Quadruple Amputee Marine Veteran Receives Double Arm Transplant


By Debbie Gregory.

During his first tour of duty, Retired Marine Sgt. John Peck suffered a traumatic brain injury. But in a subsequent tour in 2010, Peck’s life completely changed.

During that second tour, Peck stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, which triggered a blast that caused him to lose his arms and legs.

After losing his limbs, Peck was equipped with prosthetic arms and a wheelchair. However, in 2014, he was approved to undergo a double arm transplant, in which he would receive real arms from another young man — a man who died.

In August, the 31-year-old veteran underwent a bilateral arm transplant. The 13-hour surgery was performed by a team headed by Simon G. Talbot, Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s director of upper extremity transplantation.

His donor’s arms were surgically connected to Peck’s body near his elbows, which doctors say will allow him to eventually feel, grasp and hold in a way that prosthetics couldn’t.

“My dream job since I was 12 was to be a chef, and because of my donor’s gift, I actually have a fighting chance to do this,” Peck said. “As a result of this surgery, I’ll be able to pursue my dreams.”

Although Peck had significant out-of-pocket expenses, a spokeswoman for Brigham and Women’s said the hospital covered the cost of the surgery, and the physicians volunteered their time.

Of his donor, Peck said, “I will love him every day and will respect his life and this gift until the day I die.” To his donor’s family, Peck said, “Your loved one’s death will not be for nothing. Every day that I look down at our new arms, I will drive on . . . and I will never give up. I will remember his selflessness and his gift until the day I die.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

This Is The Future Of The Air Force Reserve


By Debbie Gregory.

On July 15, 2016, Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller was named commander of the Air Force Reserve. She is the first female to hold the position.

As one of the highest ranking women in the military, Miller will have four years to make her mark by ensuring that anyone who joins the Air Force Reserve will play an important role in the branch’s future.

Miller spent eight years on active duty before choosing to switch to the full-time reserves. A few years later, she opened a restaurant and juggled dual military-civilian life.

She is proud to lead the 70,000 men and women of the Air Force Reserve as they stand side-by-side with the active component around the world.

Miller looks to the future in order to increase diversity across the Reserves in lock-step with the Defense Department. The DoD took proactive steps toward creating a more diverse force by making the move to fully integrate women into all combat positions and allow transgender men and women to enlist or commission.

During the four years Miller will spend at the helm, she hopes to make the Reserve a place that offers something unique for all those who volunteer to serve.

“My goal is to get out to every population and let them understand the opportunities that are out there for them.”

Miller intends to continue to build out the Reserves as a crucial part of the Air Force by seeking out the best talent not only from those who transition out of the active component, but also from the civilian population.

“What I am going to do in this particular area is to show an opportunity to serve,” Miller said. “You can serve in your civilian capacity and then bring that same expertise into the military side. There’s many, many opportunities to participate at all levels.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Grant Enables More Veteran Treatment Courts


By Debbie Gregory.

Many of our veterans return home with substance abuse and psychological health problems, which often go untreated. Sadly, these challenges can sometimes lead to criminal or other destructive behaviors. Special Veterans Treatment Courts seek to treat veterans suffering from substance abuse and/or mental health disorders.

Veterans Treatment Courts are modeled after drug courts, which promote collaboration among the judiciary, community corrections agencies, drug treatment providers, and other community support groups.

A number of states have taken steps to promote Veterans Treatment Courts or veterans assistance within the state court system.

And now, the Justice Department has announced plans to award more than $4 million to 13 state and local jurisdictions to develop their own programs. This year’s grants will go to court systems in Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Florida, Montana, Virginia, Missouri, California, Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The system has proven so successful that the VA has mandated that every VA medical center have a veterans justice outreach specialist who provides legal assistance to veterans and supports veterans treatment courts in their region.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald said veterans often end up in the judicial system after suffering post-traumatic stress, brain injury or mental illness that can lead to substance abuse, homelessness and criminal activity.

