(Chillicothe) – Tisha Hardin, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center, is the recipient of the Rita Gillick 2021 Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award.
The Rita Gillick Mental Health Advocacy Award was established in 1986 in honor and memory of Rita Gillick, an early advocate for those with mental illnesses. Rita was hospitalized for over 25 years of her life and upon discharge became a founding member of The Gathering Place. She was known statewide as an advocate for client’s rights and consumer directed services and served on the Athens-Hocking-Vinton Community Mental Health Board for six years. The award is presented annually to a person who demonstrates the overwhelming willpower of Rita Gillick to never stop in their advocacy efforts for those with mental illnesses.
Ms. Hardin was nominated and selected by the Athens-Hocking-Vinton Alcohol, Drug, Addiction and Mental Health Services Board for her dedication and commitment to serving individuals experiencing mental illness and justice-involved Veteransthrough the VA’s Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) program.
(Columbus) – A coalition of Columbus cultural institutions have joined forces to host a free virtual screening in the “National Veterans Film Festival PresentsSeries,” on September 17–26, 2021. The 10-day event connects Americans through Veterans’ voices and stories by celebrating the contributions and resiliency of our nation’s Veterans.
The film, “Modern Warrior LIVE” (MWL), is a performance narrated by co-creator Staff Sergeant Jaymes Poling, who spent three years in Afghanistan as an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division. This autobiographical production details Poling’s time in the military and his subsequent transition back home through spoken word and music. The film was shot during the pandemic in 2020 and is powered with dynamic performances by Cleveland-born (MWL creator) and internationally acclaimed musician, Dominick Farinacci, along with a renowned cast of artists. It features an appearance by Vietnam Veteran and celebrated news anchor, Leon Bibb.
The filmed performance seeks to build dialogue between Veteran and civilian communities by educating, entertaining and empowering. The focus on post-traumatic growth aims to destigmatize Veterans through a deeper understanding of their experiences. The show explores the psychological weights of war, the challenges of reintegration as a civilian and the potential for positive personal and communal growth.
A taped panel discussion will follow the screening of “Modern Warrior Live,” and VA resources will be provided.
“There is so much more that unites Americans than divides us,” said Lt. General Michael Ferriter, U.S. Army (Retired), President and CEO of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. “By screening great films made by Veterans or that tell stories about Veterans, this festival can address their human experience and inspire a dialogue about what it means to serve our nation and commit to something larger than yourself.”
The NVFF Screening Series is a partnership of some of Ohio’s leading arts and culture organizations – the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Gateway Film Center and the VA Ohio Health Care System, including Columbus, Chillicothe, and Cleveland Whole Health teams.
“Sitting at the intersection of art, education, technology and politics, film is the art form that has been most influenced by Americans and that has had the greatest impact on our culture,” said Chris Hamel, President of Gateway Film Center. “It is arguably our most enduring cultural connector.” Gateway Film Center will be leading the film festival’s submissions and programming processes. “Columbus is developing a great collection of annual film festivals, and the National Veterans Film Festival is a needed addition.”
“We believe in the power of visual storytelling,” said Heather P. Seymour, Creative Arts Coordinator at the Columbus VA. “Sharing our narratives allows us to heal, it communalizes the human experience and connects communities. We are proud to share this opportunity throughout the country through our VA national network.”
Registration for the free film screening and additional information about the National Veterans Film Festival can be found at www.VeteransFilm.org.
(Chillicothe) — On September 11, 2021, the nation will observe the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. This day in history has forever changed the lives of so many. At the Chillicothe VA Medical Center, we vow to never forget. Please join us for our virtual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony that will be posted on the Chillicothe VA Facebook (facebook.com/ChillicotheVAMC) on September 11 at 9 a.m.
As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the Department of Veterans Affairs is providing those who served awareness of and access to all their health care services, specifically in areas of mental health and post-traumatic stress care.
VA Mental Health officials said there has been an uptick in Veterans seeking help, which could increase as they come to terms with their service and as the Afghanistan withdrawal comes to completion.
“Our nation is indebted to the men and women who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, because they made our world infinitely safer,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “Their service did not come without sacrifice as some carry physical and emotional wounds. We must ensure they get the world-class care they’ve earned and deserve.”
VA’s Vantage Point blog (https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/92731/afghanistan-how-veterans-can-learn-from-vietnam-veterans) is running a four-part series on Afghanistan featuring Veterans’ thoughts and perspectives on their time there and the drawdown. The series will run each Tuesday until completed.
