Resources Support Inspiration
Vol. 4 Number 8 â€˘ August 2017
Dog Days of Summer
Tribute to Service Dogs Veteran Recipient Attributes Successful Rehabilitation to Rescue Dog Blaze of Glory comes to the aid of U.S. Army & Coast Guard Veteran
Assistance dog helps combat-injured veteran reclaim independence
Backpacking with the Sierra Clubâ€™s Military Outdoors Careers in Law Enforcement Navigating VA Disability Benefits Application Process
Veteran Service Dog www.cci.org
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Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller Contributing Writers CJ Machado Vicki Garcia Wounded Warrior Project Vesta Anderson John Roberts R4 Alliance Jenni Riley DAV M. Todd Hunter Steven Wilson Shelter to Soldier Eva M. Stimson Boot Campaign Barry Smith USO Sharon Smith USAA Chad Storlie Operation Homefront Stephen Thomas Women Veterans Alliance Melissa Washington
Greetings and a warm welcome to HOMELAND Magazine!
Cover Photo Canine Companions for Independence®
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.
Public Relations CJ Machado Thomas McBrien
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.
Entertainment Media Bob Dietrich Calvin Goetz
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.
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 are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people. We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of HOMELAND Magazine. With warmest thanks, Mike Miller Publisher Editor-In-Chief 4
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inside this issue 6 Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors 12 VA Disability Benefits Application Process 16 Shelter to Soldier Successful Rehabilitation 22 Dog Days of Summer 24 Helen Woodward Salutes The U.S. Military with four Paw-Some Programs 26 Service Dogs, Facts and Misconceptions 28 Blaze of Glory comes to the aid of U.S. Army & Coast Guard Veteran 30 Firestorm to a Rediscovered Life 32 Home at Last 34 Man’s Best Friend Helping to Heal 36 ENLISTED TO ENTREPRENEUR 38 Creating Your LinkedIn Profile 39 Careers in Law Enforcement 40 The United States Police Canine Association
Service Dog helps combat-injured veteran reclaim independence
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Backpacking from New York City with the Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors By Aaron Leonard
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
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Amine Tourki grew up in Morocco, moving to Brooklyn at age 15 after his father, a longtime member of the Sierra Club, won an immigration lottery at the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca.
Amine’s brief stint with the U.S. Army began in the Summer of 2007, after he left the University of Michigan to accept a position as an Arabic interpreter in Iraq. This would become a life changing experience for Amine, one that he has spent the last decade trying to heal from. In Iraq, Amine was assigned to a US Special Forces unit, working with a Green Beret A-Team during the most violent period of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the four months Amine worked for the Green Berets, he saw the effects of war on the people and the land, experiences that would eventually drive Amine to resign and return to his Brooklyn home. Ten years after returning from Iraq, Amine works as a programmer and Uber driver in New York City. To help firm-up a sense of purpose in his life, Amine joined a local veteran service organization called Mission Continues in Brooklyn, where he volunteers with veterans in his community. While the volunteer projects are deeply rewarding, Amine often felt there was something missing. He’d dreamed of adventure in the wild, read the histories of New York’s parks, and decided it was time to explore the great outdoors.
Taken by Aaron Leonard at Harriman State Park on May 26, 2017. From the back, L to R: Amine, Eric, Gabrielle, Amanda, Susin, Aaron, and Leslie. “At the trailhead into Harriman State Park in Tuxedo, New York.”
Continued on next page www.homelandmagazine.com
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Taken by Aaron Leonard at Shenandoah National Park on April 10, 2017. L to R: Aaron, David, Jordan, Argenis, Amanda, and Zia. “At the trailhead leading to our first campsite at Shenandoah National Park.”
The problem was, other than local parks, he had no confidence in his ability to safely explore outside the city. Amine has never slept outside, has never backpacked, never had to carry everything he needed to survive. As Paulo Coelho so aptly wrote in The Alchemist, “And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” One day Amine got an email from Mission Continues, an open invitation to join the Sierra Club Military Outdoors on an outing called “How to Backpack from New York City: Hoboken to Harriman State Park.” Amine saw his opportunity to explore and signed-on to take his first hesitant steps to get outside. This history of military and veteran engagement dates to its founder, John Muir, who in 1903 guided President Theodore Roosevelt into the Yosemite wilderness, creating Sierra Club’s first “military outing.” The tradition of supporting the military was best illustrated when the Sierra Club’s first full-time executive director, David Brower, responded to the need for an alpine fighting force during WWII. Brower and Club leaders used the mountaineering and skiing skills they developed with the Sierra Club to found and train the 10th Mountain Division - a unit that has distinguished itself from the Dolomites of Italy to the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan.
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Brower himself fought with the 10th Mountain in WWII, earning a Bronze Star for action in Italy. Since its creation in 2006 within the Sierra Club Outdoors, the Military Outdoors program has facilitated outdoor adventures for more than 70,000 veterans and their families. The Sierra Club Military Outdoors was established in 2006 as a volunteer led program, continuing a long tradition within the Sierra Club of supporting the needs of military members. In New York City, the program is led by Aaron Leonard, a retired U.S. Army Officer, and a handful of dedicated volunteers. The mission is simple: to help veterans explore, enjoy, and protect the lands they swore an oath to protect. Aaron began his role as a student veteran coordinator in December 2016, tasked with establishing a Military Outdoors program in the Northeast. With a population of over 220,000 veterans, New York City was clearly the city to begin this project, and hosting weekend outings to nearby state parks was a great way to get veterans involved. In signing up for this June’s backpacking trip, Amine was definitely outside his comfort zone/ As the day approached where he would meet up with the group in Hoboken he nearly dropped from the trip. The packing list alone was intimidating: 40+ degree sleeping bag, no cotton, outer layer, inner layer, all foreign to a man who bravely answered a call to serve in a war zone.
But as Amine was to discover, we can learn a lot about ourselves when we explore the world outside our comfort zones. The Sierra Club’s mission is to help people explore, enjoy, and protect the planet. This work has never been more important. According to a 2001 survey sponsored by the EPA and published in the Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, Americans spend 87 percent of their time indoors and 6 percent in an enclosed vehicle. A survey published by The Nature Conservancy, Connecting America’s Youth to Nature, reports “The key obstacles to youth spending time in nature are lack of access, lack of interest, and feelings of discomfort.” Helping Amine and others like him to enjoy their first-time backpacking is essential. Amanda Gordon, an active Air Force Reservist who recently returned from a six-month deployment to Kuwait, is not unlike Amine. Having spent little time outdoors growing up, Amanda was looking for a way to re-connect with herself and her life away from the Air Force. A chance invite through her mother’s coworker lead her to join the Sierra Club Military Outdoors on an earlier backpacking trip to the Shenandoah Valley in April 2017, where she spent a week with Aaron, three other veterans, and Sierra Club volunteer Zia Onorato, a Social Worker in Connecticut and her mom’s friend from work. Amanda had returned from her deployment feeling anger and bitterness. When Amanda shared her story, she said “I was angry about my experience, or lack of experience, and was relieved to get out of Kuwait. I was ready to get on with my civilian life.” Amanda knew that she wanted to go back to college and study journalism. She also knew that she would need to make a transition from her military life while returning to a civilian life that felt foreign. She was looking for a life that held a sense of purpose. Helping veterans like Amanda transition from a military lifestyle to a healthy and purposeful civilian lifestyle isn’t just an elevator pitch, it accurately describes the work being done by the Military Outdoors’ network of volunteer leaders. After returning from her trip, Amanda said “I never considered getting outdoors or camping, but going to Shenandoah with the other veterans was awesome.” She enjoyed being on a team again, but without the hierarchy and issues that were ever present during her deployment. Much like Amine, Amanda was outside her comfort zone on day one of her first Military Outdoors trip. But once in the backcountry of Shenandoah, Amanda had an experience that stuck with her. “We got far enough away to see no distractions, hear no cars or city noise, just you and nature.” When asked if there was one place she wanted to explore, she said “I want to see as much as I can.” www.homelandmagazine.com
Recently Amanda joined Amine, Aaron and five other New Yorkers for the first in a series of Sierra Club Military Outdoors outings aptly titled “How to Backpack from New York City: Hoboken to Harriman State Park.” There were other veterans on the trip, and a few civilians. Some were members of the Sierra Club, and some had only heard of our Nation’s oldest, largest, and most effective environmental advocacy organization. There was one commonality: everyone was looking for something they felt was missing in their lives. An accessible introduction to getting outdoors. When asked of his experience after the trip, Amine said “A fantastic program, more than going on a day hike. We get to spend more time together, feel more comfortable with the group. A more wholesome way of bonding with people that have been with you in the trenches. As a New Yorker, I heard of these parks (Harriman) but had no idea how to get there or what to do there.” When asked to describe the difference between his time with the Sierra Club Military Outdoors and other veterans’ groups in the city, Amine said “Here you must work within a team, carry food and water, it puts you in touch with nature and a network of people you want to spend time with. There is a difference between having drinks with Veterans on Wall Street and sleeping next to another veteran in the wilderness. Cooking, hiking, making clean water, totally different.” Veterans and family members who wish to go beyond just participating in trips to becoming leaders can join a Sierra Club Sponsored Outings Leader Training program. This training program ensures volunteers are able to plan and lead safe and enjoyable outdoors adventures, and it’s how the Military Outdoors program will continue to have the greatest impact on the veteran community Graduates of their Outings Leader Training go on to plan and safely lead many different types of outings in their communities, all of which help veterans and their families get outdoors. In August 2017, the Military Outdoors program will graduate 40 new volunteer leaders, many from New York City and the Tri-State area. These new volunteers will go on to lead 1000s of veterans and their families on day hikes in Central Park, kayaking trips on the Hudson, overnight backpacking outings in nearby parks, and more. Learn how you can get involved by contacting Aaron Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org. About the author: Aaron Leonard is a combat veteran who retired in 2014 as a Lieutenant Colonel after over 27 years in the U.S. Army. He has been leading wilderness adventures for service members and veterans since 2012 to help veterans both heal from the wounds of war while becoming leaders in the veteran community. He has five adult daughters and lives with his soul mate and Sierra Club volunteer Leslie Hoellger in Mahopac, New York.
