Resources Support Inspiration
Vol. 4 Number 4 • April 2017
From Singing Songs To Serving Heroes, A Veterans look at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Beyond Volunteerism: Honoring Service After Sacrifice Turn It Off And Turn It On Again Military Families from Battle Ready to Family Ready VETS @ Home, A Showcase of Short Plays Good Choices In Higher Education
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HOMELAND / April 2017
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Visit: www.sandiego.va.gov/studies.asp and www.vmrf.org/studies.html www.homelandmagazine.com
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Greetings and a warm welcome to HOMELAND Magazine! Please take some time to get to know the layout of our magazine. Homeland Magazine focuses on real stories from real heroes; the service member, the veteran, the wounded and the families that keep it together. Our magazine is driven by passion, vision, reflection and the future. The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with service members, families, veterans and civilians. Homeland is about standing your ground, resilience, adaptation, inspiration and solidarity. HOMELAND is inspirational, “feel good” reading; our focus is on veterans, military and civilians alike. I believe HOMELAND is where the heart is, and our publication covers a wide variety of topics, and issues about real life and real stories. We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people. We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of HOMELAND Magazine. With warmest thanks, Mike Miller, Publisher 4
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Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller Contributing Writers CJ Machado Vicki Garcia Wounded Warrior Project Vesta Anderson John Roberts R4 Alliance Jenni Riley National Veterans Transition Services Sara Wacker Disabled American Veterans Steven Wilson Shelter to Soldier Eva M. Stimson Boot Campaign Barry Smith Johnny ‘Joey’ Jones USO Sharon Smith USAA Chad Storlie Operation Homefront Stephen Thomas USS Midway Scott McGaugh Public Relations CJ Machado Thomas McBrien Graphic Design Trevor Watson
Homeland Magazine is published monthly. Submissions of photographs, Illustrations, drawings, and manuscripts are considered unsolicited materials and the publisher assumes no responsibility for the said items. All rights reserved. Homeland Magazine 9528 Miramar Road, Suite 41 San Diego, CA 92126
858.275-4281 Contact Homeland Magazine at: firstname.lastname@example.org
inside this issue 14
7 Turn It Off and On Again 14 Taking Military Families From Battle Ready to Family Ready 26
18 Beyond Volunteerism: Honoring Service After Sacrifice 23
23 Shelter To Soldier Service Dog Expands 26 From Singing Songs To Serving Heroes, Zac Brownâ€™s Southern Ground 32 Enlisted To Entrepreneur: Think About Your Exit Strategy 34 Good Choices In Higher Education 38 VETS @ Home, A Showcase of Short Plays 34
Taking Military Families From Battle Ready to Family Ready
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HOMELAND / April 2017
Turn It Off And Turn It On Again! By Barry Smith Boot Campaign Anyone who has ever used a computer has no doubt been given this sage advice from an expert, co-worker, family member, friend or youngster when something isn’t working like it used to or like it should: “Turn it off and turn it on again!” What that advice is really saying is, try and reset the computer or give it a “reboot.” Rebooting can fix many computer problems, malfunctions or errors that occur when the software reaches a state where it cannot figure out how to recover. A reboot or restart wipes away the current state of the software and lets the computer start over from scratch so, with any luck, it will not encounter the same challenges again. While rebooting a computer now seems like an obvious solution, as in “Duh!,” the choice of rebooting the human computer or brain when it gets scrambled or starts to malfunction is a solution that far too often gets overlooked.
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Many members of the military community encounter experiences and trauma to the brain that most civilians cannot even fathom. So, it is no wonder that many American heroes, active or retired, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression and the like. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD afflicts an estimated 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans, 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan, and 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans. The challenge with statistic estimates is they are moving targets and need to be revised over time, as many veterans can often develop symptoms later in life or go undiagnosed for decades after leaving military service. Awareness throughout America of the need for our war heroes to have an opportunity for a “reboot” has greatly improved in recent years, along with new science and medical research advancements and breakthroughs.
Joni Marquez, a U.S. Air Force Captain (Ret.) who medically retired after 14 years of service, and Mike Maglier, who spent eight years in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps followed by a decade and a half as a firefighter, are two of the latest veterans to complete the program and are thankful for the chance to reset their body’s personal computers. “This program has been extremely influential in my daily interactions with people,” explains Marquez, a Bradley, Calif., native with a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from UC Berkeley and a master’s in business from Trident University International. “Before I had been battling severe depression, suicidal thoughts, and an increased negative reaction of PTSD that was making it increasingly difficult to get out of bed, let alone be around people. I wasn’t living, I was existing. That’s about the best way that I could sum it up.”
Boot Campaign, the military non-profit organization based in Texas, recognized the overwhelming need for making treatments for PTSD and related brain injuries a higher priority and underwent a reorganization less than a year ago to elevate a new cutting-edge “ReBOOT” program to its flagship benefit program for vets. ReBOOT (www.bootcampaign.org/reboot/) was founded by U.S. Navy Lieutenant (Ret.) Morgan Luttrell, who leads the program today while also serving as Boot Campaign’s interim CEO. Under his direction, ReBOOT is revolutionizing how veterans receive recovery assistance as the program serves as a scientific and holistic veteran treatment opportunity unlike anything in the nation. It is medically based and 100-percent customized to specifically fit each veteran’s exact needs, beginning with a baseline assessment, followed by treatment, training and a final follow-up assessment. The program pledges to treat veterans from the inside out, top to bottom, restoring them to who they were meant to be. 8
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“I feel as if the ReBOOT program has given me a second chance at life”
“There are so many veterans that could use ReBOOT, and the number is in the thousands” Marquez was referred to ReBOOT through a friend she feels is more like family, Stuart, Fla.’s Gold Star mother Karen Vaughn. Marquez needed help to work through the various traumas she experienced while serving as a fire control officer aboard an AC-130, a heavily armed, long-endurance ground-attack gunship. She wanted to regain control of her emotions, thoughts and overall wellbeing. “I feel as if the ReBOOT program has given me a second chance at life,” reports the award-winning Marquez, who served two tours to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as other deployments around the world. “It has armed me with not only the physical workout aspect, that Adaptive Training Foundation provided, but it has provided me with the mental tools in order to better control my mind and emotions.
