From the Desk of. . .
Each day I read about how our veterans are struggling more and more with issues of PTSD, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, marriage problems, drug dependency...the list goes on. I think about how we, as a society, can provide the best support and tools for these men and women to feel welcome in their own communities, their homes, and within themselves. With approximately 18 suicides per day among our veterans and one per day among active duty service men and women, something more has to be done.
When I joined The Soldiers Project just four weeks ago, my vision for the organization was twofold: first, to learn and absorb everything about the tremendous impact the organization is having across the United States and second, to connect....with everyone. As the leader of the organization, I find it crucial to connect and build relationships with all those who have supported our organization. They are the people who have made us who we are today. It is also critical that we connect and outreach to those whose vision and passion is just as great as ours. With Veterans Day just a little more than a month away, TSP staff from across the country are connecting and educating many people and other organizations about the issues faced by our service men and women and their loved ones.
Recently, in Sacramento, a viewing of "The Invisible War" was shown to individuals who want to do more for those who have endured military sexual trauma (MST). At an upcoming event at our TSP-Pennsylvania chapter, we will provide training on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). These are just two examples of how we are continuing to reach out, educate, and connect with our communities.
I encourage you to read about the many things we are doing to connect with others, and let us know how we can partner together to help our veterans come all the way home.
Elizabeth Heger, LMFT, NCC
Executive Director, The Soldiers Project
Resources for Soldiers, Veterans and Military Families
TSP therapists are encouraged to take advantage of the many resources available on the website. Go to:
TSP Awarded Herb Alpert Foundation Grant
The Herb Alpert Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to The Soldiers Project to be used for general purposes. "We are so grateful for the Herb Alpert Foundation grant," says TSP Director Elizabeth Heger. "The Soldiers Project was awarded funds under the foundation's mission 'to nurture a capacity for empathy and compassion so that the relationships we develop through our lives are based on mutual respect, tolerance, and kindness.' The funds will allow us to continue to provide the much needed support for our military service men and women and their loved ones."
Elizabeth Heger Meet & Greet
The Soldiers Project community hosted a meet and greet for new Executive Director Elizabeth Heger on September 23rd at the home of Carol Tanenbaum in Sherman Oaks, California. TSP Founder Dr. Judith Broder introduced Elizabeth and lauded her extensive non-profit experience and personal qualities that will help TSP move forward
Judy Broder, center in pink, introduces incoming Executive Director Elizabeth Heger to her right. Hostess Carol Tanenbaum watches from behind
as she retires from the executive director role at the end of the year.
For her part, Elizabeth was thrilled to receive such a warm reception in such a lovely Sunday afternoon setting. "The meet and greet was a wonderful opportunity to talk with our dedicated therapists and volunteers," she said of the event. "It was a pleasure to hear about the history some people have with The Soldiers Project. I am honored to take Judy's place and will ensure that her vision and passion for our veterans and their loved ones continues."
|From Southern California...
Free Shakespeare Performances for Veterans
From July 10th through the 29th, veterans and their families were treated
to special free performances of Shakespeare's comedy "As You Like It," presented by The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. Veterans arrived early with picnic dinners to enjoy on the grounds prior to the performance.
|TSP volunteer Marianne Cotter poses with Development Director Gail Soffer|
in front of the outdoor stage at the
VA West Los Angeles.
The play took place on an outdoor stage tucked away in the scenic Japanese Garden on the grounds of the VA West Los Angeles. In the second act, the curtain behind the stage was drawn to reveal the lovely wooded area behind the stage, which became part of the set for the scenes that took place in the Forest of Arden.
Several TSP staff and volunteers were on hand to enjoy the play alongside the veterans and their families including Development Director Gail Soffer and TSP Newsletter Writer Marianne Cotter.
Soffer made sure the ticket counter had stacks of brochures to distribute throughout the play's run.
Dr. Judith Broder and Gail Soffer Serve as CLASSY Awards Judges
In 2011, The Soldiers Project received the CLASSY award for Charity of the Year from Stay Classy, Inc. at the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country. As respected winners, TSP Founder Dr. Judy Broder and Development Director Gail Soffer were invited to participate as judges in this year's awards process.
Dr. Broder judged the Health and Well Being category, while Gail Soffer judged Animal Advocacy and Services plus Volunteer of the Year. "It was an honor to be asked to participate as judges for the 2012 awards," said Soffer. "This year more weight was given to the judges' evaluations of the charities than to the popular voting in determining the winners. So it was a further vote of confidence in The Soldiers Project that its management team could recognize outstanding projects, models, and activities in other charitable organizations." This year's award ceremony took place on September 22nd in San Diego.
StayClassy is a San Diego-based company that offers an online fundraising solution used by thousands of nonprofit organizations nationwide. They sponsor the CLASSY Awards to celebrate outstanding achievements by nonprofit organizations, socially conscious businesses, and individuals based in the U.S. but with a worldwide impact.
