San Diego Veterans Magazine April 2024

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CARE services VETERANSSAN DIEGO M A G A Z I N E Vol. 7 • Number 4 • April 2024 PTSD FIGHTING
with Kids, Teens TRANSITION
& Resources
2 / April 2024 / April 2024 3 Open a certificate with Navy Federal and let your money work harder for you.
Guaranteed earnings • Flexible term options • Protection against inflation Federally insured by NCUA. © 2023 Navy Federal NFCU 14302 (11-23) Visit or call 1-888-842-6328 to open a certificate today! Sky-High Certificate Rates GIVE YOUR SAVINGS A PROMOTION The transition from service member to civilian is not easy. Thankfully, many warriors have people like you — parents, siblings, caregivers, and others — who go above and beyond to help them. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) provides guidance on VA benefits, programs, and tools you need to be there for your warriors. A listening ear. A helping hand. A community that champions the success of warriors and their families. That’s what you gain when you connect with WWPTM. SCAN OR VISIT TO REGISTER OR LEARN MORE. ©2024 WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT A WARRIOR’S JOURNEY IS NOT TRAVELED ALONE WOUNDED WARRIOR Sean Karpf WITH HIS FAMILY

Welcome to San Diego Veterans Magazine!

SDVM is a veteran-focused magazine throughout ALL San Diego & Southern California. It serves to assist all veterans, active military as well as their spouses and families.

It is the leading veteran magazine emphasizing resources & support and focusing on topics and issues facing today’s veteran community. SDVM focuses on resources, support, community, transition, mental health, inspiration and more...

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 the city of San Diego and a distinguishing list of veteran organizations & members, resource centers, coalitions, veteran advocates, and more. We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people.

Despite all the challenges, our team has upheld their focus and let not one opportunity go to provide resources and support to our veterans & military personnel.

On behalf of our team, we wanted to take this moment to say THANK YOU to the readers and our military-veteran community for supporting our magazine. With that support we aim to make a difference and continuing to make a profound impact on the quality of life for our veterans, military personnel and their families.

If you want to catch up on the current and past issues, please visit:

(858) 275-4281

4 / April 2024
San Diego Veterans Magazine 9528 Miramar Road, #41 San Diego, CA 92126
San Diego Veterans Magazine is published monthly. Submissions of photographs, Illustrations, drawings, and manuscripts are considered unsolicited materials and the publisher assumes no responsibility for the said items. All rights reserved Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller Monthly Columns What’s Next Transition Eve Nasby • Kristin Hennessy Veterans in Business Barbara Eldridge Successful Transitioning Stories Dr. Julie Ducharme Risky Business Hadley Wood Franchise Frontline Rhonda Sanderson Real Talk: Mental Health Hope Phifer PTSD: Reclaiming Control Robert ‘Bob’ Cuyler, PhD TLC Caregiving Kie Copenhaver Art & Healing Amber Robinson Legal Eagle Kelly Bagla, Esq. Family Law Tana Landau, Esq. Midway Magic David Koontz Veterans Chamber Commerce Joe Molina Contributing Writers Wounded Warrior Project Disabled American Veterans (In-House) Correspondents Holly Shaffner
EDITOR’S / April 2024 5 C 8 Midway Magic: Serving Midway Twice 10 GI Film Festival San Diego 14 Caregiving TLC: Veteran Caregivers 18 PTSD: Magnetic & Injective Treatments 20 Real Talk: Transition with Kids, Teens 23 The Month of the Military Child 24 Purple Up for Military Kids 25 Preparing Children for Deployment 28 Promises2Kids 30 Leaving Conflict in the Past 32 Pregnancy & Postpartum SD VA 33 Maternity Care Services at SD VA 34 Armed Services YMCA San diego 36 Blue Star Families 38 Transition to Civilian Life 40 What’s Next: Making the Leap 42 HR: Leading Effectively in Business 44 Off-Base Transition Training 46 Veterans in Business: The Right Stuff 48 Legal Eagle: Buying an Existing Business 53 She Talks: Entrepreneur Summit 54 Risky Business: April Showers 56 VCCSD - The Perfect Credit Score 59 San Diego Veterans Coalition 61 Veterans Association of North County 62 Careers in Law Enforcement 64 SDPD Ride Along - A Story of Two Marines 68 From Navy Sailor to SFPD APRIL 2024 INSIDE THE ISSUE * Cover Photo by Ketut Subiyanto - Your Children Deserve the Best of You!
6 / April 2024 The Elizabeth Hospice cares deeply about the people who have dedicated their lives to protecting our safety and freedom
conflict and peacetime. As a leading hospice care provider in San Diego County and Southwest Riverside County, we are committed to helping ensure that veterans are aware of their healthcare options, feel appreciated, and receive the medical support and attention they need and deserve. 800-797-2050 | Caring for our veterans

Contribute Today and Help Keep the Vision a Reality!

As a tribute to the 30,000 Veterans and their loved ones interred at Miramar National Cemetery, the Support Foundation continues to beautify the grounds with memorials and hosted patriotic ceremonies.

Our latest project, the Memorial Amphitheater, incorporates permanent guest seating at the Flag Assembly Area host to the Memorial and Veterans Day services held at Miramar National Cemetery among other patriotic events.

Your continued support of The Support Foundation’s mission is greatly appreciated by all who visit the Cemetery. / April 2024 7
To Donate: Scan the QR code or visit our
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Attn: Amphitheater Fund, 6906 Miramar Road, Ste C-142, San Diego, CA 92121 The Support Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. Tax ID #65-1277308
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Carillon Tower

Serving Midway Twice

Very few people have had the honor of serving their Navy ship twice – once in uniform and again as a veteran.

As the USS Midway Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary, a small group of former crewmen of the aircraft carrier are now serving as museum volunteers sharing personal stories of their naval adventures on the high seas with millions of visitors every year.

For all of them, being back on Midway helps recall the joy they had on the ship while steaming the world’s oceans during its decades as a fleet carrier.

because of the constant deployment schedule, we were always fully trained. We had a great working relationship with the Midway.”

For Jim Reily, a former member of Midway’s “ship’s company,” his time serving on the ship is a source of pride that continues to this day.

“I think one of the things I enjoyed most about being on Midway was how well the ship and air wing operated together as an integrated team,” said Jack Ensch, an F-4 Phantom radar intercept officer with Fighter Squadron 161 (VF-161) who flew off Midway from January 1971 until being shot down on his 285th combat mission over North Vietnam on Aug. 25, 1972. “We were all there together to accomplish a mission and had mutual respect for each other to get the job done.”

This exact sentiment is echoed by David Daugherty, an E-2C Hawkeye naval flight officer with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115 (VAW-115) who served on Midway from 1987-1990.

“Our air wing had a close and cohesive relationship with each other and the Midway,” said Daugherty, who joined the museum as a volunteer docent in 2019. “We worked together every day, and

“It was great knowing we were doing important work preserving our freedom,” said Reily, the director of the museum’s volunteer docent program who served as Midway’s supply officer for two years including during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. “I also enjoyed the camaraderie among Midway’s officers and crew and our air wing. I'm very proud to have served more than 30 years ago and enjoy sharing sea stories with our guests today. It doesn't get any better.”

Nearly 90 of Midway’s current volunteers once served on the ship dating as far back as the early 1950s. Like Reily, they all get tremendous satisfaction not only being able to share their experiences on Midway with museum guests, but also telling the history of the U.S. Navy.

“To be a Midway volunteer is inspiring to say the least,” said Mark Blocksom, who served as a storekeeper in

8 / April 2024

Midway’s supply department from 1975 – 1977, and has been a museum volunteer for six years. “I look forward to coming to the ship often. When I hear guests comment about how amazing their visit has been, it reminds me of why I volunteer aboard this incredible ship.”

“I feel very fortunate to be a volunteer on the Midway,” said Daugherty, who has amassed more than 1,700 volunteer hours. “It is really amazing to be associated with a museum that I once called home. I always get a kick out of explaining how the ship worked and what serving at sea was like. It is so foreign to many of the guests and they seem to relish learning all about Navy life on a carrier.”

On Midway’s 20th anniversary, knowing that the museum continues to serve its community and the nation as America's Living Symbol of Freedom, remains a motivating force for the former Midway crewmembers who continue to offer their time and talents to inspire visitors from all over the world.

“I have a feeling of nostalgia and pride every time I come aboard Midway,” said Ensch, who spent nearly a year as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam and has been a volunteer since 2007. “Nostalgia for my time flying from her deck when she was an active carrier, and pride that she still serves and has become an iconic symbol of freedom and history.”

“I'm proud to know how well Midway has served our community in San Diego, and also reaches so many visitors who come from all over the world who walk away with memories of a lifetime,” said Blocksom, who has more than 1,850 volunteer hours as a docent and member of the curatorial team. “I like to humor the guests by telling them I am a living museum exhibit from 1975. They always get a good laugh hearing that, but more importantly hearing from someone who actually served aboard Midway gives them a sense of something special and creates a common bond. There's no denying that Midway Magic is still very much alive and well.”

For those interested in becoming a USS Midway Museum volunteer, more information along with the volunteer application can be found at / April 2024 9

Annual GI Film Festival San Diego Honors the Sacrifices of Veterans and Service Members

Through Authentic Military Storytelling

U.S. Army veteran and longtime advisory committee member for the country’s largest military film festival reflects on her time in service and how the six-day event bridges the military-civilian divide

After a decade of service and three Afghan deployments as an U.S. Army photojournalist, watching militaryrelated films can be a challenge for me. Scenes, phrases and even sounds, can trigger my memories, and waves of fear or sadness will flood me. I left service in 2013 and since then, I’ve learned what helps those triggers most, is being with and supporting other veterans like me.

From writing for San Diego Veterans Magazine, working with The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park to my work with non-profit, The American History Theatre, I’ve dedicated my time post-service to helping veterans with and raising awareness about mental health challenges that are often neglected. Topics like Post Traumatic Stress or Military Sexual Trauma are tough to discuss, but I learned creating forums for their discussion was important. I also learned as I helped heal others, I healed parts of myself.

One volunteer service I’m very proud of is as an advisory committee member for the largest military film festival in the U.S., the GI Film Festival San Diego. I’ve worked with the festival since 2017 and began volunteering in 2020 as an official committee member. Each year this multi-day festival allows me to meet with vets from a variety of backgrounds and all conflicts. It’s one of those events that creates a safe space for us to speak about our experiences, recognize our fallen and pay our respects. Attending the GI Film Festival San Diego gives me and many others that much needed healing camaraderie.

I believe it’s important for us vets to connect with others who have experienced the same feelings of loss, failure and survivor’s guilt. Watching that struggle with fellow veterans in a theater can be a very emotional moment. But, it can also be a very vulnerable and healing moment. I can tell you that from experience!

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Amber (Robinson) Cournoyer circa 2009, during her second deployment to Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Photojournalist and Public Affairs leader.

Some of my favorite films from this year showcase that unique sense of veteran community beautifully. Films like “Make Peace or Die,” which opens the festival May 6 at 6 p.m.

This film is a feature-length documentary by returning filmmaker Manny Marquez. It follows Manny’s Marine Corps veteran brother, Anthony Marquez, returning from Afghanistan in 2011, where his unit lost 17 men during the Battle of Sangin.

Once home, Anthony sought to help the families of his fallen comrades find healing – and in the process, finds healing for himself. This film is the third in a series focused on Anthony; the first being 2016 GI Film Festival Selection “Operation Allie,” followed by the 2019 GI Film Festival Nominee for Best Documentary Short, “XVII Carvings.”

