Inspired by 9/11, a Florida teen became a Marine, fought in the war on terror, and came home to lead the fight to end veteran homelessness.
For homeless veterans, a run-in with a local cop may be their best hope for a better future if they follow Officer Shawn Keechle’s example.
Eleven months after completing a 15-year prison term and finding himself homeless once more, a US Army Vietnam Veteran saw some of his biggest dreams come true before he died. On Independence Day, we honor his service and sacrifices with a commitment to many others who were once forgotten and neglected.
Ready to write the perfect Valentine’s Day card? Here are 187 real life examples of appreciations for the ones we love to get your inspired.
Ready to write the perfect Valentine’s Day card? Get inspired with 187 real life examples of appreciations for the ones we love.
I appreciate that you stimulate me intellectually and I love it!
I appreciate you giving me the ideas for my meals!
|I appreciate your check-ins at the start of the day and end of the day via text. They literally provide a comfort that I don’t think you understand. It’s like a virtual waking up in your arms and going to sleep in your arms.|
|Appreciate all the effort with the children and house.|
|Appreciate you driving me home after the party last night.|
|Baby, I appreciate your dedication in trying to save our relationship.|
|Cooking dinner last week was nice.|
|I adore your energy, vitality and caring nature.|
|I always appreciate you in my life. I appreciate the way your always thinking of my needs and wants. I couldn’t ask for a more devoted partner.|
|I am appreciative of the time you give to spend with me. I appreciate when you go out of your way to let me know you’re thinking of me.|
|I am appreciative on how well we have been doing and all of your support that I am feeling from you.|
|I am grateful that you are doing your best to be my best friend and to help me stay healthy.|
|I am so appreciative of the wonderful dinner you made for me and how you prioritized feeding me after a long day. Thank you so much!|
|I appreciate all of the effort you make to call me and email me when you are away at work.|
|I appreciate all of the effort you make to make time for me. I appreciate when you make efforts to hangout with my friends.|
|I appreciate all that you do for our family. I love watching you play and love on the kids, and how they light up when you enter the room.|
|I appreciate all the compliments and texts that you send me through-out the day to try and reconnect with me.|
|I appreciate all the effort and care that you put into making my birthday great.|
|I appreciate all the effort you are putting in trying to mend this relationship.|
|I appreciate all the effort you are putting into me as I am putting into you.|
|I appreciate all the effort you put in to getting the kids ready in the morning.|
|I appreciate all the effort you put into building me up and helping me become a better woman, regardless of how I respond in the moment.|
|I appreciate all the effort you put into making a really wonderful, delicious dinner last night, especially that you cooked things you knew the kids would love.|
|I appreciate all the effort you put into making me feel beautiful, the kind words and soft touches and embracing me in your arms assures me that you care for me.|
|I appreciate all the effort you put into making money and risking your life for it everyday. I appreciate the way you take care of our son.|
|I appreciate all the effort you put into making our family operate, you are the heartbeat of this family. I appreciate your honesty and for always keeping me accountable. I appreciate your hugs, your kisses, and your affection.|
|I appreciate all the effort you put to make this relationship work, especially when things are not good you have stuck with me and agreed to work on things.|
|I appreciate all the hard work that has went into that garage this weekend. It looks amazing!|
|I appreciate all the hard work you are putting into getting better and repairing our relationship.|
|I appreciate all the little things that you do that make me feel loved. I love the little “love”notes at the end of whatever we are texting, emailing, or talking about on the phone. It makes me feel special somehow.|
|I appreciate all the love you are expressing to me daily through your texts. I appreciate all the work you are putting in at home while I am away and helping me by teaching the class.|
|I appreciate all the support and input that you were able to give me while I was struggling.|
|I appreciate all the things you do for me ( they don’t go unnoticed.)|
|I appreciate all the things you do for me day and night, just like your trying to make my day a little better all the time. I appreciate the care and thoughts you are always giving me.|
|I appreciate all the things you do to make our house a home. I love the pictures you put up of us around the house, including our baby and high school photos. I love the reorganizing you do to make everything work and feel cozy.|
|I appreciate all the work that you did today not only to advance your career, but also to provide for us as a couple and our future together in our home.|
|I appreciate all the work you do keeping the house in order while I am away especially the work you do with the youth at church.|
|I appreciate all you do to keep our lives healthy and safe.|
|I appreciate all your hard work with the floors. They look awesome. I appreciate you taking out the garbage.|
|I appreciate your determination in life, how you persevere and keep going no matter what.|
|I appreciate everything we have shared together over the years.|
|I appreciate everything you do.|
|I appreciate everything you do for me.|
|I appreciate everything you do for our family.|
|I appreciate everything you do mostly this days i feel you are more open minded with things.|
|I appreciate having you in my life to take care of.|
|I appreciate how attentive you are to my needs. From things as simple as bringing in the groceries, to hooking up a hose, to rubbing my back when I’ve had a bad day. All those things make me feel loved.|
|I appreciate how concerned you are with my health issues and how you check on me throughout the day.|
|I appreciate how detail oriented you tend to be. Sometimes, when I get overwhelmed by minutia, it is comforting to have you back me up and wade through that.|
|I appreciate how easy going you are.|
|I appreciate how excited you are to build a home together, and that you are willing to compromise and discuss ways to find the best options as a couple.|
|I appreciate how gentle you are. You are a careful and caring of feelings and show kindness in how you deal with problems.|
|I appreciate how great you are at planning and organizing our finances and tasks for the house.|
|I appreciate how hard you are trying to be affectionate and thoughtful.|
|I appreciate how hard you are trying to forgive me. It gives me strength and desire to become a better person.|
|I appreciate how hard you work at your job, and how smart you are to be able to do all that you do!|
|I appreciate how hard you work on keeping our finances in order andn up-to-date.|
|I appreciate how hard you work to provide for your family.|
|I appreciate how hard you work while you’re on the road and then still make time for me. You make me feel like you want me to be apart of your day when you are away.|
|I appreciate how hard you worked and you are a great father. I love how you never think about yourself and we are your life.|
|I appreciate how hard you’re working to build your business and take away the financial stress of our life. I especially appreciate how you go at it even when you are feeling terrible and would just like to lie down and vege out.|
|I appreciate how incredibly caring and loving you are. I know that you had a buys day and that you had to get up early and that your pain levels are high, but you spent so much time with me making sure I was okay and talking and even flirting with me, even though you had every right to be ignoring everyone. I felt so loved and taken care of. I also appreciate that you trust me enough to vent and share your problems with me. I want to be there for you always and I’m honored that you’re giving me the opportunity to prove that.|
|I appreciate how loving and sweet you have been with the cuddles and kisses to wake me up. It makes me look forward to such a lovely day with you!|
|I appreciate how loving and tender you have been especially this morning. I especially appreciate how much you couldn’t wait to spend time with me this morning. I am so thankful of the yummy dinner you made and for the clean bathroom and kitchen! Thank you!|
|I appreciate how much love and joy you’ve brought into my life.|
|I appreciate how much time and effort you put into dinner last night even though you were tired and wanted to rest.|
|I appreciate how much you are trying to communicate and understand me!|
|I appreciate how much you do around here, the laundry and cooking and how you are making this not just a house but a home. I appreciate all the support that you give me.|
|I appreciate how much you love and care for our children and want the best for them.|
|I appreciate how much you love me and that I can see the love when you look at me and smile. This is something I have been lacking in my life and I find it in you everyday.|
|I appreciate how much you planned today and how you knew it takes us a little bit of time with my family. I appreciate you coming in and entertaining my mom.|
|I appreciate how much you put an effort to make more money for us to have everything we need. I haven’t got enough words to tell you how much I appreciate it. I appreciate that you help me taking care of the house. It is nice to see that we are in this together.|
|I appreciate how much you put into trying to make me happy every day.|
|I appreciate how much you think about the family we may have one day. And I also appreciate how much you recognize your limitations and restrict travel when you know you won’t be 100%. I love and appreciate your willingness to take a knee in order to make yourself stronger in the long run.|
|I appreciate how much you think of me through your day and you send me links to enrich my life and career. You the best!|
|I appreciate how much you try to communicate with me and trying your best! It feels nice to see that you are so serious about us. I appreciate your ability to let things go and move on so fast. I wish I had that skill I hope I can learn from you.|
|I appreciate how much you want to share your happiness with me in the mornings – even when I do not want to wake up. I appreciate all the articles and insights you share about your personality, experiences and opinions to give color to your character and help me understand the complicated machinery of my bun.|
|I appreciate how much you’ve done to make your corner of the world better. I recognize that is a way of showing you care about what I value.|
|I appreciate how open you are spiritual healing.|
|I appreciate how passionate you are on things you believe in. I know you want to have an impact.|
|I appreciate how patient and supportive you were in spending time with my friends today.|
|I appreciate how patient you are when waking me up! You know how much I love sleeping in the short term but I need to work out in the long term. You are the best!|
|I appreciate how patiently and gently you came to discuss the concerns I had this morning, especially how much you tried to express and describe your perspective in a way I can understand and emphasize with you. It truly helped me understand the depth of your love, the weight of the effort you have been putting in to ensure the well being of our relationship, and your expectations. Thank you.|
|I appreciate how strong you are, how much you love our kids, and how you always listen to me.|
|I appreciate how supportive you have been of my professional growth and career endeavors. Even on the days when others and I doubt myself. You believe in me, and I am truly grateful to you for encouraging me to be and try my best and push my boundaries.|
|I appreciate how supportive you have been. You have taken on more responsibility than any one person should have to. I love the way you take time to mail me letters that always seem to come at the perfect time. I love the way you hugged me when we saw each other this past weekend and the way you cried when it was time to go back home. I love the way you made me feel like a teenager when we were swimming. I appreciate the first thing you thought of was wanting to make the house and yard perfect before I come home even though that is the furthest thing on my mind.|
|I appreciate how the last couple of nights we’ve sat and talked. I love talking to you.|
|I appreciate how to helped me to sleep last night when I was not in a good place. Your patience comforted me and I really was grateful that you did not yell at me or tell me to pull it together.|
|I appreciate how you have showed love to me lately by hugging and touching, it feels really good and it makes me feel happy.|
|I appreciate how understanding and self aware that you are when it comes to understanding yourself and others.|
|I appreciate how whenever I ask if you can talk you are always willing to talk with me.|
|I appreciate how willing you are to try new things.|
|I appreciate how you always give me a kiss before you leave in the morning. I appreciate that you never complain about my weird eating habits. And I appreciate how happy you make me even when we just sit upstairs together.|
|I appreciate how you always listen and how you’ve never given up on me.|