After four years and an honorable discharge, he switched branches to become a second-generation Marine. Even though his father served in World War II and other relatives also have served, he says he was never “expected” to join the military. However, he always looked at it as a proud family tradition and decided he wanted to serve his country. Despite serving years overseas in numerous deployments through the Mediterranean, Europe and the Middle East, the award-winning combat veteran separated from the military only to find it extremely difficult and depressing to try and gain employment as a civilian to support his young family.
“To be a warfighter and to have to transition back and be amongst the civilian population is one of the hardest things that a soldier could ever do,” she adds. “The mind is a powerful thing, and without fully understanding ourselves we are forced out of the military and made to survive on the outside. Survival is what we are good at, but the mechanisms in how we choose to cope are not conducive to living a productive and healthy life. Alcohol, sleeping pills, pain pills and sex shouldn’t be the vices/addictions of acceptance for coping in our culture. “I’m not completely out of the grips of trauma but I understand it a little more each day, and I try to recalibrate my thoughts to something positive, instead of focusing on the darkness and ugliness of this world. Every day is a day that I take a step forward out of the darkness.” A Rochester, N.Y. native, Maglier entered the U.S. Army at age 17. After four years and an honorable discharge, he switched branches to become a secondgeneration Marine. After four years and an honorable discharge, he switched branches to become a secondgeneration Marine.
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“I returned home after serving in Northern Iraq after Desert Shield/Desert Storm and struggled with trying to find work and even how to pay my rent with new wife and child on the way,” Maglier recalls. “There wasn’t much to help veterans make that transition, and I had no skills other than I could shoot and blow things up. I remember to this day how hopeless and angry I was after serving my country. However, I never used it as a crutch or excuse for failure. I used it to drive me to succeed no matter what.” After a stint in the telecommunications industry, he embarked on a 15-year career as a firefighter, EMT and hazardous material technician with the City of Rochester and a safety Officer for the North East Joint Fire District. His intent was to became a firefighter and put his service behind him, but on Sept. 11, 2001, that plan changed as well. “I remember how abandoned I felt and I closed that chapter in my life until 9/11,” explains Maglier. “I responded with several other firefighters from my department to volunteer for recovery operations. It was very horrific and most of the recovery was of body parts, and that was the hardest part. I simply was hoping to find an intact body so maybe a family could have closure, but it was just the opposite. “I was filled with a lot of anger and rage. All the emotions of being a Marine in Northern Iraq and every other frustration now surfaced big time. I returned home having vivid nightmares and would awake from dreams smelling death in my own bedroom. I thought I was losing my mind and I would not seek help.” Years later he became injured as a firefighter and, after several surgeries, was forced to retire in 2009. It was at this time Maglier remembers “my decent into a bad place started. I alienated from family, friends and other fire fighters. I was spiraling out of control. My son overdosed on drugs. I was to the point that I contemplated suicide after that happened.” While giving back and volunteering in a transition camp for veterans, Maglier was fortuitously introduced to U.S. Marine Sgt. (Ret.) Kelsey Smith, who he befriended and stayed in touch with for nearly six years. 10
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In 2017, Smith became Boot Campaign’s special programs manager working with ReBOOT, and he convinced Maglier he was qualified and encouraged him to apply for the program. “Mike came to ReBOOT after searching for somewhere to help,” Smith says. “He realized that through his years he had pushed his family away and detached himself from things he cared about. Mike really wanted to figure out what was going on with him so he could re-establish and build his relationships. Upon his arrival, through the incredibly thorough baseline evaluation, it was discovered that Mike was also a Type 2 diabetic.” According to Maglier, this “reboot” was exactly what he needed and too important to pass up without giving it a try. “When I arrived [to the ReBOOT] program I was in a very bad place,” Maglier reflects. “I was in a total fog and had not left the house in about two months. I could not sleep more than one and a half hours at most straight. I felt like a failure as a father and husband and again contemplated suicide. But I attended the program for six weeks and, after getting help, for the first time ever I finally understood why I felt the way I did.
“This program saved my life,” he confides. “I was getting help when I had no clue how to ask for it. I received help along with treatment for about 10-11 head injuries I had suffered while serving on active duty. I also was diagnosed with being a diabetic. The entire health physical, brain treatment, along with counseling, treated the entire system. It is important to understand that it’s the entire system that’s affected by post-traumatic stress.” He also believes the Boot Campaign program is vitally important for other former military to check out.
“There are so many veterans that could use ReBOOT, and the number is in the thousands,” “and that is a conservative number. I know many veterans I served with that could utilize this service.
“Thanks to the Boot Campaign I am learning how to live again, without my vices, and as a better version of myself. I have missed almost two decades of quality family time due to serving in the military, and I’m tired of feeling like a stranger in my own town and in my own life. I owe it to myself to be the best version of myself, both mentally and physically. I encourage all of my fellow brothers in arms to give themselves a chance at life.
It’s time to ReBoot!”
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HOMELAND / April 2017
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Project Sanctuary, Taking Military Families from Battle Ready to Family Ready
“I decided to go into the military because I wanted to make a difference in the world, and I wanted to do it out of love for my country,” Ray said. He joined the Air Force in 1999, but after 9/11, he transitioned through the Blue to Green program into the Army, where he felt he could make a bigger impact fighting terrorism. His plan was to stay in for 20-30 years, but the injuries he sustained in Iraq prevented that, and Ray was medically retired after two deployments and nearly 13 years of service. At just 35 years old with 19 service-related injuries, his road to recovery was a rough one. Ray has had three back surgeries and uses a cane for stability. Post-traumatic stress brings on migraines, tremors, nightmares, and flashbacks on a regular basis. Ray, like many others who have experienced the trauma of warfare, is most comfortable among his family and close friends, including his wife and caregiver Amanda and his three children Layne, 14, Ashlee, 11, and Madison, 8. 14
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R4 Alliance Member Highlight
“Being in the military and being deployed, we are exposed to situations where we don’t always see the best in humanity. I am glad I served, and would do it again in a heartbeat. But after I retired, I didn’t like being around and talking to people outside our inner circle,” Ray said. When Amanda heard about Project Sanctuary’s six-day therapeutic retreats from a friend and fellow military spouse, she was confident it would be a positive experience for her husband and possibly help him cope with his wounds—both the physical and emotional.
