Air Force Veteran Encourages Military Vets With Arthritis to Seek Support

Meet Donna Olsen, facilitator of the Arthritis Foundation’s Military and Veterans Virtual Connect Group.

Donna Olsen devoted 14 years of her life to military service, with four years of active duty in the Air Force and 10 years combined in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. She served her active duty at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, and she served her Air Force Reserve time at Bergstrom Air Force Base and Kelly Air Force Base in Texas.

Like many people who serve in the military, Donna has arthritis. Military members have higher rates of osteoarthritis than the general public, largely due to a type of arthritis called post traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA).

She started feeling pain in her lower back while on active duty, which was initially diagnosed as a strain. Donna’s back problems continued throughout her miliary career. She was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her low back in 2008 when she applied for disability through the VA. The arthritis now affects all of Donna’s joints and her neck. Donna also is diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

 

Finding Connection

When Donna attended an Arthritis Foundation Connect Group for the first time, she was cautiously hopeful. Living with osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, Donna is accustomed to being in pain. She hoped to get tips for managing her pain and coping with the ways it impacts her daily life.

“When I joined a Connect Group, I wanted a safe space where I could learn from other people who battle arthritis and get information from leading experts in the country,” says Donna. “I ended up getting so much out of it, I decided to volunteer as a co-facilitator of the Foundation’s Virtual Connect Group for military and veteran service members.”

 

Supporting Fellow Vets With Arthritis

Donna began volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation 2020 as a co-facilitator for the Grand Forks, ND Connect Group. That group is now the state-wide Red River Connect Group and Donna remains a co-facilitator. She also is involved with the Foundation’s Advocacy Committee in North Dakota.

Donna began facilitating the Military and Veterans Virtual Connect Group in January 2022 and encourages other vets to join.

“Having the opportunity to connect with other military and veterans can bring a sense of connection and camaraderie that others may not understand. I believe that the group provides a unique opportunity to learn and grow through group members, and from the vetted subject matter experts who join our meetings. They give valuable information to help us live better and more enjoyable, fulfilled lives,” says Donna.

Find information, tips and resources for military and veteran service members battling arthritis at arthritis.org/veteran.

Stay in the Know. Live in the Yes.

Get involved with the arthritis community. Tell us a little about yourself and, based on your interests, you’ll receive emails packed with the latest information and resources to live your best life and connect with others.

 
I Want to Contribute
I Need Help
  • Donate

    Donate

    Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life.

  • Volunteer

    Volunteer

    Join us and become a Champion of Yes. There are many volunteer opportunities available.

  • Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Take part to be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis.

  • Partner

    Partner

    Proud Partners of the Arthritis Foundation make an annual commitment to directly support the Foundation’s mission.

Donate


Ways to Give

Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life. Whether it is supporting cutting-edge research, 24/7 access to one-on-one support, resources and tools for daily living, and more, your gift will be life-changing.

Make a Donation

Help millions of people live with less pain and fund groundbreaking research to discover a cure for this devastating disease. Please, make your urgently-needed donation to the Arthritis Foundation now!

Become a Member

Become an Arthritis Foundation member today for just $20 and you'll receive access to helpful tools..... and more. 

Make a Honor or Memorial Gift

Honor a loved one with a meaningful donation to the Arthritis Foundation. We'll send a handwritten card to the honoree or their family notifying them of your thoughtful gift.

Gift Planning

I want information on ways to remember the AF in my will, trust or other financial planning vehicles.
 

Volunteer


Volunteer Opportunities

The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. We can only achieve these goals with your help. Strong, outspoken and engaged volunteers will help us conquer arthritis. By getting involved, you become a leader in our organization and help make a difference in the lives of millions. Join us and become a Champion of Yes.

Become a Volunteer

More About Volunteering

Live Yes! INSIGHTS


Give Just 10 Minutes.

Tell us what matters most to you. Change the future of arthritis.

By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
- Develop programs to meet the needs of you and your community
- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

How are you changing the future?

By sharing your experience, you’re showing decision-makers the realities of living with arthritis, paving the way for change. You’re helping break down barriers to care, inform research and create resources that make a difference in people’s lives, including your own.

Get Started

Partner


Meet Our Partners

As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.

Trailblazer

Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000

Visionary

Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.

Pioneer

Our Pioneers are always ready to explore and find new weapons in the fight against arthritis. They contribute $1,000,000 to $1,499,999.

Pacesetter

Our Pacesetters ensure that we can chart the course for a cure for those who live with arthritis. They contribute $500,000 to $999,000.

Signature

Our Signature partners make their mark by helping us identify new and meaningful resources for people with arthritis. They contribute $250,000 to $499,999.

Supporting

Our Supporting partners are active champions who provide encouragement and assistance to the arthritis community. They contribute $100,000 to $249,999.