In short the goal is simple – Never forget. Guest Blogger, Terry Ryan

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Last week, I was a visitor to Davie, Florida from Pennsylvania. I traveled there to visit my friend Janine Lutz, a Davie resident, and founder of the LCpl Janos V. Lutz Live To Tell Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to “Stop Veteran Suicide”, by raising awareness of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), and promoting Post Traumatic Growth through community based services, like the newly launched “Buddy Up Program”. She has spearheaded and quickly mobilized these organizations in honor of her son, LCpl Janos V. Lutz who took his life, 12 Jan 2013, after enduring PTS upon returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

suiteDuring my visit, Janine told me she would be hosting a bicyclist, Tom, who was riding 6600 miles from South Carolina, to Key West, over to the Gulf Coast, and then on to Alaska for the Sea2Sea organization – “Giving Back to Those Who Served”. Wow – sounds amazing! But I didn’t know how amazing until I met Tom. He is Tom von Kaenel, retired Army veteran, cycling alone, without a support vehicle, on this self-supporting journey. But he downplays his efforts and instead asks us to focus on the two goals of the Sea2Sea 2014 Challenge:

1) To remember those who are no longer with us. It is our vision to establish a long range program to establish an Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in each US State listing the names of those who gave their lives for us in these conflicts, with the eventual goal of a national Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in Washington, DC.

In short the goal is simple – Never forget.

2) To continue to help those that they left behind. Partnering with selected 501(c)3 organizations across the country (for example, LCpl Lutz Live To Tell, Purple Heart Homes, Wounded Warrior Project, Upstate Warrior Solution, Augusta Warrior Project, JD-3), we will continue to highlight the challenges that service members, veterans, and their families face and how all of us can help.”

I had the honor to attend the Sea2Sea/LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation Memorial Ceremony, hosted by the Town of Davie on Friday, March 14, 2014. Tom led a Remember, Recognize, and Rejoice ceremony during which the names of 345 Florida military service members who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, were read simultaneously by the audience. The chaos of sound reminded all of us that the conflict, the suffering, and the return is not neat and tidy, and the wars’ effects ripple far and wide.

I am most fortunate to have spent time with Tom and Janine. Their passion and dedication to honor and help heal the veteran community is inspiring, and I urge you to look at their websites (sea2sea.org, lcpllutzlivetotell.org), and consider what you can do, small or large, to get involved.

And I hope that if Tom’s route passes through your community that you welcome him and consider hosting him for an evening’s rest as he cycles from city to city/town to town on his way to Alaska. I guarantee you’ll enjoy meeting him.

Sincerely,

Terry Ryan

LCpl Lutz Live To Tell Foundation Recognizes Sea2Sea.org w/reception in Davie, FL -YouTube Video

LCpl Lutz Live To Tell Foundation Recognizes Sea2Sea.org w/reception in Davie, FL

YouTube Video

Lutz Live to Tell, Davie, FL – Guest Blogger Michelle Coleman

22+ Veterans are losing their lives as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress every day.  More are lost here at home than on the battlefield and the worst part is that it is preventable.   Every day here at the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation, Inc.  we are posed with the question “Well, what can I do to help?”  Our immediate reply is “Spread the word!” Some pass out flyers, others share our post on social media, and then there is Tom Von Kaenel with Sea2Sea Inc.Chase Vehicle

Tom is riding 6600 miles from South Carolina down to the Florida Keys, and all the back up to Alaska to raise awareness for fallen servicemen & women.  His Florida trail has been dedicated to raising awareness to those lost from Post-Traumatic Stress and what can be done to prevent this epidemic from spreading.  The Lutz Live To Tell Foundation had the pleasure of trailing Tom from St. Augustine, FL to Davie, Fl where he was met with a welcome reception courtesy of the Mayor Judy Paul & the Town of Davie, FL.

