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Resources Support Inspiration

Vol. 3 Number 5 • May 2016

In memory of many, In honor of all, Thank you – Memorial Day 05-30-16 USS Midway Honoring Pearl Harbor Survivors LT Royce Williams Forgotten Hero of a Forgotten War SEVEN-YEARS & A WAKE UP A WARRIOR’S JOURNEY

Succeeding against all odds from ordinary to extraordinary Stigma Kills “Carry The Challenge” Eliminating The Stigma of PTS Memorial Day: All Doubts Reconciled

Memorial Day: A Time for Heroes

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May 29th, 2016 — 10:00 to 1:00PM Luce Plaza NTC Point Loma FOR MORE INFO AND TO REGISTER

Where‘s a good trumpet when you need one?

Be a part of the PTS(D) community by Breaking the Silence that surrounds it. From First responders to victims of violence, active duty military and veterans, children, parents, care givers and advocates—all are welcome. No stress. No stigma. Just a day to communicate, reflect, inspire, raise the roof and have some fun — yes Lionel Ritchie.

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Homeland Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller Contributing Writers CJ Machado Vicki Garcia Carolyn Erickson Vesta Anderson Keith Angelin Scott McGaugh Rick Collins Paul Callan Public Relations CJ Machado Thomas McBrien Linda Kreter

Greetings and a warm welcome to HOMELAND Magazine!

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.

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

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.

We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of HOMELAND Magazine.

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

With warmest thanks, Mike Miller, Publisher


HOMELAND is inspirational, “feel good” reading; our focus is on veterans, 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.

Contact Homeland Magazine at: info@homelandmagazine.com


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inside this issue

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6 Honoring Pearl Harbor Survivors 8 Seven-Years & A Wake Up 12 Forgotten Hero Of The Forgotten War 18 Stigma Kills 22 Memorial Day: A Time For Heroes 25 From Ordinary To Extraordinary


21 Memorial Day: A Time For Heroes www.homelandmagazine.com

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By Scott McGaugh

May 28 Ceremony to Honor Pearl Harbor Survivors


he USS Midway Museum’s annual “Legacy Week” activities over Memorial Day Weekend are designed to showcase those who serve America in uniform. Presented by USAA, a very special event will take place on Saturday, May 28, at 9 a.m. on the flight deck. Supporting sponsors include Kaiser Permanente and Booz Allen.

The annual Veterans Remembrance Ceremony will honor Pearl Harbor survivors in the 75th anniversary year of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s free to the general public, family oriented, and those who attend can remain aboard and enjoy the museum the rest of the day at no charge. Everyone is invited to attend the Veterans Wreath Ceremony on Saturday, May 28, at 9 a.m. on the USS Midway Museum’s flight deck. It will be a day to honor the words of President Franklin Roosevelt. “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people will through their righteous might win through absolute victory.” Ultimately 16 million Americans answered their nation’s call by serving in World War II.


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Then, on May 29 and May 30, Midway will have a special feature showcasing its “air wing” of more than two dozen aircraft. On both days, those who flew in each aircraft will be “stationed” in front of each, sharing personal recollections of what it was like to fly a Skyhawk, Vigilante, Skywarrior, Phantom, Tomcat, Horner, Texan, Dauntless, Corsair, Intruder, Panther, Cougar, and others. It’s a rare opportunity for the public to truly get to know what was like serving America from the air, from the 1940s to the 1990s. In addition, there will be military band performances on May 29 and 30. This has become a highlight of the Memorial Day Weekend tradition aboard Midway. The San Diego Blood Bank also will hold a donation drive on May 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Yet there’s more! On Saturday night, May 28, a rockin’ concert will take place featuring the World Classic Rockers. If you like rock and roll, you won’t want to miss a concert whose proceeds benefit local veterans’ organizations. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $59.50 for a night of all the rock and roll classics. More information and a link to online tickets is available at: http://www.midway.org/freedom. Still another feature of Legacy Week is the popular Discovery Zone for kids. A variety of hands-on activities from various local military commands will be available. In past years youngsters have had the opportunity to wear EOD gear and even help restore aircraft. Legacy Week this year is part of the USS Midway Museum’s dedication to preserve the legacy of the Greatest Generation. For example, plans are being developed to replace Pearl Harbor stone/plaque on the Embarcadero near Midway with a sculpture of longtime San Diego resident John Finn who received a Medal of Honor for his actions on December 7, 1941. It was the first Medal of Honor awarded in World War II. In the coming months the proposed replacement memorial will be reviewed by the Port of San Diego. Additional information is available at: www.midway.org/legacy-week.

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By Vesta Anderson BY KEITH ANGELIN

SEVEN-YEARS & A WAKE UP A Warrior’s Journey to Hope and Recovery


he lives of veterans are filled with certain moments that can only be truly understood and respected among other service members – and their families. These are stories that veterans are comfortable sharing with each other, but are not often shared with the outside world. It can be difficult for American citizens to admit that many military families endure a variety of hardships intertwined with the sacrifices of service. Today’s armed forces are in a constant state of flux due to the mandated military budget cuts and the subsequent downsizing of the Department of Defense. The truth is, our warriors are expected to do more with less: more deployments and additional duties with less job security, contributing to significantly increased pressure, decreased family time, and uncertainty of their families’ futures. A 2014 National Foundation for Credit Counselling study of service members’ financial challenges revealed that 77 percent of service members


