Homeland Magazine May 2021

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Vol. 10 Number 5 • May 2021

Homeland M A G A Z I NE


A Month of Living Dangerously


Soldier, Sailor, Photographer and Hero


Bringing SSgt. Jimmie Doyle Home

What’s Next

Honoring The Unsung Heroes of

World War II

Transition to Civilian Life

Healthcare Careers

Careers In Law Enforcement

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

Download PTSD Coach to:

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


PTSD Coach is not meant to replace professional care.

Search “PTSD Coach”


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MAY 1 - JUNE 1

Celebrating the Commitment That Connects Us Learn more at navyfederal.org/celebrate

Insured by NCUA.

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

Contributing Writers Holly Shaffner Veteran Advocate

RanDee McLain, LCSW A Different Lens

Jenny Lynne Stroup Real Talk: Mental Health

Vicki Garcia

Enlisted to Entrepreneur

CJ Machado

SD Vets & Homeland Photojournalist

Kelly Bagla, Esq. Legal Eagle

Tana Landau, Esq. Legally Speaking

Joe Molina

Veterans Chamber of Commerce

Eve Nasby


What’s Next - Transitioning

Amber Robinson Arts & Healing

Eva Stimson Greetings and a warm welcome to Homeland Magazine!

Veteran Advocate

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

Human Resources

Our magazine is driven by passion, vision, reflection and the future. The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with our veterans, service members, military families, and civilians. The magazine is supported by a distinguishing list of national veteran organizations, resource centers, coalitions, veteran advocates, and more. We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people. Homeland Magazine is a veterans magazine for veterans by veterans. We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of Homeland Magazine.

Mike Miller

Publisher/Editor mikemiller@HomelandMagazine.com 4

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Paul Falcone

Money Matters VA Lending & Personal Finance

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

Homeland Magazine 9528 Miramar Road, Suite 41 San Diego, CA 92126

(858) 275-4281 Contact Homeland Magazine at: info@homelandmagazine.com


INSIDE THIS ISSUE 7 What’s The Difference 8 History of Memorial Day 10 Honoring Unsung Heroes 14 Women Warriors Find Strength 16 Bringing SSgt. Jimmie Doyle Home 20 Soldier, Sailor, Photographer and Hero 24 A Month of Living Dangerously 27 Navy Nurse Corps 28 America’s Children of Fallen Heroes 30 Mental Health Awareness 34 GI Film Festival San Diego 36 Real Talk: Psychologically Elastic 38 Arts & Healing - Spec Ops to Poet 40 LENS: Anxiety thru Transition 42 Shelter to Soldier 44 What’s Next: The Spousal Success Guide 46 Leadership by Gratitude 48 Healthcare Careers 52 Enlisted to Entrepreneur: Books for Fun and Profit 56 Careers In Law Enforcement

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Resources Support Transition HEALTH INSPIRATION

Homeland Magazine www.HomelandMagazine.com

Voted 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020 BEST resource, support media for veterans, military families & military personnel. 6

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Memorial Day - Veterans Day

What’s The Difference Memorial Day: Celebrated the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is the holiday set aside to pay tribute to those who died serving in the military.

Veterans Day: This federal holiday falls on November 11 and is designated as a day to honor all who have served in the military. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918.

For nearly 150 years, Americans have gathered in late spring to honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in service to their country. What began with dozens of informal commemorations of those killed in the Civil War has grown to become one of the nation’s most solemn and hallowed holidays.

“In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress -- at the urging of the veterans service organizations -- amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans,” the site says.

“Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans -- the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) -- established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.

“With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.”

Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.” The passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 by Congress made it an official holiday.

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Several cities currently claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Macon and Columbus, Georgia, Richmond, Virginia, Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, Waterloo, New York and Carbondale, Illinois.

Memorial Day has become the traditional

kick off of summer, but the holiday has a much more significant purpose. Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the military. Among its traditions are ceremonies to honor those who lost their lives in service, with many people visiting cemeteries to place American flags on grave sites. A national moment of remembrance takes place across the country at 3 p.m. local time. The purpose of Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day - commemorated on Nov. 11 each year - honors all those who have served in the U.S. military during times of war and peace. Armed Forces Day, which falls on May 20 each year, recognizes those who are currently serving in the military. History of Memorial Day Memorial Day traces its roots to the tradition of Decoration Day, a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. The first declaration of Decoration Day occurred on May 30, 1868, when Major Gen. John Logan declared the day would be a time to recognize those who lost their lives in the Civil War.


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The first large Decoration Day was held at Arlington National Cemetery that year. The ceremonies included mourning draping around the Arlington mansion of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant presided over the ceremonies, which included speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the Granddaughters of the American Revolution placing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves. The Arlington tradition was built on longstanding ceremonies held throughout the South. Once of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss. on April 15, 1866, when a group of women decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers who died at the battle of Shiloh. Upon seeing the undecorated graves of Union soldiers who died in the battle, the women placed flowers at those headstones as well. Memorial Day continued to be celebrated at local events until after World War I, which it was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays. In 2000, Congress passed “The National Remembrance Act,” which encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

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Honoring the unsung heroes of

World War II

Merrill’s Marauders, the legendary all-volunteer jungle force, will receive a Congressional Gold Medal for their actions in Burma By Matt Saintsing


rom storming bloodstained beaches in Normandy to fierce island hopping in the Pacific, World War II is filled with astonishing accounts of ordinary Americans doing the extraordinary. But for their actions in Japanese-occupied Burma in 1944, some of the war’s lesser-known heroes are set to receive the nation’s highest token of gratitude: a Congressional Gold Medal. Then-President Donald Trump signed legislation in October bestowing the honor on members of the Army’s secretive 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)—known as Merrill’s Marauders after their commander, Brig. Gen.


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Frank Merrill. Of the more than 3,000 volunteers in the outfit’s three battalions, only nine members are known to be alive today. One surviving member, Russell Hamler, was itching to jump into World War II when he joined the Marauders. Little did he know that decision would bring him halfway around the world to Southeast Asia and deep behind enemy lines. “The only thing they told us is that they were forming a special outfit and that the work would be dangerous,” said Hamler, a DAV life member of Chapter 7 in Whitehall, Pennsylvania. “That’s it.” Equipped with only what they could carry on their

Left: Members of Merrill’s Marauders, gaunt from disease and malnutrition, cross a bridge over Tanai River, Burma, March 18, 1944. (U.S. Army). Center: Nineteen-year-old Russell Hamler (right) and a fellow Marauder stand in front of a baby elephant while recovering at a British military hospital in northern India in spring 1944. Hamler was wounded during the Battle of Nhpum Ga in Burma that April. (Courtesy photo) Right: Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill (right) speaks with Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell (left) and Col. Charles Hunter at Myitkyina Airfield in Burma, May 17, 1944. (National Archives)

backs or pack onto mules, Hamler and the other Marauders trekked their way through hundreds of miles of almost impenetrable Japanese-controlled territory, often blazing their trails by hacking through the dense and tangled jungle. Their mission was to clear the way to construct a key road linking their Chinese allies with a strategic path for hauling supplies. Between being surrounded continuously by Japanese troops, exhausting marches in monsoonlike rains, a lack of sufficient nourishment, and endemic diseases like malaria and dysentery, there was no corner of the battlefield safe from peril. Hamler took part in three of the five major battles fought by the Marauders in the grueling five-month campaign. But it’s the Battle of Nhpum Ga that still haunts him. “I always remember the Japanese,” added Hamler. “They didn’t run away.” He and the rest of the 2nd Battalion were surrounded during the 10-day battle. The trail leading up to the American position was a frequent target of Japanese mortars and artillery shells. Hamler was wounded in one of the enemy artillery barrages when shrapnel cut across his backside. A fellow soldier was killed just a few feet away when twisted metal and massive tree splinters cut him nearly in half. For their efforts, the outfit earned a Presidential Unit Citation, a distinction reserved for military units that demonstrate “extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy.” In total, six Distinguished Service

Crosses, four Legions of Merit and 44 Silver Stars were awarded. And every Marauder earned a Bronze Star. Today, the Marauders are considered a precursor to the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment, whose soldiers honor their legacy by wearing the Marauder patch as their unit’s crest. The campaign to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Marauders was spearheaded by Fred Eames, a

The only thing they told us is that they were forming a special outfit and that the work would be dangerous. That’s it.” —Russell Hamler, Merrill’s Marauder and member of Chapter 7 in Whitehall, Pa.

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Convincing Congress Congress approved legislation in September 2020 granting Merrill’s Marauders a Congressional Gold Medal. Attorneys, nonprofit organizations and the Marauders themselves were instrumental in successfully advocating to recognize the members and legacy of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional).

Badly burned, one of Merrill’s Marauders walks unassisted to an evacuation plane. (National Archives)

partner with the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth. He became involved after a fellow attorney met two living Marauders, Bob Passanisi and Gilbert Howland, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. “We do a lot with veterans and the military,” said Eames, “so when I started reading about Merrill’s Marauders, I thought these guys are just tremendous.” As a former congressional staffer, Eames leveraged his legislative expertise while encouraging other firms to take up the cause pro bono. The initiative gained support from the U.S. Army Ranger Association, the Special Forces Association and the Association of the United States Army. However, Eames said the best advocates were the living Marauders and their families. Although the bill has been signed into law, it will be years before the medal, which will reside with the Smithsonian Institution, is struck. Howland, who was among the first to lobby Congress, told New Jersey-based Community News last fall that the medal “will now shine a light on that forgotten theater in the Pacific that was so crucial in defeating the Japanese.” “Russell and his fellow Marauders answered when their nation called, enduring both the immediate and long-lasting hardships of war,” said National Commander Butch Whitehead. “It’s only right to honor these individuals for their tremendous service and sacrifice.” n


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From left: Attorney Fred Ames of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, Marauder Robert E. Passanisi and Scott Stone of S2C Pacific pressed members of Congress on Capitol Hill to pass legislation honoring the renowned Merrill’s Marauders.

