Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Team Hope For The Warriors Race Calendar

Have you made any New Year's resolutions?  If they are related to physical fitness, Hope For The Warriors® has you covered!  Below are just some of the races we have set for our Team this year.  There are probably races near you and there are definitely races on this schedule that would be great vacation destinations.  Care to visit Hawaii, San Francisco or New York City?

More information will be coming soon!  Also still coming, our race calendar for the Run For The Warriors®!  Most of our Run For The Warriors® events are 5K and 10K distances making them great training runs.

January 19      Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, Arizona
February 23    Gasparilla Distance Classic, Tampa
March 15         Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, Washington D.C.
March 16         NYC Half (Race is sold out but we have bibs!)
March 23         Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, Dallas

April 6             Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, San Francisco

April 12            Power of a Woman Tri (Event Power), East Meadow NY

April 13            The Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon

April 13            Mighty Man Pool Triathlon(Event Power), East Meadow NY

May 4              Pittsburgh Marathon

May 4              Ross Dock (Event Power), Fort Lee NJ
May 11            Carl Hart Mother’s Day Duathlon (Event Power), Islip NY

June 1             Smith Point Tri (Event Power), Shirley NY
June 7             Mighty Montauk (Event Power), Montauk NY
June 15           The Long Island Tri (Event Power), Nickerson Beach, NY

June 21           Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, Seattle
July 13             Mighty North Fork (Event Power), Southold NY

August 3          Apple Honda Riverhead Rocks Tri (Event Power), Riverhead, NY
August 31        Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, Virginia Beach

Sept 7              North Coast Subaru Mighty Hamptons Tri (Event Power), Sag Harbor NY

Sept 21            Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, Philadelphia

Sept 27/28       Mighty Man Montauk Tri (Event Power), Montauk NY
Oct 5               Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, San Jose

Oct 11             Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, Brooklyn 10K

Oct 19             Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series, Denver
Oct 19             Carl Hart Fall Duathlon (Event Power), Islip NY

Oct 26             Marine Corps Marathon, Washington D.C.
November 2    TCS New York City Marathon

Dates Still to be Determined:
Warrior Games
Great South Bay Triathlon (Event Power), East Islip Marina NY

TriSlip Triathlon (Event Power), Bayshore NY

Ready to sign up?  Contact Steve Barto, our race director to learn more and check back often!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Home for the Holidays

We all want to be home for the holidays but some of our veterans don't actually have a home.  Hope For The Warriors® was asked to help one veteran get into a home of their own in time for Christmas. 

One veteran in Arizona was living in a trailer with friends and with his three young children. He had set up his finances so that he could pay a monthly rent but could not get the extra funds together to cover first and last month's rent and all of the other deposits required when moving into a new home.

Hope For The Warriors® was proud to help this young, single father get reestablished and to give his children a place to call their own in time for Christmas.

We wish all of our military families a very Merry Christmas!

Donate Today

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Above & Beyond: One Combat Veteran Finds a New Focus

Today's blog is written by Austin, a member of the United States Navy and a participant of the Above & Beyond Program with Hope For The Warriors®.  Austin shares the purpose and success that he has found since attending the program, only four months ago. 

Just a few months ago, I was placed on a medical evaluation board that resulted in my being involuntarily separated from the United States Navy, due my extensive injuries sustained while serving.
At first I felt abandon by my unit; I wasn't receiving the guidance that I need to properly transition from military life into civilian life. I did however receive instructions to attend GPS, the mandatory transition assistance program provided by the Marine Corps, but the course was rushed and over loaded. I completed the course with increased anxiety, uncertainty, and an overwhelming feeling that I had an unrealistic amount of prep work to transition smoothly.
Shortly after this, I was transferred from the First Marine Division to the Wounded Warrior Battalion West to recover from surgery and focus on my mental and physical health, both of which were continuing to deteriorate rapidly. With depression taking hold, I began considering options for myself that were previously unthinkable. I had become exhausted, frustrated, and hopeless; all of these were compounded by losing my identity as a Navy Hospital Corpsman.  I had no idea what to do with myself. I just wanted it to end. Hinging on the idea of giving up the first time seemed like a feasible option.