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are burdened with financial concerns. Additionally, more than half of the veterans surveyed feared the possible negative effects from federal budget restraints. When it comes to veterans transitioning into a civilian lifestyle, the level of success can depend on the caliber of programs and services readily available to them. This transition, from military to civilian life, is monumental and poses an even a greater challenge for injured service members. Charles “Chuck” Clark is a disabled veteran of the United States Armed Forces, who served in three different military branches—U.S Marines, Air Force Reserves, and Texas Army National Guard—during his 15-year military career from 1995 to 2010. Originally from College Station, Texas, Chuck’s service includes four deployment tours to various countries, including: Iraq, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates. www.homelandmagazine.com

Not long after settling his family’s housing setback, Chuck received a serious injury to his right hand. “My hand was crushed in an armored truck door,” said Chuck who explained he was cleared for duty after the injury was assessed. “Shortly after returning to duty, the tendon in my right hand popped off and actually sprang upward into my arm like a rubber band.” Chuck was immediately medically evacuated to Germany and later returned stateside to endure two surgeries to repair the damaged tendon. His hand was permanently damaged and although a civilian doctor warned Chuck against performing

“Eight months into my deployment, the Red Cross notified me that my wife had broken both of her arms while home with our two children,” said Chuck. “At this time, we lived in the country with poor cell phone reception, which forced her to drive five miles to her family’s home so that they could take her to the emergency room. Our vehicle had a standard transmission,” explained Chuck. “My 6-year-old son had to help her shift gears for five miles.” This would not be their last hardship. Chuck was later diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. “I was hoping for an opportunity to change my job in the military and possibly find a desk position, but before I knew it, I was called into my commander’s office and told I was being medically separated.”

This is his story. “My family struggled throughout my enlistment,” said Chuck, who explained that for every successful stride forward, his family seemed to always endure several disheartening steps back. “Mere days into my first deployment, my wife was notified that our loan fell through for a home we planned to purchase. We had already terminated our previous lease, which left my pregnant wife and son on the verge of homelessness with only days to find a new rental – I felt so helpless.”


his regular duties, Chuck deployed three times within 11 years of military service. Consequently, his family continued to move from home to home due to the unsteady income variations between his deployments and his time stateside. Like civilian parents, military parents are often forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet for their families, but unlike their civilian counterparts, military parents face additional challenges when living paycheck to paycheck, such as: multiple deployments that leave one parent maintaining the household, and military orders that force relocations every two to three years, limiting job and education opportunities. Another bad break occurred for the young military family during Chuck’s fourth deployment.

No warning. No option. On July 31, 2010, Chuck was separated with no opportunity to appeal the decision before a medical review board. Years after his medical separation, Chuck and his family continued to struggle financially, and many of his service-connected health issues were still unresolved. “I worked so many hours that I no longer had time to focus on my medical problems. I lost time off work every time I went to the VA for an appointment – and those seemed to be scheduled weekly,” said Chuck. “I could never seem to make enough to cover everything for the month. We struggled with groceries every week, but I was told I made too much money to get help with food stamps or medical insurance. It was never ending.” Chuck is not alone in this financial struggle. In its 2015 fiscal year report, the Defense Commissary

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Agency revealed more than $79 million in food stamp benefits was spent at military commissaries. Chuck became bitter, resentful, and hopeless and began to feel like a failure, constantly disrespected and unappreciated. Everyone in his home seemed to be unhappy and miserable, and his marriage was in trouble. Chuck knew he was running out of time to establish the financial stability that would pull his family back together. “God introduced me to Wounded Warrior Project when I was most desperate,” said Chuck, who was scheduled for back surgery and still fighting for his VA health benefits. “I was going to be out of work and had nowhere to turn until Wounded Warrior Project stepped in to help.” With long-term financial and medical support playing a critical empowerment role in the recovery process, WWP created the Benefits Service program, helping injured veterans navigate the complexities of the Department

of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to obtain the care they need and benefits they earned. With a success rate above 85 percent, WWP reaches into local communities through a variety of events, filing thousands of claims each year, and immediately changing the lives of injured veterans, their families, and caregivers. “On November 24, 2015, we filed for a back claim with the VA and for increases to other claims,” said Chuck. “We had a decision by March 1, 2016.” Now, Chuck’s VA benefits rating is 90 percent, but he has several other open claims awaiting a VA decision. “We were very lucky to have been in contact with Wounded Warrior Project at this time,” said Chuck. “They have taken years of frustration with the VA system and turned it around for us.”

surgery recovery, WWP provided almost $4,000 in monetary support for rent, utilities, phone bills, groceries, and more. Since the inception of the Benefits Service program in 2007, WWP has secured more than $200 million in monetary benefits for wounded servicemen and women. “My body has been broken down over the four deployments I served, and I’m ready to settle down and enjoy life for once,” said Chuck. “I want to spend time with my family and make it my mission to help other injured veterans who share the same experiences and journey as me. I’ve referred other veterans to WWP – some longtime friends and some new,” he said. “I will continue to do so.” The Clark family is among more than 100,000 injured service members, caregivers, and families served by Wounded Warrior Project. More than 2,400 registered Alumni received assistance through the Benefits Service program in March 2016.

To ensure Chuck was able to focus on his post-

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 woundedwarriorproject.org. (Photos courtesy WWP) 10

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Research Opportunities

VETERANS: WE NEED YOU VA San Diego Healthcare System and Veterans Medical Research Foundation are looking for participants for human subject research studies on Veterans health issues. Findings will help provide better treatments for Veterans and the general population. • We are one of the largest VA research programs in the nation • We employ the most advanced research technologies • We employ some of the best, talented and world renowned researchers in the country • We conduct approximately 400 human subject studies annually

Sign up for a research study TODAY!  

Some studies provide medical care and/or reimbursement for participation.

Check out our current list of research opportunities.

