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GatheVeterans r March/April 2020

Reining Liberty Ranch More than just equine therapy

Sport Clips’ Help a hero Scholarship Program

Traverse City Air Station’s

Commander Chuck Webb Cover Photo by Jerry Stutzman - TC Photo

Veterans in the woods Outdoor Therapy

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In association with

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TABLE OF CONTENTS March/April 2020




A Letter From The GTC VA Director


Commander Webb


Mid-Michigan Honor Flight


Reining Liberty Ranch


VA Clinic Ribbon Cutting


Painting With A Twist


Sport Clips’ Help A Hero


Veterans Non-Connected Pension


Vets Outdoor Therapy



his past month, my nephew came down with Flu B. It then progressed pretty quickly to Pneumonia, which then leads to severe respiratory failure. In a matter of just a few days, his life hung in the balance and continues to do so. Logan is 33 years old, the father of two small children, and single. He served three tours in Afghanistan. While there, Logan lost his best friend in an explosion and watched it occur in real-time. When he enlisted, I know Logan had no qualms about stepping up and serving his county in whatever capacity asked of him. Logan stands in a long line of servicemen in my family, so continuing the legacy was a no brainer. However, one thing I am confident Logan did not count on was the aftermath of his service affecting his life to such an extreme level. Logan came home to a life wrought with struggles associated with PTSD. His coping skills having been affected, he turned to alcohol and self-destructive behavior. The result? When

he got sick, he did not feel he could turn to those closest to him. Feeling isolated and alone, he got so sick he ended up in the emergency room where my sister became aware of his situation. Now he is fighting for his life again. Why do I share this story? Because it is a story repeated over and over again for many veterans. This need for community, support, and education of what benefits are available is why I publish GATHER Veterans. The cry of “no man left behind” should continue to be the standard, even upon returning to civilian life and routine days. Like Logan, many veterans are suffering in silence. I hope that veterans in this situation will find comfort and solace as they pick up this resource and realize that their brotherhood still exists and their lives and their story matter!

Hannah Bouwmeester Publisher

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A Letter From The GTC VA Director Happy Spring! Things have been popping up for veterans in Michigan. Last month the new Col. Demas Craw VA Clinic opened and started seeing veterans. This larger facility was 20 years in the making. Veterans in Northern Michigan deserve the best care. The state-approved the budget in January that included the County Veterans Service Fund. This grant awards a base of $50,000 and then additional money depending on the county’s per capita of veterans. All this is to expand advocacy and awareness for veteran services. Our office received almost $85,000. In the coming months, we will be utilizing the grant funds for billboard advertising, radio commercials, free veteran breakfast/lunches, new website design, social media marketing, and a FREE veterans concert this summer! I am hoping to make Northern Michigan the “Gold Standard” of how veterans are treated! This is not done by working alone as an island. Our office works with various non-profit and government organizations. If you belong to a company that doesn’t currently work with our office, please call or email and let’s work together! This month GATHER Veterans highlights some pretty cool people! MidMichigan Honor Flight is an organization that does a phenomenal job of taking care of our WWII, Korea, and now Vietnam veterans. Thanks to Rick Ohle, owner of Sport Clips, for being a supporter of GATHER Veterans. He has a huge heart for his customers and veterans. Coast Guard Commander Chuck Webb shares his experience in Traverse City. Marine veteran Eric Lapaugh gives some insight on how to mentally refresh ourselves — finally, Reining Liberty Ranch shares how they are helping veterans every day! Remember, this magazine is about information for veterans, so if you know of a veteran, resource, or event that GATHER Veterans should feature, please email GATHER Media’s Content Editor at hannah@gatherveterans.com. Semper Fi, Michael W. Roof

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GATHER Media LLC Hannah Bouwmeester - Owner P. O. Box 5352 Traverse City, MI 49696, (231) 492-7870


DAVE MOORE VP Demand Creation Services (Village Press)





Jerry Stutzman TC Photos Mid Michigan Honor Flight Becki Bigelow KIERSTIN GUNSBERG AMANDA RENKIEWICZ Jaclyn Roof Ted Pryde Michael Roof Jayden Designs jaclyn@gatherveterans.com or hannah@gatherveterans.com VISIT GATHERmichigan.com to subscribe Subscription Rates: One Year, 12 issues, $14.95. Allow six weeks for first issue to be received. Note: Veterans can pick up a free copy at various locations across the state. Please call the GTDVA for information.

