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Resources Support Inspiration

Vol. 3 Number 3• March 2016

Casting A Lifeline To Combat Veterans San Diego Vet Museum Honoring African American Veterans

Entrepreneurship An Answer for Veterans A Lifestyle of Firsts

Embracing San Diego’s Veteran Communities

HOMELAND / March 2016 1



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Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller Contributing Writers CJ Machado Vicki Garcia Vesta Anderson Keith Angelin Sarah Luken Gidget Fuentes Bill Heard Stefanie Dumont Carolyn Erickson

6 Greetings and a warm welcome to HOMELAND Magazine!

Public Relations CJ Machado Thomas McBrien Linda Kreter Graphic Design Trevor Watson

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

HOMELAND / March 2016

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

858.240.0333 Contact Homeland Magazine at:

inside this issue 10

10 Embracing San Diego’s Veteran Communities

20 26

14 Entrepreneurship: An Answer for Veterans to the Frustrating Job Hunt 18 San Diego Vet Museum: Honoring African American Veterans 20 A Lifestyle of Firsts 22 Go With The Flow 24 Addiction: An Equal Opportunity Employer

6 Casting A Lifeline To Combat Veterans

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Casting a lifeline to combat veterans San Diego area non-profit Veterans 360 expanding its reach to help vets, others suffering from PTS


ike countless military parents, Dave Mewes was thrilled his son, Drew, safely was home from a year-long Iraq combat tour with his Army National Guard battalion. Over several years, Drew thrived. He got his own apartment and, using the 9/11 G.I. Bill, took college courses and became a certified automotive technician.


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But Drew’s transition home from soldier to civilian unraveled. He quit a job or was fired. He drank heavily. An extrovert, he withdrew from family and friends. Unbeknownst to his family, he had suffered a brain injury from explosive blasts in Iraq. The disability provided a small monthly benefit, service therapy dog and medical care by the Department of Veterans

Affairs, but VA-prescribed pain pills led him to addiction. He lost several friends in his Guard unit to suicide, and funerals added to his depression and post-traumatic stress. “He just couldn’t function,” his father recalled. “It was a perfect storm.”

In January, Drew’s struggles came to a head. “He finally broke down,” Dave Mewes said. “I received some very desperate calls.” Worse, he said, Drew “had basically given up. I didn’t want to lose my son.” Dave Mewes, a business executive, lost much sleep worrying. He tried to understand the often complex and confusing military and government bureaucracy. “I was just looking for somebody who understood this problem Drew had,” he said. One night scouring Internet resources, he came across Veterans 360, a Del Mar-based non-profit group providing veterans support and transition resources. He fired off an email to executive director Rick J. Collins. A British military veteran who founded the group in 2011, Collins quickly replied and soon spoke with Drew. The two connected as soldiers do, sharing military slang and trading stories. “Rick was able to line him up with people who could be able to disassemble the complexity” of what Drew was experiencing, including other combat vets, Dave Mewes said. Veterans 360’s mission is pretty simple: Normalize and civilianize PTS and eliminate its stigma. Trauma often can lead to depression, anxiety, withdrawal or addiction, but these usually are normal human reactions to it, Collins said. Education is a huge part of the group’s work connecting veterans and affected loved ones like the Mewes family with help and resources. Collins said he wants vets “to put their hands up and say, I’m struggling with PTS.” The group focusing on that critical Step 1. While the VA and other organizations “focus on Steps 2 through 10, we focus on just Step 1,” he said. Veterans 360’s latest work is spreading the message that not only vets suffer PTS. It affects untold others – an abused child, a car crash victim, firefighters, police and other first-responders who witness death and suffering, Collins said. In January, he launched its “Carry The Challenge” campaign to reach more struggling men and women and create a “First Responder” volunteer network of veterans to help them transition to health, work, school and overall productive life. A national case management system will tie together networks of resources from the VA and other government, civilian and non-profit organizations and, with