From left: Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah speaks with World War II veterans and Marauders Gilbert Howland and Robert E. Passanisi while they lobby for a Congressional Gold Medal.

Honor Flight San Diego’s “Operation Find Our Vets” We need your help to find our Southern California WWII and Korean War Veterans to go on their Honor Flight. Veterans from San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial Counties are invited! Next flight is scheduled for Oct 1-3, 2021. The 3-day trip to Washington, D.C. is no cost to the veteran and departs from San Diego.

Facts about Honor Flight San Diego:

• Since 2010, the hub has flown over 1,400 SoCal veterans • The hub typically takes two trips/year (pending funding) • Every veteran is paired with a guardian to assist them for the weekend

For more information about Honor Flight San Diego, go to: www.HonorFlightSanDiego.org or call (800) 655-6997

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Puerto Rico Women Warriors Find Strength in Each Other By Raquel Rivas Bethzaida Cabrera does not need to be in the limelight. She is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who prefers diligent teamwork and is happy to get the job done backstage. Nevertheless, she’s part of a group of veterans helping Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) ensure women warriors stay connected with each other. And she is leading the way from her native Puerto Rico. “Word is spreading about the Peer Support group for women veterans in Puerto Rico,” Bethzaida said. Beth leads the WWP group meetings once a month. For now, they are mostly virtual, which has made the gatherings more accessible. Battling Isolation It is not rare to hear that women veterans are feeling isolated. They are among the most isolated service members upon returning to civilian life. Through the Women Warriors Initiative research, WWP found that 80% reported feelings of loneliness. Being a female veteran in the mainland U.S. comes with its share of isolation and lack of recognition, but female veterans in Puerto Rico experience compounded challenges. According to a study commissioned by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 4,330 female veterans lived in Puerto Rico as of September 2019, and geography has a lot to do with health challenges among this group of veterans. Compared to their U.S. counterparts, women veterans in Puerto Rico have a higher risk for pain-related disorders, chronic diseases like diabetes, and a host of reproductive health issues. They have higher use of VA primary care compared to women in the mainland U.S. Bethzaida leads the WWP Puerto Rico female peer support group with Army veteran Elizabeth Martínez González. They have connected with other women veterans in Puerto Rico and have collaborated with the local VA, WWP, and The Mission Continues to find ways to engage women warriors. “At the last meeting, we really felt connected,” Bethzaida said. “I could tell the women were happy to be able to relax for even a few minutes.”


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The monthly Peer Support meeting is informal, but almost every one begins with a shared activity, followed by time to chat and share concerns with the group. Bethzaida wondered if connecting virtually would diminish interaction, but instead, she saw women opening up more. “It really has worked better than I expected, and in an organic way,” Bethzaida said. “It is actually more interactive. Each person controls her mic and environment, and now that many of us have children at home around the clock, it’s easier to connect this way.” The group of 15 to 20 female veterans has embraced a veteran who connects from Virginia, where she now resides. “She is from Puerto Rico and is all by herself in Virginia dealing with a medical situation,” Bethzaida said. “We serve as her backup family. It’s very rewarding to see that women who didn’t have the resources to connect with like-minded veterans are now able to feel they are not alone.” “Even years after separating from the military, you might think that everyone has already gone through this healing process, but many haven’t had a chance to open up until now,” Bethzaida added.

Bethzaida’s Healing Journey

Bethzaida’s healing journey gave her the tools to accomplish her personal and professional goals, and she didn’t forget about the female warriors who are emerging from their own journeys. Two years into her involvement with WWP, including connection events in Puerto Rico, she had the opportunity to participate in Peer Support training. She was ready to embark on a new mission.

Bethzaida herself has been on a healing journey during the last few years, spurred by a Soldier Ride® event WWP invited her to be part of in Cincinnati. She immediately connected with another female warrior in the bike ride. “At that point, I was disconnected from everyone as a veteran, and I felt suppressed,” Bethzaida recalled. “Soldier Ride opened my eyes to everything that was available to me the entire time. I met another warrior from Puerto Rico who actually lives close to me on the island and who told me about her own journey through Wounded Warrior Project, including Project Odyssey.”

“The universe conspires to make things happen,” Bethzaida said. From the first meeting with just four female warriors, the group has grown every month. Elizabeth and Bethzaida work together to secure guest speakers and activities that range from art projects to meditation.

Bethzaida participated in a Project Odyssey®, WWP’s 12-week mental health program that uses adventurebased learning to help warriors manage and overcome their invisible wounds and enhance their resiliency skills. She said it changed her life. “I was able to open up about things I had kept inside,” Bethzaida said. “I realized I needed more help, and Wounded Warrior Project was there to connect me to additional support.”

“Women feel they have a seat at the table,” Elizabeth said. “It’s a process, and the group is getting good exposure through our contacts at the VA clinic. More female veterans are asking, ‘How do I join?’” Both Elizabeth and Bethzaida noted more openness in female-only groups, which provide a safe space to share personal experiences with other women.

Bethzaida was eventually able to attend an outpatient intensive treatment through WWP’s Warrior Care Network® in Boston. This WWP program connects wounded veterans and their families with world-class mental health care through four partner academic medical centers. “At that moment, my life partner and I had plans to get married, and I knew I needed to do this to better prepare for a new life with him.”

WWP’s female-only Peer Support groups have expanded in U.S. cities where WWP serves large numbers of female veterans, and the groups have grown by leaps and bounds during the past year. In 2020, WWP grew from four female Peer Support groups in the U.S. to 12. And 43% of virtual participants in all activities were female warriors.

“We needed this,” Elizabeth said. “We do okay in a co-ed group, but now that we have our own space, we talk about different things. Women feel freer to talk about medical and personal issues among other women.”

About Wounded Warrior Project Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition.

Learn more at https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/about-us.

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Bringing SSgt. Jimmie Doyle Home Finding the ‘Arnett B-24’ By: Lauren Trecosta On the day of his final mission, SSgt. Jimmie Doyle was 25 years old. He wore his wife’s wedding ring on a gold chain around his neck along with his military-issued dog tags. He wrote loving letters to his wife nearly every day. Jimmie had a little boy, Tommy, who was almost two years old. Jimmie hoped to go home on leave soon. Jimmie put on his aviator sunglasses and felt the weight of the coins from his wife’s coin collection in his pocket: a Morgan silver dollar, a Lady Liberty half dollar, and an Australian penny. He climbed into the nose turret. Until recently, he had been a tail gunner. He’d shot down an enemy plane three weeks previously and was proud of this move.

On September 1, 1944, the B-24J Liberator, piloted by 2nd Lt. Jack S. M. Arnett, from the 424th Bombardment Squadron, 307th Bombardment Group, took off from Wakde Island. They were on a mission to bomb welldefended enemy positions in Koror, Palau. Before they dropped their payload, Jimmie’s plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The number 2 engine caught fire. Then the left-wing folded and broke off the plane. The plane went into a spin, broke the fuselage in two, and crashed into the sea. Eight crew went down with the plane. Three parachuted out. It is believed they were captured and executed.

Jimmie Doyle (top row, 3rd from left) and the ‘453 crew. Three crew members were subbed out for the final mission. Photo: Courtesy of Doyle Family 16

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No one knew what happened to SSgt. Jimmie Doyle except that he was Missing In Action. After the war, some of Jimmie’s family were convinced he’d survived and started a new family in California.

From that day forward, Pat made it his personal mission to help bring MIAs home. Just one year in, Pat was busy creating a team and learning how big of a job his new commitment really was.

Tommy grew up fatherless, under the shadow of uncertainty. He vacillated between faith and doubt; between what he wanted to be true and what others told him was true. For nearly six decades, Tommy knew next to nothing about his dad.

Project Recover is now global in its search for MIAs and even helps with recovery missions. In the early days, though, the team focused exclusively on finding World War II crash sites associated with MIAs in Palau. The team had the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) from the Arnett B-24. It had a thumbnail-sized World War II map of Palau with an X marking where the plane went down. It appeared to be lost within an enclosed section of water, about two square kilometers in size. Pat was optimistic.

Fifty years later, Pat Scannon, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder of Project Recover (formerly The BentProp Project) began searching for the Arnett B-24 in Palau. Pat had already had two emotional experiences in Palau. The first was a happy feeling that came from success. Pat had helped find the Japanese trawler sunk by George H. W. Bush in 1944. The second was a feeling of grief that changed his life. It came from seeing a B-24 wing in a mangrove swamp with no accompanying remembrance or information.

The team searched for the Arnett B-24 on multiple missions over nine years. They used the best equipment. Compared to the innovative technology they use today, however, it was rudimentary.

L-R) Nancy Doyle, Pat Scannon, Tommy Doyle in Palau. Tommy Doyle is there to dive on his father’s crash site. Photo: Project Recover

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Finally, after ten years of searching, the team found the aircraft. At Project Recover’s invitation, Jimmie’s son, Tommy, flew to Palau. Newly certified and escorted by Project Recover team members, Tommy dove on his dad’s crash site. “That’s about emotional as it gets,” Tommy said, “We made a connection right there,”

Tommy received a box with his dad’s aviator sunglasses, dog tags, and bits of leather from his wallet. He also received Myrle’s wedding ring, the chain Jimmie wore around his neck, and the coins from Myrle’s collection: a Morgan silver dollar, a Lady Liberty half dollar, and an Australian penny.

JPAC (the precursor to DPAA) excavated the site in 2005, 2007, and 2008. In 2009, it was official. Eight of the missing crew from the Arnett B-24 were identified and returned home. One of them was SSgt. Jimmie Doyle.

Tommy Doyle reflective after diving his dad’s WWII crash site in Palau.

