Homeland Resources Support Inspiration
Vol. 1 Number 10 • December 2014
A Soldier’s Christmas A Marine Family-HBOT A Fight For Independence A Gift To Remember Eating For The Holidays O Christmas Tree HOMELAND / December 2014 1
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This Page is Dedicated With Gratitude To All Of The Men, Women and Veterans Of Our Country’s Armed Forces.
A SOLDIER’S HomeLand CHRISTMAS Publisher Michael J. Miller
‘Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone, in a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone. I had come down the chimney with presents to give, and to see just who in this little house lived. As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see, no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree. No Stockings by mantle, just boots filled with sand, on the wall hung pictures of far distant lands. With medals and badges, awards of all kinds, A sobering thought came through my mind. For this house was different, it was dark and dreary, The home of a soldier, I could now see clearly. The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone, curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home. The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder, not how I picture a United States Soldier. Was this the hero of whom I’d just read? Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed? I realized the families that I saw this night, owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight. Soon round the world, the children would play, and grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
Contributing Writers Wounded Warrior Project Linda Kreter Rick Rogers CJ Machado Louise Esola Vickie West Starr Karen Bates
Public Relations Linda Kreter CJ Machado Graphic Design Trevor Watson
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year, because of the soldiers, like the one lying here. I couldn’t help wondering how many lay alone, on a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home. The very thought brought a tear to my eye, I dropped to one knee and started to cry. The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice, “Santa don’t cry, for this life is my choice”. I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more, my life is my God, my country, my corps.” The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep, I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep. I kept watch for hours, so silent and still, as we both shivered from the cold night’s chill. I didn’t want to leave, on that cold, dark night, this guardian of honor, so willing to fight. Then the soldier rolled over, with a voice soft and pure, whispered, “Carry on Santa, It’s Christmas Day, all is secure. One look at my watch, and I knew he was right, Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a Good Night. Wishing You a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Peace Love Joy Homeland Magazine
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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 13223 Black Mountain Road, #168 San Diego, CA 92129
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Inside This Issue
8 4 A Soldier’s Christmas
6 Operation Homefront Assists 8 A Marine Family - A New Beginning 12 Tragedy To Triumph 14 A Gift To Remember
22 The Christmas Truce
16 A Fight For Independence
24 Remembering Pearl Harbor
20 Eating For The Holidays
26 O Christmas Tree
Did You Know?
The Top 10 things you didn’t know about Christmas
HOMELAND / December 2014 5
Operation Homefront Assists! By Vickie Starr West
Operation Homefront’s Southern California Village assists transitioning wounded warriors. One of the residents, Alex Weatherholt wanted to share his story in the hopes that it may help others. The Weatherholt family consists of Alex, his wife Akiko, two daughters Asuka 6, and Akari 4, and son Arata, five months. After graduating from high school in Florida, Alex Weatherholt, who had never left his home state, wanted to the see the world. He joined the Navy in December 1999. The Navy took Alex to Puerto Rico, Japan, Hawaii, San Diego, Mississippi, an additional 20 countries while stationed aboard the Kitty Hawk, and to Qatar and Afghanistan. After his return from Afghanistan, Alex was riding his motorcycle to work one morning on US 15 in California when he became the victim of a hit and run. A car attempted a late turn off to an exit ramp by crossing several lanes of traffic. The truck traveling in front of Alex tried to avoid the car and ended up sideways. Alex had nowhere to go. His motorcycle hit the back of the truck. He recalls, “I flew, then bounced three times, and was looking into oncoming traffic— hoping that I would not die. The first impact destroyed my leg.” The responsible driver was never caught. From 2012 until August 2014, Alex underwent numerous surgeries on his leg. “My leg is now comprised of bolts, screws, and plates,” states Alex. “I am lucky to still have my leg.” He tried to remain on active duty; however, in early 2014, he was medically retired. The transition from active duty to medical retirement has been difficult for the Weatherholt family. While attending a resource fair for his special needs daughter, Alex learned about Operation Homefront and the local village. He put in an application and was approved; however, the family had to stay in a hotel for a month while repairs on the apartment were completed. Operation Homefront, through Wounded Warrior funds, was able to pay for the family’s hotel stay. Living in the SoCal Village rent free allows Alex to save for his family’s future—the money for a down payment on a permanent home. The family has applied to Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront program for a home in Florida. Alex’s family lives in the area and would be a great support system for the Weatherholt family and a permanent home would provide the children with a stable environment which Alex’s autistic daughter needs. “Operation Homefront as supported me in ways that are unimaginable. I appreciate that I have been given an opportunity through Operation Homefront that I would not have otherwise,” stated Alex.