Copyright @2020 GATHER Media LLC. All rights reserved. Individual works also copyrighted by their originators. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. We do not assume any liability for errors or omissions. GATHER Media LLC does not necessarily endorse any of the attractions, products or services contained within.

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Commander Chuck Webb By Kierstin Gusnberg

Photos by Jerry Stutzman - TC Photo


t’s been ten years since Traverse City became an official Coast Guard City. It’s a designation that doesn’t come by default, no matter the miles of glittering waves or elated kids waving hello to the iconic orange choppers from down below. To Commander Charles “Chuck” Webb, who’s been the Commanding Officer of Air Station Traverse City since July of 2019, the title is unsurprising. From events like the annual Coast Guard Picnic to the year-round programs and discounts offered to military and Veteran families, he says, “There

is no other community like Traverse City that’s behind it’s military, and it’s Veterans...it’s incredible.” Having grown up in another lakeside city, Muskegon, CDR Webb has always appreciated how unique northern Michigan is with its winding, wooded trails, sunbaked dunes, and friendly approach to newcomers, of which families like his own often are. Despite the abundance of coastline making the area ideal for USCG stations, his mind was never on cruising the bays; it was always careening above

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them, which he planned to do inflight school after his high school graduation in the late ’80s. His father, an Army Veteran who served for almost four decades, urged a young Chuck to take a different path than he did, reflecting on the challenges of serving for the most potent force in the world. So, after attending Muskegon Community College, CDR Webb transferred to the University of Michigan, where he joined the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps with plans to fulfill his

You don’t always want to go through life looking behind your back all the time. dream of becoming a pilot while honoring his father’s wishes. That plan fell through, though, when, in the middle of his program, U of M made cuts that ultimately led to he and others no longer having a slot in the USAF. His dad suggested CDR Webb join the Coast Guard instead. There was a hitch though, back then, you didn’t get much of a say in where you received our station assignment, be it air or sea. As a young man, Chuck didn’t want to be on a boat,

he longed to fly, and the Army could promise him that. In 1992 he headed down to Fort Rucker, Alabama, to attend flight school for the U.S. Army and was eventually assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. As he climbed the ranks, he made a move after move. And, as they often are, his father was right - an Army career is tough, especially when you start a family, which CDR Webb had to leave behind, sometimes by thousands of miles.

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Not wanting to miss out on his sons’ childhood years, he took his father’s advice and pursued the Coast Guard, and in 1999 he and his wife and their two children happily became a “Coastie” family, settling into their four-year stint at Air Station Traverse City. Since then, his decades in the USCG have brought many proud moments, including developing a post 9/11 intercept program for Washington D.C. airspace and serving as Executive Assistant to the Norad and U.S. Northern Command Chief of Staff.

Now, as the Commander of Air Station Traverse City, CDR Webb says that the most rewarding part of being in a leadership role is seeing those he leads serving with integrity, taking the initiative to use their capabilities to help those in our community without a pause. When it comes to who taught him the value of those same attributes, he credits his dad. He showed him in those early years of daydreaming about aviation that being true to yourself and taking action to fulfill the goals you find essential are a sure way to minimize regrets. Commander Webb shared, “One of the things he would always say is you don’t want to go through life looking behind your back all of the time.” And if his thousands upon thousands of air miles spent serving his country are any proof, CDR Webb has certainly lived life well by those words. When asked his advice for young people looking to join the armed services, CDR Webb responded, “You will be hard-pressed to find a more worthy and rewarding calling than serving your nation. It is one of the most honorable things you can do. Beyond the skills, teamwork, and leadership development you will be given along with amazing camaraderie each step of the way, you will find inspiration being part of something much much much bigger than yourself. You will enjoy the highest of times, but you will also experience the lowest of lows. Knowing you are part of an elite club of Americans prepared to give it all for this great nation will get you through

those lows. Whether you serve the minimal amount of time possible or make the military a lifetime career, my hat’s off to you for joining our elite group.” GATHER Veterans is honored to share the story of this inspiring military leader! Thank you CDR Webb for your service to our country!

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You will be hard-pressed to find a more worthy and rewarding calling than serving your nation.