Tommy holds the American and Palauan flags folded over his dad’s WWII crash site

Tommy Doyle (R) after diving on his dad’s WWII crash 18

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On April 29, 2009, SSgt. Jimmie Doyle was buried in Lamesa Memorial Park in the only available spot left. It happened to be next to his beloved wife and the tombstone which bore their names. One year later, a burial ceremony was held for all eight repatriated MIAs from the Arnett B-24 at Arlington National Cemetery. Jimmie’s grandson, Casey Doyle (Lt Col, USMC) became a Project Recover team member. He wanted to do for other families what Project Recover had done for his.

Photo Credit: Reid Joyce

Jimmie Doyle was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his repatriated crewmates and beside his wife in Lamesa, Texas. Project Recover has helped repatriate 15 MIAs and located 80+ that are awaiting recovery. To date, Project Recover has conducted 60+ missions in 20 countries and territories, locating 50+ aircraft associated with 170+ MIAs. In an agreement with DPAA, Project Recover will begin recovery efforts in 2021. Watch the video of Project Recover finding the Arnet B-24 and Tommy diving his dad’s crash site here: www.projectrecover.org/doyle/

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Joe Renteria: Runaway to Soldier, Sailor, Photographer and Hero

Renteria said given he was a Native American he was strapped with night watches and kitchen duties more than other soldiers.

By Amber Robinson

“I peeled twice as many potatoes as any of ‘em,” Renteria says matter-of-factly. “It was racism.”

Even though 104-year-old World War II veteran and Native American, Joe Renteria, is now getting up there in years, there is no lapse in his memory when sharing the many stories of his adventurous and willful life. Whether he is talking about his training as an Army Soldier, a Navy intel photographer or his life prior to service where his survival and wits moved him along, he is sharp as a tack on the details. Renteria sits in his vaulted dining room, coolly recounting his life. The high ceilings and walls are made of beautiful shining wood that he nailed up himself, along with every other thing that comprises the home. Built for his wife, Jill, whom Joe lost several years prior, sits on a hill in Ocean Beach and is filled to the brim with mementos of his incredible life. He lives here with his youngest and only son, Michael Renteria and his daughter-in-law, Susan. As we settle in at the dining room table, Susan sets up a camera to capture him for the several hours he speaks. At the age of 104, he is walking history and everything he says is a treasure. Renteria entered the Army in 1936. After completing Basic Training in Omaha, Nebraska, he was sent to be part of a rifle unit, but the rifle kicked too hard for his small frame. So they gave him a pistol, and moved him to a machine gun unit, given it is a mounted weapon. He never saw conflict during his time in the Army, but he did do a month of field training each year in different locations, where he was given a variety of jobs. He recounts being a scout for where to put machine gun nests, he was a runner and took messages all over the training area, and even took care of the mule that carried all his unit’s equipment. 20

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But, despite catching all the worst duties and being ostracized, Renteria still persevered, making “Expert Machine Gunner” and getting out of kitchen duty and guard by having the neatest uniform and cleanest weapon. His work ethic, high standards and wit kept him a step ahead during his time in the Army, but that was only the beginning. He left the Army in 1939, but not before he met the love of his life, Jill. In his last year of service to the Army the Mississippi flooded and Renteria was sent as part of the flood relief. Close to where his unit was living in their tents, Jill owned a roller skating rink. When Renteria finally got some time he decided to go check it out. There he laid eyes on Jill. He rolled around her rink a couple of times, then rolled up to her. “Let’s you and I swing around, kiddo,” said Joe. She agreed and after a few times around the rink Joe asked her for a date the next day. She said she’d go but he had to go to church with her. Not usually a churchgoing man, Renteria sure did show up for services the next day. They only got a few dates in before Renteria had to leave. He and Jill continued to write and eventually she rejoined him as he graduated from Navy bootcamp up near the Great Lakes. As Renteria finished training, Jill took an apartment near the base. Renteria learned light signaling, then taught it to the men in his unit...as well as Jill. Given she was unable to come on the base during his training, they communicated through the light signals Joe had taught her. Unfortunately, someone turned Joe in for signalling to someone off base. Joe explained he was signaling to his girlfriend, but his command was not so sure. So they called Jill onto the base. In front of eight officers, of all ranks, Jill moved to a distance and signaled her future husband a message. Everyone looked to Renteria and asked what she had said. “She signaled to me ‘that officer up there with the blue tie...it’s crooked!,” laughed Renteria, remembering her showing up all those high ranking men.

Renteria began his service in the Navy as a plane mechanic up in North Island, but was soon moved to Oahu, Hawaii. He helped to overhaul planes there, but also began to take photographs during various missions. Finally Renteria asked to be sent to school for photography. Just two months prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Jill and Renteria left for Pensacola, Florida, where he would learn the skill that would truly change his life.

That is, until he raised enough of a ruckus that they gave him a job, But, not holding a camera. They put Renteria in charge of 22 men who were transporting large ammunition rounds from trains, to trucks, then into silos that protected them from Japanese attack. Only a Petty Officer 3rd Class, he managed that number of men and the physically demanding mission without a complaint. As American forces began to move onto Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, Renteria finally began taking photographs. His destination and mission were always Top Secret, his orders sealed where even he could not see them. Often leaving with recon forces on secret missions at midnight or 3 am under the veil of darkness, his job was always to photograph land and sea in search of German or Japanese sea vessels, camps or aircraft.

After his training he asked to go right back to Hawaii. Jill was unable to go but he bartered for her to be able to stay on an Army base in California with their first child, Jeanette, while he went back to support the new war effort. While there, Jill also leant her services to the war effort. Being small as well, she got a job painting the inside of torpedoes.

Renteria would often depart with the Navy SEALS on their stealth missions. The men would silently swim into suspected areas, Renteria swimming in with them.

Initially when Renteria returned to Hawaii he and his fellow photographers were put out of the way.

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“Well, I didn’t really swim,” confesses Renteria. “They towed me in.”

After listening to Renteria talk for hours, at that point, I knew she was right.

In fact, Renteria says he couldn’t swim.

He’d never set up a photo lab before. But, as always, he stepped forward like he was a much bigger man with much more rank and confiscated a large building. With little resources he still managed to create a highspeed photo lab for the important missions at hand.

“I barely passed my swimming test into the Navy!” he said. Renteria would wear a “Mae West”, what they called a life preserver then, and the SEALS would tow him in to take recon photos. Being small in stature helped that cause, but the job he did was never small. Eventually he was sent to where he would spend most of World War II, a small island off the coast of Australia named New Caledonia. Out of all the photographers in his squad with more rank and experience, Renteria was chosen to go set up a photo lab for South Pacific photo operations. He swears they sent him to get rid of him there in Hawaii, since he was so demanding with so little rank. But his daughter-in-law, Susan, feels it was his work ethic. “I say it was because of all the jobs they gave you to do, you got them done well,” she argues. 22

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Eventually an officer was sent to oversee him but the officer let him do all the work. The officer was also too afraid to take the intel Renteria gathered to the high ranking Admiral. “He was scared, but I wasn’t!” said Renteria. “I just took my photos right into him.” When you grow up as an orphan on the rails, I guess there isn’t much that sways you. Soon he was well known by all for his high standard of work, courage and ingenuity. The Admiral had a nice photo lab built for him and for the rest of the war he never had to make a ruckus to do his job. No longer needed, his supervising officer was sent back to the East coast.

When the war ended he was finally able to reunite with Jill and his daughter who he’d been separated from for most of the conflict. But, that didn’t mean his work became less exciting. Renteria returned to Hawaii with his family and began his new mission, capturing the atom bomb testing at Bikini Atoll. He established a new lab on Quadjalain, from where the bomb testing missions launched. Just as always, he found innovative ways to support the historic mission and make a name for himself. Renteria finally retired from service in 1957. He, Jill and their four children continued to live in San Diego, with Renteria working as, you guessed it, a photographer. He worked with Channel 8 for years, then for San Diego State University, now making a name for himself within the civilian community for his ethic and standards. It wasn’t until the interview was almost finished that Renteria mentioned he’d run away from a Catholic orphanage at age 8 to start hopping trains. Susan then mentioned he went from hopping trains to working for the circus, Barnum and Bailey’s, at the age of 10. The main skill he learned from circus work was walking on stilts.

WOUNDS WE CANNOT SEE 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.

“I still have my stilts out there!,” said Renteria, gesturing towards his outdoor shed.

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

In fact, on his 90th birthday, much to the alarm of many a party goer, he got up on those stilts to show folks how it was done. As a wayward runaway he eventually landed in Father Flanagan’s famous home for orphan boys, which would eventually become Boys Town. From that foothold Joe was able to get into school and join the service. The rest is American history, Renteria a living, breathing carrier of it.

Resources. Support. Inspiration. At Homneland 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: www.HomelandMagazine.com


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A Month of Living Dangerously USS Midway pilot displays superior airmanship and survival skills during the Vietnam War By David Koontz

Lt. Paul Ilg is hoisted on the shoulders of fellow squadron pilots upon his safe return to the USS Midway By May of 1965, Lt. Paul Ilg was well on his way to becoming a seasoned combat pilot over the skies of Vietnam. Launching from the aircraft carrier USS Midway with Attack Squadron 22 (VA-22), Ilg had already flown more than 20 missions over enemy territory in an A-4 Skyhawk during his first two months on Yankee Station. But today’s mission was easy – a multi-aircraft formation flight heading into the Philippines for some well-deserved R&R. It was a 12-plane formation with Ilg flying the next-to-last aircraft. Yawn. Get me a beer. 24

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Tucked into the formation, Ilg’s world suddenly turned upside down when the final plane converged “too hot” and slammed into the underside of his fuselage. “I was unable to see number 12 approaching,” recalled Ilg, a 1960 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. “My first thoughts were to maintain control and not hit anyone else in the formation.” Unsure of the damage to his Skyhawk, Ilg saw his fuel gauge instantly drop to 200 pounds, barely enough gas for a few minutes of flying. Fortunately, two of the planes in the formation were configured as refueling tankers and one immediately joined up.