From Battle Ready to Family Ready Project Sanctuary, a Colorado-based national nonprofit, is distinct from other veteran service organizations because it doesn’t just focus on the veteran: it focuses on the whole family. In fact, the organization’s founding principle is: The whole family serves, and the best way to “support the troops” is by supporting the entire family
When she started the organization in 2007, Heather Ehle worked closely with her board of directors and veteran advisors to understand what military families really needed. She created Project Sanctuary to meet those needs, relying on her background as a Registered Nurse to create evidence-based programs that emphasize spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. The goal of the program is to help military service members heal from the effects of war by providing a safe environment, helping reconnect the family unit, and treating all members of the family at their level of need through counseling, education, self-development, and recreational therapy. Of those deployed, 1 in 5 returns home with hidden wounds such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, anxiety, and depression. By addressing mental health first, Project Sanctuary aims to take its families from battle ready to family ready.
Fostering Trust Even after they decided to attend the October 2016 retreat at the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado, Ray remained hesitant. “I didn’t want to attend. I can’t do things that most 35 year olds can do. I don’t like putting myself out there as far as sharing my feelings. I’m definitely not looking for anyone to pity or feel sorry for me. I didn’t want to have to talk about myself,” he said. Ray rattled off other reasons for his reluctance: flying, small spaces, crowded places. Plus, he was skeptical about why Heather and her team at Project Sanctuary would want to help him. That is one of the reasons that Project Sanctuary staff focuses on building trust right out of the gate. This means making sure they provide a safe and secure environment and that everyone’s needs are met—from sleeping arrangements and service dog accommodations to food preferences. To accomplish this, Heather relies on the input and experience of veterans, like former Marine Neil Pappas, a retreat administrator, peer mentor, and benefits advisor for Project Sanctuary. He oversees all the daily activities and logistics at the retreats to ensure they are running smoothly and that the families’ needs are met.
Counseling Neil recalled Ray’s first night at the retreat. “Ray came shuffling into the lodge for dinner with a cane, with a very reserved demeanor about him. As that first night progressed, we had our orientation where he seemed to continue down the isolated road,” Neil said. “The next morning, Heather asked me to start talking with him to assist in getting him out of his mental armor, better assess his needs, and help him find a path toward healing. Over the next couple of days, I slowly started talking with Ray and his wife Amanda.” Ongoing counseling—whether it takes place on horseback or in a more formal one-on-one setting—is a big part of what makes Project Sanctuary special. The mental health needs of all members of the military family are a priority at both the therapeutic retreats and afterward. “It was on a waterfall hike that I personally saw this man take the biggest turn of the weekend,” Neil said. “He began letting all of his bottled-up emotions out.
“On the way down from the waterfall, I had a chance to explain to him just how much his knowledge and empathy could benefit other veterans coming home from war. From that afternoon on, we all saw a different side of him.”
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Learning In addition to counseling and recreation activities, the retreats offer classes throughout the week. There is a healthy marriage class that focuses on relationships and communication, a financial management class, and a class for families living with PTSD that ends with some training on mindfulness and breathing exercises. The “Healthy Marriage” class was Ray and Amanda’s favorite. It used a color wheel to explain elements of each family member’s personality, including the children, and taught the best ways to interact, give affirmation, and handle conflict. They said they continue to use the information and tools and share it with other couples whenever they get the opportunity.
Bonding As Ray spent time with Neil and accepted the team’s authenticity and lack of an agenda, he began to see a different side of them as well, and to feel more comfortable opening up and engaging. Amanda also noticed this shift. “There was a point about halfway through the week when Ray said he wasn’t ready for the retreat to end. He was looking forward to seeing and talking to people each day,” she said.
Recreation The retreats comprise activities like crafts and karaoke to demonstrate how inexpensive, accessible, and valuable recreational experiences can be for a family. Ray and Amanda’s kids took part in painting, pottery, skating, and even carving pumpkins. However, each retreat also includes some more adrenaline-fueled events to encourage communication and emotional control. Ray and Amanda said that the zip line was most empowering for their kids who were nervous at first but faced their fears. In another teambuilding activity, the families had to negotiate an obstacle course designed so you could not finish it alone. “The only way you can complete it is to help each other up. Any internal family issues fell by the wayside. There was a goal, and you put personal issues aside and helped each other out,” Ray said.
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A Project Sanctuary retreat is designed with the entire family in mind, and it puts a priority on bonding among the families attending. For Ray and Amanda, the relationships they formed are a highlight of the experience and continue to be important even now that they are back at home. They all stay in touch through a private Facebook group and text each other to check in. “We think of them as extended family now. There were a couple of families we really connected with and we’ve stayed in touch. Without the retreat, we never would’ve met them. It’s really cool that the retreat brought us together,” Ray said.
A Life Changing Experience Although Ray and Amanda agree that this was a life-changing opportunity, they said just being there and reconnecting with their family was the best part of the experience. “It was a week when we didn’t have to worry about anything. We didn’t have to worry about things like food or activities for the kids and could just focus on each other and our family—it was really nice,” Ray said. Ray said that being among so many decent people who truly wanted to help changed his perspective and allowed him to relax and let down his guard.
Thriving Project Sanctuary remains in touch with its families for at least 24 months after a therapeutic retreat. This involvement looks different depending on the family and its needs. The team might help a family find a mental health professional in their area, provide assistance to reach their financial goals, or offer support in securing day-to-day necessities. Heather’s goal is to help each family thrive after returning home—whatever that takes. “It’s not just the veteran who is wounded: the entire family needs support and time to heal,” said Heather Ehle. “There are no words to express how rewarding it is to help families like Ray and Amanda begin that process. Being a member of the R4 Alliance is of tremendous benefit to Project Sanctuary when it comes to ongoing support for our families as they continue that healing process, allowing us to connect them with additional services wherever they call home and enabling them to thrive well into the future.” Project Sanctuary recently added retreats in California, Patrick Hughes Texas, New York, and Georgia, and this year will reach an important milestone of 1,000 families served. Despite the organization’s growth, demand for their progr ams outpaces the number of spots available. Nearly 2,000 families are on the list, waiting for their life-changing experience and a chance to reconnect and heal.
