Veterans Day USA

November 1st, 2017 by

In today’s episode we take a look at Veterans Day USA, our national network of Veterans Parades in Miami, Dallas, Cleveland, LA, Philly and NYC. Additional guests include Lima Charlie News and StorytellersX which offers the opportunities for veterans to discuss their experiences transitioning back to the civilian life and more! Remember to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use the hashtags #NYCVetsParade & #VetsDayUSA

Air Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2017.

Host: UWVC President Dan McSweeney

Basecamp Guests:

Don Johnston – Lima Charlie News and StorytellersX
Mark Otto – VP of UWVC, Producers of the NYC Veterans Day Parade
Jennifer Pinto – JPinto Consulting
Joe Cordina: Dallas Veterans Day Parade
Stephanie Stone: Los Angeles Veterans Day Parade
UWVC’s Michelle Rosenfeld & Angela Coyle and the social media team from the New York Institute of Technology

LISTEN: 

Check out an excerpt of the radio show on Facebook Live

Stay tuned for more information on the next show; we invite you to listen in and join the conversation either on Facebook Live or call in at (212) 219-9695.

 

Service dogs and therapy dogs – what’s the difference and how can each help veterans?

August 8th, 2017 by

Many people use the terms “service dog” and “therapy dog” interchangeably, but there are major differences between them which need to be understood.  Both can help veterans in a variety of ways.

Service dogs are trained to do certain tasks to help a person with a disability to attain independence. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) governs the use of service dogs in public places.  The ADA defines a disability as: “A mental or physical condition which substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.” According to the ADA: “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities…The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”

Service dogs help individuals perform tasks they cannot do for themselves because of a disability and are trained to do such jobs as leading the blind, alerting a deaf person to sounds such as an alarm clock, opening doors for a person in a wheelchair.  Specifically for veterans, service dogs can assist a veteran suffering from a physical injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  For example, a trained PTSD service dog can assist a veteran suffering from PTSD by physically interrupting and redirecting a panic attack, retrieving medication, and finding lost objects.

The ADA allows service dogs to accompany their human everywhere.  Thus, service dogs are allowed in facilities that normally prohibit animals such as restaurants, grocery stores and on public transportation.

Service dogs often wear vests that say “working” or “do not pet.”  This is because the service dog is working to assist a person with disabilities perform daily functions.  Distracting or petting a service dog could interfere with them performing their job correctly.

Therapy dogs are not service dogs and have a very different job than service dogs. They are used to provide comfort and relieve stress and people are encouraged to pet and hug them.  Therapy dogs are usually calm, friendly dogs that should be well-trained and love people as they provide emotional, psychological and physiological support.  For veterans, therapy dogs can help them feel less lonely and less depressed and can be companions that can provide a sense of comfort and confidence.

Therapy dogs do not have the same legal designation as service dogs and therefore do not have any more access to public spaces than regular pets. They may visit patients in veterans hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, visit children in schools or may be trained to work with therapists in a clinical setting to provide comfort for patients seeking treatment for mental health issues.  However, in order to enter a veterans hospitals, rehabilitation facility, school, or other facility therapy dogs and their handlers must get permission.  Therapy dogs don’t get to ride public transportation, accompany their owners for free on airplanes and they aren’t allowed in pet-restricted housing.

 

-Tara Sherin: Tara is currently taking therapy training classes with one of her dogs.  If she pass the courses, she will bring her to Veterans Affairs hospitals and veterans rehabilitation centers in the New York metro area.

 

Mercedes Ellington to Receive Spirit of ’45 Medal At Swing Event Honoring the Greatest Generation

August 2nd, 2017 by

Mercedes Ellington, a celebrated dancer, choreographer and director who works to preserve and extend the legacy of her grandfather, Duke Ellington, through her leadership of the Duke Ellington Center For The Arts, will receive the Spirit of ’45 National Leaders award at a special Night of Swing tribute to the Greatest Generation Saturday, August 12, at the historic Wyndham New Yorker Hotel.

GIs and their gals will swing once again, as they did 70 years ago, as the United War Veterans Council (UWVC) and Spirit of ‘45 honor World War II veterans and home front workers at the Night of Swing, open to all ages, featuring the George Gee Swing Orchestra.

Up to 100 members of the Greatest Generation – WWII veterans and spouses and home front workers – are expected to attend and will be honored.

