Veterans Medical Leadership Council - Annual Report 2021

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2021 Annual Report

Veterans Helping Veterans Avoid Crisis

Mission Statement: The mission of the Veterans Medical Leadership Council & VMLC Charities is to provide a forum for community leaders to advocate initiatives that enhance the quality of Veterans’ health care and services, and to assist Arizona Veterans is crises that fall outside federal and state funding guidelines.

2021 IMPACT FACTS $432,664 total distribution Average support for Veterans is: $2,238 Number of Veterans and families we have helped: 400 1

$10,000 in giftcards

Raised and Dispersed: $3 million + 75% of funding goes to housing

President’s Message The Veterans Medical Leadership Council (VMLC) & VMLC Charities is here to provide a safety net to Veterans who are on the edge – facing potentially dire circumstances. Through no fault of their own, Veterans sometimes find themselves in situations where they are unable to pay their rent, pay for utilities, car payments and stressful or harmful circumstances. We step in to help prevent the worst from happening. Sometimes they are unable to get to their job because of a disabled vehicle. We pay the vehicle repair bill to help keep them employed. Sometimes our Veterans can’t interview for jobs because they can’t afford to pay their cell phone bill or Internet fees. We provide the bridge funding so they can find a job and remain self-sufficient. There are many different scenarios at play, and the VMLC works with the VA to help Veterans who need a hand up. We do that with the support of many individuals and corporations in our community. On behalf of the VMLC, I’d like to thank our supporters for your donations throughout the year. You have helped us continue our work helping Veterans on the verge of being jobless or homeless; on the verge of losing their family, and in a few cases on the brink of suicide. Your donations helped the VMLC bridge the gap to prevent these Veterans from falling into the chasm. One example I’d like to share comes from the Phoenix Veterans Administration Medical Center Social Works department and highlights the challenges that Veterans currently face in today’s

housing market. We expect these conditions to continue in the foreseeable future. “Due to the hot housing market in Phoenix, a Veteran’s lease was not renewed, and he was given a 30-day notice to vacate his apartment. The Veteran and his mother were able to locate an affordable apartment but had to make adjustments within their budget to accommodate moving expenses, transferring utilities, and paying first- and last- month’s rent. This caused the Veteran financial strain and negatively impacted his ability to pay his monthly phone bill and car note – both of which are needed for employment. “The VMLC was able to provide financial assistance for the phone bill and car note. The VMLC prevented the Veteran from becoming homeless (as Veteran moved his earned income toward unexpected housing expenses) and the possibility of losing his job, if his car had been repossessed.” This Veteran is very appreciative of the VMLC! In 2022, we will be expanding this program to the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Prescott so we can now service Veterans in Central and Northern Arizona. Our long-term goal is to expand our services to include Southern Arizona, as well. 2

I often tell people that this generation’s Agent Orange is Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury. As you may know, Vietnam Veterans have suffered diabetes, cancers, and neurological conditions at far higher rates than civilian populations – afflictions attributed to the defoliant Agent Orange which was widely used in Vietnam. The current generation of Veterans faced a battlefield where there weren’t any front lines and faced an enemy that used asymmetric warfare, often exhibited with lethal and damaging Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs) which caused Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and associated Post Traumatic Stress. In fact, a 2017 study done by the American Psychiatric Association of nearly 6,000 US Veterans showed 12.9 percent were diagnosed with PTS, nearly double the rate of PTS among the general population of the United States, which was 6.8 percent. There are reports now that Veterans with TBI are three times more at risk for suicide than their civilian counterparts.

2021 IMPACT Returning Warrior $276,859 Total Distribution $432,664 Native American Sustainability for Veterans and those in Uniform (NASVU) $105,805 Mental Health $50,000 3

The VMLC is committed to helping this generation of patients, by sponsoring a Post-Traumatic Growth course at Boulder Crest in Sonorita, Arizona, each year. This course is taught by Arizona Veterans and it allows us to build a network of Veterans in the state who can help one another in times of trouble. Additionally, in 2022 we earmarked the funds for two support dogs for Veterans who need that level of service. Sometimes, all that was needed to prevent an accident was an intervention to stop the progress of the factors in play leading to tragedy. That is why the VMLC exists – to prevent just one of the factors from progressing, in order to prevent a tragedy. Thank you for your donations to help our Veterans on the verge which allows them to keep steady and have safe landings.

