Homeland Magazine March 2024

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Living with Brain Injuries Off-Base Transition Training
Veteran Trailblazers
Healing Trauma
2 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 www.rftw.us
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Welcome to Homeland Magazine!

Homeland is a veteran-focused magazine throughout the country. It serves to assist all veterans, active military as well as their spouses and families.

It’s the leading veterans magazine emphasizing resources, support and focusing on topics and issues facing today’s veteran community. Homeland focuses on resources, support, community, transition, mental health and inspiration for our veterans, & military personnel.

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 veteran organizations & members, resource centers, coalitions, veteran advocates, and more.

We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people.

Despite all the challenges, our team has upheld their focus and let not one opportunity go to provide resources and support to our veterans & military personnel.

On behalf of our team, we wanted to take this moment to say THANK YOU to the readers and the military and veteran community for supporting our magazine. With that support we aim to make a difference and continuing to make a profound impact on the quality of life for our veterans, military personnel and their families.

If you want to catch up on the current and all past issues please visit: www.homelandmagazine.com/archives

mikemiller@homelandmagazine.com www.homelandmagazine.com


Homeland Magazine

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Homeland Magazine is published monthly. Submissions of photographs, Illustrations, drawings, and manuscripts are considered unsolicited materials and the publisher assumes no responsibility for the said items. All rights reserved Publisher Editor-In-Chief
Miller Monthly Columns
Next Transition
Kristin Hennessy Veterans in Business
Eve Nasby •
Transitioning Stories Dr. Julie
Barbara Eldridge Successful
Ducharme Risky Business
Hadley Wood Franchise
Talk: Mental
Rhonda Sanderson Real
Hope Phifer PTSD: Reclaiming Control
Bagla, Esq. Family Law
Robert ‘Bob’ Cuyler, PhD TLC
Tana Landau,
Koontz Veterans Chamber Commerce
Molina Contributing Writers
Warrior Project Disabled American Veterans
Diego Veterans Coalition Veteran Association North County (In-House) Correspondents
www.HomelandMagazine.com EDITOR’S
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 5 6 Veterans Living with Brain Injuries 10 Courageous Hearts 14 Built to Serve Communities 16 Breaking Barriers 20 Why Women’s History is Important 22 Women Veteran Trailblazers 24 Real Talk: Attitude of Gratitude 26 PTSD: EMDR in Healing Trauma 28 Traumatic Brian Injury 30 Links to Hearing Loss 33 Caregiving TLC: Got Sleep 34 The Healing Power of Hockey 36 Securing Your Digital Assets 38 Legal Eagle: New Business Laws 39 Cannabis Legislation for Veterans 40 Transition to Civilian Life 42 What’s Next: Tackle the Interview 44 Off-Base Transition Training 46 HR: DEI Movement 48 Risky Business: Your Direction 50 Veterans in Business: Getting Results 54 Careers in Law Enforcement 56 From Navy Sailor to SFPD 58 SDPD Ride Along - A Story of Two Marines MARCH 2024 INSIDE THE ISSUe
“I’m happier with myself. Having been in therapy, period, has helped me be in a better place now.”
Rogelio “Roger” Rodriguez, Jr US Navy (1987 – 1993) US Air Force (1993 – 2013)

PTSD treatment can turn your life around.

For more information visit: www.ptsd.va.gov/aboutface

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Healing is in the Eye of the Beholder

Wounded Warrior Project Supports Veterans Living with Brain Injuries and Illnesses

Dylan Sims enjoys each day being different. He might be working on poetry, or his novel, or even a comedy he is drafting. Dylan joined the Army National Guard in 2013 to serve his nation. He deployed to Kuwait and then Iraq.

Head and hip injuries cut his military career short in 2016. Just five years later, at the age of 29, a rare diagnosis of early-onset dementia upended his life. Dementia is most typical in patients over age 65. Earlyonset dementia typically impacts individuals in their 40s or 50s.

Dementia causes cognitive changes, including memory loss, problems communicating, confusion, and disorientation. The symptoms worsen over time.

Dylan decided to leave his civilian job and live his life.

“I quit my job a few months after my diagnosis,” Dylan said. “I hit the road to see the country, meet people, and make memories while I still could.”

Dylan rolled down Route 66, slept near San Francisco, recharged in Chicago, and napped near Niagara Falls. He traveled thousands of miles, camped in his electric vehicle, and made many memories.

Dylan had a passenger along that journey – Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). The veterans charity provides personalized services to our nation’s most severely wounded service members – individuals with spinal cord injuries, moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries, and neurological conditions.

While Dylan was traveling the country, WWP™ offered support and opportunities to connect with other veterans. Now, WWP connects Dylan with other resources to provide him educational material to better understand his diagnosis and tools/exercises he can do to improve his quality of life.

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WWP helped Dylan attend the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The program provides brain and spinal injury rehabilitation through inpatient and outpatient opportunities. WWP and Shepherd Center have collaborated over the years to increase access to care for wounded veterans.

For Dylan, the opportunity at Shepherd Center opened new doors. Doctors he previously saw told him he needed to stimulate his mind but did not provide ways to accomplish that.

“Shepherd Center taught me exercises to make things better and more manageable,” Dylan said. “It taught me ways to activate my brain.”

Dylan graduated from Shepherd Center in summer 2023, but staff check in on him regularly. He still uses the exercises to stimulate his brain. For example, through programs at WWP, Dylan started writing. He completed expressive writing sessions as a form of therapy and participated in a men’s writing group. He also shared his poetry through a virtual open mic event offered by WWP.

A Different Lens on Healing

WWP empowers veterans to live their lives as independently as possible. Army National Guard veteran Todd Plybon found healing through the click of a camera. Photography helps provide a moment of clarity and comfort for Todd.

Before serving our nation, Todd taught physics and chemistry. Then he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, serving in harm’s way daily. On his latter deployment, an improvised explosive device tore apart the vehicle he was in. Todd was tossed from the vehicle and crushed underneath part of the Humvee. His team found him and saved his life on the side of an Afghanistan road. He was flown to Landstuhl Medical Center before being transported back to a stateside hospital.

Along with broken bones and nearly losing his right leg, Todd survived a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The TBI keeps him from returning to work.

“I tried working in a lab, but I had trouble remembering regular procedures,” Todd said.

With support from WWP’s Independence Program, he can focus on his photography. A recreational therapist takes Todd around to see his community through his camera lens.

“He captures the beauty in disarray, ”Todd’s wife Tara said. “He looks at things and captures them from an angle I never would have considered. He takes his observation skills from being a chemist and a soldier and applies those to his photography.”

She sees how photography is so beneficial.

“When he is in the viewfinder, he lets go of some of his hyper-vigilance that he deals with.”

WWP also paid for Todd to learn to use a dark room to develop what he captures, creating another way to help his healing.

“When I’m in the dark room, it’s just me,” Todd said. “I try to block out everything and focus on what I am doing, so it provides some peace.”

Along with photography, WWP provides equine therapy for Todd. Working with horses helps restore a part of Todd that had been missing.

“Nobody looks to me for leadership anymore,” Todd said. “When you are with the horses, they need a leader. You have to gain their trust, but once you have that, you are granted that ability to lead again.”

Healing with the Stroke of a Brush

Army veteran Robin Young finds her healing with a brush in her hand. Robin experienced a TBI while deployed to the Middle East. She suffered heat stroke and her brain lacked oxygen for too long.

Robin faced rigorous rehab when she returned home. But she didn’t do it alone. She connected with WWP and its Independence Program. One part of the personalized support has been art therapy. Robin has grown through it. “I went from drawing stick people to creating art,” she said.

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She had the chance recently to display her work at the Perez Art Museum in Miami during a WWP Independence Program exhibit.

“To have people come and look at my art and admire it, it makes me so proud.”

Robin learned quickly there is more to this support than just painting. “I used to think art therapy was just about creating art, but we go through so much more, including breathing techniques that help keep me calm.”

Her favorite is painting flowers where she uses assorted colors to express how she is feeling: bright colors when she is happy, oranges and reds when she is mad, and darker colors when she is sad.

Robin is one of a few warriors supported through WWP’s Independence Program who will have art displayed at Dallas Love Field from March through May 2024. It is the second consecutive year Robin’s art will be on exhibit at the airport, along with creations from other warriors in the Independence Program.

Alternative therapies help stimulate the brain and provide an outlet for wounded veterans. Painting, photography, and creative writing are just three ways Wounded Warrior Project helps veterans navigate life with a brain injury or illness.

To learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org or call 888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586) to connect with the WWP Resource Center.


If you are a post-9/11 veteran or service member with a moderate to severe brain injury, spinal cord injury, or neurological condition that causes you to struggle with day-to-day living, Wounded Warrior Project® can provide the kind of high-touch services that will help you live life to the fullest and as independently as possible.

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more at woundedwarriorproject.org
Sharona Young
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“Courageous Hearts are those that rise above life’s challenges, demonstrating unwavering strength and steadfast commitment to their own inner truths.”

Prepare to be captivated by the awe-inspiring display of power and valor within Motor Marc’s work of art. He meticulously crafted a fine art painting that pays homage to every aspect of the US Department of Defense.

From the adrenaline-pumping Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, to the aweinspiring National Guard, each branch is brought to life through their remarkable vehicles and saluting military soldiers silhouettes in various inspiring uniforms standing proud next to a highly skilled military dog.

The thunderous roar of the F/A Hornet and F/16 Falcon fighter jets as they slice through the sky, leaving trails of excitement in their wake. Witness the groundbreaking missile launch for space, soaring towards the unknown, pushing the boundaries of exploration. Behind the wounded warriors, the Apache 64E helicopter stands tall, a symbol of resilience and unwavering determination.

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Motor Marc

But the action doesn’t stop there! On the open seas and air, the Coast Guard’s unwavering vigilance, personified by a mighty aircraft carrier emerging triumphantly from the turbulent sunset seas. Amidst the blowing dust, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter fearlessly navigates through the chaos, its rotor blades cutting through the dusty air with a symphony of courage. And of course, the indomitable M1 Abram tank proudly carries the American flag, a powerful symbol of unity and strength.

Finally, behold the US Army Humvee, skillfully adorned with the emblem of the First Infantry, while a drone hovers above it, signifying the triumphs that lie ahead.

As a backdrop to this extraordinary display, the canvas comes alive with dramatic clouds and swirling smoke, creating a mesmerizing effect. And at the center of it all, a captivating image of the Wounded Warrior and an honorable Purple Heart, representing the unwavering courageous and resilience of our heroes.

