Page 1


Vol. 3 Number 2 • February 2021





of Inspiration


San Diego

Military Member Spotlight

Warrior Adapts to Hit His Targets

What’s Next Transition to Civilian Life

Family And Transition

Resources for Veterans

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


1155 Grand Avenue, San Marcos | 760-753-7907 | geico.com/san-diego-north

Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states, in all GEICO companies, or in all situations. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, DC 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. Š 2020 GEICO #0G11150


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


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

Deployed Troops


First Responders

Military, Veterans and First Responders Impacted



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

gratitude and meaningful engagements in communities Nationwide.

Recruit Graduates

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

ments are the best ways to bridge the civilian-service divide

Military Families

We focus on empathy, resilience, service, and sacrifice rather than sympathy, challenges, needs, and pity


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


We need your help to locate San Diego County World War II and Korea War Veterans for our upcoming 2021 trips. We want to honor them by taking them on a 3-day trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials built for their service and sacrifice. Since 2010, Honor Flight San Diego has taken over 1,400 veterans on this trip. Due to generous donors, the trip is no cost to the veteran.

“It was the best weekend of my life!� - WWII Veteran For more information, please call: (800) 655-6997 or email: info@honorflightsandiego.org www.honorflightsandiego.org 4

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Armed Forces Memorial Amphitheater

A Vision for Miramar National Cemetery More than 20,000 veterans and their loved ones are interred at Miramar National Cemetery. The Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation holds services in the Flag Assembly Area on Memorial Day weekend and on Veterans Day to honor our veterans. The Flag Assembly Area has no permanent seating. The Support Foundation plans to build the Armed Forces Memorial Amphitheater with permanent guest seating in a beautifully landscaped setting. This will be the Support Foundation’s biggest project yet. Its cost—for construction and permanent maintenance—will range from $450,000 to $500,000. No federal funds will be expended. Contributions from corporations, veterans groups, civic organizations, local government, and the public are needed to make this vision reality at Miramar National Cemetery.

Please Contribute Today! Make the Vision a Reality

Armed Forces Memorial Amphitheater Any contribution amount counts!

To donate, please go to https://gala.miramarcemetery.org/ and Click on “Donate Now” or by check to Amphitheater Fund, c/o 2500 6th Ave., Unit 803, San Diego, CA 92103 The Support Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity. All donations are tax deductible. Tax ID #65-1277308. You will receive an acknowledgment for your contribution.

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021




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

Contributing Writers Holly Shaffner Veteran Advocate

RanDee McLain, LCSW A Different Lens

Jenny Lynne Stroup Real Talk: Mental Health

Vicki Garcia

Enlisted to Entrepreneur

CJ Machado

SD Vets & Homeland Photojournalist

Kelly Bagla, Esq. Legal Eagle

Tana Landau, Esq.


Legally Speaking

Joe Molina

Veterans Chamber of Commerce

Greetings and a warm welcome to San Diego Veterans Magazine!

Eve Nasby

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

Amber Robinson

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

What’s Next - Transitioning Arts & Healing

Eva Stimson Veteran Advocate

Paul Falcone

Human Resources

Money Matters VA Lending & Personal Finance

David Koontz Midway Magic

Cover Photo - DOD Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jackson Dukes

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

San Diego Veterans Magazine 9528 Miramar Road, #41 San Diego, CA 92126

Mike Miller

(858) 275-4281


mikemiller@SDVetsMagazine.com mikemiller@HomelandMagazine.com 6

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Contact us at: publisher@SDVetsMagazine.com


INSIDE THIS ISSUE 8 Military Tax Tips 10 Military Member Spotlight 12 MIDWAY Magic: Aircraft Restoration 14 Text Message Program to Boost Wellness 16 Warrior Adapts to Hit His Targets 20 A Voice of Inspiration 24 Music Therapy & Military 26 Valentine’s Day 28 Real Talk: New Year - Lessons In Love 30 LENS: Words Matter 32 What’s Next: Q & A 34 Human Resources: Transition & Family 38 Enlisted to Entrepreneur: Lean Startup 42 Legal Eagle: Love Your Business 45 Looking Through My Eyes 46 San Diego Veterans Coalition 48 VANC - A Heart for Service 50 Legally Speaking: Education During Divorce 52 Guide Dogs of America 54 Shelter To Soldier 56 Veterans Chamber: Dealing With Stress

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


Finally, military members serving in a combat zone have the tax season days plus 180 days after their last day in the combat zone to file their taxes. This means no penalty or interest if they owe money and don’t file by April 15. When they are in a combat zone the payment and penalty and interest on back taxes are suspended. Military-Specific Nontaxable Income

Military Tax Tips Before You File Your 2020 Tax Return By Mark Steber, Chief Tax Information Officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Services, www.jacksonhewitt.com While we’re officially excited and looking ahead into the new year, don’t forget about your 2020 tax return that needs to be filed by April 15, 2021. If you haven’t started already, use the motivation of a fresh New Year to start preparing to file your taxes by gathering your documents and follow the below tips to get a head start.

It is essential to know what part of your income is non-taxable, and generally referred to as allowance or assistance, which includes: • Pay for active service in a combat zone or qualified Hazardous Duty Area • Living allowances, like BAH, BAS, and OHA • Disability and medical benefits • Educational assistance • Legal assistance • Family separation allowances • Temporary lodging • Uniform allowances

The biggest call outs for military service members to know is there is military-specific nontaxable income, as well as different and complex tax rules compared to civilians, which may affect their 2020 tax return.

It’s worth noting some of the nontaxable items listed above might need to be used to calculate certain tax benefits – for example, excluded combat pay is included in your gross income amount when calculating the allowed IRA contributions, and for the Child Tax Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit, EITC, and the Credit for Child and Dependent Care expenses.

Different Tax Rules

Complex State Tax Rules

According to the IRS, you do not have to report nontaxable pay you receive as a member of the Armed Forces as earned income for purposes of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Examples of nontaxable military pay are combat pay, the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), and the Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS). However, each active duty taxpayer can choose to have their nontaxable combat pay included in their earned income for purposes of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Including it as earned income may mean a larger refund.

State taxes can be complicated for military service members and their spouses. Military service members home state, for tax purposes, is generally the state they lived in when they first enlisted. This is often the same for their non-military spouse. Generally, the spouse will owe taxes only to their home state. However, they could owe taxes to the state they live in and their home state – another reason to get all of their documents together before they see a Tax Pro.

Calculate your taxes both with the nontaxable combat pay as earned income and without the nontaxable combat pay as earned income to find out what’s best for you. Military service members in a combat zone also have different rules when it comes to child and daycare tax credits. 8

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

At the end of the day, it is valuable for you to seek a trusted and knowledgeable Tax Pro to help you prepare your 2020 tax return. Jackson Hewitt Tax Pros are here for the hardest working, especially our service members and their families, and we want to prepare everyone with the tools to maneuver this challenging year. www.jacksonhewitt.com

Let’s Join Forces Together, we’ll help you save more and earn more—$361¹ more. (That’s what our members earn and save on average just by banking with us.) You’ll get: dividend-earning checking account options free from monthly service fees² a savings rate of more than 2X the industry average,¹ and more!

Visit navyfederal.org/deals Insured by NCUA. ¹Dollar and savings value claims based on Navy Federal’s 2019 Member Giveback Study; an internal comparative analysis of loan and deposit rates compared to the national average for similar products. ²For Flagship Checking, no monthly service fee if average daily balance is $1,500 or more, $10 if less than $1,500. © 2021 Navy Federal NFCU 11888 (1-21)

Foundation for Women Warriors H O N O R H E R S E RV I C E | E M P O W E R H E R F U T U R E

When you think of veterans, do you think of women? We do... “Foundation for Women Warriors has been there for me when I needed it most. Last Spring, I was in my final semester of my bachelor’s degree at Cal State. I was working and taking a full load of classes while raising my son by myself. I was having trouble paying for extended care hours at my child’s daycare and was only weeks away from being completed with my degree program. I knew that I could not quit school and wanted to graduate on time. Foundation for Women Warriors provided me childcare assistance, mentorship, and so much more. If it were not for this amazing foundation, I would not be a college graduate today. I recently accepted a new job and am now enrolled in a master’s program.” - Rebecca O., USMC Veteran

Would you like to support women veterans?

Visit our website to learn about our mission and how you can help: foundationforwomenwarriors.org Foundation for Women Warriors is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization Tax ID no. 20-5523954, contributions are fully tax-deductible.

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021



San Diego - February 2021 By Holly Shaffner

Luis Moret, Jr. Gunnery Sergeant, USMC The professional football season is coming to an end and the U.S. Marine Corps spring season should be starting. COVID-19 has wrecked havoc in the base’s competitive football season; however, one coach has found a way to continue to give back. We are honored to highlight Gunnery Sergeant Luis Moret, Jr. United States Marine Corps, for his volunteer work, on and off base. Coach Moret was born in New York City and was raised in Puerto Rico. He has always loved football; and in high school, his playing skills had developed so well that he was recruited for Syracuse University. He attended college on a scholarship and after sustaining an injury where he could no longer play, he had to drop out of college. Coach’s family had served in the Army and Navy. After working in dead end jobs, Coach wanted more and so one day he walked into a recruiting office. The Air Force and Navy recruiters were out that day, so the Army and Marine Corps recruiters talked to him. He chose to be one of “The Few, The Proud” and enlisted in the Marine Corps. With more than 16 years of military service, he has multiple units under his belt (including overseas tours), and he has deployed to Iraq six times. As a “0629” (his Military Occupational Specialty), he serves as a Communications Chief. This Marine Corps E-7 is looking for ways to better understand his sister branches, so he is voluntarily going through the Navy’s Chief Petty Officer initiation. Gunnery Sergeant Moret has a demanding job in the USMC and is a husband and father of two boys. He has played or coached football since he was a boy. As a Marine, he played at a competitive level during numerous assignments at Camp Pendleton and he coached in the Okinawa Football League. He is back at Camp Pendleton for his current tour and has found a way to pair his love for football with his desire to give back. For the second year, Gunnery Sergeant Moret is the volunteer coach of the Camp Pendleton Bulldogs, a competitive all-active duty team. 10

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

“I am just doing my part,” said Coach Moret. “I just love to serve my country and love football.”

