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Resources Support Inspiration

Vol. 3 Number 2• February 2016



Wounded Warrior Project

Miramar National Cemetary Veterans Tribute Tower and Carillon What Leadership Traits Are Important To You?


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www.JOINSDPDNOW.com (619) 531.COPS 2

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VA Home Loans for Veterans by a Veteran As a homeowner myself using my VA loan and as a multiple home investor, I understand purchasing a home is one of the biggest and most important purchases someone will make in their lifetime. Being a 10-year active duty Veteran as an Airborne Paratrooper, I know what it means to sacrifice your time away from civilian life and the abuse your body takes in the military. That’s why I’ve made it my mission as a Loan Officer to reach out to other Veterans to assist with their Home Purchases. From pre-qualification to closing, I will be there to ensure that the loan process for your home goes as smoothly as possible. You will find that I strive to keep in contact with my clients throughout the entire process and to be easily accessible. In addition to VA home loans, I also specialize in FHA and Conventional home loans. BRE# 01147747 NMLS# 9873 Top Producer 2008 through 2013

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Homeland Publisher Michael J. Miller Contributing Writers CJ Machado Vicki Garcia Linda Kreter Vesta Anderson Keith Angelin Rick Rogers Paul Loisel Christopher W. Diem John Knight Rob Louis Sarah Luken Bill Heard Meaghan Cox

Greetings and a warm welcome to HOMELAND Magazine! Please take some time to get to know the layout of our magazine. Homeland Magazine focuses on real stories from real heroes; the service member, the veteran, the wounded and the families that keep it together.

Public Relations Linda Kreter CJ Machado Graphic Design Trevor Watson

Our magazine is driven by passion, vision, reflection and the future. The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with service members, families, veterans and civilians. Homeland is about standing your ground, resilience, adaptation, inspiration and solidarity. HOMELAND is inspirational, “feel good” reading; our focus is on family, military and civilians alike. I believe HOMELAND is where the heart is, and our publication covers a wide variety of topics, and issues about real life and real stories. We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people. They say San Diego is a military town, I find that San Diego is a HOMELAND town, where military and civilians work and live together. We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of HOMELAND Magazine. With warmest thanks, Michael J. Miller, Publisher 4

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Homeland Magazine is published monthly. Submissions of photographs, Illustrations, drawings, and manuscripts are considered unsolicited materials and the publisher assumes no responsibility for the said items. All rights reserved. Homeland Magazine 9750 Miramar Road, Suite 315 San Diego, CA 92126

858.240.0333 Contact Homeland Magazine at: info@homelandmagazine.com

inside this issue

Celebrating 75 years

24 6 Moving To Zero 12 Tribute Tower and Carillon at Miramar 14 What Leadership Traits are Important to You? 17 Enlisted To Entrepreneur

26 18

18 Valentine’s Day 20 Behind The Family Behind The Family Portrait 24 Connecting Vets and Communities 26 Transitioning Tips To Corporate America


USO Celebrating 75 Years


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‘Moving to Zero’ is a new ethos to live by and a movement to eliminate suicide… I may die at the hand of another, but, lest it be to save another, I shall not die by my own hand – Ronnie Jo Stark


or many veterans returning home, a transitioning soldier is at a loss, living in doubt and in darkness, searching for a sense of belonging and wanting to be a part of something. Most suicides are a result of believing that there is no purpose or reason for existence. It starts with a thought and ends with an irreversible choice. If we can change or shift those thoughts, we can prevent that dismal outcome. CEO and founder, Ron Stark, created ‘Moving to Zero’ from his own personal experience with depression. “Depression is real, depression is deadly and suicide is preventable,” Ron states. Ron Stark served our country and retired from the United States Navy in 1994. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Christian Heritage College, and an MBA from the University of Redlands. Ron is a Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor and has served veterans and their families for over 21 years beginning at Vietnam Veterans of San Diego (1994-2000) and Mental Health Systems (2000-present). He is the 2012-2013 San Diego County Veteran of the Year, the 2013 CA Assembly 79th District Veteran of the Year, and he received the 2012 San Diego Psychological Association Local Hero Award. Ron’s personal ethos was developed through meditation and prayer, a decision on how he wants to live his life in service to others. He realized that this ethos can help veterans ingrain these simple principles into their own personal ethics to prevent suicide. Ron decided to create a movement that will change a cultural way of thinking about the