In the following week, I came to hear of a program that was specifically structured around assisting military personnel with their transition out of the service. At first, I was skeptical of this program being any more effective than the course I had just attended through the military. The first day I attended the Above & Beyond Program through Hope For The Warriors®, I was greeted by a friendly professional staff. We immediately dove into the course starting with identifying our individual personality types followed by endless opportunities to network and obtain a variety of resources, to include actual job offers and take part in educational programs.

Through all of this, I found myself feeling much more in control of my future, but still unsure of what I might do after transitioning out of the military.  That is until the staff of Hope For The Warriors® introduced me to a representative of an educational program called the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program (VSAT), through Archi’s Acres, Inc., which was presented near the end of the course; that’s when the tumblers literally fell into place. I was enrolled into the program by the staff of Hope For The Warriors® right there on the spot. This led to an extremely challenging course that took me from suicidal ideas to developing an actual company that is estimated to generate 1.6 million dollars within the first five years. Hope For Warriors® reintroduced me to life and gave me something to strive for.  Thanks to this program, I am returning to society as a quality citizen, and in the very near future, as a job creator.

I couldn't image the path I may have taken without the influence of Hope For The Warriors®. They have made hope possible for me again. This is just an example of one area the organization provided assistance in for me and my family, and I couldn't be any more grateful nor could I think of a more capable group of professionals to assist military personnel and families with their transition.  I found this to be a true hope for our military personnel and their families, given programs like this one rather than with slow moving one size fits all government programs.

Learn more about the Above & Beyond Program

Donate Today


Monday, December 16, 2013

Coping with Grief during the Holidays

Photo by Sean
Holidays can be a difficult time for those who have lost a loved one, experienced a separation or divorce, or are dealing with a life altering injury or illness.  Rather than being a time of family togetherness, happiness, sharing, and excitement, holidays can bring feelings of sadness, loss, and emptiness.
Reminiscing about past holidays when your loved one was with you, your family was intact, and/or your body was whole and healthy may result in a renewed sense of personal grief—a feeling of loss unlike that experienced in the routine of daily living.  You may have friends and family members that continue to encourage you to join in the holiday spirit, but all around you the sounds, sights, and smells trigger memories of what was, what has changed, and what you have lost. 
There is no simple way take away the hurt you are feeling.  However, the following suggestions may help you better cope with your grief during this joyful, yet painful, time of the year.  It is important to remember to be patient with yourself-- remember that by being tolerant and compassionate with yourself, you will continue to heal.

Talk about your feelings; don’t try to hide your grief
During the holiday season, don’t be afraid to express your feelings of grief.  Ignoring your grief won’t make the pain go away and talking about it openly often makes you feel better.  Find caring friends and relatives who will listen—without judging you.  They will help make you feel understood.

Be aware and tolerant of your physical and psychological limitations
Feelings of loss will probably leave you fatigued.  Your low energy level may naturally slow you down.  Respect what your body and mind are telling you.  And lower your own expectations about being at your peak during the holiday season.

Eliminate unnecessary stress
You may already feel stressed, so don’t overextend yourself.  Avoid isolating yourself, but be sure to recognize the need to have special time for yourself.  Realize also that merely “keeping busy” won’t distract you from your grief, but may actually increase stress and postpone the need to talk out thoughts and feelings related to your grief.

Be with supportive, comforting people
Identify those friends and relatives who understand that the holiday season can increase your sense of loss and who will allow you to talk openly about your feelings.  Find those persons who encourage you to be yourself and accept your feelings—both happy and sad.

If you lost a loved one, allow yourself to talk about him/her
Include the person’s name in your holiday conversation.  If you are able to talk candidly, other people are more likely to recognize your need to remember that special person who was an important part of your life.