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Continued on page 12
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Navigating VA Disability Benefits Application Process By John Roberts
Lisa Willis Veterans with service-connected disabilities are eligible for
veterans’ disability benefits, which include health care and compensation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The application process for eligibility can be daunting. For those coping with visible and invisible injuries, the juggling act can become overwhelming. Balls get dropped, and in this story, the balls are unfortunately the veteran’s physical, mental, and economic wellness. Upon filing her initial claim, Cecilia Burgos, a U.S. Navy wounded warrior from Medford New York, was denied disability benefits by the VA. She immediately filed an appeal in 2014. Fast forward to October 2016: Cecilia was still awaiting a final decision on her appeal, but now she was also facing imminent foreclosure because her medical conditions were affecting her ability to find suitable employment, leaving her without any means to afford her mortgage payment. Cecilia is one of many veterans who struggle with the transition to civilian life. Since 9/11, 2.4 million brave women and men have deployed around the world in support of the Global War on Terrorism. With improvements in medicine and technology, the percentage of those surviving their injuries and returning with service-connected disabilities is staggering. These veterans struggle daily with the aftermath of their physical sacrifices made on the battlefield.
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Joey According to theWillis Department of Housing and Urban Development, 123,000 veterans and their family members have been prevented from becoming homeless. Still, an annual count conducted in January 2016 revealed approximately 40,000 veterans across the country remain homeless. As these nationally reported numbers continue to affect the veteran community, the need becomes evident to help injured veterans make the most of their benefits. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) believes long-term financial and medical support play a critical empowerment role in the recovery process, which is why it created the Benefits Service program. To help injured veterans, their family members, and their caregivers successfully transition to life after injury, the WWP Benefits Service program provides the tools needed to navigate the complexities of the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Working closely with each agency, the Benefits Service team walks injured veterans, family members, and caregivers through every step of the transition process, ensuring claims are filed and processed correctly – the first time. Unlike traditional models of veterans’ services, the WWP Benefits Service program takes a comprehensive approach to the claims process.
WWP staff works individually with injured veterans to understand their unique needs, provide information and education on the claims process, advise them of benefits options, file benefits claims, help to obtain necessary evidence, and stay connected with them through the life cycle of the claim. After two years of living in limbo with an undecided disability benefits claim, Cecilia turned her case management over to the WWP Benefits Service team. In October of 2016, WWP invited Cecilia to attend a WWP Benefits Claims Day at the regional VA office in New York City. “Three weeks from me working my claim with Wounded Warrior Project, I was sitting in front of the VA representative who would be deciding my case,” Cecilia said. “Four hours later, I had their decision.” Cecilia’s approval came with more than $42,000 in retroactive benefits service pay the following day. She used the money to catch up on her mortgage loan and bills. “It feels good to know someone was looking at my claim, and that I wasn’t just a number,” Cecilia said. “I was finally able to pay off my bills – like my student loans – and put some away in investments. But I also took my kids to Disney®.” Cecilia is among more than 90 percent of warriors who have had successful VA claims processed with the help of WWP. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, WWP secured $4 million more in monetary benefits than in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016. Since its inception, more than $200 million in total veterans’ benefits has been secured through the WWP Benefits Service program.
But what can warriors do to help their VA benefits claims? The WWP Benefits Service team ranked its top five tips for warriors filing VA benefits: 1. Know your advocates. National veterans service organizations (VSOs) have skilled advocates who specialize in filing claims to the VA. This information is available during transition assistance programs when exiting active duty as well as any local VA facility. 2. Know which disabilities you can claim. Medical symptoms do not justify a claim. You must have a chronic diagnosed disability to file benefits claims. VSO advocates can help identify what qualifies. 3. Obtain evidence such as service treatment records. Whether you are filing for the first time or for a worsening condition, get the necessary evidence or diagnosis from a VA physician or private provider before submitting a claim. Submitting completed VA Disability Benefits Questionnaires is highly recommended. 4. Attend all VA examinations in a timely manner, and obtain information the VA asks you to submit. Work with your advocate to ensure these items are secured and submitted. Compensation and pension examinations may not always be convenient, but these appointments are vital to substantiating benefits claims. 5. Be vested in your claim. Positive outcomes are directly equivalent to the 50-50 investment between you and your advocate.
About Wounded Warrior Project We Connect, Serve, and Empower The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP connects wounded warriors and their families to valuable resources and one another, serves them through a variety of free programs and services, and empowers them to live life on their own terms. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. WWP is an accredited charity with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), is top rated by Charity Navigator, and holds a GuideStar Platinum rating. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org. (Photos courtesy WWP) www.homelandmagazine.com
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Shelter to Soldier Veteran Recipient Attributes Successful Rehabilitation to Rescue Dog Named “Moose” by Eva M. Stimson and Leo Casiple (US Army Ret.)
Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) is a significant problem
for our men and women in uniform, and its effects last far and beyond the battlefield. One in five veterans retuning from combat tours suffer from PTS. Many of these veterans are so debilitated that they are unable to leave their homes or engage in any meaningful way with society. With the combination of therapy, medications and the companionship of a service dog who does not judge them but rather inspires and requires them to get up and out, veterans experience a new lease on life with a boost in their self-confidence, increased productivity and improved relationships through the sense of security and companionship that their service dog provides. For example, Shelter to Soldier recipient Mr. Leo Casiple (US Army Ret.), who completed 21 years in the United States Army, (more than 13 years of his service as a Green Beret) is a success story born out of the Shelter to Soldier’s mission of transforming and “Saving Lives, Two at a Time”. Leo began in Special Forces as an Engineer and Demolitions Sergeant and as a Linguist. In 2006, he was advanced to the position of Special Forces Operations Sergeant. Leo was medically retired in September 2011. After the 9/11 attacks, Leo deployed on overseas assignments as an advisor for allied nations where he helped countries protect their citizens from aggressors--recovered hostages, captured designated enemies of the United States and responded to terrorist activities abroad. The physical toll resulted in a C3-C4 cervical disc replacement, hip resection surgery, three knee surgeries, three heat strokes, and neuropathic nerve pain from multiple bulging spinal discs. During the medical retirement process, Leo declined a PTS diagnosis from the Army, however, less than two years after medical retirement, he faced multiple costly legal battles and was even hospitalized at an inpatient facility as a direct result of PTS-induced intense rage and impulsiveness. Without an outlet for the mindset that had transgressed into his habitual tendency toward chaos, crises, and adrenaline, Leo became a veteran without a purpose, transforming his energy toward hating himself, and becoming a villain to his family and his community.
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Leo & Moose
“Training with Moose
re-trained me to become more aware of my positivity, to not hold a grudge, and to love---not because I have to-- but because love is my true nature.”
