VA News 516

Uploaded by DeptVetAffairs on 07.12.2012

>> Here are some of the stories in this week's show. A look at the fifth National Veterans
Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego. An all-women's team is formed for the first time at the Summer Sports Games.
>> And more on the celebration of Olympians and Paralympians at the White House.
>> Those stories and more, right after this.
>> Hello, I'm Basil White with the Office of Policy and Planning.
>> And I'm Karlee Averett with the VHA Office of Communications. Thanks for joining us today. VA hosted the
Fifth National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in beautiful San Diego, the week of September 16th. The summer-ending
clinic promotes rehabilitation of body and spirit for veterans with significant physical or psychological
injuries within the past six years. Here's the story from Jill Atwood, the Public Affairs Director at the Medical
Center in Salt Lake City, who worked at the Sports Clinic this year.
>> More than 100 veterans soaked up the sun and the sand, some experiencing the adaptive sports world for the very first
time. It was amazing to see. Now the hope is that they will take this experience home and continue to challenge
themselves year-round.
>>This week, we're going to push you past your limits. We're going to take you out of that comfort zone that you've
been in, and we're going to make sure that you're supported and challenged as you go through this week.
>> Sponsored by the Veterans Canteen Service and hosted by VA San Diego Healthcare System, the clinic gave veterans a chance
to participate in several sports at various locations around San Diego. They were hanging ten all week
at La Jolla Shores Beach where it was surf's up.
>> There are no words to describe when you're riding those waves. It's freedom, total freedom.
>> The flat water at the Mission Bay Yacht Club provided the perfect venue for kayaking. Challenged America
introduced participants to sailing, a time-honored tradition. And the U.S. Olympic Training Center gave veterans a
chance to participate in track and field events at the training site for some of America's top athletes.
>> I enjoy being here to look for new talent. You know, as a Paralympian now, a two-time Paralympian, I
came from these programs and we're proof that they can go to the next level if they really wanted to.
>> This year's clinic has come to a close and participants are headed home, taking with them the memories of the week and
lessons for the future. For the Department of Veterans Affairs, one of the highlights of this year's Summer Sports Clinic was
the formation of an all woman team. Clinic participants are on teams, and the creation of an all-women's team called
Mercury, heightened the competitive juices particularly for the members of Mercury. Gillette Wood wrote this
article for Vantage Point, the VA's blog at the address on the screen. Check it out, and check out photos of the Mercury ladies
and other teams on the VA Flickr page.
>> We couldn't let the 2012 Paralympics and Olympics go until we shared this next video from the White House, where the
President and first lady greeted more than 800 on the South Lawn.
>> The video featured Olympians and Paralympians alike, including VA's own Olympian, bronze medalist Natalie Dell of
the Bedford, Massachusetts, VA Medical Center.
>> Here at the White House today, a special day for the Olympians.
>> You know, during the Olympics, we're always in and out and we're always on different schedules, but today
we're all here as one. And that's kind of how the Olympic team always is, you know, we're one. We're a team. We're
part of the best country in the world, and this is the best place to be.
>> It is great to have Team USA here at the White House. And one of the great things about watching our Olympics is, we are
a portrait of what this country is all about. People from every walk of life, every background, every race,
every faith, it sends a message to the world about what makes America special, and it's even more impressive when you think
about the obstacles that many of you have had to overcome, not just to succeed in the games, but to get there in the
first place. >> I'm originally from Nigeria. I got my citizenship and I'm competing for the greatest nation here on Earth, and I'm
so privileged. And being at the White House today to move with the President is a dream come true, and
it proves so much that in America, when you work hard,dedication, they're going to achieve the American Dream.
And this is what I'm living right now.
>> In reality, we spend four years, some of us eight years working for these two months. Not only am I an Olympian,
but I'm also a federal employee. I work for the Department of the Veterans Affairs, and the Olympian in me
is just so proud to be here. The federal employee in me is just like through the roof.
>> This summer, people across the country including some of the young people with us today watched you compete and thought
to themselves, you know what, if they can set a goal and work hard to reach it, maybe I can too, and maybe I can go a
little farther and do a little better than people think I can.
>> I have a motto, if you believe you can achieve and if you want anything in life, if you believe in it hard enough
you can achieve those goals like we have. So, you know, we are just role models for the young kids growing up in the
>> There is no limit to how far we can go. That's what sets all of you apart. That's what sets America apart.We celebrate
individual effort, but we also know that together we can do incredible things that we couldn't accomplish on our own.
So thank you for being such great role models, especially for our young people. You gave us a summer that
we will never forget. It is a great honor to welcome you home. We could not be prouder of you.
>> September was Suicide Prevention Month, and VA and other agencies began a high priority campaign to let
veterans and others know that no one has to fight mental health alone. KGUN-TV 9 on Your Side in Tucson, shared with us a
two- part report on veterans coming to grips with suicide tendencies and PTSD.
>> Our bravest men and women give it all in defense of freedom. When they come home, many cannot break free from
the thoughts that haunt their minds. I thought about suicide a couple of times. I thought that was the only way out.
>> I was not used to not having a plan, a mission set in front of me.I kind of isolated myself in the house.I
wasn't going outside. I didn't know what to do. I mean it's just -- you keep going. Keep doing what you've got to
>> Richard Ryan and Eric fought for our country. Each one has a story. Each one nearly became a statistic.
