PTSD AWARENESS

PTSD AWARENESS
THE INVISIBLE WAR

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4/9 Armed Forces Foundation Congressional Gala

It was an amazing night for the advocacy of Post Traumatic Stress. Last night, I was so thankful to be in the presence of many esteemed officials, celebrities, and of course other Military members at the 10th Annual Armed Forces Foundation Congressional Gala, held in Washington, D.C.

"The Armed Forces Foundation offers vital assistance to active-duty military personnel, National Guardsmen, Reservists, military families, and veterans. This includes direct financial assistance, recreational therapy and outreach programs, military hospital dinners, and national education initiatives. With the launch of the Help Save Our Troops campaign, the AFF educates Americans about the hidden wounds of war including PTSD, TBI, and advocates for those troops and veterans who have suffered from these hidden wounds."

The AFF has raised and donated over $95,000,000.... yes, MILLION to assist our troops in need.

In addition to the treatment assistance, the AFF is committed to awareness and education. Partnering with numerous congressional leaders, they work on legislation to mold current bills to our ever-changing needs. Most recently, they are proposing to extend TRICARE benefits for 18 months after military separation! *Much needed, and necessary, in my opinion*

The gala was a heartfelt experience, with over 300 people in attendance and monies raised will most certainly make a difference with the AFF mission!

If you would like to contribute to the AFF mission, please visit: www.armedforcesfoundation.org.

I would like to specifically thank President of the AFF, Patricia Driscoll and her staff, Brian Cooke, Joe Maiellano, and Matt St.Jean for their amazing work! I look forward to working with you on other projects in the future!

Most importantly, HUGE thanks to my Platinum Sponsor, Advance Health Solutions- www.advancehealthsolutions.com. They were so kind to invite me as their guest at this evening's event! Many thanks to Dr. Maryam Navaie, CEO, and to Dr. Elspeth Ritchie, AHS Collaborator, for making the night full of laughs and sharing new friends!
Me, taking the podium!
Matt St.Jean, AFF Program Associate & Dr. Maryam Navaie, CEO, Advance Health Solutions
Kurt Busch, NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Founder of Kurt Busch Foundation
Mr. Ron White, comedian (who has personally contributed over $1,000,000 to AFF)
Rob Jackson, NFL LB, Washington Redskins
Mr. Buck Williams, former NBA player
Dr. Maryam Navaie, CEO, Advance Health Solutions
Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense
Pictured from left are Major General (Ret.) James K. Gilma, M.D., Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Military and Veterans Health Institute; Jordan Franken; Amber Wandtke, Mrs. Eastern States International 2014; Lisa Le Gette, RPh, MBA, Director of Express Scripts and her husband, Chris Le Gette; Maryam Navaie, Dr.P.H., President and CEO of Advance Health Solutions; Rear Admiral Michael T. Franken, Chief of Legislative Affairs for the U.S. Navy at the Pentagon; Melisa Lindamood, Director of Federal Affairs at Johns Hopkins University; and W.P. Andrew Lee, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

April- Caregiver Month launched by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation

The full list of Caregiver Fellows and Advocates are now posted! I'm on: http://elizabethdolefoundation.org/state/virginia/#sthash.62sSLs1w.dpbs 
 
"Our Foundation is formally launching the Ambassadors program tonight, on the eve of our commemoration of Military and Veteran Caregivers Month. And we will kick-off this month-long recognition with an event that is significant for both our Foundation and our nation.


Tomorrow, Senator Elizabeth Dole will stand in front of Members of Congress, military leaders, veteran support organizations and media at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to announce the findings of the largest-ever study on military and veteran caregivers. Senator Dole commissioned the RAND Corporation to complete this study as the first step to understanding the challenges facing caregivers nationwide. We expect the report’s findings to catch the nation’s attention and guide our future efforts to strengthen the services provided to military and veteran caregivers. 


You can find a link to the full report on our website, ElizabethDoleFoundation.org, tomorrow at 11 a.m. EST.  Join us on social media for the announcement. Please share and retweet our messages about the report, and let us know your own reaction to the findings. There will be no shortage of interesting, concerning, and even inspiring facts in the report, such as:


Caregivers who assist post-9/11 veterans provide an estimated $3 billion in care annually

The RAND study estimates there are 5.5 million military caregivers across the United States, with nearly 20 percent caring for someone who served in the military since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Compared to older military caregivers, those who care for post-9/11 veterans tend to be younger, diverse and are more likely to care for someone with a mental health or behavioral health problem

While civilian caregivers reported missing one day of work per month, post-9/11 military caregivers report missing 3.5 days of work per month.


