July 8, 2019

{Guest Post} Wounded Warriors: Fighting the Fight After the Battle is Over

Wounded Warriors: Fighting the Fight After the Battle is Over
United State veterans live a life like no other. Combat veterans have seen it all and unfortunately, once they come home, they suffer from some unique health issues that most civilians cannot understand. 

It is important to increase the visibility of these silent struggles, as civilian awareness is key to ensuring our veterans get the health coverage they both need and deserve. Most veterans aren’t aware of the silent struggles they’re facing, so it is up to their friends and family to keep a watchful eye out. 

Here are three common health problems that affect veterans every day.

PTSD and Additional Mental Health Disorders
Mental health conditions have become much more prevalent in veterans within the past couple of years. This could be related to the fact that within military culture, mental health is stigmatized and can often be a source of shame. Because of this, many veterans do not seek mental health treatment, and unfortunately, this has led to a growing epidemic when it comes to military and veteran suicides. 

Some common veteran mental health conditions include:
  • PTSD; a mental health condition that veterans can develop after witnessing traumatic events
  • Depression; a feeling of despondency and isolation 
  • Insomnia; not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • Anxiety; intense and excessive worry
  • Suicidal ideation; thinking about and planning suicide
It is important to know that symptoms of mental health can show in a variety of ways, but luckily mental health conditions are easily treatable.

Agent Orange Exposure
For those veterans who have served in Vietnam, Agent Orange exposure can be especially dangerous. There is a multitude of diseases correlated to Agent Orange exposure including heart disease, respiratory and prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease, leukemia, diabetes, soft tissue sarcoma, and Hodgkin’s disease.

The VA offers compensation for veterans who have suffered at the hands of Agent Orange. And even recently, a new decision was made that allows Vietnam Blue Water Veterans to claim benefits for these health conditions that were not originally offered to them. 

Hearing Loss
Hearing injury is the number one service-related injury for combat veterans. Due to their close proximity to aircraft, bombs, explosions, gunfire, and artillery, veterans suffer from both hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus is when a person experiences a consistent buzzing or ringing that makes it impossible for the individual to experience silence. 

The physical and mental effects of hearing loss can go beyond their years of service; it is common for a veteran to experience insomnia, difficulty concentrating, social anxiety, isolation, and eventual cognitive decline. There are plenty of benefits available to veterans who suffer from hearing loss, and Hill and Ponton Disability Attorneys have created a VA hearing disability calculator to help you determine what you are eligible for. 

Veterans are the people who have fought for our freedom and safety, and they deserve proper health care to ensure their sacrifices have not gone ignored. 

Thank you to Matt Hill for sharing this valuable information. Mr. Hill focuses his practice on representing disabled veterans. He represents veterans and their dependents across the nation. In addition to representing the disabled, Mr. Hill is a recognized authority on VA law. For more information on VA law, please check out Hill and Ponton Disability Attorneys www.hillandponton.com

June 22, 2019

{Guest Post} Consumer Safety Guide

Thank you Anna McClain who represents the Community Outreach team at Consumer Safety Guide. She has shared many VERY useful resources which will also be on A Military Story Info page. Ms. McClain shares, "Consumer Safety Guide was created to keep the public informed about consumer dangers and safety issues associated with numerous products that can cause the public harm. Our website is constantly being updated with the most recent information on the most popular prescription medications and FDA-approved medical devices that could be endangering your health or putting your loved ones at risk. Our mission is to keep you informed and help you make the most educated decisions about your health care!
We have been getting THOUSANDS of inquiries from Veterans who have suffered hearing loss from 3M Earplugs and we believe that it is extremely important to spread this information to as many Veteran organizations as we can - in hopes to help save or get restitution for as many Veterans who have been affected!"

Thousands of veterans who used 3M Combat Arms Earplugs and have suffered hearing loss and tinnitus may be eligible to file lawsuits.

A U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) whistleblower lawsuit filed against 3M was settled in June 2018 with an agreement for the company to pay $9.1 million.

