Month of the Military Caregiver
REACH, CLIMB and GO!
Life Beyond the Wounds of War
Army Veteran Goes from Wounded to Awesome
Transition to Civilian Life
Careers in Law Enforcement
SDPD RIDE ALONG
A Story of Two Marines
Vol. 10 • Number 5 • May 2023 M A G A Z I N E
US Navy (1987 – 1993) US Air Force (1993 – 2013)
PTSD treatment can turn your life around. For more information visit: www.ptsd.va.gov/aboutface
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“I’m happier with myself. Having been in therapy, period, has helped me be in a better place now.” Rogelio “Roger” Rodriguez, Jr
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 3 Celebrating the Commitment That Connects Us Learn more at navyfederal.org/celebrate MAY 1 - JUNE 1 Insured by NCUA. © 2022 Navy Federal NFCU 13985 (2-22) www.navyfederal.org/celebrate www.uniteus.com
Welcome to Homeland Magazine!
Homeland is a veteran-focused magazine throughout the country. It serves to assist all veterans, active military as well as their spouses and families.
It is the leading veteran magazine emphasizing resources & support and focusing on topics and issues facing today’s veteran community. Homeland focuses on resources, support, community, transition, mental health and inspiration for our veterans, & military personnel.
The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with our veterans, service members, military families, and civilians.
The magazine is supported by a distinguishing list of veteran organizations & members, resource centers, coalitions, veteran advocates, and more. We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people.
Despite all the challenges, our team has upheld their focus and let not one opportunity go to provide resources and support to our veterans & military personnel.
On behalf of our team, we wanted to take this moment to say THANK YOU to the readers and the military and veteran community for supporting our magazine. With that support we aim to make a difference and continuing to make a profound impact on the quality of life for our veterans, military personnel and their families.
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What’s Next Transition
Eve Nasby • Kristin Hennessy
Veterans in Business
Successful Transitioning Stories
Dr. Julie Ducharme
Real Talk: Mental Health
Art & Healing
Kelly Bagla, Esq.
Tana Landau, Esq.
Veterans Chamber Commerce
Wounded Warrior Project
Raquel G. Rivas, WWP
Disabled American Veterans
San Diego Veterans Coalition
Veteran Association North County Shelter to Soldier (STS)
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WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 5 MAY INSIDE THE ISSUE 6 Another Chapter - Phyliss Wilson (DAV) 8 Life Beyond the Wounds of War (WWP) 10 GI Film Festival San Diego (2023) 15 Former Navy Secretary “At the Helm” 17 Memorial Day History 18 Memorial Day - A Time for Heroes 22 Real Talk - Hidden Helpers 24 Caregivers REACH, CLIMB and GO! 28 PTSD - How the Body Reacts to Trauma 32 National University Supports Military 36 What’s Next - Translate Your Experiences 38 Human Resources - Employers & Veterans 40 Successful Transition - Grace Green 42 Franchise Frontline - Restoring Valor Project 44 Risky Busines - Cyber Hacking Risks 46 Business for Veterans - Avoid Undo Risk 48 Legal Eagle - Checklist for Legal Issues 50 Legally Speaking -Divorce & Default 53 Careers in Law Enforcement 54 SDPD Ride Along - A Story of Two Marines 58 From Navy Sailor to SFPD 62 Veterans are Perfect for Cybersecurity
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the Wounds of War:
Army Veteran Goes from Wounded to Awesome with Help from WWP, Family, Friends
By Raquel Rivas, Wounded Warrior Project
By age 21, Bryan Wagner had lost a leg to combat injuries and spent two years enduring surgeries and doing rehab. Despite the hurdles he faced as a young veteran, he was constantly challenging himself to move forward – and by age 25, he became known for not letting anything “stand in the way of awesomeness.”
Bryan had many reasons to feel the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but he didn’t give PTSD a chance to take hold. He had parents, siblings, friends, and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) in his corner.
He received a bag with personal items from WWP while undergoing surgeries and rehab at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He admits it wasn’t his best day of rehab, and, at first, he brushed off the WWP visitor. However, the visitor persisted, and Bryan still talks about the significance of that visit.
“I was given two things that day: a backpack and a promise that Wounded Warrior Project will always be there for me, and they have,” Bryan said.
Bryan’s healing journey could have looked different: he could have isolated himself, refused the backpack from WWP, or become angry over losing his right leg.
Thankfully, Bryan opened himself to receive help and support instead. And he kept looking forward.
“When you lose a body part, you look at yourself differently,” Bryan said. “It’s a big change, and there was a whole new world that I didn’t understand. Believe it or not, I was concerned about how to play catch with my son – even though I didn’t have a family yet. But I knew that I would want to have a family one day.
“During the early days, these three things sustained me: family, faith, and Wounded Warrior Project – that was my support system.”
After several surgeries to salvage his injured leg, Bryan concluded that amputation and prosthesis would allow him to stay more active and unencumbered.
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“I could still walk and run. I went scuba diving, skydiving, mountain climbing – I always thought that ability is a state of mind,” Bryan said.
The Mountains He Climbed
Bryan connected with other veterans at Walter Reed. He also stayed in touch with WWP and signed up for connection events, Soldier Ride, physical health and wellness, and career counseling. He eventually took on a leadership role at WWP, inspiring others to challenge themselves and stay engaged.
“Who you surround yourself with is huge as far as injury recovery and mental health,” Bryan said. “Without help from Wounded Warrior Project, I would’ve been a guy who gets out of the military and just does a bare minimum. I would have been a statistic.”
Bryan medically retired from the military in December 2009. In January 2010, he moved from California to Florida to start career counseling, mental health support, and veteran connection through WWP.
WWP gave Bryan the tools to ease into going back to school. Eventually, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in athletic training and continued to graduate school to earn a doctorate degree in occupational therapy.
Throughout his professional and personal milestones, he stayed close to WWP, participated in Soldier Ride in Washington, DC, met his future wife, and continued to challenge himself to reach new heights.
In 2011, WWP offered Bryan the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the fourth-largest mountain in the world and the tallest in Africa, with a team of four veterans and three NFL players. Through corporate sponsorships, the team of warriors had the chance to train together and then travel to Tanzania to acclimate and then begin their ascent.
“Disability is a state of mind,” Bryan said. “You can’t let something like losing a limb stop you from doing what you want to do.”
Bryan and the team persisted, reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in freezing weather, at dawn, after five days of hard climbing, including climbing overnight.
“The sun came up as we reached the summit, and there we were, looking down over Africa,” Bryan said when interviewed for a newspaper in his native California. “We did something most people can’t do.”
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Bryan has done many things most people don’t usually do – everything from skydiving to scuba diving to endurance events. His resilient spirit and the support he has opened himself to have allowed him to build a life beyond his expectations.
What would Bryan say to his younger self?
“There will be dark days, and sunlight will come after those days,” Bryan said. “The time you’ll get to spend in the sunlight will be brighter and longer. I would also say to my younger self to do it for more than yourself. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t have a family. Shortly after my amputation, I was lying on a hospital bed, wondering what can I do? I was a 21-year-old who was asking himself, ‘How can I be a disabled vet?’ I was already thinking, ‘I am a disabled vet, but that’s not who I am.’ That doesn’t define me.”
A Warrior Defining Himself and His Future
For Bryan, who always knew he wanted to dedicate his life to helping others, surviving was not the question. The big issue for him was guilt. Bryan began to process those feelings after spending time with other veterans.
“At first, the guilt I felt had to do with my position as the gunner the day of the explosion and thinking that I had failed my truck because I didn’t take out an enemy before the bomb was detonated,” Bryan said. “Talking to other veterans helped a lot.”
Connecting with veterans who were further along on their healing journeys helped Bryan let go of unfounded guilt. Looking back, Bryan said healing the physical wounds was easier than the mental health aspects.
“The mental health aspect is so vast,” Bryan said. “There are so many pieces that have to come together for optimal mental health, and having the support you need is so important. We tend to keep it all bottled up. But it’s OK to have these feelings. My wife helps me reinforce that it’s OK to have feelings.”
“It’s great that WWP is here for us,” Bryan added. “I would say to other warriors that you have to be brave to be vulnerable. It’s OK to open up. And it’s important to surround yourself with support.”
Through his connection to other veterans and strong family support, Bryan is on his way to finding new ways to give back. He would like to use his doctorate degree to help veterans in the VA system rehabilitate and live full lives beyond physical limitations.
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“I like to help people, and I don’t think that desire is ever going to leave me,” Bryan said. “That’s why I’ve chosen a career path that allows me to support veterans.”
“For so long, I was the patient,” Bryan said. “I was the one receiving physical and occupational therapy. Now I get to see patients taking their first step in walking again. Sometimes, something as simple as grabbing a cup of water and drinking on their own is amazing. I love working with people and watching them do things on their own. Even as I think back on my darkest times, being able to help others and watching them gain independence has been so rewarding.”
Connect with other veterans and start your healing journey.
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.
Move Forward Together
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Scan here to learn more or visit woundedwarriorproject.org/soldier-ride. ©2023 Wounded Warrior Project, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Soldier Ride® is a unique, multi-day riding event that helps warriors build confidence and strength through shared physical activities and bonds of service in a supportive environment. Soldier Ride welcomes warriors of various skill and fitness levels interested in discovering how to ride. WWP provides access to all necessary equipment at no cost to warriors.
GI Film Festival San Diego Has ‘Something for Everyone’ in Diverse 2023 Film Lineup
From heart-wrenching documentaries to comedic shorts, the military-themed film festival offers a diverse selection of films that explore the military experience and celebrate our talented veteran filmmaker community.
Renowned filmmaker Ingmar Bergman said, “No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.”
Whether you enjoy the moving experience of watching a documentary or drama, or you prefer the levity that a comedy can provide, the lineup of 31 films at the 2023 GI Film Festival San Diego has something for everyone. The military-themed film festival is happening May 1520, and will bring active military, veterans, civilians and cinema lovers together at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in Balboa Park.