HOMELAND / December 2014
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a marine famil Traumatic brain injury & new beginning through hbot
By Linda Kreter WiseHealth, Inc.
arine Staff Sergeant Charles (Chuck) Rotenberry was proud to be in front – literally “walking point” before platoons in Afghanistan as Chief Trainer of the II (second) Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Camp Lejeune Military Working Dog Platoon. In conjunction with Combat Engineers who manipulate metal detectors, these highly trained teams of handler and working dogs clear the path of potential improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with close scrutiny and awareness. On that day in March 2011 while on a combat patrol, SSgt. Rotenberry assumed the security and overwatch position for the K9 Team; thus freeing up the previously assigned member organic to the unit. His mission while out with the K9 teams was to ensure the 30 teams were performing proficiently; both Marine and K9. It’s the disciplined practice for those leading the way to follow a very strict protocol to ensure safety throughout entire patrol. This time, one hour into an early morning dismounted (combat patrol) clearing operation, Chuck Rotenberry was providing security behind one of his K9 teams on the front lines. Together they proceeded, carefully clearing the way with highly attentive Marines, a military working dog, and metal detector. The job requires meticulous attention to detail, walking one after another in the footprint of the Marine ahead. Right footprint, right foot. Left footprint, left foot. Man after man. Slow step after slow careful step.
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amily Two weeks later he was showing blast effects: uncertainty, short-term memory loss, headaches, confusion, and thought he could “just sleep it out”. Chuck pressed on until medics held him back from further combat operations from April to July. MRI and CT scan equipment was scarce, and to the Medical Staff it appeared that his symptoms were surface-only, so no MRI or CT scans were done. On July 5th at 3am, SSgt. Rotenberry returned home to the States. Liz was told he was okay, and was very proud of his valor in coming to the aid of his buddy and earning a Navy Commendation and receiving the Purple Heart. Chuck got into the driver’s seat of the truck to go home - but could not remember how to get there. Perplexing. That morning at 0800, movers came to relocate them and they “rolled right back into life”. On July 19th, baby #4 was born. Chuck Rotenberry desperately struggled to adjust to transition from combat environment to the home noise level of the three older children and now a new infant. Liz doubted that Chuck wanted to be with them. He doubted himself, assuming everyone else was
One misstep was all it took; the Marine behind SSgt. Rotenberry put his left foot in the right footprint, perhaps just barely out of step. The catastrophic explosion that followed not only took both legs but caused many other injuries to the Marine behind SSgt. Rotenberry. Havoc ensued. Shrapnel blew everywhere; Chuck was thrown nearly 10 feet and he lost consciousness before coming to and rushing to the aid of the injured Marine. After carrying the stabilized Marine nearly 200 yards and running on sheer adrenaline, the K9 Team cleared the path of a landing zone for medics. Chuck Rotenberry and the platoon pushed on with the mission for 6-8 hours more, encountering small firefights and apprehending a high-value detainee. Upon returning to the small patrol base, a medic stopped SSgt. Rotenberry: “Do you know you’re bleeding from the back of your neck and back?” They cleaned him up, and he was ground MEDEVAC’d where the Battalion Surgeon removed the shrapnel and he was cleared for continued service. That morning, Chuck called his wife, Liz (pregnant with their fourth child) and she became very concerned since “he sounded very bad and said he just needed to sleep”. Four hours later, after learning that Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) had notified Liz, he called again to tell her he was injured and had sustained some small shrapnel wounds – he couldn’t remember having called her before. www.homelandmagazine.com
“messed up” and Liz knew that something just wasn’t right. They sought and received services from a Navy program called FOCUS (Families Overcoming Under Stress) that gave them a better understanding of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury and explained (especially to the children) that Chuck’s “invisible wounds” were very serious.
Continued on page 10
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Traumatic brain injury & new beginning through hbot After waiting about four months, he finally got his first appointment in the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Clinic on Camp Lejeune. Chuck entered their 16week program and received physical therapy, balance techniques, learning to schedule appointment reminders and create new habits to compensate – until he was told “there’s nothing more we can do for you”. With the aid of multiple prescriptions (and subsequent side effects and adjustments), he experienced some minor progress, most of which he chalked up as coping methods to counteract or avoid the forgetfulness, crowds, loud noises, and intense migraines. SSgt. Rotenberry, (admittedly) too stubborn to submit to a medical review board, then transitioned from Active Duty to the Marine Corps Reserves; not completing the 8 more years “until his 20” as he’d intended. Chuck, now a Gunnery Sergeant stayed on as a USMC Reservist and was fortunate to continue a civilian career in his field of expertise. The Veterans Affairs Office determined Gunny to have 100% service-connected disabilities, with Severe PTS and Mild to Moderate TBI. As life continued, Chuck found he could not tolerate other people, getting lost or confused, had constant migraines and even began to shun being around the family he so loved. After getting settled in their new home they relied on the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) for medical care, counseling, and caregiver support, but a random event like the popping of a balloon created havoc and breakdown. Life for the last two and half years was a black hole, walking on eggshells and feeling like there was nothing more to do but rely on meds and patience to get them through their days.