volunteer responders, “get them to Step 2,” Collins said. “They have to make it easy for them to say, I need help.” What works? “Most of the time, it’s having somebody listening and connecting them” to someone who helps, he said. Maybe it’s another combat veteran or retired cop who shares the lingo and can encourage them toward help. “Just having somebody to talk is plenty,” said Colliins. For the Meweses, that help from Collins and Veterans360 may be life-saving. “We got more done in a period of about 60 days than we had all the time, in four or five years,” Dave Mewes said. “Drew was at a crisis period. It’s looking a lot better.... There are more positive days now.” Father and son plan to travel to San Diego in April and participate in a fundraiser and gala marking Veterans 360’s “Carry The Challenge” campaign. In late February, Drew was participating in a week-long outdoor retreat program offered by Semper Fi Odyssey, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit. “We’re still not out of the woods,” his father said, “but, wow, it’s helped a lot.”


Veterans 360’s mission is pretty simple: Normalize and civilianize PTS and eliminate its stigma. Trauma often can lead to depression, anxiety, withdrawal or addiction, but these usually are normal human reactions to it, Collins said.

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Symbols of America’s Heroes

Veterans tribute tower

and at Miramar National Cemetery


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

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

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Embracing San Diego’s Veteran Communities By Carolyn Erickson


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What is Embrace: Embrace is a nonprofit organization rooted in organizing college students to aid less fortunate members of civilian and military veteran communities. Embrace was established in 2000 by CEO Sean Sheppard. The programs are designed to connect college student leaders to San Diego’s multi-cultural communities in the areas of social and physical wellness through service learning and volunteering. The organization is built on the philosophy that serving less fortunate members of society brings people together - regardless of their race, religion or cultural upbringing.

Sean Sheppard

How Embrace became a Reality: Before Embrace became incorporated in the state of California in 2003, Sean Sheppard was walking down a path of self-destruction. As it turns out, the road to ruin did not end in devastation. Could it be because that road was paved with good intentions that were already paying off? Or maybe it’s because he began to realize that doing the best you can with what you have is what makes giving back such a gift.

a regional manager for a dot com company and consulting for a community health clinic. He served as the Urban Marketing Consultant for the San Diego Padres while continuing to get Embrace on more solid ground. Sheppard was doing right by the San Diego communities, but his personal life was full of drinking, drugs, and promiscuity. He continued his crusade until 2008 when he decided to make some serious changes. He started attending The Rock Church and rededicated himself to the nonprofit that is now his full-time job.

Like many of us, Sheppard is a sum of his conflicting parts. He is originally from Brooklyn, NY and was raised in South Brunswick, N.J. His parents were divorced by the time he was 10 years old which impacted him greatly. His father was a Vietnam War combat veteran (Army) during the Tet Offensive period and he was raised by a strict single mother. He attended a Catholic school from grade school all through high school and spent the majority of his summers at a day camp that was 99% Jewish. He is a graduate of the prestigious Georgetown University where he played football and threw the javelin and held down as many as 4 jobs at a time while earning a masters degree at San Diego State University. After a career as a Strength and Conditioning Coach that began at San Diego State and included subsequent stops at Kansas State University, Boston College and Ohio State University, Sheppard returned to San Diego. Upon his return he held several positions which included serving as

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Sheppard’s experiences of being a team sport athlete and working in the worlds of big time collegiate athletics and professional sports allowed him to come to the following conclusion: People are people, no matter their gender, religion or color, and we all share the same dreams, heartbreak and victories. It’s simply a matter of exposure for each of us to realize it. “While playing and coaching team sports, I quickly realized that athletes set aside all their differences, be it race, religion or sexual orientation, to come together to work toward a common goal. They learn from one another and befriend one another during the process. It’s beautiful to see. I thought, ‘How can I get people who don’t participate in team sports to come together on a regular basis?’ “When Embrace started serving the homeless, I noticed how diverse our volunteers were. I literally saw Muslim students supporting Christian students. Asian, Latino, white and black college student volunteers kept coming back to serve an identically diversity population in need together. I saw no boundaries.” I thought, ‘That’s it. It’s happening. People who differ demographically are working together and looking after one another in the same manner as team sports.’