If you are on Twitter, we’ll be using the hashtag, #hiddenheroes.  If you are not on social media, email, call or write your friends about the findings. However you can get the word out, please do!


You can see a preview of the report findings tonight, by tuning into World News with Diane Sawyer on ABC. Here is a link to some of the story: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/spotlight-military-caregivers/story?id=23135039.  Senator Elizabeth Dole was the featured in the story as she begins to lay the groundwork for a national call to action to better support our hidden heroes. 


Again, we are so glad to launch our Ambassadors program on this very special night. We will have more exciting news about the Foundation and the way ahead soon. Together, we will make a real difference on this important issue. "

From:
Carol Lindamood Harlow, Executive Director
Caring for Military Families: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation
 
 

3/27 Dream Talk Broadcast for PTSD, Mrs. International, and everything pageants

I have been told recently, that I have a great radio voice.. so, here I am again on the airwaves. "Dream Talk" is a program all about our goals, reaching them, and dreaming for more! It was great to chat again with Ms. Lakia Gordon,  the gracious host of the show. I first met Lakia last year, when she interviewed me as Mrs. Virginia for another show, and was thrilled to meet with her again!

We spoke about all things pageants, PTSD, and my aspirations as Mrs. Eastern States 2014. Our broadcast was over TWO HOURS and went out to an audience over 200,000 listeners!

It was a wonderful feeling to know I was educating college students, as well as young professionals and adults who may encounter events that can cause Post Traumatic Stress. In addition, we spoke about the stigmas, not only about PTSD, but also about pageantry.

We had tweets, texts, and messages from across the country that we answered live. It was great to hear the support from all types of people about my past, and for my goal to become Mrs. International 2014!

I will be attaching the tape as soon as it's ready, but here are a few snapshots of the fun we had in studio!

www.nerd-fm.net !

yours in service,
Amber

March issue of The Health Journal!

In November, I was asked to participate in an article for The Health Journal. The focus was on my reign as Mrs. Virginia International and my work with PTSD and mental health issues.

Fortunately, during this process, I was crowned Mrs. Eastern States International 2014! So, the article was altered slightly to reflect my new work and new title!

Time went on, and I had a great time working with Kim O'Brien Root on the story... but I asked about the cover of the months magazine. Well, it turned out to be ME!

Please read why I chose to support PTSD awareness as my platform and my goals for 2014!!!

You can find a copy of the magazine at Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughter (CHKD), Sentara Medical Centers, and other hospital facilities!

You can go to: here to read it !

Thank you Chris Jones, Editor in Chief
Brian Freer, spectacular photographer
Bevello boutique, amazing wardrobe



yours in service,
Amber

3/11- PageantLIVE broadcast- Empowering, Inspiring, Spreading Awareness for PTSD

Tonight I was honored to be asked to be a part of the PageantLIVE.com live broadcast for women's month!

We wanted to highlight empowerment that pageantry brings, how we inspire others, and what we encourage women to strive for. As titleholders, we are role models not only for our children and our friends, but other women!

Please watch our short video, and think how you can INSPIRE CHANGE.... in yourself, and in others!

Special thanks to Stephanie McGrane and Pam Privette for the opportunity to spread my mission of PTSD awareness and the International Pageant System!

Click here: watch the video!

Please visit www.pageantlive.com for more broadcasts and upcoming guests!


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3/8 Hampton Roads Heart Ball

Even though "heart month" is over, our quest to spread heart health awareness is never over! This weekend we celebrated health and fundraised for the American Heart Association at the Greek-themed, Hampton Roads Heart Ball!