It took a major breakdown in March of 2013 for Liz to realize they needed more help… Chuck expressed his frustration with the distress he knew he was causing the family and how it might be better for everyone to be without him. To not have a “visible wound” was breaking him, and this was very, very serious. As a relentless and resourceful family advocate and dedicated caregiver, Liz researched alternative therapies and experts in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Among them was Dr. Paul Harch, a pioneer in Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) which, through increased atmospheric pressure, forces 100% oxygen into the body and blood stream, allowing the brain to begin to heal and recover. (HBOT chambers were originally designed for deep water divers who surfaced too quickly and needed to balance their brain oxygen from “the bends”). Regrettably, HBOT is considered Off-Label use and not FDA-approved for TBI or PTSD. The Rotenberry’s were determined to find help for Chuck and their
To not have a “visible wound” was breaking him, and this was very serious. 10
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family, paying the $18,000 cost for the initial 40 treatments, lodging and food out-of-pocket. This cost was in addition to the brain scans GySgt. Rotenberry required at $1500-2000 each. These SPECT scans clearly showed frontal left lobe injury, hindered blood supply, and most likely showed the source of short-term memory and emotional function (motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgment, impulse control and social behavior). They felt validated at seeing visual proof of an organic injury helping Chuck to confirm that there was in fact an injury, that it was not fake, and that he was not going “crazy”. Relief and hope prevailed. Chuck underwent the initial 40 HBOT treatments and almost immediately he improved. After the first week, he noticed that he had not had a debilitating migraine since before the first treatment. He couldn’t believe it. Liz said “A light’s been turned on inside of him”. It was also disconcerting. Chuck was hesitant and not sure how to react; “Is this permanent? How long do I have before they come back,” he thought. Today, he happily shares there are still no debilitating migraines. HBOT is not a cure, but a life changing opportunity
that has helped Chuck to learn to deal with everyday signs and symptoms of an invisible wound. Stress is still apparent, and GySgt. Rotenberry still struggles with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Mild-TBI. He remains hypervigilant, but is calmer and communicates better, and the family is stronger. There are pros and cons in any therapy and Liz and GySgt. Rotenberry will tell everyone to do their own research. Yet, their HBOT experience was fortuitous and they learned to share with other families that the “condition was speaking, not the person” to those considering giving up their family relationships. Today, the Rotenberry’s devote their time to sharing their positive experience with HBOT, starting a non-profit, and actively distribute HBOT material, including informative DVD’s, participate in roundtable military health discussions with legislators and policy makers, and they share the success of HBOT in giving GySgt. Rotenberry improved brain function and quality of life. Recently, the family adopted one of the dogs from the Military Working Dog kennels at Camp Lejeune, who also suffered from PTS. Together, they face their days with greater confidence, a close family unit, and a well-informed, compassionate and articulate team. The Gunny and his wife Elizabeth are inspired; “The Brave and their relentless Caregivers shall no longer suffer in silence nor endure alone, WE are Walking Point for PTSD & TBI.” For more information on HBOT therapy for PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury contact GySgt. Rotenberry and Liz Rotenberry on Facebook ‘Walking Point for PTSD & TBI’, or at email@example.com. Ultimately, they hope to show sufficient clinical evidence to power up and use the HBOT chambers available at every VA facility today.
C A L L
Paying it Forward
Burger spot offers combo for vets Biggie’s gives training, partnership to veterans entering civilian life to open restaurants across nation. After cultivating a loyal fan base for 23 years at Biggie’s Burgers & More in San Clemente, restaurateur Richard Brown is intent on spreading the love. This year he opened a second Biggie’s building along San Clemente’s thoroughfare. But it isn’t a burger joint. The Biggie’s sign says “Sunrise Warriors.” It’s a training facility to help military veterans learn to run a successful burger eatery, learn to clone Brown’s business model and open a Biggie’s Burgers & More store in hometowns across America. “It’s not a franchise,” Brown said. “We’re partnering with them. We’ll help them put the store in. We will hold their hand until they are ready to roll on their own and than we will be there when and if the need us. “We are going to make sure they are successful.” For more information, check out their ad on page 25 www.homelandmagazine.com
F O R
N O M I N AT I O N S
No matter what words you use, we want to hear them! Do you know an exceptional military child? Nominate them today for the Military Child of the Year® Award. One recipient from each branch of service will receive $10,000, a laptop and a trip to D.C. to meet today’s government and military leaders at our annual gala in April. Each nominee will receive a letter acknowledging his or her nomination. One child will be recognized from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. For the first time in 2015, a National Guard child will be selected too. Nominations accepted through December 12, 2014. For more information, or to nominate the exceptional military child in your life, please visit
HOMELAND / December 2014 11
One Military Spouse’s Journey from
Tragedy to Triumph
By Karen Bates
myself if I would enjoy working on tax returns for the 65 to 70 hour work weeks required during tax season. At least I knew myself well enough to know that I would quickly become angry and bitter during a long adoption process if I disliked the job I went to five out of seven days a week. The thought of another tax season was actually unbearable. I simply had to find a purpose for my life outside of raising a family because that was not a guarantee for Ken and I. So I set out to find something I could get excited about doing every day.
A New Journey: I had the good fortune of having hard evidence from preparing tax returns that clients with commission-based or sales positions often had much better income potential than I was on track to make as a salaried, tax professional. The year was 2003, the real estate industry was booming and I quickly and easily found a sales job in the mortgage industry. It only took six months in sales for me to realize three things; first, I realized how poorly we had been served when purchasing our homes and how much contradicting information most professionals had about VA loans – see our previous two articles in Homeland Magazine. Second, I realized I wanted to start my own business and make a difference in the industry and the livesof other military families. And finally, I realized I had inadvertently found my passion.