|I appreciate how you always remember the specific things I like to eat when you order food and I wonder how you keep it all in your head when you are so busy with work.|
|I appreciate how you are allowing me another chance. I see your love and appreciate how you support me even through my faults.|
|I appreciate how you are such a patient person with our children and that they feel safe coming to you when they are feeling like they have made a mistake.|
|I appreciate how you have been showing love to me lately by hugging and touching! It feels really good and it makes me happy. I appreciate all your help with the house work shopping and parenting!! It means a lot to me!!!!!|
|I appreciate how you have opened my eyes to so many things, specifically political and social issues. I feel like I have grown significantly in how I view the world and the people in it.|
|I appreciate how you have taken time the last two nights to work on improving our relationship. I know it is hard for you to read and it makes me feel like you really care about me and our future.|
|I appreciate how you left me your shirt this morning so that I can get hugs from you all day while I am busy working away — these small surprises make me so happy.|
|I appreciate how you make an effort to connect with my family, get along with them and also help them.|
|I appreciate how you present yourself in attitude and physical appearance.|
|I appreciate how you stay calm in timesof great pressure and keep everything chugging along.|
|I appreciate how you talked to me today after I had a little breakdown. You were very nice and it all made sense what you said! You have been so kind and understanding, you notice me and give me your attention.|
|I appreciate how you thought of me this morning and bought me a doughnut. It really helped to pick me up from being down from this morning.|
|I appreciate how you took care of cleaning and laundry when you came home today.|
|I appreciate how you took the children out today to have a great time together while I was able to rest and get some me-time.|
|I appreciate how you took the time to warm up a meal when I got home today.|
|I appreciate how you were so happy to see me after work and helpful in making me feel better.|
|I appreciate how you’ve been doing stuff around the house.|
|I appreciate more of your undivided attention.|
|I appreciate on days that I am moody how difficult that can get and you listen to me, just letting me vent, and heal.|
|I appreciate our interaction from the moment of good morning, the communication throughout the day, the hugs and kisses, the simple touching as we pass each other, the moment at the end of the days craziness when we lay next to each other, the kiss goodnight, and the comfort of knowing you are by my side as we rest.|
|I appreciate that we worked out the issue with the mini-fridge. That makes life easier for both of us.|
|I appreciate that you appreciate me more now than ever…. it shows.|
|I appreciate that you are a great father and son.|
|I appreciate that you are an animal lover like me.|
|I appreciate that you are concerned about my future.|
|I appreciate that you are determind to make this relationship work.|
|I appreciate that you are putting more effort into making this relationship work.|
|I appreciate that you are trying harder and are more pleasant to be around.|
|I appreciate that you are trying to be more of a devoted partner.|
|I appreciate that you are trying to do good things for your body like exercising.|
|I appreciate that you call me during the day multiple times and at night when you are gone. I love and appreciate how we connect with texts.|
|I appreciate that you care more about me know than ever before ( thank you ).|
|I appreciate that you don’t try to change who I am.|
|I appreciate that you get a big smile when you see me.|
|I appreciate that you had a nice time last night|
|I appreciate that you like to keep yourself cleaned up and look nice.|
|I appreciate that you love me when I am unlovable!|
|I appreciate that you said “I love you” today.|
|I appreciate that you value the little things I do for you.|
|I appreciate that you want to spend are lives together.|
|I appreciate that you’ve been here and loved me even when I haven’t deserved it because I’ve been acting crazy.|
|I appreciate the hugs, backwards hugs, and forehead kisses.|
|I appreciate the patience you have with me on a daily basis no matter what I may say or do – no matter how irrational I may be, you treat me with kindness and so much love.|
|I appreciate the positive influence you are for my children.|
|I appreciate the time and effort you put in to work.|
|I appreciate the way you go out of your way to make me meals I will enjoy, even if you will not eat them.|
|I appreciate the way you make me happy with the changes you have made.|
|I appreciate you acknowledging that you want to treat me better and the effort you are allowing us to spend more quality time together, and the fact you are kind and caring.|
|I appreciate you bringing my glass of water to the bedroom last night. Little things mean alot to me.|
|I appreciate you communicating with me via text today to get together and do the PAIRS DTR.|
|I appreciate you dealing with my bi-polar/ptsd. I wish I knew what brings it on but I don’t.|
|I appreciate you driving to pick up my favorite donuts.|
|I appreciate you following up on making your appointments for healing mind and body.|
|I appreciate you for giving us a new kitchen!|
|I appreciate you getting a good report card.|
|I appreciate you giving me encouragement to get off my ass and do things. I really appreciate it!!|
|I appreciate you giving me the best 10 years of my life. You are my favorite person!|
|I appreciate you listening to me after work today. It made me feel awesome.|
|I appreciate you listening to me vent about work after I’ve had a rough day.|
|I appreciate you making the bed each morning. It makes me feel happy to come into a clean bedroom.|
|I appreciate you sharing your feelings about the car instead of internalizing them.|
|I appreciate you sharing your weed.|
|I appreciate you taking care of the house and kids while i am at work throughout the day.|
|I appreciate you taking the dog for walks. It’s good for both of you!|
|I appreciate you taking the extra second to give me a kiss before you leave in the morning.|
|I appreciate you wanting to include me in your business and work together.|
|I appreciate your ability to multitask. I am would never be able to juggle everything you take care of on a daily basis.|
|I appreciate your adventurous spirit and desire to go on a road trip yesterday.|
|I appreciate your attempts to ask me questions about my career while on our road trip.|
|I appreciate your being to explain what was going on with my dad after his heart attack; it really helped to know.|
|I appreciate your belly rubs and the sweet moments we share in bed late at night.|
|I appreciate your consistency to treat those you love in the best way you can.|
|I appreciate your dedication to yourself and how you focus and follow through with your goals.|
|I appreciate your desire and drive in the bedroom. I absolutely love how adventurous you are and how you like to spice things up and keep things exciting. I feel so close to you and so in tune with your body and mind when I’m intimate with you in that way.|
|I appreciate your love and your faith in us as a family.|
|I appreciate your lovely smile and your beautiful eyes.|
|I appreciate your patience.|
|I appreciate your shoulder rubs. They make me feel relaxed.|
|I appreciate your smile.|
|I appreciate your willingness to communicate more with me.|
|I feel loved and care about when you do small things for me like going to the store for groceries.|
|I just wanted to take the time to tell you that you have been (will be) the most imporant part of my life. You understand me so well and trust me. That is imporant to me. Thank You!|
|I like how you keep our house decorated so nicely.|
|I love it when you are making things in the kitchen that I know will taste wonderful. I love sitting and watching birds and geese with you or feeding turtles.|
|I really appreciated when you put your arm around me at the grocery store. You make me feel like you are so proud to be with me and like you love the feeling of being close to me. That means so much to me because I am so proud to be with you and my heart melts and overflows at the same time whenever you pull me close. I love you deeply.|
|I really like it when you send pictures to me when I have not requested for it. I admire your proactiveness. Thank you for being you.|
|I’m so thankful for is that you’ve chosen to walk through this with me. It means the world to me when you choose to include me, to be my partner, to process things, and live life with me, even when you’re going through something so painful.|
|II also appreciate when you take the baby so I can rest in the middle of the night.|
|Most of all, I appreciate your love commitment, your honesty, your friendship. I love you.|
|Thank you for being so loving and patient this morning and evening with me. Taking time to cuddle with me, washing the water filter, sending me off for the day, being so understanding about me being late for date night and listening to me about my day– all of these things I am thankful to you for.|
|Thank you for saying that I look hot and good. It feels very good to hear that, maybe one day I will believe it myself.|
|Thank you for waking me up this morning. i would have been late again if not for that.|
|Your sense of humor is the best! I love that we have fun and laugh at ourselves. I love that you get my sense of humor.|
V.A. Chaplain Ed Waldrop was searching for an answer to the consequences of post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and other visible and invisible wounds of war that had altered the lives of people he loved. He hoped and prayed these warriors would find life in the arms of those they’d fought to protect.
V.A. Chaplain Ed Waldrop was searching for an answer to the consequences of post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and other visible and invisible wounds of war that had altered the lives of people he loved. He hoped and prayed these warriors would find life in the arms of those they’d fought to protect.
I turned away from the group of warriors and spouses in the midst of a Valentine’s Day marriage enrichment weekend in 2009 to see Chaplain Ed Waldrop, a retired Navy veteran, leaning against a window at the Augusta, Georgia retreat, his body gently trembling, head buried within his hands, the sound of whispered tears floating in the air.
The elite, heroic warriors before us represented the tip of the spear of America’s war on terror. They’d seen multiple deployments and sacrificed more than very few of their bravest brothers and sisters could imagine. That Valentine’s weekend, these warriors were fighting a war for which they had received little training: the war to reclaim their own marriages, families, and all that represented.
Ed had reached out months earlier to ask me to volunteer to lead that weekend in Augusta. He had heard of PAIRS focus on emotional connection and was searching for an answer to the consequences of post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and other visible and invisible wounds of war. Despite his best efforts as a chaplain and the dedicated professional social workers at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, Ed knew these warriors urgently needed a chance to reconnect with the people they most loved and hoped PAIRS could be the answer.
Long before America awoke to the tragedy of more than 7,000 veterans committing suicide each year, Ed hoped and prayed he could help those for whom he was responsible find life in the arms of those they’d gone to war to protect.
Our embrace that moment in Augusta is one I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life. Ed became my friend, student, teacher, mentor, and an ever-present inspiration.
Ed Waldrop died on October 11, 2019 in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. He was 59. The values of his life continues to touch his brothers and sisters throughout America.
He was so deeply struck by the experience of the warriors and their loved ones at that Augusta retreat that he became a passionate advocate for PAIRS emotional literacy skills to help all of those who had borne the battle and their loved ones. Ed’s vision ultimately became a VA Best Practice known as PAIRS Warrior to Soul Mate program.
In this video, Chaplain Waldrop interviews one of the couples from that Valentine’s weekend who spoke for many others — a testament a year later to the profound, lasting impact of their experience.
On this Valentine’s Day 11 years later, I join all of those touched by Ed Waldrop’s heroic life to remember and honor his values, vision, courage, integrity, and a commitment to his fellow Sailors and Marines that lives in eternity.
Rest in Peace my friend, my brother.
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day when you’re holding onto grudges? Writing a “Letting Go of Grudges Letter” can help.
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day when you’re holding onto grudges? That’s awfully difficult. Writing a “Letting Go of Grudges Letter” can help.
It’s important in a relationship to get and stay current with your feelings, keep a clear focus on the present, stop living in the shadow of old resentments, anger, or bitterness. This does not mean denying upsetting feelings about what has happened in the past. Quite the contrary. It’s important to acknowledge those feelings, express them, get a clear overview of them, and then to let them go.
