On good days, chronic pain can act as a massive hindrance to living your life. Even simple things like cleaning the house or running errands can almost become unbearable. So it’s no surprise that exercising is the furthest thing from many people’s minds when managing their chronic pain. If stressing your injured body part makes it worse, why would you volunteer to do it 3+ times a week? 

But ask any chronic pain expert, whether they’re an academic researcher or physical therapist, and they’ll tell you that many people with mild-to-moderate chronic pain see significant improvements from regular exercise. So how do you keep working out from exacerbating your symptoms? One of the keys is finding low-impact workouts, aka physical activities that don’t put a lot of undue shock and strain on your body.  

For Veterans who trained up on 3-mile PT runs just about every day, this can be a bit of a mental adjustment. But put that discipline to use, and you may find your chronic pain becomes much more manageable. To get you started, here are a few low-impact exercise options you can give a try. We’ve talked at length about the benefits of low-impact exercise in a previous post; let’s jump straight into the recommendations.  

As with all things related to your healthcare, we recommend running your plans by your primary care doctor or a physical therapy expert first to ensure it’s a good fit for your specific injuries. 

Weight Lifting 

We’re starting with weights because they’re a great example of how “low impact” doesn’t mean “wimpy.” If you start with low increments to find your early limits and slowly build up, even people with severe chronic pain can build incredible strength and endurance. In addition to the natural endorphin rush, which can naturally block the pain signals going to your brain, building muscle can often physically counteract many of its common sources. As an example, if your chronic pain is tied to an injured joint, strengthening the surrounding muscle can alleviate a lot of the strain and stress it experiences throughout the day.  

If weight lifting was a staple of your training routine during enlistment, reset your expectations on where you’re starting today. Even if you can complete the same reps you used to, your injury might make you pay for it later. If lifting was never your thing, call up a buddy to make sure you’re observing good technique, or consider a few sessions with a trainer. Either way, don’t let self-consciousness about walking into a gym stop you from trying it; you can put together a respectable set of weights for home use for a hundred dollars or less on Facebook Marketplace.  

Walking 

For many Veterans, just being on their feet too long can set off their injuries, so walking to exercise may seem counterintuitive at first. However, just like building muscle, pushing yourself to a safe limit a few times a week can dramatically extend where that limit lies. Walking also offers many of the same health benefits as running, including increased muscle strength and a healthier heart. Plus, a little time away from your daily distractions can be a great way to clear your head and reduce stress. For many chronic pain patients, especially Veterans, sticking with a walking routine can be extremely tedious at the beginning, even painful. As long as a medical expert has signed off on it, you will find yourself being able to go a little further every day you stick it out. 

Swimming 

Whether it’s doing a couple of laps, water aerobics, or simply walking around waist-deep in a pool, swimming is one of the ultimate low-impact exercises. In addition to your buoyancy taking a lot of weight and pressure off your injuries naturally, many people find the coolness and soft resistance of the water to be very soothing. Just be sure to do a short test run if it’s your first time in an unfamiliar pool; if the water is too cold, it could potentially tense up your muscles and make the pain worse instead of better. Although participating in a class or a structured workout routine will give you the best results in terms of increased strength and range of motion, moving around in the water for 20-30 minutes a day can be of benefit. 

Cycling 

If you are fortunate to live riding or driving distance of a paved trail, biking is an unbelievably great way to build strength and stamina in nearly every part of your body. Just like weights, it seems like someone is selling or giving away a bike just about every day. However, sitting with your body weight on your arms may be too painful, depending on your injuries. If this is the case, take a look at a recumbent bike, which will allow you to cycle in a reclined position. 

Even more so than walking, we recommend erring on the side of caution when it comes to the distance of your first few rides. No one wants to wait for an Uber driver who happens to have a bike rack. If you’re significantly worried about this problem or the cost of a reliable bike, many gyms have stationery options for both styles, which will provide you with all of the same health benefits. 

Yoga 

If your first reaction was to laugh, hear us out. Yoga isn’t just for rich health nuts who live off acai berries and somehow have time to work out at 10 in the morning. Our team at Lone Survivor Foundation has been deploying it as part of our Post-Traumatic Growth programs since the beginning, with excellent feedback and success from our participants. In fact, so many Veterans across the country have seen incredible results that it’s being studied and recommended for treating combat trauma.  