From serious to eccentric and everything in between, here’s a list of gems that you won’t want to miss in the 2023 GI Film Festival San Diego:
Nominated for Best Documentary Short and Founders’ Choice awards, “By My Side” is a 30-minute documentary directed by Vicki Topaz and Wynn Padula. This is an intimate portrait of three veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who ultimately find hope in the hearts of faithful service dogs. The veterans and their families share their experiences in their journeys from despair to hope. “BY MY SIDE” will make its world premiere on Friday, May 19 in the festival’s Doc Shorts block.
For audience members looking for a laugh, film director and military veteran John Mendoza takes viewers on a comedic journey through a zombie attack on Los Angeles in “Hollywood Post 43’s Last Stand.” Will the American Legion’s Hollywood Post 43 rally for the good of the region? Nominated for Best Comedy Short, this film will screen on Friday, May 19 in the Late Night Narrative Shorts block.
The documentary feature “Not My Enemy” will make its San Diego premiere at the GI Film Festival San Diego on Wednesday, May 17. In this film, African American director and choreographer Kehinde Ishangi seeks to uncover the truth about her absent father’s choices, only to reveal the real enemy as the Vietnam War. “Not My Enemy” paints a picture of the traumatic and dehumanizing impact of the Vietnam War through the experiences of African American soldiers. Nominated for Best First-Time Director, Nominated for Best
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Photo Courtesy: By My Side
Photo Courtesy: Hollywood Post 43s Last Stand
Photo Courtesy: Not My Enemy
First-Time Director, in this film Ishangi examines the nightmare of combat, the deep psychological aftermath, and the effort to heal from these lifelong wounds.
Preceding “Not My Enemy” is the world premiere of “Welcome Home: Oscar’s Journey,” a documentary short that follows U.S. Army Ranger, Medic and Vietnam War veteran Oscar Bruno, and his trip from Chicago to Washington, D.C. where, after 50 years, he finally gets the emotional homecoming he always deserved. This 13-minute heartwarming film directed and edited by John Mogor will leave audience members in tears as they witness Oscar’s journey to healing.
Since 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego has been a platform for military voices, experiences and talent. Organized by KPBS in partnership with Film Consortium San Diego, the festival has presented hundreds of films from national, international and San Diego area filmmakers and attracted thousands of audience members around the world.
“The Gentle Sex,” directed by John Adams and nominated for Best Comedy Short, depicts the story of Connie Brown (played by Dame Joan Collins), who for 45 years has lived a quiet life at the covert Stathie Manor in the English countryside where female secret agents trained during World War II. “The Gentle Sex” will make its San Diego premiere on Friday, May 19 in the Late Night Narrative Shorts block.
“Our advisory committee and event organizers curated a diverse lineup of films for all movie lovers. Whether you need a good laugh, cry, or to feel inspired, the GI Film Festival San Diego will deliver what you are looking for.”
The 2023 GI Film Festival San Diego box office is open at GIFilmFestivalSD.org. Tickets for most screenings start at just $8 for active military, veterans and KPBS members, and $10 for general admission. Secure your seat now for a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience.
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“The GI Film Festival San Diego offers the opportunity to not only watch films for and about our military, but also admire the immense talent and dedication to the art of moviemaking from veteran filmmakers both locally and nationally,”
- Jodi Cilley, founder and president, Film Consortium San Diego.
Photo Courtesy: Welcome Home: Oscar’s Journey
Photo Courtesy: The Gentle Sex
14 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 PRESENTED BY IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FEATURED SPONSORS May 15-20, 2023 31 FILMS | 11 SHOWTIMES & EVENTS | 6 NIGHTS GET YOUR TICKETS NOW GIFilmFestivalSD.org LOCAL | NATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | PREMIERES | PANEL DISCUSSIONS | AWARDS CELEBRATION ULTIMATE SACRIFICES: CPT JENNIFER MORENO LET’S TALK ABOUT THE WAR BY MY SIDE JERRY’S LAST MISSION WELCOME HOME: OSCAR’S JOURNEY
Former Navy Secretary Thought of Fallen and His Years ‘At the Helm’
As a proud veteran of the Vietnam War, there is never an adequate way to thank or honor those who gave their lives for this country throughout our nation’s history. Each year when Memorial Day arrives, my thoughts go back to all of our country’s wars and thank the remarkable, brave men and women who gave the last full measure to help secure our freedom. Living in Washington, D.C., my heart swells every time I pass Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day and see an American flag on every single grave put there to remind us of how much sacrifice has been made for us to live as we do. “Freedom is never free” is made poignantly real by that remarkable sight.
As a sophomore, I heard an inspirational speaker at our high school assembly say that he wanted his son to go to the US Naval Academy because he was convinced that was the best overall education a young man could get. That sparked my aspiration to attend the Naval Academy. I was not successful in gaining the appointment from high school, so I attended Louisiana State University for one year. Fortunately, I received the appointment the next year.
The Naval Academy afforded me many rich experiences. My time there was bookended by President John F Kennedy. In 1960, my plebe year, he was the first former naval officer to be elected President of the United States. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in my senior year there. I marched in both his inaugural parade and in his funeral procession, I had the privilege of leading the Naval Academy honor company. Also, in my senior year, I was selected Deputy Brigade Commander, the second highest rank in the Brigade of Midshipmen and finished the Academy in the top 10% of the great Class of 1964.
The Submarine Service offered me the experience of serving on two submarines, the USS Blueback (SS-581), the last diesel electric boat the Navy ever built and the John C. Calhoun (SSBN-630), a fleet ballistic missile nuclear powered submarine. I had several positions of responsibility on each. The longest time I was submerged on the Blueback was 40 days. On the John C. Calhoun, I did five patrols where we were submerged for ten weeks on each. Following active duty, I served in the Navy Reserve for two years.
Veterans Day, too, has always held special meaning for me, but never more than being invited to give the Veterans Day address first at the Washington National
Veterans Day address first at the Washington National Cathedral and then at St. Martins in Houston, the largest Episcopal church in the country. In each I recalled well known veterans in our history who demonstrated various qualities of principled leadership for which they were recognized. known veterans in our history who demonstrated various qualities of principled leadership for which they were recognized. I am incredibly proud that both of our sons are veterans. John Jr. spent seven years as a surface warfare officer, and Chris served nine years as a Marine helicopter pilot.
During the Clinton Administration, I served as the 70th Secretary of the Navy, which I think is the best job in government! Every day was a new experience, and even though some days were better than others, I loved them all. I tried to lead in a values-based way with passion and compassion, discipline and toughness and an unwavering concern for sailors and Marines.
It was during that time that I was presented the International Security Leadership Award which is given annually to a public servant by the 290 lawmakers in the bipartisan National Security Caucus of the US Congress. No other service secretary has been so honored. In my time, I attempted to make our naval forces stronger, more modern and more diverse.
My new book At the Helm is a memoir. It is a journey with my family, faith and friends who have helped calm the storms and celebrate the successes in my life. I was privileged to serve in both the Carter and Clinton Administrations in various capacities. With President Carter, I was president of the Government National Mortgage Association and a member and chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. After serving as Secretary of the Navy in the Clinton Administration, I was also appointed to be a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts. Each of the above four positions require Senate confirmation. I am honored to have recently learned that a Virginia class submarine will be named the USS John H. Dalton (SSN-808). - ALL proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to three organizations: Washington National Cathedral, U.S. Naval Academy Foundation and Community Renewal International.
I will always take great pride in being an American veteran and have tremendous gratitude and respect for every other one who has served this incredible country, especially on Memorial Day.
Available at: www.simonandschuster.com/books/At-theHelm/John-H-Dalton/9781637585153
Available at: www.simonandschuster.com/books/At-theHelm/John-H-Dalton/9781637585153
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Memorial Day A Time for Heroes
By Nancy Sullivan Geng, Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
I leaned against an oak at the side of the road, wishing I were invisible, keeping my distance from my parents on their lawn chairs and my younger siblings scampering about.
I hoped none of my friends saw me there. God forbid they caught me waving one of the small American flags Mom bought at Ben Franklin for a dime. At 16, I was too old and definitely too cool for our small town’s Memorial Day parade. I ought to be at the lake, I brooded. But, no, the all-day festivities were mandatory in my family.
A high school band marched by, the girl in sequins missing her baton as it tumbled from the sky. Firemen blasted sirens in their polished red trucks. The uniforms on the troop of World War II veterans looked too snug on more than one member.
“Here comes Mama,” my father shouted.
Five black convertibles lumbered down the boulevard. The mayor was in the first, handing out programs. I didn’t need to look at one. I knew my uncle Bud’s name was printed on it, as it had been every year since he was killed in Italy. Our family’s war hero.
And I knew that perched on the backseat of one of the cars, waving and smiling, was Mama, my grandmother. She had a corsage on her lapel and a sign in gold embossed letters on the car door: “Gold Star Mother.”
I hid behind the tree so I wouldn’t have to meet her gaze. It wasn’t because I didn’t love her or appreciate her. She’d taught me how to sew, to call a strike in baseball. She made great cinnamon rolls, which we always ate after the parade.
What embarrassed me was all the attention she got for a son who had died 20 years earlier. With four other children and a dozen grandchildren, why linger over this one long-ago loss?
I peeked out from behind the oak just in time to see Mama wave and blow my family a kiss as the motorcade moved on. The purple ribbon on her hat fluttered in the breeze.
The rest of our Memorial Day ritual was equally scripted. No use trying to get out of it. I followed my family back to Mama’s house, where there was the usual baseball game in the backyard and the same old reminiscing about Uncle Bud in the kitchen.
Helping myself to a cinnamon roll, I retreated to the living room and plopped down on an armchair.
There I found myself staring at the Army photo of Bud on the bookcase. The uncle I’d never known. I must have looked at him a thousand times—so proud in his crested cap and knotted tie. His uniform was decorated with military emblems that I could never decode.
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A teenager learns the importance of war veterans.
Funny, he was starting to look younger to me as I got older. Who were you, Uncle Bud? I nearly asked aloud.
I picked up the photo and turned it over. Yellowing tape held a prayer card that read: “Lloyd ‘Bud’ Heitzman, 19251944. A Great Hero.” Nineteen years old when he died, not much older than I was. But a great hero? How could you be a hero at 19?
The floorboards creaked behind me. I turned to see Mama coming in from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.
