CAMVETS Kicks-off: Members of Cleveland Community to Create New Solutions for Injured Veterans 

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Challenge America, VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System, and Cleveland Clinic Innovations Kick off their Makers For Veterans Program to Create Innovative Solutions for Seven Injured Veterans 

Cleveland, Ohio. Challenge America, the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System (VANEOHS), and Cleveland Clinic Innovations are gathering Cleveland-area engineers, designers, programmers, and other professionals for the first Challenge America: Makers for Veterans (CAMVETS) program. CAMVETS assembles teams of experts to create innovative solutions to the unmet needs of injured Veterans. These solutions aim to produce dramatic improvements in the daily lives of Veterans, their loved ones, and many others who face similar challenges.

CAMVETS kicks off this Friday, March 1, 2019 at St. Edward High School in Lakewood. The seven Veteran participants - six from Northeast Ohio and one from Israel - will meet their teams of “Solution Makers” for the first time and immediately begin planning the design process during this ideation session. The seven teams will meet again April 25-27, 2019 for a three-day intensive workshop, called a “make-a-thon”, to build the working prototype solution for their Veteran teammate.  

 This program is made possible through generous support from The Northeast Ohio Foundation For Patriotism (NEOPAT), Baldwin Wallace University, and Invacare, as well as the strategic partnerships with VANEOHCS, Cleveland Clinic, St. Edward High School, HIMSS Innovation Center, and Balance Innovation and Design.

Meet the CAMVETS Cleveland Veteran Challengers

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Brett Clingan: Army Veteran, Brett loves to handcycle, especially with his kids. It’s just difficult now for him to transfer himself from his wheelchair to the handcycle. He’s looking for a device to help him to do so on his own.

 Chris Carter: Injured in the Army, Chris is about to be a father and he doesn’t want his disability to limit his involvement in his child’s life. He is looking for a device that will allow him to get down on the floor and play with his baby.

 James Spurgin: Former United States Marine Corps Sergeant, James is now a disabled strength sports competitor. He competes with his one working arm, but dreams of using both arms to lift the legendary Husafell stone.

 Ginger MacCutcheon: A survivor of Military Sexual Trauma during her time in the Army, Ginger struggles with PTSD symptoms. She is looking for technological tools to help guide her through coping mechanisms that she can use throughout the day.

 Todd Feemster (Not pictured above): Army Veteran, Todd is a bilateral hand amputee and is looking for the right solution to control his devices. He has not been able to check his email in over a year, yet he wants to go back to school.

 Lee Tomlin: As a result of a gunshot wound during his time in the Marine Corps, Lee is a quadriplegic and would like to have more independence. He wants to be able to control his devices to read and watch movies on his own.

 Uzi Patziniach: Veteran of the Israeli Counter Terror Unit, Uzi looking for a glove or alternative device to provide pain relief and relaxation in his hands while he sleeps.

The CAMVETS program has three major components: 1). Identifying Veteran challenges, 2). Building solutions during a 3-day interactive Makers event (Make-a-thons), and 3). Developing scalable solutions. 

1.     Veteran Challenges: CAMVETS starts with individual veterans (Challenge Knowers) and empowers them to identify challenges they face. Following this needs assessment, Veterans actively participate in planning meetings with teams of subject matter experts (Solution Makers) who will assemble to create an innovative solution that improves the lives of their Veteran teammates and their families.

2.     Make-a-thon: The program culminates in a three-day Make-a-thon, where Veterans play an active role in putting the plans into action by working with their teams to create an innovative working prototype capable of solving the unmet need they identified in the previous stage.

3.     Develop Scalable Solutions: Following each CAMVETS event, Challenge America continues to work with the VA and its other strategic partners to select the prototypes with the greatest market viability. Working through its partners, Challenge America then pursues opportunities to refine these prototypes and make them available to scores of veterans and others who face similar challenges.  

Learn more about CAMVETS

About Challenge America
Challenge America is a national nonprofit with the mission to connect service members, veterans, and their families to resources and solutions that build community and give purpose to their lives. An outgrowth of Challenge Aspen, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization that has provided possibilities for people with disabilities since 1995.

Responding to the increasing number of wounded and injured service men and women, Challenge Aspen launched a number of veteran-specific programs. As these programs developed, research revealed the lack of coordination of resources and information between organizations serving military across the country, making it difficult for service members and their families to locate the services needed for a successful transition from battlefield to homefront.

Recognizing that gap and the need for coordination of resources and information on both a national and community level, the idea of "challenging America" to find ways to connect military and their families with the resources needed to establish a "new normal" life was born. 

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