Homeland Magazine Feb 2021

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Vol. 10 Number 2 • Februray 2021


ADAPTIVE SPORTS Warrior Adapts to Hit His Targets

LASTING VALOR Resources for Veterans

What’s Next Transition to Civilian Life

NYU Veterans Future Lab



Text Message Program to Boost

Military Tax Tips MONEY MATTERS


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Resources Support Transition HEALTH INSPIRATION

Homeland Magazine www.HomelandMagazine.com

Voted 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020 BEST resource, support media for veterans, military families & military personnel. 2

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WHO SERVE WHO WE ARE Serving since 2003, Operation Gratitude is the largest and most impactful nonprofit in the country for hands-on volunteerism in support of Military, Veterans, and First Responders.

Deployed Troops

First Responders


Military, Veterans and First Responders Impacted



OUR MISSION To forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of Veterans

Recruit Graduates

gratitude and meaningful engagements in communities Nationwide.

WE BELIEVE Actions speak louder than words Saying “thank you for your service” is the start of a conversation that leads to a better understanding of service Hands-on volunteerism, acts of gratitude and meaningful engageWounded Heroes and Caregivers

Military Families

ments are the best ways to bridge the civilian-service divide We focus on empathy, resilience, service, and sacrifice rather than sympathy, challenges, needs, and pity


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Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller mikemiller@HomelandMagazine.com

Contributing Writers Holly Shaffner Veteran Advocate

RanDee McLain, LCSW A Different Lens

Jenny Lynne Stroup Real Talk: Mental Health

Vicki Garcia

Enlisted to Entrepreneur

CJ Machado

SD Vets & Homeland Photojournalist

Kelly Bagla, Esq. Legal Eagle

Tana Landau, Esq. Legally Speaking

Joe Molina

Veterans Chamber of Commerce

Eve Nasby


What’s Next - Transitioning

Amber Robinson Arts & Healing

Eva Stimson Greetings and a warm welcome to Homeland Magazine!

Veteran Advocate

Please take some time to get to know the layout of our magazine. The Magazine focuses on national resources, support, community, and inspiration for our veterans and the military families that keep it together.

Human Resources

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 our veterans, service members, military families, and civilians. The magazine is supported by a distinguishing list of national veteran organizations, resource centers, coalitions, veteran advocates, and more. We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people. Homeland Magazine is a veterans magazine for veterans by veterans. We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of Homeland Magazine.

Mike Miller

Publisher/Editor mikemiller@HomelandMagazine.com 4

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Paul Falcone

Money Matters VA Lending & Personal Finance

Collaborative Organizations Wounded Warrior Project Rachel Bolles Disabled American Veterans American’s Warrior Partnership * Including National Veteran Organizations, Advocates & Guest Writers

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE 7 Lasting Valor 8 Warrior Adapts to Hit His Targets 12 Adaptive Sports More Communities 14 Text Message Program to Boost Wellness 16 A Voice of Inspiration 20 Valentine’s Day 22 Real Talk: New Year - Lessons In Love 24 LENS: Words Matter 26 NYU Veterans Future Lab 28 What’s Next: Q & A 32 Human Resources: Transition & Family 36 VOUCH4VETS 40 Enlisted to Entrepreneur: Lean Startup 42 Veterans Chamber: Stress 44 Legal Eagle: Love Your Business 46 Military Tax Tips 48 Money Matters: Back On Track 44 Legal Eagle: Love Your Business 50 Legally Speaking: Education During Divorce 52 First-hand account of Capitol riot 54 Guide Dogs of America 56 Shelter to Soldier

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does not always allow the affected to seek help. Lend a hand and provide them with methods of help, listen and be a friend.


Homeland Magazine works with nonprofit veteran organizations that help more than 1 million veterans in life-changing ways each year.




Support. Inspiration.


At Homeland Magazine you can visit our website for all current and past articles relating to PTSD, symptoms, resources and real stories of inspiration.

Resources & Articles available at:



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Lasting valor How a DAV member and courageous warrior became the first living African American World War II Medal of Honor recipient

which “the political climate and Army practices during the war guaranteed that no Black soldier f the seven Black World War II Army veterans would receive the military’s top award.” The Army to receive the Medal of Honor in 1997, had previously awarded Baker the Distinguished Vernon Baker was the sole survivor. More than Service Cross, the second-highest military half a century had passed between the day he decoration a soldier can receive for extraordinary led a fearless attack in German-occupied Italy to heroism. However, after reviewing the report, a when President Bill Clinton belatedly presented board of Army general officers selected Baker Baker with the nation’s highest award for valor. and six other African American World War II Baker was a DAV lifetime member of Chapter 9 veterans to receive the Medal of Honor. After completing in Fort Sherman, Idaho. He remained the only When Baker, who had settled in Idaho after Officer Candidate living African American veteran awarded the the war, received a call notifying him he was School, World War II veteran Vernon Medal of Honor for World War II until he died to receive the Medal of Honor, he told Idaho Baker led troops in from brain cancer at the age of 90 in 2010. public television, “it was something that I felt German-occupied Baker’s memory lives on for those in his small should have been done a long time ago.” Italy. His courage in community and is forever woven into American “There is a long and unfortunate part of our spearheading an military history for the intrepid assault he led on military history that overlooks the tremendous attack on an enemy the morning of April 5, 1945. bravery, courage, honor and sacrifice of minority stronghold resulted in him belatedly First Lieutenant Baker—the only Black officer veterans,” said National Commander Butch receiving the in his company—led 25 other infantrymen to Whitehead. “It’s important that we continue Medal of Honor. assault a castle near Viareggio, a seaside town in to advocate for those individuals whose (U.S. Army photo) northern Italy. After navigating his men through contributions are deserving of merit.” a daunting and dangerous web of German Of the other six men to receive the medal with machine gun nests, he began to attack the well-fortified Baker, four—1st Lt. John R. Fox, Pfc. Willy F. James Jr., Staff mountain stronghold. Sgt. Ruben Rivers and Pvt. George Watson—had been killed According to his Medal of Honor citation, “when his in action. The two others—Staff Sgt. Edward A. Carter Jr. and company was stopped by the concentration of fire from 1st Lt. Charles L. Thomas, who retired at the rank of major— several machine gun emplacements, [Baker] crawled to one died in the years following World War II. position and destroyed it, killing three Germans. Continuing When asked by the New York Times what went through his forward, he attacked an enemy observation post and killed mind when being presented with the medal, Baker said, “I was two occupants.” thinking about what was going on up and on the hill that day.” He engaged two additional machine-gun nests and Although Baker lived to see the proper recognition he was occupied an exposed position to draw enemy fire away from due, other African American World War II veterans remain the escaping wounded Americans. The following night, Baker in waiting. Legislation to award the Medal of Honor to the volunteered to lead his battalion through German minefields late Navy veteran Doris “Dorie” Miller—one of the last sailors and other heavy enemy defenses. to flee the sinking USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor— More than 1.2 million African Americans served during ultimately died in Congress. A group of U.S. senators is World War II, but while the military awarded more than 400 hopeful the honor will be bestowed on Army Cpl. Waverly Medals of Honor during the war, not a single one went to a Woodson Jr., a veteran of D-Day who passed away in 2005. Black service member. In 1993, the Army asked researchers In 1997, Baker penned his memoir, aptly titled, “Lasting at Shaw University, a historically Black college in Raleigh, Valor.” North Carolina, “to determine if there was a racial disparity “Give respect before you expect it,” Baker said in the book. in the way Medal of Honor recipients were selected.” “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Remember the According to the study, race indeed played a pivotal role in mission. Set the example. Keep going.” n

By Matt Saintsing


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Warrior Adapts to Hit His Targets By Rachel Bolles The pandemic has affected us all in major, unpredictable ways. Combine that with some of the things wounded warriors deal with on a frequent basis — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and physical injuries — and it can be really challenging to feel like you’re accomplishing much of anything. But one warrior hasn’t let these difficult circumstances overtake him. Instead, he uses them to push forward toward even more success. “People often tell me I should be a motivational speaker, but I’m not that; I’m a motivational doer,” said Gabriel “Gabe” George. Gabe was a Navy corpsman, and injured in a motorcycle accident. The accident left him with mild TBI and severe spinal cord damage, resulting in a paralyzed right arm and significant, enduring daily pain that he describes as “1,000 volts of electricity jabbing down my arm, sprinkled with needles of fire.” His injuries forced his medical retirement from the Navy. Despite his injuries, Gabe didn’t want to slow down. He spent 10 years trying to find things to cope with his pain, and then he attended a VA summer sports clinic in San Diego, where he was introduced to adaptive sports. He learned about sailing, surfing, cycling, and archery. A Paralympic coach took a string out of his pocket and told Gabe to bite down and pull back. Gabe immediately hit the target. And just like that, he had his sights set on a new hobby: adaptive archery. As soon as he got home, he went to the archery store and bought a bow. One thing led to another, and he began shooting at different ranges and connecting with people who shared information to help him improve. He ultimately connected with a Paralympic athlete who took Gabe under his wing, and they practiced for hours together every day. Fast forward to last year, right before the pandemic became widespread across North America. While on a snowboarding adventure, Gabe tripped and landed on his paralyzed arm, shattering the humerus bone. Previously, doctors had told him amputating the arm would introduce too much risk for infection. But his inability to control his arm and prevent further injury was a risk in itself — especially with him being so active — and doctors finally agreed to amputate after the snowboarding injury. After the amputation, Gabe moved quickly to navigate his healing process. He learned that while he needed to remaster some things, others became easier postoperation. One big change: his balance. Balance impacts all his regular activities, so he relearned movements to correct his center of gravity. Conversely, he learned it was much easier to manage his mobility while scuba diving — one of his favorite hobbies — and he can now sleep more comfortably. While he still deals with pain, he’s maintained his momentum and has returned to regular activities. With the pandemic closing so many places, including Gabe’s usual place for target practice, he thought about other ways to stay active. For example, he reached out to the pastor of a church near his home and asked to use his parking lot for archery. Continued on page 10 >


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“There are still ways we can live after trauma and after pain.” “If you want to do it, there is an oportunity out there waiting for you.” - Gabriel “Gabe” George

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He also started cycling again. Three times a week, he does spin classes on Zoom with others — a way to stay active and connected. “I don’t like hitting brick walls, and I reroute as much as I can,” Gabe said. If he wants to do something, he figures out a way to do it. And he has some advice for other warriors who are facing challenges, especially during the pandemic, and who want to stay active: - Get involved with the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Adaptive Sports program. Seriously wounded veterans can learn and become involved with modified sports equipment and exercise routines that are specialized for each warrior’s unique injury. Warriors receive tools and assistance to continue improving their new skills at home in their communities. “Wounded Warrior Project has been the most consistent in being here for me,” Gabe said. “It is a life source. It has inspired me to help others by encouraging them to stay active.” “The Adaptive Sports program provides a way for warriors to rediscover independence through activity,” said James Herrera, WWP Physical Health and Wellness director.


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“It connects them to resources that can help and other people who are striving toward similar goals.” - Take advantage of all the resources available to you. There are lots of places trying to do good and wanting to do good. People want to help, and a lot of the time, the hardest part is putting yourself out there and asking. Gabe found success by trying different things until he connected with ones that work for him. - Consider shifting your focus away from yourself and try motivating and encouraging others. Helping others can be rewarding. By doing this, you might find some inspiration for yourself. “There are still ways we can live after trauma and after pain,” Gabe said. “If you want to do it, there is an opportunity out there waiting for you.” About Wounded Warrior Project Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more at https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/about-us.

PTSD COACH PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. More than half of individuals experience at least one trauma in their lives. The National Center for PTSD offers FREE, confidential mobile apps that provide help, education, and support related to mental health.

Download PTSD Coach to:

Learn about PTSD and available treatments Track your PTSD symptoms over time Practice relaxation, mindfulness, and other stress-management exercises Grow your support network Access crisis resources


PTSD Coach is not meant to replace professional care.

Search “PTSD Coach�

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Four Star Alliance | Bringing Adaptive Sports to More Communities By Sarah Holzhalb, Director of Marketing and Development Director, America’s Warrior Partnership Recreational programs are often the first thing veterans seek after securing resources for critical needs such as housing, healthcare and employment. We have seen this trend for several consecutive years in America’s Warrior Partnership’s Annual Survey results. The veterans we survey nationwide routinely identify recreation as one of their top three most sought-after programs and services. This trend is not entirely surprising. After all, physical fitness and recreational activities offer an enjoyable way to adjust to civilian life while connecting with other veterans, members of the community and is a crucial element to overall mental wellness These activities can also assist veterans who are rehabilitating from an injury received during their service, a benefit that highlights the importance of adaptive sports programs. Adaptive sports are therapeutic recreation programs that enable veterans with a disability to participate in activities ranging from fishing and hunting to golf and sports car racing. Adaptive sports programs have become increasingly popular in recent years, and there have been promising developments that will make them even more accessible for veterans across the country. A New Law Supporting Adaptive Sports This past October, Congress passed the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. The new law will usher in multiple important changes, including a stronger mental health workforce at the Department of Veterans Affairs, increased healthcare resources for veterans in rural communities, and expanded access to alternative and local treatment options. This last point includes more support for accessible adaptive sport programs. Our President & CEO, Jim Lorraine, had the privilege of testifying before Congress last year on the benefits that this legislation would deliver both in the fight to end veteran suicide as well as initiatives to drive healthier mental health outlooks for former service members. We are pleased to see Congress heed the advice of veteran-serving experts by including these provisions in the final bill. The law’s backing of pilot programs for adaptive sports and other forms of recreational therapy promises to expand the number of communities able to provide them. 12

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Growing Networks of Adaptive Sports Providers As new laws go into effect, they will join a strong network of resources available to veterans seeking adaptive sports programs. One such example is the Four Star Alliance, a community of adaptive sports, therapeutic recreation and wellness organizations. The Four Star Alliance has been a part of America’s Warrior Partnership for the last few years with 50 member organizations based across the country that are committed to serving transitioning service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers. Each organization joining the Four Star Alliance passes a comprehensive vetting process to ensure they are financially stable, properly staffed, and are willing to make and take referrals from a partnering veteran organization. Veterans can confidently contact a member organization knowing that they will understand their unique experiences and perspectives. The latest organizations to join the Four Star Alliance include the On Course Foundation, which supports injured veterans through golf, and Operation Motorsports, which engages former service members through sports car racing. Veterans seeking connections in their community through therapeutic recreation can visit www.FourStarAlliance.org for a list of member organizations. As these services and the organizations continue to grow, more veterans will have the opportunity to participate in the physical fitness and recreational activities they desire to take a proactive approach to their health and creating connections with others in their community.


About the Author Sarah is the Director of Marketing and Development at America’s Warrior Partnership. Sarah was an ActiveDuty commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for five years. She has worked in the nonprofit sectors for more than 13 years, focusing on government relations, business development and advocacy. About America’s Warrior Partnership America’s Warrior Partnership is a national nonprofit that empowers communities to empower veterans. The organization’s mission starts with connecting community groups with local veterans to understand their unique situations. With this knowledge in mind, America’s Warrior Partnership connects local groups with the appropriate resources to proactively and holistically support veterans at every stage of their lives.

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DOD Launches ‘My MilLife Guide’ Text Message Program to Boost Wellness BY DOD / CONNECTED HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE My MilLife Guide was developed by one of the military’s flagship support programs, Military OneSource, in partnership with the Military Health System. From now until Feb. 12, 2021, users can opt in to receive messages four times a week, for a total of eight weeks. To sign up, service members can text “MilLife SM” and spouses can text “MilLife Spouse” to GOV311, or they can visit www.MilitaryOneSource.mil/texts My MilLife Guide starts each week with a text asking users to set a small goal, such as accomplishing a task on their to-do list or taking a small step to improve their sleeping habits. Topics covered over the course of the eight-week program include: • Stress relief • Sleeping soundly • Self-care • Virtual health tools • Strengthening relationships • Managing finances • Getting support • Prepping for the future These text messages are specifically tailored for navigating the unique circumstances of service members and spouses as they aim to improve their physical and emotional health.


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“We are excited to begin 2021 by offering a new way for service members and spouses to get support for easing stress and navigating COVID-19-related challenges texted directly to their phones,” said Lee Kelley, director of Military Community Support Programs for Military Community and Family Policy. “My MilLife Guide is like a portable health and wellness coach, supporting service members and spouses as they take care of themselves and their families.” “Our service members and their families deserve the best possible care. I want to utilize all available tools to ensure their health, wellness and readiness records are easily accessible,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Neil Page, deputy and military chief, Clinical Support Division, Medical Affairs at the Defense Health Agency. “The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that sometimes these tools are best provided through digital health services. We in the Military Health System are excited to partner with Military OneSource to provide a textbased wellness program that puts valuable resources at our beneficiaries’ fingertips, in a new and innovative way.” My MilLife Guide participants are encouraged to provide feedback on the program. The DOD will use this insight to help inform the development of possible future evolutions of similar text-based initiatives. Part of the DOD, Military Community and Family Policy offers a suite of programs, tools and services – including the My Military OneSource app and MilitaryOneSource.mil – that connect the military community to resources they can use every day, from relocation planning and tax services to confidential non-medical counseling and spouse employment. These initiatives contribute to force readiness and quality of life by providing policies and programs that advance the well-being of service members, their families, survivors and other eligible members of the military community. Military OneSource is a DOD-funded program that is both a call center and a website providing comprehensive information, resources and assistance on every aspect of military life. Service members and the families of active duty, National Guard, and reserve (regardless of activation status), Coast Guard members when activated for the Navy, DOD expeditionary civilians, and survivors are eligible for Military OneSource services which are available worldwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost to the user.

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Therapy Session: A Voice of Inspiration By Amber Robinson Arts & Healing

Marine combat veteran Elliott McKenzie knew from a young age that he wanted to join the Marines. He also knew at an early age he wanted to make music. At five years old, his adopted mother bought him a drum set. From making a lot of racket in the living room, McKenzie went into his high school drum corps and sang in a gospel choir. But despite his obvious musical talent, just days after his high school graduation McKenzie was entering the United States Marine Corps. “Five days out of high school I was standing on those yellow footprints,” said McKenzie. McKenzie entered the service as a 0311, otherwise known as an Infantry Rifleman or Marine “grunt”. After basic training and infantry individualized skill training he was selected for a special detail to protect the president. But, due to issues with his orders he was attached to and trained as part of a Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Teams (FAST), serving six months there, then only serving four months on the presidential detail. In 2005 McKenzie deployed to Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. Upon his return he prepared for his next and last duty station in Okinawa, Japan. It was in Japan that he connected with a fellow Marine who helped him reawaken his love of music. “My friends from 1-5 who knew I could sing told me I should link up with this guy when I got to Okinawa,” McKenzie said “they said he made beats and we should get together and make some music.” McKenzie wrote his first song while in Okinawa. Soon, he and several other Marines compiled their talents and together created two full CDs of music. “These were not professional CDs or anything,” McKenzie said, “we just mixed them and burned them onto blank CDs and gave them out to our friends.” But, that amateur experience of writing and producing music was enough to ignite McKenzie’s passion. He left the Marines in 2007, exiting three months early as part of an education program which allowed service members an early out if accepted to an university. McKenzie had been accepted to the well-known Musicians Institute of College. At the age of 22 he left the Marines and entered MI. 16

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Unaware of how the GI Bill worked McKenzie paid for classes out of pocket. Unfortunately, after six months the financial pressure began to weigh on him, as well as the first signs of PTSD from his tour to Iraq. McKenzie was forced to leave MI a short six months after he started, retreating to where he was raised near Longbeach, CA, moving back in with his mother and brother. That living situation would shortly change. McKenzie’s PTSD began to present as anger issues. One morning as he prepared for work his brother and he got into an argument. The confrontation became heated and culminated with McKenzie wielding a kitchen knife against his sibling. McKenzie ended the argument as he left for work, hurling the knife violently and breaking the family’s TV.

“I started walking to work,” said McKenzie, “but my mom had called 911 and soon I was getting picked up by an officer with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.” Luckily, for McKenzie, this particular officer of the law was a fellow veteran. He gave McKenzie the option of admittance at the VA instead of jail time. He was taken to the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center and admitted. When it came time to leave, he asked to come home to live with his mother and brother again.

“My goal is to put out a message.” “I believe it is my calling to help other people by inspiring them.” - Elliott McKenzie

“My mom and brother said no,” said McKenzie, “they were now scared of me.” This began a long period of homelessness for McKenzie. With nowhere else to go he began to sleep in his car. Eventually he secured a bed at the Villages of Cabrillo in Longbeach, which is transitional housing for homeless veterans. “I spent a year a half in transitional housing,” McKenzie said. From there McKenzie began to couch surf, ending up on an old friend’s couch for another year and half. Finally, while living with a girlfriend he signed up to use his Post 9/11 GI Bill. For the next three years he used his education benefits, but with little motivation for the future. “I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t figure out a major and was eventually put on academic probation,” said McKenzie. It was evident at that point he needed help. McKenzie called the VA and got a dedicated therapist who he still sees to this day. McKenzie’s new therapist was the first to suggest that he use music as a way to cope with his PTSD. “She told me that my symptoms were fixable without medications and that I could use music as medicine for my depression and anger,” he said. As McKenzie began to make headway in therapy he began to think about going back into the service. “I was starting to get that itch again,” he said. His first choice was to rejoin the Marines, but he was denied for new tattoos he acquired after leaving service. “As I was leaving the Marine recruiters office I was approached by the Army recruiter across the hall,” said McKenzie, “He had overheard my conversation.”