Camp Pendleton normally has a fall football league with various commands assembling teams to play against each other. Then each spring, the base has a more competitive team where active duty members tryout for the team. They play several semi-pro games, and the final game of the season is to compete for the “Best of the West” title against the best team from the 29 Palms Marine Corps base. The Bulldogs 2020 season was cut short just like many other sports during the pandemic. In fact, the only game the Bulldogs were able to play before the shutdown was against our local San Diego Enforcers football team. Right now, the Bulldogs would be ramping up for the spring 2021 season but there is so much up in the air with COVID restrictions. Player safety and keeping the active members healthy is at the forefront of the decisions to play this season. There is much more to missing two full seasons - more than the team camaraderie, physical and mental well-being, as there could be missed opportunities.

Coach stated that he knows there were at least four Marine players who left active duty and were invited to try out for Division One college football teams. That’s the level of coaching he is doing and what his players could be missing post-military. The Bulldogs are slated to play the San Diego Enforcers in March for the annual Salute to Service game. The active duty Marines would play full contact football against San Diego County’s sworn public safety officers (law enforcement and firefighters) and proceeds are donated to a local charity. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, stay at home orders, vaccinations, and so much more, the season for both teams is not solidified (as we go to print). So, with the 2020 football seasons (spring and fall) canceled, what’s a coach to do? Well, this coach decided to help his fraternity, Theta Nu Psi, give back to the veteran community. In 2020, he helped with food and clothing drives, and events to help get veterans off the streets and into shelters and the VA. Through this pandemic, he maintains perspective. “I feel blessed to have a roof over my head, food on my table, and clothes on my back,” said Gunnery Sergeant Moret. “During times like this, it is important to take care of your fellow Marines and your community.” Coach Moret is working on his bachelor’s degree in sports psychology and is about one semester from graduation. His passion (outside of football) is history. He has a few more years until he is retirement eligible but has already started thinking about the next chapter. He would like to pair together his love for football and history and would like to be a history teacher and coach high school football. Coach Moret is working on his bachelor’s degree in sports psychology and is about one semester from graduation. His passion (outside of football) is history. He has a few more years until he is retirement eligible but has already started thinking about the next chapter. He would like to pair together his love for football and history and would like to be a history teacher and coach high school football. Gunnery Sergeant Moret is a humble Marine and while he may not think he is deserving of being our standout military member of the month, we certainly do. Keep up the great work and Semper Fi!

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


USS Midway Museum Aircraft Restoration A Slow Labor of Love There are few museums in the world that can tell the FLY NAVY story like the USS Midway Museum. The ship’s collection of 30 restored Navy and Marine Corps aircraft span more than 85 years of naval aviation history. A wide array of other aeronautical exhibits and displays help more than 1 million guests a year leave the Midway inspired by how naval aviation has and continues to defend of our nation’s freedom. Restoring and maintaining the museum’s aircraft is no easy task and is an ongoing effort by a dedicated team, comprised mostly of volunteers, including a handful of active-duty military personnel. “The aircraft and artifacts that we have are, in many cases, the last of their kind, and without constant effort to restore and maintain them, they will not be around for future generations,” said Walt Loftus, Midway’s air wing director responsible for all aircraft restoration at the museum. “Some of our aircraft were initially restored and on the ship when we opened more than 16 years ago. Over time, there has been significant deterioration and we are starting to go through our aircraft collection performing major corrosion control and restoration.”

Restoration on the Viking started in late 2019 with completion anticipated in summer of 2020. Excruciating attention to detail keeps the restoration process moving at a pace that is more akin to the tortoise than the hare. But slow and steady wins the race. “Depending on the size and condition of the plane, a complete restoration of a medium size aircraft can take 18 to 24 months,” said Walt. “Although the aircraft are no longer operational, we try to keep them as close as possible to original. Maintaining and preserving the authentic appearance for the guests takes time.” Restoration efforts run the gambit from preserving, restoring, and repairing existing parts and equipment to replacing and, in some cases, remanufacturing new pieces. With Midway berthed at Navy Pier, in the saltwater environment of San Diego Bay, the museum is in a constant battle again rust and corrosion. “Unlike traditional museums, we are an outside museum and our aircraft are in a harsh environment just like when they were operational,” said Walt.

The 50-person restoration team refurbishes aircraft on the Midway’s flight deck as well as at Hangar 805 at Naval Air Station North Island. Hangar 805 has been on loan to the Midway from the Navy since before the museum opened its doors in 2004. “About 60 percent of my volunteers have prior military experience,” said Walt. “They have very diverse backgrounds, from mechanics and engineers to motor home salesmen and corporate lawyers.” While overhaul crews may be working on two to three aircraft at any given time, there’s usually one plane that is undergoing an intense restoration process. The plane currently in the major restoration spotlight is an S-3B Viking. For more than 40 years, the carrierbased Viking was the Navy’s primary submarine hunter and played an integral role in defending naval task forces during the Cold War. 12

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

“Restoration volunteer, Ken Wong, repairs the wing of the Midway’s S-3B Viking.”

“An F7U Cutlass fighter-bomber in early stages of restoration at Hangar 805.”

“The S-3B Viking will require more than 5,000 hours of restoration work.”

Aircraft restoration often requires a lot of detective work, especially as it relates to finding technical information on older planes that haven’t been part of the Navy’s active-duty fleet for decades. “We use aircraft technical manuals when we can find them,” said Walt. “If theyBruce are not available, we try to Rainey contact the original manufacturer of the aircraft to see if we can locate drawings they might still have in their archives. We also reach out to other museums that have the type aircraft we are working on.” Fortunately, with the S-3 Viking being decommissioned only five years ago, its technical data has been easier to acquire. Walt estimates, however, it will still require more than 5,000 hours to fully restore the twin-engine jet. Along with ongoing restoration activities, the Midway also keeps its eyes open for potential additions to the museum’s aircraft collection.

“We are constantly on the lookout,” said Walt. “We have become well known and a leader throughout the public and private museum community. We work together with these groups, and if we see something of interest, we reach out.” Restoring Midway’s military aircraft will always be a laborious effort, but one that brings the team tremendous satisfaction. “One morning, shortly after we placed our TBM Devastator and F4F Wildcat on display, a young woman and her son walked over to the aircraft,” said Walt. “The mom stood back to take a picture of her son with the two World War II planes. He walked over to the wing of the Wildcat, touched it, and turned around with the biggest smile. My feelings are this is what we do this for.” Volunteer Opportunities Now Available www.midway.org/give-join/volunteers

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


DOD Launches ‘My MilLife Guide’ Text Message Program to Boost Wellness BY CONNECTED HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE My MilLife Guide was developed by one of the military’s flagship support programs, Military OneSource, in partnership with the Military Health System. From now until Feb. 12, 2021, users can opt in to receive messages four times a week, for a total of eight weeks. To sign up, service members can text “MilLife SM” and spouses can text “MilLife Spouse” to GOV311, or they can visit www.MilitaryOneSource.mil/texts My MilLife Guide starts each week with a text asking users to set a small goal, such as accomplishing a task on their to-do list or taking a small step to improve their sleeping habits. Topics covered over the course of the eight-week program include: • Stress relief • Sleeping soundly • Self-care • Virtual health tools • Strengthening relationships • Managing finances • Getting support • Prepping for the future These text messages are specifically tailored for navigating the unique circumstances of service members and spouses as they aim to improve their physical and emotional health.


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

“We are excited to begin 2021 by offering a new way for service members and spouses to get support for easing stress and navigating COVID-19-related challenges texted directly to their phones,” said Lee Kelley, director of Military Community Support Programs for Military Community and Family Policy. “My MilLife Guide is like a portable health and wellness coach, supporting service members and spouses as they take care of themselves and their families.” “Our service members and their families deserve the best possible care. I want to utilize all available tools to ensure their health, wellness and readiness records are easily accessible,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Neil Page, deputy and military chief, Clinical Support Division, Medical Affairs at the Defense Health Agency. “The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that sometimes these tools are best provided through digital health services. We in the Military Health System are excited to partner with Military OneSource to provide a textbased wellness program that puts valuable resources at our beneficiaries’ fingertips, in a new and innovative way.” My MilLife Guide participants are encouraged to provide feedback on the program. The DOD will use this insight to help inform the development of possible future evolutions of similar text-based initiatives. Part of the DOD, Military Community and Family Policy offers a suite of programs, tools and services – including the My Military OneSource app and MilitaryOneSource.mil – that connect the military community to resources they can use every day, from relocation planning and tax services to confidential non-medical counseling and spouse employment. These initiatives contribute to force readiness and quality of life by providing policies and programs that advance the well-being of service members, their families, survivors and other eligible members of the military community. Military OneSource is a DOD-funded program that is both a call center and a website providing comprehensive information, resources and assistance on every aspect of military life. Service members and the families of active duty, National Guard, and reserve (regardless of activation status), Coast Guard members when activated for the Navy, DOD expeditionary civilians, and survivors are eligible for Military OneSource services which are available worldwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost to the user.

& Organizations Navigating the resources available to veterans can be confusing, but San Diego Veterans Magazine believes no veteran should have to go it alone. At San Diego Veterans Magazine you can find Veteran organizations and private nonprofits with resources for veterans that can help ease the process of attaining earned benefits, coping with the lasting effects of service-connected injuries and finding programs and services that meet your specific needs.

