to run and now cycle.

To support this warrior's recovery, Texas Wounded Warrior donated a recumbent bike to the Marine.  However, the group took a step further too.  It is their belief, and our belief too, that a key component of supporting the service member means that we also support his family.  And with that in mind, the group also generously donated a bike to the Marine's wife.  Now this Marine can train and compete in races, or just enjoy a leisurely ride, with his wife by his side.

Hope For The Warriors thanks Texas Wounded Warrior Foundation for their generous donation and ongoing support.  We also thank the Tyler Bicycle Club for their commitment to our military families.  They put on a great event that gathered hundreds of cyclists from near and far.

Our warrior and his wife loved the bike tour, the Tyler countryside and the bikes.  Cycling will definitely become a new part of the warrior's recovery and the couple's life.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Suicide Prevention Follow Up

Yesterday, I posted about the outstanding Suicide Prevention Training class that our staff attended.  As a follow up to this posting, I would like to share our trainer's information:

Yvette Branson, PhD
Suicide Prevention Coordinator
VA Medical Centers
New York Harbor Healthcare System
718.836.6600 x6807
212.686.7500 x7456

If you are located in the New York City area and interested in local traning, please contact Yvette.  In her training, she stressed that everyone that comes in contact with veterans can benefit.

If you are not in the NYC area, every VA Medical Center has a Suicide Prevention Coordinator on staff.  Please call your local center for more information.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Match....

Walter G. O'Connell Copiague High School on Long Island recently lost one of their own.  Sean Lapersonerie, a 2005 graduate, died when he was hit by a vehicle on New Year's Eve.  Sean had enlisted in the Army in 2006 and was a combat veteran.  He served honorably and earned four meritorious service awards.  Most importantly, he was loved by his fellow soldiers, family and friends.

The Key Club, which focuses on community service, held a fundraiser to honor Sean's memory and to raise funds for other military families.  And although they are serious about their service, the fundraiser was a lot of fun.

The students raised $500 through a Matchmaking Survey.  Students took the survey and then paid for the results and to find their "perfect match."

Two representatives from Hope For The Warriors® came to the high school to accept the donation.  One is Nicole, our program coordinator and the other is Sean DeBevoise, a wounded Marine and veteran who has worked with Hope For The Warriors®.  Sean and Nicole spoke with the students about the challenges faced by wounded service members and their families, the recovery process and the transition into a new life.

I am always impressed with the creativity and generosity of high school students.  I love this fundraiser and I have a special invitation to those who took the survey and paid for their match.

Prom season will soon be here.  If you attend the prom with your "match," send me a photo.  Include your first names and share with us why you participated in the fundraiser and why it was important to support our military families.  I will create a photo gallery on this blog with any of the photos that people send to me.  (

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Suicide Prevention

This morning, several members of our staff attended Suicide Prevention Training with Yvette Branson, a Suicide Prevention Coordinator with the Department of Veterans Affairs, New York Harbor Healthcare System.  The training was both helpful and eye opening.  Some of the statistics that she shared:
  • 91 suicides occur each day; 18 are veterans
  • Suicide is the second leading cause among 25-34 year olds
  • Suicide is the third leading cause among 15-24 year olds
What is more disturbing are some of the statistics connected with Vietnam veterans. Although reports vary, all agree that the numbers are high. According to Win Over PTSD, since 1975, three times as many Vietnam veterans have committed suicide than were killed in the war.  This tells us that long after this war is over, we will need programs and services in place to support our veterans.

Men and women approach suicide differently and although men are more likely to commit suicide, more women attempt suicide.  However, among veterans, the numbers change a bit.
  • Female veterans are 3x more likely than civilians to complete their suicide attempts.
  • Male veterans are 2x more likely than civilians to complete their suicide attempts.
One number that everyone should keep is the Veterans Crisis Line number (800.273.8255, press 1).  The crisis line can be used by the veteran, even if the veteran is unsure of what they are experiencing.  It can also be used by their family members who need help--either for the veteran or for themselves.
The Veteran Crisis Website offers a number of important services including online confidential chat line, self-check quiz and other resources.  There is also an important list of warning signs. If you are part of an organization that works with veterans, materials can be downloaded from the site with the logo above.
The VA is working very hard to help our veterans.  My final statistic:  although 18 veterans commit suicide each day, among veterans affiliated with a VA, the number drops to 5 suicides/day.  We would all like to see those numbers lower, but the VA is moving in the right direction.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Honor and Fun, All in One Night

On Tuesday, March 6, the American Legion Post 754 held a benefit at the New York Athletic Club to raise funds and awareness for Hope For The Warriors®.  The event included games, a silent auction, food and more.

It was an amazing event and we thank the American Legion and the members of the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) for their generosity.  All attendees had a great time and so did we!  We also thank our volunteers who helped our staff throughout the night.

The club also generously invited some of our local wounded service members and military families to attend this event, making this not just a benefit but also a Hope & Morale event.  A night out with this group was a definite boost for our families.  The members of the American Legion and the NYAC definitely understand how to treat our veterans!

Along with the fun, Hope For The Warriors® was also able to honor Sean, one of our wounded who has worked with the organization.  In May 2006, Sean was hit with shrapnel and four bullets, one penetrating his head.  Throughout the past six years, Sean has made huge strides in his recovery.  He is a member of Team Hope For The Warriors®, completing marathons and more on his handcycle.  Sean also attended one of our Above & Beyond Professional Development Seminars.  All of his hard work has paid off and this fall, Sean will start a Bachelors program in engineering.

Each of us at Hope For The Warriors® are honored to know Sean.  The benefit at the NYAC was the perfect event to highlight Sean's accomplishments to a group of veterans and supporters--each who care about our veterans and military families.

