Homeland Magazine November 2021

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Vol. 10 Number 11 • November 2021



Grateful Warriors Give Back

Unplanned loss, unexpected redemption


Transition What’s next


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

Contributing Writers Holly Shaffner Veteran Advocate

RanDee McLain, LCSW A Different Lens

Jenny Lynne Stroup Real Talk: Mental Health

Vicki Garcia

Enlisted to Entrepreneur

CJ Machado

SD Vets & Homeland Photojournalist

Kelly Bagla, Esq. Legal Eagle

Tana Landau, Esq. Legally Speaking

Joe Molina

Veterans Chamber of Commerce

Eve Nasby


What’s Next - Transitioning

Amber Robinson Arts & Healing

Eva Stimson Greetings and a warm welcome to Homeland Magazine!

Veteran Advocate

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

Human Resources

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

Mike Miller

Publisher/Editor mikemiller@HomelandMagazine.com 4

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Paul Falcone

Money Matters VA Lending & Personal Finance

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

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE 6 Grateful Warriors Give Back 10 Unexpected Redemption 14 Tunnel to Towers Foundation 16 Honor Flight San Diego Flies Again 18 Designer of The Mural Wall 20 Real Talk: Timeless Hope 22 This Veteran Found Hope 25 Courage to Call 26 USO San Diego 30 What’s Next: The Holy Grail 32 Transitioning is a Process 34 HR - Workplace Ethics 36 Evangel University 38 American Corporate Partners 40 Healthcare Careers: A Perfect Fit 42 Money Matters - Now or Later 44 Legal Eagle - Veteran Business Owner 46 Legally Speaking - Military & Divorce 52 Careers in Law Enforcement

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Grateful Warriors Give Back to Their Communities, Find New Purpose November is National Gratitude Month and many of us want to go beyond saying “thank you.” Military veterans are leading the way in unleashing the power of gratitude to turn hardships into positive experiences – and paying it forward. Here are a few examples. Sal Abrica: Marine Veteran Gives Back to Fellow Vets through 5K Marine veteran Sal Abrica made a choice right out of high school that would impact the rest of his life. “I couldn’t be a police officer because I was too young for that … so I joined the Marine Corps in 1989,” Sal said. Eight years of service took him around the world, including Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. His final stop was at Camp Pendleton, where he left the Corps and began his transition to civilian life. In 2019, 30 years after that initial choice to serve his country, Sal made another choice to serve, this time to his fellow veterans. Sal formed a team to participate in the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Carry Forward® 5K, presented by USAA®. Every year, Sal and his squad have grown, both in numbers and in fundraising. But it’s about what the money supports. All money raised during Carry Forward supports WWP’s life-changing programs and services, including in mental health. “I carry for those who have yet to come home. Physically, they’re here. Mentally, they’re somewhere else,” Sal said. John Alicea: Used Stimulus Check to Support Health Care Workers After more than 20 years in the Marines and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, John Alicea knows how it feels to be supported on the front lines of a crisis. When he received his stimulus check 6

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amid the COVID-19 pandemic, John decided to pay it forward — literally — and use it to buy meals for health care workers in Orlando. “When we were in combat, you took care of us,” saidJohn, who fondly remembers the support he received after he was wounded in combat. “This is my token of appreciation.” Upon delivering the food and seeing the reactions, John felt a sense of happiness he had not experienced in years. After a long military career and subsequent tenure working in the federal prison system, he said he lost the feeling of true happiness. John’s donation and ensuing emotions brought that back and left him in tears. “I cried my ass off driving home from the hospital,” John said. It wasn’t long ago that John said he hit “rock bottom,” isolating in his home and coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That changed when John connected with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). He attended a veterans mental health workshop, called Project Odyssey®, with other veterans, and he felt like he belonged again. Elizabeth Martinez Gonzalez: Helping Women Warriors Find a Safe Place When Army veteran Elizabeth Martinez Gonzalez first separated from the military, she was ready to walk away from anything that reminded her of military life. In her native Puerto Rico, mostpeople did not associate a younglooking female with the Army or National Guard. At 36, she figured she experienced enough trials while serving activeduty, so she isolated herself, thinking it would be easy to lose herself in dark house.

Then, a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) mental health program helped her find the strength to shine the light for herself and other female veterans. “Before I attended a Project Odyssey workshop hosted by Wounded Warrior Project in 2017, my life was dark,” Elizabeth recalled. “I live a different life today — my mind and heart are open to sharing with other veterans.”

“The group helps me get up to motivate others and share the knowledge I gained from the military and daily interactions,” Dalanie said. The injured veteran highlighted that he found new purpose behind the camera while helping himself and others relieve stress, worries, and pain from PTSD. “Just for the moment, with the help of a camera, we create a judgment-free atmosphere where people feel free to be themselves, and where there’s always an ear to listen and a hand to teach a skill.”

Project Odyssey® is WWP’s 12-week mental health program that uses adventure-based learning to help veterans manage and overcome their invisible wounds, enhance their resiliency skills, and live productive and fulfilling lives. Based on their needs, warriors can participate in an all-male, all-female, or couples Project Odyssey.

For the first gathering, Dalanie’s invite attracted 10 people. A year later, the group had more than 700 members. After a hiatus to observe COVID-19 restrictions, the group is cautiously coming back together in smaller, outdoor gatherings.

“I would say that Project Odyssey is what saved my life in 2017,” Elizabeth said. Elizabeth understands the importance of being heard. She brings that to the peer support group she helps lead in Puerto Rico. “Women need a safe place to be able to talk about their needs without judgment; in an environment with males, it can be a little inhibiting,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve been given a chance to give back through my lived experiences and be part of organizations that help me reach more people.” Dalanie Franklin: Showing Others to Look at PTSD from a New Angle Dalanie Franklin has always been someone people go to for advice. His open mind and non-judgmental character attracted friends,colleagues, and even members of his Army unit chain of command to confide in him.

Dave Parramore: Connecting to Veterans on Cross-Country Ride Army Col. (Ret.) Dave Parramore was stranded in New Mexico.

That openness continues to attract people who sign up for his “Photography Is Medicine” Meetup group in Philadelphia, where the city provides the canvas toexpress creativity and find healing. He invites veterans and civilians alike.

His solo cross-country bike ride to raise support and awareness forinjured veterans through Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) came to a screeching halt due to high winds and road debris.

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“I had a flat front tire, a flat back tire, and a flat trailer tire,” Dave recalled. “With 40-mile-an-hour winds, it was very difficult to talk on a cell phone.” Then a fellow veteran showed up. “The reason I had those flats was to be able to connect with Reggie,” Dave said. Reggie owned a car service in the area and took Dave to the nearest bike shop in Las Cruces, about 60 miles down the road. He was exactly the type of person who inspired Dave to take on this cross-country quest: veterans who own a business that has been impacted by the pandemic. Reggie had to lay off several of his drivers during the pandemic. But at least for an hour-long car ride from Deming to Las Cruces, two veterans who just met were able to connect and share stories like they had been lifelong friends. “That was one of the most impactful experiences along the ride,” Dave said. Dave eventually got back on the road and coursed his way across every type of landscape in the Southern half of the country. Dave said the theme of the whole ride was connection. “It wasn’t about the miles or the money; it was about meaningful relationships — the connections built with the ‘Reggies’ of the world. “We’ve come to a place where many of us are self-reliant, where we think we can solve our own problems,” Dave said. “But the power in this journey was there’s more power in asking for help.” Guadalupe Hernandez: Warrior Runs to Remind Veterans They’re Never Alone In December 2020, Marine Corps veteran Guadalupe Hernandez began a 250-mile run from Dallas to Houston to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and veteran suicide. She is registered with both Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and the Travis Manion Foundation, a WWP partner that unites communities to strengthen America’s national character by


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empowering veterans and families of fallen heroes to develop and lead future generations. “I love running and it has always been a passion of mine,” Guadalupe said. “I find it very therapeutic and helps me with my PTSD. But I wanted to do something different than just a run. So, I came up with the idea of honoring veterans who suffer from PTSD on a daily basis, and also those veterans who took their lives. I started asking around for names, and my idea of honoring them was placing a flag at every mile I crossed.” In her 250-mile run from Dallas to Houston, she placed a flag in every mile to honor a vet with PTSD or one who took their life. “This run is my way of telling them and their families that they are not alone, that someone is rooting for them and wanting to be in their corner.” She had encouragement along the way. A group of veterans came to remind her she is not alone. “I was struggling a little bit, but still moving,” she recalled. “As I was coming to the next stopping point in Centerville, Texas, to do some stretching and eat, there was a group of 20 or 30 veterans from Houston who came out to cheer me on and support me. At that moment I didn’t cry or show any emotions, but later after I moved on, I shed some tears,” Guadalupe said. That encouragement helped her go all the way. Learn more about how you can show gratitude toward veterans who keep serving in communities throughout the country: www.newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org 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.


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

Deployed Troops

First Responders


Military, Veterans and First Responders Impacted



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

Recruit Graduates

gratitude and meaningful engagements in communities Nationwide.