I almost hid the photo because I didn’t want to listen to the same stories I’d heard year after year: “Your uncle Bud had this little rat-terrier named Jiggs. Good old Jiggs. How he loved that mutt! He wouldn’t go anywhere without Jiggs. He used to put him in the rumble seat of his Chevy coupe and drive all over town.
“Remember how hard Bud worked after we lost the farm? At haying season he worked all day, sunrise to sunset, baling for other farmers. Then he brought me all his wages. He’d say, ‘Mama, someday I’m going to buy you a brand-new farm. I promise.’ There wasn’t a better boy in the world!”
Sometimes I wondered about that boy dying alone in a muddy ditch in a foreign country he’d only read about. I thought of the scared kid who jumped out of a foxhole in front of an advancing enemy, only to be downed by a sniper. I couldn’t reconcile the image of the boy and his dog with that of the stalwart soldier.
Mama stood beside me for a while, looking at the photo. From outside came the sharp snap of an American flag flapping in the breeze and the voices of my cousins cheering my brother at bat. “Mama,” I asked, “what’s a hero?” Without a word she turned and walked down the hall to the back bedroom. I followed.
She opened a bureau drawer and took out a small metal box, then sank down onto the bed.
“These are Bud’s things,” she said. “They sent them to us after he died.” She opened the lid and handed me a telegram dated October 13, 1944. “The Secretary of State regrets to inform you that your son, Lloyd Heitzman, was killed in Italy.”
Your son! I imagined Mama reading that sentence for the first time. I didn’t know what I would have done if I’d gotten a telegram like that.
“Here’s Bud’s wallet,” she continued. Even after all those years, it was caked with dried mud. Inside was Bud’s driver’s license with the date of his sixteenth birthday. I compared it with the driver’s license I had just received. A photo of Bud holding a little spotted dog fell out of the wallet. Jiggs. Bud looked so pleased with his mutt.
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“Remember how hard Bud worked after we lost the farm? At haying season he worked all day, sunrise to sunset, baling for other farmers. Then he brought me all his wages. He’d say, ‘Mama, someday I’m going to buy you a brandnew farm. I promise.’ There wasn’t a better boy in the world!”
There were other photos in the wallet: a laughing Bud standing arm in arm with two buddies, photos of my mom and aunt and uncle, another of Mama waving. This was the home Uncle Bud took with him, I thought.
I could see him in a foxhole, taking out these snapshots to remind himself of how much he was loved and missed.
“Who’s this?” I asked, pointing to a shot of a pretty dark-haired girl. “Marie. Bud dated her in high school. He wanted to marry her when he came home.” A girlfriend? Marriage? How heartbreaking to have a life, plans and hopes for the future, so brutally snuffed out.
Sitting on the bed, Mema and I sifted through the treasures in the box: a gold watch that had never been wound again. A sympathy letter from President Roosevelt, and one from Bud’s commander. A medal shaped like a heart, trimmed with a purple ribbon, and at the very bottom, the deed to Mama’s house.
“Why’s this here?” I asked.
“Because Bud bought this house for me.” She explained how after his death, the U.S. government gave her 10 thousand dollars, and with it she built the house she was still living in.“He kept his promise all right,” Mama said in a quiet voice I’d never heard before.
For a long while the two of us sat there on the bed. Then we put the wallet, the medal, the letters, the watch, the photos and the deed back into the metal box.
I finally understood why it was so important for Mama—and me—to remember Uncle Bud on this day. If he’d lived longer he might have built that house for Mama or married his high-school girlfriend.
There might have been children and grandchildren to remember him by.
As it was, there was only that box, the name in the program and the reminiscing around the kitchen table.
“I guess he was a hero because he gave everything for what he believed,” I said carefully.
“Yes, child,” Mama replied, wiping a tear with the back of her hand. “Don’t ever forget that.”
I haven’t. Even today with Mama gone, my husband and I take our lawn chairs to the tree-shaded boulevard on Memorial Day and give our daughters small American flags that I buy for a quarter at Ben Franklin.
I want them to remember that life isn’t just about getting what you want. Sometimes it involves giving up the things you love for what you love even more.
That many men and women did the same for their country—that’s what I think when I see the parade pass by now.
And if I close my eyes and imagine, I can still see Mama in her regal purple hat, honoring her son, a true American hero.
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Real Talk: Mental Health
By Hope Phifer, Cohen Veterans Network www.vvsd.net/cohenclinics
May is the Month of the Military Caregiver
Military caregivers are the all-too-often unsung heroes who play a critical role in the health and well-being of our military community.
Today, there are an estimated 5.5 million military caregivers nationwide. They are the spouses, parents, siblings, friends, and even children who step up in incredible ways to care for the wounded, ill, or injured veteran or service member in their life.
The wide spectrum of military caregiver support includes organizing medications, providing transportation to doctor’s appointments, monitoring medical conditions, assisting with daily tasks like getting dressed and bathing, communicating with health care providers, advocating on their behalf, helping with housework, meals, grocery shopping, and much more.
In many cases, caregivers don’t identify themselves as caregivers, and see this support as simply doing what needs to be done when someone they love needs help. Still, it is important to recognize that the additional physical and emotional strain of caregiving responsibilities can affect caregivers’ mental health, and acknowledge that in military households, the culture of sacrifice and selflessness can prevent caregivers from taking care of themselves.
Month of the Military Caregiver presents the perfect opportunity to encourage military caregivers to carve out time for themselves in support of their own mental health and wellness as they care for others. Self-care can include any activity or practice both big and small that have a positive impact on your mental health and well-being. While time and resources may be limited, there are self-care strategies anyone can practice on a regular basis:
Say “No” As a Form of Self-Care
There are times when you might be asked to do more than you can realistically give. If someone asks something of you, use a “tactical pause” to gather your thoughts and consider if it is doable. If it is not, practice self-care by saying “no.” You don’t need to apologize for it, “no” is a complete sentence.
Stressed Out? Take Action
If there is a clear, actionable thing that’s stressing you out, the best self-care you could possibly give yourself is to act. If the task is just too overwhelming to tackle all at once, then break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. In other words, you don’t need to climb the entire mountain in one day. Simply walk 10 ft. today, and then another 10 ft. again tomorrow. This approach can make projects less intimidating and more doable.
Ask for or Accept Help
If someone says, “Let me know if you need anything” take them up on their offer! It’s ok to let others help you carry the weight of what you’re experiencing. If you’re uncomfortable with receiving help, think about what you need in terms of your friends. If your friend asked you for help with the same thing, would you help them? If the answer is “yes”, then let your friend be a friend and help. Or, if it’s an acquaintance that’s helping, think of it as an opportunity for connection. They help you, then you help them all the while you’re building friendship and community.
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Practice Grace with Yourself
Give yourself some credit! It is OK to not have all the answers. We often feel that we could have or should have done more. But instead of focusing on the things you didn’t get done in a day, focus on the things you did get done. Extend the same kindness you offer others. Practicing grace with yourself first is important.
At the Cohen Clinics at VVSD, part of Cohen Veterans Network (CVN), we are acutely aware that sometimes caregivers need someone to care for them, too. From the day our first clinic door opened, caregivers have been eligible for our high-quality, accessible mental health care. Last year, in partnership with Wounded Warrior Project, CVN extended our commitment to caregivers through a new initiative called “Hidden Helpers”. This initiative provides extended services to children who act as caregivers in military households, who are receiving care at any of our 23 Cohen Clinics around the country. Roughly 50% of all clients at CVN are military family members, and of that group 16% are children.
We are proud to have expanded our care to these remarkably resilient Hidden Helpers and look forward to continuing to serve.
To find care near you or to learn more, visit: cohenveteransnetwork.org/our-care
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 23 Therapy for Veterans, Service Members, and their Families Cohen Clinics provide therapy to post-9/11 veterans, service members, and their families, including National Guard / Reserves. LEARN MORE vvsd.net/cohenclinics 8885 Rio San Diego Dr. Suite 301 3609 Ocean Ranch Blvd. Suite 120 CVN Telehealth, face-to-face video therapy available statewide. 20800 Madrona Avenue, Suite C-100, Torrance, CA San Diego Oceanside Los Angeles our CALIFORNIA locations
The iBOT® Personal Mobility Device: Helping Veterans and Their Caregivers REACH, CLIMB and GO!
With aging demographics and our healthcare system facing financial challenges, caregivers play an increasingly important role in American society today. According to a report from the National Alliance of Caregivers, there are 53 million family caregivers in the United States. Although caregivers gain a sense of purpose, stress can also be a factor, the Alliance reports. Caregiving is part of family life for many Americans, including families of wheelchair users.
Assisting with meals, transportation, and daily living tasks, caregivers hold important roles in the lives of those with disability. This holds especially true for our nation’s disabled veterans, who face specific challenges. These issues range from PTSD, to employment struggles, to mobility challenges and navigating inaccessible environments.
The iBOT® simplifies daily life not only of the wheelchair user, but also the person who helps them. With six interchangeable modes, the iBOT® climbs curbs and stairs, and traverses terrain like sand, snow, gravel, and dirt. The device also balances on two wheels, elevating the user to eye level. The iBOT® helps close the gap between a veteran being excluded to being actively engaged in their community.
Michael Negrete, 55, collectively served 10 years in the Marine Corps and Coast Guard. A past President of the New England Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Michael has quadriplegia due to a spinal cord injury. A long-time manual chair user because of the limitations of traditional powerchairs, Michael now uses an iBOT®. He and his wife Terry have been together for 23 years living in rural New Hampshire. Because personal caregivers are difficult to find and train, Terry currently fills this role.
Together, they’ve traveled to Las Vegas, hiked the mountains of New Hampshire and Arizona, and explored the cityscapes of NYC’s 5th Avenue and Times Square and Memphis’ Beale Street. Michael used his iBOT® for all these trips. “Prior to the iBOT®, our constant worry was finding curb cuts, and getting around terrain or obstacles. Terry had to frequently push or bump me up when unable to avoid them. With the iBOT®, there are fewer challenges to worry about,” Michael said. In his manual chair, Michael couldn’t easily navigate the steep and uneven terrain in his neighborhood.
Now in his iBOT®, using 4-Wheel Mode Michael enjoys walks with Terry and their dog.