Photo: Courtesy LA Rams (Nov 17, 2019)

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McKenzie entered the Army Reserves in 2008 as a Civil Affairs specialist with the 358th Civil Affairs Brigade at March Air Reserve base in Riverside, CA. Awarded a sizable sign-on bonus, McKenzie was able to then purchase all the equipment to make music.

“I began to finally see improvement in myself mentally,” he said. “I began to express myself through songs and promote myself in LA. I started to really use music as my therapy.” In 2015, with a much improved outlook, McKenzie went back to school. In 2016 he attained an Associates Degree in Behavioral Science, making the Dean’s list, then completed his Bachelor’s in 2018. During this time he worked on schoolwork, but continued to make music in his free time and promote himself.

“My goal is to put out a message,” said McKenzie. “I believe it is my calling to help other people by inspiring them.” His second single was called “Fight Back”, about fighting back against mental illness. McKenzie’s dream has been to be a classic R & B musician. Along with his inspiring songs, he’s also released several other songs in the classic R & B style. In 2019 while backstage as an audience member of The Jimmy Kimmel Show, he met a guest who worked to connect vets with football players. The interaction eventually gained him the incredible opportunity to sing The National Anthem at the Coliseum in LA for the NFL Rams versus Bears Military Appreciation Game on November 17, 2019. Since then, McKenzie has received calls from other NFL teams requesting the same thing. COVID19 has put a damper on those plans, but he still feels positive about his future post-pandemic.

In 2017 McKenzie would write and upload to Youtube a song called “Gunshots”. The song was about the sound sensitivity many combat veterans experience once they get back home. Loud sounds can often replicate the sound of exploding munitions. “The song was based on an actual experience,” said McKenzie. While at the grocery store one day he watched a family enter the store with a handful of balloons, one of which popped in close proximity to him. “I freaked out and had to duck behind the tomatoes,” McKenzie said. “I was immediately back in Ramadi, Iraq.” The song went viral and all of sudden he began to get calls from news stations that wanted to talk to him about the song. He was also invited to be a guest on the national talk show, The Raw Word. “That song and that video put me on the map,” said McKenzie. With the song now reaching thousands upon thousands of views, he began to realize his dreams of becoming a known musician. He also realized his capacity to raise awareness and help his fellow veterans. 18

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Photo: Courtesy LA Rams (Nov 17, 2019)



On March 24, 2021, McKenzie will release his first ever album, “Therapy Session”. It will be released on all digital platforms, and available March 12 for pre-order. Pre-Orders will include a free song called “Tour Guide”. Performed, produced and promoted by himself, he hopes that his music excites, inspires and shows veterans that they are not alone. You can learn more about Elliott McKenzie, his music and his personal mission at his website at www.elliottmckenzie.com You can watch his viral video of “Gunshots” on his Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh2pY55s89s&feature=emb_logo

Photos by: Beverly De Jesus (www.beverlydejesus.com)

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Valentine’s Day Impress your Valentine’s Day sweetie with an encyclopedic knowledge of the facts surrounding this quintessential day of love that’s been around since Roman times.

Valentine’s Day - February 14 20

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Dying for Love

Theories abound on the origin of Valentine’s Day, but the most popular dates back to 270 A.D and the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II. Seems Claudius didn’t want men marrying during wartime because he believed single men fought better. Bishop Valentine took exception and performed secret nuptials anyway. Claudius found out, jailed Valentine and had him executed on Feb. 14. From jail the holy man wrote a love letter and signed it “From your Valentine” and greeting card industry cheered.

Not just a U.S. Holiday

Besides the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark and Italy.

Japan’s Take

Valentine’s Day was introduced here in 1936 and quickly became popular – with a twist. Because of a translation error, women buy men chocolates on this day to show interest. The men return the favor, if so inclined, on White Day, March 14.

It’s a Good Day for the Roses

Valentine’s Day – along with Christmas and Mothers Day – is huge day for florists. This single day generates sales of $14.7 billion, which is greater than the gross domestic product of several countries.

First Speed Dating

In the Middle Ages, young men and women picked names out of a box to see who would be their Valentine. Then they would wear the names pinned to their sleeves for a week. This lead to the expression “to wear your heart on your sleeve.”

An estimated 189 million flowers are sold in the United States this day of which about 110 million are roses.

The Chocolate Connection

Doctors in the 1800s routinely advised patients pining for lost love to eat chocolate to calm themselves. Later in the century Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Today, no fewer than 35 million boxes of chocolate are sold each Valentine’s Day. More than $1 billion in chocolate is bought in the United States alone.

Feb. 14 in History ….

Capt. James Cook killed by natives in Hawaii (1779), Oregon and Arizona admitted to the Union (1859 and 1912, respectively), James Polk becomes first president photographed in office (1848), United Parcel Service formed (1919), the League of Women Voters established (1920), Aretha Franklin recorded “Respect” (1967), Richard Nixon installed a secret taping system in the White House (1971) and Voyager I photographs entire solar system (1990) WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / FEBRUARY 2021


Real Talk: Mental Health By Jenny Lynne Stroup, Outreach Coordinator for the Cohen Clinic at VVSD

Lessons in Love: Good Help They walk down the aisle of the pharmacy hand-inhand. As they reach the counter, one hooks his cane on the shelf as the other rummages around in her purse for their prescription bottles. This couple is not imaginary, they were long-time customers of my family’s independent pharmacy. Nearly every day, they would shuffle in the door and down the long aisle to the back counter. Always together. It is this image I have of some of my favorite customers that informed what I wanted from marriage long before I was married. I wanted someone who would shuffle alongside me to accomplish the mundane tasks of life ‘til death do us part. I was naïve to think that this end-of-life togetherness comes easily. That because two people lived with each other for a long time, the natural conclusion is that when they were old, they would totter to the pharmacy together each day. I’ve been married for over a decade now. Sometimes that decade feels like a thousand lifetimes. Who knew you could pack so much life into ten years? 22

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When my husband and I said our vows we were young, naïve to the ways of military life, and lured into the promise of ease that only shore duty can bring. We had not yet been tested by time and distance, war and illness. Those things above-time, distance, war, illness-are things that can easily smash a marriage into smithereens on their own. When added altogether they are surely a recipe for decimation. Yet, we’re still here. Still married, and most days, happily so. I attribute our continued relationship, especially the happy part, to knowing we needed a professional to help us be the partners, parents, and people we really wanted to be. Time and distance, war and illness, play significant parts in our marriage story and we were unable to overcome the worst parts of those on our own. We had to ask for help. For us, help looked like both individual and couples counseling. Through the years, we’ve sought help from a variety of sources, and I’ve discovered what good help looks like to me.

Individually, good help looks like: • Counselors who use evidence-based therapy practices • Therapists who are knowledgeable about the military lifestyle • Clinicians that provide support for what the client wants to address and can also identify and treat any underlying issues, such as substance use or previous trauma • Attending a support group As a couple, good help looks like: • Clinicians who are trained in well-researched treatment modalities, such as the Gottman Method or Emotionally Focused Therapy • Someone who is willing to help both partners see the other partner’s side of the story • Counselors who encourage truth telling • Therapists who model good communication skills and help each partner practice those skills before leaving the office • Someone who is a good moderator and mediator • Clinicians who provide homework and tools to use outside of therapy sessions when real life situations present themselves (Practice makes permanent!) The lesson in love I learned from watching my favorite customers was that longevity is achieved with mutual support of one another. The lesson in love I learned in my own marriage is that longevity is achieved with a lot of good help along the way. *If you are experiencing safety issues, call the Domestic Violence hotline (for San Diego it is 1-888-DVLINKS) or go to a local shelter. Safety first, marriage second.

Jenny Lynne Stroup serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the ​Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Veterans Village of San Diego​. www.vvsd.net/cohenclinicsandiego Clinical contributions by Shari Houser, Clinic Director at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Veterans Village of San Diego The Cohen Clinic at VVSD is one of 19 mental health clinics nationwide under nonprofit Cohen Veterans Network​(CVN) which focuses on providing targeted treatments​for a variety of mental health challenges facing post-9/11 veterans and military families, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, transition challenges, and more.

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A Different Lens Mental Health Monthly By RanDee McLain, LCSW

WORDS MATTER In order to combat any confusion, I thought some basic definitions would help. I reached out to my good old friend Webster.

We had very open and candid conversations about the election and specifically addressed the why. It is often easier to just say something is wrong or get upset than to truly understand the why. I was able to learn more about her background and why she voted the way she did. I was able to understand why certain issues where important to her and why others where not as impactful to her. She was also able to hear and learn about my views and background. Neither of us changed our decisions….but we respected and understood each other. This is what I see so often missing in our dayto-day dialogue. It is ok….in fact it is healthy….to have different opinions. It is how we deal with them that is the challenge.

Unity: The state of being united or joined as a whole Divisive language: Creating disunity or dissention

Here are three tips that help us to bring happiness into 2021.

As I began to write this month’s column, I thought about the words I would like to use. I thought about how in recent history our words have had significant impact and many times have attributed to high emotions and reactivity amongst us. Not that this hasn’t happened before, but it seems in recent years it is more prevalent.

Polarizing: Causing strong disagreement between opposing groups. Civil Discord: lack of agreement (between people, things or ideas) I must also say - this is NOT a political article. These lessons apply to all areas of our lives.

Seek out positives in any situation. It does not matter what the situation is – there can always be something positive. It is easy to find negatives in our daily life, but it takes effort to see the positives. I make a conscious effort to point out at least three things daily that have been positive and at least one way I brought positivity to the world around me.

Back in 2016, our country was gearing up for an election. That year my sister also turned 30 and we went to celebrate with a weeklong trip to Cabo San Lucas. As we were getting ready for bed one night, we turned on the TV. We turned to the only three channels that were in English. Of course, they were all tuned into the election. We spent several minutes checking out each one and they were all three covering the same speech. We knew the speech was the same due to what we were watching but the commentary was VERY different. The different spin from each channel was astonishing. If you did not know better, you would not know they were watching the same speech. That day I realized the news in that moment was more opinion than fact. This is when I truly saw how polarizing the information was being put out- on the very same event. If I had only watch one channel, I would have only had one very far leaning biased view.

Own what is yours to own! Let go of what is out of our control. So many times, we get frustrated about things that are out of our control. Many times these are things that have little impact on us. Example: I once dated a guy who was so enraged in traffic. He would let the fact that someone was going slower than he wanted impact his entire night. Someone else’s slow driving negatively impacted his mood for several hours after. Granted this is extreme but so often we let things we can not change impact our emotions and behaviors.

That same year, I had an amazing friend who had and still does, very different political choices then myself. What was unique was the way we approached the election and our friendship.

Words have power…..use them wisely. Think before you speak and spend more time listening.