Helping You Live A Healthy, Inspired And Joyful Life As a cabinet maker my work requires physical strength…One day while installing a cabinet I felt a pop in my shoulder…and a sinking feeling that I hurt myself pretty bad. Surgery wasn’t an option being self employed. My wife suggested I go see Dr Chris…I made an appointment as a last resort. After years of pain and restrictive movement in my arm, it took only one session with Dr Chris to realize I would not only have movement without pain, but strength back into my arm. Dennis, Traverse City, MI

Dr. Chris Moran 3639 Cass Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686

(231) 946-4325

www.wholehealthtc.com G AT H E R Veterans – 3 0

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Honor Flight

“Caring for our veterans is the duty of a grateful nation,” By Amanda Renkiewicz


e are all recipients of the greatness of our veterans and their sacrifices for our freedom. While many worthy charities help honor our armed forces, one philanthropy goes above and beyond, quite literally, to grant veterans an experience like none other. The Mid-Michigan Honor Flight program offers veterans a free Tour of Honor. Veterans are flown to Washington, DC, and escorted to the memorials dedicated to their service and sacrifices. As explained by their website, “It is a day of remembrance, reconciliation, and honor. It’s like getting a hug from America. It may have taken America over 60 years to construct the WWII Memorial, but we feel it’s about time these Greatest Generation heroes get to see it”. Volunteers called Guardians are personally assigned to each Veteran to ensure that they are properly cared for comfortably and safely. The organization is funded by individuals across the state who recognize the great accomplishments and sacrifices of veterans, and want them to see their memorial before it’s

too late. The Mid-Michigan Honor Flight gratefully accepts donations from anyone except the Veterans who will be flying with them. GATHER Veterans was honored to interview Rick Birndorf, a major supporter and Guardian for a recent flight, who shared his incredible experience: “I was fortunate enough to be invited this past September to be appointed as a Guardian to accompany an 88-yearold Korean War Navy veteran to Washington DC. There were 65 WWII, Korean, and Vietnam war veterans on our flight. I was able to experience firsthand the incredible organization that is the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight. From the minute I arrived at Camp Grayling, the Honor Flight Staff of all volunteers took charge and organized my next two days to perfection. I was placed into a training class that covered all the potential issues facing a planeload of 65 men and women who averaged close to 85 years of age. All of the guardians were required to attend this

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training class. The most important point that was drilled into our heads was that this trip was not about us, it was for the veterans. We were to be 100% attentive to our assigned veteran, never leaving them alone, not even for one minute. We were not there to sightsee, read a book, listen to our music, or play on our phones, but were there for one reason: our Vet. If any Guardian felt differently, this was the time to leave. They were very adamant and for good reason. The logistics of moving 65 people on multiple bus rides and same day air flights is daunting enough. Now add in the fact that the Veterans range in age from 80 to 101. Many are bound to wheelchairs. Many were wounded in combat and still suffered the effects of those wounds. At times, Veterans have actually passed away while on the Honor Flight trip. The Honor Flight organization is ready for any emergency. They fly with certified medics, volunteer helpers to direct the flow at each stop, photographers, and media personal. All are volunteering their time for many hours of hard work. It was all worth it just to see the look in each Veteran’s eyes as they are police escorted around Washington DC and welcomed at each stop by cheering citizens. This was their day, and our job as Guardians was to make sure they had the best experience possible.” Through Rick’s efforts, the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight has become a staple fundraiser at the Traverse City Golf

and Country Club. Three years ago, the House and Social committee added a Wild Game Dinner to their schedule of events, and a decision was made to create a fundraiser around it. The committee explored various charitable organizations in the Traverse City Area, and focused on those that supported our Veterans. The Mid-Michigan Honor Flight captured their attention for a number of reasons. “The first was that 99.9% of all donations go directly to funding the Veteran’s flights,” Rick explained. “The second was the urgency for funds. At the time of the first dinner, WWII Vets were disappearing rapidly. Since that first year, the mission of Honor Flight now includes Veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars as well. Finally, it was the right thing to do for the men and women who sacrificed so much for our country’s wellbeing. Our membership at the club was very keen on supporting this cause.” This year was the third annual Wild Game Dinner and benefit for Honor Flight. With a goal to increase total donations annually, the event has brought in $1,700 in year 1, $12,000 in year 2, and an astounding $20,000 in year 3. The most recent event took place on November 9th, and featured a live country singer, silent and live auction, and a raffle. The evening received significant support from local businesses, club members, and attending guests. The four-course plated meal began with butternut squash ravioli with braised rabbit sausage, gorgonzola crème, and toasted pumpkin seeds. A baby greens salad with confit of Canadian duckling, Bartlett

