MENTAL HEALTH SUBMISSIONS

SOLACE LIFE SCIENCE

My work involves finding technical solutions of substance that already exist, but have not found their way into the military, intelligence and special operations community. Vagas nerve stimulation using the company's inn-patient and out patient NuCalm devices with relaxation therapy has proven most successful in treating certain forms of TBI, PTSD, drug disorders and additions, pain disorders, dental procedure pre-procedure relaxation, and human mission performance enhancement. This therapy process is on-going in research at NIH, Stanford University and a host of other medical and academic centers.

Dr. G. Blake Holloway has spent his life in researching the impact of stress in the mid-brain. This process establishes a parasympathetic dominant state within minutes without drugs. Dr. Holloway has treated numerous veterans. He additionally is willing to offer gratis therapy to 10 or more veterans needing therapy. Over 120000 NuCalm units are fielded for medical and dental procedures. 570 NuCalm systems are used by healthcare professionals, executives, and athletes. Perhaps coincidence, but last year The Philadelphia Eagles, Golden State Warriers, and Washington Capitals alls used NuCalm. All won their respective championships. I, as a nominee and veteran own a unit as well.


THE LONG ROAD HOME

On April 4, 2004 the 1st Cavalry Division in Sadr City suffered its largest loss of life in a single day since the Vietnam War. Eight Americans made the ultimate sacrifice that day and more than 65 were wounded. Thirteen years ago, Martha Raddatz began her journey on THE LONG ROAD HOME, to tell the stories of the survivors of the ambush and their families. The National Geographic global mini-series event, executive produced by Mike Medavoy, not only tells the stories of the brave men and women who fight for our country, but it takes a look into the lives of the families that are left behind. THE LONG ROAD HOME is a universal story of how people face and overcome challenges. 

No soldier fights alone. The soldiers in this story are no exception. THE LONG ROAD HOME is an adrenaline-fueled and emotional journey that follows the action of the battle on two simultaneous fronts — the chaotic, terror-filled streets of Sadr City, where a group of inexperienced young soldiers faces an unexpected and unimaginable attack with bravery they never knew they had, and the homefront at Fort Hood, where family members, desperate for news of their loved ones and fearing the worst, discover their own courage and determination as well.

The Army was generous enough to allow production to take place on the Fort Hood military base for three months. Over the course of production, National Geographic worked closely with the military who were gracious with their time and knowledge to make sure that the story of THE LONG ROAD HOME was accurate – from building more than 80 buildings to how the actors held their guns. Two of the real-life soldiers from the April 4, 2004 battle served as production consultants on set, which they say got them the emotional healing they sought for years. Other military personnel served as extras in the production. 

The series stars Michael Kelly (“House of Cards,” “Taboo”) as then Lt. Col. Gary Volesky (now Gen. Volesky), the incoming battalion commander who was in his first hours of assuming authority over Sadr City as the battle broke out; Jason Ritter (“Parenthood,” “Girls”) as Capt. Troy Denomy, who bravely led a rescue convoy into the city; E.J. Bonilla (“Unforgettable”) as stranded platoon leader 1st Lt. Shane Aguero; Kate Bosworth (“Blue Crush,” “SS-GB,” “The Art of More”) as Gina Denomy, a young wife and new mom battling her own fears while reaching out to the families of the fallen and wounded; Sarah Wayne Callies (“Prison Break,” “The Walking Dead,” “Colony”) as Family Readiness Group leader and Gary Volesky’s wife, LeAnn Volesky; Noel Fisher (“Shameless”) as a heroic 24-year-old warrior and later peace activist Pfc. Tomas Young; and Jeremy Sisto (“Suburgatory,” “Law & Order,” “Six Feet Under”) as reluctant hero Staff Sgt. Robert Miltenberger.

Ahead of Veteran’s Day National Geographic furthered its commitment to the military community by developing Bravo Tango Brian Training, the first-ever voice activated meditation app designed specifically for veterans, with the aim of providing another tool in the effort to enhance mental health support for America’s veteran community. The meditation app is available for free on smartphones via the Google Assistant app and Google Home devices. Bravo Tango Brain Training was developed in partnership with former Air Force Psychologist and combat veteran Dr. Michael Valdovinos who specializes in military and veteran psychological health and has vast experience working with transitioning and reintegrating service members.

The approach used in the app is supported by numerous studies, including those published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, Military Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Psychology that have found breathing-based meditation intervention to result in reduced stress, anxiety, feelings of depression and slowed respiration rates. In one case, 90% of veteran participants completed the study, suggesting high acceptability of meditation practices.


