Vol. 1 Number 8 â€˘ October 2014
Real stories from real heroes: the service members, the veterans, the wounded, and the families that keep it together
San Diegoâ€™s Natural Wonder: The Sea
Overcoming Haunting Memories Yoga: An Ancient Therapy Student Veterans of America Bringing Service to Those Who Served
HOMELAND / October 2014 1
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HOMELAND / October 2014
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VA Home Loans for Veterans by a Veteran As a homeowner myself using my VA loan and as a multiple home investor, I understand purchasing a home is one of the biggest and most important purchases someone will make in their lifetime. Being a 10-year active duty Veteran as an Airborne Paratrooper, I know what it means to sacrifice your time away from civilian life and the abuse your body takes in the military. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve made it my mission as a Loan Officer to reach out to other Veterans to assist with their Home Purchases. From pre-qualification to closing, I will be there to ensure that the loan process for your home goes as smoothly as possible. You will find that I strive to keep in contact with my clients throughout the entire process and to be easily accessible. In addition to VA home loans, I also specialize in FHA and Conventional home loans. BRE# 01147747 NMLS# 9873 Top Producer 2008 through 2013
HOMELAND / October 2014 3
HomeLand Publisher Michael J. Miller
Contributing Writers Wounded Warrior Project Linda Kreter Folds of Honor Rick Rogers CJ Machado
Public Relations Linda Kreter CJ Machado Graphic Design Trevor Watson
Greetings and a warm welcome to HOMELAND Magazine! 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
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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 13223 Black Mountain Road, #168 San Diego, CA 92129
858.877.3421 Contact Homeland Magazine at: firstname.lastname@example.org www.homelandmagazine.com
Inside This Issue
Yoga: An Ancient Therapy Yogaâ€™s Benefits for Relaxation and PTSD/Trauma Therapy
Homeland 6 Marine Corps Air Station Miramar 10 Bringing Service to Those Who Served 12 An Unconventional Way to Get Vet Benefits
18 Housing & Real Estate 22 Student Veterans of America
23 Determination Will Overcome
14 San Diegoâ€™s Natural Wonder: The Sea
24 U.S. is at War again
16 Overcoming Haunting Memories
26 Healing Wounded Warriors on Horseback
28 Halloween History & Origin Just For Fun / Did You Know?
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Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
CAS Miramar is the home of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing, and the largest and best military air show in the nation. The theme for the 2014 MCAS Miramar Air Show, which runs October 3, 4 and 5, is “Celebrating the Marine Air Ground Task Force.” The Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF and pronounced mag-TAFF) describes the organization of U.S. Marine Corps forces deployed around the world today. The MAGTF is a task organized scalable and balanced air-ground organization capable of sustained operations afloat or ashore. The MAGTF provides a rapidly deployable, lethal and credible response to a wide range of crises that range from forcible entry from the sea to humanitarian assistance and disaster response. One of the highlights of this year’s air show is the MAGTF demonstration. During this demonstration, many of the techniques and technologies used by Marines around the world will be on display. Among these technologies are the Marine Corps’ newest airframes, the MV-22 “Osprey” and the F/A-35B “Lightning II.” Both of these aircraft represent significant leaps in technology, for the first time ever, both aircraft will be on display.
Patriots Jet Team for what is sure to be thrilling performances of fast-paced formation flying and choreographed aerobatic maneuvers. On behalf of MCAS Miramar’s Marines and Sailors, we would like to thank San Diego for the unprecedented support. We are honored to share this incredible experience with you and truly hope you enjoy the air show
History of Miramar MCAS Miramar has a long, rich history with the citizens of San Diego. We value this relationship and consider it an honor to serve the citizens of the United States. In 1846 during the Mexican-American War, a detachment of Marines from the USS Cyane landed here to raise the American flag above the Plaza in what’s now called Old Town. Newspaper publisher Edward Scripps moved to San Diego County In 1890. He is credited with naming Miramar, which loosely translated from Spanish means “a view of the sea.” Scripps established a ranch on 2,000 acres in the Miramar area. Scripps Ranch adjoins present-day MCAS Miramar. The Army purchased the Miramar area and created Camp Kearny, named for Gen. Stephen Kearny in 1917. The base cost $4.5 million, and was closed just three years later. Miramar languished for 12 years. In the 1930s, the U.S. Navy put their faith in blimps. When the Navy gave up the airship program, Miramar was quiet once again.
Additionally, we are pleased to welcome back both the Blue Angels and the
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Thank You to My Neighbors
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA - Female Marines perform their duties as air traffic controllers during the Korean War. During the war, women were encouraged to take on more roles in different military occupations than before to free up men for combat. Miramar lay dormant for a few more years until the clouds of war again appeared on the U.S. horizon. New runways were constructed in 1940, and the 1st Marine Air Wing arrived on Dec. 21 of that year. The Navy commissioned Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Camp Kearny in February 1943, specifically to train crews for the Consolidated PB4Y Catalina, which was built less than 10 miles away in San Diego. A month later, the Marines established Marine Corps Air Depot Camp Kearny, later renamed Marine Corps Air Depot Miramar to avoid confusion with the Navy facility. During the 1940s, both the Navy and the Marine Corps occupied Miramar. East Miramar (Camp Elliott) was used to train Marine artillery and armored personnel, while Navy and Marine Corps pilots trained on the western side. The bases were combined and designated Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in 1945. In 1947, the Marines moved to El Toro in Orange County, and Miramar was redesigned as a Naval Auxiliary Air Station. In 1954, the Navy offered NAAS Miramar to San Diego for $1 (the offer was refused). Only the western half of Miramar’s facilities were put to use and the old station literally began to deteriorate, with many buildings sold as scrap.