Here Tom performed a wonderfully moving Remember, Recognize, & Rejoice Ceremony.  Tom Speech 3Local media outlets covering the event were so impressed by Tom’s ceremony that they published the cover story & photos less than 2 hours after the event.  Immediately following the Davie reception Tom was whisked away to the Florida Panther’s game where he was requested by Rick Case Automotive to be honored on the ice for the work he is doing across the nation.  Everyone that has met Tom and learned of his 2014 challenge have wanted nothing more but to help and contribute to his cause.


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The local Leathernecks motorcycle chapter attended the Davie reception and just had to be involved.  Leathernecks check presentThey are going to be making contact with Tom across the nation in various cities to help where needed. What shocked people the most is that Tom does not take any money for his awareness campaign.  Facial expressions tuned to admiration as he said that he just welcomes a hot meal and a place to sleep.  Which in turn inspired those listening to want to help more.

That night and well into the next morning the Lutz Live To Tell Foundation’s social media sites were on fire with excitement.  Tom & Sea2Sea have provided the opportunity to spread the word about the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation’s efforts to turn Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) into Post-Traumatic Growth in order to save our veteran’s lives.

@PTSDride – Twitter

Lutz Live to Tell Facebook Page – LCplLutzLiveToTell

Our Lutz Live To Tell Buddy Up program is offered for FREE on our website www.LCplLutzLiveToTell.org and provides an outline on how to locate and pair up veterans in your local community so Live To Tellthat they can have each other’s backs here at home like they did on the battlefield.  Included, is a family system that assist family members in dealing with returning veterans managing their PTS.

The Lutz Live To Tell Foundation is honored to have met and worked with Tom & Sea2Sea these past few days.  We encourage everyone to follow Tom for the next few months as he travels across the nation up to Alaska.  We look forward to seeing where he will set his next anchor and the amazing feats he will reach.

Good Travels Tom & don’t hesitate to contact us if you need anything!

Michelle Coleman

LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation

Live To TellIt is not possible to tell all the stories on the road, but one that needs to be broadcast is the story about the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation.

Janos (or Johnny as he is called by his mother Janine) was a Marine from Davie, Florida, deployed to Iraq & Afghanistan, returned home, and after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), took his own life on Jan 12, 2013.

This devastating tragedy (being replayed at, on the average of one suicide per hour every day) would effectively end any hope of happiness that I would have for my life, but Janine has transformed this into a life-affirming program of suicide prevention by de-stigmatizing Post Traumatic Stress turning into from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder into Post Traumatic Growth.

What Janine and her small core of volunteers have done in such a short period of time is nothing short of remarkable and awe-inspiring.  Visit their website at http://lcpllutzlivetotell.org/ for practical information to prevent veteran suicide and how to implement best practices for your local communities.

I also strongly recommend going to their Facebook page to see how a vibrant form of social media can be effective and empowering (‘Like’ them also).

It is estimated that PTS affects over 600,000 personnel since 9/11 and Janine’s 501(c)3 charity, LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation is taking concrete steps to ensure that those at risk are identified and supported through a Buddy Up Program.

The town of Davie, Florida has embraced this charity with a proclamation naming Jan 12, 2013 The LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Day and sponsoring the PTS Awareness Day on that day.  They have also donated the use of the Davie Women’s Club Facility one day per month for the Buddy Up program.

During our Remember, Recognize, & Rejoice Ceremony last Friday (Mar 14) at Davie Town Hall, I was particularly impressed by Mayor Judy Paul’s commitment & support of this and other veteran’s initiative.  Mayor Paul’s actions show the model that other towns can follow to address this devastating problem.

Although many times we are reminded of what is wrong or lacking in the US, it is more important to realize the positive effect that two people can have in turning a tragedy into what will ultimately be a triumph.

 

So Janine & Judy, you have my sincere admiration and thanks for Giving Back to Those Who Served.

