By Ginny Estupinian

The Employment picture worsens for veterans as was highlighted in the October unemployment data.

October unemployment data released Friday by the Labor Department show the jobless rate for all veterans is 8.3 percent, up from 8 percent in September. For new veterans who served in the military since Sept. 11, 2001, the rate for October was 10.6 percent. That is up from 10.2 percent in September, but it is better than the 11.6 percent unemployment rate for these younger veterans reported a year ago in October 2009.

Keith Hall, who heads the Bureau of labor Statistics, which produces the monthly jobs report, said the overall unemployment rate in the U.S. remains at 9.6 percent. While jobs are still being lost, 151,000 new jobs were created in October in temporary help services and computer system design.

The food service industry and retail sector also saw an increase in jobs, he said.

Jimmie Foster, head of the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans’ group, told lawmakers during a joint House and Senate hearing in September that there is “no mission more important” for veterans right now than helping them find jobs in a struggling economy.
One of the Legion’s suggestions is for the government to sponsor job fairs for veterans – something now done by military, veteran and civic groups – because government sponsorship could get more employers interested in hiring veterans.

These numbers show clearly how difficult it is for veterans to find employment in this economy.  Recent reports still show that there are usually a minimum of five applicants for every position available. Now more than ever these veterans need assistance in order to transition back into a civilian work enviroment.

By Ginny Estupinian

An increase risk of dementia has been seen in veterans who served in previous wars and now it appears that the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) may have even higher risks of developing dementia.

Recent studies done by the Rand Corporation showed that 300,000 service personnel who served in Iraq or Afghanistan had symptoms of PTSD.  These symptoms included :

  • avoiding people, things, or situations that remind them of the trauma he or she experienced,
  • nightmares,
  • mood disorders,
  • sleep difficulties,
  • flashbacks,
  • difficulty maintaining close relationships,
  • trouble with concentration

Sadly  at times victims of  PTSD can reach such a level of distress that they commit suicide.

A study to understand the PTSD and dementia relationship was conducted using 10,481 veterans who were at least 65 years of age who had been seen at the VA Medical Centre at least twice between 1997 and 1999. Outpatient data were collected until 2008. Subjects were classified based on whether they had been wounded during combat, with or without a PTSD diagnosis. A comparison group consisted of vets who had been seen at the Centre but who had no PTSD or combat-related injuries.

Senior author Mark Kunik, MD, MPH, a psychiatrist at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Texas, explained that “we found Veterans with PTSD had twice the chance for later being diagnosed with dementia than Veterans without PTSD.” The investigators have not identified the cause for the increased risk. However, Kunik noted that “it is essential to determine whether the risk of dementia can be reduced by effectively treating PTSD.”

Taking a closer look, the researchers found that 36.4 percent of the veterans in the study had PTSD. Of this group, 11.1 percent of them with PTSD who had not sustained combat injuries, and 7.2 percent of veterans with PTSD and injuries had dementia. These figures compared with 4.5 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively, with non-PTSD groups.

Kunik points out that understanding the relationship between PTSD and dementia “could have enormous implications for Veterans now returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.” Salah Qureshi, MD, psychiatrist and investigator with the Houston VA Center for Excellence, concurs, adding, “It will be important to determine which Veterans with PTSD are at greatest risk and to determine whether PTSD induced by situations other than war injury is also associated with greater risk.”

While war veterans with PTSD who appear to be at greater risk of dementia is a significant concern and challenge, the implications of this study extend beyond veterans to other individuals who have experienced traumatizing events and who may have PTSD. Further research is needed to clarify the relationship between dementia and PTSD for all affected populations.

 

By Ginny Estupinian

Recent estimates show that in the last decade women have made up 16% of all veterans.  Sadly, until recently some veteran health facilities did not even have separate bathrooms for women and some VA computers classified female veterans only as wives of men who had fought, not recognizing them as the actual veterans.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki a retired four-star general and former Army chief of staff has made increasing services for women a top priority, securing $217 million in gender-specific programs for the next fiscal year.  This is a 21% increase in spending from 2009. The increased investment is aimed at providing better care and more privacy and security for female patients.

Shinseki also acknowledged the “debilitating effects” of sexual assaults and harassment of women in the military — as many as 21% of women who seek VA care report sexual trauma — and said his agency is “committed to providing world-class health care and services” for victims.

Also Wednesday, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Ca.), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced legislation that would create a “bill of rights” for female veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is turning its resources to women as the government braces for an increasing demand for services from female veterans.

Also Wednesday, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Ca.), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced legislation that would create a “bill of rights” for female veterans.

Now each of the 144 veterans health-care systems in the country now has a full-time care manager for women. Primary care is being redesigned so a single physician addresses preventive care, routine gynecological care and other medical issues for women. Health-care providers can now enroll in refresher courses on women’s health needs, and more training is scheduled.

These changes are positive and come none too soon as more veterans will be returning soon and in need of help.

By Ginny Estupinian

The veterans affairs recently released a report stating that more than 63,000 veterans are now receiving disability benefits due to having sleep apnea.  This represents a 61% increase in the past two years.

 Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes a sleeping person to gasp for a breath and awaken frequently during the night. One tall tale sign of this disorder is very loud snoring. The result is that the sufferer feels sleepy during the day despite trying to get a full nights rest. This makes  prone to having accidents and have trouble performing during the day.

However, the real problem is that this condition can escalate to developing heart disease and stroke and other serious conditions.

 Obesity appears to be one of the top risk factors for developing this condition. A sleep expert at the VA and other veteran’s advocacy organizations believe that troops’ exposure to dust and smoke in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq have been contributing factors as well.

 According to Max Hirshkowtz, director of the Sleep Disorder Center at the Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center, veterans are four times more likely than other Americans to suffer from sleep apnea.

 The Social Security Administration recognizes sleep apnea as a disability and pays benefits to those who can’t work because of a disability that is likely to last at least one year or kill then.  In contrast the VA allows for veterans to receive benefits and still hold onto their jobs.

 The important thing to remember is that being aware of this disorder is especially critical to veterans who are big men, may have become sedentary, and gain weight. The loud snoring is not just disturbing it could be a danger sign of bigger health problems

By Ginny Estupinian

In the June 2010 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry two studies were published that demonstrated that up to a third of veterans returning from combat may experience depression and or post traumatic stress disorder.  Some of the common behaviors noted by the study included alcohol abuse and aggressive behavior.  Also the studies showed that these veterans had twice the risk of developing dementia than those who did not have PTSD.

The researchers involved in the studies were Jeffrey L. Thomas, Ph.D., of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., and Kristine Yaffe, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco.

These studies continue to bring up the debilitating issues tied to PTSD.  As Americans live longer the need to  manage dementia is growing in importance.  Now these studies have shown how dementia in combat exposed veterans has a direct link to PTSD.  New research will have to examine what can be done about mitigating its effects.

Memorial Day Thoughts

May 30, 2010

By Ginny Estupinian

Today, veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq are celebrated at sporting events, in Memorial Day parades, and by politicians of all persuasions.  In the past eight years The Department of Veterans Affairs’ budget has doubled, and is up almost a third from three years ago. Yet despite improvements there still are a lot of big problems.

Sadly, with the volunteer military there often seems to be a disconnect between veterans, active personnel, and much of the rest of society.  This is in stark contrast to the post-World War II era, when veterans formed the core of most of our communities. Back then our veterans were woven into our communities and our hearts and minds.

“It’s better than Vietnam, but we still face a disconnect. There is too much apathy,”  Paul Rieckhoff  executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Paul Riechhoff  served as a platoon leader in Iraq and stated “On Memorial Day, most Americans go to the mall or the beach. We go to the cemetery.”  

As mentioned above there are substantive issues faced by our veterans. The unemployment rate among veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq is more than 13 percent. There are more than 100,000 homeless veterans, and women face special challenges. There are tremendous mental-health deficiencies.  

As I have reported before, the Pentagon estimates that about 20 percent of those who have served in these wars will suffer from mental health issues.   Furthermore,  the Pentagon estimating that one-fifth of the more than one million veterans will be afflicted with some form of mental health issue.  “With the multiple deployments and many types of confrontations, mental health will be the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next 50 years,” said Representative Chet Edwards, a Texas Democrat and the chairman of the Veterans Affairs appropriations subcommittee.

Also,  there has been little progress on the above-average joblessness for returning veterans. A Senate proposal by Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, would give employers a $6,000 tax credit for hiring recently discharged veterans. The White House is noncommittal on any veterans-centered jobs measure, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, a big backer of veterans, has expressed her support for a veterans’ jobs summit meeting.

On this memorial day let us all take a moment not only to remember those who have served our country, but also to work towards improving the large issues still facing our veterans.

 

By Ginny Estupinian

In previous posts I have mentioned the need of the American legal system to take into consideration the needs of veterans who may be suffering from mental health issues such as post traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries.

In November, the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out convicted murderer George Porter’s death sentence because his Florida jury wasn’t told of the Korean War vets’ combat-induced post traumatic stress syndrome.

“Our nation has a long tradition of according leniency to veterans in recognition of their service, especially for those who fought on the front lines as Porter did,” said the Supreme Court in its opinion.

Similarly s few weeks before, an Iraq veteran from Oregon was found guilty-but-insane of murder because of post traumatic stress syndrome.

Finally, earlier this month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission said federal judges will be permitted to take into account military service when considering sentence reductions, beginning Nov. 1.

The first specialty court created to deal exclusively with veterans was launched in Buffalo, N.Y. in January 2008. There are now 31 such courts operating in every corner of the country: About a dozen more are in the late-planning stages and several states are considering legislation to open veterans courts.

A federal bill is pending in Congress that would provide billions of dollars in grants for these courts. The main difference with veterans courts is their focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration. Veterans are required to immediately plead guilty to their crimes and then generally are placed on probation but must adhere to a strict regimen of counseling, employment and sobriety.

The courts are manned by more than judges and lawyers. Counselors, Department of Veterans Affairs officials and volunteer veterans — “mentors” — keep close tabs on the defendant.