Two films affected me personally in really inspiring and emotional ways. “Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea,” debuting May 10 at 5:30 p.m., shares the story of Marine Korean War veteran H.C. (Cliff) Westermann who rose to fame in Los Angeles as an artist post-service. As a veteran who has used the arts to heal and help others heal, I was inspired to continue to channel those tough emotions through creativity. / April 2024 11
Continued on next page >
Film still from “Make Peace or Die,” a feature length documentary directed by Manny Marquez “Make Peace or Die” will make its World Premiere in the GI Film Festival San Diego on May 6, 2024 Film still from “Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea” a documentary directed by Leslie Buchbinder The film is set to make its San Diego Premiere in the GI Film Festival San Diego on May 10, 2024

But, the film I have the deepest connection to is, “Interpreters Wanted,” a documentary feature by friend and fellow vet, Robert Ham. I met Robert in 2012, a year before leaving service. We served with U.S. Army Pacific Command in Hawaii, myself as a photojournalist and Robert as an already award-winning videographer. During that time we discovered we both deployed to the same Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan and worked in the same building, just three years apart.

I deployed to FOB Salerno in 2006 and met a talented, funny Afghan interpreter named Saifullah Haqmal, who worked for the FOB Public Affairs Office. Saifullah and I soon became friends as did he and Robert during his deployment in 2009. At USARPAC we would discover our common friend, each recounting his unique character and dangerous situation as an interpreter working for Americans. Robert’s documentary follows Saifullah and his brother, Ismail, both interpreters who served alongside U.S. Forces in Afghanistan for over a decade.

Years after we both left Afghanistan, the brothers would seek to escape the danger of the Taliban. They would contact their old Army friend in America, Robert, and together they petitioned Congress to bring them to safety. It was an emotional film for me to watch, but I’m beyond proud of Robert for what he did for our friend and for the film he’s made. “Interpreters Wanted” makes its California premiere in the GI Film Festival San Diego May 9 at 8 p.m.

Since 2015, the films selected for the GI Film Festival San Diego have been for, by and about our military and their experiences. Organized by KPBS in partnership with Film Consortium San Diego, the festival has presented over 260 films by international, U.S., and local filmmakers, drawing a diverse audience of more than 11,000. From documentaries encompassing the authentic military experience to comedic shorts that speak to the idiosyncrasies of military life, the GI Film Festival San Diego showcases a wide range of narratives that anyone can relate to. The festival provides a platform for veteran filmmakers to showcase talent while also helping military allies and civilians better understand what active duty and veterans endeavor. This helps build awareness of veteran issues and ultimately bridges the military-civilian divide.

This year, festival-goers will enjoy a lineup of 21 films starting May 6 at the Museum of Photographic Arts at the San Diego Museum of Art (MOPA @ SDMA) in Balboa Park. Films will be screened through May 10, the six-day event ending with an Awards Celebration May 11 at the museum to honor this year’s standout filmmakers.

The 2024 GI Film Festival San Diego box office is open at Tickets start at $8 for active military, veterans and KPBS members, with $10 general admission. I hope you’ll join me at this year’s festival to support veterans and to celebrate the art of authentic military storytelling.

12 / April 2024


Veteran Caregivers

In the shadow of our veterans

In this magazine, we give much attention – and rightfully so – to the veterans who served or are currently serving our great country. This little corner of the magazine is dedicated to those often living in the shadow of our veterans, the military caregivers. So, while this column may be small, my intention is that its impact is mighty.

According to a recent study by the RAND Corporation, there are approximately 5.5 million military caregivers in the United States currently, caring for our veterans. And while caregiving – for veterans, the elderly, those with special needs, and children –can often look similar in the tasks being performed (bathing, grooming, meal preparation, housekeeping, and the like), caring for military personnel has some additional and unique challenges. These challenges become greater when caring for younger veterans who served in Iran, Afghanistan, and post-9/11. These military caregivers tend to be younger and are often juggling a full-time job, children, and caring for aging parents in addition to caring for the veteran. Often, these caregivers lack health insurance, are at an increased risk of depression and lack a robust support system that can assist with the many facets of caregiving. All of this is coupled with the fact that our current healthcare system is lacking in programs and resources for these military caregivers, such as

respite programs and proper caregiving training to address those unique needs of a veteran. Something’s gotta give and it cannot be you, dear caregiver!

In general, caregivers experience higher rates of negative health outcomes, suffer from strained family relationships, and face workplace difficulties which may explain why approximately 30-35% of the time, the primary caregiver (typically a spouse or family member) suffers a serious or fatal health issue while caregiving for another.

The VA offers the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), to assist those veterans and their family members and loved ones with the varied and often demanding duties of caregiving for a service member. This program aims to provide support for one primary family caregiver and up to two additional secondary family caregivers, meaning those who provide back up and support when the primary family caregiver needs help. The program provides training and education, mental health counseling, and financial assistance when traveling with a veteran who is receiving care. The program also offers up to 30 days of respite care per year for the veteran, allowing the caregiver some much needed rest. If you or someone you know may be interested in PCAFC and its services, check out to read about the eligibility requirements and download the VA Form 10-10CG to get started.

My heartfelt thanks to all those who care for our military men and women. Remember to be good to yourself; if you are not good to yourself, you can’t be your best for others.

14 / April 2024 / April 2024 15 Navigating your future may bring uncertainty. Aging Well Partners can help you discover your best path forward by empowering you with the vetted resources and trusted services that meet your specific needs. Your journey has a roadmap and we are here to help you find it. Proudly featuring our Certified Business Partners Free Consultation: 619.789.1839 Housekeeping Transportation Meal Prep Physical Therapy Aging in Place Assisted Living Memory Care Your Local Partners. Your Certified Senior Advisors™. Proudly featuring our Certified Business Partners Navigating your f uture may bring uncertainty Aging Well Partners can help you discover your best path forward by empowering you with the vetted resources and trusted services that meet your specific needs. Your journey has a roadmap and we are here to help you find it Proudly featuring our e Consultation: 619.789.1839 ™ Your L cal Partners. Your Certified Senior Advisors Housekeeping Transportation Meal Prep Physical Therapy Aging in Place Assisted Living Memory Care ELEVATE YOUR GAME with iBOT Qualif ied veterans can receive an iBOT® at no charge to them under VA FSS #36F79721D0202. Contact Mobius Mobility to schedule your demo today.
“I’m happier with myself. Having been in therapy, period, has helped me be in a better place now.”
Rogelio “Roger” Rodriguez, Jr US Navy (1987 – 1993) US Air Force (1993 – 2013)

For more information visit:

16 / April 2024
PTSD treatment can turn your life around.

The research is not VA research, will not be conducted by VA, has not been reviewed by the VA’s Institutional Review Board, and is not endorsed by VA. VA is not responsible for any costs incurred by a Veteran if the Veteran enters the study as a research subject. The announcement is provided for information only.

To Qualify, You Must...

• Be a veteran of the U.S. armed forces or first responder

• Have symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress for at least 3 months

• Be available for both in-person and additional online sessions


• You may receive intervention for your PTS symptoms in the form of either Transcendental Meditation (TM) or Present Centered Therapy (PCT).

• Neither intervention involves medication or discussing traumatic experiences. Compensation

• Qualifying participants will be financially compensated over $800. / April 2024 17 Are You a Veteran or First Responder Suffering from Posttraumatic Stress? You
Study T
(855) VET-PTSD
May Qualify for a Research
he research study will investigate the effectiveness of meditation and therapy as treatments for PTS. To find out if you qualify Call
or visit
Find a Research Study Location Near You New York City Long Island, NY Los Angeles Palo Alto, CA San Diego

PTSD: Reclaiming Control

Beyond Talk Therapy:

Exploring Magnetic and Injective Treatments

for PTSD

We have been reviewing treatment options for PTSD and have so far concentrated on the varieties of talk therapies commonly recommended. This month, we’ll begin by looking at treatment methods that use radically different approaches from psychotherapy, namely magnets and injections.

First, let's discuss magnets. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a treatment modality developed with a focus on treating depression that persists despite the use of recommended medications. The easiest way to think of TMS is as a helmet with a group of magnets arrayed around the head. Magnetic pulses target different areas of the brain after the physician determines the optimal side and area of the brain for placing the magnets. Different devices may provide different repetitions and intensities of pulses. This magnetic pulse activity then alters neuronal activity and can either 'slow down' overactive areas of the brain or stimulate underactive areas. The goal is to affect brain regions and neuropathways linked with psychiatric conditions. TMS has been FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression, and its use is widely recognized as well as routinely covered by insurers and payors. A variety of other conditions, such as OCD, anxiety, and migraine, are also areas of research and clinical use, though not yet approved by the FDA.

(Part 2 of 2)

TMS has been investigated for years as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), partly due to recognizing that the go-to treatments (anti-depressants and several psychotherapies) are not effective or tolerable for many individuals with PTSD. Another consideration is the overlap between PTSD and depression, with about half of PTSD sufferers having co-morbid depression. With plenty of published research over the years with a variety of research designs and clinical protocols, a ‘meta-analysis’ of many studies is the soundest way to evaluate emerging treatments such as TMS. In general, results are encouraging but not definitive for TMS’s role in treating PTSD. The treatment is considered relatively safe and

with few adverse events. More research is needed about the dose and frequency of treatment, as well as the variety of TMS devices and brain networks targeted. TMS is available in many VA centers and local private providers.

Among psychiatrists that I know and work with, some are enthusiastic TMS advocates, and others are cautious to skeptical. For veterans whose PTSD is disrupting daily quality of life, I recommend asking one’s primary mental health clinician about their experience with TMS and its potential as an addition to your treatment plan.

Now let's shift our focus from magnets to needles. Another emerging treatment approach for PTSD is called stellate ganglion block (SGB). The stellate ganglion is a bundle of nerves at the front side of the neck, and the ‘block’ is the injection of an anesthetic medication into this nerve bundle. This treatment has been used for a variety of conditions ranging from headaches to phantom limb pain. For PTSD, a working theory is that the injection may reduce sympathetic nervous system over-activity. Research into SGB use for PTSD has been ongoing for about 30 years, but initial promise for benefit has not been conclusively established in randomized clinical trials. My best take on the evidence is that some veterans with symptoms characterized by hyper-arousal and avoidance may benefit, but that benefit may not endure past a few months. When effective, it works rapidly and does not have the stigma associated with therapy or psychiatric medications. More research will be necessary to see if this is to become a widely available and supported therapy. But for a condition like PTSD, for which the best conventional treatments too often aren’t sufficient, the best approach is for shared decision-making between the individual and the doctor about ‘what to do next’ if the current treatment isn’t working.

Next month, we’ll dive into the exciting and controversial field of psychedelics and related substances in the treatment of PTSD.

Cuyler is chief clinical officer of Freespira, an FDA-cleared non-medication treatment that helps people with panic and PTSD manage their symptoms by learning how to regulate their breathing. -

18 / April 2024


Post-Traumatic Stress

does not always allow the affected to seek help.

Lend a hand and provide them with methods of help, listen and be a friend. / April 2024 19
At San Diego Veterans Magazine you can visit our website for all “Fighting PTSD” columns, and featured articles relating to mental health, symptoms, therapy and resources. Columns & Articles available at: San Diego Veterans Magazine - Fighting PTSD Resources. Support. Inspiration. San Diego Veterans Magazine works with veteran organizations & for-purpose institutions that help more than one million veterans in life-changing ways each year.

Real Talk: Mental Health

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD

Navigating Military Life Transitions with Kids, Teens

April is Month of the Military Child and, during this time, Cohen Veterans Network (CVN), a 501(c)(3) national not-for-profit philanthropic organization that provides mental health services across the country through its network of clinics for post-9/11 veterans, active duty service members and their families, celebrates the nation’s mighty military kids and teens.

We recently sat down with one of CVN’s Clinicians Kelly Grace Finney, MS, AMFT, from the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD, San Diego to talk about the importance of this awareness month.

Why is April’s Month of the Military Child so important to recognize?

The Month of the Military Child is so important because military communities are underserved, and this includes military children and teens. They often have to face big transitions due to Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves or parent deployments, which can affect them in their early stages of development. During the Month of the Military Child, and beyond, we can recognize their challenges, spread awareness in order to find ways to support them.