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pear, dried cranberries, and polenta with white French vinaigrette followed. A delicious entree of New Zealand Elk Chop with madeira sauce, dauphinoise potato, baby carrots, haricot verts, and baby turnips explored the possibilities of wild game. Dessert continued the theme of culinary excellence, with Michigan honey crisp apple bread pudding with salted caramel sauce and rum raisin ice cream. Incredible generosity was displayed by the members and staff of the Traverse City Country Club, as the funds raised surpassed everyone’s expectations and set the stage for a fabulous fundraiser in 2020. Rick continues, “Honor Flight is a way to pay it forward to our men and women who served our country when it was needed the most. The sacrifices they made, both in time and effort, are the reason the United States remains strong and free today. So many paid the ultimate price, and those that survived the horrors of war came back to a country that while grateful, did little to honor those sacrifices. Now a lot of the men and women who served in our past wars are reaching the end of their lives. It is the least we can do to give them one last thank you, one last moment to receive the gratitude they so richly deserve. For most, it will be the last trip they ever take. They deserve to be recognized for their unselfish duty and incredible valor. They are all heroes no matter how, where, and when they served. Honor Flight is the perfect way to show them that as a nation, we are grateful, and we care.”

Learn more about the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight at midmichiganhonorflight.com, and find out how to participate and support the Wild Game Dinner fundraiser through tcgcc.com

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Vietnam Veteran’s Chapter 211 & Friends Reunion We are looking for any member of the Vietnam Veterans Association - Chapter 211 or any participant of any of our picnics, fund raisers, or those who had any association with VVA - Chapter 211. We are organizing a reunion for July 11th, 2020. Please - call, (no texts), Bill & Rose Swartout at (231) 275-4151 or email VVAChapter211@gmail.com. We hope to hear from you soon and see you there!

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Reining Liberty Ranch By Kierstin Gunsberg


t’s a rare January afternoon that the snowflakes have stopped falling, making the world seem somehow as warm as Becki Bigelow as she describes her joy in welcoming the Women Warriors visiting Reining Liberty Ranch that day. On eleven acres of sprawling pasture just down the road from Silver Lake in Traverse City, Becki and her husband Dennis invite Veterans and their families to

connect with the Reining Liberty herd of over a dozen equine, which includes a mini donkey named Tulip. Though it’s the baby goats and chickens, the children of these Veterans flock to first, says Becki, who notes that learning how to handle the delicate eggs without any helicoptering from the adults creates a sense of responsibility and purpose that comes only from being entrusted with something so fragile.

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And it is fragile, growing up, Becki knows this from her childhood, which was marred by an injury her father received in World War II. After his return, the realities of that life-altering event created deep loneliness in her that grew and grew until she was a teenager. That’s when she met Spindle. Gifted to her, and at sixteen hands tall, the White Tennessee Walker was an ethereal blue-eyed beauty who, like the stuff of teenage dreams, saved Becki from the shadows. She learned that where humans may fail with words, horses make up in quiet spirit, “This amazing creature...mirrored who and where I was emotionally in a most amazing, gentle way with no judgment or expectation.” Those years spent with Spindle galloping through her family’s cherry orchards in Acme, along with the firsthand knowledge of how important compassion and support are to Veterans and their families, would be the inspiration for the Reining Liberty Ranch. She and Dennis, who served on a nuclear submarine in the Navy, would work incredibly hard to create this ranch. After the new year of 2013, the ranch officially opened to those

in the Veteran community, offering Horses 4 Heroes Therapeutic Riding programs, which facilitates increased confidence, anxiety reduction, and trust-building. Led by a team of professionally certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors, each participant is initially matched with a member of the Reining Liberty equine herd. From there, they set off on a four-phase, months-long experience that begins with learning alongside their designated horse and culminates with riding through peaceful wooded trails in places like The High Rollaway overlooking the Manistee River. Between these months of back and forth with Cricket, Topsy, Nim, and the other hooved companions, Becki says those in the program benefit from social connections with not only the horses but the instructors and other Veterans as they “navigate obstacles together as a horse and rider team.” Although Horses 4 Heroes is a mainstay of Reining Liberty’s focus, there’s so much more to the ranch where Dennis, Becki, and their crew enjoy bonfires, reflective garden walks, and weekly meals with the heroes who spend time there. Their cozy “Outreach

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Building” is also set up to host peer-to-peer meetings and sometimes utilized by other Veteran support groups. To the Bigelow’s, this isn’t their ranch, it’s a safe place for Veterans and those who love them to commune with one another, learn something new, and most of all, exhale from the stressors of everyday life. Keeping up the ranch is a real labor of love. Dennis shows up before the sun to care for the horses while Becki greets and facilitates, acknowledging that none of this would exist without the dedication of their board members, stable leads, instructors or the many businesses and individuals in our community who volunteer time, money and support to continue Reining Liberty’s endeavor, saying, “I wanted to give Veterans a resource for healing as well as a place to come together where they could safely communicate with each other in ways they couldn’t speak with others. They need each other.”

To contribute to the ranch, you can reach out to Becki & Dennis at reininglibertyranch.org, or contact their office at 231-421-3958. GATHER Veterans – 18

VA Clinic

Ribbon Cutting By Jaclyn Roof

One of the most touching parts of the ceremony was the opportunity for each attendee to learn more about Colonel Demas T. Craw.


t was a day that our community came together to celebrate a longawaited facility opening aimed at serving those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country. Groups of all ages gathered to celebrate the opening of the Colonel Demas T. Craw VA Clinic located at 701 US Highway 31 South in Traverse City. One of the most touching parts of the ceremony was the opportunity for each attendee to learn more about Colonel Demas T. Craw. This honorable man’s name will not be forgotten as a result of the dedication of the clinic to him and his legacy. They learned about his journey as

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a leader, a soldier, and, most of all, a family man, the sacrifices he made and the lives that he touched. A native of our community, Colonel Demas T. Craw, will now serve as a beacon of light to those requiring the much-needed services offered at the clinic. While noting it has been many years in the making, the clinic then officially announced that its doors are finally open to help those who have served our country. With services ranging from health and medical, various forms of therapy, substance abuse counseling, mental health and more, the Colonel Demas T. Craw VA Clinic is sure to be a staple in our community for many years to come.

I just want to teach art to people who need it.

-Mikayla Lehn


core tenant at Painting With A Twist is that inspiration, fun, and lasting memories come through painting. Mikayla Lehn knows from personal experience that putting paint to canvas can also be profoundly therapeutic. Creativity helped to pull her through the aftermath of a life-altering foot injury, and she brought that experience with her when she took over the managing duties at the Traverse City location.

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And while community outreach like discounted events for non-profits and face painting for special needs children has always been part of the culture at Painting With A Twist, the value of such events became much more personal for Mikayla on March 9, 2019. That was the day that Scott Herzberg, the POC, Military & Veteran Services/ Advisor at NMC, suggested she teach a painting class for a gathering of combat veterans and their loved ones. As it turns out, the brother of Mikayla’s best friend, Sgt. Justin Hansen of Kingsley, had been killed during combat operations in Afghanistan, and the twin sibling of her fiancé had been gravely wounded while serving abroad, so she deeply understood the duty and sacrifice involved, and it was with some trepidation she agreed to lead the group. After consulting her soonto-be brother-in-law about what painting subject might speak to veterans, they agreed upon The Soldiers’ Memorial. Mikayla painted a stirring version and provided a stencil for those intimidated by the intricacies of the silhouette. Almost immediately she could sense quiet focus overtake the room, as each person created their own interpretation of the powerful symbol, making their own paintings both more personal and meaningful. Something momentous had occurred, though the extent of what had transpired would only become clear to the instructor later. The next time she spoke with Scott Herzberg he told her that one of the veterans had been in desperate straights, even feeling suicidal, but the

class had touched him deeply enough that he’d enrolled in art classes immediately following the weekend. In recognition of what she had done the local Student Veterans of America chapter presented Mikayla with a Challenge Coin, an honor that is exceedingly rare to receive as a civilian. She did not take any of this lightly, and in fact gathered inspiration from it, taking the initiative to immediately begin offering and lead Veterans Paint Free events every Monday evening 7pm-9pm. “Any type of art is an outlet,” Mikayla says, and spreading the creativity, the joy, the simple fun, and, yes, the therapeutic value of painting with a brush has become a passion she brings to each and every day to Painting With A Twist. That is the message and the mission.