Motor Marc is the official artist for the High Seas Rally, (www.highseasrally.com) the only motorcycle rally on a cruise ship. Marc has been sailing with the HSR since 2005 creating and displaying his paintings as well as helping to raise money for important causes.

Wounded Warrior project became one of those causes. (www.woundedwarriorproject.com) The HSR auction events for 2022 and 2023 Motor Marc has raised and donated $27,500.00 to the WWP to help honor and empower wounded warrior veterans.

‘’It’s just another way for me to honor our veterans through my art” “I am thrilled to embark on these monumental projects for the Wounded Warrior Project organization and be a proud supporter’’
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A Terrific Unveiling of “Courageous Hearts”


A self-confessed “motor head” Marc has combined his love for high-tech machinery with an extraordinary artistic talent to create the ultimate expression of high-performance art.

Motor Marc has gained international recognition for his art showcasing the wild machines from the hit television show American Chopper. He has also appeared on television programs and in magazines nationwide and his high energy persona compliments the wide variety of subject matter he portrays.

The artist’s latest creations series features military fine art in support for the WWP Wounded Warrior Project and Veterans from the past to present, WWII with their legendary military machinery to heroic true stories he tells through his art. Marc paints for a great cause with these amazing paintings and prints have and continue to raise many funds for a multitude organization.

Together, let us bring this exhilarating powerful fine art to the homes of many veterans and WWP families. Order your print today since we only have limited edition numbered prints available.

You can order online www.motormarcart.com or call Marc’s studio and order direct (519) 735-7779

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Video Available at www.marclacourciere.com/product/courageous-hearts

Team Rubicon - Built to Serve Communities

On January 13, 2010, Team Rubicon was founded upon the urge to act. As a 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jake Wood couldn’t stand by idle. 250,000 people died in the earthquake and Jake saw an immense need. Motivated to act, he brought together a team of seven that jumped into action. This was Team Rubicon’s first operation - breaking the mold of humanitarian aid.

Team Rubicon is a swift moving veteran-led organization that serves global communities before, during, and after disasters and crises. Their mission - to help people affected by disasters, support humanity and build resiliency for vulnerable communities.

With billion-dollar disasters happening every 13 days on average, more people need support. The team, led by CEO, former TOPGUN instructor and 22-year Navy Veteran Art delaCruz, consists of 160,000+ Greyshirts - veterans, first responders and civilians who support the mission of serving global communities. This team provides disaster relief and veterans with purpose, community, and identity, often lost after leaving the military.

Since inception, Team Rubicon has launched over 1,200 global operations - focused on disaster services, long-term recovery, and international services. They are often first on the scene to help local communities recover

Homeland Magazine sat down with Kate Amaral, US Navy Veteran, Greyshirt and Senior Operations Associate to hear about Team Rubicon, why she got started, and why the work is important for communities.

Homeland: Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.

Kate: Thank you for having me! I am always happy to spread awareness about Team Rubicon. I started my career in the Navy, where I spent over nine years before working as a dispatcher, school nurse, and volunteer organizer. I joined Team Rubicon as a Greyshirt volunteer in 2014 and have held several positions from my home base of Tennessee. A few years back I transitioned from volunteer to Senior Operations Associate, leading teams across Kentucky, Tennessee and North Mississippi.

Homeland: Why did you join as a volunteer?

Kate: I just hit my 10-year anniversary at Team Rubicon! I am driven by mission and purpose and that - in addition to the incredible people - was one of the reasons I joined. While responding to disaster relief is challenging, standing up our mission alongside this community who are making an impact every day is nothing short of amazing. We help people on their worst days. We never ask communities or survivors to cover the costs of our services, however, sometimes we are paid in hugs, a smile or just seeing that sense of relief in the most difficult situations a person can face.

Homeland: Tell me about your most memorable operations?

Kate: Operations after both the 2021 Western Kentucky Tornadoes and Kentucky Floods will always be special. Our Volunteer Leader Team worked hard in the initial response, and many people received assistance. Why these operations are my favorite is because our team hasn’t stopped working for survivors of these disasters.

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Team Rubicon has conducted five recovery operations in Eastern KY over the last year and one more upcoming in May - our long-term recovery team continues to build new homes in Western KY and two years after the disasters, continue to work to get people back in their homes! We have amazing volunteers and leaders who advocate for survivors long after everyone has moved on. I’m honored to be a small part of that.

Homeland: How did the Navy prepare you for the work you do at Team Rubicon?

Kate: Team Rubicon was founded by veterans so it’s in our DNA. That’s not to say you have to have been in the military to join, you don’t. We have many incredible civilian Greyshirts. But for me, and what I imagine it is like for other veteran volunteers, the training, and techniques you learn in the military prove to be invaluable when faced with natural disaster support. I think I’ve been able to hone the skills I learned when responding to crises and supporting other team members - adaptive, quick to react and ready for anything.

Homeland: It is Women’s History Month. I would be remiss not to ask about your experience as a veteran and volunteer for Team Rubicon.

Kate: I mean it when I say that I am here as a Greyshirt and employee of Team Rubicon because of the mission and people. We are driven to serve and do whatever it takes. Our community of employees and volunteers are a large part female which is incredible. It comes down to the work that we do, how we serve and the longstanding commitments we make to our cause. I couldn’t be prouder to work for such an organization!

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For more information on Team Rubicon and how to support, visit www.teamrubiconusa.org
All Photo Credits: Team Rubicon
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WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 19 www.foundationforwomenwarriors.org
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Celebrating Women’s History Month Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris First African-American female General in the US Air Force

Why Women’s History is Important

National Women’s History Alliance board member


Patriotism and the desire to serve one’s country in times of conflict have never been limited to men. Women have taken up the cause in one capacity or another since the Revolutionary War. And while the door to official military service may have been closed to many of them, women have always found a way to contribute. Some, such as Deborah Sampson or Cathay Williams, disguised themselves as men to fight. Others, like Molly Pitcher, served in an unofficial role, helping where they were needed.

March is Women’s History Month, and that means it’s time to celebrate important women in American history. We at the National Women’s History Alliance are, as you might expect, very busy this time of year. It is our mission to discover and share the stories of women in history and to change the dangerous perception that women in the past did not do anything worthwhile. We intend to “write women back into history.”

Many of these celebrations focus on the important “firsts,” such as the first woman to enlist as a non-nurse Naval Yeoman (Loretta Perfectus Walsh, 1917). Others celebrate the many first women to advance into higher ranks, such as the first woman promoted to Brig. General (Anna Mae Hays, 1970). Recognizing and celebrating these milestone achievements is crucial to creating a more complete understanding of American history.

Equally important, though, are the stories of the countless women whose service didn’t break down a barrier, but nonetheless contributed to the pressure for increased involvement of women. The women whose quiet dedication to country served as inspiration to countless others paved the way for more opportunities for those who came next.

In the Revolutionary Era, it is unknown how many women followed their soldier husbands and brothers, and whose work, though critical to military success, went unpaid and unrecognized. Coming after these women were the civilian nurses and spies who aided the Union during the Civil War.

And behind them were the hundreds of women serving officially in the Army Nurse Corps tending wounded and sick soldiers in the Spanish-American War.

Building on these successes were the women who enlisted during World War I, and again in World War II, serving in an increasingly wider range of duties like service pilots and maintenance workers.

When Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris, was interviewed by Ebony Magazine in 1992, she spoke about being the first African-American female General in the US Air Force.

“For me, being the first is just a matter of time.” She recognized the importance of acknowledging that her successes were built on the efforts of those who came before her. “They have done a tremendous job of opening doors and proving capabilities.”

If progress is a torch handed from one generation to the next, this torch has been moving forward since 1776, carried by laundresses and cooks, nurses and spies, pilots and soldiers. Each new generation of women has been inspired by the previous, adding their voices to the call for a fair chance to show their mettle. The brave women in today’s military themselves will be passing the torch to future generations, with the knowledge that the work they inherited from the generations before them will continue.

“ The value of knowing women’s stories is that it gives all of us—women and men, girls and boys—the power and inspiration to succeed.”
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1. First all-female C-130 crew to fly a combat mission 2. Molly Pitcher depicted in 1859 engraving - 3. Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris First African-American female General in the US Air Force 2. 3. 1.

Women Veteran Trailblazers

March is Women's History Month, a time dedicated to honoring the extraordinary contributions of women across history. In observance of this significant occasion, we pay tribute to exceptional female veterans who have profoundly influenced the U.S. armed forces and society at large. From the Civil War era to the present day, these women have shattered barriers, showcasing unparalleled courage and resilience. Their unwavering dedication to their country has served as an inspiration to over 2.5 million women who have bravely served in the U.S. military.

Harriet Tubman

Freedom Fighter and Union Spy. She is not only famous for escaping slavery and later rescuing over 70 other slaves as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but also made significant contributions to the Union during the Civil War. Serving as a cook, nurse, and spy, Tubman played a pivotal role in planning and executing daring military operations. Her bravery and ingenuity saved countless lives and earned her recognition as the first woman to lead a military expedition in American history, resulting in the emancipation of over 750 slaves. Her legacy as a freedom fighter and patriot continues to inspire generations to strive for justice and equality.

Sarah Emma Edmonds

Civil War Heroine and Spy. A Canadian by birth, she emigrated to the US leaving an abusive family home under the alias of Franklin Flint Thompson. She enlisted on May 25, 1861during the Civil War as a disguised Union soldier and spy participating in numerous battles and espionage missions, risking her life to support the Union cause. Her bravery and resourcefulness earned her the admiration of her comrades and secured her place in history as one of the few documented female soldiers of the Civil War.

Loretta Perfectus Walsh

First Female Enlistee. Following Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels' decision to allow women to join the U.S. Naval Reserve Force to address the challenge of mobilizing forces, she promptly seized the opportunity. On March 21, 1917, only two days later, she enlisted as a Chief Yeoman, heralding a new era of women's contributions to national defense beyond nursing roles. Her historic enlistment garnered extensive national attention and inspired a surge in enlistments, marking a significant milestone in gender equality in the military.

Sarah Keys Evans

Sarah Keys Evans was an African American Army veteran who was a major figure in the civil rights movement in the United States. Keys was invited to speak at the 1997 Dedication of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. In 2020, Roanoke Rapids declared August 1 to be "Sarah Keys Evans Day," and dedicated a mural depicting her story. The 117th United States Congress considered a bill awarding Keys with theCongressional Gold Medal.