Do what is right for you personally
Well-meaning friends and family often try to prescribe what is good for you during the holidays.  Instead of going along with their plans, focus on what you want to do.  Discuss your wishes with a caring, trusted friend. Talking about these wishes will help you clarify what it is you want to do during the holidays.  As you become aware of your needs, share them with your friends and family.
Decide which family traditions you want to continue and which new ones you would like to begin. Structure your holiday time.  This will help you anticipate activities, rather than just reacting to whatever happens.  Getting caught off guard can create feelings of panic, fear and anxiety during the time of the year when your feelings of grief are already heightened.  As you make your plans, however, leave room to change them if you feel it is appropriate.

Photo by Lavsen

Embrace your memories
Holidays always make you think about times past; instead of ignoring these memories, share them with your family and friends.  Keep in mind that memories are tinged with both happiness and sadness.  If your memories bring happiness—laugh, smile.  If your memories bring sadness--it’s alright to cry.

Think about the positive things in your life now
Spend time thinking about the meaning and purpose of your life.  Whatever the reason for your grief, use it as an opportunity for taking inventory of your life— past, present and future.  The combination of a holiday and a loss naturally results in looking inward and assessing your individual situation.  Make the best use of this time to define the positive things in life that surround you.

As you approach the holidays, remember: grief is both a necessity and a privilege. It comes as a result of giving and receiving love.  Don’t let anyone take your grief away.  Love yourself.  Be patient with yourself.  And allow yourself to be surrounded by loving, caring people.

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans, Active duty service members, and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans, service members, and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available. 
This information is provided by Vicki Lane, Regional Clinical Social Worker and a member of the Clinical Health & Wellness staff for Hope For The Warriors®.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

Hope For The Warriors® has earned the best gift of all this holiday season.  Last week, we received a letter from the president of Charity Navigator, sharing that we have once again earned a Four-Star Rating from the national charity evaluator.  This highest possible rating was granted due to our sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. (See our page)
In fact, only 11% of the charities evaluated by Charity Navigator have ever earned a Four-Star Rating, three years in a row.  The letter states:  This “exceptional” designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Hope For The Warriors® from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust. (Read entire letter.)
Of course, we know that this rating is actually a gift from you, our supporters.  Without your endorsement, none of our work would be accomplished.  Thank you for your continued trust and dedication to Hope For The Warriors® and to our military families.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Caring for the Caregivers

Hope For The Warriors® staff in the Northern Virginia area had the great pleasure of delivering beautiful baskets of gifts to military caregivers in the area.  The baskets were donated by Boeing Employee Veterans Association (BEVA).  The group was excited to give some attention and care to those who care for our service members.  Thank you to Boeing employees for their efforts to recognize our wonderful caregivers.
The Rand Corporation estimates that between 250,000 and maybe as many as 1 million people have acted as caregivers to post 9/11 service members and veterans.  The Rand Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis.
The Potomac Region President of BEVA, Alex Cole, shared their experiences:
From first-hand experience to personal relationships with those who have served, the Boeing Employee Veterans Association (BEVA) members showcase Boeing's broad range of experience and diversity in its workforce.  Just in its inaugural year, BEVA has made great strides in developing relationships with other organizations supporting the military community. Hope for the Warriors® is one of those teammates and we are proud to partner with them in this endeavor.

One of BEVA's key pillars is giving back to the military and veteran community.  What better way to support this community than to say "thank you" to those who work behind the scenes supporting our nation’s heroes.  We canvassed the team and in just three short days were able to achieve over $1,300 in donations which we used to create these beautiful baskets of goodies for the caregivers.  It is just our way of saying thank you to those unsung heroes behind the scenes helping those who gave so much.

