Friday, July 31, 2015

Caregiver Restores Self and Hope at Workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship Gives HOPE to Author and Military Spouse

Artis Henderson - Scholarship Recipient and Author
When my husband was killed in Iraq in 2006, I thought my life had ended too. I didn't know it was possible to hurt that much and still be alive. With the weight of my grief pressing down on me, I trudged through one day after the next. I survived all the important firsts -- the first Christmas without him, the first birthday, the first wedding anniversary -- and finally the one-year mark arrived.

"You'll be disappointed to find out what comes next," a widowed friend told me.

"What comes next?" I asked her.

"Another year."

That was the moment I understood that I could not grieve forever. My sadness might stay, and I was pretty sure I'd always miss my husband, but my life would continue. It was up to me what I did with it.

The truth was, I wanted to be a writer. As far back as I could remember, I dreamed of writing books. But I never thought someone like me could make that happen. Still, I reasoned that the worst had already come to pass. Why not try to make that dream real?

Through a combination of good fortune and persistence, I began writing for local publications. Soon I had a column in the newspaper and articles in glossy magazines. If I wanted to become an author, I knew I needed to go farther. I had to go back to school. 

I started looking at graduate programs and quickly realized how expensive it would be. When I confessed my worries to another military widow, she told me about Hope for the Warriors. 

"They have a scholarship for surviving spouses," she said. "You should apply." 

As soon as I found out that I'd been accepted to Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, I applied to the Hope for the Warriors scholarship. I still remember the moment they called to tell me I received it. When I heard the news, I started crying. I had worked so hard to get to that point, and now here were people who would help me. Hope for the Warriors believed in the possibility of a new life, and for that I am grateful.

Click here learn more about Hope For The Warriors and the Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Team Hope For The Warriors Newsletter: July

Team Hope For The Warriors® Members,

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

Below are the confirmed dates and races for 2015

October 11, 2015 – Army Ten Miler*

October 25, 2015 – Marine Corps Marathon 10K

October 25, 2015 – Marine Corps Marathon*

November 1, 2015 – TCS NYC Marathon

*Handcycle friendly race

Fundraising Tip:
Invest in yourself first! Show your supporters that you are serious about your fundraising by donating to yourself first and then challenge friends and family to match your donation. Sometimes people are reluctant to be the first to donate, so commit to your own efforts and others may begin to follow.

Training Tip:
July and August are the hottest months of the summer. Here are some more tips to stay cool during these hot summer days, check out last month’s newsletter for more tips on warm weather training:

1.    Be sure to check the heat index before going out. Some days might be too hot for training in the outdoors. You may have to take your workout indoors or to the pool.
2.    Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious illnesses. Know the warning signs: muscle cramps, nausea/vomiting, lightheadedness, and feeling faint are all signs you may be experiencing a heat-related problem.
3.    Run in shaded trails or routes. Keeping the sun off of you as much as possible, this will greatly reduce the risk of heat exhaustion.
4.    What you wear can have an impact on heat. Wear light colored, moisture wicking fabric to help stay cool.

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

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

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

For more information please contact Steve Barto at 

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

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

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

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

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

For the complete list of races visit, check back frequently for more registration pages coming soon.

Representing the Team:

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

Important Links For Social Media:

Twitter When you tweet be sure to use #TeamH4W
MarineCorps Marathon Team Facebook Group

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hope For The Warriors® New Outdoor Adventure Partnership

Mark Daniel Brasel is second from the left
Hope For The Warriors® is partnering with the Send-A-Vet Foundation to give service members the opportunity to attend black bear hunts in Idaho free of charge. The partnership is special because all of the volunteer staff members are veterans and veterans, Rick Sutter, USMC, and Mark Daniel Brasel, USA, are the executives of the Send-A-Vet Foundation—it is truly vets helping vets.

Hope For The Warriors® met Mark, who is also a wounded service member, several years ago when he participated in Hope For The Warriors® events, he has been involved in the organization ever since. As an executive of the Send-A-Vet Foundation, Mark reached out to Hope For The Warriors® about partnering to offer veterans guided hunts. Both Mark and Rick seek to impact the lives of other veterans and give them an unforgettable hunting experience in the outdoors.

The setting for the black bear hunts in Idaho is breathtaking as the house and camp are right on a river with unbelievable views of the countryside. The Send-A-Vet Foundation provides a professional hunting experience and a laid back environment that encourages camaraderie around campfires and great 
meals. Getting a bear is seen as a bonus on this hunt and your 
chances are pretty high.

Hope For The Warriors® would like to thank Rick and Mark for choosing to give HOPE to their fellow veterans by offering them the opportunity to find peace, camaraderie, and recreation on their road to recovery through these hunts. We are excited to witness the lives that will be changed through this partnership. 

To help support programs like the one mentioned above Donate Today!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Writing Their Way Home From War: Tactical 16 Authors Discuss How Writing Has Changed Their Lives and The Lives Of Others On Hope For The Warriors Talk Radio

Tactical 16 authors Chris HernandezJustin JordanRobert Lewis, and David Peters join Patti Katter, Amanda Flener and Gordie Harris from Hope For The Warriors to discuss the therapeutic aspects of sharing your voice and stories after combat.  Tactical 16 is a Disabled Veteran Owned and Operated Company, who support the Military, Police, Fire, and EMT communities and are honored to hear and help them tell their stories.

The founder, Erik Shaw, had the idea to form a company that would give Veterans a bigger stage to have their voice heard and to create a network of trusted companies and organizations that work with Veterans, teaching them how to write and publish books, from the time they ask for help to the time the say they are good to go.