Colonel Ruby Bradley

A Symbol of Resilience and fortitude. One of the most decorated women in military history, she endured 37 months as a Japanese prisoner during World War II, earning the title "Angels in Fatigues" alongside fellow imprisoned nurses. Despite enduring unimaginable hardships, she selflessly tended to the wounded, sacrificing her own well-being to alleviate the suffering of others. Bradley's remarkable service, reflected in 34 decorations and medals, embodies the indomitable spirit of the American soldier.

Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody

Leading with Distinction She made history as the first woman to achieve the rank of four-star general in the U.S. armed forces. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Women's Army Corps in 1975, Dunwoody's illustrious career spanned over three decades, culminating in her role as commander of the Army Materiel Command. Under her leadership, the AMC revolutionized global logistics, ensuring that the joint force remained ready and supplied.

Army: Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester

A Trailblazer in Combat. She made history as the first woman to receive the Silver Star for her courageous actions in Iraq. Leading a counterattack against insurgents who ambushed her convoy, Hester displayed exceptional bravery under fire. Despite facing heavy machine-gun fire and mortar attacks, she fearlessly engaged the enemy. Her actions resulted in 27 insurgents killed, six wounded, one captured and every member of her unit surviving. Hester's valor and leadership epitomize the resilience and dedication of women in combat.

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Celebrating Women’s History Month

Col. Eileen Collins

Reaching for the Stars. Her lifelong passion for aviation propelled her to become the first woman to command a space shuttle mission. Joining the Air Force in 1979, Collins's exemplary career as a pilot and astronaut broke barriers and inspired generations of aspiring astronauts. Her historic command of Space Shuttle mission STS-93 in 1999 marked a milestone in space exploration and solidified her place in history as a pioneering figure in aerospace. Collins's achievements exemplify courage, determination, and the boundless potential of women in STEM fields.

Coast Guard: Sara Faulkner

Courage in the Face of Adversity. Sara Faulkner made history as the first female Coast Guard rescue swimmer, demonstrating unparalleled courage and skill in saving lives during Hurricane Katrina saving 48 lives in one night alongside her team. Faulkner's legacy serves as a reminder of the importance of supporting and empowering women in the military.

Air Force Col. Merryl Tengesdal

Soaring to New Heights. She defied expectations by becoming the first Black woman to fly the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane in the Air Force. Transitioning from the Navy to the Air Force, Tengesdal's remarkable career exemplifies courage and perseverance. Flying missions in some of the world's most challenging environments, including Afghanistan and Iraq, she logged over 3,400 flight hours and 330 combat hours.

Bea Arthur

Breaking Ground in the Marine Corps. A Emmy & Tony Award-winning actress, best known for her iconic roles in "Maude" and "The Golden Girls,” who also made her mark as a trailblazer in the Marine Corps during World War II. Enlisting at the age of 21under her original name, Bernice Frankel, Arthur became one of the first members of the Women's Reserve. Serving as a truck driver and typist, she rose through the ranks to become a staff sergeant before her honorable discharge in 1945. Arthur's military service laid the foundation for her legendary career in entertainment, where she became a beloved figure and a celebrated advocate for veterans.

Kathleen Mae Bruyere

Captain Kathleen Mae Bruyere U.S. Navy, was one of the twelve women named by Time magazine as Time Person of the Year in 1975, representing American women (at the height of the feminist movement).

In May 1975, she became the first female officer in the Navy to serve as the flag secretary to an admiral commanding an operational staff. In 1977, Byerly was one of six officers who sued the United States Secretary of the Navy and the United States Secretary of Defense over their being restricted from serving on combat aircraft and ships. This led to the 1948 Women's Armed Services Integration Act being struck down as unconstitutional.

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Real Talk: Mental Health

Practicing the Attitude of Gratitude in the Midst of Loneliness

Loneliness may appear like a plague, but with a shift in perspective, it is a safe landing for gratitude and solitude.

The reality of loneliness and solitude during active duty taught me to embrace gratitude. Since my time as a woman veteran, and with the support of other women veterans, I have had time to reflect and fine-tune my attitude of gratitude.

At my first duty assignment, I was welcomed by Texas's crisp, clean air. Most of my fellow trainees were new to the military, and we shared our training experience. I had not experienced deep loneliness here. After spending about a year there, I was ready to launch into my real job and implement the skills. With little hesitation, I signed up for South Korea as my duty assignment, and it was easy to push aside my sense of loneliness. I completed my training and ended my short stay in Texas. I did a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) move to South Korea. Returning to where I was born, I felt that I found my purpose.

My duty assignment to South Korea was a wish come true. I was working with the U.S. military and the South Korean counterparts. I used my Korean language skills and implemented my cultural perspective. With awareness of the uniqueness of my position, I remained open to learning and gaining knowledge. However, to much surprise, I was confronted with loneliness, which, at the time, was painfully isolating. My uniqueness led me to feel different from others. I attempted to connect and relate to my peers, yet I experienced limited common ground. Although I blended in on-base wearing my uniform and off-base wearing civilian clothes, I did not share the same experiences with many I encountered.

In South Korea, the nuances of gender expectations were bluntly exhibited, although with subtleness, that women had designated roles and expectations. Despite the pain of admitting it, I was stamped as too foreign among the Koreans and too Korean by U.S. military co-workers. The apparent labels prescribed started me on a journey of redefining my purpose. As Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out why."

My “why” was thwarted, and I PCS'd back home to California. When I returned, the loneliness and the “why” lingered incessantly over the years. I shied away from veteran events until I got to work with women veterans during the COVID-19 quarantine; I slowly shifted my perspective toward gratitude and began to see the things I was thankful for. Other women veterans echoed my experiences, and their treasured stories clarified my purpose. Their stories encouraged me to redefine my purpose as they shared how they gained wisdom, embraced solitude, and secured selfacceptance by spending time away from home and experiencing loneliness.

One of my favorite quotes is, "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough!" (Oprah Winfrey).

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As a woman veteran, I seek opportunities to connect and relate to others. Spending time getting to know other women veterans, I can quickly identify conversations of gratitude. On that common ground, I'm trekking along those who share similar and unique paths as mine

When experiencing loneliness, make self-care a priority and embrace the love within through the below helpful self-love tips from Cohen Veterans Network (CVN), a 501(c)(3) national not-for-profit philanthropic organization for post 9/11 veterans, active duty service members and their families.

CVN focuses on improvingmental health outcomes, operating a network of outpatient mental health clinics in high-need communities, in which trained clinicians deliver holistic evidence-based care to treat mental health conditions.

• Avoid negative thought spirals. When stressed or overwhelmed, we can go on a downward path of negative thoughts. Stop the spiral by asking yourself if the thought is a fact, something you can control, and is it serving you.

• Practice daily gratitude. Write down three different things you are thankful for each day. This can help remind us there is positivity in our lives and lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed by negativity.

• Prioritize friendships and connection. Spending time with those you love improves your overall health and helps to combat loneliness. Schedule a time to meet up with a friend at least once a month.

• Speak kindly to yourself. Remember, if you wouldn't treat a loved one or a friend unkindly, why are you treating yourself that way? Be your own best friend and speak encouraging words to yourself.

• Know you are not alone. Remember, everyone has their own internal struggles, even though you may not see them. There are many people who may also be feeling the way you do or not fully content with their situations, but don't show it.

For more information about the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics at VVSD and Cohen Veterans Network, visit www.cohenveteransnetwork.org

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 25 Therapy for Veterans, Service Members, and their Families Cohen Clinics provide therapy to post-9/11 veterans, service members, and their families, including National Guard / Reserves. LEARN MORE vvsd.net/cohenclinics 8885 Rio San Diego Dr. Suite 301 3609 Ocean Ranch Blvd. Suite 120 CVN Telehealth, face-to-face video therapy available statewide. 20800 Madrona Avenue, Suite C-100, Torrance, CA San Diego Oceanside Los Angeles our CALIFORNIA locations

PTSD: Reclaiming Control

Navigating PTSD Therapy: The

Role of EMDR in Healing Trauma

We’ll continue our tour of talk therapies for PTSD this month, after our earlier discussions of Prolonged Exposure PE) and Cognitive Processing (CPT) therapies. Let's begin by examining EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. This one is a bit more controversial since how it works is not well understood. Nevertheless, every successful therapy operates through various mechanisms, one of which involves establishing a trusting working relationship between client and therapist. EMDR has gained recognition as a validated therapy according to the VA's National Center for PTSD.

EMDR focuses on imagining rather than verbalizing traumatic situations and memories. The therapy begins with education and establishing both the therapeutic relationship and the plan for the individual. During recollecting a traumatic event, the therapist directs the client to focus on a reciprocal movement, typically tracking the therapist's finger. While imagining the trauma, the person pays attention to the emotions, thoughts, and bodily tension or distress that comes up. After the tension relaxes, the client and therapist will discuss and process the exercise. Typically, the therapy sessions are scheduled weekly for 30 to 90 days.

While some clients experience distress in evoking memories or images of their trauma, others find it a more manageable therapy than PE and CPT, which require actual verbalization or even live exposure to reminders of traumatic situations. The underlying theory suggests that both the body and mind become engaged in a process to 'detoxify' trauma associations, aiming to replace distress with a sense of calm. It's important to note that I'm not trained in this therapy, but I have highly please interview your prospective therapist to

be confident they have the training and experience in a specialized technique such as EMDR.

When embarking on the journey to start therapy, it's crucial to acknowledge that numerous factors, such as location, time constraints, financial considerations, or the availability of practitioners nearby, may limit our choices. Personal preference is also a factor, given that many individuals with PTSD tend to avoid therapies that directly involve revisiting their traumatic experiences. Even though our journals may contain ample evidence that exposure-based therapies have consistently strong evidence, a therapy can’t help someone who won’t start or can’t tolerate it. Seeking assistance from a wellqualified generalist is undoubtedly more beneficial than suffering in silence.

Individuals dealing with significant trauma may have other concerns that need addressing before tackling the trauma itself. Issues like depression, alcohol or substance use, and insomnia may be so pressing that they should be the initial focus of treatment. It’s not unusual for effective treatment to come in phases, with progress on the first issue paving the way for work on trauma next. Many programs, both outpatient and residential, for depression or addiction, will include trauma-focused therapy that is incorporated into an individual’s treatment plan.