To learn more about Project Sanctuary’s program for military families, visit www.projectsanctuary.us.
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HOMELAND / April 2017
Beyond Volunteerism: Honoring Service After Sacrifice By: John Roberts
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It starts with the unrelenting need to serve a greater cause.
The child grows into adulthood and finds their hand dancing across paperwork as they sign their name to a dotted line. The contract claims the next handful of years – often a lifetime – and so their service to country begins. Military members start as scattered, seemingly disparate pieces, but during their time in the ranks, they unite to become something new and formidable: the plates, gears, nuts, and bolts of a sleek, newly constructed machine; each piece reliant on the next – working in unison toward a singular purpose. Carried off the battlefield with injuries, many warriors’ service ends when their minds and bodies are rendered unfit – no longer a dependable asset for other service members who complete the machine. A space is found in the back of their closet to set their boots aside. And so their service to country ends. As veterans, they scatter and become desolate pieces again – nuts, bolts, and gears that refuse decommission. Still, they stoke the flame that burns within: service to something higher. The boots continue to collect dust but are never discarded for fear of the emptiness that would remain – a void with a heaviness that can sink a life. Reconnecting warriors to one another in the civilian world is critical to healing, which is why Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves them through its Peer Support program by fusing supportive rehabilitation with the military adage “Leave No Man Behind.” This warrior-to-warrior support is a special type of therapy that reintroduces injured veterans to the unique bonds experienced during military service. Rarely duplicated in the civilian world, these relationships are a secure bedrock that paves the road to recovery. The warrior support that played a critical role on the battlefield has the same function in recovery at home. In combat, soldiers rely upon one another for survival. It becomes an unyielding trust. When a warrior stumbles, falls, or becomes injured, it’s the warrior marching next to them who will pick them up and carry them on their shoulder.
Through peer support, wounded warriors recapture the trust born in trenches and foxholes and together learn to manage day-to-day challenges. The goal of the Peer Support program is for every veteran who needs support to reach a point in their recovery where they can help the next veteran in line. Each warrior connects to another until they are one – a stronger, more resilient machine that cycles toward a deeper purpose: recovery. The journey continues until every injured veteran who was once the warrior being carried off the battlefield is empowered to become the warrior who carries others, thus embodying the WWP logo. At WWP, this is known as “living the logo.” For warriors, the logo is an undeniable symbol that reminds them of their resilience – and their passion for continued service. Peer Support groups are facilitated by warrior leaders who WWP has selected for demonstrating leadership strengths and the ability to help fellow wounded veterans who are in need. They are volunteers who must be willing to commit eight to 10 hours a month to the support group they lead – after attending a mandatory, extensive, multi-day training seminar to help them support their WWP peers on the path to healing. On any given week, hundreds of wounded warriors from more than 40 Peer Support groups across the country meet and participate in activities ranging from group support meetings to community service projects. Through WWP’s warrior-to-warrior support program, wounded service members and caregivers find encouragement and connection through their shared experiences. It’s beyond volunteerism; it becomes service, renewed. And so the boots are dusted off and donned. In honor of National Volunteer Month, WWP is proud to recognize the selfless service of all volunteers this April. For more information on Peer Support and all of WWP’s free programs and services, please contact the WWP Resource Center at: 888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586), 904.405.1213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Wounded Warrior Project - We Connect, Serve, and Empower The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. The WWP purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To learn more about WWP and Warrior Care Network™, visit woundedwarriorproject.org. (Photos courtesy WWP) 20
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Wounded Warrior Project helped me reclaim my life.
WOUNDED WARRIOR SEAN KARPF
HELP MAKE AN IMPACT AT
Â©2016 Wounded Warrior Project, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.homelandmagazine.com
HOMELAND / February 2017 21 HOMELAND / April 2017 21
YOU PROTECTED US.
IT’S TIME WE RETURN THE FAVOR. After all you’ve done to protect our country, you deserve the best. So we’re giving the brave men and women of the military* the opportunity for big savings on top of all current incentives.* Like up to $1000 on select models. If you’re an Active or Reserve U.S. Military, U.S. Retired Military who completed at least 20 years of Active or Reserve duty, or a U.S. Veteran discharged from active service within the past year, Nissan’s Military Program is open to you and your spouse or partner. To get started, just print your Military Program Certificate, gather your proof of eligibility, and head to your local Nissan store today.*
Visit NissanUSA.com/military *Eligibility requirements apply: Eligible individuals include U.S. Active and Reserve Military, U.S. Military Veterans within 12 months of separation from Active or Reserve duty, U.S. Military Retirees that have completed at least 20 years of Active or Reserve duty required. Military cash certificate available towards the lease or purchase of a qualifying new Nissan vehicle from dealer stock. Excludes Nissan Versa Sedan S Trim, Maxima, Murano, Murano Cross Cabriolet, 370Z, Quest, Pathfinder, Armada, Titan, GT-R and NV. Military cash certificate amount varies by qualifying model. Offer valid from 3/1/16 through 3/1/2017. Limit up to 2 vehicle leases or purchases per calendar year per qualified participant for personal use only. Offer not valid for fleet or business use. Down payment may be required. Available on lease or purchase. Must take delivery from new dealer stock. Subject to residency restrictions. Other restriction s apply. See dealer for details. Offer is subject to change at any time. Always wear your seat belt and please don’t drink and drive. Nissan, the Nissan Brand Symbol, Innovation That Excites, and Nissan model names are Nissan trademarks. ©2016 Nissan North America, Inc. All rights reserved.