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

Military Families

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


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Combat-injured Marine Corps veteran receives discharge upgrade through help of DAV-sponsored pro bono program

By M. Todd Hunter


afe Cotton and his wife knew he’d lose more than half of his income as a journeyman steelworker when he left Michigan to join the Marine Corps in 2008. Regardless, at 23, he felt that the experiences he’d garner as a combat engineer would provide him the knowledge needed to achieve his professional goal of becoming a general contractor when he got out. What he didn’t know was what else he’d lose along the way, or how long and difficult the journey ahead would be in attempting to recover it all. Meritoriously promoted twice in his first 15 months of service, Cotton seemed pointed toward a promising enlistment. But six weeks into his first deployment to


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Afghanistan in 2010, Cotton’s Camp Lejeune-based battalion took part in the famed Battle of Marjah. “My first deployment, we did 150 missions in seven months,” said Cotton. “There happened to be a 120pound IED (improvised explosive device) about 100 yards from an Afghan National Army post. That’s where we got smoked.” The blast left Cotton with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which was immediately diagnosed by medical personnel in-country. After two weeks of light duty, his route clearance patrol team got hit by another IED just six hours into their first mission back. It wasn’t the last. “I got blown up three times—knocked completely unconscious,” Cotton explained. “The first one is what got me, though.”


Unplanned loss, unexpected redemption

“The big one,” as Cotton calls it, severely affected his short-term memory and brought on a sensitivity to light that necessitates wearing sunglasses “pretty much everywhere.” He also began having severe migraines and uncontrollable vomiting that sometimes persists for days. Add in post-traumatic stress disorder from witnessing the deaths of friends and children overseas, and Cotton’s injuries began taking a toll when he returned home. To cope, he turned to the bottle—drinking a fifth of liquor and a case of beer each night by his estimation, on top of taking double the amount of his prescribed anti-anxiety medication. “I didn’t drink before I joined the Marines. It’s something I kind of despised,” Cotton said earnestly. “[But I did it] so I could actually go to sleep at night. I spent the last year of my Marine Corps career going to medical appointments and sleep studies.” Eventually, the combination of his TBI, PTSD and drinking put a strain on his marriage. It also led to a drunk driving arrest, multiple demotions in rank and a charge of disrespecting a commissioned officer. In 2012, just 17 days before his four-year contract was complete, Cotton was given an other than honorable (OTH) discharge as a private. He and his wife returned home to Michigan where they divorced the following year.

“Do two combat deployments, walk in and not be considered a veteran? It’s [expletive] heartbreaking.” —Lafe Cotton, Marine Corps veteran

“Everyone has their own reasons for serving, but no one goes in expecting they’re going to get hurt and there’s going to be life-altering consequences because of it,” said DAV National Service Director Jim Marszalek.

Above: Lafe Cotton during a training exercise at Twentynine Palms, California, in February 2010. Left: Cotton poses with his platoon mates in Garmsir District, Afghanistan, in August 2011.

“Unfortunately for Lafe, his injuries not only altered his health and marriage, but they also affected other aspects of his future because having an OTH discharge can present serious barriers for veterans once they’re out.” These barriers include ineligibility for disability compensation, education and employment benefits, and home loans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. “I couldn’t even go into my DMV and get ‘veteran’ designated on my ID,” Cotton explained. “Do two combat deployments, walk in and not be considered a veteran? It’s [expletive] heartbreaking.” Hoping to gain access to the benefits he earned, Cotton first petitioned the Naval Discharge Review Board in 2013 for a discharge upgrade, which was denied. He tried two more times with the same result before a friend pointed him to The Veterans Consortium (TVC), an organization that provides veterans with pro bono legal services. Cotton reached out despite having no expectation of success after three denials in eight years. “Generally, when a veteran applies on their own for a discharge upgrade, their success rate is very, very low,” said Danica Gonzalves, program director for TVC’s

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“To be able to help veterans get their discharge upgrade and allow them to obtain the benefits that they need is not only a success for our program but also for the veterans. Having DAV be a partner with us is what really allows us to reach more veterans and make a difference in their lives.”

“At first, I was in complete disbelief about it because I had been waiting so long and trying so hard to get this done,” said Cotton. “I was elated. I was in tears. And all it took was a phone call, a few letters of recommendation and the right people.” “To be able to help veterans get their discharge upgrade and allow them to obtain the benefits that they need is not only a success for our program but also for the veterans,” said Gonzalves. “Having DAV be a partner with us is what really allows us to reach more veterans and make a difference in their lives.” Now remarried and once again working in steel construction, Cotton is awaiting one final letter from his neurologist before he submits his application for VA disability compensation. After years of struggling, his newfound eligibility for VA benefits could completely change his life. “The Veterans Consortium is a straight-up blessing,” he said. “If I was to try to go stand in front of the Navy review board without them, I’d be [useless],” Cotton explained. “They are the [tool that you need to get the job done].” n

—Danica Gonzalves, program director for TVC’s Discharge Upgrade Program

Discharge Upgrade Program, who attributed such outcomes to veterans’ lack of experience with legal burdens and processes. “We showed that his conditions led to the subsequent behaviors that led to the discharge,” said Gonzalves. “When we can show the connection between the mental health conditions and the misconduct, the board is more likely to upgrade the discharge.” Cotton is just one of more than 2,000 veterans TVC’s Discharge Upgrade Program provides with free legal assistance annually through the support of a $1 million grant from the DAV Charitable Service Trust. This past September, Cotton’s discharge was upgraded to general under honorable conditions—opening his eligibility to a range of VA benefits.


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Lafe Cotton and his wife, Bridget, on their wedding day in August 2017. Cotton is once again working in steel construction in Michigan.

This Veterans Day, let's support veterans by helping their children and families.


"I am reaching out because my son's school counselor called to let me know my son has been having suicidal thoughts in the past four weeks or longer. It's difficult to find therapists who have worked with kids who have parents who have been in combat and now have more unique needs than most. I’m worried about my son, as well as my husband who will blame himself for my son's situation. I was truly hoping maybe someone could help me!" - Military-Connected Parent

Camp Corral transforms the lives of children of wounded, ill, and fallen military heroes through camp, advocacy, and enrichment programs.

Join us in The Great American Give to support children of wounded, ill, and fallen military heroes. CAMPCORRAL.ORG

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Tunnel to Towers Foundation to Read Names of U.S. Troops Killed in the War on Terror

“We’ll be reading those more than 7,000 names on Veterans Day for the first time ever,” he said. “We do it because as a nation, we must acknowledge these great national heroes, because it is right, it is just, and it is about time that we did it.”

In front of the Lincoln Memorial on Veterans Day, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation is holding a ceremony to read aloud the more than 7,000 names of U.S. soldiers who lost their lives in the War on Terror, America’s response to September 11, 2001. The recognition by name of these heroes has never been attempted by any organization.

Siller started the Foundation after losing his youngest brother, Fire Department of New York City Firefighter Stephen Siller, on 9/11. Stephen strapped 60 pounds of fire gear on his back and ran through the then Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he gave his life while saving others.

Many men and women signed up to serve and protect our nation after 9/11, when the largest terrorist attack to ever take place on U.S. soil killed 2,977 people, which included first responders and civilians. Many men and women who saw what happened on that fateful day joined our military, putting their lives on the line to protect and defend our nation and its values. The reading will take place at the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital, and the ceremony is expected to last several hours. “We at the Tunnel to Towers Foundation believe it is our responsibility and our honor to make sure that we never forget their sacrifice and the sacrifice made by so many other families,” said the Foundation’s CEO Frank Siller.


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“He wanted to help people, he wanted to serve, he wanted to save,” Siller said. “Many of our men and women who saw that signed up to serve America, to protect America to make sure it didn’t happen again, on our homeland…Some of those men and women paid a big price.” Four Gold Star widows, who have had their mortgages paid off by Tunnel to Towers, and two smart home recipients were in attendance for the June 17 press conference announcing the ceremony. “Each of these names hold a story and legacy of ultimate sacrifice…” said Gold Star widow Carmela Raguso, “…and love for one’s country. They will truly never be gone by saying their names.”

Because the American military is 100% voluntary, none of the servicemembers who laid down their lives for our liberties had to enlist and serve. “All of these men and women chose to go — they chose to be there, chose to fight for our freedom,” asserted Gold Star widow Shannon Slutman. Every single day is Memorial Day and Veterans Day for Gold Star families, and it is time we honor all those who laid down their lives in the last 20 years for our Constitutional liberties. United States Marine Corps Sgt. Rob Jones, a Tunnel to Towers smart home recipient, elaborated on the loss that we share as a nation: “When I think about all of the servicemembers who have sacrificed their lives for this country, I am actually filled with sadness, but at the same time I am thankful; I am thankful that I live in a country that has millions of people in it who are willing to sacrifice their lives for this country...I’m thankful that I live in a country that recognizes the gravity of this sacrifice.” Sgt. Jones’ most important message to attendees was that, “All Americans should strive to live a life every day that is worthy of this sacrifice.” Reading aloud the 7,000+ names of heroes marks a new Tunnel to Towers annual tradition.

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

Tunnel to Towers Reading of the Names / Veterans Day November 11, 2021 at 8AM (EST) The Tunnel to Towers Foundation reads the names of the more than 7,000 fallen American soldiers who served in our military ranks and sacrificed all, following the attack on our nation on 9/11. Go to www.T2T.org to watch the livestream.

