Ernie Wagner is honored at a local senior center in February.

Better Late Than Never

After 65 years, Ernie Wagner receives his Distinguished Service Cross for heroism displayed during World War II


was discharged from service and went home. The paperwork for his medal along with all the other paperwork from the war got boxed and crated, much of it forgotten.

Last summer, Wagner, a resident of Panama City, Florida, and a retired chemical engineer, got a letter from the Purple Heart Association of New York asking for confirmation of his second Purple Heart. All of Wagner’s paperwork had been stolen in a home invasion, so he didn’t have any records of the two Purple Hearts he received. He wrote a letter to the Veteran’s Administration, and it was at that time he discovered that he also had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross along with the Bronze Star medal, a World War II Victory Medal, a Philippine Defense Ribbon and an Honorable Service Lapel Button.

“All I knew about were the Purple Hearts,” Wagner says.

From there, Wagner started digging in. He started writing letters. He got hold of the right people, and they researched the archives. The current Chief of Staff signed the paperwork, and the medal that was earned in 1945 was finally signed in 2010.

“I thought more should happen than he just received the medal in the mail,” Colonel Bergman says. “So I put together an event for him.”

That event included the mayor of Panama City Beach, Gail Oberst; Panama City Beach Councilman John Richard, and representatives for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and Jimmy Patronis of the Florida House of Representatives; a number of veterans groups were also on hand. The Mayor pinned the award on the 86-year-old’s lapel during a ceremony in February in Panama City Beach at the local senior center.

“It was my honor to be able to pin the medal on,” Mayor Oberst says. “He was a part of that generation that saved America and put our country on the right track for 50 years. He’s a sweet man and so unassuming.”

“I was just doing what I was trained to do,” Wagner says, adding that there was a small wall or railing of about three

feet in height that he crouched behind. “I wasn’t up there trying to be a hero. I was just doing what I had to do. I didn’t think about getting shot. I was thinking about what I had to do. I think anyone else would have done the same thing.”

It was World War II, the Battle of Manila – February 24, 1945. It was MacArthur’s plan to retake the Philippines on the Island of Luzon.

Army infantryman Ernie Wagner, then 19, and his unit got pinned down by two Japanese machine gun nests. The unit couldn’t retreat, and they couldn’t move forward.

This could have been the end for Wagner’s 37th infantry unit. The firing was getting close.

Wagner picked up his bazooka, loaded it and ran out from cover right into the open, according to retired Air Force Colonel Art Bergman. He fired his bazooka and knocked out an entire machine gun nest. Then a loader loaded another round, and again Wagner ran out into the open, fired his bazooka and got the second machine gun nest. Four enemy soldiers ran out from cover, and Wagner, using his Carbine, fired from the hip and shot all four of them. He killed the last remaining enemy soldier. The Americans didn’t suffer a single casualty.

For this act of bravery, Wagner was

awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism displayed during World War II. “It’s the second highest medal for bravery,” Colonel Bergman says.

However, Wagner was not aware of the medal. He was never even notified that he earned it. He did not actually discover he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross until 65 years later.

After the Battle of Manila, the war waged on, and Wagner was moved north. He got seriously injured and was operated on and sent to a larger hospital on Leyte Island and then to a hospital back in the States.

Since the Distinguished Service Cross has to be approved by the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C., the medal was sent to Washington for approval, and while Wagner was being sent East, his medal was making its way back to the Pacific, back to the Philippines.

When Wagner recovered, he was given a leave of absence. When he checked back into the hospital to return to combat, the atomic bomb had been dropped, and the war was over. Wagner

24 June 2011/Family

24 June 2011/Family


January 15 2017

* The Magazine För Military Families



Picture Perfect

An Army Reservist honors veterans through photography



Picture Perfect

Never forget our Veterans and 9/11!



Gulf War

But more of Dernitas Di Batra US DOUS

New York

Wash. DC Shanksville

Viet Nam


World War II

lett non

New Jersey



An Army Reservist honors veterans through photography



PHOTOS: Hector Rene Membreno-Canales


90NWU SOME SAY the best way to honor a vet is to tell his

A Cadillac adorned with patriotic stickers, flags, and emblems drives down or her story. That’s what Army Reservist Hector Rene

5th Avenue in Manhattan during the Veterans Day Parade, 2016. Membreno-Canales, currently an MFA student at Hunter College, City University of New York, set out to do when he proudly took photographs at last year’s New York City Veterans Day Parade.

“In a single year, I usually take photos of ten vets,” said Membreno-Canales, who discovered his passion for photography while serving in Iraq from 2009 to 2010. “On Veterans Day, there were thousands of vets in a two-mile radius. There were service members with Purple Hearts, Medals of Honor, and World War II vets.”

Membreno-Canales shot 700 photos that day. “All vets seem to get lumped into the same role,” MembrenoCanales said. “They’re seen as kicking down doors, looking for bad guys. But the reality is vets are accountants, physicians, lawyers. There are many ways you can serve.” Membreno-Canales was looking for contrasting personalities

Junior ROTC cadets from Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx in the festivities to photograph, and he found them. He snapped a

pose after marching in the New York City Veterans Day Parade, 2016. picture of a retired vet with a USA hat observing the parade. He photographed older vets from the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. He was to join the military,” he added. “It reaffirmed my status as an also took pictures of two women standing with sweatshirts that read, American.” The 25th anniversary of Desert Storm.

After training at Fort Dix, N.), he was deployed to Iraq, where “Multiculturalism, that is the U.S. military,” Membreno-Canales he supplied Iraqis with water, food, and rations. In one project, said. “The military is inclusive. My photography is a broader way of he replaced a water system from the Tigris River with new parts, honoring vets.” He also took photos of the parade itself, as well as providing clean water. the crowds, the flags, the shiny vehicles, the horses, and the march Membreno-Canales’s passion for photography grew stronger ing bands.

while he was on deployment. When he came home, he used the Membreno-Canales never studied photography before he began GI Bill to move to New York to study at the School of Visual Arts his fifteen-month deployment in Iraq. “Photography was a way for (SVA). “Vets became a large part of my social circle,” he said. me to interact with the new world around me,” he said. “I wanted to While studying at SVA, he became a member of a veterans’ document the everyday.”

artists club. “It’s important to me to work with other veterans,” He posted his pictures on Facebook, and it became a way for sol he said. “We have a lot of shared experiences. There’s a lot less diers’ loved ones to get a glimpse of their lives while on deployment. verbal explaining. When I was studying photography, there were He became the unofficial company historian.

always vets there to help me orient myself back into civilian life.” Membreno-Canales was born in Honduras. As a child, he

While at SVA, Membreno-Canales interned at the Museum immigrated to the U.S. with his mother and grew up in Allentown, of Modern Art, Magnum Foundation, Hank Willis Thomas Pa. When he was about seven years old, his mother remarried into Studio, and Stephen Mallon Films. He was later invited to study an Italian-American family who had a long line of military history, journalism at the Defense Information School in Fort Meade, Md. including his stepfather, grandfather, and uncle. When he was a His work has been featured in The New York Times, L’Oeil de la senior in high school, Membreno-Canales became a U.S. citizen. Photographie, and The New Republic, and also at CNN.