Many times  it is only after going through this process veterans  first discover the many benefits they are eligible for such as medical and psychological care.

By Ginny Estupinian

I saw this announcement and wanted to pass it along to all veterans. It is a nice offer  that I hope some veterans can benefit and enjoy.  All the details are listed below:

To honor the men and women who help keep this country safe, we will be closing all 8 of our Kennedy’s Clubs to “regular” customers this coming Memorial Day in order to give complimentary haircuts and straight-razor shaves (the Kennedy’s Experience) to active military, veterans and first-responders (police, firefighters, EMTs, etc.). It is the least we can do to honor these brave men and women for their great service to our country and our communities.  While this is just a small, simple gesture we’re doing for these American Heroes, we hope you’ll share this news with others, so that we can help give back even more (and maybe this will encourage other retailers to do likewise on this important date).

If you’ll be in the Orlando-area (or in Delray Beach, Rockville or Ridgefield) this Memorial Day, take a little time to stop by one of our Kennedy’s Clubs and say, “Thanks” for their service.  I’m sure they’d appreciate it. 

Now do me a small favor and pass this on to all your active military, veteran and first-responder friends and tell them to call 1-800-31-SHAVE right away to schedule their complementary appointment ASAP, as we expect to be very full that day.  Thanks for your support with this effort.

Respectfully yours,

Chris

Christopher G. Hurn,
Kennedy’s All-American Barber Club®
Cofounder/Chairman/CEO of Kennedy’s International Franchising
Proprietor of Kennedy’s–Heathrow
940 Centre Circle, Suites 3002–3006
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
1-800-31-SHAVE
407-682-1632 (F)
www.KennedysBarberClub.com
Blog: www.KennedysBarberClub.com/BLOG
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Kennedys-All-American-Barber-Club/325094314902
Youtube: www.YouTube.com/user/KennedysBarberClub
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Kennedys
Voted “Best Place for Men to Get a Haircut” in the 2009 and 2008 Reader’s Choice Awards of the Orlando Business Journal.
Voted “Best Barbershop” by Orlando Magazine 2008, 2007, & 2006.
Named a “Top 100 Lifestyle Blog” by the Daily Reviewer.

P.S.  If YOU are a veteran, active in the military, or a first-responder yourself, I want to thank you for your service and ask you to contact us right away so we can put you in our appointment book this Memorial Day as well.  Please don’t delay.

By Ginny Estupinian

The Federal Institute of Medicine released a new study on Wednesday showing that the Department of Veterans affairs has no way of determining what the long-range costs will be for veterans health care. 

The concern is over the health care costs of nearly 2 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their health needs into the future.

Unlike previous wars the study shows that veterans of these wars have “fundamentally different”  health care needs. Some of the reasons cited for these differences are:

Troops serve multiple combat deployments for cumulatively longer periods.

Body armor and improved battlefield care save lives, but many wounded service members are left with complex psychological and physical problems.

 The heavy use of National Guard and reservists means older troops serve more than in previous wars.

 Troops are more likely to be married with children than in the past, complicating the impact of deployments. Research has shown that spouses and children can suffer emotional problems linked to deployments.

More women than ever serve in combat zones, and they tend to have more health issues than male troops. That will lead to higher costs.

History shows that health care costs keep rising after wars ended, the study says. Disability compensation or pension payouts for veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict increased for 25 to 47 years after the end of hostilities.

By Ginny Estupinian

Reports of sexual assault are up 11 percent in the military, and 30 percent in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Department of Defense statistics released last week. According to the report there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault involving military personnel as either victims or perpetrators in fiscal year 2009, including 215 in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 Military officials attribute the rise to an increase in reporting, rather than more incidents. Critics complain the Pentagon is trying to put a positive “spin” on the data.  We’re not spinning anything, and there is no way to make sexual assaults positive,” said Dr. Kaye Whitley, director of the Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “I can tell you that it’s just something that we’re not going to tolerate in the military. … We’re putting a lot of resources toward (reducing) sexual assaults and putting a lot of resources into making sure victims are being taken care of.” Only time will tell if these rsources to reduce sexaul assults will be effective.  Yet many of those attacked may need help now.

Here are a few resources that may be of help to those suffering from this trauma

 RESOURCES FOR SERVICE MEMBERS, VETERANS

Department of Defense: http://www.myduty.mil/

 Texas Veterans Commission: Call 800-252-VETS (8387) or go to http://www.tvc.state.tx.us/

 Service Women’s Action Network: Call 888-729-2089 or write to peersupport@servicewomen.org. Make sure to leave a name, telephone number, and the best time to call you. A caseworker will return your call within 24-48 hours.

 National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE

 Department of Veterans Affairs: Military Sexual Trauma counselors are located at both the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and Houston-area Vet Centers. At the medical center, contact Audrey Dawkins-Oliver, LCSW, 713-791-1414, ext. 6881. At the Vet Centers, contact Helen Civitello, LCSW, 713-523-0884. Online, visit http://www.womenvetsptsd.va.gov/