“I was losing fuel at an amazing rate,” said Ilg. “I didn’t realize what the reason for the fuel loss was until one of the tanker pilots joined on me and told me the vertical stabilizer from number 12 was wedge into my aircraft.”

In early June, Ilg volunteered for a routine reconnaissance flight over Laos. He had been on a similar mission previously with no enemy contact. “I had flown the same mission ten days prior with no sighting of trucks and anti-aircraft fire,” said Ilg. “That mission probably dulled my anxiety.”

Plugged into the tanker, the two planes lined up on approach to the Midway. Ilg had only one chance for a perfect landing. Many things that could still go wrong: run out of fuel, loss of flight controls or even catch fire. Ilg, however, remained singularly focused on getting his wounded aircraft back on Midway. “I wasn’t overly concerned about running out of fuel because if the engine quit, I’d eject,” said the 82-year-old Ilg. “Maybe I should have been, but I wasn’t concerned about fire either. The flight-deck firefighters were ready.”

This day would be different. While flying at low over northeast Laos, Ilg felt a tremendous jolt. Hit by antiaircraft fire (AAA), his aircraft immediately started an uncontrollable roll to the left. He was barely able to eject before his plane was inverted. The automatic ripcord release on his parachute failed. He rocketed towards the ground. “No time to think. Auto response was to go after my manual ripcord”, said Ilg. “My chute was stuck in the trees, but my feet reached the ground.”

Ilg separated from the tanker on final approach less than three miles behind Midway’s pitching deck. He was committed.

The enemy saw Ilg eject and they immediately began searching for him. After gathering his gear and treating a wound on his wrist, he had his first close encounter. Hiding under some bushes, two armed soldiers came within 15 feet of his position.

Ilg made a textbook landing with his tailhook catching Midway’s number two arresting wire. His aircraft burst into flames on touch down, but the engine quickly flamed out and the fire extinguished on its own. “Great, no swimming today,” reflected Ilg. “I always had a great appreciation for the A-4. It’s like putting on a backpack and it goes wherever you want.”

“They thrashed around the area, yelling back and forth, for two hours,” said Ilg. “I thought it was all over three times while on the ground and that was one of them.”

A Distinguished Flying Cross would be later awarded to Ilg for his superior flying skills and saving the aircraft, but his adventures while on Yankee Station were far from over. A few weeks later, his metal would be tested beyond anything he could imagine.

Ilg began moving slowly and quietly to get away from his landing site. By nightfall, he came out of a tangled growth of trees near an enemy encampment.

He had a critical decision to make – proceed through the campsite or go around. “The bivouac area was right in my path and too large to make it around before daylight, so I waited until things quieted down and went through the middle of the bivouac area,” recalled Ilg. The next morning, Midway aircraft began circling overhead as part of a recuse combat air patrol. “It was a very welcome sound,” said Ilg. “Little did I know then what the next 34 hours would have in store.” Lt. Paul Ilg is greeted by his squadron commanding officer, Cmdr. Don Wyland, upon his safe return to the USS Midway following his rescue after being shot down.

Continued on next page >

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After evading for nearly a day, Ilg was finally able to assess his situation and consider the options that best set him up for a rescue attempt and avoid being captured. “Evading enemy soldiers and getting further away from the AAA to enable rescue,” said Ilg. “I think crossing the bivouac area was fortuitous because the enemy search was focused on the other side.” Ilg knew, however, that he was far from being rescued and he prepared for a second night evading the enemy. In early morning, he once again spotted some soldiers nearby after seeing their flashlights. Laying as still as possible in a bamboo thicket with his knife across his chest, Ilg again thought he might be captured. After a few tense hours, he was able to doze off while being chilled to the bone by rain. On the morning of the third day, Midway aircraft were back in the skies near his position.

“I reflect, not with darkness, but with thankfulness that I wasn’t made to endure the POW situation that so many of my friends had done,” said Ilg, who was awarded the Bronze Star. “I think often of squadron mates who were excellent aviators and continued very successful careers and more sadly of those that didn’t make it back.”

“I was able to communicate with the planes overhead and soon thereafter talked to Air America,” said Ilg. “When contact was made he told me to move further south to get over a ridgeline away from the AAA.” Air America was operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which supported covert operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and frequently launch search and rescue missions for downed pilots. Ilg continued communication with the rescue coordinator while making his way to a position suitable for a helicopter rescue. “There was no planned pickup time as everything was pretty fluid,” said Ilg. “When I thought I was far enough away from enemy fire, I let the coordinator know.” Late that afternoon, Ilg came to a less heavily wooded area. He climbed a fallen tree to get some elevation and alerted Air America. “They brought the helo in from the backside but couldn’t see me,” said Ilg. “I directed the helo overhead by its sound. They finally saw me, and I donned the horse collar they dropped for the ride up.” Returning to Midway a few days later, Ilg received a hero’s welcome. Even after 56 years, he still reflects on his month of living dangerously, especially the 47 hours spent evading enemy capture in Laos.


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Ilg served a 31-year naval career retiring as a vice admiral in 1991.

Navy Nurse Corps Association of Southern California

The association collects donations, reviews scholarship applications, and awards in upwards of $8-10K per year to deserving college students.

By Holly Shaffner

The organization also does an oral history program where Navy nurses can share their story, and after it is recorded, it is sent to the Library of Congress. To date, they have collected over 135 stories and are looking for more stories from Navy nurses, especially from the Gulf War, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

On May 13th, the Navy Nurse Corps will celebrate its 113th birthday and even after a century of service to their communities, there is still more work to be done. In Southern California, we have a local chapter whose area of responsibility extends from San Diego County, north to Ventura County and Nevada, and east to Arizona. The Navy Nurse Association of Southern California (NNCASC) is 1 of 13 chapters across the U.S. and the Southern California chapter is the largest in the country.

One of their largest accomplishments was establishing the first Navy Nurse Corps Memorial. It is a granite memorial dedicated to all Navy nurses who served on land, at sea, or in the air and located at Miramar National Cemetery. The inscription reads:

Back in the early 1980’s, an article ran in a newspaper looking for Navy nurses. Forty-eight nurses responded and here we are four decades later. The organization has grown to 170 members strong – but their work is not done as they still need to find their fellow nurses.

In Honor of The United States Navy Nurse Corps while caring for members of all military service branches, their families, and people throughout the world, whether on the sea, in the air, at home, or on foreign soil, during periods of war or times of peace, nursing excellence and tireless dedication to duty will be their legacy for all generations that follow.

Current NNCASC President, Becky Nulty said, “Our #1 challenge is sustainment. We know there are Navy Nurses out there and we want to locate them.” Members can be active duty, reserve, retired, and former Navy Nurses. The generations range from WWII to today’s active duty. In fact, this chapter’s oldest member is a WWII veteran who is 101 years old! The NNCASC became an official chapter in 1993 and what started as a means for camaraderie almost 30 years ago has developed into giving back to their community, their fellow veterans, and helping to grow the next generation of nurses. The NNCASC holds quarterly meetings and as part of their veteran’s community outreach program, they invite local organizations to present about their cause. The association donates monetarily as well as specifically needed items. Some of the organizations that have benefitted are Support the Enlisted Project, Homes for our Troops, Archie’s Acres, and Operation Dress Code.

For more information about the Navy Nurse Corps Association, visit: www.NNCA.org.

The association has donated more than $44K over the years!

To connect with or join the Southern California chapter, contact Georgene at (760)722-0724 or via email at: georgene.waecker@gmail.com.

Another program they are proud of is the scholarship program for nursing students attending accredited Southern California colleges.

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America’s Children of Fallen Heroes America’s Children of Fallen Heroes is a non-political, non-denominational, 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on meeting the needs of the young men and women who have lost a parent serving in the United States Armed Forces, Fire Department & Law Enforcement. The ACoFH team is currently working on their Dream Development Project which is a 10 year mentorship program to help a child realize and pursue their American Dream. Founded by Chaplain Tig Heaslet who expressed his experiences with being a Chaplain, “After having the honor of speaking with a couple of two star generals, I was crushed to learn about the massive cracks in our government support system that our military widows and their children were falling through. We immediately began planning how to help. And I guess the rest is history.” That resulted in his inspiration in 2000 to develop the Quietly Working Foundation which later started the groundwork for American’s Children of Fallen Heroes and the programs it would offer to create the solution. To accomplish his big vision for America’s Children of Fallen Heroes in 2014 Chaplain Tig introduced entrepreneur and philanthropist Sophie Felix to the ACoFH team as an Ambassador and then promoted her role to Southern California Chapter President. “My main objective and the reason why we volunteer to serve is to let the children know that we care and they are not alone. There’s no way to replace a parent, but our goal is to provide our mentorship and long-term support that every parent desires for their children. We try to bring fun, adventurous support to the lives of the families we serve,” said Sophie Felix.

Along with their Dream Development Project they have an EOA program which is an Expression of Appreciation, a short message from American’s to the kids letting them know they haven’t been forgotten, someone cares, and that there’s hope for the future. The encouraging messages mean a lot to the families when they personally read them. The EOA’s are sorted out, approved and then taken personally to the families during visits and the organization also delivers Christmas presents to children during the Holidays. ACoFH’s most known program is called Jeep’n For The Kids, a custom off-road jeep build and dedicated to creating spectacular adventures for the young men and women and to get them into the great outdoors. The jeep has tons of special features and it creates a lot of positive attention on the road while proudly driving with a American flag on the back. “We’ve seen firsthand how getting young men and women into nature has opened their minds and hearts to the bright possibilities of their future,” said Chaplain Tig Heaslet, Executive Director of ACoFH.

Photo by Rodrigo Peña


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America’s Children of Fallen Heroes executive team is located primarily in Southern California and is building new chapters throughout the US. To do this this year they are seeking the support of Hero Teams and individuals who want to help collect messages of encouragement, develop fundraisers and collaborate with companies able to sponsor or provide services to support the Dream Development Project. The charity is also seeking Advisory Board Members, social media influencers, marketing experts and professional business consultants to help them strategically grow and expand their programs long term into the future.