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SERVING OUR MILITARY VETERANS With a central purpose of bring people together, Embrace’s premiere program, Healing Our Heroes’ Homes, mobilizes volunteer contractors and volunteer college students to remodel the homes od disabled veteran homeowners. The organization hosts 2 annual events that raise money to support the program. One event called Ex 4 Vets. Ex 4 Vets is going on its 6th year. (www.Ex4Vets. org) Led by fitness expert Cindy Whitmarsh and her team of fitness professionals, Ex 4 Vets is an annual event. This year it takes place on Saturday April 9th at 10am at the SDSU Student Union. This one hour bootcamp/ kickboxing workout focuses on raising money to support Embrace well as create awareness to support our disabled veterans. Fundraising teams that represents student organizations, military/veterans or religious organizations keep 50% the net funds they raise. The event has given approximately $40,000 back to the aforementioned groups over the past 4 years. The 2nd event is called Stretch for Vets ( and is sponsored by CorePower Yoga. Stretch 4 Vets is a 75 minute yoga session held on the USS Midway. The date of this event is Sunday November 20th and begins at 8am.

Each event hosts anywhere between 2001000 participants. Money raised from the two venues goes to support H3 – Healing Our Heroes’ Homes ( h3), a program that mobilizes college student volunteers to completely remodel the homes of disabled veterans. On a modest budget, the organization has remodeled 10 homes in 4 years and provided $640,000 in labor and materials in the process. Through partnerships with volunteer general contractors, Home Depot Foundation and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) among others, college student volunteers assist in building wheel chair ramps, painting, replacing carpet, creating ADA compliant kitchens and bathrooms, addressing plumbing needs and creating Greener, more energy efficient homes for disabled veterans, while helping them regain their sense of independence. For more information on how to get involved with Embrace, Ex4Vets, and Stretch4vets visit the websites listed in the article or email Embrace at: 2012-2015 Embrace Community Impact People Served: 39,537 Total Volunteers: 7,124 Total Volunteer Hours: 17,367 Total Value of service to Community: $763,761


March The month of March kicks off the updates and new artifacts to the Women’s Military History Room, one of the museum’s most popular exhibits. The exhibit tells the story of women’s first involvement in the military to women’s contemporary roles. With posters encouraging women to enlist to the real uniforms women wore, you’re sure to learn something new! Come see the new uniforms, including a contemporary Air Force uniform, updated information on women’s military history in the Marine Corps and the Navy, personal stories of San Diego women veterans, and much more. We will celebrate the opening of the exhibit with a reception and a series of short stories by Veterans, Active Duty officers and enlisted service women on Saturday, March 26th from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m

Don’t miss out on the upcoming exhibits and events at the Veterans April won’t want to miss the museum’s Museum at Balboa Park! You April lecture! On April 21 the museum is

remembering the Fall of Saigon and the USS Kirk’s heroic mission to escort transport and save “The Lucky Few.” In the Vietnam exhibit, which has been recently updated, visitors can watch a film all month long about the USS Kirk, as well as attend a lecture with the Commanding Officer of the USS Kirk on April 21.

Please see our website or call the museum (619.239.2300) for more information

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An Answer for Veterans to the Frustrating Job Hunt BY VICKIE GARCIA


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If you have been to a vet job fair, you know the faces of desperate veterans trying to nail down employment. According to the San Diego Veterans Coalition , in 2014 and 2015 more than one million veterans will re-enter the U.S. job market, joining one million former military troops currently seeking employment. Looking for a good job is a frustrating, exhausting, anxiety-producing exercise with often limited results.