Click here to read more about: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Veterans

June 7, 2019

Brides Across America

Nationwide (May 20, 2019) –Brides Across America is celebrating its 11th year of giving back by supporting our heroes, honoring veterans, active military and first responders with Operation Wedding Gown. This year BAA will be rolling out a new campaign called “United in Love” to honor our servicemen and women’s sacrifices. BAA along with our partner salons will be hosting a nationwide celebration of gifting during the month of July. Events kick-off July 1st at participating salons in select cities across the country. Salons will offer a selection of designer wedding gowns with values up to $6,000 and sizes ranging from 0-24. Rolling out the red carpet for our brides is our way of saying thank you. It is our honor to give back to those who sacrifice their own love for the love of our country.
Allowing love to play the starring role and minimize wedding-related financial stress for our heroes is what Brides Across America is all about. Founded in 2008 by Heidi Janson, BAA originated the movement Operation Wedding Gown and over the past 11 years we have made it possible to give back in a mighty way by gifting over 22,000 wedding gowns and hosting 22 amazing gifted weddings across the country to military and first responders. With wedding dresses and accessories costing an average of
$2,000, the lifted expense for our heroes is evident. “United in Love” will continue to make wedding dreams come true with the incredible assistance of our nationwide partner salons.
“This program means so much to us. With all the medical expenses, gifting me this gown can make our dreams come true on our wedding day! This will be a wonderful day that we can forget about our struggles and share in our love for each other," says Roseann.
How to qualify and register for an Operation Wedding Gown Event:
It’s easy to register, visit us at www.bridesacrossamerica.com and select the event you would like to attend, fill out the registration form and call your selected salon to make an appointment. Military and first responders who have served our country over the past five years qualify for a free wedding gown. Brides are required to bring supporting documentation the day of the event such as a valid work ID or proof of service.
Making dreams come true is the life work of Heidi Janson, founder of Brides Across America. She says, “Every bride deserves to have that fairytale wedding, especially our military and first responders that serve us on a daily basis. I felt compelled to give back and make a difference for our heroes sacrificing their lives. Spreading love and happiness is my life's mission.”
About Brides Across America
A national nonprofit organization, Brides Across America continues to honor our heroes by gifting wedding gowns and weddings to our deserving heroes and making wedding dreams come true. Brides Across America, in collaboration with bridal salons, designers, and private donations has been able to donate more than 22,000 wedding gowns and 22 weddings. Providing financial assistance to thousands of military and first responder couples since its inception in 2008. All donations received go directly to provide support to our couples. Operation Wedding Gown has been featured in PEOPLE, Oprah, Good Housekeeping, Steve Harvey and The Doctors.
Brides Across America recently opened their first outlet and online shop to support our continued efforts to provide years of giving to our heroes. You can shop our new outlet at www.baaoutlet.com.
Contact: Valerie Carpenter Marketing & PR Phone: 978-470-4817 Email: bridesacrossamerica1@gmail.com

