Warrior Veteran Resiliency Forum

 

CFR Warrior Resiliency Blog

Restoring the Warrior ~ Rebuilding the Family! One Warrior at a Time

For many of us who struggle with Chronic Pain on top of the Other injuries like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) (I have both) there are days like today where the pain is just too much and you feel like your health is not getting any better… but in fact […]

For many of us who struggle with Chronic Pain on top of the Other injuries like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) (I have both) there are days like today where the pain is just too much and you feel like your health is not getting any better… but in fact it’s getting […]

via The Days You Contemplate Life. (What Keeps Me Going). — Camp Freedom Ranch Warrior Blog


Author: aarohel
Posted: April 16, 2016, 4:49 am
22/4/90… to many these numbers mean nothing… but to those who have born the burden of battle, returned home, and for their loved ones these numbers present a stark reality that majority of Americans never hear about. These #’s represent my LIFE and a reason to celebrate every day I am alive. 22/4/90… these numbers […]

22/4/90… to many these numbers mean nothing… but to those who have born the burden of battle, returned home, and for their loved ones these numbers present a stark reality that majority of Americans never hear about. These #’s represent my LIFE and a reason to celebrate every day I am alive.

22/4/90… these numbers answers the questions that most people ask me like; “Why would you want to start a nonprofit business?” or, “Why does your organization exist”? These question are asked because many do not understand the condition our Wounded Veterans, Caregivers, and familes are in or just how drastic the need is.

This post is about the current STATE of AFFAIRS of those Wounded Veterans, Caregivers & Families who have left Active Duty and are struggling without the adequate resources they need for the current battle they are fighting with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Transitioning. Although the war overseas is slowing down, the one right here at home to combat the effects that PTSD and TBI are having amongst our transitioining warriors is growing.
…. Veterans who survived Taliban and al Qaida attacks, roadside bombs, mortar fire and the deaths of fellow soldiers told News21 that they have returned home to a future threatened by poverty, unemployment, homelessness and suicide ( Post 9-11 Veterans Returning Home to a Nation who Cannot Address their Needs)

THE FACTS:

As of September 2014, there are 2.7 million American Veterans of the Iraq & Afghanistan wars who have returned home  of that 1 -in- 4 (20%) have PTSD and/or Depression (RAND) 50% of those with PTSD DONT SEEK TREATMENT.


2,700,000  Veterans of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom have transitioned back to civilian life without adequate transitional assistance, 
7% (189,000)

all Wounded Veterans who just like me who have Comorbid injuries/illnesses. I was blown up by a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) in 2003, died, had an out-of-body experience, and was listed as Very Seriously Injured (VSI) (life is in imanent dangerr, expeccted to die within 24hrs). There is much I could say about my experience but I will sum it all up with this;
…I believe I was given a second lease on life so that I could stand up for and with my Brothers-in-Arms, to “Be a Voice for the Voiceless” and to work with them through Professional Life Coaching and bio-pyscho-social interventions that will “Provide Hope” with plans for good and not dispair with a future that is limitless.
22/4/90… to many these numbers mean nothing… but to those who have born the burden of battle, returned home, and for their loved ones these numbers present a stark reality that majority of Americans never hear about.
22/4/90… these numbers answers the questions that most people ask me like; “Why would you want to start a nonprofit business?” or, “Why does your organization exist”? These question are asked because many do not understand the condition our Wounded Veterans, Caregivers, and familes are in or just how drastic the need is.
▪ 22 veterans a day commit suicide (1 every 65 minutes)

▪ 4x a Veteran with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is more likely to commit suicide than one without,

▪ 90% is the divorce rate for a returning veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

These are the facts and with the current state of financial affairs of our government our veterans and families need Camp Freedom Ranch now more than ever.

​Here is what I believe to be the issue among many Americans and the polls are starting to show the sentiment. I believe that they don’t want to be rude however, in their mind they are contemplating, “would the world be a less rich place if veterans suffering with these illnesses disappeared entirely?” Moreover, the reason some may be thinking that is due to the messaging that has been put out there. Now it is our job to show and tell them the value of a veteran and their families once they have been Restored, Equipped, Assisted, and Prepared for a successful and sustainable transition into civilian life.
​The concept for what was incorporated as Freedom Ranch in 2011 and is now Doing Business As (DBA) Camp Freedom Ranch (CFR) began in 2010 – 2011 when I was undergoing Rehab and Physical Therapy (PT) at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) in Bethesda MD for vestibular and cognitive issues due to TBI, on top of going through CBT and various psychotherapy techniques across the street at Bethesda; none of which worked, except the self-taught coping skills learned out of necessity to survive and with the help of an experienced support network at home from previous injuries sustained in Iraq in 2003. The idea was further developed through the interaction with Wounded Warriors and self-awareness of his attitudinal shift after being amongst them that helped to reframe cognitive thinking patterns and stop the negative emotions of the war that raged inside. The concept began to be put on paper in January 2012 through a “Life Focus” certification course for Professional Lifeforming Coaching that concluded in May 2012 with actionable next steps and ultimately incorporation on 20 Nov 2012.
​Camp Freedom Ranch was created to meet the emerging needs among our Veterans who have made the transition back to civilian life, never been diagnosed, and are struggling with PTS / TBI yet are unaware of the symptoms. Camp Freedom Ranch will provide them and their Primary Care Giver (PCG) / Family Member with the support and resources needed to ensure a successful and sustainable future. The alarming suicide rate that exists among these warriors is unacceptable as many of these Veterans hit an emotional wall between 18-36 months and see no other way out. On average, 22 veterans per day take their own life (that is 65 minutes). A study of veterans with PTSD published August 2009 by the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that 47 percent had suicidal thoughts before seeking treatment and 3 percent had attempted to kill themselves. Nearly 1 in 5 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer with PTSD or TBI and are unaware of what the symptoms are or what to do. For these veterans’ the suicide rate is almost twice the national average and 2 out of 3 of their marriages are failing according to Military Ministry.