The series focuses on:
Recognizing warning signs of posttraumatic stress.
How spouses, family members and friends can respond to and assist someone with PTSD.
Where and how to get help within VA.
Mobile apps and tips for recovery.
“Our purpose for being there was to prevent further attacks on the homeland,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ramón Colón-López. Colón-López is an Air Force pararescue man who served in Afghanistan and is currently the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He adds his fellow service members should be proud of their actions over the last 20 years but also be cognizant of any mental health difficulties.
Colón-López spent years hiding and ignoring his PTSD, which led to heavy drinking and reckless behavior. It wasn’t until he had a mountain biking accident that his wife gave him an ultimatum to get help.
“Veterans should be on the lookout for red flags if news of Afghanistan starts changing behavior,” said the Director of the National Center for PTSD Consultation Program Sonya Norman, Ph.D. “These include isolating, using alcohol and drugs or any increase in unhealthy behaviors compared to normal.”
Norman points out excessive working or video game playing could be signs someone is struggling and needs help.
The series provides information on Vet Centers which started after the Vietnam War and addresses the parallels between conflicts and how they can help through readjustment counseling.
“I’ve got Vietnam Veterans who are still coming here, not because we failed to resolve any issue in their life, but because they found a home in the community,” said Director of the Las Vegas Vet Center Joe Lasky. “They found friendships and a way to come talk and deal with issues that may have started in Vietnam, but now affect their current health.”
Lasky added he’s seen a willingness among Vietnam Veterans to mentor more recent Veterans. Decades removed from their own service; many will offer advice to younger Veterans to not repeat mistakes they might have made.
The Chillicothe VA recognizes this time of year can be difficult for many Veterans. Please know, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Contact your local VA mental health provider, 740-773-1141, extension 17898, or call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and then press 1. The Veterans Crisis Line is also available by text at 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat. This is a free, confidential resource available to any Veteran, even if they are not enrolled in VA health care or registered with VA. Save the Veterans Crisis Line as a contact in your phone and encourage others to do the same.
“The events of September 11, 2001 called brave men and women to serve their country as members of the armed services,” said Dr. Kathy Berger, Medical Center Director. “VA remembers their service and sacrifices. We are here to serve you now.”
See our interview with Chillicothe V.A. Medical Center’s Dr. Robert Taylor and Public Relations Officer Stacia Ruby, as we talk about available mental health services available to Veterans. CLICK HERE:
(Chillicothe) – The Chillicothe VA Medical Center and its Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) are available to Veterans during the current crisis in Afghanistan. Veterans may be feeling distressed about experiences during military service, you are not alone and it’s normal to feel this way. Talking with friends and family, reaching out to battle buddies, connecting with a peer-to-peer network, or signing up for mental health services can help.
In reaction to current events in Afghanistan, Veterans may:
Feel frustrated, sad, helpless, grief, or distressed
Feel angry or betrayed
Experience an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
Sleep poorly, drink more, or use more drugs
Try to avoid all reminders, media, or shy away from social situations
Have more military and homecoming memories
Feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself feel those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often, these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.
Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress
It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you? This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent, or a community member. Something that is meaningful to you in regard to your work or your spirituality? Such activities won’t change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.
It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good? If so, try and think in less extreme terms. For example, rather than thinking “my service in Afghanistan was useless” consider instead “I helped keep Afghanistan safe.”
Finally, consider more general coping strategies that you may want to try including:
Engage in Positive Activities. Try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities, even if they are small, simple actions. Doing things that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, can make you feel better.
Stay Connected. Spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.
Practice Good Self Care. Look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational text are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.
Stick to Your Routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.
Limit Media Exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.
Use a mobile app. Consider one of VA’s self-help apps (www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/) that can help you deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
PTSD Coach Online (www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/ptsdcoachonline/default.htm). A series of online video coaches will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress. PTSD Coach Online is used on a computer, rather than a mobile device, and therefore can offer tools that involve writing.
If you develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal with challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, and an ability to mentor and support others in similar situations.
(Chillicothe) – The Chillicothe VA Medical Center and its Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) continue to adjust to the increase of COVID-19 cases in Ohio. These changes are in an effort to protect the Veterans we serve and minimize the risk of exposure to the virus.