The amazing thing about yoga is how well it caters to recovering from injuries, both physical and mental. In addition to the pain relief from increased flexibility and range of motion, it takes a surprising amount of strength to hold many more advanced poses. You probably won’t get shredded just from doing chair poses, but you will build muscle. Because yoga is all about personal growth and progress, any good instructor will offer modifications that will let you improve at your own pace on your terms.  

 

Anyone with a friend or loved one deployed overseas knows the incredible feeling that comes with hearing they’re finally coming home. It’s a combination of joy that we will finally get to see them again and the relief of knowing they’ll finally be out of harm’s way. But the reality is a far greater threat awaits many Veterans on their return than during their deployment. 

A recent study by a team at Brown University calculates that over 7,000 US Service Members were killed during post-9/11 military operations. That number is already impossible to fully grasp, yet nearly four times as many Veterans of those deployments (over 30,000) have committed suicide as of June 2021. To put the numbers in perspective, that’s nearly the amount of US soldiers who died in combat during the Korean War

The scope of this crisis emphasizes the severity of physical and mental health problems are Veterans face when returning home. These include PTSD, Chronic Pain, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and in many cases, a combination of the three. It’s more important than ever to continue supporting Veterans’ mental and physical health resources, like our programs at Lone Survivor Foundation. But we also need to prepare friends and family to take action towards suicide prevention. Today, we’re going to talk about how you can get involved. 

Know the Facts 

If the scope of this problem shocked you, you’re not alone. One of the biggest challenges currently facing Veteran mental health is the lack of awareness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has excellent resources if you want to dive deeper, but here are some of the most critical facts every American should know: 

  • Over the last three years, the rate of Veteran suicides has fluctuated from 17 to 21 per day  
  • The Veteran suicide rate is 1.5 times higher than the civilian population 
  • Although women attempt suicide at higher rates than men, 78% of all deaths are men 
  • Veterans who abuse drugs or alcohol to self-medicate are twice as likely to attempt 
  • Experts believe that increased exposure to guerilla tactics like IEDs and higher rates of Traumatic Brain Injuries in post-9/11 Veterans may be partially responsible. 

Like any complex problem, understanding the context of the situation and staying up to date on the latest expert findings can help us solve it. 

Stay Connected 

It may seem inconsequential to you, but research shows it works. If you’re worried about a Veteran in your life, just talk to them. Ask them how they’re doing, and be ready to listen. According to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, many people battling suicidal thoughts report feeling relieved just by talking about it with someone. Many people hesitate to express direct concern or use the word “suicide” in the conversation because they fear unintentionally encourage the idea. However, experts say that’s not the case. Letting a friend or family member know it’s safe to say what’s really going on in their mind can help them work through the thoughts and reduce ideation. Just make sure if you want to ask that you do it in a way and setting that won’t make it feel like an “intervention.” 

Listen With Empathy 

We’ve covered this skill more extensively in a previous blog post, but here’s what you need to know when it comes to suicide prevention. Especially in the Veteran community, many people don’t feel comfortable talking about suicidal thoughts. They’re afraid of being judged or viewed as “weak” by the person they confide in. This can create a downward spiral where the more severe their ideations become, the less comfortable they feel telling someone. The only way to break this cycle is to let that person know they can tell you anything without fear of judgment or being viewed differently afterward. That means validating the emotions they share with you and asking questions to understand better, rather than giving “quick-fix” advice.  

As part of asking your friend or family member if they’re alright, make it very clear it’s safe for them to tell you anything. Simply creating a space where they can verbalize everything on their mind can provide tremendous relief and a sense of hope. 

Get Them Involved 

All of the physical and mental health challenges most Veterans to deal with come with a tendency towards self-isolation. Their brain will try and convince them that either they are too much of a burden for other people to be around or that people secretly dislike them. If you have not battled chronic pain or mental health issues before, these may sound like thoughts you could simply rationalize away, but that can be almost impossible to do. And the worst part is, this self-exile can significantly increase symptoms of depression, including suicidal thoughts. 