​Many who suffer from combat trauma are reluctant to seek help from military channels because of how it could affect their records. Questions of mental illness could disqualify them from leadership and/or desirable assignments.

​The purpose of Camp Freedom is to provide our Wounded Warriors who are suffering with PTSD, TBI, and chronic pain due to injuries sustained in theater a safe and secure community-based residential care facility. One that offer’s them and their Family / Primary Care Giver (PCG) the transitional, rehabilitative, and respite care services needed to provide them with the resources and tools necessary to make and sustain a successful transition to civilian life. We are a non-partisan organization whose sole focus is that of our warriors and their ability to live a better, more fulfilled, and active life. It is our missions mandate that no Wounded Warrior or Veteran who wants to be a guest of Camp Freedoms ever have to pay to do so.

​Some of the services that we will offer are, Equine Therapy, which has many positive benefits, some of them are, confidence, Self-Efficacy, Self-Concept, Communication and Trust. Adaptive Sports such as, Wheelchair Basketball, Cycling, Horse back riding and Nature Trails for Hiking or Biking, Physical and Occupational Therapy (PT/OT) to include Rehabilitative Care. We look to incorporate many different forms of Psychotherapy “Talk” Therapies as not all warriors are alike and no one therapy works for all. Some of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is: Couples Therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy (CBCT), Exposure Therapy, Cognitive Restructuring, Stress Inoculation Training and more.

​One of the most important above all is the ability for warriors to mentor warriors. Our Warrior-2-Warrior Campfire Mentor Meeting (W2WCFM2) is where wounded warriors and veterans gather together around a campfire setting and share what each other has experienced and what they have learned from it. This time helps to foster one-on-one authentic relationships and to learn from others by listening. Sometimes it is easier to discuss the readjustment process with someone who has already been down the same rocky road to recovery and what they discovered along the way. This time is meant to be a catalyst that inspires other warriors to regroup and rethink the situations they are in and to be able to re-frame their current circumstances from a new perspective as well as refortify the new things they might be learning.

​Currently in the US, there are very few facilities that are similar in nature but none in this strategic location like this and currently there is no real initiative to combat this dilemma. The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that as many as 26 percent of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who were seen and treated by the VA have been diagnosed with mental illness. This widespread problem has led to the proposal of the Comprehensive Assistance for Veterans Exposed to Traumatic Stressors Act. Yet, there still remains a gap in healthcare provided to our service members. The experience of treating military personnel suffering from combat–related mental illness during the late 1940’s led many psychiatrists to emphasize the social dimensions of mental disorder and to hypothesize that mentally ill civilians and veterans may be treated best outside of traditional mental institutions in their hometowns. Our holistic approach to treatment is based on personal experience and interaction with veterans as to what work treatment worked best.​


Author: aarohel
Posted: April 11, 2016, 8:52 pm
Camp Freedom Ranch is about Providing Hope to those who have borne the burden of battle only to return home and have to fight a whole new war that they are not trained for or aware of (PTSD/TBI). Far too many Warriors leave the ranks of Active Duty to return home thinking they have left the war behind them... only to find out many months or years later that what they thought was nothing now consumes them. For 90% of those that are married it Destroys their marriages. This is because many of our veterans, like myself, go many years undiagnosed and unaware of what the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are. I went 7 years undiagnosed and unaware. The results were devastating and my family bore the brunt of it all.

The Pain Continues and my Health Decliines
My Battle Buddy and Me

For many of us who struggle with Chronic Pain on top of the Other injuries like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) (I have both) there are days like today where the pain is just too much and you feel like your health is not getting any better… but in fact it’s getting worse.

Sometimes I feel like giving up… The pain never ends and the injuries just won’t heal… So what do you do?

You’ve sought help only to have it go unanswered because YOU DON’T QUALIFY FOR IT (you make too much money). So now I’m left to my thoughts and the pain. The Concept of living just doesn’t seem to hold much for the future… And the constant pain I cause those I love only compounds this situation.

