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Homeland

Resources Support Inspiration

April 2017

READY FOR HIRE HIRE G.I. HIRE G.I. Tried & True Job Fair Tips ENLISTED TO ENTREPRENEUR Get Out There And Network

How Military Strategy Can Help Your Career Strategy LIFE AFTER THE MILITARY ARE YOU READY?

MEMORIAL DAY A TIME FOR HEROES

HOMELAND / April 2017 1


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Research Opportunities

VETERANS: WE NEED YOU VA San Diego Healthcare System and Veterans Medical Research Foundation are looking for participants for human subject research studies on Veterans health issues. Findings will help provide better treatments for Veterans and the general population. • We are one of the largest VA research programs in the nation • We employ the most advanced research technologies • We employ some of the best, talented and world renowned researchers in the country • We conduct approximately 400 human subject studies annually

Sign up for a research study TODAY!  

Some studies provide medical care and/or reimbursement for participation.

Check out our current list of research opportunities.

Visit: www.sandiego.va.gov/studies.asp and www.vmrf.org/studies.html www.homelandmagazine.com

HOMELAND / April 2017 3


www.hiregi.com

hire g.i. tried & true Job fair tips Make a good Impression

The Game Plan Arrive early. Get a list of the employers and, if

possible, a mop of the booths. Plan you order of attack. Start with employers that are less desirable before hitting your target employers. Later in the day, be sure to return to your top choices to thank the recruiters, restate your interest, and make yourself memorable. Wear your name tag if available. It will help the recruiter put a face with the name on your resume. Start talking, Start wowing. You’ll only have a few minutes to wow each recruiter, especially if there’s a long line. So, make the conversation interesting short, and memorable. Here’s a simple four step to follow: A. Offer your handshake B. Give you sales pitch C. Answer the recruiters questions D. Ask a few questions to keep the conversation rollin End with a request A. State that you have an interest in the position B. Give the recruiter your resume C. Ask for the recruiter’s business card D. Ask for an interview with the hiring manager (Often, the recruiter screens applicants and sends the best to the hiring manager for a full interview) E. Ask, “How should I follow up with you, and when? F. Take notes on what the recruiter says.

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Do… A. Shake the recruiter’s hand, look him or her in the eye, and smile. B. Be professional, enthusiastic, and courteous. C. Show a little humor. Let your personality shine through. D. Think of your conversation as a mini interview – because that’s what its. Don’t…. A. Be shy or stiff. B. Ramble, fidget, or slouch. C. Say anything negative about yourself, your former company, boss, or coworker, or anyone, or that matter. D. Chew gum, eat, or sip a beverage at the recruiting booths. Network With Everyone Talk to other job hunter while waiting in line, walking around, or while on a coffee break. Ask a question to break the ice and get a conversation started. Share information. You’ll make a friend. What if…..… You haven’t researched the company that interest you? Take some literature from the company’s booth. Go somewhere quiet and read it. If there’s a line of job hunters at the company’s booth, read their literature while waiting in line. You might also try eavesdropping on the people ahead of you to hear what the recruiter says … you want to talk to a recruiter, but you have to leave? Recruiters leave plenty of business cards on their table or booth. Take the recruiter’s business card. When you get home, send him or her a letter and a copy of your resume. Sell yourself and ask for a job interview.


READY FOR HIRE

inside this issue 4 Hire G.I. Tried & True Job Fair Tips 6 HIRE G. I. Ready For Hire 9 ENLISTED TO ENTREPRENEUR Get Out There And Network 10 How Military Strategy Can Help Your Career Strategy 12 LIFE AFTER THE MILITARY ARE YOU READY? 14 DECIDING TO LEAVE THE MILITARY?

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MEMORIAL DAY A TIME FOR HEROES

www.homelandmagazine.com

Homeland Magazine www.HomelandMagazine.com (858) 275-4281

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Meet some of our great candidates ready to have impact in your organization • Full Name - Maurice Jones • Service – U.S Navy • Rank – E6 • MOS/ Rate – Yeoman • Years of Service – 20 years (RET) • Career Interest – Public Administration • Seeking Positions – Administrative (Senior Level) • Education - Masters Public Administration & BA in History • Special skills - Office management skills, Microsoft Office, critical thinking, people management and results driven • Security clearance - Not active (Secret, TS in 2005)

• Full Name - Jose Esparza Banuelos • Service – U.S Navy • Rank – E5 • MOS/ Rate – Avionics Technician • Years of Service – 6 years • Career Interest – Medical Devices, Hospitals, and Business Administration • Seeking Positions – Technician and tech. support, operations management, H.R., and Non-I.T. project mgt. • Education - AAS in Biomedical Equipment Technology and BA in Organizational Management. Enrolled in Project Mgt Certificate program at San Diego State University (expect to complete in June 2017) • Special skills - Soldering, electronic troubleshooting using test equipment, proficient with MS Office Suite and ADP EasyPay payroll software, familiar with MS Project software. • Security clearance - No 6

HOMELAND / April 2017

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• Full Name - Jesus M. Zavala • Service – Army • Rank - SFC/E-7 • MOS/ Rate - 12B, 42A, 79T • Years of Service - 20 Active Duty (RET) • What career field are you interested in Finance / Accounting / Project Management • What Kind of position are you looking for - Management, Administrative (entry level) • List your education - Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, MBA (Finance concentration), Master of Project Management (MPM) • List your Special skills - Likeability, Team player, Positive influencer, Enthusiastic, Decision maker, Communicator (English and Spanish), Prioritized, Self-motivated, Mission, task, consensus and agreement oriented, Logical thinker, Problem solver & Agile learner • Do you have a security clearance - Had a secret security clearance

Ready for hire

In Partnership With REBOOT

About Hire G.I Headquartered in San Diego, California, Hire G.I. serves those who have served by developing transitioning military personnel, and pairing those candidates with top-tier employers. Since its inception, Hire G.I. has become the working link between veterans entering the civilian workforce and military-friendly companies seeking optimum employee fit. Hire G.I. has developed a proprietary blend of veteran candidate development and placement services, resulting in synergistic human capital investments for all of our clients.

If you are interested in meeting any of our candidates please contact us at (855) 383-3332 or email us at info@hiregi.com www.homelandmagazine.com

HOMELAND / April 2017 7


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ENLISTED TO ENTREPRENEUR By Vicki Garcia

Get Out There and

Network

With the advent of the internet you’d think the “old-fashioned” effectiveness of business networking has been left in the dust. Not true! Face-to-face contact is, and always will be, the number one way to grow your business.

Often the most competent competitor doesn’t win. Because there is one on every corner, they are perceived as the best. They have visibility. Visibility builds trust. Hide behind your computer, and you will be the competitor who loses.

I’m currently coaching a veteran entrepreneur who is highly skilled in what he does. But, he’s uncomfortable meeting new people.

Business groups will urge you to show up consistently. This is because they know that half the battle is being seen, becoming a familiar face and reintroducing your business over and over again. Networking gets easier the more you do it.

He has to get over this if he is to succeed. Shyness is a luxury an entrepreneur cannot afford.

Visibility Builds Trust

You never know what you’ll find or who you will meet. Attracting new business, forging alliances, opening up opportunities...all are waiting for you if you will just get out there.

8 Networking Tips 1. Networking is not for making a sale on the spot. If you’re all about selling, people will avoid you.

6. Find out who determines the speakers. Your trustworthiness will grow rapidly if you speak.

2. Don’t sit with your friends. Sit with a table of strangers and converse with all of them.

7. Don’t waste your money on display tables. Instead, network with the people around the display tables.

3. Once you find a promising organization, volunteer to help at the check in table where you will meet everyone who arrives.

8. Besides looking for customers, also look for people you might team with, or who could be good referral sources.

4. Look for first timers. Walk up to them, stick out your hand and say “Hi, I’m (your name). What do you do?

Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Veteran Entrepreneurs Today & President of Marketing Impressions. Look for trusted advisors, or apply to be a B2B vendor for veteran entrepreneurs at

5. Get to know the organization’s decision makers and power brokers. Be helpful to them.

www.veteranentrepreneurstoday.org.

Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Veteran Entrepreneurs Today & President of Marketing Impressions. Look for trusted advisors, or apply to be a B2B vendor for veteran entrepreneurs at

www.veteranentrepreneurstoday.org www.homelandmagazine.com

HOMELAND / April 2017 9


How Military Strategy Can Help Your Career Strategy

USAA | by Chad Storlie Military strategy is often a convenient proxy to help explain business strategy. For example, sales and marketing campaigns use “Attack” or “Destroy the Competition!” Military Strategy is often times a good guide for both business strategy and personal career strategy because it can remove the complex emotion that comes from creating a new product and determining your next career move. Furthermore, military strategy can be an excellent “vehicle” to help translate a complex business approach with a familiar military vignette or concept. Here are 4 ways a military strategy mindset can help your career strategy: How Military Strategy Helps Career Strategy – Planning the Bold Move. Military strategy can reinforce personal career ambitions and personal career planning by offering positive examples of when boldness pays off. During the early stages of the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur planned a bold amphibious landing at Inchon, South Korea. Inchon was a landing that was hundreds of miles behind the lines of the invading North Koreans and very hazardous due to its wide swings in tidal height. 10

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Despite the hazards, MacArthur was successful in the Inchon landings. Military strategy helps reinforce that sometimes, despite the hazards, it pays to be bold and aggressive to win. How Military Strategy Helps Career Strategy – Make Sure the New Works Well. Military strategy is fraught with seemingly great ideas and inventions that failed at their moments of greatest need. During the World War II D-Day invasion of Northern France, Normandy, the Americans had plans to use “swimming” Sherman tanks to get armor on the invasion beaches to clear obstacles and rapidly advance inland. Despite the technology, most of the American “swimming” Sherman tanks sank into the stormy Atlantic ocean far from the landing beaches. The American amphibious invasion of Omaha beach was almost unsuccessful due to the loss of tank support but eventually succeeded due to the resolute American Infantry and assistance from the Army Air Force and US Navy. Technology is great, but it is never a solution by itself. It is only tested, workable technology that creates career wins and happy customers. www.homelandmagazine.com


How Military Strategy Helps Career Strategy – Great Leaders Communicate and Work Side-By-Side With Their Team to Overcome the Challenge. During the battle of the Ira Drang Valley during the early stages of American involvement in the Vietnam War, then Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore and Sergeant Major Plumley were everywhere during an intense battle when they were surrounded by a determined enemy three times their size and attacked on three sides during a day’s long battle. Despite the attacks and being low on critical supplies, Moore and Plumley constantly moved among their soldiers encouraging them, exposing themselves to danger, and updating everyone on their situation. This is an amazing example of true leadership under harrowing conditions where the leaders sought to communicate, lead, and create an atmosphere of performance under the worst possible conditions. Business leaders go to where the challenge is greatest – to customers to make a sale or help make great products on the factory floor. This is an amazing example of true leadership under harrowing conditions where the leaders sought to communicate, lead, and create an atmosphere of performance under the worst possible conditions.

Business leaders go to where the challenge is greatest – to customers to make a sale or help make great products on the factory floor. How Military Strategy Helps Career Strategy – It Recognizes That Success Comes From Teams and Not Individuals. During the 1st Gulf War, then Captain (now General) H.R. McMaster led a combined arms team of Tanks and Infantry Fighting Vehicles in the now famous battle of 73 Easting in SW Iraq. During the battle, McMaster’s combined arms force of Tanks and Infantry Fighting Vehicles destroyed over 70 enemy vehicles and tanks in the first 30 minutes of the battle. While McMaster was a good Troop Commander, it was McMaster’s entire Troop fighting as a team that created such an amazing victory with no friendly losses. The Battle of 73 Easting was a success due to teamwork, training, and technology all coming together in addition to a Troop Commander, McMaster, focused on leading a strong combat unit. Great businesses are built upon teams all working towards a common goal with shared effort and skills. Military Strategy is a great guide for personal career strategy because it recognizes that a combination of results, teamwork, and concern for subordinates, teaching, and personal leadership by example are what it takes a leader to consistently succeed in both business and in battle.

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HOMELAND / April 2017 11


LIFE AFTER THE MILITARY Returning to civilian life presents new opportunities—and challenges—for Veterans. Many Veterans look forward to life after the military because they can spend more time with family and friends and no longer have to worry about military structure or deployment. At the same time, transitioning out of the military may raise a lot of questions. You may wonder what you are going to do with this new phase of your life, or whether you will be able to find a job. You may think about going back to school, but not know where to start. Or you may miss the order anddiscipline of military life (compared with civilian life) and wonder if you will be able to adjust.