Thank you to all of the members of BEVA for their dedication to remembering not just the veteran but also the caregivers.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Warrior Ride Wrap Up

Today's blog is a contribution from Ride Across USA, a group that will be riding across the country next year.  Thank you to Tracy and to everyone on their Team for all of their hard work!  Learn more:  http://rideacrossusa.com

What better way to kick off Veteran's Day celebrations than with a cycling event in their honor? On Sunday, November 10, The Warrior Ride took place in Eustis, FL. 154 cyclists came from cities all over Florida to ride 40 and 100-mile routes through beautiful Lake County. Lou Ann, the charming SAG bus, sponsored the event with help from friends, Domino’s Pizza and the Ride Across USA team.  The cost of the ride? Just a $25 donation to Hope For The Warriors!  Local JRROTC units from Eustis and Umatilla high schools, Lake County Volunteer Fire Station 26 and Lou Ann's friends all came to SAG the event at their various appointed places along the route.  Many cyclists sported their red, white and blue or military kits mostly on road bikes; however, a tandem, cyclocross and recumbent bike even joined the mix. There was a little competition to see which cycling club would have the most participants in matching kits:  Winter Springs Cycling won!


Comments received during and after the ride include the following:
  • "This is one of the best centuries I have ever done!" - Lisa Portifelli, (who does many centuries annually)
  • "Note to whomever (or team of whoevers) that marked the course-REALLY GOOD JOB-every time I was in doubt along came another cute little orange circle to keep me rolling on."- Dave Viney, Canadian National Champion
  • "Thanks for a great time and a well-organized ride.  Love those students from Eustis HS."  - Ceme Curley, member of Florida Masters

A check for the amount of $3,353.45 was mailed to Hope For The Warriors just in time for Thanksgiving to help their staff provide for the needs of our wounded service members and their families.  Hope For The Warriors® is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families and we are honored to be associated with them.  Our overall goal of raising $35,000 is now almost 10% met!
Thank you to Tracy and all of the participants of the Ride Across USA team. 

Monday, November 25, 2013


Tuesday, December 3, Hope For The Warriors® will join thousands in recognizing #GivingTuesday, a national day for communities to come together and support nonprofit organizations.  #GivingTuesday is a movement to celebrate and provide incentives to give. This effort harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners – charities, families, businesses, and individuals – to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season.
Any donation to Hope For The Warriors® on #GivingTuesday will support programs within Clinical Support Services. Whether supporting a family in the early days post injury, or years later as they transition out of the military, we aid military families with both emergency assistance and long-term support and advocacy. 

“I was introduced to Hope For The Warriors® in their earliest days. I had noticed the above and beyond attention they gave my family and me then.  Now, years later, they still call and check on my family and they have never forgotten me.”  - Former Army Specialist
These programs are an essential cornerstone of Hope For The Warriors®, and provide a holistic, person-centered approach in addressing the physical, psychological, social, and environmental needs of the wounded warrior, their family and families of the fallen. 

Hope For The Warriors® goal is to restore self, family and hope to each service member and military family.   Donations on #GivingTuesday will help ensure that more families receive help. Hope For The Warriors® encourages you to share this with family and friends, so we can make this national day of giving a memorable one. 
We thank you for your kind donations, and your continued support.

Giving Thanks

Some of our favorite stories involve kids.  Today's blog was written by Stephen.  He shares how he showed his thanks and appreciation this Thanksgiving to the men and women in our military.

Hi my name is Stephen and I go to St Andrews Avellino's, a Catholic School in Flushing NY. I am in the process of going through my Confirmation and one of my requirements is to do 20 hours of community service. Well I asked my Mom if she thought I could do something for Hope For The Warriors as she has been involved in different events with them, and I know she enjoys giving back.  When she said yes I could do something, I asked my friends and family to create Thanksgiving cards for our military soldiers. I didn't ask anyone to write my words, but their words and thoughts they felt for our military folks who would not be home with their friends and family for the holiday.


I enjoyed making the cards and would like to make bracelets for Christmas as a small token of the sacrifices they and their family has made to protect our country, to protect us. I guess it comes naturally as my Mom, Dad and Brother were all in the New York City Police Department serving the City and putting their lives on the line to make sure people were safe.