Joe Ciokon, MCPO, USN (Ret.) Volunteer Public Affairs Officer
10 USS Midway Admission
Just for San Diegans! As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we know San Diego’s support has made Midway’s success possible!
Miramar found new life as a Navy Master Jet Station in the 1950s. The Navy needed a school to train pilots in dog-fighting and in fleet air defense. In 1969 the Top Gun school was established (and immortalized by the 1985 movie of the same name). The Air Show at Miramar began in 1953. With the exception of a cancelled show in the 70’s during the fuel shortages, in October 2001 due to the 911 attack, and again in 2013 due to sequestration, the air show has been an annual Open House event for the local community to showcase our military capabilities to the public. General admission and parking remains free to everyone. In 1993, El Toro and Tustin air stations were closed. The base was once again redesigned as Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Marines began arriving in August 1994, and by 1997 MCAS Miramar was fully operational.
So for a limited time, San Diegans can purchase adult admissions for only $10! That’s a 50% discount!
MCAS Miramar now serves as home to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, including MAG-11’s fixed-wing F/A-18 and KC-130 Hercules squadrons, MAG-16’s MV22 Osprey tiltrotors and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters. The Marine Air Control Group 38 and the 3rd MAW Band are also located here. With a storied past behind it, MCAS Miramar is looking forward to a bright future as the West Coast’s home to Marine air power.
(619) 544-9600 • www.midway.org
“Thank You, San Diego!”
Tickets available at www.midway.org and at the ticket booth during museum hours. May not be combined with other offers and cannot be resold. Proof of ID with a San Diego zip code required at time of purchase. #202
HOMELAND / October 2014 7
Yoga’s Benefits for Relaxation and PTSD/Trauma Therapy
By Pamela Stokes Eggleston
Yoga has been around for centuries - it is the unity of mind, body and spirit, connecting breath with movement and quieting the mind. Regular yoga practice can alleviate symptoms associated with trauma and sleep deprivation by helping to unwind, release stress, and promote relaxation and overall calmness.
How Yoga Works for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Post-traumatic stress disorder can be described as a persistent condition triggered by a terrifying, traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety. Military and veteran families living with PTSD in the home may have difficulty coping with this condition, but effective treatment and therapy can help manage the symptoms. In the civilian world, first responders such as EMTs, paramedics, police and firefighters also experience PTSD. A vital aspect of PTSD recovery is learning techniques to calm, to rest and to relax. Specifically, yoga helps to balance the nervous system, the network of nerve cells that transmits impulses between parts of the body. Most trauma-sensitive people need some form of movement in the body – body work and/or therapies to regain a sense of safety within their bodies. Yoga practices, including meditation, relaxation, and physical postures can reduce muscle tension, blood pressure, physical symptoms, emotional stress, and improve quality of life. Veterans with PTSD lose their way while their bodies continue to live in an internal environment of the trauma. PSTD causes trauma and memories to be stored in the body; yoga can help heal PTSD by controlling bodily reflexes, regulating emotional and physiological states, focusing on the present moment and using the breath for self-regulation. Correct breathing is critical to yoga as it helps to open us up, and allows us to positively affect our own nervous systems. Yoga is a great therapy for addressing the mind, body, spirit connection.
Yoga2Sleep offers programs to teach veterans and military service members to become still, “be present” and relax 8
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Why Yoga2Sleep Works As the spouse of a wounded warrior with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), I regularly experienced sleep deprivation with my husband. I took Ambien® to get to sleep, but this was only temporary. Once I returned to a regular yoga practice, I returned also to sound and restful sleep – without medication. Yoga2Sleep was created as my passion to help caregivers, military family members and others feel more relaxed, find a renewed sense of calm, and to get a good night’s rest. Nearly one-third of Americans are sleep deprived according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other studies have linked lack of sleep to depression, a weaker immune system, memory and cognition issues, obesity, high blood pressure, and overall fatigue. Also, the lack of sleep is dangerous and costs money: according to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders, the number of automobile accidents due to lack of sleep is higher than those caused by drunk driving. Sleep is very important and yoga has been proven effective as a complementary or alternative treatment in dealing with insomnia and sleep deprivation. Yoga2Sleep offers programs to teach veterans and military service members to become still, “be present” and relax. Through our distinctive yoga series, we use breathing exercises to destress and release tension. I practice yoga every day; this diligence allows me to teach yoga to veterans of all eras and service members, some of whom are dealing with PTSD, TBI and military sexual trauma (MST). I love sharing yoga throughout these communities so they can know the joy, peace and authenticity I achieve and thrive from through my personal practice. Pamela Stokes Eggleston, MBA, RYT is founder and CEO of Yoga2Sleep and a co-founder of Blue Star Families, a nonprofit for military families. Since 2004, she has been a caregiver to her wounded warrior husband. She is a certified and Yoga Alliance registered instructor specializing in yoga for service members and veterans. Find out more at www.pamelastokeseggleston.com and www.yoga2sleep.com, or call 301-910-9340.
A vital aspect of PTSD recovery is learning techniques to calm, to rest and to relax. Specifically, yoga helps to balance the nervous system, the network of nerve cells that transmits impulses between parts of the body.
