News & Articles

 

Published: Friday, September 16, 2011 – Herald Newspaper, Everett Washington

 Camano author’s book helping veterans with memory loss reconnect

By Kristi O'Harran, Herald Columnist

Dan Koffman, 61, an artist, designer and marketer who lives on Camano Island, was featured in a story by Gale Fiege Aug. 24, "Picture book can jog veterans' memories."

 Koffman wrote a book to help veterans suffering from dementia. The book is illustrated with iconic images such as boots and Jeeps.

 He said the pictures in the book can help veterans remember their experiences.

 Fiege wrote: "Dan Koffman likes to tell the story of one 92-year-old military veteran whose family got a copy of his latest picture book.

 "The elderly gentleman, who served in North Africa during World War II, hadn't said much in years, owing in part to his dementia.

 "The man saw the picture of a canteen in Koffman's book, 'Life in the U.S. Military: Images for Reflection and Reminiscence for Veterans with Memory Loss.'

 " 'In that moment, his family recognized him,' Koffman said, 'because he lit up, laughed and started talking about how it was as hot as blue blazes in Egypt when he served there, and how he emptied his canteen while riding a stinky camel through the pyramids. His reaction was magic.' "

 Koffman spoke about his book in San Antonio, Texas, where he met an audience of VFW auxiliary members at the national Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.

 "I addressed 3,000 VFW representatives who enjoyed my presentation so much, they stopped by the booth afterward and over the next several days to see the book in the flesh, place orders and share stories," Koffman says. "The presentation obviously touched folks very deeply."

 Veterans Hospital volunteers were beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of breaking through to many more patients, he said.

 "The Los Angeles VA Hospital Program put 'Life in The U.S. Military' to work in all their locations."

 He gave away free books to 45 of the 50 state VFW presidents. He said all indicated they would incorporate the book into their programs.

 Koffman said most importantly, he hopes to help caregivers and families connect and communicate with their loved ones.

 "We will not forget our veterans with memory loss," he says.

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Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 – Everett Washington Herald Newspaper

 

Camano Island man's picture books can help vets with dementia

By Gale Fiege, Herald Writer

CAMANO ISLAND -- Dan Koffman likes to tell the story of one 92-year-old military veteran whose family got a copy of his latest picture book.  The elderly gentleman, who served in North Africa during World War II, hadn't said much in years, owing in part to his dementia.

 

The man saw the picture of a canteen in Koffman's book, "Life in the U.S. Military: Images for Reflection and Reminiscence for Veterans with Memory Loss."

 

"In that moment, his family recognized him," Koffman said, "because he lit up, laughed and started talking about how it was as hot as blue blazes in Egypt when he served there, and how he emptied his canteen while riding a stinky camel through the pyramids. His reaction was magic."

 

Koffman, 61, a longtime artist, designer and marketer who lives on Camano Island, is on his way this week to San Antonio, Texas, where he plans to talk about his book to an audience of VFW auxiliary members at the national Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. There he hopes people will join his crusade to get the picture book into the hands of more than a half-million veterans -- from World War II to Afghanistan -- who have memory loss.

 

Dr. Nina Tumosa, a physician who specializes in geriatrics at St. Louis University in Missouri, considers the book wonderful. It includes simple pictures of boots, bugles and buzz cuts, among many other images familiar to veterans.

 

"The chaplains in our clinic frequently pull the book out in order to communicate with people, and the young clinicians learn a little bit about war," Tumosa said. "Especially if you are skilled in using the book, you can help a lot of people who are depressed by their memory loss."

 

While some of the images in the book might have more meaning to World War II, Korean and Vietnam war veterans, people returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with brain injuries also could benefit from the book, Tumosa said.

 

"I think it will become well-used," she said.

 

Bill Morse, 71, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy, agrees.

 

A VFW member in Arlington, Morse said he has encouraged Koffman to get his book out to veterans.

 

"For the average person, it's a bunch of pictures. But if you look at it from the perspective of a combat veteran, there are many things that readily bring back sad remembrances and fond memories," Morse said. "Any vet with post traumatic stress disorder and depression would benefit from having the book. It is a tool for helping people come back."

 

At their studio on Camano, Koffman and his wife, Sandy, are passionate about creating art that makes people smile. A longtime peace activist, Hoffman has created other picture books, including one about food, for people with memory loss.

 

Koffman's dad, a World War II veteran, died about 20 years ago after suffering from dementia for 10 years. Koffman's mom spent all her time during those last years caring for her husband and she died about six months after he passed away.

 

It is for them that Koffman published "Life in the U.S. Military."

 

"As the VFW Auxiliary women say, we need to honor the dead by serving the living," Koffman said. "We need more materials to help families. People just want something to help their loved ones and have a little respite for themselves -- a key to unlock those stories that help them reconnect."

 

Koffman sells his book online and has a place on his website, www.lifeintheusmilitary.com, where people can donate the $25 it takes to get the picture book into the hands of a veteran with memory loss.

 

"This is something positive we can all help do," Koffman said. "I just wish I could have shared this with my own father. While in the service he wrote manuals for GIs coming home with war injuries. In a way I am continuing his work."

 

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .