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,

Sponsors, donors and volunteers interested in contributing to this event, please contact Lorie Coker,

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

Donate Today


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


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Above & Beyond, San Diego

A few weeks ago, Hope For The Warriors® held another successful Above & Beyond Conference in San Diego, California. The Above & Beyond Program provides guidance to wounded service members pursuing reintegration into the civilian sector. This Program is also extended to family members of wounded service members. The objective is to explore "next step" options for those interested in a civilian or military career, higher education/advanced training, or a small business startup.
Hope For The Warriors® extends a special thanks to CACI for donating the venue, offering incredible administrative support, and volunteers to assist our service members with resume writing and interviewing skills.  We are very grateful for all of their support and could not have had a successful week without them!
We would also like to say thank you to Studio Diner who supplied lunch for entire group on Friday!

One staff member, Sarah Duerr shared, “I recently left teaching after ten amazing years, and many people said that I would never find a more rewarding career.  I say step into an Above & Beyond Conference and meet some of our service members and you’d see why I couldn’t disagree more!  Thank you for such an amazing experience. We know all of you have such bright futures and we’re excited to help you continue that journey.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hope Cares About NY

Today's blog was written by Katie Levy, Social Work Intern with Hope For The Warriors®.  She is attending Touro College Graduate School of Social Work and his a fellow in the school's military social work program.  Through her internship, she has supported our mission by working with service members and veterans in the New York City area.

This past Saturday, October 19, Hope For The Warriors® hosted our first event for the Women Veterans Initiative as part of New York Cares Day.  The Women Veterans Initiative was created to develop programs specifically for servicewomen that honor their unique experiences, strengths, challenges, and camaraderie.  Our goal is to enhance Women Veterans’ professional development, provide specialized critical care, team build in local communities, promote health and wellness and provide communities with education and resources concerning relevant issues facing Women Veterans.

Female Service Members, Veterans, and Hope staff joined together to participate in New York City’s largest hands-on volunteer day.  Each fall, thousands of volunteers work with New York Cares to ensure that our city’s public schools are a clean, safe, and nurturing environments for our children.   

We spent the day brightening Bronx public school PS 50X Clara Barton.  Early this year, the school was notified it was one of the 22 schools voted by the Department of Education to “phase out.”  No new students were admitted in September, and the doors will close for good in June 2016.  Phase out schools aren’t a priority for public funds, but Clara Barton was in need of a little brightening.  We spent the day getting to know the school’s staff while painting murals and getting our hands dirty in the community garden. 

Active Duty, Reserve, and retired Service Members came together from different military branches to engage in community work.  They all had different experiences but shared commonalities: a commitment to service, a desire for community and connection with others who already “understand the acronyms” civilians may not.  After only a few short hours in each other’s company, team members were discussing unique experiences of women in the military, pearls of wisdom, and words of comfort.  I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know these amazing women who generously accepted me into their sisterhood for the day.  I’ve never seen an immediate level of intimacy achieved in such a short amount of time, and it was really moving to experience.   
Thanks for making our first event of the Women Veterans Initiative a great one.  We look forward to many more in the future!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Marine Corps Marathon 2013

Team Hope For The Warriors® is excited to once again hit the streets of Washington D.C. this Sunday for the 38th Annual Marine Corps Marathon.  As in past years, we will have both wounded service members cycling and running as well as community Team members participating in this inspiring marathon.

This year is even more special because it almost didn't happen for one of our participants. Due to his injuries, Jonathan Rose uses a recumbent bike, not a handcycle.  (In the above photo, you can see Jonathan on his recumbent bike, followed by Keith who is using a handcycle.)  Because of a change in insurance policy, Jonathan and other warriors who utilize recumbent bikes were told that they could not participate this year.  Fortunately, marathon organizers realized that as a race that honors the service and sacrifice of our military, they needed to make whatever changes were necessary to allow our wounded service members to be a part of this event.  Jonathan, a Marine who is already a two-time Marine Corps Marathon finisher, did not want to miss this event.

Of course, for a few days, everyone was worried that the entire marathon would be canceled due to the government shutdown.  Fortunately, that did not happen and on October 17, the Facebook page posted this photo:


If you are in the area, please be sure to cheer our Team members on.  Semper Fi!

Learn more about Team Hope For The Warriors®

Donate Today

Monday, October 21, 2013

What Makes me Love my Work

Today's blog is written by Donna Reese, one of our amazing Critical Care Coordinators.  She answers the question, why do you work for Hope For The Warriors®?