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

Homeland Veteran Resources & Organizations available at:



Homeland Magazine A Veterans Magazine for Veterans by Veterans

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Honor Flight San Diego Flies Again

USMC Veteran Jack Cullari 16

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Photo’s by: Holly Shaffner, Teri Simas, Lizzy Simas

By Holly Shaffner After two years and three postponed trips due to the COVID pandemic, Honor Flight San Diego returned to the skies. It was a three-day weekend in early October and the plane was filled with 94 Southern California veterans from every branch of service, including 28 WWII veterans, six veterans over the age of 100, and six female veterans! The veterans included men who are Silver, Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipients, one veteran who was part of the ship transport for the Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, and there were survivors from the historical Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. The oldest female veteran at 102-years-young, U.S. Navy WAVE Winona Ruth Gunther, is a two-time book author and was given a Living Legend Award at the Military Women’s Memorial. The veterans were 75 to 104 years old, but during the whirlwind trip you would never know it. When the Honor Flight San Diego team leaders arrived at the airport at 0400, there was a veteran already waiting for them. Over the next 60 hours, the veterans, their guardians, and the Honor Flight team traveled to Washington, D.C. and back to San Diego. The trip included witnessing the changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, and visiting the World War II, Lincoln, Korea, Vietnam, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, Women in Service for America Memorials, and touring the National Navy and National Electronics Museums. For many of the veterans, the trip was much more than visiting memorials and museums. They bonded, connected, met new friends, and got some closure from their military experiences. After 18 months of isolation and lock down without being able to visit family and friends, this trip was EXACTLY what they needed.

These 94 veterans had a trip of a lifetime and the person leading the planning and logistics was Honor Flight San Diego Chairman, Julie Brightwell. For her, it was a momentous trip too – it was her 50th Honor Flight. Her adventures started in 2008 in Columbus, Ohio when she was the guardian for her U.S. Army father Earl Mann, who was a WWII veteran. Since then, she rose through the ranks from guardian to team leader, to Flight Director and Chairman of the nonprofit organization. She has enhanced the lives of thousands of senior veterans in her volunteer service to them and they thank her with hugs, kisses, and tears of emotion. Since 2010, Honor Flight San Diego has flown nearly 1,500 senior veterans on their “Tourof Honor”. The organization is one of about 130 independent hubs in the United States under the Honor Flight Network and one of the last hubs to still have large numbers of WWII veterans to go on the trip. Pending funding, the organization plans to take two flights in 2022 - they are actively looking for Southern California WWII and Korea veterans, and veterans from any era who have a terminal illness.

The finale of the weekend was arriving to 800+ wellwishers at the San Diego International Airport. As the veterans deplaned, they were greeted by Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC cadets and cadre, and activeduty men and women who issued first salutes. The well-wishers wore patriotic attire, waved American Flags, and shook the veteran’s hands to thank them for their service. The homecoming was fit for a hero and emotions ran strong as they got the welcome home they may not have received after the war. “I will remember this weekend for the rest of my life,” said a veteran about the trip.

For more information or to get a senior veteran on their Honor Flight, call (800)655-6997 or go to: www.HonorFlightSanDiego.org

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The Industrial Designer of The Mural Wall at the Korean War Memorial Reminds Us to Never Forget Homeland Magazine had a chance to sit down with Visionary industrial designer Louis Nelson. The designer conceived and spent five years creating the Korean War Veterans Memorial mural in Washington, D.C.— a striking, unforgettable granite mural featuring the faces of those who served. Now, Nelson releases Mosaic: War Monument Mystery (Publicity Launch: November 11, 2021; Original Trade Paperback; ISBN: 978-1098366124), and examines how this war affected him and its veterans― then and now―leading to his design of its mural wall and a new addition. Designed as a counterpoint to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Nelson’s mural wall vibrantly honors the men and women who fought in America’s “Forgotten War.” In tandem with Frank Gaylord’s haunting steel sculptures, the wall forms a lasting tribute to both those who gave their lives and those who survived the brutal first salvo of the Cold War. Homeland: Tell us about yourself and your career as an internationally recognized, award-winning industrial designer and artist, and now author. Nelson: My career actually started in fourth or fifth grade at PS 166. I designed covers for my book reports. The assignment was simply to read books and write about them. A book report, but I decided my reports also needed covers. I can’t tell you why. I just did it. My teacher, Mrs. Flynn, liked the covers so much that she displayed them on the hallway bulletin boards. She said I’d get extra credit if I read more books, so I made more book covers, the likes of Robinson Crusoe and The Call of the Wild.

architect was on the phone. It seemed I had been waiting for this call my whole life. I’m invited to meet the Board. I blocked out a number of different directions to discuss. Finally, I decided to tell the group how this war affected my life and the decisions I made when I entered college, my design education, and the subsequent steps of my life—being in ROTC, the Army, learning to fly a helicopter, sent to West Germany when a wall was built in Berlin, effects of the Cuban Missile Crisis, returning to civilian life, graduate school and some of the highlights of my design career... Homeland: In MOSAIC, you discuss your personal process and intentions in designing the mural wall; please expand on the intricacies, motivations and controversies that accompany the building of memorials, especially those commemorating war. Nelson: There are four classic ways of commemorating service—three were already present on the National Mall. One is a representation of a great leader and a remembrance of a tragic and bloody war. Certainly, that is Lincoln and the Civil War. Another, like the one in my old neighborhood square—a list of names of the dead, an honor roll etched in black granite. That’s the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The third is a significant abstract symbol reflecting an individual, as is the obelisk for the Washington Monument and the Revolutionary War. The fourth way, the most universal, yet different and contrasting to the other three while touching the hearts of all families... a reflection of the person, a photograph of a loved one, in the place of honor at home, on your sideboard or your mantelpiece for all to see when you have visitors. This mural would be the Nation’s Mantelpiece.

Homeland: Your memoir MOSAIC: WAR MONUMENT MYSTERY details your industrial design work, notably the mural wall you designed for the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC. How did you get involved in the assignment?

Homeland: When designing the memorial,what is the significance of the material sand technology used? How does the technology at the time differ from the tools you use today?

Nelson: Forty years and three months after the invasion of South Korea, they called. It was an early Autumn morning in 1990. Bill Lecky, a Washington, DC,

Nelson: I asked Coldspring’s team to produce a number of samples showing the variety of sizes of the “mezzotint dots” and the depth of the engraved


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“sandblasted” portrait. Constant refinements adjusted the “mezzotint” to carefully relate to the granular structure of the granite. Homeland: Please share how your time in the military impacted you personally, as well as professionally in your design for the mural wall, how you feel about the reception to the memorial when it was unveiled, and the long term impact the Memorial and Mural have on the legacy of Korean War Veterans? Nelson: Lives change at a memorial. Ideas change. I could already see it happening. “My” mural at the Korean War Veterans Memorial was transforming into “their” mural, “their” memorial—the Korean War Veterans and the American People. Throughout the morning, I listened to veterans telling their stories. A they stood in front of their mural, they told me they could feel the cold of the Korean winter, smell the gunfire and could now talk about this time. Homeland: Do you feel the memorial changed the way you look at architectural projects, and on a personal level, and on a personal level, what do you most admire about the Korean War Veterans Memorial? Nelson: David Halberstam reflects on the differences between the fifties and the sixties in relation to the United States, a country once a democracy turned empire, as he put it in The Next Century. His words seem so fitting when I see the two memorial walls, Korea and Vietnam. One, so moving yet so impersonal in its long list of names, showing loss, reflecting the dispassionate commitment of a group of men furthering their own needs for which America’s youth paid. The other, composed of faces of yesterday and conveys the

reasoned, heartbreaking commitment of the leaders and the men and women who served in a conflict too quickly forgotten at a time of migrating ethical standards—and yet a long way off from being settled. Homeland: What inspired you to write, Mosaic: War Monument Mystery, and what is the significance behind the title? Nelson: It was the time to see where I’ve been . . . how I’ve changed in these twenty-five years since the memorial’s dedication. How we’ve changed. What we’ve lived through and what we now face. Korea has changed, both the South and the North. The times will change them even more. The threat of Korea’s 1950 invasion has now, seventy years later, deepened. It’s still here, only more intimidating. Is this what happens when peace is not agreed on? When people walk away before the final moment? Could it signal that there will be more episodes to come. The Korean War of 1950 has shifted from our “Forgotten War” to this era’s “Seminal War”, hastened by Kim Jong-un’s continuing quest for the nuclear grail. Homeland: What do you want people to take away from Mosaic and hopefully from visiting the memorial? Nelson: We build memorials. Yet, the story is not about the memorial, but about the people of the memorial. Not about the stone and bronze, but about the blood. Not about the moment, but about endurance. Not of yesterday, but of tomorrow. Not of what happened, nor why it happened, but how we have changed and grown because of it. Homeland: Where can people buy your book and how can they connect with you? Nelson: Your local book dealer, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the BookBaby Bookshop.

