By Debbie Gregory

When we think about people with out-of-control consumer debt, we picture wild shopping sprees and luxurious lifestyles. But the main reason a large number of Americans wind up in financial trouble has nothing to do with self-indulgence. Rather, it’s a matter of medical debt. And having health insurance in no way guarantees that you won’t fall victim to medical debt.

RIP Medical Debt began erasing some $65 million worth of medical debt for veterans, their family members, National Guardsmen and Reservists in 2016.

Just like in Willy Wonka, recipients receive notification, via a letter in a golden envelope, that part or all of their medical debt has been satisfied. And the action is automatic, so anyone who receives one of the “golden tickets” and mistakes the envelope for junk mail and tosses it, still benefits.

Since beginning its mission in 2014, this 501(c)(3) charity has been responsible for wiping out a $435 million mountain of medical debt for civilians with significant bills who are living at less than twice the poverty level, are insolvent or have more than 5 percent of their gross income going to health care debt.

According to RIP Medical Debt’s website:

  • 1 in 5 people living in the U.S. are grappling with medical debt;
  • Nearly 50% of all credit card debt in the US is from medical debt;
  • Medical debt contributes to 60% of all bankruptcies in America; and
  • More than 40% of Americans wouldn’t be able to cover an emergency expense of $400.

The non-profit is the brainchild of collections industry executives Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton, have more than 70 years of experience in the credit and collection industry between them.

Antico and Ashton knew that once medical debt was sent to collection agencies from medical providers such as hospitals, doctors and ambulance companies, they could purchase the debt for a cents on the dollar, or even less. This would yield a tremendous result, as a $50,000 tax-deductible donation could potentially wipe out $5 million of medical debt.

Ashton, a Navy veteran, was surprised at the number of active-duty military and veterans who had substantial medical debt.

“Like many Americans, I believed that America takes care of the medical needs of the men and women who have served our country,” he said.

Instead, he found that veterans may face mounting medical bills while waiting to get into the Department of Veterans Affairs system or they aren’t eligible for care at the VA.

“You can imagine that these veterans are getting hounded for financial debt, and they already have anxiety or depression or post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury. This is a big relief,” he said.

Many of RIP’s donations come from individual donors and corporations that raise money specifically for the charity. Because the forgiven debt is considered a gift, there is not any tax liability for the recipient, and the debt is removed from the three major credit reporting agencies.

Please tell me what you think about this incredible service.  Let’s start a conversation.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,




Electric Therapy Shows Promise in PTSD Treatment

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By Debbie Gregory.

Hundreds of veterans have found improvement for their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms and mental disorders through an experimental new electric therapy treatment.

Former U.S. Special Operations Forces personnel have received the treatment at the Newport Brain Research Laboratory, located at the Brain Treatment Center in San Diego, California.

Dr. Erik Won is the president and CEO of the Newport Brain Research Laboratory, the company that has developed the treatment called Magnetic EEG/ECG-guided Resonant Therapy (MeRT).

Former Navy SEALS represent the perfect test group for the experimental brain treatment. They enter the service in superb health and then embark on a course of training that heightens mental and physical strength and alertness. But due to their close range exposure to explosives, they often suffer from Persistent Post-Concussion Symptoms and PTSD

With ongoing FDA clinical trials to judge the efficacy and risks of MeRT, the technique could provide an alternative treatment for debilitating headaches, inability to concentrate, memory problems, depression, anxiety, anger, aggressiveness, attention deficit and difficulty sleeping.

Won’s therapy is administered by placing a flashlight-sized device near the skull and inducing an electromagnetic field that sends a small burst of current to the brain. Over the course of 20 minutes, the device is moved around the cranium, delivering jolts that, at their most aggressive, feel like a firm finger tapping.

Won, a former U.S. Navy Flight Surgeon, and his team have treated more than 650 veterans using MeRT. The therapy has shown big improvements in test subjects who have participated in the course of therapy that runs for five days a week, for about four weeks.

“It’s certainly not a panacea,” said Won. But he believes that MeRT could be used to replace other therapies, including drug therapy.

“I think, in the future, there will be a discussion about whether this should be first-line management. What can we do to address the functional issues at play? There’s a whole lot of science to do before we get there,” he said.

Great Film To See

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By Debbie Gregory.