“Our greatest honor is to serve those living with the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and safety. I’m living my American Dream so I believe strongly in creating opportunities to see others pursue their dreams too. I will fight with all my heart to ensure our programs are a true success for these children. The families of our fallen heroes deserve our utmost love and respect, not only on Memorial Day but always.”

Veteran Resources & Organizations

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.

- Sophie Felix, Southern California Chapter President

Homeland Magazine Resources & Organizations available at


Homeland Magazine A Veterans Magazine for Veterans by Veterans For more information regarding America’s Children of Fallen Heroes, visit www.heroeskids.org or email sophia.felix@quietlyworking.com


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Mental Health Awareness Month| Supporting Mental Wellness for Veteran Families and Caregivers By Kaitlin Cashwell, Director of Community Integration, America’s Warrior Partnership Military veterans, their families and caregivers know how to deal with upheaval better than the average person, but the past year has brought levels of uncertainty that few of us have ever experienced before. It is now more important than ever to be aware of the resources and services available to help veterans improve their mental wellbeing. As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month throughout May, here is a look at some of the programs that are tailored to serve veterans in addition to the family members and caregivers in their lives. Story Time and Summer Camp The Four Star Alliance is an online community of adaptive sports, therapeutic recreation and wellness organizations committed to serving military service members, veterans, their families and caregivers. Managed by our team at America’s Warrior Partnership, we were honored to welcome two new organizations to the alliance this past month: United Through Reading and Camp Corral. Military families that are separated due to deployments, injuries and other situations face unique emotional difficulties that can weigh on parents, children and caregivers alike. United Through Reading helps ease the stress of separation by providing service members a chance to connect with their families through shared story time. The nonprofit helps service members record videos reading a favorite book, which are then sent to their families for bedtime stories.

Four Star Alliance summer recreation


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Shared story time can reduce stress and anxiety for family members as their loved one is away, and it also encourages early literacy and language skills among children. As military families adjust to the isolation brought about by social distancing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, programs like United Through Reading can help close those distances and facilitate stronger mental wellness. Resources for military and veteran children are also a specialty of Camp Corral. This nonprofit’s mission is to transform the lives of children of wounded, injured, ill and fallen service members by providing summer camp experiences and other recreation programs. Summer camps, family retreats and virtual therapeutic programs are all tailored to giving children respite from the hardships of caregiving within a wounded warrior family.They also empower children to strengthen self-confidence and coping skills, as well as building friendships with other kids who understand what it means to be a military child. Those who are interested in these organizations can learn more about United Through Reading at www.UnitedThroughReading.org and Camp Corral at www.CampCorral.org. Details on the other organizations that are part of the Four Star Alliance are available at www.FourStarAlliance.org.

“Military families that are separated due to deployments, injuries and other situations face unique emotional difficulties that can weigh on parents, children and caregivers alike.”

Connecting with National Resources Every veteran, family member and caregiver face their own unique mental health challenges, and there may be situations when a sought-after service or resource is unavailable in a local community. As part of our mission to empower communities to empower veterans, America’s Warrior Partnership helps bridge the gap between local communities and national resources through a national coordination platform called The Network. Veterans, their families and caregivers can connect with The Network for assistance finding a service provider that can help fulfill a request. More information about The Network | www.AmericasWarriorPartnership.org/The-Network. Whether a veteran is seeking to connect with fellow former service members, or a family wishes to sign up for recreation programs, we can help identify the right resource to facilitate healthier mental wellness.

About the Author Kaitlin Cashwell directs and oversees the Community Integration program, including The Network, research projects, community training/consulting, Corporate Veteran Initiative, Four Star Alliance, and WarriorServe® client relations. Both of her grandfathers served in the military, and she has two brothers-in-law currently serving in the United States Navy. Kaitlin holds a Masters of Business Administration at Augusta, University’s Hull College of Business. About America’s Warrior Partnership America’s Warrior Partnership is committed to empowering communities to empower veterans. We fill the gaps between veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with veterans, their families, and caregivers. Our programs bolster nonprofit efficacy, improving their results, and empowering their initiatives. www.AmericasWarriorPartnership.org | @ AWPartnership | #awpartnership

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

Deployed Troops

First Responders


Military, Veterans and First Responders Impacted



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

Recruit Graduates

gratitude and meaningful engagements in communities Nationwide.

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

Military Families

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



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Women warriors take center stage in military film festival

“The Invisible Project” is one of nine films that focus on women in the military, which include “Budding Creativity,” “Charlotte Mansfield: a Woman Photographer Goes to War,” and “Guide On.” A Women Warriors film block closes out the festival on Sunday, May 23 to celebrate the contributions of women service members over the years.

GI Film Festival San Diego is May 18-23, 2021, live online showtimes and video on demand rentals available With San Diego’s multi-faceted military history and seven major bases between the Navy, Marines, and the Coast Guard, it’s only fitting that our region is home to one of the largest military film festivals in the United States. Established in 2006 and brought to San Diego in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego is back full force to amplify underrepresented voices and remarkable stories for, by and about military service members and veterans. Typically, the festival welcomes guests for an in-person experience, but in 2021 organizers invite attendees from beyond the region to screen films at home from their own devices. The festival’s virtual format provides the opportunity for attendees around the world to watch 38 films -- the highest ever to be included -- either live or on demand. The World Premiere of “The Invisible Project” opens the festival, taking a closer look at the female military experience. Directed by Pacifica J. Sauer, a filmmaker from Houston, Texas and a U.S. Navy veteran, the film follows the lives of four women as they work to change public perception of women veterans in America. The documentary demonstrates that service matters and continues when you come home, regardless of your gender. “The role of women in the military is forever changing and the battle spaces have evolved,” says Sauer. “There is a drive to create an awareness of the concept of a woman veteran, and what she looks like. The needs for services and recognition can’t be www.GIFilmFestivalSD.org overstated, and people from everywhere are answering the call to stand for women veterans.” 34

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“As the granddaughter of veterans, it is important to me to provide an avenue for these underrepresented stories to be told and retold,” says Nancy Worlie, interim general manager, KPBS. “When I helped bring the festival to San Diego in 2015, I dreamed we would create an everlasting experience to showcase the creative talents of emerging and established filmmakers from around the world, and give attendees a chance to gain meaningful insight into what it means to serve our country. I am very proud that San Diego is the home of the national, juried festival and now we can share these great stories to more guests regardless of time zone or geographic location in our virtual format.” By the numbers In 2021, more than half of the films in the current lineup are made by or starring active duty military or veterans. In total, 11 films are helmed by female directors; eight directed by first-time filmmakers; and another eight created by students. Festival organizers also reviewed a significant number of international film submissions this year, with four making the official selection. This year’s 38-film lineup includes powerful stories about the Black military experience, the lasting impacts of the Normandy liberation, post traumatic growth, and caregiver experiences.

The festival moves online, with live and on demand options available

The GI Film Festival San Diego also honors local filmmakers, local heroes, and local productions through the Local Film Showcase, organized in partnership with the Film Consortium San Diego. This year, six films round out the popular showcase, including the return of award-winning veteran filmmakers Mark Vizcarra, Devin and Jeanne Scott, Tracie Hunter, Kyle Olson, and RJ Nevens.

The GI Film Festival San Diego features nightly online screenings followed by live discussions with filmmakers, film subjects, and subject-matter experts. These showtimes and discussions will provide audiences the experience to watch together and participate in the discussion in real time in a virtual auditorium – all from the safety and comfort of their homes. General admission is $10 and $8 for military, veterans, and students per screening. Attendees can choose to either attend an online showtime for a synchronized watch or rent and watch on-demand, which begins the day after its festival debut through May 26. This provides guests the flexibility to participate and enjoy the films whenever they choose within the rental window. Each option requires a separate fee. All Access passes are also available for $125 for festivalgoers interested in attending every showtime and event, including the online Awards Celebration on Saturday, May 22. The All Access pass holders are also granted one video on demand (VOD) rental for each film or film block in the lineup, and receive a Festival Fun Box in the mail, which includes festival gear and other goodies. All Access passes must be purchased by May 7, and proceeds support the festival. A fleet of military support (no pun intended) The films selected for the festival are curated by members of a community advisory committee. Members of the advisory committee represent prominent militaryrelated organizations and come from various military backgrounds, including veterans of the US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Navy, US Army, US Coast Guard, as well as Air Force Reserves, and several military spouses. Committee members volunteer their time, talent, and expertise to ensure the festival provides an authentic view of the military experience and engages its audience through post-screening discussions. “With support from community partners like the Film Consortium San Diego, California Arts Council, National University and Scatena Daniels Communications, we have the opportunity to continue bringing authentic storytelling to not only the big screen, but now into homes around the world,” says Worlie. “Our team at KPBS looks forward to screening extraordinary films and innovative discussion.”

The box office is now open at www.GIFilmFestivalSD.org

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

Psychologically Elastic Resilient. It’s a word we’ve all heard more times than we can count. It’s the word that echoes in the comments from acquaintances like, “I don’t know how you do it,” or, “You’re a stronger person that me.” They don’t actually say the word resilient but it’s there- lingering- a qualifier of military life. If I’m being honest, this qualifier often feels like a burden. I don’t want to be resilient. I am tired and my resiliency reserves are low. But, I continue to be congratulated for my resilience every time the washer breaks, during a work call, while simultaneously teaching my fourth grader math.

“Look at you, handling all the things,” remarks the well-intentioned compliment giver, “You are amazing, so resilient.” But in that moment, I don’t want to be resilient, I want to lay on the floor and have someone else take care of all the things. I want Mary Poppins to come floating out of the sky with her umbrella. I want her to open her magical carpetbag and with a snap of her fingers put all the things in the places they should go. Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Shauna Springer speak about the many transitions in military life and how hard, and often traumatic, they can be.