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Lastly, we have more alike than we are different. Take time to talk to others and see their point of view. Listen to others and use less divisive language. We do not all have to have the same beliefs to get along or respect one another. Respect for others goes a long way towards unity and over all happiness.

I wish you all a healthy and safe rest of 2021.

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NYU Veterans Future Lab: Dedicated to veteran entrepreneurs around the country By Michael Frank In November 2017, the Future Labs at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering turned its entrepreneurial expertise to a new community: Veterans. The 11-year-old start-up network, a partnership born out of the school of engineering and initially funded by the city to kickstart New York’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, launched a business incubator dedicated to the underserved group of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs. In a few short years, the NYU Veterans Future Lab (VFL) has grown into a hub of innovation with a powerful network of founders building strong, sustainable companies. In fact, the greater New York City area is now the number one metro area for veteran entrepreneurs. The VFL offers two programs, each designed to help entrepreneurs at different stages in their journey; Apex, a ninemonth incubator program for pre-seed ventures; and Veterans Entrepreneurship Training (VET), 12-week programs for early-stage or aspiring entrepreneurs. Both are offered at no cost to participants and provide access to resources, mentorship, and a community of driven individuals.

“One important component of entrepreneurship is building a strong network, whether it’s to get support from other founders, enable access to funding, meet potential clients, or identify critical resources,” says Grant Fox, VFL Director and a US Navy veteran. “Veteran entrepreneurs, while having a strong community from their time in service, may not have had the time or opportunity to build these kinds of connections that can lead to successful ventures. The VFL, part of a worldrenowned university and a network of entrepreneurship programs, is uniquely positioned to offer that, making a powerful transition to civilian life.”

Throughout the program the VFL organizes guest speakers for participants to hear from a variety of industry experts.


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That’s just one factor. With no equity taken, free desk space in the Brooklyn office, and access to NYU’s resources (such as faculty, a pipeline of talented student interns, prototyping facilities, and data sets), Apex empowers founders to take their pre-seed ventures to the next level. It also provides the ability to access one of the top startup ecosystems on the planet — New York. Select qualifying founders who intend to relocate to NYC to participate in Apex are offered an award to be used towards housing. The success of the incubator is demonstrated by the success of its alumni. Behavioral health company TruGenomix (https://trugenomix.com/) raised $1.8 million in seed funding, and cleantech startup Virimodo (https://virimodo.com/), led by Marine Corps veteran Donna Sanders, is growing quickly. The current cohort of 11 Apex ventures covers a wide range of industries, and the 13 founders hail from four branches of the military and eight states. Currently member Radish Health (www.radish.health), led by US Army veteran Viral Patel, is fighting the pandemic by providing healthcare for the future of work. By combining modern technology and medicine, they can give employees world-class healthcare when and where they want it. “I joined the VFL at an interesting time for my company — a few months into the pandemic,” he says. “I had been in contact with the VFL since my first interview, though, and it’s been an impactful relationship. Since the program started, Radish Health has grown quickly. We’re proud to work with a host of new clients looking to make their workplaces safer and healthier for employees, which is a critical part of reopening the economy. The VFL’s ability to offer access and introductions to financial experts and potential funders has been extremely helpful.” Army veteran Natasha Standard’s Norie Shoes (www.norieshoes.com) creates made-in-Italy luxury footwear with an emphasis on comfort, after she studied design in Milan, and has taken advantage of Apex’s remote flexibility.

From the data analytics solutions of Jackpot Data Science, led by US Marine Corps veterans Benjamin Gaines and Collin Meyers, to the AI healthcare innovations of Blue Eye Soft (https://blueyesoft.com/), founded by US Army veteran Sri Kodeboyina, these businesses continue to innovate amid a pandemic — but that’s not surprising. Veterans are built for this. “Businesses in New York and around the country have been hard hit by the pandemic,” says Fox. “We’re proud of the way VFL companies have navigated it, whether it’s by streamlining operations, collaborating to address PPE shortages, or adding tools to tackle COVID-19. We’ve seen veterans continue to step up, be leaders, and create change for the better.” Not everyone is ready to launch a company, though. With Veterans Entrepreneurship Training (which launched in 2015 and led to the creation of the VFL), veterans and military spouses find education and information to turn ideas into viable, sustainable businesses. When the program went virtual in response to the pandemic, a unique opportunity presented itself: the ability to offer NYC and NYU resources to aspiring entrepreneurs across the country. “At a time when remote learning has become the norm for educational institutions, we have found a way to adapt our curriculum and offer it to those who qualify wherever they are,” says Fox. VET is held virtually three times every year as: VET-I (spring and winter) for those looking to start their ventures, coming to the VFL with an idea and initial legwork; and VET-II (summer), the next step for launching a venture, with a focus on product-market fit. Several Apex founders joined the VFL through VET. The NYU Tandon Veterans Future Lab might physically be located in the Big Apple but its resources are available to veteran entrepreneurs around the country. Applications are now open for the next Apex cohort, with a deadline of May 16. To apply, visit www.vfl.nyc.

“My plan was to move to New York City to join Apex,” says Standard. “The pandemic changed that, but the program has offered NY’s resources virtually — goto-market strategic planning, brain-storming outlets, mentoring as a CEO and founder, and more. The level and support are excellent. We’re a few months into the program, and the future looks very promising.”

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WHAT’S NEXT Transition to Civilian Life By Eve Nasby

Ask, and You Shall Receive

I joined the military right out of highschool and left the military without a civilian job lined up. I’m in debt and am struggling now as I’m paying rent, utilities and other bills I’ve not had to before. Where can I turn?

- Behind in Baltimore You are not alone. Many veterans joined right after high school, so have never interviewed for a job or written a resume. Without this experience, it’s common to assume that finding a great job will be easy upon exit. There’s hope. There are thousands of free organizations that help you get on your feet, such as Support the Enlisted Project (STEP). This month is all about sharing the love. Each month, “What’s Next” highlights stories of transitioning veterans, while providing real-life tips and strategies that help to prepare for transition and execute with purpose. Our readers have written to us with real world questions and struggles. I’m struggling with how to translate what I did in the military to what I can do in civilian life. I’m proud of what I accomplished in the military, but employers want to know what I can do for them today and into the future. How do I effectively communicate that?

- Confused in Cincinnati Knowing your value and how to effectively communicate it is an art, but the art can be easily learned and executed. Let’s start with your resume. Many free professional resume writers help veterans just like you create a resume that translates your past accomplishments clearly to civilian employers. Next, to prepare for the interview, anticipate questions you could be asked by reading the job descriptions carefully. Using the STAR method is helpful to effectively translate your past skills into your future value during an interview. You’ll be surprised how well you can translate leadership, management and task execution accomplishments from the military into relevant answers that resonate with employers. 28

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Behind on payments? Need help understanding how to budget? Connect with Tony Teravanien and team at www. stepsocal.org I’m used to a chain of command and people showing up on time. The civilian corporate world is not like that. How do I adapt?

- On time in Tallahassee Let’s start with recognizing a need to adjust your mindset, expectations, language and responses. It takes some practice, but eventually will feel more natural. Arriving 30 minutes before a meeting is not a best practice in the civilian world. Take a deep breath and study your environment. Observe when people show up, and how they interact. Just as if you were assigned to a billet in a different country, get to know the language, the culture and the people. If you’re leading a team or project where people are chronically late, it’s perfectly acceptable to reinforce the expectations of being “on-time.” I don’t speak ‘corporate’. I don’t know what to wear, how to act and am nervous that once I’m in a company I may lose my job because I don’t know what I don’t know.

– Anxious in Anchorage One simple approach is to search for and apply to veteran friendly companies. They typically have Veteran Employee Resource Groups, where former military employees meet regularly for social or philanthropic activities. Dave Grundies

These companies will also have veterans who volunteer as a mentor to help you assimilate day one in the corporate environment. This is a great way to ease the transition and be around people who completely understand what you’re going through. There are so many non profits offering to help me. I’m drowning in a sea of goodwill. Where do I start?

- Blessed in Boise Start with what you truly need. Because of the number of non profit organizations out there, there is overlap in services. There are non profits just designed to help you out of a financial pickle. There are others who will help you network and still others that will train you on a completely new skill. Identify a few and check out their ratings and reviews. Ask around. For every great non profit designed to help you there is another one that could take advantage of you. Do your research and NEVER pay for services. There are too many of us who are skilled at what we do and do it for free. I’ve been told what to wear, when to show up, and what to do for 30 years. I’m about to have choices in my work, and a lot of them. What industry? What location? What role? What salary? Where do I begin?

- Overwhelmed in Omaha You are not alone! Make a list of your ideal job, location, salary, environment, and/or whatever else is important to you. Write down the pros and cons of each and try to rank them by personal importance. Try www.Salary.com to get accurate information on your market value and how different positions pay.



Join today - simple and free Get hired quickly Flexible schedules Options to work multiple jobs Get paid every Friday

Seek out trusted friends and business leaders in the field you are choosing. Leverage your network for answers and advice. Don’t have a network? Start one! It’s much easier than it sounds. LinkedIn is a great place to start your professional network, and while you are there, connect with me for any additional help you may need.

Contact Eve Nasby

linkedin.com/in/eve-nasby-given-hiring-expert If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, we’d love to help. Send to Info@homelandmagazine.com

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HUMAN RESOURCES Transition to Business By Paul Falcone

Family & Transition: Your Private Sector Retirement Options This month’s editorial calendar focuses on, among other things, transition and education, especially for spouse and family. Few topics are better suited to capture all these audiences than your private sector retirement plan. True, you may have a handsome pension plan from your military years of service, but there are additional tax and longterm benefits to investing in your retirement through your private sector employer. Here’s a quick overview of some of the choices that lie ahead in addition to this author’s recommendation for the long haul.