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terms of life and “how I’m going to live it, give it and how it can be taken, but not taken by me. A set of principles set in place way in advance, so that whenever a dark day comes down the road, taking my life is not an option.” The Moving to Zero vision is that A New Ethos will be posted at the entries, on the walls, and in the halls of every military command, squadron, and unit, and ingrained in the mind and soul of each military member, and proudly displayed by them during and beyond military service. Moving to Zero is a 100% veteran-owned company that exists to sell products and provide services and highlight resources to generate profits that will be given in the form of gifts, donations, and grants to individuals, programs, and organizations devoted to eliminating suicide among veterans. One suicide a day is too many. The only acceptable number is Zero. We can help with suicide prevention by purchasing a plaque to display or as a gift for family and friends. Consider donating the New Ethos plaque to your local American Legion and VFW establishments to be displayed on their walls. A gift worth giving and an impactful reminder that life is worth living. www.movingtozero.com

By CJ Machado Photojournalist, Homeland Magazine


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By Meaghan Cox, USO San Diego

Celebrating 75 years

Celebrating 75 Years of Being Always By Their Side


ith World War II looming on the United States’ doorstep, President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew an organization keeping service members in touch with the bonds of family and the comforts of home, no matter where or under what conditions they served, would be vital. He challenged six private organizations to answer this call. In New York, on February 4, 1941, the United Service Organizations (USO) was established; founded by the YMCA, YWCA, National Catholic Community Service, National Jewish Welfare Board, Traveler’s Air Association and Salvation Army. The nonprofit organization operated hundreds of centers around the world during World War II and the wars following, such as Vietnam. Enlisting the help of local community members for center support; centers were stocked with coffee, food, comfortable furniture, pool and ping pong tables, and much more. Hollywood’s stars, such as Bob Hope and Marilyn Monroe would visit service members abroad, bringing them cheer and ease the stresses they were facing on the front. Today, stars like Gary Sinise and Toby Keith, travel with the USO to keep service members morale boosted. The USO operates over 160 locations worldwide.


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“For 75 years, USO has been a home away from home, keeping the military community connected with their families and the country,” said Arne Nelson, USO San Diego Chief Executive Officer. “When a service member sees USO, it provides an instant comfort. They know they are supported and safe. For civilians, the USO represents a patriotic platform for them to rally behind, and through the USO, easily provide immediate support for the military and their families.” In San Diego, California, USO San Diego manages two centers for Active Duty, Reserve, Guard and their families. Each of the centers have comfortable lounge areas, bathrooms with showers, snacks and beverages, computers, and pool tables. USO San Diego also provides outreach for homecomings, deployments and morale boosting events. “We are indebted for the ongoing morale building efforts that the USO graciously provides, time and time again,” said Lieutenant Travis E. Coffey, U.S. Navy Command Chaplain, from USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) in a thank you letter. USO San Diego’s Downtown Center hosts many of the free programs offered to the military and their families, such as United Through Reading, a Mobile Food Pantry, Tuesday Night Dinners and holiday programs. United Through Reading keeps service members connected to the children in their lives. Service


Celebrating 75 years Today, stars like Gary Sinise and Toby Keith, travel with the USO to keep service members morale boosted.

members leaving for training or deployment can come to the Downtown Center, be recorded reading a book aloud, and then USO San Diego sends the DVD and book to the child once the service member has left. “My daughter was so excited to see her Daddy on TV reading her books,” said Nicole Engberg, military spouse. Every Tuesday, military families gather at the Downtown Center to relax and enjoy a meal sponsored by a company or organization. “With You All the Way” kits are distributed to children with a service member deployed. Inside the kits are items to help address the stresses of military life, such as a stuffed-bear named Cuzzie, postcards they can send to their deployed relative, and a “With You All the Way!” DVD created by the Trevor Romain Company and the USO.