So how can you help a friend or family member battle those negative voices? Go out of your way to let them know you want them around! Make it a point to invite them to your next movie night or cookout explicitly. When they have the energy to spend time with you, let them know you’re glad they came. And don’t do it sarcastically (“look who finally decided to show up!”); those negative voices can convince even highly self-aware people that you meant those comments passive-aggressively.  

In other words, be authentic and vocal about how much you enjoy their company. If they are truly a part of your life, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so without making it feel out of left field or awkward. 

Normalize the Conversation 

We can’t downplay the trauma our Veterans have experienced and the vast need for mental and physical health resources in our country, but a significant factor in our current suicide epidemic is that no one talks about it. That means, when someone tries to bring it up, it feels uncomfortable, and we don’t know what to say. Last year alone, nearly 1 in 10 Americans considered suicide. That’s more than people who watch baseball. After everything our Veterans have sacrificed for us, the least we can do is let them know that they are loved, and we are listening. 

Lone Survivor Foundation is proud to announce another distinguished guest speaker to our event:

Captain Mike Penn

Captain Mike Penn spent nine years of active-duty service in the US Navy and three years in the Navy Reserves. During his time of service to his country, Mike was shot down, captured, beaten, and imprisoned in North Vietnam for months, yet when released Mike came away from the experience describing his time in the Hanoi Hilton as an “honor to serve”. During his career, Mike earned the honors: Distinguished Naval Graduate in Officer and Flight Training.

His military honors include: Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, with Combat V, POW Medal, Air Medal with Combat V, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V, and Two Purple Hearts

In 1978, Mike left his distinguished career of military service to fly 737’s for Southwest Airlines, where he became Chief Pilot in Houston, supervising over 700 pilots. Currently serving as Flight Manager, Captain Mike Penn continues to motivate those around him with humor, compassion, enthusiasm and conviction

Shannon Bream

  • Anchor of FOX News Channel’s (FNC) FOX News @ Night with Shannon Bream
  • New York Times Best Selling Author of “Finding the Bright Side: The Art of Chasing What Matters” and “Women of the Bible Speak”

Tickets and sponsorships for this event will sell quickly. This is going to be our biggest and best event to date! The evening will include:

  • All activities will be indoor at the Lone Star Convention Center
  • BBQ Dinner
  • Photo Booth
  • Live & Silent Auctions
  • Dress Code: Blue jeans are encouraged!

Event Information:

  • Saturday, October 16, 2021
  • Lone Star Convention & Expo Center – 9055 Airport Rd, Conroe, TX 77303
  • 4:30pm: Doors Open
  • 5:00pm: Dinner Buffet
  • 5:30pm: Program Begins

Tickets

Individual or table of 10 tickets or “Send a Veteran” tickets are available. Purchase your tickets today.

Sponsorships

Sponsorships are available. Please click here to see our Sponsorship Brochure or click the button below to purchase online

Nearby Hotels

Best rated hotels in the area (3-5 miles from the Lone Star Convention Center)

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Conroe          Rates from $143 and up

Hampton Inn & Suites Conroe                    Rates from $119 and up

La Qunita by Wyndham Conroe                 Rates from $94 and up

Hotels near The Woodlands, Texas (17-25 miles from the Lone Star Convention Center)

Hilton Garden Inn The Woodlands                              Rates from $132 and up

Embassy Suites The Woodlands Hughes Landing       Rates from $205 and up

Hyatt Centric The Woodlands                                      Rates from $249 and up

Join us on Saturday, November 13, 2021 for our first Sporting Clay Tournament!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Westside Sporting Grounds

10120 Pattison Road., Katy, Texas 77493

$1,000 – 4-Person Team Includes:

Ammunition, Breakfast, Lunch, Team Cart 

Silent Auction

Proceeds from this event fund Lone Survivor Foundation’s Veteran & Family PTSD Programs

 

Teams & Sponsorships:

Title Sponsor – $10,000

Print Sponsor – $6,000

T-Shirt Sponsor – $5,500

Hat Sponsor – SOLD

Breakfast Sponsor – $5,000 

Lunch Sponsor – $5,000

Cart Sponsor – $4,000

Auction Sponsor – $3,500

Scorecard Sponsor – SOLD 

Supporting Sponsor – $1,500

Team Entry – $1,000

Benefits received from sponsorship or team purchases will be valued and deducted for tax purposes. 