“When I was much younger, I couldn’t really understand (that Membreno-Canales continues his military service in the I wasn’t a citizen],” he said. “I didn’t feel any less American. I

Army Reserves with the 326 Mobile Public Affairs Detachment played football, wrestled, and lived the suburban American life. at Fort Totten, New York. As an NCO in his unit, he works as a When I became a citizen, I didn’t feel any more American than I print journalist. Membreno-Canalis said he wishes to continue did the day before.

working in photography and would eventually like to have his “As an immigrant, the fastest way to demonstrate patriotism own studio.

12 January 2017/Family

Giving back

They’ve Got Your Back

International Chiropractors Association offers

veterans free care for a year


that chiropractic care would be very helpful in treating many of the conditions from which returning soldiers were suffering. These disorders include, but are not limited to, back pain, neck pain, anxiety, depression and related issues.

“Their access to chiropractic care is very limited through the VA system,” Marino says. “By volunteering in this program, I would be able to help those veterans have a better chance of healing from their injuries without them having to be concerned about the financial cost, since many of them do not have the resources to pay for this type of care.”

Las Vegas-based Dr. Stephanie Youngblood, another participant in the program, says she feels chiropractic care is important to vets because chiropractors treat the body as a whole. “We work with the nervous system, which is the communication system in the body,” she says. “If there’s a block in the communication system, we bring the body back to balance by taking the pressure off the nervous system. This allows the body to heal itself.”

The word about this program is not as widespread as Kelly and the other doctors involved would like it to be. “I have a newsletter in my practice, and I encourage all the other offices that have decided to volunteer their service to go through the newsletter and encourage their patients,” Kelly says. He has also spoken to the VFW and several other organizations that support the military. Hopefully, he says, as more soldiers come home, these services will be utilized.

Veterans get a lot out of these services, according to Kelly. “They get their lives back,” he says. “Most of them suffer from some form of PTSD… I’ve had soldiers who have huge temper problems, rages, nightmares, all kinds of disorders. [After receiving chiropractic services] they find they have more peace now and they’re able to function within their families easier than before. We bring some order back to the system.”

“She gives me hope,” Sgt. Arugelles says of Marino. “Hopefully, one day I’ll be healed, and I can complete my long journey to recovery.”

For more information, or to find a volunteer chiropractor, go to and click on ICA Cares Veterans Program.

hen United States Air Force Reserves Master Sergeant Ernesto Arguelles of Westbury, N.Y., returned from

Afghanistan, he suffered from severe shoulder inflammation and neck problems that made it difficult for him to sleep at night. He says he also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In his Air Force Reserves job as an aeromedical evacuation technician, he had to do a lot of heavy lifting. He had to pick up the wounded and put them on airplanes. He also had to lift up to 300 pounds of equipment up over his head.

He received shoulder surgery through the VA, but he needed more. He needed chiropractic help. Enter Dr. Gina Marino, founder of the Center for the Alignment of Body, Mind and Spirit in Wantagh, N.Y., with free care through the International Chiropractors Association (ICA).

Marino volunteers her services to veterans as part of an initiative by the ICA begun four years ago and developed by Dr. R.J. Kelly, ICA Southern Regional Director. In that initiative, Kelly called for

chiropractors to volunteer their services to vets for a year’s time.

Marino performs soft manipulation adjustments twice a week on Sergeant Arguelles. She also works on his spine and numerous trigger points. Arguelles says he feels great after his visits with Marino and feels Marino has compassion for him.

About 300 chiropractors nationwide have signed on to participate in the initia- tive, which, Kelly says, he started because he saw a need. “Chiropractic is based on the idea that God has put a power in our body that flows through our nervous system and through the body functions and survives,” Kelly says. “And the things that disrupt it are physical stresses, chemical stresses and mental and emotional stresses. I don’t believe there’s any environment greater than that of a soldier, male or female, who has higher levels of those stresses that can overwhelm the body. These people have volunteered and served us, so I’m looking to allow them to come back and get their lives back together.”

Marino says she wanted to get involved in the initiative because she knew

26 March 2012/Family

F_0312_edit.indd 26

2/21/12 2:07 PM


Ready for his Close-up Surveillance expert Craig Chambers attributes his business acumen to his time in the U.S. Navy


raig Chambers, president and CEO of Cernium Corporation, a Washington, D.C.-based surveillance company specializing in home surveillance and airport security, attributes his leadership ability to his eight-year service as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. While serving in the Navy, he

was a Reactor Control officer and Operations Officer on submarines. His first ship was the USS Nautilus, and he left the Navy after serving on the USS Atlanta.

“While serving on submarines, there is a unique culture,” Chambers says. “There are small teams with large responsibilities, having to make a lot of decisions without much guidance. In my business we do things that haven’t been done before either with technology or business. We lead those kinds of teams and make decisions necessary to move organizations forward without having information that you would like to have before you make the decision. The Navy taught me how to be a leader.”

Cernium is a leader in “smart” surveillance equipment. In the latter part of the 1990s, the company made its mark on airport security with “Exitsentry” cameras that were capable of computer vision. The company started as a business unit inside of an engineering firm and spun out on its own

in 2001.


[the camera]

identifies a person or a vehicle that is in an interesting part of a field of view,” Chambers says.

He explains that when one leaves an aircraft at an airport, he or she goes through corridors with checkpoints. TSA is there to be sure no one is coming back the other way. Similarly, Exitsentry is an automated process that provides an extra set of eyes where there is no need for a guard – it “sees” if someone is trying to go back the other way against the flow and takes pictures and makes noise. Cernium has sold Exitsentry to 45 airports in the United States and Canada.

“We took that same software capability and put it into smaller circuit boards for use for individual home or small business owners,” Chambers says. “The surveillance equipment doesn’t require [home or business owners] to watch the cameras all the time. The person programs the product’s website to tell the cameras what they are being told about.

“For example,” Chambers continues, “if they are looking at the driveway to a home, you create a zone where it will tell you interesting things that happen here. You can program it to only tell you about people that show up in this zone on Monday through


SALUTE Aug/Sept 2011

“While serving on submarines,, there is a unique culture. There are small teams with large responsibilities, having to make

a lot of decisions without much guidance… The Navy taught me how to be a leader.”

