veterans

Here Are the Top Community Partners at Wounded Warrior Project

As one of the nation’s top veterans services organizations, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) oversees a range of life-changing programs for those who have served their country. The organization also supports family members and caregivers of veterans by assisting with Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense claims and providing opportunities for military families to connect with one another in their communities. In 2017 WWP invested $166 million into programs that promote wounded veterans’ physical and mental health, emotional well-being, and independence.

Although WWP already offers programs in a variety of areas, the organization is always looking for better and more efficient ways to improve the lives of those in the military community. WWP extends its reach by working with individual volunteers and corporate supporters as well as a network of community partners. This network includes nonprofit groups working to assist veterans and military families throughout the country. The following is a closer look at WWP’s top community partners:

 

America’s Warrior Partnership

americaswarriorpartnershipThe mission of America’s Warrior Partnership is to bring veteran-focused nonprofits together to improve various initiatives for military families. Rather than working directly with veterans, the solution-based organization provides support, tools, and resources to help communities nationwide serve local veteran populations.

America’s Warrior Partnership’s signature initiative is its Community Integration program, which provides affiliate communities with a customizable framework for service in eight areas, including health, housing, education, and employment. America’s Warrior Partnership also oversees an annual symposium that educates veteran-serving professionals about the latest service solutions available.

 

Military Child Education Coalition

militarychildeducationcoalitionBased in Texas, the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) works with individuals and organizations across the country to ensure military children have access to quality educational opportunities. MCEC focuses much of its work on helping military installations and surrounding school districts address the academic and social needs of children who move multiple times and must deal with family separation throughout the school year because of their parent’s or parents’ military service.

In addition to a number of programs and training events for educators and other school professionals, MCEC offers various resources for military-connected parents and students. Through its Parent to Parent program, the organization conducts workshops that empower military families to advocate for the needs of their children. MCEC also oversees Student 2 Student, a national program that helps ease transitions to and from schools for military children in grades K-12.

 

Team RWB

teamrwbIn its mission to enrich the lives of America’s military veterans, Team RWB oversees physical and social activities that help veterans connect with one another and their communities. Team RWB activities include athletic and exercise events, community service projects, and small social gatherings. In 2017 the organization held more than 47,000 events in cities across the country. Team RWB currently serves over 137,000 veteran members through 204 local chapters nationwide.

 

National Military Family Association

NMFAAs the name suggests, the National Military Family Association (NMFA) is focused on supporting the spouses, children, and other family members of those serving in the United States military. Since its founding in 1969, the organization has played a key role in advancing several initiatives benefiting military families. The group’s past successes include helping to pass the Survivor Benefit Plan and extend Supplemental Security Income benefits to military families stationed overseas.

More recently, NMFA established a scholarship program for military spouses and launched its Operation Purple youth camps and family retreats to help families reconnect and take a break from the stresses of military life. The organization also provides information and resources on a variety of topics.

 

Team Rubicon

teamrubiconTeam Rubicon leverages the skills and experiences of military veterans to support emergency response efforts around the globe. The volunteer-led organization comprises 65,000 registered members who work alongside first responders and medical professionals in areas affected by natural disasters. Although veterans are not the focus of Team Rubicon’s mission, the organization provides a purpose, community, and identity to help individuals transition from life in the military.

Since 2010, Team Rubicon members have provided nearly $11 million in volunteer labor. Volunteers assist with disaster cleanup, incident management, damage assessment, hazard mitigation, and community rebuilding. The Team has responded to numerous natural disasters across the United States, including Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Team Rubicon has also completed operations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.

 

The Mission Continues

themissioncontinuesLike Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues provides military veterans with the opportunity to continue to serve after their time in the armed forces ends. Volunteers with the organization work alongside other nonprofit groups to address issues facing their communities. The Mission Continues also deploys teams of volunteers to support cleanups, building renovations, and other community revitalization projects.

Along with holding local weekly, monthly, and quarterly events, volunteers with The Mission Continues take part in weeklong mass deployment projects in underserved cities nationwide. The organization also oversees a fellowship program for post-9/11 veterans and reservists who are interested in volunteering six months of their time in exchange for a living stipend and assistance with leadership and professional development.

