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!

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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

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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.