To purchase tickets, visit https://swingtribute45.ticketleap.com/swingtribute. Proceeds benefit the Brooklyn War Memorial restoration, honoring WWII veterans. The Wyndham New Yorker Hotel, home to the WWII Wall of Honor, is at 481 Eighth Avenue at 34th Street.

Come dressed in your favorite ‘40s style attire – Sailor & nurse couples and Rosie the Riveter lookalikes are especially welcome!

The evening kicks off at 8 PM with a “Heroes Reception” for WWII veterans, their spouses and original Rosie the Riveters, co-hosted by the United War Veterans Council, the Brooklyn WWII Memorial restoration campaign, Big Apple Honor Flight, the HISTORY Channel, and representatives of America’s WWII Allies and countries they liberated in 1945.

The evening includes a tribute to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, a vision of world peace that inspired our Greatest Generation and is as timely today as ever.

There will be swing dancing until midnight to the Big Band music of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, performed by the famous George Gee Swing Orchestra.

Free lessons for first-time swing dancers will be provided by the expert instructors of You Should Be Dancing Studios NYC.

Also honored will be the women who served in uniform during WWII by celebrating the 75th anniversary of the formation of the WAVES, WACs and SPARS.

 

Southwest Airlines and the Frontiers of Flight Museum are bringing “America’s Longest Working Rosie the Riveter” Elinor Marie Otto, 97, to lead a salute to the women who served with her on the Home Front, and announce a new Spirit of ‘45 initiative to create a living memorial honoring their legacy.

The Spirit of ’45 National Leaders Award honors those who help share the lessons of unity and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation, and is presented by Ms Otto and WWII veterans on behalf of Senator Susan Collins, who sponsored Spirit of ’45 Day when it was unanimously passed by the U.S. Congress in 2010.

Previous recipients of the Medal include former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, former U.S. Senator and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, TV icon and WWII Army Air Corps vet Norman Mailer, former Yankees and WWII vets Jerry Coleman and Yogi Berra, Hollywood actors and WWII veterans Ernest Borgnine, Tony Curtis (aka Bernie Schwartz of The Bronx), Scarlett Johansson and Kirk Douglas, and former U.S. Senators and WWII Army veterans Spirit of ’45 Day co-sponsors the late Dan Inouye and Frank Lautenberg.

Tickets are $45 per person or $75 for VIP (info at ticket link). Price includes light refreshments. swingtribute45.ticketleap.com/swingtribute/

For hotel booking information please call the Wyndham New Yorker for reservations at 1-800-764-4680 or click the special link below for this exclusive event. https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/groups/keep-the-spirit-of-45-alive

For Information on Mercedes Ellington, visit http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.music.tdabio.87/default.html

 For more information about Spirit of ’45 Day visit www.Spiritof45.org

Photo from: Daily News

A Brooklyn Navy Veteran: From Hardship to Leadership

June 28th, 2017 by

We are proud of our very own Jeffrey Swansen who heads the operations at the UWVC and is a critical member to the success of the NYC Veterans Day Parade. Several years ago he was the graduate student speaker at Samaritan Daytop Village which offers a rich array of programs including treatment for substance abuse, services for veterans, and programs for homeless individuals, women and children, seniors and families. He was asked to speak at this year’s graduating classes ceremony.  Below Jeff shares his story from his time in the Navy, grappling with substance abuse, his time at Rikers and eventually finding sobriety and stability in his life. We could not be more than proud of him and his journey. Jeff distributed Unique Thrift Store gift cards to the veterans of the graduating class. The UWVC with Jeff co-leading the helm is partnering with Samaritan Daytop Village in a brand new rucking program to help participating veterans reintegrate back into society. Below is Jeff’s story.

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I was born in 1957 and grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, during the Woodstock era, where using marijuana was a regular occurrence all over the country. I started when I was 13 years old and was still smoking till I was 50 years old. Going to school and getting high was the norm for my generation.

My parents got divorced when I was 17 so I started drinking alcohol to cope. I graduated from high school I went into the Navy. I was 18 at the time. We couldn’t drink in boot camp, but I made up for lost time when I got home. My first duty station was in 1977 in the Middle East. There was hardly any marijuana there, but there was plenty of hash. So, I started smoking that with my Navy buddies. We would get high every chance we could, onboard and at sea. When we pulled into port we got drunk and always found something to smoke.