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This Is How the American Heart Association Is Keeping Youth Healthy

AmericanHeartAssociationThe American Heart Association (AHA) is committed to helping people stay healthy throughout their lives. As part of this commitment, the organization oversees a range of programs and activities focused on research, education, and advocacy. Along with more than 3,000 employees at 156 local offices, AHA leverages the work of over 22.5 million volunteers and supporters to ensure that people of all ages have access to quality health care services and public health education.

In recent years, the association’s work has heavily emphasized children’s health, as obesity rates and preventable health conditions among young people have started to increase. In order to reverse these negative trends, the AHA is targeting youth health through various initiatives implemented in schools and communities. Read on to learn more about how the American Heart Association is working with community partners to help youth to become and stay healthy.

Providing Educational Programs and Resources

For educators, the AHA provides a variety of resources to support health education in the gym and classroom. Elementary and middle school teachers can visit the association’s website to find lesson plans and teaching guides. The resources integrate lessons about heart health, fitness, and nutrition into the math, science, language arts, and social science curriculum. The AHA also offers ideas for educational games and activities that get students moving while teaching them about the cardiovascular system.

Putting the Fun in Healthy Fund-Raising

One of the American Heart Association’s most well-known school programs is Jump Rope For Heart, which is sponsored by the AHA and the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE). Each year, Jump Rope For Heart events are held in schools across the country. In addition to promoting heart awareness and providing heart-healthy education, the jump rope events help to raise funds to support the AHA’s life-saving research. Today, teachers, coaches, and other school officials can also conduct a Hoops For Heart event, an AHA fundraiser that engages students in basketball activities.

Challenging Youth to Become More Active

Along with its Jump Rope For Heart and Hoops For Heart events, the AHA encourages young people to be more physically active through the NFL Play 60 Challenge. Initially launched in 2006, the challenge is a joint effort between the AHA and the NFL that seeks to reduce the rate of childhood obesity by inspiring children and teens to exercise for a minimum of 60 minutes each day.

In order to encourage teachers and schools to become involved in implementing the program, the AHA and NFL offer online training videos and educational resources that include over four dozen subject-based lesson plans and more than 100 ideas for physical activity breaks and homework assignments. Teachers can also register for the Play 60 Challenge Tracker, which provides an easy way to monitor students’ physical activity. The tracker also offers schools the ability to compare their activity with others taking part in the four-week challenge.

Teaching CPR in Schools

Over the course of more than 90 years, the AHA has been a leading source of emergency cardiovascular care training and education. People across the country now rely on the organization’s programming to learn how to respond to health emergencies using lifesaving CPR techniques. The AHA also delivers training in schools as part of its goal of having all of the nation’s teachers and students trained in CPR.

Through the AHA’s upgraded CPR in Schools Training Kit, up to 20 people at a time can learn CPR skills in a single class period. The kits are also reusable, so hundreds of people can receive training with a single kit. Anyone can order a CPR in Schools Training Kit on the AHA website to help students learn how to respond to an emergency at school or at home.

Giving Kids a Healthy Way to Grow

Outside of school, the AHA works with other organizations, including early childhood centers and programs, which serve approximately 60 percent of American children 5 years old and younger. In partnership with Nemours Children’s Health System, the association advances Healthy Way to Grow, a program that helps early childhood providers to create and implement wellness policies that aim to reverse childhood obesity.

The wellness policies tackle the obesity epidemic by providing child care providers with a guide for improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, and reducing screen time. Healthy Way to Grow also helps providers reach out to families to encourage healthy habits at home. Since the AHA and Nemours launched the program, the network of participating organizations has grown to include 345 early childhood centers serving more than 37,000 children in several US states.

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Empowering Advocates of Childhood Health

For the last three decades, the AHA has been bringing people together through You’re the Cure, a grassroots advocacy campaign that focuses on building healthier communities. You’re the Cure advocates for legislative and regulatory policies in a variety of areas, including childhood health. Recently, the campaign has been advancing key issues related to diet and nutrition.

AHA advocates are calling for states to pass a tax on soda, energy drinks, and other sweetened beverages, which are a major source of the added sugar in young people’s diets. You’re the Cure is also focused on promoting and protecting the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a 2010 law that gives students access to healthy school meals.

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This Is What the Purple Heart Foundation Does to Help Veterans

mophAs the main fundraising arm of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), the Purple Heart Foundation supports a variety of programs and services that help improve the lives of active-duty service members, veterans, and military families. The Foundation’s activities since 2008 have generated over $42 million for MOPH, which currently operates 478 chapters across the United States.

Although membership in the Order is limited to recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, the organization advances programs that assist all veterans, regardless of rank or service history. The Purple Heart Foundation works throughout the year to ensure that MOPH can continue working for its 46,000 members as well as the millions of other individuals who have served their country. The following provides an overview of how funds raised through the Foundation are put to good use.

 

Helping Military Families Receive the Benefits They Deserve

The majority of MOPH’s $9.75-million annual budget goes to its National Service Program, which helps veterans and their families obtain military benefits. A MOPH-funded staff comprising more than 100 accredited National Service Officers supports the program full time. The officers work alongside volunteers to educate veterans and help them file benefits claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program also provides legal representation for veterans whose VA claims have been denied.

During the 2017 fiscal year, MOPH Service Officers assisted more than 12,000 veterans in filing VA claims and processing appeals. The officers’ work helped clients obtain nearly $214 million in VA benefits. Along with helping clients through the claims process, the National Service Program oversaw more than 2,000 educational outreach activities in 2017.

 

Supporting Service Members and Military Groups

In addition to providing grants to MOPH chapters and departments, the Purple Heart Foundation distributes funds directly to veterans and the organizations that support them. The Foundation’s grant program offers rehabilitation and welfare grants to veterans in VA hospitals and other care facilities. The program also funds initiatives that aim to improve the public’s understanding of military and US history.

When looking to fund other veterans’ organizations, the Purple Heart Foundation prioritizes those that are working to advance research into service-related injuries and conditions. The Foundation focuses specifically on helping groups that provide education, training, and/or treatment in the areas of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Past funding helped establish the National Intrepid Center of Excellence Satellite Center, a Fort Hood-based facility that provides rehabilitation services for veterans dealing with PTSD, TBI, and other conditions.

 

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Funding Scholarships for Higher Education

Annual funding raised by the Purple Heart Foundation enables MOPH to award approximately 80 college scholarships each year. The MOPH Scholarship Program is open to MOPH members, including Purple Heart recipients as well as their spouses and direct descendants. While their size varies depending on annual funding, the scholarships typically provide around $2,500 to help recipients pay for tuition, books, fees, and other school-related costs.

 

Enhancing the VA Health Care System

Another major component of MOPH’s work is its Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services (VAVS) program. With the support of volunteers and Purple Heart Foundation funding, the VAVS program provides support services and enrichment activities for veterans in the VA health care system.

VAVS volunteers work in VA hospitals, clinics, and other care facilities to provide clerical assistance, nursing and outpatient support, and transportation services. Volunteers also use Foundation funding to take veteran patients on fun outings in the community. The services provided by the VAVS program enrich veterans’ lives while helping the VA health care system save millions of dollars each year.

 

Providing Service Dogs to Veterans

The Purple Heart Foundation supports NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services) and its Service Dogs for Veterans program. Through the program, NEADS provides service dogs at no cost to veterans with physical disabilities, hearing difficulties, progressive health conditions, or combat-related stress disorders. NEADS trains the dogs to assist with a variety of tasks depending on the needs of the veterans they serve. Since founding the program in 2006, the organization has provided dogs to more than 100 US-based veterans.

 

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Advocating for Veterans’ Rights

MOPH advocates at the local, state, and federal levels to represent the interests of veterans throughout the country. The Purple Heart Foundation helps advance MOPH’s advocacy activities, which include its annual March on the Hill event. In the past, the Order has fought for a number of issues alongside other veterans’ groups.