THE LONG ROAD HOME-BRAVO TANGO APP

National Geographic furthered its commitment to the military community by developing Bravo Tango Brain Training, the first-ever voice activated meditation app designed specifically for veterans, with the aim of providing another tool in the effort to enhance mental health support for America’s veteran community. The meditation app is available for free on smartphones via the Google Assistant app and Google Home devices. Bravo Tango Brain Training was developed in partnership with former Air Force Psychologist and combat veteran Dr. Michael Valdovinos who specializes in military and veteran psychological health and has vast experience working with transitioning and reintegrating service members.

The approach used in the app is supported by numerous studies, including those published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, Military Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Psychology that have found breathing-based meditation intervention to result in reduced stress, anxiety, feelings of depression and slowed respiration rates. In one case, 90% of veteran participants completed the study, suggesting high acceptability of meditation practices.

The Bravo Tango Brain Training app gives veterans easy access to one of the most effective methods for reducing stress and maintaining healthy coping practices – meditation and mindfulness. National Geographic believes that this app can be a game changer in the lives of our service members, veterans and their families. The app modernizes mental health support for veterans and reduces barriers to seeking treatment.


BOULDER CREST RETREAT

Boulder Crest Retreat exists to solve the mental health crisis and to heal our military members, veterans, and their families dealing with PTSD and combat-related stress, so they can live productive, fulfilling, and service-oriented lives at home.

OUR MISSION
To provide free, world class, short-duration, high-impact retreats for combat veterans and their families.

OUR VISION
Revolutionize a model of healing that integrates evidence-based therapies, a safe, peaceful space and unparalleled customer service to improve physical, emotional, spiritual and economic well-being for our nation’s combat veterans and their families.

THE PROBLEM WE ARE SOLVING
In the aftermath of 16 years of war, more than 700,000 combat veterans, and 1.4 million family members, are battling the invisible wounds of war. The current mental health system, with its reliance on a one-size-fits-all approach of pharmaceuticals and talk therapy, has proven ineffective and ill-equipped to address the nature and scale of the challenges facing combat veterans and their families. These service members, veterans and family members deserve and require strength and growth-based training so they can bring their unique set of skills, experiences, and strengths to bear here at home. 

WHAT WE DO
Our Retreat teams remain focused on two very distinct mission critical programs:
1) Family Rest and Reconnection Stays ~ These are 2-7 night stays for families to rest, reconnect, and recharge in our beautiful setting and enjoy some quality family time together
2) Our PATHH Suite of Programs ~ which include the Warrior, the Family, Couples, and Caregivers. In late 2017, we began including first responders in our Warrior PATHH programs. 

WHAT WE BELIEVE
· We believe that a privately-funded model is the only way to generate the innovation, flexibility, and individualized care required to solve this problem.
· We believe that combat veterans are the strongest among us, and that they only require training to thrive at home.
· We believe that times of struggle can serve as the fuel for transformation and growth.
· We believe combat-related stress is contagious, therefore, to heal combat veterans, you must focus on the entire family.
· We believe that a calm, rural setting is a key component of the healing process.
· We believe that strong, capable, and trained military mentors, working hand-in-hand with therapists and training experts, are the key to fostering an environment of trust, openness, and safety.
· We believe that life is full of ups and downs. Successfully dealing with struggle requires mentors, strong support networks, and wellness practices.
· We believe that a comprehensive wellness model encompasses Mind, Body, Spirit, and Financial elements. 
· We believe that those best equipped to train others to achieve posttraumatic growth are those who have experienced posttraumatic growth in their own lives.

Some statistics from the 2017 annual report:
• Total guests served: 2,967 
• Guests served in 2017: 698 
• Total volunteer hours: 19,024 
• Total volunteer hours in 2017: 6,634 
• Corporate/Group Volunteer Service Days: 31

Warrior PATHH Program:
• Symptom Reduction 
o 40-60% sustained reduction in PCL (PTSD Checklist, a tool used by VA and DoD) scores 
o 50% sustained reduction in anxiety and depression, using the DASS-21 (Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale) 
o 65% of participants who arrived with what qualified as a clinical PTSD diagnosis do not have one six months later (compared to 2 percent for traditional treatments) 
• Quality of Life 
o 31% improvement in Couples Satisfaction (Couples Satisfaction Index) 
o 25% reduction in response to stress Posttraumatic Growth 
o 75% improvement in Psychological, Spiritual/Existential, and Relationship Growth (Posttraumatic Growth Inventory - PTGI-X)

REST AND RECONNECTION STAYS
• 100% of guests would like to return
• 100% of guests would recommend the Retreat to fellow warriors, families and friends
• 99% of guests said the Retreat provided their family with the opportunity to rest and reconnect
• 9.8/10 ranking by guests for their experience at the Retreat
• 142% improvement in how rested guests felt as they departed Boulder Crest Retreat
• 51% improvement in the extent to which their family was connected upon departing the Retreat


STEVEN A. COHEN MILITARY FAMILY CLINIC AT EASTERSEALS

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Easterseals is a not-for-profit philanthropic organization that provides behavioral health services to veterans (with an emphasis on post-9/11 veterans) and their families, and to active duty spouses and children within the DC metro area. All services are delivered at low or no-cost by our team of psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, case managers, and outreach specialists. The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Easterseals is part of the Cohen Veterans Network, which provides mental health services to veterans and their families across the nation.