Visit: www.sandiego.va.gov/studies.asp and www.vmrf.org/studies.html

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he Korean War has become a footnote in history, the forgotten war between WWII and Vietnam. The involvement of U.S. forces was limited to a NATO “Police Action” to stop the communist expansion into Asia. Still, for the tens of thousands that served and lost their lives in the Korean War, it is anything but forgotten. U.S. Congress never declared war against Korea and the Soviets never officially entered the war. Nevertheless, the United States provided 88% of the United Nation’s (UN) military personnel while the Soviet Union secretly supported the North Korean communist intention to overthrow their southern countrymen. The memories of the Korean War still linger in the hearts of those who have served, including Naval Aviator, Captain E. Royce Williams, USN, Retired. For the first time in history, Soviet pilots secretly flew against NATO and

U.S. forces. In an exhausting 35 minute dogfight against 7 Soviet MiGs, LT Williams then, became the only American Aviator to single-handedly shoot down 4 Russian MiGs in a single sortie. A record that most likely will never be broken. His heroic actions were kept classified for nearly fifty years. Post- Cold War, the Russian government confirmed the loss of the 4 MiG-15s and disclosed the names of the four pilots he shot down: Captain Belyakov, Captain Vandalov, Lieutenant Pakhomkin and Lieutenant Tarshinov. This is the account of LT Williams’s heroic actions that are yet to be reviewed for the full honor and recognition he earned so many years ago. On November 18th, 1952, LT Williams participated in a 3 carrier major strike against the Hoeryong industrial complex very near the North Korea-Russian border. Expecting reprisal from the North Koreans, the U.S.S. Oriskany launched a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) into the blustery skies above the Sea of Japan. The Patrol was in the midst of a blizzard, where

In an exhausting 35 minute dogfight against 7 Soviet MiGs, LT Williams became the only American Aviator to single-handedly shoot down 4 Russian MiGs in a single sortie. A record that most likely will never be broken.


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the cloud cover was at 400 feet and the visibility was terribly low. Division Leader, Lieutenant Claire Elwood and his wingman LTJG John Middletown with Section Leader, LT Royce Williams and his wingman LTJG David Rowlands served as CAP that day. Soon after the CAP was launched, the Combat Information Center (CIC) reported multiple bogeys approaching inbound, 80 miles north of Task Force 77. The Combat Air Patrol finally broke through the clouds of the howling snowstorm at around 12,000 feet. As they advanced upward, Section Leader, LT Williams spotted seven contrails well above 50,000 feet. The bogeys were quickly identified and reported as MiG-

15s. Moments later, the Flight Leader, reported a fuel pump warning light. The CIC ordered LT Elwood and his wingman, LTJG Middleton to return to CAP duty directly above the U.S.S. Oriskany. The defense of Task Force 77 was in the hands of LT Williams who took the Lead and LTJG Rowlands as his wingman. Although, the two F9F-5 Panthers were outnumbered and out classed on maneuverability and acceleration, they boldly continued the pursuit against the 7 MiGs. The MiGs came over them and reversed, presumably heading back to their base at Vladivostok. LT Williams continued to track and climb to 26,000 feet, when suddenly, the MiGs split into two



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LT Williams was able to land safely, which was much attributed to the sturdy construction of the Grumman aircraft.

out of range. As the lead MiG approached 2,000 feet, he quickly broke away to avoid the opposing fire. The other MiG followed right behind the lead, which gave Williams the opportunity to get him into his sights. He fired at the enemy until he disappeared underneath his wings. It was a presumed hit, since Williams didn’t have the luxury to follow for confirmation.

groups to corner the F9Fs. One group of four MiGs came straight in firing from the 10 o’clock position, as the other 3 MiGs circled around to bracket them. LT Williams turned sharply into the enemy and the 4 MiGs over shot, missing their targets. When they passed, LT Williams pulled a hard left turn and kicked in the rudder to get his sight on the number four MiG. After a short burst of fire, the MiG went down. His wingman, LTJG Rowlands, followed the plane as it dropped out of formation, leaving LT Williams alone against 6 Soviet adversaries. Complete chaos ensued… LT Williams was in the fight of his life, working at every moment to keep the MiGs off his tail. He utilized every Guns Defense


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possible as he reversed and jinked against the far superior aircraft, attempting to stay clear and keep the MiGs from locking down on his six o’clock position. 1 Down, 6 to Go! LT Williams immediately chased after the three remaining MiGs from the group, trying to maneuver with them. His Panther was no match to the Soviet MiGs far superior speed and rate of climb as they easily zoomed away. One MiG turned around, pointing back at him and quickly disappeared into the bright sun. Williams immediately noticed the other two MiGs had already made their turn and they were coming right at him in a diving attack. LT Williams swiftly turned into them as they fired

5 Left! “Then the Fight was on. They were no longer in formation. They were flying to position themselves to attack me one at a time,” Williams recalls. The opposing MiGs were determined to down the sole Grumman Panther. One of the MiGs came back around and LT Williams reversed to put his gun sights on him. As the MiG turned, he was able to fire at him. The blast was so abrupt, Lt. Williams had to maneuver violently to avoid swallowing the exploding MiG parts. 3 Down! “There was a lot of maneuvering, some shooting and mostly dodging going on,” remembers Williams. During the 35 minute dogfight, the MiGs would over shoot and occasionally they did not climb, which gave Williams the opportunity to track and fire at them. While LT Williams was tracking a