How do you get there? A good start is writing a “Letting Go of Grudges Letter.”
When you complete the letter, having expressed the range of your feelings, see if your feelings have changed.
Here are your instructions:
Think of a grudge you are holding, something you have upsetting feelings about. For this time, select someone other than your partner as the object of your anger. You won’t actually send this letter. Sticking with the same issue, complete as many of the sentence stems in each category that you can. Take this opportunity to release whatever pent-up anger, resentment, and hurt you’ve been feeling. Do not leave the letter unfinished. Be sure to carry it through to the last category. At the end, see how you feel then.
1. ANGER AND BLAME
I’m outraged by…
I’m fed up with…
I can’t stand…
I can’t forgive you for…
2. HURT AND SADNESS
I feel hurt by…
I feel sad when…
I am disappointed because…
I feel awful because…
3. FEAR AND INSECURITY
I am anxious because…
I am afraid that…
What scares me is…
I’m worried about…
4. GUILT AND RESPONSIBILITY
I may be to blame for…
I feel sympathy for…
I didn’t mean to…
Please forgive me for…
5. FORGIVENESS, UNDERSTANDING, DESIRE & LOVE
Ready to get started with a Valentine’s Day gift that lasts? Learn about “Stages of Relationship” and how they influence intimacy from this PAIRS Professional Training video and grab a copy of this Questions for Clarifying Expectations worksheet.
A Valentine’s Day gift that lasts: Learning to put family power struggles behind you.
Want a terrific Valentine’s Day gift that lasts?
Learn to recognize power struggles that sabotage love, relationships, marriage, and families … and put them in the past.
A power struggle is an attempt by one partner to dominate the other. It’s generally tied to a self-esteem issue, a need to win, or a fear of being controlled.
Do any of these sound familiar?
The One-Up, One-Down Relationship
One dominates by intimidation, the other submits.
Decisions are made, intimacy is lost.
Submissive one seethes with resentment, feels badly treated, displays covert expressions of anger, leaves or sabotages the relationship.
Dominant one unwilling to admit fears, doubts, or second thoughts.
No possibility of confiding or vulnerability.
The Conflicted Relationship
Neither one is willing to accept the other’s position.
Intimacy is not possible due to so much tension, hostility, competition and resentment.
Survival and winning are the issue.
To Avoid A Power Struggle
Make your own desires explicit.
Make a consistent effort to understand each others needs, fear, limitations and viewpoints.
Expect differences — issues that are crucial to each other need to be fought for.
Look for mutually satisfying ways of resolving differences; most issues are negotiable or can be decided by the one who has the most interest in it.
Some issues may be non-negotiable – it is important for each to become clear about this for themselves — even these can change once we’re out of a win-lose mode and goodwill, empathy, and clarity take over.
Know it is your choice to accept your partner’s desires; you have the power to choose to accept them or not.
“If I do what pleases you, I do it for the sake of our relationship and for the pleasure I have in my power to give you pleasure. I trust that you will consider my desires with equal goodwill in those times when I have strong feelings, and that you will also make choices to accommodate my interests.”
Become clear about the three areas of autonomy and decision-making: personal, shared, and personal input.
The more autonomy each has to make decisions, the less conflict there will be.
Autonomy in decision-making is not a devaluation of the other’s self-worth — it is a statement of each one’s difference and uniqueness.
Ready to get started with a Valentine’s Day gift that lasts? Learn about “Emotional Stages of Engagement” and how they influence intimacy from this PAIRS Professional Training video and grab a copy of this Guide for Couples: Discussing Power Struggles.
The former New Yorker who’d known the good life in Yonkers and Miami became homeless on the streets of his own community, sleeping on the cement in front of a local church, fighting off thieves after the few possessions he could carry, even his medicine … even his life. Homelessness came to an end when he discovered veteran benefits earned decades earlier that he never knew he had.
Robert Jacoby, 57, is a fighter. For much of his life, he was also known as an over-achiever.
“I used to be someone,” Jacoby remembers.
Jacoby’s father was a popular physician. He grew up enjoying “a country club life” – family, money, beautiful women, stability, “the whole nine yards.”
“When you’re exposed to money and you lose it all, it’s the worst,” he said.
His marriage ended. Dad died.
It wasn’t long before depression, anxiety, and Parkinson’s Disease got the best of Robert Jacoby.
The former New Yorker who’d known the good life in Yonkers and Miami became homeless on the streets of his own community, sleeping on the cement in front of a local church, fighting off thieves after the few possessions he could carry, even his medicine … even his life.
“I’m damaged a little bit,” he confided.
Three years after becoming homeless, Robert Jacoby is ready to “start my life again.”
“I quit some bad habits,” he said. “What happens now is the opportunities open up, this is a big start,” he said standing in front of his new Miami Beach apartment, beginning to reflect the confidence he’d long ago lost.
Jacoby found himself facing a hopeless situation last year when the owner of the transitional housing community where he’d slept for almost three years announced plans to remodel and ordered him out.
“I had crazy roommates who would shoot up with drugs, it was a bad atmosphere,” Jacoby said of his experience in the only housing he could find to help him escape the elements and begin tackling demons sabotaging his life.
Despite the drugs, the fights, and constantly having to protect the little he had, it was better than sleeping outside with no protection from anything and little hope for anything better.
At a moment of hopelessness, Jacoby discovered an option he’d never considered.
“I was desperate. My neighbors and friends said, ‘Bobby, you were in the military, there’s help available.’”
“I was desperate,” Jacoby said. “My neighbors and friends said, ‘Bobby, you were in the military, there’s help available.’”
Thirty four years earlier, then 23-year-old Robert Jacoby had enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He’d served honorably. The idea that his military service decades earlier earned him benefits that could help him through homelessness wasn’t something he’d considered.
With nothing to lose, he called Operation Sacred Trust in nearby Pembroke Pines, Florida to tell his story.
As a result of the support he received from Operation Sacred Trust, this veteran is homeless no more. Together with his adopted cat, Alex, Jacoby lives close to the ocean in Miami.
“I want to live.”
“I feel like a person now,” he says. “I wake up in the morning and I can’t believe it.”
“I want to live,” he says with determination.
He talks about making new friends, even dating, now that he has a budget that allows him to keep a roof over his head and decorate a little.
“You make a list and cross off one thing and then another and then another,” Jacoby said about making plans for the future.
Ana Rubirosa, helped Jacoby create a bridge to a future overflowing with potential.
“She always answered my calls,” Jacoby says of Rubirosa, the Operation Sacred Trust (OST) Care Manager who worked with him daily on their shared mission.
Rubirosa is one of eight full-time Care Managers at the South Florida Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. Each of the agency’s team members are carefully selected from hundreds of applicants for their compassion, competence serving veterans in the midst of trauma, and ability to thrive under pressure.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, OST operates as a division of the nonprofit Purpose Built Families Foundation. Since 2011, the CARF-accredited program has ended and prevented homelessness for thousands of veterans and their family members in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. On any given day, the agency’s care team is providing urgent assistance to as many as 200 homeless and at-risk veterans. Sometimes, even more.
“Very few people are prepared for what it takes to serve veterans through some of the most difficult periods of their lives,” said Camille Eisenmann, the agency’s Program Director whose son recently completed service in the Marine Corps. Eisenmann is constantly on the lookout for dedicated, skilled professionals with a passion for service and special place in their hearts for those who have borne the battle.
Seth and Stephanie Eisenberg co-founded Operation Sacred Trust at a time when thousands of Floridians were returning home after completing military service that often included difficult deployments with many suffering visible and invisible wounds of war.
The Eisenbergs said their goal was to ensure every South Florida veteran in need was treated like someone’s mother, father, brother, or sister. Today, they are hoping to expand OST to other communities where veterans do not have access to the same level of service and resources.
“The factors that lead to veteran homelessness in America are personal and unique to each veteran,” said Stephanie Eisenberg, who is President/CEO of Carrfour Supportive Housing, Florida’s largest nonprofit developer of affordable housing. “OST’s approach is woven around the unique needs, circumstances, and aspirations of each veteran family we serve.”
Seth Eisenberg is President/CEO of Purpose Built Families Foundation. He said OST is built on the awareness that veterans facing homelessness are at the highest risk for suicide and must receive rapid, personal assistance that’s consistent through every point of contact. That level of personal care, he said, is available because Operation Sacred Trust is built on a technology platform that frees up team members to rapidly provide direct client care.
“While veterans know Sacred Trust for the care they receive, what makes that possible is a technology foundation built on the Salesforce.com platform,” he said.
“Technology allows the nonprofit to practically eliminate administrative burdens that would otherwise keep team members from providing direct services and consume valuable time — a precious resource when helping a veteran overcome crisis,” said Jaymee Kent, the agency’s Chief Technology Officer who manages a four-person team responsible for ensuring uninterrupted technology support.
“From organizational memory that dramatically boosts collaborative potential to automating processes that are not unique to each veteran, we’re able to achieve efficiencies that were once impossible to imagine,” she said.
While Robert Jacoby and thousands like him will never see that technology, they experience the results. Within weeks of reaching out for help, Jacoby had the resources needed as a bridge to a fresh start, a plan for a better future, and keys to his new apartment that’s not far from the ocean.
For starters, he wants to be closer to his 90-year-old mother. “That’s my heart,” he said.
He’d also like to return to playing tennis, swimming, and making new friends.
“Seeing Mr. Jacoby embrace his potential for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is what it’s all about,” said Jacob Torner, OST Engagement Director.
How does the team celebrate Mr. Jacoby’s success, Torner is asked.
“When serving veterans is your passion, the celebration is the act of service itself,” he said.
“The real celebration,” he added, “will come when there is housing available in our community — and every other community — so no veteran ever sleeps on the pavement, park bench, abandoned building, shelter, or anywhere else that deprives them of the freedoms they sacrificed to give the rest of us.”
“That’s our sacred trust,” Seth Eisenberg said. “As a team and community, it’s a responsibility we embrace with mind, heart, and spirit everyday.”
Discover how the offspring of the legendary Allman Brothers Band handle expectations as artists and parents.Music News
Last year, the sons of giants released their first album Down to the River and they’ve already built a wonderful fan base on the road. Mixing up their long set with new music, picks from their solo work and classic Allman Brothers tunes, the Allman Betts Band is remarkable.
by Todd McFliker
Photos by Jay Skolnick
Devon Allman is the son of the late great Gregg Allman, and Duane Betts’ father is Dickey, two founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. Berry Oakley, Jr., the son of the Allman Brothers renowned bassist is also part of the crew.