May 4, 2019

{Guest Post} Managing Stress as a Military Spouse

Managing Stress as a Military Spouse
Life as a military spouse is not easy. Being married to someone who serves in the military often means moving far away from your family, leaving behind friends and loved ones, building your own family far from your hometown and, often, doing it on your own while your spouse is deployed. The stress of being a military wife or husband is overwhelming for many and can lead to depression, anxiety, panic attacks or even agoraphobia.
In one study of more than 200 military spouses, it was revealed that 27 percent report significantly high-stress levels at any given time. Of them, 20 percent experience even higher, clinically significant stress levels. To put it simply, roughly one in four military spouses carries a heavy burden of stress every single day.
While many military spouses perceive these elevated stress levels as “normal,” they are unaware of how close they may be to developing serious emotional, physical or social distress. Many experience clinically significant levels of stress without even realizing it.
As a military spouse, making time for yourself can be difficult–especially when your partner is deployed. You may feel like you are running your entire home on your own and barely have time to breathe, let alone enjoy “me time.” Taking time for yourself, though, is crucial when it comes to managing stress as a military spouse. Keep reading to learn a bit more about how to manage military spouse stress.
Be Mindful of When You Are Feeling Stressed
Stress is such a common part of being a military spouse that many people live with it without even realizing it. Be mindful of your feelings and emotions, and pay attention when you are feeling stressed. Learn to be especially aware of when you are nearing your breaking point.
Acknowledge that your role as a military wife or husband puts you under a tremendous amount of stress. Accept that you face challenges that people with spouses in other careers will never face. Understand that stress comes in many, many forms and that everyone experiences it differently. Be kind to yourself and don’t compare your feelings and emotions to anyone else’s. Recognize your own struggles and pay close attention to when you are feeling overly stressed out and make time to take care of yourself.
Make “Me Time” a Priority
As a military spouse, you may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It’s easy to get so caught up in caring for your home and your family that you forget to take care of yourself. Not taking time for yourself frequently leaves you feeling stressed and overwhelmed, though. No matter how hectic your schedule may be, you need to find or make time to take care of yourself. Self-care is important for everyone, but it’s especially crucial when you are dealing with the stress of being a military spouse.
If you enjoy crafting, it can serve as an excellent way to decompress and unwind. For example, working with beads and stones for handmade jewelry as well as home d├ęcor allows you to escape from day-to-day stress for a while and enjoy making something with your own two hands. Knitting, painting and sculpting with clay are also great projects for military spouses. They don’t necessarily require a lot of space or supplies, so they work well for people who live in small homes and/or relocate frequently.
Using your me time to exercise is a healthy way to deal with stress, too. Going for a walk or run, lifting weights, doing yoga or even following along with your favorite exercise video gets your blood pumping and triggers your body to release feel-good endorphins that combat anxiety and depression, improve sleep and, of course, lower stress levels. Find a few types of exercises that you enjoy and make them a regular part of your routine. Trust us, you’ll start reaping the benefits right away!
Find a Support Group
Moving away from your family and friends may make you feel like you are alone, but you aren’t. Whether you are living on base or in a nearby community, there are likely several other military spouses who are struggling with many of the same emotions you are. You are far from alone and there are a lot of people out there who would love to provide a proverbial shoulder for you to lean on. Look into support groups in your area. Your installation’s Military and Family Support Center is a good place to find out about its resources for military spouses.
There are also support groups for military spouses online. They are great for people who are shy or struggle with social anxiety. They’re also a wonderful place to build relationships that you won’t have to leave behind the next time your spouse gets orders to relocate. Even if you never meet the members of the support group in person, they can provide you with the support you need to deal with life as a military spouse.
Know When to Ask for Help
If you wake up each day facing overwhelming stress, there is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help. Your job as a military spouse is an extremely difficult one. For many, the burden of carrying so much stress is simply too much to handle on their own. If you are feeling this way despite taking steps to stay active, enjoy hobbies and lean on others in your situation for support, consider speaking with a mental health professional.

Whether you find comfort in making beaded jewelry, exercising or meeting up with friends or you decide to meet with a counselor, there are several things you can do to manage your stress as a military spouse. Remember that your feelings are valid and your needs are important. Make time to take care of yourself. Being a military spouse is a hard job, but there are resources out there to help ensure your mental and emotional well-being. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Thank you to Brenda Kimble for writing this guest post. Brenda Kimble is the wife of a former Army Officer and current National Guard soldier and the mother of two daughters, a son, and a beagle named Duke! She loves writing, crafting, and spending time with her family in their hometown of Austin, TX. If you missed her other post click here: 3 flexible jobs for military