On my Desk Sits:
Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be encouragement to those who hear them.    Ephesians 4:29

I was always told, “if you’re going to work make sure it is something you are passionate about. “ I have always tried to not look at what I am doing as “work” or as a “job” but that I am following my love for helping others.  I started my career in the medical billing field and that led me to become a Medicare/Medicaid liaison for many people.  I have worked in the past for a nonprofit that assisted in life threatening, debilitating chronic illnesses, where I expanded my knowledge of Social Services available to the public, resources and mandates.
I joined the Hope For The Warriors® team in 2010 as a Caseworker and since then my journey with helping those in need has exploded. I have assisted thousands of service members and their families with varies issues from financial assistance, local resources, social service connections, maneuvering the VA system, connecting the service member with a OIF/OEF caseworker, financial counseling, and most importantly an ear.  As the trainer also for all our new employees and interns my first training advice is “if I don’t know the answer, it is my job to find it.”  With this philosophy I know we are doing everything and anything for our warriors and their families.
My personal journey with the military started as a child as my father was in the Army Reserves for much of my childhood, my Uncle retired from the Army after 23 years, and my oldest son joined the Army two days after 9/11 telling me “he had to do something.”  As proud as I was as a mom, I was scared. My son did two tours in Afghanistan and with God’s grace and protection he returned home safe and sound, but not the same. I knew so many were not returning home and those that did come home, life would never be the same.  Every call I take I am reminded how blessed I am and that I can make a difference in someone’s life and there is nothing more rewarding.
Help Hope For The Warriors® restore self, family and hope.  Donate today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oorah v. Hooah!

Oorah is a battle cry common in the United States Marine Corps since the mid-20th century. It is comparable to hooah in the US Army and hooyah in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. It is most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm. (Source: Wikipedia.)

Hope For The Warriors® was founded in eastern North Carolina aboard Camp Lejeune, close to Fort Bragg, and close to Wrightsville Beach.  The Marine Corps and the Army have always had a friendly competition and so what better way to bring the two groups together than in a fishing battle.

7th Annual Oorah v. Hooah Fishing Battle

Once again, Hope For The Warriors® has invited Marines from the Wounded Warrior Battalion aboard Camp Lejeune and Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Unit on Fort Bragg for a battle that is fun and fierce!

The group will spend all day Friday out on the water, enjoying the fresh air and catching fish.  The fun will be in both the sport and in the time with their fellow service members.

At the end of the battle, one group will win bragging rights for the year.  In addition, awards will go to the person who caught the most fish as well as the largest single fish caught.

The Marine Corps and Army has batted the winning title back and forth each year. But whether they win or lose, everyone has a great time.  The Oorah v. Hooah Fishing Battle is part of our Outdoor Adventures Program. 

Hope For The Warriors® Outdoor Adventures Program provides adaptive opportunities for wounded heroes to participate in sporting activities in the great outdoors. Service members, who previously embraced an outdoorsman lifestyle, as well as those new to wilderness sports, are introduced to recreational opportunities on the road to recovery.

Local Support

This Fishing Battle could not take place without the support of many in the local community. Once again, thank you to PPD, presenting sponsor.  In addition, thank you to:  NDTA Cape Fear Chapter 175, North State Bank, Carol Thomas, Wet Dog, Jungle Rapids, Party Time, Doc Side Restaurant, Bridge Tender Marina, and Costco.

If you are interested in supporting the fishing battle and other program work within Outdoor Adventures, donate today and ask that your donation is directed to this program.

Donate Here

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Social Work Interns: Supporting Military Families

In 2012, Hope For The Warriors® welcomed Master of Social Work interns from Fordham University, Columbia University, and the University of Southern California. Currently, Hope For The Warriors® also has students from the Touro University, Eastern Carolina University, and Southern Illinois State University. 

By working with Master of Social Work interns, Hope For The Warriors® has been able to expand its services in case and crisis management, clinical intervention and support, organization development, and grant research and writing.  Through this expansion, we are able to positively impact military service members, veterans and their families.  The organization continues to develop and expand upon an environment that promotes educational development for the MSW interns. The ultimate goal of our work with each intern is to ensure that they graduate and enter the field of social work with thorough understanding of the needs and challenges of today’s military family and a respect for their service and sacrifice.

Today’s blog is written by Chrystal, one of our incredible social work interns.

Social work intern prepares to meet service members

As an MSW intern enrolled with the University of Southern California (USC), I can personally speak about my experience as an intern, gaining experience and insight with Hope For The Warriors®.  I enrolled into the full-time graduate program offered by the university’s Virtual Academic Center (MSW@USC). The program includes a foundation year and a concentration year, both with nine month field placements along with a full-time course schedule.  My concentration is Community Organization and Public Administration (COPA) with a sub-concentration in Military Social Work.  Both my foundation year placement and my current concentration year placement have included projects in which I work with both the specific population of interest and the community as a whole.  Through these projects, I have learned to observe the social problem and its direct and indirect effects economically, socially, and culturally through research methods and processes of evaluation.