“We used to spend a lot of time avoiding barriers or rerouting ourselves to get to where we wanted to go – now, we can do more without limitations or barriers because of the iBOT®. We enjoy ourselves more without worry,” Terry said.
Balance Mode is important to Michael and Terry. At events, Michael uses Balance Mode to be at eye level with other people. During concerts at TD Garden in Boston, Michael and Terry don’t worry about purchasing tickets only to see the backside of the crowd standing in front of him. And Terry no longer must bend down to be at eye level with Michael.
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Michael & Terry
Another iBOT® user, Gary Linfoot, 55, served in the Army for 23 years – 13 of those years as an attack helicopter pilot with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). Gary is President of American Mobility Project, a foundation that provides mobility and adaptive equipment to people with disabilities. He sustained a spinal cord injury while serving in Iraq. Gary and his wife Mari have been together for 32 years and live together on their ranch in Tennessee. Although he also has a manual wheelchair, Gary uses his iBOT® every day on his ranch, at social events, and anywhere where pushing a manual chair is difficult.
“The iBOT® gives me independence and minimizes injuries from pushing a manual wheelchair.” Gary received a first generation iBOT® just after he sustained his injury. With his new iBOT®, Gary goes to the beach, hikes mountain trails, goes shooting, and maintains his cattle. He is also a frequent public speaker. Being eye level with people is priceless, he says, and puts others at ease. “It’s hard to put into words, and difficult to put a price on that – it’s something we assume, but when we can’t do it, we miss it dearly. The iBOT® gives it back to you.”
On caretaking, Mari says, “Having a spinal cord injury and limited mobility can be isolating – greater than I ever would have imagined. The iBOT® takes much of that away. When Gary is hanging out with his friends, being eye to eye takes the disability away. It’s great for everyone in the room – not just the wheelchair user. The iBOT® allows Gary to be just another friend – something that can be lost when someone has a disability.”
Gary’s favorite memories using the iBOT® include dancing with his daughters on their wedding days, giving the father of the bride speeches, and going to his children’s sporting events. “Having the iBOT® gives me a different outlook on life. I’ve gotten used to it always being there. Without it, part of me would be gone.”
Veterans with disabilities and their caregivers deserve to live fuller, less stressful lives. Eligible veterans can receive an iBOT® under VA FSS ##36F79721D0202. To learn more visit www.mobiusmobility.com.
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“Having the iBOT® gives me a different outlook on life. I’ve gotten used to it always being there. Without it, part of me would be gone.”
- Gary Linfoot
Gary & Mari
26 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program www.caregiver.va.gov
The Month of the Military Caregiver is observed in May each year to honor millions of caregivers in the United States. Paying tribute to the people who care for veterans is an important part of supporting troops and military families. But for some, it is also about recognizing the work they do that qualifies them as caregivers even if they do not think of themselves that way.
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C A R E G I V E R
PTSD: Reclaiming Control
By: Robert ‘Bob’ Cuyler, PhD Psychologist and Trauma Expert
How our body reacts to trauma
Most of us think about PTSD as emotional and mental distress following a traumatic event or series of events, and yes, of course this is true. However, PTSD goes beyond just the mind. It also impacts our body in multiple ways.
It’s not only the mind that is hyper-vigilant, constantly on the lookout for danger. This feeling of being tense, wound up and scanning the world for possible danger goes hand in hand with floods of stress hormones that affect us physically.
Regular exercise will help rebuild a sense of competence, and feeling like you’re back in control will help calm the stress hormones. Recognizing and challenging this retreat from life – those avoidance behaviors – is very important. Even small steps can help us recognize that avoidance compounds our problems, it does not solve them.
(Part 2 of 2)
This bodily stress can have both immediate and longterm effects. Rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, musculoskeletal pain, digestive discomfort, and sleep disturbance are all common. Surges of anxiety can be intensely unpleasant, and can lead to unhealthy coping styles such as alcohol use, which backfire.
Research indicates that about 60% to 75% of veterans have panic symptoms or attacks as part of PTSD symptoms. Rapid breathing, chest tightness, racing heart, dizziness, nausea, and shakiness are key signals of panic, which tend to come on very rapidly. While many people with panic disorder have panic attacks that seem to come ‘out of the blue’, with PTSD the surges of bodily anxiety more often come with reminders of trauma.
Crowds, sudden loud noises, thoughts or images that remind us of our trauma, or a nightmare can provoke panic. The intensity of the feelings and the bodily distress in these situations understandably makes us want to avoid trauma reminders. Shutting down emotionally – what we call ‘numbing’ – isolation, limiting activities, use of intoxicants, and irritability are some of the behaviors that can creep into our daily life as reactions to trauma.
So it’s not surprising then, that these experiences also lead to a sense of being out of control, when even a reminder of a traumatic event can create such sudden terror. Finding ways, both mentally and physically, to regain that sense of self-control is a vital step in living more effectively with PTSD.
New treatments for panic symptoms are showing benefit for individuals with PTSD, and interestingly are doing so without the need to revisit traumatic memories, which can be a big hurdle for many who try therapy. Our research shows that tackling an important underlying physical factor in panic attacks and PTSD episodes - a hypersensitivity to carbon dioxide that triggers dysregulated breathing – can be effective in reducing symptoms by learning how to regulate breathing patterns and to build self-management skills during times of stress or symptom surge.
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Cuyler is chief clinical officer of Freespira, an FDA-cleared non-medication treatment that helps people with panic and PTSD manage their symptoms by learning how to regulate their breathing. - www.freespira.com
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.
Homeland Magazine works with nonprofit veteran organizations that help more than one million veterans in life-changing ways each year.
Resources. Support. Inspiration.
At Homeland Magazine you can visit our website for all current and past articles relating to PTSD, symptoms, resources and real stories of inspiration.
Resources & Articles available at:
E S O U R C E S homelandmagazine.com/category/fighting-ptsd
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30 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 Whether your disability is obvious or invisible, Canine Support Teams can help you reclaim your independence. Canine Support Teams is proud to offer the PAWZ for Wounded Veterans program, which provides specially trained service dogs, at no charge , to the brave men and women who have faithfully served our country. caninesupportteams @k9supportteams Apply for a service dog today at www.caninesupportteams.org/pawz Or Call 951.301.3625
PROUDLY SERVING THOSE
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.
1 Million Military, Veterans and First Responders Impacted VOLUNTEERS
To forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude and meaningful engagements in communities Nationwide.
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 engagements 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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Recruit Graduates Military
Wounded Heroes and Caregivers First Responders
National University Proudly Supports the U.S. Military
National University (NU) has nurtured strong ties to the San Diego community and the military since its founding in 1971 by U.S. Navy Captain David Chigos. He understood that military-affiliated students had a need for a quality, flexible, and accessible approach to education. Since its inception, NU has proudly served active-duty and veteran students from all military branches as they have earned their college degrees at home, on base, and abroad.
Today NU provides relevant education to 40,000+ students nationwide of which one in four are servicemembers or veterans. With credential-rich pathways and a holistic approach to student support, well-being, and success, NU delivers world-class student experiences and has prepared its 220,000+ graduates for the next chapter of their lives.
Supporting the Whole You
National University’s innovative approach to education is about supporting the whole student. This approach includes providing the financial, academic, emotional, career, and family support needed to succeed in today’s fast-paced world. “We understand how to meet students where they are and help them get on the pathway to be successful,” said Dr. Mark D. Milliron, president and CEO of National University. “We are committed to helping them change their lives, improve the future of their families, and impact their communities.”
As a top 10 percent Military Friendly and Yellow Ribbon school, National University is committed to delivering exceptional services and offering financial benefits and resources to assist with educational expenses. NU accepts the post 9/11 “Forever” GI Bill, which reduces education costs for veterans and active-duty students. NU also offers military-specific scholarships for activeduty service members and their dependents and for eligible veterans, their spouses, and dependents. Our Veterans Affairs office can help you navigate the many affordable options available to use your benefits with purpose and make your career goals a reality.
As San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, NU has designed bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs specifically for military-affiliated students. NU’s flexible four-week and eight-week class formats are ideal for the deployment cycle of military personnel and help students reach their goals faster. NU offers transfer-friendly undergraduate and graduate degree programs to maximize as many previously earned credits as possible, including college credits from other accredited institutions, professional or technical certifications, and military training and experience.
Social & Emotional Support
National University is proud to create a culture that fosters success for student veterans and servicemembers. NU provides a comprehensive virtual and onsite Veterans Center staffed by military-affiliated employees to assist with the transition to campus life and an online learning format, as well as aid in the completion of educational and career goals. Further, our dedicated student wellness staff are trained to help military students address a variety of needs and provide a 360-degree supportive environment.
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National University offers more than 190 online and oncampus programs, including these programs popular among the military community:
• Vets to BSN: Accelerated track to pursue a career in nursing.
• Cybersecurity/Criminal Justice/Homeland Security and Emergency Management
• MBA and Organizational Leadership program
• Education/teaching degrees and credentials
Family & Community Support
A few of the ways that National University provides support to family members and the community include:
• Member of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) to help military spouses advance their careers and educational opportunities.
• Commitment as a First Responder in Veteran Employment to support employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.
• Facilitating an Employee Resource Group for military spouse employees to build rapport and share remote employee best practices.
This month, Joel Riley, a Marine Corps Veteran, and NU student, was one of two recipients of the American Council on Education Students of the Year Award. While in the Marine Corps, Riley enrolled at National University and was able to apply 135 Joint Services Credits gained from technical and leadership schools toward his degree. Riley remained in school while embarking on two combat deployments. “It was a true challenge, but my professors were gracious and understanding when factors out of my control presented challenges,” he said.
“Joel Riley exemplifies National University’s mission of providing an accessible, world-class student experience that ensures student success through meaningful learning,” President Milliron said. “We are very proud of the good work that Joel is doing, and he serves as a role model to us all.”
National University is committed to continuing our legacy of nationally recognized support for our military.
Reach out today and find out what makes National University one of the most trusted and respected top military-friendly colleges. NU.edu/veteran
NU is proud to serve those who have served, and we have been proudly serving our military and veteran community for more than 50 years.