– Craig Chambers

Friday between two and five. The video is a lot more useful. It can send alert notification to any endpoint. It can send alerts to a cell phone or smart phone, or it can send a video clip where you can look in live from a smart phone.”

Additionally, home or business owners are not only alerted to suspicious activities – if homeowners’ children are coming home from school on their own, they can see that they let themselves in all right and everything is okay at home.

Chambers graduated the Naval Academy in 1974. He then went on to get a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering from MIT. After that he began his military service.

“While I was in the Navy, I knew people that left the Navy and went on to business school.” Chambers says. “So, I always thought about business school. When I got out of the Navy, I got an MBA at Harvard. That resulted

in a lot of consulting projects. Maybe not by coincidence, one of my consulting projects was in New York City on 9/11. I saw the explosion when the South Tower got hit by the second plane while I was standing on the street. [Following that] I was asked to go back and work for a company I had worked for in the early 1990s and work on putting together a Homeland Security strategy for them. They were heavily involved in the video area. That’s how I got started in video surveillance.”

Chambers says the Navy taught him to use technology as a way to better communication. “Many of our customers are military personnel that are deployed oversees,” he says. “It’s a great way to easily stay in touch with what’s going on back home. They can be confident things are still under control even though they are thousands of miles away.”

Aug/Sept 2011 SALUTE 27


Aug/Sept 2014

The magazine for america’s nilitary














A GUIDE TO BENEFITS & CHANGES Part 1 of a two-part education series

cut down my anxiety immensely. SFLS has changed my life in so many ways. It’s not just a program-you become part of a family.I brought Sadie into my life, but I also brought an entire support network.”

Vietnam veteran Valeri Berg, a survivor of military sexual trauma, agrees that SFLS provides family-like assistance, creating a network of “brothers and sisters” who share a common experience. “I am honored that Shepherds for Lost Sheep accepted me into their fold,” she says. “I now have a place. I now have healing. I now have a support system like no other.”

For more information about Shepherds for Lost Sheep, visit


Outof your


while they’re on deployment.

The organization was founded by Shawn and Alisa Johnson, a dual military couple in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marines, respectively. The couple started the nonprofit in 2011 when Shawn Johnson was deployed in the Gulf and Alisa was sent to school in Quantico, Virginia, where she was required to live in the barracks. Shawn’s parents weren’t able to watch their Miniature Australian Shepherd, J.D., and they were scrambling to find someone to watch their dog.

Fortunately, they found a second cousin who lived near Quantico to take him.”The situation got us thinking other people have this problem,”Shawn says. “We did research on nonprofits, and we founded as a 501-C3. Alisa bought a book on web design and coded the first website herself.”

The business started slowly. “We created the website and spread the word. We said to people, ‘Hey, can you help military members?’ And we told military members we were starting up.”

And, little by little, the organization kept growing. “Now we have more than 10,000 boarders and users. We’ve helped more than 300 pets and we have 75,000 followers,”Shawn says.

Although called Dogs on Deployment, the organization helps place any animal. They’ve placed snakes, turtles, chickens and cats too.

Shannon Harris, of Port Orchard, Wash., a military spouse whose husband is in the Navy, boarded Leona, a Rhodesian Ridgeback for five months while Leona’s owners were both away-Patricia Moyle of the U.S. Air Force was deployed and her husband, John Moyle, of the U.S. Army, was being sent from Washington to North Carolina to attend training schools. The Harris’ have three dogs and a cat of their own.

“Leona became one of the family,” Harris says. “We took her camping to the ocean. We have two acres fenced in, and she ran around with our dogs.”

And, like many boarders, Harris sent pictures to John Moyle of Leona the whole time he was gone. “When we went camping at the

Dogs on Deployment provides foster care for pets so military members

can serve worry-free


When First Lt. James Han of the U.S. Army was told he was being deployed to Afghanistan for nine months, he had to find someone to care for his beloved dog, Shelby.

He was faced with boarding Shelby with the dog’s trainer for $400 a month. Looking for another option, Han did an online search for dog boarding and foster care for military deployments and found Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit organization that provides an online resource for military members to search for volunteers who are willing to board their pets 24 SALUTE Aug/Sept 2014

Shawn and Alisa Johnson founded Dogs on Deployment in 2011.

ocean, it was the first time Leona was in the water and she loved it,” Harris says. “And she’s not afraid of fireworks.”

Leona’s reunion with her Mom was heartwarming, Harris says. “When her mom came to get her, it was awesome,” she says. “I was afraid she wouldn’t remember her. But when she came up to the door, I let Leona out, and she remembered her. Her Mom is real petite. Leona jumped up on her, her paws were on her shoulders, and she rested her chin on her mom’s head.”

Harris says she would board another dog in a heartbeat. “It’s nice to know you’re taking care of someone’s pet so they don’t have to worry about them while they’re gone,” she says. “You want to try to help out military families as much as possible given what they do for the country.”

For more information, visit

The company has helped board more than 300 pets!

SALUTE Aug/Sept 2014 25



When Janey

Comes Marching Home






G.I. ‘Janey’

Author Laura Browder

discusses women in the military in her latest book


his is the first time in U.S. history that such “huge” numbers of women – a quarter of a million in Iraq and Afghanistan – have been deployed to combat zones,

says Laura Browder, Ph.D., author of When Janey Comes Marching Home: Portraits of Women Combat Veterans, adding that this has created a new phenomenon: mothers in combat. In the book, Browder interviews fifty women about their experiences in the military,

20 SALUTE Oct/Nov 2011

“The issue of women in combat has been a hot button since revolutionary times.”

-Laura Browder

from why they joined to deployment to coming home.

“The issue of women in combat has been a hot button since revolutionary war times,” Browder says. “The fact that women did not fight was used by politicians as a reason why women shouldn’t have equal rights as citizens. That argument was used all the way to the 1980s when the equal rights amendment almost passed, but it was defeated because the opposition said if it passed then women would have to go to war and the American public couldn’t stomach that idea.

“We’ve all seen the heartwarming pictures on the front pages of the newspaper of fathers in uniform reuniting with kids after a year on deployment, and we think it is patriotic,” Browder adds. “When we see a mother doing the same thing, it is judged badly. We need to reexamine this.”

According to Browder, more than 100,000 mothers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and that 30,000 single mothers have deployed. These women often have sole custody of their kids, she says, and while both male and female service members have family care plans for deployment, often these plans fall apart.

Browder cites the case of Lt. Colonel Willa Townes, U.S. Army Reserves, who planned on her sister taking care of her seven-year-old son while she went on a one-year deployment. Her sister ended up having surgery before Townes left, and she couldn’t care for him. Townes, who didn’t want to lose all her military benefits by not deploying, left her seven-year-old son with her day care provider for a year.

“There are high profile cases in the news,” Browder says. “There are women who have had to leave kids in foster care, or women who have lost custody of their children because of deploy- ing. There are big legal battles in the courts right now.”

Additionally, returning from deployment

and reconnecting with children can be difficult. Such was the case for Army reservist Master Sergeant Odetta Johnson, a major with the Richmond, Va., police department.

Johnson, a single mother, has two children that were nine and eleven when she was deployed to Baghdad and other remote sites for about 14 months from 2005 to 2006.

“I have a very good relationship with my children, and I’m very active in their lives,” Johnson says. “When I got back [from my deployment], I almost didn’t recognize my own kids. They were so tall and so different. Everyone learned to cope while I was gone. The kids learned to do the dishes and their clothes. They created a life without me. It was too much too fast. The way the kids looked. They matured so much. It was almost like they were forced to grow up. [l was different too.] I didn’t want to be in large crowds. I had to come back and learn a new job. I had to do a lot of talking to my kids. I was different. I came back a stranger to them. Thad never been away for more than 30 days before. I had never been in a position where! couldn’t pick up the phone and call them. I had to focus on the mission. I couldn’t put my kids first. When you come home, you no longer take things for granted.”

Johnson, who is retiring from the military at the end of this year, says that despite these issues upon returning home she would deploy again. “It was an amazing experience and a sense of accomplishment,” she says. “You get to work with different cultures and make a difference.”

According to Browder, the Veterans Administration is starting to put practices into place to help women return to life at home. “The VA system is mounting a big campaign to get women into the system,” she says. “There are now women’s units and women’s programs.

“All of this deployment makes us look at how wars affect families,” she adds.


SALUTE Oct/Nov 2011





a vitalsigns The yoga paws that refreshes

BY DANA KLOSNER Special to Newsday

On a beautiful summer evening, a yoga class gathered outside on the lawn. Like many yoga classes, the group began with a meditative Om. But this class was different. It was not only people gathered on the lawn at the Westhampton Bideawee an animal welfare organization. Each person was joined by their dog

The practice is known as “doga,” simply meaning yoga with your dog

“Dogs are yoga,” said instructor Kari Harendorf, a certified yoga instructor who is also a dog trainer and a veterinary technician. “They are always in the moment. They love it when you are on the floor rolling around with them.”

The dog owners were encouraged to talk to their dogs throughout the class, and always ask for kisses. After the Oms, which symbolize the humming of the universe, the humans took the dogs’ ears in hand for telekinetic touch.

“The ears are sensitive and have a lot of capillaries,” Harendorf explained. The humans were instructed to apply direct pressure to the ears with their thumb and index finger.

Yes, it’s yoga for dogs! Bideawee has classes for dogs and their humans in Manhattan and “This is a very calming touch Westhampton. Distractions aside, the exercises seem to help dogs and people. for the dog. Harendorf said.

For Harendorf, the idea of “Everybody went into the sun. They gently dropped the with a dog is beneficial to your doga classes sprang up naturally. class quite skeptical,” Brennen paws down, then lifted the hind health.” Harendorf said. “The She was training as a yoga in- said. “I took a shelter dog into legs off the ground.

simple act of petting your dog structor. While she was practic the class that I never met be- As the humans did poses like lowers your heart rate and ing, her dog Charlie, a husky fore. It’s quite a workout. The downward-facing dog, cat pose blood pressure. It does the mix, always had to be on the animals that were in there and warrior one, the dogs would same for dogs. It releases seromat. She began incorporating never met before. They were lie at their owner’s feet and act tonin for them and for us.” him into her poses. In 2004, she put into positions that they as support blocks. Well, at least “The advantage for your dog opened a yoga studio in Manhat- were never in before. It was re that’s what they were supposed is 45 minutes of your undivided tan that included doga classes. markable how relaxed they to be doing. Dogs will be dogs. attention.” Harendorf said.

The idea of doga is not some were. I left with a new apprecia- When the UPS truck pulled up. “This is such a technological thing unique to Harendorf ortion of the flexibility of dogs.” that caught all the dogs’ atten- age. Studies show that workers New York. There are classes

tion, but they were soon brought don’t have 20 minutes of uninbeing taught all over the coun Bonding for dogs

back to their positions.

terrupted time, and when they try, inding Chicago, San Fran While a good workout for peo When Dorsey Gray of Quogue do, they interrupt themselves cisco and Seattle. Instructors are ple, the classes have benefits for took the child’s pose, her 20- by checking their BlackBerrys. not required to get certification, the dogs as well, Brennen said pound Havanese, Jessie, was This class gives you an opportubut there are training sessions. “Any type of act that allows placed on her back Gray was a nity to get away and do what re

The Bideawee organization animals to spend time bonding bit apprehensive at first, but ally matters.”

rted their doga classes two with their owners is beneficial,” once the dog was on her back. Harendorf teaches doga at years ago in Manhattan

she said. “Parts of the session in- she enjoyed the position. Doga the Bideawee in Manhattan “Our main objective is to offer volve light tough and massage, can be done with dogs of any twice a month and once a programs that foster and pro and that’s very calming and size.

month during the summer at mote the human-animal bond,” therapeutic for the dog,

the Bideawee in Westhampton. said Dr. Robin Brennen, vice At the Westhampton Bideaw- Health benefits

The next doga class will be president of program operations ee session, the owners were in- The human group took the held on Aug. 20 from 6 to 7 p.m. and chief of veterinary services. structed to move their dogs chair pose while the dogs lay Dogs must be spayed or neu”[Our goal] is to build families, into sun salutations.

behind them. The humans tered and be up to date with vac and pets are part of the family.” The humans held their dogs placed their hands on their cines. For more information, or Brennen participated in one underneath their shoulders and dogs’ heads for balance.

to register, call Amy Hraniotis of the first classes.

lifted their front paws to the Studies show that living at 631-325-0200, ext. 118.

What Is ‘AFib’ and How Do You Live With It?

Dana Klosner March 12. 2018

If you or a loved one suffers from a trial fibrillation, here’s how you can push it to the side and put family, friends, and work centerstage.

Image via Getty Images/diego cervo

Artrial Fibrillation, or AFib, is the most common heart arrhythmia and can cause blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. It affects more than 2.7 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), and about 10 percent of people over age 80 are afflicted with it.

If your heart beats irregularly or too fast, you may have AFib. Some people go symptom-free for years, only to be diagnosed at their annual checkup. For others, the AFib symptoms are what bring them to the doctor’s office. Common symptoms include dizziness, sweating, and chest pain and

pressure, according to Dr. Dan Roden, cardiologist and volunteer AHA spokesperson.

“Some patients have an awareness of their heart beating irregularly or rapidly,” he said. “They have an uncomfortable feeling in their chest, and they know their heart is not beating the way it should.”