Last year, the sons of giants released their first album Down to the River and they’ve already built a wonderful fan base on the road. Mixing up their long set with new music, picks from their solo work and classic Allman Brothers tunes, the Allman Betts Band is remarkable.
Devon Allman has a 20-year-old son, Orion. When I interviewed Devon about the Wanee Music Festival 2017, he discussed his role as a dad while on tour.
“I opted out of touring and making records for the first 5 years of his life to build a foundation with him. That was crucial to our bond. Now he knows his dad tours a couple weeks and then comes home a couple weeks. We maximize time together and never take it for granted. Balance is everything.”Devon Allman
The seven musicians are made up of four guitarists, two drummers and a keyboard player. Concertgoers are always excited to experience modern classics, including “Melissa,” Ramblin’ Man” and “Midnight Rider.” During “Blue Sky,” Devon joins Duane on chorus and all four guitarists jam in unison. Spectators can also expect timeless covers, including John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples,” as well as Prince’s “Purple Rain” with a Southern gospel feel. Just like the son of a king, Devon always delivers astonishing fingerwork.
Onstage at Pembroke Pines’ Charles F. Dodge City Center in South Florida on October 27, 2019, Devon used a gorgeous black instrument.
“While I’m proud of my family’s mark on rock history, I have my own story to write and my own work to do.”Devon Allman
“This is my dad’s acoustic guitar right here,” he said. “I thought it would mean so much more to bring it out and play it for everybody than for it to be behind glass in some museum… I finally flipped it open and it smelled like an AC/DC concert.”
Devon told the crowd that the Allman Betts Band tries to balance where they came from with their own material. He said that if they came out and performed no Allman Brothers whatsoever, it would be kind of lame. At the same time, if the band came out and did an entire set of just the Allman Brothers, it wouldn’t be very cool either. That’s why they always mix it up for their audiences.
Berry Oakley, Jr. completely agrees.
“Being the son of my father, everyone expects “Whipping Post” right off the bat,” he told me in 2019. “Okay, I get it. But I am doing my own thing. So it’s tough. The name helps open doors, but you have to know what you’re doing. I’ve seen the door slam in a lot of people’s faces. So you can’t just rely on the name.”
Onstage, the boys are nothing short of spectacular. The Allman Betts Band certainly earns respect for themselves as talented musicians and performers, doing their fathers’ names proud. “While I’m proud of my family’s mark on rock history, I have my own story to write and my own work to do,” Devon Allman explained to me.
Derek Trucks is the child prodigy nephew of the Allman Brothers’ drummer Butch Trucks who began playing the late Duane Allman’s slide-guitar spot at age 20. He once told me that coming from rock royalty can be a double-edged sword.
“Being tied to the Allman Brothers’ name and legacy when I was a kid certainly helped get gigs,” Derek Trucks said. “But at some point, it becomes restrictive. Some people come out to a show expecting a certain thing. If it’s not what you are doing, there will always be some sort of disappointment. That’s why you always have to be clear in what it is you are doing and give people more than what they’re expecting. If you have an artistic vision and you’re into it, you go with it.”
The Allman Betts Band is currently on the road around the world with dozens of upcoming concerts through the summer of 2020. The talented ensemble will appear at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, April 25th to help celebrate this year’s Wanee festival.
Todd McFliker, a special contributor to Fatherhood Channel, is the author of “All You Need Is Love to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb: How the Beatles and U2 Changed the World,” available on Amazon.
Who are the warriors searching alleyways, parks, and abandoned buildings for homeless veterans like Tony Rankin? Reza Kavoosi is on the front line of a war fought in every American community.
“In order to be anything, you must be brave enough to fail.”
Kirk Douglas, who died this week at 103, will long be remembered for those words.
At the State of the Union, President Trump featured one man who learned life takes more than bravery and courage.
Army Veteran Tony Rankin was applauded for overcoming the loss of his family, addiction, and homelessness. For many of his fellow servicemen and women, the story is different.
More than 7,000 brave American veterans die at their own hands each year. They would fill the House Chamber where President Trump spoke 16 times over between State of the Union speeches.
More than 7,000 brave American veterans die at their own hands each year. They would fill the House Chamber where President Trump spoke 16 times over between State of the Union speeches.
Tens of thousands more are holding on to the very edge of life.
Reza Kavoosi knows them well. Kavoosi is a warrior who protects the warriors.
Day and night, Kavoosi searches alleyways, public parks, and abandoned buildings for brothers-in-arms. He knows that finding the Tony Rankins is as urgent as any life or death challenge.
Kavoosi, 34, was born in Khuzestan, an industrial southern province of Iran, as the 18-year Iran-Iraq war approached its end. As a doctor, his mother relocated frequently to serve Iran’s most distraught communities, giving her son, whose name means “contentment,” lifelong lessons about service, sacrifice, and resilience in the face of suffering, trauma and despair.
At 15, she got Reza a passport and offered him the opportunity to experience life a world away from the traditions and ancient history of Khuzestan.
Arriving in Budapest, Hungary to finish high school, culture shock came quickly as Kavoosi watched people dancing in the streets, kissing in public, and speaking freely — freedoms very different than those he’d known in traditional Iranian communities.
“You couldn’t do any of that in Iran,” he said in an interview with the Deseret News. “It took a while for me to adjust to my freedom. But once I had this new lifestyle, I knew I couldn’t go back.”
Budapest would be a temporary home. His yearning was America.
“America was my dream — it represented freedom and the chance to do something important with my life,” Kavoosi said. “My parents always told me there was no other country like it in the world.”
His dream came true in 2006 when he was accepted into a prestigious international program at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“When things got tough, I was reminded that it was my duty to give back … I owed it to my fellow soldiers to do a good job and fight for my flag and my country,”Reza Kavoosi
Committed to repaying the country he cherished, Kavoosi enlisted in the U.S. Army, deployed to Afghanistan as a Ranger and interpreter, and took on dangerous counter-terrorism missions, “knowing that a single bullet could take my life away and all that I loved.”
“When things got tough,” he recalled, “I was reminded that it was my duty to give back … I owed it to my fellow soldiers to do a good job and fight for my flag and my country,” Kavoosi said about long days and nights serving in Afghanistan. During lonely nights far from home and family, he took comfort unfurling an American flag on the most remote Afghan mountaintops.
“As we celebrate Tony Rankin,” said Jacob Torner, Kavoosi’s team leader at the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in Pembroke Pines, Florida, “we must remember there are tens of thousands more hanging on to life.”
“Finding them where they are,” Torner said, “is our sacred trust.”
A 74-year-old Army veteran became homeless in Broward County recently after 33 years at the same apartment.
Fortunately, the help this Florida senior urgently needed was looking for him.
It was the shock of a lifetime.
Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, CEO of Carrfour Supportive Housing, said what happened to Mr. Beckler is a story she hears often. She’s heard many. Carrfour, Florida’s largest nonprofit affordable housing developer, has provided housing to more than 10,000 formerly homeless men, women and children since being founded by the Miami-Dade County Chamber of Commerce in 1993.
“Like many of our neighbors, Mr. Beckler didn’t have the resources, friends, family or social supports to fall back on to get through this kind of trauma,” Berman-Eisenberg said. “Millions of Americans are in similar circumstances. For so many people, homelessness is one health crisis, legal challenge, missed paycheck, job loss, or breakup away.”
Fortunately, Beckler had one advantage over thousands of others who become homeless in Florida.
In 1976, at the end of the Vietnam era, Beckler enlisted in the Army. Veteran benefits he never knew existed include emergency housing assistance. In South Florida, with funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, teams of fellow veterans search the streets, transportation terminals, shelters, beaches, abandoned building and many places in between looking for former servicemen and women who have fallen on hard times.
At 10:15 last Tuesday morning, in a Hollywood, Florida alleyway, Beckler met fellow Army Veteran Kevin Williams. Williams served in uniform for more than 25 years. Last year, he gave up a comfortable retirement to join a unique team of tireless activists at Operation Sacred Trust who sign up to make sure veterans facing homelessness get immediate, compassionate assistance. Everyday, Williams and his teammates are on the lookout for veterans like Robert Beckler.
Three hours later, having verified Beckler’s veteran status, financial situation, and housing emergency, Williams was helping his fellow soldier move into a new apartment.
“Every minute of homelessness is urgent,” said Seth Eisenberg, CEO of Purpose Built Families Foundation. Seth and Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, husband and wife, co-founded Operation Sacred Trust (OST) in 2011 as many servicemen and women were returning home from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. “OST was born out of our commitment to the sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers from our community who served and sacrificed so far from home,” Berman-Eisenberg said.
“Kevin Williams may have set a record housing Mr. Beckler in less than three hours, but that level of care and commitment is what we expect seven days a week, 24 hours a day from our team. It’s also what our community deserves.”~ Seth Eisenberg, Operation Sacred Trust
Since 2011, the agency has helped thousands of homeless veterans, their families, and thousands more facing the threat of homelessness. As a division of the nonprofit Purpose Built Families Foundation, OST has provided millions of dollars in temporary financial assistance to help veterans with security deposits, rent, utility payments, and other expenses that can be the difference between home and homelessness. Often even more important, veterans served by OST get immediate assistance navigating a literal maze of challenges involved in securing benefits, finding housing, and overcoming related challenges.
“Kevin Williams may have set a record housing Mr. Beckler in less than three hours, but that level of care and commitment is what we expect seven days a week, 24 hours a day from our team. It’s also what our community deserves,” Eisenberg said.
Elderly homeless veterans, he said, are at the highest risk for suicide.
“It’s not hard to understand how hopeless and desperate homelessness feels for someone who has no family, friends or social supports to turn to. Our team becomes that support and doesn’t look away until we know every one of the veterans we serve is safe.”
OST seeks out landlords throughout Broward and Miami-Dade who share their commitment to veterans. “Landlords know they can count on us to be there for our veterans and to keep being there. We’re grateful our community has some landlords who treat veterans with the respect they’ve earned,” Eisenberg said.
“We hope that example will inspire others,” he added. “Particularly for the elderly, housing can be a life or death issue.”
Last January, Broward County located 216 homeless veterans during the 2019 Point-in-Time count, a significant increase over prior years at a time when veteran homelessness has been declining sharply in other Florida metropolitan communities, including neighboring Miami-Dade County.
“Tackling homelessness takes the same kind of urgency you’d expect from the best teams working in a world-class emergency room.”~ Jacob Torner, Operation Sacred Trust
Jacob Torner, OST’s Engagement Director and a national trainer for the Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families initiative, said changing that trend requires a sense of urgency from every agency responsible for our neighbors who become homeless.