One comparison is in the case of aircraft crashes. There are always a multitude of factors, that when added together, result in a tragedy: Perhaps there was bad weather, pilot error or mechanical failure that led to the accident. The bottom line is it is rarely just one factor that leads to a catastrophic failure – it’s typically several factors taken together that cause an accident. The same is true for situations our Veterans find themselves in. And that’s why the VMLC stands ready to step in to help.

NAVAJO VETERANS’ RELIEF DURING THE PANDEMIC Since 2020, the VMLC has been involved in Navajo Relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s estimated more than 33 percent of Veterans on the Navajo Nation live without running water or electricity. You can imagine how this might have exacerbated the pandemic and made it worse for those living in these conditions. The VMLC, in partnership with MD Helicopters contributed 52+ helicopter flights carrying personal protective equipment (PPE), and other supplies to assist with COVID relief efforts. In recognition of their efforts, MD Helicopters was awarded the Helicopter Association International’s Salute to Excellence Humanitarian Service Award for those who best demonstrate the value of helicopters to the communities in which they operate by providing aid to those in need.

2022 GOALS

Through the state of Arizona • Increase annual donations to $750K which will enable us to more fullysupport VAMC RW Social Programs (current is $18K/month) by end of 2022 • Add therapy dogs to the Mental Health Program (minimum of two sourced by September 2022) • Gain Platinum GuideStar status • Enhance our database of supporters • Increase our activities to communicate our story of impact in the Veteran community

The VMLC was nominated for a similar Humanitarian Award presented by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for our work with the Navajo Nation. The award was ultimately presented to the Gary Sinise Foundation; what an honor to be placed into the same category as “Lieutenant Dan.” As part of our mission, we delivered 300-gallon water tanks -- over 1,300 in all -- to Navajo Veterans, widows and family members, allowing them 4

How Fast Will The Veteran Get A Check?

Once approved, the check is sent within a few days directly to the landlord or organization where a debt is due. Never directly to the Veteran.

What In-Kind Support Are You Seeking?

We have received support ranging from trucks and helicopters to deliver PPE supplies, clothes, toys, and small refrigerators for the Navjo Nation program. We receive cash donations that are used as we deem fit or earmarked for specific support like water container units.

Can A Veteran Approach The VMLC Directly?

No. Our process is simple, you must be engaged with a VA social worker to assess their Veteran status and emergency need.

Are There Similar Organizations Like VMLC In Other States?

to sustain themselves for a week at a time. This helped to alleviate the lack of running water. To tackle the lack of electricity, especially for those Veterans who have diabetes and are insulin-dependent, we worked with partners USAA and Tempe-based New Use Energy (NUE) to build and distribute solar refrigerators to those Veterans and family members, so they could keep their insulin refrigerated. Prior to our intervention, these Veterans were at risk of dying prematurely because they had no ability to store their needed medication and fresh food. To accomplish these tasks, we have taken a proactive effort to market our impact by launching a new website, expanding our public relations and social media outreach. Our Board is also evolving as we welcome new community leaders and say thank you to those members who have retired and attained emeritus status. The good news is these men and women want to stay involved in some manner, especially supporting our annual luncheon, which attracted over 500 people even with COVID restrictions.

Not to our knowledge. If anyone would like create a Veteran support group like ours we would be willing to help and consult.

What Is The Cost To Sponsor A Veteran In The PATHH Program For Post-Traumatic Stress? $6250 will sponsor one Veteran for the entire year-long program.

Veterans Helping Veterans Avoid Crisis We are diverse in who we support by service, ethnicity and gender. For every Veteran we help - there are approximately 5,000 more who meet the critiera and have not been helped.