fter moving four times in four years to support my husband’s military career — and losing interest in my career as a CPA — I was devastated to learn Ken and I would be unable to have biological children, and not for the obvious reason. For me, the hope of adoption and still being able to be parents softened that baby blow. The devastation I felt was over the idea of a few more tax seasons. Being a stay-at-home mom to my 2.0 children was, in my mind, the closest off ramp from my full-time tax career, which I disliked very much. I am giggling as I write this and thinking, don’t judge – it is really, really hard to stay focused on your career, especially one you are not passionate about, when you know you will be moving every two years. Add that to the fact that I didn’t marry until after eight years of my own in the military and you get a biological clock that is ticking very loudly! After leaving the military, I had quickly chosen an accounting degree with the sole focus of finishing my degree before we moved. Sound familiar? Looking back, it is funny to realize that I didn’t once stop long enough to connect the dots on how indifferent I was about doing my own taxes. I was too busy working on achieving Valedictorian and never considered asking
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My ultimate goal in starting the business was to be the best VA resource and lending company for the women I loved, admired, and depended on most in life, my fellow military spouses. In 2014, I am happy to report we are staying true to our vision and passion. 92% of our business is in our VA loan expertise and our office is home to the number one volume originator within our lending community for the last three years running. All proof that a woman’s passion can bring a softer touch and success to an otherwise overly competitive marketplace.
My Advice for Spouses: If your chosen field isn’t providing the financial and personal rewards you want, don’t be afraid to change directions. In hindsight, I am incredibly grateful I didn’t let fear from leaving a known path and well-meaning advice from others stop me from making a change and ultimately, a difference in my own life and the lives of the families we serve.
And What About the Baby?: I am happy to report, we did adopt and brought home a beautiful baby girl in July 2006, just a little over three years after starting the adoption process. During that time, we had decided to settle in San Diego and thoroughly enjoy helping our fellow military families get the inside scoop to the San Diego VA market. Please give us a call or send us an email to join the many happy buyers in our Military Home Loans family. We look forward to serving you!
HOMELAND / December 2014 13
A GIFT TO REMEMBER By Louise Esola
hen I was a child World War I veterans were in their 80s and 90s. And I don’t recall meeting any of the men of the trenches, of Belleau Wood, or of Saint-Mihiel. I was too young to care and, really, nobody explained it to me. Lately, as a journalist, somewhat of a war historian if you will, and a mother, I’ve been thinking about this. More than two million Americans fought in the battlefields of Europe. I grew up in a big old city— Philadelphia—and I saw elderly people all the time. Dare I now look back and think that, perhaps, I was in the presence of a hero or two: the old man reading the newspaper at the El stop; the one buying apples at the corner store; or someone’s great grandpa who had come for a visit. I look back and I see missed opportunities. It wasn’t until college and then, my career as a journalist that I began to appreciate it all. In my career I have met (and counting): a man who had come off the USS Juneau just before she was torpedoed by the Japanese, a Bataan Death March survivor, Pearl Harbor survivors, a gentleman who helped man the Higgins boats for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. The list goes on. These are just the highlights. The chapter headers in a history book. Today, whenever I can, I bring my kids along. My boys are six and seven years old and, thanks to Batman, Superman, and the gang, understand what it means to fight the bad guys and how brave you have to be to, well, charge a beach when the ramp comes down. Yes, I teach my children war history and an appreciation for veterans that’s missing in today’s lessons. It is, I like to think, a gift. I spent four years working on my book about the sinking of the USS Frank E. Evans, DD-754, off the coast of Vietnam in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War. For four years I read books, studied, sifted through declassified documents, and, my
HOMELAND / December 2014
personal favorite, interviewed survivors of the ship, Vietnam War veterans, and family members of those killed on what was the only ship lost in that unpopular war. I became quite close with this group, so close in fact, some have come to my home for dinner and over the holidays. One used to come over in the morning for coffee, to go over information and to bring my children cupcakes. “Was he on the 754 boat mommy?” was a question they’d ask and I would say, yes, honey, he was. Or that his brother was, and was killed. I never hid the truth from my children. That, in war, people lose their lives. (For four years it was my life’s work; I couldn’t hide it.) I tell them that most wars are fought to protect the innocent and that yes, sometimes, people do not come home. “Did people on the 754 boat die?” Yes, they did, I tell them. Their wide eyes show hints of sadness and compassion. And I think that’s a good thing. That’s what they called her: the 754 boat. “It’s a ship,” one of the veterans tried to tell my then four-year-old son at a Memorial Day event I was attending with some of the former crewmen of the Evans, my children in tow. When I launched my book American Boys: The True Story of the Lost 74 of The Vietnam War and attended my fifth Evans ship reunion with my boxes of fresh paperbacks, I brought my children along all the way up to Seattle. The little guys stood out in the group of older men in navy blue caps with gold lettering. They don’t wear capes or spandex but I teach my children that these men are heroes. They are heroes because they stood up and fought for what they believed was right—that they didn’t run away, that they believed in their country and still do. In my book, literally, they are heroes because there are still fighting to have their lost shipmates honored. They fight like hell, well into old age and onto their own deaths, although I don’t like to think about that. My children walked around, asked questions, ran up and down the ramp outside one of the meetings rooms, ate cookie after cookie in the reunion’s hospitality suite, marveled at the model ship in the lobby, and wondered, moments after the sugar-laden breakfast buffet, when’s lunch? Likely, it was a funny, melancholic sight for a man I call the Chief. Lawrence Reilly was a master chief aboard the USS Frank E. Evans on the night she sank. He was the only World War II veteran aboard the ship during the Evans’ final cruise to Vietnam. Some 26 years earlier he called the USS Oakland home. It was a lucky ship because after the hell that was Iwo Jima, Palau Islands, and Okinawa, she lost not one sailor.