Have a Healthy, Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving


Stephen's Mom helps

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Veterans Helping Veterans

Joe and Ryan, MSW interns at SIU

My name is Ryan McKennedy and I am currently a MSW (Masters in Social Work) student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  I am an Afghanistan Veteran, serving in the Illinois Army National Guard, and currently a Hope For The Warriors® intern during my foundation year of my program.  SIU is the first school to partner with Hope For The Warriors® so it has been an awesome experience to help expand this partnership.  I first found out about Hope For The Warriors® when they visited campus last year. A year later and here I am interning for them.  I think this is an important partnership because we have nearly 700 Veterans here on campus.  Some of the programs Hope For The Warriors® have to offer can help Student Veterans be more successful in school.  Veterans come in a variety of personalities and backgrounds and many of us need help transitioning back to civilian life or through school.  I decided to pursue my MSW because I wanted to help other Veterans.  I missed the brotherhood of being active duty.  We all have each other’s backs and I wanted to extend that into civilian life.  I wanted to help other Veterans and found my calling once I discovered military social work. 

Southern Illinois University just recently established a military social work certificate program and that sparked my interest.  Ever since my deployment, I missed the environment.  I knew I wanted to help other Veterans in my career and the MSW program here at SIU was my ticket in.  I think this certificate program is important because the needs and intricacies of the military can be very complicated and hard to understand.  We sometimes hear Veterans saying that people who did not serve cannot understand them or do not know where they are coming from.  I wanted to be that person who did understand and knew I had to go into the mental health field.  The certificate program allows both civilians and prior service personnel to take classes on military culture and learn about the specific programs our nation’s Veterans face.  It is definitely necessary because we hear about all the problems Veterans face and it is going to take people that really understand what they are going through to help them.

During my time as an intern I have been able to help Veterans in a different capacity than being in uniform.  It is beneficial to be multidimensional and allows me to help more people than I ever thought I would.  I take it personal when a Veteran approaches me asking for help.  I have the same mindset as I did in the military when working for Hope For The Warriors®.  My time at Hope For The Warriors® has been very beneficial and has allowed me to learn more about the issues Veterans face and how to better serve them.  I hope to see the partnership between Hope For The Warriors® and SIU expand over the years and spread to other schools.  I am here to help.       

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Message to all Veterans

Written by Rob Cork,Operations Director, Hope For The Warriors®
As we approach Veterans Day I thought of my favorite moment in uniform. It was the day that I arrived home after I completed my service in the United States Army and was greeted by my Dad at the airport.
It’s a different Army today than it was in 1988 when I finished my three years of peace-time duty, and I am proud to be a veteran working with the military families served by Hope For The Warriors® and our incredible staff and volunteers. And as my Dad’s memories fade, mine are sharp and my uniform is still hanging proudly in my closet.

Happy Veterans Day to all of my fellow veterans, including my Dad. Thank you for your service.
Hope For The Warriors® is proud to both serve and employ Veterans and military families.  More than 70% of our staff has served the military--as a veteran or as the child or spouse of a service member.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ruck March in Honor of Veterans Day

My name is Ryan McKennedy and I am currently a Hope For The Warriors® intern at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I am an Army Veteran and currently serving in the National Guard. I enlisted into the Army at 17 during high school and have been serving since. I was deployed to Afghanistan and spent 11 months in country. For me, it is really important to gain experience to support the veteran community through this internship because even though I served, there is much to learn. Every branch has their own culture, their own individual issues and concerns and there are so many sub-populations of people within the military. Helping people while wearing the uniform looks much different than when we are not wearing the uniform and that is what I am learning about now. 
There are many organizations out there that support the military community and I have had the pleasure to work and be a part of just a few. Here at SIU, we have a Student Veterans Organization which is a chapter of Student Veterans of America. Being a part of this student community was vital in my transition to college. On Veterans Day, I am embarking on a 24-mile ruck march from the Murphysboro Illinois VFW to the Marion Illinois VFW in attempt to raise money for the Student Veterans Organization. This money will be used for small emergency needs such as electric bills, social events, and assistance for students to attend the 2014 Student Veterans of America National Conference in Scottsdale Arizona. The Saluki Veterans Organization will be assisting me during this ruck march. Another organization called Team Red, White, & Blue will also be supporting this cause.

