Faith And Frenzy: Sister Jean Delores Schmidt

Faith And Frenzy: Sister Jean Delores Schmidt

Basketball HoopEvery now and again, a human interest story comes along in the news that sticks out from the rest. These stories are a refreshing change from the sad news that daily grips the world in various forms. Sister Jean Delores Schmidt is just one of those stories. A unique and dedicated 98-year-old nun, Schmidt has become a figurehead for a treasured American pastime: basketball. As the nation is gripped by the basketball frenzy known as ‘March Madness’, Schmidt spiritually supports her team, the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers, as their chaplain for the past 25 years. Not only does she bring her spiritual brand of support to the players, she has also become known as the team’s lucky charm and trusted advisor.

March Madness

From about the second week of March to early April, March Madness brings the basketball fervor to a fever pitch as a series of tournaments are played to name the national college basketball champions. These single-elimination tournaments determine the championship team as they need to win six games in a row. The high-stakes intensity is fervent as one loss sends a team home. Before each game, the team’s coach, Porter Moser, and Sister Schmidt impart their words of support and encouragement to their team.

Sister Jean Delores Schmidt

Prior to becoming the team chaplain in 1994, the 98-year-old Sister Schmidt was an elementary school teacher, a campus minister, and an academic advisor. She had played basketball in high school and has been a life-long fan. Schmidt has found the ultimate way of combining her religious fervor with the two things she loves the most: supporting the spirituality of young people and basketball. Always an intense fan, Schmidt’s role as the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers team chaplain has recently moved her into the forefront of the nation’s basketball community, and with the current success of her team, her story has stolen the hearts of readers, viewers, and basketball fans alike.

The Loyola University Chicago Ramblers

Currently, Schmidt’s beloved team is the 11th-seeded team in March Madness, and for the first time in 55 years, they have secured themselves a place in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s basketball tourney.

Schmidt became somewhat of a spiritual sensation after an interview with TruTV helped spread this inspirational senior story. During the interview, Schmidt recounted how she spoke to her team on Saturday before they went out on the court to gain a one-point victory over Tennessee.

Guiding Words

Schmidt is at every game on the sidelines, in the locker room, and in the hearts of the players. She helps prep the players before their games by reminding them how they can help spread the word within the game. She gushes over her players’ humble and loyal attitude as they don’t care who gets the baskets as long as it’s their team!

Her prayers form a unique blend of Christian faith and basketball acumen. She is known to pray for refs to make the right calls and blend prayers with scouting reports. She is also admired for her steadfast knowledge of the game. On her very first day, she is said to have created a complete scouting report for Coach Porter Moser, and this young lady knows her brackets.

Sister Jean Delores Schmidt exemplifies the passion of the human spirit. She has dedicated her life to spreading the values of spirituality, faith, hard work, and of course love of the game. As the team chaplain of the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers, her prayers, guidance, and support could just lead the team to the end of the March Madness championships.

Veterans to Receive Better Access to Mental Health Services

Veterans to Receive Better Access to Mental Health Services

Silhouette of Man SalutingIn a collaborative effort, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Cohens Veterans Network (CVN) have recently announced a program with the aim of increasing accessibility of mental health resources for veterans.

In recent years, we’ve seen dozens of celebrities, athletes, and public figures come forward to open up about their mental health in an effort to remove the stigma, while also encouraging people to seek help when they need it.

Now that it is becoming more socially acceptable to speak about mental health issues publicly, we are starting to see meaningful benefits for our veterans.

VA & CVN Partnership

With the disturbing rise in veteran suicide rates and cases of veterans suffering from PTSD, partners VA and CVN have teamed up to tackle the issues in a three-pronged approach.

1) Spreading awareness and working together in the establishment of mental health education programs.

2) Determining the best locations for the establishment of Cohen Clinics in regions where veterans are thought to be underserved.

3) Working together to share educational resources developed by VA with health care providers.

What Exactly is PTSD?

When individuals are faced with stressful or traumatic situations, there are two basic nervous system responses. The first is known as Mobilization, or ‘fight or flight’. When a dangerous or disturbing combat situation presents itself, an individual’s heart rate and blood pressure will rise. Muscles tighten to elevate strength and reaction time.