There were over 120 silent auction items, live statues, great food, and amazing company that filled an event tent at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens! I was honored to volunteer at the event, and assisted in the success of an amazing evening! Sorry, there aren't more photos, but we were really busy.. for 6 hours!!

please LIKE and visit the AHA Hampton Roads Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HamptonRoadsAHA

Special thanks to Teri, Julie, Paula, Laura, Jessica, the AHA HR staff, and the countless other volunteers who make the event the success it was!
Thanks 

3/8- International Womens Day; Inspiring Change


I debated what and how to convey a message of empowerment for women (specifically today), and was inspired by the words of Louisa Rodriguez. She is the co-founder of Positive Action for PTSD, the United Kingdom's leading organization for all forms of PTSD. She mentions about INSPIRING CHANGE and not only recognizing women, but the MEN who support them! 
Do not wait for change, BE THE CHANGE! 
Please read below and visit her site: http://www.louisarodriguez.co.uk 

"Today 8th March is International Women’s Day this year United Nations set the theme as Inspiring Change. In the last 100 years there has been a great deal of progress and change towards equality for women. There is still work to be done, rights to be fought for. 1 in 3 women around world experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, unequal pay is still an issue, abortion still illegal in various countries around the world, child marriages happening, girls still battling for education parts of the world and still far too many gender stereotyping with patriarchy and male privilege still evident in the most westernised of countries. The war against womens bodies continues with Female Genial Mutilation, politicians wanting to change the law against abortion to reduce womens rights in the USA and Spain, the unrealistic expecations of what a women's body should look like provided by mass media. We still have work to do, inspiring change could be the beginning of tackling all of these issues.
It is time for more women to come forward and speak up about the issues we face, for the women who are able to speak up it is our place to stand up for those women around the world who are not able to . Women united is one powerful force, what can make this more powerful is for women to speak from a place of love.  Words spoken in love and peace have so much impact. We are in a time when the world and the people in it are in need of love. There is so much pain and suffering currently ongoing. Love is so greatly needed and women are the best people to bring this in so many ways. Women are so much more able to live with open hearts and speak with love.
There are many wonderful things about being a woman to celebrate today. Celebrate whatever it is that you love about being a woman. For me it’s the amazing openness, love and support of female friendships, its how I can get dressed up in beautiful clothes, get creative with makeup and equally wear scruffs get out do DIY, wash the car, go and run a marathon. It is how I can be emotionally open, be able to be vulnerable and strong all in the same moment. I love the power of female sexuality, we all have inside us our own Goddess, its about being fearless to embrace your inner Goddess because you are beautiful, powerful and sexy for being unashamadely you. More than anything to be a woman today in the UK means I have far more choice to create my own future to decide how I live. Today I celebrate all of these things, I celebrate the fact that I have choices that 50 years ago many woman would not have had. Today I also celebrate all the women before me who fought for women’s rights, who challenged the status quo to create change and break down barriers for women.
This year I plan on inspiring change through the organisation I co-founded Positive Action For PTSD. We campaign, educate support ALL forms of PTSD. For me the amounts of different traumas women can be exposed to from domestic violence, sexual violence, childbirth trauma which is more likely to affect women. Twice as many women are affected by PTSD than men. I will campaign for greater awareness of the impact of such trauma to highlight how this can affect women and the changes need to better support women that have survived such issues.  My next big campaign begins on 19th March as I run with my Co-Founder Simon Buckden to Downing Street carrying with us the Book of PTSD containing the stories of people with PTSD, we want these voices to be heard and to begin positive change around PTSD in this country.
Today is not just about women but embracing the men who support women and female empowerment. It is about the men who are unafraid of strong, powerful women who speak up, the men that listen to women and support positive change for women. True equality exists where men and women can stand side by side, allowing each other to be who they truly are, embracing each others strengths, celebrating each other for who they are. When I run to Downing Street I will run side by side with my business partner and fiancĂ© – Simon Buckden, we recognise each other’s strengths and the power of each other’s voices we are equals in life and in business because the world need men and women for the different qualities and strengths we bring to life.

Inspiring change doesn’t mean you have to take on something huge, it could just be starting a conversation with someone, raising awareness of an issue in that conversation, if everyone took some kind of action just imagine what we could achieve. . . ."
- See more at: http://www.louisarodriguez.co.uk/adventures-life-learnings/international-womens-day-inspiring-change#sthash.Vop3YF4Q.dpuf

2/27 Armed Forces Foundation

On Thursday I was thrilled to meet with Dr. Maryam Navaie, CEO of Advance Health Solutions, Brian Cooke, AFF Chief of Staff  and Matt St. Jean, AFF Program Associate,  in Washington, DC.

Here is what the Armed Forces Foundation is all about: "a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under the U.S. Department of Defense's America Supports You program. We offer vital assistance to active-duty and retired personnel, National Guard, Reserve Components and military families. This includes direct financial assistance, therapeutic recreational and outreach programs - such as Troops to the Track with our partner NASCAR, tickets to professional sporting events, military family events, a national education initiative surrounding Veterans Day, holiday toy drives and even running teams like we have for the Marine Corps Marathon. The AFF proactively looks to educate and advocate for the hidden wounds of war, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)."