Untreated PTSD often becomes chronic and damaging to physical as well as mental health. Coping by avoiding or numbing may provide temporary relief, but the long-term toll for the individual and family is real and significant. For those affected by PTSD, taking the first step involves breaking the silence and reaching out to a trusted resource in your life, such as your doctor, pastor, fellow veteran, or employee assistance program. Your source may vary, but please consider taking this step.

Next month, additional treatment options will be explored.

Cuyler is chief clinical officer of Freespira, an FDA-cleared non-medication treatment that helps people with panic and PTSD manage their symptoms by learning how to regulate their breathing. - www.freespira.com

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(Part 2 of 2)


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.

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At Homeland Magazine you can visit our website for all “Fighting PTSD” columns, and featured articles relating to mental health, symptoms, therapy and resources. Columns & Articles available at: Homeland Magazine - Fighting PTSD Resources. Support. Inspiration. Homeland Magazine works with veteran organizations & for-purpose institutions that help more than one million veterans in life-changing ways each year. https://homelandmagazine.com/category/fighting-ptsd www.freespira.com/veterans
28 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 https://health.mil/TBICoE
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Homeland Magazine caught up with Brian Taylor, Doctor of Audiology and Senior Director of Audiology for Signia.

The often-forgotten health condition impacting veterans on World Hearing Day

What are some of the health conditions that most commonly affect veterans and how might they be linked to hearing loss?

Two of the most prominent conditions affecting veterans are noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While prevalent in the general public, each is a uniquely common health problem for veterans based on the important jobs they’re asked to perform.

Also common is tinnitus, a ringing in the ears that afflicts about 10 percent of Americans but disproportionately affects veterans. By the nature of their military work, many were exposed to excessive noise—machinery, engine noise, artillery fire, more— putting them at increased risk of tinnitus. All three of these health conditions can lead to social isolation, loneliness, and depression, which are commonly associated with untreated hearing loss.

Additionally, according to a recent study of injured military personnel, hearing loss and PTSD may be linked. The study’s authors found that the risk of PTSD in veterans was about three times higher in individuals with hearing loss in both ears, in comparison to those without hearing loss. The reason, at least in part, is that hearing loss—even partial—can affect a veteran’s ability to listen and communicate, which decreases their quality of life and exacerbates mental health conditions, such as PTSD.

It seems that hearing-related health issues often tend to be overlooked. Why do you think that is?

There are several misconceptions about hearing loss, which contribute to hearing loss being misunderstood and overlooked. Hearing loss can sometimes be difficult to interpret, especially when veterans in a younger age group aren’t expecting and looking for symptoms. Although most people who decide they need hearing aids are in their 60s and 70s, about half of all military veterans are below the age of 55. In other words,

many Americans address the effects of hearing loss later in life, but veterans often grapple with symptoms, such as tinnitus, earlier.

Especially for those in a younger age group, hearing loss may go unaddressed because of the social stigma associated with it. Modern hearing technology is more efficiently combating this stigma with sleek, modern designs that are more attractive to younger users.

What are the risks of letting noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) or other hearing-related conditions go untreated?

Noise-induced hearing loss leads to difficulty discerning high-pitched sounds (other forms of hearing loss impact lower frequencies). When a veteran has problems hearing high frequencies, it impacts communication and their ability to understand voices, and can present secondary symptoms such as fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

In the case of tinnitus, because it often co-occurs with NIHL, it is associated with higher rates of PTSD. In some cases, tinnitus may also impact traumatic flashbacks. Although tinnitus is not hearing loss, research indicates that it can be a sign of hearing loss to come, and therefore requires early identification and treatment.

Generally, over time when hearing loss is unaddressed it gradually worsens. When sufferers constantly strain to hear and have trouble communicating, they may be more likely to withdraw from social situations, which adversely affects their mental health. A significant delay in treatment could have a serious impact on quality of life.

What options are available to veterans who want to manage their hearing loss and prevent any further damage?

A first step for veterans is to get a baseline hearing test to assess hearing health and hearing risks. Fortunately for veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes the heightened risk of NIHL and tinnitus from military service and covers diagnostic audiology from the moment a veteran exits the service. In fact, it’s VA policy that once a veteran is enrolled in VA health care, he or she is automatically eligible for diagnostic audiology. It is in veterans’ best interest to avail themselves of these services because hearing loss, diagnosed early, is eminently and conveniently aided through modern technology.

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Being equipped with the right hearing solutions will also help greatly. Modern hearing technology can dramatically improve a veterans’ ability to hear and communicate in various settings. For example, hearing aids with split processing technology make it so NIHL sufferers can listen and socialize with ease in all environments—quiet, noisy, or normal.

Advanced hearing aids can also treat tinnitus. Specialized hearing aids made available through the VA incorporate a technology called notch therapy, which can eliminate or suppress tinnitus after being fitted to the patient.

How can new hearing health technology help veterans care for their total mental and physical wellbeing and why is it essential to take a holistic approach to hearing care?

Taking a holistic approach to hearing care will ultimately improve a veteran’s general mental and physical fitness. As discussed above, untreated hearing loss and tinnitus put veterans at increased risk of social isolation, PTSD, and other mental health struggles. Simply put, better hearing equates to better living.

Veterans should feel encouraged to bolster themselves with the solutions that will help them care for their hearing, and technology is rapidly evolving to meet veterans’ needs. Today’s hearing technology devices aren’t bulky, and they’re capable of more, bringing increased benefits to veterans.

The gap is closing between hearing aids and traditional modern wearables, and the most current hearing aid models can help veterans track their daily movement and activity, social engagement, and hearing aid wear time, to help ensure that they look after not only their hearing, but all connecting aspects of their health as well.

Brian Taylor, AuD is a Doctor of Audiology and Senior Director of Audiology for Signia. He is also the editor of Audiology Practices, a quarterly journal of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, editor-at-large for Hearing Health and Technology Matters and adjunct instructor at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Taylor has authored several peer reviewed articles and textbooks and is a highly sought out lecturer. Brian has nearly 30 years of experience as both a clinician, business manager and university instructor.


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.

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Homeland Magazine works with nonprofit veteran organizations that help more than 1 million veterans in life-changing ways each year. Resources. 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: homelandmagazine.com/category/fighting-ptsd


Resources & Support available at:


Veteran Resources

Navigating the resources available to veterans can be confusing, but Homeland Magazine believes no veteran should have to go it alone.

At Homeland Magazine you can find Veteran organizations and private nonprofits with resources for veterans that can help ease the process of attaining earned benefits, coping with the lasting effects of service-connected injuries and finding programs and services that meet your specific needs.

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Got Sleep?

Better Sleep for Better Body and Brain Health.

Nap time. These were two dreaded words when I was growing up. I didn’t want to take a nap for fear I would miss something. I struggled against the nap, pleading my case with whomever would listen. Inevitably, the parent or babysitter would win, and I would be forced to take a nap.

What I wouldn’t give for nap time now, as an adult with a full-time job and an active life. The thought of curling up under my desk and getting some shut eye for 20-30 minutes each afternoon sounds heavenly. At this stage, I no longer fear missing out on something but rather I fear losing my job if the bosses were to find me sawing logs in my office. My, my, my how times and perspectives change as we age.

Sleep and the importance of it in our overall health has been in the spotlight recently. Numerous studies are being done to better understand why we sleep, how we sleep, when we sleep, and the consequences when we don’t sleep or don’t get enough sleep.

As we age, our circadian rhythm (our 24-hour daily cycle) changes which causes our sleep patterns to change. The change in our circadian rhythm can be due to a variety of factors: social, psychological, physical factors are the primary suspects. Physically, a location in our brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus begins to deteriorate. This deterioration causes a disruption in the circadian rhythm.

Psychologically, we may begin to deal with depression, anxiety, and grief which can alter sleep patterns. And socially, we often experience a reduction in close personal relationships – people move out of our lives, people die, newly diagnosed health conditions limit our ability to get out and experience the kinds of social interactions we once had.

A common myth is that as we age, we require less sleep. This could NOT be farther from the truth. The average adult requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night; and this number doesn’t change as we age. In fact, the need for 7 to 9 solid hours of sleep becomes imperative as we age because it is while we sleep that our bodies undergo a myriad of repairs, and our brains get “detoxed” and refreshed from the day’s activities. Information taken in during the day is either transferred to long-term memory (like where I parked the car last night) or removed all together. Somehow our miraculous and wonderful brains seemingly know what information to keep and what to discard.

Good sleep hygiene involves, but is not limited to, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, turning off television and electronic devices before bedtime, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, and limiting caffeine and alcohol intake each day. Create a comfortable and relaxing environment for sleep and then curl up and zzzzzzz. Your body and brain will thank you each morning!

Here’s to aging well.

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Miracle on Ice: Veterans Showcase players hail the healing power of hockey

Navy Federal Credit Union’s fourth annual military hockey tournament showcases the stick sport’s curative effects on veteran health

It’s not every day that someone thanks David Wezniak for saving his life.

But it happens often enough that it fuels the Florida veteran’s faith in the healing powers of sport — and of hockey in particular. It’s almost as if the game itself is a miracle on ice.

Every so often, teammates pull Wezniak aside and quietly thank him for welcoming them onto the Jacksonville Icemen Warriors, one of numerous teams in a national league for injured and disabled veterans — and one of four that participated in Navy Federal Credit Union’s fourth annual Veterans Showcase hockey tournament in February.

These players thank Wezniak for giving them something to focus on and to look forward to, a literal and figurative goal to work toward and even, sometimes, a reason to live. “You’re my hero,” Wezniak recalls a teammate confiding in him after joining the team. “You saved my life.”

Wezniak understands. He’s walked in their shoes. He’s skated in their blades. And he’s seen the venerable stick sport work its magic on mental health.

Hockey is a lifeline

Years ago, Wezniak was serving in the U.S. Marines when a close friend and colleague died by suicide while the two were on leave for the holidays. Upon hearing the news, Wezniak spiraled into depression and eventually developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “Literally, I can relate,” Wezniak confesses, “because I’ve been in their situation.”

Hockey was his lifeline.

After leaving the Marines, he joined a suicide prevention program that uses the sport as a tool to improve mental health. “It saved me from that side of the tracks,” says Wezniak, who grew up playing the sport on a frozen pond in his grandma’s backyard in New England. “My world changed.”

The experience inspired Wezniak to found the Icemen, which he now supports as its vice president and director of operations. He dedicated the team’s mission to saving veteran lives through programs to prevent suicide, which hits the military community especially hard. The suicide rate among post-9/11 veterans is alarmingly high and surging — even as the civilian suicide rate has plateaued, according to a recent review of millions of service records.