Psychologically Elastic 36

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She called out the overuse of the term resilient, suggesting that maybe it isn’t the best descriptor of military families. Instead, she offered a new term she coined as, “psychologically elastic.” As I listened to her give reasons for coining the term and using it in place of resilient, I could feel my whole body relax. I relaxed because these days I don’t feel resilient. I feel tired and resilient feels like one more thing I’m failing to live up to. But psychologically elastic- I am that. Even though my body is weary, and my soul is tired, my mind continues to formulate plans, lists, and ways to cope with everchanging circumstances. My mind continues to rebound, replan, and reorganize when plans A through T don’t work and I continue to show up and work on solutions to the problems I am facing. I’m able to bend and stretch mentally even when my body feels like it can’t take another step. I am psychologically elastic. In honor of both Military Appreciation Month and Mental Health Awareness month, I want to gift this term to you, the reader of this column. I imagine that you, like me, have been “resilient” for a really long time. I understand that the ups and downs and transitions of military life probably taxed you in more ways than you can count, yet you are psychologically elastic. You demonstrate your elasticity every time you read this column or any other article in this magazine-you are willing to learn new things about yourself and how to live this life well. Your mind continues to rebound, replan, and reorganize when what you thought was going to happen changed. You continue to show up for yourself and work through solutions for whatever you are facing. You are psychologically elastic.

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

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Arts & Healing Arts for Military Veterans By Amber Robinson

From Spec Ops to Poet, OEF Marine finds solace in haikus Zach Love was only two weeks away from starting college to study Art History when he decided to become a Marine instead. “Last minute I second guessed going to college and decided I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing,” said Love. “Instead I decided I wanted to serve my country and fight.” So, right out of highschool Love joined the military as a Force Reconnaissance Marine. When I met Zach he was reading haikus as the featured poet at Poets Underground, a poetry gathering that happened once a month at a basement venue downtown called The Acid Vault. Listening to Love read his oddly profound little messages about pizza, drinking and depression, I would have never guessed he was once the Marine’s equivalent to a Navy SEAL. Slight of build, wearing rumpled clothes, quiet yet comical, one wouldn’t think he had been trained to kill, survive in the jungle or jump out of airplanes above the atmosphere.

As special forces, their base was situated on the outskirts of their area of operations. According to Love their location had no air support, therefore no guns from the sky to save them if things got bad. They shared a small base with the Afghan National Army, who they were supposed to train. But, that mission was often derailed by the more immediate need to fight. “It was like the wild west out there,” said Love. “We were constantly getting attacked.” It was during this deployment that Love received a traumatic brain injury during the notorious Battle of Shewan on August 8, 2008. As part of a complex insurgent attack on Marine forces near the village of Shewan that day, his convoy was pelted with rocket propelled grenades and heavy gun fire. His hummvee was hit with RPG fire, knocking him out, and another hummvee in the lineup caught fire, recalls Love. Maybe a little bit more intense than the Wild West, one could say. It was also during this deployment that Love wrote his first poem.

Treading into the heart of despairWill my dreams become reality? Riding off into the night; Only returning to count the days left. Dreaming of gentle coastline breezes But interrupted by death’s cold stare. One question I repeatedly ask Is will I return to see you again?

Love joined the Marines in 2006. His first deployment was in 2008 to Afghanistan. Deployed with only a week’s notice, Love and his small unit were sent to the volatile Helmand Province in the southern region. 38

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“Alot of change happened in Afghanistan,” said Love. “You are just seeing these horrible, atrocious things, like kids getting killed.”

Love’s next deployment was on a boat to the Horn of Africa. As they travelled through the South Pacific, they executed training with foreign forces and fought piracy. According to Love, illegal activity on the water is often due to fishermen being pushed out of their trade due to overfishing. Pirates will take over a ship and crew and then force their insurance companies to pay up.

“I still experience symptoms like hypervigilance,” said Love. “I’m easily startled, I don’t like fireworks.” He says he also experiences issues with mood, nightmares and flashbacks. Some of this is reflected in his work. Although Love’s poems are usually short, they often convey feelings of depression or unsettledness. And pizza.

Not many people can say they have squared off with a pack of pirates, but Love can. As part of his South Pacific deployment they recovered a merchant ship taken by pirates. He also recounts the jungle training he did in Indonesia where they learned how to survive on things like snake and even monkey.

“Yea, pizza is definitely a recurring theme,” said Love. A couple of years back Love finally found the San Diego poetry community through Poets Underground, The community inspired him and he decided to make a chat book of his short poems and haikus.

“I didn’t mind eating snake, that wasn’t bad,” said Love, “but I can’t recommend eating monkeys.”

“It seems like everyone had something, their own book or had been published,” said Love.

Love finally left the service in 2011. Like most veterans after service, Love felt lost. So he began to wander.

So he collected about 300 of his haikus and printed them onto tiny sheets of paper. He then bound them in black construction paper and put a picture of a typewriter on it, which he often uses to type his poems.

He hiked the Pacific Crest trail first, which stretches the entire length of California, over 2500 miles. It was there he met some nurses that inspired him to get into nursing as a post-service profession.

“It types in cursive,” Love brags.

For a while he lived with his best friend from Afghanistan in San Diego, drinking a great deal and continuing to write poetry. But, unable to stay still for long, Love and he took off for Alaska for a Summer as Salmon fishermen. Eventually Love left San Diego for a nursing program in Seattle.

Although Love stumbled into poetry through his best friend handing him a Jack Kerouac book in Afghanistan, I would posit he was born with a wayward, poet’s soul. His current goals are to finish his nurse practitioner’s degree in psychiatry and help others like him. He also plans to put together yet another homemade chat book. Whether it be through poetry or medicine, Doctor Love will have it covered.

He was now in school, but the wayward, poetic wandering continued. In the Summer of 2015 he biked across the United States from Seattle to Maine in 42 days. It was during this trip that Love began to struggle with depression. “I would just bike as far as I could during the day,” said Love, “and then end up at these bars at night, sitting there all sad, just drinking with my bike helmet still on.” After nursing school he ended up working hard hours in emergency rooms. He realized this wasn’t his style but found interest in what nurse practitioners did. Currently he is finishing up a Nurse Practitioner’s program at the University of San Diego that will earn him a doctorate. It was through his education in the medical community that he finally began to realize his own PTSD. Although it took 4 to 5 years to emerge, Love can look back now and realize his symptoms such as risky behavior, drinking and depression.

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A Different Lens Mental Health Monthly By RanDee McLain

Anxiety thru Transition Anxiety is the apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually around an impending event or action. That is a lot of words but what does it mean? Remember back to your first day of school…. did you stay up late with anticipation of what is to come? Was there some level of fear of the unknown? What about a big presentation at work? Did you pace back in forth in your kitchen repeating your speech over and over?

All of these are ways anxiety makes its way in our life. We all experience anxiety on some level in our lives. Though some level of anxiety is normal it is when it negatively impacts your life and disrupts your daily functions that is truly a problem. That level of anxiety can be classified as a type of anxiety disorder ….but we will save that for another day. What we are discussing today is the normal everyday anxiety we face and ways to help mitigate it. As I sit here and write this column I think back to my own anxiety. I have a hectic day job of overseeing a large mental health clinic, do consulting work throughout the country and stay active in my community. I think just writing that gave me some level of anxiety…. but that is my life so how do I manage it and not let it manage me? Similarly, our service members transitioning out of the service often face a lot of anxiety. The fact is many of them this is their first time truly integrating into civilian life. Many of our transitioning service members went into the service at 18 – straight from mom’s house and into Uncle Sam’s house. They have never had to interview for a civilian job, translate skills and compete against people that have been doing this for years. So how do I manage my anxiety and how can our transitioning service members start to manage theirs?


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First, have a plan. Sounds simple right? Well, it is not always that easy. You may have known your entire career what was expected of you and what the result would be if you did/did not do the task at hand. It can be very different in the civilian world. Have a plan of what next steps are. They may change but at least you have somewhere to start. In the service, I had structure and felt lost when I came out. I had a plan to go back to school. Though, I did not know what I would do after that or even a major I would pursue I at least had a plan and a purpose. I would get up and go to school every day. That leads us to step two-baby steps. We do not have to map out the rest of our life right now. Sometimes it is a simple first step of just getting to school or work. Transition takes time and it is ok to start with small goals and work your way up to larger tasks. Step three, have a support system. It is important we all have someone or something to turn to in our times of difficulty. Many transitioning services members look for a mentor to help them along through the process. This can be a veteran that has already successfully transitioned out or anyone that is willing to take time and listen and be a support for you while navigating the difficult road called transition. Step four is self-care. Yes, I lean into my clinical side for this, but it is so important. We can not help others or even our selves if we do not properly take care of ourselves. You can do small things to recharge yourself like working out, being outdoors, playing with your dog, or being with family. Self-care is deeply personal to each person- find what is YOUR self-care. Transition for our service members is anxiety provoking but with a plan, baby steps, a great support system and a little self-care ….

1-2-3-4 You Got This!

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One Paw In Front Of The Other --- Shelter to Soldier Service Dogs Help Veterans Find Peace and Independence By Eva M. Stimson For US veterans struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), anxiety, hyper vigilance, environmental triggers, depression and difficulty sleeping, (among other challenges) the support of a loving, trained service dog can provide a lasting impact. While service dogs are not a “magic fix”, they provide a level of support, alternative therapy, connection, and customized training cues that nothing else can provide. Their keen ability to sense their handler’s emotional state and willingness to respond in a supportive, comforting and non-judgmental manner make service dogs a great tool for veterans in need. Shelter to Soldier is a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that adopts dogs from local shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for post-9/11 combat veterans suffering from PostTraumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other injuries associated with traumatic service experiences. STS provides task-trained psychiatric service dogs at no charge to post 9/11 combat veterans who have been recommended a service animal as a component of their treatment and support a plan to improve their quality of life and assist recovery along with their integrated healing journey.