The cooperation between these different organizations has been absolutely amazing! They have all aided my transition in unique ways and fit different needs of different Veterans. These organizations can also be utilized at different stages of transition. A Veteran might need some help from Hope For The Warriors® in getting to college. SVA picks them up from there and then Team RWB helps them stay socially and physically active.
This ruck march, for me, is a way to remember all of those Veterans who have come before me and I will lead the way for Veterans after me. I keep close to my heart all of those brothers and sisters who lost their lives and who fought for their country. Organizations like Hope For The Warriors®, Team RWB, SVA, and many others allow Veterans just like me to find another mission after the military. Not sure where I would be without them.

More information about our office at SIU

Donate Today

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Marine Corps Marathon: Running in Brandon's Honor

Today's blog is written by Anne, a member of Team Hope For The Warriors® who just completed the Marine Corps Marathon.  She shares why she joined the Team and what the marathon meant to her.
When I started running, I never thought that I would be a marathon finisher less than two years later. Training for and running a marathon has been one of the greatest times of my life and Hope For The Warriors® played a huge part in the experience.
In June of 2010 my cousin, Marine Sgt. Brandon Bury, was killed in Afghanistan while on his third combat deployment. His death came as a shock to our family who was blessed to see him for the last time just weeks before.
I became aware of Hope For The Warriors® the at the 2012 Kingwood Fallen Heroes Golf Tournament held in Brandon’s hometown of Kingwood, TX. I had started running and was training for a half-marathon. I remember going out on a training run from the hotel in Kingwood and on the same streets where Brandon grew up. From then on I have always seen Brandon as an inspiration for my running.
By the spring of 2013, I had run five half-marathons and it was time to take the step up to a full marathon. Running has been such a blessing in my life and I wanted to use it as a way to give back. I wanted to run in honor of Brandon. It had to be the Marine Corps Marathon and I had to use it as a way to help wounded service members and families of the fallen. After the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15th I decided to face my fears and I emailed Hope For The Warriors® just a few days later to inquire about running as a part of Team Hope For The Warriors®.  
For 18 weeks I trained through the summer in preparation for the race, motivated by the chance to use it as a way to bring awareness to the Hope For The Warriors® mission of restoring self, family and hope. People responded with overwhelming support of my running and my choice to fundraise for such a great charity. As a part of Team Hope For The Warriors®, I had access to tools and information that helped me become the top fundraiser for the event and that kept me motivated during my training. I made it to the start line of the Marine Corps Marathon with the feeling that this whole experience was truly more than a race.
Whenever I ran across another Team Hope For The Warriors® runner along the course it was awesome to share words of encouragement and a high-five. I had a Team member come from behind me saying he saw my jersey and he pushed until he caught up with me. Even though we hadn’t all met each other, let alone trained together, it truly felt like we were part of a team.
On October 27, 2013 I crossed the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon at the Marine Corps War Memorial wearing a Team Hope For The Warriors® jersey and Brandon’s name pinned to my back.

During the race, a Marine also running stopped me and told me he knew Brandon and was there with him in Afghanistan the day he died. This was something so special and my family and I will cherish this connection forever. I was truly in the right place at the right time.
It was because of Team Hope For The Warriors® I had the opportunity to run the Marine Corps Marathon and experience all these great things. Long after crossing the finish line, I continue to be inspired by the events of that race day, my Hope For The Warriors® teammates, and the mission of restoring self, family, and hope to service members and their families.
Learn more about Hope For The Warriors® and our programs

Monday, November 4, 2013

An Opportunity to Give Back

Today's blog is from Vicki Lane, Regional Clinicial Social Worker.  Vicki shares with us today why she works for Hope For The Warriors®. 
I have been a military spouse for over 32 years and when I began my career as a clinical social worker I knew this was the population I wanted to serve.  The military community has given much to my family and me over the years—I wanted a way to give back.

Hope For The Warriors® has given me just such an opportunity.  Through my position as Regional Clinical Social Worker I feel I am able to meet the stated mission of Hope For The Warrior®:   to restore a sense of self, restore the family unit, and restore hope for our physically and psychologically wounded service men and women, veterans, and their families.  It is an honor and a privilege to help these men and women navigate their way through difficult financial and psychological issues, to help them learn new ways to solve and/or cope with these issues, to offer supportive counseling, and to lend an empathetic ear.  It never ceases to amaze me how much healing takes place by simply letting them know we care enough to listen—and truly hear what they have to share.