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Celebrating 75 years The USO Neil Ash Airport Center, located at the San Diego International Airport, provides support to traveling military personnel and the young Marine Corps recruits who are reporting for boot camp and training.

The USO Neil Ash Airport Center, located at the San Diego International Airport, provides support to traveling military personnel and the young Marine Corps recruits who are reporting for boot camp and training. With friendly smiles, USO San Diego’s knowledgeable volunteers assist and comfort military families who may be traveling for the first time. “They took excellent care of my family during our short stay,” said Sandra Way, military spouse. “The [Airport Center] is amazing and beautiful.” Frequently, barbeques are hosted at the Airport Center for hundreds of new Marine graduates before they report to their next training station. These wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of companies and organizations in the San Diego region. Over the course of 75 years, USO San Diego has been supporting the region’s military and their families, creating memorable moments with special and free programs. USO San Diego is committed to strengthening America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation.


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Organization Name: USO San Diego United Service Organizations (USO) Mission Statement: USO San Diego strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. Founded: February 4, 1941 in New York At the request of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in preparation for US involvement in World War II Six private founding organizations: YMCA, YWCA, National Catholic Community Service National Jewish Welfare Board, Traveler’s Aid Association Salvation Army Supports: Active Duty, Reserve, Guard and their families


Symbols of America’s Heroes

Veterans tribute tower

and at Miramar National Cemetery


Through the efforts of the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation, the Veterans Tribute Tower and Carillon will soon join other Symbols of America’s Heroes at Miramar National Cemetery: Avenue of Flags Memorial Walkway Prisoners of War Monument

The Foundation works year-round to honor our Veterans’ sacrifices. It maintains the Avenue of Flags, sponsors the annual Veterans Memorial Service, and conducts other programs and patriotic events. Your tax-deductible contribution can help sustain the Foundation’s important work at Miramar National Cemetery. Please visit the Foundation website at www.miramarcemetery.org and click on “Contribute” or send your contribution to: Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation 1245 Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 The Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization and a 509 (c)(1) public charity. Tax ID #65-1277308. www.homelandmagazine.com

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By Bill Heard

Foundation Planning to Construct Veterans Tribute Tower and Carillon at Miramar National Cemetery The Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation has filed a request with the VA’s National Cemetery Administration to construct a memorial to America’s veterans. The planned 30-foot tall Veterans Tribute Tower and Carillon will stand on a knoll on the north side of Miramar National Cemetery.

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prominent San Diego-area veteran has made a major contribution toward construction of the Tribute Tower, whose cost is expected to be about $400,000. The Foundation also sought the public’s help to fund a memorial plaza, and the perpetual maintenance fund required by the VA.

And in July 2015, the Foundation coordinated funeral services for Army Sgt. Charles Schroeter, a U.S. cavalryman who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for service in the Indian Wars in 1869. The Foundation also conducts an annual Veterans Memorial Service on the Sunday before Memorial Day.

“The Tribute Tower project is the latest and most ambitious project the Foundation has undertaken to make the cemetery a true ‘Garden of Heroes’, said Dennis A. Schoville, Foundation President and CEO. “ We plan to dedicate the Tribute Tower on Sunday, May 29, during the Veterans Memorial Service.”

The Veterans Tribute Tower’s striking design will feature gold inscriptions highlighted against the black metal structure. A 250-pound, custom-cast bronze bell, that can be rung electronically, or struck using a bell rope, will hang from the center of the tower. An electronic carillon will play “Taps” and other selections.

In January 2012, the Foundation dedicated the Avenue of Flags, a display of 50 American flags unique to any national cemetery. The group also facilitated the dedication of the American Ex-Prisoners of War monument, and conducted a dedication ceremony for the first veterans’ monuments in the Memorial Walkway.