Leo considered his options and submitted an application to Shelter to Soldier requesting a psychiatric service dog. After a comprehensive review of his condition, Leo was approved and paired with a Pit Mix named “Moose”. According to Leo, “For years, I confused anger as a way to show love, and I had forgotten to give my wife and kids positive reinforcement and a healthy dose of praise. I immediately came home from STS training and apologized to my family and vowed to be forward leaning with love. Training with Moose re-trained me to become more aware of my positivity, to not hold a grudge, and to love---not because I have to--- but because love is my true nature.” The circumstances that led Leo to Moose is nothing short of remarkable. In Leo’s own words, “In my view, Moose’s history and my journey are intertwined. On July 28, 2015, Moose was brought in as a stray (dog) into the Bonita Animal Shelter and was adopted on August 2, 2015. Coincidentally, on July 5, 2015, my family and I arrived in San Diego, California with all of our belongings in a rented Penske truck to distance ourselves from a toxic environment in North Carolina. Then on June 6, 2016, ten months after Moose was adopted, he was brought back into the same animal shelter for the second time. Moose’s number at the shelter was A1667247. By the way, I was assigned to my first-ever Special Forces Detachment with number ODA166. In late June 2016 or early July 2016, while awaiting the approval of my Shelter to Soldier application, and without knowledge that Mr. Graham Bloem, Founder of Shelter to Soldier, would later adopt Moose from the same shelter, I visited the Bonita Animal Shelter to sign up as a volunteer. I was told that they had just finished a volunteer orientation class, and was advised to return to the next orientation session. Since I was already at the shelter, I visited all the animals. I vaguely remember seeing a shy, bronze-colored Pit Mix. Fortunately, Graham Bloem adopted Moose on August 10, 2016 and Moose and I were matched shortly thereafter.” During their first meeting, Leo sensed Moose’s quiet confidence and was impressed by Moose’s intuition to try to heal Leo’s injured hip. Leo immediately appreciated Moose’s subtle yet solid personality, elements that Leo lost when he became a disabled veteran. During their first casual walk, (Leo hobbled on crutches, Moose walked) Leo was touched when Moose refused to continue walking uphill until after Leo’s breathing returned to normal. It felt like a team event to Leo. Leo saw Moose as his fourth son, as his brother on an A-Team, as one of his best friends, and as a daily reminder of the goodness within Leo’s heart. Continued on next page
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Leo elaborates, “Shelter to Soldier’s gradual and comprehensive training approach has re-familiarized me with the innate goodness of my soul. For far too long, I had become focused on my pain, anxiety and anger---I no longer knew how to get out of the PTS cyclone and it was taking my family on a downward spiral. “I will be forever grateful to Shelter to Soldier for pairing me with Moose and training us to be life-long companions.” Kyrie’ Bloem, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Shelter to Soldier comments, “We were fortunate to be the recipient of a very generous grant from the Petco Foundation in partnership with Natural Balance last year, which enabled us to adopt Moose, a one-year-old Pit Mix with a spunky but sweet personality, and a very keen desire to help his handler. We first met Moose at the San Diego Department of Animal Services Bonita Shelter and found the perfect fit for him with veteran Leo Casiple. The two have bonded during their handler training experience and their graduation is scheduled for this summer, pairing them for life.”
Leo, Moose and family 18
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Shelter to Soldier is hosting their 5th annual fundraising gala scheduled for September 16, 2017 in La Jolla, CA, sponsored by Griffin Funding and in partnership with Ranch & Coast Magazine and Redfearn & Associates. Exciting plans are in the works for this festive celebration and for those who are interested in supporting or attending the fundraising effort, the organization is now accepting silent and live auction items as well as event sponsorships, as well as offering tables of ten and individual ticket sales. The event includes entertainment by contemporary singer songwriter Kinnie Dye and noteworthy auctioneer Clint Bell. A significant addition to the live auction lineup is a guitar autographed by the legendary musician Jimmy Buffet.
To participate, contact Kyrie’ Bloem at Kyrie@sheltertosoldier.org.
Shelter to Soldier Monthly Giving Campaign Help us “Save Lives, Two at a Time” by starting your monthly contribution today.
You can give your gift at www.sheltertosoldier.org by clicking on the DONATE NOW link and checking the monthly recurring donation option on your donation form. Every day, 3200 dogs are euthanized nationwide, and every day 20 veterans and one active duty military personnel lose their lives to suicide – that’s one life lost every 69 minutes.
Donations large and small make a difference by allowing us to adopt, care for, house, train and place these highly trained companions with veterans in need.
Shelter to Soldier adopts dogs from local shelters and rescue organizations and trains them over the course of 12-18 months to become psychiatric service dogs for post-9/11 combat veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other injuries associated with traumatic service experiences.
Your contribution will help us provide safe housing, medical care, vaccines, supplements, food, bedding, grooming, and training equipment for the service dogs in training while they reside in our training program as well as service dog and graduation materials to each veteran/service dog team when they graduate as a pair.
For as little as $10 a month, you can make a direct impact on these two populations that need our help.
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Make Every Day Independence Day Assistance dog helps combat-injured veteran reclaim independence By cci.org
U.S. Army Sergeant Stefan LeRoy was only five months into his deployment to Afghanistan when his platoon’s blocking position was hit by two improvised explosive devices (IEDs). “As I moved to their position to provide aid, my first thoughts were, ‘I’m going to go help them. I know there are more IEDs, but that’s what you do,’” says Stefan. “You do the right thing.” While carrying one of his injured platoon members to the medevac helicopter, Stefan stepped on another IED. “I lost my legs in Afghanistan while trying to carry others to safety. Now it is their memory, their courage, their sacrifice that carries me forward.”
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During recovery, Stefan had a desire -- even though he didn’t have his legs -- to run, bike and go fast again. “I wanted to see progress,” explains Stefan. While in rehabilitation, Stefan was referred to Canine Companions for Independence. “They told me what a well-trained service dog could help me with. I was most attracted to Canine Companions because their dogs were so well trained and socialized.” After attending a two-week Team Training class to learn how to work alongside an assistance dog, Stefan was matched with Service Dog Knoxville. Canine Companions professional instructors matched the two based on Stefan’s active lifestyle and needs and Knoxville’s temperament and drive to work. Knoxville, a yellow Lab/Golden Retriever, spent 18 months with a volunteer puppy raiser before returning to Canine Companions for 6 months of professional training where he learned tasks that would prove crucial to enhancing independence for someone like Stefan. Knoxville can retrieve items as thin as a credit card, pick up dropped prostheses, turn on and off lights, and open doors. “Today, I use prosthetics and have Canine Companions Service Dog Knoxville (Knox) to help me move forward and go further.” Stefan participates in adaptive sporting and running and Knox is always there on the sidelines ready to help retrieve equipment and provide loving support after a long, hard workout. Stefan’s desire to run and bike hasn’t diminished. With Knox by his side, Stefan participated in the 2016 Invictus Games.
“Canine Companions is there for me anytime I have questions or need support. They are committed to Knox and me, and want us to excel as a working team,” says Stefan. “Knox is an absolutely amazing service dog.” To those who have experienced similar trials, Stefan says, “There is a future down the road. Going through your struggles will make you a better and stronger person.” Thanks in part to Knox, Stefan keeps moving forward. Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a national nonprofit that places highly trained assistance dogs like Knoxville with adults, children and veterans with disabilities entirely free of charge to recipients. The organization has placed over 5,500 assistance dogs, including over 225 with veterans like Stefan. There are numerous ways to get involved with Canine Companions, including applying for an assistance dog. The organization relies on volunteer puppy raisers to help train basic obedience and crucial socialization to Canine Companions puppies—one of many volunteer opportunities. To apply, make a donation, volunteer or learn more about Canine Companions for Independence visit cci.org.
“I’m pretty stable when I’m walking or moving, but bending over is extremely difficult without losing my balance,” explains Stefan. “Knoxville is exactly what I was looking for: a legitimate service dog who was bred and raised to handle everything in stride. He knows over 40 commands to help make life easier. In those situations when I don’t feel comfortable with my disability, Knox is there to make me feel more comfortable.” Knox is there to help Stefan pick up items he drops so he doesn’t fall over. If Stefan is in bed without his prosthetics on, Knoxville will help by turning on or off lights. Knoxville can even bring Stefan’s wheelchair to his bedside by tugging a special strap attached to the wheelchair. “Knox helps with everyday tasks that enable me to be more independent,” says Stefan. Although it takes two years to prepare each assistance dog for a life of service and costs approximately $50,000 to raise, train, place and support each dog, Stefan received Knox free of charge.
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Why is this time of year, approximately forty days from early July to early September, referred to as the ‘Dog Days’ of summer? Many people believe the phrase “dog days of summer” stems from the fact that dogs tend to be a bit on the lazy side during the hottest days of summer. Of course, who can blame them? With that much fur, dogs that exercise during the hot days of summer can overheat easily. We have all heard the myths about Dog Days, most of which focus around our canine friends, which is why the old folks say this time of year is called Dog Days.