What are specific challenges military teenagers face, in comparison to younger military children, and how can parents help them?

Military teenagers, like younger military children, often have to move a lot throughout their adolescence. This can be difficult, especially for teens as they are already managing the huge transition of puberty. This can lead to symptoms of social isolation, depression, agitation, anger, and anxiety. Younger children can often be more resilient to these moves, as it can be easier for them to make new friends. Teenagers, on the other hand, may face more difficulty in leaving their friends behind and finding a new community in a new place. Because of the specific pressures teenagers face in making friends and fitting in, it can be helpful for parents to make sure

their children are enrolled in sports or other extracurricular activities, in an effort provide more opportunities for meeting and connecting with their peers.

What should military parents keep in mind for their child when preparing for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move?

With an upcoming PCS move, it is important for parents to have an open conversation with their child about their feelings regarding the move. Of course, PCS moves can be a difficult adjustment for the whole family, and parents may be dealing with their own feelings. It's okay to be open and honest with your teen about your feelings, so that your teen knows they are not alone. Additionally, it is important to ask your children how they are feeling about it, and what their concerns are. Often, this can be a scary question for parents as they may feel helpless in these situations, but it is important that your child feels like they have a voice. This way, you can problem solve together.

20 / April 2024

When it comes to military transitions, what should be considered normal adjustment vs indicators that mental therapy is needed?

With all major transitions, it will take the family time to adjust to a new home in a new place with a new community. It is expected that there will be some emotional hurdles along the way. But how do you know if this is a typical adjustment or if your teenager may need extra support with their mental health? Some of the biggest signs would be changes in grades (your straight A student is now struggling in their classes), loss of interest in their previously enjoyed activities, changes in sleep habits, appetite changes, and sudden changes in mood. Bottom line - talk to them to find out what is going on in their inner worlds. At the same time, do not pressure them to talk if they do not want to, as this can push them to isolate more.

What are some resources out there that are available for military teens?

Finding a provider through clinics like Cohen Veterans Network for a mental health assessment could help provide your teen with a space to process their emotions and learn coping skills. Additionally, there are multiple summer and day camps and other centers

specifically for military kids and teens that could be in your community.

Cohen Veterans Network focuses on improving mental health outcomes, operating a network of outpatient mental health clinics in high-need communities, in which trained clinicians deliver holistic evidence-based care to treat mental health conditions. We recognize the strength, sacrifice, and resilience of our military children around the world.

Learn more by visiting:

Kelly Grace Finney, MS, AMFT is a clinician at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD, San Diego and works with military-connected individuals, couples, and families. She utilizes evidence-based practices to help clients reach their goals. An Associate Marriage & Family Therapist and a double alum from San Diego State University, Kelly pursued her degree in Psychology with a minor in Counseling & Social Change and graduated with a degree in Counseling and an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. Kelly has spent her career in both academic and community mental health settings, including work with veterans and their families.



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22 / April 2024
Month of the Military Child - San Diego Veterans Magazine April 2022 Month of the Military Child - San Diego Veterans Magazine April 2021 Month of the Military Child - San Diego Veterans Magazine April 2023 Month of the Military Child - San Diego Veterans Magazine April 2020 / April 2024 23 SD Veterans Magazine APRIL 2024 April 2024

April is designated as the Month of the Military Child, underscoring the important role military children play in the armed forces community.

Sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy, the Month of the Military Child is a time to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.

The Month of the Military Child is part of the legacy left by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He established the Defense Department commemoration in 1986.

San Diego Veterans Magazine Department of Defense and the military community in celebrating April as the Month of the Military Child.

In DoDEA communities around the world, our most essential strategic imperatives are: establishing an educational system that progressively builds the college and career readiness of all DoDEA students; and establishing the organizational capacity to operate more effectivelyand efficiently as a model, unifiedschool system.

We aim to challenge each student to maximize his or her potential and to excel academically, socially, emotionally and physically for life, college and career readiness.

24 / April 2024

Preparing Children for Military Deployment

Imagine the difficulty of being away from your family for months – or longer – at a time.

For military families, that’s a common occurrence with deployment. Preparing children for that situation can be confusing, even scary. How do you tell them mom or dad will be gone for so long and why they’re leaving without causing them to worry?

It’s essential to approach the conversation of deployment with sensitivity to help children understand, cope, and adjust to the changes in their family dynamic.

6 Tips for Helping Military Kids Facing Deployment

Trevor Romain is co-founder of Comfort Crew for Military Kids, a community partner of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), that delivers proven resources to help military kids and their families connect and build resiliency in the face of challenges.

Trevor has traveled the globe talking to schoolchildren about various subjects, including deployment. He educates and empowers kids to handle adversity and shows parents what they can do to make the process easier.

1. Be honest but age-appropriate

Honesty is key, but tailoring the conversation to the child’s age and maturity level is important. Younger children may need simple explanations, while older children can handle more details, like the location or duration of the deployment.

Allow the child to ask questions, and if a child asks a direct question, tell the truth.

“Give children permission to ask questions about what is worrying them,” Trevor said.

The child’s age may affect the way you answer, but being honest with the answer is paramount.

“I think we can tell the truth in a comfortable way,” Trevor said. “As opposed to saying you’re going to war, maybe say you’re going to help people in another country have peace.”

2. Express feelings

Encourage your child to express their feelings about the deployment and share your feelings as well. It’s OK to admit that you’ll miss each other and feeling sad, scared, or angry is normal. This open expression of emotions can strengthen your bond and provide comfort.

“It’s important to hear what the child is saying and then validate those feelings and help them to maybe come up with a solution themselves,” Trevor said.

3. Empower children to provide comfort

Trevor recalled a young girl whose dad was deployed, and she could often hear her mom crying alone in the bedroom. They didn’t talk about what was happening. The mom didn’t want to worry the child or depend on the child to make her feel better, but the child was aware her mom was sad and didn’t know what to do about it. Trevor said it’s important to sit down with the child and allow them to be part of the conversation and the solution.

“Giving the child permission to comfort their family and comfort someone else is a very empowering way of helping them deal with their own feelings,” Trevor said. / April 2024 25 Continued on next page >
Photos provided by Comfort Crew

4. Offer reassurance

Children might worry about their parent’s safety or feel anxious about changes at home. Reassure them that their deployed parent is doing important work and that measures are in place to keep them safe. Also, emphasize the support systems available to the family, such as other family members, friends, and military support networks.

Trevor suggests telling kids about how the military operates, too. Letting them know how well-trained military service members are and that you have a team of people who work with you and protect you can give kids a lot of comfort.

“You can tell them you have a great team to work with you and protect you, and you are all trained together to look after each other,” he said.

5. Create deployment rituals

Establishing special rituals before, during, and after the deployment can help children cope.

This might include:

• Creating a countdown calendar.

• Having a special meal before departure.

• Starting a project they can work on until the parent returns.

“Having a particular celebration before someone is deployed and creating a specific ritual or event to be able to emphasize what we are feeling can be really helpful,” Trevor said.

6. Seek support

Don’t hesitate to seek support from the community, veterans service organizations, counselors, or schools. These resources can offer additional guidance on talking to kids about deployment and provide support systems for parents and children.

“There are still a lot of deployments going on, and, from a child’s perspective, they’re still separated from that family member,” said Angela Salyer, executive director of Comfort Crew. “When that family member returns home, things have changed. Roles have changed. There’s still that challenge of learning to live together again after a time of separation, so it’s so important that we are providing them with the skills that they need to be able to understand what’s going on and manage those feelings and know how to ask for help when they need it.”

How a Warrior Navigated the Conversation of Deployment

Army veteran Aaron Cornelius is the father of five daughters, the youngest born in 2001. He’s had the deployment conversation more than once.

Aaron was first deployed to Iraq in 2003 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He said that conversation with his family was probably the most difficult, primarily because no one knew what to expect.

“Not knowing what’s transpiring and how things work and how things are going to work, and everything’s just completely up in the air, it was hard to prepare and know what to tell them,” Aaron said.

However, Aaron’s late wife did all the right things to keep the kids and their dad connected. They wrote letters to him and would send goodies, including his favorite candy from the 25-cent gumball machine.

“My wonderful wife at the time just tried to keep their spirits up, especially the little ones,” Aaron said. “She would make something pleasant of it to keep up that connection and keep them hopeful and happy rather than dread and worry about what could happen.”

During Aaron’s deployments, he clung to the thoughts of his family and was motivated by them. “When you’re away like that and doing what you’re doing, [thinking about] your family back home gives you lots of strength, too,” Aaron said. “Even though it can be sad, it also kind of keeps you together.”

Aaron had his last deployment discussion with his family before his third tour in Iraq in 2008. It was during that deployment that the vehicle Aaron was in blew up, and the shrapnel tore a hole in his skull, leaving him completely blind.

26 / April 2024
Wounded Warrior and Army veteran Aaron Cornelius with youngest daughter Gabbi, who was just a toddler the first time he deployed to the Middle East.

After that life-changing deployment, Aaron and his family had to figure out a new normal. WWP™ connected Aaron to programs and services that helped him and his family adjust to their new dynamic.

Providing Comfort to Military Kids

With support from WWP, Comfort Crew provides “comfort kits” to kids who face deployment, reintegration, injury, and loss. The kits, primarily designed for ages 6-12, help give children and their parents tools and resources to manage the challenges and transitions associated with being a military family.

“Kids needed materials that were in a kid-friendly language that they could understand,” Angela said. “The thought going into the kits is to develop resources that help them understand, manage, and express their feelings. Another component is to let them know that they’re not alone.”

The other advantage of the kits and Comfort Crew’s resources is that kids can use the lessons throughout their lives. “They’re very transferable,” Angela said. “There may be a lot of challenges in their lives, so if they can learn how to express their feelings and communicate what’s going on and ask for help, all of those things are going to be able to help them with whatever challenges they’re facing.”

Keeping Military Families Connected

Comfort Crew also offers a free Comfort Crew Academy that allows kids to access videos. PDF files, and take courses to help build resiliency, manage stress, and more.

“With the help of Wounded Warrior Project over the past couple of years, [Comfort Crew Academy] has been a wonderful way for us to expand and enhance the comfort kit resources,” Angela said.

By fostering open communication, involving children in the process, and utilizing available support networks, military families can navigate the challenges of deployment and maintain strong, supportive relationships with their children. It’s also important to recognize how children of service members are often serving, too.

“A lot of times, it’s just as simple as them knowing that people appreciate and recognize the sacrifices that they’re making,” Angela said. “Military kids didn’t raise their hand and sign up, but they’re still making a lot of sacrifices.”

To learn more, visit or call 888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586) to connect with the WWP Resource Center.



The transition from service member to civilian is not easy. Thankfully, many warriors have people like you — parents, siblings, caregivers, and others — who go above and beyond to help them. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) provides guidance on VA benefits, programs, and tools you need to be there for your warriors.

A listening ear. A helping hand. A community that champions the success of warriors and their families. That’s what you gain when you connect with WWPTM.




On any given day, there are over 2,000 current and former foster children and youth in San Diego County. Having faced adversity and hardship, they hold within them the spark of a brighter, more successful future. This is where Promises2Kids steps in, and where support from the community becomes critical.

For over 40 years, local nonprofit Promises2Kids has been dedicated to their mission of creating a brighter future for foster children®. From the moment they come into foster care and through to adulthood, Promises2Kids provides the hope, support, and opportunities these individuals need to change their lives for the better… now and for years to come.

Their programs include:

• Camp Connect: Reunites brothers and sisters who are separated in the foster care system through a six-day, residential summer camp and 10 additional day events throughout the year.

• Guardian Scholars: Supports current and former foster youth with mentoring, case management, and a financial scholarship to pursue their educational and career dreams, and advance to complete their vocational training, community college, or university education.