The Veterans Tribute Tower will stand on a landscaped plaza where visitors may gather to read the inscriptions on commemorative plaques. Benches will be available to those who wish to spend a few moments in contemplation.

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“The Veterans Tribute Tower and Carillon will stand as a tribute to honor America’s veterans of the past, as a well-earned recognition of our present veterans, and as a salute to the active duty and reserve personnel who are our future veterans,” said Schoville.

The Support Foundation has contracted with The Verdin Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, to construct the Veterans Tribute Tower. Verdin has manufactured clocks, carillons, and bells since 1842 and now has more than 50,000 installations worldwide. The Foundation also has been working with Patrick W. Caughey, President of Wimmer Yamada and Caughey Landscape Architects of San Diego, to provide landscape planning and plaza design services. The firm’s landscaping projects include the Unconditional Surrender Statue at Tuna Harbor Park, and projects at Camp Pendleton, Naval Station Pearl Harbor, and Travis Air Force Base. “The Veterans Tribute Tower and Carillon will stand as a tribute to honor America’s veterans of the past, as a well-earned recognition of our present veterans, and as a salute to the active duty and reserve personnel who are our future veterans,” said Schoville.

Additional information about the Support Foundation is available at: miramarcemetery.org The Foundation is headquartered at: 1245 Island Ave., San Diego, CA 92101. It is a 501 (c)(3) organization and a 509 (c)(1) public charity. Tax ID #65-1277308.

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By Christopher W. Diem

What Leadership Traits are Important to You?


he United States military has some of the best leadership training in the entire world. Veterans leave service with a perspective on leadership and leadership capabilities beyond the majority of their peers who have never served. Each service has their own specific attributes they want their service members to learn and live. The Marine Corps, the place where I truly grew as a leader, has 14 leadership traits, easily remembered by the acronym JJ DID TIE BUCKLE – Justice, Judgment, Dedication, Integrity, Decisiveness, Tact, Initiative, Enthusiasm, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty, and Endurance (Marine Corps Association, 1988, p. 48). These characteristics are instilled in each Marine and reinforced throughout their career. All of the attributes are valuable and important, but each leader decides which are most important to him/her and focuses special attention to these “key traits”. The top three for me are integrity, courage, and knowledge. Integrity tops my list for many reasons, two of which deal with honesty and trust. A leader with integrity abides by honest principles and instills in his/her constituents a sense of a like mindset. People want to be around, work with, and be friends with honest people. Through honest, trust can be established. Like honesty, trust is a key component of integrity. It must be established in order for individual relationships and an organization to prosper. Kouzes and Posner (2007) wrote, “Without trust you cannot lead. Without trust you cannot get extraordinary things done” (p. 224). If you have ever worked with or for an untrusting person, you know how difficult it is to have any faith in them or their abilities to lead (or follow). This could be experienced by someone always going back and redoing what you have already finished, or not supporting you in a decision you made if it is ever questioned. Additionally, everyone should remember, no one can ever take away your integrity; you must choose to relinquish it. Courage ties very closely to integrity in the leadership traits. If you lack integrity, you will lack courage; and the reverse is true. It is hard to stick to your principles if you do not have the courage to do so when they are challenged. We generally think of courage as some incredible act to save a life or complete a