San Diego Veteran Resources & Organizations available at: www.MiramarPostalPlus.com


San Diego Veterans Magazine A Veterans Magazine for Veterans by Veterans WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


Warrior Adapts to Hit His Targets By Rachel Bolles The pandemic has affected us all in major, unpredictable ways. Combine that with some of the things wounded warriors deal with on a frequent basis — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and physical injuries — and it can be really challenging to feel like you’re accomplishing much of anything. But one warrior hasn’t let these difficult circumstances overtake him. Instead, he uses them to push forward toward even more success. “People often tell me I should be a motivational speaker, but I’m not that; I’m a motivational doer,” said Gabriel “Gabe” George. Gabe was a Navy corpsman, and injured in a motorcycle accident. The accident left him with mild TBI and severe spinal cord damage, resulting in a paralyzed right arm and significant, enduring daily pain that he describes as “1,000 volts of electricity jabbing down my arm, sprinkled with needles of fire.” His injuries forced his medical retirement from the Navy. Despite his injuries, Gabe didn’t want to slow down. He spent 10 years trying to find things to cope with his pain, and then he attended a VA summer sports clinic in San Diego, where he was introduced to adaptive sports. He learned about sailing, surfing, cycling, and archery. A Paralympic coach took a string out of his pocket and told Gabe to bite down and pull back. Gabe immediately hit the target. And just like that, he had his sights set on a new hobby: adaptive archery. As soon as he got home, he went to the archery store and bought a bow. One thing led to another, and he began shooting at different ranges and connecting with people who shared information to help him improve. He ultimately connected with a Paralympic athlete who took Gabe under his wing, and they practiced for hours together every day. Fast forward to last year, right before the pandemic became widespread across North America. While on a snowboarding adventure, Gabe tripped and landed on his paralyzed arm, shattering the humerus bone. Previously, doctors had told him amputating the arm would introduce too much risk for infection. But his inability to control his arm and prevent further injury was a risk in itself — especially with him being so active — and doctors finally agreed to amputate after the snowboarding injury. After the amputation, Gabe moved quickly to navigate his healing process. He learned that while he needed to remaster some things, others became easier postoperation. One big change: his balance. Balance impacts all his regular activities, so he relearned movements to correct his center of gravity. Conversely, he learned it was much easier to manage his mobility while scuba diving — one of his favorite hobbies — and he can now sleep more comfortably. While he still deals with pain, he’s maintained his momentum and has returned to regular activities. With the pandemic closing so many places, including Gabe’s usual place for target practice, he thought about other ways to stay active. For example, he reached out to the pastor of a church near his home and asked to use his parking lot for archery. Continued on page 18 >


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

“There are still ways we can live after trauma and after pain.” “If you want to do it, there is an oportunity out there waiting for you.” - Gabriel “Gabe” George

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


He also started cycling again. Three times a week, he does spin classes on Zoom with others — a way to stay active and connected. “I don’t like hitting brick walls, and I reroute as much as I can,” Gabe said. If he wants to do something, he figures out a way to do it. And he has some advice for other warriors who are facing challenges, especially during the pandemic, and who want to stay active: - Get involved with the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Adaptive Sports program. Seriously wounded veterans can learn and become involved with modified sports equipment and exercise routines that are specialized for each warrior’s unique injury. Warriors receive tools and assistance to continue improving their new skills at home in their communities. “Wounded Warrior Project has been the most consistent in being here for me,” Gabe said. “It is a life source. It has inspired me to help others by encouraging them to stay active.” “The Adaptive Sports program provides a way for warriors to rediscover independence through activity,” said James Herrera, WWP Physical Health and Wellness director.


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

“It connects them to resources that can help and other people who are striving toward similar goals.” - Take advantage of all the resources available to you. There are lots of places trying to do good and wanting to do good. People want to help, and a lot of the time, the hardest part is putting yourself out there and asking. Gabe found success by trying different things until he connected with ones that work for him. - Consider shifting your focus away from yourself and try motivating and encouraging others. Helping others can be rewarding. By doing this, you might find some inspiration for yourself. “There are still ways we can live after trauma and after pain,” Gabe said. “If you want to do it, there is an opportunity out there waiting for you.” About Wounded Warrior Project Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more at https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/about-us.

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

Download PTSD Coach to:

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


PTSD Coach is not meant to replace professional care.

Search “PTSD Coach�

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


Therapy Session: A Voice of Inspiration by Amber Robinson Arts & Healing

Marine combat veteran Elliott McKenzie knew from a young age that he wanted to join the Marines. He also knew at an early age he wanted to make music. At five years old, his adopted mother bought him a drum set. From making a lot of racket in the living room, McKenzie went into his high school drum corps and sang in a gospel choir. But despite his obvious musical talent, just days after his high school graduation McKenzie was entering the United States Marine Corps. “Five days out of high school I was standing on those yellow footprints,” said McKenzie. McKenzie entered the service as a 0311, otherwise known as an Infantry Rifleman or Marine “grunt”. After basic training and infantry individualized skill training he was selected for a special detail to protect the president. But, due to issues with his orders he was attached to and trained as part of a Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Teams (FAST), serving six months there, then only serving four months on the presidential detail. In 2005 McKenzie deployed to Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. Upon his return he prepared for his next and last duty station in Okinawa, Japan. It was in Japan that he connected with a fellow Marine who helped him reawaken his love of music. “My friends from 1-5 who knew I could sing told me I should link up with this guy when I got to Okinawa,” McKenzie said “they said he made beats and we should get together and make some music.” McKenzie wrote his first song while in Okinawa. Soon, he and several other Marines compiled their talents and together created two full CDs of music. “These were not professional CDs or anything,” McKenzie said, “we just mixed them and burned them onto blank CDs and gave them out to our friends.” But, that amateur experience of writing and producing music was enough to ignite McKenzie’s passion. He left the Marines in 2007, exiting three months early as part of an education program which allowed service members an early out if accepted to an university. McKenzie had been accepted to the well-known Musicians Institute of College. At the age of 22 he left the Marines and entered MI. 20

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Unaware of how the GI Bill worked McKenzie paid for classes out of pocket. Unfortunately, after six months the financial pressure began to weigh on him, as well as the first signs of PTSD from his tour to Iraq. McKenzie was forced to leave MI a short six months after he started, retreating to where he was raised near Longbeach, CA, moving back in with his mother and brother. That living situation would shortly change. McKenzie’s PTSD began to present as anger issues. One morning as he prepared for work his brother and he got into an argument. The confrontation became heated and culminated with McKenzie wielding a kitchen knife against his sibling. McKenzie ended the argument as he left for work, hurling the knife violently and breaking the family’s TV.

“I started walking to work,” said McKenzie, “but my mom had called 911 and soon I was getting picked up by an officer with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.” Luckily, for McKenzie, this particular officer of the law was a fellow veteran. He gave McKenzie the option of admittance at the VA instead of jail time. He was taken to the Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center and admitted. When it came time to leave, he asked to come home to live with his mother and brother again.

“My goal is to put out a message.” “I believe it is my calling to help other people by inspiring them.” - Elliott McKenzie

“My mom and brother said no,” said McKenzie, “they were now scared of me.” This began a long period of homelessness for McKenzie. With nowhere else to go he began to sleep in his car. Eventually he secured a bed at the Villages of Cabrillo in Longbeach, which is transitional housing for homeless veterans. “I spent a year a half in transitional housing,” McKenzie said. From there McKenzie began to couch surf, ending up on an old friend’s couch for another year and half. Finally, while living with a girlfriend he signed up to use his Post 9/11 GI Bill. For the next three years he used his education benefits, but with little motivation for the future. “I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t figure out a major and was eventually put on academic probation,” said McKenzie. It was evident at that point he needed help. McKenzie called the VA and got a dedicated therapist who he still sees to this day. McKenzie’s new therapist was the first to suggest that he use music as a way to cope with his PTSD. “She told me that my symptoms were fixable without medications and that I could use music as medicine for my depression and anger,” he said. As McKenzie began to make headway in therapy he began to think about going back into the service. “I was starting to get that itch again,” he said. His first choice was to rejoin the Marines, but he was denied for new tattoos he acquired after leaving service. “As I was leaving the Marine recruiters office I was approached by the Army recruiter across the hall,” said McKenzie, “He had overheard my conversation.”

Photo: Courtesy LA Rams (Nov 17, 2019)

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


McKenzie entered the Army Reserves in 2008 as a Civil Affairs specialist with the 358th Civil Affairs Brigade at March Air Reserve base in Riverside, CA. Awarded a sizable sign-on bonus, McKenzie was able to then purchase all the equipment to make music.

“I began to finally see improvement in myself mentally,” he said. “I began to express myself through songs and promote myself in LA. I started to really use music as my therapy.” In 2015, with a much improved outlook, McKenzie went back to school. In 2016 he attained an Associates Degree in Behavioral Science, making the Dean’s list, then completed his Bachelor’s in 2018. During this time he worked on schoolwork, but continued to make music in his free time and promote himself.

“My goal is to put out a message,” said McKenzie. “I believe it is my calling to help other people by inspiring them.” His second single was called “Fight Back”, about fighting back against mental illness. McKenzie’s dream has been to be a classic R & B musician. Along with his inspiring songs, he’s also released several other songs in the classic R & B style. In 2019 while backstage as an audience member of The Jimmy Kimmel Show, he met a guest who worked to connect vets with football players. The interaction eventually gained him the incredible opportunity to sing The National Anthem at the Coliseum in LA for the NFL Rams versus Bears Military Appreciation Game on November 17, 2019. Since then, McKenzie has received calls from other NFL teams requesting the same thing. COVID19 has put a damper on those plans, but he still feels positive about his future post-pandemic.

In 2017 McKenzie would write and upload to Youtube a song called “Gunshots”. The song was about the sound sensitivity many combat veterans experience once they get back home. Loud sounds can often replicate the sound of exploding munitions. “The song was based on an actual experience,” said McKenzie. While at the grocery store one day he watched a family enter the store with a handful of balloons, one of which popped in close proximity to him. “I freaked out and had to duck behind the tomatoes,” McKenzie said. “I was immediately back in Ramadi, Iraq.” The song went viral and all of sudden he began to get calls from news stations that wanted to talk to him about the song. He was also invited to be a guest on the national talk show, The Raw Word. “That song and that video put me on the map,” said McKenzie. With the song now reaching thousands upon thousands of views, he began to realize his dreams of becoming a known musician. He also realized his capacity to raise awareness and help his fellow veterans. 22

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Photo: Courtesy LA Rams (Nov 17, 2019)



On March 24, 2021, McKenzie will release his first ever album, “Therapy Session”. It will be released on all digital platforms, and available March 12 for pre-order. Pre-Orders will include a free song called “Tour Guide”. Performed, produced and promoted by himself, he hopes that his music excites, inspires and shows veterans that they are not alone. You can learn more about Elliott McKenzie, his music and his personal mission at his website at www.elliottmckenzie.com You can watch his viral video of “Gunshots” on his Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh2pY55s89s&feature=emb_logo

Photos by: Beverly De Jesus (www.beverlydejesus.com)

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


Music Therapy & Military

Most of us have knowledge or experience of music. We all know a song can bring back a flood of memories, cheer us up, or bring on stronger emotions of sadness or anger. But have you thought about how or why music has such a powerful effect on us? Have you considered harnessing that power of music and using it to help you process and work on those areas of your life? That’s the basic idea of what music therapy can do for a person. The amazing part is music therapy can do so much MORE than change your mood or lift your spirits. In WWII, service members were coming back with “shell shock” or “soldier’s heart”. These veterans were displaying difficulty regulating emotions and relating with others. Interestingly enough, when Walter Reed Hospital had musicians provide music for their patients, the service members diagnosed with what we now call Post -Traumatic Stress showed a positive response. The patients interacted with other patients by making music and singing together and having opportunities to reintegrate into society through that musical experience. With that being said, more research and training was necessary for the musicians in order to use music as a treatment for these populations. Thus, the field of music therapy was born. 24

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

When many are coming home with feelings of isolation, post traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, traumatic brain injuries, and then on top of it trying to reconnect with the civilian world- there are a lot of things we may not know how to say or express. Music therapy helps service members and veterans self-validate their voices, articulate their own perspectives, and build healthy narratives of their experiences. After a traumatic brain injury, the brain is actively working to rebuild connections to regain functions such as speech, cognition and motor movement. Music provides a stimulus that helps prime the brain to rebuild these connections stronger and faster than other conventional methods. In other words, people can learn to speak and move again through music therapy interventions. In the hands of a qualified professional, it becomes a powerful therapeutic tool. Music therapy is an evidence-based health profession with a strong research foundation and requires knowledge in psychology, medicine, and music. Music therapists must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in music therapy and must pass a board certification exam in order to obtain the MT-BC credential, which protects the public by ensuring competent practice and requiring continuing education.