Did you enjoy “Unbroken” the 2014 film that ended with ended with Olympic athlete and Army Air Forces officer Louis Zamperini returning home after surviving his incarceration in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. It was a Hollywood ending to a big-budget Hollywood movie, but it didn’t really capture what Zamperini considered to be the miracle of his own life.

The movie that Zamperini would want all of us to see is now out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital and follows his life as he meets and woos his wife Cynthia and his life collapses as he struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. Zamperini conquered his demons after a religious conversion at a Billy Graham crusade, and this movie ends as he embraces Christianity and puts his life back on track. It is called “Unbroken: Path To Redemption”.

In the film, Samuel Hunt takes the role of Louis Zamperini from Jack McConnell, and Merritt Patterson plays Cynthia. The evangelist Will Graham takes a rare acting role, playing his grandfather Billy Graham. “Unbroken: Path to Redemption” is the story of one war hero’s attempts to overcome PTSD. Luke Zamperini acknowledges that Christianity may not be a solution for everyone, but it worked for his dad.

Let us know what you think of this film and if you enjoyed it more than “Unbroken” that was produced and directed by Angela Jolie.

The Top 10 Disabilities Claimed by Veterans

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The Top 10 List

The Top 10 Disabilities Claimed by Veterans are:
1. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
2. Sleep Apnea
3. Diabetes Type II
4. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
6. Tinnitus
7. Peripheral Neuropathy
8. Depression
9. Anxiety
10. Various Skin Disorders

Veterans who have served and have these conditions need to pursue their benefits. Often, veterans don’t do so. Some of the main reasons include the following:

I don’t trust the government: Many veterans have indicated that they don’t trust their Government in matters of confidentiality and privacy, and therefore, have no interest in pursuing benefits. Veterans from the Vietnam era are particularly sensitive regarding their distrust of the government. Many veterans from that era have indicated that they had a very bad experience while in uniform, and felt as though the government is not really inclined to assist or help them.

I didn’t know I was eligible: Far too many veterans are unaware of their eligibility status. Many veterans assume that since they aren’t registered to use VA services, they are automatically ineligible for benefits.

I am not eligible: Military discharge status plays in big role in determining if a veteran is potentially eligible for benefits. Honorably discharged veterans are 100% eligible for benefits if they meet the criteria. Veterans with a Bad Conduct Discharge are not eligible for benefits. However, some veterans fall some place between an Honorable Discharge and a Bad Conduct Discharge. For instance, a veteran with a General Discharge is oftentimes eligible for benefits. Check with your Veterans Service Officer to find out if you qualify.

I don’t want to go through the “red tape”: Many veterans are of the belief that pursuing benefits from the VA is a matter of navigating a very complex and confusing system that involves mounds of documentation. While it may be true that there is a lot of paperwork, most, if not all is handled by a competent VSO and not the veteran. The VSO is trained to work with the bureaucracy, not the veteran, and takes much the complexity away from the veteran.

By Debbie Gregory

Potentia Labs, the developer of a unique interactive e-learning platform that teaches emotional wellness skills like resilience and mindfulness, has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to create a program specifically for veterans suffering from PTSD and depression.

Potentia Labs won the Department of Veterans Affairs Industry Innovation Competition.

Potentia works via an online platform and mobile app, concentrating on positive traits, such as resilience, confidence, optimism and mindfulness.

Dustin Milner, cofounder of Potentia, said that due to their military training, veterans often have trouble attending and sticking with traditional therapy.

Many veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD have trouble acknowledging weakness. By building on veterans’ existing strengths to help them become the best version of themselves, Potentia works on every area of psychological, social, and emotional well-being and performance. Backed by science, the tool is designed to provide experiences on a daily basis, and it only takes 3 to 5 minutes a day.

The connection to veterans is personal for the company, according to Milner. Cofounder Eric Lenhardt is an Army veteran who has undergone treatment for PTSD in the past.

Potentia’s first-of-its-kind app is packed with dynamic courses created by experts to help build skills like mental toughness and emotional agility—the tools everyone needs to navigate life, work, and family.

The company aims to customize and expand the platform by mixing together gaming technology, instructional design, and expertise from psychologists.

Beginning in July, 2018, the platform will begin an 18-month trial at a California VA center.