HOMELAND / April 2017
By Eva M. Stimson
Griffin Funding Mortgage Bankers Expands into Arizona and Sponsors Third Shelter to Soldier Service Dog
Meisha Cover Photo by Allison Shamrell Photography
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Griffin Funding, a San Diego-based mortgage company, expanded its services to Arizona in February of 2017, increasing it’s capacity to serve veterans and their families with affordable mortgage options and sponsor additional Shelter to SoldierTM (STS) service dogs. Griffin Funding has been supporting the Shelter to Soldier service dog training program for the past three consecutive years. In 2015, US Army Veteran Mason Crosslin (Ret) and STS service dog “Griffin” were honored to be the first service dog team sponsored by Griffin Funding. Griffin Funding subsequently sponsored a second dog, “Meisha” in 2016, who is currently in the Shelter to Soldier service dog training program eagerly anticipating her veteran partner and graduation, in addition to a third sponsorship made in October, 2016. Thanks to their third donation of $12,000.00, STS was able to bring in an incredibly sweet Chocolate Lab, Mia. “Mia recently joined us but we can already see that she is a lover, enjoys training and she has amazing potential”, indicates Graham Bloem, President & Training Director of Shelter to Soldier. Griffin is a rescue from the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services shelter in Bonita, CA. Her adoption, care, housing and training through the Shelter to Service program was the first of Griffin Funding’s generous sponsorships, and she was aptly named after the company. Mason Crosslin, US Army (Ret) is an Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). For years, he had the support of his service dog, when tragically and suddenly Chase passed away from lymphoma in September. Overnight, his primary treatment for his PTS was gone as was his dearest companion and sense of security. Upon reaching out to Shelter to Soldier, Mason met “Griffin” and a special bond developed. Mason recalls, “I was having some gnarly nightmares and having Griffin there to pull me back into reality after I woke was a game changer.” A week after graduation, Mason attended a Shelter to Soldier benefit with The Thursday Club Juniors. For the first time in a while, he was confident in a crowded public event of over 130 guests and felt safe with Griffin by his side. “We are excited to offer our wholesale mortgage rates, VA expertise, 24
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“I’m so blessed and grateful to have these amazing people (Shelter to Soldier) in my life --- we love our training time!” and five-star rated service to Arizona veterans,” says CEO of Griffin Funding, William Lyons. “Just like we do in California, we will be donating a portion of the proceeds from Arizona home loans to Shelter to Soldier, a 501c3 non-profit organization that rescues shelter dogs and trains them to be psychiatric service dogs for veterans in need. Griffin Funding clients can feel good by knowing that they are contributing to this wonderful cause by doing business with us.” Every 69 minutes a US veteran commits suicide and every day, 3200 dogs are euthanized nationwide. Shelter to Soldier adopts dogs from rescues and helps veterans working through the perils of mental injury associated with traumatic combat experiences. The healing impact that a highly trained service dog provides for US Veterans improves their overall quality of life, personal relationships, confidence and sense of security, therefore advancing their mission of “Saving Lives, Two at a Time”. According to Keara McCullough, Griffin Funding Director of Marketing, “We are thrilled to be able to sponsor a third dog with Shelter to Soldier and hope to sponsor many more. It is important to us to not only give back to our local community, but to our local veterans. This is why a percentage of every loan we fund goes directly to Shelter to Soldier’s program. We understand that many veterans are unable to get access to the help they need, so we want to aid them in any way we can. We look forward to watching another success story unfold as our third rescued dog is trained and placed with a well-deserving veteran.” Founded in 2013, Griffin Funding currently operates in California and Hawaii and focuses on providing quality service and competitive mortgage rates to veterans. The company values a custom approach and true relationship with each and every client, always putting the client first and even offering access to their loan officer’s cell phone for 24/7 service. www.homelandmagazine.com
“I was having some gnarly nightmares and having Griffin there to pull me back into reality after I woke was a game changer.”
Shelter to Soldier service dogs help US Veterans integrate back into society and find their purpose, often for the first time since their military service. Visit www.sheltertosoldier.org for additional information or call 855-CUS-TMK9 (855-287-8659) for a confidential interview regarding eligibility. Shelter to Soldier is accredited by the Patriots Initiative and is a Gold Participant of GuideStar, the preeminent non-profit accreditation organization in the U.S.
Save the date for Shelter to Soldier’s 5th Annual benefit scheduled for September 16, 2017. Exciting plans are in the works for this festive celebration and for those who are interested in supporting the fundraising effort, the organization is now accepting silent and live auction items and event sponsorships.
The company chose to expand into Arizona due to its high number of military bases and veterans. Arizona is currently ranked among the top 15 states with the highest concentration of veterans, almost 11 percent of the state population. This large market presents a significant opportunity for a company dedicated to helping veterans and their families obtain affordable home loans at competitive mortgage rates. Not all lenders offering VA loans are the same. Griffin Funding frequently finds ways to fund loans over the county loan limit and works directly off guidelines from the VA loan handbook, with fewer overlays or restrictions than most other mortgage companies. Griffin Funding also understands that it is not always in the veteran’s best interest to go with a VA loan. For this reason, Griffin’s team of VA specialists prepare a comprehensive analysis for each client.