Connect with Louis Nelson by email at: louis@louisnelson.com

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Real Talk: Mental Health By Leslie McCaddon,

Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD www.vvsd.net/cohenclinicsandiego

Timeless Hope As a child I was surrounded by Veterans and their spouses and hardly noticed. My mother spoke of her childhood as a “Navy brat” with a sour bitterness rivaled only by her intense aversion to anything lemon flavored. The Navy, she often told us, was that awful thing that always took her beloved Daddy away from her for months at a time. In my earliest memories, the military in my family was more history and lore than it was a practical reality. In addition to my mom’s retired Master Chief father, I was vaguely aware that my Dad’s stepfather and biological father were WWII Army veterans. I would study their handsome pictures in uniform. But, they were as fantastical to me as a child as a framed photo of a celebrity. Something grand, but in the past and thus more ethereal than tangible. When I married a soldier I believed his military service was soon to be in our past too. We married on a sunny January day in southern California, 9 months before the world was shook by the events on 9/11. My husband wore a tux instead of his dress blues. My request, because I never dreamed the military was to become an actual way of life for us. My husband’s love for country and that country going to war, changed everything. He recommitted himself to the military before our first anniversary and by the time he died 11 years later, he had 19 years and 9 months in service to our country. What no one expected was how we would lose him. That we would lose him to suicide. And, that I would feel more lost, confused, and alone than I could have ever imagined. The week between my husband’s death and his funeral was a blur of flights across the pacific and wellmeaning deliveries of flowers and casseroles. 20

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I answered my phone only when necessary. And, I almost didn’t answer my phone when one my of grandmother’s called. She was the second wife of my dad’s biological father. They had been married over 50 years and she’d always been my grandmother. Still, I almost didn’t answer. I’m so glad I did. What transpired between us was the kind of comradery that I’ve only ever known from fellow military wives and widows. And she, it would turn out, would be one of the first military widows to stand beside me and say, “I truly understand what you are going through.” And she did. In ways that came as a complete shock to me. I knew my grandmother had been married before and was a mother to two children from that marriage. I’m embarrassed to say that it had never occurred to me to ask where her first husband was. And, I’d picked up on some hesitancy from family members to discuss it. I assumed it was a contentious divorce of some kind, and knew that she’d gone on to have 3 more children with my grandfather and it was a very happy union. The morning my Grandma Ginny called me, she was calling to tell me that she, too, knew very personally the catastrophic loss of losing a military spouse to suicide. I learned more about my grandmother in our 30 minute conversation that day than I had my whole life. I learned of her grief. Her fear. Her pain. And, I felt deeply understood. She was the battle buddy who could meet me exactly where I was and tell me two things no one else really could, “I know how you feel” and “you will be alright.” My grandmother shared that months after her first husband died she found herself on her knees praying in church, angry with God. She said, she poured out her soul at his feet and He answered her. She said she had the distinct feeling that the Holy Spirit revealed to her that she was going to be alright. Grandma Ginny

confessed to me that although it brough some comfort, she was decidedly skeptical. “Honey,” my grandmother spoke softly. “I have another memory I want to share with you. It was when I was carrying your youngest aunt, I found myself on my knees in church again crying and praying.” She took a breath, her voice trembling. Clearly her memory was visceral and real to that very day. “I said to God, ‘Lord, you told me it was going to be alright!’” She paused again to catch her breath and stem her tears. “What you didn’t tell me was that it was going to be great!” In an instant, my grandmother transformed an illusory past and made it meaningful and actual for me. She undid a romanticized past and replaced it with her reality after WWII-- not returning soldiers kissing random strangers in the streets and a husband proud of his heroism. But, with a reality much like mine. A husband struggling with his mental health and with the perception that he had nowhere to turn for help. A husband who loved his wife and children, but couldn’t connect with them as he had once before. In one quiet, tearful, confession my grandmother reached across time and space –no longer a grandmother in her 80’s, but a knowing military spouse turned military widow-- and gave me what no one had been able to yet. My grandmother, still emotional about her trauma and loss half a century after she experienced it, gave me the gift of sharing that her story was difficult, but it didn’t end at it’s hardest moment. Rather, her pain served as a foundation to build a new future for herself and her children. In giving me the truth of her painful story, she gave me new courage for my own. She gave me the permission and power to share my story, too. She taught me, we must not only celebrate the Hollywood black and white versions of our Veteran’s histories. We must also embrace the whole, messy, complicated, and important stories of all the human beings who have selflessly served this country. So that we may remember in full color. So that we can learn from the past and bring mental health out of the shadows and into the healing light. So that like my grandmother, we may always offer each other the gift of unencumbered hope. Leslie McCaddon serves as part of the outreach team at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD. She is the Gold Star Widow of Army CPT Michael McCaddon, MD. To learn how therapy can help with mental health challenges, visit www.vvsd.net/cohenclinicsandiego

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After 2 Suicide Attempts, This Veteran Found Hope Once Again & So Can You By: Steven Kuhn, Combat Veteran and Guest on Addiction Talk, an American Addiction Centers Show As a military combat veteran, I’ve lost more friends to suicide than I have in battle, and I know of many other vets who can say the same.

focusing on a clear mission with a rigid structure, suddenly there’s none. When you’re fighting for your country, there’s a higher purpose—you’re fighting for freedom and justice. But as a civilian, it’s hard to find that same sense of purpose in delivering the mail, working as a security guard or in some other routine job. In Iraq, I saved lives and helped people in their most desperate time of need and within a few short months, I was working as a door man at a bar in Berlin. It was demoralizing, and I felt lost. With no purpose, I also lost my sense of self-worth. In my uniform, everyone could see my rank, my medals earned—my value was clear because I literally wore it on my sleeve. But in civilian clothes, I felt like a nobody. One day I was working the door in Berlin and a kid passing by made the remark, “Look at this loser. He can’t even get a real job.” My mind was screaming “I’d just fought in a war!” I was battle scarred and even watched a friend die in my arms. Yet, here’s this kid running me down. And part of me thought he was right because I felt like a loser. Compounding the problem, no one understands the trauma of war. I can still vividly remember the day I was on patrol and tripped over a severed foot still inside a boot. To this day, the face of a young girl who came to our checkpoint outside of Basra still haunts me. She was burned over most of her body. After our medic bandaged her up, I gave her a piece of butterscotch candy, and she smiled. In that moment, that small gesture made her so happy. I think about her often but have no idea what happened to her after our exchange, or whether she even survived.

Of course, we’ve all heard the statistics: Over 20 veterans commit suicide every day. These are decorated, accomplished leaders, men and women with families, friends and so much to offer. During their service, they were at the top of their game. But because of their combat wounds—mental and emotional as well as physical—they’re unable to cope with civilian life. I know because I was one of them. I spent months on the front lines during the Gulf War in Iraq. I was an excellent soldier, even earning the Bronze Star for my service. But when I left active duty at age 27, I struggled to find my place in the world and suffered from PTSD. While most people would assume returning to “normal life” would feel like a tremendous relief, it’s actually extremely hard. For veterans, civilian life is anything but normal. It’s chaos. After years of 22

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It took over 18 years and two suicide attempts for me to finally realize I was my own worst enemy. I was so attached to my identity as a soldier that I couldn’t see myself as anything else. When I realized I had the power to change it—that my past didn’t have to dictate my future—it was incredibly liberating, and brought me down an entirely new path. If you’re a veteran who’s feeling lost, struggling to find your way, and/or suffering from PTSD and suicidal ideations, please know that there is hope. Here’s how I found the will to live again. Create your own reality. I see a lot of vets who wear t-shirts proudly declaring themselves a disabled veteran. They wear their trauma as a badge of honor because they think that’s their identity. And while I certainly don’t diminish their service or sacrifice, the truth is, that’s who they were, not who they are today. When you live in the past, it’s impossible

to move forward. You have everything you need inside you right now to create a better future. When you emit that frequency, that’s what you attract. Surround yourself with people who are moving forward. Change how you react to situations. See things from a different perspective—try to see yourself and your behavior through the eyes of your spouse or family members, for example. What would you tell yourself to do—stay stuck in the past and suffer or heal and move on? Talk about it. Most veterans don’t talk about their experiences because they don’t want to be a burden—no one really wants to hear about the horrors we’ve seen, right? For others, quiet equals strength, and sharing is a sign of weakness, which they’ve been conditioned to avoid at all costs. Admitting you’re having trouble dealing with things is not a moral failure. Like a pressure cooker, keeping it bottled up will only cause it to sometime explode. Literally no good comes from suffering in silence and trust me, there’s zero harm in admitting you need help. Talk to your spouse, a trusted friend or find a support group—anyone who will listen and help you move forward.


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Let go of survivor’s guilt. I talk to a lot of vets who feel tremendous guilt over their brothers and sisters who didn’t make it home. They feel it’s somehow their fault or that it should’ve been them who died instead. I completely understand that feeling because I too lost a friend as a result of friendly fire. As I watched him through my night vision goggles, I felt helpless and almost detached from the situation, like it was a movie. All I could think about was how it could have been me, and I felt selfish and ashamed for feeling that way. But if the roles were reversed, would you want your friends to feel guilty for the rest of their lives? Absolutely not. Remember that right now, those fallen brothers and sisters you miss so dearly are looking down on you saying, “Listen, we’re up here, but you’re still there—living. So go do it. And don’t screw it up.” We owe it to them to move on. We can’t let them down. While nothing can erase the trauma and scars of war, we can’t let the past define us. War is hell, and it’s already robbed us of so much. Don’t let it rob you of your present and future life, of the joy of feeling loved and appreciated by those around you. If you’re struggling with PTSD, suicidal thoughts or with simply finding your path in the civilian world, I urge you to get help. There are plenty of us who know exactly how you feel, and we can show you a different way to live where you no longer have to suffer in silence.

For veterans dealing with substance abuse, PTSD and other mental health disorders, our Salute to Recovery Program is designed specifically for you. Built on camaraderie, trust and evidence-based therapies, the program provides a place of healing among fellow veterans to get you on the path to recovery faster. Treatment includes: • Trauma Groups

• Relapse Prevention

• Emotion Regulation

• Motivational Interviewing

• Grief & Loss

• Cognitive Processing

• Pain Management

• EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

• Coping Skills • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

• 12-Step

• Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

• Art & Music Therapy

AdCare, Desert Hope, Recovery First, River Oaks, Sunrise House, Oxford, and Greenhouse are part of American Addiction Centers’ National Network of Treatment Centers.