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic (Cohen Clinic) at Easterseals launched in November 2017 and has helped more than 400 clients in over 3500 sessions to date. 57 percent of clients are veterans and 43 percent are non-veteran family members and children. Roughly 78 percent are post-9/11 veterans or family members with 26 percent being female veterans. This is two times the female veteran population in the U.S.

The Cohen Clinic is led by Dr. Tracy Neal-Walden, a veteran who served 24 years in the U.S. Air Force. The clinic is an important addition to the services Easterseals provides to our nation’s heroes and their families because studies show that 40 percent of returning veterans come home with mental health issues and are not receiving care.

Benefits we provide veterans:
• Immediate care to veterans and their families. Veterans can avoid wait lists and struggles to get benefits approved by the VA. The expected wait between the first contact and a first appointment at the Cohen Clinic is less than one week. If a veteran or family member is in crisis, the clinics will schedule an appointment on the same day.
• Services that are low-to-no costs. No client will be denied service due to their inability to pay.
• Breakdown barriers to care. Our program is able to find the veteran, transport him/her to our clinic with his/her children, provide child care while they receive services, and case management when they leave, all the while giving referrals for a variety of barriers stopping the individual from making progress.
• The convenience of telehealth. This allows a veteran seeking service to connect with a Cohen Clinic therapist over a smartphone, on a computer or a tablet with video capabilities. Telehealth allows veterans and their families to receive customized, high-quality mental health treatment from the comfort of their own homes.

The advantages of a veteran or related family member seeking treatment at the Cohen Clinic at Easterseals is that we provide veterans with an ecosystem of support by referring them to other Easterseals veteran programs such as:
• Veteran Staffing Network, which helps prepare veterans to succeed in finding employment.
• The Little Warriors Child Development Program, which provides scholarships to the children of wounded warriors. This program allows a child to attend one of four Easterseals child development centers, so their parents can focus on recovery.
• Homeless veteran reintegration programs
• Military family respite care
• Medical and adult day services for disabled veterans


NEXT STEP SERVICE DOGS

NSSD is ADI accredited, incorporating veteran and service dog training engagement activities, providing focus and a renewed purpose for veterans. A service dog offers a myriad of occupational options. Through a structured environment assisting participants to better deal with memory loss, migraines, seizures, and other related disabilities resulting from TBI, PTSD, students are in a tailored curriculum based upon individualized needs assessment. All dogs are trained to meet ADI standards. NSSD provides a structured classroom setting 4 days per week, and the opportunity for participants to train with others afflicted by similar problems. NSSD training programs are taught by credentialed dog trainers with significant experience in addressing special need populations. Most importantly, NSSD is able to train dogs for approximately $15,000 as compared to an industry standard of $25,000. According to Rubinstein, D., 2012, ADI trained service dogs are valued at approximately $25,000. 
Project Outputs and Goals: 
Based upon historical data and the current strategic plan, the projected outputs or services are as follows:
a. 32 of 35 participants or approximately 90% will complete the service dog training program to ADI standard within 6 months of starting. 

NSSD Goals identified in the strategic plan and in accordance with the organization’s mission, vision, and core values are achieved by the outputs or services identified above. These goals were established based on successful service outcomes and impact. They are:

1. To improve the quality of life for program graduates and their families.

2. To provide service dogs and training at no cost to program participants.  

3. To provide trained service dogs capable of performing individualized tasks based upon disability and need. 

4. To develop transferable job skills that offer the veteran a career path through the Trainer Academy.

5. To work in partnership and collaboratively with military, veteran, and first responder organizations to make referrals for services not provided by NSSD.