smoking MiG to finish him off, he looked back and saw another MiG coming in. He put in a lot of rudder and kicked the airplane over to give the opposition a tough shot. LT Williams’s luck was finally running out and the MiG hit him with a burst of fire from his 37mm cannon. He was hit in the wing section and accessory section of the Pratt and Whitney Jet engine. The relentless MiG came back around and settled on his tail to ensure the kill. LT Williams had to use both hands on the stick to maneuver properly, because he had lost two of his 3 controls, the ailerons and the rudder. The elevator still worked perfectly, so he could only porpoise to pull up and push over hard, similar to a pitch and tuck maneuver. He could see the bullets fly by him as the attacker shot away at him. Out of ammo and riddled with holes, LT Williams headed back home as he took to the cloud cover and they lost sight of each other in the snow storm. Carrier Bound, Crash Course: LT Williams came out of the clouds at about 400 feet. At that point, he was flying too low to eject safely and the freezing waters of the Sea of Japan would have taken him within 15 minutes in his immersion suit. As the Panther drew closer for a troubled landing, the destroyers escorting Task Force 77, opened friendly fire on LT Williams mistaking him for an enemy aircraft. “Fortunately, I


was low enough that they didn’t have a chance to really aim, so nobody hit me,” Williams explained. His Panther would stall below 170 knots (normal carrier approach speed is at 120 knots) which forced him to come in at 200 miles an hour for an inevitable crash landing. His immediate focus was to keep control of the aircraft and use alternate backup systems to lower the landing gear and tail hook. The U.S.S. Oriskany’s Commanding Officer, Captain Courtney Shands was alerted and adjusted the carrier away from the wind to try and compensate for the F9F’s outof-control speed and inability to maneuver properly. Incredibly, LT Williams was able to land safely engaging the number 3 wire, which was much attributed to the sturdy construction of the Grumman aircraft. Miraculously, LT Williams was unscathed and confided, “I had God on my side.” On the flight deck, the plane captain rushed to congratulate the Lieutenant and the badly damaged aircraft became an immediate specimen of interest. 263 perforations were circled and counted, ranging from a foot wide to minor cuts in the fuselage. The Grumman F9F-5 Panther that fought so valiantly was irrevocably damaged and they pushed it over the side into the ocean, to it’s final resting place.

During the 35 minute dog-fight, the MiGs, would over shoot and occasionly they did not climb, which gave Williams the opportunity to track and fire at them.


LT Williams headed to the Ready Room for debriefing, however the Intelligence Officer delayed the investigation, because he wanted to wait for the Flight Leader. In the meantime, the tension grew higher due to pressure from Washington, awaiting a full report on the incident. “They already knew there was some sort of rumble with the Soviets and they wanted the answers, right now!” Williams affirmed. The Intelligence Officer caved

to Washington and sent out a “phony” report based upon the very limited information he received and the lack of details and understanding of the engagement. Williams was credited with a kill and a probable-damaged, LTJG Middleton was credited with a kill and William’s wingman, Dave Rowlands was given a probable. A week later, the U.S.S. Oriskany arrived in Yokosuka, Japan where

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LT Williams was ordered to see Vice Admiral Robert P. Briscoe, Commander Naval Forces Far East. Admiral Briscoe informed the Lieutenant that the United States has a new capability called the NSA, National Security Agency. They were covertly aboard the U.S.S. Helena, right off Vladivostok on their first mission. The NSA told Admiral Briscoe to tell that young man that he got at least three. They were able to follow the MiGs from take-off until the remnant MiGs came back. Admiral Briscoe warned Williams to never speak of the incident for fear of escalating the Korean conflict into World War III. A month later, Admiral J.J. Clark and LT Williams met with Presidentelect Eisenhower in Seoul, Korea. Eisenhower specifically requested a debriefing with LT Williams to discuss “our planes versus theirs.” The bold pilot found himself surrounded by Generals Omar Bradley and Mark Clark, Admiral Arthur Radford, the Secretary of Defense and many other dignitaries. Eisenhower took Williams by the elbow and led him to a nice, comfortable, over-stuffed chair. Then he sat at the edge of the chair and wrapped his arm around the young hero. “Well, young man, before we get down to business, don’t you think we ought to have drink? Don’t you think?” Eisenhower encouraged. “Yes, Sir,” Williams agreed. “Well, we have bourbon and scotch, water and soda. My son John is the bartender. What would you like?” I said, “Bourbon and water, please.” The President nudged, “We have awfully good scotch son.” “Well Sir, I prefer bourbon and water.” The President insisted, “Young man, we have great, great scotch.” “Well Sir, the truth is I prefer bourbon and water.” “Lieutenant! We’ve got the world’s finest scotch,” the President demanded. Williams said, “Mr. President, I drink bourbon and water.” The President reluctantly


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conceded and turned to his son, “John, give him a bourbon and water.” “Needless to say, I learned quickly from my experience. I should have taken the scotch. So, in honor of Ike, the next time I had the opportunity, I ordered scotch and it prevails to this day,” Williams admitted with a great big grin. Captain E. Royce Williams, USN Retired, flew over 220 missions mainly in Korea and Vietnam. He served our country for over thirty years and retired in 1980. Williams has not yet received the full recognition for his acts of valor that he gave in defense of our great nation over 63 years ago. We encourage all readers to reach out to our local politicians for support and join our plea for Captain Williams to be rereviewed for recognition for his heroic acts that were above and beyond the call of duty on November 18th, 1952. 91 year old, Captain Royce Williams is featured in the upcoming series ‘Heroes in History,’ a collection of veteran stories, told by the heroes who lived through them…before they are lost forever. Please enjoy Captain Williams’s amazing story at: www.loveamazinglyproductions.com/heroes.html Join us this May 14th for the annual San Diego Ride for Vets and the kick-off for the Run/Ride to the Wall that will include a nationwide campaign to petition for E. Royce Williams to receive re-review for recognition for the Medal of Honor. We have the opportunity to ensure that Captain E. Royce Williams will not be “The Forgotten Hero of The Forgotten War.” We are in need of sponsorships and support. For more information, please visit: www.loveamazinglyproductions.com/sd-ride-for-vets.html