 

Sponsorships & Registration:

We have a wide variety of sponsorship levels available for your organization.

Click on the button below to see our sponsorship brochure.

You can print this document to include in your mail-in registration.  

Please click the link below to find our more information

 

 

 

 

Save the Date! – Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Lone Survivor Foundation is hosting a special day of great golf and food at the exclusive and private at Bluejack National.

Bluejack National is a private residential club offering an unprecedented mix of amenities and activities to fit every lifestyle. With 767 acres of rolling hills developed in Montgomery, Texas, Bluejack is home to the first Tiger Woods-designed golf course in the United States.

For more information on foursome tickets or sponsorships, please contact: 936-755-6075 or e-mail us: [email protected]

5 Reasons Veterans

According to research provided by the VA, 50-60% of all people will experience a traumatic event at some point in life. In addition, 7-8% will suffer from PTSD, and about 20% will live with chronic pain. For Veterans returning home from duty with a variety of physical and mental traumas, this means more people are experiencing some form of what they’re going through than they might first think. 

Yet as common as these conditions are, there is often still a significant gulf between the experience of Veterans and civilians. While the suffering may be the same, the trauma that set it into motion is utterly unique. This can make the process of mentally unpacking and growing past it difficult, as Veterans can often feel isolated or unable to connect on a deeper level with their friends and family. 

This is one of the many reasons why Veterans need each other to begin the road to recovery. Although anyone can learn to empathize with the people they care about (as discussed in a previous post), several aspects make the Veteran-to-Veteran connection unique. Today, we’re going to talk about five of the most significant factors our team has observed while serving our fellow Veterans at Lone Survivor Foundation. 

Inside vs. Outside Perspective 

With enough communication and listening, almost any human experience can be explained to another person. But there is a huge gap between understanding something and living it. This can leave people with incredibly unique traumatic experiences feeling like other people are watching their lives through a window instead of being a part of it. Talking about what happened with other Service Members often feels more natural and sometimes less like you have to explain what you’ve said. 

The Survivor Mentality 

Training in any branch of the Armed Forces ingrains a sense of pragmatism and level-headedness when approaching any dangerous situation. That mentality often spills over into life after service, too, even when talking about issues like chronic pain or PTSD. While some civilians may find a blunt, no-nonsense approach to these topics to be a breath of fresh air in a world that skirts around complex issues, wondering how a person may react can making opening up anxiety-inducing. Processing trauma with fellow Veterans means talking about it with people who share a similar mindset. 

A Shared Language 

Talking about mental and physical injuries often means talking at length about how you got them in the field. When getting into the weeds of what went down, that can mean a lot of military terminology and slang that might require subtitles when talking to a civilian. Especially at the beginning of your road to recovery, having to take time to explain tactical nuances or why you found yourself in a particular situation can be frustrating and maybe even discourage you from sharing altogether. Telling your stories to fellow Veterans means telling them in a way that feels fluid and natural, and that can be incredibly helpful as you begin processing through everything. 

A Shared Pain 

Chronic pain is far from uncommon in the United States, but it’s more prevalent with Veterans than any other demographic. In fact, as many as 1 in 3 have been diagnosed with some condition involving or related to chronic pain. If you are one of them, the odds of meeting a fellow vet with a similar condition are much higher than meeting a civilian with it. 

Even more important is finding people who understand how debilitating that chronic pain can be. The amount of energy and mental function it can steal from you even on a “good” day can make it hard to even think about something as intensive as talking about PTSD. Partnering with fellow Veterans on recovery, especially in a group environment, can be both assuring and more productive because they understand the upkeep and compromises required.  

A Tough Love Community 

As Veterans, sometimes we just want a swift kick in the ass. We’ve spent years finding our physical and mental limits and then learning to push past them. We have learned to navigate situations that many would deem impossible because someone made us strap in and get it done. There is a fine line to this type of motivation when it comes to recovering from mental health challenges, but on our worst days, it can be incredibly valuable to have someone who knows when you need to be pushed to open up or put in more work when we don’t want to.  