Defined Benefit (aka “Traditional”) Pension Plans Traditional pension plans are fairly rare in corporate America these days, but if you’re fortunate enough to be offered a position with a company that has a defined benefit pension plan in place, run—don’t walk—to accept their offer! That’s because this typical benefit trumps all others and is incredibly valuable in terms of its longterm potential. A “defined benefit” pension, or “DB” plan, provides a monthly annuity or lump sum that you receive at retirement by using a set formula that includes your compensation and your years of service with the organization. Typically, you become eligible to participate in the plan once you reach some service milestone (typically around five years), and it “guarantees” a monthly payout once you reach age 65. (There can be exceptions in terms of corporate bankruptcies, but the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation in Washington, D.C. can “guarantee” a percentage of the total payout). 32

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The key to traditional pension plans, unlike 401(k) plans, is that the company typically pays the entire cost of the benefit and assumes all risks related to the investments, and there is no cost to the employee. Defined Contribution (aka 401(k)) Plans 401(k) plans and their brethren—403(b) plans in the nonprofit sector and 457 plans in the public sector—like traditional pension plans, help you save for retirement. There’s one major difference, though—you’re saving your own money that you deduct from each paycheck and are fully responsible for the outcomes of your investment choices. Not quite as attractive as the traditional pension plans described above, 401(k)s make up the bulk of retirement options at most companies and have some unique tax advantages as well. The model works well in terms of its efficiency and incentives. Companies receive tax breaks if they match a certain percentage of employee investments, and workers receive tax breaks if they set aside a particular amount of money for their own retirement. Do your best to start investing in the company’s 401(k) as soon as you are eligible. Pay particular attention to the company “matching” aspects of the plan. Take advantage of the “full match” offered by the employer. For example, if the company matches $.50 on the dollar up the first six percent of your earnings, set aside six percent of your earnings in your 401(k) plan. You can always go higher and invest more, but don’t leave free money on the table: invest up to the company’s match whenever possible. Traditional versus ROTH 401(k)s 401(k) plans, like Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA), come in two basic flavors: Traditional and ROTH. The difference between the two has to do with tax treatments of the deductions now and the payouts later in your retirement years. “Traditional” 401(k) plans are known as “salary reduction plans.” The “salary reduction” element stems from the fact that the money invested by a worker is immediately hidden from taxation. In other words, if you earn $100,000/ year but contribute $15,000 to your Traditional 401(k) plan, the government will tax you as if you only earned $85,000 that year.

The salary reduction element exists because employee contributions to Traditional 401(k) plans are made on a pre-tax basis. Traditional contributions reduce your taxable income in the year you make the contribution— that’s one of the key tax incentives built into 401(k) program design: the more you invest in yourself, the fewer taxes you end up paying the government the following year. There’s a second key incentive that the government uses to incentivize U.S. workers to save for their own retirement via traditional 401(k) investments: the money you invest decade after decade grows taxdeferred until you withdraw it at retirement. Once you retire, you’ll then pay ordinary income tax on all traditional contributions and any gains. ROTH 401(k) plans, in comparison, work differently because they allow workers to opt to receive their tax incentives at the time of retirement rather than now. For example, ROTHs are not designed to reduce your current taxes. In the example above, if you earn $100,000/year and invest $15,000 into your ROTH 401(k), you’ll still be taxed this year on your full $100,000 salary. However, the gains on your investments when you retire will be tax free. In other words, with a traditional 401(k), you’ll pay taxes on the gains when you retire; with a ROTH 401(k), you won’t pay taxes on those gains when you retire and can keep all the money you see in the account. Yahoo! Speak with your accountant or financial adviser about which option suits you best. What Do I Invest In? Major mutual fund investment houses like Vanguard, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and others offer lifecycle or “target date” funds that match your age. They typically invest in only a few mutual funds in the account—for example, a total U.S. stock market, total international stock market, total U.S. bond market, and total international bond market fund—and simply match your stockbond percentage to your age. At 25, your investment allocation would likely be in 90% stocks and 10% bonds. At 45, you’ll be in 70% stocks and 30% bonds. At some point, you may be in 60% bonds and 40% stocks as you near retirement. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach to giving you total stock market diversification and low costs. Simply check what options your employer offers for lifecycle funds or their equivalent, and you’ll be done in a flash. Now that’s smart investing and excellent tax and retirement planning in one fell swoop.

Paul Falcone (www.PaulFalconeHR.com) is a human resources executive and bestselling author on hiring, performance management, and leadership development.

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Using What Brings Us Together

In the past 30 years, amidst all the technological advances to come our way, including iterations of the Internet and incredible software advances making our lives easier and society more accessible, very little has changed when it comes to getting a job. Corporations understand hiring Veterans and transitioning Service Members is even more challenging. Job seekers all use a resume and scroll down endless pages of open jobs in order to apply, whether they’re Vets or not. Vouch4Vets began building software for Veterans and their Spouses in 2017 to address these challenges and more. Never before has an organization delivered enterprise-level software to the job seeker, moreover Veterans or transitioning Service Members and their Spouses.

Vouch4Vets is made up of HR industry experts, Veterans and technologists who understand how companies, large and small, hire talent and navigate staffing challenges. They recognize references typically are asked at the end of a very long hiring, just before sending an offer letter. If references are so important, why don’t they come first – and as Referrals? Vouch4Vets creates software platforms for Veterans and Spouses, seeking employment, to collect and store Video Referrals from their Advocates. These job seekers then share the Referrals with recruiters, hiring managers and other important influencers along their journey to get that next great job. Benefits to Job Seekers Veteran job seekers and their Spouses control distribution of the Video Referrals, these referrals are created by Advocates who understand that, via their recording, they are speaking directly to the audience who will be assessing their fitment inside the organization and this short video will influence them whether or not they’ve started interviewing.

Vouch4Vets has only one focus: to introduce great jobs to Vets and their Spouses. 36

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The alternative is the status-quo: Complicated-looking resumes which often don’t get the consideration they should. Benefits to Companies The current Head of Military Hiring for a Fortune 100 company recently commented to Vouch4Vets, that his own team are the advocates for all of these transitioning Service Members and Veterans. If they had Video Referrals to show hiring managers, sent in by these Veteran job seekers, it could scale their efforts and free up all the time they spend trying to convince hiring managers to hire more/specific Veterans applying for jobs.

The Future of Veteran Hiring Vouch4Vets is partnering with huge, publicly traded corporations and small business alike. Our goal is to build a better bridge, a digital one, between Vets, Spouses and hiring managers. We’ll continue to utilize Advocates’ positive messages about these job seekers’ skills to get them interviews and great jobs!


Our Mission Vouch4Vets has only one focus: to introduce great jobs to Vets and their Spouses. We do this on the same platform by driving real jobs to Vets and Spouses who are viewing their Advocates talk about how valuable they are at what they do. Pure Positivity Social Media has degraded into a pool of negativity. Vouch4Vets recognizes no one sits down to record themselves giving a negative review of a job seeker who’s asked them for help. Advocates frequently mention things which job seekers realize they should be mentioning during phone interviews or their “Onsite” interviews. Vouch4Vets is the first and only software platform that delivers a reference-check straight to the Job Seeker, as a referral. The Future of Veteran Hiring Vouch4Vets is partnering with huge, publicly traded corporations and small business alike. Our goal is to build a better bridge, a digital one, between Vets, Spouses and hiring managers. We’ll continue to utilize Advocates’ positive messages about these job seekers’ skills to get them interviews and great jobs!

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ENLISTED TO ENTREPRENEUR By Vicki Garcia veteransinbiz@gmail.com

The Lean Startup Methodology During the pandemic, while everyone is out of the office, starting up a business seems like a promising idea. But deciding the kind of business is an important step which no longer depends on what you want to do, but rather what customers want. That’s the concept behind “Lean Startup.” “Lean startup” is a new way of approaching a startup enterprise. There’s lots of info on the internet about it due to its use by many highly successful new businesses. Wikipedia says, “Lean has nothing to do with how much money a company raises; rather it has everything to do with assessing the specific demands of consumers and how to meet that demand using the least amount of resources possible.” Translation: Find out what your customers want first before you build a whole company around what you think your customers want.

Proof That Repackaging Old Ideas Works LS is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesisdriven experimentation, iterative (this is a favorite word meaning repeated) product releases, and validated learning (another new phrase much embraced). The central hypothesis of the Lean Startup methodology is that if startup companies invest their time into repeatedly building products or services to meet the needs of early customers, they can reduce the risks and avoid the need for large amounts of initial project funding and expensive product launches and failures. Not A New Idea. Lean Startup’s popularity is due to the success of Eric Ries’ bestselling book, The Lean Startup, published in September 2011. The book quickly took off on Amazon. com, selling over 90,000 copies in ten months.

Lean Startup

Find out what your customers want first before you build a whole company around what you think your customers want. 40

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The methodology has since been expanded to apply to any individual, team, or company looking to introduce new products or services into the market. Since money is tight right now Lean Startup is timely and uses concepts of scientific experimentation to prove that you’re making progress. It encourages you to launch as early and cheaply as possible, so you don’t waste time and money. You can get a great preview of the book at www.tinyurl.com/y5xouscy.

Starting a Business as a Veteran?

Several prominent high-tech companies have begun to publicly employ the Lean Startup methodology, including Intuit, Dropbox, Wealthfront, Votizen, Aardvark, and Grockit. Lean Startup principles are beginning to be taught in classes at Harvard Business School and UC Berkeley. If the Shoe Fits Buy It There is a concept in Lean Startup called “a minimum viable product (MVP)” which is the “version of a new product (or service) which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” This used to be called a pilot project. The goal of an MVP is to test fundamental business leapof-faith assumptions and to help entrepreneurs begin the learning process as quickly as possible. Lean Startup example: Zappos founder Nick Swinmurn thought customers were ready and willing to buy shoes online. Instead of building a website and a large database of footwear, Swinmurn approached local shoe stores, took pictures of their inventory, posted the pictures online, bought the shoes from the stores at full price after he’d made a sale, and then shipped them directly to customers. Swinmurn believed there would be a customer demand. Now that we’re all buying everything online because we’re stuck at home Zappos seems like genius. Zappos is now a billion-dollar business. Forget the impossible to find investors, a big bank account, a partner you don’t need because they have capital. Lean Startup methodology preaches elimination of wasteful practices and the increase value-producing practices during the product development phase. This positions startups to have a better chance of success without the perfect product. Customer feedback during product development is essential to the Lean Startup process. So, let me restate that in English: don’t fall in love with your own idea. Find out what customers really want and are willing to pay for. Keep asking them for feedback and modifying your offer as you learn. If this isn’t enough about Lean Startups for you, Google it. Stand back and prepare for the deluge.