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34 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 Become a certified IT professional in 15 weeks with no prior experience necessary! Talk to our friendly veterans admissions counselor today! • GI Bill & MyCAA Approved • Flexible Schedule • Online & In-person Hybrid Classes • Small Class Size • Hands-on Training • Lifelong Job Placement and Career Counseling • Technical Support Specialist • IT Support Technician • Network Administrator • Network Analyst • Systems Administrator Why ICOHS College? Career Outcomes: The median IT job salary in the US was about $88,000 last year. READY TO TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR CAREER? firstname.lastname@example.org (858)581-9460 www.icohs.edu
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 35 sandiego.edu/msscm
Transition to Civilian Life
By Eve Nasby & Kristin Hennessy www.bandofhands.com
How to Translate Your Experiences From Combat to Corporate
Transitioning from the military will undoubtedly be one of your most challenging tasks. You may feel a myriad of emotions including confusion, humility, frustration, and satisfaction, all in the same day. This is normal. Mike Ragsdale a Navy Veteran, can relate. He says, “I’ve been there too, and will probably be there again at some point. You’re not the first to feel these things, and you definitely won’t be the last. While this doesn’t make it any easier, hopefully it provides comfort.”
The transition process can be confusing and bureaucratic, and it may not even seem fair. However, if you want to transition successfully, you need to understand the private sector and help them understand you. Nix the mindset of, “I don’t owe an explanation to someone who’s never served” or, “I don’t need to prove myself to anyone.” While it’s great to be proud, this mindset will not get you anywhere.
To make your journey smoother, Ragsdale offers three pieces of advice.
1. The private sector has no idea what you’ve done or what you’ve seen.
When you sit across from a recruiter or hiring manager from the private sector, it’s important to recognize that they probably won’t fully understand what you’ve been through. Maybe they read books or watched movies about the military, but they haven’t experienced what you have. They haven’t smelled cordite after a machine gun just cut loose on a target or flown into Ramadi on New Year’s Eve with tracer rounds flying up in the distance. The fine, talcum powder-like dirt that’s everywhere and the feeling of never being clean are things they haven’t had to deal with.
You’ve been through crazy experiences that they can’t completely comprehend, and that’s okay. Just don’t downplay what you’ve been through just because it’s hard to explain. It’s important to own your experiences and recognize that they’re a big deal, even if others don’t fully understand. This leads to his next point.
2. Ask for help.
In the military, you’re taught to gut it out. You’ll figure it out on your own, right? If you ask for help, you’re weak. Flush this from your mentality. Ragsdale urges, “Ask for help. You don’t get bonus points for extra suffering. By doing this, you’re only hurting yourself. There are people out there who would absolutely love to help you figure this out. Trust me.”
Also, networking is not a scary word. There’s no need to suffer in silence when there are people who would be happy to lend a hand. It’s always beneficial to bounce ideas off of others and get their perspective, even if it feels like it might not lead anywhere.
Even when you don’t feel like having yet another conversation with someone, that may or may not go anywhere, DO IT! Because you never know when that will lead to your next “A-HA!” moment or your next opportunity. So, keep reaching out. And if someone doesn’t respond to your meeting request, it could be a red flag indicating what they’re like to work with, or suggest a negative culture. Don’t be afraid to keep asking for help and get as many perspectives as possible.
3. Get creative and translate your experience into the role you want at the company you want.
Unfortunately, companies don’t need someone who can kick doors down, interrogate a terrorist suspect, put a GBU-12 through the window of a house from 30,000 feet, or drive a Navy warship. While these are all incredible things, the companies you’re speaking with likely don’t need these skills. What they do need are the soft and hard skills that you possess that went into these feats, such as attention to detail, project/program management, operations, strategy development and implementation, influencing without authority, and leadership.
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So, think about what you’ve done and how that translates into the role you are applying for at the company. Here are some examples:
1. Let’s say you were a Marine Corps infantry NCO, and you were solely responsible for the care and the care and feeding of all your Marines. You had to man, train, equip, motivate, and mentor. This means you were like a COO running a small business unit! That’s how you translate your experience. You had to make sure everyone had everything they needed to successfully accomplish goals and objectives.
2. What if you were in Intelligence? You were surveying the battlefield to ascertain where the enemy was, what they looked like, and based on your findings, worked to determine attack strategy. This is sales and marketing! You’ve now translated your experience into relatable and desirable skills! Companies use these same concepts to “attack” their competition and increase their market share.
3. Were you in IT? Well, this one is pretty obvious. You’re valuable!
In closing, YOU GOT THIS! Trust your instincts, ask for help, and think! You’ve proven you’re successful in austere environments where the stakes don’t get much higher. If you’ve done it there, you can certainly do it when you’re talking to a hiring manager on a Zoom call in your bedroom with no one shooting at you.
Need help with your transition? Have questions? Link up with Eve on Linked In today. www.linkedin.com/in/eve-nasby-given-hiring-expert
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Transition to Business HUMAN RESOURCES
By Paul Falcone
Private Sector Employers and Veterans: A Growing Partnership
May is National Military Appreciation Month, and now is a good time to explore the relationship and partnership that exists between private sector employers and veterans. Many active military members will engage in a job search in the private sector at some point, so understanding the key touch points that connect veterans and private employers is definitely a healthy exercise. An important caveat, however: the guidelines that follow can be complex because of private versus public employer requirements, so this isn’t meant to be a legal treatise on all the ins and outs that impact the veteran population in the private sector. Instead, this is meant to provide you with high level interview of some important factors that can impact your career once you’re a full-fledged member of the private sector.
The Pre-Employment Process
First, let’s start with the basics. Often, veterans are considered valuable employees in the workplace as they tend to hold advanced skills in management, organization, task fulfillment, punctuality, adaptability, commitment, and team building. Certain organizations give hiring preference to veterans.
For some like the federal government, certain hiring practices may be required by law. For others, military and veteran outreach simply makes common sense for reasons that include a fresh source of talent, corporate social responsibility, and diversity outreach. Next, you are not required to disclose your military status. However, depending on the length of your service, it could leave an awkward gap in your employment history if you don’t.
In any event, you can expect private sector employers to include questions about veteran status on their job applications. That information helps companies comply with the recruiting and hiring requirements that apply to protected veterans.
Likewise, employers typically ask if an applicant is a “disabled veteran.” You are not required under the Americans with Disabilities Act or other law to disclose your disability status. However, federal contractors and subcontractors are governed by Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to set a goal of maintaining seven percent of employees with disabilities across each of their job groups or across their entire workforce for those with one hundred or fewer employees. This seven percent disability utilization goal works in your favor during the hiring process, if applicable.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) prohibits all employers from discriminating against any veteran, reservist, or National Guard members because of their past, present, or future military obligations. Your military discharge papers are officially known as DD Form 214, or just DD-214. All veterans receive this Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty once they are out of the military. In a nutshell, the DD-214 is proof of your military service.
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DD-214 reports will also provide your discharge type. However, employers are not permitted to ask candidates about their military discharge type or status during the hiring process.
Once Employment Begins
Gen-Y Millennials (43 and under) and Gen-Z Zoomers (25 and under) are considered the most studied generational cohorts in world history, and we know what they want: diversity of thoughts, ideas, and voices consistently ranks in their top five priorities. Wise employers look to trends like these to add to their employment programs in order to attract and retain top talent. Diversity is about appreciating our differences, equity is about providing equal access to opportunity, and inclusion is about fostering a sense of value and empowerment in employees.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are directed toward diverse groups of workers based on classifications such as culture, age, gender, sexuality, disability, race, nationality, and pregnancy. What’s important for you to realize is that veterans are considered diversity hires, which again works to your advantage.
Finally, “affinity” groups, also known as Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), are intended to create opportunities for employees with similar interests to come together to network and socialize with one another and benefit from opportunities like mentoring and coaching assignments, special projects, and the like. Be sure and research whether your next employer has a military/veteran ERG and, if not, look into starting one yourself for your organization (with Human Resources’ help).
Finally, remember that USERRA protects members of the uniformed services during employment as well. As a protected veteran, you have the right to work in an environment free of discrimination. You cannot be denied employment, harassed, demoted, terminated, paid less, or treated less favorably because of your veteran status. The fact that so many employers are looking to do the right thing and hire veterans— especially disabled veterans—for legal as well as goodwill purposes bodes well for your transition into the private sector when the time comes.
You can connect with Paul on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/paulfalcone1
Paul Falcone (www.PaulFalconeHR.com) is a management trainer, executive coach, and bestselling author on hiring, performance management, and leadership development.
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Successful Transitioning Stories
By Dr. Julie Ducharme www.synergylearninginstitute.org
Grace Green attended the United States Naval Academy and was then commissioned into the Marine Corps. She served as a helicopter pilot and aircraft commander and deployed three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Greene’s primary mission while deployed was medevac. In her civilian career, Greene has had broad experience in business in Alaska and across the country. She is currently the CEO of LifeMed Alaska.
How did you decide to go into the military?
I was introduced to the Navel Academy and played soccer there all 4 years and then after I graduated, I was selected to be a Marine Core Helicopter Pilot on Commissioning. I really loved all my experiences at the Navy Academy. I learned doing crazy things in the air was not meant for me and I really loved being in a team environment in a helicopter where I had a crew chief and some crew in the back. I was lucky to get my first choice which was CH46 Echo Helicopter stationed out of Miramar, CA.
When you decided to transition out of the military what was your experience like?
I loved my time in the Marine Corps; when I decided to get out it was because I was ready for the next chapter in my life. I had a serious boyfriend who became my husband, and I knew I wanted to have a family but unfortunately at the time the military op tempo was so high it didn’t matter if you were on active duty or reserves, you were getting deployed. This was around 2007, and I felt that if I started a family, I wasn’t sure if I could personally handle being deployed from my young children for so long, so I knew it was time for me to transition. Prior to fully transitioning out, I did complete 3 tours.
I remember very clearly my last day in the military. You get your papers; you go to the admin office, you sign some things, and then say bye, and that was a bit shocking. I remember driving out of the gate and thinking, ok what do I do now? The military is all present for you, you don’t have to think about anything because they take care of it and then suddenly
you have lost your people and are completely on your own. What was beneficial for me is I went back to my network at the Naval Academy and there are different conferences for different divisions that Veterans can attend. But I had moved to Alaska and there was not much opportunity to find due to that. But I kept networking and got connected with a Morgan Stanley that had an office in Alaska and that was the start of my civilian transition, but it didn’t stop there. It was often hard to see it at first, but the further I got into my career the more I saw how my skills in the military were transferable.