How Our Post-Traumatic Growth Program Fits In 

If any of these points have resonated with you, but you don’t know where to go from here, Lone Survivor Foundation’s Post-Traumatic Growth Program is a great place to start. We created these programs in Texas and North Carolina specifically because our founder, Marcus Luttrell, struggled to find this kind of resource when he returned home from duty. We help Veterans start their recovery journey on the right foot by helping them connect and work through the crucial early steps together. 

Because our programs are only for Veterans, that means we can completely tailor the resources to what they need. That includes providing tools to help with pain management, so our participants can have the energy and clarity they need to participate and learn. If you are interested in finding brothers in arms to help you grow past your trauma, we would love for you to apply here on our website. There are zero out-of-pocket costs to our participants thanks to our generous donors. We hope to see you there. 

The news coming from Afghanistan has caused Veterans and their families some tremendous heartbreak and a flood of emotions. Our Nation’s Veterans have sacrificed life and limb during the war in Afghanistan. Witnessing the current events unfold in Afghanistan has led many Veterans and Family members through a variety of emotions including sadness, guilt, and rage.  These thoughts and feelings are valid and understood.

Lone Survivor Foundation is here to support you at no cost to you. The service of our Nation’s Veterans is not in vain – their sacrifices matter and we will continue to honor and support our brave military.

Things you can do for support:

At LSF, this is personal, as some of our very own Team Members are Veterans of the Afghanistan war – we understand, and we stand with you during this difficult time.

Respectfully,

Tom Fordyce

Chief Executive Officer, Lone Survivor Foundation

PTSD Awareness 2021

June is National Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. In 2010, the US Senate officially designated June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day. PTSD Awareness Day was expanded to the entire month of June in 2014 intending to raise public awareness and reduce stigma.

About 8 percent of the population will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during their lifetime according to the National Center for PTSD. Individuals may develop PTSD when exposed to something traumatic like war or combat, physical or sexual violence, car accidents and more. After these events, the individual might have difficulties processing what happened to them which could result in unwanted symptoms. These symptoms might include:

  • Nightmares
  • Memories, flashbacks, thoughts about the trauma
  • Anger, irritability
  • Feeling hyper-vigilant or always on guard

Bringing awareness to PTSD means helping those who are suffering by sharing resources and staying informed on ways you can support them. Try to think of one thing you can do every day this month to help individuals with PTSD. This can include checking on a Veteran, sharing resources on your social media accounts or reading an article on PTSD.

One resource to save for learning more about PTSD and treatment options is www.ptsd.va.gov. A treatment option that has been proven effective is Accelerated Resolution Therapy. Accelerated Resolution Therapy or ART. ART International describes ART as an evidence-based type of therapy that promises rapid recovery by reprogramming how the brain stores traumatic memories. LSF provides participants with multiple ART sessions at the programs along with several other approaches to use when trying to manage PTSD symptoms. Below are some other important resources available to educate yourself more about PTSD:

The most important thing to know and share about PTSD is TREATMENT WORKS! For more information on how LSF is bringing awareness to PTSD during the month of June, please visit our social media accounts or email [email protected].

What if your diet is keeping you from getting better? Most of us are pretty comfortable with the idea that what we eat affects our weight and long-term health, but a growing body of research shows that food can have a much more immediate impact on how we feel. Just like professional athletes and bodybuilders use specific diets to build muscle and maintain their performance, you can relieve – or aggravate- aspects of your health through food. That includes people struggling with their mental health or recovering from certain brain injuries.

Today, we’re going to talk about three common health challenges we see Veterans and Service Members struggle with and how the right foods can help you achieve better outcomes. While this is far from an exhaustive resource on the subject, we hope this serves as a great jumping-off point for you to start making positive changes.

Editor’s Note: While we’ve based this article on numerous academic studies and well-established science, we are not health or nutritional experts. We always recommend making healthy lifestyle changes while consulting with your healthcare provider to manage your physical and mental health best.