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www.Courage2Call.org Career Resources Available Now Hiring Management and Direct Service Positions - www.mhsinc.org/career-resources 24

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Courage to Call Courage to Call is dedicated to improving mental wellness for Veterans, Active Duty, Reservists, National Guardsmen, and their families via countywide outreach and education, a 24/7 peer line, as well as individual short-term, solution focused preventionoriented plans. This program is led by veterans and their family members. What does Courage To Call provide? Every day in San Diego County, current and former service members and their families deal with the complex maze of issues that accompanies military life. Often times the most difficult problem is not knowing where to turn when you need help. Courage to Call is a free, confidential, veteran-staffed 24/7 helpline dedicated to assisting active duty military personnel, veterans, reservists, guard members, and their families, regardless of discharge status, through information, guidance, and referrals. We offer an optional deeper level of care with case management and can assign a veteran peer navigator to your case. These “Navigators” will help you navigate the resources and will advocate on your behalf. Types of assistance include

follow-up assistance, program enrollment and advocacy with the ultimate goal of providing enrollment assistance in the services they need. All Veteran Peer Navigators are trained social workers with the essential knowledge to provide resources and support to reduce stress and improve overall wellness.

• Access to resources or referrals • Employment services • Food, housing and shelter • Rent and utility assistance • Counseling/mental health services • Family and legal resources • VA and other benefits and information • Veterans transition services • Low-cost or no-cost recreation

Learn more about Peer Support, Peer Navigation and Training for Organizations visit www.courage2call.org/what-we-do/ If you are seeking help Call 1-877-698-7838 or dial 2-1-1 option 4 or visit our website at “Get Help” www.courage2call.org/get-help/

PEER SUPPORT All Courage to Call Peer-Support Specialists have been in the military and understand the rigors of the military and military family life. Peer-Support Specialists provide a “first contact resolution” by ensuring that client needs are addressed to the best of their ability during their first contact with Courage to Call. PEER NAVIGATION Courage to Call Veteran Peer Navigators provide oneon-one peer support in navigating the service system through information and referrals, proactive check-in,

To contact us (877) 698-7838 www.couragetocall@mhsinc.org COURAGE TO CALL – ONLINE DONATION Make your secure, tax-deductible donation today to Courage to Call. Help us continue to provide support to current and former service members and their families in San Diego County. Thank you for your generosity! www.courage2call.org/donate-now/ WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


USO San Diego – The Force Behind the Forces® USO San Diego, part of the global USO network, strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. Since 1941, the USO has been the nation’s leading organization to serve the men and women in the U.S. military, and their families, throughout their time in uniform. There are over 140,000 active-duty military personnel within 4,526 square miles of San Diego County. With the help of USO volunteers, USO San Diego supports our nation’s heroes and their families at five USO Centers including USO San Diego Neil Ash Airport Center, Liberty Station, San Diego Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), USO Camp Pendleton, and a warehouse facility. Through these centers and mobile outreach, USO San Diego serves as a ‘home away from home’ no matter where assignments take the men and women who serve our country. San Diego is home to six major military installations and more than 25 smaller installations within the region. From the moment service members join the armed forces, through their assignments and deployments, and as they transition back to their communities, the USO is always by their side, delivering impactful programming, entertainment, meal deliveries and other necessary resources.


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The USO responds to the needs of service members and their families via the following four pillars: UNITE | KEEPING THEM CONNECTED The USO nurtures and maintains strong bonds between service members, their families, and the community. Through programs focused on connection, strengthening, wellness, and resiliency, USO expresses America’s gratitude and commitment to service members and their families. USO San Diego programs and services include MilSpouse Connect, TeenTalk, MilKid Club and the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program. DELIVER | ALWAYS BY THEIR SIDE The USO supports service members through outbound programming to reach troops training in isolated locations, on arduous missions, and those deployed to more remote areas around the world. Through expeditionary outreach support including care packages, snacks, holiday celebration items, and internet services provided throughout challenging deployments, the USO ensures service members stay connected. America is by their side, wherever their assignments take them. USO San Diego programs and services include the USO Mobile Programs, Mobile Farmers Market, Wednesday Night Dinner, Feed Our Heroes, Care Packages, Baby Showers, Holiday Toy Drives, and Homecoming/Deployment Support.

The COVID-19 crisis greatly impacted the organization’s ability to perform “business as usual” – while demand for services increased, the USO temporarily lost the in-person support of local volunteers that serve as the vital backbone of the organization’s service delivery. Remaining committed to being agile and responsive to meet the evolving needs of service members and their families, the USO modified programming, which included increasing distribution of food and essential items to families in need and transitioning all in-person programming to online experiences. During the pandemic in 2020, USO San Diego provided support with over 250,000 total service instances, delivering impactful programming such as USO Pathfinder® Transition planning, Mobile Farmers Markets, MilSpouse Connect, MilKids Club, Teen Talk, Meal Delivery, Military Virtual Programming and vital support for troop movements.

ENTERTAIN | ENTERTAINING SERVICE MEMBERS & FAMILIES AROUND THE WORLD The USO brings entertainment, recreation, and celebrations to the doorsteps of service members and their families through a diverse range of activities. By providing programs that focus on America’s culture and pastimes, the USO brings a grateful nation closer to them in times of both separation and celebration. USO San Diego programs and services include Military Virtual Programming (MVP) Series, USO Show Troupe, Ticket Distributions, and other special programming offerings. TRANSITION | TRANSITIONING SERVICE MEMBERS & MILITARY SPOUSES The USO provides resources for service members, veterans, and military families throughout various transition points of their military service. From the moment their service begins through the time their service is complete – through voluntary separation, the wounds of service, or the ultimate sacrifice – those who serve, and their families, are supported with dignity and respect. USO San Diego programs and services include USO Pathfinder® Transitions, USO Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) San Diego, and Families of the Fallen.

For 80 years, the USO has stood as the Force Behind the Forces®, leading the way to unite all Americans to actively express gratitude and support members of the military and their families, home and abroad. USO volunteers, donors and partners have stood up to help our service members and families by serving them a hot meal, keeping them entertained, and having a shoulder to lean on when times are tough. USO San Diego invites the local community to join us in giving more than thanks this holiday season. The USO is a private nonprofit organization, not a government agency. Programs and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, support of corporate partners and the dedication of volunteers and staff. For more information about USO San Diego and to ‘Give More Than Thanks’, visit www.sandiego.uso.org.

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

Download PTSD Coach to:

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


PTSD Coach is not meant to replace professional care.

Search “PTSD Coach”


WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


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

It’s time to take advantage.

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

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

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WHAT’S NEXT Transition to Civilian Life By Eve Nasby & Kristin Hennessy

If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail. But What About the Holy Grail? Are you planning to exit? Repeat the question. Are you PLANNING to exit? Here’s the deal. Transition causes obvious anxiety. What is anxiety? Fear of the unknown. Let’s start with this: you don’t know the unknown. But, you can start to figure out what you do know. Your Script isn’t Written for You So you’re thinking about transition. Or, ready to. What are those final steps across the blue line going to mean for you and your family? They’re steps to the next phase. Steps. One foot in front of the other. One thought-out idea leading to the next.

CALM! Ok, before you start stressing, don’t. You don’t have to do it perfectly. If Throne had to do it again, he says that he would have gotten his civilian credentials (Human Resources) years sooner, and built networks with nonmilitary and non-veteran communities sooner. Is this a fail? No. It’s a lesson shared. He reflects, “The military had a very 1950’s Sears and Roebuck mentality retirement system. You graduate from high school, invest 30 years, get a cake in the break room, a gold watch, pull out a rocking chair and enjoy your porch and lemonade for the rest of time.” Times Change

Now, the modern era shows the average tenure in a job is 2.7 years, not 30. What does this mean? You It’s easy to worry that this concept of transition may have to plan for that! Say you find something you think www.bandofhands.com be a leap of faith into Indiana Jones’ vast abyss. (Don’t you love, but you don’t. Not a problem. Use those skills those end well?) Well, you have ole Indiana in you, but to your advantage. Move on! Continue! This is not a let’s not leave this to Hollywood. If it helps, Indiana start and stop. This is a journey. Jones was scripted and the character was told what to do - sorry to ruin that. And scene! Fact: Modern era also means that many get a degree Back to Reality Change is hard. The idea of transition can be straining on you and your family. The burning questions arise. “What is my purpose? What is my mission? Who am I without my military family?” Enter Chris Thorne, a retired Command Master Chief who spent 30 years of his life in the military. That’s a lot to change. He did it. And he has some wise words to share. In short, planning a transition takes planning. Are you preparing? Most in transition aren’t prepared for what’s next because they’re not viewing it as a natural progression. Thorne says “I see my fellow brothers and sisters thinking about their transition as a ‘stop and start’ evolution versus a smooth and well planned continuum. Start thinking about transition as your next logical step.”


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in their 30s or 40s. Why do they do this? Not to get “out of college,” but rather to transition their career. If you need the skills or the credentials, go for it! Plan ahead. Do you need the skills to advance and take you over the bridge? If so, plan for it! Ready for the Holy Grail? Thought we’d leave you with just that? Nope. Here’s the advice from Thorne:

1. Think of your military career as part of your life long career continuum. Leaving the military is a continuum of what is next and not a cliff you fall off when you get out. It is the flame that ignites what’s next. 2. Branch out and get nonmilitary mentors in addition to your military network. They’ll round you out. They will bridge the gap. Find them before you plan to leave.