Being bed ridden and unable to do much of anything also hurts especially when my kids want to play a game or do something…

But I can’t do Anything Because I can’t work and I can’t afford to pay my bills (had to declare bankruptcy) then add to all of that the stress all this causes my marriage… To the Point of I’m worried about my wife having an emotional meltdown and not be able to hold all the family together

So what then do I do?  All I can do is watch my family unwind and implode on themselves because of me.

The thoughts flood into my mind about why I should not live:

Always on the top of everyone’s list is

  1. They are better off without me
  2. Maybe with me gone they actually might qualify for financial help.
  3. The pain is too much to where I don’t even like looking at myself in the mirror and who I’ve become because of the pain.
  4. I can’t stand to look in their eyes and see the pain I constantly cause them.
  5. I’m like a cancer in their life and they need to cut me out of it. 
  6. The list could go on and on you get my point. 
So what do I do? How do I overcome this insurmountable gap from where I am to being able to get help?

NO MAN’S LAND… THE PLACE HOPE COMES TO DIE

I live in a place that I have come to call “No-Mans Land”.

No-Mans Land”  is a place I call home these days.  Living in a Black hole that is devoid of any kind of support from the Federal, State, or Local government. It is also lacking in any kind of support from non profit organizations that are supposedly here in the area to support Veterans (just not veterans like me)… Living in a Black hole or as I have come to affectionately call its “No-Man’s Land” is THE PLACE where HOPE comes to die.

That’s the one that bugs me the most… NONPROFITS… I started Camp Freedom Ranch (a nonprofit for Veterans) in the hopes that we could stop the senseless suicides of 22 Warriors a day and to Provide them the Hope and Support they so desperately need.  To help veterans and families that are just like me.  

ZEAL LEFT UNCHECKED:

Unfortunately my zeal for the mission of Camp Freedom Ranch was not metered by logic or the sound practice of adhering the expert guidance I was receiving. I felt that to wait and take the slow methodical approach would be too costly (the results of my actions would be almost deadly) in the loss of life and we needed to attack the situation head on.   While my zeal for the mission of CFR was the very thing that drew people in, it was also the very thing that caused me to spend my life savings to fund almost the entire operation.  Through it all I had a GREAT Leader and mentor (Greg) who stood beside me and tried as best he could (without hitting me with a baseball bat) to guide me and groom me for the task ahead.  He (unlike me) is the long war type of leader who sees with great vision, clarity, and detail the outcome of actions taken today years down the road. While I had a hard enough time just seeing past the next year.  I am and forever grateful for all that he and his lovely bride did for me and my family and can never thank them both enough.  But sadly I allowed my obstinance to push him out of my life because I could not TRUST him like he trusted me.  All because I allowed the words of few to taint or miscolor my perception of how I viewed certain things.

 

IT’s CUT-THROAT OUT THERE

Since the inception of Camp Freedom Ranch back in November of 2012 there have been some setbacks along the way that have thrown me for a loop because I just did not want to believe that this nonprofit world is cut throat.  In October 2012 I had the opportunity to sit down for awhile with the President of a very successful and prestigious non profit organization.  The advice she gave me that day has been very helpful.  But the one thing she said that has impacted me the most the gut check she gave me.  She asked me if I had counted the cost and was a prepared to take on this endeavor.  I looked at her with a Gary Coleman look as if to say “What you talkin about Willis”.   She said that the non profit world was a cut throat world to be in and that a veteran non profit was even more so.  I couldn’t believe it. Why would people not want to help each other as they are trying to help our Nation’s Heroes? It took me three years to finally realize that what she said was all too real.

It took me three years to finally understand what Margret meant that day in October. 2012 and I can honestly say I believe it 100%. Over those three years I’ve had people offer their support only to discover their motives were self-serving in nature. Many nonprofits in my area view Veterans as capital (a thing that was hard for me to understand) the more veterans an organization has access to the more liquid capital they have.  All I wanted to do is help my fellow Warriors and to truly shed a light on this situation so many of us find ourselves in.  I held out Hope that there were people out there like me, I wanted to believe in the Greater Good and that people still care and perform selfless acts of kindness and good.  But for now I’ll just wait. Because of those people who cared more about self than others I allowed their actions to affect my relationships and the way I interacted with others resulting in damaged and lost friendships.     Only to be confronted with the surrealism of a CUT THROAT Society that care more for themselves than they do about our Nation’s Heroes and helping veterans.

I have to admit that having people trick and mislead me was a major setback for me in the trust department it also opened eyes to see things as they really are. These people thought they could steal our ideas but the fact of the matter is those things that make us unique are the people and experiences we have all been through and what each individual brings to the table.  Just like a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) that consist of four key elements each with its own mission to perform. The CE, GCE, ACE, and CSSE each one different but together they are unstoppable.