The company also provides conventional mortgages with as little as one percent down, FHA loans, 40year mortgages, interest only mortgages, second mortgages, and reverse mortgages if it is determined that a VA loan is not the best option. www.homelandmagazine.com
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By Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Johnny ‘Joey’ Jones, U.S. Marine Corps EOD
‘From Singing Songs To Serving Heroes, A Veterans look at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground” Zac Brown. When that name comes out most people already have a third word rolling off their tongues, Band, as in the three time GRAMMY Award-winning Zac Brown Band. But to me, Zac Brown is the start of something much more, or perhaps different all together. Let me introduce you to a new side of your favorite country music artist -- Zac Brown’s Southern Ground. Located in the heart of Georgia, our Peachtree City headquartered company serves as the home of all things Zac Brown, including, but as you’ll soon learn far from limited to, the Zac Brown Band. Zac, and all of us here at Southern Ground come to work under one very large roof everyday with one thing on our minds, passion. Southern Ground is a company owned by Zac Brown and operated by one talented team built of artisans, craftsmen, friends and family. Here we design, create and manufacture a collection of products that show off Zac’s interests beyond his music. Leather, wood, metal, and paint combine within our walls to fulfill the unique efforts of our incredibly talented namesake and owner. Through the hard work of our artisans and manufacturers we produce quality products available to industry consumers and fans alike. 26
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Products like high-end tactical knives, custom jewelry designed by Zac’s wife Shelly, and a gambit of custom wood and metal projects come to life every day in our 150,000-square foot facility. We don’t just make things here at Southern Ground, we use them to make a difference, and that’s where I come in. Becoming a part of the team at Southern Ground was a truly unique experience for me personally. I met Zac about three years ago while working for a small military nonprofit in Texas. Yes, I’m originally a Georgia boy and proudly so, but after losing my legs in Afghanistan in 2010 working as www.homelandmagazine.com
inspire campers, with a special emphasis on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), learning and attention issues like ADD, ADHD and Dyslexia, social or emotional challenges, and those with family members serving in the military. Having spent the better part of a decade serving in the Marine Corps, surviving two wars, barely, I had seen how military service effects the strongest of families long before I had been injured myself.
a Marine Corps Bomb, or EOD Technician I spent a few years in that other Great State. Inspired by his own experience as a camp counselor, Zac’s vision is to create a state-of-the-art facility that is more than the typical camp experience. Camp Southern Ground’s mission is to provide extraordinary experiences for children to recognize and magnify the unique gifts within themselves and others to profoundly impact the world. While at camp there will be activities to challenge, educate and www.homelandmagazine.com
Working with Zac to build this camp with a military aspect in both the infrastructure and programming, as well as servicing children who are uniquely affected by military service, became a new and exciting passion in my own life. So the stars in my life aligned, and I packed my family up, moved home to Georgia and came to work at Southern Ground. My role at Southern Ground is to help tell the story behind Camp Southern Ground. A key part of that story is how we use the hard work we put into our products here at Southern Ground to support the camp. Our camp is designed and built to last 100 years, a full century’s worth investment into our children’s future. This camp is designed to outlast us all, so our companies were developed to help ensure the camp is financially secure throughout its lifetime.
The proceeds we earn at Southern Ground will benefit the camp and aid in sustaining the property. As I mentioned before, Zac has turned his interests into brands housed under the Southern Ground name. Once of those brands is Southern Grind, a line of American-made, high-end tactical knives. Under the mentorship of one of his best friend’s father and expert knife maker, Rodney “Old Man” Shelton, Zac expounded upon his own passion for knives. Here we’ve forged an ancient tool into a widely accessible, everyday carry model built to withstand virtually any environment. You can find one of our Bad Monkey’s scratching away at the side of Zac’s guitars while playing in front of thousands of fans, or on the vest of Navy SEALs serving abroad. Southern Grind General Manager, Jeff Beatty, a former Army Ranger who deployed on September 13th, 2001 ensures all our knives are designed and approved to meet the challenges of a tactical environment. Another example of Zac’s commitment to overall quality and authenticity for his brands. Jason Borne
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Another example of Zacâ€™s commitment to overall quality and authenticity for his brands.
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Serving those who have served us through our military is an important part of Southern Ground. Zac and the band honor a hero at almost every performance, and we honor them here by producing products they can use, hiring qualified veterans, and keeping our manufacturing American-sourced and American-made. The proceeds we earn through our hard work and dedication ensure Camp Southern Ground lives on and provides support for military families, and service members still healing.
In the Marine Corps I learned to become a part of something bigger than myself, and here at Southern Ground I get to continue that tradition by being a part of a dream we all share in. A dream to make things here, in America, and do so with only the best craftsmanship and for a truly greater purpose. If you want to know who we are, take it straight from the song that started it all, I believe we’re simply a company “filled with love, that’s grown in Southern Ground.” Online Johnny ‘Joey’ Jones can be found at www. johnnyjoeyjones.com and on Instagram and Twitter @Johnny_Joey.
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ENLISTED TO ENTREPRENEUR By Vicki Garcia
Talk to your partner or spouse to make sure you’re on the same page.
Think About Your Exit Strategy When You Start
First, consult your tax advisor. That way you’re working with practical information to help you avoid tax consequences. “It only hurts when it’s a surprise” is a maxim that applies here. Assuming you don’t have a complex arrangement with partners (which is a whole different discussion), there are a number of options to consider. Family Succession
Few entrepreneurs think about their pull-the-plug plan when they are giving birth to their small business. There’s so many other things to think about...like keeping the lights on, building a team, and finding a path to success, to name just a few. Trust me, time goes by quicker than you’d ever think. You could find yourself thirty years (or fewer) from launch with no idea of your end game. The truth is your exodus is impacted by decisions you make both at the beginning and as you travel through the ups and downs of business ownership. Keeping your eye on how and when you will depart, and how you will be able to feather your nest for retirement will come in handy someday. Of course, there is always the possibility that you may want out to do something different. It happens. In that case, cashing out so you can chase your new dream means you’ve built the business precisely for the very purpose of creating a cash return at some point. You can see how these two different goals might dramatically impact today’s business decisions. You might be dreaming about that IPO. The real truth is almost no one ever sees that day. So, why not take a couple of hours to sit down with yourself and design the correct exit strategy when it’s time to call it quits. This is called being “proactive,” the sure sign of a real entrepreneur. 32
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If the business is a good one, you may want to see it survive. Rather than selling it off to the highest bidder, you may prefer to “keep it in the family” and pass the business to your children or another relative. Ah, the dream of many entrepreneurs. You built your baby from the ground up and you don’t want it to go to some stranger who won’t maintain the same standards. Reality check: Unfortunately, family succession frequently does not succeed. It’s been reported that 70% of family businesses do not survive the transition from the founder to the second generation. Family rivalries and other dysfunction often intrude to derail the business. The founder refuses to cede control. Just because you own a business doesn’t mean you’re a good judge of your children’s character. Often the successor doesn’t have the “fire in the belly” that inspired the founder. Next-gen leaders and managers may not be good decision-makers. The sibling denied the role of chief executive feuds with the chosen one. It’s starting to sound like a soap opera. The founder/parent must take carefully considered steps to create the conditions for second generation success to occur. It is important to distinguish between company leader, managers, and owners and make certain that no one feels devalued. You, the founder/parent, should look to preserve not only the business, but also family relationships. www.homelandmagazine.com
Here’s a radical thought. If you’d like to pass your business along to family members, ask them now if they’d like to become the second generation of owners. If any or all agree to that proposal, get them involved early so they can see all the different aspects of running the business. Find an advisor who is neutral and will give you honest feedback, so you don’t let your emotional attachment get in the way. Employee Buyout Turning your business over to a family member may not mean any immediate cash in your pocket. If no family members are interested in owning and running the business, you may find that one, or several, of your employees may be interested in buying you out. Don’t be shy about raising that possibility. What better way to boost confidence and morale than letting valuable employees know that you trust them enough to place your treasured achievement into their capable and caring hands? Selling to employees can be a great exit strategy. The employees will be able to invest in a business that they know and trust. They know the challenges and opportunities that the business may encounter. They know the customers and the customers know them. They have institutional memory and know how things run. Encourage employees whom you know would make successful business owners to consider a buy-out proposal or an employee stock option plan (ESOP). This end-goal can take years to manifest, so it’s best to start as early as possible. Call your business attorney and/or accountant and make sure that you have the best legal structure for the exit strategy that you select. Selling Out If the business has tangible assets and healthy sales, your exit strategy can provide for you either a retirement nest egg or start-up capital to create yet another business. I have seen businesses created for the sole purpose of building it up and then selling it. Start the preparations early and keep your eye on the goal. Maintain detailed and credible financial records: demonstrate profitability; show good cash flow; keep your debt to equity ratio low.