The inability to obtain employment is recognized by researchers as a major contributor to veteran depression, divorce and despair, and suicide. While joblessness among veterans is not uniformly high, for some groups the numbers are astronomical. Nearly 27% of male veterans 18 to 24 are unemployed. The numbers for female veterans are equally high. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has declared 2015 the “Year of the Vet.” So, what are we doing to support them? Government and scores of private programs focus on retraining to enter the workforce with a job. The fact is, even with training, many veterans will find it challenging to find a job. A California state audit “confirms that California’s existing programs designed to help veterans find employment are consistently failing to meet performance goals and rank as some of the lowest performing veterans’ employment programs in the nation.”

Town and set up shop. Now he flies to China to purchase sunglasses and grosses $35,000 per year. He has plans to grow more sunglass huts around town soon. Veteran Entrepreneurs Today (V.E.T.) is an innovative free program under non-profit National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. ( It is dedicated to supporting returning vets, particularly veterans with service-connected disabilities, to start up and maintain businesses. Deploying local business owners as mentors, V.E.T. harnesses the resources in place as well as new services to support veterans to become independent, successful entrepreneurial job creators.

during the critical, early stages of building a new business together through groups, workshops and mentoring to learn how to run businesses. Topics covered by local experts include Marketing, Management and Financial concerns in running a company. The V.E.T. free “think tank” coaching groups, and free one-on-one coaching, are open for any veterans who currently run a business or are actively starting up a small business. For more information about V.E.T. visit the website at or email

Additionally, the V.E.T. website has a directory of business vendors who offer veteran entrepreneurs a free first consult and discounted services.

Stopping the Insanity of Looking for a Great Job

Building the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

A large population of post 9/11 veterans aspire to be self-employed according to Cal Vet. The skills, discipline, and maturity gained in the service prepare veterans to succeed in entrepreneurial enterprises. More than 3 million men and women who have defended our nation’s freedoms have made the choice to start their own small businesses after their military service.

Research has shown that veterans thrive in the company of other vets. V.E.T launched its first “think tank” coaching group for post-911 veterans who currently own a business or are actively starting up a small business in March 2015. Few communities in the U.S. have a focus on entrepreneurial enterprise for veterans, although this a growing interest nationwide. The V.E.T. unique group coaching program format is the first of its kind in the nation.

Jeff Marin is a great example. After looking for a job for nearly a year, he decided to purchase a sunglass cart. He found an empty spot in Old

V.E.T. brings entrepreneurial minded veterans who are underserved and otherwise could not afford to have access to essential services

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has declared 2015 the “Year of the Vet.” So, what are we doing to support them? Government and scores of private programs focus on retraining to enter the workforce with a job. HOMELAND / March 2016 15

Mentorship for children in military families who deserve our thanks and support. Enroll a child or become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Call (858) 746.9173


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enlisted to entrepreneur By Vicki Garcia

Build Your Team BEFORE You Need it No business owner is an island. Nobody succeeds without support. The smart entrepreneur has a team of trusted advisors and actually listens to them. Don’t wait for a crisis. It’s wise to have built relationships in advance, so they’re in place when you need them. Caution: Make sure your advisor is designed for small business, rather than large corporations. That way you will be an important client and your fees will be lower. Here are a few of the most critical connections to set in place right from the beginning. Tax Planner/Preparer - Most business decisions have tax implications. Don’t show up on a tax preparer’s doorstep in April hoping to save on your taxes. Find someone who can advise you throughout the year to save money at the end of the year. Bookkeeper – You probably can get away with keeping your books with software like Quickbooks. You need a good bookkeeper to set up

your QB when you start, which will prevent future headaches. Then, a bookkeeper’s help is needed only monthly, or quarterly. Marketing Consultant – There is so much marketing crap on the internet, it’s hard to know what valuable. A marketing expert can separate the hype from reality, save you money, and guarantee success. Find a reliable local person that can tell you what marketing tactics have predictable potential, and to help you draft a realistic plan. Mentor – Business ownership is stressful. Find someone who is willing to listen to you bitch and give you a reality check when you need one. Make this an objective, experienced person who has started and run a small business. If you don’t have a mentor, check out for “think tank” groups of small business owners like you who meet and share challenges. Attorney – You can find sample contracts and even incorporate online. But, if your business has risk built in, or if you have employees, it’s not a question of if you will get sued, it’s a question of when. You may never need it, but it doesn’t hurt to have a legal eagle on your side. Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Veteran Entrepreneurs Today & President of the marketing firm, Marketing Impressions, with 30 years of experience helping small business owners succeed. Look for trusted advisors, or apply to be a B2B vendor for veteran entrepreneurs at www. Apply for free help at www.surveymonkey. com/r/veteran-entrepreneur