“Tackling homelessness takes the same kind of urgency you’d expect from the best teams working in a world-class emergency room,” Torner said. “The idea that someone who is homeless is simply told to start calling a list of numbers or finding their way to a pick up point often doesn’t work. As a community, those of us who signed up for this mission have to do more of what works for those we serve and stop doing what doesn’t work,” he said. “The lives of our servicemen and women are on the line.”
This year’s Point-in-Time count took place last Wednesday and Thursday. Kevin Williams and Robert Beckler are both celebrating that this veteran didn’t count.
In the military, if you were supposed to have feelings, they would have been issued. Although emotional numbing may help warriors survive the battlefield, as civilians, they may be paying a heavy price that’s impacting homelessness, addictions, and suicide. At a recent conference on patient centered care, leaders said they’re hopeful about the future.
“Emotional numbing” is contributing to Veteran homelessness, addiction, and suicide, a former VA Chief of Chaplains said.
“Everyday, we see the direct connection between relationship breakdown and homelessness,” added Jacob Torner, director of one the nation’s leading accredited, nonprofit programs combating Veteran homelessness.
The connection is showing up in data analysis powered by the program’s technology infrastructure originally donated to the veteran service group by Salesforce Foundation.
Purpose Built Families Foundation’s analysis of five years of Salesforce data reveals changing trends in veteran homelessness and relationships. For the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2019, just four out of every 100 homeless veterans were married or in a committed relationship, a 69 percent decline since 2015, reported Chief Information Officer Jaymee Kent.
Pew’s marriage report reveals “U.S. adults are delaying marriage – or forgoing it altogether.” The Veterans study finds “for many U.S. veterans who served in combat, their experiences strengthened them personally but also made the transition to civilian life difficult.”
Purpose Built Families’ analysis indicates significant differences in relationship status for veterans seeking to prevent homelessness and those who became homeless.
In 2015, 24 percent of veterans qualifying for emergency assistance to prevent imminent homelessness reported being married or in a committed relationship,” Kent said. That percentage decreased annually, reaching a low of 15 percent in 2019, she reported.
Thirteen percent of literally homeless veterans reported being married or in a committed relationship in 2015 versus four percent in 2019, Kent added.
“In 14 years serving post-9/11 Veterans as a VA Chaplain, I frequently saw the consequences of heroic servicemen and women who were unable to reconnect with self and others through their transition from active duty to civilian life,” Dr. Clyde Angel said at the recent Planetree International Conference in Orlando. Dr. Angel is Executive Vice President of Purpose Built Families Foundation.
“Beyond military service, the loss of close relationships is the most consistent shared experience — at home, work, often everywhere.” Torner told global leaders in patient-centered care.
“Homelessness, suicide, addictions — at the root, they are about losing our sense of connectedness and belonging,” Purpose Built Families Foundation CEO Seth Eisenberg said. “Urgently treating the symptoms is a matter of life and death, but the future depends on investing better and smarter in prevention,” he stressed.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is calling for a “war on loneliness.”
“It touches almost every one of us at some point,” Baroness Barran, the current [British] minister for loneliness, told me. “It can lead to very serious health consequences for the individual and leads to erosion of our society, where people become isolated and disconnected.”~ Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, Nov. 9, 2019.
“Emotional openness and physical closeness, including skills that promote vulnerability, confiding, listening with empathy, proactive problem solving, and understanding feelings provide a path to healing,” Dr. Angel said as he spoke of preventative efforts to help “veterans learn practical, usable skills to express emotions and feelings to family and friends that were difficult due to the symptoms of emotional numbing.” Dr. Angel cited the Warrior to Soul Mate program as an example of VA’s commitment to patient-centered care that focuses on whole health, involves veterans and significant others, and builds vital relationship enhancing skills. More than 1,000 VA chaplains and behavioral health professionals have been trained to facilitate Warrior to Soul Mate. Last year, VA purchased licensing rights to expand the program to every VA medical center nationwide.
The Purpose Built Families report analyzed Salesforce data from 1,443 very low-income veterans who were homeless or facing homelessness and qualified for assistance from the agency’s nationally-accredited Operation Sacred Trust program. Operation Sacred Trust is a public-private partnership significantly funded by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. The nonprofit distributed more than $4.2 million to prevent and end homelessness for thousands of South Florida veterans over the past five years.
Torner said the veterans assistance program knows helping veterans strengthen relationships with family, friends, and social supports gives them a better chance of staying housed after assistance ends.
At weekly orientations for homeless and at-risk veterans in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, Torner said facilitators introduce educational skills for relieving painful emotions, such as the “Emptying the Emotional Jug” exercise.
Within minutes, he shared, veterans begin forming strong bonds with each other, confiding, deepening empathy, experiencing vulnerability with another person. “We’ve repeatedly seen those connections last long beyond their program participation,” he added.
“They say, ‘In the military, if you were supposed to have feelings, they would have been issued,'” Eisenberg said. “Maybe that’s necessary on the battlefield, but what about in the bedroom, playroom, as parents, lovers, partners, and everyplace else life leads,” he asked rhetorically.
While there’s no greater urgency than helping a homeless veteran move into safe, stable, sustainable housing where they can reconnect with community, Dr. Angel, Torner, and Eisenberg agreed that lasting success is built on resilient relationships — with neighbors, employers, co-workers, family, and friends.
“The tragic irony,” Eisenberg said, “is that most of what leads to breakdowns is people doing what they were told — don’t complain, don’t be afraid or confused, don’t rock the boat, don’t be vulnerable … all these lessons that may have helped people survive other periods in their lives, but can do the exact opposite under different circumstances.”
Eisenberg hopes the studies will influence local and national strategies.
“Relationship breakdown is significantly preventable,” Eisenberg said.
Dr. Juan Flores had just sat down in French class at South Broward High School on the morning of September 11th. He went on to become one of more than four million who offered his life to protect America after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Not yet an American citizen, Flores knew when the second plane hit the World Trade Center that it was his nation that was attacked, his duty to respond.
Veterans Day is Monday, November 11, 2019.
Fewer than 10 percent of America’s adult population have served in the military. On Veterans Day, we honor the nearly 20 million Americans who have served.
Each of these heroes among us has a name.
One name is Dr. Juan Flores.
In a recent conversation at the Operation Sacred Trust Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in Pembroke Pines, Florida, Dr. Flores recalled the precise moment he decided to enlist in the military.
“The teacher rolled out a TV, plugged it in, and turned on the news,” the former South Broward High School student remembered.
It was two minutes after nine.
“As soon as it turned on, maybe five seconds later, we watched the second plane hit,” Flores recalled.
“Watching that second airplane hit the tower, I wanted to go defend my country,” he said.
September 11, 2001.
Flores is one of more than four million who volunteered his life to fight for America after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This generation of warriors is “more likely to have been deployed, seen combat, and experienced emotional trauma,” according to a recent Pew Research study.
He had immigrated to South Florida from Peru and was not yet an American citizen, yet Flores knew that September morning that it was his nation that was attacked, his duty to respond.
After his Marine Corps service, including multiple deployments, Flores earned his Bachelors and then went on to become a Chiropractic doctor.
Despite eight years successfully pursuing a medical career, Flores realized his passion was serving those who had borne the battle.
He knows too many who served and have not survived. For Flores, the call of duty continues.
More than 100,000 post-9/11 Veterans have died since their military service. Fewer than one in ten died as a result of combat or during active-duty service.
For Dr. Juan Flores, the tragedy of 9/11 became a call that continues daily as he searches South Florida’s streets, alleyways, hospitals, and shelters; answers calls, texts, and emails; whatever it takes to be there for fellow Marines and other service members who have fallen on hard times.
On Veterans Day, we honor these heroes who live among us.
This hero’s name is Dr. Juan Flores.
“Every conversation around me, people were saying, ‘This is real. This is real.’ And then I see the news caption, ‘America Under Attack,'” Michael Desir remembered. Three post-9/11 Veterans offer an intimate perspective on the people behind the numbers.
One in five qualifying for VA-funded Supportive Services for Veteran Families help in South Florida enlisted after 9/11, six-year study reports
PEMBROKE PINES, Fla., October 18, 2019 (Associated Press) –Homelessness is challenging many post-9/11 veterans even more than their peers from prior service eras, according to a study by the nationally-accredited Purpose Built Families Foundation.
The study looked at data from 2,995 homeless servicemen and women served by the Broward-based nonprofit since 2013. More than one in five enlisted after September 11, 2001, author Danielle Korngold reported.
“While there is much more to understand about the post-9/11 veteran experience, the numbers are significant,” Korngold said.
Statistically, Korngold expected post-9/11 veterans to be less than 13% of those qualifying for the VA-funded Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The study found post-9/11 veterans represented 22% of those receiving services between 2013 and 2019.
This week, a group of post-9/11 veterans impacted by homelessness got together at Operation Sacred Trust in Pembroke Pines to talk about how the attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon changed their lives.
When the second plane hit on the morning of September 11, 2001, 19-year-old Michael Desir was in the lobby of a Miami hotel preparing for Marine Corps boot camp.
In Ohio, 11-year-old Jeremy King was dealing with changes in life that would come with his parents’ breakup.
16-year-old Juan Flores had just arrived to French class at South Broward High School where his teacher had wheeled out a television set and turned on the news.
“I just remember not really understanding the depth of what had happened,” Jeremy said.
“Every conversation around me, people were saying, ‘This is real. This is real.’ And then I see the news caption, ‘America Under Attack,'” Michael remembered.
“Five seconds after we started watching, we saw the second plane hit,” Juan said.
All three went on to serve in uniform. Michael and Juan in the Marine Corps; Jeremy in the Navy.
Michael, Jeremy, and Juan were later impacted by Veteran homelessness in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Juan, now Dr. Juan Flores, as an intake supervisor with the Operation Sacred Trust Supportive Services for Veteran Families program; Michael and Jeremy, as veterans who experienced homelessness firsthand.
Clyde Angel said 14 years serving as a VA Chaplain showed that post-9/11 veterans frequently struggled “to reconnect with self and others through their transition from active duty to civilian life.” Dr. Angel said he was able to help many “express emotions and feelings that were difficult due to the symptoms of emotional numbing.”
Losing close relationships, Dr. Angel said, is “often a core issue” that goes beyond homelessness. “The ability to strengthen significant relationships provides an important supportive component to deter suicide,” he said.
Seth Eisenberg, CEO of Purpose Built Families and a co-founder of Operation Sacred Trust, agrees.
“Preventing homelessness, suicide, and related challenges has to include helping veterans learn practical, usable skills to protect their closest relationships,” Eisenberg said.