5 years past
*In the first five years NSSD has graduated 100 plus service dog teams.
*NSSD became an ADI (Assistance Dog International) accredited organization.
*NSSD has grown to 15 trainers 6 of which are veterans.
*NSSD has developed a model to train service dogs teams below the cost of other organizations while also accepting many of the tougher cases other organizations are not equipped to handle. NSSD does so by utilizing in kind donations of space and career change dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind and Guide Dogs of America that can be re-purposed as service dogs. 
* NSSD has received sponsorship and endorsements from Sierra Delta (Pet Smart Charities),The Cushman Foundation, The Cloverlane Foundation, AirPower Foundation, FOX Sports, Discount Tires Driven To Care Foundation to name just a few.
* NSSD has strategic partners within the community including residential facilities. OASIS, Aspire, Wounded Warrior Homes; Sierra Delta, Hemet HS Trainer Program, and Pet Partners Therapy Program.

* NSSD makes every effort to hire Veterans as trainers. As of the close of 2018 more than a third of our trainers are Veterans or First Responders. 

* With expansion dollars directed towards additional service dog teams, chapters and the launch of the veteran Trainer Academy, the NSSD board is excited it increase 2019 board with medical and veterinarian experts. The managerial responsibilities of the non profit will be directed by the board and sustainability and growth of NSSD will be executed through the training and marketing teams within NSSD.

* Strategic Plan and Budgets have been crafted and are available upon request.

* What makes NSSD different... NSSD has created a community that is inclusive, safe and meaningful. Our training program is not "cookbook" it is tailored to meet the individual needs of our clients. NSSD has been one of the rare non profits who has continuously put program and purpose above administration and fundraising. NSSD has prospered and served and is now ready to graduate more service dog teams and launch the Train the Trainer Academy . There as been a dramatic impact on the Veteran community having a service dog training organization that not only takes the "tough" cases but is also willing to go the distance and insure the training is complete and not just fitting into a time bound template. Possibly this is why NSSD has gained such a pristine and honored reputation in the Veteran and the Professional Service Dog communities. NSSD has provided dogs and training giving people their lives back and allowing them to walk back into the world of family, community and jobs. 



“20% or more of the 2.6 million veterans deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from PTSD, depression, or a related condition. Veterans have higher suicide rates than individuals who did not serve in the military.” (Herzog, H. (2018)
“Purdue veterinary researchers, studied 141 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from PTSD. Seventy-five of the vets were paired with trained service dogs (the dog group) while the other 66 were on the waiting list to get a dog (the wait list group). The dog group had:
• Lower depression scores
• Better mental quality of life score  
• Greater satisfaction with life
• Higher levels of psychological well-being
• Better abilities to cope with adversity
• Lower social isolation scores, and greater ability to get out and participate in social activities. The veterans in the dog group also missed work less and show fewer impairments on their jobs.” (O’Haire, Marguerite, Rodriguez, Kerri, 2018)


HEATHER SLIWINSKI

The Honor & Courage Program is a program under Operation Ward 57. The mission of Operation Ward 57 is to supports wounded, injured and ill service members, veterans, their caregivers and those that aid in their recovery by providing assistance and outreach in their recovery, comfort and morale, and through advocacy, education and promotion of their circumstances. One of the main goals of Operation Ward 57 has been to provide continued support to our Heroes recovering in the hospital as well as continue that support once they leave and go home for as long as they and their families need us. We also want to continue to give our Heroes a “sense of purpose” and “we still need you” mentality. Our role has been to provide additional support through advocacy, education and promotion of their circumstances.

In order for us to be able to meet this need more effectively we have formed a team of volunteer wounded Heroes to serve as caseworkers/mentors to offer much needed support, compassion and motivation to those who are currently struggling with their injuries both seen and unseen. This support is open to all eras of veterans (as well as any first responder). These wounded Heroes have healed from their own difficult injuries and have learned to cope with issues like PTSD, TBI, medical issues and more and can provide peer support and guidance to those who need it.

Additionally, the program provides small grants to those needing temporary financial assistance. Many times our wounded soldiers enter a period of transition as they move from active duty to civilian life. As much as our government tries hard to take care of them, many experience struggles during the transition and find themselves unable to adapt and with financial troubles. Additionally, many times mothers, fathers, husbands, wives become caregivers to our wounded heroes and are forced to leave their jobs. Temporary and emergency financial aid is needed to pay bills including mortgage, rent, utilities, food and home and vehicle disability retrofits.
Goals for this program are:
. Wounded Hero Mentors & Case Management
.Crisis Management & Suicide Prevention
. Wounded Hero Motivational Speakers
. Youth Motivational Speakers
. Advocacy & Education
.Small Grants

The Honor & Courage Hotline is available 24/7 to any era Veteran, service member, family member or caregiver as well as all Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Fighters and First Responders.

