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7/23 Mrs. International Pageant DAY TWO

WHEW! What a LONG day we had today!

All of the contestants looked absolutely fabulous for our day out in Jacksonville! Of course, we took tons of pictures waiting to depart the Omni Hotel!

Our first stop was to St.Augustine!! We boarded the Old Town Trolley Tours and caroused the gorgeous historical landmarks. From old forts and barricades to the oldest home and magnificent architecture! We had an amazing guide, and really enjoyed the nice ocean air and breeze!

One of the AMAZING cathedrals!!!
 We ended the trolley ride at the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park! There were historical demonstrations of weapons and we were shown some of the ways the Indians lived! Of course, we were introduced to the discovery of the Fountain! I DID have a sip... and if you must know, it was warm, and tasted very "mineral-y"!


Our next stop was at the St. Augustine Outlet mall! I didn't find anything I had to take home... but had to take a photo!

Finally, our last stop was the brand new facility for the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars! EverBank Field is absolutely phenomenal! During the tour, we visited the management offices, team meeting rooms, state of the art gym, training facility, field, and of course the locker room! We were one of the first people to see the BRAND NEW, $63 million jumbo-trons... that are 365 ft long (which is longer than some our U.S. warships)!

Through it all though... I am still a 49er fan... ALL THE WAY!

The day still wasn't over!!! We returned to the hotel and had a delicious dinner, then it was off to our first rehearsal!!!
Here are a couple sneak peeks of the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts...a BEAUTIFUL theater!

I had a fantastic day, but I'm glad to finally relax and prepare for the first stage of completion tomorrow, INTERVIEW!!!
Yours In Service,

7/22 Mrs. International 2014 DAY ONE

WE ARE FINALLY HERE!!!! It's pageant week, and I could not be more excited to compete and be a voice for PTSD!

For those of you who may not know what the Mrs. International Pageant system stands for: It is the premier pageant for women to share their achievements, careers, and passions, all the while supporting and being committed to family. This is just a very small insight, for more visit: !

I will be posting each day about the amazing people and things we did, so I hope you enjoy as much as I will be!

Today was check in and orientation!

After my 0230 wakeup call and 0400 flight showtime, I finally arrived in Jacksonville, Florida around 0730! It was a gorgeous morning, a start to a fabulous day!

In the terminal, my eye was drawn to a blue shirt... PROUD TOUGH STRONG DETERMINED it screamed! So, of course, I had to go introduce myself and get a quick selfie! It was amazing to be reminded that even amongst the chatter and stress of the day... my purpose was being an advocate and sharing education about PTSD.

Next.. onto the Omni Hotel in downtown Jax! The hotel is absolutely gorgeous and everyone has been nothing short of welcoming, kind, and honestly... inquisitive! I am so happy to have the opportunity to come here for the competition, and thanks to Visit Jacksonville. we were welcomed with strewn banners!!!

with Mrs. Australia, Kate Johnson... such a cutie!
I managed to organize a lunch for some of the other available Mrs. contestants, and we really enjoyed a calm and relaxing lunch together. It was a blast getting to know some of these women more, without the stress of rehearsals or time constraints ... yet.

The first item on our Mrs. Int'l itinerary was tonight's orientation. The air was filled with excitement to get things started, finally.. after months and MONTHS of preparation.... it is finally time to compete! We were introduced to our schedule for the week and some housekeeping items. I was more distracted with what contestant number I was going to be!

There are 65 fabulous women competing and I will be called... contestant.... number.... 45!!! Excellent, if you ask me ;)

It was a loooong day, but I am thrilled to see what tomorrow has in store! Keep an eye out for my TWEETS and please follow @intlpageants for the MOST UPDATED info and photos !

Reigning Mrs. International 2013, Pageant Director Mary Richardson, and Cristen Velhorn, pageant media
sorry for the blurry photo... :(
with my fellow 2013 contestant, Mrs.Great Plains 2014 Maggi Thorne
With the amazing, Amy Gregorio, Mrs. International 2013

7/8 Families of PTSD Meeting

I had a great meeting with the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Families of PTSD. Attendees (who will remain anonymous) ranged from spouses, ex-spouses, friends, supporters, physicians, and even sufferers, all coming together to support each other! We shared our stories, and shared our resources.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to share more specifics about our meeting, but if you see any of the resources in the photos (below) that you would like to utilize... please email me for your copy!

Some of us were also able to brainstorm ideas for an upcoming event this winter, that will bring some massive awareness to not only PTSD, but non-military PTSD, and a HUGE support network!

Here are the links to the Facebook and website for more information.


Here is some great info from the National Center for PTSD:

There are also some links to CHILD PTSD and RESOURCES on the site!

In order to bring greater awareness to the issue of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the United States Senate designated June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day. In addition, June has been designated as PTSD Awareness Month by the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD).

According to the NCPTSD, PTSD is an anxiety disorder resulting from exposure to a single traumatic event or multiple traumatic events, such as sexual or physical assault, natural or man-made disaster, and war-related combat stress. Symptoms of PTSD include persistent intrusive thoughts and distressing dreams about the traumatic event, triggered emotional responses to reminders of the trauma, efforts to avoid thinking or talking about the trauma, and persistent hypervigilance for cues that  indicate additional danger or trauma re-occurring.

The mission of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is to raise awareness about child traumatic stress. The NCTSN joins this effort to raise awareness about PTSD. We offer the following resources to help educate individuals, families, professionals, policy makers, and communities about the significant impact that PTSD has on men, women, and children. Effective psychological interventions and drug treatments are available to assist those who suffer with PTSD to heal from their traumas and to lead healthy, productive lives.
To find out more about military children and families click here.

About PTSD Awareness Month
National Center for PTSDThe U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD was created in 1989 by a congressional mandate to address the needs of veterans with military-related PTSD. The center’s mission is to “advance the clinical care and social welfare of America's veterans through research, education, and training in the science, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD and stress-related disorders.”

  • About PTSD Awareness
    These materials describe PTSD Awareness and offer suggestions to raise awareness in your community about PTSD.
  • Promotional Materials
    Resources to help raise awareness of PTSD month.
  • PTSD Overview
    This section provides a general overview about PTSD including treatment approaches and ways to talk with family members about PTSD.
  • PTSD Service Announcements (AboutFace)
    An online video collection dedicated to Veterans talking about how they turned their lives around with PTSD treatment.
  • Where to get help for PTSD
    Counselors and therapists in the military, VA and community who provide treatment for PTSD are available through these resources.

6/24 More on SGB Treatment!

In support of PTSD Awareness Month, featured news stories describing a novel PTSD treatment known as stellate ganglion block (SGB) administered by anesthesiologists and pain management doctors to military service members, veterans and civilians were published in Becker’s Spine Review (click here: and Becker’s ASC Review (click here:

6/12 Women's Leadership Symposium

Normally, I do not include any of my military events or training on this blog, however, I think this one is worth sharing!

Last week, I attended the Women's Leadership Symposium, held by the Sea Service Leadership Association (SSLA). " SSLA was established in 1978. It is the only non-profit organization in the United States dedicated to providing professional development through networking, education, and mentorship of women from all three maritime armed forces - the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard."

As much as it pertained to my military career, it definitely also pertains to pageantry! Being a leader in uniform, whether combat boots or in crown and sash, we could all use tips in leadership! The event's theme was asking each attendee "Why do you serve?"


All services (Navy, Army, Marines, USCG, and Reserve components of each) all attended a group lecture by leaders in our military. Next was an awards ceremony, hosted by Virginia Commonwealth Governor, Terry McAuliffe. Numerous service members were honored with distinguished awards recognizing their leadership and accomplishments at their perspective commands.

The afternoon session involved a keynote speech from the FIRST woman to achieve the rank of ADMIRAL (4-star), Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, USN. It was an honor to listen to her story of pioneering women and overcoming challenges we face. It was a privilege to also sit with her and chat about how inspiring she was to me! A few things she said resonated with me, and I felt compelled to share them about SERVING:
Commit to YOUR journey, Stay Connected, create Stamina, travel light, and keep your sense of humor!!!

After a panel question and answer discussion about creating opportunities from challenges, we were once again privileged to hear from another keynote speaker.

The 11th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (Ret) Joe Campa, spoke about his own glass ceiling (becoming the first Hispanic to become MCPON), and evolving as a leader in your own way. He left us with one, very powerful statement: "Do not underestimate the power YOU have to impact young women".... I felt like he was talking directly to me!!!


I was pretty sure day two couldn't top the day one discussion, but I was further impressed by the conversation topics and networking that was happening...

After attending two 'breakout session' discussions, we were back together in the main ballroom for another panel discussion, and HOT TOPICS question and answer session (what we ALL were there for). The questions consisted of Women on Submarines, new uniform changes, and Policy Updates, among other unique questions.

Overall, I was TOTALLY inspired and motivated by my experience. Not only as a woman, but a leader in my community.   It was important for me to hear that ANYTHING is possible and that I CAN make a difference, as corny as it sounds, ITS TRUE!! As Mrs. Eastern States, I asked myself, why do I serve? And, the answer is simple: because I truly feel compelled I can help those who need a voice in the fight of PTSD... something I CAN give them!

I ask each reader of this post to ask themselves, why do they serve (in whatever capacity that you do), and please share in the comments below for other's to be inspired!

For more information on the SSLA: or find them on FB!
With Admirnal (Sel) Howard, First woman to be selected for Admiral!

with MCPON (Ret). Joe Campa
with our current, 13th MCPON Mike Stevens....
 I told him I wanted to be the FIRST WOMAN MCPON...and he told me to go for it!!!

Virginia Commonwealth Governor, Terry McAliffe. He is a HUGE advocate for Military and Veterans!
just one of the breakout sessions! they were very popular!

6/10 Stellate Ganglion Block Treatment in the News!

Last year, as the National Spokesperson for Chicago Medical Innovations, I was introduced to the PTSD treatment called "SGB". This non-invasive treatment is a great option for those suffering from PTSD that are looking for an out-patient method of relief. Please read the article below, forwarded from Dr. Maryam Navaie, President and CEO of Advance Health Solutions (link is below)... who is also my lead sponsor!!!

WASHINGTON, DC, June 9, 2014 – A study showing that the use of local anesthetics can help rapidly improve persistent symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been published in the current issue of the Journal of Anesthesia and Clinical Research.  The study, which was led by researchers from Advance Health Solutions and experts in military psychiatry and anesthesiology, is a consolidation of all published case reports and case series on the use of a neck injection procedure known as stellate ganglion block (SGB) to treat patients who have tried and otherwise failed conventional PTSD therapies.
The study was led by epidemiologist Dr. Maryam Navaie who says the key message from the research is compelling and especially meaningful in its June publication release given this month has been designated by Congress to include PTSD Awareness Day (S. Res. 455).  Said Navaie: “Our article shows that SGB rapidly reduces chronic PTSD symptoms in patients treated across the country by Army, Navy, and civilian doctors alike. The growing evidence-base from multiple credible institutions caring for active duty service members, veterans and civilians who suffer from PTSD is consistent and impressive when examined in its totality”.  US Navy Captain and Head of Pain Management in the Department of Anesthesiology at Naval Hospital Okinawa, Dr. Anita H. Hickey, a co-author of the study, agrees.  Said Hickey: “The large scale of human suffering and financial costs associated with persistent PTSD requires that we continue to search for additional treatment options.  SGB offers a promising, novel and safe approach for the treatment of PTSD without the risks and side effects associated with medications.  Being a common pain management procedure, SGB is in a position to be studied widely and more rigorously to discern which patients might best benefit from this treatment"
Retired Army psychiatrist and renowned military PTSD expert, Colonel Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, M.D., M.P.H., who also authored the study says that SGB offers new hope for many patients who either resist or have had little success with traditional treatments.  Said Ritchie: “While some treatments for PTSD do exist, many sufferers refuse to go, either because they worry about re-exposing themselves to trauma or about medication side-effects.  One of the exciting aspects of this stellate ganglion procedure is that, for some, it leads to a dramatic reduction in symptoms in a very short period of time with minimal or no side effects. We do not yet know enough about which patient populations it will benefit though. More research into this promising modality is clearly needed, but this review is a great springboard to get there”.  Dr. Ritchie is currently the Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Behavioral Health in Washington, DC.  Fellow psychiatrist Robert N. McLay, M.D., Ph.D. who oversees research studies specific to various treatments for PTSD in the Department of Mental Health at Naval Medical Center San Diego concurs with Dr. Ritchie: "If this works, SGB is just about the ideal treatment for PTSD. We found that all the case reports about the procedure were positive.  That’s encouraging.  But the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘science.’  We also found that there were no formal studies testing SGB for PTSD.  Clearly, those will be needed in the future.
SGB expert and another study co-author, Salahadin Abdi, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chairman in Department of Pain Medicine, Division of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said that bringing anesthesiologists and psychiatrists under one roof to advance treatment options for PTSD was a particularly rewarding experience because it pushes research into previously uncharted territory.  Said Abdi: "This is a small step forward towards understanding and the acceptance of a commonly performed interventional pain procedure, SGB, for the treatment of PTSD given the fact that current options are inadequate.  Thinking outside the box!"