FULL Report: Veteran Homelessness Among the Post-9/11 Generation
In the 18 months since her younger brother killed himself in the parking lot of a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, Alissa Harrington has joined a support network, passed the bar exam, become an advocate for veteran suicide prevention and continued to share his story.
In the 18 months since her younger brother killed himself in the parking lot of a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, Alissa Harrington has joined a support network, passed the bar exam, become an advocate for veteran suicide prevention and continued to share his story.
By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES
Originally published: October 4, 2019
WASHINGTON — In the 18 months since her younger brother killed himself in the parking lot of a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, Alissa Harrington has joined a support network, passed the bar exam, become an advocate for veteran suicide prevention and continued to share his story.
On Saturday, she’ll share that story again at an event recognizing the first-ever Veterans Suicide Prevention & Awareness Day in Minnesota – an annual statewide observation. Harrington, by appealing to the Minnesota legislature and testifying about her brother, helped create Veterans Suicide Prevention & Awareness Day with a bill that passed in March. Harrington, her husband and father were on the floor of the legislature when representatives voted unanimously in favor of it.
“It was very emotional for me,” she said of testifying. “To be there as a witness to my brother’s story and to so many veterans’ stories was very powerful. I felt like I had a lot of responsibility to get my point across.”
Harrington’s brother, Justin Miller, was a Marine Corps veteran who deployed to Iraq in 2005. He went to the emergency room at the Minneapolis Department of Veterans Affairs in February 2018, struggling with suicidal thoughts. After spending four days at an inpatient mental health unit, Miller, 33, was discharged, went to his car and shot himself. Police found his body the following day, his phone full of voicemails and texts from his father, Greg Miller, with one message sent over and over again: “I love you. We love you. Come home.”(more…)
A Memorial Day challenge to “make their courage, our courage … their commitment, our commitment.”
We won’t get wet, moving or challenged talking about swimming, riding a bicycle or climbing a mountain. How many calories will we burn chatting, contemplating, posting, or tweeting, no matter how interesting, innovative, or inspiring?
Yet, those actions are the beginning and end of so much good intention in the world that typically has the shelf life of expired milk left to warm on an immaculate kitchen counter.
We’re doing that already, many think and say when challenged to consider how humanity near and far will tackle our most urgent social challenges.
So why are so many still barely surviving in poverty?
Why do we have neighbors who are hungry and homeless?
Why are our children, brothers, sisters and parents searching for relief in substances rather than human connection?
Why are so many imprisoned, bullied or living in fear?
Why do marriages borne of passion and potential so frequently disintegrate despite our most fervent prayers and intentions … despite it all.
Why are Veteran lives more threatened from their own hands than any external foe?
Talking, contemplating, trying … that’s not the same as actually acting.
Being in action requires getting wet, moving, climbing … despite the uncertainty, discomfort and fear, committed to overcoming each obstacle because what you’re doing matters.
It gets messy.
It takes courage, perhaps even more.
Imagine preparing for an Olympic swimming match without getting in the water, trained by a coach who’s never been in.
Consider that in the context of preparing others for life, or learning from life, or recovering from life — any aspect of life.
Each of those lives sacrificed for our freedoms can no longer do that for themselves.
In their memory, we can get wet, riding, moving and climbing through actions that make a difference — despite the discomfort and uncertainty.
Imagine what we can accomplish when their courage becomes our courage.
With their courage as ours and their commitment as our commitment, we will create homes, neighborhoods and a world that honors each and all.
Seth Eisenberg is President/CEO of Purpose Built Families Foundation, a nationally-accredited nonprofit based in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Camille Eisenmann helped distribute more than $4.3 million in emergency assistance for homeless and at-risk Veteran families in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Camille Eisenmann recalls hearing about the program to help Broward County homeless Veterans just after Christmas in 2013. Weeks later, after applying for a case manager position on indeed.com, the Bismarck, North Dakota native began actively serving local Veterans facing hard times.
When Eisenmann began work at Operation Sacred Trust, a public private partnership between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Purpose Built Families Foundation, her son was enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. As he trained and deployed overseas, Eisenmann deployed locally, helping distribute $4.3 million in federal aid to disrupt homelessness for thousands of Veterans in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Five years later, Eisenmann leaves her agency’s Pembroke Pines headquarters each Tuesday to meet Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care for Homeless Veterans assistance center in Broward County.
Collaboration with VA is important to reaching and helping Veterans when they’re most in need, she says.
“Collaboration is key,” Berman-Eisenberg says. “It takes partnerships, investments, and concerted action from every level of government to disrupt homelessness.”
Last year, Miami-Dade County was able to declare an end to chronic Veteran homelessness. Berman-Eisenberg hopes Broward isn’t far behind.
“The intentions are there,” she says. “Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s national leadership for Veterans, together with dedicated VA, city, county, state and nonprofit coordination is helping.”
“Florida’s congressional delegation has led the way helping allocate and direct millions of dollars in federal resources to our community,” Berman-Eisenberg says, “It’s up to all of us locally to come together every day until no Veteran is homeless in our community.”
After 20 years in the Army, former First Sgt. Eddie Miller was in and out of addiction, homeless on the streets of Miami.
“I think my mother would be very proud, and I wish she would be here to see all of this.”First Sgt. Eddie Miller, US Army, Retired
After 20 years in the U.S. Army, former First Sgt. Eddie Miller was in and out of addiction, homeless on the streets of Miami. Another day, another year, those weren’t expectations Miller could take for granted when he arrived with nearly 50 other homeless veterans for the Operation Sacred Trust orientation in 2012. Miller was among the first welcomed into a new approach to combating homelessness that began within the alleyways, parks, and shelters of Miami-Dade County. With funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Sacred Trust wraps rapid rehousing, case management, legal, financial and emergency assistance with relationship skills training exercises and encouragement to rebuild long lost connections with family and friends.
Program Manager Seth Eisenberg worked personally with Miller in those early months. They explored inner vulnerabilities, core strengths, and lost dreams in search of better ways to pick yourself up when you fall down. Eisenberg made sure Miller knew how to empty his emotional jug when he felt down, follow the five steps of the “Daily Temperature Reading” to stay connected, dissect problems and solutions using “Talking Tips,” and fight fairly for the relationships he wanted to preserve and protect.
Seven years later and a thousand miles away, Miller lives in a beautiful home of his own. Clean and sober, he’s a college graduate and patriarch of a thriving family. He and Eisenberg continue to stay in touch over Facebook. Over that same period, Veteran homelessness in Miami-Dade County dropped by 60 percent.
“Rapid rehousing is a critical beginning to ending homelessness,” Eisenberg said. “That investment is much more likely to disrupt homelessness long-term when you include evidence-based skills training to help Veterans create and sustain resilient connections with friends, family and social supports. For Eddie and many others, they discovered the real support they’d always needed and wanted was closer than they ever imagined.
“For Eddie and many others, they discovered the real support they’d always needed and wanted was closer than they ever imagined.”Seth Eisenberg, CEO, Purpose Built Families Foundation
In 20 Questions, Eddie Miller shares his journey back to his spiritual and familial home.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the south side of Chicago.
What’s one of your earliest childhood memories?
In December 1963, when I was eight years old, I moved from the west side of Chicago into a house on the south side that my parents built. I felt safer; we were living in the suburbs now. We had a garage, a yard, I went to a better school. I was happy there. There was no violence at the time I lived there, but there is violence there now.
What’s an important lesson your mom taught you?
My mother taught me to respect elders, to be honest, and to study. My mother was born in Georgia during the Great Depression, in the year 1930. She didn’t get to finish school because she lived on a farm and helped my grandparents with it.
What’s an important lesson your father taught you?
My father is still teaching me a lot, he is 95 now. He taught me to be a man, to be responsible, and he taught me how to raise my own kids. I was a momma’s boy though, as the youngest of five children, I was kind of spoiled.
What’s an important lesson that neither mom or dad taught you that you had to learn from life?
How to deal with life. How to not let things get me down, and to never give up. There are some things you can only learn from experience.
What led you to the military?
I was drafted into a gang when I was a teenager, I never committed any crimes or went to jail, I just joined in order to get to school safely. When I graduated high school, I wanted to get away from the gangs, so I joined the military. No one else in my family was ever in the military before.
How old were you?
I graduated from high school at 16, and joined the military at 17. I had to beg my mother to sign the papers.
I was in the Army, and I did see combat. I was in Vietnam in ‘72, the Vietnam withdrawal began in ‘73, and the final withdrawal was in ‘75.
How long did you serve?
I served for 20 years. When Vietnam was over, I was out for three months, but I was mistreated, I felt more comfortable being in the Army, no one judged me there. I kept getting promoted within the military, so I kept reenlisting.
What was your rank when you were discharged?
I was a First Sergeant. I was in charge of a lot of soldiers, the third in command under the Captain and Lieutenant. What made me retire was getting sent to Desert Storm. After Vietnam and Desert Storm, that was enough, and my wife also thought it was time to go home. I wanted to relax after being in the military for that long.
How long after your discharge was it before you first experienced homelessness and where was that?
I became homeless in Chicago, three or four years after I retired. I did end up going back to work for a while after retirement, my children were grown at that point.
When you look back at that period of your life now, what do you think led you to becoming homeless?
My wife passed away in a tragic accident in 2011 and that’s when things went downhill. My wife was my rock, we were married for 32 years. She worked at a nursing home and someone mixed bleach with ammonia together, which is a toxic combination. Her lung tissue was scarred, her lungs gave out and she contracted pneumonia and went on life support. The hardest thing I ever had to do in life was taking her off of life support as that were her end of life orders. She was 54 years old, and was a true mother and wife who loved the holidays, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving. I had 5 adult children, and the loss of their mother was hard for them and for me too, I felt lost. I was a mess.
I gave up, stopped paying bills, and fell into a deep depression. I was already diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar disorder before my wife passed away. I lived with it most of my life and didn’t know what it was. Drugs were what I turned to in order to cope. I was introduced to crack by a high school friend on the bus who said it would make my struggles go away. Of course, it just made things worse. I was actively addicted for six years.
How long did that last?
I moved to Miami for the weather and was in and out of homelessness both there and in Chicago for a few years.
How did it end?
It ended with Seth coming in to my life. I began volunteering with Operation Sacred Trust. Seth had me on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, had articles done in the newspaper about me. My work there gave me purpose again.
I ended up going to school at Miami Dade College (MDC). I got my AS in Addiction Studies, and then got my AA in Psychology. I was 62 when I got my first degree, and 63 when I got my second degree. I made the Dean’s List, and graduated with honors, after not being in school for 40 years. God gave me a purpose by guiding me back to school. I wanted to help others through working as an addiction’s counselor at the VA.