SUCCESSFUL TIPS FOR A CAREER TRANSITION Build your professional network. Chances are you have many more military contacts in your network than civilian ones. If that’s the case and you have an eye on a civilian career, then you should actively build a more diverse network while you’re still in the military. Creating a professional profile online using a site like LinkedIn is a good place to start. Continuing to build your network will better prepare you for a career as a civilian. REEL IN CIVILIAN EMPLOYERS WITH YOUR MILITARY EXPERIENCE One of the challenges of switching from a military to a civilian career is finding a way to relate your military experience to the civilian workplace. Military occupational specialties are very different compared to what you’ll find in corporate occupations, which means you may need to think differently about your skills and experience. For example, you may be accustomed to a military lingo that involves jargon, acronyms and terms a civilian employer would not understand. Of course, the same is true in civilian workplaces, so you may need to learn new ways of communicating. If you’re not sure how your military experience might translate into a civilian career, consider conducting informational interviews.

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While you can gather a great deal of information about a career
 by researching online or reading brochures and books, you’ll gain far greater insight by communicating firsthand with someone with direct experience in the occupation you seek. Always treat informational interviews as you would a job interview. You may not be actively in the running for a position, but you are making a professional impression, so you want to be sure it’s a good one. Through your interviews, you’ll likely discover a number of marketable skills and characteristics that make you an ideal candidate for a civilian career. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MAKING A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION While there may be some uncertainty when you separate from the military and enter the civilian workforce, there is a lot you can do before that happens. The following tips can help you make a smoother transition. Get started early. Begin to think about your civilian career one to two years before your expected separation date. You’ll need that time to assess your skills and interests, so you can research and align yourself with a civilian career that will be a good fit. You may want to further your education after you separate from the military. Talk with an ESO on your base to get more information.

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Do your research. Your research involves more than gathering information about potential civilian career paths. It also involves tapping into what personally resonates with your passion and interests. Think about the elements of your military experience that sparked an internal fire, and then consider how that might be translated to a civilian career. Rather than focus on job titles, focus on the skills you want to use and the careers that will let that happen. If you are considering going back to school, look for universities that offer transfer credit for past military service or training, military benefits, scholarships or grants, and research the school’s reputation in the military community. Assess your skill gaps. If you’ve given yourself enough lead time, you’ll have a better idea of the civilian career path you want to take, which gives you time to fill any skill gaps that may come up. When possible, seek additional military training and experience that might help you with your civilian job search. This may involve doing more than expected, but that extra effort can pay off when it’s time to launch your civilian career.

Teamwork. The nature of military service often means goals are achieved through the collaboration of people. There are no lone rangers. This makes veterans excellent team players who demonstrate a sense of loyalty that civilian employers appreciate. Technological Skills. Veterans tend to have a broad range of technical skills, or the ability to quickly pick up new technology. In the fast-paced civilian workplace, this kind of adaptability and innovation goes a long way.

ARE YOU READY?

Dust off your resume. Depending on your circumstances, you may never have created
a resume. Whether you have a resume or not, it’s important to know that your military experience may not easily translate into a civilian career. For this reason, consider creating a functional resume that focuses on specific skills that will be of interest to a civilian employer, rather than a chronological resume that lists military job titles a civilian employer will not recognize or understand. Many universities have career services departments that can help you create a resume. If you decide to go back to school, take advantage of this perk and consult a specialist for help building your resume. Work Ethic. Many military service members and veterans apply the structure and commitment from their training to the workplace. Leadership. “Nearly all veterans have served in a leadership role in some capacity during their time in the military, so whether they are leading from the front or motivating others to achieve collaborative goals, veterans usually perform exceedingly well in a supervisory or managerial capacity.

www.homelandmagazine.com

Returning to civilian life presents new opportunities and challenges for Veterans

HOMELAND / April 2017 13


By Chad Storlie USAA

THE MILITARY DECIDING TO LEAVE

Stay or Go? There is probably no greater decision for a military member regardless of their military service, military occupation, or status in the Active military, Guard or Reserve than deciding to leave the military. This is an emotional decision and you need to do your best to separate, for a time, the emotion from the practical decision making components of deciding to remain in the service or depart. The following six factors will help you determine if you should stay in the service or depart. The following six factors will help you determine if you should stay in the service or depart. Â