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Sport Clips By Kierstin Gunsberg


ick Ohle is a team player. If his love of sports and how it balances stamina against mutual respect or his 43-year marriage to Nancy isn’t proof enough, then perhaps the fact that he couldn’t just sit around after retiring from a decade’s long career as a hospital administrator, including eight years as a Chief Operating Officer of a major downstate hospital is. Though working in healthcare had been meaningful, an attribute necessary to anything the Ohle’s choose to pursue, he was ready to venture down a less hectic path.

With he and Nancy’s four grown children scattered across the globe and raising families of their own, he took his time exploring post-retirement career options. His list of criteria was short but specific - this new career should be less stressful than being COO of an entire hospital, but still, make a positive impact in his community. In February of 2016, after months of culling his options, Rick opened his first Sport Clips Haircuts location in Traverse City’s Grand Traverse Crossing plaza. He believed in the company and its

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values so much that he opened another in Mt. Pleasant only a month later, and finally, in early 2019, a third in Midland, where the Ohle’s reside.

to Veterans. This past fall, the Traverse City store awarded a year of free haircuts to Grand Traverse Veteran of the Year Tom Whilden and Grand Traverse Veteran Supporter of The Year, Tim Wooer.

Sport Clips is open every day of the week so that customers can pop in between errands or after work for their “MVP Haircut Experience.” And the franchise caters to sports fans like Rick. But the perks of owning a business whose theme revolves around his favorite pastime isn’t the only reason he became a Team Leader for Sport Clips. He’s honored to be part of a company that gives back

The store is also involved nationally with the Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship Program, which is administered through a partnership with the VFW and awards education scholarships to Veterans and active military. In the month leading up to Veteran’s Day, all Sport Clips locations accept donations towards the program, which so far have totaled over

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$7,200 from the Traverse City store alone. Rick says other local businesses get in on the generosity too, “This year, Centre Ice Arena generously donated $300 from admissions to three Twilight Public Skating sessions, which our store is the presenting sponsor for.” Reflecting on his father, who served in the Navy, and his brother who served in Vietnam, Rick says the day he and his Sport Clips team look forward to is Veterans Day. That’s when they get to show their gratitude to Veterans and active-duty military by giving them free haircuts, snacks,

and beverages. The rest of the year, they receive a 20% discount on all services, which he knows wouldn’t be possible without his incredible Sport Clips team, to whom he’s so grateful. From the managers to the stylists and, of course, Nancy, who, among many other things, goes undercover as Sport Clips’ mascot Sporty at various youth sports and other promotional events. He may be the team leader, but without the collaboration of the people around him, the store wouldn’t have the capacity to proudly support its local military and Veteran communities who, in the words of Rick are “truly our everyday heroes.”

To find out more about the Help a Hero Scholarship Program through Sport Clips Haircuts, visit their page https://haircutmentraversecitymi.com/promotions-partnerships/help-a-hero.

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Veterans Non-Connected Pension


here is a little-known tax-free benefit for veterans and their surviving spouses, 65 years and older and it’s called Aid and Attendance. The benefit is to provide financial aid to help offset the cost of long-term care for those who need assistance with the daily activities of living such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring. The basic eligibility points are: • Must have served at least 90 consecutive days of active duty with one day during a period of war. • Must have anything other than a Dishonorable discharge. • Must require the assistance of another person to perform two or more of the daily activities of living. • Must meet income and countable asset criteria ($129,084) established by the VA. • Must be 65 years and older or totally disabled if a veteran. No age limit for surviving spouses. For the benefit there is no difference if the veteran or surviving spouse lives in a nursing home, assisted living facility or is getting assistance in their own home. They must be paying for their care. They could be ineligible for the benefit if they were receiving care at no-cost. Benefit Table


Benefit Amount

Single Veteran

$1,911 Monthly / $22,939 Annually

Surviving Spouse

$1,228 Monthly / $14,742 Annually

Married Veteran

$2,226 Monthly / $27,195 Annually

Two Veterans Married $3.032 Monthly / $36, 387 Annually

The chart above is the benefit amounts if someone qualified for the full amount. As always, if you have question regarding this or any benefits, contact our office at 231-995-6070.