Brain Injuries and Mental Health

Your brain is just like any other organ or muscle in your body; its needs calories and nutrients to function well. When it doesn’t get enough of the right fuels, it can start impeding your normal brain functions and keep it from healing naturally from injuries, such as a concussion. For those struggling with depression or just having a hard time enjoying everyday life, you may also be suffering from low levels of serotonin and dopamine, two natural chemicals that help your feel more relaxed and happy. In addition to many healthy foods stimulating the production of both, research by Harvard Health suggests 90% of our serotonin receptors are in our gut.

So what should you be eating to build a healthier, happier brain? Just like every other aspect of your body, your mental health will benefit from a balanced diet full of vitamins, nutrients, and plenty of water. More specifically, your brain benefits from foods that are high in protein or contain omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain breaks down protein to heal itself and stabilize your blood sugar levels, which has been shown to improve anxiety and depression.

What Can I Eat for Brain Health?

  • Fish
  • Olive Oil
  • Nuts and seeds (such as almonds and pumpkin seeds)
  • Veggies like broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes
  • Fruits like Blueberries and apples

Frequent Headaches and Migraines

If you find yourself experiencing headaches or migraines several times a week, your diet might have something to do with it. While stress and lack of sleep can also be frequent culprits, 20% of people suffering from either have food sensitivities. In basic terms, these are specific ingredients or food preparations that your body doesn’t like. The problem is, there are a lot of common food sensitivities, here are just a few to prove the point:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Pickled foods
  • Potato chips and other processed foods
  • Coffee and other caffeinated drinks
  • Dairy
  • Wheat

Our research found over 30 commonly reported trigger foods, with many being common, basic ingredients. So how on earth are you supposed to figure out which ones (if any) are causing you pain? There are two common approaches.

The first option, which is the least disruptive, is to start cataloging what you ate on headache days. This can be as simple as keeping a running list in your phone’s notetaking app. Over several weeks, you may begin to see certain foods making frequent appearances in your entries. The second option is to start cutting specific food categories out of your diet for a few weeks at a time and see if your headaches/migraines go away (or at least become less frequent).

Our recommendation is to start by keeping a list and then confirm or eliminate any suspicious foods by cutting them out for a while. Hopefully, this will reduce the amount of trial and error it takes to find your sensitivities, if you have any. Like most aspects of managing chronic pain, this could be a journey that takes several weeks or even months to see progress. Your first few guesses could likely be duds, so don’t get discouraged; worthwhile changes take time.

Joint Pain and Damage

If you suffer from chronic joint pain from your time in service or an athletic injury, the most common cause is inflammation. This is your body’s natural response to a joint or tissue injury. Essentially, it’s the blood vessels dilating to let more red and white blood cells into the damaged area, supplying it with nutrients that aid in natural healing and prevent infection. Unfortunately, for injuries the body isn’t adequately equipped to heal, this inflammation will keep happening or begin to swell, resulting in chronic discomfort, pain, and possibly even further damage that will lead to inevitable surgery.

So how can you treat this problem with food? Frequent, painful inflammation is often caused by your body overcompensating for a lack of nutrients. Since not enough resources are coming through your blood vessels to heal the injury, it stays or becomes more inflamed to fix the supply problem. By filling your diet with foods rich in Omega-3’s, antioxidants, and Vitamins C and B, you can promote better tissue health and even naturally reduce pain and swelling. Over time, this may prevent further damage that could end with a joint replacement.

What Can I Eat to Help Reduce Inflammation?

  • Fish rich in Omega 3’s, like Salmon, Tuna, and Halibut
  • Fruits like Apples, blueberries, and strawberries
  • Vegetables like onions and red peppers
  • Anti-Inflammatories like olive oil, ginger, and green tea

How to Make a Successful Change

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]For most people, attaining these health benefits is going to require some changes in diet. You may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the different foods mentioned here. If you’re struggling with where to start, don’t feel like you have to throw out everything in your fridge and start over! Most fad diets and restrictive eating styles don’t work because they ask you to make sudden, dramatic changes to your diet that are frustrating and impractical.

Instead, think about what kind of health improvements are most important to you and start looking for small steps you could take towards a slow but achievable change. For example, if you find yourself cooking with a lot of butter, think about recipes where you could swap some of it out for olive oil. While this may seem like an insignificant change, it’s easy to stick with because it’s simple. Over time, you can keep making more of these small changes until they add up to a big difference in how you feel.