The Psychotherapist as Artist
On September 29th and 30th, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association's (LACPA) Community Outreach Committee presented "Mirrors of the Mind: The Psychotherapist as Artist," a juried exhibition of visual and performing arts created by Los Angeles area psychotherapists and students. The event, which took place at the Gus Harper Gallery in Los Angeles, featured several veteran-focused events including a Saturday evening silent auction benefiting The Soldiers Project and a Sunday theater performance of "Cry Havoc" by veteran Stephen Wolfert, founding artistic director of The Veterans Center for the Performing Arts and Shakespeare & Veterans.
Returning Soldiers Speak: An Evening of Poetry and Prose
On November 9th, the public is invited to "Returning Soldiers Speak," an evening of readings by veterans of foreign conflict with John Rixey Moore, R. S. Carlson, James Mathers, Jon Zelanzy and Lacey Harmon, participants and alumni of the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital Creative Writing Workshop, and other distinguished guests.
The event, now in its third year, will be held at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291. A 6:30 P.M. reception will be followed by the reading at 7:30 P.M.
This tribute to veterans, which will be moderated by Leilani Squire, is inspired by the late poet, graphic artist and activist Lee Mihn Sloca. Lee's friends and fellow poets--Leilani Squire, Ric Gentry, Gedda Ilves, David Obsusin and Lauren Segal--continue to host this event in his memory.
Guests are encouraged to make a $10 donation at the door. Proceeds will be divided between Wounded Warrior Homes, a charity that serves medically discharged veterans with TBI and PTSD with affordable housing and hands-on resources, and The Soldiers Project. For more information, contact www.returningsolidersspeak.org.
Student Vet Ian Smith Stirs Discussion at Adopt-A-College Meeting
On July 29th, TSP-SoCal hosted an Adopt-A-College meeting at the home of Dr. Carol Tanenbaum to introduce the program to college representatives who may be interested in starting a program on their campuses. The meeting was co-facilitated by Ian Smith, a veteran and student activist at CSUN, along with Dr. Carol Tanenbaum, National Director of Adopt-A-College. TSP founder Dr. Judith Broder was on hand as well to speak in support of the program.
Dr. Tanenbaum was particularly pleased with Smith's contributions to the discussion. "He is personally familiar with the challenges faced by veterans who are returning to the college campus," she said, "and discussed aspects of this often-difficult transition from military life to college life." The group discussed his approach to understanding his experience as a transition of identity. "His depth of understanding of the diverse and complex issues greatly widened our own competence in working with student veterans in the school environment," concluded Tanenbaum.
The Adopt-A-College program provides volunteer liaisons on college campuses to work with administrators, student veterans, faculty, and veteran representative groups to facilitate the sometimes-difficult transition that veterans face in returning to the school setting. The people who serve as campus liaisons are TSP volunteers who have gone through the training and are well prepared to consult on college campuses. Contact Dr. Carol Tanenbaum for information on upcoming meetings.
TSP Hosts a Booth at Camarillo Veterans Expo
A happy but unidentified "man in uniform" poses with
Dr. Attar at the Camarillo Veterans Expo.
On August 11th, The Soldiers Project hosted a booth at the Camarillo Veterans Expo. The free event was sponsored by the Ventura County Military Collaborative with facilities provided by the Pleasant Valley Recreation & Park District. More than fifty agencies were on hand to disperse information about VA benefits and family programs.
The Expo was opened by Captain David Sasek, executive officer for Navy Bases of Ventura County, who explained that the purpose of the expo was to connect military families, past and present, with resources.
The Camarillo Veterans Expo was the first of what will become an annual event. On hand to represent The Soldiers Project were Dr. Yasmin Attar and Robin Grant who worked together manning the table, handing out information, and talking to vets.
Fall Workshops Begin in SoCal
Approximately 30 individuals attended The Soldiers Project workshop held at the American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood on September 15th. Those in attendance included new TSP therapists, veterans, current TSP therapists and friends of TSP.
Dr. Judith Broder presented "An Introduction to The Soldiers Project with a Focus on Challenges Faced by Returning Veterans and their Families." After explaining the history of The Soldiers Project, she discussed signs and symptoms that therapists might encounter when working with our military men and women and their loved ones. She cited current research regarding the issues faced by the military and how TSP therapists can address these issues when working with military clients. Attendees were also given additional resources to assist in their learning and understanding of the issues faced by our military.
Help Us Find Meeting and Therapy Facilities
A Place to Train: The Soldiers Project is in need of locations throughout Southern California to host trainings. Many new volunteer therapists who are ready to serve our clients need to complete the required "in person" training, but finding affordable facilities has proved challenging.
Geographical areas in need of training facilities include: Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Ventura, and San Diego Counties.