I allowed my zeal to override common sense and didn’t see things logically like I should have. Instead it turned me zeal from the passion that inspires to an obstinance that gets under your skin.  That same zeal that caused people to sit up and listen or to get involved was the same zeal that turned into stubbornness. I set out to take the world by storm but in the end I wound up a VOC due to PPPP.  I became what one of my Platoon Sergeants used to always preach to us everyday about planning.  Don’t be a VOC to the 4 P’s.  For those of you wondering here it is:

Don’t be a Victim Of Circumstances (VOC) due to Piss Poor Prior Planning (4 P’s)

I know… I know… Trust me I know what I have just wrote and it’s a bit tough to take in. That’s why it took me (3) Three years to wake up and smell the roses myself.  I didn’t want to believe it… I couldn’t Believe it…. But the sad fact of the matter is…

Other Veteran Nonprofits in my area see Veterans as Currency.  The more Wounded Warriors/Veterans they have in their organization the more Liquid Capital they can amass.  But who gives a hoot that they aren’t really doing much to change the outcome of this battle we face.

I’d like to think I’m unstoppable….

I STILL BELIEVE:

Today I still believe in our mission and that Camp Freedom Ranch will achieve the synergy (synergism) it seeks with a select few other organizations.  Together we will achieve what we have set out to do (PROVIDE HOPE) through a strategic Combined Arms approach of Restoring the Warrior and Rebuilding the Family“. It was my zeal left unchecked that started things to unravel so don’t be foolish like me and get connected with a fellow warrior and talk.  Allow someone to tell you like it is and not flip out. Those people who tried to steal from us the things that make CFR unique never can and never will.  Because only those who really understand the phrase “War is Hell” can affect that change.

THE MOTHER OF ALL INVENTION:

They say that need or necessity is the mother of all invention. Well how can those on the outside who are not struggling or in this place I call “No-Mans Land” ever really offer any solution to solve the problem?

Necessity is the mother of invention definition. A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem.

The key concepts and ideas that makes Camp Freedom Ranch unique can only be expressed in a way that only other Wounded Veterans would understand.

 

MAYBE… Just Maybe… Part of their problem is because they don’t have a Wounded Veteran as their President or at least one in executive Leadership who suffers with PTSD/TBI on top of the physical injuries and Chronic Pain themselves.

Because I submit to you those who do… Are trying to combine forces with other like-minded organizations who really care about Meeting the NEED of our Warriors and Caregivers.  INSTEAD of TELLING them… Sorry but you DON’T QUALIFY for any assistance under our programs.

HAVE I GOT YOUR ATTENTION?
IS ANYONE LISTENING?

Sometimes I feel like the blind that walk along a wall feeling their way through life, unable to see what’s in front of them, left to suffer alone.  Even on the brightest of days, we look for the LIGHT OF HOPE but only find darkness and skies filled with doom.

.SO… The question still stands WHAT DO I DO? How do we keep going (fight the good fight) in face of such extreme circumstances…

This Month on April 22nd, 2016 it will mark my 13 year ALIVE DAY… These past 13 years have had their ups and downs (more   downs of late than ups) but through it all I have found a few things along the way to help me stay the course of life.


 What to Hold-on To When You Want To Give-Up:

Since April 22, 2003 I have done a great deal of Soul Searching and questioning the meaning to life and more importantly my purpose in life. Over the years since that day in Iraq I have been where I am today at least 5 or 6 times and everytime I come to these key facts things or reasons to keep fighting the good fight. I hope they will help you too.
  1. My Faith
    • Trying to understand what happened that day and why is too difficult to do and beyond my Pay Grade.  However, I can tell you that when I died and left my body I did see things and hear people and my guardian angel was the one escorting me up.  No I did not see a light at the end of a tunnel in fact I saw no tunnel at all) but what I know to be the facts of that day and the science of it all I should be dead. But for the Grace of God I’m not.  So I have to believe that I was given a second lease on life that day not for me to waste it here on earth but do be a VOICE for the VOICELESS. To speak up for my fellow warriors who suffer with PTSD & TBI and to tell their story.  To create awareness for all to see and understand what we go through and that we have INADEQUATE CARE.  IF I give UP TODAY and Pack it in then what about m fellow brothers who are suffering in silence.  I live to fight for the guy on my right and left AND YOU SHOULD TOO>. SPEAK UP!!
  2. My Family
    • more accurately my Son) he was born in 2005 and the unconditional love that he gives me melts me every time. When I think about him growing up without a Father I am immediately saddens because I know the truth is HE DESERVES BETTER than that. My wife and Daughters deserve better than that, though times are hard now I know that there will be a NEW SEaSON and each day brings me closer to that Day.
  3. My Wife:
    • I have spoken with my wife about these feelings & YOU SHOULD TOO. …We all Need Each Other… As Iron Sharpens Iron. So One Warrior/Veteran Sharpens Another. We can’t go through this alone so speak up and speak out. Tell someone you TRUST. After speaking with my wife about how I was feeling and why she then began to share with me what life would be like for her without me in it.  I have to admit that my vision was very narrow and self-centered before we spoke. Try it you might just be surprised at the revelation you discover.
  4. My Fellow Warriors:
    • I know that it sucks living in no-man’s land, but I can only imagine how much more it must suck for my fellow Warriors who are out there fixing the good fight without anyone or any type of support network in their life.  I declare Today the I WILL FIGHT FOR YOU! WILL YOU FIGHT FOR ME? Stand up and get involved don’t let life pass you by.
    • If you are in the Fire Fight for your life and pinned down do as you would in Combat and place a “CALL FOR FIRE”
      • Adjust Fire
      • Fire for Effect
      • Suppression)
  • My Purpose in Life
    • This one has been difficult to nail down and is a bit challenging when my health doesn’t cooperate but I know my purpose for living that day was to FIGHT for Veterans returning from war and their families who are making the transition from Service to Civilian.  I know it’s difficult and even more so when you feel all alone and are not given any help. That’s why I stated CAMP FREEDOM RANCH. TO PROVIDE HOPE; TO BE A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS; TO CREATE AWARENESS; TO TAKE THE STIGMA OUT OF PTSD & TBI
Overcoming Situations (Logic)
  1. Focus on the 90% of positive encounters I had instead of focusing all my energy on the negative ones.
    1. Rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings.
  2. Since there were legitimate problems that came up with the way I was doing something, I needed to address them.
    1. I identified the positives first
    2. Then the problem, discussed ways I could address the problem (with others who can contribute)
    3. Then implement new strategies.