“And all too often, that substance abuse begins with opioids prescribed by DoD or VA doctors for service-related conditions,” McDonald said. “All of these things are preventable.”

The VA has also launched an aggressive campaign to educate physicians on prescribing practices.
Veterans Courts promote sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated response involving the traditional partners found in drug courts and mental health courts, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare networks, the Veterans Benefits Administration, State Departments of Veterans Affairs, volunteer veteran mentors, and veterans family support organizations.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

VA’s suicide hotline in disarray, ex-director says


By Debbie Gregory.

A bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs suicide hotline sailed unanimously through the House until Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid blocked the legislation and refused to let it come to the floor for a voice vote.

Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, the bill’s sponsor, said a veteran in his district told him he repeatedly received a busy signal when he called the crisis line this spring. The man later got help from a friend, but “this hotline let him down,” Young said. “A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable.”

More than one-third of calls to a suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to Greg Hughes, the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line’s former director.

Some hotline workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end, even as crisis calls have increased sharply in recent years, Hughes said. Hughes added that some crisis line staffers “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity.” Coverage at the crisis line suffers “because we have staff who routinely request to leave early,” he said.

According to Hughes, who resigned in June, too many calls have rolled over to back-up centers where workers have less training to deal with veterans’ problems.

The VA has pledged to continue efforts to improve training and ensure that callers receive immediate assistance.

VA Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin said suicide prevention is a top priority at VA.  “We are saving thousands of lives. But we will not rest as long as there are veterans who remain at risk,” he said in a statement.

The bill will now go to the Senate.

The crisis hotline number is 800-273-8255.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Interview Do’s & Don’ts, and the Questions You Should/Should Not Answer


By Debbie Gregory.

If you’re searching for a veteran job after military service, you may be out of practice when it comes to the job interviewing process. Here are some important tips.


Prepare: Research the people interviewing you, the company, and the job itself. Know what does the company does, the requirements for the job, and how your experience matches those requirements.

Engage: Remember that you are, first and foremost, having a conversation. It’s nerve-wracking and highly formalized, but avoid stock responses. Preparation is a foundation, not a set-in-stone strategy.

Ask the right questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure they are the right questions. For example:  Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare? Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? What are the challenges of this position? What do you like most about working for this company?

Close on a positive: Towards the close of the interview, look the interviewer in the eye and say, “I can do this job, and do it well. I am the type of person who puts 100% effort and energy into my work. What are the next steps?

Do not flinch and wait for an answer. No one likes rejection and they want a candidate who will accept the offer and not reject it.  This might be the most important part of the interview.


Be late: This rule is ironclad. No excuses, no exceptions. Showing up late shows disregard for your potential employer’s time, and insinuates your inability to plan.

Say negative things about your current or past employers or managers: No matter how grounded your complaints are, negative comments will be viewed as disrespectful. When faced with the challenge of talking about former employers, make sure you are prepared with a positive spin on your experiences.

Be Desperate: Never let on that you’re applying just because you need a job. It’s in the best interests of the employer to hire a passionate employee rather than someone who is simply filling a slot.

Show lapses in your professional veneer: The interview begins as soon as you receive notice that they want to interview you. Party pictures on social media? Not a great idea. As soon as you enter the building, make sure you treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Don’t let your professional veneer slip for a moment.

Talk too much: Don’t take too long to answer direct questions. It gives the impression that you can’t get to the point. An even though you’re nervous, try not to over-talk.

Ask the wrong questions: Examples of this would be: How much does the job pay? What are the benefits? What can you tell me about your company? (You should have already done your homework.) How long will it take to get a promotion? Are you flexible on the schedule? Can I work from home?

Give away too much information: Don’t weaken future earning potential by speaking too freely about current income. No matter the official salary range of the position you are interviewing for, your current earnings have an enormous effect on the size of the offer.

You already know your resume set you apart as a candidate of choice to be invited for an interview. Hone your interviewing skills to actually win job offers. Polishing your interviewing skills can mean the difference between getting the job and being a runner-up.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.


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