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Vets Outdoor Therapy By Eric LaPaugh


ccess to the outdoors is proven to have a positive impact on the mental health and physical well-being of our veterans. The healing effects of nature can be especially powerful. Nature therapy provides space for veterans to process their thoughts, consider their next steps in life, and gradually reintegrate into the world. Veterans spending time on a wilderness adventure has all the best parts of military life, a small, tight-knit group, testing their skill sets and themselves, and relying on each other in a “dangerous” environment to accomplish a common goal. Civilian life, especially relationships with friends and family, can not be approached with the same high-speed problem-solving skills that we learned in the military. Wilderness therapy offers a unique approach to helping soldiers reintegrate into their normal lives to help mitigate the long-term effects of PTSD. Wilderness therapy uses the power of nature to help heal the invisible wounds of war, and the results of their approach are incredible. Wilderness therapy can facilitate a veteran’s reintegration into society, restoring their faith in humanity, and building a network of life-long friendships and relationships. Outdoor recreational activities can provide powerful therapeutic and healing benefits as well as camaraderie for veterans struggling with combat-related injuries or posttraumatic stress. Treatment with therapies designed to help with PTSD (such as exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress inoculation, and others) can often span over months or years and involve working one-on-one with a therapist during weekly sessions. While these treatments can be effective and useful, many veterans do not prefer them due to side effects and the time commitment required to achieve results. A bill introduced to Congress on May 1 could make outdoor recreation an official treatment option for veterans suffering from mental health disorders. It’s a massive opportunity for vets—and our public lands.

This year the VA will spend $8.6 billion on mental health services for its seven million patients. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 400,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have received a diagnosis of PTSD. Studies show that outdoor-recreation therapy is effective at decreasing the symptoms of PTSD and helping veterans reintegrate with civilian life. For veterans, outdoor recreation can also carry less stigma than other types of therapy and is, therefore, more likely to attract participants. On top of all that, outdoor recreation may prove less expensive than medication-based treatment. Dacher Keltner, a professor at the UC Berkeley psychology department, conducted a study of 180 military veterans who were dealing with PTSD signs and symptoms. The veterans in the study went on a one or two-day whitewater rafting trip in California on the American River. The participants camped along the river, shared meals, and sat around a fire. After the trip, participants reported a 30 percent reduction in their PTSD signs and symptoms and a 10 percent increase in reported happiness and overall well being, joy, and social connection. Nature decreases the trauma response, improves cognitive function, and promotes healing. In 1901 John Muir wrote, “that wilderness is a necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers but as fountains of life.” Now, researchers are finding evidence to explain the feeling. The last few years have brought forest bathing and nature deficit disorder to the mainstream, as stressed-out city folks and kids turn to the wilds for renewed focus, healing, and relaxation. Though scientists and social workers haven’t unlocked why nature works the way it does, it seems the next significant advance in mental health treatment is just as likely to come out of a public forest as a private lab. But with research ongoing, we might be on the cusp of putting a number on the value of wilderness therapy. Eric LaPaugh MA, LLPC Owner True North Counseling 1200 W.11th St. suite 217 Traverse City, Mi 49684

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atat these GATHER these Upcoming Chapter Upcoming Chapter TM

Old Mission Mission Old TM


2nd Wednesday - Monthly 12/11/19 - 2nd Wednesday

Marine Corps League Marine Corps League 2033 Honor Highway, Interlochen 2033 Honor Highway, Interlochen 6pm 6pm

3rd Monday - Monthly 12/16/19 - 3rd Monday

VFW Post 2780 2780 VFW Cherryland Cherryland Post 3400 Dr, Traverse Traverse City City 3400 Veterans Veterans Dr, 7pm 7pm

3rd Thursday - Monthly 12/19/19 - 3rd Thursday

Disable Veteran Disable American American Veteran American League, 2423 2423 American Military Military League, Sybrandt Traverse City City Sybrandt Rd, Rd, Traverse 1pm 1pm