If there could be a gift in terms of lessons learned about yourself, others or life generally from your personal experience(s) with homelessness, what would that be?
You won’t get any help unless you ask for help. Many people I’ve met don’t want anyone telling them what to do. I asked for help because I was tired of my situation, I was tired of being tired.
When I was in my fifth semester of school, I was unable to register because of a transcript issue. Seth told me about a lawyer on retainer from University of Miami that was free for Veterans. The transcript issue was resolved and I was able to get back to school. I didn’t give up through that process and asked for help.
For most men it is hard to ask for help. It’s a pride thing, we would rather get lost than ask for directions. After getting lost so many times, I turned it over to God and asked for directions, I was tired of being lost. I would still be on the street if I didn’t ask for help.
What does family mean to you today?
Family means everything to me. I am grateful that my family still loves me, and has always been there for me no matter what I’ve been through.
I moved to Memphis because I had no family in Miami and it has been lovely. My mother was my rock, my wife was my rock, and now my daughter in Memphis is my rock.
What are the family relationships that mean the most to you?
My kids. My dad. All of my family is important to me. I have five children and five grandchildren.
What helped you create or recreate those relationships?
My daughter told me she needed me here. I saw my family, but I always needed to get on a plane. Now my daughter is 15 minutes from where I live and I get to see my grandkids often.
I changed and they saw the change before I even saw the change. I got understanding by going through school. I learned more coping mechanisms and tools by learning what others go through with addiction. Oddly enough, my drug dealer went to the same school as me, she walked across the stage with me when we graduated, and we even had a few classes together. It felt like a sign, like I was supposed to be here.
If I asked a younger family member in your life about an important lesson he or she learned from you, what would you want that person to tell me?
Be there for your family, be a stand up, upright person. My grandson has a remarkable work ethic. He is in ROTC, is an honors student, is in the school band, works two jobs, and is on the baseball team. I’d like to think I contributed to that.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with me?
I’m happy with where I’m at. I’ve got a beautiful place, I’m loving it. I’m 64, and these are some of the best years of my life. I think my mother would be very proud, and I wish she would be here to see all of this.
Eddie Miller was interviewed for FatherhoodChannel.com by Jessica Loeb, a graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy at St. Thomas University and a Senior Program Specialist for Purpose Built Families Foundation in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Unlike many popular self-help and motivational training programs, PAIRS isn’t about the presenter; it’s about the participant.
Don’t expect Tony Robbins, Les Brown, or Nick Vujicic to be giving you any tips in a Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills (“PAIRS”) class. Unlike many popular self-help and motivational training programs, PAIRS isn’t about the presenter; it’s about the participant. More and more, those participants are passing it on.
Since the seventies, participants in PAIRS classes are typically couples, family members, friends, co-workers, even teammates who will continue working their new relationship boosting skills long beyond the class bell. In fact, U.S. military Veterans are now experiencing the PAIRS program en masse across the United States, following the 2018 U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs purchase of licensing rights to the PAIRS Essentials curriculum as a foundation of an innovative, research driven approach to whole health. VA’s decision to license PAIRS evolved out of a decade of firsthand experience seeing positive outcomes.
PAIRS’ focus on its participants is partly due to its experiential nature. In PAIRS classes, participants move quickly from conceptual psycho-educational material to practical, real-world application. In the safe environment of the classroom, participants learn how to release upsetting emotions, have a fair fight for change, and co-create meaningful connections.
The unique classroom environment is created by PAIRS facilitators who are vetted and trained to create just the right mix of professionalism and vulnerability in the classroom. Program leaders say that environment is an important foundation of the program’s lasting impact.
About training the next generation of PAIRS facilitators, National Training Director Julie Macias says “It is essential to not only fully embrace empathy and self-discovery, but also master setting the bar for vulnerability through their own careful dialogue to create a confiding and transformative classroom experience.”
About its experiential focus, Purpose Built Families Foundation CEO Seth Eisenberg says “Hearing, reading or talking about swimming doesn’t do much to prepare you for the ocean. Metaphorically, PAIRS helps people discover that they know how to swim, strengthen those abilities, consider when to stay out of the water, and have the best chance of making the most of the experience.”
Participants leave with tangible tools in hand such as wallet cards and phone Apps they can pull out the next time they would like to bring up a concern and achieve productive results, or a list of their favorite ways to feel cared for that they can pin to the fridge as a reminder.
However, the skills that PAIRS teaches aim to go way beyond relationship cohesion and towards major societal change. PAIRS has shown research-validated success in increasing resilience and reducing the negative side effects of trauma on the Veteran community. Classes have been taught in schools in an effort to reduce bullying and school violence through increasing social support. PAIRS licensed trainers receive extensive training to integrate PAIRS into community-wide efforts that address the root cause of critical social challenges, including marriage and family fragmentation, relationship breakdown, parenting, school safety, homelessness, employment, recidivism, teen pregnancy, team work, and a range of other areas influenced by the capacity and resilience of human connection.
About recent efforts to aid the Parkland community and provide supportive services to homeless Veterans and their families, Seth Eisenberg says, “Overcoming trauma is about relationships, not only a conversation.”
Written for FatherhoodChannel.com by Jessica Loeb, a graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy at St. Thomas University and a Senior Program Specialist for Purpose Built Families Foundation in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
In the workplace, empathy is a crucial skill for both organization leaders and mental health professionals.
Emotional literacy is not just an important trait to integrate into your personal life. Learn how empathy in the workplace contributes to a number of positive outcomes, whether in client interactions or manager-employee relationships.
In our contemporary world, technology has changed the way we interact. The self – or, our ideal, projected self – is at the center of our online social media presence and reputation. We have become socialized to be overly individualistic, as a writer for the American Counseling Association writes.
As changes continue with each new technology, how we continue to communicate will depend on our ability to practice empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
While empathy and emotional literacy are essential components in close relationships, they are also necessary within our organizational networks and client interactions. As diversity and inclusivity issues continue to be at the forefront of management best practices, these traits become even more crucial to a balanced, healthy organization.
Empathy drives positive bonds throughout the workplace structure. A study from the Center for Creative Leadership, which gathered data from 6,731 managers across 38 countries, showed that empathic practices within the workplace structure were related to positive job performance.
Another notable point from this study is that having empathy and showing empathy are not the same thing. Managers must not only experience the feelings others are feeling, but they must also share and verbalize those emotions to be effective.
Because some managers will be better at exhibiting empathy than others, it’s important to understand that empathy can be learned. Organizational leaders first need to talk about empathy – define it, show it, and let managers know that it matters just as much as the organization’s bottom line.
Then, leaders should explain how employees can exhibit it through caring, seeking understanding, and listening. Simply giving time and attention to employees will help encourage empathy in the workplace.
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) published an article last year that outlined another reason empathy is a workplace requirement: the fact that 18 percent of the U.S. adult population suffers from an anxiety disorder and that one in four adults experience mental illness of some kind each year.
This means that “workplace cultures need to make room for the wide range of emotions we experience,” as the HBR article indicated. Additional support from management is one way to acknowledge these complex, varied experiences and emotions.
One strategy managers can use to further show empathy and understanding is directly asking employees about their thoughts and feelings with surveys or dedicated discussions. These gestures show that their feelings matter, that they are being heard, and that their opinions are taken into account when managers make organizational decisions.
This all contributes to a workplace that fosters empathy.
While empathy in the workplace can be driven by relationships between managers and employees, in mental health professions, empathy is one of the most important factors in client relationships.
In the medical field, empathy is required to treat and care for patients effectively. Being able to show empathy builds trust and satisfaction with patients and leads to successful treatment plans, as a study published in Scientific Reports indicates, which analyzed data from over 1,000 healthcare professionals.
Perhaps with physician-patient relationships more than other types of professional bond, it’s crucial to show patients that their thoughts, feelings, and emotional experiences are understood.
This is of course also true within the counseling and mental health professions, where the client-counselor relationship can be entirely at stake if the patient does not feel heard or understood.
The idea of using empathy as a tool for better psychopathological assessment was introduced at the beginning of the twentieth century, and considered one of the most important discoveries in the social sciences.
This is because both experiencing and displaying empathy allows mental health professionals to connect with, understand, and eventually help clients. It’s crucial for these professionals to not only sense what their clients may be feeling, but to also step into their shoes and experience what it feels like to have those feelings.
This process is also referred to as cognitive empathy, or perspective taking, and essentially means that we become able to identify and understand someone else’s emotions. Affective empathy refers to the sensations or feelings we have when mirroring what someone else is feeling; when we share their feelings.
Experienced social service professionals are likely practiced listeners already. Additional actions that show empathy include:
These are just some of the ways therapists and counselors can show empathy during client interactions. The bottom line is that clients should feel heard, understood, accepted, and encouraged.
Within workplace interactions as well as client relationships, empathy at its heart allows people to both experience and exhibit acceptance as a foundation to learning and growth.
Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills (PAIRS) nurtures and promotes healthy relationships of all kinds. Whether training instructors and educators or offering research-validated relationship skills, PAIRS is committed to helping create a safer, saner, more loving world. Over 40 years of experience, PAIRS has found empathy to be one of the driving forces of a healthier, happier society.
Contact PAIRS to learn more about relationship-building training programs.
Billie Eilish, billion stream pop star, has a superpower, and it’s not her voice.
“‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ traces a clear arc: from bravado to melancholy,” Jon Pareles writes about billion stream pop sensation Billie Eilish.
“I can’t even tell you how anxious I’ve been to get this album out,” Eilish told culture reporter Joe Coscarelli from her parents’ tiny kitchen earlier this month.
Eilish’s songs are “the work of a very small, decidedly innovative family team.”
“Eilish writes and records her songs with her older brother, Finneas O’Connell, working largely at home,” Pareles reports (“Billie Eilish Redefines Teen-Pop Stardom on a Haunted, Heartfelt Debut Album“).
Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell, once hopeful actors with their own stardom dreams, are a constant presence helping even more ambitious dreams come true for son Finneas and daughter Billie Eilish.
Near the end of her debut album, the 17-year-old turns to themes of grief, suicide and loneliness; familiar experiences for some of the pop star’s biggest fans.
Many South Florida youth continue to struggle from the traumatic events of February 14, 2018, when a former classmate murdered 17 students and staff at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. April 20, 2019 is the 20th anniversary of Columbine.
This month, two teenage survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting took their lives. The father of a youngster killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut did too.
Those tragic stories made headlines.
Few know anything about 4,000 other Americans who took their lives in the last month or thousands more contemplating suicide this very moment.
