Improvise, adapt and overcome are three words often used amongst American troops, and in 2020, it was the motto for so many people around the world as we all grappled with the reality of life amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adapting is second nature for Boot Campaign as our foundation has stood firm on always adjusting to the ever-evolving needs of the military and veteran community. Joining us in that effort since 2015 has been Infinite Hero Foundation and 2020 was no different.
Even before the world stopped and shut down in March because of COVID-19 restrictions, Infinite Hero Foundation had granted Boot Campaign the seed funding to launch a virtual program. Infinite Hero’s support became invaluable as we expanded and accelerated our online efforts when brick and mortar treatment options for the invisible wounds we address — brain injury, post traumatic stress, chronic pain, self medication and insomnia — were not an option. While a virtual program is not the complete answer to complex issues, there are certainly scientific research findings to support the development of an online resilience and recovery effort.
Central to strengthening resilience, a key component of brain health, is the ability to manage stress. Although research shows that some resilience factors may be inherent within an individual, many can be trained and are strongly influenced by other lifestyle factors, such as fitness, sleep, and nutrition. The goal of Boot Campaign’s wholly virtual resilience and recovery program is: reduce anxiety, pain, fatigue, and depression, as well as improve cognition and physiological balance.
Veterans like Chris,* a Marine Corps veteran who completed the program shared, “I just finished my last session with my coach and it was a great experience. I can not thank you guys enough. The techniques and resources that were provided over the past few weeks have made a big difference in how I am able to handle stressors both at work and at home.”
Another Marine said, “I just completed my last session yesterday. I would like to thank you for accepting me into the Boot Campaign program. The coaching that I received has been transformative for my personal growth. I now have the proper tools to respond to emotions that are not healthy.”
Steve, a retired Navy veteran relayed, “My coach was awesome, personable and extremely knowledgeable and put the process in terms that made it easy to employ the techniques as we learned. My sleep, stress and relationships saw the most improvement.”
And while Boot Campaign focuses on the needs of veterans, we also know that veteran spouses and caregivers need support to manage and mitigate stress and improve mental health. Recent reports have shown military families are amongst the most vulnerable groups impacted by COVID-19 due to at least three conditions (emergent trauma, loneliness due to social isolation, and unplanned job or wage loss) that could culminate in a “perfect storm,” threatening mental and emotional health for both the veteran and family as a whole. While this problem is complex, addressing and sustaining well-being starts with having an understanding, awareness, and accessible way to influence the way the body and brain work.
Thanks to seed funding from the Infinite Hero Foundation, Boot Campaign was able to deliver virtual resilience and recovery training to spouses and caregivers as well like Anna* whose husband served for more than two decades in the Navy.
“My coach was so knowledgeable, easy to talk to, and a great teacher. The program was so helpful because it gave me simple tools to use and apply. This really helped with general stress, relationships and overall well being of me! Overall it was wonderful!!!!! So grateful!.”
Surrounding veteran and military families with compassionate and customized care is our charge at Boot Campaign. And with partners like Infinite Hero Foundation, we’ll continue to do just that.
*Name is a pseudonym