4th Tuesday - Monthly 12/24/19 - 4th Tuesday

American #35 American Legion #35 1231 Travese City City 1231 Hastings St, Travese 6pm 6pm

2nd Wednesday - Monthly 01/08/20 - 2nd Wednesday Marine League Marine Corps League 2033 Honor Highway, 2033 Highway, Interlochen Interlochen 6pm 6pm

01/16/20 - 3rd Thursday 3rd Thursday - Monthly Disable American Veteran Disable Veteran American Military League, American League, 2423 2423 Sybrandt Rd, Traverse Sybrandt Traverse City City 1pm 1pm

4th Tuesday - Monthly 2/25/20 - 4th Tuesday

American Legion #35 American Legion #35 1231 Hastings St, Travese City 1231 Hastings St, Travese City 6pm 6pm

Parkinsons Parkinsons Support Groups Groups Support 4thWednesday Wednesday - Monthly 4th - Monthly TraverseSenior SeniorCenter Center Traverse 801East EastFront FrontSt, St,Traverse TraverseCity City 801 (231)947-7389 947-7389 (231) Facilitator:Hettie HettieMolvang Molvang Facilitator: 10am-11:30am 10am-11:30am

1stTuesday Tuesday - Monthly 1st - Monthly

Foster FosterFamily FamilyHealth HealthCenter CenterRm Rm A&B. A&B.Former FormerMCHC MCHC 550 550Munson MunsonAvenue, Avenue,Traverse TraverseCity City (231) (231)947-7389 947-7389 Facilitator: Facilitator:Hettie HettieMolvang Molvang 6pm-8pm 6pm-8pm

3rd - Monthly 3rdThursday Thursday - Monthly

01/20/20 - 3rd Monday 3rd Monday - Monthly

VFW Cherryland Cherryland Post VFW Post 2780 2780 3400 Veterans Dr, 3400 Veterans Dr, Traverse Traverse City City 7pm 7pm

Trinity TrinityLutheran LutheranChurch Church 995 995James JamesSt, St,Frankfort Frankfort (231) (231)882-4865 882-4865 Facilitator: Facilitator:Janet Janetand andFred FredHough Hough 2pm 2pm

01/28/20 - 4th Tuesday 4th Tuesday - Monthly

3rd - Monthly 3rdThursday Thursday - Monthly

American Legion Legion #35 American #35 1231 Hastings Hastings St, 1231 St, Travese Travese City City 6pm 6pm

02/12/20 - 2nd Wednesday 2nd Wednesday - Monthly

Marine Corps League Marine Corps League 2033 Honor Highway, Interlochen 2033 Honor Highway, Interlochen 6pm 6pm

2/17/20 - 3rd Monday 3rd Monday - Monthly

VFW Cherryland Post 2780 VFW Cherryland Post 2780 3400 Veterans Dr, Traverse City 3400 Veterans Dr, Traverse City 7pm 7pm

2/20/20 - 3rd Thursday 3rd Thursday - Monthly

Disable American Veteran Disable American Veteran American Military League, American Military 2423 Sybrandt Rd, League, Traverse City 2423 1pm Sybrandt Rd, Traverse City 1pm

Veteran, Veteran,nine-year nine-yearNavy Navy Corpsman Kyle Monteith Corpsman Kyle Monteith and andhis hisfamily familymoved moved into into their theirMaple MapleCity CityHabitat Habitat home homein inJuly July2019. 2019.

Governmental GovernmentalCenter CenterSuttons SuttonsBay/ Bay/ Leelanau Leelanau Facilitator: Hettie Molvang Facilitator: Hettie Molvang 2pm-3:30pm 2pm-3:30pm

AA AA Meeting Meeting Schedule Schedule Find a Meeting Near You Find a Meeting Near You

http://district11-aa.org/meetings. http://district11-aa.org/meetings. html html

GATGATHER HER Veterans Veterans – –27 2 7 GAT H E R Veterans – 27

Veterans Veterans Build Build Program Program Weoffer offerprograms programsthat that We improve the lives of local improve the lives of local veterans.Learn Learnmore more about about veterans. affordable housing & home affordable housing & home repair services. repair services.

habitatgtr.org habitatgtr.org 231-941-4663 231-941-4663

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GATHER Veterans Magazine March/April 2020  

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