After some short introductions we were able to speak candidly about the Help Save Our Troops Campaign. This is a campaign focused on supporting our military who have suffered from mental health issues... many of which are not covered by Tricare. For more about HSOT: http://www.helpsaveourtroops.org/about. 

Alongside Advance Health Solutions, I am so excited for the upcoming events with the AFF. I can't say much now, but stay tuned for updates!!! 
With one of my role models, Dr. Maryam Navaie










Feb 2014-Caregiver Ambassador for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation

I have been interested in getting involved with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation for quite some time now! For those of you who do not know what this amazing organization is about: "Just as Americans honor the contributions of the men and women who serve in the armed forces on their behalf, so too should we honor the sacrifices of their devoted caregivers – hidden heroes who need our help now. Please stand with us, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, as we strive to elevate this critical issue to national attention. By researching the many challenges they face, spurring innovation across their systems of support, raising awareness of their needs, and empowering these selfless individuals, we can ensure that our nation’s military caregivers receive the honor, respect, and support they have nobly earned."  See more at: http://elizabethdolefoundation.org/why-help/#sthash.4ataW9iz.dpuf

The EDF has identified 20 "Dole Fellows" to represent the foundation and caregivers around the country. However, because of such an overwhelming response to this call, the EDF has further extended an offer for additional "Caregiver Ambassadors" to help bring awareness to the need to support those who support the injured. I have been honored with the great opportunity to become one of these very influential Ambassadors. 

I am so excited to meet my fellow caregivers to share our stories and network our resources. Specifically during the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Caregivers Week (stay tuned)! 

Again, I am SO HONORED and cannot wait to see who we will help! 


2/7 Heartbeat Gala for Go Red For Women

"In sophistication and style" was the theme of the night... everyone dressed in red, as far as the eyes could see, and we were all there for one reason: to raise awareness of heart disease and support the American Heart Associations Go Red For Women Campaign.

As part of the International Pageant family, our platform is Go Red, and we feel it is imperative to share that heart disease is the #1 killer in women ! We are so passionate to ensure our fellow women get regular check ups and know the signs of stroke and heart attacks!

KMK Productions (led by the fabulous Kim Wimbush) masterfully presented this great event to raise funds for the campaign and did so with fabulous avant garde fashions ! I was so grateful to attend the event, hear the survivor stories, and share the International Pageant System with such a new crowd!


1/31 Go Red Executive Breakfast

If you have not been on any social media recently, let me be the first to be inform you that February is Heart Health Awareness month! The International Pageant system is a huge supporter of Go Red for Women, the American Heart Association's campaign to fight the number ONE killer in women.... heart disease!

On Friday I attended the Hampton Roads' Go Red For Women Executive Breakfast to kickoff Heart Month with a bang! I was thrilled to hear from Dr. Jennifer Smith, VP of Neuroscience at Bon Secours, who has a personal connection with the Go Red mission. She welcomed us and spoke about the importance of sharing our knowledge to other women who may be unaware of the risk factors and signs of heart attacks.

We then heard from Dr. Lauren James, also from Bon Secours Hospital, who spoke about all of the fascinating statistics and facts that heart disease have caused!

Lastly, we were invigorated by the words of Nicole Smith. She is a Heart Disease and 2-time stroke survivor! She was so full of life and was truly inspiring to listen to... her fight, determination, and thirst for life was like no one else I've seen in a long time!

I had a great morning, and cannot wait to see what else Heart Month will bring! Thank you Teri Arnold and Paula Miles for having me!

I am also going to mention... I started my NEW workout routine today!!! Mrs. International 2014, here I come!!!!!

XOXO,
Amber
Paula, Nicole, and Dr. James
Me and FABULOUS Nicole! 
Dr. James
Paula, welcoming us to the breakfast ! 

Military Appreciation Night at ODU


Thank you to Old Dominion University for hosting a military appreciation night during their conference opener! It was a great opportunity to spread the importance of our support to the troops!

I had a great time meeting with ODU officials about future events and the impact of our military in our area!

More pics coming soon! 

Here are a few pictures from the game- GO MONARCHS!



Before the game, chatting court-side! 

pumpin' up the HUGE crowd!