The term Dog Days was coined in ancient Rome, and was named after the star Sirius, the Dog Star, which is the brightest star besides the sun. It was thought that due to the rising and setting of Sirius at around the same time of the sun each day this time of year, that Sirius added its heat to the sun’s heat, thereby making the days hotter. Hence the term Dogs Days. Our modern day usage of the term has little to do with Sirius or his alleged wrath. We use the term Dog Days Miracles happen to refer to anything that is slow, lazy or languishing.
every day at PPTRC
Some of the myths are: Hunting dogs will not hunt, dogs go mad and foam at the mouth for no apparent reason, snakes go blind at strike at anything that comes near them, (dogs in particular), no use in going fishing because the fish will not bite, wounds and sores will not heal, if it rains on the first day of Dog Days, it will rain every day for the next 40 days, or the opposite-if it does not rain on the first day of Dog Days then it will not rain for 40 days, and the list of myths goes on. The above-mentioned myths are just that, myths. Handed down from generation to generation, but the real origination of this time of year being dubbed Dog Days, is based on a partial myth also. 22
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I think the best way to appease the wrath of Sirius is to gather up my canine friends and go stagnate on the couch in front of the air-conditioning or hit the beach and enjoy the cool ocean breeze.
Dogs share in every part of our lives from birth to Dogs share in every part of our lives from birth to death. This book brings together, through a collection of paintings, the story of what happens with people and dogs around times of crisis. Here you’ll see furry friends, such as bomb detection dogs, who work to keep us safe, canines who work to rescue us in times of greatest need, and of course those, such as therapy dogs, who work so lovingly to make us whole again. The traits we like to think of as human ideals – patience, tenacity, unconditional love, hard work, kindness and heroism – are found consistently in dogs, perhaps more consistently than in people (I’m biased). And it’s my hope that by seeing these gorgeous creatures through the lens of art, that we can all appreciate them and celebrate them in a new and profound way. – Ron Burns
SIRIUS - “Ron’s original is in the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s permanent collection”
ORDER YOUR COPY AT www.RonBurns.com/book or visit www.ronburns.com
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HELEN WOODWARD ANIMAL CENTER SALUTES THE U.S. MILITARY WITH FOUR PAW-SOME PROGRAMS! Society (NMCRS), ensuring that food cost would not be a factor in keeping these beloved friends by the sides of the soldiers who depended on them. This year, Helen Woodward is proud to report the expansion of the AniMeals program to the deserving men and women at ASPIRE Center, located in Old Town. The ASPIRE Center provides in-patient support of returning soldiers with PTSD and/or physical disabilities. This treatment center houses 40 men and woman with assistance lasting between 4 to 9 months, based upon the clients’ needs to reenter civilian society. The ASPIRE Center recognizes the importance of canine companion relationships and allows service dogs to live at the facility with their owners, but as a VA government run agency with limited resources , the agency was unable to provide the needed pet food. Helen Woodward Animal Center and Blue Buffalo have been honored to step in to sponsor this need.
E4 GSM – Gas Turbine Engine Technician- Mechanical – Kristopher Keith and her dog Blu Diamond.
Helen Woodward founded her Animal Center in 1972
with a dedicated mission of “people helping animal, animals helping people,” and the understanding that heroes can be found in all shapes and sizes. 45 years later, and with an expansion to 12 unique programs, Helen Woodward Animal Center is proud to report that four of these programs assist the heroic men and women of the US Military. The benefits are twofold. The unconditional love of a pet provides years of comfort, laughter, joy and devotion – crucial elements to assist military members and their families whose lives have been dedicated to dangerous careers and necessary bravery. The families, in turn, are lifesavers to orphan pets longing to find their forever homes. Proof of the symbiotic relationship between pets and the military can be seen in Helen Woodward Animal Center’s PET (Pet Encounter Therapy) program. PET serves 60-70 veterans monthly (at the VA Hospital and the Hawthorne Center), utilizing therapeutic animals to help lower blood pressure, even breathing, improve memory and lift the spirits of wounded soldiers. Helen Woodward Animal Center also assists the military through its AniMeals program, thanks to a partnership with the natural pet food company Blue Buffalo.In 2015, the program began providing pet food to wounded military clients with service dogs through the Recovery Care Coordinator Office (RCC) and the Navy Marine Corps Relief 24
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Helen Woodward’s Companion Animal Hospital’s Military Fund also supports our military by offering free services and deep discounts to Active Duty Enlisted Military E-1 to E-7 or Disabled Military and their immediate family members including: One free wellness exam; Free vaccinations; and Free spay and neuter procedures for up to two pets in the household per 12-month period. Additionally, Helen Woodward Animal Center salutes our military twice a year with an “Animals for Armed Forces Adoption Event.” In partnership with Animals for Armed Forces, a non-profit organization dedicated to uniting orphan pets with military heroes, adoption fees are covered for approved military families, while supplies last. Based upon the incredible success of the promotion, Helen Woodward Animal Center runs these special events all four days of Memorial and Veteran’s Day Weekends. “We are so grateful to our military,” stated VP of Development Renee Resko. “The wonderful men and women who serve our country protect the lives of our citizens and by adopting, they save the lives of orphan pets. In return, that pet gives them a lifetime of love, devotion and gratitude.” For more information, please contact: Helen Woodward Animal Center Adoptions Department at: 858-756-4117 ext. 313 visit www.animalcenter.org or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.
people helping animals animals helping people Helen Woodward Animal Center is so much more than an adoption facility. Through our humane education and therapy programs, international awareness campaigns, and local fundraising events we are creating a humane world for both animals and people.
To learn more about how Helen Woodward Animal Center is helping the military, see us featured in the article on page and visit animalcenter.org To donate to these valuable programs, call Renee Resko, 858-756-4117 ext. 347 or email email@example.com.
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Service Dogs, Facts and Misconceptions; One user’s perspective by Michael Hingson
So-called emotional support dogs can work in public places. Such dogs are NOT service animals since they do not receive special training to do their jobs. Instead their owners may be accompanied by dogs for real emotional support, but special legal documentation about the individuals condition and needs must be obtained. Even service animals do not have the right to go anywhere, but rather I and other persons with disabilities have the absolute right to take our service animals with us wherever we go so long as the animals behave. No owner or employee of any place where the public is permitted to go can deny me the right to be accompanied by my guide dog, Africa, under the law. It is not the harness that makes Africa a service animal, but rather the training she has received that gives me the right to use her anywhere. This is important since not all legal service animals wear special equipment. For example, dogs who are trained to assist veterans suffering from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, are legitimate service animals as they are trained to act in certain ways when they perceive a PTSD attack coming on and they are specially trained to work in public. Dogs such as those trained to detect oncoming seizures or insulin issues with persons with diabetes also are legal service animals even though they may wear no special vests, harnesses or other equipment.
What are “service dogs”? Under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Air Carrier Access Act “persons with disabilities” may be accompanied by dogs and sometimes miniature horses who are trained to “mitigate the loss of a major life function such as eye sight, hearing and walking”, to name but a few. The operative concept here is that these animals are specially TRAINED to perform their jobs. They are not utilized to provide comfort nor emotional support. While there are laws that cover these animals, socalled emotional support or comfort animals do not receive special training and do not enjoy the same access as do service dogs and horses.
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I said earlier that I have the right to take my guide dog anywhere. I cannot be denied access for any reason unless the dog’s presence is a danger to the public such as in a hospital operating room. There are no exceptions to my access rights including for allergies. Very few individuals are so allergic to dogs to the extent that their lives are threatened by the presence of a guide dog. If such is the case then they should carry proper and accredited documentation that will stand up to scrutiny. Earlier I said that my dog can accompany me so long as she behaves. Many of us have encountered fake “service animals” purported by their owners to be necessary for comfort and emotional support. Some persons have obtained legitimate documentation that permits them to travel with untrained dogs, but here especially the dogs must be under control and they must not be a nuisance.
Business proprietors and others who encounter any dog that misbehaves have the right to tell the animal’s owner to remove the dog from the premises. All too often business people tolerate a misbehaving dog out of a fear of litigation. Under the law any person owning or operating a store, taxi, rideshare vehicle or any other place or conveyance open to the public has the right to determine if my dog is a true service dog by asking two questions. First, they can ask if I have a disability. Second, they can ask what task my dog is TRAINED to perform. If these questions are not answered in a satisfactory manner then I, or anyone, can be invited to leave. Again, the key here is that our animals are trained. True service dogs know and perform their jobs well. You rarely will see them panic, although it can happen. Even then the user will keep the animal under control. If you want to learn more about guide dogs you can visit my web site, www.michaelhingson.com or you can visit the web site of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, www.nagdu.org.