3. Get on LinkedIn. It’s not scary. It’s not judged. It’s just necessary. (Remember, you’re in modern times!) Start your profile as early as possible. Your military experience is relevant even before you’re thinking about transitioning. Do it at least 6 months prior if you can - and just start the glory of connecting. You will have a network with barely any effort! Thorne states reality in saying, “Understand that in the military, we are always decades behind the trends. There’s a massive push to get a degree. Sadly, people are getting graduate degrees just to say they have one, without a specific career focus. Make time to understand your career needs. Don’t get a Masters in National Security Studies if you want an HR job. It could actually hinder it.” X Never, Ever Marks the Spot Indiana Jones isn’t going to join you in your career search with a tattered map to lead the way. You now have personal choice in jobs, health insurance, budgets, locations, and how you create your destiny. Planning well will help you land a career doing what you love, including supportive people that you like, and a network for continued growth. It can be your Holy Grail if you plan to find it.

Chris Thorne is happy to connect with you to offer additional words of wisdom as you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about transitioning successfully. Reach out to him via LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/chris-thorne2/


Transition to Civilian Life For more information or help transitioning, contact Eve Nasby at eve@bandofhands.com, or call 619-244-3000


WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


Transitioning is a Process – Take it Slow and Share it with Others By: Dr. Keita Franklin Whether a veteran has served in the military for 4 years or 25, transitioning into civilian life is often a difficult and stressful process. For a veteran, civilian transition is so much more than a change in vocation…it’s a change in identity. So much of a veteran’s identity is invested in their role as a soldier, sailor, airman marine, or guardian. Leaving the military can cause veterans to lose a sense of connection with this familiar identity. Who am I if I’m not a Colonel in the United States Army? What is my utility if I’m not putting my life on the line in defense of this Nation? Veterans often struggle with these and other existential questions during their transition to civilian life. This is why, it is important that we ensure veterans are prepared for such feeling and emotions well in advance of their transition. We need every veteran to understand that while we will remain eternally grateful for their service to this Nation, we also value and honor their many other roles. Their roles as a community member, a father, a son, a wife, sister, and so many others offer countless opportunities for veterans to continue their service while leveraging their unique skills, impeccable values, and unwavering commitment. The challenges veterans face when transitioning from military service to civilian life are many. Often for veterans who have worked in high-tempo operational environments for extended periods of time, can find it extremely difficult to “slow down” to the normal pace of civilian life. These veterans may interpret this slower pace as indicating they are not adding value to their new mission, or they may feel the activities involving these slower processes must not be important because it is not infused with wartime urgency, which they are accustomed. Other veterans may suppress their emotions tied to traumatic experiences while serving on active duty, mainly because they perceived the stigma of weakness when asking for help while on active duty. In many cases, the transition to civilian life will trigger debilitating emotions and there can be a delayed onset of symptoms related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) surfacing all at once – making it overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable to overcome. In addition to triggering suppressed emotions, finding employment outside of the military can be a significant stressor – particularly when a veteran is asked to start at an entry level position. Some veterans question how well their skills acquired on active duty will transition to 32

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the private sector, but they do not expect to start at the bottom. In some cases, veterans take a job because they need one, however, they are not happy or are left feeling unfulfilled by the work they do because they believe they are starting from scratch. In other cases, veterans crave the high-tempo operational work environments. The intensity of the military environment can cause a constant state of adrenaline for people – and service members often report not being able to find that same intensity in their civilian jobs, making them feel sluggish and unmotivated by their jobs.

Another issue veterans confront when transitioning from service is finding a new sense of mission. While on active duty, service members have a very strong sense of mission and belongingness, and as they prepare for transitioning, it is important to make sure they understand and appreciate their new mission in life. This means finding a meaningful job that brings them purpose, as well as a strong circle of friends or colleagues who they can rely on when civilian life becomes difficult to navigate. To make transitioning easier, service members need to take that sense of mission while on active duty and adjust it to their mission in civilian life. Veterans must understand that while their mission has changed, who they are, their personality, skills, values, and dedication, has not. Put simply, what made these veterans successful in the military, makes them equally valuable in their civilian roles. Finally, we must recognize that civilian transition is difficult not just for the transitioning member, but for the whole family. Spouses and kids of transitioning

veterans require time and guidance to adjust as well. Working with kids before this major life event occurs is essential, as well as ensuring spouses are prepared to adjust to civilian life. We must assist these families in obtaining suitable employment, adjusting to a new community, accessing services outside of the military community, and so much more. Transitioning is a difficult part of a service member’s life, however, there are ways to make it easier. Connecting with friends and family to aid in returning to civilian life, as well as communication with other service members who have similar experiences allows emotions to be shared and a solid team to rely on for support. Transitioning into civilian life is a process and not something that happens overnight. Taking it slow and being kind to yourself during the process can make it seem a little less daunting.


About the Author Dr. Keita Franklin serves as the Chief Clinical Officer at Loyal Source Government Services where she leads the company’s Behavior Health line of practice. Expanding Loyal Source’s already impressive service portfolio, she is responsible for designing, implementing, and overseeing contract mental health programs focused on prevention and treatment services for at-risk individuals. A nationally renowned suicide prevention expert, Dr. Franklin also serves as the Co-Director of the Columbia Lighthouse Project, a Columbia University NY State Psychiatric Institute initiative focused on reducing suicide risk.

Transitioning out of the Military into the Civilian Workforce? 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.

Prior to joining Loyal Source, Dr. Franklin worked extensively with military and Veteran populations serving in several senior positions within Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In her role as Senior Executive Director, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Department of Veteran Affairs, she led a U.S.-wide team of subject matter experts in the development and execution of a national public health program targeted toward advancing care for 20 million Veterans. Dr. Franklin is widely credited with implementing an innovative public health approach to suicide prevention in both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs. www.loyalsource.com

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


WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


HUMAN RESOURCES Transition to Business By Paul Falcone

Workplace Ethics: Making It Personal Excerpted from Paul’s newest book, Workplace Ethics: Mastering Ethical Leadership and Sustaining a Moral Workplace, to be released next spring by HarperCollins Leadership Much needs to be said about corporate America’s history, our laws, and our evolving workplace when it comes to ethics. But one thing’s for sure: over the past twenty years since Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) was passed in 2002, ethics has become a lot more personal and gone beyond mere compliance. Following is an excerpt from Paul’s soon-to-bereleased book that maps out how an ethical workplace was established and sustained from his days as head of HR at Nickelodeon. I was fortunate enough to serve as head of human resources for the Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank, California. I transferred to Nickelodeon after a number of years at its sister company, Paramount Pictures. Mark Taylor, Nickelodeon’s general manager and senior vice president, was likely the greatest leader I’ve ever worked for. Mark is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but he brought Nick to a level of success where they became the number one children’s cable TV network—even ahead of Disney— during his reign. Mark knew all 500 employees by name, he practiced MBWA—management by walking around—was visible, maintained an open-door policy, knew the business inside and out, and made Nick the number one destination where animators wanted to work. SpongeBob Square Pants, Dora the Explorer, Avatar, and many other high-profile animation productions were humming away under the humble roof of that small studio on a nondescript corner across from the railroad tracks in that downtown Burbank neighborhood. 34

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What Mark did especially well, however, occurred during the first week of employment. Once a month when we held new employee orientation, Mark scheduled about an hour to meet with each cohort of new hires in the main conference room. He wanted to get to know them personally, make sure they found in one another a special bond as new hires, and used the opportunity to share “Mark’s Big 8 Rules of the Road.” He shared how special the Nickelodeon family was and how he held each new hire accountable for perpetuating the culture that was so dear to him and everyone else. His “Big 8” focused on high quality, ethical behavior, personal accountability, mutual respect, and passion for your work. He included the importance of “true leadership,” whether you were in management or in an individual contributor role. And he handed out a one-sheet with these principles and mantras mapped out, with the byline: Strong Principles + Belief in People = Strong Leadership Mark was and still is an animation industry legend. How exciting for new hires—from animators to accountants to mail room staff and janitors—to spend time with him, feel his genuine concern for them and the organization, and assume responsibility for making his priorities theirs. But wait, there’s more! If the large group orientation took place on a Monday, a follow-up meeting on Wednesday occurred for anyone who was responsible for supervising people. Mark again had the opportunity to discuss the values onesheet, this time focusing on his expectations of these new leaders in terms of sustaining a moral workplace, communication, teambuilding, and becoming a great leadership team. With this opportunity, however, he also focused on the negative consequences for not meeting these expectations and shared how he held the management team to a higher standard of accountability than everyone else. There was no doubt about it: everyone understood the culture that was so cherished, the values of the GM, and the expectations going forward in terms of performance, productivity, respect, and gratitude.

Oh yes, and there was always that eighth and final principle: fun. Granted, this was an animation studio, and most organizations won’t have as much discretion in implementing fun and creative activities like Nickelodeon, but Mark was a prankster. He kept the squirt guns in his office, arranged the holiday theme parties, and tried to outdo himself every year. As an HR professional, I could only sit back and watch in amazement as everything I wrote about in my books and articles came to life before my very eyes. If you’re a CEO, business owner, division or department head, or supervisor or team lead, share your values and your ethical expectations upfront and openly. State them proudly, give examples of how they work, and remind everyone that your culture is unique and worthy of honor. Add a permanent topical point to your staff meetings and employee gatherings, asking for recent examples that further your organization’s mission and values. Celebrate success. Lighten up and have fun, to the degree you can and that would be appropriate. Know that people will feel more secure when they understand what’s expected of them, when they can relate to you and your values as their leader, and when they appreciate the opportunity to join and remain part of a special family. Nickelodeon’s success soared under Mark Taylor’s leadership; tell your story about your history and culture proudly, set expectations surrounding ethics and morals, and raise the bar for all employees to perform at their highest level. It’s amazing how a simple philosophy—clearly expressed and modeled every day—can have such a tremendous impact on an organization. Great leadership can be yours, and making workplace ethics and values a core componentof your human capital strategy is likely the best place to start.