I also find it rewarding to work along-side and mentor our Master of Social Work (MSW) interns as they grow as social workers and learn about the very real and unique culture of the military.  Many of these MSW interns plan to continue working with the military after they graduate, and Hope offers them a rare and indispensable experience.

I feel blessed to be working for an organization with a staff that not only understands the importance of caring for our Nation’s wounded, ill, and injured—but makes that caring priority number one!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Above & Beyond, Women Veterans

Hope For The Warriors® will hold its first Above & Beyond Seminar specifically for Women Veterans in Washington D.C. in January 2014. This seminar will be conducted as part of both the Education & Employment program and Women Veterans Initiative.

The Above & Beyond Program provides the professional tools and one-on-one guidance for wounded service members to transfer their military skills into the civilian workplace. Participants will develop a personal and professional plan customized to individual needs and interests. These plans may encompass both life and career goals and may include continuing education, employment opportunities and business development.

For the upcoming seminar, Hope For The Warriors® is seeking the following:

·         Women veteran participants

·         Human Resource Experts to present on job-related topics, critique resumes and more

·         Volunteer support for assistance with set up and more

·         Donated space to hold seminar; Georgetown area and surrounding locations preferred

·         General donations and sponsorship to fund meals, lodging, travel, etc.

If you are a woman veteran interested in participating in the Above & Beyond Seminar, please contact Connie Morinello, cmorinello@hopeforthewarriors.org

Sponsors, donors and volunteers interested in contributing to this event, please contact Lorie Coker, lcoker@hopeforthewarriors.org.

Why Military Social Work?

Today's blog was written by Brianne, one of our wonderful social work interns.  We would not be able to help nearly as many families each month without the dedication of our interns.

I could bore you with my backstory and the long journey that brought me to Social Work, but I will keep it simple. Social work has always been an interest of mine and as I grew older I felt more passionate about pursuing my interest. The choice for me to pursue social work became easier for many personal reasons. My first career as a Marine wife and mother was what pushed me more specifically to military social work.
As a young wife and young mother I faced adversity and challenges that many of my peers could not understand or imagine. A lot of these challenges came from the differences I saw in my husband as he returned from his second deployment to Iraq and we were finally able to be a family. My husband and I grew up together and therefore know each other very well, so seeing the changes that occurred when he came home confused me. The main reason for this was because in his earlier career Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was not talked about often and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) was not a term I had even heard. But yet there was something different and I could not quite put my finger on it. I sat by and watched as he struggled with simple tasks, grew frustrated over insignificant events, and did not laugh nearly as much as he had in the past. It was these invisible wounds that broke my heart and reinforced my passion that I needed to be in a career that I could help people.
The people I wanted to help were the ones that have sacrificed so much for this country. Patriotism has an entirely new definition to me now because I did not grow up with a military background neither did my husband. Yet these brave men and women put so much on the line to do the jobs they signed up for and they should never have to suffer in silence. Working with the military feels like a true calling and I could not be prouder to have the opportunity to serve the men and women who have endured so much.

Inducted into Chi Zeta, honor society for social workers
Why Hope For The Warriors®?
Hope For The Warriors® was an easy choice for me. The program I attend at East Carolina University coordinates all of the internships for the social work program. I did not have much say in my first placement and knew that my passion was working with military. I used all of my research and presentation opportunities to educate my peers and professors about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the needs of the military. While I was thinking about my second (and final) placement before I graduated I knew I had to advocate for myself to get the placement I truly wanted. Researching different organizations and opportunities led me to a newspaper article announcing the hiring of a Regional Social Worker for Hope For The Warriors®. This sparked my interest in the organization. As a social worker we are trained and taught to focus on a Biopsychosocial approach to all issues. To me this is evident in military work. Not only do you have to consider biological factors (body chemistry, ailments, and disabilities), but you also have to consider the psychological factors (mental illness, traumatic experiences, perceptions, and attitudes) and the social factors (community, support systems, family, and friends) to address a problem effectively. Military having its own culture really puts into action the importance of the roles all three factors play. Hope For The Warriors® was the only organization I came across that proudly announced the employment of a Regional Social Worker! After my orientation and my first few weeks within the organization I was able to see an even clearer picture of the ideas and objectives behind the organization. I knew that I made the right choice advocating to work with Hope For The Warriors®.