1. What is the Degree and Education Level Required to Enter Where I Would Consider Working?

Comparing education levels can be a tricky business when looking to enter a new company, industry, and occupation. For a lot of companies, where you get your degree and in what major field of study can be the central factors for hiring even if you meet the basic degree requirements. For example, if you want to live and work in the technology companies surrounding Austin, TX, then you may be better off pursuing a part-time degree from a local Austin, TX university versus trying to complete a degree at a local college in Maryland 14

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where you are stationed. Location is a critical factor for real estate but location is just as much a factor for deciding the choice of an educational institution. Finally, the strength of an alumni network in hiring is one of the major values of the degree when you complete it. Local educational institutions have much higher value in their network strength for employment.

2. What Am I Interested In and Where Would I Want to Live? Are there occupations, industries, and companies outside of the military that interest you? Can you see yourself working somewhere else and away from the military? Seeing yourself outside of the military is a critical step in transition because if you cannot see yourself and imagine your success in a new


field, then you are not ready to leave. Another question to ask is do you know anyone doing what you want to do in the civilian world? If not, that’s ok because networking up to a year or more out from transition is common. You also need to think of four to six occupations and industries at a minimum that you are interested in. For example, if I want to work in the Energy sector but employment is down due to global factors, then I need a backup plan. Where to live is another issue, because usually where we grew up may or may not offer the economic and social opportunity needed.

3. What Does Your Family & Close Friends Think? Leaving the Military is hard and your family and friends should help you weigh in on the decision. If you think the military has too hard a schedule, then it is worth your time to talk to people in the Energy industry, Technology sales, or Consulting industry. It could be that the military schedule is not as bad as some civilian occupations. Does your spouse support the sacrifices of your military career? Do your kids understand why you have to be gone? All of these are factors to making a decision to stay or go. I know lots of military veterans that are away from their families MORE in their civilian jobs than when they were in the military. Getting a full range of views on the decision to stay or remain in the military is critical to making a good choice for you and your family.

4. Do I Like What The People 2-3 Levels Above Me Are Doing? This is probably the single best question to help you decide to stay or go. First, look up the ranks and assess what the people who are 3, 5, and 7 years your senior are doing. Do you like the demands of their jobs? Is it interesting? Do these people like what they are doing? Are their advanced educational opportunities that you are excited about? Can you see yourself fulfilling the requirements of those jobs? If you say no, then is it possible to move into another military occupation you would enjoy? For example, if I am a U.S. Army Infantry officer that loves technology, could I move into the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps to help make design and purchase decisions on new U.S. Army Infantry equipment? If you love the military but do not like what future positions hold, then that could be a strong indicator you are ready for something new?  

5. What is the True Value of My Military Pay & Benefits?

What is the true economic value of all aspects of my military compensation, benefits, healthcare, access to services, and future retirement compared to the geographic location that I want to move? In short, if I live outside Fort Benning, GA today what will

I need to live in San Francisco, CA tomorrow? USAA has a great calculator called the Military Separation Assessment calculator that provides a comparison between the value of your military pay and benefits and what you will need to replicate it at your new living location. Comparing Fort Benning, GA to San Francisco, CA, a service member would have to more than double their income level to have equal, not better, benefits. This calculator is meant to inform you of the totality of the value of your benefits, not scare you to stay in the military. Military members receive a great deal of “hidden” value in access to base amenities, health care, Commissary, etc. that do not exist in the civilian world. The financial planning and creating an 8-12 month emergency fund to transition from the military is an essential step.  

6. What’s The Life Stage of My Family? 

The decision to leave for a single service member or a married service member with three children really is different. A single, transitioning service member can literally go anywhere, do anything, and need few resources to do it. A family is a completely different consideration where housing, access to good schools, transportation, medical care, and tens of other choices dominate. A service member at any life stage can separate successfully, but if you are married with children just understand that the complexity and planning involved is about 10X a single service member due to your obligations. Also, the timing for a military family to leave the service is critical to make jobs, school, and medical care work. Once you make a decision to stay or go, then sit on it for three months. If after three months, you still feel good about it, then you have made the correct decision. The decision to stay or leave the military is a very difficult decision.  By understanding your family’s life stage, the true value of your military compensation, the precise education requirements for a new career, your opinion of your military career progression, looking at the potential of new occupations, and understanding what your friends and family think of your choice, then you can make an informed decision to stay or leave the service.  If you decide to leave, the first step is creating a robust, comprehensive, resourced, and detailed military-to-civilian transition plan.