I remained in the Navy for 6 years. When I got out Eastman Kodak hired me to work for them in the Photofinishing market working with film and photograph equipment. My mother also worked for them. I was close with my Mom. We talked all the time about work and things. One day she went to the doctor and had been diagnosed with a heart problem and was referred to the hospital to have a valve replaced on her heart, but that never happened. I was called to the hospital, along with my brother. We were told that she would not make it through the night. After she passed away, my bother and I went out and got drunk. That night is when I was introduced to cocaine.

I had a good job that I lost because of my drug abuse. When I could not find a job in my industry, I changed careers to become a bartender. It was a good job. I made good money and I could drink for free. A friend of mine would come in to the bar where I worked and I would buy my pot and coke from him, so it was very convenient for me. Eventually this friend bought the bar and he was selling drugs out of the bar. When he would go home at night I would sell it for him. This went on for several years. Then one day my life turned for the worse.

As soon as I started work, on August 1, 2007, the bar was raided by the police. They came in with their guns drawn and one put a .45 in my face and told me to come out from behind the bar. I was put in handcuffs and brought down town. I was interrogated for two days. On August 3rd, I was put in front of the judge and was sent to the Island, not Long Island, but Rikers Island. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I was never arrested before, for anything. My first night was a trip. Everybody was yelling from all over the place in the different cells. I could not get any sleep. In the morning, the seagulls were making noise. It sounded like they were laughing at me for being so stupid.

After 4 ½ months there, I was sent to Samaritan Village through a legal referral. That was another eye opener for me. I spent 10 days in assessment. Then I was transferred to The Ed Thompson’s Veteran Center. The staff was friendly and I was treated with respect and dignity. But I still had to spend 18 months there. This was on December 17, 2007.

I started out trying to do things my own way, but that did not work out too well. One staff member said to me, “You are here to get your head and your butt wired together and move on with your life.” That made a lot of sense to me. So that is what I started to do. It was hard in the beginning but one day I woke up and everything started to fall into place based on what they were teaching me to do. I had to do the work. They can only teach you how. I had to do it. Then it started to be a lot easier for me.

While at the Ed Thompson’s Veteran Center I did community service work with the United War Veterans Council. They organize the Veterans Day parade, along with other services they provide for veterans. I have met a great bunch of people there, a mix of both staff and other clients

I had some problems along the way. Everybody does. I was no different. My girlfriend, who I was with for almost 5 years, left me for someone else. Staff warned me about it but I did not listen to them until it was too late. I wanted to leave the program but said to myself, why, it would do me no good. I would just have to go back to jail and then start all over again. No way was I going to do that. I came too far in this process to start over. So, I swallowed my pride and learned to live with it. It was hard, but with the help of staff and my veteran family I made it. We are still friends and would not give that up for anything. I have learned to except it and move on.

Time came for me to go to school. I took a computer course on how to use different systems, because all I really knew is how to turn the unit on. I learned windows and office 2007 and a little QuickBooks 2008. I graduated from school I got a job two weeks later. I got lucky, but I guess it was God’s will to start my new life quick. I have been working full-time for eight months and now I am a responsible, law-abiding tax paying citizen.

I completed ETVC on March 6th, 2009. I am living at my ex-girlfriend’s apartment with her daughter. She is helping me out until I can find a place of my own. I thank her very much for that.

Since I have left I still help with the United War Veterans Council. I make my meetings for N.A. and A.A. every chance I get. I am very thankful to the Samaritan staff and my new family for giving me another chance at life clean and sober. Once I made up my mind to change my life, there was nothing going to stop me. If I can do it so can all who come after me?

 

 

 

 

United War Veterans Council Launches VetTank Incubator To Assist Veteran-Owned Businesses and Support Groups

June 22nd, 2017 by

NEW YORK, NY June 27, 2017 – To help pave the way for a new wave of veteran entrepreneurs, the United War Veterans Council (UWVC) today launched VetTank, a free resource for veterans. This is incubator and co-working space to provide assistance and foster collaboration for new veteran-owned businesses and not-for-profit groups who provide support to veterans and their families.

VetTank, at 171 Madison Avenue at 33rd Street, is in space donated by Newmark Holdings Chairman Jeffrey Gural.

“It is an honor to provide this space so that those who served our nation can continue to serve by creating new enterprises which will employ or otherwise serve their brother and sister veterans,” said Mr. Gural.