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He’s 90 years old, the same age the World War I veterans were when I was a child, and attends ship reunions in his son’s memory. Larry Reilly, Jr. was 21 year old when he was serving on the same destroyer as his father, when he was killed in tragedy his father barely survived. I wrote about the Reilly family—three boys, two girls, a rambunctious clan not unlike the crazy the Chief was witnessing in the lobby in Seattle—in American Boys. The Chief, who I’d come to know quite well, had brought some gifts for my children: a sailor LEGO minifigure and a Marine figurine. We dined with the Chief a few times at the reunion. I snapped a photo of my boys with a person they might one day realize how lucky they were to meet. The real gift, I like to think, was the meeting itself. Louise Esola is a Southern California-based journalist and author of the book American Boys: The True Story of the Lost 74 of the Vietnam War, available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. www.homelandmagazine.com
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Wounded Warrior Project
A Fight For L
and of the free, because of the brave is the ideology this great country was founded on. This holiday season, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) salutes the service men and women who protect and preserve our ideals on the ground, at sea, and in the air.
All of our veterans face challenges as they return to society, and today’s wounded veterans are meeting extraordinary obstacles year round — including both physical and invisible injuries. WWP has made a promise to this generation of wounded service members to be there no matter how long or difficult their road to recovery. Our 20 programs are designed to fill gaps in service, providing much-needed support in the areas of engagement, physical and mental health, economic empowerment, job placement, and access to care and benefits.
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As conflicts continue in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is more important than ever to keep the longterm needs of our warriors at the forefront of public mind. Looking to the future, we know these warriors will continue to need our support long after the conflicts end – especially those living with the most severe wounds of war. As part of our ongoing commitment to provide for those who have honorably served our country, Wounded Warrior Project has committed to meet both the immediate and long-term needs of those, who without the appropriate support, are most at risk for institutionalization. Because for many, sometimes the hardest fight comes after the battle. The Independence Program is an innovative program, created to help warriors design their own path from surviving to thriving. Independence Program pairs warriors who rely on their families
and/or caregivers because of moderate to severe brain injury, spinal-cord injury, or other neurological conditions, with a specialized case manager to develop a personalized plan to restore meaningful levels of activity and purpose into their daily lives. For many, this is an opportunity to participate in the types of daily tasks, and meaningful activities others take for granted.
Each warrior’s roadmap is developed to meet their own interests, goals for independence and quality of life, as are the resources brought to bear. The program is a team effort, bringing together the warrior and his or her full support team to focus on goals that provide a future with purpose - at no cost to the warrior and his or her support team. In many instances, for the cost of one month in an in-patient institutionalized brain injury rehabilitation program, WWP’s Independence Program can provide a year’s worth of communitywww.homelandmagazine.com
Established to empower each warrior to live as independently as possible, with the highest quality of life and the finest, most compassionate care, the Trust provides families with access to secured funding allocated to supplement the costs of up to 20 years of support services. All funding is administered through advisory panels in consultation with individual warriors or their representative. Through this focus on long-term care, WWP and its partners are stepping up to say we will be there to make sure our warriors are not only cared for, but also supported and provided opportunities to live life to the fullest. If we, as a nation, genuinely want to empower a generation of warriors, and provide those with the greatest need opportunities to define what independence means to them, it will take community support and public responsibility. Help us help more of these warriors in their new lifelong battle. To learn more, please visit woundedwarriorproject.org. About Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Wounded Warrior Project is recognizing its 10-year anniversary, reflecting on a decade of service and reaffirming its commitment to serving injured veterans for their lifetime. The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP currently serves more than 60,000 warriors and nearly 9,000 family members through its 20 unique programs and services. The purpose of WWP is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and woman aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org
based support on a weekly basis to an individual warrior. Current rehabilitation programs typically invest heavily in the beginning of a warrior’s recovery, but not during the longest, most difficult and least supported phase of recovery, which begins upon the return home. For these warriors who are working through the compounding effects of both visible and invisible wounds, a long range, strategic plan for care and independence is needed. No program currently focuses on a warrior’s day-to-day quality of life, or what happens in the future when their family caregivers may no longer be able to provide care, or when they are ready to try to live more independently. Until now. Launched spring of 2014, the Long-Term Support Trust ensures services including life-skills training, home care, transportation, and additional resources remain available to the severely wounded who, upon the loss of their caregiver, are at risk for institutionalization. Through the Trust, resources are available to supplement current services and benefits the warrior may be receiving. www.homelandmagazine.com
HOMELAND / December 2014 17
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HOMELAND / December 2014
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HOMELAND / December 2014 19
Eating for the By Rick Rogers
It’s the most gluttonous time of the year. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s and the bowl games and cookies and the beverages, the average American putsonagood10poundsduringtheholidays.
ere we all budding sumo wrestlers or offensive linemen this would hardly matter. But instead we’re a people who eat and drink first and regret later, usually around Jan. 1 when all those well-meaning resolutions come due. No need to hector you with the obese numbers concerning U.S. obesity. Fact is we need to do a lot better at getting slimmer to drive down surging rates of Type II diabetes, high blood pressure and other weight-related ills.