• Foster Funds: Foster children often feel alone and isolated and may go without simple pleasures of childhood such as birthday gifts, a sports uniform, a musical instrument, or extracurricular activities. Promises2Kids has special funds set up to support these needs not met through typical funding.

• A.B. and Jessie Polinsky Children’s Center: A Countyoperated emergency shelter for children who are removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. Promises2Kids funds programs, services, and activities for children cared for by the center each year.

One of the main highlights of the year is Promises2Kids’ Camp Connect summer camp - a 6-day/5-night camp spent in the mountains where separated siblings have the opportunity to reconnect, strengthen their bonds, and have fun with each other and their peers.

Meet Lucas (12), Naomi (11), and Zayden (6).

They entered care in 2021 after being severely neglected at home. They were separated and have lived apart ever since. However, they began attending Camp Connect to not only maintain, but strengthen their relationship.

Last summer, they attended their second summer camp, fully embracing their six days together.

Lucas was constantly in the mix, getting the crowd excited during the talent show, cheering on his siblings during lawn games, and spreading positive energy all week. Naomi was a superstar in games, especially in kickball, delighting her siblings.

Zayden, being younger, sometimes found himself overwhelmed by the constant action and stimulation. In these moments, he retreated to the sidelines. Lucas and Naomi were keenly in tune with their little brother’s moods and never failed to break from their activities to show him love, make him feel comfortable, and help him reengage. Above all, they were always a team together.

Summer camp is made for moments like these, where brothers and sisters can reconnect, enjoy quality time together, and reinforce that no matter what, they will always be there for each other.

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Without this opportunity, moments like these would be lost for many siblings separated in foster care. And it’s these moments that keep Promises2Kids going, making summer camp bigger and better each year.

Lucas, Naomi, and Zayden were excited to walk away from the experience with long-lasting memories to cherish their special time together. This unforgettable experience was one that they will treasure for a lifetime.

With the community’s support, they will once again have the opportunity to reconnect this summer and create more memories to replace those they would rather forget.

Volunteers dedicate their time and energy to make summer camp a fun and safe place for these children. Promises2Kids is seeking 100 volunteers for this year’s summer camp taking place from August 1-6. Volunteers must be 21 years old and must commit to a minimum shift of 24 hours.

This summer camp, among many other opportunities provided through Promises2Kids’ programs, would not be possible without the support from generous community members selflessly donating their time, time, and treasure.

To donate, volunteer, or for more ways to get involved, visit / April 2024 29
Veteran Resources & Organizations available at: Veteran Resources A Veterans Magazine for Veterans by Veterans 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.

Leaving Conflict in the Past by Nurturing your Heart

Did you know that 50% of most marriages end in divorce? Did you know that if you are a military-connected family the divorce rate is even higher than the general population? In some branches, we have heard that as many as 75% of marriages will end in divorce!

So, if divorce is so common, then why talk about it? Divorce leads to a broken heart for everyone in the family, especially when conflict continues after the papers are signed. Dreams may be shattered and lost. We may feel alone and sad. Sometimes we even feel angry and these feelings transition out of our hearts and into our behavior. It may not feel like it or you may not believe it, but having conflict in your relationship with your co-parent is a choice.

First let’s define “co-parent”. Your co-parent was once your spouse that you loved, created children with and someone you leaned on after a deployment. Your co-parent was the spouse you longed to be with and is now the person with whom you no longer agree with, your values and parenting styles are different and maybe you even argue a lot. With the divorce rate being so high in military families, you are not alone!

But, if you are struggling or someone you know is struggling, here are some ideas to consider, and maybe even accept.

1. You cannot change your co-parent. You have no power and control over their thoughts, behaviors or feelings. You cannot “make” them do it your way or expect them to consider your thoughts or feelings. The reality is, if you and your former spouse can no longer get along, if you can accept that you cannot change them, you will find yourself feeling less burdened with more energy to focus on yourself and your children.

2. If there is a lot of conflict and anger between you and your co-parent, you can decide if this is how you want your life to be. In other words, conflict is a choice! If you are tired of the conflict and constant arguing, decide to stop. This may seem impossible, but you have full control of yourself. YOU CAN DECIDE THAT YOU NO LONGER WANT THE CONFLICT.

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This doesn't mean that your co-parent will change or stop trying to engage you in the conflict, but it does mean that you have a choice to engage in the conflict, to continue it or YOU CAN CHOOSE TO SAY NO THANK YOU AND MOVE ON WITHOUT REACTING TO THE CONFLICT.

3. How do you stop reacting to the conflict and how do you stop getting pulled into the drama? This is not easy and it will require dedication and commitment to choosing peace over power. If and when you decide you are done with conflict, you can shift your perspective to being in business with your co-parent. The business is to raise kind, caring and compassionate humans. Nothing more, nothing less. When in business, your communication is unemotional, direct, brief and to the point. You make requests and ask questions versus demanding information or reacting out of anger.

When communicating with your co-parent, ask yourself, would I say this to a co-worker? If the answer is no, do not say it to your co-parent.

4. Just because you are changing, doesn’t mean your co-parent will change. This is a very important reality to remember. It takes two to have conflict, so if one person decides they are done and they disengage, the other person is going to try harder to trigger a reaction. At some point, in most relationships, the person will realize they are doing all the work and they are the only one getting angry or emotional. When this happens, peace may settle in, and you will both realize that the dance of drama and conflict is over. Time to move on and live your lives while putting your children front and center.

Why is it important to end the dance of drama and conflict? Because your children are listening and learning everything from you!

When children live in two homes full of love, acceptance, encouragement and praise, they learn to respect others, to be patient, to be confident and to appreciate everything and everyone in their lives. When children live with peace, they learn to be leaders, to have empathy and to empower themselves and others. They do well in school and thrive in all areas. When they live in conflict, they develop anxiety, depression, self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, bully others or are bullied by others and they struggle in school and with friends. No parent wishes this for their children but yet, some choose conflict. Referencing the poem by Dorothy Nolte "Children Learn What They Live", when children live with hostility, they learn to fight. Remember, the choice is yours! YOU CAN CHOOSE CONFLICT OR YOU CAN CHOOSE PEACE.

In honor of the Month of the Military Child, we invite you to nurture the broken hearts in your home by choosing to leave conflict in the past and look toward the future of investing in your children and their long-term emotional well-being.

Does peaceful co-parenting sound impossible?

Visit to learn about our high conflict co-parenting program called Cooperative CoParenting and our co-parenting program for the whole family called Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families. / April 2024 31

Mental Health Care Management Services During Pregnancy and Postpartum at VA San Diego!

Veterans who are pregnant and up to 12 months postpartum are invited to participate in our Perinatal Mental Health Care Management Program. A nurse care manager will check in with you about your mental health concerns during each trimester and every two months through 12 months postpartum. You can join our program at any stage of pregnancy or within one year postpartum.

During each of these phone calls they will collaborate with you to determine what services match your needs.

Our program offers quick access to staff who specialize in reproductive mental health and offer:

• Medication management

• Psychotherapy

• Infant sleep training starting at 4 months postpartum

• Nutrition education and counseling

• Lactation support

• Pharmacy consultation and review of medications

For those who are not currently pregnant but are hoping to start a family, we will be offering a group in 2024 to help prepare to build a family. We will discuss how to time intercourse with ovulation, health concerns that interfere with pregnancy, and fertility services VA San Diego offers.

Individual therapy is also available for those who have struggled with fertility and/or have experienced pregnancy losses. We are here to support you through these challenging experiences.

Veteran Testimonials:

“Even though sometimes I was giving up on myself, you did not give up on me and kept following up with me. That gave me motivation, encouragement, and hope that I was worth something.”

“You guys have helped me out a lot with contacting different providers during postpartum. What you guys do is very helpful to moms who have kids and their husbands have deployed. I got connected to services right away. I appreciate what you do in this program."

"t's great to receive these follow up calls. It was very helpful for me. In the military, no one checks on you. It also helped me realize that I had postpartum depression and anxiety which I did not see during my previous postpartum. So thank you!"

"Everything has been great. As soon as I reach out, I received a lot of resources, more than I expected VA had."

If you are interested in participating in any of these services, please contact Andrea Hekler at (619) 400-5022 or email at

32 / April 2024

Maternity Care Services Available at the San Diego VA!

The VA now provides maternity care by referral to local community obstetric (OB) providers. Women Veterans are the fastest-growing cohort of Veterans who use VA, and VA currently provides health care to approximately 600,000 women Veterans half of whom are of childbearing age. Pregnancies in women Veterans using VA care have increased by more than 80% since 2014, from 6,950 pregnancies in 2014 to 12,524 in 2022.

Maternity Care Coordinators help Veterans navigate health care inside and outside of the VA. They connect Veterans with OB care during prenatal, perinatal and postnatal stages.

VA covers maternity care from the time of the first positive pregnancy test through the postpartum period.

Benefits include, but are not limited to:

• Full physical exams and labs

• Obstetrical ultrasounds

• Prenatal vitamins

• Genetic tests and specialty consultations

• Prescription drugs through VA dispensary

• Women’s VA Pharmacist services

• Labor and delivery

• Newborn care on the date of birth plus 7 days immediately after birth (to include circumcision)

• Support and services in case of miscarriage or stillbirth

• Social work, Nutrition, and Perinatal mental health services

• One year of post-partum support

• Free breast pump

• Maternity bra’s

• Maternity belt

• Maternity Sleep Pillow

• Nursing Pads

• Milk Storage Bags

• Lanolin Cream

Everyone’s situation is unique and so is their eligibility. To find out if you are eligible to enroll, visit

Apply Online or By Mail Go to

Apply in Person Visit the nearest VA medical center or clinic. You can locate your nearest VA health facility at

Apply by Phone (877) 222-8387 Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. ET. Veterans Benefits Administration (800) 827-1000 -

Women’s Veteran Call Center (855) 829-6636 / (855) VA.Women

Maternity Care Coordinator (858) 344-6999

Veteran Testimonials::

“I couldn’t believe the VA was assigning someone to me and to make sure my care went smoothly in town, and that I could get all of my questions answered with just a quick call.”

“From the moment I found out I was pregnant until now I have been treated so well by the VA. I really feel like the VA cares for me.”

“I iterally the day I arrived in San Diego, the VA helped me out, not only did they assist me in getting enrolled in the VA healthcare system, they connectied me with the right people. They also answered the million questions I had, and helped me understand what my coverage through the VA would look like. They have been a saving grace between my coordination with UCSD and all of the medications/appts I have.” / April 2024 33

Armed Services YMCA San diego - Month of the Military Child

A child’s smile has the power to light up the world. Children’s joy becomes our own joy simply because we are lucky enough to witness it. When you are a military family, it’s easy to miss those moments. Military families are often overwhelmed with the stress of the next relocation, the details of the next deployment and family separation, or the worry that comes with knowing the service member’s job places them in harm’s way.

Military children often have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Their own experiences can be eclipsed by family stress. This fact can make it harder for military children to concentrate in school, to make and keep friends. The military child carries the heavy burden of service while also deserving to be young and carefree. To be a kid.

The Armed Services YMCA San Diego ensures that military children are seen, heard, and that they know that they are understood. Through providing programs and services for the whole family, our commitment to “Strengthening Our Military Families” since 1861 has continually evolved to meet the current day needs of junior –enlisted families within the communities we serve. From bi-monthly neighborhood food distribution to assist nearly 600 families with food insecurity, to caring for the social-emotional health of active duty patients receiving care at Naval Medical Center, our aim is to serve as the extra support that many active duty families might need when not colocated with extended family. By serving the whole family, we hope to lighten the load of not only military kids, but also their parents.