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Bringing Service to Those Who Served
Mobile initiative ensures veterans receive benefits they’ve earned By Steve Wilson
isabled American Veterans (DAV) specializes in obtaining benefits for veterans, their families and survivors earned through their service and sacrifice with a highly trained team of National Service Officers (NSOs) and Transition Service Officers (TSOs) stationed throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico. But a unique program brings DAV’s free services to veterans who otherwise couldn’t get to a DAV office. “The Mobile Service Office brings DAV to rural areas as well as to veterans who can’t travel long distances,” said DAV National Service Director Jim Marszalek. “We can help veterans and their families with everything from pension and disability claims up to and including accessing earned medical benefits and we do it all from our specially equipped vehicles.” The vehicles, distinctly clad in DAV colors and logo, can be found throughout the year in towns across the nation and at college and university campuses. DAV’s senior leadership said the visits to educational institutions are important to help show that DAV services are available to every veteran, no matter their service era.
to transition out of uniform and back into civilian life,” said DAV National Adjutant and CEO Marc Burgess. “Our experience shows us that most veterans, whether they serve four years or 24 years in the armed forces, aren’t necessarily aware of the full range of benefits they’ve earned through their military service.
“It’s very important we reach the current generation of veterans who are transitioning or are preparing
One veteran positively impacted by a DAV-trained NSO is Julius Marley. While on active duty Marley suffered a knee injury, which required emergency surgery. After he was honorably discharged, the condition worsened as he aged and it began to limit his mobility. Marley said he knew there was supposed to be health care available as his injury occurred while he was serving in the military but he had no idea how to access it.
“I would encourage every veteran, regardless of their age or length of service, to visit one of our NSOs, through a Mobile Service Office or otherwise, and inquire about our free services.”
“We can help veterans and their families with everything from pension and disability claims up to and including accessing earned medical benefits and we do it all from our specially equipped vehicles.” 10
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Then he was referred to a DAV Mobile Service Office and he said that was “where my life took a turn from a despairing outlook to a brighter hope for the future.” Marley said his NSO made him feel like family and he handled the processing of Marley’s claim for earned benefits while keeping Marley routinely informed during the progression. We put our issues into our NSOs’ hands, Marley said.After his experience with the MSO Marley and his spouse joined DAV and the DAV Auxiliary and hold positions in their local chapter. This year, DAV’s MSO program has made 552 stops across the nation. www.homelandmagazine.comm
Special thanks to www.sandiego.org
DISCOVER san diego
This months featured spotlight – North County Inland
San Diego’s North County Inland San Diego’s North County Inland is a vast, expansive region known for its rustic beauty, diverse terrain and miles of open spaces. It is comprised of a collection of unique communities, from the lush valleys and mountains of Escondido and Temecula to scenic Rancho Bernardo, nestled between rolling hills amidst golf courses and wineries. Other communities in this region include Miramar, home to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Fallbrook (home of the Avocado Festival) and Palomar Mountain which features the Palomar Observatory, operated by the California Institute of Technology. San Diego’s North County Inland is an exceptional place to spend time outdoors in San Diego. Hike or bike up Palomar Mountain, stay at a luxury resort or one of the many family friendly hotels, and golf at over 40 courses carved out of the natural landscape. Spend an afternoon at one of the local wineries or on a craft beer tour at one of the many local breweries in the area. And no trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where you can venture to Africa and Asia without having to leave Southern California.
What to Love • Tram rides at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. • Spending a weekend wine tasting at the great wineries in the area. •
North County’s inland region provides easy access to the best of Southern California. Halfway between downtown San Diego and Anaheim, North County is an easy freeway drive to the gorgeous beaches of North County Coastal, the museums of Balboa Park, Downtown San Diego, where the nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter awaits and a day trip to Disneyland. Dining is a treat in North County, and options range from the elegant to more casual experiences. As a region with strong agricultural roots, many of the chefs have also forged strong bonds with area farmers and infuse their cuisine with local, seasonal and farm fresh ingredients. Book a trip now and begin to discover the rustic beauty of San Diego’s North County Inland!
Family friendly Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park - entrance is free and the kids can get up close to dozens of brilliant peacocks. • Hiking at Palomar Mountain and through Cleveland National Forest. • Sampling craft beer at local breweries in North County.
What to Know • North County Inland is a quick 30-40 minute drive from Downtown San Diego. • North County Inland is a large region, a car is highly recommended. • It can be very warm during the summer so drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen. • The area features several Las Vegas style Indian gaming casinos and the legal gambling age at most is 18.
HOMELAND // October October 2014 2014 11 11 HOMELAND
An Unconventional Way to Get Vet Benefits By Rick Rogers Special for Homeland Magazine
eterans call or email weekly seeking help capturing benefits. Invariably their compensation claims are snagged in protracted claims snafus.