when you’re doing something worthwhile, it’s okay not to get it -the important thing is that you keep persisting at it until you’ve mastered it.

Successful self-teaching requires self-discipline and reflective capability.
Techniques for Overcoming Negative Thoughts & Emotions
  • Make a list of the positives and what has been going well, and
  • Come up with new solutions for the problems you face (don’t be afraid to ask around for help), and then implement the new strategies with persistence and patience until you’ve found one that works.
Key Characteristics Needed:
  1. Persistence
  2. Self-discipline
  3. reflective capability.

Since starting Camp Freedom Ranch (CFR) I have made mistakes and lost my life’s savings because I allowed my Passion to overrule my logic (not doing that one again) and now my health is at an all time low and I could die.  But This one thing I swear, That I WILL continue to fight for my Fellow Warriors and to generate awareness of our Struggle to My Dieing Last Breath. So Help ME GOD!

If You are not in a good Church get online and find one in your local area.  Look for a Church that offers Small Groups (sometimes called Life Groups) and get involved.  If you don’t know how ask me.

Semper Fidelis Warriors and continue to Fight the Good Fight.

CFR

 


Author: aarohel
Posted: April 11, 2016, 8:51 pm
So today I’m at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital to undergo a Pulmanary Stress Test to see what’s causing my latest issues with fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, chest pain, & shortness of breath. 

So today I’m at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital to undergo a Pulmanary Stress Test to see what’s causing my latest issues with fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, chest pain, & shortness of breath. 


Author: aarohel
Posted: March 17, 2016, 6:34 pm
Calling all Friends of Camp Freedom Ranch​. THE WARRIORS-in-WELLNESS National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) is THIS WEDNESDAY. WHO: ALL Veterans, Caregivers, Family, Friends, and the Local Community WHAT: Warriors-in-Wellness – NDSD Event WHEN: Wednesday 07, October 6:00pm – 9:00pm WHERE: The USO Warrior & Family Center Fort Belvoir. WHY: The goals of the Warriors-in-Wellness – […]

Calling all Friends of Camp Freedom Ranch​. THE WARRIORS-in-WELLNESS National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) is THIS WEDNESDAY.

WHO: ALL Veterans, Caregivers, Family, Friends, and the Local Community
WHAT: Warriors-in-Wellness – NDSD Event
WHEN: Wednesday 07, October 6:00pm – 9:00pm
WHERE: The USO Warrior & Family Center Fort Belvoir.
WHY: The goals of the Warriors-in-Wellness – NDSD event are to call attention to the prevalence of mental health disorders in our society; to educate people about the signs of suicide and symptoms of mental health disorders, as well as the availability of effective treatments for mental health disorders; and to connect those in need to the mental health care system.

I am personally asking all of you to please pass the word on. If you know ANYONE who has been Served in Iraq or Afghanistan and they Live somewhere in the Norther Virginia, DC, Maryland Area TELL THEM THEY ARE INVITED!!!

The Food and Free and the Camaraderie with fellow Warriors is Priceless.
But without YOUR HELP to get them involved its difficult.

FOR THOSE WHO ARE THINKing…. Why bother the person I know is on Active Duty, they’re good… That assumption could not be father from the truth.
Just because a Warrior is on Active Duty and is exposed to medical pre-screenings and other evaluations, DOES NOT mean they aren’t suffering (Many Unaware). I personally went SEVEN YEARS undiagnosed with PTSD and TBI. Worse yet, I never even had a clue…. I wasn’t educated about the signs and symptoms, nor was I even aware that I could have Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, or TBI.