Music therapists use a variety of music-related interventions such as learning an instrument, creating a song, or collaborating with others through music to address the symptoms of PTS, TBI and other challenges like anger, anxiety and/or chronic pain. Music therapy can be and has been a bonding experience between service members and their peers and family members. Participants in music therapy groups set individual goals and work with peers and facilitators to accomplish these goals. Having opportunities to create music together and work together on songs can help recreate the camaraderie of service but in a new environment. Music therapy can also just take your mind off of all those everyday issues or struggles from service or while transitioning, even if it’s just for an hour or two a week. “In music [therapy], we always look at how can we create this safe container for somebody to express themselves,” said Barbara Reuer, CEO and Founder of Resounding Joy, San Diego’s nonprofit provider of military music therapy. “If they get connected with the arts while they’re in treatment, then it’s a connection to the community where they can keep working on expressing themselves and letting go and feeling safe. It’s expanding that safe container into the community. ”Resounding Joy’s Semper Sound Military Music Therapy program began with a request from Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) in 2010. Semper Sound encourages music therapy’s accessibility in hospitals, veteran facilities, and community centers as a key component of veterans’ wellness programs.

Over the last ten years, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have grown to recognize military music therapy as a cost-effective, powerful tool to improve the lives of their men and women. From Semper Sound’s humble beginning with a few sessions at NMCSD, to its partnership with new initiatives such as the NEA’s Creative Forces, Semper Sound has helped lead military health care to recognize the value of music therapy and has been highlighted as a national model by the American Music Therapy Association. To learn more about Resounding Joy or if you would like to inquire about music therapy individual or group sessions go to Resounding Joy’s website at www.resoundingjoyinc.org


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


Valentine’s Day Impress your Valentine’s Day sweetie with an encyclopedic knowledge of the facts surrounding this quintessential day of love that’s been around since Roman times.

Valentine’s Day - February 14 26

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Dying for Love

Theories abound on the origin of Valentine’s Day, but the most popular dates back to 270 A.D and the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II. Seems Claudius didn’t want men marrying during wartime because he believed single men fought better. Bishop Valentine took exception and performed secret nuptials anyway. Claudius found out, jailed Valentine and had him executed on Feb. 14. From jail the holy man wrote a love letter and signed it “From your Valentine” and greeting card industry cheered.

First Speed Dating

In the Middle Ages, young men and women picked names out of a box to see who would be their Valentine. Then they would wear the names pinned to their sleeves for a week. This lead to the expression “to wear your heart on your sleeve.”

The Chocolate Connection

Doctors in the 1800s routinely advised patients pining for lost love to eat chocolate to calm themselves. Later in the century Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Today, no fewer than 35 million boxes of chocolate are sold each Valentine’s Day. More than $1 billion in chocolate is bought in the United States alone.

Not just a U.S. Holiday

Besides the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark and Italy.

Japan’s Take

Valentine’s Day was introduced here in 1936 and quickly became popular – with a twist. Because of a translation error, women buy men chocolates on this day to show interest. The men return the favor, if so inclined, on White Day, March 14.

It’s a Good Day for the Roses

Valentine’s Day – along with Christmas and Mothers Day – is huge day for florists. This single day generates sales of $14.7 billion, which is greater than the gross domestic product of several countries. An estimated 189 million flowers are sold in the United States this day of which about 110 million are roses.

Feb. 14 in History ….

Capt. James Cook killed by natives in Hawaii (1779), Oregon and Arizona admitted to the Union (1859 and 1912, respectively), James Polk becomes first president photographed in office (1848), United Parcel Service formed (1919), the League of Women Voters established (1920), Aretha Franklin recorded “Respect” (1967), Richard Nixon installed a secret taping system in the White House (1971) and Voyager I photographs entire solar system (1990) WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


Real Talk: Mental Health By Jenny Lynne Stroup, Outreach Coordinator for the Cohen Clinic at VVSD

Lessons in Love: Good Help They walk down the aisle of the pharmacy hand-inhand. As they reach the counter, one hooks his cane on the shelf as the other rummages around in her purse for their prescription bottles. This couple is not imaginary, they were long-time customers of my family’s independent pharmacy. Nearly every day, they would shuffle in the door and down the long aisle to the back counter. Always together. It is this image I have of some of my favorite customers that informed what I wanted from marriage long before I was married. I wanted someone who would shuffle alongside me to accomplish the mundane tasks of life ‘til death do us part. I was naïve to think that this end-of-life togetherness comes easily. That because two people lived with each other for a long time, the natural conclusion is that when they were old, they would totter to the pharmacy together each day. I’ve been married for over a decade now. Sometimes that decade feels like a thousand lifetimes. Who knew you could pack so much life into ten years? 28

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

When my husband and I said our vows we were young, naïve to the ways of military life, and lured into the promise of ease that only shore duty can bring. We had not yet been tested by time and distance, war and illness. Those things above-time, distance, war, illness-are things that can easily smash a marriage into smithereens on their own. When added altogether they are surely a recipe for decimation. Yet, we’re still here. Still married, and most days, happily so. I attribute our continued relationship, especially the happy part, to knowing we needed a professional to help us be the partners, parents, and people we really wanted to be. Time and distance, war and illness, play significant parts in our marriage story and we were unable to overcome the worst parts of those on our own. We had to ask for help. For us, help looked like both individual and couples counseling. Through the years, we’ve sought help from a variety of sources, and I’ve discovered what good help looks like to me.

Individually, good help looks like: • Counselors who use evidence-based therapy practices • Therapists who are knowledgeable about the military lifestyle • Clinicians that provide support for what the client wants to address and can also identify and treat any underlying issues, such as substance use or previous trauma • Attending a support group As a couple, good help looks like: • Clinicians who are trained in well-researched treatment modalities, such as the Gottman Method or Emotionally Focused Therapy • Someone who is willing to help both partners see the other partner’s side of the story • Counselors who encourage truth telling • Therapists who model good communication skills and help each partner practice those skills before leaving the office • Someone who is a good moderator and mediator • Clinicians who provide homework and tools to use outside of therapy sessions when real life situations present themselves (Practice makes permanent!) The lesson in love I learned from watching my favorite customers was that longevity is achieved with mutual support of one another. The lesson in love I learned in my own marriage is that longevity is achieved with a lot of good help along the way. *If you are experiencing safety issues, call the Domestic Violence hotline (for San Diego it is 1-888-DVLINKS) or go to a local shelter. Safety first, marriage second.

Jenny Lynne Stroup serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the ​Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Veterans Village of San Diego​. www.vvsd.net/cohenclinicsandiego Clinical contributions by Shari Houser, Clinic Director at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Veterans Village of San Diego The Cohen Clinic at VVSD is one of 19 mental health clinics nationwide under nonprofit Cohen Veterans Network​(CVN) which focuses on providing targeted treatments​for a variety of mental health challenges facing post-9/11 veterans and military families, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, transition challenges, and more.

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


A Different Lens Mental Health Monthly By RanDee McLain, LCSW

WORDS MATTER In order to combat any confusion, I thought some basic definitions would help. I reached out to my good old friend Webster.

We had very open and candid conversations about the election and specifically addressed the why. It is often easier to just say something is wrong or get upset than to truly understand the why. I was able to learn more about her background and why she voted the way she did. I was able to understand why certain issues where important to her and why others where not as impactful to her. She was also able to hear and learn about my views and background. Neither of us changed our decisions….but we respected and understood each other. This is what I see so often missing in our dayto-day dialogue. It is ok….in fact it is healthy….to have different opinions. It is how we deal with them that is the challenge.

Unity: The state of being united or joined as a whole Divisive language: Creating disunity or dissention

Here are three tips that help us to bring happiness into 2021.

As I began to write this month’s column, I thought about the words I would like to use. I thought about how in recent history our words have had significant impact and many times have attributed to high emotions and reactivity amongst us. Not that this hasn’t happened before, but it seems in recent years it is more prevalent.

Polarizing: Causing strong disagreement between opposing groups. Civil Discord: lack of agreement (between people, things or ideas) I must also say - this is NOT a political article. These lessons apply to all areas of our lives.

Seek out positives in any situation. It does not matter what the situation is – there can always be something positive. It is easy to find negatives in our daily life, but it takes effort to see the positives. I make a conscious effort to point out at least three things daily that have been positive and at least one way I brought positivity to the world around me.

Back in 2016, our country was gearing up for an election. That year my sister also turned 30 and we went to celebrate with a weeklong trip to Cabo San Lucas. As we were getting ready for bed one night, we turned on the TV. We turned to the only three channels that were in English. Of course, they were all tuned into the election. We spent several minutes checking out each one and they were all three covering the same speech. We knew the speech was the same due to what we were watching but the commentary was VERY different. The different spin from each channel was astonishing. If you did not know better, you would not know they were watching the same speech. That day I realized the news in that moment was more opinion than fact. This is when I truly saw how polarizing the information was being put out- on the very same event. If I had only watch one channel, I would have only had one very far leaning biased view.

Own what is yours to own! Let go of what is out of our control. So many times, we get frustrated about things that are out of our control. Many times these are things that have little impact on us. Example: I once dated a guy who was so enraged in traffic. He would let the fact that someone was going slower than he wanted impact his entire night. Someone else’s slow driving negatively impacted his mood for several hours after. Granted this is extreme but so often we let things we can not change impact our emotions and behaviors.

That same year, I had an amazing friend who had and still does, very different political choices then myself. What was unique was the way we approached the election and our friendship.

Words have power…..use them wisely. Think before you speak and spend more time listening.


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Lastly, we have more alike than we are different. Take time to talk to others and see their point of view. Listen to others and use less divisive language. We do not all have to have the same beliefs to get along or respect one another. Respect for others goes a long way towards unity and over all happiness.