So where are you now in your business life?
Well, I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. After working at Morgan Stanley, I realized it wasn’t what I was what I was use to or would thrive in, I needed to work somewhere that had teams, a place to expand my network of colleagues and build camaraderie. So, I connected with a former Navy seal friend of mine and joined him doing consulting for DOD and working in the Pentagon at the time. Then I transitioned to work for Shell Oil where I was hired to
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run their offshore logistics program with Aviation and Marine Maritime Program. Then I transition to president of TOTE Maritime Alaska for 8 years and currently I am the CEO of a company called LifeMed Alaska. I have come full circle and it is a med evac company and in the Marine Corp. I was doing med evac operations. I like to share my journey because it shows how I have evolved in my transition.
What tips can you give to transitioning veterans?
You’re going to underestimate yourself and because of your willingness to stand up and do something for your country you are in a whole other category and employers will see that.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would give my younger professional self, advice. I was comfortable being the only woman in the room and thought I had to be the only woman. I would tell myself to seek out other woman, get mentors, and build those relationships.
Finding a job in the civilian world may seem easy at first. After all, you have learned skills, practiced leadership and demonstrated initiative that will make you successful wherever you go.
The reality, though, is that it can be difficult. In fact, it can be downright depressing, demotivating and you may feel totally disillusioned.
Veterans In Transition is dedicated to you and to helping you succeed in your transition.
For editorial & monthly columns regarding transitioning to business, career advice, tips, workshops, transition to education, entrepreneurship, straight-forward legal tips for Military and Veteran Business Owners and more visit Veterans In Transition at www.tinyurl.com/Veterans-In-Transition
To see how we help and support veterans transitioning out of the military check out our school www.synergylearninginstitute.org
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 41
VETERANS IN TRANSITION Transitioning out of the Military into the Civilian Workforce? www.HomelandMagazine.com
Success Stories & Resources
By Rhonda Sanderson email@example.com
THIS ENTREPRENEUR IS HONORING HIS FATHER’S MEMORY AND SERVICE WITH A DELIGHTFUL PROJECT THAT RESTORES PRICELESS MEMORABILIA
For those who like history with a little mystery, there is a delightful project in the works. The Restoring Valor Project is the brainchild of Brian Thomas, owner of Paul Davis of East Michigan. The launch date was April 10th and the cleaning and restoration of these objects will lead into Memorial Day and beyond.
The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction, and disaster mitigation and while the company has been around for over 55 years, Brian Thomas launched his Paul Davis business in 2021, only saying he wished he had done so sooner.
“While I enjoyed my former corporate career in marketing and branding some of the biggest names in the automotive world,” shared Brian, “this new career helps me with my passion, which is what The Restoring Valor Project is all about. The essence of the project is to restore precious & priceless items that many military veterans and their families have in their possession.
My father, Bruce Thomas, served in the Vietnam War. He was in the Army and was ‘in-country’ for two years (1967-68). After his first year, he was discharged from the military so that he could attain ‘civilian’ status.
This enabled him to join the CIA and serve as a military advisor to the South Vietnamese Army. He lived with members of that army for an entire year. At the end of his tour, he was re-enlisted into the military so that he could be formally discharged and sent home. He was awarded three Purple Hearts...as he was wounded three times in combat. His rank was Staff Sergeant and the things he had from those days gave me the idea for this special project.”
Brian is one of four boys born to Staff Sergeant Thomas. Brian explained that his Dad kept all of his items from the war in a box at home which is an oft heard practice for returning service members.
“Over the years, he slowly began to give some of these things to my brothers and I for safe-keeping. His dog tags at first. Then other things. He really did not talk about his service much until we were in our teens. Then a few of the stories came out...and photos...and I was genuinely blown away,” said Brian.
“The way my mind is wired,” Brian added, “I look for points of convergence between what we have expertise in and the genuine and real passions shared by people. For me...I’m now a guy who happens to own a business that specializes in restoring all kinds of property. We possess specialized technology and expertise in-house to do it. I’m also a guy who deeply reveres his father and grandfather...and have long been in awe of their military service.
It’s been a passion for me...and for many people in my life. The Restoring Valor Project makes me feel closer to my father, who passed away in November of 2007 after a very intense battle with Multiple Myeloma which has been associated with Agent Orange.”
When Brian heard from the local VFW recently, and found they were looking for experts in the area who could restore some of the precious objects they had been given over the years, he and his team stepped right up.
The restoration team even went to the VFW with trucks recently and packed up hundreds of pieces. Among them, dog tags, medals, pieces of equipment and other related items, many of which have been passed down from generation to generation and are imbued with deep sentimental value.
While these may be simple physical objects, they are also the irreplaceable symbolic embodiment of the military service and sacrifice of so many Americans and their families according to Brian.
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“These items represent the unrivaled valor and courage of the best among us and they deserve to be treated with extreme care and reverence.
One of the techniques we use in the restoration of many of the objects is Ultrasonic Cleaning. Technicians load soiled items into an ultrasonic device – which looks much like a large industrial washing machine – filled with cleaning solution. Ultrasonic sound frequencies – far above the level that humans can perceive – then buzz through the liquid. The sound waves, which can be seen as ripples on the surface, generate millions of incredibly tiny bubbles that churn through and against every surface to dislodge soot, bacteria, grime, and other contamination.”
To bring this lovely story to an even lovelier conclusion, Brian’s team got together discreetly and restored and shadow-boxed many of Bruce Thomas’ treasures he brought back from Viet Nam.
Thomas concluded, “I could not have been more touched. And now we are excited to see what other treasures might be uncovered and just how uplifting it will be for so many people around the Memorial Day holiday when we honor our vets.”
To learn more please visit; https://east-michigan.pauldavis.com
“Brian’s team got together discreetly and restored and shadow-boxed many of Bruce Thomas’ treasures he brought back from Viet Nam”
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Insurance Info & Risk Management Tips
By Hadley Wood www.hlinwood-insurance.com
Cyber Hacking Risks
International Banking pole
Cyber threats are real and everywhere. The government knows this, big business knows this, and any medical, civic institution and bank knows this. But did you know that 25% of cyber attacks are on small business owners?
Cyber-attacks are on the rise and most General Liability insurance policies offer limited, if any, cyber protection. Cyber insurance can protect the business from liability stemming from a breach of data that is controlled by the business owner. In simple terms, Cyber Coverage protects your business in case someone hacks into your data and uses that data to connect with your contacts, blackmail your contacts (or you), hijacks your bank accounts, creates harmful statements about your company and/or your clients, vendors, contacts and associates.
If you have a business that creates, processes, stores or controls critical data, you will want to look into having Cyber coverage. It can be purchased as a stand-alone policy and the rates will be determined by the over all risk. If you see that Cyber coverage is included in your policy, make sure to ask your Broker about exclusions, coverage limits, monitoring tools and any deductibles that may apply.
A stand-alone (separate from your General Liability) Cyber Liability coverage policy should cover first and third-party damages. Meaning, it should cover your company and also any clients, vendors, subcontractors, etc., for damages the cyber-attack/data breach causes. Cyber coverage typically comes with access to IT experts, forensic specialists, proactive tools to consistently manage cyber risk, backend dark web monitoring services and more. Damages should include restoring lost data, business interruption costs, cost of notifying damaged parties, reputational repair, and more.
The dynamic world of cyber coverage changes every minute and is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the risk and to stay one step ahead of the evasive cyber criminals.
For more information about this or to speak with an experienced Cyber Liability insurance broker, please contact 760-828-0403 or visit www.hlinwood-insurance.com
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The Cyber Claims by % of incident, are currently:
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and a few minutes of cyber-incident to ruin it.”
Nappo - Global Head Information Security for Société Générale
In Remembrance of those who served and protected our beautiful Country – Thank you.
Whether you have a seasoned business or are just starting out - if you own a business, you need to have the protection of proper insurance coverage and an experienced insurance broker to be there for you.
We work one-on-one with you to learn about your business, talk about your risks and exposures and discuss coverage options that meet your needs and budget.
Personal – Affordable – Reliable is our motto. And we take this seriously.
For over 20 years, we have offered all types of business insurance coverages for any type of business including: Construction – Manufacturing – Restaurants – Retail – Professionals – Non-Profits – Agriculture - Service Based –and more!
Professional Liability/Errors & Omissions
Management Liability/Directors & Officers
Drone Coverage Bonds
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 45
To learn more about us please visit www.hlinwood-insurance.com or call 760-828-0403
. We offer special discounts to service members and veterans!
BUSINESS FOR VETERANS
By Barbara Eldridge www.mindmasters.com
Keeping up to date on legal matters is usually the last thing on the to-do list of most small business owners, unless of course we need a lawyer fast. At a Business Briefing I attended by a friend and business attorney, I found his overview of risk management sounding too corporate for the small business owners in the room, so the question that came up of course was, how risk management affects us?
Generally, Risk Management is the process of measuring, or assessing risk and then developing strategies to manage the risk. In general, there are several areas of business that business owners need to stay on top of.
Basically, we need to look at the structure of the business, which in some cases will dictate what kind and amount of insurance is needed to protect us and the business. The highest awards given by the courts is in the area of employee liability cases. So, keeping good personnel records can help avoid risk in the employment areas.
What risks do you take in your business practices?
Your propietary information should be protected with confidentiality agreements. Do you keep records on self renewing contracts? There was mention that some companies prohibit cell phones with cameras, so as to avoid theft of information.
One of the areas I have heard many horror stories about is in the financial area. When a Business owner has abdicated the bill paying, collections, check writing and even credit card use to one person, they have found out that thousands of dollars turn up missing. Create some checks and balances, even if you are doing it yourself, it is essential.
Another area we don’t often relate risk management to is marketing. Registering your business name, having copyrights designated or getting permission to use copyrighted material are all areas of marketing that put us at risk.