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

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


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Evangel University:

Smith reflects, “I have spoken with countless chaplain candidates who attended other seminaries, and one thing is evident – AGTS chaplain candidates were significantly ahead of their peers from other seminaries. AGTS provides the best training, support, and education.”

Here to serve those who serve

We believe that the sacrifice and commitment of our nation’s service members should be recognized and rewarded. Evangel University has a connection with the military dating back to World War II. In fact, the very grounds upon which Evangel is built served as the O’Reilly General Hospital, an Army facility that opened in 1941 and treated more than 50,000 wounded soldiers. Serving our nation’s military members is a proud part of our heritage and a privilege we continue today. Educational opportunities designed with you in mind We are dedicated to thoughtfully supporting service members in their academic pursuits. Convenient fully online degrees are available, with multiple start dates throughout the year. Courses are delivered in five-week block formats with one course offered at a time. This flexible schedule is great for working adults with a busy life schedule. Graduate and seminary degrees are also available, including the premier Chaplaincy program offered through a Master of Divinity degree at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), embedded at Evangel University. This popular program has provided chaplaincy training to over 200 active duty service members. “AGTS is committed to preparing students for the next stage of their careers or ministries,” said Chaplain J.P. Smith, a 2016 AGTS graduate. “As a chaplain candidate at AGTS, I had the opportunity to conduct practical military training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, West Point, New York, and Fort Gordon, Georgia while gaining elective credits toward my degree program.”


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Customized support We also recognize the extensive training that active and veteran service members have received and as such, we award credit for armed services education and training from the Joint Services Transcript (JST), according to the recommendations of the American Council on Education. Our driving focus is to provide for the needs of service members as they pursue education in their area of choosing. The Admiral Vern Clark Veterans Center provides focused support to military families, including help with keeping track of required federal paperwork, connecting them with peers and mentors, and offering a comfortable place in which they can relax. The center provides a wide-open door for service members and their families to feel at-home and cared for while pursuing their educational goals. The Veteran’s Center Coordinator, Dane Moore, is a retired Master Sergeant and has used both Tuition Assistance and VA GI Bill benefits for many years.

“When I first started the VA process, I did not know where to start.” Moore said. “This is why we made easy to follow checklists that give veterans or dependents a step-by-step method to getting their well-deserved education benefits.”

TAKE YOUR BEST NEXT STEP Affordable and flexible options As a yellow ribbon approved school, Evangel’s goal is to make the process of receiving an education both affordable and flexible. Our online courses maintain the same level of rigor as any classroom-setting course, while providing students with a flexible schedule and setting. We accept military tuition assistance, and the Veterans Center coordinator is available for one-on-one customized support to help service members streamline the Veteran’s Administration (VA) and active-duty Tuition Assistance processes. We have a long history of training military chaplains and providing a wide range of educational degrees to service members. We are here to help you with your education goals.

Flexible online degree programs We accept military tuition assistance

Yellow ribbon-approved



To learn more about Evangel’s military benefits or to apply, visit our website at www.evangel.edu/military.

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


American Corporate Partners (ACP) A Mentorship that Matters By Amy Meehan Mission American Corporate Partners (ACP) is a national nonprofit organization focused on helping returning veterans, veterans who have transitioned out of the military and active-duty spouses find their next careers through one-onone mentoring, networking and online career advice. According to the Department of Labor, approximately 200,000 men and women leave U.S. military service every year. ACP believes the biggest issue facing those transitioning service members is not unemployment – it’s underemployment. ACP focuses on helping veterans and active-duty spouses find meaningful employment opportunities and develop long-term careers and professional goals. To date, ACP has helped more than 20,000 veterans and active duty spouses through its mentoring program. Post-9/11 veterans, active-duty spouses and eligible military spouses are referred to as Protégés, and the professionals that participate through their organization’s partnership with ACP are known as Mentors. Program Guidelines ACP focuses primarily on three groups: Post 9/11 veterans, women veterans and active duty spouses. An ACP mentorship is a yearlong commitment, which encourages Mentors and Protégés to connect for monthly discussions. ACP staff support the program with customized resources, training and suggestions, and helps the pair build a successful mentorship. It begins through a pairing process where ACP’s staff carefully selects a Mentor for each Protégé based on career compatibility, experience level, location and personal interests. Every Mentor and Protégé has a phone call with an ACP staff member to communicate and consider preferences. Most mentoring pairs are long-distance and communicate primarily through phone, videoconference and email exchanges.

Post-9/11 Veteran Mentoring Program ACP’s Veteran Protégés are post-9/11 service members and veterans at various stages of the transition process: • Service members who are still serving on active duty and planning for an upcoming transition or retirement • Recently separated veterans in the midst of a transition • Veterans who separated years ago and are currently employed, but are looking to advance in a current civilian career • Student veterans who are seeking advice from successful business leaders in the private sector ACP Veteran Protégé Alum and JP Morgan Chase Software Engineer, Yang Zhou, said “ACP definitely helped me get the job I have now. I was lost and confused on how to start and didn’t have any prior experience in IT.


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My Mentor really encouraged me and gave me detailed steps on how to get started and approach people with similar backgrounds. His personal experiences in the corporate world made a difference and I also appreciated my ACP contact who stayed on top of our partnership, always sending me resources and touching base with me.” Whether a veteran is actively searching for a new career or newly employed and looking for advice about how to be successful in their new role and advance, ACP’s customized program is designed to assist a veteran or active duty spouse on their path toward rewarding, meaningful employment. Typical mentorship topics include: • Résumé review and interview preparation • Career exploration • Work-life balance • Networking • Small business development • Leadership and professional communication With eight months to go before his official retirement, Army Sergeant Major (E-9) Bryan B applied to ACP in August of 2020. Soon after, he was paired with ACP Mentor James Wise, PMP from Amentum. After getting to know one another, Jim and Bryan rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They explored careers in project management, discussed best PMP study practices, conducted countless mock interviews, overhauled Bryan’s resumé, and so much more. Their hard work paid off when Bryan accepted his “dream position” at Airbus Defence and Space and Bryan and Jim continue to meet and conquer workplace challenges as they arise. ACP has more than 20,000 success stories like the ones Yang and Bryan experienced in their mentorships. You can see the impact be visiting www.acp-usa.org For more information, please visit us at www.acp-usa.org facebook.com/AmericanCorporatePartners linkedin.com/company/american-corporate-partners Instagram.com/acp_usa

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

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


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

Healthcare Training For Your Next Phase of Life Our online training programs are approved for military education funding—all designed to help military members and their spouses build skills and thrive in careers that are portable,

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

in-demand, and rewarding. Start training today so you can be prepared for meaningful work tomorrow.

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

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

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


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

Now or Later: Determining the Right Time to Buy Question: The housing market seems so crazy, is now the right time to buy or should I wait until later in 2022? Answer: This is a great question and while the answer varies somewhat depending on your personal financial picture, there are three important things to consider when you make the decision for your family. #1 Mortgage Rates: What are mortgage rates and where are they projected to go in the new year? In January 2021 the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate in the United States was 2.65%, making it the lowest rate in 50 years. As you might expect, it can’t stay that way. Analysts from both Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association expect home loan interest rates to go up in 2022. The MBA’s quarterly mortgage rate forecast projects the following increases: • Q4, 2021 — 3.7% • Q1, 2022 — 3.9% • Q2, 2022 — 4.1% • Q3, 2022 — 4.3% • Q4, 2022 — 4.4% While these are only projections, analysts agree an increase is on the way. For consumers, these seemingly small percentage increases equate to an increase in monthly mortgage payments, depending on the price of the home. The good news is, compared to mortgage trends over the last decade, these are still historically low rates even as they increase in 2022. The rates you see right now won’t last; they will stay low but remember — as they rise so does your mortgage payment. 42

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#2 Home Values: Will the price of homes rise? Will it be more advantageous to rent or own? While rates have dropped, home sales have soared and so have home values. The raging housing market may make some potential buyers shy away from entering the ring in hopes that the market will cool off and create more favorable buying conditions. It’s understandable to be cautious and a real estate agent who specializes in supporting military families can help simplify the process if you do decide to consider it. But because it’s still a seller’s market, it’s unreasonable to expect competition to decrease and home prices to dip. According to CoreLogic, real estate will still appreciate at a faster-than-average rate through late 2021. Home prices nationwide from 2020 to 2021 increased by 18.1%, marking the largest annual gain in home prices in 45 years. A recent report from Zillow suggests more of the same, with home values projected to climb by double digits by summer 2022. That presents an opportunity for homebuyers to benefit from this surge and gain value from their investment faster when combined with low interest rates if they can make a move sooner rather than later.

Likewise, renters should consider rental projections in their area to see if it makes more financial sense to buy. Rent growth in 2021 so far is outpacing prepandemic averages in 98 of the nation’s 100 largest cities, with most seeing double digit increases. When comparing rental payments to mortgage payments at the low interest rates and the projected increases in home values, renters may be surprised that they can own a home for the cost of renting. This is particularly true when using a VA loan, which includes these benefits: • May not need a down payment • No maximum loan limit *county/city loan limits do apply • Typically provides lower interest rates than Conventional or FHA financing • Lower closing costs • Qualify with lower credit scores and higher debt to income ratios than other loan types • No monthly mortgage insurance • Use your VA loan multiple times #3 BAH Allowance: The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is set based on a servicemember’s duty location. Each year that BAH is adjusted to reflect housing costs and align with the market. The 2021 BAH average increase was 2.9% and the projected increase for 2022 is set to 2.7%. Historically, the BAH increase over the last several years has ranged from less than 1% to 2.5%. These healthy BAH increases can help give military families the best opportunity to buy.