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Members of the Jacksonville Icemen Warriors relax in a locker room in January. Photo Credit: Jacksonville Icemen Warriors.

The Icemen raised $2,500 for the Wounded Warrior Project in its first year, and the club now comprises more than 125 players across four teams, all of whom are eligible for suicide prevention programs. The team also supports philanthropic activities in the Jacksonville area and hosts family events as a way of reducing stigma around mental illness in the veteran community.

Once-in-a-lifetime event

The club’s accomplishments on and off the ice earned it a coveted spot in Navy Federal’s invitational tournament on February 16. In addition to the tournament, the Icemen and three other all-veteran teams (from New York, Texas, and Colorado) also attended a dinner and welcome reception, as well as the Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series games at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, where they received an in-game shout out.

Navy Federal’s partnership with the NHL is “a natural, authentic fit,” says retired Navy Captain Keith Hoskins, executive vice president of branch operations at Navy Federal. “We share the core values of service, integrity and community with the NHL and its fans. We’ve also seen firsthand how our veterans love the sport of hockey.”

Participants were eager to showcase their love of the sport — and its curative effects — at the once-in-alifetime tournament weekend.

“One of the biggest benefits to the program is that people are getting healthier,” says Tom Donaldson, a New York City cop and president of the board of directors of the Long Island Warriors Veterans Hockey Team. In addition to supporting players’ mental health, the sport has helped players exercise regularly, eat more nutritious foods, combat addiction and even find stable and secure housing after bouts of homelessness, he says.

Deeper than that, though, are the bonds the veterans form with each other. Hockey is the “ultimate team sport,” Donaldson says. “It brings people together.”

Chris LaValley, a captain of the Lone Star Warriors Hockey Club who served as a sniper in the U.S. Army and who now suffers from chronic pain and PTSD, agrees. “We have a real close brotherhood,” he says. “It’s a family.”

Echoing the point, Chris Hunt, a former combat medic who now serves as vice president and treasurer of the Colorado Warriors Hockey Club, cited a recent incident in which a player hit a divot on the ice and fell while away from home on a tournament. The player fractured his tibia, fibula and ankle — and required emergency surgery in order to walk again.

A teammate immediately canceled his return plans and took an extra two days of leave from his job to support him. He checked them out of their hotel, gathered their belongings and rented a room at another hotel at personal expense. After surgery and a day of recovery, the men returned home together — yet one more example of the lengths teammates go to support one another.

An ice rink is a world away from a war zone. But though the uniforms, the equipment and the setting may differ, players say that military service and the sport of hockey are both ultimately about a collective struggle toward a shared goal, an experience that helps warriors of all types heal from all manner of wounds. Travel tournaments only intensify the bonds.

“We get quality time with the guys, learn who they are, what makes them tick,” Hunt says. “We get a real deep connection.”

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A member of the Long Island Warriors Veterans Hockey Team (right) gears up for play. Photo Credit: Long Island Warriors Hockey Team.
Members of the Lone Star Warriors Hockey Club have fun on the ice during the holiday season. Photo Credit: Lone Star Warriors Hockey Club.

Knock-Knock! Who’s There? Tips on Securing Your Digital Assets During Military Deployment

It’s no secret that the preparation for your military spouse to be deployed adds a significant layer of stress to what you’re already managing with the deployment itself. The to-do list can get long – and emotionally and mentally preparing yourself, and possibly your children, for your partner to be out of touch can be daunting. There is a lot of information available about how to prepare for a deployment including budgeting for bills, home maintenance, managing doctor’s appointments, etc. However, something that is often overlooked is making sure you have proper management and access for all of your family’s digital accounts.

From Netflix passwords to bank account information, keeping track of your most sensitive and vulnerable assets can be a struggle. For military families particularly, this problem is often exacerbated by frequent deployments and regular Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders. To protect your physical and digital records (and your sanity), it’s vital to be able to access and share sensitive account information safely and securely, across all of your devices. Trust me, I’ve experienced first-hand what happens when you don’t have the access you need, when you need it.

During one of my husband’s recent deployments, I was awoken at 4 a.m. by my doorbell ringing. Home alone

with my three sleeping children and only a French bulldog for protection, I got out of bed to see who was at the door. Nobody was there. The feeling was like one out of a horror movie as I crept around my house in the dark while the doorbell continued to ring intermittently over the next few hours.

My kids were able to sleep through the disturbance, but it wasn’t until the next morning that I connected the dots: our doorbell, wired to our newly installed security system, was malfunctioning due to a flaw in the security system that caused the doorbell to ring when the internet connection was lost. We had a thunderstorm that was causing our connection to drop periodically, triggering the doorbell.

Thinking this could be easily resolved with a call to our new home security company, I reached out to them directly. However, because I wasn’t an authorized user on the account, they wouldn’t even speak to me. My husband, in Iraq at this time, was the only authorized user on this particular account.

Because I didn’t know the password, they needed to speak to my husband before moving any further. It was over three days of our doorbell ringing sporadically at all hours of the day before I was even able to get in contact with my husband- only to find out that he didn’t remember the password either! Locked out of our security system account with the doorbell continuing to ring at all hours, we both were frustrated and disappointed that we hadn’t considered how to keep our information, passwords, codes and credentials all in one accessible place during such a critical time.

It took a few days, but my husband was finally able to gain entry into our account, reset the password and add me as an authorized user.

My tale is certainly a cautionary one, and it made me realize just how many critical aspects of our lives were controlled by these accounts with no way to securely share them. Think about it. Each relocation means tracking down and transferring medical records, closing and opening utility accounts, updating insurance, enrolling in new schools and more. If that isn’t stressful enough, now my kids have online accounts with different user names and passwords for all of their online accounts and gaming platforms, which also need to be managed.

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The doorbell incident taught me many valuable lessons- it also opened my eyes to how many other military families and friends also haven’t been educated about the importance of cybersecurity or how invaluable a password manager is to maintain order. It’s as important to keep your accounts organized as it is to take care of your home and office.

PreparING for deployment

I’m a professional decluttering coach, so I can’t believe I’d neglected to organize my digital life. I came up with a few best practices and tips that might save you from enduring something similar – or worse – than what I did:

• Before any deployment or trip, take inventory of your accounts to determine the assets and/or credentials that either of you may need to access. Find the system that works for you and your spouse to ensure these physical and digital records are stored safely where only authorized users can access them. We use Keeper Security’s password manager to store, manage and securely share this information within our family.

• With any joint or shared account – whether it’s Netflix, a home security system or a bank account – it’s critical that both you and your spouse are listed as authorized users or, at the very least, have access to the necessary passwords, passcodes and/or security questions to access that account. We also store this information in our digital password manager.

• Encourage open and frequent conversations with your spouse and children about emergency protocols within your family. The last thing you want to feel in an emergency is unprepared. While it might not always be possible to see events like mine coming, it’s still important to educate your children and family about how they can access important information, such as medical records and insurance information, should they ever need to.

We all know military life is unpredictable, whether you’re the one serving or you’re married to someone who is. It’s critical that you and your family are taking advantage of the reputable and safe digital tools that are available to not only protect your family in the event of an emergency, but also organize your life to be more efficient when it comes to PCSing so frequently to meet the military’s needs.

Jana Arevalo

A Texas native who now calls Madrid, Spain home, Jana Arevalo has proudly supported her military spouse for 18 years while raising three children. With 10 PCS moves, she loves turning new spaces into organized and simplified homes. A former dancer and PE teacher, Jana brings creativity and organization to her family life, finding systematic ways to keep the chaos of military life at a minimum. When she’s not organizing, blogging, or creating content, you’ll find her taking strolls with her dogs, traveling to new places, or cheering on her kids in all their activities.

Connect with her at The Organized Military Life www.theorganizedmilitarylife.com to discover how she can help you declutter your space through virtual sessions and join a supportive community of military spouses on the same journey.

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legal Eagle

Straight-forward legal tips for Military and Veteran Business Owners



Two new California laws directly affecting business owners went into effect on January 1, 2024. California has strengthened the prohibition against noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements, which also posse potential liability for employers who require their employees to sign noncompete agreements or attempt to enforce existing noncompete agreements against former employees.

Assembly Bill 1076 states that it is unlawful to include noncompete and nonsolicitation clauses in employment contracts, or to require an employee to enter into a noncompete agreement that does not satisfy an exception under California law.

Senate Bill 699 makes it a civil violation for employers to even attempt to enforce a void noncompete or Nonsolicitation provision regardless of where and when the contract was signed.

Although the new laws raise questions that the courts will likely be called upon to answer, a few things are relatively certain. Except for certain narrow statutory exceptions, employers cannot use noncompete agreements or similar restricted covenants to prevent former employees from competing against or soliciting the employer’s customers.

Except for certain narrow statutory exceptions, employers very likely cannot use noncompete agreements or similar restrictive covenants to prevent former employees from soliciting their current employees.

Entering into or even attempting to enforce a void noncompete or nonsolicitation provision in California may entitle affected employees to injunctive relief, actual damages, or both, and potentially attorneys’ fees and costs if the employee prevails.

By February 14, 2024, employers must notify current employees and former employees (employed after January 1, 2022), who the employer required to sign noncompete or nonsolicitation provisions that those provisions are void under California law. The notice must be sent to the last known address of the employee or former employee and to their email address. Failure to provide such notice constitutes an act of unfair competition and is subject to a penalty of $2,500 for each violation. If you have not yet notified the former employees, you must do so immediately before penalties are imposed.

Becoming a business owner, you control your own destiny, choose the people you work with, reap big rewards, challenge yourself, give back to the community, and you get to follow your passion. Knowing what you’re getting into is smart business because the responsibility of protecting your business falls on you.

For more information on how to legally start and grow your business schedule your consultation here www.baglalaw.com/contact

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

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Proposed Federal Cannabis Legislation Aimed at Providing Access to Veterans

There has been a flurry of proposed, bipartisan federal cannabis legislation in recent years and some of these proposed bills directly address reforms that impact our Nation’s veterans. Below is a broad overview of a few of these proposed bills. While it is unclear whether any of these bills will become law in their current form, or any form, if any of them survive the legislative process, it would mark a major shift in U.S. cannabis policy as it relates to veterans.