The average American male now weighs 195 pounds and the average woman checks in at 165. Fully two-thirds of us are overweight. We must take a stand somewhere and the holidays are a good if uncommon place to start. So let’s take a look at the holidays and maybe find a few places to cut corners to help keep the weight off. First, understanding a few numbers is key. Topping the list is 3,500. That’s the number of calories that makes up a pound of fat. It’s also the number of calories you must burn over and above what you consume to lose that pound. The second is 2,000. That’s the ballpark number of calories someone needs to maintain their
HOMELAND / December 2014
weight. Roughly speaking, consume less than 2,000 calories and you’ll lose weight. Consume more and you’ll gain. There are, of course, variations. A physically larger person naturally needs more calories and a smaller person less. So do athletes because they expend energy in training. But for most of us the 2,000 calories-a-day rule works just fine. Another way of thinking of this is to consider your body a bank account and calories like dollars. Deposit more dollars than you take out and your account gets fatter. Take more out than you save and your account gets flatter. There are really only two ways to lose weight without resorting to surgery and they best work hand in hand. One is to consume fewer calories and the second is to burn more. The best answer is to do both. Reduce calories while exercising more. Cutting calories is the key. Yes, but how, especially during the holidays when temptation lurks on every plate? Start by reducing empty calories, which are calories from beverages and food that offer no
or little nutritional value. For example, a can of soda typically contains 140-150 calories and except for some carbohydrates offers next to no nutritional value whatsoever. And limit anything fried or made from batter. To get a better handle on other foods and drinks that also offer nothing except calories that you’ll regret later, check out the government website http://www.choosemyplate.gov. So far as exercise goes, go for a walk -- even if for five minutes -- or jog. For walking, you can determine calories burned per mile by multiplying your weight by 0.53. For instance, if you weigh 165 pounds then your total burn would be 87 each mile. If you weigh 195 pounds, you will burn a total of 103 calories. To estimate calories burned by running, simply multiply your weight by 0.63. Figuring out a way to do without or burn 500 calories a day equates to a four-pound weight loss in a month. I’ll drink to that.
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HOMELAND / December 2014 21
THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914
uring World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies. On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. The warring countries refused to create any official cease-fire, but on Christmas the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce. Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing. At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook
HOMELAND / December 2014
hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer. Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the noman’s land between the lines. The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured. During World War I, the soldiers on the Western Front did not expect to celebrate on the battlefield, but even a world war could not destroy the Christmas spirit.
On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. The warring countries refused to create any official cease-fire, but on Christmas the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce.
By Vittoria Allen CCT’s Annual Traditions of Christmas returns to the stage this year at the beautiful Don Powell Theater at SDSU. Traditions of Christmas is in its 21st year and has become one of San Diego’s most beloved holiday traditions! CCT (Christian Community Theater) is a program of CYT San Diego and has been serving the San Diego community since 1981 with Summer productions on Mt. Helix, Traditions of Christmas and San Diego Follies. CYT San Diego and its programs are dedicated to developing character in children and adults through training in the arts and by producing wholesome family entertainment, all of which reflect JudeoChristian values. Traditions of Christmas is a family friendly musical, inspired by Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular. It celebrates the Christmas season with songs, dancing and stories that have become traditions for people all around the world! The production will feature scenes such as Christmas San Diego Style, A Salute to the Military, White Christmas, and exciting swing dances and tap numbers from a Rockette style kickline. The production concludes with a living Nativity scene complete with sheep, a donkey and even a camel!
A Spectacular Christmas Production for the Whole Family!
Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves are busy getting the North Pole ready for an audience, so get your tickets today; they are going fast! Visit: cctsandiego.org or call 619.588.0206!
HOMELAND / December 2014 23
December 7, 1941
Remembering Pearl Harbor O
n December 7, 1941, the Japanese military launched a surprise attack on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Since early 1941 the U.S. had been supplying Great Britain in its fight against the Nazis. It had also been pressuring Japan to halt its military expansion in Asia and the Pacific. With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. could no longer avoid an active fight. On December 8, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress for and received a declaration of war against Japan. On December 11, Germany and Italy, allied with Japan, declared war on the U.S. The United States had entered World War II.
The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including 8 battleships. The three aircraft carriers of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were out to sea on maneuvers. The Japanese were unable to locate them and were forced to return home with the U.S. carrier fleet intact. The battleship USS Arizona remains sunken in Pearl Harbor with its crew onboard. Half of the dead at Pearl Harbor were on the Arizona. A United States flag flies above the sunken battleship, which serves as a memorial to all Americans who died in the attack. Dorie Miller, a steward on the USS West Virginia, distinguished himself by courageous conduct and devotion to duty during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He first assisted his mortally wounded captain and then manned a machine gun, which he was not accustomed to operating, successfully destroying two Japanese aircraft. He was the first African American awarded the Navy Cross, the service’s highest award, for his actions during the attack.
The entire attack took only one hour and 15 minutes. Captain Mitsuo Fuchida sent the code message, “Tora, Tora, Tora,” to the Japanese fleet after flying over Oahu to indicate the Americans had been caught by surprise.
Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto conceived the Pearl Harbor attack and Captain Minoru Genda planned it. Two things inspired Yamamoto’s Pearl Harbor idea: a prophetic book and a historic attack. The book was The Great Pacific War, written in 1925 by Hector Bywater, a British naval authority. It was a realistic account of a clash between the United States and Japan that begins with the Japanese destruction of the U.S. fleet and proceeds to a Japanese attack on Guam and the Philippines. When Britain’s Royal Air Force successfully attacked the Italian fleet at Taranto on November 11, 1940, Yamamoto was convinced that Bywater’s fiction could become reality.
On December 6, 1941, the U.S. intercepted a Japanese message that inquired about ship movements and berthing positions at Pearl Harbor. The cryptologist gave the message to her superior who said he would get back to her on Monday, December 8. On Sunday, December 7, a radar operator on Oahu saw a large group of airplanes on his screen heading toward the island. He called his superior who told him it was probably a group of U.S. B-17 bombers and not to worry about it. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 that morning. The entire attack took only one hour and 15 minutes. Captain Mitsuo Fuchida sent the code message, “Tora, Tora, Tora,” to the Japanese fleet after flying over Oahu to indicate the Americans had been caught by surprise. The Japanese planned to give the U.S. a declaration of war before the attack began so they would not violate the first article of the Hague Convention of 1907, but the message was delayed and not relayed to U.S. officials in Washington until the attack was already in progress. The Japanese strike force consisted of 353 aircraft launched from four heavy carriers. These included 40 torpedo planes, 103 level bombers, 131 dive-bombers, and 79 fighters. The attack also consisted of two heavy cruisers, 35 submarines, two light cruisers, nine oilers, two battleships, and 11 destroyers.
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The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and 5 midget submarines in the attack. One Japanese soldier was taken prisoner and 129 Japanese soldiers were killed. Out of all the Japanese ships that participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor only one, the Ushio, survived until the end of the war. It was surrendered to the U.S. at Yokosuka Naval Base. When Admiral Yamamoto learned that his forces had not destroyed the U.S. aircraft carriers or completely destroyed the U.S. fleet, he feared that the United States, with its enormous industrial potential, would soon recover and fight back. The United States did recover—and quicker than Yamamoto could have imagined. After only six months, the U.S. carrier fleet dealt a decisive blow to Yamamoto’s navy in June 1942 at the Battle of Midway, sinking four Japanese aircraft carriers. After this U.S. victory came the start of the U.S. island-hopping campaign and the eventual defeat of the Japanese Empire in August 1945.
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O CHRISTMAS TREE
Did a celebration around a Christmas tree on a bitter cold Christmas Eve at Trenton, New Jersey, turn the tide for Colonial forces in 1776?
ccording to legend, Hessian mercenaries were so reminded of home by a candlelit evergreen tree that they abandoned their guardposts to eat, drink and be merry. Washington attacked that night and defeated them. The Christmas tree has gone through a long process of development rich in many legends. Some historians trace the lighted Christmas tree to Martin Luther. Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ’s birth.
Trees and branches can be made purposeful as well as symbolic. The Christmas tree is a symbol of a living Christmas spirit and brings into our lives a pleasant aroma of the forest. The fact that balsam fir twigs, more than any other evergreen twigs, resemble crosses may have had much to do with the early popularity of balsam fir used as Christmas trees. The Christmas tree market was born in 1851 when Catskill farmer Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City and sold them all. By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree, and 20 years later, the custom was nearly universal. Christmas tree farms sprang up during the depression. Nurserymen couldn’t sell their evergreens for landscaping, so they cut them for Christmas trees. Cultivated trees were preferred because they have a more symmetrical shape then wild ones.
The National Christmas Tree, A gift from the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’ By Linda Kreter In the Chippewa National Forest (partnering with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) in Cass Lake, Minnesota, a stunning 88-foot tall white spruce was the special guest of a cutting ceremony of the 2014 United States Capitol Christmas Tree. For the crowd of hundreds, this was a once in a generation event. It is a great honor for the state where the National Christmas Tree is chosen and a traditional blessing ceremony by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe spiritual advisor and state dignitaries was given to those gathered to mark the occasion. Minnesota Logger of the Year, Jim Scheff was given the honor of cutting the tree this year. To maintain its near-perfect form, the tree may not fall, but is lowered by special cranes into a cradle on a trailer over 100 feet long for its journey to Washington, DC. The tree will make over 30 stops en route to the Capital West’s Front Lawn where it will be lit on December 4th. The first National Christmas Tree lighting was on December 24th, 1913. It was first located on the East Plaza of the U.S. Capitol and celebrated by the entire community as a symbol of peace and unity. The program included classic carols and holiday music by 1,000 local vocalists accompanied by the U.S. Marine Band. The final song of the evening encouraged a “patriotic spirit” and all were encouraged to sing the national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Above the doors to the Capitol, a lighted sign was raised reading “Peace on Earth. Good Will to Men”.
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AMERICAS FINEST CHRISTMAS TREES
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: An American Treasure For over seven decades, the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center and the holiday decorations adorning and surrounding have stood as a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors alike. From the beginning, the Tree was a gathering place and reflection of what was happening in the world around it. Even before the first formal tree went up, workers lined up beneath a Christmas tree on the Rockefeller Plaza construction site to collect their paychecks during the height of the Great Depression. People from around the world came after September 11th to see the Tree decorated in a patriotic red, white and blue. Today, more than half a million people pass by the Tree very day, making Rockefeller Center the epicenter of New York Cityâ€™s holiday celebrations. The 2014 tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, December 3 with live performances from 7-9pm at Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The ceremony is FREE and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Tens of thousands will crowd the sidewalks for the event and hundreds of millions will watch the live broadcast around the globe. The tree will remain lit and open to the public until 8pm on January 7, 2015. www.homelandmagazine.com
HOMELAND / December 2014 27
Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About
Christmas A Very Merry Un-Birthday?