As the Executive Director of Operation Ward 57, I brought Heather on as the lead volunteer to run our Honor & Courage Program for wounded service members. I have come to know Heather both professionally and personally and feel that Heather is a woman of great integrity whom is extremely dedicated to her family, community and work. Heather directly runs the Honor & Courage Program routinely speaking at events to raise awareness of Veterans issues. She also runs the Crisis Hotline. This hotline is open to all era Veterans, their families as well as first responders. The calls directly g to her cell phone in which she answers 24/7. She will stay on the phone as long as she is needed. The hotline has about 400 calls annually from all era Veterans, their families as well as law enforcement. We also had calls to the hotline after the Las Vegas shooting, from victims at the event. Heather will not turn away any call - regardless of their status or need. When most people say "call me if you are struggling" - Heather lives that. That hotline alone has made a huge impact on saving lives and getting individuals the help that they need. In addition to the hotline, Heather speaks at school and community facilities, does case management, connects those in need with our Veteran peer mentors as well as makes routine visits to Walter Reed to visit those still in recovery. She also organizes the annual Wounded Hero 5K in Warminster, PA to honor our brave heroes. In my personal interactions with Heather I have been impressed by her strong and direct communication skills and her ability to establish a comfortable rapport with others. Her reputation among her peers and among the wounded service members and their families is testament to both her interpersonal skills and loyalty.


GUARDIAN ANGELS MEDICAL SERVICE DOGS, INC.

To reduce the number of veteran suicides and improve the lives of our veterans by providing them with individually trained medical service dogs at no cost. We call this creating a beautiful "New Normal". Additionally, our goal is to increase public awareness of service dogs, and assist in legislation protecting service dogs and their handlers.

Since our beginning in 2010, Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs is proud to have paired nearly 300 individually trained medical service dogs to veterans at no cost to them. These amazing dogs change the course of the future - not only for the veteran, but for their entire family and community as well.

The staff at Guardian Angels works tirelessly seven days a week to train the finest service dogs possible, ensuring the optimum training and care of our dogs and veterans. Our service dogs are trained to assist with a variety of conditions effecting our veteran population including PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, seizure disorders, diabetic alert, mobility issues and more. The dogs are trained to meet the specific needs of the individual recipient. For instance – a veteran may have a PTSD and a seizure disorder – their dog would be specially trained to not only alert to oncoming seizures, but to mitigate the symptoms of their PTSD as well. This may include shielding them in public spaces, waking them from night terrors and alerting to changing hormone levels that indicate an oncoming panic attack. Our recipients report improved sleep, reduction or elimination of prescription medication, an improved ability to reconnect with family and friends and in many cases, a return to the workforce or school. They are now able, some for the first time in years - to go out and about in public spaces with their service dogs by their sides.

An important part of our mission is to educate the public, and ensure safe, friendly and welcoming environments for those with service dogs nationwide. In fact, our CEO, Carol Borden, was an advisor to the State of Florida when passing their Service Dog Law, and advised the State of Michigan on drafting their bill as well. This past year, we worked with the City of Sarasota, Florida Police Dept. to film a PSA for business owners on the laws regarding Service Dogs in their establishments.

Through exceptional effort, Guardian Angels has now paired nearly 300 service dogs with our heroes. Because of this work, and the extraordinary efforts that go into training these dogs to meet the specific needs of each individual recipient - we have experienced ZERO recipient suicides once a veteran is paired with one of our service dogs. Beyond that, we know that the rate of divorce rate is significantly higher in the veteran population, especially when deployment is a part of their service, and yet, once paired with one of our service dogs, our teams have experienced only one divorce in our nine years.

We attribute our continued success to never leaving our recipients behind. We provide secure and private online groups for our recipients to discuss questions and challenges; and they are also provided a lifetime of follow-up training, assistance and advice at no cost. Our recipients can reach out at any time through social media, phone, email; or even in-person whether they have a question about their dog, or they just need a friendly voice to talk to. 

No simple task - the average cost to train and pair just one of these incredible dogs is $25,000, and it takes between fifteen months and two years or more of training before each dog is ready to be paired. More than just donating the dog, our program covers the cost of air fair, ground travel and lodging for the veteran, as we bring them in from all over the country to our campus for their 10-days of one-on-one training and pairing.

Since it is our quest to always improve life for our veterans, our CEO has taken her highly sophisticated training processes and put them into a very comprehensive curriculum. This curriculum is the first and only paid, college accredited service dog training apprentice program being taught in Florida, and soon to be in Pennsylvania and Michigan. It is also recognized under the GI bill. This two-and-a-half-year training course not only improves the quality of talent in this industry, but also introduces the apprentice to the $98 billion-dollar pet industry. Even if the veteran chooses not to pursue a career in the service dog industry, they have now become familiar with manufacturing, distribution, retail, veterinary medicine, nutrition, animal behavior, canine management, etc. from which they can choose a professional career.