By CJ Machado Homeland Magazine


www.CarrytheChallenge.org/registration e-mail: Info@CarrytheChallenge.org The Carry the Challenge™ initiative is presented by Veterans 360 Inc. a GuideStar Gold partner – All donations are tax deductable under our 501(C)(3) # 45-3713823

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By Rick Collins

To normalize and civilianize PTS  (Post-Traumatic Stress), thereby eliminating the stigma that surrounds it. A Personal Message From Veterans 360 ™ & Carry the Challenge ™ Taking into account that we will likely not get the opportunity to present to you in person, we respectfully ask you to give us your time as though we could.     When we first entered the Veteran support arena five years ago, we were advised to be unambiguously positive. Sadly, that is hard to do when all indicators are that our high-school educated, short-term military service, combat veterans are struggling now more than ever.   “Statistics around unemployment, under-employment, substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration and suicide are ALL on the rise for our Post 9/11 warriors”   The fact that our government, and the military in particular, has done a terrible job in preparing our young veterans for civilian life should be of no surprise to anyone. The military wants them to focus on the job at hand, and government doesn’t want to invest in what is only 1% of our population. You would think that between   pre-separation support, the Veterans Health Administration and the approximate 45,000 veteran centric non-profits that we would be able to reduce what is epidemic levels of suicide and despondency among our young veterans. The VA spends $165B each year on services for only 6.1 million veterans from a population of 21.8. Large non-profits raise hundreds of millions of dollars each and every year to “support” our veterans, but even massive investments in time, resources and money


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no one was able to prevent two young Marines in Delano MN (Pop. 8K) from taking their own lives in November 2015. No matter the statistic – one or twenty-two a day – it is too many. Our most vulnerable and at-risk demographic is falling into the chasm that exists between these giant non-profit organizations and limited and ineffective government programs. Both sides seem to be geared toward a “ready and willing” approach, that is, once a veteran has agreed that they need support, or is already in crisis. The problem with that approach is that today’s young veterans don’t believe they need help. People rarely ask for help when things are going well and our veterans are no different. They struggle to ask for support until they have burned through all of their resources – financial and emotional – and even then they do so with reluctance, society imposed shame and a high level of mistrust.   ”As long as it easier to take your own life rather than ask for support, we will continue to lose today’s young veterans to the stigma that surrounds PTS.” www.homelandmagazine.com

It does not take a Ph.D. to understand that daily messages of failure such as ”suicides, PTSD, angry, crazy veteran, 22 a day, waiting 6 months for benefits, dozens die at the VA” etc. only feeds failure. If the system was not able to help those veterans why would a young veteran hearing those messages even think that someone can help them? We need to change the current narrative to one that clearly tells them that “they are not alone, that what they are struggling with is normal and that good people are willing to help.” If they agree that is, to allow us and good people like us, to engage them.     During military service weakness is a career ending or life-threatening condition. In civilian life it can be the inability to ask for help that can cost them their lives or future. We must all understand, and our veterans most of all that struggling with PTS (and transition) is NOT unique to or owned by them and it is certainly not a valid reason to treat a veteran any different than we would a firefighter, ER nurse, victim of domestic violence or a child who’s experienced tragedy.   It makes absolutely no sense that we don’t engage and educate these individuals when we have the chance to engage and educate them with the same conviction that we educated and trained them for military service. Instead; we wait for them to struggle, and struggle they do and at that point we are faced with the much harder and more costly task of trying to change their perception of a system that ”they feel” has failed them.       “What’s currently being offered to our young veterans looks good on paper, sounds good in the media, but it is simply not effective.”   Our Perspective: While we (society) must continue to support veterans who are already in the “system,” we must also begin to shift our focus to those who are not. In 2002-2003, we enlisted hundreds of thousands of young men and women to fight on two fronts, and they volunteered in droves. Now as we draw down our combat operations, it is these veterans who are being pushed aside and sent on their way. Some with zero benefits or income. Unlike our highly visible “wounded warriors” who are in the system this demographic of veterans who look no different than our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews can leave us without notice and leave us they do, quietly without fanfare of noise and without good people having the opportunity to change their narrative. We (society in general) must step outside our comfort zones and fight hard to identify those who have not yet accepted support as well as those who quite firmly feel they don’t need it. Obviously, it’s easier to help someone who asks for support, but we all share in a responsibility to engage those whom we know, deep down, need our help.      

“What’s currently being offered to our young veterans looks good on paper, sounds good in the media, but it is simply not effective.” www.homelandmagazine.com

Why is Carry the Challenge any different? Because we know that there is a straightforward solution to what is thought of as a complex issue and it simply involves outreach, education and connection. We will reach out where they live and breathe, we speak their language, we will provide reality-driven life skills and we can relate to their struggles with both transition and PTS. Then and only then do we connect them to support that is relevant to their needs. No more relying on web sites and call centers to provide the hands on support that they so desperately need and quite frankly that they have earned. When we provide focused support and services up front they can take that next step with conviction and purpose.   Your return: When you invest in us, we will invest in our target demographic of young veterans and their struggles with transition in general and PTS specifically. As we go through our 2016/2017 mission plan (following) we will show measurable results with lower rates of suicide, homelessness and unemployment among those we engage. We have the plan, the team, collaborative partners and most important of all the commitment and passion to make a difference.   Every day that we over analyze this issue and wait for others to fix it another veteran will give up on the promise of a brighter future. For more information please visit  www.CarrytheChallenge.org

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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 www.miramarcemetery.org 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. 20

HOMELAND / May 2016

Memorial Day: All Doubts Reconciled

By Paul Callan


hroughout history, men and women have responded to the call to military service and moved to the sound of distant guns. In every era, youth have been thrust into the crucible of combat while citizens back home were asked to bear a different burden; not knowing if or when loved ones might return. Viewed in retrospect, it appears such sacrifices were made naturally and without equivocation.

summoned from deep internal reservoirs many did not know they possessed, enabling them to respond in spite of doubt.