You can learn more about other service animals by visiting the site of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, www.iaadp.org. You might also like to visit www.vetdogs.org to learn about dogs to assist with PTSD issues. Finally check out the site of Dogs for Diabetics, https://dogs4diabetics. com/. True service dogs have become a natural part of our society. These animals are quite intelligent, loving and they improve the lives of many “persons with disabilities”. Do not fear them, but rather welcome them. Also, do not tolerate misrepresented “service dogs” and feel free to hold us up to the high standards that we expect from our animals. You will find that real service dogs can enrich your life just by being around. Service dog owners might even be willing to let you have your own dog fix, but ask if you can pet, do not assume. We may have reasons not to permit our dogs to interact with the public especially if we are trying to keep our animals focused.
I and other persons with disabilities have the absolute right to take our service animals with us wherever we go so long as the animals behave.
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While her military police career was complete May 31, 2012, she always anticipated continuing her 12-year law enforcement career as a civilian. But when an opportunity came to transition into a stay-at-home mother instead for her two young daughters, she jumped at it. The transition to staying home, however, turned out to be blessing as well as a curse.
BLAZE OF GLORY COMES TO THE AID OF U.S. ARMY & COAST GUARD VETERAN By Barry Smith Boot Campaign
She enjoyed being there for her daughters, but physical and mental challenges she was trying to manage as a military sexual trauma survivor began to take their toll. She became reclusive, gained 60-70 pounds, began heavily smoking cigarettes and self-medicating with alcohol. She also experienced depression, heightened anxiety, panic attacks and even a rare type of stroke - Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome - where the arteries of her brain developed blood vessel spasms leading to constriction. “I was not in a good healthy place to say the least,” recalls the Silver Spring, Md. native and Louisville, Ky. resident. “That wasn’t me.
As far back as the mid-1700s, Dog has been recognized as man’s best friend. Frederick, King of Prussia (1740-86) is widely credited with coining the phrase when he referred to one of his Italian Greyhounds as his “best friend.” According to MilitaryHistoryNow.com, archeologists suspect humans have been using dogs in warfare since the animals were first domesticated more than 15,000 years ago. Nowadays militaries around the globe train dogs as messengers, sentries and trackers, as well as bomb, weapon and drug detectors and enemy attackers.
I’d never experienced anxiety or panic attacks before. I used to play on five different soccer teams at once, playing five or six times a week. I went from being crazy active to not moving much at all.” To try and turn things around, she became involved with the local chapter of Team Red, White and Blue, dedicated to helping veterans connect to their community through physical and social activity. That’s when the dominos started to fall in Karr’s favor. “I was volunteering at a Team Red, White and Blue event where I met my good friend Clay Stretch, who had a service dog through K9s for Warriors,” remembers Karr. “He was telling me about how much his dog saved his life and helped him get out again, and encouraged me to apply to get my own. So that’s what I did.
The military community also recognizes that “man’s best friends” can be invaluable as service dogs, helping many of America’s heroes cope with the gamut of mental and physical disabilities they have suffered while selflessly protecting our freedom.
“I applied and it’s a very thorough process,” she adds, “like a 20-page application, hour and a half phone interview and more interviews on site, all to make sure they partner you with the right dog.”
One organization in particular – K9s For Warriors – provides service canines specifically to veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and/or military sexual trauma (MST) as a result of military service post-September 11.
After the screening process comes the “reveal,” when the K9s staff takes the veteran back to the kennels to be introduced to their dog. A three-week training camp is next to help vets bond with their dog and feel more comfortable in public places. That is how Karr was first united with her black Newfoundland/Labrador retriever mix named Blaze.
It is this Florida-based service dog organization, along with Texas-based military non-profit Boot Campaign, that recently came to the rescue of civilian and military police officer Megan Karr, who completed nearly 10 years of military service in 2012 with a variety of life-numbing physical and emotional issues related to PTSD, TBI and MST. She then transferred to the Coast Guard Reserves and finished her military contract in Sector Southeast New England as Port Security and Maritime Enforcement. 28
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“I’ve had Blaze for just over a year now and it’s a perfect match,” reports Karr. “He helps me in many different ways because he is really calm, really chill. He’s able to alert me when my headaches are of a more serious nature, and when I need to take fast-acting meds. He wakes me from night terrors and helps me with anxiety and PTSD when I’m out in public. In short, it is thanks to Blaze that I feel comfortable enough leaving the house and doing things I hadn’t been able to do in years.” Because of her new-found confidence with Blaze, Karr was willing to venture out of town to
speak publicly on behalf of K9s for Warriors last September. That decision proved to be another fortuitous opportunity for Karr that she never saw coming. “I was invited to speak at a golf tournament in Nashville, Tennessee that was a fundraiser for different veteran organizations,” Karr explains. “One of them was K9s for Warriors, who asked me to bring Blaze and represent them because the person who was scheduled had to cancel. The other organization was Boot Campaign, and that’s when I met Morgan Luttrell.” Luttrell is the U.S. Navy Lieutenant (Ret.) who founded Boot Campaign’s cutting-edge ReBOOT program that is revolutionizing how veterans receive recovery assistance for PTSD and related brain injuries. When Luttrell heard Karr share her story, he immediately recognized she would be a perfect candidate to “ReBOOT.” “I’d never heard of Boot Campaign before, but I knew who Morgan Luttrell was,” says Karr. “Here is this awesome dude, and he pulled me aside at the fundraiser and talked to me about my situation. He encouraged me to apply, and followed up with me right away to make sure I did. “After a few days, he emailed in a recommendation for me and said, ‘I’m going to get you in,’ and he did it,” she continues. “It’s just been life changing from that point on. What he did for me was huge, just amazing!” A few weeks later, Karr was admitted to Boot Campaign’s fully funded ReBOOT program and was off in mid-October to the Center for BrainHealth in Dallas. She spent two weeks getting a complete diagnostic workup of her body and brain under the care of neurologist Dr. John Hart. She then traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., for four more weeks of intense physical testing, training and strict nutrition at Virginia High Performance (VHP) to get her body in the best condition possible. It was this world-class physical and mental wellness program that diagnosed exactly what was causing her such debilitating difficulties, giving her the missing puzzle pieces to help her better understand her situation and how to get back on the road to recovery. “I had many injuries and issues that I’d been living with for over 10 years that went undiagnosed, and through the ReBOOT program I was able to not only get a diagnosis but also learn how to better manage those issues,” reveals Karr. “That answered a lot of questions.” But it didn’t answer all her questions. Women currently represent 17 percent of the U.S. Military but, according to PTSD United, 71 percent of these female military personnel develop PTSD due to sexual assault within the ranks. Those statistics did not go unnoticed by her Center for BrainHealth team. “The neurologist was a little shocked that the stroke I had was PTSD related,” she continues. “But once they discovered I had a TBI from my MST attack, then Dr. Hart was able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. They identified all these things I had never been able to get diagnosed. That’s what Dallas did for me.”
Megan Karr & Blaze In Virginia Beach, Karr’s care was directed by VHP founders and retired Navy SEALS Jeff Nichols and Alex Oliver, who are at the forefront of concussion treatment. Along with her trainer Vernon Griffith, VHP helped her find out how to combat her spinal stenosis and other ailments by designing a physical therapy, diet and exercise regimen specifically for her. They also made sure she was tasked to overcome a challenge before completing the program. “Vernon surprised me a couple of weeks into my training when he said they wanted everyone to have a milestone to reach before they leave, and he figured out what mine was,” reflects Karr. “He said, ‘you’re going to run a 5K.’ I just laughed at him, but he was serious. Between the stretching, strength training and conditioning, he got me ready. “I hadn’t run a 5K in 10 years, and I never imagined I’d be able to run one non-stop with only a few weeks of training,” she adds, “but I was able to run the whole thing. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t comfortable, but I never stopped running. “The 5K host organization Girls On The Run also allowed Blaze to run it with me,” she smiles. “They thought it was really cool to have a service dog run it, and they gave Blaze a medal, too!” Having those “cool” friends to share life’s little achievements with is what makes them so memorable, even if they are four-legged friends like Megan’s Blaze of glory! Learn more about Boot Campaign and its ReBOOT program at www.BootCampaign.org
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From a Combat Firestorm to a Rediscovered Life
I am forgetful, and have PTSD symptoms including hyper vigilance, irritability, anger, depression, anxiety, lack of interest in things I loved to do, nightmares, flashbacks and suicidal thoughts. I also struggled with survivor’s guilt. I could not wrap my head around why God chose me to live through that day and not Volker.