FOR THOSE SEVEN YEARS….
My wife and kids walked around on “Eggshells” not knowing what would set me off on a tirade or an outburst of anger. The emotional damage that was inflected on my family by ME (the one who loves them and is supposed to protect them) with uncontrollable outburst of anger or mood swings to be followed by periods of isolation from them. It got so bad that every time I would look into their eyes all I could see was the pain and hurt I had caused them and nothing feels worse than that. It hurt so bad that at times I would contemplate suicide because I couldn’t stand to see the person I was becoming BECAUSE I DIDNT KNOW ANYTHING WAS WRONG WITH ME, I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR…
….If you want to hear more about my personal experiences check out my blog at https://aarohel.wordpress.com/

PLEASE….. Help Camp Freedom Ranch provide the Training, Education, Awareness, and Screenings for Mental Health that ALL veterans and families can benefit from .

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

Click on the Link below and Take a Free Online Screening. Get educated become aware of the symptoms so you can help others. (Click_Here to Take The Screening)

CAMP FREEDOM RANCH EVENT CALENDAR

Sign Up to Find out More! (Click_Here)


Author: aarohel
Posted: October 5, 2015, 7:52 pm
For my fellow Warriors who are out there going through a rough patch please know that we are here, all you have to do is reach out. A little bit about me: I am a Marine Master Sergeant retired. I was blown up in Iraq in 2003 when a Rocket Propelled Grenade exploded near me […]

For my fellow Warriors who are out there going through a rough patch please know that we are here, all you have to do is reach out.

A little bit about me:

I am a Marine Master Sergeant retired. I was blown up in Iraq in 2003 when a Rocket Propelled Grenade exploded near me killing 3 and wounding 7.  I actually died, left my body, and as I was being escorted away I heard one of my Marines start screaming in pain when I began to strongly urge my my Guardian Angel that I could not leave him and I had to go back. I kept shouting this over and over again until I felt myself lowering back down to earth and ultimately back into my body again. I was listed as Very Seriously Injured (VSI) (life is in imanent dangerr, expeccted to die within 24hrs) and although there is much more I could say about my experience but I will sum it all up with this;

…I believe I was given a second lease on life so that I could stand up for and with my Brothers-in-Arms, to “Be a Voice for the Voiceless” and to work with them through Professional Life Coaching and bio-pyscho-social interventions that will “Provide Hope” with plans for good and not dispair with a future that is limitless.

As a Wounded Veteran with a fused spine and multiple injuries in addition to PTSD & TBI I fight not for myself but for my fellow warriors and their families and this is why I have began to blog about our struggle.

A study of veterans with PTSD published August 2009 by the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that 47 percent had suicidal thoughts before seeking treatment and 3 percent had attempted to kill themselves. 

This post is about the current STATE of AFFAIRS of the lives and welfare of those Wounded Veterans, Caregivers & Families who have left Active Duty and are struggling without the adequate resources they need for the current battle they are fighting with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Transitioning.  Although the war overseas is slowing down, the one right here at home to combat the effects that PTSD and TBI are having amongst our transitioining warriors is growing.

22/4/90… to many these numbers mean nothing… but to those who have born the burden of battle, returned home, and for their loved ones these numbers present a stark reality that majority of Americans never hear about. These #’s represent my LIFE and a reason to celebrate every day I am alive.

22/4/90… these numbers answers the questions that most people ask me like; “Why would you want to start a nonprofit business?” or, “Why does your organization exist”? These question are asked because many do not understand the condition our Wounded Veterans, Caregivers, and families are in or just how drastic the need is.


…. Veterans who survived Taliban and al Qaida attacks, roadside bombs, mortar fire and the deaths of fellow soldiers told News21 that they have returned home to a future threatened by poverty, unemployment, homelessness and suicide Post 9-11 Veterans Returning Home to a Nation who Cannot Address their Needs)


THE FACTS More than 2.6 million post-9/11 Veterans Have Already Re-Entered Civilian Life.

For many of them their futures are not so certain or positive….

  • 22 veterans a day commit suicide (1 every 65 minutes)
  • 4x a Veteran with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is more likely to commit suicide than one without,
  • 90% is the divorce rate for a returning veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

According to Military Ministry married Veterans with PTSD have 2 out of 3 of their marriages failing.

​Many who suffer from combat trauma are reluctant to seek help from military channels because of how it could affect their records. Questions of mental illness could disqualify them from leadership and/or desirable assignments.