To be considered, a facility needs to provide the following:
- Capacity: Seating for 15-25
- Times: Saturday afternoons preferred
- Cost: Use of the facility must be no cost or minimal cost
- Amenities: Parking, bathroom facilities
If you are aware of an appropriate facility, please send contact information to email@example.com. We'll make the call to the facility.
A Place to Treat: Perhaps you don't have the time...but do you have a place? We have a number of volunteer therapists who are qualified and ready to treat our clients but are unable to do so because they lack a private consultation space. If you are an active TSP volunteer therapist or a therapist wanting to support our program but are not able to take on clients at this time, perhaps you have office space that you can loan for this purpose. Please contact Patti Ranous, Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 761-7438, option 4.
4th Annual Veterans Resource Fair at Saddleback College
Saddleback College VETS (Veterans Education & Transition Services) hosted its fourth Veterans Resource Fair on Wednesday, September 19th from 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. The fair was open to Saddleback College student veterans, military, active duty, and family members in the community. Over forty on- and off-campus service organizations and agencies were on hand to assist veterans and/or dependents.
From Pennsylvania. . .
Chestnut Hill College to Host Mild TBI Training
Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia hosted a training for The Soldiers Project on "Mild Traumatic Brain Injury" on Thursday, October 4th from 10 A.M. to 12 P.M. in the East Parlor, St. Joseph Hall.
The training was presented by William J. Ernst, Psy. D., assistant professor in the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Chestnut Hill College. Dr. Ernst defined and described MTBI within the context of war-related injuries. He also addressed physiological processes associated with MTBI and their impact on neuropsychological functioning. Neurocognitive and socio-emotional outcomes following MTBI. Implications for assessment and treatment were also discussed. For more information, contact email@example.com.
TSP - PA Participates in SAMHSA Policy Academy
The Soldiers Project-PA was invited to participate in the SAMHSA Service Members, Veterans and their Families Policy Academy Pre-Site Visit, which was held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 15th.
The overall goal of SAMHSA's Service Members, Veterans and their Families (SMVF) Policy Academy process is to strengthen statewide behavioral health care systems and services for SMVF through ongoing collaboration at the federal, state, and local levels. SAMHSA also recognizes that every state and territory's behavioral health care system is unique, reflecting its own cultural, economic, social, and political realities. Pennsylvania has made significant strides in partnering on these goals with groups such as PA Cares and the Pennsylvania Service Member and Veteran Behavioral Health Alliance.
Dr. Nadine Bean, Ph.D. and Sister Nancy DeCesare, Ph.D. both participated in this process. They were also appointed members of the Pennsylvania Statewide Service Member & Veteran's Behavioral Health Alliance.
From Long Island. . .
Dr. Susan Cohen Accepts "Making a Difference for Women" Grant
At a June 26th awards gala hosted by Soroptimist International of Nassau County at Westbury Manor in Long Island, Dr. Susan Cohen accepted its "Making a Difference for Women" grant on behalf of TSP-Long Island. On hand to present the grant were
Incoming Soroptimist President Louise Spangle, Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Dr. Susan Cohen of The Soldiers Project, and current Soroptimist President Mary Howard-Longmuir
incoming Soroptimist President Louise Spangle, current President Mary Howard-Longmuir as well as special guest, Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby.
R&R for Military Women
The grant was used to sponsor an "Afternoon of R&R" for military women in Nassau County. The spa-themed event, which included lunch, took place on September 8th at UU Shelter Rock in Manhasset.
Military women enjoyed a much-deserved day of rejuvenation, pampering, and stress-reduction.
Adopt-A-College Program Getting Underway
This fall, the Long Island chapter is rolling out the Adopt-A-College program with presentations currently scheduled for faculty at four colleges. As part of its outreach to area colleges TSP-Long Island has created a Powerpoint entitled "The Long Island Adopt-A-College Presentation" to guide new colleges through the program start-up phase. They are making the presentation available to other TSP chapters. To get a copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pal-O-Mine Equestrian Therapy Program Trains TSP Therapists
On Monday, September 10th Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, Inc. in Islandia invited TSP-Long Island clinicians to attend a special training session on equestrian-assisted psychotherapy with a specific focus on working with veterans. In this type of treatment, licensed mental health professionals and equine specialists work as a team to provide the therapy, which does not involve being on horseback. TSP therapists attended the training for a reduced fee of $25.
As a tremendous added benefit, Pal-O-Mine has offered to make equine-assisted therapy available free of charge to veterans as an adjunct to the psychotherapy they are receiving from TSP.
"Since most of us are unfamiliar with this form of treatment, the all-day training on September 10 was a chance to learn something new and to fulfill two of the three seminar requirements for TSP," said Alicia Brackman, LCSW, clinical services committee chair.