Meisha Cover Photo by Allison Shamrell Photography

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WIC helps Pregnant Women, New Mothers, and Young Children Eat Well, Stay Healthy, and Be Active You can participate in WIC if you:

WIC offers families:

• Are pregnant • Are breastfeeding a baby under 1 year of age • Just had a baby in the past 6 months • Have children under 5 years of age including those cared for by a single father, grandparent, foster parent, step-parent or guardian

• Checks to purchase items like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, cereal, baby food, milk, eggs, cheese, tofu, peanut butter, beans, and juice. (Checks are worth between $50-$113 a month per participating family member.) • Breastfeeding Support and breast pumps • Nutrition Information and Online Classes

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Scan from Smart Phone for more info on WIC


By Nancy Sullivan Geng

Mia

HOMELAND / April 2017 17


I

leaned against an oak at the side of the road, wishing I were invisible, keeping my distance from my parents on their lawn chairs and my younger siblings scampering about. I hoped none of my friends saw me there. God forbid they caught me waving one of the small American flags Mom bought at Ben Franklin for a dime. At 16, I was too old and definitely too cool for our small town’s Memorial Day parade. I ought to be at the lake, I brooded. But, no, the all-day festivities were mandatory in my family. A high school band marched by, the girl in sequins missing her baton as it tumbled from the sky. Firemen blasted sirens in their polished red trucks. The uniforms on the troop of World War II veterans looked too snug on more than one member. “Here comes Mema,” my father shouted. Five black convertibles lumbered down the boulevard. The mayor was in the first, handing out programs. I didn’t need to look at one. I knew my uncle Bud’s name was printed on it, as it had been every year since he was killed in Italy. Our family’s war hero. And I knew that perched on the backseat of one of the cars, waving and smiling, was Mema, my grandmother. She had a corsage on her lapel and a sign in gold embossed letters on the car door: “Gold Star Mother.” I hid behind the tree so I wouldn’t have to meet her gaze. It wasn’t because I didn’t love her or appreciate her. She’d taught me how to sew, to call a strike in baseball. She made great cinnamon rolls, which we always ate after the parade. What embarrassed me was all the attention she got for a son who had died 20 years earlier. With four other children and a dozen grandchildren, why linger over this one long-ago loss? I peeked out from behind the oak just in time to see Mema wave and blow my family a kiss as the motorcade moved on. The purple ribbon on her hat fluttered in the breeze. The rest of our Memorial Day ritual was equally scripted. No use trying to get out of it. I followed my family back to Mema’s house, where there was the usual baseball game in the backyard and the same old reminiscing about Uncle Bud in the kitchen. Helping myself to a cinnamon roll, I retreated to the living room and plopped down on an armchair. There I found myself staring at the Army photo of Bud on the bookcase. The uncle I’d never known. I must have looked at him a thousand times—so proud in his crested cap and knotted tie. His uniform was decorated with military emblems that I could never decode. Funny, he was starting to look younger to me as I got older. Who were you, Uncle Bud? I nearly asked aloud. I picked up the photo and turned it over. Yellowing tape held a

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prayer card that read: “Lloyd ‘Bud’ Heitzman, 1925-1944. A Great Hero.” Nineteen years old when he died, not much older than I was. But a great hero? How could you be a hero at 19? The floorboards creaked behind me. I turned to see Mema coming in from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. I almost hid the photo because I didn’t want to listen to the same stories I’d heard year after year: “Your uncle Bud had this little rat-terrier named Jiggs. Good old Jiggs. How he loved that mutt! He wouldn’t go anywhere without Jiggs. He used to put him in the rumble seat of his Chevy coupe and drive all over town. “Remember how hard Bud worked after we lost the farm? At haying season he worked all day, sunrise to sunset, baling for other farmers. Then he brought me all his wages. He’d say, ‘Mama, someday I’m going to buy you a brand-new farm. I promise.’ There wasn’t a better boy in the world!” Sometimes I wondered about that boy dying alone in a muddy ditch in a foreign country he’d only read about. I thought of the scared kid who jumped out of a foxhole in front of an advancing enemy, only to be downed by a sniper. I couldn’t reconcile the image of the boy and his dog with that of the stalwart soldier. Mema stood beside me for a while, looking at the photo. From outside came the sharp snap of an American flag flapping in the breeze and the voices of my cousins cheering my brother at bat. www.homelandmagazine.com


Nineteen years old when he died, not much older than I was. But a great hero? How could you be a hero at 19?

