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} LiNK Traumatic Brain Injury

Help for Homeless and At-Risk Veterans

Special Edition


Learn about

Adam’s Amazing Recovery pg. 2

Professionals Sponsors:

Adults with Brain Injury

MAY 24-25, 2011

Military Personnel


Family Members


National Brain Injury Employment Conference CTAT

Strategies for Success

Whether you are a professional, an individual with cognitive impairments or a family member, this conference will help you expand your knowledge and put new skills to work. NEW at the Conference this Year! Focus on employment resources for brain injury, MS, PTSD and other cognitive impairments Poster presentations with researchers, educators and other professionals

Featured Speakers Robert L. Karol, Ph.D., L.P., ABPP, CBIST; President, Karol Neuropsychological Services & Consulting Lynnae Ruttledge, Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Dept. of Education

Learn More and Register to Attend:

Free Social Skills Group For Soldiers and Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury Together We’ll Work On: Improving relationships Developing social skills Increasing self-confidence

Contact your care coordinator for more information!



SUNDAY, MAY 15 Help soldiers and veterans with brain injury and their families WIN GREAT PRIZES!


{ the LiNK } Traumatic Brain Injury

Dear Reader,

Special Edition

Returning military with traumatic brain injury (TBI) often feel misunderstood, isolated, overwhelmed and confused, and they generally struggle with career and personal relationships. These symptoms are often associated with reverse culture shock, the unanticipated adjustment difficulties experienced when soldiers return to civilian life. Reverse culture shock can result in depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse and marital issues. However, these symptoms can be addressed with intervention and education to implement belongingness. Belongingness is defined as the universal human need to form stable, positive attachments, and it has been identified as one of the strongest predictors of health and well-being. Intensive combination interventions— including care coordination—reduce the negative effects of reverse culture shock by linking returning military to belongingness in the community through resources that enhance a positive transition back to civilian living. These interventions have decreased suicidal thoughts, homelessness, substance abuse, social isolation, unemployment and dependence upon state and federal funding by getting soldiers and their families the resources and education specific to their needs in a timely manner. Denver Options has developed not only wide-ranging services internally but also effective collaborations with military, veteran and community organizations that have eased hardships and increased a sense of autonomy for soldiers and their families. These comprehensive interventions have resulted in soldiers returning to their communities with increased stability, enlarged social capital and the ability to face the future with a sense of purpose and personal value. One valuable component that we use to address belongingness is Group Interactive Social Treatment (GIST) Social Skills Groups. These sessions help soldiers and veterans learn how to communicate with family members and find common bonds, and it encourages people to get out of their homes and back into the community. The groups that have been offered have continued to meet long after the structured program has ended. As one participant stated, “The Social Skills Group has given me my squad back!” If you know of an active duty soldier or veteran who needs support, please give us a call or visit our website at – we are here to help! Sincerely,

Meet Nick Jennifer Anderson, CBIS, TBI Services Program Manager

Denver Options’ Traumatic Brain Injury Programs

Operation TBI Freedom 1-877-FUND-OTF

Colorado Connections 1-866-245-6600

“I think I’m like a lot of veterans returning home; I needed a lot of help after I got out of the military because I was struggling with making the transition. Operation TBI Freedom gave me the support I needed and got me on the right path to recovery.”

- Nick N.

The LiNK 7.1 - TBI Edition | 1

Adam Makes a

Remarkable Recovery with a Network of Support Adam Rhoades

served four years in the Navy and had been home from Iraq only one week when a devastating accident left him with a severe brain injury. “They said Adam would never walk or possibly talk again,” said his mother, Debby. The memories of those difficult first weeks still make her shudder. “Adam was in a coma for seven weeks,” his father, Larry, explained. Both Larry and Debby were working full-time jobs at the time, but Debby ultimately had to leave her job so she could focus on Adam’s needs. “We felt overwhelmed at first, but then we found Denver Options and Operation TBI Freedom,” Larry shared. Adam’s recovery is nothing short of remarkable. He has blossomed under the care of his parents, his sister Ashley and his niece, Lorelei. He has improved steadily and is now able to walk, sometimes with a walker and sometimes without. Adam is also making progress in his therapeutic riding program. He can not only ride the horses but recently walked across the arena on uneven dirt without a problem, a feat he could not have mastered even a few short months before.