6 ways YOU can help raise awareness for PTSD

6 Ways to Raise PTSD Awareness

Spread the word!

June is #PTSD Awareness Month. We encourage you to spread the word about PTSD and effective PTSD treatment. Here’s how. (6 Ways printable PDF).
Men sitting with backs towards camera.

Learn: PTSD Treatment Can Help

  1. Discover the facts.
    Start with PTSD Basics, key information about trauma, PTSD and treatment options. For a more advanced overview, watch our PTSD 101 Course: PTSD Overview. We offer many free, in-depth Continuing Education Courses for Professionals as well.
  2. Watch and learn.
    Take the mystery out of PTSD treatment. Hear from Veterans and their clinicians at AboutFace. Or, take advantage of technology with PTSD Coach Online or mobile apps to help you manage PTSD symptoms.
Hands holding hands

Connect: Reach Out to Someone

  1. Work together.
    Promote PTSD Awareness Month with us! We have promotional materials to help you organize event or pass along information on PTSD and effective treatments.
  2. Help someone. Help yourself.
    Do you want to find out if you have PTSD or talk about treatment options? Take action for yourself or someone you care about. Learn where to get help for PTSD.
Woman petting a horse

Share: Spread the Word!

  1. Give support. Get Support. It can be hard to reach out for help. Read tips on how to overcome barriers to care, and know that there is support for family and friends too.
  2. Share what you learn.
    Stay up-to-date and ask us questions about PTSD on Facebook or Twitter. If you prefer email, subscribe to any of our publications: PTSD Monthly Update, Clinician's Trauma Update-Online, or PTSD Research Quarterly.

**shared from**

JUNE is PTSD Awareness Month!

If you did not know from any of my social media posts, the whole month of June is dedicated to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder awareness!

Why should you care, you ask?

It's simple... because PTS can happen to ANYONE! It is important to understand the signs and symptoms, in order to recognize a potential issue of a traumatic event.

What should you do if you think you or a friend has PTSD?

1. Don't be afraid or embarrassed! It is perfectly normal to have a reaction to a traumatic event.
2. Educate yourself. There are links below of numerous organizations and resources to utilize!
3. Share your thoughts/feelings with a confidant or someone you are comfortable speaking with openly.

Stay tuned for more blog postings about how you can help raise awareness this month!


National Center for PTSD

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Positive Action for PTSD

4/15 LeaderShape

I was so honored to be invited as a panel member to the Old Dominion University LeaderShape retreat yesterday.

Forty-seven students applied and were selected to attend this week-long retreat at the YMCA Camp Silver Beach. During the week, the students (mostly all strangers to each other) come together for team building, vision building, and learning how to be better leaders.

LeaderShape is a program that is now in over 80 universities nationwide. They focus on the concept of "leading with integrity" and to share the importance of a world where people go after their ambitions. Please check out their website for retreats near you!

I was invited to be on a panel of community leaders. I, alongside my friend (and VERY inspirational Paralympic soccer star) Jerreme Wade, Ed and Linda Bradley, and Karen Gershman spoke about our roles in the community, our failures, and our successes.

Surprisingly, I spoke about my role in the military and my husbands fight with PTSD more than my title. It was great to hear the students were actually intrigued about my passion and my story more than the glitz and glamour!

I wanted to really share the importance of having a passion for what you envision to do in the world. That success is determined by the goals you set for yourself, and how you recover from failure or raise the bar when you achieve those goals.

I hope the students had as great of time as I did!!! Thank you ODU and the staff for inviting me to be a part of the growth and empowerment of these young adults... they WILL be the change we are looking for in the world!
Thank you Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, VP of Student Development and Empowerment services at ODU for moderating our panel!
Thank you to the staff coordinators!!!!
Me and Jerreme