Like the Korean War veteran from Vista who lost his leg during fighting in 1951 only to discover his records declared his amputation had nothing to do with his combat service. These veterans are frustrated. They spend months, often years and sometimes many years, working through formal channels to no avail. What to do? Cast a wide net When I need one nugget of information, I call five people to get it. Vets should do the same. The more people pulling on the informational oars for you, the more likely you’ll get some place. Local advocates from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion -- and others at state and county agencies -- are plentiful and their contacts are available on the web or through libraries. Look them up. Call them. Several of them. Often. If you don’t put elbow grease into fact gathering, maybe you don’t deserve what you want. Be understandingly … at first I call it the Ivory soap theory: The idea that the percentage of government servants doing their level best is 99.44 percent. It’s a given that everyone has infinite work and finite time. It’s doubly true at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Your case is important to you, but hundreds if not thousands of similar cases swamp VA caseworkers. Your problem wasn’t created over night and you shouldn’t expect it to be resolved in a snap. If you start out respectful and understanding, then you can shift styles later. You can’t really perambulate the other way. When you speak to VA representatives, profusely thank each contact along the way and document every thing like a Philadelphia lawyer. Gentle Persuasion The bottom line is that government staffing issues shouldn’t be your problem. If after 90 days of calling and writing and providing information, there is no resolution in sight, it’s time to change tactics. It is a cosmic truth that the squeaky wheel gets the grease -- or the compensation. Start calling your elected leaders. You are paying their salaries; it’s their job to serve you. Here’s how this might work for someone like the Vista Korean War vet, whose congressman was Rep. Darrell Issa. Call Issa’s office and ask for the congressional liaison person – usually someone very young and very sharp – who handles veterans’ issues. Lay out the issue. Reduce your story to writing and send it to them, preferably by email with all attachments or even fax it.
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Also send an email to the liaison’s immediate boss and Issa himself. Next ask for a response from at least two of the three. That way you know they have it and, more importantly, they know you have it. Save this information. You might also casually – not threateningly -- mention that you’ve been advised to take your story to the press for results. Consider me doing the advising here so it’s not a lie. Few things focus elected leaders and bureaucrats like fear of embarrassment. Now wait about a month to see what happens. If nothing is happening … Getting Tough People who dismiss miracles have never witnessed the occasional acts of white magic by the press. If all else fails, call reporters at newspapers and TV stations to see whom bites. Again, cast a wide net. With the documentation you’ve saved from your efforts with the VA and your local congressman, you might have a pretty convincing case that you’re being ignored. Your chances of hooking a reporter increase greatly if you find others in the same boat. Reporters thirst for stories of consequence, i.e. happening to more people than just you. If you can prove you’re not alone in being ignored, you’ve possibly uncovered a systemic problem of the government doubledealing our sick and heroic veterans. Can you see the headline? So can politicians and VA officials. If you talk to a reporter, don’t ramble. Get to the point, minus the complex historical precedent. That can be filled in later. And try to sound reasonable. Veterans undermine their credibility when they start spouting conspiracy theories. Nothing works 100 percent, but this plan offers veterans at fighting chance. Good luck. Thank you for your time, and thank you for your service. Rick Rogers is a longtime reporter. He can be reached at Rick.W.Rogers@gmail.com.
Welcome to Military Auto Center ~ Where Everyday is Military Appreciation Day!
Serving All Americans
9323 Activity Rd. San Diego CA 92126
Our Mission.... Is to provide a transparent auto buying experience to Veterans, Active Duty, their Family and Friends. We do our best to locate vehicles with the lowest pricing available on used & new cars. We provide no-hassle sales negotiations and finance consulting, plus a variety of other services to help make your car shopping an easy, pleasurable experience.
Visit us at our NEW 30,000sq.ft. Warehouse just one block off the base or on MCAS Miramar Air Base Across the street from Mc Donald’s! Be sure to visit our virtual showroom of inventory available for purchase. There you will see detailed information about each vehicle, a picture gallery, as well as convenient ways to contact us for more information about that vehicle.
COME SEE US IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A VEHICLE AND IF IT IS NOT IN OUR INVENTORY WE WILL DO OUR BEST TO LOCATE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. POOR CREDIT ~ ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY ONLY.. ~ GIVE US A CALL.. WE CAN HELP EVEN IF YOUR CREDIT SCORE IS BELOW 500 ~ ONLY $500 DOWN ~ CALL US TODAY!!!! (Active Duty only.... Rates from 8.99% to no more than 19.49%)
“America’s Warriors should NOT have to fight for a great deal.”
www.militaryautocenter.com On base (NO FEDERAL ENDORSEMENT IMPLIED)
HOMELAND / October 2014 13
San Diego’s Natural Wonder: By Linda Kreter Special to Homeland Magazine
“The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” –Jacques Cousteau
The ocean is near to us, the fortunate residents and visitors of San Diego, and few take it for granted. Since the beginning of time, water has been a constant, critical element to survival – but also to dream, be still, and restore. Even the salinity of the ocean is healing and calming, and many healing and spiritual rites center upon water. As we enter autumn, the air invigorates, and yet we still seek the sea, each season of the year. Those who visit our beaches or drive up our coastal highways understand one of the many reasons we live here.
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Most people are drawn to oceans, rivers, and beaches, and science supports this premise. Creativity may flow easier when attuned to the sound of the waves, and the constancy of the rhythm. Mindfulness is becoming a part of many medical disciplines and the sea (or even small rock garden fountains) is used to provide a focus or center to quiet and soothe. Brains gently engaged but relaxed bring health benefits including relief of mild anxiety, lowering stress, and even better sleep quality. Is it any wonder that one of the most common forms of “white noise” is that of the ocean?
The sea may also make us kinder. With quiet reflection upon the waves and water, the annoyances of our life seem to diminish. We become more compassionate and calm listening to the sea, where the sounds are serene or powerful depending on the wind. Most of all, we become aware of how small we are compared to the ocean, and for many, a spiritual element is strengthened.