Adam and his care coordinator, John Lenz, share a special moment

Adam sees his family as the heroes of his life and insists they deserve recognition for their dedication to his recovery. Debby feels the family could not have done it alone and said that Operation TBI Freedom has helped them find many critical resources. “Operation TBI Freedom has been a lifesaver. Our care coordinator helped us make connections to the Carpenter Volunteers and Rebuilding Together. They made major changes to our home, turning the dining room into a main floor bedroom and adding a walk-in shower in the bathroom for Adam,” she explained. Operation TBI Freedom also gave Adam a donated computer and connected him to Soldiers’ Angels, which provided him with a specially adapted keyboard and a microphone to use with speech and cognitive therapy software programs. To further help him relearn speech and communication skills, Adam’s care coordinator enrolled him in a veterans’ social skills group. Larry and Debby rejoice in their son’s progress, and now that Larry is retired, both parents tend to Adam’s round-the-clock needs. Debby says his recovery process has been challenging, but she credits the family’s faith and Adam’s positive attitude as forces that have brought the family closer.

Adam’s parents, Debby and Larry, have played a large role in Adam’s recovery

Help families like Adam’s by donating at

2 | The LiNK 7.1 - TBI Edition

A New Life for Anthony Anthony Thomas has a special appreciation for the small

Anthony with his family

joys of family life that he shares with his wife, Bonita, and his four sons. Before he found help through Denver Options’ Colorado Connections program, such joys seemed out of reach for Anthony. After he suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), his life spiraled out of control. He had been out of work for a while after his injury and lost custody of his four boys. Ultimately, he became homeless and addicted to drugs. “Everything changed after I called Denver Options,” Anthony said. Once he began receiving TBI services through Colorado Connections, his life began to steadily improve. Care Coordinator Melissa Mascarenas said it is a joy to see Anthony back with his children and living in a townhome. “It all happened because Anthony decided to reach out for help,” she shared. Anthony said he had often been given a list of community resources by others, but he could not find the right help for his specific needs. As a first step, Melissa helped Anthony get a new pair of glasses. With his sight restored, Anthony could help his kids with their homework and drive again. A housing voucher program opened the door to a townhouse with room for the whole family, and assistance with utility payments helped the family get settled and back on track. For Anthony a hand-up made all the difference. He has found a job, and he’s grateful for all the small things that make up a secure day like enjoying meals in his own home and his children’s joy in being a family again. “Denver Options knows where the real resources are,” Anthony said. “We have a wonderful life here, and we have real hope for our future.”

Rebecca with her daughter

Rebecca Has Renewed Hope for the Future Although Rebecca Martin suffered a traumatic brain injury

(TBI) when she was a young child, it wasn’t until she was an adult with a daughter of her own that she discovered the difference TBI services could make. When Rebecca first enrolled in the Colorado Connections program, she was having difficulty paying her rent because transportation issues were preventing her from getting to and from her job. She was also in need of dental work, but there was a year’s wait for help through her existing resources. Her Colorado Connections care coordinator, Coral, connected her to emergency housing assistance and to Energy Outreach Colorado, which helped her pay for utility bills. Coral was then able to secure funds to pay for the dental services Rebecca needed in a much shorter timeframe. She also helped her purchase two pairs of glasses to alleviate her vision problems.

Since Rebecca was interested in going back to school, Coral found a variety of community resources that would help her reach her goal. “We helped Rebecca obtain a computer and printer, and I connected her to several adult learning and tutoring programs,” Coral explained. With the right resources and timely support, Rebecca is feeling optimistic about her new opportunities and goals. “I’m hoping to get my GED and then go on to community college,” she shared. “Finally, I’m feeling like the future is hopeful again.” Learn more about the Colorado Connections program at The LiNK 7.1 - TBI Edition | 3


Help for Homeless At-Risk Veterans

An estimated

one in ten veterans face homelessness in a 12-month period. The reasons military veterans and their families become homeless are often complex. To address this, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has created a national five-year plan to end homelessness among veterans. Operation TBI Freedom (OTF) is also working hard to prevent homelessness among Colorado veterans and their families. “We focus on stabilizing veterans and their families before they face the loss of a place to live,” said Jennifer Anderson, an OTF program manager.


“We have an extensive partnership with military and community groups throughout Colorado to find rental assistance and foreclosure prevention funds. Housing needs top the issues being faced by active military and veterans when they first call our program. Affordable housing is limited, and many at-risk veterans have not yet established their military benefits,” Jennifer explained. Once housing needs are stabilized, OTF care coordinators can help veterans apply for benefits, secure health care, find childcare options and focus on individual family needs.