Donate today at


I’ve mentioned a few of the highlights from 2021. Our goals are simple in 2022-23: work hard to tell our story to increase donations and fund even more individuals in dire straits. We have been told that $50,000 is needed per month to accomplish that mission. We look forward to your continued support in achieving this goal. Thank you for caring and God Bless Our Veterans.

Tom Eisiminger, Jr. Lieutenant Colonel, US Army retired President Veterans Medical Leadership Council & Charities 360.433.8937

Arizona was one of just a handful of states where the number of Veterans staying in homeless shelters increased during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new congressional report. The number of veterans in shelters increased by 10% in Arizona between January 2020 and January 2021 and decreased by 10% nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2021 Annual Homeless Assessments Report to Congress. Experts suspect the state’s affordable housing crisis led more people of all backgrounds, including Veterans, to lose their housing during the pandemic. Metro Phoenix rents climbed by more than 22% in just the past year. “A lot of our veterans … they’re really stretched for making the rent,” said Michelle Jameson, executive director of U.S. Vets-Phoenix. “There are a lot of people that could be on the verge of homelessness.” The increase to 637 homeless Veterans in 2021 made Arizona one of the 10 states where more than 15% of people staying in homeless shelters were veterans during the 2021 point-in-time count. -Arizona Republic, February 15, 2022 6

Returning Warrior Program The Returning Warrior Program started in 2009 to financially assist Veterans transitioning back into the civilian community who were experiencing difficulty meeting their basic needs. The program is primarily for Veterans that are registered at the Phoenix VA Health Care System and are working with a social worker. Social workers will help make sure the Veteran is taking full advantage of their benefits and evaluate each request for assistance. Once approved, all checks are mailed directly to the payee (e.g., landlord, utility company).

Housing = 74% of Total Expenditure Veterans are being priced out of the housing market During the last twelve months, $34,922 housing continues to average 13% about three-quarters of the support provided. $38,082 14% $2,525 1%


14 10 10




Utilities $191,329 74%








Transportation Other

In CY2021, we helped 201 unique vetrans in one or more months. (A vet is counted in each month helped.) During the year, the household size averaged 1.8. So in 2021 we helped about 364 people.

SINCE FUNDS ARE LIMITED, REQUESTS ARE NORMALLY APPROVED FOR • Rent and Mortgage assistance • Utility payments • Auto repair • Food • Transportation • Clothing

The VMLC was able to assist a Veteran with non-service related cancer with his rent so he could pay for other medical expenses. -- VA Social Worker

Watch a short video of a social worker‘s description of our Returning Warriors program impact.


Navajo Nation Veteran Support On a consistent basis the Navajo Nation has limited water supplies, electricity and wood for heat and cooking. The health care is minimal at best. Jobs are scarce and at times, unfortunately at times our Veterans are forgotten…we are doing something about it. Our mission is to assist and coordinate with Southwestern US Native American communities to develop sustainable living conditions focusing on water, power, and housing. We are continuing a COVID-19/health support program. Over 5000 Veterans are supported by our mission. We started the program earlier in 2020 with Task Force 48, but officially launched with the support of the Goldwater Foundation, and MD Helicopters in August.

PROBLEM STATEMENT • 33% of Navajo Veterans are without electricity • 50% of Navajo are either diabetic or pre-diabetic • Insulin dependent diabetics need refrigeration for their medications There are Navajo Veterans who are dying prematurely because they don’t have access to refrigeration to store their life-saving medication.

Through the strategic endeavors of sustainable VMLC projects, a respectful partnership was formed with Navajo Nation through several Veterans’ humanitarian projects. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and his staff welcomed VMLC representative, Veteran Bill Ward and the NUE Construction company into the Navajo communities. This connected networking has left behind meaningful imprints of resilience and hope. This led to some memorable and transformative work of setting up solar systems and refrigeration that impacted the lives of the Navajo Veterans with medical issues. -- Statement from Navajo Nation Leadership

The Navajo have the highest per capita COVID-19 cases in the US. Infection rates and mortality rates are more than doubled the US average.