States Reform Act of 2023

This bill would:

• allow former servicemembers and veterans that received other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharges premised solely on certain nonviolent cannabis offenses to be entitled to petition and receive from a service branch discharge review board or the Board of Correction for Military Records an upgrade to a general discharge;

• make it unlawful for a veteran to be excluded from employment in the Federal Government solely because the veteran consumes or has consumed cannabis; and

• require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to authorize physicians and other health care providers of the Veterans Health Administration to provide to veterans who are residents of States with Stateapproved marijuana programs information regarding the participation of such veterans in such programs, recommend their participation in such programs or use of FDA-approved or designated State medical cannabis products as part of a course of Veterans Affairs treatment, or prescribe the use of FDA-approved or designated State medical cannabis products.

Veterans Equal Access Act

This bill would require the VA to authorize physicians and other health care providers employed by the VA to

provide recommendations and opinions to veterans who are residents of States with State marijuana programs regarding the participation of veterans in such State marijuana programs; and complete forms reflecting such recommendations and opinions.

Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act

This bill would make it lawful for:

• a veteran to use, possess, or transport medical marijuana in a State or on Indian land in accordance with the law of the applicable State or Indian Tribe;

• a physician to discuss with a veteran the use of medical marijuana as a treatment if the physician is in a State or on Indian land where the law of the applicable State or Indian Tribe authorizes the use, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, delivery, and transport of medical marijuana;

• a physician to recommend, complete forms for, or register veterans for participation in a treatment program involving medical marijuana that is approved by the law of the applicable State or Indian Tribe.

Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act

This bill would:

• prohibit the VA from denying a veteran any benefit under the laws administered by the VA by reason of the veteran participating in a State-approved marijuana program;

• with respect to a veteran who is enrolled in the system of patient enrollment under section 1705 of title 38, United States Code, and participates in a State-approved marijuana program, the bill would require the VA to ensure that physicians and other health care providers of the Veterans Health Administration:

- discuss marijuana use with the veteran and adjust medical treatment plans accordingly;

- record such use in the medical records of the veteran; and

• require the VA to authorize physicians and other health care providers of the Veterans Health Administration to provide recommendations and opinions to veterans who are residents of States with State-approved marijuana programs regarding the participation of veterans in such programs.

A Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2023

This bill would require the VA to study the effects of cannabis on veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system and have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or chronic pain.

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TRANSITION To Civilian Life

- Tackle The Interview Win the Job!

- Off-Base Transition Training

- DEI Movement

- Risky Buiness

- Business for Veterans

- Military Transition Support

- Careers in Law Enforcement

Transitioning out of the Military into the Civilian Workforce?

For editorial & monthly columns regarding transition, career advice, tips, workshops, transition to education, entrepreneurship, straight-forward legal tips for military and veteran business owners and more visit Veterans In Transition at www.homelandmagazine.com/category/veterans-in-transition

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March 2024 Issue
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 41 Become a certified IT professional in 15 weeks with no prior experience necessary! Talk to our friendly veterans admissions counselor today! • GI Bill & MyCAA Approved • Flexible Schedule • Online & In-person Hybrid Classes • Small Class Size • Hands-on Training • Lifelong Job Placement and Career Counseling • Technical Support Specialist • IT Support Technician • Network Administrator • Network Analyst • Systems Administrator Why ICOHS College? Career Outcomes: The median IT job salary in the US was about $88,000 last year. READY TO TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR CAREER? admissions@icohs.edu (858)581-9460 www.icohs.edu


Transition to Civilian Life

Tackle the Interview and Win the Job!

Reflecting upon a hard-fought Super Bowl, we are reminded that in order to perform well in any game, you need to master both tactics and strategy. You must analyze your opponent and devise plays that will generate results. You must know when to run, pass, score and …even when to not score.

The same is true of interviewing. Preparing for an interview is akin to preparing for the big game. Because it IS a big game! You must be aware of what your interviewer is expecting. What questions will you face? How can you best answer them? Do you duck, dodge, carry or spin? You must have a clear understanding of the value you can bring to the team in the role you are applying for and the skills you possess. Just as no football player would show up at a tryout and claim to be able to play every position well, you should not go into an interview with a one-size-fits-all attitude.

Weighing in with an HR Professional

We were lucky enough to speak with Shaylae Dupris, an HR Professional who loves putting together great teams, and she had some wonderful advice on how to make sure you land the perfect job for you.

Shaylae has sat on both sides of the table, both as the interviewer and as the interviewee. She knows all too well how the interview process can cause both stress and anxiety for both the candidate and employer. She’s had the honor to sit across from, interview and speak with some of the best top talent and candidates this world has to offer. Although some organizations do put “profits over human capital,” they need qualified people to do the work. When looking at the final score, it’s the people who produce the profits. You are valuable!

Veterans are among the most qualified candidatesbut here’s the catch!

The reality is that most candidates, veterans included, do not know how to clearly and succinctly describe how their experience, background and skills translate into “added value” to the organization where they are applying. Shaylae notes, “Veterans are among the most qualified candidates that have ever come across my path as a HR professional. Nevertheless, the interview process can be intimidating at times and Human Resources practitioners are not trained or equipped enough to effectively interview candidates, let alone veteran candidates.”

Shaylae offers some insider tips to ensure a soaring success before, during and after the interview process.

1. Confidence is key! Believe in yourself.

An integral factor in making a good impression in an interview is to remind yourself that whatever job you are applying for, you have specific abilities and credentials that other applicants don’t have. Repeat to yourself “Veterans are the most qualified candidates. I am a Veteran. I am a qualified candidate!” This mindset puts you in a better place to bargain for a higher salary. Make sure to stress your talents, such as teamwork, collaboration, leadership, critical thinking, and the capability to plan strategically under intense pressure, as things that make you stand out from the other jobseekers.

2. No one knows it all. Don’t pretend to!

It is essential to be wary of exhibiting the imposter syndrome/personality while presenting yourself to employers. Posing as an expert in all areas or a perfectionist will weaken your message and personal brand. Shaylae recalls that during interviews, she would often describe herself as a “jack of all trades”, meaning “I am capable of taking on a variety of tasks and carrying them out from start to finish.”

This kind of presentation can actually obstruct any attempts to acquire a good job. A Human Resources professional interviewing candidates isn’t seeking the perfect individual or someone who knows it all.

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They want a highly competent candidate who could add the most value to the post and someone who was confident and at ease to admit errors and how they got over them. If you were interviewing to be the star quarterback, you don’t need to tout your exceptional skills as a linebacker or a mascot!

3. There are different types of interviews in the process.

Know what they are. Shaylae strongly recommends you become aware of the various kinds of interviews employers use. Her go-to interview for an interviewee is the behavioral interview. This style of questioning focuses on a candidate’s past experiences to evaluate how they have managed distinct scenarios and applied abilities applicable to the position.

The best way for an individual to pass a behavioral interview is by using the STAR method. Here, STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result. The STAR technique is a systematic way to answer a behavioral based interview question by discussing the precise situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing. As an experienced candidate, this is the most ideal opportunity to provide clear and organized responses concerning your qualifications and skills.

Tackle the Interview and Win the Job!

Repeat to yourself

“Veterans are the most qualified candidates.

I am a Veteran.

I am a qualified candidate!”

As you are reaching across the end zone, deploying the tips that we share, please reach out to share your Lombardi moments!

We want to hear from you. Reach out to Eve at eve@bandofhands.com

Need help with your transition? Have questions? Link up with Eve on Linked In today. www.linkedin.com/in/eve-nasby-given-hiring-expert

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Employment Focused Workshops to Help You Reach Your Goals

Perhaps you’re trudging back and forth to the same office or signing on for a day of work in a job that shows no sign of changing or improving: the long hours, the ongoing meetings, the lack of fulfillment. The job itself is mind-numbing; your talents forgotten and the potential you had in abundance when you first transitioned out of the military feels like it has been sucked out of you.

If you’re reading this and thinking, yeah, that is me, then the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS) has just the thing for you.

DOL VETS has a new pilot program to help veterans, veterans currently serving in the National Guard and Reserve, and their spouses to take control of their careers.

The Off-Base Transition Training (OBTT) pilot program consists of ten two-hour workshops designed to help you to prepare to meet your employment goals. These no-cost workshops, both in-person and virtual offerings, will fit any schedule and can give you an advantage over your civilian counterparts.

The Workshops

Your Next Move: Your Next Move is designed to help anyone unsure of what they want to do next with their career. This workshop explores interest profiling, skills matching and general labor market information. It is designed to introduce the basic tools needed for career exploration and identification of high-demand occupations.

Marketing Yourself and Other Job Search

Tactics: Marketing Yourself and Other Job Search Tactics explains how essential it is to present skills, knowledge and abilities that meet the employer’s needs. This workshop provides proven tactics to help job seekers get noticed and hired.

Understanding Resume Essentials: Understanding Resume Essentials explains the importance of a wellstructured resume that highlights relevant skills and experience to potential employers. This workshop covers the elements of a resume and provides job seekers with techniques to create an effective document that employers will notice.

Creating Your Resume – Writing Workshop: Creating Your Resume – Writing Workshop builds on the Understanding Resume Essentials. During this workshop attendees will have time to craft an initial resume or revise a current one.

Interview Skills (virtual only): Interview Skills aims to provide attendees with the tools and confidence they need to ace a job interview. Learning how to prepare for an interview and practice answering questions will give attendees an advantage in landing a job. During this workshop, interview basics, potential questions and interview techniques are presented.

Federal Hiring (virtual only): Federal Hiring covers the basics of gaining federal employment. Veterans have a distinct advantage when applying for federal positions with veterans’ preference.

During this workshop, the basics of civil service, USAJobs, special hiring authorities and other resources for attendees’ federal job search are discussed.

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LinkedIn Profiles (virtual only): This workshop walks attendees through how to create a compelling LinkedIn profile that can be used to build a professional brand and highlight experience.

LinkedIn Job Search (virtual only): This workshop explains how to proactively use LinkedIn for job searches and pulls back the curtain to show how recruiters use LinkedIn to find potential employees, which you can use in your employment opportunities.

Salary Negotiations (virtual only): Salary Negotiations explores the tools and techniques to handle salary negotiations. This workshop is designed to take the mystery out of salary negotiation and walks attendees through how to conduct salary research to position yourself effectively during negotiation.

Employment Rights (virtual only): Employment Rights cover basic employment protections as well as those protections specific to veterans. It provides essential information on the American Disabilities Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act. Information on reasonable accommodations and selfadvocacy will also be presented.

Thinking about changing careers? It’s time to find your passion and make that your priority.

OBTT will help you reach your employment and career goals. You served, you earned it; find your next victory with OBTT.