We have taken this course one step further to increase the number of veterans helped, by beginning a program for incarcerated veterans. They will go through our course, learn a profession and train service dogs for disabled veterans while they are serving their sentence. They come out of prison having completed this course, with employable skills and a new path in life. 

Our goal is to see 20 suicides per day turn into zero. We are unleashing the power of hope and healing through our constantly growing, innovative and successful programs for veterans across the country.


PETER SCHMIDT

The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a one-of-a-kind, state-funded outreach/counseling program led by Dr. Peter Schmidt, designed to provide confidential counseling services to Washington State veterans and family members. In addition, Dr. Schmidt manages the TBI, MST, WDVA PTSD Program

PTSD Program Counselors in Washington 
954 veterans served
88 family members served
•Military Sexual Trauma Counseling 
•Traumatic Brain Injury
MAX, the virtual service dog app is here to make an impact for Veterans who have experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury. Max Impact is a free app designed to empower veterans, family, friends and caregivers. You can use a screening tool to determine whether your symptoms may be related to a TBI, be connected with providers in your area who can help, learn how to manage symptoms and better relax, and connect with other veterans with TBIs. 


COMPANIONS FOR HEROES

Upon returning home from service overseas in 2002, U.S. Air Force Veteran David Sharpe was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress. Twice, he placed a loaded pistol in his mouth, going to end his perceived pains, and twice, the sad eyes and soft touch of his rescue dog (pit bull mix), Cheyenne, prompted him to remove the pistol and consider living. It was these events that prompted him to start Companions for Heroes in July of 2009. 

Companions for Heroes (C4H) creates and solidifies human-animal connections as a therapeutic intervention for underserved populations such as military veterans, police officers and other first responders who are recovering from the psychological challenges they suffered during service to our country by adopting shelter / rescue dogs and cats that would otherwise be euthanized. All costs associated with the adoption and training of these animals are covered free of charge. C4H provides additional financial assistance when there is a demonstrated need for obedience training that can include full service dog certification for those suffering from severe anxiety caused by crowds in public. C4H increases public awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other challenges confronting our country's heroes; and rally's support for animal welfare and the adoption of shelter and / or rescue animals.

With over 7,000 wounded warriors, active duty military and first responders saved or aided while saving over 7,000 shelter dogs and cats from being euthanized, Companions for Heroes is committed to providing a shelter or rescue animal [companion] to the active duty service member, military veteran, law enforcement officer, first responder and their family member that do not have a companion in their life.

Our mission is to provide companion animals obtained from shelters and/or rescues, who might otherwise be euthanized, free of charge to active duty military personnel, military veterans, and first-responders recovering from the psychological challenges they suffered during service to our country. C4H increases public awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other challenges confronting our country’s heroes; and rally’s support for animal welfare and the adoption of shelter and/or rescue animals.

C4H is a non-clinical and non-facility based organization that places special emphasis on creating mutually beneficial opportunities for shelter and rescue animals, some who might otherwise be euthanized, and our nation’s service men and women by accessing the expertise of medical care professionals and animal welfare organizations. C4H is an Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) program that recognizes the incredible power of the human-animal relationship and seeks to support those suffering from psychological stress as they pursue recovery with the unconditional love of a pet.

The U.S. Military Veteran suicide rate is approximated at 22 per day (2012, U.S. Veterans' Affairs). According to the Rand Corporation and The Pentagon, a study in 2014 indicated 1 in 5 women in the military are sexually assaulted. Approximately one shelter dog is euthanized every eight seconds (2003, Humane Society of the United States). These are just a few of the alarming statistics that result in an average application rate of 30 per month from military veterans located all over the United States.

With each adoption comes a second chance at life. A chance to establish healthy relationships in the home (spouse, kids, friends, etc.), to have the confidence to leave one’s home and enter society. Becoming active in the community, pursuing a job or an education - a purpose. Unfortunately, with limited support for the program, it is becoming increasingly difficult to cover the $5,000 in average costs associated with each hero we help and dog / cat we save.


ELLIOTT MCKENZIE

To help other transitioning military veterans through music therapy and peer mentorship. This Iraq War Veteran creates music, using it as therapy to help him cope with PTS and TBI. In 2009, Elliott became homeless. After sleeping in his car for a period of time, he applied to a veteran's homeless facility in Long Beach, CA. Living there for about a year.

In 2010, Elliott decided to go to college and finally after years of struggling, Elliott graduated college in 2018 with a BA in Behavioral Science in hopes to help other military veterans like himself. 