Contrary to popular belief, the Bible doesn’t actually mention a specific date for Jesus’ birth. In fact, most historians believe he was probably born in the spring, hence the Bible’s description of shepherds herding animals. But in the 4th century, when the Catholic Church decided to recognize Jesus’ birth as an official holiday, Pope Julius I chose December 25 for the Feast of the Nativity. That the date happened to coincide with the pagan festival known as Saturnalia must have been pure coincidence.
War on Christmas
Five months into the first World War, troops along the Western front took a Christmas Eve break from fighting to sing carols to one another across the battlefield. The following morning, German soldiers emerged from the trenches and began to approach Allied troops while calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Luckily, it wasn’t a trick; dozens of British fighters came out to greet them and shake hands, some even exchanging cigarettes as gifts. Later dubbed the Christmas Truce of 1914, it was one of the last examples of wartime chivalry.
Christmas in the Colonies
From 1659 to 1681, showcasing one’s holiday spirit in Boston could cost you a fine of as much as five shillings. That’s right — Christmas used to be illegal. It’s somewhat surprising, then, that the same puritanical minds also created the first American batch of eggnog at Captain John Smith’s 1607
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Jamestown settlement. (The word nog comes from the word grog; that is, any drink made with rum.) Christmas was so inconsequential in early America that after the Revolutionary War, Congress didn’t even bother taking the day off to celebrate the holiday, deciding instead to hold its first session on Christmas Day, 1789. It took almost a century for Congress to proclaim it a federal holiday.
Santa flying in a sleigh
The author best known for creating the Headless Horseman also created the iconic image of Santa flying in a sleigh. In his 1819 series of short stories The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, New York native Washington Irving described a dream in which St. Nicholas soared across the sky in a weightless wagon. The stories became so popular, they spawned a Christmas revival of sorts in the States, and even Charles Dickens is said to have credited Irving’s work for inspiring his classic holiday tale A Christmas Carol.
What Advertising Hath Wrought
Like the Energizer Bunny, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer got his start as an advertising gimmick. A copywriter named Robert L. May first created the merry misfit in 1939 to lure shoppers into the Montgomery Ward department store. Frosty the Snowman and his famous corncob pipe couldn’t escape the clutches of the advertising industry either; a whiskey maker in 1890 used Frosty’s likeness to showcase an entirely different kind of holiday cheer. Once Prohibition ended, the chain-smoking snowman quickly became the go-to guy for alcohol ads, appearing in posters for Miller beer, Jack Daniel’s, Ballantine ale, Rheingold beer, Schlitz beer, Schenley, Oretel’s lager beer, Chivas Regal scotch, Fort Pitt pale ale, Mount Whitney beer and Four Roses.
Away in a Manger
NASA’s Christmas Sighting
In 1965 two astronauts on their way back to orbit spotted something in space they couldn’t identify. Frantic, they radioed Mission Control. After several minutes of tense silence, engineers at Cape Canaveral began hearing the faint jingle of sleigh bells followed by a harmonica rendition of “Jingle Bells” ... played by none other than the two “frantic” astronauts. The men later donated the harmonica and bells to the National Museum of Space & Aeronautics in Washington, where they now sit on display.
Under the Mistletoe
According to Celtic and Teutonic legend, mistletoe is magical — it can heal wounds, increase fertility, bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe didn’t begin until the Victorian era.
Since the Great Depression, the Rockettes have shared Radio City Music Hall with live farm animals — from camels to donkeys to sheep — to stage a live nativity scene for its annual “Christmas Spectacular.” But the world saw its first living nativity in 1224, when St. Francis of Assisi re-created the birth of Jesus to explain the holiday to his followers. During that first display, the manger was also used as an altar for Christmas Mass.
Feliz Navidad Around the World
Christmas traditions vary from culture to culture. Finns often visit saunas on Christmas Eve, while Portuguese revelers hold a feast on Christmas Day for the living and the dead (extra places are set for the souls of the deceased). In Greece, some believe that goblins called kallikantzeri run wild during the 12 days of Christmas, and most Greeks don’t exchange presents until Jan. 1, St. Basil’s Day. Thanks to their geographic location, most Australians and New Zealanders enjoy Christmas on the beach or at barbecues. Spain, meanwhile, hosts the world’s largest lottery.
Even before the arrival of Christianity, Germans decorated evergreen trees to brighten the dark, gloomy days of the winter solstice. The first “Christmas trees” appeared in Strasbourg in the 17th century and spread to Pennsylvania in the 1820s with the arrival of German immigrants. When Queen Victoria married Germany’s Prince Albert in 1840, he brought the tradition to England. Eight years later, the first American newspaper ran a picture of the royal Christmas tree, and Americans outside Pennsylvania quickly followed suit.
HOMELAND / December 2014 29
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HOMELAND / December 2014