May 1, 2019

{Guest Post} 3 Flexible Jobs for Military Spouses

3 Flexible Jobs for Military Spouses
As a military spouse, you face challenges that most civilian families never have to worry about. While your spouse is working long hours, you are often left responsible for cooking, cleaning, paying bills and doing everything else necessary to run a home. If you have kids, you find yourself living like a single parent when your partner is deployed. Chances are, you don’t live anywhere near your family and lack a solid support system. On top of all that, you likely find yourself needing to move to a new city every few years.
With all of the challenges that military spouses face, it is no surprise that many struggle to build their own careers. When it seems like there are barely enough hours in the day to take care of your home and family, the idea of getting a job can appear downright ludicrous.
While being tied down to a traditional job might not be a good option for a military husband or wife, there are plenty of flexible opportunities that work remarkably well. Finding the right one means being able to earn extra money for your family while still being able to take care of everything at home. Keep reading to discover some flexible jobs for military spouses that will allow you to earn an income and feel great about contributing to your family financially.
Sell Arts & Crafts
If you are an artist or a crafter, start selling your creations for profit. You can work on projects at home during your spare time and sell them online to people around the world. When trying to come up with an idea of what to make, try to keep it relatively simple. If you live on base and have limited space, taking up furniture-making, for example, may not be a great option. Making beaded jewelry is a practical option that works well for military spouses. You don’t need a lot of space to work, and you don’t need to store any particularly large supplies. Since jewelry-making supplies don’t take up much room, they’re also easy to pack and move when you relocate.
Once you’ve settled on an idea, open up an Etsy shop. It takes some time to build up a strong business, but selling on Etsy (and similar sites) is easy and convenient. You could also look into selling your products at craft and vendor fairs in your local community. Just about every city has events from time to time where local artists and crafters can sell their handmade creations. Setting up a booth is a good way to earn some money, build awareness of your products and maybe even make new local friends.
Working on arts and crafts can lower stress levels, too, making this money-making opportunity even more beneficial for military spouses.
Seek Out Remote Employment Opportunities
More and more businesses are turning to the Internet to hire remote employees for a wide range of positions. They outsource things like customer care, data entry, software programming, administrative support, etc. to remote workers who, in turn, complete their assignments from just about anywhere. Xerox, for example, has a Heroes@Home program that hires military spouses for at-home positions. Several other major corporations have programs for military spouses, too. 
Online education is booming right now and provides amazing opportunities for military spouses. If you have the right credentials and experience, you can teach English, math and a wide range of other subjects from home. In many cases, you don’t even need to have a teaching degree in order to get started. If you have a special talent or skill, you could even start making your own courses on sites like Teachable.
Start Your Own Online Business
Thanks to the Internet, starting your own business is a solid option for anyone who has the drive to put in the effort to be successful. If you know your way around the web, there are countless online businesses you can start. Have you always had a knack for writing? If so, you might make a great content writer or content writer. Businesses always need fresh blog posts and articles for their websites, but many lack the time to write them on their own. Starting your own writing service can be quite lucrative, and since you can work anywhere with an Internet connection, it’s a great option for military spouses.
If you love spending time scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, you might be awesome at social media management. As a social media manager, you work with brands and influential people to create and curate content for their social media profiles. You might also interact with their followers, work on paid advertisements and more. Being a social media manager means you can literally get paid to be on Facebook all day. What’s not to love about that?
Virtual assisting (VA) is another online option that works well for many military spouses. As a VA, you might help your client manage their social media, write blog posts, schedule appointments, transcribe files, design graphics or handle all sorts of other tasks. You get to decide what services to offer and work with clients who have needs that fit your skill set.
As a military spouse, working at a “normal” job isn’t always an option. Your schedule is extremely full and you might find yourself relocating every few years. Instead of bouncing from one job to the next or giving up on finding work altogether, consider one of the more flexible options listed above. Whether you work for yourself or find a job working remotely for another corporation, you will be able to earn an income without sacrificing time with your family. Start doing some research to find the opportunity that’s right for you today!
Thank you to Brenda Kimble for writing this guest post. Brenda Kimble is the wife of a former Army Officer and current National Guard soldier and the mother of two daughters, a son, and a beagle named Duke! She loves writing, crafting, and spending time with her family in their hometown of Austin, TX. Look for her next post very soon!