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seemingly impossible feat. This is physical courage. However, moral courage is displayed with more subtlety on a daily basis by countless individuals. These quieter acts of courage are simply people doing the right things for the right reasons. They know and understand something must be done and act accordingly to ensure integrity is maintained or justice is levied. Having courage and displaying courage is often a moral duty or obligation. Consider thinking about things in this manner – if it is illegal, immoral, or unethical, don’t do it. Sometimes, it is this simple to show the world the level of courage you possess. The third trait I highly value is knowledge. We should never be satisfied with our level of knowledge on any topic. Especially if it has to do with our livelihood or any particular discipline on which we wish to focus. Knowledge goes beyond reading (although leaders are readers). It involves rational discussion and the willingness to listen to someone else’s point of view. As technology changes and advances, we are almost required to continue expanding our base of knowledge through informal and formal education and life in general. A good mantra to remember is, “Never stop learning.” Integrity, courage, and knowledge top my list of key leadership traits, which ones top your list? As you think about the answer and why each trait tops your list, put it in the perspective of a potential job or promotion. Veterans can point out to prospective employers (or current employers when it comes time for promotion) how the leadership they learned and lived during their service can help the organization improve and grow. If you can provide examples of how your guiding principles will benefit the organization, you may have a better chance of being hired or getting promoted. Take a long hard look at the list of leadership traits for each of the branches of service and figure out how you want to apply these traits to your daily life. When you live by strong guiding principles, doing the right thing is just easier to accomplish, and success follows along with it. References: Kouzes, J. M. & Posner, B. Z. (2007). The leadership challenge (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey - Bass Marine Corps Association (Ed). (1988). Guidebook for Marines (16th ed.). Quantico, VA: Marine Corps Association

“When you live by strong guiding principles, doing the right thing is just easier to accomplish, and success follows along with it.�

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By Vicki Garcia

7 Weird Ways to Market Your Business for Free or Almost Free When you are in business, you get email solicitations for all kinds of services to help you attract customers. Most of them are costly. But, there are many ways to market on line for free, or almost free. Use these stunning, creative tools instead.


Fiverr.com – My personal favorite. You can get a pro to write an email solicitation, create a whiteboard video, design a logo, make a TV Newscast about you, and much more…all for just $5. Be generous and give them a $10 tip.


Quora.com – This answers the question “what do I tweet about?” In fact it answers any questions you have as well. List yourself as an expert, answer questions, and then tweet them out. Job done. Free.


Simplebooklet.com – Turn your docs, PPT, brochures, flyers, newsletters, and more into professional-looking, interactive web booklets customers want to flip, social posts they want to click, and emails they want to read. Every Simplebooklet you

Want more? RSVP for a deeper discussion on these and other awesome cheap tools on Tues, 2/23 5:30pm at www.meetup.com/sdmarketing. Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Veteran Entrepreneurs Today (V.E.T.) & Owner of the marketing firm, Marketing Impressions, with 30 years helping small business owners succeed. More at http://veteranentrepreneurstoday.org, apply for free V.E.T. help at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/veteranentrepreneur


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By Rick Rogers

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. Surely, someone so well versed in the day must also know a thing or two about actual amore.


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Dying for Love

Not just a U.S. Holiday

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.

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

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.

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.

First Speed Dating

Japan’s Take

It’s a Good Day for the Roses

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.”

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.

The Chocolate Connection

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

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)

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Behind The Family Portrait Since 9/11, 2.4 million brave men and women have deployed around the world to fight for our country. The percentage of those returning with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) is staggering. As the nationally reported numbers continue to grow, it becomes more and more difficult for wounded service members to access timely and effective mental health care. It is a story many injured veterans live each day—a story all-too-familiar to grade-school sweethearts, Bill and Sara Geiger. “I like to see our family portraits portraying a happy family—that there’s nothing going on at home,” said Sara. “But the truth is my husband has PTSD. My children and I,” her voice breaks as she finishes, “… manage that.”