“Mema,” I asked, “what’s a hero?” Without a word she turned and walked down the hall to the back bedroom. I followed. She opened a bureau drawer and took out a small metal box, then sank down onto the bed. “These are Bud’s things,” she said. “They sent them to us after he died.” She opened the lid and handed me a telegram dated October 13, 1944. “The Secretary of State regrets to inform you that your son, Lloyd Heitzman, was killed in Italy.” Your son! I imagined Mema reading that sentence for the first time. I didn’t know what I would have done if I’d gotten a telegram like that. “Here’s Bud’s wallet,” she continued. Even after all those years, it was caked with dried mud.

Sitting on the bed, Mema and I sifted through the treasures in the box: a gold watch that had never been wound again. A sympathy letter from President Roosevelt, and one from Bud’s commander. A medal shaped like a heart, trimmed with a purple ribbon. And at the very bottom, the deed to Mema’s house. “Why’s this here?” I asked. “Because Bud bought this house for me.” She explained how after his death, the U.S. government gave her 10 thousand dollars, and with it she built the house she was still living in. “He kept his promise all right,” Mema said in a quiet voice I’d never heard before. For a long while the two of us sat there on the bed. Then we put the wallet, the medal, the letters, the watch, the photos and the deed back into the metal box. I finally understood why it was so important for Mema—and me—to remember Uncle Bud on this day. If he’d lived longer he might have built that house for Mema or married his highschool girlfriend. There might have been children and grandchildren to remember him by. As it was, there was only that box, the name in the program and the reminiscing around the kitchen table. “I guess he was a hero because he gave everything for what he believed,” I said carefully. “Yes, child,” Mema replied, wiping a tear with the back of her hand. “Don’t ever forget that.” I haven’t. Even today with Mema gone, my husband and I take our lawn chairs to the tree-shaded boulevard on Memorial Day and give our three daughters small American flags that I buy for a quarter at Ben Franklin. I want them to remember that life isn’t just about getting what you want. Sometimes it involves giving up the things you love for what you love even more. That many men and women did the same for their country—that’s what I think when I see the parade pass by now. And if I close my eyes and imagine, I can still see Mema in her regal purple hat, honoring her son, a true American hero.

If I close my eyes and imagine, I can still see Mema in her regal purple hat, honoring her son, a true American hero

Inside was Bud’s driver’s license with the date of his sixteenth birthday. I compared it with the driver’s license I had just received. A photo of Bud holding a little spotted dog fell out of the wallet. Jiggs. Bud looked so pleased with his mutt. There were other photos in the wallet: a laughing Bud standing arm in arm with two buddies, photos of my mom and aunt and uncle, another of Mema waving. This was the home Uncle Bud took with him, I thought. I could see him in a foxhole, taking out these snapshots to remind himself of how much he was loved and missed. “Who’s this?” I asked, pointing to a shot of a pretty dark-haired girl. “Marie. Bud dated her in high school. He wanted to marry her when he came home.” A girlfriend? Marriage? How heartbreaking to have a life, plans and hopes for the future, so brutally snuffed out.

HOMELAND / April 2017 19


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� Financial planning and advice for professional military families � Life insurance strategies to safeguard your family’s financial security � Financial planning for your transition � Retirement planning, TSP investment advice � Home and auto insurance Darryle Grimes

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©2017 First Command Financial Services, Inc., parent of First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member SIPC, FINRA), First Command Advisory Services, Inc. and First Command Insurance Services, Inc. Securities and brokerage services are offered by First Command Financial Planning, Inc., a broker-dealer. Financial planning and investment advisory services are offered by First Command Advisory Services, Inc., an investment adviser. Insurance products and services are offered by First Command Insurance Services, Inc. in all states except Montana, where as required by law, insurance products and services are offered by First Command Financial Services, Inc. (a separate Montana domestic corporation). A financial plan, by itself, cannot assure that retirement or other financial goals will be met. First Command Financial Services, Inc. and its related entities are not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the U.S. armed forces. AD-2C2

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