“Thanks to Newmark Holdings Chairman Jeffrey Gural, we have created a space – VetTank – an integrated center for innovation and collaboration,” said UWVC President Dan McSweeney. “VetTank is a hub for veterans who are serious about building upon their legacy of service, natural teamwork skills, and proven leadership abilities.”

VetTank provides:

  • Business and non-profit incubation services and mentorship;
  • A resource and referral center staffed by a certified Veteran Service Officer;
  • Networking and co-working space;
  • An ongoing seminar series on diverse topics of interest to veterans, families, and supporters;
  • Regular social gatherings to promote camaraderie and community.

Supporting VetTank are Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, U.S. Army (ret.), Commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans Services; Adam Swantz, Assistant Director, New York Regional Office, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Ken Williams, Director of the New York State Division of Service-Disabled Veteran Business Development.

Capalino & Company, a well-known government relations firm, will help veteran-owned businesses secure New York State and New York City contracts.

Veterans are an important community resource. They serve as role models and connectors in American society. In New York, their value is exponentially greater due to the critical mass of the 230,000 veterans who live throughout the city and their access to world-class public and private entities.

With the proper support and guidance, these talented men and women will emerge as committed thought leaders and problem-solvers across all sectors, both locally and throughout the United States.

Please visit www.uwvc.org for more information or contact us at (212) 693-1476 to arrange a visit.

UNITED WAR VETERANS COUNCIL PARTNERS WITH MUSIC DRAMA MODERN WARRIOR TO DEEPEN UNDERSTANDING OF TRANSITIONING VETERANS

June 19th, 2017 by

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 19, 2017 To help raise awareness of PTS, Post-Traumatic Growth, and to build a civilian culture of understanding, the United War Veterans Council (UWVC), producer of the New York City Veterans Day Parade, has formed a partnership with the creators of music drama Modern Warrior, UWVC President Dan McSweeney announced today.

“We are honored to partner with Modern Warrior to help bring awareness to PTS while at the same time, recognizing the potential for growth in adversity,” said McSweeney. “This project is an ideal vehicle for educating the public about life in the military in an engaging way and shines a light on the hurdles facing veterans upon returning from service and transitioning to civilian life.”

Currently in the production and development phase, Modern Warrior is an autobiographical music drama of a soldier’s life in the military and transition home. Modern Warrior seeks to build bridges between veteran and civilian communities through live performances, collaborative workshops and panel discussions, in order to inform, entertain and inspire, while de-stigmatizing our veterans.

Staff Sergeant Jaymes Poling (co-creator of Modern Warrior) says, “By focusing on the relatable human experiences, we are able to build and strengthen commonalities between the civilian and veteran communities. This gives us a common starting point as we work to combat social implications of the PTS stigma, encourage communication between veterans and their loved ones and explore pathways to Post-Traumatic Growth.”

 Narrated by Poling – who spent 36 months in Afghanistan as an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division – with a musical score composed by trumpeter and co-creator Dominick Farinacci —- who served as the first Global Ambassador to Jazz at Lincoln Center under Wynton Marsalis — ModernWarrior creates an accessible platform for civilians to gain a deeper understanding of veterans, while providing an introspective journey for veterans themselves.

Farinacci says, “Music is an expression of the human condition and has always been that common ground between communities. Bringing together a powerful story through the lens of music, we want to help develop a better informed and empathetic community, nurturing a deeper culture of support.”

Once the full on-stage production is complete, the creators plan to establishModern Warrior residencies nationally at performing arts centers, schools, festivals, military bases (national and international), VFWs, and health centers, etc.; and are partnering with local and national veteran organizations, psychologists and arts and wellness programs to help provide concrete avenues of assistance for those in need.

As part of UWVC’s partnership with Modern Warrior, plans are in development to schedule a performance and a panel discussion to take place in New York City during Veterans Week. For further details visitwww.modernwarriorlive.com or connect on Facebook at http://bit.ly/ModernWarriorLive; and to learn more about the United War Veterans Council, visit www.uwvc.org. A trailer for Modern Warrior can be viewed at http://www.modernwarriorlive.com/modernwarrior-preview.

 

Basecamp: Veterans Day USA

June 7th, 2017 by
Episode Excerpt: “We have seen the growth of the parade reflect the growth of the community and the engagement of the community a show of strength and the dynamic nature of the community… everyone can put up a website, but not everyone can get thousands or tens of thousands to come out in the street in support of them.”   – Ryan Hegg
Air Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2017.