Expect to show a prospective buyer 5 years of data. If the business owns property and/or equipment, ensure that all is in good working order. To sell your business for a price that accurately reflects its value, speak first with your accountant and business attorney, next with a business valuation appraiser and then with a business broker. And, whatever you do, don’t lie, inflate sales data or produce overly rosy projections. This is a good way to set yourself up for a lawsuit by an unhappy buyer. If you’re selling your business to an employee or an outside buyer, perhaps there’s an easier way to structure the deal than just looking for immediate cash. If the business if profitable, few people are going to have the ability to buy into a business at a high price. Then, there is the capital gains issue to think about. Here’s a thought: If you’re going to sell out, why not have a payout over time? The owner could retain a smaller amount of their salary (and an Emeritus status) and keep his or her employment going, which would also still provide insurance and other perks he or she has become dependent upon through the years. Calling it Quits Some businesses, such as micro one person businesses, are entirely dependent on the founder/expert. In that case, the only option is to invest in other ways and save, save, save. It is difficult to know when to skedaddle from a company like this, especially if the cash flow is good. They say “work as long as you possibly can.” In that situation, the exit strategy might entail creating a new paradigm or business model that requires less of your time and energy. Are you a subject matter expert? Possibly creating on-line how-to products for sale might take advantage of your knowledge, but give you the freedom to pursue other interests. Consider becoming a speaker. With the right promotions and personality, that could mean travel, information products, and meeting lots of new people. Corporations and events are on the constant lookout for quality presenters. It’s a thought.
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
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By Chad Storlie
How To Make Good Choices In Higher Education For Military Affiliated
Choosing a college and completing a degree for a military affiliated student in the Active, Reserves, or a Military Veteran can be an incredible challenge. First, a military affiliated student is one that is either an active military member, a member of the Guard or Reserve, a military veteran, or a military spouse. Second, it is not difficult to find colleges and universities by the literal hundreds that are falling over themselves to get military affiliated students into their schools. Rather, how do you find the best higher education available as a professional, career focused, older, and full or part time student? The challenge for military affiliated students is to find good, cost effective, and sought after degrees from respectable higher education institutions that will professionally and financially advance their careers and their family happiness. 1. Good Choices For Military Affiliated Students In Higher Ed Tip #1 â€“ Assess Your Life & Family Stage. Getting a college or advanced degree needs to start with an honest assessment if you have the time, energy, and passion to get a degree when viewed with all of your other work, family, and life commitments. If you have small children, are getting ready to move, or have an elderly parent, 34
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now might not be the best time to get a higher education degree. This personal assessment of your readiness to complete a degree is vital to your financial success. Educational debt among people without a completed higher education degree can leave you worse off financially.
2. Good Choices For Military Affiliated Students In Higher Ed Tip #2 â€“ Find Some Educational Role Models. For a degree to become meaningful, military affiliated students need to have a person or person (s) they can model their educational aspirations around. For example, a military spouse could select Holly Petraeus, a leader within the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau as a role model for a career in government affairs and government policy. Holly Petraeus has a degree from Dickinson College. Stephanie Barna, the Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) received her undergraduate degree from Washington & Jefferson College. Educational role models in Education, Government, Military, and Business point the way to higher education institutions that can help develop military affiliated students into the leaders and professions that they want to have. www.homelandmagazine.com
The goal is to find a collection of physical schools that meet the majority of the criteria above. In short, you want to find the school that costs the lowest amount, graduates their students on time, gets students employed, and then has graduates leave school with a low amount of debt. This is a tall order, but one that numbers of colleges through the United States perform on an annual basis.
3. Good Choices For Military Affiliated Students In Higher Ed Tip #3 – Extensively Plan Your Financial Readiness for Education. Meeting with the college registrar, educational counselors, financial aid counselors, student career office, and academic advisors takes a great deal of time, but all of these meetings are necessary. The goal is to discover a school and a major that has a strong marketplace need, it is something that you are passionately interested in, and your academic career can be completed in as short a time as possible. Financially, you should complete your educational goal with a financial goal of no more than $3000-$4000 in debt a year and no more than $15,000 educational debt for your degree. Educational debt is a killer of post-college success because it hurts your ability to truly find a career that you like and to finance after graduation items such as a house.