I wish you all a healthy and safe rest of 2021.

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


WHAT’S NEXT Transition to Civilian Life By Eve Nasby

Ask, and You Shall Receive

I joined the military right out of highschool and left the military without a civilian job lined up. I’m in debt and am struggling now as I’m paying rent, utilities and other bills I’ve not had to before. Where can I turn?

- Behind in Baltimore You are not alone. Many veterans joined right after high school, so have never interviewed for a job or written a resume. Without this experience, it’s common to assume that finding a great job will be easy upon exit. There’s hope. There are thousands of free organizations that help you get on your feet, such as Support the Enlisted Project (STEP). This month is all about sharing the love. Each month, “What’s Next” highlights stories of transitioning veterans, while providing real-life tips and strategies that help to prepare for transition and execute with purpose. Our readers have written to us with real world questions and struggles. I’m struggling with how to translate what I did in the military to what I can do in civilian life. I’m proud of what I accomplished in the military, but employers want to know what I can do for them today and into the future. How do I effectively communicate that?

- Confused in Cincinnati Knowing your value and how to effectively communicate it is an art, but the art can be easily learned and executed. Let’s start with your resume. Many free professional resume writers help veterans just like you create a resume that translates your past accomplishments clearly to civilian employers. Next, to prepare for the interview, anticipate questions you could be asked by reading the job descriptions carefully. Using the STAR method is helpful to effectively translate your past skills into your future value during an interview. You’ll be surprised how well you can translate leadership, management and task execution accomplishments from the military into relevant answers that resonate with employers. 32

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Behind on payments? Need help understanding how to budget? Connect with Tony Teravanien and team at www. stepsocal.org I’m used to a chain of command and people showing up on time. The civilian corporate world is not like that. How do I adapt?

- On time in Tallahassee Let’s start with recognizing a need to adjust your mindset, expectations, language and responses. It takes some practice, but eventually will feel more natural. Arriving 30 minutes before a meeting is not a best practice in the civilian world. Take a deep breath and study your environment. Observe when people show up, and how they interact. Just as if you were assigned to a billet in a different country, get to know the language, the culture and the people. If you’re leading a team or project where people are chronically late, it’s perfectly acceptable to reinforce the expectations of being “on-time.” I don’t speak ‘corporate’. I don’t know what to wear, how to act and am nervous that once I’m in a company I may lose my job because I don’t know what I don’t know.

– Anxious in Anchorage One simple approach is to search for and apply to veteran friendly companies. They typically have Veteran Employee Resource Groups, where former military employees meet regularly for social or philanthropic activities. Dave Grundies

These companies will also have veterans who volunteer as a mentor to help you assimilate day one in the corporate environment. This is a great way to ease the transition and be around people who completely understand what you’re going through. There are so many non profits offering to help me. I’m drowning in a sea of goodwill. Where do I start?

- Blessed in Boise Start with what you truly need. Because of the number of non profit organizations out there, there is overlap in services. There are non profits just designed to help you out of a financial pickle. There are others who will help you network and still others that will train you on a completely new skill. Identify a few and check out their ratings and reviews. Ask around. For every great non profit designed to help you there is another one that could take advantage of you. Do your research and NEVER pay for services. There are too many of us who are skilled at what we do and do it for free. I’ve been told what to wear, when to show up, and what to do for 30 years. I’m about to have choices in my work, and a lot of them. What industry? What location? What role? What salary? Where do I begin?

- Overwhelmed in Omaha You are not alone! Make a list of your ideal job, location, salary, environment, and/or whatever else is important to you. Write down the pros and cons of each and try to rank them by personal importance. Try www.Salary.com to get accurate information on your market value and how different positions pay.



Join today - simple and free Get hired quickly Flexible schedules Options to work multiple jobs Get paid every Friday

Seek out trusted friends and business leaders in the field you are choosing. Leverage your network for answers and advice. Don’t have a network? Start one! It’s much easier than it sounds. LinkedIn is a great place to start your professional network, and while you are there, connect with me for any additional help you may need.

Contact Eve Nasby

linkedin.com/in/eve-nasby-given-hiring-expert If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, we’d love to help. Send to Info@homelandmagazine.com

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


HUMAN RESOURCES Transition to Business By Paul Falcone

Family & Transition: Your Private Sector Retirement Options This month’s editorial calendar focuses on, among other things, transition and education, especially for spouse and family. Few topics are better suited to capture all these audiences than your private sector retirement plan. True, you may have a handsome pension plan from your military years of service, but there are additional tax and longterm benefits to investing in your retirement through your private sector employer. Here’s a quick overview of some of the choices that lie ahead in addition to this author’s recommendation for the long haul.

Defined Benefit (aka “Traditional”) Pension Plans Traditional pension plans are fairly rare in corporate America these days, but if you’re fortunate enough to be offered a position with a company that has a defined benefit pension plan in place, run—don’t walk—to accept their offer! That’s because this typical benefit trumps all others and is incredibly valuable in terms of its longterm potential. A “defined benefit” pension, or “DB” plan, provides a monthly annuity or lump sum that you receive at retirement by using a set formula that includes your compensation and your years of service with the organization. Typically, you become eligible to participate in the plan once you reach some service milestone (typically around five years), and it “guarantees” a monthly payout once you reach age 65. (There can be exceptions in terms of corporate bankruptcies, but the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation in Washington, D.C. can “guarantee” a percentage of the total payout). 34

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

The key to traditional pension plans, unlike 401(k) plans, is that the company typically pays the entire cost of the benefit and assumes all risks related to the investments, and there is no cost to the employee. Defined Contribution (aka 401(k)) Plans 401(k) plans and their brethren—403(b) plans in the nonprofit sector and 457 plans in the public sector—like traditional pension plans, help you save for retirement. There’s one major difference, though—you’re saving your own money that you deduct from each paycheck and are fully responsible for the outcomes of your investment choices. Not quite as attractive as the traditional pension plans described above, 401(k)s make up the bulk of retirement options at most companies and have some unique tax advantages as well. The model works well in terms of its efficiency and incentives. Companies receive tax breaks if they match a certain percentage of employee investments, and workers receive tax breaks if they set aside a particular amount of money for their own retirement. Do your best to start investing in the company’s 401(k) as soon as you are eligible. Pay particular attention to the company “matching” aspects of the plan. Take advantage of the “full match” offered by the employer. For example, if the company matches $.50 on the dollar up the first six percent of your earnings, set aside six percent of your earnings in your 401(k) plan. You can always go higher and invest more, but don’t leave free money on the table: invest up to the company’s match whenever possible. Traditional versus ROTH 401(k)s 401(k) plans, like Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA), come in two basic flavors: Traditional and ROTH. The difference between the two has to do with tax treatments of the deductions now and the payouts later in your retirement years. “Traditional” 401(k) plans are known as “salary reduction plans.” The “salary reduction” element stems from the fact that the money invested by a worker is immediately hidden from taxation. In other words, if you earn $100,000/ year but contribute $15,000 to your Traditional 401(k) plan, the government will tax you as if you only earned $85,000 that year.

The salary reduction element exists because employee contributions to Traditional 401(k) plans are made on a pre-tax basis. Traditional contributions reduce your taxable income in the year you make the contribution— that’s one of the key tax incentives built into 401(k) program design: the more you invest in yourself, the fewer taxes you end up paying the government the following year. There’s a second key incentive that the government uses to incentivize U.S. workers to save for their own retirement via traditional 401(k) investments: the money you invest decade after decade grows taxdeferred until you withdraw it at retirement. Once you retire, you’ll then pay ordinary income tax on all traditional contributions and any gains. ROTH 401(k) plans, in comparison, work differently because they allow workers to opt to receive their tax incentives at the time of retirement rather than now. For example, ROTHs are not designed to reduce your current taxes. In the example above, if you earn $100,000/year and invest $15,000 into your ROTH 401(k), you’ll still be taxed this year on your full $100,000 salary. However, the gains on your investments when you retire will be tax free. In other words, with a traditional 401(k), you’ll pay taxes on the gains when you retire; with a ROTH 401(k), you won’t pay taxes on those gains when you retire and can keep all the money you see in the account. Yahoo! Speak with your accountant or financial adviser about which option suits you best. What Do I Invest In? Major mutual fund investment houses like Vanguard, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and others offer lifecycle or “target date” funds that match your age. They typically invest in only a few mutual funds in the account—for example, a total U.S. stock market, total international stock market, total U.S. bond market, and total international bond market fund—and simply match your stockbond percentage to your age. At 25, your investment allocation would likely be in 90% stocks and 10% bonds. At 45, you’ll be in 70% stocks and 30% bonds. At some point, you may be in 60% bonds and 40% stocks as you near retirement. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach to giving you total stock market diversification and low costs. Simply check what options your employer offers for lifecycle funds or their equivalent, and you’ll be done in a flash. Now that’s smart investing and excellent tax and retirement planning in one fell swoop.

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

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


HIRE THE BEST AT NO RISK Employers LOVE Hiring Veterans! www.bandofhands.com

A Veteran Owned Business Proudly Supporting Veterans, Military Spouses and Active Duty Military looking for work and employers needing great workers.

All-inclusive company memberships starting at $100/month provide: • Immediate access to quality talent • Unbeatable rates with no hidden costs • Unlimited job postings, unlimited use of local recruiters • Hire quickly with one click • Hire as permanent employee at any time with no rollover fee • Built in quality control & background checks • Hire on to our payroll to avoid risks and costs or put your current employees / temps on our payroll - no liability, no cost of turnover

Join the Band of Hands Network to Start Hiring Talent at No Risk TODAY! 36

Contact Eve Nasby, President of Band of Hands and passionate military supporter to learn more and get started. eve@bandofhands.com

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


BECOME A CRANE OPERATOR Skillbridge Approved

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

Veteran Only Locations

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

TRAIN TO BECOME A CRANE OPERATOR TODAY. Visit: www.heavyequipmentcollege.com www.heavyequipmentcollege.com/campuses/california-ft-irwin-csp/ No Official US Government or DOD endorsement is implied

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


ENLISTED TO ENTREPRENEUR By Vicki Garcia veteransinbiz@gmail.com

The Lean Startup Methodology During the pandemic, while everyone is out of the office, starting up a business seems like a promising idea. But deciding the kind of business is an important step which no longer depends on what you want to do, but rather what customers want. That’s the concept behind “Lean Startup.” “Lean startup” is a new way of approaching a startup enterprise. There’s lots of info on the internet about it due to its use by many highly successful new businesses. 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.