Truth is; these decisions were deeply personal, anguishing, and riddled with doubt. We cannot know what anxieties were whispered on doorsteps of family homes; what promises were made by young lovers as trains departed the station; what fearful words were uttered by a young child tugging at a father’s jacket as dad suddenly left; or what final thoughts were scribbled on paper, hastily folded, and left on the kitchen table for parents to read. Crossing thresholds of courage are never made easily nor are they decided without personally facing the terror of the coming abyss.

In making the ultimate sacrifice in war, in this one supreme act of valor, these heroes reconciled all doubt. Through their enduring example of selflessness, they refocus our distracted eyes away from superficial and selfish concerns, towards a higher moral constellation comprised of virtue, honor, and fidelity. And by contemplating their noble gesture of sacrifice, we who are alive today must not simply admire them, but in fact, honor them, by asking ourselves a daunting yet necessary question: Will we rise to the challenge of our time, even in the face of great doubt?

Therefore, what we celebrate on Memorial Day is more than just people’s service. We also celebrate their decision to cross courage’s threshold and enter the black night of the unknown. We celebrate their heroism,



Each person who has answered honor’s call, much like the mythic Odysseus, discovers this redeeming fact of a heroic life: the journey does not simply move us towards a necessary destination, more significantly, it shapes our destiny.

HOMELAND / May 2016 21

By Nancy Sullivan Geng



HOMELAND / May 2016


leaned against an oak at the side of the road, wishing I were invisible, keeping my distance from my parents on their lawn chairs and my younger siblings scampering about. I hoped none of my friends saw me there. God forbid they caught me waving one of the small American flags Mom bought at Ben Franklin for a dime. At 16, I was too old and definitely too cool for our small town’s Memorial Day parade. I ought to be at the lake, I brooded. But, no, the all-day festivities were mandatory in my family. A high school band marched by, the girl in sequins missing her baton as it tumbled from the sky. Firemen blasted sirens in their polished red trucks. The uniforms on the troop of World War II veterans looked too snug on more than one member. “Here comes Mema,” my father shouted. Five black convertibles lumbered down the boulevard. The mayor was in the first, handing out programs. I didn’t need to look at one. I knew my uncle Bud’s name was printed on it, as it had been every year since he was killed in Italy. Our family’s war hero. And I knew that perched on the backseat of one of the cars, waving and smiling, was Mema, my grandmother. She had a corsage on her lapel and a sign in gold embossed letters on the car door: “Gold Star Mother.”

Nineteen years old when he died, not much older than I was. But a great hero? How could you be a hero at 19? I hid behind the tree so I wouldn’t have to meet her gaze. It wasn’t because I didn’t love her or appreciate her. She’d taught me how to sew, to call a strike in baseball. She made great cinnamon rolls, which we always ate after the parade. What embarrassed me was all the attention she got for a son who had died 20 years earlier. With four other children and a dozen grandchildren, why linger over this one long-ago loss? I peeked out from behind the oak just in time to see Mema wave and blow my family a kiss as the motorcade moved on. The purple ribbon on her hat fluttered in the breeze. The rest of our Memorial Day ritual was equally scripted. No use trying to get out of it. I followed my family back to Mema’s house, where there was the usual baseball game in the backyard and the same old reminiscing about Uncle Bud in the kitchen. Helping myself to a cinnamon roll, I retreated to the living room and plopped down on an armchair. There I found myself staring at the Army photo of Bud on the bookcase. The uncle I’d never known. I must have looked at him a thousand times—so proud in his crested cap and knotted tie. His uniform was decorated with military emblems that I could never decode.

Funny, he was starting to look younger to me as I got older. Who were you, Uncle Bud? I nearly asked aloud. I picked up the photo and turned it over. Yellowing tape held a prayer card that read: “Lloyd ‘Bud’ Heitzman, 1925-1944. A Great Hero.” Nineteen years old when he died, not much older than I was. But a great hero? How could you be a hero at 19? The floorboards creaked behind me. I turned to see Mema coming in from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. I almost hid the photo because I didn’t want to listen to the same stories I’d heard year after year: “Your uncle Bud had this little rat-terrier named Jiggs. Good old Jiggs. How he loved that mutt! He wouldn’t go anywhere without Jiggs. He used to put him in the rumble seat of his Chevy coupe and drive all over town. “Remember how hard Bud worked after we lost the farm? At haying season he worked all day, sunrise to sunset, baling for other farmers. Then he brought me all his wages. He’d say, ‘Mama, someday I’m going to buy you a brand-new farm. I promise.’ There wasn’t a better boy in the world!” Sometimes I wondered about that boy dying alone in a muddy ditch in a foreign country he’d only read about. I thought of the scared kid who jumped out of a foxhole in front of an advancing enemy, only to be downed by a sniper. I couldn’t reconcile the image of the boy and his dog with that of the stalwart soldier. Mema stood beside me for a while, looking at the photo. From outside came the sharp snap of an American flag flapping in the breeze and the voices of my cousins cheering my brother at bat. “Mema,” I asked, “what’s a hero?” Without a word she turned and walked down the hall to the back bedroom. I followed. She opened a bureau drawer and took out a small metal box, then sank down onto the bed. “These are Bud’s things,” she said. “They sent them to us after he died.” She opened the lid and handed me a telegram dated October 13, 1944. “The Secretary of State regrets to inform you that your son, Lloyd Heitzman, was killed in Italy.” Your son! I imagined Mema