The next reactionary process is called Immobilization, and this occurs when danger is no longer a threat. At this time, heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle responses should return to normal. PTSD occurs when immobilization does not occur. In these instances, individuals who have suffered too much exposure to traumatic situations or have simply seen too much find their nervous systems stuck in the mobilization stage and are unable to return to a state of physical and mental balance.

Recovering from PTSD

Regardless of how these proposed changes, initiatives, and resources manifest themselves, the need for change is clear. Veterans suffering from PTSD exhibit a wide range of symptoms that differ from case to case. Some of the most common symptoms include recurrent reminders of the traumatic events, often in the form of nightmares, negative thoughts, and flashbacks. Avoidance of reminders is also common as individuals remove themselves from family and friends in the attempt to distance themselves from reminders of what they have seen, who they feel they have become, and who they used to be. Negative thoughts and moods can be prevalent as the exposure to negative events and memories can taint feelings of self-worth and cement feelings of guilt and shame. Sufferers of PTSD also can seem jumpy and unable to relax; this is understood as the inability to shake the mobilization response to trauma as anger, recklessness, and sleep difficulties can become more and more prevalent.

PTSD can be difficult to treat as symptoms can arise instantly or years down the road. Initiatives like those launched by the Veterans Affairs and Cohens Veterans Network work to help veterans in the struggle to leave the war zone behind and move forward in a way that protects and promotes their mental health.

OC Elder Law’s Role

As a 12 year veteran of the Navy, OC Elder Law’s founder, Marty Burbank is committed to helping veterans. For years, Marty has volunteered his time and legal expertise to a pro bono legal clinic specifically for veterans, and as an organization, OC Elder Law is committed to helping former servicemen maximize their veterans benefits.

If there is a topic relating to veterans that you feel needs more public awareness, please feel to reach out to us at info@ocelderlaw.com

Tax Tips for Senior Citizens

Tax Tips for Senior Citizens

seniors laughing paying billsOur estate planning attorneys can tell you firsthand that not many senior citizens are aware of the key tax deductions and credits that are available to them each year. As a result, this group of individuals ends up passing up the opportunity to keep more money in their pockets. With a little bit of smart tax planning, you can pay significantly less in taxes in the years following your retirement. If you are 65 years or older, here is a guide detailing some of the senior tax benefits you can take advantage of to retain more of your retirement income.

Medical expenses

Most senior citizens can attest that healthcare costs do account for the largest share of expenses in the years following retirement. Healthcare premiums, drug prescriptions, and other related costs can easily take up 30% of your total income. The good news is that a bunch of these expenses are tax deductible.

However, even if an out of pocket expense is tax deductible, it does not necessarily mean you can automatically deduct it from your taxable income. Only expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI) can be deducted.

Capitalize on standard deductions

A Standard deduction seeks to slash the amount of income of which an individual is taxed and it normally varies depending on an applicant’s filing status. Individuals who are of age 65 and over are entitled to enjoy a higher standard deduction on their incomes. Note that you cannot claim the deduction if you itemize deductions. If you are at least 65 and single, your deduction is worth up to $1,300 on top of the standard while for married couples it is $1,600 for both you and your better half.

Make contributions to your retirement fund

Yes, this is probably one of the best tax breaks available for seniors. Actually, the law stipulates that adults over 50 can contribute higher amounts to their retirement funds compared to people under 50. For example, married couples over 50 can set aside up to $12,000 to tax-deferred retirement accounts such as IRA or 401(k) and have this amount deducted from their taxable income.

Investment-related expenses

When we attain senior citizenship status, the goal is always to reap income from investments we made during our working years. Such income could be in the form of interests, dividends and capital gains on investments. Accounting fees, consultation fees, subscription to investment newsletters are all expenses that can be classified as itemized deductions (As long as they exceed 2 percent of your AGI).

Know when and how to withdraw from IRAs

It is important to strategically plan the manner in which you will withdraw from your social security. Spending your retirement funds the wrong way can translate to you paying thousands more in taxes every year. This situation mostly occurs to retirees who have no pension and whose retirement income solely comes from IRA and social security. Luckily, an expert retirement planner can help you work out a strategy that will get the most out of your after-tax income.

As estate planning attorneys, we see a lot of senior citizens who struggle to make ends meet. That’s precisely why we use our blog to inform the senior community about how to make their dollars stretch so that they can enjoy their golden years comfortable without having to worry about finances. If you have a topic you would like us to cover on our blog, email us today at info@ocelderlaw.com!