2017 DoD Warrior Games: Recognizing Hidden Heroes

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By Vice Adm. Mary Jackson
Commander, Navy Installations Command

While the Warrior Games are primarily focused on the athletes and their challenging experiences and inspiring accomplishments, we also acknowledge and recognize the tremendous dedication and support of the “hidden heroes” – spouses, family and caregivers who have made their own sacrifices to help our warrior athletes with their recovery and athletic successes.

Ida Malone, left, helps her husband, Navy Chief Petty Officer Averill Malone, stretch before bicycling during the Navy’s training camp for the 2015 DoD Warrior Games at Ventura County Naval Station Port Hueneme in Oxnard, Calif., May 31, 2015. Ida is also a caregiver for her husband, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. (Dept. of Defense photo by EJ Hersom/Released)
Ida Malone, left, helps her husband, Navy Chief Petty Officer Averill Malone, stretch before bicycling during the Navy’s training camp for the 2015 DoD Warrior Games at Ventura County Naval Station Port Hueneme in Oxnard, Calif., May 31, 2015. Ida is also a caregiver for her husband, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. (Dept. of Defense photo by EJ Hersom/Released)

On this Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we honor our Wounded Warriors’ loved ones who partner and make their own sacrifices on the path of recovery.

For our warrior athletes, our hidden heroes put forth a tremendous amount of effort behind the scenes, day-in and day-out, to support the growth and progress of their loved one’s spiritual and physical healing. Transition is not easy, but these individuals are the co-pilots who make the voyage possible and so much smoother.

Families and caregivers are an essential element in an athlete’s recovery and rehabilitation, and they are an important part of the DoD’s adaptive sports program, which provides reconditioning activities and competitive athletic opportunities to all wounded, ill and injured service members to improve their physical and mental quality of life throughout the continuum of recovery and transition. Our hidden heroes provide support, encouragement and motivation on a regular basis. In turn, athletes motivate their families, caregivers and teammates, and inspire their communities.

We are thankful to Fisher House Foundation, one of the 2017 Warrior Games presenting sponsors, for supporting our hidden heroes. Fisher House is our family program sponsor and is directly supporting the logistics for athletes’ families to attend the Warrior Games.

Coast Guard Lt. Sancho Johnson’s son helps his father out of a tight spot while on a bike ride for the Navy’s wounded warrior training camp for the 2015 DoD Warrior Games along the Pacific Coast Highway in California, May 30, 2015. (Dept. of Defense photo by EJ Hersom/Released)
Coast Guard Lt. Sancho Johnson’s son helps his father out of a tight spot while on a bike ride for the Navy’s wounded warrior training camp for the 2015 DoD Warrior Games along the Pacific Coast Highway in California, May 30, 2015. (Dept. of Defense photo by EJ Hersom/Released)

To spouses and loved ones of our military members and of our wounded, ill or injured warriors, we say, “Thank you” for all you do. We are humbled by your commitment and dedication to serving your nation in this important role.

For more information about the DoD’s adaptive sports program visit, http://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/carecoordination/masp.

For more information about the Warrior Games, please visit http://dodwarriorgames.com and be sure to “like” us and follow the games
on Facebook.


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2017 DoD Warrior Games: Recognizing Hidden Heroes

Traumatic Brain Injury and Intimate Relationships: What You Need to Know

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Graphic: DoDlive-Rotator-Template_600x350Story by Erin Wittkop, Defense Media Activity

There has been a lot of news coverage in recent years about traumatic brain injury and how it impacts the lives of those who experience it. With each new story and study, a bigger picture is painted revealing that a bump on the head isn’t as simple as it once seemed.

TBI can happen to anyone, but it’s a very real concern for service members who put their safety on the line day in and day out in defense of our country. From training exercises to combat operations, the opportunity for injury is ever present.

I’ve been fortunate to make it to adulthood without experiencing such an injury but have watched as acquaintances, friends and loved ones have recovered from head injuries of their own. Recovering from them isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

So, what happens when you or your partner or spouse sustains a traumatic brain injury? What should you look for? What should you expect? How will it impact your life and your relationship?

I recently took part in a webinar hosted by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center that focused on the effects of TBI on intimate relationships and how couples can cope during the healing process.

First and foremost, play it safe and encourage your partner to seek medical attention if you’re worried they’re at risk for TBI. If you’re the one who sustained an injury, get thee to a doctor. Medical professionals are the best people to consult if a head injury occurs no matter how minor or severe it may seem.