HOMELAND / May 2016 23

reading that sentence for the first time. I didn’t know what I would have done if I’d gotten a telegram like that. “Here’s Bud’s wallet,” she continued. Even after all those years, it was caked with dried mud. Inside was Bud’s driver’s license with the date of his sixteenth birthday. I compared it with the driver’s license I had just received. A photo of Bud holding a little spotted dog fell out of the wallet. Jiggs. Bud looked so pleased with his mutt. There were other photos in the wallet: a laughing Bud standing arm in arm with two buddies, photos of my mom and aunt and uncle, another of Mema waving. This was the home Uncle Bud took with him, I thought. I could see him in a foxhole, taking out these snapshots to remind himself of how much he was loved and missed. “Who’s this?” I asked, pointing to a shot of a pretty dark-haired girl. “Marie. Bud dated her in high school. He wanted to marry her when he came home.” A girlfriend? Marriage? How heartbreaking to have a life, plans and hopes for the future, so brutally snuffed out. Sitting on the bed, Mema and I sifted through the treasures in the box: a gold watch that had never been wound again. A sympathy letter from President Roosevelt, and one from Bud’s commander. A medal shaped like a heart, trimmed with a purple ribbon. And at the very bottom, the deed to Mema’s house. “Why’s this here?” I asked. “Because Bud bought this house for me.” She explained how after his death, the U.S. government gave her 10 thousand dollars, and with it she built the house she was still living in.


HOMELAND / May 2016

“He kept his promise all right,” Mema said in a quiet voice I’d never heard before. For a long while the two of us sat there on the bed. Then we put the wallet, the medal, the letters, the watch, the photos and the deed back into the metal box. I finally understood why it was so important for Mema—and me— to remember Uncle Bud on this day. If he’d lived longer he might have built that house for Mema or married his high-school girlfriend. There might have been children and grandchildren to remember him by. As it was, there was only that box, the name in the program and the reminiscing around the kitchen table. “I guess he was a hero because he gave everything for what he believed,” I said carefully. “Yes, child,” Mema replied, wiping a tear with the back of her hand. “Don’t ever forget that.” I haven’t. Even today with Mema gone, my husband and I take our lawn chairs to the tree-shaded boulevard on Memorial Day and give our three daughters small American flags that I buy for a quarter at Ben Franklin. I want them to remember that life isn’t just about getting what you want. Sometimes it involves giving up the things you love for what you love even more. That many men and women did the same for their country—that’s what I think when I see the parade pass by now. And if I close my eyes and imagine, I can still see Mema in her regal purple hat, honoring her son, a true American hero.



Why Some People Succeed Against All Odds From Ordinary to Extraordinary Meet Eric McElvenny grew up in Western PA always knowing that someday he would serve in the US Marine Corp. Eric was your average guy. He loved sports‌ all sports. And was pretty good at any sport he played but probably better at baseball than anything else. He attended Annapolis Naval Academy where he played baseball and that’s also where he discovered rugby. Ahhh yes. Rugby. Almost immediately, Eric was better at rugby than he was baseball. He graduated from Annapolis with a degree in mechanical engineering and it was there that he met and married his wife Rachel. Continues on next page >


HOMELAND / May 2016 25

commitment not only to run a marathon but something even bigger. He set his sights on IRONMAN: IRONMAN Kona to be exact. Moore had figured out exactly what to say to push McElvenney’s buttons.


fter graduation, McElvenny was sent to Quantico, VA and then shipped off to Camp Pendleton. His third deployment sent him to Afghanistan where he led an Embedded Training Team (ETT). His job was to advise Afghan infantry soldiers. On December 9, 2011, about 5 hours into a dismounted security patrol through a small village, Eric stepped on an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) and triggered an explosion underneath his right foot. Fortunately the closest person to Eric was Corpsman Michael Shrum.  Michael was a navy man and because the marines do not have their own medics, corpsman are part of their teams. Michael wrapped tunicates around the wound and got him safely to the helicopter. He was in surgery within 40 minutes of the

26 26 HOMELAND / May 2016

accident but, sadly, Eric lost his right leg below the knee. Eric became an amputee that day. It took 6 days for Eric to finally make it back to San Diego. He was taken to the Balboa Naval Medical Center where he had several additional surgeries. About two weeks after his injury, Isaac Moore, McElvenny’s Commanding Officer (CO) in Afghanistan sent him an email. It read ‘let me know when you are ready to run your first marathon’. Eric was floored. Losing his leg hadn’t even sunk in yet and his boss was already challenging him to run a marathon. McElvenny had NEVER run a marathon in his life! While he was still in the hospital, Eric made a

A month and a half after his life changing event, McElvenny met Nikko Marcolongo, the Senior Manager of Operation Rebound at the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). The CAF Operation Rebound® program is the premier sports and fitness program for American military personnel, veterans and first responders with physical challenges. Through CAF, injured veterans are provided unparalleled opportunities to pursue active, athletic lifestyles. The organization funds equipment, training, and travel expenses that assist our injured troops and first responders to harness the healing power of sport, regardless if the goal is to win Paralympic gold or just to run around the block. Nikko and CAF provided Eric with everything he needed to get to Kona. He received great coaching, equipment, training, and of course, his prosthetics. It was extremely difficult prepping for the race. So difficult in fact, that Eric almost gave up. Although his coaches were phenomenal and he could physically and mentally handle the training, he struggled with his prosthetics. Eric required a bike leg for the 112 miles of cycling required for the race and he also required a running leg for the 26.2 mile run. If the legs didn’t fit perfectly they would cause him tremendous pain. He got blisters and, at one point, he had developed three separate staff infections where the prosthetic had irritated his skin so bad. He was convinced that IRONMAN was not meant for amputees.