In today’s busy (and noisy) world, making the time to breathe in the ocean breezes, splash your feet at the water’s edge, or watch a sunset can be a small respite that is there if you seek it. Carve out a pocket of time to enjoy our beautiful San Diego beaches…
Photo By Michael Matti Photography
HOMELAND / October 2014 15
overcoming hau Turning Adversity into Advantage – Post-Traumatic Growth
Post-traumatic growth does not undo the negative effects of the trauma, but uses elements of it to help the person grow in new directions and take on unique opportunities that they didn’t have before the trauma
hen you hear the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s not surprising your thoughts could turn to the negative – tragic events, suffering, physical and invisible injuries, and people struggling to recover from trauma. Millions of Americans are dealing with traumatic memories of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Boston Marathon bombing, shootings at schools and movie theaters in various communities, the devastation of natural disasters, and the tragedies of war. In the Wounded Warrior Project 2014 Annual Alumni Survey, 65.2% of the more than 21,000 respondents said they still experience nightmares about a traumatic military experience. While we have to face PTSD and acknowledge the events that cause those victims to struggle, what about the rest of the story? What happens after
HOMELAND / October 2014
two, five or ten years? While time doesn’t magically heal all wounds, it does provide a continuum on which the injured can craft their own personal reaction and response to the circumstances they endured. While the media tend to portray people with PTSD in a more negative light, we frequently see the opposite – positive steps after trauma and a desire to help others. The term “post-traumatic growth” was coined by psychology professor Dr. Richard Tedeschi in 1995. In post-traumatic growth, a subject who has experienced a highly stressful or traumatic event can not only return to a baseline point of recovery, but actually go beyond where they were prior to experiencing the trauma. As they recover, they not only reach and accept their “new normal,” but use their experiences to stretch their personal growth and achieve even greater goals. www.homelandmagazine.comm
unting memories Post-traumatic growth does not undo the negative effects of the trauma, but uses elements of it to help the person grow in new directions and take on unique opportunities that they didn’t have before the trauma. The most difficult experiences impact nearly every aspect of a person’s life. After the event their personal relationships can often advance to a new level of caring and trust. A sense of appreciation and emotional availability can be enhanced. While the trauma is life-changing, a positive approach can reveal new passions and create new connections and activities that generate more meaningful work and volunteerism.
Through new paths, those who survived trauma can now help others who have been through similar situations. During a Wounded Warrior Project Resiliency trip, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brian Kolfage, who suffered three amputations, met two soldiers who had each sacrificed a leg two days earlier. They had just arrived in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center from downrange and were each wondering how they will function without the use of their leg. It wasn’t long before you could hear the healing sounds of laughter as they learned about how Brian’s prosthetic limbs work. He talked about how he swims, bikes, surfs, attends college and even walked down the aisle when he married his beautiful bride. Brian’s personal trauma is now the foundation for a positive new way of thinking for these two soldiers -- a generous gift from someone who survived unbelievable trauma. Wounded Warrior Project programs work on the premise of post traumatic growth. We strive to empower warriors with high-touch methods of support and by giving them tools to get themselves to a better place. Each warrior is at a different place on their path to recovery. Many are in our Combat Stress Recovery Programs, including Project Odyssey and Continued Care, establishing and working toward their goals with the help of our mental health professionals and their fellow warriors. Each year we survey the injured veterans we serve to make sure our 20 programs and services align with the needs of this generation of warriors. More than 80 percent of participants in our Project Odyssey outdoor rehabilitative
program report that they learned new PTSD coping skills they will take home and put into action in their daily life. The post-traumatic growth continues with 90 percent of warriors reporting that as a result of their Project Odyssey experience they will continue to seek out mental health support. More than 75 percent of warriors participating in the Continued Care program have achieved their goals in areas such as stress reduction, anger management, reducing isolation, and improved relationships. Our survey also reveals warriors believe talking to another veteran of this generation (peer support) is one of their most effective coping mechanisms. While this concept is woven into all our programs, we have a Peer Support program that specifically trains warriors to provide emotional support, coaching and camaraderie. When you hear the expression PTSD, understand that it doesn’t have to mean something negative. Good things can come out of bad situations. Instead of focusing on tragedy, think of recovery. Think of growth.
HOMELAND / October 2014 17
HOUSING / REAL ESTATE
Avoid My $120,000 VA Home Buying Mistake “I Know One Thing: That I Know Nothing” ~ Socrates
20 years ago I had an experience I now refer to as my six figure home buying mistake. I was an E-5 in the navy, five years into my career, and in the perfect position to buy a condo. During house hunting leave I found an agent who helped me get into contract on a new condo that would be mine in two months when I transferred. Everything was perfect. Everything except that the condo was not VA approved. Both my agent and lender believed they could help me with my VA, but neither knew this most basic detail, that condos must be VA approved.
contacted the HOA who also stated that the complex is NOT VA approved. I also found an active listing that states that the complex is NOT VA approved. My underwriter does not agree with this guy and I wanted to get your expert opinion about it. Ten minutes after receiving this email, I sent the VA condo approval to her even though she could not find it (she considers herself an experienced lender in VA) and the listing agent and the HOA all - wrongly - insisted the condo was NOT VA approved. Unfortunately, as I read through the email chain, I could see she had already told her Veteran clients that the condo was NOT approved and that they would have to find another place. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”~Albert Einstein How is it that twenty years after my own missed opportunity, Veterans are still getting poor service on VA? The reality is, you have a very slim chance of finding a real estate agent or lender who knows what they should know to have you as a client. This may sound harsh but the proof is in the numbers.