Other symptoms include shortness of breath, tiring easily when exercising, and fainting

“Their exercise is limited,” Roden said. “When they exert themselves, their heart pumps up to 150 to 180 [beats per minute.)”

AFib is sometimes difficult to diagnose because it’s not always consistent There are different types of the disorder. Paroxysmal AFib is intermittent, where fibrillation comes and goes. It can transition to Persistent AFib, where a patient is in Afib longer than seven days. Long-standing AFib lasts longer than 12 months

“A patient may say his heart is beating funny and it feels irregular,” Dr. Roden said. “He may say it feels like it’s bouncing around in his chest. The doctor might feel an irregular heartbeat. The problem is when (AFib) starts, it tends to come and go. The patient my say he had symptoms but not in a while. This is when you record the heart rhythm. The longer you look, the more likely you’ll find it.”

A normal EKG only lasts 12 seconds, Roden said. If symptoms are inconsistent, a patient may have to wear a Holter Monitor – a battery operated portable device that measures and records his heart’s activity continuously for 24 to 48 hours.

More long-term devices can record activity for a few weeks. There are now even Smartwatches that can monitor A Fib, and cell phone-enabled heart monitoring is on the horizon. It consists of a device attached to a cell phone, and when a patient feels symptoms, he touches patches on the cell phone with his finger, recording an abnom al rhythm.

Typical A Fib Treatment Options

Once AFib is diagnosed, it’s important to find the right treatment. There are three kinds of therapies:

Blood thinner is used to decrease the risk of blood clots and stroke, and/or other medications to work on the heart’s electrical system. Cardioversion, which is a shock to the chest while the patient is sedated, is

performed in a hospital or clinic. The shock briefly stops the heart to reset its rhythm. In most cases, patients wake up quickly and don’t remember the


Ablation is used when drugs and cardioversion are ineffective. This is when a

catheter is inserted into the heart, making AFib less likely to occur.

In extreme cases, when nothing else works, a pacemaker is inserted, Roden said.

A Fib Prevention Methods

There is no answer to preventing AFib, but as with other heart diseases, it helps to lose weight Losing weight improves other things that travel with AFib, Roden said, such as diabetes and sleep apnea.

“Fat is not an inert tissue,” he said. “It’s proinflammatory. Fat around the heart provokes AFib.”

Living With A Fib

As with other heart issues, AFib can cause anxiety and depression, according to Dr. Barry Jacobs, Psy. D., director of Behavioral Sciences for CrozerKeystone Family Medical Residence Program and AHA spokesperson

“With AFib, a person can feel his heart beating faster, and he becomes sensitive to his own pulse,” he said. “It can raise anxiety, and he becomes hyper-focused on that. He can spend the whole day taking his pulse, detracting from [enjoying life.] It can feel like a ticking time bomb.”

The key is to arm yourself with information. Jacobs said it’s a good rule of thumb to remember that the more a patient knows, the more he can help himself feel in control.

“You have to imagine life as a stage with a spotlight,” Jacobs said. “Do you want AFib in the center? Or do you want to move it off to the side and put friends, family, hobbies, and job centerstage?”

For AF ib support, visit My A Fib Experience, developed by the AHA.

* This article is for general informational purposes only, and any views, opinions, or recommendations of expressed in it are solely those of the author, and not, Inc. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a licensed health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained





any Pater

Harly Potter


Turning Over a New Leaf


8 tips for beating the summer reading blues


SCHOOL’S OUT! The final school bell has rung, and it’s time to welcome the long, warm days of summer!

With so many fun things to enjoy outside-camp, pools, beaches, hanging out with friends—your children may not give a thought to reading. Yet, some of them may have summer reading assignments, and, as parents, we know it’s important that they continue practicing this skill. Research shows that there’s a “summer slide,” where kids regress in their reading ability, if they don’t continue to read for those three months between school years (see Education, page 11). If your children read consistently, however, they can maintain and even increase their ability.

What if you can’t seem to get your children to open a book once the backpacks are tossed into the closet? Never fear! There are fun ways to foster a love of reading this summer. 1. Visit your local library. Most libraries across the country have reading incentive programs that offer children prizes based on the number of books they have read in a certain amount of time. “Reading incentives work,” said Nina Lindsay of the Association

for Library Service to Children, a branch of the American Library Association, adding that libraries often offer book discussion groups geared toward children of various ages. 2. Make the reading experience interactive. Ask questions as you read with your kids or even after they have read independently. You and your children even may enjoy acting out your favorite scenes from the book. Also, try reading aloud. Reading out loud and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development, and parent-child relationships, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. There are also library programs where teens earn community service hours by reading to younger children. “It’s a win-win,” Lindsay said. 3. Try audiobooks. If you find yourself cooped up in the family car for long distances and the kids don’t feel like opening a

book, or perhaps don’t like reading in the car, pop in an audio book instead. “Kids can listen on their own, or you can listen together and talk about the book,” Lindsay said. 4. Take books on outings. Enjoy reading together outside in the grass as part of a picnic, or bring books to ballgames and family barbecues for something to do when there is downtime. 5. Encourage reading at home. Snuggle in bed, under the covers, and enjoy a good book. Or turn off the television one day a week and let the children spend the time reading instead. 6. Find reading opportunities in activities your children enjoy. For kids who are reluctant to read books, try finding reading opportunities in video games, board games, and comic books that they love. Point out words, pronunciations, and derivations. Many libraries also offer craft and movie programs that encourage learning, reading, thinking, and sharing experiences. 7. Keep reading material in the house. Have novels, newspapers, magazines, or whatever types of reading material you enjoy at hand. Children are apt to pick up something to read if it’s available to them. “We encourage parents to put opportunities in front of their child over and over again. Let them choose what they want to read,” Lindsay said. 8. Model good reading habits. Simply put: If your children see you reading, then it will encourage good reading behavior in them.

Keep in mind that, even with the best suggestions and intentions, reading isn’t always fun and games, and it’s not something that you’re kids are going to want to do all the time, particularly if they have a looming summer reading assignment. “If your child isn’t enjoying reading an assigned book, read it with them, and talk about it,” Lindsay said. “Sometimes it helps to talk about a book you don’t like. Tell them it’s okay not to like a book. Then promise them they can pick the next book.”