The transition from military service to civilian life can be a difficult one, especially when it comes to your career. That’s why a growing number of veterans choose to forge their own path and become entrepreneurs after leaving the Armed Forces. While starting a business comes with numerous challenges, former service members do have one distinct advantage: the veteran community. “The strength and power of veteran entrepreneurs comes from other veteran entrepreneurs” Unlike most highly competitive entrepreneurial environments, veteran entrepreneurs share information much more easily. If you or someone you know is a veteran looking to start a business, please feel free to contact Vicki Garcia. Enlisted To Entrepreneur Column available at https://tinyurl.com/y5wedv63 Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Operation Vetrepreneur & President of Marketing Impressions, a 30+ -year- old marketing consulting firm. Apply to join Operation Vetrepreneur’s FREE one-on-one mentoring at www.veteransinbiz.com. Join the California Veterans Chamber of Commerce for FREE at www.caveteranschamber.com Email Vicki with column ideas at veteransinbiz@gmail.com WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / FEBRUARY 2021


Veterans Chamber of Commerce By Joseph Molina www.vccsd.org

Dealing With STRESS

Feeling stressed is a natural part of being human. Stress is mostly our reaction to a threatening or anxious situation. These situations are prevalent - We lose our job, a painful event occurs, we face serious illness, and so on. It’s impossible not to feel anxious since we are uncertain about a lot of things. Some level of stress could be helpful. Think about the importance of the physical stress your muscles undergo to develop during exercise. Also think of the mental and physical exhaustion you feel after a good day’s work that leads you to have a decent rest to recuperate. Feeling down at times or anxious for a while is part of life. We can say that, If some kind of stress is good, where do we draw the line? When do we realize that a stressful feeling needs dealing with? A rule of thumb suggests that if the feeling associated with stress persists, it becomes a norm, and starts to interfere with your optimal functionality in daily life, it’s time to seek help. When the lingering effects (physically or emotional) of a stressful event (maybe personal, environmental disasters, or near misses) persists, you are advised to seek professional help. When stress persists, we must get the right care and support from the right people to manage the feelings of stress and symptoms that come with it. Learning to cope with the feeling/emotions To deal with stress, it’s important that we know how to identify what stress is. It’s easier to manage or reduce in its early stages than in advanced stages. Stress can come in many forms. Let’s look at some of the most common symptoms associated with stress that I was able to find: • Excessive use of substances, smoking, and/or over consumption of alcohol • Persistent body pains including headaches, back pains, stomach/digestive issues. • Inability or difficulty concentrating at something you once enjoyed • Persistent feelings of sadness, helplessness, and frustration 42

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• Disengagement or withdrawal from constructive activities you once found pleasurable • Insomnia, and having difficulty eating • Compulsive need to distract ourselves using network tools. *** Important: When the symptoms associated with stress persist for an unusual period of time, the best thing is to seek immediate professional help. Below are some ideas on how to reduce and or manage lower levels of stress. 1. Talk to others Just like journaling, the act of talking to others, has proven to be very helpful. When feeling stressed, it may help to talk about it with someone. Talking about it may help identify its origin and causes it can also give clarity on the situation. 2. Avoid Use of Substances and/or Alcohol The problem with substances, drugs, and alcohol is that they are quick fixes and it may be dangerous at it could create in over-dependence. We know that these substances do not solve the existing problem, rather they create additional problems, and exacerbate the existing one. 3. Take Time Off One of the most prevalent causes of our stress and anxiety today is the compulsive use and attachment to our phones and the constant flow of images, news, and other information every day. There has never been a more needed time to restructure our relationship with these network tools than now.

“Tip” We must use technology as a Tool and learn to manage our time online. We should learn to work with multiple breaks in between. 4. Activities and Food Consuming the wrong kinds of food will not just affect our waistline, or immune system, it may lead to heightened feelings of stress. If we have a tendency to overeat when stressed, it will be a good idea to meet with a health practitioner to see which types of food will be better to have – Of course we are all different and we respond differently, hence the importance of seeking a professional. “Tip” Processed foods are not our friend when under stress. 5. Relaxation / Meditation Just like talking to others or writing your thoughts down, that art of visualization, relaxation and or meditation are powerful tools when dealing with stress. Meditation encourages us to pay attention to our inner thoughts and how our body reacts to external stimuli. “Tip” This is one the most inexpensive ways to deal with stress and improve our quality of life. “I find that even 10 minutes of relaxation helps”.

In Summary: Stress comes in many levels, low levels of stress can be easily managed, high levels of stress may need professional help. Only we know how much stress we are feeling and what our “resistance-Level” Keep in Mind that learning to “quiet our mind” could be an impressive tool to help us better manage stress and other emotions.



The Veterans Chamber of Commerce Radio Show • Would you like to Nominate a Hero? Let us know and we will announce it on the show. • If you have any ideas or project that you would like to see Developed by the Veterans Chamber send your idea to: veteransccsd@gmail.com • Would you like to share your story? Be our guest on the show – Complete the REQUEST FORM. Request Form - www.vccsd.org/radioshow.html

6. Recognizing When We Need More It’s never enough or advisable to use quick fixes when it comes to stress or anxiety, sometimes it may be better to seek professional support. Most of us may feel uncomfortable to express how we fell, there are confidential programs that will be more than happy to help and maintain confidentiality. The program 2-1-1 or 0800 are great places to start and connect with professionals who can help.

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / FEBRUARY 2021


legal Eagle Straight-forward legal tips for Military and Veteran Business Owners By Kelly Bagla, Esq.


INCORPORATE YOUR BUSINESS Forming a corporation is an essential step to protect your personal assets from any liabilities of the company. Each business structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your specific circumstances. GET A FEDERAL TAX ID NUMBER To distinguish your business as a separate legal entity, you will need to obtain a Federal Tax Identification Number, also referred to as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The EIN is issued by the IRS and acts as a social security number for your business. This number will identify your business with the IRS and your clients.


ith each new year, entrepreneurs look to turn their vision into a business. These startups are often overflowing with tremendous ideas, energy and optimism, but don’t always have a roadmap for the legal aspects involved in starting a business. In the flurry of drumming up new customers, getting ready for a website launch and building the first prototype, it’s all too easy to put off some of the less glamorous, more administrative aspects of running a company. Company filings and regulations are not the most exciting parts of your startup, yet they are critical to the health of your business and personal finances. Here’s a list of administrative aspects you need to consider for your startup or small business: PICK A NAME – MAKE SURE YOU ARE LEGALLY PERMITTED TO USE IT Before you start printing our business cards, make sure the great new name you thought of is not infringing on the rights of an already existing business. Start with a simple google search, conduct a free trademark search and then conduct a search with the Secretary of State.


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OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT TO START BUILDING BUSINESS CREDIT When you rely on your personal credit to fund your business, your personal mortgage, auto loan and personal credit cards all affect your ability to qualify for a business loan. Using business credit separates your personal activities from that of the business. The begin building your business credit, you should open a bank account in the name of your company and the account should show a cash flow capable of taking on a business loan. LEARN ABOUT EMPLOYEE LAWS Your legal obligations as an employer begin as soon as you hire your first employee. You should spend time understanding what your obligations are according to the state you conduct business in. You should know federal and state payroll and withholding taxes, self-employment taxes, anti-discrimination laws, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation rules, and wage and hour requirements. Obtain the necessary business permits and licenses Depending on your business type and physical location, you may be required to have one or more business licenses or permits from the state, local or even federal level. Such licenses include, general business operation license, zoning and land use permit, sales tax license, or professional licenses.

FILE FOR TRADEMARK PROTECTION Using a name instantly gives you common law rights as an owner, even without formal registration. However, trademark law is complex and simply registering your company in your state does not automatically give you common-law rights. In order to claim first use, the name has to be trademarkable and in use in commerce. It’s always a great idea to protect your business name as it can become a valuable asset of your company.

Go Legal Yourself ® Know Your Business Legal Lifecycle

2nd Edition NOW AVAILABLE!

GET YOUR LEGAL DUCKS IN A ROW No matter how busy things with your startup get, set aside some time to address these matters and take your legal obligations seriously. Getting your legal ducks in a row right from the start will help you avoid any pitfalls down the road, and will help you scale your business successfully as you grow. I’m the CEO of www.GoLegalYourself.com where we help entrepreneurs start, run, and grow their business and I’m proud to provide a limited time offer of 10% discount on our Startup Essentials Package. Please use the code Veteran at checkout. For more information on how to legally protect your business please pick up a copy of my bestselling book: ‘Second Edition Go Legal Yourself’ on Amazon or visit my website at www.golegalyourself.com

Disclaimer: This information is made available by Bagla Law Firm, APC for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, and not to provide specific legal advice. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Award-winning attorney, Kelly Bagla shows you how to avoid legal pitfalls FROM DAY ONE! The last thing an entrepreneur wants is to spend valuable time and resources on legal issues, which is why they often drop to the bottom of the pile. But this can be a COSTLY MISTAKE—and Go Legal Yourself is here to make sure it’s one you avoid. • • • •

Gather the right documentation Protect your brand Avoid expensive legal pitfalls Plan and manage growth competatively

Rest assured that no nasty legal surprises will stand between you and your success.


Get your copy at amazon today! WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / FEBRUARY 2021


Finally, military members serving in a combat zone have the tax season days plus 180 days after their last day in the combat zone to file their taxes. This means no penalty or interest if they owe money and don’t file by April 15. When they are in a combat zone the payment and penalty and interest on back taxes are suspended. Military-Specific Nontaxable Income

Military Tax Tips Before You File Your 2020 Tax Return By Mark Steber, Chief Tax Information Officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Services, www.jacksonhewitt.com While we’re officially excited and looking ahead into the new year, don’t forget about your 2020 tax return that needs to be filed by April 15, 2021. If you haven’t started already, use the motivation of a fresh New Year to start preparing to file your taxes by gathering your documents and follow the below tips to get a head start.

It is essential to know what part of your income is non-taxable, and generally referred to as allowance or assistance, which includes: • Pay for active service in a combat zone or qualified Hazardous Duty Area • Living allowances, like BAH, BAS, and OHA • Disability and medical benefits • Educational assistance • Legal assistance • Family separation allowances • Temporary lodging • Uniform allowances

The biggest call outs for military service members to know is there is military-specific nontaxable income, as well as different and complex tax rules compared to civilians, which may affect their 2020 tax return.

It’s worth noting some of the nontaxable items listed above might need to be used to calculate certain tax benefits – for example, excluded combat pay is included in your gross income amount when calculating the allowed IRA contributions, and for the Child Tax Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit, EITC, and the Credit for Child and Dependent Care expenses.

Different Tax Rules

Complex State Tax Rules

According to the IRS, you do not have to report nontaxable pay you receive as a member of the Armed Forces as earned income for purposes of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Examples of nontaxable military pay are combat pay, the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), and the Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS). However, each active duty taxpayer can choose to have their nontaxable combat pay included in their earned income for purposes of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Including it as earned income may mean a larger refund.

State taxes can be complicated for military service members and their spouses. Military service members home state, for tax purposes, is generally the state they lived in when they first enlisted. This is often the same for their non-military spouse. Generally, the spouse will owe taxes only to their home state. However, they could owe taxes to the state they live in and their home state – another reason to get all of their documents together before they see a Tax Pro.

Calculate your taxes both with the nontaxable combat pay as earned income and without the nontaxable combat pay as earned income to find out what’s best for you. Military service members in a combat zone also have different rules when it comes to child and daycare tax credits. 46

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At the end of the day, it is valuable for you to seek a trusted and knowledgeable Tax Pro to help you prepare your 2020 tax return. Jackson Hewitt Tax Pros are here for the hardest working, especially our service members and their families, and we want to prepare everyone with the tools to maneuver this challenging year. www.jacksonhewitt.com

Let’s Join Forces Together, we’ll help you save more and earn more—$361¹ more. (That’s what our members earn and save on average just by banking with us.) You’ll get: dividend-earning checking account options free from monthly service fees² a savings rate of more than 2X the industry average,¹ and more!