By Vesta M. Anderson

Bill and Sara met when they were mere kids. Eventually, life stepped in, and the two ended up moving down different paths and living in separate locations. Many years later, fate arranged an impromptu meeting between the two in their adult lives, and they rekindled their undeniable connection. On Christmas Day in 2001, Bill asked Sara to marry him. Just hours later, Bill and his battalion were alerted


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for deployment orders to Afghanistan. Only Bill would not go to Afghanistan. Instead, after swift wedding bells, Bill deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, serving alongside other military police guarding high-value detainees and being exposed to mortar attacks and riots. “Anyone thinking that war is not ugly is not living in the real world,” said Sara. “He had a specific job to do, and he did his job.” When Bill was back stateside, Sara would understand exactly what Bill sacrificed to do his job. “The day he got home from Cuba—the first time I saw him—I knew something was wrong,” said Sara. Bill became introverted, depressed, anxious, and www.homelandmagazine.com

short-tempered. Eventually, Bill learned to mask his daily struggle with the aftermath of war from his coworkers, but Sara was still living on his pent-up roller coaster. “For a long time, he just held it together—we held it together. But there is a big difference between just holding it together and thriving.” Bill and his family are not alone in this new reality. According to the results of the 2015 annual WWP Alumni Survey, mental health conditions were among the most frequently reported health problems, with

76.2 percent screening positive for PTSD, 68.8 percent screening positive for depression, 67.4 percent screening positive for anxiety, and more than 42.5 percent experiencing TBI. The survey showed that, while many wounded veterans have significant health care needs, they too often have difficulty getting the help they require. While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to trying to meet this demand, WWP recognizes the VA cannot heal the invisible wounds of war alone.

Bill credits Warrior Care Network for teaching him not to avoid his daily struggles with PTSD. Instead, Bill says the Warrior Care Network provides him and his family with the tools needed to support each other, allowing a stronger, closer bond.

“If I had a message to put out there to other spouses and families dealing with this, it would be: Hang in there. Don’t give up. Get your rest and get back in the game,” said Sara. “Because if you keep working on it, it will get better.”

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I wasn’t going to lose my wife,” says Bill. “I knew I needed help to learn how to fix this thing.” Bill sought help at the Vet Center and the VA before finding WWP. “The impact of the continued struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury can be extremely disruptive on each warrior and his or her family,” said Jeremy Chwat, chief strategy officer at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). “We want every warrior we serve to get to a place where they are thriving instead of merely surviving.” In order to provide increased access to hightouch, high-quality care for thousands of wounded veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), WWP is spearheading a groundbreaking collaborative initiative called Warrior Care Network™, a three-year, $100 million commitment

made by WWP and its partner academic medical centers including Emory’s Veterans Program at Emory University, Atlanta; the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program; Operation Mend Program at University of California, Los Angeles; and Road Home Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Warrior Care Network will ensure that wounded veterans in need of mental health care will have access to state-of-the-art, patient-centered treatment, regardless of their geographic location or financial limitations,” said Chwat. “The collaboration between WWP and our Warrior Care Network partners will grow to develop and share best practices that allow us to deliver the highest-quality evidence-based care to wounded veterans at world-class medical facilities across the country, to ensure the wounded veterans who are most at risk do not fall through the cracks.”

On January 15, 2016, WWP and its partner academic medical centers of excellence officially started accepting wounded service members for this first-of-its-kind mental health program, and Bill was among the first members selected to participate. Bill credits Warrior Care Network for teaching him not to avoid his daily struggles with PTSD. Instead, Bill says the Warrior Care Network provides him and his family with the tools needed to support each other, allowing a stronger, closer bond. “If I had a message to put out there to other spouses and families dealing with this, it would be: Hang in there. Don’t give up. Get your rest and get back in the game,” said Sara. “Because if you keep working on it, it will get better.”

“I like to see our family portraits portraying a happy family—that there’s nothing going on at home,” said Sara. “But the truth is my husband has PTSD. My children and I,” her voice breaks as she finishes, “…manage that.”