The rate of homelessness among veterans has dropped but remains a compelling need in communities across the U.S. Prevention is the best approach to stemming homelessness, but there is help for people who are not currently in permanent housing. The VA has created the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans to help veterans and their families find housing support. If you are a veteran who needs help, or you know a veteran who is homeless or at risk of being homeless, call the VA’s 24/7 hotline for free, confidential assistance. You can also contact Operation TBI Freedom for help. National Call Center for Homeless Veterans • Phone: 1-877-4AID-Vet (424-3838) •

Quick Response Can Prevent Homelessness After returning from his last tour of duty with multiple brain injuries and PTSD, Beau Stecklein was struggling to make ends meet for his family. “It was amazing when I called Operation TBI Freedom and talked to John Lenz. We were about to lose our house to foreclosure,” said Beau, a 12-year Army Airborne Ranger veteran. Care Coordinator John Lenz immediately contacted Soldiers’ Angels, an organization who was able to provide emergency financial assistance to the family. Thanks to the quick response, Beau and his wife, Carrie, were able to keep their home.

Beau with his children 4 | The LiNK 7.1 - TBI Edition

John makes the point that most homes were purchased or rented when the injured person was still working active duty and incomes were higher. “Often veterans with traumatic brain injury are unable to work at their former jobs when they return stateside,” John explained. “Helping veterans keep their homes while applying for benefits is a key stabilizing factor in long-term family well-being.”







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Mark Your Calendar! UPCOMING EVENTS

Get Your Life Organized Workshop Series Various Dates, 10 AM - 2 PM FREE workshops; Refreshments provided March 25: West Boulder Senior Center 909 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder April 13: Greeley Recreation Center 651 10th Ave., Greeley May 10: Rocky Ford Public Library 400 S. 10th St., Rocky Ford June 7: Ft. Morgan Museum 414 Main St., Ft. Morgan RSVP: Call (303) 636-5836 or email It’s All About Employment Workshop Series Various Dates, 10 AM - 2 PM FREE workshops (not a job fair); Lunch included May 18: Center for People with Disabilities 1675 Range St., Boulder June 8: Center of Craig Chapel Room 601 Yampa Ave., Craig June 9: Center for Independence 740 Gunnison Ave., Grand Junction RSVP: Call (303) 636-5836 or email Brain Injury Survivor Series: Positive Attitude April 8, 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM FREE workshop; Lunch included Denver Options, 9900 E. Iliff Ave., Denver RSVP: Call (303) 636-5610 or visit


Resources at Your Fingertips Brain Injury Association of Colorado (303) 355-9969 •

Colorado Brain Injury Conference Series (303) 355-9969 •

Colorado Connections

(866) 245-6600 •

Colorado Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund (719) 592-1300 •

Craig Hospital

(303) 789-8000 •

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (719) 526-8636 •

Disabled American Veterans Service Center (719) 380-8005 •

Mental Health Center of Denver (303) 504-6500 •

Operation TBI Freedom

(866) 245-6600 • Brain Injury Survivor Series: Family Matters After Brain Injury May 13, 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM Denver Options, 9900 E. Iliff Ave., Denver FREE workshop; Lunch included RSVP: Call (303) 636-5610 or visit

Soldier and Family Assistance Center at Ft. Carson

(719) 526-4590 •

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, Veterans Affairs

(719) 592-1300 •

Visit us online for complete event listings and more resources! •


9900 East Iliff Avenue Denver, CO 80231


Help Our Wounded Heroes please donate today! Call 1-877-FUND-OTF (386-3683) Visit

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Questions about The LiNK? Email

The Denver Options’ LiNK is published quarterly by Denver Options, a non-profit organization that provides service coordination and program services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries.

Jennifer Anderson Katie Goulet Barb Lundy Layout by Corey Wheeland

Board of Directors Bill Parkhill, President Roger Carstens, Vice President Jim Long, Treasurer Roger Schmitz , Assistant Treasurer Niki F. Tuttle, Secretary Ann Erickson Gifford Barry Martin, M.D. Scott Showalter, M.D. Gail Strobel Stephanie Townsend Christine Wester Marlon Anderson, Consumer Stephen R. Block, Ph.D., CEO

Customer Service Ph: (303) 636-5624 TDD: (303) 636-5602

The LiNK 7.1, TBI Edition  
The LiNK 7.1, TBI Edition  

The LiNK, 2011, Volume 7, Issue 1, Traumatic Brain Injury Edtion