Change Your Financial Outlook in 2022 Put Your VA Loan Benefit to Work! Are you taking advantage of all your VA benefits? Our team of experts is here to share advice and guide you down the path toward financial stability. One conversation can set you on the best financial path.

Phil Jawny is a professional lender with 20 years of experience in the business and the founder of GoVA Loans. His industry knowledge is extensive, spanning from loan reorganization to selling and managing VA Loans. Phil has a passion for serving military families. His goal is simple — to help make the loan process easier for families so they can get the loans they deserve and build wealth through real estate without the hassle.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us today!

To get ongoing advice or to submit a question for the “Money Matters” column, visit www.facebook.com/Govaloans or follow @ GoVALoans on Instagram & Twitter.

Source: MilitaryBenefits.com, HomeBuyingInstitute.com, The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC)’s Rent Payment Tracker

www.GoVALoans.com @GoVALoans

info@govaloans.com (833) 825-6261

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


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

FROM VETERAN TO BUSINESS OWNER Did you know out of the 27.9 million businesses in the United States, 2.45 million of them are owned by Veterans? 70% of American consumers are more likely to buy from a veteran owned business than from a business not owned by a veteran. Starting or running a business takes courage, discipline and dedication. It also takes knowing the legal aspects that could safe guard your hard work. Before starting, running or buying a business consider the following:

HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN. complete, thoughtful business plan is one of the most valuable tools in helping you reach your long-term goals. It gives your business direction, defines your objectives, maps out strategies to achieve your goals and helps you to manage possible bumps in the road. OBTAIN FINANCING. Whether you are starting a new business or buying an existing one, small businesses need money. If you or your spouse served in the military and would like to fund your small business, you can take advantage of a few different favorable loan options geared towards veterans.

70% of American consumers are more likely to buy from a veteran owned business than from a business not owned by a veteran.


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INCORPORATE YOUR BUSINESS. Many small business owners launch their companies as sole proprietorships in which they and their businesses are essentially one and the same. However, changing the format of a small business to a corporation or a limited liability company can offer a range of advantages for entrepreneurs. The advantages of incorporating a small business include:

Go Legal Yourself ® Know Your Business Legal Lifecycle

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• Personal asset protection. Both corporations and limited liability companies allow owners to separate and protect their personal assets. • Additional credibility and name protection. Adding “Inc.” or “LLC” after your business name can add instant legitimacy and authority. Consumers, vendors and partners frequently prefer to do business with an incorporated company. • Perpetual existence. Corporations and limited liability companies can continue to exist even if ownership or management changes. Sole proprietorships and partnerships just end if an owner dies or leave the business. • Deductible expenses. Both corporations and limited liability companies may deduct normal business expenses, including salaries. • Compete for more contracts. Some businesses require vendors and contracting companies to be incorporated before they can compete for contracts.

Award-winning attorney, Kelly Bagla shows you how to avoid legal pitfalls FROM DAY ONE!

• Entice and hold employees with stock options. A corporation has an advantage in attracting talented employees by offering employees partial ownership in the business through stock options. 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 family and yourself falls on you.

The last thing an entrepreneur wants is to spend valuable time and resources on legal issues, which is why they often drop to the bottom of the pile. But this can be a COSTLY MISTAKE—and Go Legal Yourself is here to make sure it’s one you avoid. • • • •

For more information on how to legally start and grow your business please visit my website at www.BaglaLaw.com

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

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

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

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


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

Military and Divorce Normally, to file for divorce in the state of California, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for six months, as well as three months in the county you plan to file in—except in military divorces. In the case of a military divorce, one of the spouses must reside in the state or be stationed in the state of California. Domicile questions can be raised particularly when jurisdiction to divide military retirement is at issue. Domicile is where your legal residence is. It is residency with the intent to remain, the military’s term “Home of Record” is not necessarily the same state as your domicile.

Military marriages come with their own challenges. Military spouses can spend months or even years apart. As a result, divorce rates are higher among military service members than in civilians. Divorce is often an emotional stressful time for most people. If you are in the military, there are additional issues you will have to deal with. While the grounds for filing for divorce in California are the same for military service members and civilians, the procedures during a divorce can differ greatly for a military member versus a civilian going through the process particularly where the service member is deployed or stationed overseas. When it comes to a military divorce both federal law and California govern the process and division of property. Filing for Divorce If you are a service member, you will have to consider where to file. In a typical divorce, a spouse will file in the county where they live. In the case of service members, you and your spouse may be from one state, married in another, and are stationed elsewhere. For example, you may be from New Jersey, but you were stationed in Florida where you got married. Now you live in California so where do you file? 46

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A lawyer can access domicile for you in deciding where to file for divorce by looking at what contacts and connections you have with a particular state or territory. These include your driver’s license, mailing address, voter registration, vehicle registrations, passport, any other ID cards or permits, and taxes. Domicile is important for division of military retirement. A state has jurisdiction to divide the military pension if: 1) the servicemember is a legal resident of the state; 2) the servicemember is residing in that state for reasons other than because of a military assignment; or 3) the servicemember consents to the jurisdiction of that state’s courts over the division of the pension. If a military spouse files for divorce in California but has a different domicile, that spouse must make a very important decision. That decision is whether or not to object to California having jurisdiction over dividing the member’s military retirement. What Happens if You are Deployed and Your Spouse Files? If you are active duty and deployed or stationed overseas, your duties may make it difficult for you to participate in a divorce proceeding immediately upon it being initiated by your spouse. Your spouse may also have difficulty trying to serve you while deployed or overseas.

Time for a Fresh Start.

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

There are federal laws that protect the military service member who may be affected by their deployment or overseas assignment. If your military duty prevents you from being able to respond to a divorce action your spouse initiated, the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act prevents your spouse from holding you in default. Normally, if the responding party does not file a response in 30 days, they can be defaulted, and the divorce proceedings can move forward without their participation. In a military divorce, you are protected from a default under federal law if your active duty prevents you from participating. The Service Member’s Civil Relief Act also allows for the proceedings to be delayed for the duration of the service member’s active duty. You can waive the postponement if you would like for the proceedings to move forward. However, it would be wise to consult with an attorney to protect your rights throughout the divorce process while you are deployed or stationed overseas. There are other aspects of military divorce that differ from non-military divorce including issues surrounding the division of military retirements, survivor benefit plans, and military benefits. For these reasons, if you consult an attorney choose one who has expertise in military family law issues. Even if you and your spouse reach an amicable agreement and forego litigation, it is important to have an attorney with military family law expertise to ensure the proper language is included in your draft agreement.

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

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

For more information about deploymeny 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.

Legal Experts with Humanity

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


READY TO TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR CAREER? Talk to our friendly veterans admissions counselor today! admissions@icohs.edu (858)581-9460 www.icohs.edu Become a certified IT professional in 15 weeks with no prior experience necessary!

Why ICOHS College?

Career Outcomes:

• GI Bill & MyCAA Approved

• Technical Support Specialist

• Flexible Schedule

• IT Support Technician

• Online & In-person Hybrid Classes

• Network Administrator

• Small Class Size

• Network Analyst

• Hands-on Training

• Systems Administrator

• Lifelong Job Placement and Career

The median IT job salary in the US was about $88,000 last year.



WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021

PREPARE FOR YOUR CALL TO SERVE { Become a military chaplain by earning a


{ Proven record of more than 200 chaplain graduates


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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.


WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021

ENROLL NOW AT WFW.ORG CAD/CAM Programming CNC Machining Welding DoD SkillBridge Organization


BECOME A CRANE OPERATOR Skillbridge Approved

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

Veteran Only Locations

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

TRAIN TO BECOME A CRANE OPERATOR TODAY. Visit: www.heavyequipmentcollege.com No Official US Government or DOD endorsement is implied

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


Opportunities in Law Enforcement You’ve served your country, now serve your community!

Military and law enforcement have had a longstanding relationship with overlaps in training exercises, equipment, and, most important, personnel. It is not uncommon for a service member to make the jump from the military to law enforcement as both professions look for the same characteristics; leadership, fidelity, chain of command, and teamwork are all common themes in both professions. Quite understandably, many American military veterans often gravitate to a career in law enforcement when the time comes to rejoin the civilian workforce.


WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021

The two professions have many fundamental similarities; from the uniforms they wear with pride, to the firm command structure they serve under, to great personal risk they endure while protecting those who cannot protect themselves. The following agencies are actively hiring & proudly support our veterans, active military and the families that keep together.

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

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WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021

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Continue the Dream! Helping today's heroes achieve success by making it easier to run a small business. www.bandofhands.com

Job Board & Automated Recruiting

Payroll & Tax Services

HR Services

Employer of Record

Onboarding & Compliance

Time & Attendance

We handle it all for only $10/week per employee. Contact Eve Nasby, Band of Hands president and passionate military supporter to get started today. eve@bandofhands.com 58

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021


Resources Support Transition HEALTH INSPIRATION

Homeland Magazine www.HomelandMagazine.com

Voted 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020 BEST resource, support media for veterans, military families & military personnel. 60

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / NOVEMBER 2021