Explore and register for OBTT in-person or virtual workshops online at: www.dol.gov/obttworkshops


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Transition to Business

What is the DEI Movement All About?

You’ve no doubt heard of diversity, equity, and inclusion (or DEI, for short). But there are many misunderstandings about what it is and what it represents. No, it’s not “affirmative action” like we saw in the 1970s. And it’s not simply a “nice to have” because it’s “the right thing to do.” It’s very much about inclusion and belonging, making it safe for all employees to do their best work every day with peace of mind. But that’s only one aspect of DEI. There are other key factors that make this “movement” a critical factor in any organization’s long-term strategic planning. Here’s a quick overview of why DEI has become and will remain so critically important to corporate America.

Millennial and Gen Z Demands

Gen-Y Millennials (43 and under) and Gen-Z Zoomers (25 and under) are the most studied generational cohorts in world history. Employers know their priorities and would be wise to direct their workforce planning and cultural enrichment efforts to accommodating their desires and goals, which include:

1. Diversity of thoughts, ideas, and voices

2. Career and professional development

3. An ethical employer and a management team that cares about employees personally

4. Work-life-family balance, control, and equilibrium

5. Corporate social responsibility and environmentalism

• The Ethical Imperative

Diversity and ethics in the workplace strive to make people of all socio-economic backgrounds feel comfortable and welcome within an organization. Ethics further promotes equality of opportunity among all employees or prospective workers to be hired and promoted based on merit—not race, gender, or creed. Ethical companies produce thoughtfully diverse and inclusive workplace communities that strengthen internal relationships with employees and external relationships with customer groups.

• Proven and Tested Business Results

Multiple studies show that organizations with diverse boards, leadership teams, and workforces continue to outperform companies with more homogeneous boards and senior executive constituents. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, the most diverse companies outperform their less diverse peers by 36% in profitability (https://mck.co/3IbWopV). While some of these and other findings have been challenged, respectable think tanks and universities continue to publish DEI success stories and support their importance.

• Demographic Shifts

The Baby Boom began after World War II in 1946 and ended in 1964 with the introduction of the birth control pill. 77 million babies were born over that 18-year period—some 10,000 per day. What occurred in 2011 garnered few headlines but was critical to America’s future labor supply: the first Baby Boomers turned 65, and from 2011 – 2029, 10,000 Americans per day retire. Combine this with the fact that the Baby Boom was followed by the “Baby Bust” (a.k.a. Gen X), a generation only roughly half its size, and you’ve got a formula for massive labor shortfalls. True, the Gen-Y Millennials are actually bigger than the Baby Boomers with 80 million constituents, but there will be a lag before they can fully replace aging Boomers.

• Falling Labor Force Participation Rates

COVID shone a light on talent scarcity, but a declining labor force participation rate adds significantly to the mix and will extend far beyond the pandemic. The labor force participation rate fell from 67% in 2000 to roughly 60% today and is projected to remain at that lower level through 2050.

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• Declining Global Birth Rates in Industrialized Nations

By 2050, advanced industrial countries will be losing population at a dramatic rate, making this a global phenomenon. While the world population hit eight billion for the first time in history on November 15, 2022, the majority of those births took place in underdeveloped, agricultural societies where newborns are needed to ensure the security of the parents as they age. As George Friedman pointed out in his New York Times bestseller, The Next Hundred Years, “living with underpopulation” will remain the norm for the remainder of this century. By the 2040s, many industrialized nations will be enticing tax-paying foreign workers to enter their borders. Some, like Japan and South Korea, have already begun offering foreign workers financial incentives and fast tracks to citizenship.

• A New Talent Pool

Today, underrepresented ethnic groups account for 30% of the total U.S. population. By 2060, they are expected to reach 60% of the population. These groups have historically been overlooked but have a growing amount of buying power. As such, a diverse talent pool increases the range of human capital available to American companies while also better reflecting the buying habits of a more diverse consumer base. This is likely the most critical benefit of diversity hiring: it represents a concrete and reasonable way to develop internal talent pools going forward.

We can expect to see a growing focus on “talent development” and “talent management” as a result. External “talent acquisition” will remain in demand, but wise organizations will look to “grow their own” by focusing their energies and dollars on developing talent rather than simply assuming that posting a job ad or even calling a headhunter will guarantee them superior results. There’s no doubt about it: tapping into underrepresented and diverse talent pools will likely be America’s lifeline moving forward into the 21st century. Wise employers will capture the opportunity by getting ahead of the game and developing a talent bench that reflects their customer base.

You can connect with Paul on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/paulfalcone1

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

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Insurance Info & Risk Management Tips

“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, writer/statesman

As businesses grow and evolve, many things happen at once and often, things happen so quickly it is hard to really appreciate how exciting business ownership can be. One moment you are at your living room table, crafting out your new business plan, borrowing money to fund it, hiring marketing people to brand it and the next moment you have 5 employees working around your dining room table wondering if you will be providing dinner! That may sound extreme, but it happens more than you think and for good reason.

Business growth is multi-faceted and includes internal growth and external growth. External growth, i.e., physically committing to a larger space, can be daunting and confusing. It requires meeting with seasoned commercial real estate leasing agents and looking over long-form legal agreements that can read like a foreign language and feel overwhelming to a new entrepreneur.

Tenant Leases are a part of growing your business and navigating through them just requires a few tips. Here are a few tips to help you navigate through this process:

• The Lease will likely offer a significant discount for a longer lease term. Be careful with this and look this over closely. If you need to break the lease term early, make sure you understand the ramifications. If you had to leave early, could you sub-lease to another party? Are there fees associated with early termination? Would you be on the hook for the entire length of the lease

regardless of your reason? This is extremely important to know before signing a lengthy lease.

• The Lease will likely require you to provide insurance for the premise. The insurance requirements can vary in coverage, limits and endorsements depending on the landlord requirements and this should be provided to you before you sign the lease. Sometimes, they will require something your policy does not already cover, and you will need to pay more premium to comply with their requirements. Tenant Insurance is simply an insurance policy for your business that includes coverage for the leased space. It can be written as a premise only policy which would cover the space leased or it can be written as a business owners policy (BOP) which would cover the premise and also your business property such as your computers, equipment, furniture, and other business owner coverages that might be applicable to your operations. Send the requirements over to your Insurance Broker and have a conversation about the required coverage and your exposures.

• Before leasing a space, make sure the Landlord is up to code on their building requirements such as fire sprinklers, smoke alarms, theft alarm systems (if they have them), ADA ramps and accommodations, etc. Their lack of attention to compliance can cause problems in your obtaining proper insurance coverage, a higher premium, or sometimes the carrier declining to cover the space entirely.

• Depending on the market and how many available properties to lease are available in your area, you should be able to negotiate some tenant improvements before you move in that the landlord would cover. Do some research and make sure you check alternate properties in your area for comparison.

• Always keep records of your signed lease and conversations with your real estate agent.

Business growth is a wonderful feeling, but it can cause some stress and having a few people on your side to assist with this helps. Reach out to your business insurance broker, your legal advisor, and a commercial real estate advisor to assist you.

Please reach out to me at: www.hlinwood-insurance.com with any business insurance or risk management questions.

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WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 49
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Are You Getting the Results You Want?

Persuasion is arguably the single most important business tool, yet according to Russell H. Granger in his book, “The 7 Triggers to Yes”, …” few understand persuasion or use it effectively.” He says, “Success, perhaps survival, for you and your business hinges primarily on this one skill: the power of persuasion-the ability to persuade people to say yes, to willingly concur or follow directions or act on your behalf.”

In this challenging business environment, you need to diligently dig down to the truth about your skill in communicating and/or your lack of persuasive skills. Now more than ever, you must make the necessary adjustments to survive--even thrive.

How would you rate your persuasion skills? Perhaps you have great people skills, but does that lead you to the end results you want when you are engaged with a potential customer, an employee or leading a group? So much has been discovered about how you can now successfully lead potential clients/customers to a shared conclusion. New scientifically documented data on how the brain processes decision making information can help you become more consciously competent when dealing with people.

There was a saying I learned many years ago about the sales process that said “selling ain’t telling, it’s asking questions”. I think we can all agree that we don’t want to be told about a product or service but respond well when someone spends the time to really understand what we want and why it is important to us. The key here is good listening skills. Do you understand the difference talking, telling and communicating? Effective, Successful, result-oriented, persuasive communication is far different from the day-to-day version – it takes Knowledge, thought, planning and execution.

True communication is not what the sender intends to communicate; it is what the receiver understands. Whatever the other person thinks he heard and what he thinks you meant, that is what is communicated. What YOU intended has little relevancy to the real world of communication.

“All business communication aims to achieve a result. When successful, it moves its audience to do something – to buy a product, change a behavior, support a plan or adopt a point of view”, wrote, Michael Hattersley, a professor at the Harvard Business School.

We all want our communications to produce results, even if it is just to be “heard”. In a slower economy, the quality of our internal and external communication needs to be at an all time high. Where can you strengthen your communication skills? With customers/ clients it can mean more consistent, loyal business interactions.

Harvard Business School research found that a 5% increase in customer loyalty can lead to 40%-90% increases in the lifetime value of customer relationships. With employees it can mean higher productivity and a true by-in to the companies’ vision and mission.


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Eldridge President/ Founder of Mind Masters an organization that provides business owners a proven, repeatable process that keeps the focus on the business of success. She can be reached at 858-467-9091 or visit www.mindmasters.com.


Our sports managements program supports professionals striving to become leaders in the exciting athletics field. Enrolled students can complete coursework entirely online while receiving guidance from high level coaches, retired pros, and sports industry experts.

Launching your business in Sports Leadership Principles in Sports Strategic Communication in Sports Ethics in Sports Game within the Game NIL basics

This program is transferable with our University partners for credit. For more info email synergylearninginstitute@gmail.com

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 51
52 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 ENROLL NOW AT WFW.ORG Workshops for Warriors is a nonprofit school that provides veterans and transitioning service members with hands-on training and nationallyrecognized credentials in CNC machining, CAD/CAM programming, and welding. Our students earn credentials that open doors to jobs anywhere in the U.S. Call us at (619) 550-1620. CAD/CAM Programming CNC Machining Welding DoD SkillBridge Organization BEFORE SERVED HONORABLY. AFTER EARNED A CAREER IN JUST 4 MONTHS.

What is Zero8Hundred?

The mission of Zero8Hundred is to proactively link military service members, recent veterans, Reservists, National Guard and spouses (including Gold Star spouses) to the broad range of resources and opportunities in their local community dedicated to helping them transition to civilian life

Zero8Hundred derives its name from the daily military ritual of raising the American flag at 0800 hours (8:00 a.m.) to signal that a new day of work has begun.