“During my military career my MOS was an 11B (Infantry) and I was retired from service due to injuries sustained while at war as an E-3. My favorite part of being in the military was the camaraderie and closeness among guys that you risked your life with. I was deployed to Southern Afghanistan. I have been diagnosed with severe and chronic depression, PTSD, and multiple traumatic brain injuries while in service. I had tremendous issues getting out of the house where the walls felt like they were closing in on me, lots of anxiety, depression, night terrors every night and issues in social situations. Jade [my STS service dog] has had a tremendous impact on my life. I do not know if I would still be around today if it were not for her. She has helped with a lot of the social anxiety; she grounds me during times I had flashbacks out in public. This [STS] program and Jade that was sponsored to me has given me my life back and I will never be able to repay what this program has done to help me across all aspects of my life.”

Service dogs help veterans venture out into the community more often with confidence and an increased sense of security with another set of eyes and ears watching out for them. According to Kyrie’ Bloem, Shelter to Soldier Vice President, “We’re honored to be a small part of their larger story of victory that allows veterans to live life to the fullest, despite experiencing extreme trauma. We are equally dedicated to rescuing shelter dogs to train them for a life of new purpose.” STS testimonials provide renewed optimism to veterans facing afflictions. Chris-Meyer-Ontiveros, US Army (Ret.) shares his journey of recovery regarding the transformation he experienced through Shelter to Soldier by being paired with his service dog, Jade.


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Chris & Jade

Additionally, Richard Slack, US Army (Ret.), elaborates on his STS experience with his service dog, Seth. “I was a 68W (combat medic) in the U.S. ARMY for four years. Our Brigade deployed to Iraq from 2005-2006. We operated in Mosul and Tal Afar. After 12 months in the country, we were set to redeploy back to the U.S., but after help was needed in Baghdad, we were stopped from coming home and sent to Baghdad to assist the 101st airborne division. We did about 16 months total in Iraq.

Crowds, loud noises, fear of being attacked, fear of being alone, walking outside early in the morning and not seeing what’s around me when it’s dark. Everyday started to feel like it was my last day. When I applied for Shelter to Soldier it was at the end of my road. The day I got accepted to STS was a day I’ll never forget. I teared-up with joy after the call. It was a long road of traveling and training with Seth (my service dog). The training was my new hobby. It was a new kind of boot camp. Once I finally got to bring Seth home it was like bringing the new baby from the hospital. Nervous, excited, thankful, ready for the new chapter.

My favorite part of the military isn’t just one thing. My proudest moments in life were in uniform. So were my scariest. Waking up in the morning with the obligation to represent our nation’s military was a great honor. Facing the fear of signing up with the possibility of going to war was a decision that molded the man I am today. Serving my country was a life dream that I am thankful to have experienced. My Father served in Vietnam, which set the future for my calling to duty.

I’m not alone anymore. It’s like I got a battle buddy watching my back. In the military you’re never alone. There is always at least one other person with you. When you return your weapon and leave the military, it’s like taking your armor off. Now you’re vulnerable. Seth helps me feel protected again in a calming way.

After I got out of the military, I realized over a period of time that things weren’t thesame. I got out of the military fairly soon after I got back from Iraq. Slowly I slipped towards a bad place.

“His closeness and shadowing he does for me gives me a sense of being safer.

Not one thing ever seemed normal after coming home. I couldn’t last more than a short period in stores. I’d swerve away from things in the road in fear that it might be a roadside bomb. Everything started to scare me.

The love Seth provides me with has tremendous benefits. Seth is like having a person keep watch over me to make sure I’m good.”

The Shelter to Soldier team encourages veterans who have been recommended a service dog by a mental health professional to reach out for support. To learn more about veteran-support services provided by STS, call (760) 870-5338 for a confidential interview regarding eligibility or visit the website www.sheltertosoldier.org and click on the “Apply Now” button.

Richard & Seth with Graham Bloem

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WHAT’S NEXT Transition to Civilian Life By Eve Nasby

Married to the Military - The Spousal Success Guide The definition of transition is “the process or state of changing from one condition to another.” Ice Cold and Iced Out Imagine this. You’re a successful female executive at a huge corporation, as well as a supportive spouse to your husband in the Navy. Suddenly, your husband gets orders to go to Iceland. You now have to resign from your position, with hopes that you can find something comparable - in Iceland. Nope. Instead, you end up working in a grocery store and as a waitress. Because that’s really all that’s available there. Then, you finally return to the company where you made such an impact, only to find your position is gone and you find yourself working for those who used to work for you. Transition that! This is a true story. Deb Kloeppel went through this exact scenario. Transitioning from a highly coveted leadership position to stocking shelves in a grocery store in Iceland. Quite the definition of “changing from one condition to another.” While she had high hopes that her value would remain top of mind at the company from which she had to resign, it didn’t.

The Uncomfortable Defrost

Changing the Status Quo

What happens when you’re trying to return to the workforce after being “just a military spouse?” No medals, no impressive leadership experience and bravery to highlight and reframe during interviews. Just a life of constant upheaval and restarting over. Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon. It can be the same for a parent who stayed home to raise kids, and tries to return to the workforce many years later, only to have no recent, marketable skills.

Deb used her challenges from Iceland to her advantage, and was determined to make the transition path easier for future spouses. She founded the Military Spouse Corporate Career Network and Corporate America Supports You (CASY). These organizations provide personalized one-on-one job placement services, customized career exploration, and a ground-breaking industry specific Train2Hire™ program. They have placed over 67,000 veterans and military spouses into jobs since her program began.

Mind the Gap, then Close It A military spouse or stay at home parent means significant time gaps in the resume. Unfortunately, this time gap can be perceived as useless to employers. But you can fix it. Deb encourages spouses to “Be on top of what it will take for you to get back into your industry. Think bigger than the industry job you left. Be proactive. If you have time to volunteer, learn a new skill while you are in this time of flux to stay relevant. Consider enrolling in a training course in your field of interest.” Fortunately, many programs have been created to get military spouses prepped and ready for success. 44

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“Military spouses are the most unique workforce on the planet and they are remarkably well educated. During their down time, they enroll in classes for free and continue their education,” Deb says. Lauren Ramos, Military Spouse Fellowship Program Manager at Hiring Our Heroes and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, agrees. “The resumes of spouses boast multiple degrees in various areas of study as they choose to take advantage of their free time to enhance their skills.” The Chamber’s biggest focus is closing the unemployment gap of 24%. Dave Grundies

Over half of working military spouses left the workforce or cut back their hours in 2020. The Military Spouse Fellowship Program is available to any and all spouses of those who have served both current and past. This program provides professional training, networking and hands on experience. The direct connections to local employers within the program enable military spouses to quickly build their networks and gain localized job experience. The Hiring Our Heroes Amplify program is a 2-day event designed to empower and prepare military spouses to tackle the workforce. During this intensive workshop, spouses get hands-on training for resume writing, creating a LinkedIn presence, and interviewing. They’re also paired up with an executive currently working in their industry/career of interest on day two, getting protips on how to get a job in that field. Both virtual and in-person options are available. For more information visit website at: www.hiringourheroes.org Fear Not When asked what the biggest fear is of spouses looking for work, Lauren answers, “Spouses are nervous that they are not going to be seen for all that they are capable of. Their resume often doesn’t reflect the reality of their skills. Through all the moves and transitions they feel that they somehow have lost value. That’s not true and we help them rediscover who they are to help them become all that they are meant to become.” Whether you’ve been stocking shelves in Iceland, changing diapers, or are just stuck in a rut of not knowing how to get back in the workforce, these are wonderful resources to give military spouses the confidence and leverage to be all they can, and want, to be. Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (www.msccn.org) and Corporate America Supports You (www.casy.us) (CASY) remains free for both companies and the workers. To help support the continued success of employing military spouses, they are actively looking for generous donors. Want more information? Need help with hiring or getting hired? Contact Eve Nasby: eve@bandofhands.com Connect on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/eve-nasby-given-hiring-expert


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HUMAN RESOURCES Transition to Business By Paul Falcone

Leadership by Gratitude May is National Military Appreciation Month, and what better way to celebrate spring than by honoring those active military and veterans who continue to give so much to our country? I typically write about leadership, communication, and teambuilding, whether in the context of effective hiring or performance management. Today, however, I’d like to share a story that I tell in all business classes that I teach—not so much because it’s a “business story,” per se, but because it’s such an integral part of leadership and team dynamics. So often, business leaders question how to pierce employees’ hearts and make them want to perform at their highest level—not because they have to but because they want to for themselves. Part of that responsibility will always lie with the team leader, of course, in creating a workplace where others can motivate themselves. Motivation is internal, not external, so a key wisdom in the workplace can always be found in creating the right environment where people can thrive according to their own internal motivators (that hopefully mesh with your organization’s external motivators).

In my experience as a human resources executive and business school lecturer, when it comes to building strong teams, nothing comes close to teaching the importance of thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude. My instruction to student leaders (i.e., operational business leaders) is to take time to discuss the importance of gratitude as well as its opposite: “not enoughness.” Gratitude is a matter of perspective, of course, and your key responsibility as a team or department leader is to help people change their perspective, which in turn changes their perception. In other words, if their perspective is clear and purposeful, their experience of everything around them will be cast in a different light. Here’s an example to make that point: An oncologist at a prestigious cancer center was diagnosed with a malignant tumor himself. He explained that when he and his wife first got the tragic news, his initial reaction was one of pure thankfulness. “After all,” he reasoned, “I work around cancer every day—pediatric oncology, in fact—and I see how difficult it is for parents to shepherd their children through the trials and tribulations of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. I feel for them so much, and I always say a prayer of thanks that my children are healthy.”