For more information and reading suggestions, visit your local library and the American Library Association at

20 June 2017/Family


The Anti-Anti-Bacterial a Movement


As old-fashioned as it seems, when it comes to gerrris, soap and water is best


They’re everywhere. On the playground. In the sandbox. On possible, get your children into the habit of washing their hands toys, the family pet, other children. How can parents protect often and thoroughly before eating after a trip to the bathroom, their kids?

whenever they come in from playing outdoors after thing For years, experts believed that anti-bacterial soaps were a family pet, after sneezing or coughing, and when someone the answer. However, last September the U.S. Food and Drug in the household is ill. Remind your visayash at home Administration (FDA) banned 19 chemicals from those soaps, well as at school, and when out with friend when there’s no including triclosan and triclocarban, the most commonly used parental supervision. ingredients in anti-bacterial soaps, because they could pose

When soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers an long-term health risks. In fact, laboratory studies have raised a good way to go, according to the CDG although they may the possibility that triclosan may contribute to making bacteria less effective than soap and water if hands are dirty or greasy. resistant to antibiotics.

The sanitizer should be alcohol-based, contatting at least 60 perIn effect, banning these chemicals has led to the ban of anti cent alcohol. (Be aware, though, that these products may cause bacterial soaps entirely.

alcohol poisoning if swallowed, sanitizers may contain harmful However, there’s no need to panic. Anti-bacterial soaps are chemicals, such as pesticides.) no more effective at preventing the spread of germs than plain Keep in mind that there is no need to maintain extensive. soap and water, according to Janet Woodcock, M.D., director supply of hand sanitizers at home, despite what you may see of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In fact, when you take your child to the doctor’s office or hospital, ac some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more cording to Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP Professor Emeritus, harm than good over the long term,” she said.

of Pediatrics and of Environmental & Occupational Health, Indeed, today experts agree that, as old-fashioned as it

George Washington University School of Medicine and Health seems, simply having your children wash their hands in plain Sciences and George Washington University Milken Institute soap and water can rid them of harmful germs. The trick is to School of Public Health. “Parents should not assume that the do it right. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), same behavior should be translated to the home. The hospital or the proper way to wash your children’s hands is to wet their doctor’s office environment is very different in terms of the bachands under warm water first and then squirt soap on the front teria and viruses present and in terms of the people presentand back of their hands. Be sure to get between their fingers, people with immune deficiency, on chemotherapy, with recent and then keep scrubbing for 10 to 15 seconds. How long is 15 or impending surgery, with catheters or breathing tubes, etc.” seconds? Have your children sing the “Happy Birthday” song He added, “There is no evidence that the use of previously twice. Then rinse their hands, and dry them on a clean towel. available antibacterial products or the currently available hand, Make it a habit, suggests the American Academy of

sanitizers lead to fewer infections (than plain soap and water) in Pediatrics in its newsletter. As early as otherwise healthy children.”

18 July 2017/Family


management banking credit currency loan Cash accounting business access

the ance po saving process incon n omic

i w ince i onent rate planning Enercial P r ofit project. une bi alance

Show Me the Money

capital money


Teaching the value of saving

By DANA KLOSNER TEACHING kids the value of a dollar may be just as important has run out of money and wants an “advance” or “loan” to buy a

as teaching them their ABCs and 123s, according to experts, who shirt or go out with friends. According to The Mint, this has the posay good financial habits begin with parents. When beginning to tential to encourage overspending and spoil the financial lessons teach children about saving money, parents need to practice what parents are trying to teach. they preach. By modeling and promoting the spending habits

Ages 11 to 14 they would like to see in their children, even when they’re at a

At this age, children are old enough to understand the multiple very young age, parents can help kids develop sound financial

Lises of money, Dowd said. For example, parents can explain how practices that they can carry with them through adulthood. Here’s

money can be saved for the long term (such as for a college educahow to get started.

tion), stashed aside for emergencies, donated to those in need, and, Ages 3 to 6

of course, spent on things they want. Parents can give children a small regular allowance, according

Parents may consider opening a bank savings account that to Ann Dowd, CFP, vice president at Fidelity Investments. She earns interest. To keep the savings growing, children should make suggested using a visual aid for this age bracket–for example, a habit of putting at least part of any money received for birthdays, setting out on a kitchen counter a clear jar for saving, with a line holidays, and special occasions into the account. Banks, such as marked on the side. When the child fills up the jar to that line with USAA, offer youth savings and youth spending accounts without his or her own money, he or she can receive a specific toy. At this monthly service fees, regardless of a child’s balance. Parents may age, parents can also begin to teach the difference between “wants” even consider matching every dollar their child puts in and “needs, according to The Mint (, a financial

Ages 15 to 18 literacy website for children published by Northwestern Mutual.

Experts say the late teens are a good time to teach budgeting. ChilAges 7 to 10

dren who are preparing to go off to college may not be financially Now’s the time for children to learn “trade-offs.” “You have to

independent, but they will need to oversee their own finances, teach them not to fritter away all their money on a matchbox car Dowd said. Parents can help their children write a list of what when they might want something bigger later,” said Kevin Ka they have to pay for and assign a cost to each item-clothing, gas, veney, wealth management advisor at Northwestern Mutual. entertainment. Split the list into needs and wants, and then have “Tell them, ‘If you want that toy or video game, this is how

children try living with what has been budgeted for a few months much it costs,’ and set a goal,” said Brian Hurtak, executive

as a trial run before college. director of USAA Bank. “Then they can save the money they earn “At this age, it’s important to establish credit,” Hurtak added. doing chores around the house allowance each month. Then

Parents may opt to help their children obtain a secured credit they will have enough to make that goal.”

card, so they can build credit by working to make payments on Also, experts suggest trying to resist giving in when a child time and learn the importance of not going over credit limits.

10 April 2017/Family

Living With COPD, One Breath at a Time

Dana Klosner April 23, 2018

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD, is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association. It affects about 25 million Americans.

COPD, a lung disease that gets worse over time, includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and thickened, and the tissue where oxygen is exchanged is destroyed.

“Many times, the first time a COPD patient is seen is in the emergency room with a flare-up,” said Dr. Mei Lan Han, associate professor of internal medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Michigan Health System and a volunteer spokesperson for the American Lung Association. “They can’t breathe and they don’t know why. They didn’t know they had it.”

That’s because patients often overlook symptoms like shortness of breath, chronic cough, and wheezing, and write them off as due to getting older, smoker’s cough, or being out of shape.

Even if you’re self-aware and go to the doctor, not every person presenting with symptoms is screened, Han said

“Your physician will consider risk factors, such as smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, having a dusty, dirty job, or chronic bronchitis,” Han said.

Diagnosing COPD

If you are at risk for COPD, your physician will give you a test to see how well your lungs work, Han explained. You will blow air into a machine called a spirometer. The machine measures the amount of air you blow out and how fast.

“If your airflow is obstructed, you won’t be able to get air out as quickly as nom al people,” Han said.

Although it’s often not diagnosed until a person is a senior citizen, COPD can start as early as your 30s, she said. It even can start in childhood if you have repeated respiratory infections that are treated with antibiotics or are around secondhand smoke. Early detection is important.

Treating the Disease

All medications are not created equal, and proper medications are prescribed on a case-by-case basis.