Veteran stops in Davie on awareness-raising bike ride to Alaska

Veteran stops in Davie on awareness-raising bike ride to Alaska

By Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel |6:52 p.m. EDT, March 14, 2014 | Click here for a link to the original story

Tom von Kaenel is on a 6,600-mile mission to raise awareness about the battles some veterans continue to fight after their tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He stopped for a ceremony at Davie Town Hall on Friday during his bicycle trip from his South Carolina home to Key West, where he will turn around and head for Juneau, Alaska.

The Sea2Sea 2014 Challenge is expected to take four months, but it’s not the first time von Kaenel has gone the extra mile. He rode his bike from Washington state to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in 2011.

The retired lieutenant colonel, 58, chose this path while recovering from injuries sustained on vacation in the French Pyrenees in 2010. He was recuperating in a U.S. military hospital in Germany, where he saw many young veterans returning from the Persian Gulf.

He is also making the ride for veterans such as Janos V. Lutz, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2007 to 2009. The 24-year-old Marine took his own life when he returned home to Davie, said his mother. Janine Lutz.

Lutz cited post-traumatic stress disorder and the anti-malaria drug mefloquine, also known by its brand name Lariam, which her son had been ordered to take during and after his service, as contributing to his death. “The side effects are…paranoia, hallucinations,” she said. “My son had all of that.” Last September, the Army banned the use of the drug among special operations forces.

Lutz is working with von Kaenel to make people aware of the dangers of PTSD and some of the drugs prescribed for it. She’s also trying to launch the Buddy Up-Live To Tell program for peer support among veterans.
“When [my son] was in his darkest hour, I couldn’t help him,” she said. “But I know if I had gotten some of his battle buddies here they would have saved my son.”

wkroustan@tribune.com or 954-356-4303

Copyright © 2014 including images, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska The names of 345 Florida soldiers who died in Iraq & Afghanistan fill a table after each of their names were read outloud during a memorial service honoring them and also those who have committed suicide suffering from PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
The names of 345 Florida soldiers who died in Iraq & Afghanistan fill a table after each of their names were read outloud during a memorial service honoring them and also those who have committed suicide suffering from PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska (left to right) Town of Davie Mayor Judy Paul, veteran Tom von Kaenel and others read the names of soldiers who died in Iraq & Afghanistan and those who have committed suicide because of PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
(left to right) Town of Davie Mayor Judy Paul, veteran Tom von Kaenel and others read the names of soldiers who died in Iraq & Afghanistan and those who have committed suicide because of PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska After getting off his bike veteran Tom von Kaenel is greated by fellow veterans (left) Jack Parsons and (right) Drew Karoblis Friday in Davie. Von Kaenel is riding his bike 6600 miles from Key West to Alaska to raise awareness and support for the problems veterans face, including PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
After getting off his bike veteran Tom von Kaenel is greated by fellow veterans (left) Jack Parsons and (right) Drew Karoblis Friday in Davie. Von Kaenel is riding his bike 6600 miles from Key West to Alaska to raise awareness and support for the problems veterans face, including PTSD. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska Daniel Iarco plays taps during a memorial service for soldiers who have committed suicide due to PTSD and soldiers who have died in from Iraq & Afghanistan. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /July 27, 2013)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
Daniel Iarco plays taps during a memorial service for soldiers who have committed suicide due to PTSD and soldiers who have died in from Iraq & Afghanistan. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /July 27, 2013)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska Veteran Tom von Kaenel is escorted into the Town of Davie City Hall Friday afternoon during his 6600 miles from Key West to Alaska to raise awareness and support for the problems veterans face, including PTSD. He passed through Davie for a 30-minute ceremony honoring soldiers from Iraq & Afghanistan. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)

Veteran bikes Key West to Alaska
Veteran Tom von Kaenel is escorted into the Town of Davie City Hall Friday afternoon during his 6600 miles from Key West to Alaska to raise awareness and support for the problems veterans face, including PTSD. He passed through Davie for a 30-minute ceremony honoring soldiers from Iraq & Afghanistan. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel /March 14, 2014)