Come Visit Us! Love To Show You Our New Location Why Our University?

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Affordable Tuition 100% Online Course Options GI Bill and MyCAA Approved Financial Aid Available For Those Who Qualify • Tuition Assistance Our new address: 3550 Camino Del Rio N. Suite 208 San Diego, CA 92108 Easily accessible from anywhere in San Diego Easy Freeway Access: I-8, I-15, I-805 / Bus Stop: #18 Trolley Stop: Mission San Diego Phone: 858.653.3000

Call to speak with our Military Admissions Advisors.

HOMELAND / March 2016 17

By Sarah Luken

Honoring African American Veterans Simms traveled from England to France and landed the day after D-Day, where he helped build roads, buildings, barracks and hospitals. “I would fight for America under any circumstance,” said Simms, ADD. While in France, Simms was in the historic Battle of Remagen, where he surged with the troops during the one week that African Americans were allowed to fight on the front line. Simms continued his service in the Army and was later sent to the Philippines for six months, where then he came back to the United States to be honoring discharged from the service in 1946.

Martin Simms and Will Hayes (Chairman of Board at the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park) The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park mission is to honor and perpetuate the memories of all men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces and Wartime Merchant Marine. Besides hosting exhibits, artifacts and the stories of veterans, the museum hosts events dedicated to remembering and learning about the sacrifices and contributions of men and women who serve and have served in the Armed forces. At the end of February the museum celebrated Black History Month with the afterhours lecture, “Remembering and Honoring African Americans for Their Service.” Included in the evening was a documentary, World War II African American veteran Martin Simms and a presentation about Master Chief Petty Office Carl Brasher, the Navy’s first African American Master Diver. The evening started with the showing of the documentary, “African Americans in World War II: A Legacy of Patriotism and Valor,” which set the historical context of Simms’ talk about serving in the Army as a Construction Foreman in WWII. With an intimate crowd, guests learned the 95-year-old struggles and accomplishments during this tough in our nation’s history.


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Martin, a humble man, was born in Kansas and isn’t afraid of hard work. Once Simms completed his service in the Army, he went on to join the postal service as a railroad clerk. With his hard work and dedication he was promoted to the first African American post master of Washington D.C. The crowd was enraptured listening to Martin, not only for his story, but for his positive attitude. In Martin’s words, “I love America and I wasn’t afraid to work hard.” One veteran was so moved by Martin’s words he came up to the stage and sang “Amazing Grace,” with the entire room humming and singing along. Robert Lewis, another veteran in the crowd, said of the evening, “It’s comforting, it’s soothing, it’s educational, you can see people learning stuff. I learned a few things about what was going on.”

Chaplain Anthony Carl Winston, Sheldon Margolis (Executive Director of the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, Martin Simms, Robert Lewis.

For Lewis events of this nature are vital because it helps fill in the gaps in what we learn in history class. “It’s the educational thing, it’s also the comradery. And times like this, it’s people from different walks of life coming together and learning something.” “Looking at people’s faces and because they never know, they never knew. In history class you learn about slavery, Eli Whitney and the cotton gin, Frederick Douglas . . . it’s very limited,” said Lewis. The evening ended with a short presentation on Master Chief Carl Brashear, the Navy’s first African American Master Diver. Brashear’s story was made into the popular film “Men of Honor,” with actor Cuba Gooding Jr. as Brashear. The evening was not only an educational event, but also a way for civilians, veterans, active duty and everything in between to come together.