Many times, bronchodilators are used to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of future flare-ups, according to Han. Anticholinergics are prescribed, as well, to prevent muscles around the airway from tightening.

A combination of these medications can be added to one inhaler or nebulizer solution

For some people diagnosed with COPD, lifestyle changes are necessary.

“If you smoke, stop,” Han said.

Dietary changes may also be required, and proper exercise is important.

In most cases, patients are prescribed pulmonary rehabilitation. This takes place in a hospital or clinic and can include exercise training, nutritional counseling, education, breathing strategies, and support groups, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

“Rehab includes aerobics and strength training,” Han added. “When you have impaired lungs, you can train to close-to-normal capacity.”

Living With COPD

As with many chronic illnesses, COPD patients suffer a higher rate of depression than most people.

“People have a tendency to compare themselves and their capabilities to who they were before and what they could do,” said Barry Jacobs, director of behavioral sciences for the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency in Springfield, Pennsylvania. “COPD patients now feel confined by a disease that tethers them to an oxygen tube and greatly saps their energies. They often also feel guilty for smoking for many years.”

“It’s normal to feel despair,” added Jane Martin, assistant director of education at the COPD Foundation. “Someone who used to be a firefighter now can’t walk from the chair to the bathroom. They feel washed up and useless.”

Jacobs said these people may benefit from “counseling that encourages them to be present, not future, focused.” And they’re encouraged to find ways of enjoying the capabilities they still retain, and to forgive themselves for past behavior.”

Volunteering to do something that isn’t physically taxing can also help you get over that feeling of uselessness, Martin said.

“You can give someone a ride to the doctor, or you can volunteer in an elementary school to listen to a child read,” she said.

More than depression, anxiety can be overwhelming.

“People are literally terrified that they won’t be able to breathe and others won’t be able to help them,” Jacobs said. “They can gain anxiety relief from progressive muscular relaxation and visualization.”

The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone.

“Your feelings are normal, and other people feel the same way,” Martin said. “You can join a local or an online support group… Education is key. The more you know about what you are dealing with, the easier it is to cope.”

The COPD Foundation hosts on online group called COPD360Social that is 30,000 members strong. Visit for more information.

How to Move Forward After Surviving a Heart Attack

Dana Klosner March 12, 2018 LIKE (0)

Learn to move toward life with cardiac rehabilitation, medication, a heart-healthy diet, and cognitive therapy.

Image via and Rebecca Meissner

It happened. You had a heart attack, but you’re not alone. According to the American Heart Association, 790,000 people have heart attacks each year,

Once you have a heart attack, your chances of getting another one increase. So, what can you do?

For many people, preventing another heart attack means a complete lifestyle change. You’ll likely have to stop smoking and drinking alcohol, if you indulged in either of those. A doctor may recommend that you become more physically active, change your diet, or keep a better check on your emotional health.

A heart attack — or myocardial infarction, as it is also known – can bring on depression and anxiety, according to Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist, AHA spokesperson, and medical director of NYU Langone Health’s Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health

But this isn’t your father’s heart attack. According to Goldberg, heart attack recovery has evolved from what it was 50 years ago.

“In the 1960s, you were in the hospital for six weeks on bedrest,” she said. “Now, we get a patient out of bed as soon as possible and get them up walking. A patient is usually only in the hospital two or three days, and if that patient feels well enough to do errands when he gets home, more power to him.”

If your heart attack was uncomplicated, you may be able to retum to work in as soon as one to two weeks.

“It’s important to know that feeling ‘twinges’ in your heart is normal,” Goldberg

said, “When you feel chest pain anxiety), it’s important to compare it to the symptoms of when you had your attack. If you have shortness of breath and are perspiring along with the chest pain, you should reach out for help.”

In addition to medications, in most cases, your doctor will prescribe cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac Rehab

Cardiac rehab can be three-fold. It includes closely monitored exercise, nutrition counseling, and, if needed, screenings for mental health issues, according to Dr. John Osbome, a cardiologist and AHA spokesperson who runs a cardiac rehab center in Dallas.

After discharge, the patient comes to a cardiac rehab center. Therapy begins with mild exercise, such as walking on a treadmill while hooked up to an EKG to monitor heart rate and blood pressure. A patient will also do some bike work on a stationary bike, he said. After that, they will start with light weights and mild resistance training.

“Being involved in cardiac rehab lowers your mortality risk by 30 percent,” Osborne said. “Probably half the benefit is the directed, guided, observed exercise. The other half is above the neck. People have been traumatized by an acute catastrophic event. The monitored exercise lets them know that they will be OK when they exercise. It’s the reassurance and knowing someone is there.”

The exercise picks up with time and tums into more vigorous activity. A lot of cardiac rehab is talking and guiding a patient to tell them what they can and should do, Osbome said.

“The goal is that a patient should continue to exercise indefinitely,” he said. “We teach them to self-monitor their heart rate and to know what’s OK and what’s not OK physically.”

Having a built-in support group is a great emotional benefit of cardiac rehab, according to Dr. Barry Jacobs, a clinical psychologist and AHA spokesperson who works in cardiac care.

“It’s in a group setting of three or four others that cheer each other on,” Jacobs


Emotional Health

About a quarter of those who have had heart attacks suffer from depression and major anxiety, Jacobs said.

“The depression may be because they are facing mortality for the first time in their life,” he said. “It increases their vulnerability. They may think their life is limited, that bad things happen, and become pessimistic.”

Therapy is the best treatment for these patients, Jacobs said. There, they may receive medication, talk therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

“Patients are often fearful when they have chest pain,” he said. “We teach them to face their fear… and not jump to conclusions. We also teach people relaxation techniques, such as breathing and meditation, to bring them to a calmer state of mind.”

5 Steps to Consider Taking to Avoid a Second Heart Attack

Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Take medications regularly as directed. Eat a heart-healthy diet.

Participate in cardiac rehab Attend therapy sessions as needed.

Be sure to consult your physician for your individualized treatment plan.

Experts agree: The ultimate goal is to have people move toward life after a heart attack instead of away from it.

* This article is for general informational purposes only, and any views, opinions, or recommendations of expressed in it are solely those of the author, and not, Inc. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a licensed health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein


Helicopter Parenting or Free-Range Parenting?

What are the differences, and which one are you?


YOUR FIFTH GRADER brings home a permission slip

for a field trip to a local petting zoo, but she showed it to you too late for you to chaperone. What do you do? Call her teacher and insist that you go along or else she can’t go? Or do you trust that her teacher and the other parents on the trip will be able to take care of her?

If your answer was It’s my any or the highway, you may be what’s called a helicopter parent. If your answer was She’ll be fine, you may be what’s known as a free-range parent.