About Warrior Care Network Warrior Care Network™ is a groundbreaking collaboration between Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and four national academic centers of excellence, Emory Healthcare, Massachusetts General Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, and UCLA Health, to create a nationwide, comprehensive care network that will enhance access and provide clinical and family-centered treatment to warriors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other related conditions. Warrior Care Network will offer specialized clinical services through either a regionalized outpatient program (OP) and/or an innovative, intensive outpatient program (IOP). Through this cutting-edge initiative, WWP and its partners plan to serve thousands of wounded veterans and family members over the next three years. About Wounded Warrior Project The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To learn more about WWP and the Warrior Care Network™ program, visit woundedwarriorproject.org. (Photos courtesy WWP)


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Connecting vets and communities pays double dividends


hat’s a homeless veteran to do? He receives a job offer but needs eyeglasses that he can’t afford to do the work. He calls a county 2-1-1 information line, but they don’t know of a veterans’ service organization that provides free eyeglasses.

Doug Wilson recounts this true story when explaining the need for a new initiative called Vets’ Community Connections (VCC). Its goal is to help military vets and their families connect with resources — beyond traditional “official” agencies — and with community members where they live. A former Pentagon official, he founded the initiative with Kari McDonough, who has worked with vets as a volunteer. VCC is being piloted in three counties — San Diego, Calif., Maricopa, Ariz. and St. Joseph, Ind. — as a community-based initiative. Programs are slated to be up and running by early next year, McDonough said. Robert Muth, chairman of the board of the San Diego Veterans Coalition, said VCC won’t duplicate existing programs. “I think it’s an important overlay on what we already have in place here in San Diego,” he said. “A lot of the organizations that are focused on veterans, and do that all day are fantastic and are members of our coalition. However, this is a chance for citizens or professionals to be able to do more.” 

Research conducted for VCC by the San Diego Area Chamber of Commerce found that veterans don’t want another website, nor do they wish to call a phone number and be directed to “press 1 for this, press 2 for that. They don’t want voice mazes, they just want a human,” Wilson said. The components of a local program will include:


Creating a VCC Advisory Board, comprising community leaders who will guide, support and promote the initiative.


Designating a Vet Connector (or connectors) who can personally make referrals to the relevant member of the Veterans’ Team.


Forming a Community “Veterans’ Team” of individuals who agree to answer questions in their areas of expertise, providing a “human response” to veterans or their families, and

VCC officials have identified the most likely place to house the function is within local 2-1-1 or 3-1-1 call centers — resource lines for local services — as will be the case in San Diego County and St. Joseph County, respectively. Those two counties are furthest along in their planning, McDonough said, and are expected to launch by early 2016. Both are in the process of enlisting community members to sign up as volunteers, and databases are being compiled, she said.

“A lot of the organizations that are focused on veterans, and do that all day are fantastic and are members of our coalition. However, this is a chance for citizens or professionals to be able to do more.”

VCC will enable community residents to answer vets’ questions based on their own professional and life experiences, McDonough said, providing a more personal touch. These might include inquiries about veteran and military family relocation, education, health, opportunities for community service, how to get their kids involved in youth sports — or which local businesses offer military discounts.


HOMELAND / February 2016

South Bend, Ind. is the St. Joseph County seat. There, Brian Pawlowski, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Pete Buttigieg — both are vets — will coordinate with county officials, including the veterans service officer, Kevin Kelsheimer. “He’s really been helpful in getting us tied in with all the other veterans organizations that he utilizes,” Pawlowski said.

To gauge the initiative’s success, McDonough said “performance measures” will be evaluated through surveys: How many veterans used the Vet Connector and their degree of satisfaction with the experience?


For community members, did their interactions help them feel more connected to veterans and understand their needs and issues? McDonough said the idea for VCC began to take shape about two years ago, when she and Wilson were introduced because their mutual interest in helping veterans to transition back into civilian life. As he was leaving the Pentagon, Wilson said he witnessed a “general frustration” among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, who felt the folks back home viewed them “either being heroes who walked on water, or crazy people.” In a meeting over coffee in 2013, Wilson and McDonough sketched out an outline for the initiative on a napkin. Since then, they’ve attracted support from the VA, Chamber of Commerce, Give an Hour, Wounded Warrior Project and NACo, she said. Wounded Warrior Project offered to fund the initiative.