Lean Startup

Find out what your customers want first before you build a whole company around what you think your customers want. 38

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

The methodology has since been expanded to apply to any individual, team, or company looking to introduce new products or services into the market. Since money is tight right now Lean Startup is timely and uses concepts of scientific experimentation to prove that you’re making progress. It encourages you to launch as early and cheaply as possible, so you don’t waste time and money. You can get a great preview of the book at www.tinyurl.com/y5xouscy.

Starting a Business as a Veteran?

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 leapof-faith assumptions and to help entrepreneurs begin the learning process as quickly as possible. Lean Startup example: 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. Now that we’re all buying everything online because we’re stuck at home Zappos seems like genius. Zappos is now a billion-dollar business. Forget the impossible to find investors, a big bank account, a partner you don’t need because they have capital. 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 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.

The transition from military service to civilian life can be a difficult one, especially when it comes to your career. That’s why a growing number of veterans choose to forge their own path and become entrepreneurs after leaving the Armed Forces. While starting a business comes with numerous challenges, former service members do have one distinct advantage: the veteran community. “The strength and power of veteran entrepreneurs comes from other veteran entrepreneurs” Unlike most highly competitive entrepreneurial environments, veteran entrepreneurs share information much more easily. If you or someone you know is a veteran looking to start a business, please feel free to contact Vicki Garcia. Enlisted To Entrepreneur Column available at https://tinyurl.com/y2hgyu24 Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Operation Vetrepreneur & President of Marketing Impressions, a 30+ -year- old marketing consulting firm. Apply to join Operation Vetrepreneur’s FREE one-on-one mentoring at www.veteransinbiz.com. Join the California Veterans Chamber of Commerce for FREE at www.caveteranschamber.com Email Vicki with column ideas at veteransinbiz@gmail.com WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


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

Why ICOHS College?

Career Outcomes:

• GI Bill & MyCAA Approved

• Technical Support Specialist

• Flexible Schedule

• IT Support Technician

• Online & In-person Hybrid Classes

• Network Administrator

• Small Class Size

• Network Analyst

• Hands-on Training

• Systems Administrator

• Lifelong Job Placement and Career

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



WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


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


INCORPORATE YOUR BUSINESS Forming a corporation is an essential step to protect your personal assets from any liabilities of the company. Each business structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your specific circumstances. GET A FEDERAL TAX ID NUMBER To distinguish your business as a separate legal entity, you will need to obtain a Federal Tax Identification Number, also referred to as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The EIN is issued by the IRS and acts as a social security number for your business. This number will identify your business with the IRS and your clients.


ith each new year, entrepreneurs look to turn their vision into a business. These startups are often overflowing with tremendous ideas, energy and optimism, but don’t always have a roadmap for the legal aspects involved in starting a business. In the flurry of drumming up new customers, getting ready for a website launch and building the first prototype, it’s all too easy to put off some of the less glamorous, more administrative aspects of running a company. Company filings and regulations are not the most exciting parts of your startup, yet they are critical to the health of your business and personal finances. Here’s a list of administrative aspects you need to consider for your startup or small business: PICK A NAME – MAKE SURE YOU ARE LEGALLY PERMITTED TO USE IT Before you start printing our business cards, make sure the great new name you thought of is not infringing on the rights of an already existing business. Start with a simple google search, conduct a free trademark search and then conduct a search with the Secretary of State.


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT TO START BUILDING BUSINESS CREDIT When you rely on your personal credit to fund your business, your personal mortgage, auto loan and personal credit cards all affect your ability to qualify for a business loan. Using business credit separates your personal activities from that of the business. The begin building your business credit, you should open a bank account in the name of your company and the account should show a cash flow capable of taking on a business loan. LEARN ABOUT EMPLOYEE LAWS Your legal obligations as an employer begin as soon as you hire your first employee. You should spend time understanding what your obligations are according to the state you conduct business in. You should know federal and state payroll and withholding taxes, self-employment taxes, antidiscrimination laws, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation rules, and wage and hour requirements. Obtain the necessary business permits and licenses Depending on your business type and physical location, you may be required to have one or more business licenses or permits from the state, local or even federal level. Such licenses include, general business operation license, zoning and land use permit, sales tax license, or professional licenses.

FILE FOR TRADEMARK PROTECTION Using a name instantly gives you common law rights as an owner, even without formal registration. However, trademark law is complex and simply registering your company in your state does not automatically give you common-law rights. In order to claim first use, the name has to be trademarkable and in use in commerce. It’s always a great idea to protect your business name as it can become a valuable asset of your company.

Go Legal Yourself ® Know Your Business Legal Lifecycle

2nd Edition NOW AVAILABLE!

GET YOUR LEGAL DUCKS IN A ROW No matter how busy things with your startup get, set aside some time to address these matters and take your legal obligations seriously. Getting your legal ducks in a row right from the start will help you avoid any pitfalls down the road, and will help you scale your business successfully as you grow. I’m the CEO of www.GoLegalYourself.com where we help entrepreneurs start, run, and grow their business and I’m proud to provide a limited time offer of 10% discount on our Startup Essentials Package. Please use the code Veteran at checkout. For more information on how to legally protect your business please pick up a copy of my bestselling book: ‘Second Edition Go Legal Yourself’ on Amazon or visit my website at www.golegalyourself.com

Disclaimer: This information is made available by Bagla Law Firm, APC for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, and not to provide specific legal advice. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Award-winning attorney, Kelly Bagla shows you how to avoid legal pitfalls FROM DAY ONE! The last thing an entrepreneur wants is to spend valuable time and resources on legal issues, which is why they often drop to the bottom of the pile. But this can be a COSTLY MISTAKE—and Go Legal Yourself is here to make sure it’s one you avoid. • • • •

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

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


Get your copy at amazon today! WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


sponsored by

calling all Veterans & military startups! growing business owners!

Free* help is here!


r u e n e r p e r

build a Foundation For your success. coaching | training | brainstorming

Veterans and active military make great entrepreneurs. Building a company is tough & requires lots of work. It can be lonely. The vets & active military we work with, from start-up to experienced owners, polish their business smarts the same way they learned skills in the military.

Startup & Grow Brainstorming Cohorts Everything You Need to Launch & Fast Track Growth 4-Weeks 1 Morning per Week, Hands on Business Growth Acceleration

Business Planning Deep Dive Intensive Focus, Make Decisions, Move Forward Quickly Half day, Concentrated Planning with Expert Leader IN THE TRENCHES . . . What You Can Expect


Startup & Grow

New Brainstorming Cohorts Starting NOW! Register at www.veteransinbiz.com for schedule Want Info? www.operationvetrepreneur.vet Questions? Email veteransinbiz@gmail.com Operation Vetrepreneur is a Project of the National Veterans Transition Services, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

*A small “skin in the game” fee is refundable when you attend all 4 meetings.

Certification & Supplier Diversity Concept Review for Startups Perfecting Your Pitch Speaker Training Brainstorming with Experts Publishing Knowhow Personal Branding Mind Mapping Crowdfunding Writing a Business Plan Branding, Graphics & Visuals Internet Marketing Social Media & SEO Legal Issues Budgeting Where & How to Get Money High Velocity Growth Strategies Employees & Contractors

Looking Through My Eyes

What I knew I wouldn’t be able to do was commit to a major without being passionate about it or not having the capability to create change the way I eagerly wanted to.

Transition & Change By Nicole Langford No one likes change, or at least no one likes to admit it. Being in a military family, change becomes part of your routine as you’re subjected to movement with advancement. But with these changes, you are also presented with new opportunities to grow, as transition and change go hand-in-hand. I am just starting my journey from student to graduate to finding the career path. Through my eyes, I wanted to share my journey, my positive mindset, armed with research, persistence and a plan. Something I think we all have in common no matter our age or experience. If I have learned anything in the last few years, it is that time doesn’t stop for anyone. By living in the moment, you’re given the feeling of authenticity and serendipity without a care in the world…until the imminent future somehow manages to catch you too. Looking back, if I could tell my 18-year-old self one thing before walking through the double doors in Boland Hall at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, it would be to find balance in living in the moment and planning for your future.

It feels like just yesterday I was taking my introduction classes and now I am four short months away from graduation. And this short time I have left has left me with a mix of emotions. Starting with sadness because I’ve created friendships that will last a lifetime. Happiness because it’s a huge accomplishment and I’m proud of the work I’ve done. Jealousy of the freshman who have three more years left. But most importantly fear for what comes next. Over the last month I have seriously searched for an opportunity to gain insight into the industry I want to go into and despite my doubt, I was given the opportunity to intern with a firm in New York. A lot of the times, we as humans let self-doubt take over when we shouldn’t. And finishing my four years of college has taught me that I am capable of whatever I set my mind to. With the help of resources like the VA and my family and friends I know that after I graduate I will go on to inflict positive change I have aimed to since stepping off the plane in New Jersey to start this journey.

“ Regardless of the career you choose, dedicate time to continue learning & improve your skills.” - Kenneth Langford

I can say that my four years at Seton Hall have been transformational to the development of not only my education but of my own character and my aspirations. Coming into college I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to touch people’s lives and inflict positive change for them, but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to go about this. With the advice of the people who know me the best, I found political science an area I was fascinated with and that there were so many areas that need reformation for education, someone’s strongest asset, as well as access. I went about this by majoring in public relations, focusing on sharpening my communication skills and minoring in an area I was especially fascinated with. Nicole & her father, Kenneth Langford, LCDR (USCG) Retired

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


“Facing the Challenge” addresses why an across-the-board effort is necessary to help the homeless. “Healthcare and Beyond” describes how the VA assists homeless veteran’s with healthcare, housing, employment and more.

Feburary 2021


The County of San Diego Office of Military and Veterans Affairs Proudly Supports the SDVC The County of San Diego Office of Military and Veterans Affairs provides support and service to the over 1.1 million service-connected residents across the County. The mission of Office of Military & Veterans Affairs (OMVA) is to provide professional services for military veterans and their dependents and survivors who are entitled to benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the State of California, and other agencies as applicable. The Office of Military & Veterans Affairs was reestablished in 1987 to serve the veteran population of San Diego County, which has the second largest veteran population in the state. The office assists veterans and their dependents and survivors to obtain benefits from the federal, state and local agencies administering programs for veterans, and provides advocacy to the veterans’ community regarding entitlement rights to federal, state and local benefits programs. Besides providing direct services to veterans, the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs conducts continuous outreach to the community through its periodic newsletter. The latest OMVA newsletter focuses upon a specific segment of veterans in need, the homeless veterans in San Diego County. In it you will find a variety of articles focused on the homeless veterans’ community and service organizations that provide assistance.

