San Diego Veterans Magazine August 2020

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Vol. 2 Number 8 • August 2020

Assistance in Action

Dog Days of Summer Tribute To Service - Working Dogs


San Diego


Veteran of the Month Advocate of the Month

Spirit of`45 The 75th Anniversary of the End of WWII

What’s Next


Transition to Civilian Life

Veterans Share What It Means to be Awarded a Purple Heart / AUGUST 2020


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A Veteran-led program serving our military-connected community‌including Active Duty, Veterans, National Guard, Reservists and their family members.

24/7 Access to Resources and Peer Support

Call 877-698-7838 or dial 2-1-1 Visit our website at


@CourageToCall @CourageToCall / AUGUST 2020




Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller

Contributing Writers Holly Shaffner Veteran Advocate - Honor Flight SD

RanDee McLain, LCSW A Different Lens

Vicki Garcia

Enlisted to Entrepreneur

CJ Machado

SD Vets & Homeland Photojournalist

Kelly Bagla, Esq. Legal Eagle

Joe Molina Veterans Chamber of Commerce

Eve Nasby

What’s Next - Transitioning

Amber Robinson Greetings and a warm welcome to San Diego Veterans Magazine! Please take some time to get to know the layout of our magazine. The Magazine focuses on San Diego resources, support, community, and inspiration for our veterans and the military families that keep it together. Our magazine is driven by passion, vision, reflection and the future. The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with our veterans, service members, military families, and civilians. The magazine is supported by a distinguishing list of San Diego veteran organizations, resource centers, coalitions, veteran advocates, and more. We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people. San Diego Veterans Magazine is a veterans magazine for veterans by veterans. We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of San Diego Veterans Magazine.

Mike Miller Editor-In-Chief

Arts & Healing

Eva Stimson Veteran Advocate

Collaborative Organizations Team Rubicon - Bryan Prest VANC- Lori Boody / Michael Walsh • DAV • Father Joe’s Village • DOD • Shelter To Soldier • Give An Hour • UCSD • Courage To Call • • Veteran & “For Purpose” Organizations • Veteran Advocates & Guest Writers • And many more...

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

(858) 275-4281 Contact us at: 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.

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Manny’s Lead Marine Corps Pvt. Manny, an English bulldog, leads recruits during log drills at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sept. 9, 2019. Manny, the official depot mascot, is named after Sgt. Johnny R. Manuelito, a Navajo Code Talker during World War II. Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Grace Kindred

6 San Diego Veteran of the Month 8 Irene Ferguson Marine Award 10 Spirit of ‘45 12 Veterans Awarded “Purple Heart” Share 18 History of Service Dogs 19 Dog Days of Summer 20 Graham Bloem - Advocate Spotlight 22 Assistance In Action 24 Dogs are the Greatest Teachers 26 The Service Dog Dilemma 30 Dark Times to “Stark” Times 32 Helping Vets by Saving Vets 34 Helen Woodward Animal Center Provides Heart 35 Origins: Dog Days of Summer 36 Legally Speaking: Who Gets the Dogs Now 38 World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji 42 LENS: Compassion Fatigue 44 Vet Caregiver Self Check-In 52 Legal Eagle - Use it or Lose it 54 What’s Next - The Power of One 58 Enlisted to Entrepreneur - Business Ideas (Woof) 60 The 8 Second Resume 62 Arts & Healing: Artist Spotlight 64 Veterans & Healing 66 American History Theater 68 VANC: Happy Summer / AUGUST 2020


VETERAN OF THE MONTH San Diego - August 2020 By Bryan Prest

PAUL CARR A Veteran Dedicated to Community Service, Individual Growth and Transition. Paul Carr was born and raised near Boston, MA. He attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he chose to enlist in the Massachusetts Army National Guard and enrolled in the Army ROTC program. Upon graduation in May of 2001, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Infantry, in the Massachusetts Guard. His infantry had only met for a few weekend drills and one summer’s Annual Training before the attacks on 9/11.