The crowd was enraptured listening to Martin, not only for his story, but for his positive attitude. In Martin’s words, “I love America and I wasn’t afraid to work hard.”

Also of those who attended, Chaplain Anthony Carl Winston was one of the most moved attendees. Winston, an Air Force veteran, enthusiastically said, “I’m a U.S. veteran. I’m not an African American veteran. I’m an American veteran. Period,” said Winston. “We all work together and we are in this together.”

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By: Wounded Warrior Project Public Relations Team

A Lifestyle of Firsts A rmy veteran and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Alumnus Joshua Burnett will tell you there are a lot of firsts in military life. The first time he put on the uniform, the first day of basic training, the first cold water shave in the field, or the first non-commissioned officer he admired and wanted to become. Recently, Burnett has been struggling with another first.

for treatment after a lengthy period of ignoring the symptoms. His family began to worry, and his loving wife pleaded with him to seek out help.

“I have thought about the world without me,” Burnett said. “I have thought about my life and how much it means, and I have thought about ending it all. I say now, for the first time, after a decade of denying it to family, friends, doctors, and brothers and sisters in arms, that I have thought about suicide.”

Burnett sought out treatment. The days and weeks with neuro-psych at Walter-Reed and Bethesda were some of the longest of Burnett’s career. The endless testing began to produce results. The physical and mental medical concerns were numerous--- Burnett knew the situation was dire. It nearly drove him to his breaking point.

Burnett says that many reasons have stopped him from following through, but his family has been paramount in keeping him going. “I couldn’t bear the thought of three fatherless boys and the idea of my wife Allison struggling to understand why,” said Burnett. He explained that he also worried greatly about what his suicide would mean for the soldiers who looked up to him every single day. “I came to realize that ending my life would not only affect my wife and sons, the most important reason I backed off from those thoughts, but it would also tarnish every single guiding word of positivity that I had ever shared with one of my soldiers,” Burnett said. “The training and mentorship I provided to thousands of soldiers, over the course of a 14-year career would mean nothing at that point.” Like many who suffer from the invisible wounds of war, Burnett self-referred


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“My wife was lost and guilt-ridden in her inability to help me cope after almost a decade of ignoring symptoms,” said Burnett. “I reached a point where I was no longer able to perform daily tasks my position required.”

“It felt like my Army no longer wanted me,” Burnett reflected. “I was at the top of my career, and I realized I might have to accept that it was ending. My first thought was that was the beginning of the end.” Burnett says it was at this point when WWP provided him a resource that changed everything. Burnett joined WWP’s Peer Support program, designed to help wounded veterans develop friendships with fellow warriors who are further along in their recovery process. The goal of Peer Support is for the warrior being mentored to eventually mentor a fellow warrior – embodying the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) logo of one warrior carrying another. Currently, nearly 100,000 wounded service members, their family members, and caregivers receive support each year through free WWP programs and services. Through a high-touch and interactive approach, the WWP vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.

“Wounded Warrior Project is ultimately capable of giving back to wounded veterans what they are willing to put in,” Burnett explained. “It requires dedication similar to wearing the uniform. It’s comforting in that way because it shows what someone is capable of when they work for it.”

“We are working to bring lifesaving communications technologies to the warfighters and firstresponders,” he said. “It allows me to continue giving what I can, to the country that has done so much for my family and me. This would have never materialized without the WWP Peer Support group.”

Burnett’s job forces him to travel often. And everywhere he goes he sees the logo emblazoned on jackets, shirts, and backpacks, reminding him that he is not alone in his journey.

Burnett continues to find his new normal and create a successful transition from military life into civilian life, a journey his wife understands and supports.

“I catch a glimpse of that logo, of the warrior carrying his brother or sister over the shoulder, and I recognize that we, the wounded, are truly everywhere.”

“Wounded Warrior Project is ultimately capable of giving back to wounded veterans what they are willing to put in,” Burnett explained. “It requires dedication similar to wearing the uniform. It’s comforting in that way because it shows what someone is capable of when they work for it.”