Written by Ben, a former Airborne Ranger Officer and Sapper (demolition expert) For anybody who has known me since I was a kid, on the surface not much has changed, I am still that same outgoing friendly person; but underneath the surface is another story. When I was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq from 2006 to early 2008 as the Platoon Leader of 28 hard-charging warriors, I was excited to test my mettle on leading troops in combat. But on December 20, 2006, I learned the hardest way possible how fragile a human life is. A deeply buried IED detonated directly underneath my vehicle instantly killing my driver and best friend SGT Robert Volker. I was immediately knocked unconscious and received shrapnel in my left leg. When I regained consciousness, my Platoon was returning fire on dozens of insurgent fighters on the rooftops of the buildings surrounding our vehicles. I jumped on the radio and positioned the vehicles of the patrol so there was 360 degree coverage around my vehicle.
Ben and Stella
I checked in with the gunner of my vehicle and found out his leg was broken. I dismounted the vehicle returned fire and continue to eliminate the enemy threat while I worked my way around the vehicle. When I flung open the driver’s door, I was shocked to see the top of Volker’s Kevlar helmet down where the floor board should be. The IED literally made his legs vanish and all that was left of his body were the remains of his torso held together by his body armor. I deployed the body bag and placed the remains of my friend inside the bag, collected sensitive equipment from my vehicle, and then evacuated my patrol to the nearest combat support hospital. This was the worst day of my life. This was the nature of my job with many other days similar to this day that have created my wounds – now scars. When I returned from Iraq I struggled with TBI (traumatic brain injury). I cannot process dates and time periods well, I have had the conversation with God over and over about it. 30
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One day it clicked, the blinders came off and I could see. God truly does not bless you with more than you can handle or more than you need. The only reason I am still here on this planet to write this is because I have found my “Why!” My “Why” that keeps me going is my awesome wife and 5 beautiful children, a 6th on the way, and a service dog named Stella.
“My service dog Stella is here to touch my life ... she is a cog that make my wheels turn” She is a medical device. I depend on her to perform tasks to assist with my disability in the same manner a patient with severe mobility issues depends on a cane or a walker to move. I have days when I literally would not move or get out of bed if she was not in my life. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night so I throw on my running shoes, grab a headlamp and Stella and I g bang out 6+ miles on the trails around the house to calm our minds.
She is just like me in a lot of ways and doesn’t really care if we’re running during the day or night, as long as we’re running. One of the most useful things Stella does is wake me up from nightmares. I usually have a bad nightmare or flashback at least twice a week or more. When this happens Stella jumps on the bed and licks my face to wake me up and pull me out of that nightmare. I am so grateful I don’t have to stay in those moments anymore. Other useful tasks that Stella performs for me is blocking rude people at the grocery store, at schools, or other crowded public spaces. She is a good judge about situations that cause anxiety for me, and I trust her on this. It is necessary in the summer to put Stella’s “working boots” on. When I first put her shoes on, the first 5 minutes are hysterical. Stella prances around like Bambi on ice trying to not put one paw down for more than half a second. After a while she settles in. Every day she performs tasks in my house or out in public to make sure these scars continue to heal and fade with time.
Every day whether in my house and out in public, I thank God for blessing me with my service dog named “Stella!” My wife and I recently started a nonprofit called the “9-Week Warrior Challenge” where a community of compassionate practitioners encourage warriors to share who they are on their road to health and regain their purpose. They find their “WHY” by working together to gain self-confidence, through exercise, strength training, nutritional support, and the challenges of doing something they thought was physically impossible. Throughout the program, these warriors have their brothers by their side to break through the physical and mental challenges of adjusting to their return into society. For me there is no better recovery activity than helping other veterans who are at the same place I was 5 years ago! To learn about service dogs, how to obtain one or support their amazing mission, see www.nextstepservicedogs. org. To learn more about Ben’s amazing nonprofit, see www.9weekwarrior.com
“ I can’t imagine life without Stella … PTSD is a normal survival response to abnormal circumstances, leaving many scars. Stella is here to make sure these scars don’t rip open. “
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She also gets a monthly BarkBox filled with treats and toys. She loves to show off her tricks to everyone she meets, especially rolling over and “sit pretty” with her front paws up in the air. The Braddicks feel really lucky too. Helen just finished her degree in elementary education and while she’s looking for a job,
Home at Last Article by San Diego Humane Society
Moving cross country away from family is standard for Marine Corps recruits, but it’s never easy. Alex and Helen Braddick, high school sweethearts married for just one year, uprooted themselves from Columbus, South Carolina to Alex’s new assignment at Miramar as an airframe mechanic on the CH-53 helicopter. Missing home and wanting a furry companion, they started looking for a dog to adopt. Both Alex and Helen have always loved dogs, especially pit bulls, but they currently live in a one bedroom apartment. So they first looked at adopting a smaller pup, but the one they picked was chosen by another family. Then they met Zeus, a handsome pittie, but he too was quickly claimed. Wondering if they just weren’t meant to adopt a dog, Helen then saw a picture of Lacey online and was smitten. “Omigosh, she was beautiful,” Helen said, “and her little smile caught my attention.” Helen learned that Lacey - a “hidden gem” because of her anxiety issues - had been at San Diego Humane Society for nearly two years. Helen thought Lacey sounded perfect because she was older and well-trained. They made an appointment to meet her and while they were waiting, Helen noticed a beautiful dog being walked. It was Lacey! The walker cautioned them that Lacey could be nervous around men, but Lacey ran up to Alex and immediately wanted his attention. That was it, after 720 days in the shelter, Lacey was coming home with Alex and Helen. With her loving family since February, lucky Lacey couldn’t be happier or more spoiled. She loves going to Grape Street Dog Park, and if it’s a hot day, she might be treated to a puppuccino or a small ice cream cone. 32
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Lacey keeps her company and helps Helen cope with the stress of Alex being in the military. If Alex has had a rough day at work, Lacey is there to cheer him up.
Helen and Alex love the Marine Corps and having Lacey is helping them adjust to their new life together in San Diego. “She’s very in tune with our emotions.” “We’ve met a lot of military friends around here because of Lacey’s friendliness. California is definitely a different world from South Carolina. It’s really nice to have a companion; she’s my best friend. She makes everything so much happier.” About San Diego Humane Society Serving San Diego County since 1880, San Diego Humane Society’s scope of social responsibility goes beyond adopting animals. San Diego Humane Society offers San Diegans a wide range of programs and services that strengthen the human-animal bond, prevent cruelty/neglect, provide medical care, educate the community on the humane treatment of animals and provide safety net services for all pet families needing assistance with keeping their pets. As San Diego’s oldest nonprofit organization, San Diego Humane Society has campuses located in Escondido, Oceanside, and San Diego as well as adoption centers inside select Petco stores throughout San Diego County. San Diego Humane Society is supported by contributions, grants, bequests, investments, municipal contracts and small fees for services. For more information or to view our current animals available for adoption; please visit www.sdhumane.org.
— Special Military discounts— As a thank you for your service, we’re proud to offer special military pricing! 25% Discount on adoption fees with proof of active duty
SAN DIEGO CAMPUS 5500 Gaines Street San Diego, CA 92110 619.299.7012
on San Diego Humane Society training classes with proof of active duty
OCEANSIDE CAMPUS 2905 San Luis Rey Road (Dogs) 572 Airport Road (Cats & small animals) Oceanside, CA 92058 760.757.4357
ESCONDIDO CAMPUS 3450 E. Valley Parkway Escondido, CA 92027 760.888.2275
For more information about our military support, visit sdhumane.org/military-support or follow us on
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R4 Alliance Member Spotlight:
Man’s Best Friend Helping to Heal Brad Meister says the phrase “man’s best friend” doesn’t do justice to Charlie, his Golden Retriever. Sure, they go everywhere and do everything together, but their bond goes much deeper. Brad, a retired Marine Corps Corporal who has a mild traumatic brain injury and battles post-traumatic stress, says his service dog Charlie has been a lifeline. “He broke down a brick wall that I had built around my heart,” says Brad. “He’s a gift to me… he really saved me. He’s given me the push I needed to get back up and get back out there again.” Brad served as a sniper in the U.S. Marine Corps from 20092013 and, over the course of those four years, sustained multiple concussions. It was a traumatic brain injury in 2012 that forced him to medically retire. He spent half a year in Wounded Warrior Battalion East undergoing treatment and rehabilitation for his injuries. After returning home to Charleston, South Carolina, life wasn’t the same.