One of the ways the ASYMCA San Diego team makes a daily impact is through our youth development grams. ASY San Diego offers year-round Camp Hero at our Murphy Canyon location any time school pro is not

in session, at rates young military families can afford. We offer after-school enrichment daily, bussing students from 4 local elementary schools to our branch for homework assistance and outdoor play, with a flexible pick-up time to meet the needs of active-duty members working nontraditional hours. Our Camp Hero counselors and After School Achievement Academy staff are trained to recognize the unique burdens carried by military children, Academy staff are trained to recognize the unique burdens carried by military children, and many of our staff are also military-connected adults or have experienced being military kids, themselves.

Through Operation Hero, a resiliency and confidencebuilding program developed specifically for military children, our team creates not only a safe space for sharing but the understanding that other adults and kids “get what they are going through.”

“I noticed my son wasn’t as joyful at school as his civilian friends were. If we think of it like the screen of a tablet, it’s like his brightness was set to dim. Being with other military kids and staff who understood him made a huge difference. The Armed Services YMCA San Diego is where his brightness got turned all the way up.” – Parent of an Operation Hero participant.

And we cannot forget our littlest warriors. ASYMCA San Diego delivers “Littlest Warrior” new baby bags to new parents at Naval Medical Center, and from age 18 months to 5 years, we support and nurture our early learners through our Operation Little Learners program – an interactive parent/child education program where parents learn how to be their child’s first teacher – and get to meet new military family friends. “I met my best friend in this duty station at Operation Little Learners” –one participant recounted to us. “I didn’t have anyone to each year. list as my emergency contact when filling out forms for elementary school, until I met her in OLL.”

April is the Month of the Military Child and Armed Services YMCA San Diego celebrates and recognizes the more than 814 military children we are lucky to serve

For more information on our programs at our three service locations in San Diego, please visit or call us at 858-751-5755.

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Military Child Poem

My hometown is nowhere.

My friends are everywhere.

I grew up with knowledge that home is where the heart is and the family is. Mobility is my way of life.

Some wonder about roots, yet they are as deep and strong as the mighty oak.

I sink them quickly, absorbing all an area offers and hopefully giving enrichment in return.

Travel has taught me to be open.

Shaking hands with the universe, I find brotherhood in all men.

Farewells are never easy.

Yes, even in sorrow comes strength and ability to face tomorrow with anticipation.

If when we leave one place, I feel that half my world is left behind, I also know that the other half is waiting to be met.

Friendships are formed in hours and kept for decades.

I will never grow up with someone, but I will mature with many.

Be it inevitable that paths part, there is a constant hope that they will meet again.

Love of country, respect and pride fill my being when Old Glory passes in review.

When I stand to honor the flag, so also do I stand in honor of all soldiers, And most especially, to the parents whose life created mine.

Because of this, I have shared in the rich heritage of military life.

~ Anonymous / April 2024 35

Blue Star Families is Military Families

Blue Star Families is the most trusted and farthest reaching Chapter-based military family support organization that seeks to make military life awesome by fostering connections — both virtually and in person — within communities to create a sense of belonging for military families nationwide. Founded by military spouses in 2009, we're committed to improving the quality of life for the All-Volunteer Force and their families by connecting them with their neighbors — individuals and organizations — to create vibrant communities of mutual support. We believe we're all stronger when we take care of each other.

Establishing trust:

Fifteen years ago, our organization was the first to ask questions about the experiences of military families. Now, our groundbreaking research is raising the nation's awareness of the unique challenges of military family life. With the help of neighbors across the country, we are overcoming the isolation and alienation of frequent moves, deployments, food insecurity, and addressing military spouse employment hurdles. Blue Star Families’ Military Family Lifestyle Survey (MFLS) is our community’s largest and longest-running survey that informs critical policy reform each year. In 2023, we reached a milestone of 100,000 military family respondents to date. This year, the survey is open from March 27th to May 15th, 2024.

Driving innovation:

Our most recent survey found that three-quarters of active-duty family respondents (76%) are engaging entirely or mostly virtually when considering their three closest relationships outside of their spouse or children.1 It also found a direct correlation between connectedness and well-being. Those who interact more frequently with close contacts — whether virtual or in person — report greater well-being than those who interact less frequently.

Blue Star Families’ answer is The Neighborhood, an online community to connect military and Veteran families with resources and local community members.

It serves as an all-inclusive access point for member discounts and perks, giveaways from military-friendly partners, local and virtual events, interest-based chat groups, career support, volunteer opportunities, and direct connection with military and Veteran service organization resources from across the country.

Creating connection:

With approximately 275,000 members in our network, we touch more than 1.5 million military family members each year. Through our research and program partnerships, we ensure that wherever American military families go, they can always feel connected, supported, and empowered to thrive — in every community, across the nation, and around the globe. Our Chapters and Outposts join members to resources and events, career opportunities, resources, perks from top brands, and so much more. We currently have 13 Chapters nationwide and 13 Outpost locations opening in 2024!

Empowering networks:

Dedication, resilience, and sacrifice characterize the lives of our military personnel and their families. However, significant mental health struggles — and stigma surrounding conversations and access to resources that address these challenges often accompany the military lifestyle. Blue Star Families addresses these challenges head on and creates tools for caregivers, families, and neighbors to meet the needs of at-risk military Veterans. The Combat the Silence initiative connects our members with trusted experts like American Red Cross, Spiritune,

36 / April 2024

PsychArmor, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). The campaign aims to not only bring awareness to suicide prevention resources, but also to bridge the gap between recognition and intervention within the military-connected community.

Driving change:

If there’s one thing we’ve realized in the last 15 years, it’s that we cannot do this work alone. To see real change for military and Veteran families, we are developing solutions and clear pathways for everyone to Do Your Part to ensure the future and sustainability of the AllVolunteer Force. Join the Blue Star Families Chapter of San Diego to grow in the community, feel a better sense of belonging, and learn more about ways to get involved.

Join the San Diego Community, neighborhood.

Interested in local partnerships?


Learn more about Blue Star Families,

Combat the Silence or Blue Star Support Circles,

Military Family Lifestyle Survey

About Maggie Meza


Maggie Meza is a marine spouse and mother of three who leads community efforts in the Blue Star Families Chapter of San Diego. She has over twenty five years of experience volunteering, advising, holding numerous executive board member positions, and fundraising for numerous organizations that advocate for military families. Maggie also has served as an Advisor for the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society Camp Pendleton and the Exceptional Family Member Program for Marine Corps Community Services.

Across Southern California, she facilitates engagement opportunities that create cross-sectoral dialogue between military and civilian communities. Maggie connects military and Veteran families to beautiful Southern California parks and beaches through the Outdoor Explorer for All Program, provides Caregivers an opportunity to connect with one another through Caregivers Encouraging Caregivers events, brings awareness of local resources to military spouses through monthly Coffee Connections, and encourages families to enjoy the Arts through the Blue Star Museum Program. / April 2024 37
Most trusted. Farthest reaching. Making military life awesome.
Star Families is Military Families

TRANSITION To Civilian Life

- What's Next: Entrepreneurship

- HR: Leading Effectively in Business

- Off-Base Transition Training

- Business for Veterans: The Right Stuff

- How to Buy an Existing Business

- Risky Business: Risk Management

- ONWARD OPS: Transition Support

- Women's Entrepreneur Summit

- Careers in Law Enforcement

Transitioning out of the Military into the Civilian Workforce? April

For editorial & monthly columns regarding transition, career advice, tips, workshops, transition to education, entrepreneurship, straight-forward legal tips for military and veteran business owners and more visit Veterans In Transition at

38 / April 2024
2024 Issue / April 2024 39 Helping today's heroes achieve success by making it easier to run a small business. Contact Eve Nasby, Band of Hands president and passionate military supporter to learn more. D o M o r e . S t r e s s L e s s . I f i t ' s r e l a t e d t o e m p l o y m e n t , w e h a n d l e i t f o r y o u . W e a l s o p r o v i d e : M e d i c a l b e n e f i t s a n d 4 0 1 K f o r y o u r e m p l o y e e s a t n o a d d i t i o n a l c o s t t o y o u C o m p l i a n c e w i t h e m p l o y m e n t L a w s U n e m p l o y m e n t c l a i m h a n d l i n g W o r k e r s C o m p c l a i m h a n d l i n g A Veteran Owned Business proudly supporting Veterans, Military Spouses and active duty Military looking for work and employers needing great workers. We do all this for you. We've got your back. Our one-stop shop turnkey employment solution makes it simple and affordable for businesses to hire, employ and remain compliant.


Transition to Civilian Life

Making the Leap: How One Veteran Found Purpose Through Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship represents the ability to take control of your own destiny and create something tangible that leaves a lasting mark. This utopian viewpoint does come with risks, however. The entrepreneur’s journey requires immense perseverance, hard work, and a relentless drive to overcome inevitable challenges along the way. David Vargas shares how his military training and mindset proved invaluable for taking on his new entrepreneurial mission.

Hardship and the Gift of Being on American Soil David Vargas is no stranger to adversity or perseverance. Born in Colombia, he faced immense hardship at just 3 years old when his father was tragically murdered. His mother, demonstrating remarkable courage, made the agonizing decision to leave everything behind and embark for America alone in pursuit of a better life for her family. For 8 grueling years, Vargas and his siblings remained behind, cared for by relatives, until finally they could reunite with their mother on American soil.

Though his upbringing wasn't easy, Vargas quickly understood the gift of being on American soil. "I believe we live in a land of opportunity where people's value as individuals really matters," he reflects. When he was old enough, he enlisted in the Army to "give back to a country that gave me so much."

Finding Legacy and Purpose Amidst Struggles

Like many veterans, Vargas confronted obstacles when the time came to transition from military to civilian life. The lack of the rigid structure and mission-driven purpose that defined his service left a void. Finding new meaning outside of that regimented environment proved immensely difficult - a struggle Vargas was all too familiar with.

Leaving military life presented immense personal challenges for Vargas, including symptoms of PTSD. "Your mind is on such high alert during deployment.

It just takes concerted time and effort to realize you're no longer in that threatening environment, "he describes. Adding profound new family responsibilities like when his daughter was born during his Iraq deployment only compounded the difficulties.

He spent 15 years following his Army service working at Bank of America. A point came where he realized something was fundamentally missing. "My work fulfilled a small portion of what I wanted, but didn't give me that sense of greater purpose," he admits. Watching his single mother's financial struggles as she raised three children alone motivated him to create a different legacy. "I didn't want to look back in 20 years and ask 'what have I really accomplished? What is my legacy?'"

With his wife also feeling unsatisfied in her career, they began exploring business ownership. "We had that entrepreneurial drive to write our own destiny, be in full control of our achievements," Vargas explains. The real estate industry resonated with them, as it represented building self-made wealth.

Creating a New Path and Purpose

Their research led them to DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, ( a national home renovation franchise. Vargas was drawn to the family ownership and proven business systems. "If you follow their model diligently, put in the hard work and persistence, the chances of success are very high, "he said.

Vargas's military training and mindset proved invaluable for taking on his new entrepreneurial mission. "Veterans have selfless service, honor and integrity embedded

40 / April 2024

in how they naturally operate," he says. "Those are the same values that make us good employees and business owners."

For Vargas, entrepreneurship represents much more than just business ownership. "I'm looking to truly understand and actualize my full potential," he says. The ability to create something, make a tangible mark, and give back to the nation that became his "heart country" all converged with the DreamMaker opportunity.

Recognizing the Value of Your Network

He credits his support system as being crucial for regaining his footing and stability after the military. "If I didn't have that network of friends, family and professional advisors, I would have broken," Vargas admits candidly. Now his DreamMaker franchise business advisors, fellow veteran entrepreneurs, and steadfast commitment to create a legacy for his children provide the drive to persist through the inevitable challenges.

His ambitions transcend just personal success. His family has also shared his passion to give back and join the military. His brother enlisted around the time he did. With evident pride, Vargas beams that his niece accomplished the remarkable feat of graduating from West Point, while his own son looks forward to joining the Sea Cadets youth program.