WWP represents many things for Burnett. A friend, a platform, and at times, a crutch. WWP has shown him how to organize his life and set achievable goals along his road to recovery. “WWP gave me the motivation to reprioritize my recovery and offered to relieve some of the ‘dumping’ burden my wife Allison had been dealing with for the last decade. My first Peer Mentor, Gerald, put it best when he said ‘Josh, you already had the tools, we just needed to help you realize it was worth doing for yourself.’ They helped me to realize that this recovery, like everything I was familiar with from 14-years in the uniform, was a team effort.” Burnett is now a certified WWP Peer Mentor, training towards being a certified Peer Facilitator. He has also grown the company he founded in 2014, Virescit Tactical Systems, as a way of starting the path of “the new me.” “I realized that I needed it for my recovery,” he said “Virescit comes from my Scottish heritage, the family crest reads ‘Virescit Vulnere Virtus’ or ‘Strength Flourishes at the site of the Wound.’ It’s a very appropriate motto for my life at this point.” Through this outlet, Burnett rediscovered a sense of purpose and excitement as his new normal. His company allows him to focus on his areas of expertise within the Cybersecurity industry, and that excites him.

“I am luckier than most. I have a loving and supportive wife at home who understands my issues far better than most other spouses,” said Burnett. “My family loves me, holding nothing against me. They accept that it’s a process, and are there to support me during the spurts of anger and the week long bouts of depression that go alongside the random weeks of extreme motivation.” Burnett knows what a life of firsts looks like. He looks back on his first Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) peer support session with a mild sense of humor, remembering that it was not exactly textbook. “My first session was bad. Really bad,” Burnett mused. “My first contact at WWP is a Peer Facilitator, and he still talks about it. He always asks my permission, but continues to use me as an example for first timers in a group.” Burnett says he’s not embarrassed about it. His recovery process gives him pride and is an illustration of what can be done when you have the right support network in your corner. “I know I can always reach out to any of these people for a word, a pat on the back, a helping hand, or a listening ear,” Burnett said. “Our small group gets together every month, without fail. The group gives me a reason to see if maybe I can give to someone next month, what these men and women have given to me for the past two years. My wife Allison, my sons, Noah, Tristan and Brennan, and Wounded Warrior Project Peer Support program saved my life.”

About Wounded Warrior Project The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To learn more about WWP and the Warrior Care Network™ program, visit (Photos courtesy WWP)

HOMELAND / March 2016 21

GO WITH THE FLOW “In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”

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HOMELAND / March 2016 best self san diego / february 2016


“In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” I attended a workshop recently on the topic of “flow” or what some people refer to as “the zone.”  We were discussing that professional athletes, musicians, and experts, create their best work in “the zone.” So, is being in “the zone” just for the extraordinary or can we mere mortals, doing well but seeking to do better, learn the tricks of the trade?   We all have the ability to access flow, it’s just that some of us are more tuned in than others.  
Flow is a state of being, an environment where one loses track of all time and space.  It is the state where creation is born.  Flow starts first thing in the morning before you open your eyes.  Flow can come in the midst of a shower or communing with nature.  We experience flow skiing down a mountain of deep powder with every turn we take. As a professional singer at a very young age, I know now that every time I performed on stage, I was in “the zone.”  I went somewhere else. I was not aware of my surroundings, only feeling elation and personifying the song I was singing.
 Each of us has a talent or gift which takes us to this place, our most important task in life is discovering that gift.