“I used to be really outgoing. I was an athlete, a leader — that’s the type of person I was,” said Brad. “I say this not to be boastful, it’s just how I was. Then when I came back [from Afghanistan], I hid inside my house and hung out in dark places in my mind.” Brad’s experiences are very personal and tough for him to recount. He says service dog Charlie, provided to him earlier this year through Warrior Canine Connection, has helped change that. “He feels like a kindred spirit, and I swear he’s the only dog I’ve ever seen that actually smiles,” said Brad. “My anxiety in public, at church, at the store… he’s helped me with it so much. I have that mentality… always on the lookout, and he’s really helped me to lower my level of concern. On the beach, I talk to everyone because he’s a magnet for attention. It makes me communicate with people, talk, make eye contact, and it has really opened me up and forced me out of my shell.” Brad is grateful to Warrior Canine Connection and the Warriors who came before him to train Charlie as a means of addressing their own combat trauma. Warrior Canine Connection’s unique Mission Based Trauma Recovery model not only creates valuable service dogs, it taps into the healing power of the Warrior Ethos and the human-animal bond. Warrior Canine Connection Founder and Executive Director Rick Yount says the program is designed to trigger powerful mind/body effects in our Warrior trainers that reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury. The dogs are then paired with other Veterans to provide much-needed support. “It’s the whole aspect of doing something for a fellow Veteran that makes it as powerful as it is, a different kind of mission,” says Yount. “It requires patience, assertiveness, positive reinforcement, kindness, consistency, communication skills, love, responsibility, and an attitude of never giving up.” Dogs are not a magic cure-all. Rather, they are a vehicle for Brad and others to continue progressing in their treatment, to help recognize PTS triggers and symptoms, and to help abate them.
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“From time to time, those dark moments start to creep back in and Charlie can sense it in my voice, my tone, my overall demeanor,” said Brad. “He picks up on it quickly, shoves his head in my lap, kisses my face, and when that happens, it’s hard for me not to smile. I really wish I had him three years ago. Back then, PTS was something you sort of hid. Now, I feel like I can encourage people to get stronger and help others…to push myself and other people.” Lauren, Brad’s wife of three years, is his primary support system and number one fan. The two dated for six years before getting married and, although two years apart in age, they attended the same high school and grew up in the same hometown in Georgia.
He goes out in public with Charlie by his side and, of course, everyone wants to pet Charlie and learn more about him. It’s really helped him open up. Brad brushes his teeth and then he brushes Charlie’s teeth. He takes the best care of him. I think those kinds of things are therapeutic for Brad.” Skeptic no more, Lauren says she now see shades of the “old Brad.” Naturally, she’s also grown quite an affinity for Charlie, herself. “I feel like he’s my little son,” said Lauren. “I love him because he takes care of Brad and he makes Brad so happy. Charlie’s a shedder, but I would put up with hair everywhere just to see Brad smile. I love Charlie, he’s so sweet and so good. He hasn’t forgotten any of his training.” Brad says he knows he can’t turn back the hands of time, and that returning to the Marine Corps isn’t an option. He can’t help but miss it just the same. “From the day I graduated boot camp, I loved every second of it,” said Brad. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about being back in the Marines and serving with my brothers — it’s the camaraderie and brotherhood.” That said, he’s found a different sort of camaraderie in his four-legged friend. He’s chosen to look forward and takes each day one at a time, but says that with Charlie by his side, he feels more confident and more optimistic about the future. Speaking of his future, the same week this article was written, Brad accepted a job offer in the private sector providing military intelligence support. He and Charlie are looking forward to their first day in the office. About Warrior Canine Connection: Since its inception, WCC has placed more than 30 assistance dogs with wounded Warriors. However, through its MissionBased Trauma Recovery program, the organization has also impacted the lives of more than 3,700 Service Members and Veterans who have assisted in the training process.
She admits to initially being uncertain of how a service dog would help, but Lauren was willing to try anything that might benefit Brad.“I was skeptical at first — I had never really seen a service dog in action,” said Lauren. “But within the first hour or two I completely understood. I have seen Brad become much more sociable and not so anxious. He had gotten to the point where he wouldn’t leave the house for two to three weeks – that’s all changed.
The training of one WCC service dog can impact up to 60 Service Members in the process. While most dog-lovers overwhelming agree that their dogs improve their lives, WCC is now working with experts to scientifically prove it. Two separate research studies are underway to analyze the efficacy of WCC’s Mission Based Trauma Recovery program and its psycho/physiologist effects on Service Members with PTS in the National Capital Area. To learn more about or to support WCC, please visit
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ENLISTED TO ENTREPRENEUR By Vicki Garcia
Lean Startup “Lean startup” is relatively new think approaching a startup enterprise. There’s lots of info on the internet about it due to its use by many highly successful new businesses. Be forewarned: There is a whole bunch of language that has grown up around Lean Startup. Wikipedia says, “Lean has nothing to do with how much money a company raises; rather it has everything to do with assessing the specific demands of consumers and how to meet that demand using the least amount of resources possible.” Translation: Find out what your customers want first before you build a whole company around what you think your customers want.
Proof That Repackaging Old Ideas Works LS is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesisdriven experimentation, iterative (this is a favorite word meaning repeated) product releases, and validated learning (another new phrase much embraced). The central hypothesis of the lean startup methodology is that if startup companies invest their time into repeatedly building products or services to meet the needs of early customers, they can reduce the risks and avoid the need for large amounts of initial project funding and expensive product launches and failures. Not a new idea. Lean Startup’s popularity is due to the success of Eric Ries’ bestselling book, The Lean Startup, published in September 2011. The book quickly took off on Amazon.com, selling over 90,000 copies in ten months. The methodology has since been expanded to apply to any individual, team, or company looking to introduce new products or services into the market.
Several prominent high-tech companies have begun to publicly employ the lean startup methodology, including Intuit, Dropbox, Wealthfront, Votizen, Aardvark, and Grockit. Lean Startup principles are beginning to be taught in classes at Harvard Business School and UC Berkeley.
If the Shoe Fits Buy It There is a concept in Lean Startup called “a minimum viable product (MVP)” which is the “version of a new product (or service) which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” This used to be called a pilot project. The goal of an MVP is to test fundamental business leap-of-faith assumptions and to help entrepreneurs begin the learning process as quickly as possible. Did you have any idea you wanted to buy shoes on line? Nobody did. Zappos founder Nick Swinmurn thought customers were ready and willing to buy shoes online. Instead of building a website and a large database of footwear, Swinmurn approached local shoe stores, took pictures of their inventory, posted the pictures online, bought the shoes from the stores at full price after he’d made a sale, and then shipped them directly to customers. Swinmurn believed there would be a customer demand. Zappos is now a billion-dollar business selling shoes online. Lean Startup methodology preaches elimination of wasteful practices and the increase value-producing practices during the product development phase. This positions startups to have a better chance of success without requiring large amounts of outside funding, elaborate business plans, or the perfect product. Customer feedback during product development is essential to the lean startup process. So, let me restate that in English: don’t fall in love with your own idea. Find out what customers really want and are willing to pay for. Keep asking them for feedback and modifying your offer as you learn. If this isn’t enough about Lean Startups for you, Google it. Stand back and prepare for the deluge.
Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Veteran Entrepreneurs Today (V.E.T.) & President of Marketing Impressions. Email her at vicki@ veteranentrepreneurstoday.org, register for free coaching at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/veteransinbiz . Join us at our Veteran Entrepreneur Summit 2017, Sept 23, at www.veteransinbiz.com
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Creating Your Profile By Melissa Washington
In today’s world having on an online presence is essential. Best place to start is on LinkedIn, the number one online professional network.
3. Position - Convey your successes. Translate military lingo to civilian terminology. Add volunteer work, board of directors and nonprofit work.
This platform provides the ability to build your personal online brand, connect and stay connected with people, look for a new job, find new business opportunities and network.