While Eilish’s more melancholy songs focus on the grief and loneliness felt by many in an America where suicide is a leading cause of death for teenagers, her life itself may point to the solution. Surprising to many, her real superpower may not be her voice, but her close family.
“Our closest relationships can be life saving,” said Seth Eisenberg, CEO of nonprofit Purpose Built Families Foundation in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
“For many, relationships with family, friends and social supports are the best defense against loneliness, grief and depression, yet as a society our focus is often pathologizing, diagnosing and treating symptoms instead of helping resolve the underlying deprivation of meaningful human connection,” he said.
Eisenberg said Eilish can do a lot of good showcasing a strong family to adoring fans.
Two decades of experience serving people impacted by trauma, including thousands touched by homelessness, poverty and the invisible wounds of war, leaves Eisenberg hopeful about the future.
“For many on the edge of life, the answer is literally in our hands,” he said. “We’ve seen the difference we can make by helping people improve communication, conflict resolution, and skills for emotional awareness and connection that are vital to sustaining close relationships.”
“Whether those lessons come from a classroom, training or the inspiring family of a pop star like Billie Eilish, learning to create, sustain and protect close relationships is our best hope for a safer, saner, more loving world,” he said.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. You can also text TALK to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free counseling from the Crisis Text Line.
The whole health approach is improving outcomes for Veterans. Online experiential learning, such as a recent Warrior to Soul Mate training, is helping make programs and services more accessible to military families nationwide.
The whole health approach is improving outcomes for Veterans. Online experiential learning, such as a recent Warrior to Soul Mate training, is helping make programs and services more accessible to military families nationwide, said Purpose Built Families Foundation CEO Seth Eisenberg.
Chaplain Mike McGruder did not have to leave her home or office at the VA’s Pacific Islands Health Care System in Honolulu last week to actively engage across thousands of miles with other VA professionals in a 32-hour live virtual classroom. She did have to wake up early to be in front of her computer screen at four in the morning ready to teach and learn.
Julie Macias, Purpose Built Families Foundation’s Program Director, facilitated the online experiential training from Florida for VA leadership in Hawaii, Oregon, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. She was assisted by Program Specialists Alan Young in North Carolina and Jessica Loeb in Florida.
At the end of the training, Chaplain McGruder said she felt better equipped “doing what I care about deeply … provid[ing] care to our Veterans.” She said the training will help her help Veterans by providing “tools for communicating vulnerabilities and express[ing] empathy.”
“The intensive virtual training is a sign of the times,” said Seth Eisenberg, CEO of the nonprofit Purpose Built Families Foundation.
“Doing more with less while strengthening training quality, experience and fidelity is a constant priority,” Eisenberg said.
“We reduced costs by more than $40,000 by hosting the training online instead of purchasing flight tickets, hotels, supplies and paying for multiple trainers and staff to travel to lead an in-person event,” Eisenberg said. He calls the foundation’s collaboration with VA Chaplaincy “a model of public-private partnership inspired daily by our shared commitment to America’s military families.”
Macias said the training “was an invaluable experience and such a success.”
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs purchased licensing rights to the PAIRS curriculum as a foundation of their approach to whole health. Over the past decade, more than 800 VA chaplains and behavioral health professionals have been trained to lead PAIRS classes that integrate interpersonal communication and conflict resolution skills with a proven approach to deepening emotional awareness and connection. Eisenberg said he expects more than 7,500 VA chaplains and behavioral health professionals will be trained to lead PAIRS classes.
PAIRS is an acronym for “Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills.” The curriculum was originally created by Marriage and Family Therapist Lori Heyman Gordon more than 40 years ago as an educational approach to boosting personal, marital and familial resilience. PAIRS draws on the experiential family systems approach of Therapist Virginia Satir and Psychiatrist Daniel Casriel’s focus on the centrality of “bonding.”
In the VA system, PAIRS is marketed as “Warrior to Soul Mate.” Purpose Built Families Foundation is responsible for global training, distribution and management of PAIRS programs.
“The online training explored comprehensive knowledge that underlies the PAIRS Essentials: Warrior to Soul Mate Edition curriculum in order to provide an experiential and research background for every exercise,” Macias said.
“It also served to create a robust support network needed to bring Warrior to Soul Mate to life at every VA facility and consistently deliver significant program benefits,” she added. “By internalizing the experiential and instructor experience, training intertwined the two to engage facilitators in mastering creating a vulnerable and confiding setting.”
Eisenberg said Purpose Built Families will expand the use of virtual classrooms to serve diverse audiences throughout the world.
“We are bringing a safer, saner, more loving world to life,” he said. “It can’t happen soon enough.”
Dr. Bernard Guerney was one of the giants of 20th century psychotherapy. He died Saturday from complications of cancer.
Bernard Guilbert Guerney, Jr., 89, died Saturday, March 16, 2019, from complications of cancer, under hospice care at home, and surrounded by his loving family.
Bernie, as family, friends and colleagues knew him, is survived by his wife of 65 years, Louise Guerney, three adult children, Janis, Bruce and Robert, and three grandchildren, Aaron, Liana and Cole.
Dr. Guerney was one of the giants of 20th century psychotherapy. Dr. Guerney was Professor Emeritus of Family Studies and Counseling Psychology at Pennsylvania State University, and has been internationally recognized as one of the most prominent and innovative practitioners of marital and family therapy. His presentations and workshops elicited high praise and great enthusiasm on four continents. Alone or with others he produced over 80 articles and chapters, four books, and numerous manuals, training tapes, and films in the areas of individual, marital, group, and family therapy. He was the recipient of numerous life-time achievement and other awards from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Play Therapy, the National Conference on Family Relations, and the Smart Marriages Conference.
Bernie, together with his wife, Dr. Louise Guerney, created and developed Filial Family Therapy at a time when play therapy had only recently been in common usage, and at the time represented a radical departure in therapeutic practice. Filial Therapy teaches parents the principles and techniques of Child-Centered Play Therapy so parents can lead therapeutically oriented play sessions with their own children, under the supervision of the therapist.
Bernie’s first published article presenting Filial Therapy to the world appeared in 1964. Many in the mental health fields initially scoffed at the idea of involving parents in the therapy process. However, Bernie was prescient, and way ahead of his time. Today, a meta-analysis of all play therapy modalities for which research existed at the time demonstrated that Filial Therapy is the single most effective form of play therapy. If that were Bernie’s only contribution to the field of psychotherapy, his legacy would be secure.
But Bernie did not stop there. On the basis of the early success of Filial Therapy, Bernie began to think about how to help improve the adult couple’s relationship. The underlying principle of both methods is that relationships could be improved by teaching concrete skills to help clients develop more functional and respectful patterns of communication and interaction in order to enhance the quality of their relationship(s). Relationship Enhancement Therapy, and the Relationship Enhancement Program, were born. The name “Relationship Enhancement” was a perfect choice for his approach as it embodied Bernie’s belief that any relationship could be improved at any point in time, regardless of its status and regardless of the nature of the issues involved. His groundbreaking work Relationship Enhancement: Skill-Training Programs for Therapy, Problem Prevention, and Enrichment was published in 1977, and has been called, by Dr. Douglas Sprenkle, “a seminal and potentially revolutionary work … perhaps the best … integration of theory, research, and practice in the family intervention field.”
Central to both Filial Therapy and RE Therapy is the Rogerian heritage of the fundamental importance of empathy to the success of the therapeutic process. Bernie’s genius, and his signature advance over Carl Rogers’s own practice of therapy, was the insight that empathy need not be limited to a skill used by therapists with clients. Instead, Bernie initiated the further step of explicitly teaching the skill of empathy to clients, out of the further conviction that empathy is both a natural human endowment and a skill that can be developed and refined over time with supervised practice and regular use.
Bernie did not stop there either. Another part of his genius was to employ the insights of Learning Theory to develop a set of systematic guidelines and teaching strategies to significantly increase the odds that people would be able to learn and implement a whole range of relationship skills, including most importantly the skill of empathy. Over two dozen research studies have validated the effectiveness of RE therapy, including two studies which demonstrated that clients continued to make additional gains from post-test to follow-up, which is a fairly rare outcome in psychotherapy research. RE Therapy remains unique amongst various other therapy models by incorporating a systematic skills training approach as an intrinsic part of the couples and family therapy process.
Yet another of Bernie’s innovative, and ahead of his time contributions was his book Psychotherapeutic Agents: New Roles for Nonprofessionals, Parents and Teachers (1969), in which Bernie systematically laid out his vision and methods for involving non-mental health professionals in the delivery of skills-based educational programs. Bernie, along with others at the time, recognized there was no conceivable way that mental health professionals could meet all the mental health, relationship and systems needs of the American population. Bernie set out to meet those needs by advocating and explaining how more of the nation’s needs could be met by training and supervising lay educators who could reach larger groups of people. Bernie then implemented that approach himself with the Relationship Enhancement Program version of the RE model, where lay educators were trained and supervised to teach the RE skills in educational group settings. All told, Bernie’s contributions to psychology and the practice of psychotherapy represented a significant shift away from the traditional medical model that dominated the mental health professions in order to incorporate more of an educational approach to the practice of psychotherapy.
For some 25 years Bernie taught psychology, Filial Therapy, Relationship Enhancement Therapy and the RE Program at Pennsylvania State University. He also led training workshops around the country and around the world. He was an esteemed teacher and mentor for many professors, researchers, teachers and clinicians over his forty-year career. Bernie founded the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® in Bethesda, MD to continue the advancement of his innovative therapeutic methods. Today, Guerney methods are widely used around the world in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and, most prominently, in France through IFRE, the Institut Francophone de Relationship Enhancement, which itself has trained dozens of clinicians in that country.
A tribute to Bernie cannot end here. Bernie as a human being was one of the most empathetic, kind, generous and appreciative persons I have ever known. And he always had a warm smile to greet you. At the core Bernie modeled what he taught. Countless hundreds, probably thousands, of people have been blessed by Bernie’s presence, wisdom and dedication as a spouse, parent and grandparent, teacher and mentor. To have met and known Bernie is to have been touched by him.
On a personal note, I have been incredibly fortunate, and will be forever indebted, to Bernie, with whom I have had the good fortune to be associated with personally and professionally for the past 25 years. As a new, second career mental health professional, I was introduced to Relationship Enhancement Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy and Filial Therapy virtually from the beginning, and those methods have shaped everything I do as a teacher and clinician. I have learned and use other therapy models, but RE Therapy is the bedrock and foundation that orients me in all my work. I also cannot thank Bernie enough for having confidence in me to carry on his work. Today, I am committed to preserving and furthering his legacy, because the world still needs and will continue to benefit from Bernie’s multi-faceted contributions.
Bernie, may you rest in peace.