When did I get the bad news? The day I was supposed to sign the final paperwork and get my keys. As I sat down to sign the loan documents, I realized the payment was higher, it was not a VA loan, and they wanted more money to close the deal. At 24 years old, strong and independent, I was reduced to tears, realizing I could not afford this payment and walked away. There simply was not enough time to begin the house hunting process all over again so I found a rental and focused on my new job. Oh, and I bought a new Camaro. To this day, when I see one of those cars on the road, it still makes me cringe.
California is home to the most active duty and prior military Veterans of any state and yet as of 2013, our beautiful state ranks 35th in the percentage of Veterans using their VA. As an example, North Carolina has 776, 683 Veterans and 119,957 active VA loans. In comparison, California has 1,942,775 Veterans and only 116,860 active VA loans. So in a state where we have over one million more Veterans, there are less active VA loans. Those numbers and many others on the list leave me disturbed. Remember, we are 35th! There are two reasons why this has happened in the past and even worse, is still common today.
Today, that condo I did not purchase is worth $120,000 more than its 1994 price tag! Now that I am in the industry, I am aware of the level of negligence by my agent and lender which is why I am sharing this information with you. I have learned that the entire situation was completely avoidable.
How Your VA Loan Went Wrong – Unintentional Consequences
History Repeats Itself: It’s Still Happening to Veterans Today As if my own personal story is not bad enough, I received an email this week from a fellow lender here in San Diego that brought my own loss back to me. Here is what it said. I’m working with some buyers who have an agent that seems to think that he knows everything that there is to know about VA financing. He has identified a condo for the buyers that is in a complex that is NOT currently on the VA list, but he insists otherwise. He sent me a 14 year old listing that states that they used VA financing. He also is insisting that VA certs are good for life. I
HOMELAND / October 2014
So why are most agents and lenders you meet poorly trained on VA? It’s because the Department of Veterans Affairs “the VA” sets the rules on VA but does not actually lend money to Veterans to buy a home. When the VA wrote the VA Lender’s Handbook, they kept the over 600 pages of guidelines as vague as possible to make sure the greatest number of Veterans could use their VA. On one hand, this is great news but at the same time, it causes problems for lenders. For example, the VA gives a description of what to look for with credit history and never states a specific credit score for lenders to use. So if you ever ask someone what credit score you need to buy a home with VA, the answer you receive is based on one specific lender’s rules, not what the VA itself may require. The lender could be a bank, your favorite credit union, or a local broker.
When lenders, like Wells Fargo, NFCU, or Military Home Loans, get the VA Lender’s Handbook, each individual lending company must add additional guidelines called “overlays”. Why? Because this guarantees they treat all of their clients with fairness and consistency. Basically, each lender first looks at the guidelines or rules provided by the VA in all categories like credit and termite repairs. Next, they take the vague guidelines and make them more specific. So the first problem, every lender you speak to about your VA will give you a different answer to your VA questions. And I promise you, unless they know their overlays for VA, they will insist that the information they provide you is the absolute truth. In the end, the unintentional consequences of pro home ownership guidelines is that a Veteran often gets three different answers to the same question from lenders who either do not know the VA process (such as knowing how to properly search condos like in our example above) or do not know what their overlays are.
The VA Myth Epidemic In next month’s issue, we will reveal the top 10 VA Myths and Misinformation that are plaguing the real estate market and keeping Veterans from using their VA. If you would like a copy today, then email me at: Karen@Mil-Loans. com.
Why It Matters As the President of the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS®, Leslie Kilpatrick so beautifully articulated in her installation speech aboard the USS Midway, “If a soldier, sailor, marine or airman does not get a home because the seller has a better offer, that is a business reality. Should they not get that home because their REALTOR® or lender does not understand how to help them use their VA benefit, that is a tragedy.” Well said Leslie, I couldn’t agree more!
The second problem is that real estate agents rely on their lenders for answers to their VA questions. So guess what they get? If you guessed lots of different answers and ultimately confusion, you are correct! The best analogy I can give you is this; imagine for a minute that as you finished bootcamp, that instead of going to your school, you were simply dropped off at your new duty station and told to “figure things out”. This is how lenders and agents are trained. We take a three hour exam and then we are “licensed” and in the states mind, fully ready to serve you. If we only have each other to learn from, the same misinformation gets passed down from person to person and leads to what I refer to as, the “VA Myth Epidemic”.
Contributed by Karen Bates, CPA Proud Navy Veteran and Co-Founder of Military Home Loans (619) 422-5900 or email: Karen@Mil-Loans.com
HOMELAND / October 2014 19
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Student Veterans of America:
Support to Succeed
Boscamp Family Photo By Tom Boscamp It was 2012, and my wife and I, recent transplants from Arizona, were walking around our new Southern California community. Our faithful canine companion Salty needed a walk, and I was happy for the chance to explore. I was unemployed and eager for new opportunities, having been recently laid off from my last job in Prescott, Strolling down Euclid Avenue, we came upon Coastline Community College. “This would be a nice place to go to school,” I thought, “if only I could afford it.” I had separated from military service in 1985, and did not have GI Bill benefits.
