Wars’ Impact on Children Webinar and More

The  webinar, Indirect Neurotrauma: The Impact of War on Children, is set for April 28th and one of the 2011 monthly series scheduled by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. The online sessions offer an opportunity to “dialogue” with experts in various fields from both government and non-governmental organizations as well as listing a range of resources.

This is the second year the Webinars are being offered. Audio from 2010 Webinars also is available on topics like”Sports, the Military and Recurrent Concussion” and “Case Studies of Successful State Reintegration.”

Here’s the 2011 schedule:

Jan. 27: Peer-to-Peer Support Model Program

Feb. 24: Compassion Fatigue

March 24: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Co-occurring Psychological Health Disorders:
Focus on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury with Co-occurring Psychological Health
Disorders Toolkit

April 28: Indirect Neurotrauma: The Impact of War on Children

May 26: Operational Stress and In Theater Care

June 23: Anatomical/Physiological Changes Secondary to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

July 28: Reintegrative Medicine: Focusing on Family and Clinical Perspective, and
Adaptation Following Incident

Aug. 25: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Natural Disasters

Sept. 22: Neuropathophysiology of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Oct. 27: Generational Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Growth

Nov. 17: Holidays Apart from Family

December: No event due to the holidays

What better way to end 2010 than with “A Creed for a Comrade” – this video produced by the Defense Centers for Excellence:

Dec 30 deadline for deployment related property tax refund

If you are active duty or retired military who owns a home in Hillsborough County in Florida and served more than 45 days on deployment in 2008, you qualify for a combat grant that refunds up to $1,500 from your property taxes for that year. The deadline to get the required paperwork in for year 2008 is today, Dec. 30 at 5 pm. (If you live in other parts of Florida, check with your county’s VA office as well as your county administration because many counties offer similar programs to the one in Hillsborough that refund part of your property taxes if you were deployed.) Important: You have to file the application in person – you can get all the forms online but the military member or someone with a power of attorney for that military member has to submit the application in person.

If you deployed for more than 45 days in 2009 or 2010, you can apply for those years now too. My husband, USAF Senior Master Sgt Rex Temple and I did that yesterday at the Windhorst Road office near Falkenburg. The process took less than 10 minutes and the staff at the Veterans Administration office was tremendously helpful. We qualified for the maximum of $1,500 for both 2009 and 2010 as Rex was deployed for a full year in Afghanistan. As a military family we certainly know how much a $3,000 refund means to our budget.

USAF SMSgt Rex Temple at Serobi dam in Afghanistan in 2009.

The process was rather simple. Once you find the right page on the county government website, you simply follow the steps. The time consuming part is finding the receipts for the taxes; fortunately for us I keep pretty good records and found both the tax collectors tax estimate and also the receipt for the payment with relatively little digging. We also needed a copy of Rex’s deployment orders and his military ID card.

If you want apply for your combat grant/property tax refund, you have to get started on the web. You get started at this link:


Once on that page, you click on the Combat Grants for 2008 and 2009 button.


By the way, this also applies to people who have already retired as long as they were deployed for 45 days or more in 2008. And even though the web page only mentions 2008 and 2009, you can also apply for the grant for 2010.

Here are some lessons we learned from filing our application.

1. Make sure you have a copy of your deployment orders to submit with the application.

2. If your home is in the name of your non-military spouse because it was purchased before you got married, bring a copy of your marriage certificate (copy is fine, it does not need to be notarized). The military member whose name is not on the title will qualify for the refund since the home is a joint marital asset.

3. A lot of military families have recently applied for the grant so there will be some delay in getting your application processed. The website says applicants should allow 30 days for processing and to receive payment. But if payment is not received within 45 days, you call the Veteran Affairs Office to determine the nature of the delay. (We were told it would probably take at least 45 days for us to get our refund.)

Here are requirements for the grant being offered to active military and former military members who meet all of the following criteria:

Good luck with your application. And a big thank you to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for making this grant available for those who deploy to the front lines in service to this nation.

Navy 2010 Photos: from Haiti to Homecomings

U.S Navy photographers captured more than fighter jets, aircraft carriers and underwater frogmen in the their 2010 retrospective. Take a few minutes to watch and you’ll also see their helping hands in Haiti with a dose of several homecoming photos sprinkled in.

I’m now on a search for similar offerings from Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, National Guard and Marines.

The War at Home – A Spouse’s Poem

Photo from the Military with PTSD Facebook page.

Below is a poem from the Facebook group – Military with PTSD – a forum for veterans and spouses supporting each other. The site does not offer advice from health care professionals. But, the sentiments expressed are important for all to understand.