We can't wait until next year!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Giving the Gift of Camaraderie


Goodwill and lighthearted rapport between or among friends; comradeship.

The strength of our military depends on many factors--training, physical strength, discipline and camaraderie.  And each of these factors also help the individual service member.

It is not surprising that when a service member is physically wounded, it also impacts them emotionally.  They are medically retired from the military and have lost not only the career they loved but also miss the discipline, routine and close friendships that they have built and thrive on.

Many of the programs supported by Hope For The Warriors® focus on building camaraderie within the wounded community for these service members.  Our Outdoor Adventures Program and the hunting trips that we help to facilitate are a perfect example. Not only are service members invited to return to the outdoor sport they love, they have the opportunity to reconnect with veterans and service members.

As one participant shared:

"We got to hunt a lot and we had a lot of fun doing it...thanks for helping me meet more wounded veterans."

A thank you goes to the hosts of our hunting trips--landowners throughout the country who invite and host our wounded for these weekend trips.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact

Monday, March 5, 2012

March is Social Work Month!

March is National Social Work month, and for us at Hope For The Warriors® it’s a month worth celebrating! We work day in and day out to assist the lives of our brave men and women and their families, and most importantly to reignite and restore hope in their time of recovery.

Not only is social work an integral part of assisting our service members and their families, but we also have the distinct privilege of supporting many on their path to becoming professional social workers.  As part of our full cycle of care for wounded service members, the organization manages a Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship program.  Among scholarship applicants, more have enrolled in social work programs than any other field of study. These resilient spouses want to take the support they received and use it to help families in the similar situations; a theme echoed in almost every essay written.

A two-time scholarship recipient shared:
“Over the past twenty months, the amount of support that we have received from various agencies has been abundant.  I can’t think of anything else I would rather dedicate my professional life to than to emulate their support for other wounded service members.  Completing a social work program will give me the skills and resources to help our veterans and their families.”
This year, the National Association of Social Workers 2012, National Hope conference echoes our own mission: restoring hope and the power of social work. As future social work professionals, they will have opportunities to attend such conferences, network with future professionals and receive more in depth guidance on how to work with military and veteran populations.  In particular, Hope For The Warriors® has partnered and will continue to partner with organizations such as the Woodruff Foundation and programs such as the Family Reintegration Program at Holliswood Hospital in New York, who also have a common focus and dedication to our service members.

Tina Atherall, Hope For The Warriors® Executive Vice President and licensed Social Worker:
“Social Workers are critical professionals in the growing need for services of those that serve. In line with the NASW 2012 National Conference theme, ‘Restoring Hope’, Social Workers embrace a variety of skills to approach the entire system and complexity of supporting the military service member, their family and integrating the community in their care.”

As Hope For The Warriors® grows, opportunities for interns to develop social work skills allow for a glimpse into what it is like to work in an up-and-coming area of care.
I am lucky enough to have been the recipient of an internship position at the Hope For The Warriors® office in Jacksonville, NC during the summer of 2011. The experience seasoned me professionally and broadened my understanding of service members, their trials and above all has bolstered my desire to pursue a Masters in Social Work. The ideals of social work are mirrored in the mission of this organization, and I look forward to continue working with and learning from them.

Additionally, new internship opportunities are being added to our organization and include the opportunity to have direct clinical practice as well as practice with administrative tasks that are common in the profession. 

If you’re interested in the field of social work, please visit the sources listed below:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Website Maintenance

Website Update:  Our site is still down and we are working to resolve quickly.  Thank you for your patience.

Friday's Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Finish line of the ASA Run For The Warriors® 5K
Photo provided courtesy of Paul Oberle

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Got Bibs?

Photo provided courtesy of Paul Oberle

Team Hope For The Warriors® is comprised of two groups of people.  First, the Team is a program that supports our wounded service members and helps them get back into competitive athletic pursuits.  Often, this requires special adaptive equipment, such as a handcycle.  Once they have their adaptive equipment, we continue our support by providing race bibs, travel and lodging so that our wounded Team members can compete with their fellow military brother and sisters.

Robin, our president, on the scenic route of the
American Odyssey Relay.  Photo by Paul Oberle.

This program is supported by community Team members, many who obtain bibs from Hope For The Warriors® for key, sold out races.  Didn't sign up in time for the Marine Corps Marathon?  No problem, we have bibs.  NYC Marathon lottery didn't go your way?  We got it!

Links to register to any of our Team races can be found on our Team Web Page.

We have bibs for the following races:

American Odyssey Relay--April 27-28
Hope For The Warriors® is forming two teams for this amazing relay race.  Each team will combine our wounded heroes with community athletes.

TD Five Boro Bike Tour--May 6
Registration is closed for this event but we still have a few race bibs left.

Marine Corps Historic Half--May 20
Run the streets of historic Fredericksburg, VA.

Rock 'n' Roll, Virginia Beach Half--September 2
First time Team Hope For The Warriors will be in this sold out race!

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half--September 16
Another new race this year for our Team.

Army Ten-Miler--October 21
Hooah!  We are excited to add this race to our Team schedule.

Marine Corps Marathon--October 28
Last year's marathon sold out in 28 hours.  We are already selling our bibs now.  Sign up today!

The ING New York City Marathon--November 6
We have already sold half of our bibs for this race.  We are not sure if we will have any left when the lottery is announced.  Why wait?!

To keep up with all of this information, I encourage you to "Like" the Team Facebook page and read the Team Blog.
Michael Cuomo, actor, "Happy New Year" and ROTC student
Jack Rosenhammer complete the NYC Marathon together in
perfect "No man left behind" style!