Watch our 12 minute video regarding our COVID support efforts for our fellow Navajo Veterans. 9

Had one little one say, “thank you Santa for not forgetting about us.” Chokes you up...and makes it all worthwhile! -- Tom Eisiminger These Veterans have a chance to sustain themselves with water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, and supporting their animals and plantings. -- Pete Tsinnijinnie

We have surpassed delivering 1,300 vital water totes.

After visiting NUE our Tempe based contractor of solar refrigerators, Congressman Tom O’Halleran and his staff were so impressed with the work being done that a few of the staff members assisted in delivering and installing the solar powered refrigerati on units to Navajo Veterans. The project was organized by the VMLC and supported by USAA with 15 units delivered so far. These units are vital to keep insulin from spoiling and allow their families to store fresh foods. 10

Mental Health VMLC supports Arizona Veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress. In November 2021, the VMLC sponsored a local cohortto attend at Boulder Crest Arizona in Sonoita, AZ. Boulder Crest Foundation has seized upon this opportunity to create and scale a new, innovative, and effective approach to PTSD and combat-related stress, called PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes).

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE BOULDER CREST MISSION Boulder Crest Institute is the world leader in advancing the science of Posttraumatic Growth (PTG). The science of Posttraumatic Growth was initially described in 1995 after a decade of research and clinical work focused on trauma survivors. UNC-Charlotte professors and psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun discovered that many trauma survivors grew in positive ways in the aftermath of their trauma. Today, Dr. Tedeschi chairs the Boulder Crest Institute and is dedicated to supporting combat Veterans, first responders, and their families. Dr. Tedeschi is supported in this work by the Vice Chair of the Boulder Crest Institute, Dr. Bret Moore, a twice-deployed Army psychologist.

• 2021 Total Distribution = $50,000 Impacting 16 lives • Creation of Maricopa County Network of Trained Veterans • Life Saving • Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury are this Generation’s Agent Orange 11


Our Next Luncheon is November 10th, 2022 at the Arizona Bilmore.

Celebrating and Supporting Our Veterans

Over 500 guests attended our 19th annual luncheon sponsored by GlobalMed to honor and celebrate our Veteran community so we can support Veterans in our three contemporary programs.

Tom Eisiminger and GlobalMed CEO Joel Barthelemy flank honoree Peter MacDonald one of the last surviving WWII “Code Talkers”. Other conflict era Veterans recognized (L-R) were Steve Weintraub, Barb Homol, James Sossaman, Leo Thomas, and Ron Williams.

Our Historical Foundation Cowgirls with honoree Peter MacDonald were a highlight to meet at the luncheon.

The Rosie the Riveter Girls were also a highlight to meet.

Another sought after attendee was 100 year old Pearl Harbor survivor Jack Holder. 12

Telling Our Story

Our new website was launched in November with more content in a contemporary setting.

Our guest Annual Luncheon speaker Corporal Matthew Bradford was interviewed locally by Fox and ABC.

ABC interviewed our volunteer Steve Weintraub regarding our Navajo Nation Covid relief efforts prior to HD Helicopter taking off on another mission. Scottsdale Trends photo journalist covered our Annual Luncheon.

To learn more, please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter to hear about the Veterans we’re serving. We are also expanding our YouTube channel with video programs. 13

Primary Donors Board Members Tom Eisiminger President

Dave Rosenfeld 1st Vice President

Bob Dalpe

2nd Vice President

Howie Jones Treasurer

Vanessa Robinson Secretary

George Bliss

Luncheon Chair

Sam Young

Past President

Council Dr. Danita Applewhite A World Without Disparity of Care™

Arni Cook Dave English George Ertel Gordon James Richard Laker Tom Martin Thom Meaker Mike Milliken Dennis Pruitt Lea Seago Cynthia Vargas Bill Ward 14