As part of this effort, traffic flow onto the Chillicothe VA campus will be shifted to a single-entry access effective Wednesday, September 1, until further notice. The facility’s North Entrance will be closed and access to the VA will flow from the South and West gates to Cleveland Avenue.
Those entering the VA’s facility will be required to complete a drive thru screening process on Cleveland Avenue prior to continuing onto the campus. The Golf Course and VA Memorial Stadium can be accessed via Cleveland Avenue.
To speed up this screening process, Veterans, caregivers and general public are encouraged to utilize one of the following COVID screening options:
Text “Screen” to 53079.
Use your cell phone camera to scan the following QR code.
(Chillicothe) –– The Chillicothe VA Medical Center and its Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) are making adjustments due to the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in Ohio. These changes are in an effort to protect the Veterans we serve and minimize the risk of the virus.
As part of this effort, visitation to the Community Living Centers (CLCs) has been ceased until further notice.
Those entering the VA’s facilities will continue to be screened at the entrances. Masks are required inside buildings and outside when social distancing is not possible. Children under the age of 18 are not permitted inside buildings. To speed up this screening process, Veterans and caregivers are encouraged to utilize
The following COVID screening options:
Text “Screen” to 53079.
Use your cell phone camera to scan the following QR code.
The Unioto Shermans took first place in the Annual Military Invitational Golf Tournament Saturday at the Forrest Everhart Memorial Golf Course at V.A. Medical Center.
The Shermans’ “A Team” was first with a 316. That was 9 stroke better than runner up McClain, which shot a 325.
Here is the order of finish for all participating teams: Unioto “A” 316 McClain 325 West Union 336 Hillsboro 340 Southeastern 362 Adena 365 Unioto “B” 372 Jackson 376 Westfall 378 Paint Valley 390 Huntington 408 Vinton County 414
(CHILLICOTHE) — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects more people and their families than you may think. While VA medical centers nationwide are well versed in treating PTSD, it is important to understand that this condition does not just affect Veterans.
PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or life-threatening event. Those impacted by PTSD may find it difficult to function in typical daily activities such as going to work, going to school or spending time with people, friends or loved ones.
Common reactions associated with PTSD include:
distressing memories of the trauma
changes in how you feel such as strong unpleasant emotions
changes in how you think about yourself, others or the world
feeling disconnected from others
feeling especially alert and watchful
irritable behavior or angry outbursts
disruption in relationships
Being aware of the signs and symptoms is the first step to a diagnosis and learning about treatments available that can improve quality of life. Treatment can be helpful even if symptoms have been ongoing for years. Learn more about PTSD by visiting www.ptsd.va.gov and talk to your healthcare provider about available treatments.
The Chilicothe VA Medical Center offers evidence-based PTSD treatments including Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, Eye Movement Desensitization & Processing as well as psychotherapy for insomnia, which is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. PTSD therapy is completed individually and involves completing practice assignments outside of scheduled sessions. Peer support led groups are also available.
Veterans who have experienced difficulties following a trauma are encouraged to contact the Chillicothe VA PCT Clinic Coordinator at 740-773-1141, extension 16557 or 17871, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
In recognition of PTSD Awareness Month, Veterans and community members are invited to participate in the 2K Battle Buddy Walk at the Chillicothe VA on Wednesday, June 30, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Check in will be at the VA Memorial Stadium parking lot. There will also be a Facebook Live event on June 30 at 3 p.m. Visit the following link to hear from experts about services available to Veterans experiencing homelessness with PTSD: https://bddy.me/2SlbHqk
The annual sale of Girls Scout cookies is a treat for many of us, and veterans of the U.S. military are no different.
This year, a group called Soldiers Angels helped facilitate the delivery of 9,092 cases of the cookies to the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Bobbi Jo Hoffman of Soldiers Angels says that many cases totals more than 100,000 boxes of cookies.
Jamie Russell, Voluntary Service Specialist at the Chillicothe V.A. Medical Center says the cookies are presented to the hospital’s in-patients and out-patients, along with the Veterans Service Office distributing Girl Scout cookies to veterans in the community as well.
Hoffman says this is one of the many things Soldiers Angels does to help make veterans lives “a little brighter.”
She says they need more volunteers and hopes to see more people in our area get involved.
For more information on how you get become involved volunteering with Soldiers Angels in our area, contact Bobbi Jo Hoffman (740) 520-4252 or email email@example.com