Currently, MOPH is pursuing legislative priorities focused on several areas, including veterans’ health care and benefits. Ensuring that veterans and active-duty service members can access the education and employment opportunities needed to attain success outside of the military is also a major priority. In addition, the organization is working to protect the prestige and purpose of the Purple Heart Medal. MOPH’s ongoing work in this area includes efforts to establish August 7 as National Purple Heart Day.

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The Latest Research Highlights at the American Heart Association

americanheartassociationIn its efforts to save lives by improving cardiovascular-related care, the American Heart Association (AHA) aims to advance medical research in cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The organization also supports research to develop prevention strategies and establish guidelines to help heart patients and other individuals improve and maintain their heart and brain health.

Since its founding more than nine decades ago, the AHA has invested over $4.1 billion in research that has led to a number of medical breakthroughs. Previous research funded by the organization has spurred the development of lifesaving drugs and treatments that are still in widespread use. The following provides an overview of how some of the organization’s recent activities are making an impact.

 

Advancing Understanding and Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects

Alongside the Children’s Heart Foundation, the AHA is supporting research to better understand and treat congenital heart defects (CHD), the leading cause of birth-defect-related deaths among infants born in the United States. The Children’s Heart Foundation and the AHA joined forces as part of their Congenital Heart Defect Research Awards program, established in 2014.

The AHA and the Children’s Heart Foundation have announced the recipients of the fourth round of funding offered through the CHD Research Awards. The seven research programs selected for the round of funding will receive a total of $826,600. To date, CHD Research Awards have provided more than $3.2 million to researchers in the United States, and funding for the program will continue through June 2021. Ultimately, the seven-year initiative will provide $22.5 million to advance CHD-related research.

 

Identifying Risk Factors for Heart Disease

heartEstablishing and promoting prevention strategies, treatments, and lifestyle changes to reduce the effect of heart disease is a major part of the AHA’s work. To help identify factors that play a role in heart-related health issues, the organization supports research focused on heart disease risk. The AHA and other groups have long associated unhealthy weight with heart attacks, but recent research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that waist and hip size may have a stronger association with heart attack risk than overall obesity.

Researchers in the study, which examined 500,000 adults in the UK, found that fat distribution around the abdomen is hazardous in both sexes, but it appears to have a more profound effect on women. The AHA notes that the distribution of fat and the differences in body types between men and women may play a role in heart attack risk later in life. The organization also suggests that future studies examining sex-specific interventions for obesity could help reduce the rates of heart disease.

 

Promoting the Use of Automated External Defibrillators

An automated external defibrillator (AED) delivers an electrical shock to restart the heart of a person in cardiac arrest. Recent research published in the AHA journal Circulation highlights the importance of AEDs in saving lives as well as the need for increased distribution and awareness of the devices.

According to the cardiac arrest chain of survival protocol established by the AHA, when attempting to save the life of someone whose heart has stopped beating, bystanders should employ an AED, after calling 911 and initiating CPR. The AHA is working to promote the use of AEDs through research and campaigns such as its Workplace Safety Training Initiative, launched in 2017. Leaders at the AHA are using the campaign and related activities to urge those in charge of businesses and other public buildings to place AEDs next to fire extinguishers so that bystanders can easily find them in an emergency.

 

Establishing New High Blood Pressure Guidelines

blood pressureBased on the review of more than 900 published studies, scientists and health experts with the AHA, American College of Cardiology (ACC), and nine other health organizations published new high blood pressure guidelines for the first time in 14 years. The new guidelines, which the AHA and ACC released in late 2017, call for interventions at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90. Under the new changes, the number of people diagnosed with high blood pressure will increase by 14 percent. The increase will be most prevalent among people under the age of 45.

Although the changes to the guidelines will lead to more hypertension diagnoses, the number of those requiring antihypertensive medication will not increase significantly. The new guidelines recommend that physicians address Stage 1 hypertension with lifestyle changes and prescribe medications only those at high risk of a cardiovascular event due to other factors.

High blood pressure damages the vascular system and plays a significant role in increasing heart attack and stroke risk. In lowering its definition, the AHA is promoting earlier treatment that could save lives by preventing blood-pressure-related health complications.