“One Facility’s All-Hands Approach” illustrates how the Aspire Center is doing things differently when it comes to treating vets with PTSD, depression and anxiety. “VVSD Leaves No One Behind” tells how just like the military they served, Veterans Village of San Diego makes sure everyone is accounted for. “Home Is Where The Heart Is” relates how the Hawley Veterans Service Center gives homeless veterans a hand up. “A PATH Home” relates how People Assisting The Homeless helps veterans find housing and stabilize their lives. “Back To Civilian Life” recounts how one small organization makes a big difference. “Just One Phone Call” tells the story of how Courage To Call links veterans to the right services anywhere in the region. “It Takes A Team” describes veterans finding support with each other in the Veterans Moving Forward program. “Home At Last” chronicles the County’s work with federal programs to secure landlord partners and housing assistance for veterans. Each of the current newsletter articles are insightful, informative and provide contact information and veteran success stories. www.bats4boys.com The County of San Diego Office of Military and Veterans Affairs is a steadfast and significant supporter of the veteran’s community in San Diego and a proud member of the SDVC. For additional information, please visit “www.sdvetscoalition.org”

The OMVA newsletter can be viewed at; “https://issuu.com/news_review/docs/sdvets_rgb?e=2059002/82588998”


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

The Office of Military and Veterans Affairs supports the SDVC!


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


“The men and women who serve our Nation deserve our support — Today, Tomorrow, Always —”

February 2021

VANC A Heart for Service I am quite excited that the calendar has changed to 2021. I don’t think I am alone in considering 2020 a year best left in the calendar I already threw away. We look forward to getting to see more active duty, veterans and their families and getting more done to help them. We look forward to having more connection to our community. More parades, more dinners, more Memorial Day observances and Veterans Day celebrations. As we look to the start of the year, and of course if the Governor wills it to be so, we will be open and completing the outdoor Honor Wall and event center. You can memorialize your family member or friend with a plaque on the Honor Wall. Learn more on our web site or give us a call at (760) 722-1277. We will be serving food in our touchless food distribution until the need is met. If you are currently serving, have served, or a family member to a service member, you are eligible to pick up groceries for your family. Remember, every second Friday we will be out there. To register, go to www.vanc.me/food 48

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


Our Association members and volunteers are at the heart of what we do. A special Thank you to the American Legion Post 760, our Buffalo Soldiers, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Military Order of World Wars as well as all of our Community volunteer groups and active duty volunteers who help us get it done. Please check in with us on our web site as more programs, services and classes are allowed to return to active duty for you. We are still teaching Hunter Education Classes, Meeting in Vet to Vet groups, providing Yoga classes, and our Association Members are meeting, live or virtually as per State guidelines. Join a group, volunteer your time get out of your house and do something good for your community. We hope to see you at the parades, dinners, bingo nights, and golf tournaments, all year long.

VANC FOOD DISTRIBUTION We’re happy to be serving in our community this way. Registration closes the Friday before the Distribution at Noon. You must register every month to receive your resources. Registration is open to Active Duty, Veterans and their families. If you have questions, please send an email to lori@vanc.me. Thank you!

Would you like to volunteer with the dIstribution? Please Visit : www.vanc.me/vanc-food-distribution-volunteer-opportunities

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


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

Education During Divorce: Who Pays for College and Private School Tuition? Many parents hope that their children will further their education by attending college. However, college can be a huge expense without a scholarship. A major concern for divorcing parents is how they will pay for college (and all the expenses that come with a college education) as well as who will pay for it. In California, once a child turns 18 (or 19 if they’re still attending high school) a parent is no longer obligated to financially support a child. Child support ceases at this age absent special circumstances such as an adult disabled child. Therefore, there is no legal obligation in California for parents to pay for their child’s college education. While there may not be a legal obligation, it is understandable that each parent would want commitment from the other parent to contribute to the cost of their child’s college education. So how do you get that commitment during a divorce? One way to secure a commitment to contribute to your child’s college expenses is to negotiate a provision to be included in a Marital Settlement Agreement as part of your overall divorce settlement. A Marital Settlement Agreement is an agreement between divorcing spouses that addresses issues such as child and spousal support, custody and visitation, and property division. 50

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Any provision to be included as part of your overall agreement that addresses college expenses should be specific and include the following details: - How much are you each contributing? - What expenses are you contributing to (tuition, room and board, meals, books, living expenses, etc.)? - When are contributions to be made? - Is there a limit to the amount of contributions or the time period that contributions are to be made? - Does your agreement include both private and public colleges? - Does it include in state and out of state schools? - Are there any conditions precedent to the contributions being made (i.e. does your child have to maintain a certain GPA or remain enrolled fulltime)? If you are concerned about the other parent following through on the agreement in the future, then another option is to establish a trust account or escrow account to set aside funds for college education expenses. If you have funds available at the time of your divorce, this may be a better option for you.

You can agree a certain sum is set aside at that time as well as how much money both parties are to contribute to the future if more contributions are necessary. If further contributions are to be made, your agreement should have the same specificity as discussed above. Finally, you should consider including the obligation to maintain insurance in your agreement. In the future, there is always the chance that a parent will become disabled and lose their job or even pass away at some point after the divorce but before the child goes to college. If anything happens to either parent, having life insurance or disability insurance in place as security could help ensure financial protection for the child’s college education and associated expense. If your child has not yet graduated high school and is attending a private school, you may also have concerns regarding the other parent’s contribution to that cost during your divorce. Educational expenses are considered discretionary child support add-ons. Therefore, the Court does have discretion to order the other parent to contribute to private school tuition. The Court will weigh several factors. These factors include: - The incomes of both parents (Can the parent’s afford private school going forward?) - The specific educational needs of the child (Does the child have a specific and documented need that cannot be adequately addressed by public school?) - The child’s previous education history (Has the child been attending the same private school for several years?) - The religious background of the child and/or family - The extent to which the noncustodial parent was involved in the child’s education prior to the divorce The Court’s decision is a balancing act in the best interest of the child. Keep in mind that the Court may not order the payment of private school tuition if a party cannot afford it or the Court determines it is not in the child’s best interest.

For more information about educational expenses in your military divorce, check out our website: www.frfamilylaw.com or call (858) 720-8250 and ask to speak with military family law attorney Tana Landau.

Time for a Fresh Start.

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

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

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

Legal Experts with Humanity WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


Spotlight Our dogs can assist veterans with mobility issues by retrieving/carrying items, bracing for balance, and helping with prosthetics.

Our Mission Guide Dogs of America’s (GDA) mission is to transform lives through partnerships with service dogs. We partner life-changing guide/service dogs with people who are blind/visually impaired, veterans with PTSD, children with autism, and professionals who work in hospitals, schools, and courtrooms. Our History During the mid-1940s, a visually impaired man named Joseph Jones was refused a guide dog because of his age – he was only fifty-seven. A determined man, Joseph researched the guide dog movement and established a school of his own. In 1948, he founded GDA on one principle: providing guide dogs to the blind free of charge, regardless of your age. Having long recognized the life-changing impact service dogs can have on people with disabilities, GDA merged with Tender Loving Canines (TLC) in January of 2020. Our TLC program provides service dogs for veterans, children with autism, and facilities like hospitals, schools, and courtrooms. Before joining forces, TLC’s services were limited to California residents only. Today we are proud to share that our service dog program is offered to people nationwide. What We Do Our school is located on a beautiful 7.5-acre campus near Los Angeles, where we serve students from the U.S. and Canada. Each student accepted into our program receives a professionally trained guide/service dog. Our trainers spend time getting to know our clients unique needs and circumstances, tailoring the training to what works best for them. Students who are visually impaired attend a three-week training. Service dog recipients take courses online before attending a one-week in-person training. We cover transportation costs, room/board, and provide lifetime support for all of our clients. All programs and services are provided at no cost to the recipient. Our Dogs Our service dogs for veterans help heroes reintegrate into society by alleviating their PTSD symptoms and assisting with mobility limitations. Our dogs provide grounding or sensory input to decrease the physiological symptoms of stress/anxiety. They are also trained to interrupt or alert to early signs of hypervigilance or escalated anxiety brought on by triggers. 52

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Our guide dogs for the blind/visually impaired bring new opportunities for life experiences and social interaction. These highly trained canines help our clients travel from one destination to the next. They avoid obstacles, stop at elevation changes, keep their partner on a straight line, stop for all oncoming traffic, and even remember common routes. Our service dogs for children with autism become trusted companions that usher confidence and independence into our clients, and their families’, lives. Our dogs can alert to early signs of escalating stress or repetitive behavior by responding to triggers. They are trained to provide sensory input like laying in a child’s lap or on their feet to help deescalate stressful situations. Our four legged-friends can perform cues like visit, wave, bow, and fist bump that welcome new social opportunities. The increase in social interaction can help children struggling with their communication skills. Puppy Raising Our volunteer puppy raisers are the cornerstone of our training program. Our guide dog puppies are placed with carefully screened foster families, known as “puppy raisers,” when they are eight weeks old. Puppy raisers teach our young canines basic obedience, proper house manners and help them gain confidence as they mature. The dogs return to GDA at 14 to 18 months of age for formal training. Service dog puppies are raised and trained in a two-year prison program. Our staff teaches carefully selected inmates how to train their dogs using only positive reinforcement techniques. Each service dog puppy grows up to learn over 50 commands. Our prison program dramatically aids in rehabilitating incarcerated individuals, providing an opportunity for education and community improvement—while helping meet the ever-growing demand for service dogs.

How You Can Help We always say that it “takes a village” to keep our organization running. That means we depend on people like you to continue transforming lives. There are many ways that you can join our team. We are always in need of qualified puppy raisers looking to provide a loving first home. Additionally, we rely on volunteers to keep our campus running. Donations are always accepted; you can find the donate button at our homepage’s top right corner. Furthermore, you can explore various other ways to give, like starting a fundraiser, using AmazonSmile, or leaving us in your will. Most importantly, our non-profit is here to serve the people that need us most. If you know anyone that would benefit from a guide or service dog, please refer them to our website, or give our admissions department a call.

