PTSD/TBI Programs and Outreach
Here at the AFF, we believe that raising public awareness of the hardships our service members face is essential to our mission of “serving those who serve.” To that end, the AFF has implemented a number of awareness initiatives.
The primary focus of these initiatives has been raising awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). PTSD and TBI have been the signature injuries inflicted upon our service members in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2012, the AFF was proud to announce the launch of Help Save Our Troops, a campaign to raise awareness of PTSD and the tragic suicide epidemic in the military, which claims one active-duty service member every day and one veteran every 65 minutes.
Our goal is to foster the physical and emotional well-being of service members and their families through providing injured support services and children’s programs.
The Foundation also invites sports and entertainment celebrities to visit with wounded soldiers. This year we were honored to be joined by the cast and crew of FOX NFL Sunday, several NASCAR drivers and comedian Ron White, among others.
AFF Congressional Lecture Series
The AFF continues to hold monthly lectures on Capitol Hill to raise awareness on a variety of issues affecting our service members. Our goal is to foster discussion, by giving Congressional staff first hand access to our Nation’s leading experts in an assortment of fields that support the military. Some of our panelists have included experts from The Defense Centers of Excellence, John Hopkins University, and members of Congress.
This past year the AFF has been featured on FOX NFL Sunday’s broadcasts throughout the season. This initiative has been a platform to raise national awareness of the work the AFF has done on behalf of veterans across the country. Also, this has afforded the AFF staff the opportunity to bring service members and their families to live game broadcasts.
Operation Caring Classroom
2012 marked the seventh successful year of Operation Caring Classroom (OCC), which has developed into one of the AFF’s flag ship programs. True to the AFF motto, “Families Serve Too,” OCC creates awareness and support by recognizing the children from military families for their service to our country.
This national education initiative spans all 50 states, awarding one civilian school and one military impacted school in each state the distinction of being an OCC Participant. Throughout the year over 55,000 students across the nation participate in a variety of activities such as word searches, history lessons, crossword puzzles and other activities that show them what life is like for military children. Additionally, the AFF prepares video messages from national leaders explaining the sacrifices military families make. This year’s video featured Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Michael P. Barrett, Senator Jim Webb, FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and Southwest Senior Chief Pilot Terry Van Gleason.
OCC fosters support for the families of our men and women serving in uniform at the most fundamental level. At the heart of OCC, is the awareness created among students from civilian families of the sacrifices their military impacted peers endure, especially those facing the hardships of parental deployments, frequent moves, and loss of a loved one.
School Counselor Program
The Armed Forces Foundation (AFF) is currently funding a school counselor position in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to support the needs of military impacted students at Fort Belvoir. The AFF is seeking to expand the program and continue to support the personal, social, and academic needs of students whose parents are impacted by war related injuries. A main focus of this program is the identification of the needs and interventions appropriate to support students with a parent or family member impacted by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Each month the AFF partners with local and national organizations and businesses to provide over 400 warm meals to service members, their families and dedicated staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda and Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond. These monthly dinners not only allow families the opportunity to interact with one another on their roads to recovery, but also with committed volunteers from the community.
Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts, The Healing Heroes Book and Return of the Shadow Warriors
The AFF has released, Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts, a groundbreaking collection of narratives detailing the experience of American soldiers battling Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury.
The AFF recently released The Healing Heroes Book by: Ellen Sabin, a children’s book focused on helping children cope with an injured parent or family member.
Currently, the AFF is working on a documentary entitled, Return of the Shadow Warriors, which follows Special Forces soldiers battling PTSD and TBI. This film will provide a first-hand look into these silent afflictions.
The AFF will continue to work to promote dialogue and encourage innovative medical research on behalf of soldiers dealing with PTSD and TBI.