5. Value in Higher Education Tip #5 – Stay The Course & Graduate On Time. College is hard, graduating school is hard, and so are other professional programs. When you make the choice to start and / or finish your degree, make that commitment in blood that no matter what happens, you will finish. Degree completion is the secret to post college success.
4. Value in Higher Education Tip #4 – Apply to 3 to 4 Schools That Meet Your Criteria With a Focus On Educational Outcomes. A focus on higher education outcomes that schools actually produce is the only way to cut through the school’s marketing and advertising information to determine what your expected financial outcome will be from your degree.
Military affiliated higher education students can and do perform at amazingly high levels of performance in college. To be successful, military affiliated students must assess their life stage, find educational role models, plan their financial educational commitment, chose colleges based on education outcomes, and stay on time to graduate.
There are eight critical data elements to focus on to assess how well a school prepares you for an improved professional and financial life. They are: Higher Education School Characteristics: 1. Educational Complaint Count — the number of educational complaints against the school that may signal collapse or accreditation issues. 2. Retention Rate of BA Students — the percentage of students who continue their education at the college. 3. Tuition Levels. 4. Undergraduate Enrollment — Higher is better to the larger size of alumni in related career fields. Higher Education Outcome Characteristics: 1. Average Salary Following Graduation. 2. Average Student Loan Debt. 3. Graduation Rate of All Students. 4. Student Loan Repayment Rate All Students. www.homelandmagazine.com
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By Katie B. Turner Veterans and Civilians Collaborate to Present “Vets at Home: A Showcase of Short Plays” at The Veterans Museum this April On Tuesday March 21, the cast and crew of “Vets at Home: A Showcase of Short Plays” gathered at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park (VMBP) to begin rehearsing the production. The team comprises a dynamic mixture of military veterans, veteran family members, and veteran community allies. While each participant has their own unique life experiences that have led them to this project, what unites them all is a commitment to raising awareness of the complex array of challenges veterans face when they return home, and a belief that the arts is a vital means by which to achieve this goal. “Vets at Home” is a project created by VMBP Arts Director Anthony LoBue and Artist-in-Residence Katie Turner. LoBue, known to many simply as Tony the Vet, is a senior, disabled, wartime veteran, artist, and advocate who believes passionately that the fine arts are a pathway to community healing and personal growth. He initiated the Artist-in-Residence program at the VMBP in fall of 2016. Since its inception, artists have offered classes in such varied areas as drawing, comedic improvisation, playwriting, and bronze casting. 38
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Each Artist-in-Residence is given great latitude in the classes they offer; LoBue asks only that they make their programs inclusive, offering opportunities for active military, veterans, veteran families, and community members to come together. “I think this focus on building bridges between communities is important,” says Turner. “What Tony is building here is a wonderful way for everyone involved to find common ground and learn more about each other.” “Vets at Home” continues this focus. The production features 13 short plays (ten minutes or less), and one original musical number. Out of those 14 performance pieces, half are written by military veterans and the other half by civilian playwrights. Many of the actors and two of the directors are also veterans, adding a depth of experience and insight into the production that will benefit the civilian actors and directors as they interpret the material. As its title suggests, each play in “Vets at Home” considers a different aspect of the veteran experience. Using comedy, drama, dance, and music, the plays address topics such as substance abuse, coping with the VA, and veteran reintegration.
The styles of the plays are as varied as their topics, using such diverse forms as realism, monologues, and psychodrama. In “Break the Horse’s Back” by Anna Renee Winget, for example, we see a female army veteran’s inner demons literally come to life as she struggles to confront and overcome them.
Performers and audience make it happen together in present time.” LoBue invites folks from all walks of life to “collaborate with us in the most ideal space for this showcase: The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park!”
Other stories, such as “Going Home” by LoBue, use the form of the monologue to portray the intensely personal struggle of veterans contemplating suicide. Teresa Suarez, who plays the veteran character in “Going Home,” feels that using art to discuss these difficult topics is crucial. She says, “We hope these stories will touch people. That’s what art does. Programs like this are also therapeutic; by imagining, sharing, writing, participating, performing, expressing — or letting out repressed emotions, or by working behind the scenes, a creative outlet like this is wonderful for people to experience. When it has personal meaning, or touches a chord for the creator or for the audience, it makes it all the more powerful.” While many of the plays portray fictional events, several of the vignettes are based on the playwrights’ real-life experiences. For Patrick Castaneda, a Vietnam combat veteran and author of three plays in the showcase, translating his wartime experiences onto the stage has helped him process those events. Castaneda explains, “Over the years I have tried a number of methods for treating my disability.
Tony the Vet, with Director Elizabeth Corrow and Actor John Bode in the Background
But of everything I have done, nothing has helped me more than being part of the theatre arts. Being part of the Veterans Arts Program as an actor, writer, and director has given me a new direction, a direction that doesn’t include prescribed medicine alone.” Even the fictional pieces have personal meeting for some of the performers. This is true for Felicity Bryant, who plays a daughter in the duet scene “Always.” In this play, a father, who is a widower whose wife fell in the line of duty, is struggling to help his young daughter cope with her impending womanhood. This situation has personal significance for Bryant. “I am from a military family, my great grandfather to my mother, who served 16 years in the Marine Corps,” Bryant says. “The short play I’m in has a special place in my heart, because my mom deployed to Iraq when I was in second grade. I know firsthand what it’s like to go through what my character is feeling. It’s personal for me. It’s going to be personal for any vet who comes to see these plays.” For LoBue, theatre epitomizes the interactive mode of engagement he seeks to create between veterans and civilians in his arts programs. He says, “Theatre is our most collaborative fine art. www.homelandmagazine.com
Actors Felicity Bryant, Kaye Williams, Portia Gregory (veteran) and Andrea Agosto Production Details: When: April 21 and 22 at 7:30pm, April 22 at 2:30pm Where: The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, 2115 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101 Tickets: $10 or pay-what-you can. - Buy online at http://tinyurl.com/mmlds9s - Reserve tickets by phone at 970-903-8924 Additional Information: Due to adult language and themes, this production is not appropriate for children. For more information, contact producer Katie Turner by email at email@example.com or by calling 970-903-8924.
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