I gave up my Computer Science degree pursuit in 1998, after struggling for a decade in college classes where I felt unequipped and unsupported. Our good-natured lab had always brought me luck, and this encounter with my unfulfilled dream was no exception. When we returned home, I logged into my computer and saw an email from the VA. VRAP (Veterans Retraining Assistance Program), the VA announced, offered a year of education benefits to unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 (that’s me!) Reading this email brought to mind the Veterans
Resource Center at Coastline College in Fountain Valley, and that seemed as good a place to start as any. The next day, I nervously walked into the VRC, not knowing where to start or who could help me. However, within an hour, I had completed the initial paperwork, applied online to the college, and even met with a counselor who understood the needs of vets. My nervousness returned the first day of class. Remembering my college experience in the ‘90s with no clear lines of communication or chains of command, and fellow students with undisciplined attitudes, I settled in for more of the same.
Continued on page 27
HOMELAND / October 2014
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The U.S. is at war again, only this time it’s different; Really? By Donald Kirk
WASHINGTON — The eyes of the world are upon the new U.S. war in Syria and Iraq, and that’s not just because people want to know how or whether aerial bombardments and missile strikes are really knocking out the bad guys. One question is whether such hightech attacks from the air can suffice to defeat an implacable enemy. Look at the images shown on television by the top brass at the Pentagon, and you get the impression of an omnipotent force annihilating a fanatic foe without the need for really going in there and killing them on the ground. Wait a second, though. Didn’t we seem pretty all-powerful in Vietnam when the military people staged those daily briefings in Saigon known as ”the five o’clock follies”? I can’t begin to recall how many briefings I attended, how high was the hype and how disappointing the results in the end.
highest moment of optimism when President Nixon ordered U.S. forces to cross the border into Cambodia and hit the enemy in their headquarters, the Central Office of South Vietnam, a few kilometers over the line. I flew into Cambodia on a U.S. army helicopter the first day, returned to a base camp in South Vietnam to file for the Washington Star, then crossed the border again atop a U.S. army armored personnel carrier the next day. That evening I filed from Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. U.S. power never seemed so formidable – except that it wasn’t. Nixon limited the operation in terms of time, 60 days, and distance, 30 kilometers or so, and of course the North Vietnamese returned to their old camps as soon as the Americans withdrew.
This time around, the story is different. Obama swears “no boots on the ground,” we’ll do it all with those precision strikes by planes and missiles that are far more advanced, in terms of avionics, targeting, all that, than were the most sophisticated fighter planes introduced in Vietnam. We’ve seen the images released by the Pentagon showing how exactly U.S. U.S. bombs Cambodia for the first time, Mar 18, 1969. missiles and bombs The U.S. war in Vietnam, Cambodia are striking facilities operated by the and Laos probably reached its dreaded Islamic State of Iraq and
HOMELAND / October 2014
The F-22 Raptor Bloodies Its Talons In First Attack Over Syria Levant (ISIL) in their bases inside Syria. But where is this war going? Will we still be seeing the same familiar images six months or a year or six years from now? Will this coalition of middle eastern powers prove all that effective or durable against ISIS fanatics skilled at drawing diehard killers from throughout the Arab world — and also from Arab communities in Europe, North America and Australia? That question is just as vital as is the show of technological might
the U.S. is putting on for the benefit not just of Arab terrorists but also for those who might contemplate stepping across a constantly shifting red line suggested by American policy-makers from eastern Europe, notably Ukraine, to the Korean Peninsula. You may be sure that some smart military people in Pyongyang — beneath the level of the sycophants that troop around with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on his visits to military bases — are analyzing every clue they have of the accuracy and effectiveness of the U.S. strikes. www.homelandmagazine.comm
The fact that President Obama ordered the onslaught on the eve of his visit to United Nations this week shows his desire not just to impress the world by his determination to destroy ISIL and its terrorist affiliates. The lesson extends to the need to demonstrate the ability of U.S. military power to wipe out threats from Korea to the periphery of China as the Chinese threaten Japan’s hold on the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and stake their claim to the South China Sea as well. But hold on. The U.S. may not be all that determined. The war on
ISIL is running smack into demands from Congress for a vote on the whole thing — a showdown in which quarreling factions debate on whether to limit the U.S. attacks in terms of scope and time, whether to ban the use of U.S. ground forces, and whether to finance a campaign that’s bound to be extremely costly. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, summarized the issue in a talk that I attended at the Center for American Progress. “We can’t ask people to sacrifice their lives if we’re not willing to make decisions,” he declaimed. His solution: “a
narrow authorization that basically supports the president’s policies” — with a one-year limit to the war and a ban on ground troops. Sounds good, but who believes ISIL, Al Qaida and who knows what other groups will simply give up in the prescribed time period? We don’t have to go back to the Vietnam War to be aware that the bad guys will hang on, bide their time, wait for the time limit to expire – and go right on spreading terror as before.
Columnist Donald Kirk has been covering war and peace in Asia for decades. He’s at email@example.com
HOMELAND / October 2014 25
Healing Wounded Warriors on Horseback: The Cornerstone Story
By Sandra Yacura Special to Homeland Magazine
any of our servicemen and women return from war with deep emotional wounds or traumatic physical injury. Cornerstone Therapeutic Riding Center has discovered that one of the best ways to help heal these injuries is through horseback riding therapy. Located in Ramona, in the eastern part of San Diego County, Cornerstone’s “Operation Saddle Up” helps wounded warriors suffering from physical and emotional injuries. This program was the first horseback riding therapy program in San Diego to offer services tailored to combat injured soldiers returning from war.
