A South Carolina man beat the world record for the fastest time to finish a marathon in an exoskeleton suit at the 2020 Charleston Marathon. Fantastic read, especially as exoskeletons are used at VA facilities across the country to help so many of our Veterans stand and walk again after becoming paralyzed during their service and after their return home.
Last month a House Veterans Committee panel reviewed and recognized programs from across the country, including national non-profit SoldierStrong’s StrongMind program, that are helping to lower suicide rates among Veterans. Check out the article below to read more about SoldierStrong’s StrongMind presentation and what other tools are available to combat Veteran suicide. Get more information about the StrongMind program and how virtual reality is used to treat PTSD today.
Did you need assistance in addition to the G.I. Bill in covering the costs associated with obtaining your degree?
The G.I. Bill has long been celebrated as it has helped a number of veterans pay for some or all of their college education since the 1940s. However, the G.I. Bill does not always relieve all of the costs that are involved with obtaining a degree, such as textbooks, classroom fees, and tutoring. Covering the cost of education is often made more difficult for the many veterans who work full or part-time to support their families while receiving their education and who have many other financial obligations that are not typical of the average college student.
In response to these often difficult realities, the national non-profit organization SoldierStrong offers the SoldierScholar program. SoldierScholar is a scholarship initiative that assists veterans in taking an academic step into their future by filling some of the voids that the G.I. Bill leaves behind. SoldierScholar has provided over $500,000 in scholarships to Veterans who seek to finish their college education in order to continue careers in public service upon the conclusion of their military service.
After spending a recent day in Tokyo, I was refreshed to see how polite people can be for a very simple reason. It’s not only the right thing to do; it also feels right to treat others with civility. The experience was a much-appreciated, yet, glaring departure from what we’ve become accustomed to here at home.
While Americans are sharply divided about their political beliefs, an October poll found 77 percent of respondents agree that the country’s political, economic and racial divisions are getting worse. Those divisions are a significant driver of growing incivility. Things have reached the point, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center poll, that a majority of voters say they feel stressed and frustrated simply discussing politics with someone who doesn’t share their opinions.
Perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere, such as to Japan, as a shining example of what we can do to restore civility and courtesy across the board.
Japan’s culture of respect is rooted in thousands of years of tradition, but it is alive and well even in Tokyo, a world-class city of 14 million inhabitants yet as pristine as a brand new building. There are no garbage cans on the streets, yet there’s no litter. Why? Because people respect the ground that others walk on. Walk through any neighborhood and you’ll see plenty of bicycles, but not a single one is locked up because people respect each other’s property. Business interactions reflect a similar spirit of good manners. Customs as basic as the exchange of business cards show respect and appreciate for all.
Our country is deeply divided and our political system is as badly broken as it’s been since it was created. Leaders in both parties, who are supposed to show compassion for others and lead us to a higher plane, divide us for their own political gain.
Things are not entirely hopeless, of course. As the co-founder of a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of military personnel and injured veterans, I’ve witnessed amazing care and compassion for others by so many people. There’s Scott Wolak, then-owner of Hope Street Pharmacy in Stamford and current CEO of Connecticut Pharmacy Group, who not only sold supplies at cost for our care packages going to Iraq and Afghanistan but matched those purchases dollar for dollar. Ron and Tina Rosenfeld, then-owners of the New Balance store in New Canaan, did the same thing. The WWE organization donated tons of items worth thousands of dollars to the cause. United Rentals launched the Turns for Troops program on the Indy cars the company sponsors, raising more than $670,000 since 2016.
As someone who negotiates deals at home and around the globe, I’m always a bit disappointed with the final agreement — as is the other negotiating party — but we also recognize that we came to a mutual agreement we could live with and proceed to do good things together. Unfortunately, there seems to be less-than-zero interest in Washington to do anything unless it suits personal agendas. It’s not enough for one side to win; they want to make sure the other loses. I understand people have political beliefs; they should, because we have God-given freedoms, including the right to free speech. But at some point, we need to stop speaking over each other and truly start to listen to each other.
The Institute for Civility in Government reminds us, “Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements.”
It’s time for all Americans to treat others with civility, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because it also feels right.
Chris Meek is the volunteer co-founder and chairman of SoldierStrong, a national nonprofit based in Stamford whose mission is to improve the lives of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. He can be reached at email@example.com.
SoldierStrong, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing revolutionary medical technologies to help injured Veterans lead full lives donating an Indego Therapy exoskeleton to VA Boston Healthcare System, West Roxbury Campus today.
The Therapy+ software suite, included with each Indego Therapy device, incorporates control algorithms based on proven motor learning principles and allows for an individualized, patient-centric training approach where the device responds to a patient’s active contribution and assists in gait only when necessary. Additionally, therapists have a range of customizable settings within the Therapy+ software suite which allows them to further tailor the behavior of the system to specific impairment and gait needs.
Dr. Marika Hess, Acting Chief, Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) noted that currently, VA Boston has an exoskeleton model in use. “The donation of this type of device allows us to have more device options for our Veterans who meet the medical clearance and FDA criteria to allow for robotic-assisted ambulation post spinal cord injury,” Hess said. “When a veteran takes his or her first steps, in some instances, the ability to ambulate in these devices can be life-changing.”
SoldierStrong co-founder Chris Meek said the state’s concentration of military personnel and veterans was a factor in the donation.
“There are more than 383,000 veterans in Massachusetts alone and almost one-fourth of them rely on some type of medical care from the VA, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The VA and its staff are dedicated to providing the best care to those veterans, but it’s important that groups like SoldierStrong stand with them to achieve that mission,” Meek said. “With advanced medical technology and expertise saving more and more servicemen and women who suffer severe injuries – especially on the battlefield – there’s an ever-growing need for exoskeletons and similar devices to make rehabilitation as effective as possible. We’re extremely proud to help as many veterans as we can so that they will experience the physical and emotional benefits of standing and walking again.”
A veteran, who had experienced a spinal injury, demonstrated his new-found ambulation abilities using the exoskeleton during the event.
Meek said the organization’s goal to help as many Veterans as possible was a significant factor in the local donation. Since SoldierStrong’s inception after 9/11, the Stamford, Conn.-based group has donated more than $3 million of medical devices to help injured veterans. Today’s donation is the organization’s 23rd exoskeleton donation and the second for VA Boston.
SoldierStrong, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing revolutionary medical technologies to help injured veterans lead full lives, donated an exoskeleton – a state-of-the-art rehabilitation device which can help even those who are paraplegic learn how to sit, walk, turn and regain their balance again – to the VA Boston Healthcare System, West Roxbury Campus this month.
There are more than 383,000 Veterans in Massachusetts alone and almost one-fourth of them rely on some type of medical care from the VA, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The VA and its staff are dedicated to providing the best care to those Veterans, but it’s important that groups like SoldierStrong stand with them to achieve that mission. With advanced medical technology and expertise saving more and more servicemen and women who suffer severe injuries – especially on the battlefield – there’s an ever growing need for exoskeletons and similar devices to make rehabilitation as effective as possible. SoldierStrong is extremely proud to help as many Veterans as we can so that they will experience the physical and emotional benefits of standing and walking again.
To learn more about the exoskeleton donation by SoldierStrong to the VA Boston Healthcare System, please view the original article.