How does it work?

Zero8Hundred uses a Veterans Wellness Model to create & ensure a better system to ease the transition into the civilian community before, during and after leaving the armed forces

Through a unique partnership with community partners and the military, Zero8Hundred provides a one-stop approach to support transitioning service-members, veterans and their families.

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 53 MILITARY TRANSITION SUPPORT
OUR FIVE PILLARS: Jobs & Employment - Education - Basic Needs - Health & Wellness - Community Connections
www.zero8hundred.org Tax ID: 83-1268486

Opportunities in Law Enforcement

You’ve served your country, now serve your community!

Military and law enforcement have had a longstanding relationship with overlaps in training exercises, equipment, and, most important, personnel.

It is not uncommon for a service member to make the jump from the military to law enforcement as both professions look for the same characteristics; leadership, fidelity, chain of command, and teamwork are all common themes in both professions.

Quite understandably, many American military veterans often gravitate to a career in law enforcement when the time comes to rejoin the civilian workforce.

The two professions have many fundamental similarities; from the uniforms they wear with pride, to the firm command structure they serve under, to great personal risk they endure while protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

The following agencies are actively hiring & proudly support our veterans, active military and the families that keep together.

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www.rva.gov/police/personnel www.rva.gov/police/personnel
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 55 www.sandiego.edu/business Veterans! Join Our Team CHANGE Be the SFPD Salary $103,116 - $147,628 TEXT “JoinSFPD” to (415) 704-3688 www.JoinSFPD.com

From Navy Sailor to San Francisco Police Officer

Changing careers can be exciting, exhilarating, and filled with trepidation. Meet Officer Cindy Ovares who has made the transition numerous times – from active-duty service member, to student, massage therapist, teacher, and now police officer.

The life experience she gained in those previous longterm jobs set her up to be successful today. She is doing what she’s always wanted to do – have a career that is challenging and rewarding.

Cindy was like many seniors in high school as she contemplated what she would do after graduation. When the Navy recruiter called the house looking for her brother, the recruiter instead got an eager, independent 17-year-old woman who wanted to find adventure. Just a few months later, she was off to “see the world” and start her first career.

As an Aviation Machinist’s Mate, Petty Officer Ovares was a jet engine mechanic. It was a male-dominated job, and she wanted to prove that anything a man could do, she could do better. She attended military schools in Florida and Virginia to learn her trade, and was later stationed in Lemoore, California. She was attached to VFA-22, an F/A-18 Super Hornet squadron, that deployed on ships. After serving four years on active duty, she earned Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits, and chose to leave the Navy to attend college.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and being a fluent Spanish speaker, she was hired to be a high school Spanish teacher. The job was gratifying; but also, under resourced, understaffed, and had little room to grow professionally. She wanted something new and challenging, was drawn to the community where she grew up, so, in her late 30s she applied to be a police officer.

“Being able to talk to people, figure out what they are going through, and what they need is a huge portion of the job. I enjoy interacting with the public, and engaging in what I call verbal judo.”
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Officer Cindy Ovares

Officer Ovares was accepted to the San Francisco Police Academy and has been an officer for the last three years. She is a foot patrol officer working in the Tenderloin District – a 50-block area that has a storied history, and has been known for homelessness, drugs, and crime.

“Being able to talk to people, figure out what they are going through, and what they need is a huge portion of the job. I enjoy interacting with the public, and engaging in what I call verbal judo,” said Officer Ovares.

For Officer Ovares, the parallels between serving in the military and serving in law enforcement made the transition go smoothly:

• Routine – You know what to expect before your shift begins (what time to report, what uniform to wear, the structure of the day).

• Camaraderie – The bond between fellow officers is like the bond between your fellow military brothers and sisters.

• Variety – Every day is different with different assignments and duties, so the job is never boring.

• Benefits – Include a competitive salary, paid vacation days, floating holidays, and sick days, healthcare, retirement, and special pay for certain assignments and being bilingual.

As a Latina giving back to her community, she admits that the job comes with highs and lows. Officer Ovares recommends a career in law enforcement for those military members looking to make a smooth transition to a new chapter.

To learn more about the San Francisco Police Department, or to connect with recruiter, go to: www.sanfranciscopolice.org/your-sfpd/careers

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SDPD Ride Along: A Story of Two Marines

When I asked to go on a ride along with the San Diego Police Department, making a special request for any veterans-turned-cops, I expected a really serious, possibly dangerous, afternoon of shadowing our city’s toughest crime fighters.

What I got was an afternoon of heartfelt service to our San Diego community, honorable humility and a lot of respect.

When I asked whether former Marine Sergeant Major, Mark Wright, and his partner, former Marine Staff Sergeant, Sean Bunch, had rank or titles he said their titles were just San Diego police officers. They are relatively new partners, but act like they’ve known each other for years, which is usually the case when you get Marines together.

Wright is a newer addition to the force, coming on board two years ago, with Bunch only having two years left.

Currently, these brothers-in-arms spend their days patrolling the entirety of Balboa Park.

Although neither men are taking fire or kicking in the enemy’s door on this beat, like during their time in Iraq or Afghanistan, they still work hard to serve their local community. Service which can range from tracking down criminals to answering questions from lost pedestrians, to giving out stickers to kids and never backing down from a chance to turn on those flashing red and blues just to make one of them smile.

Most of our particular day was cruising around beautiful Balboa Park running car tags to see if they were current, from cars not displaying proper plates and placards to those double parked. Bunch says they often catch parole violators or even stolen cars doing just this. I was struck as I watched both officers go out of their way to look in and around vehicles to find plates or disability placards not displayed correctly so as to avoid issuing superfluous tickets.

“We try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt,” said Wright. “We’re not out to get anybody.”

Although, both officers confirm that enforcing even the most basic of park rules can yield large payoffs. During a recent patrol Bunch spotted an individual smoking in the park, which is illegal. As he circled back round, the individual turned and rapidly tried to walk away, which activated immediate suspicion. He was detained and came back with a warrant for numerous kidnapping and child molestation charges.

Both men say a lot of what they do is talk with museum owners and those living in the neighborhoods surrounding the park about their concerns. A shared concern by all is the park’s homeless population.

Bunch says their posture towards the homeless is mostly that of assistance, adding there are many resources available for those who would take them.

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Officer Sean Bunch Officer Mark Wright

The city spends a lot of money on resources,” said Bunch. “The biggest problem we run into is whether or not the [homeless] people want them, and a lot of them don’t.”

Thus, the men tend to run into the same issues with the same people pretty often. Although frustrating, they have learned that respect goes a long way when challenged with these repeat offenders. Bunch recalls spotting one such offender in the park, who was in violation of his parole and wanted on warrant. He was unable to get to the offender immediately, but still apprehended him with a verbal request. The parolee waited patiently to be hand-cuffed and arrested, simply out of the respect he held for the law man.

“Being respectful of everyone despite their lot in life goes a long way in this job,” said Wright.

Both men say a huge part of their work is being able to connect and communicate with the myriad of people they meet daily.

Bunch says he feels he and Wright are lucky to come to the force later in life, given it means they have a wider frame of reference for those they meet and serve daily. “We deal with people who are going through all kinds of things in life,” said Bunch. “And it’s helpful to be able to say, ‘hey I know what you are going through, I’ve been there.”

As the day progressed, I realized that both gentlemen definitely had a long list of tough and unique life experiences to pull from. Both proudly served the United States Marines for years, traveling to war and all over the world, experiences that yield much wisdom as well as many a story.

Bunch, for instance, did not come to the force straight from the Marines, but from Hollywood. Surprisingly, he is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, working as a military advisor on various productions, like Lonestar 911, and appearing in some as well, such as one of the most recent Men in Black movies.

“I grew up outside of LA,” said Bunch. “So, I’ve always just kind of been around the business and found a place for myself there with all my military experience.”

Bunch hopes to return to work in Hollywood after he leaves the force, bringing with him a new level of experience and respect.

Wright, who retired from the Marines as a Sergeant Major never worked in Hollywood, but he does have plenty of stories about being a proud grandfather, father and new amputee. When I entered the Central Division Station and met him, he said he was just getting back to work after some time off after losing his leg.

Wright remained unscathed during his over-20-years in service, overseas deployments and endless combat train ups. It wasn’t until after service that he lost his leg in a motorcycle accident late one foggy night a little over a year ago. Wright says it had been an eventful second watch and he was leaving the station about 2 AM on his motorcycle when it happened.

“It was only about two minutes from work,” said Wright. “I was coming around a curve and entered into what I thought was fog, and as I’m entering, I see a headlight and side mirror in my lane.”

That headlight and mirror became an entire car that was blocking Wright’s entire side of the road.

“I was a heuy crew chief in the Marines and reverted to my training from that, grabbed my shoulders, braced for impact and went flying like a human lawn dart over my handlebars,” said Wright.

Wright landed in the ditch on the side of the road. He says he realized immediately that he had a back and leg issue. He learned that a bystander had called 911, but he requested they call back and state that the injured motorcycle rider was a policeman with the San Diego Police Department and expedite services. This one request would become pivotal in saving Wright’s life.

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WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 59

“What I didn’t know at that time was that I had severed two arteries in my leg, and I was bleeding out,” said Wright.

What Wright would learn later is his heel had also been torn off on the wrecked car as he sailed past it into the ditch. After much pain and many surgeries, Wright would finally lose his leg from the knee down. says he doesn’t let it get him down, though. He’s proud to continue to serve as one of our city’s finest.

Both he and Bunch take much pride in their time as Marines and as San Diego Police Officers. Each officer comes from strong military stock, with Wright’s grandfather being a World War II veteran and Prisoner of War and Bunch’s father a decorated veteran of Vietnam.

All in all, this Army vet’s afternoon with two Marines was an impressive one. Both seasoned public servants, these honorable men have discovered you must give respect to get it, that violence is often not the answer and the most important thing to keep in mind along the way, is a good, human dose of empathy.

60 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024
SDPD Ride Along
Officer Sean Bunch - Amber Robinson (Homeland Magazine) - Officer Mark Wright
For more information visit www.joinSDPDnow.com or email us at SDPDrecruiting@pd.sandiego.gov SDPD NOW HIRING
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 61 www.joinSDPDnow.com SDPDrecruiting@pd.sandiego.gov
62 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / March 2024 www.dallaspolice.net
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