Keeping the Dream Alive

Vargas hopes to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, including his son involved with the Sea Cadets, to find their greater sense of purpose. "The United States is a place where people have the freedom to pursue opportunities and be valued for their individuality."

Vargas's story emphasizes how the transition to civilian life is about regaining the overarching sense of mission that the military once provided. The path to discovering that new meaning may well run through entrepreneurship. With persistent effort, a strong supportive network, the right business partner and healthy dose of grit, veterans like Vargas can leverage their military-honed skills and mindset to create lasting personal and professional success.

Need help with your transition? Have questions? Link up with Eve on Linked In today

"If I didn't have a network of friends, family and professional advisors, I would have broken"
- David Vargas / April 2024 41


Transition to Business

The Secret to Leading Effectively in the Business World: Perspective

CEOs are polled regularly from management consulting firms, research universities, and think tanks to gauge where they see business going and what traits they want most in corporate leaders. Top areas identified typically include collaboration, teambuilding, accountability, agility, and innovation. Those attributes certainly make sense in our current period of post-COVID reintegration, where we’re facing evolutionary change at revolutionary speed. What won’t change going forward, however, is our ability to relate to one another, to socialize, to give back, and to serve as role models in the business world. There are many successful books and resources on effective leadership, but it’s always best to keep things simple and retain a healthy perspective on what matters most.

• Self-Reflection Comes First

We find ourselves at a point of reflection as we continue to emerge from a once-in-a-century pandemic: a greater awareness that there’s more that we hold in common than separates us, that life is too short to waste energy on unnecessary drama, and that serving as role models in terms of leadership, communication, and teambuilding remains the hallmark of an enlightened leader. Leadership is the greatest gift the workplace offers because it permits you to influence people’s careers and grow talent. We work best through others, not despite them. We inherently understand that the greatest leaders are not the ones with the most followers but the ones who create the greatest number of leaders in turn.

Yes, even in the big bad business world, selfless leadership defines our way. Despite our fears of making ourselves vulnerable, we experience that the arc and trajectory of outstanding leadership bends towards people we like, admire, and respect. Leadership, at its heart, is about connections and relationships. As the American poet Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Read that: You don’t have to be feared to be respected or effective. And no matter what challenges come your way, remember that “piercing people’s hearts” as well as their minds leads to the strongest relationships and bonds.

• Defining Who You Choose to Be

Despite corporate America’s challenges—layoffs, mergers and integrations, termination for cause, or the like—you can master them by defining who you are and who you choose to be. Let’s look at a straightforward example. You join a company that’s experiencing tremendous growth and is looking to double or triple its size in the next few years. Everything is about scale and speed, and your employees may feel overwhelmed under all the pressure. Simply ask yourself, “What do you want your employees to remember about today when they gather five, ten, or twenty-five years from now to talk about those good old days working in your shop?” Despite the craziness and varying levels of challenge in your company at the time, how will you want them to describe you and your leadership style? Will anyone, for instance, describe it as follows: “Yeah, as crazy and intense as it was back in those days, Paul always. . .

• Provided us a safe place to grow

• Opened career doors for us

• Defended us when we needed it

• Recognized us and told us our work mattered

• Developed us as leaders

• Inspired us to stretch higher

• Led by example

• Forgave us when we made mistakes and helped us learn from them

42 / April 2024

If your answer to any of these is yes, then congratulations—you’re well ahead of the professional development curve. So much is written about employee engagement and satisfaction and spiking performance and productivity. But seen through a simpler lens, it’s simply a matter of becoming someone’s favorite boss and mentor. A “favorite boss” is a prism through which engagement, satisfaction, and productivity thrive. After all, who wouldn’t give discretionary effort in support of a boss who always has their back? Life and careers are all about perspective. Remember Andy Bernard’s last words in the final episode of The Office: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” How can you create the right and certain circumstances for people to thrive under such challenges? What do you have to pay forward to others? How will you want to be described and remembered?

Crisis and disruption may be our new normal in 2024, but little has changed in terms of the basic formula of human connection: those of us fortunate enough to grow and develop talent do so through relationship. Pay things forward. Teach what you choose to learn. And remember that, when in doubt, err on the side of compassion. From this peace of mind and wisdom, create opportunities for people to do their best work every day and reflect on your contribution to their careers for the rest of their lives. That’s the kind of high-level perspective that will help you help yourself and others while you grow professionally and scale your career in today’s challenging business environment.

Paul Falcone ( is a consultant specializing in management & leadership training, keynote speaking, and executive coaching. His bestselling books on hiring, performance management, and leadership development are available at / April 2024 43

Employment Focused Workshops to Help You Reach Your Goals

Perhaps you’re trudging back and forth to the same office or signing on for a day of work in a job that shows no sign of changing or improving: the long hours, the ongoing meetings, the lack of fulfillment. The job itself is mind-numbing; your talents forgotten and the potential you had in abundance when you first transitioned out of the military feels like it has been sucked out of you.

If you’re reading this and thinking, yeah, that is me, then the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS) has just the thing for you.

DOL VETS has a new pilot program to help veterans, veterans currently serving in the National Guard and Reserve, and their spouses to take control of their careers.

The Off-Base Transition Training (OBTT) pilot program consists of ten two-hour workshops designed to help you to prepare to meet your employment goals. These no-cost workshops, both in-person and virtual offerings, will fit any schedule and can give you an advantage over your civilian counterparts.

The Workshops

Your Next Move: Your Next Move is designed to help anyone unsure of what they want to do next with their career. This workshop explores interest profiling, skills matching and general labor market information. It is designed to introduce the basic tools needed for career exploration and identification of high-demand occupations.

Marketing Yourself and Other

Job Search

Tactics: Marketing Yourself and Other Job Search

Tactics explains how essential it is to present skills, knowledge and abilities that meet the employer’s needs. This workshop provides proven tactics to help job seekers get noticed and hired.

Understanding Resume Essentials: Understanding Resume Essentials explains the importance of a wellstructured resume that highlights relevant skills and experience to potential employers. This workshop covers the elements of a resume and provides job seekers with techniques to create an effective document that employers will notice.

Creating Your Resume – Writing Workshop: Creating Your Resume – Writing Workshop builds on the Understanding Resume Essentials. During this workshop attendees will have time to craft an initial resume or revise a current one.

Interview Skills (virtual only): Interview Skills aims to provide attendees with the tools and confidence they need to ace a job interview. Learning how to prepare for an interview and practice answering questions will give attendees an advantage in landing a job. During this workshop, interview basics, potential questions and interview techniques are presented.

Federal Hiring (virtual only): Federal Hiring covers the basics of gaining federal employment. Veterans have a distinct advantage when applying for federal positions with veterans’ preference.

During this workshop, the basics of civil service, USAJobs, special hiring authorities and other resources for attendees’ federal job search are discussed.

44 / April 2024

LinkedIn Profiles (virtual only): This workshop walks attendees through how to create a compelling LinkedIn profile that can be used to build a professional brand and highlight experience.

LinkedIn Job Search (virtual only): This workshop explains how to proactively use LinkedIn for job searches and pulls back the curtain to show how recruiters use LinkedIn to find potential employees, which you can use in your employment opportunities.

Salary Negotiations (virtual only): Salary Negotiations explores the tools and techniques to handle salary negotiations. This workshop is designed to take the mystery out of salary negotiation and walks attendees through how to conduct salary research to position yourself effectively during negotiation.

Employment Rights (virtual only): Employment Rights cover basic employment protections as well as those protections specific to veterans. It provides essential information on the American Disabilities Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act. Information on reasonable accommodations and selfadvocacy will also be presented.

Thinking about changing careers? It’s time to find your passion and make that your priority.

OBTT will help you reach your employment and career goals. You served, you earned it; find your next victory with OBTT.

Explore and register for OBTT in-person or virtual workshops online at: / April 2024 45


The Right Stuff

What is it inside of people that makes them willing to risk everything they have to be in business? Is it to join the league of greats like Ford, Carnegie, Hearst, Jobs, Gates or just to have the freedom of being in a business of their own?

Perhaps it is the spirit passed down by parents or grandparents who ran the butcher shops, bakeries and small service businesses from the beginning of time. Some say it is a burning desire that hits like a flash of lightening or an idea that begs to be developed.

At the height of it all, entrepreneurship screams freedom – freedom to direct one’s own life, freedom to earn as much as one can, freedom to set one’s own hours, freedom to be in control.

In the thick of it, entrepreneurship demands risk, it demands new skills, it demands financial liquidity and demands the effective use of time and life. Over the past 30 years, my experience facilitating hundreds of business owners in Mind Masters groups, highlights the struggle they have, wearing all of the “hats” of running a business and still maintaining some balance.

Many things happen when you go into business for yourself. You face tremendous obstacles, significant opportunities for growth and the personal fulfillment of achievement. There are essential factors that come together to make it happen.

You might remember the day you first entered high school; where are your classes, how do you get to your home room? Then you entered your first biology class and realized you found your life direction. Or maybe it was English class, or mathematics, something that pointed you in a direction. As you mastered the science, the language, the equations, you started to feel the sense of having a path to follow that carried you into a career.

Sometimes the sense of direction wasn’t all that obvious, it might have taken a few years in the military to recognize where you wanted to direct your career.

And just like serving in the military, personal achievement in any area of life requires commitment and consistency, and perhaps, as a business owner, it requires it even more.

You must maintain the right mindset and the ACTION that goes with it, to produce the success you want. Your dream may not have included the amount of work necessary to live it. You may not have realized how much on-going learning is required to run a business and sell successfully. Both work and learning take patience while consistently going beyond your limits. The rewards of personal, professional and financial growth far out-weigh the struggles to get there, take time to enjoy the path you have chosen

The Challenge: It is the last quarter, take time to work on yourself and your business, the road ahead will be easier.

Many things happen when you go into business for yourself. You face tremendous obstacles, significant opportunities for growth and the personal fulfillment of achievement.

Entrepreneurship demands risk!

Maintain the right mindset and the ACTION that goes with it, to produce the success you want.

46 / April 2024 Barbara Eldridge President/ Founder of Mind Masters an organization that provides business owners a proven, repeatable process that keeps the focus on the business of success. She can be reached at (858) 467-9091 or visit
BUSINESS / April 2024 47

legal Eagle

Straight-forward legal tips for Military and Veteran Business Owners


Buying a business is a huge decision but when you pull the trigger on buying an existing business, you get the opportunity to become an entrepreneur without starting a small business completely from scratch. Every year more than 500,000 businesses change hands, and that number is expected to skyrocket in the next several years as millions of baby boomers begin retiring and selling their businesses.

Before you begin the journey of buying a business of your own, find out everything you need to know, and the things you don’t know, to avoid buyer’s remorse, but more importantly to avoid costly legal battles. The easiest way to set yourself up for success is buying a business that you’re passionate about and taking it to the next level. Passion alone is not enough, experience and knowing which questions to ask when buying a business are also important when making your choice.

Here are some steps to take when considering the purchase of an existing business:

1) Search for businesses for sale.

There are plenty of ways to find the right business for sale that fits your criteria. These include online business marketplaces, classified ads, asking people in your network, attending industry conferences, and working with business brokers. Please note that business brokers legally represent the seller so you should be careful about conveying certain information to them such as how far you are willing to go in negotiations.

Do NOT hire the seller’s broker to represent you in the purchase of the business. This is the number one mistake made by buyers when buyers sign a dual representation agreement with the seller’s broker. The is no way the seller’s broker can represent both seller and buyer to their best interests as interests will naturally be competing.

2) Understanding why an existing business is up for sale.

There are plenty of reasons business owners might decide to sell their business, including something as simple as time to retire, move out of the state where the business is located, or simply looking for a change in career. There could be other reasons to sell the business such as a fundamental problem with the business. If you are about to buy a business, you will need to know exactly why the business you are considering is no longer working for the current owners. You should ask the current owners what challenges they are encountering, what they have done to try to solve the problem, and how those attempts fared. You should be on the lookout for:

• Existing business debts

• Brand issues

• Poorly executed business plan

• Inventory difficulties

• Bad or broken equipment

3) Do your due diligence.