Tactical 16 wants Veterans to be heard and wants to preserve their individual legacies as we hope they can get some relief from the battles with PTSD, TBI and other service related injuries. The Tactical 16 Publishing division specializes in assisting anyone suffering from PTSD or other Combat related injuries. For more information on Tactical 16, please visit their website at

Hope For The Warriors® Clinical Supportive Services program is designed to provide short-term counseling to augment other treatment, or provide interim support between treatment providers. Hope For The Warriors® provides supportive sessions via telephone, video conferencing, and in-person sessions.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers provide 1:1 supportive clinical services to service members, veterans, and family members. In some instances, a veteran or family member is not able to obtain treatment within their community or is hesitant to seek services from the VA or other sources of mental health care available locally. Our clinical team is able to provide short term stop-gap supportive services with a goal of engaging the veteran or family in seeking local treatment services.

It is important for us to encourage and ensure the service members, veterans, and family members are accessing the local mental health care that is available to them, especially when they are experiencing crisis situations. We can offer short term supportive counseling and empathetic listening while encouraging them to access more intense treatment/therapy.

To listen to the recording of Tactical 16: Writing Their Way Home From War, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hope For The Warriors Talk Radio EXCLUSIVE interview with Ms. Mullane, Veteran Crisis Hotline Program Director

Julianne Mullane, Program Director - The Veterans Crisis Hotline

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Julianne Mullane, Acting Program Director of The Veterans Crisis Hotline.

Hope For The Warriors offers wonderful free counseling for post 9/11 military veterans and their family members. Sometimes, however; veterans and their family members have emergency situations where they need to talk with someone  during non-business hours. The responders at The Veterans Crisis Line are specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans of all ages and circumstances, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some of the responders are Veterans themselves and understand what Veterans and their families and friends have been through and the challenges Veterans of all ages and service eras face.

People who know a Veteran best may be the first to recognize emotional distress and reach out for support when issues reach a crisis point — and well before a Veteran is at risk of suicide. You should call the Veterans Crisis Line, log onto the online chat, or send a text message if you are a Veteran or Service member experiencing an emotional crisis or know one who is, especially when concerned about the risk of physical harm.

Please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, use the online chat at, or send a text message to 838255 immediately if you or a Veteran or Service member you know is experiencing any of the following warning signs:

  • Hopelessness; feeling like there’s no way out 
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, mood swings 
  • Feeling like there is no reason to live 
  • Rage or anger Engaging in risky activities without thinking Increasing alcohol or drug abuse Withdrawing from family and friends 

The presence of the following signs requires immediate attention: 

  • Thinking about hurting or killing yourself 
  • Looking for ways to kill yourself Talking about death, dying, or suicide 
  • Self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse, weapons, etc. 

Many people do not realize that even if there is no immediate danger, the Veterans Crisis Line is here for you. Crisis feels different for everybody and can stem from a wide range of situations. Some Veterans are coping with aging, stress, relationship problems, financial or legal issues, or lingering effects stemming from their military service, which were never addressed. Some Veterans have difficulty with their relationships or the transition back to civilian life. To make sure all Veterans and their loved ones are aware of the Veterans Crisis Line, VA is coordinating with communities and partners such as Hope For The Warriors to let Veterans and their loved ones know that support is available whenever, if ever, they need it.

To listen to The Veterans Crisis Hotline interview featuring Hope For The Warriors Talk Radio Hostess, Patti Katter and Julianne Mullane from The Veterans Crisis Hotline please CLICK HERE.
Follow us on Twitter:
 Hope For The Warriors - @Hope4Warriors
Patti Katter - @PurpleHeartWife

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Caregivers Share Tips On How To Make The Most Out Of Their 4th of July

By: Patti Katter 

This morning, in our Hope For The Warriors Facebook Caregiver Support Group we discussed the obstacles some combat veterans face when hearing 4th of July fireworks. I thought I would share a few helpful tips in our caregiver group of 213 members that I incorporated into our 4th of July holiday within the very first year my husband came home from war.

1. I invited other military veteran/families to our home for a 4th of July Celebration
*Veterans often feel more comfortable around other veterans.

2. I made it a potluck! It’s nice to have others pitch in at get togethers, and who doesn’t like the variety of food?

3. We made new traditions. Even though you might remember going to a big fireworks display, if your veteran isn't so comfortable in crowds anymore, or if the explosions are too much for him or her, it’s okay to switch up the holiday. 4th of July shouldn't be a dreaded holiday; it’s a time when our country celebrates our freedom.

Think of things you can do on the 4th, be it staying in our going out - whatever your veteran is comfortable with. We find it is easier for my husband to watch fireworks from our home, in fact I prefer that myself. I like avoiding long lines and big crowds.  When our kids were smaller, my husband would participate in playing with sparklers and helping to light small fireworks in the driveway. Now that our kids are older, they often times head out to attend picnics or watch fireworks with their friends

Julie from our Caregiver Support Group states, “My husband (after several years of dismal 4ths) can now join in the fun on the actual day - it's the unplanned neighborhood fireworks that are a problem. No great solutions, but when possible, we take a walk to see who's having the fun. It seems to help to know the who/where of it all.”

Colleen said that they have a low key family BBQ. She said the noise from the fireworks is a non-issue to her husband, but the heat, crowds and long lines are stressful for the whole family.

Autumn said that her husband does not like leaving the house and he doesn’t like doing much for the 4th. There are veterans who would prefer to stay home and watch movies. One veteran I spoke with said he cranks the surround sound up on his home stereo system and has a movie night. There are several options for veterans and their families to indulge in during this 4th of July holiday season. Hopefully, you will be able to use some of these hints and tricks to make the 4th of July an enjoyable one this year. 

Thank you to our men and women in uniform who make it possible for people across the country to enjoy our BBQs, fireworks and time together with family in friends since around 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence was written and congress declared July 4 as a national holiday.