For health care professionals, readers should turn to the VA Center for PTSD or organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project resiliency resources and Give an Hour, a non-profit which provides free mental health for military and their families effected by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

My thanks to Cheyenne Forsythe for sharing this item and site. Unfortunately, the author was not noted.


Courtesy of the Military with PTSD Facebook group.

The War At Home


My children and I did not volunteer to go to war.

How could you not warn me the war was coming straight into our home?

I had no warning or instruction as to what to watch out for.

The soldier returned home and not my husband.

I got a little pamphlet explaining that most soldiers may have to readjust to being home.

I believed you and trusted you when you said that the readjustment period may take a few months but they should experience a successful transition back into the home.

Months turned into years and every time I would call for help I was brushed away.

I called for help because my home had turned into a battlefield.

Guns were being drawn and my children and I became the enemy.

We lived our life walking on eggshells out of fear.

For almost 5 years we lived in hell.

I had to use every ounce of strength I had to keep this family together.

My husband proudly served this country, and would gladly do it again if asked.

But when his family needed help, you allowed them to suffer for years.

We did not want money.  We wanted to have a normal life.

We would have had a chance if you would have been truthful.

If you would have told these soldiers families what to watch out for.

You should have told us about PTSD!

If you or a veteran you know is in need of immediate help: the Department of Veteran Affairs‘ 24 hour national suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Gulf Oil Spill heads National Guard’s Top 10 List

The following top 10 comes from Air Force Tech Sgt. John Orrell’s article, National Guard Highlights, from Department of Defense.


Soldiers of the Alabama National Guard build and maintain miles of HESCO barriers to protect Dauphin Island, Ala., beaches from the BP oil spill,July 23, 2010. More than 1,600 National Guard members supported Operation Deepwater Horizon in four Gulf states. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill

1- Operation Deepwater Horizon – More than 1,600 Guard members were assigned to the Gulf Coast states. Troops helped clean up and contain the almost 5 million barrels, or 200 million gallons, of crude oil that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico.

2- Supporting the Department of Homeland Security on the Southwest border

3- Haiti earthquake relief

4- Pakistan flood relief

5- Operation New Dawn – Iraq after the Sept. 1 end of Operation Iraqi Freedom

6- First F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft assigned to the Air National Guard

7- State Partnership Program

8- 2010 Winter Olympics – Five guard members competed in Vancouver

9- Homeland Response Forces

10- Agribusiness Development Teams performing in Afghanistan.

Carl Vinson Sailors in Search of Santa

Sharing a fun video created by the crew of USS Carl Vinson on Christmas Eve. I have a sentimental attachment to the ship. My nephew served aboard the Carl Vinson.

More than 500 Military Spouses Are Blogging

Anne Marie, creator of the military spouse blog Household 6 Diva.

I was introduced to serious blogging by Air Force SMSgt Rex Temple. He blogged almost daily while deployed in Afghanistan. His blog: Afghanistan: My Last Tour.

Blogging is a trend that’s grown to involve the whole military family.

To get an idea of the extent of blogging in the military, check out the following article.

The “Stars and Stripes” features a story on military spouse blogs. The article highlights an Army wife, Anne Marie, currently stationed in Germany, and her blog Household 6 Diva. Her blog includes sections on cooking, gardening, military life and military spouses. And, she’s compiled a list of spouse blogs covering all branches: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard.

The site  Milblogging.com has more than 500 military spouse blogs registered.

The Making of a Military Mom

JROTC Awards night my son's junior year in high school. LTC Linda Colar was the teacher who taught me about the Army.

By Dorie Griggs

I’m the very proud Mom of an Army ROTC cadet at The Citadel, The military College of South Carolina.  If you had told me in 2003 that I would write the previous line in 2010,  I would have laughed.  My son was going to study sharks, at least that was his plan.  His plans all changed his sophomore year in high school when he enrolled in his high school’s Junior ROTC program.

Senior year Raider Team meet, my son Nelson was captain. Photo by: Stanley Leary (Nelson's father)

The military had always interested him.  He had a dynamic teacher, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, who modeled leadership in a way that appealed to his “Type A,” first-child way of thinking.

His change in career path is not one I was on board with – at first.  I graduated from seminary in 2002 earning a master of divinity degree.  My area of interest at the time was doing chaplaincy type work with journalists who cover traumatic events, much the same as chaplains serve the police force or firefighters. I learned about the effects of traumatic events on the person experiencing them. The thought of having a child of mine go to war was not a thought I wanted to entertain.

As my son became more involved with the JROTC program, it became obvious he had a gift and the talents to be successful.  It also became apparent,  if I wanted to continue to have a relationship with my son,  I needed to get on board. I had to find the best way to support him and his interest in the military.  