About two weeks after his injury, Isaac Moore, McElvenny’s Commanding Officer (CO) in Afghanistan sent him an email. It read ‘let me know when you are ready to run your first marathon’. Eric was floored. Losing his leg hadn’t even sunk in yet and his boss was already challenging him to run a marathon. Dr. Peter Harsch, Eric’s prosthetic practitioner at Balboa Naval hospital worked tirelessly to get Eric’s legs to fit him. His passion to help amputees feel and be their best was the very thing that changed Eric’s relationship with him from doctor to friend. Eric’s legs fit and functioned perfectly only weeks before the big day. In October 2013, 22 months after becoming an amputee, Eric completed his first IRONMAN. He finished in 11 hours and 54 minutes. What is Eric up to these days? Why training for IRONMAN of course. He is determined to beat the current record held by an amputee; 9 hours and 57 minutes. Last October, Eric was also nominated as CAF’s Most Inspirational athlete of 2015. He took the stage at the Celebration of Abilities Ceremony to accept this prestigious award and continues to motivate and inspire young challenged athletes all over the world. Homeland magazine wishes Eric all the best with his new undertakings. Dream big and go get ‘em!!


HOMELAND / May 2016 27

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enlisted to entrepreneur By Vicki Garcia

Do You Need a Strategy? Look up strategy in the dictionary and many definitions have to do with the military and war. A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (tactics). The biggest mistake business owners, who are understandably anxious to see action, make is to jump into tactics without a strategy. This almost guarantees lost money, time, and possibly failure. I’ve seen many strategies: Create trust through “Personal Branding” Just get them in the door the first time (sales) Convenience (delivery) Educate the market (information) Events and entertainment (attract buyers) Merchandising (special or more products)

Each of these point to a distinct set of tactics (marketing tools) that will produce the desired results. Do you need your market to arrive pre-sold on you? Then your strategy is “create trust.” Every tactic you use should build trust. Does “advertising” create trust? Not usually. So that wouldn’t be your tactic. Does publicity create trust? You bet. See how this works? You might think all pizzas are created equally, but no. Some pizzas serve the purpose of getting the kids fed or taking care of a sports crowd. Other pizzas are a culinary experience in a festive atmosphere. They couldn’t be less alike, even though they both sell pizza. Dominic’s Pizza is all about convenience. In fact, what Dominic’s is selling is delivery. It’s not about how the pizza tastes... it’s about getting an inexpensive pizza easily and without bother. Dominic’s strategy is to “emphasize delivery and low price.” It could be cardboard painted to look like pizza. Radio, TV, and signs on delivery cars work well. Tammy’s Wood-fired Pizza, served by waiters in a cute restaurant is all about atmosphere, ambience, a fun experience and good food shared with others. It’s not about pizza either. Tammy’s Wood-fired Pizza’s strategy is “act like it’s entertainment.” Advertising in The Reader and the U/T Night & Day are advisable. So the answer to the question “Do You Need a Strategy?” is yes. Don’t spend any money or time on any marketing effort that doesn’t serve your strategy and you have a much better chance of success.

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. veteranentrepreneurstoday.org. Apply for free help at www.surveymonkey.com/r/veteran-entrepreneur

5 Ways to Maximize Military Benefits and Save Money Between basic training, PCSing and deployment, joining the military presents some unique financial challenges in the first few years of service. But there are also great benefits, including some from USAA. “There are a range of products and services that can really be used as you move through your military career,” says JJ Montanaro, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at USAA and veteran of the Army and Army Reserves.   “He’s just launching his career,” Montanaro says. “As he moves along, I’ll have recommendations for him based on my experience, but not everyone has that, so it’s important to do your research.   First, review the range of financial and legal protections offered through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, including:   • Auto lease termination (180 day orders). • Residential lease termination (90 day orders). • Protection from foreclosure, evictions, repossession and legal proceedings. • Reduced interest rates on existing credit card, auto loan, mortgage or other debt incurred prior to active service. www.homelandmagazine.com

USAA also offers members additional benefits, including in these five areas: Auto Insurance. USAA offers overseas coverage in specific countries and a vehicle storage discount up to 60% on auto insurance premiums for eligible deployed members or those on extended TDY.1   Banking. During a PCS or deployment, USAA waives fees on credit card balance transfers and convenience checks. Plus, it offers a special low APR on new and existing transactions for one year.2 “That’s money in your pocket,” Montanaro says. “Take advantage of the situation and try to pay down existing debt.”   Personal Property. Renters insurance, as well as Valuable Personal Property insurance, can help you protect your belongings — particularly uniforms3 — on base and abroad. Both provide coverage worldwide, including in war zones, and while living in military barracks or in ROTC or academy dorms. Get a 20% discount on renters while living on base.4   Tax Advice. Get help with your taxes, using Free Turbo Tax Online Federal for active duty and reservists.5   Travel. USAA offers member discounts on car rentals, cruises, resorts and hotels. What’s more, travel insurance can provide some peace of mind if you have to cancel a trip because of a deployment or unexpected leave revocation.

By Craig Zabojnik USAA

HOMELAND / May 2016 29



HOMELAND / May 2016


Did you miss the article on Royce Williams? Unbroken? Service Dogs? American Sniper? Military Life? Fighting PTSD?


Resources Support Inspiration

Vol. 3 Number4 • April 2016

From PTSD and Sniper Fire, to Dogs That Heal Reboot Your Life After The Military Tax Tips for Service Members and Their Families Can Military Service Make You A Millionare

WAR COMES HOME the legacy Changing Veterans’ Lives HOMELAND / April 2016 1

You can now catch up on all your favorite articles, breaking news, resources, jobs for vets, educational opportunities events & more.


HOMELAND / May 2016 31



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