Visit navyfederal.org/deals Insured by NCUA. ¹Dollar and savings value claims based on Navy Federal’s 2019 Member Giveback Study; an internal comparative analysis of loan and deposit rates compared to the national average for similar products. ²For Flagship Checking, no monthly service fee if average daily balance is $1,500 or more, $10 if less than $1,500. © 2021 Navy Federal NFCU 11888 (1-21)

Foundation for Women Warriors H O N O R H E R S E RV I C E | E M P O W E R H E R F U T U R E

When you think of veterans, do you think of women? We do... “Foundation for Women Warriors has been there for me when I needed it most. Last Spring, I was in my final semester of my bachelor’s degree at Cal State. I was working and taking a full load of classes while raising my son by myself. I was having trouble paying for extended care hours at my child’s daycare and was only weeks away from being completed with my degree program. I knew that I could not quit school and wanted to graduate on time. Foundation for Women Warriors provided me childcare assistance, mentorship, and so much more. If it were not for this amazing foundation, I would not be a college graduate today. I recently accepted a new job and am now enrolled in a master’s program.” - Rebecca O., USMC Veteran

Would you like to support women veterans?

Visit our website to learn about our mission and how you can help: foundationforwomenwarriors.org


Foundation for Women Warriors is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization Tax ID no. 20-5523954, contributions are fully tax-deductible.

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / FEBRUARY 2021


Money Matters

Expert Advice on VA Lending & Personal Finance By Phil Jawny, MIRM, CMP, CSP

Getting Back on Track after Incurring Unsecured Debt Question: I’ve gotten into more debt over the last few years and I want to improve my situation. Is there a way to use my VA benefit to pay off debts and feel more stable? Answer: This is a common question and a good one to think about for gaining financial security. You are not alone in battling with debt. According to Ascent, in 2020, on average, American consumers had four credit cards and 61% had at least one. Credit card balances in the United States totaled $893 billion. This doesn’t account for medical bills, personal loans and other unsecured debts. Fortunately, because of your service, you can use your VA benefit for debt consolidation. Debt Consolidation Debt consolidation is a method to simplify how you pay back debt to creditors that ideally gives you a lower interest rate so you can pay it back faster. Credit cards are unsecured debt with some of the highest interest rates (up to 29%) and no tangible benefit for your overall financial picture. How Your VA Loan Can Improve Your Picture If you own your home, you may be able to use your VA loan benefit to consolidate high interest credit card and other unsecured debts into a fixed, low interest rate mortgage loan.


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Consolidating debt can immediately improve your cash flow and reduce the amount of interest you pay over time. Also, since VA mortgage loans are secured installment debts, the interest rates are dramatically lower and can offer a tax benefit. Additionally, whether you are a veteran or an active-duty service member, you are offered more favorable terms and fewer restrictions for mortgage qualifying when using your VA benefit. The VA cash-out refinance loan allows you to cash out up to 100% of your home’s equity (not value) to pay debts. Overall benefits of using the VA loan program include: • Fixed Terms • Lower Fixed Rates • Tax Deductions • Ability to Lower Overall Monthly Bills • Flexible Guidelines • Exclusive Discounts to Qualified Service Members How Much You Can Borrow The amount you can borrow with the VA cash out loan depends on two factors: 1. What equity do you have in your home? Equity is the difference between the value of your home and what you owe against it (current mortgage balance). You may be surprised by how much equity you have in your home that you can borrow against using your VA benefit. Home values increase by 3-5% per year on average.

2. What is your ability to pay this refinance? In order to use a VA cash out loan for debt consolidation, there are specific requirements that must be met: • Credit score of at least 620 • Adequate disposable income based on your area and family size • Debt ratio no higher than 41% • On-time mortgage payment history • No collections within the last 12 months Do the Math If you have a credit card with a $5,000 balance at 29.99% interest, and you pay the minimum due each month, it could take 21 years to pay it in full and you could end up paying over $21,000! Think about it: the $5,000 you spent could cost an additional $16,000 or more of your hard-earned money. If you take out a new mortgage to consolidate your high interest debts, the rate is much lower and, instead of paying the interest with no benefit to you, the mortgage interest may qualify as a tax deduction which could benefit you even more. How To Get Started It can be overwhelming to figure out how to pay off debts, but there are many advantages of using your VA benefit. The best place to start is with a knowledgeable VA lender that understands the ins and outs of VA loans and can provide insight into your personal situation. In a brief conversation, you can establish what steps you need to take and how quickly you can take action. Most people are surprised at how easy the process is and by how far-reaching the benefits can be! Advantages of using your VA benefit. www.govaloans.com/5-myths-about-va-loans

Phil Jawny is a professional lender with nearly 20 years of experience in the business and the founder of GoVA Loans. His industry knowledge is extensive, spanning from loan reorganization to commercial mortgages to, most importantly, selling and managing VA Loans.

Change Your Financial Outlook in 2021 Put Your VA Loan Benefit to Work! Are you taking advantage of all your VA benefits? Our team of experts is here to share advice and guide you down the path toward financial stability. Start the new year off right with a conversation that will set you on the best financial path! So what are you waiting for? Contact us today!

Phil has a passion for serving military families. His goal is simple — to help make the loan process simpler for families so they can get the loans they deserve and build wealth through real estate without the hassle. To get ongoing advice or to submit a question for the “Money Matters” column, visit facebook.com/Govaloans or follow @GoVALoans on Instagram & Twitter.

www.GoVALoans.com @GoVALoans

info@govaloans.com (833) 825-6261

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Legally Speaking Military Focused Family Law Facts By Tana Landau, Esq.

Education During Divorce: Who Pays for College and Private School Tuition? Many parents hope that their children will further their education by attending college. However, college can be a huge expense without a scholarship. A major concern for divorcing parents is how they will pay for college (and all the expenses that come with a college education) as well as who will pay for it. In California, once a child turns 18 (or 19 if they’re still attending high school) a parent is no longer obligated to financially support a child. Child support ceases at this age absent special circumstances such as an adult disabled child. Therefore, there is no legal obligation in California for parents to pay for their child’s college education. While there may not be a legal obligation, it is understandable that each parent would want commitment from the other parent to contribute to the cost of their child’s college education. So how do you get that commitment during a divorce? One way to secure a commitment to contribute to your child’s college expenses is to negotiate a provision to be included in a Marital Settlement Agreement as part of your overall divorce settlement. A Marital Settlement Agreement is an agreement between divorcing spouses that addresses issues such as child and spousal support, custody and visitation, and property division. 50

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Any provision to be included as part of your overall agreement that addresses college expenses should be specific and include the following details: - How much are you each contributing? - What expenses are you contributing to (tuition, room and board, meals, books, living expenses, etc.)? - When are contributions to be made? - Is there a limit to the amount of contributions or the time period that contributions are to be made? - Does your agreement include both private and public colleges? - Does it include in state and out of state schools? - Are there any conditions precedent to the contributions being made (i.e. does your child have to maintain a certain GPA or remain enrolled fulltime)? If you are concerned about the other parent following through on the agreement in the future, then another option is to establish a trust account or escrow account to set aside funds for college education expenses. If you have funds available at the time of your divorce, this may be a better option for you.

Time for a Fresh Start.

You can agree a certain sum is set aside at that time as well as how much money both parties are to contribute to the future if more contributions are necessary. If further contributions are to be made, your agreement should have the same specificity as discussed above. Finally, you should consider including the obligation to maintain insurance in your agreement. In the future, there is always the chance that a parent will become disabled and lose their job or even pass away at some point after the divorce but before the child goes to college. If anything happens to either parent, having life insurance or disability insurance in place as security could help ensure financial protection for the child’s college education and associated expense. If your child has not yet graduated high school and is attending a private school, you may also have concerns regarding the other parent’s contribution to that cost during your divorce. Educational expenses are considered discretionary child support add-ons. Therefore, the Court does have discretion to order the other parent to contribute to private school tuition. The Court will weigh several factors. These factors include: - The incomes of both parents (Can the parent’s afford private school going forward?) - The specific educational needs of the child (Does the child have a specific and documented need that cannot be adequately addressed by public school?) - The child’s previous education history (Has the child been attending the same private school for several years?) - The religious background of the child and/or family - The extent to which the noncustodial parent was involved in the child’s education prior to the divorce The Court’s decision is a balancing act in the best interest of the child. Keep in mind that the Court may not order the payment of private school tuition if a party cannot afford it or the Court determines it is not in the child’s best interest.

For more information about educational expenses in your military divorce, check out our website: www.frfamilylaw.com or call (858) 720-8250 and ask to speak with military family law attorney Tana Landau.

Move forward without breaking the bank. Our military expert family law attorneys are ready to push your case to the finish line.

Military Divorce and Retirement, 20/20/20 Spouse, Survivor Benefit Plans, Support Orders, and more. No nonsense. No hidden fees. Discounts for service members.

Call 858-720-8250 or visit www.frfamilylaw.com to schedule a free consultation. Flat-fee law packages available.

Legal Experts with Humanity

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Local man gives first-hand account of Capitol riot By Elizabeth Summers - The Reporter www.sandmountainreporter.com

Horton resident Jordan McGeorge traveled to Washington D.C. to see firsthand what he felt the mainstream media wasn’t showing regarding President Donald Trump and the November election. He was on hand as protesters and marchers voiced their opinions Wednesday, Jan. 6, while Congress met to count and certify the Electoral College votes. Thousands had gathered at the National Mall to protest the election results. What McGeorge said should have been a peaceful protest and march took a dark turn at the hands of a few. “Most of the patriots that were there — like me — were only there to show how they felt,” McGeorge said. “It was a normal protest. I was near some people who did storm the Capitol. “Some people in the crowd made it known that they were Antifa. That led to a small brawl. [Note: The FBI stated it has found no evidence Antifa was involved in the Capitol riot.] “About 95% of those there were there with the same views and for the same reason I was: to see for themselves and to document for themselves what was going on.” 52

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McGeorge said few went to the event with the intention of rioting. “There was no rioting,” he said. “Most of us were there not to riot at all. Others were there to stir up trouble and make it look like there was a huge riot. “Only a handful took it up to try to break into the Capitol.” Pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol a week ago while lawmakers were trying to confirm the Electoral College certifications, making Democrat Joe Biden the presidential election winner. The mob pushed through police barriers, took over the presiding officer’s chair in the Senate, the offices of the House speaker and the Senate dais. They moved leaders, posing for photos in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and caused damage throughout the building. Five people – including one Capitol Police officer – died during the day. One woman was fatally shot by police and three others died of apparent medical emergencies. As of Jan. 8, 90 people had been arrested and 50 members of the Capitol and Washington police were injured. Two pipe bombs were recovered outside the Democratic National Committee and another outside the Republican National Committee, and a long gun and Molotov cocktails were recovered from Capitol grounds.