“Productivity soars in the zone, with a stream of pure effortlessness” The skill we want to acquire here is how to put ourselves into the zone more often. Productivity soars in the zone, with a stream of pure effortlessness. One of the recommendations made in the workshop was “taking a break.” When engaged in an activity that is not flowing, stopping to take a walk or changing your environment can reignite flow. Equally as important as learning techniques of entry, is awareness of what blocks us from flow. The most common block that keeps “the zone” at bay is fear; fear of anything or everything. Fear keeps us out of flow.  Think about it, whenever we go into fear about something, we can not create, move, or achieve.  Flow is trust.  It is the confidence that you innately know what you are doing and feeling the joy in doing it.   
 So, when was the last time you experienced flow? Have you ever been in this state before?  Where were you, what were you doing?  What did it feel like?  Can you repeat your success or create it anew?  The season of Spring is new growth and creation, new life and evolution. In order for us to be our Best Self, we need to understand how we create, and know when we are enjoying the process. I challenge you to design a list of your own. See you in “the zone!”

10 Ways to Initiate Flow

1. Music 2.  Focused fitness/sports 3.  Being in nature 4.  Give yourself a goal with a deadline 5.  Doing what you love 6.  Meditation/relaxation 7.  Candles/incense 8.  Stop and change your environment 9. Personal rituals or cues

If you have any questions about how to improve your life or a subject you’d like us to discuss, feel free to email Visit us on Facebook, Dynamic Progress Coaching


Executive & Empowerment Coach Dynamic Progress Coaching

HOMELAND / March 2016 23

By Keith Angelin


HOMELAND / March 2016

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Dear Dummy, I hate honesty. I despise sanity. I am repulsed by thoughts of God or anyone who thinks there is anything superior to their own ego. I have bankrupted, corrupted and interrupted the lives of countless people. To all those who know me, I bring suffering and death.

dummy you are, dancing harder, numbing yourself to reality with every step. Alone, claustrophobic and without hope... it is your private heaven in the bowels of my hell.

My specialties are death by automobile, death by indulgence and death by thine own hand. As for the family and friends who cling to the hope of a miracle from above, they will languish in anguish watching the person they love slowly, surely, die before their eyes. Cunning, baffling and powerful are what I am. Who you are makes no difference to me. Young, old, rich, poor, smart, famous, dumb as dirt... you are all the same. I am the puppeteer and you are the dummy dancing from my string. While you are busy hopping left foot to right, I pretend to be your friend: I am the solution, I am dependable, I am indispensable, You deserve this, You control this, You will get away with this. And you listen like the

What I supply is instant gratification: something which you find as vital as water and are willing to trade for your soul. What about suffering, you ask? Never mind that. Why focus on the future when you live thrill to thrill. Besides, your will is strong. You are the smartest person you know. You will be the one person in all the world to get the better of me. Trust me. Haven’t I always been there for you? Through the worst of times... filling your glass, stroking your hair, dispensing your pills. Through the best of times, too. Whenever you felt things were too good for a dummy like you, wasn’t I the first to agree? Together we ensured that happiness slipped through your slippery fingertips.

You keep underestimating me. You worry about cancer, chest pains, diabetes, liver disease and such. Poor, blind dummy. You can’t see that I am the one responsible for these things. Yet, despite wreaking such destruction, I do not force myself upon you. It is you who chooses me over and over in an endless cycle, like so many other dummies who have chosen to put their sanity last. Alas, not everyone dances as easily as you do. Hard as I might try, some folks are not interested in my slice of heaven. Instead they have chosen programs and meetings, fellowships and ... (shudder)... God. No matter. I have all the time in the world. For now it is I who will be waiting alone and claustrophobic... but never without hope. You see, I am very, very patient. Warmest regards, The Disease of Addiction

If you are wrestling with a substance use disorder, then you are tethered to your master’s controls. Your master despises you. You represent life and hope. He represents selfishness, pride and death. His only goal is to inflict pain. This nightmare will not end by making a few changes here and there. Snipping one or two strings will not save you. In fact, it will probably make things worse because you will be forced to overcompensate in other areas. Cutting all the strings will only work if you have implemented a new plan for living. Otherwise, you will just be a lifeless lump on the floor: sick, depressed, anxious and miserable. Is drug or alcohol abuse causing pain in your life or the life of someone close to you? If so, speak up! Seek help in developing a plan to evict this demon-master and restore every area of life to a glowing vigor, today!

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