If you suspect TBI is afoot or you or your loved one have received an affirmative diagnosis, here’s a list of TBI symptoms (compliments of the DVBIC webinar’s keynote speaker) to look for after the initial injury occurs:

Physical

  • Balance Problems
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Visual Disturbances

Cognitive

  • Difficulty Finding Words
  • Disinhibition/Hypersexuality
  • Memory Problems
  • Poor Concentration
  • Slowed Thinking

Emotional

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood Swings
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Reaction

Remember also that TBI symptoms may not present themselves right away; every injury is as unique as the person that sustains it and the healing process takes time. Working with a qualified medical professional to manage symptoms and rehabilitate the injury is crucial to making a successful recovery. Also, the earlier an injury is treated, the sooner you or your loved one will be back on your feet.

Managing TBI is no easy task if you’re dealing with it firsthand or love someone who is. Lingering symptoms and side effects can leave partners and spouses wondering why their loved one is acting differently while the TBI sufferer grows frustrated that his or her partner can’t empathize.

Sally P. Cummings, Ed. D., FNP, keynote speaker of the DVBIC webinar, says that time and education are the keys to getting through this tough time. Personally, I think patience is pretty important, too; a whole lot of it.

Communication is crucial to working through the healing process with loved ones, though keep in mind that the injury may have impacted communication skills (this is where patience is extra important). Ms. Cummings offered a few tips to mitigate issues and alleviate stress when communication abilities have been impacted:

  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Allow time for word finding
  • Be clear and concise
  • Have a sense of humor
  • Keep your conversations brief
  • Make sure you have the listener’s attention
  • Reduce distractions
  • Remain patient and calm
  • Speak slowly and simply
  • Stick to the K.I.S.S. method (Keep It Simple, Straightforward)

Make sure that you and your partner continue to take care of yourselves and your relationship while the injury heals. Work to keep your stress levels low and take time to focus on each other.

  • Plan dates
  • Be appreciative of one another
  • Make time for each other every day
  • Do things together
  • Find the silver lining and stay positive
  • Offer positive reinforcement

Also, be sure to talk to your doctor if you and your partner encounter relationship struggles that are difficult to overcome. He or she might be able to help. Always remember that you’re not alone in this process and that things will improve with time.

If you’d like to learn more about coping with TBI, the following website have resources that can help:

www.brainline.org
www.brainlinemilitary.org
www.militaryonesource.mil

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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Japanese, US Veterans Reunite for Battle of Iwo Jima Ceremony

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By 1st Lt. Taylor Clarke, III Marine Expeditionary Force

Japanese and U.S. veterans of the Battle of Iwo Jima, along with active-duty service members, came together on Iwo To, Japan, for the annual Reunion of Honor Ceremony March 13, commemorating the 68th anniversary of the battle.

The ceremony is a testament to the hard fought battle of the past and the relationship that arose from that prior clash of arms.

“The war ended 68 years ago, and now we’re good friends with Japan, so I have a different attitude,” said retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Lawrence Snowden. “We may not forget, but we certainly can forgive.”

The island has been overtaken by foliage since the days of the battle, and the vegetation has grown like the Japan-U.S. alliance, said William Schott, a former Marine sergeant and veteran of the battle.

“This ceremony has been a wonderful experience, to return to where we once fought now as allies and partners in peace” said Schott.

Approximately 30,000 Japanese and American service members lost their lives during the 36-day battle that took place 68 years ago, a battle which has been transformed in the minds of Marines to mean much more, according to Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.

“The battle of Iwo Jima has become central to the history of the Marine Corps,” said Paxton. “For Marines, this battle long ago transcended the physical realm and became part of our ethos.”

Marines and Japanese service members fought hard during the arduous battle, and their reputation lives on to this day.

“I had an opportunity to watch young Marines earn the title ‘The Greatest Generation,’ and they truly earned it,” said Snowden. “They fought tenaciously and had no lack of courage, lots of determination, and a willingness to do whatever was needed because they were not going to fail.”

The reunion ceremony centered around a granite plaque presented by veterans during the 40th anniversary of the battle. The English translation faces the beach where the U.S. forces landed, while the Japanese translation faces the inland where Japanese troops defended their position, and reads:

“On the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, American and Japanese veterans met again on these same sands, this time in peace and friendship. We commemorate our comrades, living and dead, who fought here with bravery and honor, and we pray together that our sacrifices on Iwo Jima will always be remembered and never repeated.”

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

Check out these other posts:

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Japanese, US Veterans Reunite for Battle of Iwo Jima Ceremony