McGeorge said he and a friend from Albertville learned of the planned protest about two weeks prior and made plans to travel to Washington, D.C. “My opinion is that we shouldn’t believe all the big

“When everyone went up on the inauguration stage, they did it to prove a point, not to cause trouble,” he said. “When the police told us to get down, we did. No one was there to pick a fight with the police. When they said to get down, we did. It was time to go.”

media posts,” McGeorge said. “I wanted to go there to see for myself what was going on.”

He said he watched few reports of the day’s events on TV that night in his hotel room.

McGeorge said he saw few police officers in the open. He said many roadways surrounding the area were closed with a single police officer posted at the corners.

“They [mainstream media] had already started

“I myself only saw 25 to 30 police while I was there,” he said. “When people started pushing the Capitol police, it wasn’t to hurt them. They just pushed them aside and went around them.” When more boisterous protesters made their way to the Capitol building and started climbing the building and hanging from windowsills, many in the crowd pulled them down. “I was near people who ended up storming the Capitol,” he said. “When that started, we left the area. We went to get something to eat and go back to the hotel. “There was a curfew in place. We respected the rules. We didn’t go with the thought to make trouble.” McGeorge said people did get up onto the inauguration stage set up outside the Capitol building.

twisting stuff around,” McGeorge said. “I had to turn it off. I was starting to get mad.” He returned to Alabama the next day and has received quite a welcome. “I’ve gotten a bunch of cheering,” he said. “Every store I’ve gone into have swarmed me with questions. Everyone followed me on Facebook. “The question I’ve gotten most often was if I brought COVID back with me. Otherwise, people want to know if there were really that many people there rioting.” Although he stayed on the Capitol grounds for part of one day, he said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience he wouldn’t soon forget. “Without a doubt, I’ll pass this story on to my children and family,” he said. “It was like nothing I had seen before, that’s for sure.” WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / FEBRUARY 2021


Spotlight Our dogs can assist veterans with mobility issues by retrieving/carrying items, bracing for balance, and helping with prosthetics.

Our Mission Guide Dogs of America’s (GDA) mission is to transform lives through partnerships with service dogs. We partner life-changing guide/service dogs with people who are blind/visually impaired, veterans with PTSD, children with autism, and professionals who work in hospitals, schools, and courtrooms. Our History During the mid-1940s, a visually impaired man named Joseph Jones was refused a guide dog because of his age – he was only fifty-seven. A determined man, Joseph researched the guide dog movement and established a school of his own. In 1948, he founded GDA on one principle: providing guide dogs to the blind free of charge, regardless of your age. Having long recognized the life-changing impact service dogs can have on people with disabilities, GDA merged with Tender Loving Canines (TLC) in January of 2020. Our TLC program provides service dogs for veterans, children with autism, and facilities like hospitals, schools, and courtrooms. Before joining forces, TLC’s services were limited to California residents only. Today we are proud to share that our service dog program is offered to people nationwide. What We Do Our school is located on a beautiful 7.5-acre campus near Los Angeles, where we serve students from the U.S. and Canada. Each student accepted into our program receives a professionally trained guide/service dog. Our trainers spend time getting to know our clients unique needs and circumstances, tailoring the training to what works best for them. Students who are visually impaired attend a three-week training. Service dog recipients take courses online before attending a one-week in-person training. We cover transportation costs, room/board, and provide lifetime support for all of our clients. All programs and services are provided at no cost to the recipient. Our Dogs Our service dogs for veterans help heroes reintegrate into society by alleviating their PTSD symptoms and assisting with mobility limitations. Our dogs provide grounding or sensory input to decrease the physiological symptoms of stress/anxiety. They are also trained to interrupt or alert to early signs of hypervigilance or escalated anxiety brought on by triggers. 54

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Our guide dogs for the blind/visually impaired bring new opportunities for life experiences and social interaction. These highly trained canines help our clients travel from one destination to the next. They avoid obstacles, stop at elevation changes, keep their partner on a straight line, stop for all oncoming traffic, and even remember common routes. Our service dogs for children with autism become trusted companions that usher confidence and independence into our clients, and their families’, lives. Our dogs can alert to early signs of escalating stress or repetitive behavior by responding to triggers. They are trained to provide sensory input like laying in a child’s lap or on their feet to help deescalate stressful situations. Our four legged-friends can perform cues like visit, wave, bow, and fist bump that welcome new social opportunities. The increase in social interaction can help children struggling with their communication skills. Puppy Raising Our volunteer puppy raisers are the cornerstone of our training program. Our guide dog puppies are placed with carefully screened foster families, known as “puppy raisers,” when they are eight weeks old. Puppy raisers teach our young canines basic obedience, proper house manners and help them gain confidence as they mature. The dogs return to GDA at 14 to 18 months of age for formal training. Service dog puppies are raised and trained in a two-year prison program. Our staff teaches carefully selected inmates how to train their dogs using only positive reinforcement techniques. Each service dog puppy grows up to learn over 50 commands. Our prison program dramatically aids in rehabilitating incarcerated individuals, providing an opportunity for education and community improvement—while helping meet the ever-growing demand for service dogs.

How You Can Help We always say that it “takes a village” to keep our organization running. That means we depend on people like you to continue transforming lives. There are many ways that you can join our team. We are always in need of qualified puppy raisers looking to provide a loving first home. Additionally, we rely on volunteers to keep our campus running. Donations are always accepted; you can find the donate button at our homepage’s top right corner. Furthermore, you can explore various other ways to give, like starting a fundraiser, using AmazonSmile, or leaving us in your will. Most importantly, our non-profit is here to serve the people that need us most. If you know anyone that would benefit from a guide or service dog, please refer them to our website, or give our admissions department a call.

“The people and the work that went into making my service dog, Shield, possible has given me a new perspective on life. I was at GDA recently, and I saw people waiting in line to volunteer. Now when I am hit with a panic attack in the middle of the night, I know these people are out here making sure I have Shield to get me through. There are thousands of people working to make my life better. It’s amazing.” - Veteran Service Dog Graduate

Headquarters: 13445 Glenoaks Blvd Sylmar, CA 90342

Phone: (818) 362-5834 or (800) 459-4843 Fax: (818) 362-6870 Email: mail@guidedogsofamerica.org Visit our Website at: www.guidedogsofamerica.org Follow us on social media at: facebook.com/GuideDogsofAmerica instagram.com/guidedogsofamerica

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The Barnes Firm Announces $45,000 Donation to Shelter to Soldier By Eva M. Stimson The Barnes Firm officially announced a $45,000 grant to Shelter to Soldier (STS) to facilitate their ongoing effort to adopt dogs from local shelters to be trained and paired with post-9/11 combat veterans who suffer from PTS and TBI psychiatric conditions. The STS Red Star Sponsorship program inspired the Barnes Firm, which is a collaborative effort that covers the cost of supporting three separate dogs and veterans throughout the entire 12 to 18 training program. Costs included in this grant incorporate the adoption fees, housing, medical care, grooming, food, treats, training, equipment, bedding, toys, testing, handler training, equipment, certification documents and materials for both veteran and service dog. Shelter to Soldier has adopted The Barnes Firm sponsored pup, Barney, an eager Chocolate Labrador Retriever, from Labs and More Rescue out of San Diego, CA. Barney is affectionate and handler-focused and is already shining in the program. STS will adopt two more dogs under the sponsorship in the coming weeks; one from the Los Angeles area and the other from the San Francisco/Oakland area. According to Rich Barnes, President of The Barnes Firm, “We take community service very sincerely at The Barnes Firm, and while our exceptional team of trusted trial attorney’s remain committed to pledging that our clients achieve the best results possible, we are also dedicated to making a positive impact on the many people and regions we serve across California. Shelter to Soldier exemplifies admirable work that we are honored to support on behalf of our US veterans. This donation is a very impactful moment for all of us at The Barnes Firm, especially in light of all that is happing on our country and the world. Our amazing team is thrilled to step up for the Shelter to Soldier cause.” STS Co-Founder Graham Bloem remarks, “Shelter to Soldier is extremely appreciative of the generous donation from The Barnes Firm, which will enable us to advance our organization’s unwavering commitment to operating an unparalleled service dog program. We will deploy these dollars in a highly efficient manner, utilizing the skills of our certified team of trainers to take adopted shelter dogs with no training, and provide them with the necessary training and a promising future as highly capable service animals. The number of veterans and dogs at risk continues be a tragic statistic. We are positioned to address those needs through benevolent donations from generous donors such as The Barnes Firm team.” 56

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On average, 20 Veterans and one Active Duty military personnel commit suicide on a daily basis. They have sacrificed everything to protect national freedom, and it’s STS’s turn to give back to them. STS rescue’s dogs that are better suited for a life with a job or may otherwise be overlooked, providing them a future with a purpose and a life that is fulfilled by their bond with a veteran in need. Red Star Sponsors contribute a generous $15,000 donation that directly impacts the journey for one service dog and its veteran recipient through the STS training program. Founded by late injury attorney Steve Barnes, The Barnes Firm has established a trusted relationship with clients in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego, California since 2014. In 2020, the firm expanded its footprint to New York State to serve communities in Buffalo, Rochester, New York City and Long Island. Helping veterans is a cause very near and dear to The Barnes Firm’s best injury lawyers. Steve Barnes (1958-2020) was a United States Marine Corps combat veteran who served our country in the Gulf War and The Barnes brothers’ father fought in World War II, so the siblings understood from an early age the importance of service, and the sacrifices made by every soldier. The Barnes Firm’s best attorneys believe it’s our duty to give back to these heroes and help them live the best life possible. www.thebarnesfirm.com Shelter to Soldier is a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that adopts dogs from local shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for post-9/11 combat veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or other psychological injuries. Shelter to Soldier Co Founder, Graham Bloem is the recipient of the American Red Cross Real Heroes Award, 10News Leadership Award, CBS8 News Change It Up Award, Honeywell Life Safety Award, and the 2016 Waggy Award. Additionally, Shelter to Soldier is accredited by the Patriot’s Initiative. www.sheltertosoldier.org To learn more about veteran-support services provided by STS, call (760) 870-5338 for a confidential interview regarding eligibility. Shelter to Soldier courtesy photo of “Barney”, pup sponsored by the Barnes Firm

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Choose a Medicare plan that serves those who served You deserve a Medicare plan that always has your back. That’s why UnitedHealthcare® has a wide range of Medicare Advantage plans designed to complement the health benefits you already receive for your service. The UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Patriot plan includes the freedom to visit doctors and hospitals in our large network for a $0 monthly premium.

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1-855-322-1158, TTY 711 UHCPatriotPlan.com You do not have to be a veteran to be eligible for this plan. Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in the plan depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare. Benefits, features and/or devices vary by plan/area. Limitations and exclusions apply. Network size varies by market. ©2020 United HealthCare Services, Inc. All rights reserved. Y0066_200911_104349_M SRPJ59083 60 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / FEBRUARY 2021