Due diligence is the process of gathering as much information and intel as you can before buying a business, and it is a critical step in your journey to becoming a business owner. During this period, you should work with an accountant and lawyer to make sure you have all the information necessary to move forward or not with the purchase. As the buyer, you want a good accountant on your side to review the business financials. You also want a good business attorney to represent you in negotiations and to help you understand how the transaction should be legally structure for maximum protection from potential lawsuits. Before you can begin your due diligence, the seller will most likely ask for a signed confidentiality agreement or a nondisclosure agreement.

48 / April 2024

By signing you agree not to disclose any confidential information about the business that’s uncovered during the due diligence period. This protects the seller in case you decide this business is not right for you. There are many business documents, files, and agreements that you will want to collect and analyze, ideally with the help of your attorney and accountant

Here are some of the must have documents when conducting your due diligence:

• Business licenses and permits

• Organizational paperwork for the seller, such as corporation or LLC documents

• Contracts and leases

• Business financials

• Inventory, equipment, furniture, building

• Intellectual property

• Zoning laws

• Environmental laws

4) Purchase price.

This is where many deals fall apart because buyers and sellers often place very different values on the same business, and several factors affect a business’s valuation. Buyers and sellers usually use some kind of pricing model to get a ballpark number. During this process, it can be very helpful to call in an independent business valuation professional, such as with 20 plus years of experience to make an objective determination of the value. Whether you do this yourself or hire someone, it’s helpful to have some knowledge of different business valuation methods, such as:

• Earning approach

• Asset approach

• Market approach

5) Capital.

Once you and the seller agree on a number, the next step in buying a business is to get the money. There are a few different ways you can gather the capital you will need to purchase the business. Here are some of the ways to finance a business acquisition:

• Use personal or family money

• Seller financing

• Traditional bank loan

• SBA loans

• Partner with someone

• Debt financing

6) Tips on moving forward.

If you have already decided that purchasing a business is the right choice for you, you may still have questions. Here are some suggestions to help you start on your path to becoming a successful business owner:

• Consult with a business broker as they should have real life experience and can offer good advice, but beware as they get paid commission, so find someone that is trusted in the community.

• Check the credit history of the seller to gain insight into who the seller is and if the mistakes are seller related or industry related.

• Talk to the owner and ask direct questions.

• Talk to the employees and ask them direct questions.

• Talk to customers and let them know you are interested in buying the business, and they will give you their feedback without hesitation.

• Investigate, research, and evaluate the business.

• Make it legal by hiring the right attorney and accountant to help you purchase the best business you can buy with limiting your liability.

It’s never an easy process buying business. We can help. Click here to schedule your consultation. Becoming a business owner, you control your own destiny, choose the people you work with, reap big rewards, challenge yourself, give back to the community, and you get to follow your passion. Knowing what you’re getting into is smart business because the responsibility of protecting your business falls on you.

For more information on how to legally start and grow your business schedule your consultation here

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. / April 2024 49
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Dynamic Speakers, Panels, Workshops, Networking, Product Pitch Contest, and so much more




APRIL 27-28, 2024


We are excited to invite all women inventors and innovators to submit their innovative products for an opportunity to be recognized, celebrated, and awarded for their exceptional contributions in this burgeoning business space This unique opportunity was designed to highlight the remarkable achievements of women in the field of invention and entrepreneurship


Lead and Empower Her She Talks, in partnership with the BoldSKY Foundation, are proud to announce the first of its kind Women’s Product Entrepreneur & Inventor Summit. The trends are changing in the product world. Women who previously would have kept their innovative ideas to themselves are now rising up and bringing their product ideas to light. And we are here for them!

The Women’s Product Entrepreneur & Inventor Summit was created by women with a great product ideas, for women with great product ideas

This Summit is designed to not only provide actionable advice and time and money-saving direction that will move the needle forward on any product-focused business, but it also offers women an opportunity to pitch their great ideas to a live audience and a panel of esteemed judges

COME BE EMPOWERED! / April 2024 53

Insurance Info & Risk Management Tips

April Showers Brings May Flowers

While the heavy rains may bring beautiful spring flowers, they can also bring a lot of excess rain flow into communities and create havoc for homeowners and business owners alike. Most insurance policies will have some type of exclusion for flooding unless it is specifically included in the policy. In specifically zoned flood areas, it is often required to carry an additional flood insurance policy or amendment of coverage that would include flooding.

A good resource to check if your home or business location is currently listed in a flood zone is through:

The number of businesses that carry flood insurance in southern California is relatively low at approximately 8%. Most of these businesses are located in/on designated flood zones that were created over 10 years ago. One of the problems is that as the climate is changing, the new flood zone maps may be antiquated and not show the reality of the risk so you may want to spend a little time doing some research on your own area, if only as a precautionary assessment.

Another problem with excess rainfall in areas that are not used to that much rain at once is subsidence (land movement) or slippage of property. We have seen this play out in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Ventura counties in the last few years. Many insurance policies will exclude subsidence. And, if the property has been remodeled, the Contractor’s insurance may exclude

subsidence/earth movement as well. A licensed Soils Engineer may be needed to check the stability of the ground and they would carry insurance coverage for that.

And even if we can get through spring without a damaging flood or subsidence issue, all of the rain will provide growth to the brush areas and indigenous plants which could cause a fire hazard in the late summer or fall when the heat and winds pickup. It seems like a 'perfect storm’ for any number of catastrophes and homeowners and business owners need to be aware and do their own due diligence.

A few risk management suggestions are:

• Look over your insurance policies and check for flood exclusions and land- movement/subsidence exclusions.

• Cut brush/chaparral back from your home or business early so it does not become unmanageable. Fire suppression experts recommend a minimum break of 5 feet from the building and even less if the building is older or in rural areas away from fire hydrants.

• Before doing any remodel or TI work, try and upgrade to materials that have some fire suppression built into them and double check your contractors warranty and insurance policy and ask to be named additional insured on their policy for completed operations.

• Look around the outfacing windows and doors for any water seepage, cracks, leaks, mold, dry rot or deteriorating caulking and have it replaced.

• Check storm drains and rain gutters around the property to make sure they are clear of debris - pre and post storm activity.

• Excess rainfall can bring various critters into the home or business so check for any termite damage.

Talk with your insurance broker about your risks and worries and ways to alleviate any gaps in coverage.

Spring can be a beautiful time of year, so I hope you enjoy it and as always, stay safe and diligent!

Please reach out to me at: with any business insurance or risk management questions.

54 / April 2024


Our sports managements program supports professionals striving to become leaders in the exciting athletics field. Enrolled students can complete coursework entirely online while receiving guidance from high level coaches, retired pros, and sports industry experts.

Launching your business in Sports Leadership Principles in Sports Strategic Communication in Sports Ethics in Sports Game within the Game

NIL basics

This program is transferable with our University partners for credit. For more info email / April 2024 55

Veterans Chamber of Commerce

The Perfect Credit Score: A Comprehensive Guide

Achieving a perfect credit score is about mastering the art of financial excellence and it requires planning and discipline. A high credit score opens doors to better interest rates, premium credit card offers, and various other financial opportunities. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to create and maintain an excellent credit score:

1. Understand the Basics of Credit Score:

Familiarize yourself with the components of a credit score: payment history, credit utilization ratio, length of credit history, types of credit in use, and new credit accounts. Recognize that payment history holds the most significant weightage in determining your credit score. Take a look at to learn more about credit scores.


Obtain and Review Your Credit Reports


• Request free credit reports from the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) annually.

• Dispute any errors promptly to ensure your credit report accurately reflects your financial behavior.

3. Make Timely Payments:

• Always!!! pay your bills on time. Late payments can significantly damage your credit score.

• Set up a minimum payment in all of your credit cards and Loans to always show on time payments. Prioritize paying off high-interest cards/loans to improve your credit score.


Keep Credit Utilization Low:

Aim to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30% across all credit accounts, at least 50% and consider requesting credit limit increases to maintain a healthy credit utilization ratio.

5. Diversify Your Credit Mix:

Maintain a diverse but minimum number of credit accounts, including credit cards and or loans.

• Avoid opening multiple new credit accounts

simultaneously, as this can indicate financial instability.

• Demonstrate responsible credit management all across your credit cards or loans.

6. Lengthen Your Credit History:

• Keep old accounts open to lengthen your credit history, as the age of your accounts positively influences your credit score.

• Avoid closing old accounts unless absolutely necessary, as it may shorten your credit history and impact your credit score negatively.

7. Exercise Caution with New Credit Applications:

Limit the number of new credit applications to avoid triggering inquiries that can temporarily lower your credit score. Conduct thorough research before applying for new credit to ensure it aligns with your financial goals and needs and be selective and deliberate when opening new credit accounts.

8. Monitor Your Credit Score Regularly:

Utilize free credit monitoring services (Your current bank or credit card may offer this service at no cost) to keep track of changes in your credit score. Stay vigilant for any suspicious activities or unauthorized inquiries that may signal identity theft.

In conclusion, achieving an excellent credit score requires discipline, and a comprehensive understanding of credit management principles. By adhering to the strategies outlined in this guide and maintaining responsible financial habits, you can pave the way toward financial prosperity and unlock the doors to a perfect credit score.

Remember, building and preserving excellent credit is a journey, not a destination, and consistency is key to long-term success.

The National Veterans Chamber provides access to resource-partners who can help you design, create and or maintain a budget. Contact us: at:

*Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only and based solely on my personal experience. Make sure you contact a qualified Attorney to actually create living trust for your family.

56 / April 2024


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Help with Mortgage Payments? Yes, we help Families work together to purchase a home
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MOWW San Diego Chapter

A strong America dedicated to preserving and advancing American Ideals and Founding Principles.

The Military Order of the World Wars serves our nation and local communities by providing and supporting activities that promote and encourage responsible citizenship, patriotism, youth leadership, military and public service, veteran support, and strong national security.

The Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW), founded in 1919, is a non-political, patriotic Veterans Service Organization (VSO).

We are a group of patriotic commissioned officers from all uniformed services, our spouses, and descendants. We believe in America and live our motto, “It is nobler to serve than to be served.”. Our tag line is “Serving Youth, Community, and Nation”. We love and continue to serve our nation and all of its peoples. We do this through our outreach programs including Patriotic Education, Veteran Affairs, Scouting, JROTC/ROTC, Public Safety/Law and Order, Homeland Security, and National Security.

“It is nobler to serve than to be served.”

We have been serving the San Diego area since 1926. Our chapter has sponsored many events that have become constant in community life in San Diego. The San Diego chapter has also been quite active on the MOWW national stage. We are quite proud that the first female MOWW Commander-in-Chief, Capt. Debbie Kash, USAF (Ret), is a member of our chapter. We have also provided MOWW with two other Commanders-in-Chief.

Outreach events and activities

• Annual free Youth Leadership Conferences for high school students. Student teams and Staff interactively explore, learn, and practice leadership, patriotism, American government, American history, and free enterprise.

• Massing of the Colors and Service of Remembrance. Recognizing our youth, community, and nation through honoring our country, flag, active military and veterans, their families, and community patriotism.

• Wreaths Across America. Honoring our deceased veterans through co-sponsoring an annual patriotic ceremony.

• Recognizing youth leadership and sponsoring JROTC, ROTC, and Scouting events.

• Partnering with many community veteran groups.

For more information please visit our website at:

Facebook: The Military Order of the World WarsMOWW-San Diego Chapter

Please feel free to contact us:

Debbie Kash

Kathleen Winchester

58 / April 2024



The San Diego Veterans Coalition was organized in 2009 and incorporated as a non-profit on May 24, 2011. Using the Collective Impact Model, SDVC is a premier San Diego County-wide monthly convener of over 150 unique member and participating organizations, businesses, and agencies, as well as convening many of that body in our four action groups, and other activities and events. The Collective Impact Model is based on leveraging relationships with other veteran and family serving organizations so that we may provide veterans and their families with a complete array of services and other opportunities.