Each one thought about taking their own lives. They are sadly not alone. In fact, the Department of Defense
says the suicide rate among veterans is disproportionately high. A June report from the Pentagon shows there has been at
least 154 suicides among active duty troops in 2012. That's a rate of nearly one each day. If that rate continues it
would be a record high number of suicides. And while just 1% of Americans have served during the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan, former service members represent 20% of suicides in the U.S.
>> Richard's story -- Retired Navy, three tours in Vietnam. A couple of years ago he lost his vision, ended up at
the Southern Arizona VA Clinic.That visit, he says, changed his life.
>> She was asking me questions. The wife piped up over my shoulder and started answering these questions.
And I turned around and I jumped all over her for no good reason. And right there that triage nurse says, you know what,
I think we need to get you into this PTSD clinic. I said, what is PTSD?
>> Watson lived for decades with nightmares, violent episodes, alcoholism, and yes, he thought about ending it all,
but never truly understood why.
>> All those experiences I had back in the Korean War, I did not realize but they were like stones on my back I've
been carrying for 60 years. I've been carrying all this dirt with me.
>> Eric Kemp's story, retired Navy, 20 years. Served in Iraq. When thoughts of suicide overcame him, he turned to his
religion and the Southern Arizona VA Health Clinic.
>> How do you think going through the clinic here has helped either improve your life or maybe even in some
cases saved your life?
>> I think it saved my life because it taught me a lot of skills how to deal with my anger, my rage, and try
to overcome that kind of thing.
>> Ryan Schumacher's story, retired Army, two tours in Iraq. Despite the Army's mandatory 10-day reintegration program,
he felt lost without a mission. Personally, what's it been like for you?
>> I was dealing with alcoholism. I had a lot of depression, stilldo. I did have a lot of suicidal thoughts.
I have acted on those one time before. It's been a rough road. You just have to realize that it takes, it doesn't take as
much strength as people believe to ask for help. Don't just try to suck it up like you normally do in the
military and just drive on.
>> These men share more in common than just having served. They wish the military would do more to screen for PTSD.
They would recommend veterans talk with someone about their problems, and they all got the help they needed so they could
experience life, sometimes as if for the first time.
>> Next week we'll have the second part about a program at the VA Medical Center in Tucson that is drawing veterans from
far and wide, many outside Arizona.
>> Did you know? More than 174,000 women die from smoking related illnesses each year, and women are the
fastest growing subgroup of U.S. veterans. The Department has started a new campaign to spread awareness
of the health risks of smokingamong women veterans. This poster and a number of other links on the VA Women's
Health web page on the screen are designed to help in the cause. Here's a video previously aired on VA's video
magazine, The American Veteran. >> One of the most effective ways to quit smoking has nothing to do with self-discipline.
>> I had a stroke when I was 37.
>> I was getting bad, I couldn't breathe.
>> I felt that I was having a heart attack, and had to go to the emergency room.
>> A lot of smokers quit the habit simply because they've been given no other choice. Their doctors have told them if
they continue to smoke they'll probably die from some type of cancer, cardiovascular disease or another health
related problem. Susan Myre, coordinator of the Nicotine Dependence Service at the VA Medical Center in
Cincinnati, Ohio, says there's a reason why people let their smoking habit get so out of hand.
>> It's very clearly an addiction. An addiction is actually a brain disease. It's an illness where we do
what we know is harming us, sometimes even against our own will.
>> Susan is dedicated to helpingveterans quit before their smoking habit becomes life- threatening. Her clients
are veterans who want to quit but just don't know how to go about doing that.
>> I've been smoking about 15 years off and on. I've been trying to quit about seven.
>> What research shows is that about 85% of those who use tobacco do want to quit, and that's why we have our program
is to help them do so not only successfully but also comfortably. One thing that's become clear in recent years is
that it's extremely difficult to quit smoking on your own.
>> What we know for those that just go cold turkey, only about three percent are still quit when we catch up to them at the
end of year. If all a person does is use medication that's ordered by the provider, about 7% are still
smoke-free at the end of a year. But if they use medication and get some counseling whether it's in a
class, individual, then about 35% are still smoke- free at the end of a year.
>> Susan uses a variety of methods to help her patients' transition into a smoke-free lifestyle. These include
education, motivation and mediation including smoking patches. But veterans at this VA Medical Center say the most
important thing in helping them quit smoking is group support.
>> First thing I'd say is don't start. But if you have started, get into a group, a support group. I know there
are a lot of people that can do it cold turkey, but if it was a serious addiction like mine, you need help.
>> What we know from research is that people who have quit tobacco use actually have less stress. They don't have an
almost constant infusion of nicotine, which is a stimulant drug. They're working on other ways to solve life's
problems without resorting to a cigarette, to learn how to manage life's issues with healthy coping strategies.
It gives me great pleasure and it's an honor to award you a five-year coin celebrating five years smoke-free.
>> Congratulations. We'll give him a hand, all right.
>> Veterans who quit the habit with VA's help meet from time to time simply to offer continuing support to one another, and
each of them feels the same way about giving up smoking. That it's the best thing they've ever done.
>> Thank you. I couldn't have done it without you and the group.
>> That's our show this week. Thank you for joining us. I'm Karlee Averett.
>> And I'm Basil White. Next week we'll have a report on VA and Secretary Shinseki at the National Indian Health
Board Annual Consumer Conference in Denver. Have a great day and rest of your week.