52% of  Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom Veterans have transitioned back to civilian life without adequate transitional assistance,


20% (1-in-4) combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer with PTSD
19% of OIF/OEF veterans may have Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
7% of veterans have Both PTSD & TBI (Comorbid)
50% of Veterans w/ PTSD don't seek treatment
260,000 Post 9-11 Veterans (OEF,OIF, OND) have been diagnosed with TBI

More than half of 2.6 million Veterans who have fought in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

LEADERSHIP 101: The Principles that will achieve Success for Transitioning Veterans

As a Marine I was taught about the value of leadership and learned first hand the importance of knowing the 11 Leadership Principles and the 14 Leadership Traits (JJ DID TIE BUCKLE) and I know that the level of importance and the time, energy and training that goes into teaching leadership and instilling Warrior Ethos for the other Branches of service is probably just as equally important as in the Corps.

For all of us who have been involved in combat operations we know first hand the vital role decisive leadership has in achieving success of mission and troop welfare.

General C. B. Gates, the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps defined Leadership as the following:

“Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe.  Its quality would seem to stem from many factors.  But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility.  Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed.  Other ingredients can be acquired.  They are not easily learned.  But leaders can be and are made.”

General C. B. Cates,

19th Commandant of the Marine Corps

In order for veterans like myself to have a successful and sustainable transition we need others like us out here assisting just as we did while in the Military.  Of the 11 Leadership Principles that the Marine Corps has I would like to focus on just a few that I think are missing out in the civilian populace and how Wounded Veterans are the answer to turning things around.

MARINE CORPS 11 LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES:

  1. Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement  
  2. Be Technically and Tactically Proficient
  3. Know Your People and Look Out For Their Welfare
  4. Keep Your Personnel Informed
  5. Set The Example
  6. Ensure That The Task Is Understood, Supervised, and Accomplished
  7. Train Your Marines and Sailors as a Team
  8. Make Sound and Timely Decisions
  9. Develop a Sense of Responsibility Among Your Subordinates 
  10. Employ Your Command Within its Capabilities
  11. Seek Responsibilities and Take Responsibility

The issues that exist are;

Know Your People and Look Out For Their Welfare

– None really understand or know the veterans whom they should be looking out and or anything really about their wellbeing. (Out of Touch & don’t speak the language)

This is one of the most important of the leadership principles.  A leader must make a conscientious effort to observe those they lead and how they react to different situations.  Someone who is nervous and lacks self-confidence should never be put in a situation where it could cause them to regress and do more harm than good. This knowledge will enable those leading or in charge of veterans welfare, programs and services to determine when close supervision is required. (Having a thumb on the pulse). This can only be achieved By Veterans.  That’s why Camp Freedom Ranch is working on building its core of Warrior Peer Mentors and Coaches.

– To put this principle in to practice successfully you should:

– Put your Marines’ welfare before your own

– Be approachable

– Encourage individual development

– Know your unit’s mental attitude; keep in touch with their thoughts

– Ensure fair and equal distribution of rewards

– Provide sufficient recreational time and insist on participation

Ensure That The Task Is Understood, Supervised, and Accomplished

– The level of incompetence seems to grow day by day and the number of veterans who fall by the wayside continues to grow.  The unemployment of veterans and homelessness will continue to grow unless  veterans truly feel that they can trust the person with whom they are speaking.  Veterans are really good at seeing through people who are just giving them lip service. People, programs, resources, and services that should exist for veterans don’t. The gap to care and barriers that the RAND spoke of Still exist.

Train Your Marines and Sailors as a Team

– Veterans are used to working in a team setting and now that they are out and no longer a part of that team their mental resiliency begins to take a toll. Having a place like that of CFR that seek to engage, equip, and empower veterans through the REAP methodology can be the game changer in the lives of many veterans. Unfortunately, funding is scare to nonexistent and the powers to be and other organizations that are currently in place are not as receptive to building synergistic collaborations that ultimately focus on the wellbeing of the veteran.

– TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) By being able to take Veterans, Caregivers, and their families to recreational and military evens is vital to achieving this success). Before we just take veterans out to a ballgame or wherever its important to ensure that whatever training we do is meaningful, and that the purpose is clear to all members.

Develop a Sense of Responsibility Among Your Subordinates 

– Not to go into too much depth here but in order to develop a sense of responsibility among veterans they first must feel as if they can trust the team they are working with in addition to the training that must go into helping them develop that responsibility.

– Another way to show veterans that you are interested in their welfare is to give them the opportunity for personal and professional development. Agencies should seek out and ask veterans for their help in achieving tasks or developing new initiatives to assist other veterans who will follow after them. This will go a long way in promoting mutual confidence and respect between the organization / agency and the veteran community.  It also encourages veterans to exercise initiative and to give wholehearted cooperation in accomplishment of these initiatives. (Again Veterans can see through a smoke screen so to do something like this they MUST BE AUTHENTICATE). Without the authenticity you can forget it.


Author: aarohel
Posted: September 30, 2015, 10:50 pm
Take a free anonymous online assessment today and find out.

Worrying about things is a major part of the human condition. It’s certainly normal to worry about money, finances, health, relationships and more. However, when worry disrupts how well you can live your life or seems to be about practically everything, your worry might be a condition called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

If you have something coming up in your life such as a major exam, a medical diagnosis or family event, it is normal to spend time worrying about it. If, however, your worry seems to be general (a feeling of overall dread or about everything) you may have GAD. People with GAD often have trouble sleeping or concentrating and feel that their worrying is out of control.