Many of the organizations that belong to SDVC specialize in one field (education, housing, employment, healthcare). Knowing what services each other provides, we can offer comprehensive support to our local Veteran community. We are proud to work alongside a wide variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations, as well as governmental agencies and individuals. The SDVC is a catalyst that inspires collaboration and cooperation among service partners to deliver premier support for Veterans in the San Diego region and beyond.











SDVC is proud to have partnered with ONWARD OPS, which has partnered with the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense, and local communities to support service members through the process from military to civilian life by matching them with one-on-one sponsors in their specific community.

ONWARD OPS Sponsors all complete a VA-Certified Sponsor Training Course and the Community Integration Coordinators are all validated as best-in-class, trusted, and capable partners in their local region. Our national network, working with the department of defense, the department of veterans affairs, and the department of labor, brings a team together in one common mission: to securely provide the information and relationships needed to help every transitioning service member successfully make the journey out of the military and into civilian life. / April 2024 59

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.

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Resources & Support available at:
Veteran Resources

Welcome to the Veterans Association of North County


Here you will find several resources, programs, services and opportunities for Veterans, Service Members and their families. Our goal is to be your one stop shop for all things, so don’t hesitate to contact us at any time. Programs and services vary, and include additional information for each. We have two Veteran Services Representatives (VSR) here at VANC, read all about them below in Addtional Services at: (


VANC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created and operated by Veterans as a one-stop resource center for all active-duty military, Veterans, and their families. We centralize services from diverse agencies to assist with jobs, education, finances, health, and wellness.


We seek to honor and support those who have served our country, bridging the past, present, and future. VANC is a vibrant gathering place in North San Diego County, where all Veterans, active-duty military, and their loved ones can reach out for help and community. VANC engages and informs local Veterans organizations, service providers, and individuals, helping them work together. VANC seeks to be a model for other organizations that serve the military community.


There’s always engaging things happening at VANC and with our partners. Check our calendar here for regularly scheduled events, meetings and opportunities here at VANC (

WE LOVE OUR ASSOCIATION MEMBERS AND THEY’RE HERE FOR YOU TOO. VANC is open to all military, veterans and friends of the military. If you would like to become a Veterans Association member, Contact Lori at to learn more. / April 2024 61

Opportunities in Law Enforcement

You’ve served your country, now serve your community!

Military and law enforcement have had a longstanding relationship with overlaps in training exercises, equipment, and, most important, personnel.

It is not uncommon for a service member to make the jump from the military to law enforcement as both professions look for the same characteristics; leadership, fidelity, chain of command, and teamwork are all common themes in both professions.

Quite understandably, many American military veterans often gravitate to a career in law enforcement when the time comes to rejoin the civilian workforce.

The two professions have many fundamental similarities; from the uniforms they wear with pride, to the firm command structure they serve under, to great personal risk they endure while protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

The following agencies are actively hiring & proudly support our veterans, active military and the families that keep together.

62 / April 2024 / April 2024 63 Veterans! Join Our Team CHANGE Be the SFPD Salary $103,116 - $147,628 TEXT “JoinSFPD” to (415) 704-3688

SDPD Ride Along: A Story of Two Marines

When I asked to go on a ride along with the San Diego Police Department, making a special request for any veterans-turned-cops, I expected a really serious, possibly dangerous, afternoon of shadowing our city’s toughest crime fighters.

What I got was an afternoon of heartfelt service to our San Diego community, honorable humility and a lot of respect.

When I asked whether former Marine Sergeant Major, Mark Wright, and his partner, former Marine Staff Sergeant, Sean Bunch, had rank or titles he said their titles were just San Diego police officers. They are relatively new partners, but act like they’ve known each other for years, which is usually the case when you get Marines together.

Wright is a newer addition to the force, coming on board two years ago, with Bunch only having two years left.

Currently, these brothers-in-arms spend their days patrolling the entirety of Balboa Park.

Although neither men are taking fire or kicking in the enemy’s door on this beat, like during their time in Iraq or Afghanistan, they still work hard to serve their local community. Service which can range from tracking down criminals to answering questions from lost pedestrians, to giving out stickers to kids and never backing down from a chance to turn on those flashing red and blues just to make one of them smile.

Most of our particular day was cruising around beautiful Balboa Park running car tags to see if they were current, from cars not displaying proper plates and placards to those double parked. Bunch says they often catch parole violators or even stolen cars doing just this. I was struck as I watched both officers go out of their way to look in and around vehicles to find plates or disability placards not displayed correctly so as to avoid issuing superfluous tickets.

“We try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt,” said Wright. “We’re not out to get anybody.”

Although, both officers confirm that enforcing even the most basic of park rules can yield large payoffs. During a recent patrol Bunch spotted an individual smoking in the park, which is illegal. As he circled back round, the individual turned and rapidly tried to walk away, which activated immediate suspicion. He was detained and came back with a warrant for numerous kidnapping and child molestation charges.

Both men say a lot of what they do is talk with museum owners and those living in the neighborhoods surrounding the park about their concerns. A shared concern by all is the park’s homeless population.

Bunch says their posture towards the homeless is mostly that of assistance, adding there are many resources available for those who would take them.

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Officer Sean Bunch Officer Mark Wright

The city spends a lot of money on resources,” said Bunch. “The biggest problem we run into is whether or not the [homeless] people want them, and a lot of them don’t.”

Thus, the men tend to run into the same issues with the same people pretty often. Although frustrating, they have learned that respect goes a long way when challenged with these repeat offenders. Bunch recalls spotting one such offender in the park, who was in violation of his parole and wanted on warrant. He was unable to get to the offender immediately, but still apprehended him with a verbal request. The parolee waited patiently to be hand-cuffed and arrested, simply out of the respect he held for the law man.

“Being respectful of everyone despite their lot in life goes a long way in this job,” said Wright.

Both men say a huge part of their work is being able to connect and communicate with the myriad of people they meet daily.

Bunch says he feels he and Wright are lucky to come to the force later in life, given it means they have a wider frame of reference for those they meet and serve daily. “We deal with people who are going through all kinds of things in life,” said Bunch. “And it’s helpful to be able to say, ‘hey I know what you are going through, I’ve been there.”

As the day progressed, I realized that both gentlemen definitely had a long list of tough and unique life experiences to pull from. Both proudly served the United States Marines for years, traveling to war and all over the world, experiences that yield much wisdom as well as many a story.

Bunch, for instance, did not come to the force straight from the Marines, but from Hollywood. Surprisingly, he is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, working as a military advisor on various productions, like Lonestar 911, and appearing in some as well, such as one of the most recent Men in Black movies.

“I grew up outside of LA,” said Bunch. “So, I’ve always just kind of been around the business and found a place for myself there with all my military experience.”

Bunch hopes to return to work in Hollywood after he leaves the force, bringing with him a new level of experience and respect.

Wright, who retired from the Marines as a Sergeant Major never worked in Hollywood, but he does have plenty of stories about being a proud grandfather, father and new amputee. When I entered the Central Division Station and met him, he said he was just getting back to work after some time off after losing his leg.

Wright remained unscathed during his over-20-years in service, overseas deployments and endless combat train ups. It wasn’t until after service that he lost his leg in a motorcycle accident late one foggy night a little over a year ago. Wright says it had been an eventful second watch and he was leaving the station about 2 AM on his motorcycle when it happened.

“It was only about two minutes from work,” said Wright. “I was coming around a curve and entered into what I thought was fog, and as I’m entering, I see a headlight and side mirror in my lane.”

That headlight and mirror became an entire car that was blocking Wright’s entire side of the road.

“I was a heuy crew chief in the Marines and reverted to my training from that, grabbed my shoulders, braced for impact and went flying like a human lawn dart over my handlebars,” said Wright.

Wright landed in the ditch on the side of the road. He says he realized immediately that he had a back and leg issue. He learned that a bystander had called 911, but he requested they call back and state that the injured motorcycle rider was a policeman with the San Diego Police Department and expedite services. This one request would become pivotal in saving Wright’s life.

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“What I didn’t know at that time was that I had severed two arteries in my leg, and I was bleeding out,” said Wright.

What Wright would learn later is his heel had also been torn off on the wrecked car as he sailed past it into the ditch. After much pain and many surgeries, Wright would finally lose his leg from the knee down. says he doesn’t let it get him down, though. He’s proud to continue to serve as one of our city’s finest.

Both he and Bunch take much pride in their time as Marines and as San Diego Police Officers. Each officer comes from strong military stock, with Wright’s grandfather being a World War II veteran and Prisoner of War and Bunch’s father a decorated veteran of Vietnam.

All in all, this Army vet’s afternoon with two Marines was an impressive one. Both seasoned public servants, these honorable men have discovered you must give respect to get it, that violence is often not the answer and the most important thing to keep in mind along the way, is a good, human dose of empathy.

66 / April 2024
Ride Along
For more information visit or email us at SDPD NOW HIRING
Officer Sean Bunch - Amber Robinson (SDVM) - Officer Mark Wright / April 2024 67

From Navy Sailor to San Francisco Police Officer

Changing careers can be exciting, exhilarating, and filled with trepidation. Meet Officer Cindy Ovares who has made the transition numerous times – from active-duty service member, to student, massage therapist, teacher, and now police officer.

The life experience she gained in those previous longterm jobs set her up to be successful today. She is doing what she’s always wanted to do – have a career that is challenging and rewarding.

Cindy was like many seniors in high school as she contemplated what she would do after graduation. When the Navy recruiter called the house looking for her brother, the recruiter instead got an eager, independent 17-year-old woman who wanted to find adventure. Just a few months later, she was off to “see the world” and start her first career.

As an Aviation Machinist’s Mate, Petty Officer Ovares was a jet engine mechanic. It was a male-dominated job, and she wanted to prove that anything a man could do, she could do better. She attended military schools in Florida and Virginia to learn her trade, and was later stationed in Lemoore, California. She was attached to VFA-22, an F/A-18 Super Hornet squadron, that deployed on ships. After serving four years on active duty, she earned Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits, and chose to leave the Navy to attend college.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and being a fluent Spanish speaker, she was hired to be a high school Spanish teacher. The job was gratifying; but also, under resourced, understaffed, and had little room to grow professionally. She wanted something new and challenging, was drawn to the community where she grew up, so, in her late 30s she applied to be a police officer.

“Being able to talk to people, figure out what they are going through, and what they need is a huge portion of the job. I enjoy interacting with the public, and engaging in what I call verbal judo.”
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- Officer Cindy Ovares

Officer Ovares was accepted to the San Francisco Police Academy and has been an officer for the last three years. She is a foot patrol officer working in the Tenderloin District – a 50-block area that has a storied history, and has been known for homelessness, drugs, and crime.

“Being able to talk to people, figure out what they are going through, and what they need is a huge portion of the job. I enjoy interacting with the public, and engaging in what I call verbal judo,” said Officer Ovares.

For Officer Ovares, the parallels between serving in the military and serving in law enforcement made the transition go smoothly:

• Routine – You know what to expect before your shift begins (what time to report, what uniform to wear, the structure of the day).

• Camaraderie – The bond between fellow officers is like the bond between your fellow military brothers and sisters.

• Variety – Every day is different with different assignments and duties, so the job is never boring.

• Benefits – Include a competitive salary, paid vacation days, floating holidays, and sick days, healthcare, retirement, and special pay for certain assignments and being bilingual.

As a Latina giving back to her community, she admits that the job comes with highs and lows. Officer Ovares recommends a career in law enforcement for those military members looking to make a smooth transition to a new chapter.

To learn more about the San Francisco Police Department, or to connect with recruiter, go to: / April 2024 69
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