Here is a process for reviewing your risk:
1. Identify potential areas (Business Structure, Employment, Business Practices, Financial, Marketing).
2. Analyze the source of the risk or the cause of the potential problem.
3. Evaluate what steps can be taken, (there may be a way to transfer the risk, avoid it all together, reduce the amount or simply accept the risk)
In any case consult the appropriate people, an attorney, your insurance person, your advisors – remember your business is too important to leave to chance.
The Challenge: Take step one and identify a potential area where your business might be at risk.
Barbara Eldridge has built a solid reputation as a Results strategies specialist, within industry and business over the past 40 years. Her unique message, since starting Mind Masters 30 years ago for entrepreneurs and small business owners, continually stresses vision, purpose and values as the key elements of business philosophy. www.mindmasters.com
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WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 47 www.bandsofhands.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Straight-forward legal tips for Military and Veteran Business Owners CHECKLIST FOR LEGAL ISSUES WHEN BUYING OR SELLING A BUSINESS
By Kelly Bagla, Esq.
There are many legal issues to consider when buying or selling a business. It is a complicated and confusing process, so I created a quick checklist of legal issues to consider:
There are many variables that determine whether the deal is best structured as a stock purchase or an asset purchase. You must consider if the seller’s debt will be assumed by the new purchaser. You must consider if there are any encumbrances and liens on the assets preventing an asset purchase. You must consider possible regulatory hurdles, and you must consider securities laws and regulations implications.
The purchase price can be defined in many ways, for example: a lump sum of money being paid or received at the close of the deal, scheduled payments can be made via a promissory note with interest,
stock in the business can be issued in exchange for money, or payments can be made from future sales. Before a purchase price can be set, it is probably wise to obtain a professional appraisal. These are sometimes costly, but an appraisal can help manage your expectations concerning what is a fair sale/purchase price.
What Type of Business is Being Bought or Sold:
How the deal is structured and how the deal is priced depends on what type of business is being bought and sold. The following considerations should be analyzed when make the decision to sell or buy a business:
• Is the business a turnkey currently operating business expected to keep running in much the same manner?
• Is the business currently operating but only some parts of the business are thriving?
• Is the business in decline?
How the deal is structured and priced depends on what assets are being bought or sold. The following assets should be part of the deal:
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CHECKLIST FOR LEGAL ISSUES WHEN BUYING OR SELLING A BUSINESS
• Domain names
• Intellectual property like patents, trademarks, and copyrights
• Customer list
• Tangible assets
• Talented employees
Whether the deal is structured as a stock purchase or as an asset sale, various issues must be resolved which include timing, due diligence, condition precedent, seller representations and warranties, and buyer representations and warranties. These issues should be clearly stated and addressed in the stock sale and purchase or asset sale and purchase agreements. Other documents that are customary in these types of deals are as follows:
• Noncompete agreements
• Confidentiality agreements
• indemnity agreements
• Bill of sale and assignment for tangible property
• Assignment of intellectual property
Becoming a business owner, you control your own destiny, choose the people you work with, reap big rewards, challenge yourself, give back to the community, and you get to follow your passion. Knowing what you’re getting into is smart business because the responsibility of protecting your business falls on you.
Disclaimer: This information is made available by Bagla Law Firm, APC for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, and not to provide specific legal advice. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 49 Legal Pearls! PEARLS OF WISDOM for Avoiding Business Litigation Award-winning attorney, Kelly Bagla shows you how to avoid legal pitfalls FROM DAY ONE! Legal Pearls! - The quick and easy guide for avoiding business litigation. Award-winning Attorney Kelly Bagla distills the legal information every business owner needs to know to avoid costly lawsuits and protect personal assets. Now every entrepreneur can apply the same legal steps and strategies used by top attorneys.
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PROTECT YOUR HARD-EARNED ASSETS
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For more information on how to legally start and grow your business please visit my website at www.BaglaLaw.com Real property or leasehold interests
Military Focused Family Law Facts
By Tana Landau, Esq.
Divorce and Default
Most people do not go into a marriage expecting it to end. Unfortunately, for many marriages that is the case. In California, there are two grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences and permanent legal incapacity to make decisions. Irreconcilable differences are when there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage and no efforts for reconciliation would be fruitful. It usually refers to situations where the spouses have fundamental differences in lifestyle, personality, or other areas that lead to a breakdown in marriage. This is the most common ground for divorce in California. While permanent legal incapacity is a ground for divorce, it is rarely used. A marriage can only be dissolved on the basis of permanent legal incapacity where it is proved by medical or psychiatric evidence that one spouse is unable to make decisions for his or herself and that inability to do so is permanent. This could be a result of traumatic injury, illness, or a psychological disorder.
To proceed with a divorce in California, there are also certain residency requirements that must be met. Residency requirements are separate from the grounds for divorce. Grounds for divorce refer to the reasons why a person is seeking to end their marriage. Residency requirements in divorce refers to the minimum length of time that a spouse has to be a resident of the state or county before they are eligible to file for divorce in that jurisdiction. In order to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in California, you and/or your spouse must have lived in California for at least six months. The filing party must also have lived in the county where the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed for at least 90 days.
But what happens if you have grounds for divorce and meet the residency requirements, but one party does not want the divorce? The short answer is the divorce can proceed regardless of whether one spouse is a willing participant or not. In other words, if your spouse ignores notice of the dissolution proceedings and chooses not to participate, you can obtain a divorce judgement anyway. You do not need their cooperation to get a divorce. The divorce proceedings proceed by way of default.
What is a True Default Divorce?
California is a “no fault “state. As such, you do not need to prove the fault of the other party to obtain a divorce. Since California is a considered a “no fault” state, California courts do not consider other grounds for divorce such as adultery, abandonment, cruelty and imprisonment which other states may recognize.
In California, the divorce proceedings begin when one spouse files a petition to dissolve the marriage. The other spouse must then be served with the dissolution paperwork according to the procedural rules. Once the non-filing spouse is served with the dissolution paperwork, they have 30 days from the date of service to file a response. A divorce by default occurs when the person who files for divorce does not receive a timely response from the other spouse. If the non-filing spouse receives the dissolution paperwork yet fails to issue a response within the deadline, the spouse who filed for divorce may proceed without the other party. This is a true default divorce.
A default can occur not only where the non-filing spouse may choose to not cooperate with the divorce or ignore the divorce, but also where they may be even unaware of it. This usually occurs in a situation where
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the non-filing spouse is evading service of paperwork and the filing spouse requests the court permit service by publication which is an alternate method of service under the circumstances.
Once the non-filing spouse fails to file a timely response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the filing spouse can file a request to enter default. The Court can then proceed with the dissolution proceedings in the absence of the other party. The defaulted party loses the opportunity to make any arguments as to child custody and visitation, support, and division of the assets. Essentially, the filing spouse can put forward their position with no opposition and the matter proceeds to judgment without any input from the non-filing spouse.
The advantage of a default divorce is that it can save time and attorney’s fees for the filing party since the other party is not contesting any terms or issues to be considered by the Court. The disadvantage is that if the responding party honestly was not aware of the proceedings and did not participate, they may ask the court to set aside the default.
It is not uncommon as well for a party that failed to respond to attempt to intervene once they become aware of the request to enter default. However, it is difficult to set aside a default judgment of dissolution once it is entered.
For more information about co-parenting in your military divorce, check out our website: www.frfamilylaw.com or call (858) 720-8250 and ask to speak with military family law attorney Tana Landau.
This article is intended only for informational purposes and should not be taken as legal advice
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 51 Legal Experts with Humanity Time for a Fresh Start. Call 858-720-8250 or visit www.frfamilylaw.com to schedule a free consultation. Flat-fee law packages available. Military Divorce and Retirement, 20/20/20 Spouse, Survivor Benefit Plans, Support Orders, and more. No nonsense. No hidden fees. Discounts for service members. Move forward without breaking the bank. Our military expert family law attorneys are ready to push your case to the finish line.
52 WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 ENROLL NOW AT WFW.ORG Workshops for Warriors is a nonprofit school that provides veterans and transitioning service members with hands-on training and nationallyrecognized credentials in CNC machining, CAD/CAM programming, and welding. Our students earn credentials that open doors to jobs anywhere in the U.S. Call us at (619) 550-1620. CAD/CAM Programming CNC Machining Welding DoD SkillBridge Organization BEFORE SERVED HONORABLY. AFTER EARNED A CAREER IN JUST 4 MONTHS.
CAREERS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
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As a military service member or veteran making the transition to a new career path, law enforcement can feel like a natural fit.
SDPD Ride Along: A Story of Two Marines
By Amber Robinbson San Diego Veterans Magazine
When I asked to go on a ride along with the San Diego Police Department, making a special request for any veterans-turned-cops, I expected a really serious, possibly dangerous, afternoon of shadowing our city’s toughest crime fighters.
What I got was an afternoon of heartfelt service to our San Diego community, honorable humility and a lot of respect.
When I asked whether former Marine Sergeant Major, Mark Wright, and his partner, former Marine Staff Sergeant, Sean Bunch, had rank or titles he said their titles were just San Diego police officers. They are relatively new partners, but act like they’ve known each other for years, which is usually the case when you get Marines together.
Wright is a newer addition to the force, coming on board two years ago, with Bunch only having two years left.
Most of our particular day was cruising around beautiful Balboa Park running car tags to see if they were current, from cars not displaying proper plates and placards to those double parked. Bunch says they often catch parole violators or even stolen cars doing just this. I was struck as I watched both officers go out of their way to look in and around vehicles to find plates or disability placards not displayed correctly so as to avoid issuing superfluous tickets.
“We try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt,” said Wright. “We’re not out to get anybody.”
Although, both officers confirm that enforcing even the most basic of park rules can yield large payoffs. During a recent patrol Bunch spotted an individual smoking in the park, which is illegal. As he circled back round, the individual turned and rapidly tried to walk away, which activated immediate suspicion. He was detained and came back with a warrant for numerous kidnapping and child molestation charges.
Currently, these brothers-in-arms spend their days patrolling the entirety of Balboa Park.
Although neither men are taking fire or kicking in the enemy’s door on this beat, like during their time in Iraq or Afghanistan, they still work hard to serve their local community. Service which can range from tracking down criminals to answering questions from lost pedestrians, to giving out stickers to kids and never backing down from a chance to turn on those flashing red and blues just to make one of them smile.