“I felt as though I had lost my humanity, and the horses have allowed me to regain my faith in people.” – U.S. Navy Captain “In all of the therapy programs we participate in, this is the place I really want to be.” – U.S. Marine
“Some of our wounded warriors return home with PTSD that’s so bad that they are non-verbal, robotic and unable to interact,” explained Judy Beckett, executive director and founder of Cornerstone Therapeutic Riding Center. “Even after only one session with the horses, the difference is amazing.” One hospital corpsman told Cornerstone, “I honestly would not have believed it, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. This young man has talked more today than he has cumulatively within the last two months. This is the first time that I have ever seen him laugh or smile.” San Diego is home to over 30,000 wounded warriors -- the largest wounded warrior population in the United States. This sheer volume is why programs like Cornerstone’s are needed so badly. Cornerstone’s peaceful and beautiful surroundings, far from city noise and traffic, aid in the healing process and offer a rich and quiet contrast to the chaos and explosions of war.
“This is not just a fun getaway for our wounded warriors,” added Beckett. “Our team worked extensively with doctors, physical and occupational therapists, mental health experts, recreational therapists and master certified therapeutic riding instructors, to define and address the unique needs of wounded warriors.”
HOMELAND / October 2014
Cornerstone has proudly served hundreds of wounded warriors since beginning “Operation Saddle Up” in 2008. Cornerstone received a Congressional Award for its work with wounded warriors.
“Traditional rehabilitation environments can be stressful, painful and - let’s be honest - boring,” explained Beckett. “With Operation Saddle Up, our wounded warriors have a physical activity that is so fun that they forget that they are healing. It’s a challenging and exciting sport that offers independence, personal success, a sense of accomplishment and freedom.” “This is because,” added Beckett with a smile, “Horses can sometimes be more healing than humans.” Cornerstone receives no government funding, and is a 501(c)(3) charity dependent on donations. For more information on Cornerstone’s Operation Saddle Up program, visit www.cornerstonetrc.org or call Judy Beckett at 760-788- 2872.
Continued from page 22
Student Veterans of America:
Support to Succeed
I quickly identified other veterans on the campus. They were the ones that addressed me as â€œsirâ€? and demonstrated a quiet maturity. My age was not an issue as I made the adjustments to student life. In fact, I found that my age and veteran status became an advantage. My opinions were respected and my input was sought. I became a part of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter on campus, a student veteran organization founded and driven by a group of honest, hard-working veteran peers. As an Army veteran, my military training granted me the unique skills and knowledge to help support my brothers and sisters transitioning to civilian life, and SVA provided the opportunity. Established in 2008, Student Veterans of America is a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded by a cohort of dedicated student veterans tired of the minimal funding available through the Montgomery GI Bill offered at the time, and the lack of supports from our government and educaBoscamp Enlistment Photo tional institutions. With persistent lobbying, SVA successfully saw the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits package, financially enabling a new generation of veterans from the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan to make a college education into reality.
â€œHaving the support of the veterans in my chapter and around campus that were facing thesame hardships made all of the difference in my transition to college life.â€?
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Their work then turned to fostering on-the-ground supports for student veterans, embodied in what are now over 1,100 campus-based chapters across the country. These chapters run on the steam of camaraderie, peer-driven supports, and resources suited to the challenges that define the student veteran experience. Solid funding is only half of the transition equation; the rest lies with common experience communicated through friendly nods, firm handshakes, and heartfelt exchange. Having the support of the veterans in my chapter and around campus that were facing the same hardships made all of the difference in my transition to college life. Fast-forward nearly two years. I am now President of the Coastline SVA, a second-term representative of the Associated Student Government, and will soon graduate with honors. Veteran members of our SVA chapter are forging bonds that will continue long after we have earned diplomas. I often think how different it might have been had I not found a military-friendly college, and brothers and sisters through my SVA chapter. Salty passed away recently, but I still credit her for setting me on the path to personal success. With all that is now at their disposal, I am confident that todayâ€™s transitioning veterans are capable of accomplishing some pretty great things.
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HOMELAND / October 2014 27
Halloween History & Origin Halloween is the one of the oldest holidays still celebrated today. Itâ€™s one of the most popular holidays, second only to Christmas. While millions of people celebrate Halloween without knowing its origins and myths, the history and facts of Halloween make the holiday more fascinating. Some people view Halloween as a time for fun, putting on costumes, trick-or-treating, and having theme parties. Others view it as a time of superstitions, ghosts, goblins and evil spirits that should be avoided at all costs. As the Christian debate goes on, celebrating Halloween is a preference that is not always viewed as participating in an evil holiday. Halloween is often celebrated with no reference to pagan rituals or the occult.
Did you know? - The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta. - Halloween takes place on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday, honoring the dead. Halloween was called All Hallows Eve and dates back over 2000 years
- Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.
DID YOU KNOW? 28
HOMELAND / October September 2014 2014
- Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
- There really are so-called vampire bats, but theyâ€™re not from Transylvania. They live in Central and South America and feed on the blood of cattle, horses and birds.
- Jack Oâ€™ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.
- Black cats were once believed to protect the powers of Witches. - The next Halloween full moon will be on October 31, 2020. - Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death. - Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first. - Worldwide, bats are vital natural enemies of night-flying insects.
HOMELAND HOMELAND / September / October 2014 2014 29 29
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Real stories from real heroes; service members, veterans, the wounded and the families that keep it together.