The Roswell High School Raider Team won the county-wide Trophy in 2007. Nelson is holding two trophies to the left of the student in the red beret.

I read books and became friends with his instructor.  She was a tremendous help.  I attended the events hosted by the JROTC department.  In a way,  I was one of the “team Moms” for the group.

By his junior year, my son decided to look into the academies and applying for ROTC scholarships.  The military was going to be his career of choice.  His decision meant a whole new area for me to research. 

We attended our congressman’s academy day at a local base.  We spoke to ROTC officers at a local college. We looked into military colleges. Then the campus visits started.

A proud mother of a JROTC cadet, Dorie Griggs, was awarded the "Coin of Excellence" by the 1st Squadron 16th Calvary Regiment for outstanding support to the Roswell HS Hornet JROTC Battalion.

There was something about The Citadel that appealed to my son from the beginning. I went with him for his campus visit to Charleston.  We went along with another student and his father for the long trip from Atlanta to Charleston.  During the campus tour the guide took us into the stark barracks and explained that all cadets are given a list of what to bring, then told how to fold and put everything away.  I remember thinking to myself, “who would chose to go to a school like this?”  When I looked at my son and his friend, the two of them were saying, “This isn’t as bad as I thought.”

From that visit forward, he compared all other schools to The Citadel, and they didn’t measure up in his eyes. He received a full ride offer from the Army ROTC department at a school in Georgia, our home state, but he held out  to see if the ARMY ROTC scholarship would come through to enable him to attend The Citadel.  In June of his senior year the letter arrived.  I’ll never forget the afternoon call from him, “I’m going Army!  They gave me the 4-year scholarship!”

His journey to become an Army officer was beginning as was my very steep learning curve on being the mom of a cadet and soon to be military officer.

I first met Dorie Griggs in January at the Carter Center’s symposium on how to better cover returning war veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. She has been teaching me ever since.

Operation Proper Exit: Returning to Iraq to Heal


Retired Army Sgt. Alexander Reyes (right), from Miami, responds to applause at Camp Liberty in Baghdad after sharing the story of how he was wounded by an IED in 2007. He is one of seven wounded veterans who recently returned to Iraq as part of Operation Proper Exit, a program aimed at helping soldiers heal from traumatic injuries. Deborah Amos/NPR

The Troops First Foundation focuses on listening to veteran warriors’ needs to develop relevant programs for healing that don’t duplicate current efforts. National Public Radio’s Deborah Amos reports on one of foundation’s effort called – Operation Proper Exit where wounded warriors return to the site of their injury in Iraq.

A portion of the NPR story: The idea for the program came from wounded veterans themselves. Rick Kell, who volunteers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and runs a foundation called Troops First, helped make it happen. He won approval from the military command and the Army’s surgeon general.

“I’ve seen 49 men change in front of my eyes, the week that they were here,” says Kell. “I’ve received letters from wives thanking me for bringing their husbands back from Iraq after they had already been home for two years.”

Other initiatives by Troops First include Operation Coaches and Warriors and Operation V.I.P. – Visit Important People.

Handling the Holidays by Tammy Duckworth


Tammy Duckworth during her recent visit to USF.

The guest column below comes from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs blog, VAntage Point. Tammy Duckworth is the VA’s Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. She is a member of the Illinois Army National Guard and served as a Blackhawk pilot in Iraq where she was wounded losing both her legs and injuring her arm. Duckworth recently spoke on the challenges of living with disabilities at the University of South Florida.

By Tammy Duckworth December 21, 2010

I have real hermit tendencies. If it were not for my job and my husband, I would happily spend my days at home curled up, reading a book. This time of year can be both joyful and very isolating simultaneously. For those who are homebodies like me, or who are isolated, for whatever reason, this time of year can be downright deadly. It’s not a very far step from reading a book at home to feeling left out by the world.

The feelings of isolation can happen anywhere, even in crowds. I have a thing about crowds. I don’t like them. When I was a kid, I loved big holiday crowds, stores full of smiling people, lines to go see Santa. Nowadays, crowded malls and stores give me a headache and, at best, make me irritable and feeling trapped from potential exit points. Sometimes it can feel like one is literally an island amid the sea of people surging by in their holiday rush. These feelings are often intensified for those who have served in combat or who are on deployment.

We all know the holidays can be a stressful time. We also know there are lots of folks out there who can feel alone even among a crowd of people. This season, if you’re a Veteran, a service member or a family member, you can talk to a VA counselor. Please call 1-800-273-talk (8255). If you’re in danger of becoming homeless or are already homeless, call us at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).

It takes strength to ask for help. I know all of our warriors have that strength–sometimes you just have to dig deep for it. Please reach out to us. Your VA is ready to listen.

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