TSP-Long Island Welcomes New Vet Administrative Assistant
TSP-Long Island recently welcomed a new administrative assistant, an individual who will prove invaluable thanks to his connections with local battalions and units. Cliff Cotten has served for over 20 years in the National Guard, including two deployments to Iraq. His ties with local military have already paid off for the Long Island chapter. "I'd been trying to get us into the Yellow Ribbon event forever," says TSP - LI Director Linda Caginalp. "Cliff made a few calls and it was done." In hiring Cotten, she was practicing what she preaches. "I think we should all be hiring vets whenever we can."
|From Sacramento. . .|
Veterans Day at the State Fair
TSP-Sacramento hosted a table at the California State Fair at Cal Expo in Sacramento on July 19th, which was designated "Veterans Day at the Fair." Carolyn Fink, clinical director, and Becca Bettis, program director, joined many other veterans organizations in making information and resources available to vets attending the fair.
Screening of "The Invisible War" Raises MST Awareness
In an effort to raise awareness of military sexual trauma (MST), TSP-Sacramento hosted two special screenings of "The Invisible War," a Sundance-award-winning documentary that confronts the epidemic of MST. The screenings took place September 28th at the Silverado Masonry Design Center in Sacramento and September 29th at the historic State Theater in Auburn.
Both screenings were introduced by Tia Christopher, one of the women whose personal experience with sexual assault in the military was documented in the film.
Says Clinical Director Carolyn Fink, "Rape in the U.S. military--estimated at 20,000 assaults in 2009 alone--adds another appalling layer to the trauma facing our troops as they try to rebuild their lives. We hope that by screening 'The Invisible War' these survivors will know that our therapists are willing to help them if they will only step forward."
2nd Annual Veterans Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser
Pancakes were served hot from the griddle on September 22nd at St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church in Roseville, California. This is the second year St. Anna's has sponsored its Veterans Pancake Breakfast in support of our veterans, who received a discount on their admission tickets. All proceeds from the event are earmarked for The Soldiers Project.
|From the Northwest. . .|
Josh Fueston Memorial Swim to Live Event
On Monday, August 27th, Randi Jensen, director, The Soldiers Project-Northwest, gave the keynote address at the 2012 Josh Fueston Memorial Swim to Live event that honors those who have lost their battle with PTSD to suicide. Hosting the event was Josh's mom Laurie Fueston whose Iraq War veteran son lost his battle with PTSD at age 19.
Jensen spoke about both perfectionism and black and white thinking as risk factors for suicidality. "I talked about how desperate attempts for control leave us unable to accept the fact that we actually have very little control in life," said Jensen of her keynote address, which lead to a discussion of the community's role in educating itself about the neuroscience behind suicidality as a necessary means to halt suicide. "There will never be enough clinicians to do this job," Jensen asserted. "It takes community to solve this problem."
The event, which included a relay swim race to honor Josh's involvement with swimming in his community, included a screening of "War in the Mind," a documentary that explores the issue of soldier suicide.
Randi Jensen Contributes Expertise to New Book
TSP Northwest Director Randi Jensen has contributed a chapter to an important new book on PTSD, "War Trauma and its Wake: Expanding the Circle of Healing." Released from Routledge in September 2012, Jensen's chapter is called, "Military Suicidality: Providing a Dynamic Prevention Peer Protocol."
|From Wyoming. . .|
Donated House to Become Wyoming Therapy Center
Thanks to a donated house and the construction skills and sweat equity of Charlie Wilson, TSP-Wyoming will soon have access to the Riverton house for TSP therapists, veterans and their families to sit down in a home environment and work together at no cost. "It's a cute old farmhouse with lovely details," says Charlie's wife Jennifer who volunteers in the chapter. "The house has been moved onto a foundation, re-roofed, and gutted. Now we are working on stripping the old paint and repainting
A donated house takes a precarious journey
toward its new home in Riverton where it will
serve as a therapy center
as well as finishing the outside. Electrical, heat, and plumbing are done, and soon we'll be ready to start the interior."
Wilson cites lots of community help, including that of veterans, in the restoration process. "We are now recruiting veterans to help with the design of the interior as well as landscaping to make it as comfortable a space as we can," says Jennifer. "The wonderful thing about the house is that it provides a more home-like atmosphere for the therapists and clients who will be able to work there." Inside will be a meeting room, a small kitchen, bath, office, and reception area. The Wilsons plan to have the house ready for use sometime this winter.
Charlie and Jennifer Wilson Honored at Awards Luncheon
On August 27th, Charlie and Jennifer Wilson of TSP-Wyoming were honored in absentia at a luncheon in Cheyenne sponsored by the Wyoming Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve in an effort to acknowledge people who support the law requiring employers to hold jobs for returning veterans. "We received a statement of support certificate," says Jennifer. "It was really just a thank-you for doing our part."