At USC, MSW students have the opportunity to further their education through additional training and coursework that can be directly applied to the student’s field placement.  Students receive certification in both Motivational Interviewing and Problem Solving Therapy after completing the required training hours.  Along with these certifications, the Code of Ethics published by The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is incorporated into the foundation year coursework in preparation for students entering the field and remains constant throughout the concentration year.  The Code of Ethics is a set of values and standards to guide decision making and ethical dilemmas (NASW, 2013).  These principles include cultural competence, commitment to clients and interdisciplinary collaboration (NASW, 2013).

The MSW program offers a wide range of core programs of the MSW profession, which is an asset to the field placement agency or organization.  Such classes include: social work practice with families, groups, and complex cases; human behavior and social environment;  management for community and social services; evaluation of research; clinical practice with service members and their families; leadership in the social work profession and organizations; etc.  Students are also enrolled in classes that directly correspond to their internship.  For instance, professors regularly require students to incorporate course material and examples from their field placements into their assignments. 

While in placement, students have a faculty field liaison, a field instructor and a preceptor to provide a support network for the student.   Along with the structure and requirements placed on the graduate students, there are requirements for agency staff members too.  The faculty field liaison is a university professor and the field instructor is an individual in the agency with at least a Master in Social Work that can offer supervision.  Most academic institutions require the field supervisor to have a minimum of three (3) years post graduate studies and a state license as a MSW.

Although requirements vary slightly from state to state, most states require 1,000 to 1,500 hours of field work and supervision.  These clinical hours are required of MSW students in order to graduate and become a licensed social work professional.   

Learn more about MSW@USC
Learn more about Social Work
To support our social workers' program work, please consider a donation today








National Association of Social Workers (2013). Retrieved from:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Namaste, Asana, Savasana...Excuse Me?!

By Sarah Duerr, Yogi and member of Hope For The Warriors staff\
A few years ago I would have guessed these were names of sushi roles, not common language in the yoga world.  I first discovered yoga after dealing with an over use injury while training for my 3rd Marathon.  The words a runner never wants to hear come out of my doctor’s mouth April 2010, "you have to take some time off." What?! I have a half marathon next weekend, five other races planned before I run New York in November! I asked the dreaded question, "Well, what am I cleared to do?"  He replied, "Yoga or swim for the next month and we'll see." I left the office feeling like a failure, defeated.
The next morning I went to a yoga studio in my neighborhood, convinced it would never be a workout, not like running.  I was 15 minutes into class when I was proven wrong...very wrong.  I could barely walk the next day, and I LOVED IT! I continued to go 4 days a week and even when I was cleared to run again, I continued to practicing yoga twice a week in place of my shorter runs.  I ran my fastest and healthiest marathon ever that fall, and I owe it all to yoga!  Not only do I enjoy the physical part, but the mental connection to my body and the emotional relaxation an hour of yoga can provide.

October 1st kicked off a new fundraiser for Hope For The Warriors®, East vs. West Coast Yoga Challenge!  We are challenging our supporters to improve their health through yoga, while improving the lives of our wounded servicemen and women! That may mean increasing the number of times you practice each week, trying different styles of yoga, meditating 5 minutes a day, or even trying yoga for the first time. 
The pledge is $10 and all monies raised will go directly to Hope For The Warriors® to support wounded service members, their families and families of the fallen.

And the best part? Wounded service members and military families will join all of us in this challenge. Many of our own service members have learned to utilize yoga as part of their physical and psychological recovery. Your $10 will directly support their recovery.
Join us on Facebook at Hope For The Warriors® Yoga Challenge and register at www.hopeforthewarriors/2013yogachallenge



Friday, October 4, 2013

Honoring Those That Serve

Hope For The Warriors® was recently chosen by Newman’s Own Foundation to participate in their first ever Crowdrise Challenge:  Honoring Those Who Serve Challenge. Our goal is to raise $75,000 for service members and their families and we can only do it with your help. Whichever nonprofit receives the most donations will also receive an additional $75,000 from Newman’s Own Foundation.

An additional $75,000 from Newman’s Foundation could fund three additional Above & Beyond Seminars, directly supporting more than 75 post-9/11 combat service members and their families as they transition into new civilian careers. 

Newman’s Own Foundation is an independent, private foundation that was formed in 2005 by Paul Newman to sustain the legacy of his philanthropic work. The foundation has supported Hope For The Warriors® for several years and this year, focused on supporting our Above & Beyond Program; through their grant, Hope For The Warriors® was able to conduct Above & Beyond Seminars across the country, connecting service members with human resource management experts.

As an important supporter to Hope For The Warriors® and to our military families we ask that you share this through your own networks.  That could include social media, emails, and more. The Crowdrise challenge began on September 30 so please visit our page today: For every dollar donated, you will bring Hope For The Warriors® closer to earning that additional $75,000 from Newman’s Own.