Read about our program with MSW@USC

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Monday, October 28, 2013

A Letter from Pine Knoll Shores, Town Manager

Recently we shared with our supporters that we had once again earned a Top Rating from Greatnonprofits.  (Read here.)  Not long after, we received a wonderful email from Brian Kramer, supporter and the town manager of Pine Knoll Shores, NC.  Pine Knoll Shores has supported Hope For The Warriors® with several annual events and the people of the community continue to embrace our service members, families and our organization.  If you live in that area, we highly recommend that you join us for one of their events.

Below is Brian's wonderful letter.  Thank you to Brian and to all of Pine Knoll Shores for their support.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Pine Knoll Shores and friends of people connected to Pine Knoll Shores have been supporting Hope For The Warriors® (H4W) now since 2008.  It is a great organization, and I witnessed it grow from its infancy. 
It had its roots right down the road at Camp Lejeune.  Wounded men and women were coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and staying in their empty barracks----their buddies and their leaders were still deployed.  The Commanding General (CG) recognized this as a problem.  How to get them to medical appointments, how to manage meds, how to ensure the rehab is accomplished properly, and perhaps most importantly, how to make them still fell like Marines and part of a cohesive unit-----all of this was a major problem starting in about 2003.
Another catalyst was a visit from one Marine to the same CG.  He was a LtCol who was severely injured in Afghanistan.  He returned to the US, and he and his spouse started to negotiate the medical and support system to address his needs.  They found this task so daunting that this officer approached the CG and said, in so many words, “I’m a LtCol and I can’t figure this stuff out…….how is a Lance Corporal supposed to do it?”  I personally know him.  He is a great man.
From this grew the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune, where the injured men and women were together, supervised, and rehabbed.  The Marines now had a means to get to medical appointments, had Docs supervising their rehab, and a Gunny to make them shave and occasionally kick them in their rear end.  The Secretary of Defense was impressed enough that he visited Lejeune and said that everyone else needs to do this.  Today, the Marine Corps and the Army now have actual flagged units for wounded servicemen/women. 

Also from this grew H4W, which started out as a group of Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard spouses, all volunteers and almost all of whom did not have a wounded spouse but had husbands on active duty.  One of the first things they did was organize a simple foot race on board Lejeune.  I attended this very first event……it was smaller in scope and scale than our present Kayak Race here in Pine Knoll Shores.  They starting doing more and more, and today the H4W is a national organization that does simply incredible things for the wounded.  And they don’t forget these guys/gals when they leave active duty.  Last year I attended a H4W dinner.  Many wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan were there.  I noticed that many were not youngsters anymore.  Some had beards, some had lost their 30-inch waist, and others had other signs of approaching middle age.  But they were still in wheel chairs, still using canes, and still wearing their prosthetics.
I think PKS will continue to support H4W so we can say that we are the generation that took care of these guys/gals for the long haul.  We want these people to go home back to their home states, go to school, get married, have kids, and be a productive part of society.  In my mind, H4W is a natural extension of what I saw started ten years ago with a handful of wounded kids who we moved into a barracks so they could still feel like Marines.  Today H4W wants these vets and their families to still feel like they are part of everyday America.

When any of us donate to charity we always want to know if the funds are being used for what we think they are.  One of the ways we can do this is by analyzing our charities through a well-established charity  evaluation group.  See below to see how H4W fared with one of the main evaluation organizations, GreatNonprofits.  H4W is an absolutely first-class organization. 


Brian Kramer
Town Manager, Pine Knoll Shores