“The people and the work that went into making my service dog, Shield, possible has given me a new perspective on life. I was at GDA recently, and I saw people waiting in line to volunteer. Now when I am hit with a panic attack in the middle of the night, I know these people are out here making sure I have Shield to get me through. There are thousands of people working to make my life better. It’s amazing.” - Veteran Service Dog Graduate

Headquarters: 13445 Glenoaks Blvd Sylmar, CA 90342

Phone: (818) 362-5834 or (800) 459-4843 Fax: (818) 362-6870 Email: mail@guidedogsofamerica.org Visit our Website at: www.guidedogsofamerica.org Follow us on social media at: facebook.com/GuideDogsofAmerica instagram.com/guidedogsofamerica

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


The Barnes Firm Announces $45,000 Donation to Shelter to Soldier by Eva M. Stimson The Barnes Firm officially announced a $45,000 grant to Shelter to Soldier (STS) to facilitate their ongoing effort to adopt dogs from local shelters to be trained and paired with post-9/11 combat veterans who suffer from PTS and TBI psychiatric conditions. The STS Red Star Sponsorship program inspired the Barnes Firm, which is a collaborative effort that covers the cost of supporting three separate dogs and veterans throughout the entire 12 to 18 training program. Costs included in this grant incorporate the adoption fees, housing, medical care, grooming, food, treats, training, equipment, bedding, toys, testing, handler training, equipment, certification documents and materials for both veteran and service dog. Shelter to Soldier has adopted The Barnes Firm sponsored pup, Barney, an eager Chocolate Labrador Retriever, from Labs and More Rescue out of San Diego, CA. Barney is affectionate and handler-focused and is already shining in the program. STS will adopt two more dogs under the sponsorship in the coming weeks; one from the Los Angeles area and the other from the San Francisco/Oakland area. According to Rich Barnes, President of The Barnes Firm, “We take community service very sincerely at The Barnes Firm, and while our exceptional team of trusted trial attorney’s remain committed to pledging that our clients achieve the best results possible, we are also dedicated to making a positive impact on the many people and regions we serve across California. Shelter to Soldier exemplifies admirable work that we are honored to support on behalf of our US veterans. This donation is a very impactful moment for all of us at The Barnes Firm, especially in light of all that is happing on our country and the world. Our amazing team is thrilled to step up for the Shelter to Soldier cause.” STS Co-Founder Graham Bloem remarks, “Shelter to Soldier is extremely appreciative of the generous donation from The Barnes Firm, which will enable us to advance our organization’s unwavering commitment to operating an unparalleled service dog program. We will deploy these dollars in a highly efficient manner, utilizing the skills of our certified team of trainers to take adopted shelter dogs with no training, and provide them with the necessary training and a promising future as highly capable service animals. The number of veterans and dogs at risk continues be a tragic statistic. We are positioned to address those needs through benevolent donations from generous donors such as The Barnes Firm team.” 54

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


On average, 20 Veterans and one Active Duty military personnel commit suicide on a daily basis. They have sacrificed everything to protect national freedom, and it’s STS’s turn to give back to them. STS rescue’s dogs that are better suited for a life with a job or may otherwise be overlooked, providing them a future with a purpose and a life that is fulfilled by their bond with a veteran in need. Red Star Sponsors contribute a generous $15,000 donation that directly impacts the journey for one service dog and its veteran recipient through the STS training program. Founded by late injury attorney Steve Barnes, The Barnes Firm has established a trusted relationship with clients in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego, California since 2014. In 2020, the firm expanded its footprint to New York State to serve communities in Buffalo, Rochester, New York City and Long Island. Helping veterans is a cause very near and dear to The Barnes Firm’s best injury lawyers. Steve Barnes (1958-2020) was a United States Marine Corps combat veteran who served our country in the Gulf War and The Barnes brothers’ father fought in World War II, so the siblings understood from an early age the importance of service, and the sacrifices made by every soldier. The Barnes Firm’s best attorneys believe it’s our duty to give back to these heroes and help them live the best life possible. www.thebarnesfirm.com Shelter to Soldier is a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that adopts dogs from local shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for post-9/11 combat veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or other psychological injuries. Shelter to Soldier Co Founder, Graham Bloem is the recipient of the American Red Cross Real Heroes Award, 10News Leadership Award, CBS8 News Change It Up Award, Honeywell Life Safety Award, and the 2016 Waggy Award. Additionally, Shelter to Soldier is accredited by the Patriot’s Initiative.

Join Us In 2021 San Diego

Veterans Magazine Voted 2019 & 2020 Best San Diego resource, support magazine for veterans, transitioning military personnel, active military, military families & veteran organizations

GET CONNECTED! A Veterans Magazine for Veterans by Veterans

www.sheltertosoldier.org To learn more about veteran-support services provided by STS, call (760) 870-5338 for a confidential interview regarding eligibility. Shelter to Soldier courtesy photo of “Barney”, pup sponsored by the Barnes Firm

(858) 275-4281 publisher@SDVetsMagazine.com


WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


Veterans Chamber of Commerce By Joseph Molina www.vccsd.org

Dealing With STRESS

Feeling stressed is a natural part of being human. Stress is mostly our reaction to a threatening or anxious situation. These situations are prevalent - We lose our job, a painful event occurs, we face serious illness, and so on. It’s impossible not to feel anxious since we are uncertain about a lot of things. Some level of stress could be helpful. Think about the importance of the physical stress your muscles undergo to develop during exercise. Also think of the mental and physical exhaustion you feel after a good day’s work that leads you to have a decent rest to recuperate. Feeling down at times or anxious for a while is part of life. We can say that, If some kind of stress is good, where do we draw the line? When do we realize that a stressful feeling needs dealing with? A rule of thumb suggests that if the feeling associated with stress persists, it becomes a norm, and starts to interfere with your optimal functionality in daily life, it’s time to seek help. When the lingering effects (physically or emotional) of a stressful event (maybe personal, environmental disasters, or near misses) persists, you are advised to seek professional help. When stress persists, we must get the right care and support from the right people to manage the feelings of stress and symptoms that come with it. Learning to cope with the feeling/emotions To deal with stress, it’s important that we know how to identify what stress is. It’s easier to manage or reduce in its early stages than in advanced stages. Stress can come in many forms. Let’s look at some of the most common symptoms associated with stress that I was able to find: • Excessive use of substances, smoking, and/or over consumption of alcohol • Persistent body pains including headaches, back pains, stomach/digestive issues. • Inability or difficulty concentrating at something you once enjoyed • Persistent feelings of sadness, helplessness, and frustration 56

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

• Disengagement or withdrawal from constructive activities you once found pleasurable • Insomnia, and having difficulty eating • Compulsive need to distract ourselves using network tools. *** Important: When the symptoms associated with stress persist for an unusual period of time, the best thing is to seek immediate professional help. Below are some ideas on how to reduce and or manage lower levels of stress. 1. Talk to others Just like journaling, the act of talking to others, has proven to be very helpful. When feeling stressed, it may help to talk about it with someone. Talking about it may help identify its origin and causes it can also give clarity on the situation. 2. Avoid Use of Substances and/or Alcohol The problem with substances, drugs, and alcohol is that they are quick fixes and it may be dangerous at it could create in over-dependence. We know that these substances do not solve the existing problem, rather they create additional problems, and exacerbate the existing one. 3. Take Time Off One of the most prevalent causes of our stress and anxiety today is the compulsive use and attachment to our phones and the constant flow of images, news, and other information every day. There has never been a more needed time to restructure our relationship with these network tools than now.

“Tip” We must use technology as a Tool and learn to manage our time online. We should learn to work with multiple breaks in between. 4. Activities and Food Consuming the wrong kinds of food will not just affect our waistline, or immune system, it may lead to heightened feelings of stress. If we have a tendency to overeat when stressed, it will be a good idea to meet with a health practitioner to see which types of food will be better to have – Of course we are all different and we respond differently, hence the importance of seeking a professional. “Tip” Processed foods are not our friend when under stress. 5. Relaxation / Meditation Just like talking to others or writing your thoughts down, that art of visualization, relaxation and or meditation are powerful tools when dealing with stress. Meditation encourages us to pay attention to our inner thoughts and how our body reacts to external stimuli. “Tip” This is one the most inexpensive ways to deal with stress and improve our quality of life. “I find that even 10 minutes of relaxation helps”.

In Summary: Stress comes in many levels, low levels of stress can be easily managed, high levels of stress may need professional help. Only we know how much stress we are feeling and what our “resistance-Level” Keep in Mind that learning to “quiet our mind” could be an impressive tool to help us better manage stress and other emotions.



The Veterans Chamber of Commerce Radio Show • Would you like to Nominate a Hero? Let us know and we will announce it on the show. • If you have any ideas or project that you would like to see Developed by the Veterans Chamber send your idea to: veteransccsd@gmail.com • Would you like to share your story? Be our guest on the show – Complete the REQUEST FORM. Request Form - www.vccsd.org/radioshow.html

6. Recognizing When We Need More It’s never enough or advisable to use quick fixes when it comes to stress or anxiety, sometimes it may be better to seek professional support. Most of us may feel uncomfortable to express how we fell, there are confidential programs that will be more than happy to help and maintain confidentiality. The program 2-1-1 or 0800 are great places to start and connect with professionals who can help.

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021



REOPENING SOON Check out our online programs and resources




Volunteer opportunities available. 4203 Anderson Ave, San Diego, CA 858-693-1723

Just launched...new online store!


1441 Encinitas Blvd., #110 • 760-944-1534

DEL MAR (Across from the Fairgrounds) 15555 Jimmy Durante Blvd • 858-794-9676



1231 Camino Del Rio South • 619-298-9571


1066 W. Valley Pkwy • 760-741-0441



WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

Wellpath is looking for DVBE partners! If you own a Disabled Veteran business that might serve the healthcare industry in the San Diego area please contact Sandra Kayser to inquire about a partnership opportunity. Sandra Kayser at skayser@wellpath.us

Join Us In 2021 A Veterans Magazine for Veterans by Veterans Contact us @ (858) 275-4281 www.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


How it Works:

In partnership with: 60

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021



Workshops for Warriors is a nonprofit school that provides veterans and transitioning service members with hands-on training and nationallyrecognized credentials in CNC machining, CAD/CAM programming, and welding. Our students earn credentials that open doors to jobs anywhere in the U.S.

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

Call us at (619) 550-1620.

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021



WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021




Resources Support Transition HEALTH Community

SAN DIEGO San Diego Veterans Magazine A Veterans Magazine by Veterans for Veterans

www.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com 64

WWW.SanDiegoVeteransMagazine.com / FEBURARY 2021


San Diego Veterans Magazine FEB 2021  

San Diego Military Veterans Publication - Resources, Support, PTSD, Transition, Veterans, Active Military, Military Families

San Diego Veterans Magazine FEB 2021  

San Diego Military Veterans Publication - Resources, Support, PTSD, Transition, Veterans, Active Military, Military Families

Profile for adminhlm