What’s the difference? Helicopter parents pay extremely close attention to a child’s experiences or problems-or hoverand are extremely vested in their child’s behavior, including social and school-based experiences. They step in more than they step away. Conversely, free-range parents allow and encourage independence and let children figure things out on their own.

According to Joseph S. Volpe, Ph.D., clinical and school psychologist and executive director of East End Psychological Services in New York, the best parenting choice may be a combination of the two. “Clearly, it is advantageous for parents to be involved in their child’s life experiences,” he said. “Knowing when to give up some of that control is essential and necessary to raise confident, self-sufficient children.” Kids naturally experience self-confidence when they successfully work through life encounters, problem-solve, and achieve something completely on their own, Volpe added, noting that children learn by experiencing failure and disappointment.

Usually, when it comes to parenting, moms and dads don’t actively choose one style over the other. Their personalities,

as well as their children’s, tend to dictate which parenting approach they take, and as children get older, parenting styles often change to meet children’s changing needs. Volpe suggested a three-pronged approach:

1. Know yourself. “A parent who is empathetic, sensitive, and a good listener will know when and how involved to be come with their child’s efforts,” Volpe said. “Perhaps your child is being teased or bullied at school or online, and she is upset by this. These are situations that need evaluation as to their seriousness and may beg for your intervention.”

2. Know your child. “Children who are able to function autonomously seem more mature for their age and have average to better-than-average problem-solving and social skills,” Volpe said. “They know when they need help and ask for it. Other kids struggle and need lots of structure, guidance, and support by their parents.”

3. Be flexible. Remember, no situation is the same. If your children are in danger, you must intervene, but if they are in a non-threatening situation where they need to problem-solve, such as learning time management to get homework done, you can decide if it’s more beneficial to step in or to let them handle things on their own.

“A child who can self-regulate, self-govern, utilize effective decision-making, relate to his or her peers and adults, and succeed academically and interpersonally are signs of a positive outcome.” Volpe said. “Nothing is absolute when it comes to raising healthy children, and there is no playbook or instruction manual. [It’s best to always err on the side of caution.”

May 2017/Family 15

Giving back

Finding ‘Sanctuary’

Registered nurse Heather Ehle founds a free retreat for veterans,

active duty military and their families


ir Force wife registered nurse and mother of three Michelle Heather Ehle saw a need. As the veterans Bruce was came home, she saw families disintegrate married just and even instances of child abuse. There three years were a lot of services for the veterans, but when her there weren’t a lot of services that aphusband plied to the entire family, she says. David, a

She started Project Sanctuary as a free technical retreat for active duty military personsergeant, nel and their families. Housed in the went on Colorado Rocky Mountains, the retreat his first combines recreational activities such deployment as skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, fishfor seven ing and horseback riding and “covert”

months. therapy. There is financial, marriage and “When my husband came home I was parenting classes available free of charge. kind of mad at him,” Bruce says. “He A licensed clinical social worker is on wasn’t there when we needed him.” hand.

While her husband was gone, Bruce “When I started this program, I didn’t was hospitalized. At the same time, her know one single military family,” Ehle two-year-old had a kidney infection. She says. “My biggest fear was that I was had to discharge herself from the hospi- going to build a whole program, and no tal until her mother arrived, then go back one was going to come.” into the hospital. In the meantime, her That’s when she got an email from mother was diagnosed with breast cancer Michelle Bruce. and underwent five surgeries. She says “The email basically says, “Great webshe felt like her family was broken, and site, but what can you do for me now?'”. she didn’t know how to fix it.

Ehle says. Then a friend of a friend told her

Ehle told her the project could start about Project Sanctuary – a non-profit with them. The Bruces never had a organization that provides retreats to honeymoon or a vacation with the military families to help the entire family entire family. “She was blown away by reintegrate when the active duty mem the retreat and the fact that there were ber returns home from deployment. The no strings attached,” Ehle says. “The organization was started in September problem was no other (military] families 2007 on a shoestring budget. While work- would come with them.” ing for a free clinic that served veterans, “Military don’t normally get things

given to them,” says Michelle Bruce who now works as the Military Director for the Project. “They would hang up on her. They thought she was selling a time share or she was something religious. I speak military lingo. I am a military wife. We are actually going to do this for free. I started volunteering as soon as we went. We knew specific people that needed it.”

Bruce began calling families. The second retreat included three families, the third included four families and the fourth included ten families.

Bruce’s family went on the retreat in May 2008, and she says they are still reaping the benefits. “The retreat was instrumental in helping the kids and the family,” she says. “There were no distractions. There was no phone reception, so everyone that meant well and wanted to call and check up (on David) couldn’t. There was no TV or computers. It gave us time to be together with no responsibilities. No cooking or cleaning. It was all about us, only us. They sent us to a fun amusement park. We went horseback riding, putt-putt and they even gave us a date night. The kids had a blast, and my husband and I had a romantic dinner. It was our first date in a year and a half. It gave us time to be at peace together.”

Because of the retreat, the family still has traditional pancake Saturday. And the effect of no TV gave them talent night for the kids which they are still doing today.

In addition to helping families where

12 January 2011/Family


Scenes from the various retreats provided by Project Sanctuary





one member is just back from deployment, Project Sanctuary helps any military family in need. Army wife Carrie Stecklein’s husband Beau suffered a level two traumatic brain injury while he was on combat duty in Afghanistan. The injury has caused him to have memory loss. Because of the injury, he can’t be around large groups of people and he can’t handle repetitive noise, she says. Because of the injury he will never work again.

“You take him from being the leader of 36 men, take him out of the military and put him on the couch,” Stecklein says. The couple has three boys ages 4, 8, and 10. “We called Heather, and she approved the trip. We had the chance to connect with other families that are facing the same obstacle.”

For the Steckleins, the retreat was just what the doctor ordered. “Heather recognizes the need to keep families together and help them get through,” Stecklein says. “Guys come in hardened. They refuse to do healthy marriage class. By the end of the week, everyone is a huge family. My husband bonded with the therapist, and now they are good friends. Since then, he has been referred to a therapist, and he is taking medication for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I credit that to Project Sanctuary. He never would have opened up to do it.

“We really reconnected as a family,” Stecklein says. “I’m forever indebted to Heather and her staff.”

Stecklein now attends the retreats as a volunteer. According to Ehle, 60 percent of families that go on the retreat come back as volunteers, and those volunteers are needed, because Project Sanctuary follows the families for two years and helps them with whatever they need. They help find a job, they help with emergency housing – whatever families

need to stay connected and together, Ehle says.

And so far it’s working. Out of the 76 families Project Sanctuary has served, there’s been only one divorce, Ehle says. Currently, there are more than 550 families on the waiting list.

For more information on Project Sanctuary, go to

January 2011/Family 13