Wilson said that county elected officials can play a key role as conveners. “County and city officials spend a lot of time on issues having to do with returned vets and their communities,” he said. “But what they don’t always realize is that they have a bully pulpit, and that they can bring together local leaders to talk about volunteering their own time and reaching out into the community….” VCC will enable local residents to do more than say, “Thanks for your service,” he added. It will facilitate direct interactions with veterans at a time when few Americans know someone who has served in the military. After World War II, three out of four Americans had a personal connection to the military; today it’s one in 10, according to the Pentagon. “When people see ways in which they can interact with vets that don’t take a lot of time but are very meaningful to [the veterans], some of the social costs now borne by the counties could actually go down.”

By Charles Taylor Reprinted with permission, ©2016 County News, National Association of Counties, Washington, D.C.


HOMELAND / February 2016 25

10 Tips for a Successful Military to Civilian Transition in Corporate America


HOMELAND / February 2016

1. Be “The Early Bird”. Don’t wait until you’re 30 days away from separation before starting the military to civilian transition process. The ideal time to begin preparing for your transition is one year before you are available to begin employment in the civilian workforce.

2. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. You want to give yourself as many options as possible. Applying for jobs with only one company, working with a “handcuff” or exclusionary placement firm or working with only one military to civilian transition resource is not in your best interest. Take advantage of all the free services that are available (military placement firms, military job boards, military job fairs, TAP/ACAP) and don’t be afraid to network on your own to find a military connection (VFW, former military you know, military associations such as AUSA, MOAA, Marine for Life, etc.).

3. Get ready for inspection. Realize that the job search process opens you up to a new type of scrutiny from your perspective employer. Make sure you have a professional email address and answering machine message, and that you’ve deleted any inappropriate material (“cyber skeletons”) posted on social networking sites, etc. Better yet, don’t post any inappropriate material in the first place – it can live forever in search engine caches, even after you delete it. Shift your focus from social to professional networking sites. BMI recommends LinkedIn.com to our candidates.

military? What type of work do you want to do? These are all questions that you may know the answers to, but you don’t want to be thinking of them for the first time during the interview process. Ask yourself the hard questions ahead of time to make sure your answers are well-organized, positive, concise and genuine. Practice out loud.

8. Don’t be modest. Don’t assume that the interviewer makes the connection between your military experience and how that has prepared you for the job in question. Show them examples from your work experience that correlate into exactly the experience for which they are looking. Tell the interviewer that you can do the job!

9. Don’t settle. Ensure the job you take is the job you WANT. Take your time and thoroughly investigate your options until you are sure you’ve found the ‘right’ job. Accepting an offer for a job you are not really excited about is a surefire way to ensure you’ll be repeating the whole job search process earlier than you would wish.

10. Get off on the right foot! Once you’ve taken your new job in corporate America, make sure you hit the ground running. Just like in the military, you only get one chance to get off to a great start.

4. Have a transition plan for your family. Don’t automatically use your military move to go back to your hometown. A huge advantage for a military-experienced job seeker is that many times, their military move can pay for relocation to the city of their new job. For a company that might have to pay for a civilian to relocate, this could be the leg up you need. Make sure you sign up for gap insurance for you and your family. If you don’t, and your job search extends for more than 90 days after your separation, any pre-existing conditions that exist with you or your family may not be covered by your new employer’s insurance plan.

5. Civilianize. Civilianize your resume, experience and verbiage during your interview. Be aware that most hiring managers in corporate America will not understand military lingo. Don’t expect them to be able to translate - you must do that for them.

6. Explore ALL of your options. Keep an open mind. Don’t allow yourself to eliminate a company, a location, or even a particular type of job before you educate yourself with all of the information available. There are thousands of opportunities in corporate America, and many of the great places to work for former military are outside the Fortune 500. In fact, many former military find a fast track to success with jobs in privately held firms and/or with jobs located outside of major metropolitan areas.

7. Sell yourself. What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? Why are you getting out of the www.homelandmagazine.com

HOMELAND / February 2016 27



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