4. Education - Listing school and educational information.
As you change duty stations or transition out of the military, your LinkedIn profile goes with you. As you make those moves make sure to update your LinkedIn profile. Profile The more comprehensive your profile is, the more qualified you will appear to people who view it. A lot of times this your first impression. Here is how you can you stand out amongst the 500+ million members on LinkedIn. To edit your profile: 1. Click the “Me” icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage 2. Click View profile To access the section to make the following updates click on the pencil to the right of your photo. A new window will pop up. Before you do anything at the bottom there is a “Share profile changes”, switch that to “no” for now. 1. Profile Photo - Current professional photo of you. Use a photo in which you are dressed in the attire for the job you want, not in military uniform. 2. Headline - This is the headline that appears below your photo, it’s not your job title but your “tag line”. Lead with your strengths and not your weakness. When creating this headline, consider what you would put on a billboard if you were give 120 characters to brand yourself. 38
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5. Location - LinkedIn works with geographical areas, so add your zip code. You can then choose to include on your profile your specific city or greater metropolitan area. 6. Industry - Choose the primary industry in which you are interested in. 7. Summary - Not only provide a “story” that people will remember you but tell what you can and want to do for them. Other Sections to add content to: Certifications, licenses, clearances, courses, Honors & Awards, Languages, Patents, Publications, Test Scores and Skills & Endorsement LinkedIn does not spellcheck. Make sure to add your keywords throughout your profile. LinkedIn offers eligible military and veteran members 1 year of free access to LinkedIn Premium Subscriptions including their Learning Platform. Go to veterans.linkedin.com About Melissa Washington, Navy Veteran, Marine Corps Wife, LinkedIn Maven, Founder of Women Veterans Alliance and author of “ Get Back to Work: Smart & Savvy Real-World Strategies to Make Your Next Career Move”. She has been on LinkedIn since 2004 and worked there for four years doing Global Corporate Meeting Planning. Next Issue: HML September 2017 Finding Companies and Contacts LinkedIn Jobs Board
Military service can be a perfect entrance into a law enforcement career. Military and law enforcement personnel have had a long-standing relationship with overlaps in training exercises, equipment, and, most important, personnel. It is not uncommon for a service member to make the jump from the military to law enforcement, as both professions look for the same characteristics; leadership, fidelity, chain of command, and teamwork are all common themes in both professions. Quite understandably, many American military veterans often gravitate to a career in law enforcement when the time comes to rejoin the civilian workforce. The two professions have many fundamental similarities; from the uniforms they wear with pride, to the firm command structure they serve under, to great personal risk they endure while protecting those who cannot protect themselves.
Opportunities in Law Enforcement
Youâ€™ve served your country, now serve your community! The following Police departments are actively hiring & proudly support our veterans, active military and the families that keep together.
We thank you for your service, to all the men and women in law enforcement around the world for your courage, your commitment & your sacrifice. - Homeland Magazine -
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The Police Dogs that you see in Airports, Train Stations, Police Cruisers, and so on are probably dogs that have been trained and certified by the USPCA. We have a wide diversity of breeds to include the German Shepherd Dog, Belgian Malinois, Retrievers, Labradors, Border Collies, Bloodhounds, and so on. The United States is broken down into various ‘Regions’ that participate and hold field trials each year. Those teams meeting top scores are invited to attend the National Police Dog Field Trials where the National Champion is selected. Our next National Field Trials will be in Foley, Alabama September 24-29, 2017. It will be here that the Top Patrol Dog will be crowned. We also host many training seminars across the USA with our National Trainers. These trainers represent the very finest in Police Dog Training with most having decades of experience in training and evaluating dogs. Many of our trainers have military backgrounds that further compliment their value towards police dog training.
The United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) Melissa Hendley and K9 Justice with Holly Springs, N.C. PD
The United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) is the Nation’s Oldest and Largest Police K-9 Organization. Since 1971, we have been training and certifying police dogs in General Patrol Dog use, Tracking, Protection, The following Police departments Narcotic Detection, Explosive Detection, Arson, Fish are actively proudly and Game and hiring Search&and Rescue. support our veterans, active These national military andcertifications the families have that been upheld by more than 48 U.S. Supreme and Federal District Court keep together. rulings as a ‘Bona-Fide’ test for Police use. We are the Police Dog Teams Protecting America. We represent the very finest in Police Dog Training and Certification and strive for constant improvement. 40
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We also assist as subject matter experts for various research Universities and Organizations that are looking into K-9’s to help detect cancer, diabetes, even stolen historical artifacts being smuggled from the mid-east.
“We would love for you to learn more about Police K-9’s by visiting one of your local Police Dog events, public demonstrations or even request a ride-along with your local Police Dog Handler by calling your local Police Department.” We also have various levels of member ranging from the Police Dog Teams, Search and Rescue, and General Supporters. We welcome all or your donation into our 501:C-3 Non-Profit Organization and I look forward to one day meeting you at one of our events. For more information visit our website at www.USPCAK9.com or contact Dr. David “Lou” Ferland, Executive Director at USPCAExecutiveDirector@gmail.com or by phone at 603-765-0571.
Santa Monica Police Department THE BENCHMARK OF EXCELLENCE.
Benefits: • • • • •
Annual Salary Ranges of $80,988 - $99,984 Compressed work schedules Paid vacation, sick, and personal leave City paid medical, dental, and vision insurance 2.7% at 57 Public Employee Retirement Plan
• Educational incentives- 6% for Intermediate POST Certificates, 12% for Advanced POST Certificates • Uniform allowance • Additional bilingual pay • Court standby pay • Longevity pay • Sick leave buy back incentive
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP TOWARD A REWARDING CAREER In addition to Patrol, our core service, the Department offers a wide range of special assignments: • Crime Impact Team • Criminal Investigations Section • Crisis Negotiations Team • Downtown Bicycle Unit • Field Training Officer Unit • Gang Unit • Homeless Liaison Unit • K-9 Unit • Mounted Patrol Unit • Neighborhood Resource Officer Unit • Personnel and Training Unit • School Resource Officer Unit • Special Weapons and Tactics Team • Traffic/Motor Unit • Vice/Narcotics Unit
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Military, Firefighters, Teachers, Medical Field, Law Enforcment, Veterans
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Contact us today at 619-937-3659 or visit us at SDThankYouHeroes.com to find out how our program can help you! CalBRE#01990368
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There’s a story behind every badge, and a person behind every story. There are For upcoming test dates as many reasons and motivations for and locations visit joining the Washington State Patrol as PublicSafetyTesting.com there are troopers themselves.
Oakland County, Michigan Sheriff’s Office If you’re looking for a rewarding career that allows you to make a difference, then you should consider joining the team of the Oakland County Sheriff ’s Office. A dedicated group that has set a standard of excellence for police training and performance. The Oakland County Sheriff ’s office is one of the largest full service agencies in the state of Michigan and offers endless opportunities for advancement. Whether your interest is in corrections, dispatch, road patrol, special unit, forensics, or investigative services the possibilities are endless for you here at Oakland County. Currently accepting applications for: • Corrections Deputy I • Deputy II – Road Patrol • Dispatch Specialist • Park Deputy (part-time) www.homelandmagazine.com
View our jobs at www.oakgov.com/jobs
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City of Pittsburgh Police: Protecting and Serving Americaâ€™s Most Liveable City
www.pghjobs.net You have served the USA, Come Serve The City of Pittsburgh
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All applicants must visit www.pghjobs.net to apply
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YOU PROTECTED US.
IT’S TIME WE RETURN THE FAVOR. After all you’ve done to protect our country, you deserve the best. So we’re giving the brave men and women of the military* the opportunity for big savings on top of all current incentives.* Like up to $1000 on select models. If you’re an Active or Reserve U.S. Military, U.S. Retired Military who completed at least 20 years of Active or Reserve duty, or a U.S. Veteran discharged from active service within the past year, Nissan’s Military Program is open to you and your spouse or partner. To get started, just print your Military Program Certificate, gather your proof of eligibility, and head to your local Nissan store today.*
Visit NissanUSA.com/military *Eligibility requirements apply: Eligible individuals include U.S. Active and Reserve Military, U.S. Military Veterans within 12 months of separation from Active or Reserve duty, U.S. Military Retirees that have completed at least 20 years of Active or Reserve duty required. Military cash certificate available towards the lease or purchase of a qualifying new Nissan vehicle from dealer stock. Excludes Nissan Versa Sedan S Trim, Maxima, Murano, Murano Cross Cabriolet, 370Z, Quest, Pathfinder, Armada, Titan, GT-R and NV. Military cash certificate amount varies by qualifying model. Offer valid from 3/1/16 through 3/1/2017. Limit up to 2 vehicle leases or purchases per calendar year per qualified participant for personal use only. Offer not valid for fleet or business use. Down payment may be required. Available on lease or purchase. Must take delivery from new dealer stock. Subject to residency restrictions. Other restriction s apply. See dealer for details. Offer is subject to change at any time. Always wear your seat belt and please don’t drink and drive. Nissan, the Nissan Brand Symbol, Innovation That Excites, and Nissan model names are Nissan trademarks. ©2016 Nissan North America, Inc. All rights reserved.
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www.homelandmagazine.com Homeland Veterans Magazine