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“When the day came that I was diagnosed with cancer myself, my immediate thought to my wife was, ‘Thank God it’s me and it’s not the kids. If it was either of the kids, my only prayer would be to take it away from them and give it to me. And that prayer was just answered right now. I’m so grateful that I’ll go through this journey rather than them. And I’ll be alright, Honey. This isn’t going to be my last stand by any means. We have far too much to do yet!’” And literally in the moment he was diagnosed with cancer, he said a prayer of thankfulness and appreciation because his “perspective” was so healthy. He literally saw the cancer as a gift that would spare his children. And while it’s true that the surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy he was about to undergo would be no easy walk in the park, his “perception” of the whole experience changed: He accepted it willingly, if for no other reason than to spare his children of such a horrific disease. As a society, we’ve lost the ability to sit around the campfire and tell stories—to pass wisdom down from the elders to the younger generation. Storytelling was replaced well over a century ago with film, which then expanded into broadcasting (network television), narrow casting (cable), and mono casting (digital marketing). We’ve been listening to others’ stories rather than telling our own ever since. We need to discuss important life lessons in the boardroom and at the kitchen table. A discussion surrounding thankfulness and gratitude is a great place to start. True, there may be “not enough” of everything we want or need—time, money, resources, and yes, even love— but countering that concept with one of gratitude is a key leadership strategy that alters perspectives and perceptions better than just about anything else. Share your story with your team (and family), ask them to share theirs, and build optimistic teams that come from thankfulness and appreciation. You’ll be setting a foundation for true teamwork, camaraderie, and support that keeps teams performing at their best— and happy to do so not because they have to but because they want to. You can connect with Paul on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/paulfalcone1 Books available at your favorite retailer or at www.HarperCollinsLeadership.com

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

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Healthcare Careers: A Perfect Fit for Military and Civilian Life By Stephanie Lee, Air Force Veteran & Enrollment Manager, CareerStep Sometimes, the sense of division between life in the military and life as a civilian feels like a vast chasm. In fact, for military families, this sense of division joins a long list of challenges that specifically impact the men and women who sacrifice so much for the country. These challenges couldn’t be more apparent than when it comes to finding a post-military career or one that is flexible enough to align with military spouses’ unique needs—a career that checks all the right boxes: satisfaction, security, and stability. Finding industries and employers that understand the skills of veterans and their families can seem like an uphill climb at times, and it shows. For example, the unemployment rate for veterans rose to 6.5% in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Reasons for this vary, but one contributing factor could be that lessons learned under the harsh conditions of combat don’t always translate to private-sector jobs. And for military spouses—60% of which say they’re looking for full- or part-time work—finding a profession that’s both portable and in-demand is increasingly difficult.

However, there is hope and there are opportunities. First, it’s important to consider key reasons why a career in healthcare—the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. economy according to BLS data—might just be what bridges that expansive gap between military and civilian life. 1. Meaningful Work Most who enter the military are looking for fulfilling work—an opportunity to make a difference. A real difference. But few civilian careers allow veterans to make as much of a difference as those found in healthcare. That’s because working in this particular field, regardless of the role, provides the opportunity to impact peoples’ lives in profound ways. From mending wounds and healing minds to saving lives, the difference healthcare workers make is undeniable. 2. Transferable Skills There’s a reason healthcare is an overwhelmingly popular career choice for veterans and their spouses: it’s an industry in which military-specific skills are undeniably relevant. Creative problem solving, adaptability, and effective communication—they’re all valuable skills that healthcare organizations can’t ignore if they want to provide the best possible service and care to their patients. And they’re all skills that veterans and their spouses already possess. 3. In-Demand Careers People need healthcare. In turn, the industry needs people willing to step up to the proverbial plate.


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Healthcare Training For Your Next Phase of Life

Economic and labor experts believe we need to hire 2.3 million new healthcare workers by 2025 if we’re going to keep pace with the needs of our aging population. But a persistent shortage of skilled workers with exceptional knowledge and training means hundreds of thousands of positions will remain unfilled. Home health aides, medical assistants, lab technicians, and more are all in high demand. 4. Portable Jobs For a working military spouse, it can be difficult to cultivate a strong professional network, and when the time comes to pack up and move to a new city, the wrong vocation can leave even the most talented pro scrambling to start over. That’s why job portability is so important. Healthcare training provides the skills and certifications that employers are looking for in highgrowth, high-demand fields in virtually every city in the entire world. Supportive Training for Success These days, there are multiple training options for learners to pave their road to success. These organizations often have hiring network relationships, so it’s important to keep in contact and inform them when certification is achieved. It’s especially important for members of the healthcare sector to be fully qualified and properly trained. An early step is to start by choosing a specific discipline and then find a provider that can help learners develop the concrete job skills employers are looking for.

Our online training programs are approved for military education funding—all designed to help military members and their spouses build skills and thrive in careers that are portable, in-demand, and rewarding.

The good news is that there’s a significant amount of trusted providers who specialize in transforming entrylevel learners into high-performing, certified healthcare professionals. And they all do this with expansive catalogs of fully online career training programs that are fast, portable, and eligible for military education grants—often covering up to 100% of the cost.

Start training today so you can be prepared for meaningful work tomorrow.

Finding the right fit takes a little time and it is important to explore the possibilities. Doing the research is crucial as it can improve the learning experience—and potentially lead to faster employment. Deciding to pursue a career in healthcare is a fulfilling and viable option for veterans and their spouses. About the Author: Stephanie Lee served in the Air Force for 11 years as a Munitions Systems Craftsman. She now serves as an Enrollment Manager for CareerStep, (www.careerstep.com/military/), the Allied Health training division of Carrus. (www.carruslearn.com)

For more information, call (877) 201-3470 or visit www.careerstep.com/military

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021


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WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021


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ENLISTED TO ENTREPRENEUR By Vicki Garcia veteransinbiz@gmail.com

Low Content Books for Fun and Profit In past columns, I’ve suggested writing a book to become an authority in your field. Instead, this column is about how to make money quickly and for free with Low Content Books, possibly with knowledge you already have. Or not. You don’t need to be a writer, a niche genius, or a graphic designer. Low Content Books are paperback books with very little content – books like journals, workbooks, study guides, prayer books, coloring books, step-by-step instructions, and even comic books. Bestselling titles are stupefyingly simple, such as a gratitude journal or the title “People I want to Punch in the Face” (seriously, there scores of these for sale). There are also No Content Books that allow the “reader” to fill in all the blanks themselves. You can create Low Content Books and publish them right on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). An Amazon listing gives your LCB a high perceived value. With its massive reach and lucrative royalties, Amazon KDP is an exciting, easy way to get your book out there. Here are the basic steps – 1. Sign up for an Amazon KDP account for free at www.kdp.amazon.com/en_US/ Get to market fast, takes less than 5 minutes and your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours. Royalties are up to 70%, keep control over your rights, make changes at any time, publish in digital and print. Amazon will assign you an ISBN number. 2. Decide on Your Topic. Do a little research on what is already available and what sells well. Evergreen niches do very well on Amazon. So, think about people’s passions, sports, professions, and hobbies but think narrow and obscure. Tip: Stick to under 3. Create the Interior. 200 pages, and 100 Remember, the best Low pages even better. Content Books are made of easy to absorb, one or two-sentence pages with lines for notes. The easiest way recommended to create your interior is by using PowerPoint, which is free. Investigate others if you want. 52

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Tip: An ISBN number is used by publishers, bookstores, libraries, etc. and is important for ordering, sales reporting, and inventory control. An ISBN increases the chances that your book will be found. 4. Check Your Content on www.grammarly.com for Free, which will help you from looking like a total grammar and punctuation idiot. 5. Create a Cover. Amazon has a helpful “Cover Creator.” You can also find a cover designer for pennies at www.fiverr.com Simple covers sell best. 6. Marketing Your Low Content Book. Your marketing is made much easier with the right topic, title, and cover. Amazon has helpful tools, free and otherwise. Use all the social media tools available to you. Check out the many Tip: Keep the price low. how-to videos on You This about volume sales. Tube. Be sure to load up your listing with keywords. Try to avoid software sellers who are targeting you, but they may offer something, So, you don’t need to be a writer to be an author! Get into the Low Content Books game for fun and profit.

Tip: Be sure to follow the Amazon rules or they will kick you off, which means game over.

Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Operation Vetrepreneur & the owner of a marketing firm for over 30 years. Email her at www.veteransinbiz@gmail.com and register for free coaching at www.veteransinbiz.com. If you have a business, join the California Veterans Chamber of Commerce for free at www.caveteranschamber.com/join.


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.

AFTER EARNED A CAREER IN JUST 4 MONTHS. ENROLL NOW AT WFW.ORG CAD/CAM Programming CNC Machining Welding DoD SkillBridge Organization

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Discover an exciting new career opportunity after serving your country. Heavy Equipment Colleges of America proudly supports and honors the brave women and men who fight for our country. • VA education benefits and Career Skills Program (CSP) • Job placement help and hands-on, classroom interaction • Get certified in as little as three weeks

Veteran Only Locations

Joint Base Lewis McChord in Lakewood, WA | Ft. Irwin, CA (active duty, too) Phone: 760-383-1030 | Email: ftirwin@hecofa.com

TRAIN TO BECOME A CRANE OPERATOR TODAY. Visit: www.heavyequipmentcollege.com www.heavyequipmentcollege.com/campuses/california-ft-irwin-csp/ No Official US Government or DOD endorsement is implied

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021


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.


WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021

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.

Military service can be a perfect entrance into a law enforcement career.

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021



WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021

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WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021


Remembering Our Heroes www.bandofhands.com

Helping today's heroes achieve success by making it easier to run your small business.

Job Board & Automated Recruiting

Payroll & Tax Services

HR Services

Employer of Record

Onboarding & Compliance

Time & Attendance

Contact Eve Nasby, Band of Hands president and passionate military supporter to get started today. eve@bandofhands.com 62

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021


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

It’s time to take advantage.

Learn more about Medicare Advantage plans designed to complement your VA or TRICARE For Life benefits.

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


WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MAY 2021