Both men say a lot of what they do is talk with museum owners and those living in the neighborhoods surrounding the park about their concerns. A shared concern by all is the park’s homeless population.
Bunch says their posture towards the homeless is mostly that of assistance, adding there are many resources available for those who would take them.
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Officer Sean Bunch
Officer Mark Wright
The city spends a lot of money on resources,” said Bunch. “The biggest problem we run into is whether or not the [homeless] people want them, and a lot of them don’t.”
Thus, the men tend to run into the same issues with the same people pretty often. Although frustrating, they have learned that respect goes a long way when challenged with these repeat offenders. Bunch recalls spotting one such offender in the park, who was in violation of his parole and wanted on warrant. He was unable to get to the offender immediately, but still apprehended him with a verbal request. The parolee waited patiently to be hand-cuffed and arrested, simply out of the respect he held for the law man.
“Being respectful of everyone despite their lot in life goes a long way in this job,” said Wright.
Both men say a huge part of their work is being able to connect and communicate with the myriad of people they meet daily.
Bunch says he feels he and Wright are lucky to come to the force later in life, given it means they have a wider frame of reference for those they meet and serve daily. “We deal with people who are going through all kinds of things in life,” said Bunch. “And it’s helpful to be able to say, ‘hey I know what you are going through, I’ve been there.”
As the day progressed, I realized that both gentlemen definitely had a long list of tough and unique life experiences to pull from. Both proudly served the United States Marines for years, traveling to war and all over the world, experiences that yield much wisdom as well as many a story.
Bunch, for instance, did not come to the force straight from the Marines, but from Hollywood. Surprisingly, he is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, working as a military advisor on various productions, like Lonestar 911, and appearing in some as well, such as one of the most recent Men in Black movies.
“I grew up outside of LA,” said Bunch. “So, I’ve always just kind of been around the business and found a place for myself there with all my military experience.”
Bunch hopes to return to work in Hollywood after he leaves the force, bringing with him a new level of experience and respect.
Wright, who retired from the Marines as a Sergeant Major never worked in Hollywood, but he does have plenty of stories about being a proud grandfather, father and new amputee. When I entered the Central Division Station and met him, he said he was just getting back to work after some time off after losing his leg.
Wright remained unscathed during his over-20-years in service, overseas deployments and endless combat train ups. It wasn’t until after service that he lost his leg in a motorcycle accident late one foggy night a little over a year ago. Wright says it had been an eventful second watch and he was leaving the station about 2 AM on his motorcycle when it happened.
“It was only about two minutes from work,” said Wright. “I was coming around a curve and entered into what I thought was fog, and as I’m entering, I see a headlight and side mirror in my lane.”
That headlight and mirror became an entire car that was blocking Wright’s entire side of the road.
“I was a heuy crew chief in the Marines and reverted to my training from that, grabbed my shoulders, braced for impact and went flying like a human lawn dart over my handlebars,” said Wright.
Wright landed in the ditch on the side of the road. He says he realized immediately that he had a back and leg issue. He learned that a bystander had called 911, but he requested they call back and state that the injured motorcycle rider was a policeman with the San Diego Police Department and expedite services. This one request would become pivotal in saving Wright’s life.
Continued on next page >
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“What I didn’t know at that time was that I had severed two arteries in my leg, and I was bleeding out,” said Wright.
What Wright would learn later is his heel had also been torn off on the wrecked car as he sailed past it into the ditch. After much pain and many surgeries, Wright would finally lose his leg from the knee down. says he doesn’t let it get him down, though. He’s proud to continue to serve as one of our city’s finest.
Both he and Bunch take much pride in their time as Marines and as San Diego Police Officers. Each officer comes from strong military stock, with Wright’s grandfather being a World War II veteran and Prisoner of War and Bunch’s father a decorated veteran of Vietnam.
All in all, this Army vet’s afternoon with two Marines was an impressive one. Both seasoned public servants, these honorable men have discovered you must give respect to get it, that violence is often not the answer and the most important thing to keep in mind along the way, is a good, human dose of empathy.
SDPD Ride Along
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Officer Sean Bunch - Amber Robinson (Homeland Magazine) - Officer Mark Wright
For more information visit www.joinSDPDnow.com or email us at SDPDrecruiting@pd.sandiego.gov SDPD NOW HIRING
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 57 www.joinSDPDnow.com SDPDrecruiting@pd.sandiego.gov
From Navy Sailor to San Francisco Police Officer
By Holly Shaffner
Changing careers can be exciting, exhilarating, and filled with trepidation. Meet Officer Cindy Ovares who has made the transition numerous times – from active-duty service member, to student, massage therapist, teacher, and now police officer.
The life experience she gained in those previous longterm jobs set her up to be successful today. She is doing what she’s always wanted to do – have a career that is challenging and rewarding.
Cindy was like many seniors in high school as she contemplated what she would do after graduation. When the Navy recruiter called the house looking for her brother, the recruiter instead got an eager, independent 17-year-old woman who wanted to find adventure. Just a few months later, she was off to “see the world” and start her first career.
As an Aviation Machinist’s Mate, Petty Officer Ovares was a jet engine mechanic. It was a male-dominated job, and she wanted to prove that anything a man could do, she could do better. She attended military schools in Florida and Virginia to learn her trade, and was later stationed in Lemoore, California. She was attached to VFA-22, an F/A-18 Super Hornet squadron, that deployed on ships. After serving four years on active duty, she earned Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits, and chose to leave the Navy to attend college.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and being a fluent Spanish speaker, she was hired to be a high school Spanish teacher. The job was gratifying; but also, under resourced, understaffed, and had little room to grow professionally. She wanted something new and challenging, was drawn to the community where she grew up, so, in her late 30s she applied to be a police officer.
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“Being able to talk to people, figure out what they are going through, and what they need is a huge portion of the job. I enjoy interacting with the public, and engaging in what I call verbal judo.”
- Officer Cindy
Officer Ovares was accepted to the San Francisco Police Academy and has been an officer for the last three years. She is a foot patrol officer working in the Tenderloin District – a 50-block area that has a storied history, and has been known for homelessness, drugs, and crime.
“Being able to talk to people, figure out what they are going through, and what they need is a huge portion of the job. I enjoy interacting with the public, and engaging in what I call verbal judo,” said Officer Ovares.
For Officer Ovares, the parallels between serving in the military and serving in law enforcement made the transition go smoothly:
• Routine – You know what to expect before your shift begins (what time to report, what uniform to wear, the structure of the day).
• Camaraderie – The bond between fellow officers is like the bond between your fellow military brothers and sisters.
• Variety – Every day is different with different assignments and duties, so the job is never boring.
• Benefits – Include a competitive salary, paid vacation days, floating holidays, and sick days, healthcare, retirement, and special pay for certain assignments and being bilingual.
As a Latina giving back to her community, she admits that the job comes with highs and lows. Officer Ovares recommends a career in law enforcement for those military members looking to make a smooth transition to a new chapter.
To learn more about the San Francisco Police Department, or to connect with recruiter, go to: www.sanfranciscopolice.org/your-sfpd/careers
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VETERANS, WE HIRE
CITY OF PITTSBURGH - E/O/E
WE DON’T JUST THANK
WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / May 2023 61 www.sandiego.edu/business Veterans! Join Our Team CHANGE Be the SFPD Salary $103,116 - $147,628 TEXT “JoinSFPD” to (415) 704-3688 www.JoinSFPD.com
Why Veterans are Perfect for Cybersecurity
By: Stephen Patrick, Marketing Coordinator
Veterans are mission-driven, protectors, and ready for action at a moment’s notice. They are respectful, dutiful, and have integrity. An estimated 55% of people transitioning to civilian life want to do something different than they did on active duty. This is according to LinkedIn’s recent Veteran Opportunity Report.
Are you on duty or a veteran seeking a meaningful new career after serving your country? If so, explore a fast-growing field for an urgent demand for many of the skills you have developed in the military — cyber security. This growing field requires many of the strengths often gained through military service and presents an opportunity to continue to serve your country in a new context: combating the widespread and ever-growing threat of cybercrime. Cybersecurity is a high-stakes field with a critical mission—protecting civilians and businesses from cyber-attacks. There are over 700,000 openings in America (www.statista.com) and 3.5 million worldwide. Cybersecurity is one of the highest-paying industries as tech has taken over our lives.
“Veterans bring a special breed of leadership and experience to the workforce, an unflappable presence during times of crisis and uncertainty,” said Dan Verton, Director of Content Marketing at Cybereason.
Ethical hackers actively work to ensure the security of their information systems, ensuring no outsider can gain access. In any information security job environment, your knowledge and a mindset of perseverance can put you ahead of the curve.
Whether it is a data breach, ransomware, or another form of systems attack when fighting cyber threats, every moment counts and could make the difference between success and failure.
Your training prepared you to be always ready to confront and neutralize a threat! Fighting any adversary means being able to think as they do. In combat, this means anticipating the strategy and next steps of the enemy. In cybersecurity jobs, it means doing the same against thousands of hostile organizations.
As a veteran, you know the success of a mission is always more important than one person. In the cybersecurity industry, teamwork is essential. This applies to the prevention of cybercrime and the need for ethical hackers.
Your military mindset, mentorship, and focus on outcomes, not excuses, will help other civilian employees to do better as you lead by example. Veterans are used to adapting to new orders, circumstances of living, and colleagues regularly. Cybersecurity is also a field that requires an adaptable work style. The University of Maryland reports that hackers attack every 39 seconds, and no matter where you end up working, your organization could become the next target. That means the long-term project you planned to work on that day may take a back seat, but then you will pick up right where you left off once the immediate threat is resolved.
If you think cybersecurity might be the right next move for you, your next step is to explore learning options and gain the foundational skills needed for the technical side of the job. Government agencies are intensifying their efforts to recruit military talent to fight the war on cybercrime.
The University of Louisville’s Cybersecurity Workforce Certificate Program offers several learning options to upskill the workforce in cybersecurity. The program partners with other universities across the country. This is not an academic program but a workforce development program. The certificate includes cryptography, database, artificial intelligence, analytics, blockchain and internet of things (IoT). Learn more:
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