There are several ways to successfully treat GAD, including cognitive behavioral therapy (this involves reframing certain thoughts to influence mood), medication, and therapy among others. CAMP FREEDOM RANCH offers free and anonymous self-assessments for generalized anxiety disorder and other mental health conditions. Take a screening today at http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/camp-freedom-ranch. and check your mood.


Author: aarohel
Posted: September 28, 2015, 5:45 pm
Difference Between Crisis & Trauma What is the Difference Between CRISIS & TRAUMA? (PT I) CRISIS (Acute Stress): an event that is pretty predictable in life or anticipated; a temporary state of upset or disequilibrium in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; […]

What is the Difference Between CRISIS & TRAUMA? (PT I)

CRISIS (Acute Stress): an event that is pretty predictable in life or anticipated; a temporary state of upset or disequilibrium in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined;

It’s both Danger & Opportunity; Crisis is an opportunity to define your character.  
Life is full of ups and downs & sometimes we hit walls. Our ability to work our way through that challenging issue is everything…

– IF we can’t then disequilibrium or chaos will occur.
It is;
a : A TURNING POINT for better or worse in our Life
b : a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function
c : an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life <a midlife crisis>

When we can’t navigate our way through that problem in our life and it throws us into a state of disequilibrium or chaos.

Coping Skills are what we use to navigate the Crisis in our life. If they don’t work, then it can lead to panic or chaos at which point some people revert to substance abuse.

It can be dangerous (Danger) if we cannot resolve it or see our way through it (how to overcome the crisis).

The Opportunity occurs because its at this point when someone is most open to change, such as new ways of thinking or new values;

Crisis causes self-reflection. Crisis is actually an opportunity for clarity; Its at this juncture in our lives that we have Two Choices we can make;
1). We can choose to be “Bitter” or;
2). We can choose to get better.
The choice is ours to make.
It is through Crisis that the TRUE Character of a person is revealed.
People can become “aware” (mindfulness) of things (thoughts, patterns of behavior, actions/reactions, beliefs) that they are not happy about (the reality of living life with PTSD/TBI and your “New Normal”). However, it is at this point of being in Crisis or when you achieve mindfulness that you can now actually make the CHOICE to CHANGE.

Are you at a Turning Point in your life Today? Do you feel overwhelmed? Are you just not sure but would like to find out?

Here is a FREE and Anonymous online screening test that Camp Freedom Ranch offers to you and anyone you may know who you think would benefit from this.

http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/camp-freedom-ran…Free Anonymous Screening_Click Here!


Author: aarohel
Posted: September 26, 2015, 9:01 pm
What is the Difference Between CRISIS & TRAUMA? (PT I) CRISIS (Acute Stress): an event that is pretty predictable in life or anticipated; a temporary state of upset or disequilibrium in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; It’s both Danger & […]

What is the Difference Between CRISIS & TRAUMA? (PT I)

CRISIS (Acute Stress): an event that is pretty predictable in life or anticipated; a temporary state of upset or disequilibrium in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined;

It’s both Danger & Opportunity; Crisis is an opportunity to define your character.  
Life is full of ups and downs & sometimes we hit walls. Our ability to work our way through that challenging issue is everything…

– IF we can’t then disequilibrium or chaos will occur.
It is;
a : A TURNING POINT for better or worse in our Life
b : a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function
c : an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life <a midlife crisis>

When we can’t navigate our way through that problem in our life and it throws us into a state of disequilibrium or chaos.

Coping Skills are what we use to navigate the Crisis in our life. If they don’t work, then it can lead to panic or chaos at which point some people revert to substance abuse.

It can be dangerous (Danger) if we cannot resolve it or see our way through it (how to overcome the crisis).

The Opportunity occurs because its at this point when someone is most open to change, such as new ways of thinking or new values;

Crisis causes self-reflection. Crisis is actually an opportunity for clarity; Its at this juncture in our lives that we have Two Choices we can make;
1). We can choose to be “Bitter” or;
2). We can choose to get better.
The choice is ours to make.
It is through Crisis that the TRUE Character of a person is revealed.
People can become “aware” (mindfulness) of things (thoughts, patterns of behavior, actions/reactions, beliefs) that they are not happy about (the reality of living life with PTSD/TBI and your “New Normal”). However, it is at this point of being in Crisis or when you achieve mindfulness that you can now actually make the CHOICE to CHANGE.

Are you at a Turning Point in your life Today? Do you feel overwhelmed? Are you just not sure but would like to find out?

Here is a FREE and Anonymous online screening test that Camp Freedom Ranch offers to you and anyone you may know who you think would benefit from this.

http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/camp-freedom-ran…Free Anonymous Screening_Click Here!


Author: aarohel
Posted: September 24, 2015, 6:40 pm

 

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