Host: UWVC President Dan McSweeney

Basecamp Guests:

-Stephanie Stone, Chief Deputy Director, County of Los Angeles Military & Veterans Affairs

-Steve Phillabaum, Treasurer, Philadelphia Veterans Parade

-Ryan Hegg, Advocacy, UWVC

-Jeff Swansen, Operations, UWVC

LISTEN: 

 

 

(Download)

Check out an excerpt of the radio show on Facebook Live

Stay tuned for more information on the next show; we invite you to listen in and join the conversation either on Facebook Live or call in at (212) 219-9695.

Mr. Kiss – How Will Your Film Not Sensationalize Veterans?

June 7th, 2017 by

By Javier Castro


Mr. Kiss, a short film by director Afonso Henrique, is a drama about a military veteran with PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress) who’s out for vengeance on a corrupt politician who passed a healthcare bill that destroyed his family. The 30 minute film addresses mental health, substance abuse and homelessness within the veteran community, issues that Afonso says is usually not looked into by the government or society at large. And like most veterans, Afonso, a Navy vet, took it upon himself to ‘get it done’ and bring awareness.

When asked how this film is different than most Hollywood sensationalized vet culture films, Afonso responded “you do it in a way that you go right for the problem, right for the jugular.”

He continued “The US has a problem, we focus on everyone else that we forget about vets. The regimented military lifestyle sets up veterans for failure when they come back to the civilian life.”

His cast, compromised of mostly veterans, also spoke about how veterans issues and how many buddies have been affected by the marginalization and lack of awareness. “Veterans get use to free commodities; housing, food, healthcare, then it’s gone. How is that sustainable?” exclaimed a cast member.

Suicide, prison rates, and lack of healthcare were also themes discussed as the conversation got more specific.

What was certain among all the despair, was that veterans are leading the fight to counterculture the negative stigmas of ‘wounded’ vets. Follow Afonso.J.Henrique on Instagram to get more updates on the film’s progress.

Mr. Kiss – A New Film by a Navy Vet About Love & Vengeance Coming to You Soon

June 4th, 2017 by

Mr. Kiss

By Javier Castro


Mr. Kiss, a short film by director Afonso Henrique, is a drama about a military veteran with PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress) who’s out for vengeance on a corrupt politician who passed a healthcare bill that destroyed his family. The 30 minute film addresses mental health, substance abuse and homelessness within the veteran community, issues that Afonso says is usually not looked into by the government or society at large. And like most veterans, Afonso, a Navy vet, took it upon himself to ‘get it done’ and bring awareness.

When asked how this film is different than most Hollywood sensationalized vet culture films, Afonso responded “you do it in a way that you go right for the problem, right for the jugular.”

He continued “The US has a problem, we focus on everyone else that we forget about vets. The regimented military lifestyle sets up veterans for failure when they come back to the civilian life.”

His cast, compromised of mostly veterans, also spoke about how veterans issues and how many buddies have been affected by the marginalization and lack of awareness. “Veterans get use to free commodities; housing, food, healthcare, then it’s gone. How is that sustainable?” exclaimed a cast member.

Suicide, prison rates, and lack of healthcare were also themes discussed as the conversation got more specific.

What was certain among all the despair, was that veterans are leading the fight to counterculture the negative stigmas of ‘wounded’ vets.

 

 

Basecamp Guests: Ashley Swartz, Sandra Goldmark, Zach McClanahan & Betsy Pantazelos

May 22nd, 2017 by
Episode Excerpt: ” We are discussing two connected programs – the first is our emerging incubator / resource center / co-working space called VetTank located on 33rd and Madison Avenue and the other is Pop-up Repair Program. These two are connected because they are ways we can use veterans to propel them forward and in doing so help those veterans out. When you bring Veterans together and in turn connect veterans with experts in the civilian world there is a lot of energy and potential that happens.” – Dan McSweeney
 Air Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2017.

Basecamp Guests:

-Ashley Swartz, Co-Founder and CEO of Furious Corp, Vet Tank Steering Committee
-Sandra Goldmark, Co-Founder of Pop Up Repair
-Zach McClanahan, Founder and CEO of Zac Mac Productions, VetTank Steering Committee
– Betsy Pantazelos,  Patagonia

 

LISTEN: 

(Download)

Check out an excerpt of the radio show on Facebook Live

Stay tuned for more information on the next show; we invite you to listen in and join the conversation either on Facebook Live or call in at (212) 219-9695.