Elliott's music and on stage performances are a form of release and calming for his condition. When Elliott sings, he gives it all he has and the adrenaline release is very therapeutic for him. Through using music as therapy, Elliott has found a way to save his own life and to impact those who listen to his music. 

*Note: Elliott is also an actor


READJUSTMENT COUNSELING SERVICE

Readjustment Counseling Service Mission: To welcome home and honor those who served, those still serving, and their families by reaching out to them, engaging their communities, and providing them with quality readjustment counseling and timely referral.

Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers, within the Veterans Health Administration’s Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS), that provide a wide range of social and psychological services including professional readjustment counseling to Veterans and active duty Service members, to include members of the National Guard and Reserve components, who:
• Have served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility;
• Experienced a military sexual trauma;
• Provided direct emergent medical care or mortuary services, while serving on active military duty, to the casualties of war, or;
• Served as a member of an unmanned aerial vehicle crew that provided direct support to operations in a combat zone or area of hostility.
• Vietnam Era veterans who have accessed care at a Vet Center prior to January 1, 2004
Vet Center services are also provided to family members of Veterans and Service members for military related issues when it is found aid in the readjustment of those that have served or help cope with the deployment of a loved one. This includes marriage and family counseling and bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death.
A core value of the Vet Center program is to promote access to care by helping Veterans, Service members, and their families overcome barriers that impede them from using those services. Actions include: Vet Centers maintain regularly scheduled non-traditional hours, to include evening and weekends, to ensure Veterans and Service members are able to access these services. Vet Centers create Veteran to Veteran connections as over 72% of Vet Center staff are Veterans and a majority of those individuals have served in combat zones.
There are 300 Vet Centers located in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
Outreach
To ensure that Veteran, Service members, and their families are provided access to care, RCS has a robust outreach program that focuses on the creation of face to face connections with those that have served. Vet Center staff regularly participate in a myriad of Federal, State, and local sponsored Veteran related events in the communities where Veterans and Service members live.
RCS maintains a fleet of 80 Mobile Vet Centers that are designed to extend the reach of Vet Center services through focused outreach, direct service provision, and referral to communities that do not meet the requirements for a “brick and mortar” Vet Center, but where there are Veterans, Service members, and their families in need of services.
Vet Center Call Center
The Vet Center Call Center 1-877-WAR-VETS is an around the clock confidential call center where those that served and their families can call to talk about their military experience or any other issues they are facing in their readjustment and get connected to a Vet Center. The staff is comprised of combat Veterans from several eras as well as family member of combat Veterans. The call center has warm handoff capabilities with all Vet Centers, the National Crisis Hotline, and the National Caregiver Hotline.
Additional Information
All services are available without time limitation and at no cost
To use Vet Center services Veterans or Service members:
Do not need to be enrolled with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Medical Centers;
Do not need a disability rating or service connection for injuries from either the VA or the Department of Defense, and;
Can access Vet Center services regardless of discharge character.
No information will be released to any person or agency without the written consent from the Veteran or Service member, except in circumstances for averting a crisis or where legally required.

• Collaboration with local VA Medical Centers regarding care coordination and suicide prevention as well as connection to other VA services and benefits.
• In FY16, RCS provided 1,797,600 readjustment counseling visits (8% increase over FY15) to 258,300 Veterans, Service members, and families. (18% increase over FY15). RCS staff regularly works with their clients to access VHA healthcare and to case manage with shared clients.
• In FY17, RCS provided 1,960,900 readjustment counseling visits (9.0% increase over FY15) to 287,095 Veterans, Service members, and families. (11% increase over FY16). RCS staff regularly works with their clients to access VHA healthcare and to case manage with shared clients.
• In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 RCS hosted or participated in 40,351 outreach events (17% increase over FY15). The Vet Center Call Center (available 24/7) processed and made referrals for 116,596 Veterans, active duty Service members, families, and Veteran stake holder calls (3% increase over FY15).
• FY17 RCS hosted or participated in 44,287 outreach events (14% increase over FY16). The Vet Center Call Center (available 24/7) processed and made referrals for 144,671 Veterans, active duty Service members, families, and Veteran stake holder calls (24% increase over FY16).
Below is a listing of the type of organizations Vet Center staff regularly engages with through partnership. The purpose of these partnerships are bi-directional referrals and connection to Vet Center and other VA services and benefits:

• Veteran treatment organizations such as Home Base (Boston Red Sox), Cohen Veterans Network, and other local partners that have been vetted by local Vet Centers and met the needs of the eligible population they serve.
• Veteran Service Organizations such as American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, Disabled American Veterans, Gold Star Mothers, etc. 
• Community Organizations that provide service to Veterans, active duty Service members, and their families such as Wreaths Across America and the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War Collaboration to include organizations that have been vetted by local Vet Centers and met the needs of the eligible population they serve.
• Professional and Collegiate Sports organizations such as NASCAR and the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA). 
• Native American Reservation Veteran Engagement such as Akwesasne Mohawk, Navajo, Hopi, and Apache Reservations
Below is a listing of the type of organizations Vet Center staff regularly engages with through partnership. The purpose of these partnerships are bi-directional referrals and connection to Vet Center and other VA services and benefits:

• Various Universities, Colleges, and Trade Schools to provide awareness and connection to Vet Center services 
• Veteran Treatment Courts 
• Veteran Service Organizations to include Team Red, White, and Blue and Team Rubicon.
• Any local organization that provides education and training programs that have been vetted by local Vet Centers and met the needs of the eligible population they serve.


AGX GROUP AND HEALTH MANAGEMENT SERVICES 

The mission of AGX Group is to provide all veterans and their families, timely, evidence-based strategies that are personalized and proactively driven. Hence, AGX’s complete business model encompasses the Whole Health initiative and its effort to support the VA Health Care System (VAMHCS) and their staff, while prioritizing with the health and wellness of the veteran and their family. As we all know, these initiatives are crucial to optimizing these goals. In turn, we have created the AGX Whole Health Initiative in order to bolster our partnership with the VA. Our metric based Whole Health model of care can improve health outcomes, life expectancy, poor Veteran satisfaction, high rates of VA staff burn-out and lower overall health costs. Our proprietary platform will equip our veterans, and their families, with life success programs for skill building, support, and proactive integrative whole health approaches.

Through the latest telehealth technology, life-mastery solutions, professional development, and therapeutic modalities; AGX and its teaming partners will empower our veterans to take charge of their lives by designing a health and wellness plan based on their own personal goals for skill building and optimizing health. 

DE'ANDRE has created leadership development tools, ptsd intervention solutions, and mentoring programs for Integrative Healthcare. Our programs teach VA practitioners, veterans, and community stake holders the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully develop, launch, lead, sustain, and grow the VA's whole health initiatives. AGX reaches veterans via contractual agreements with the Department of Veteran affairs. Tai chi for 520 veterans @ Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Amrit Method of Yoga Nidra for 30 veterans at VAMHCS, Yoga Teacher training VA whole health coaches. Quote from one of our clients: 

“AGX Group and the Amrit Yoga Institute Yoga Teacher Training incorporates the mind and the body, and after the third day, it was like I was taking yoga for the first time. It was like having all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.”

Lauren Bergamo, M.S.
Exercise Physiologist & Whole Health Coach
Baltimore VA Medical Center
Baltimore Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC)


SEMPER K9

Semper K9, started by Christopher Baity, former Marine Corps MWD Handler, rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to be service dogs at no cost for disabled service members. After suffering with his own post traumatic stress disorder and substance use, Baity realized he could use his skills that he learned in the Marine Corps to better his life and the lives of other veterans. He and his wife, Amanda, founded Semper K9 in 2014 and went right to work. While they currently operate the non-profit out of their home in Woodbridge, VA, they recently purchased 33 acres outside of Catlett, VA in order to create Camp Semper K9, a center for veterans to come and visit with the dogs upon acceptance of their application. In the future, Semper K9 hopes to have lodging available on their land so the veterans and their families can come and stay on the property (instead of in local hotels ) while they are going trough the pairing and acclimatization to a service dog. Semper K9's mission is unique in that they not only utilize rescue dogs in our service dog selection process, but they also custom train each dog to the specific needs of the wounded veterans who apply and are accepted. They also provide continuous training and support for the entire family. 

After researching other organizations that had similar missions, Semper K9 identified weakness in other groups and strengths from industry leaders to create what currently has a one hundred percent success rate with their services. Semper K9 has been featured on Mike Rowe's "Returning the Favor", a Facebook TV show launched by Mike Rowe himself. Baity was also awarded American Heroes Channel’s Red Bandanna Hero in 2016 and named a Washingtonian of the Year for 2017 by Washingtonian magazine. They currently have the support of over 125 volunteers and graduate approximately 10-20 dogs per year but is hoping to double that number once Camp Semper K9 opens. They have currently graduated 15 dogs (the training process can take anywhere from 12-18 months) with an additional 10 currently in training. While Semper K9 does like to keep their accepted veterans information private for obvious reasons, many are highlighted within the Mike Rowe episode that are willing to discuss how much having a service dog has helped through their transition, whatever that might be and how thankful they are to Chris and Amanda in starting this wonderful non-profit.