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Soldiers take reins of their recovery

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —Transitioning warriors have a plethora of activities to choose from in the Soldier Adaptive Reconditioning Program, but only one involves a 1,000-pound animal. 

Soldiers, from Brooke Army Medical Center's Warrior Transition Battalion, have the opportunity to go horseback riding at the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Equestrian Center every Tuesday. 

Part of the equine therapy is learning to care for and bond with the animal as well as ride, said Annie Blakely, who is a certified and registered Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, or PATH, instructor. PATH is a global authority, resource and advocate for equine-assisted activities and therapies. 

According to the Equine Assisted Therapy website, this type of therapy can help people both physically and mentally by improving respiration, circulation, balance, metabolism, muscle strength and agility. 

Army Staff Sgt. Cedric Richardson never rode a horse before he started the program three months ago. 

"When I came out here I'm having fun with the animal, but I'm also taking care of the animal," Richardson said. "I'm learning a new skill, horseback riding. It's unique and different if you haven't grown up doing it." 

Richardson usually rides Gary. "I think he's one of the biggest horses out here. He's very energetic and he has the muscle to match, so you have to really know what you are doing and have confidence when you ride him," he said. 

"When I bring people out here [to the equestrian center] I see their inner child come out because they relax and they really enjoy being around the animals," said Brad Bowen, Military Adaptive Sports Program coordinator. 

"It gives me a little bit of release from the Army-side. I get to come out here and just enjoy being outside and with my favorite animal," Army Pvt. Ashiah Moshauer said. 

"I love the animals; they seem to be so intuitive of what you are feeling. It's nice to able to take a step back; it creates a sense of mindfulness," said Army Sgt. Andrea Kraus as she agreed with her fellow Service members. 

Adaptive horseback riding is just one of several options the transitioning Soldiers can participate in during their recovery. 

"The Soldier Adaptive Reconditioning Program [SARP] offers Soldiers the opportunity to get out and do what they really like to do as part of their recovery," Bowen said. 

SARP offers more than 15 different options for transitioning warriors including high-impact, high-energy activities such as wheelchair basketball, cycling and track and field, as well as low-impact options such as brain games, chess or arts and crafts. 

"SARP is designed to get Soldiers active during their transition. They are required to participate 150 minutes a week in one or more of our activities," Bowen said. "We try to incorporate almost any activity that you can think of or anyone wants to do into our program." 

To fulfill the requirement of 150 minutes per week, activities are held Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and there are different programs each month. Soldiers participate in their physical training and can pick other activities. 

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

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Transition and residency programs create professional AFMS nurses

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Falls Church, Va. — Three years ago, the Air Force Medical Service (AFMS) implemented two new programs to better prepare novice nurses — nurses with less than twelve months nursing experience —for their careers both in Air Force medicine and as officers. 

“For years, nurses would graduate, pass their boards, get their license, and go to a facility caring for patients,” explained Air Force Col. Keith Donaldson, the Director of Nursing Services. “The Air Force decided there needs to be a transitional program from the academic environment to the clinical setting, caring for people.” 

The solution was the current Nurse Transition and Residency program. The transition part of the program consists of a 45-day course, where novice nurses gain experience and competence in direct patient care under the supervision of a teaching nurse. The Residency program entails a one-year residency at a facility where the graduating nurse spends their initial assignment, providing them with continued clinical experience and mentorship. 

The Transition Program accepts newly commissioned novice nurses based on experience. “Age is not a factor,” explained Donaldson, “We could have a nurse of any age as long as they meet requirements for commissioning and are new to nursing.” 

The nurses begin their training at one of four different Nurse Transition locations in the continental United States: Scottsdale Healthcare, Arizona; University of Cincinnati, Ohio; Tampa General, Florida; and San Antonio Military Medical Center, Texas. 

Once their transition training is completed, they attend their one-year residency at one of eight Nurse Residency Program locations: Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Keesler AFB, Mississippi; Travis AFB, California, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; and Nellis AFB, Neveda. Two other locations, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, are used sparingly, often to fulfill joint spouse requests. 

Once nurses graduate from the Residency Program as fully qualified Air Force nurses, they remain at their location for the duration of their initial assignment. 

Donaldson sees the two programs as a positive for new nurses. “Without a doubt, the opportunity to transition into the military and as a professional nurse is a huge benefit,” he said. “The Air Force is making an investment in each novice nurse and we want them to succeed. We want them to have a successful career, both professionally and as an Air Force officer.” 

The two programs got their start in 2010 when the Institutes of Medicine issued a report recommending that nurses should have the benefit of residency training. A year later the then-Chief of the Nurse Corps, Air Force Maj. Gen. Kimberly Siniscalchi, issued a memo requesting a residency program. By the summer of 2012, the first 16 nurses graduated from the Air Force Nurse Residency Program. 

“That’s amazing to me,” said Donaldson. “Only 24 months after the Institutes of Medicine’s report came out, the Air Force got on it. They laid out the programs, built a curriculum, got the staff, put the people together, and told them where to be.” 

Now at the three-year mark, Donaldson and other leaders are reviewing the programs to see what’s working and where to make improvements. “Are we meeting the AFMS’s requirements on developing our young nurses?” asked Donaldson. “But equally important, are we meeting the personal requirements for each and every new nurse who has joined the Air Force?” 

One change the AFMS is considering is opening up the operating room (OR) nurse track to novice nurses, instead of waiting until they reached their residencies. “We need more OR nurses and we need more junior OR nurses,” explained Donaldson. He plans to position novice nurses directly into OR nursing, which will expedite the training for those interested in that career track. “OR nurses do not get a lot of experience in school,” he said. “We have to figure out the best way to do that based on our need.” 

The two programs are an important part in the AFMS’s continued drive to provide Trusted Care, Anywhere. “From the most novice nurse, caring for patients in our facility, to the most experienced nurses, care needs to be seamless and reliable to the patients and their families,” explained Donaldson. “It needs to be quality care that they are receiving.” 

Donaldson is proud of the two programs which train nurses who want to serve their country. “Every graduate nurse of the program is well equipped to meet the challenges of caring for our most valuable asset,” he concluded, “which is our patients and their families. This is what we’re all about.” 

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

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Meet Commissioner Roby

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Mike Roby was named Georgia Commissioner of Veterans Service effective July 1, 2015.

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Welcome to the GDVS Blog!

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Did you know?

The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at