He transferred to the Arizona Army National Guard where he began drilling with a Military Police company. While in the Arizona Guard, he responded to Hurricane Katrina and deployed to Iraq for a year.

In the weeks following, they began conducting homeland security missions in support of Operation Noble Eagle. His unit was tasked with guarding critical infrastructure sites in the state, like satellite communications assets and the Wachusett reservoir.

Since leaving the military, Paul has continued working in federal law enforcement, and will reach 18 years of service this October. Over the course of his career, he has worked to expand his skills into other fields, such as planning and emergency management. For over 11 years, Paul has served as an EMT, a path that has proven to be one of the most rewarding in his career. One of his newest goals is to help with the growth of resilient communities by looking to groups focused on themes like that and business/operational continuity. He has also started his own company that looks to develop readiness in individuals, families, and small group.

In December 2001, Paul left for the Infantry Officer Basic Course and then began applying for jobs within federal law enforcement as that course neared its completion. He went through the federal hiring process that spring and summer, and found himself heading to San Diego in October 2002.

During his time in the Arizona National Guard, he also had the opportunity to be a NATO trainer/evaluator for Steppe Eagle 2011 in Kazakhstan. He then left the National Guard as a Captain in January 2012.

Service has always been a huge part of Paul’s life. He was a Boy Scout through his teen years, and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. He also was involved in service organizations like Key Club in high school and a first responder as part of an Explorer Post. His military and civilian career path have afforded him the opportunity to continue his service to others in a full-time capacity and he still feels drawn to it in his offtime. Paul mentions, “I think my parents instilled that in me; and now, that’s just what I turn back to in order to find fulfillment”. There are a lot of opportunities to continue your service, through volunteering or through careers at local, state, and federal levels. From my experience, is really a one-stop shop for federal employment. 6 / AUGUST 2020

Recruiters from agencies at every level also go to events like job fairs and civilian-transition events on-base. If you have interest in any specific agency or department, their individual websites usually have ways to reach a recruiter/hiring team as well. When interviewing Paul, he reviewed his outlooks on military to civilian life: I think transition looks different for a National Guard soldier vs someone coming off active duty. However, I believe someone in either situation needs to think about is how they define themself or their identity. Looking back, I had too narrow of a view of myself: I spent too long pigeon-holing myself as a soldier and law enforcement officer, without taking the time to fully develop other aspects of my life. When I left the guard, and work transitioned to a more administrative role, I went through a period of time where I felt like I lost my identity. You need to think about who you are outside of those external constructs.

Paul joined Team Rubicon in 2018, and took a position as a Operational Planner for San Diego County in early 2019. He has written plans for wildfire mitigation events, helped the American Red Cross install smoke/fire alarms as part of their “Sound the Alarm” campaign, as well as planned and participated in feeding programs throughout the county during the COVID-19 crisis. Currently, he is assisting in planning Team Rubicon’s response to June’s devastating fire in Niland, which will consist of clean-up/recovery in early August. “I’m very happy that I found Team Rubicon. It’s a great organization, both for the communities it serves as well for its Greyshirt volunteers. I think we do a great job of leveraging skills and knowledge from Veterans’ service and other walks of life, and put the right people in the right position to do the most good. From the start, I’ve been impressed by Greyshirts’ motivation to jump and start working on anything from small tasks to large operations,” Paul states. / AUGUST 2020


Kailee Norris named 2020 Irene Ferguson Marine Wife Recognition Awardee at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum An example of one initiative spearheaded by Kailee was during a deployment when a young mother in the squadron was hospitalized and in a coma. Kailee ran a diaper and formula drive and personally delivered all the proceeds to the children’s caregiver. Other initiatives led by Kailee have included sending notes of encouragement and gift cards to spouses during a recent deployment and care packages and letters of appreciation to squadron family members who are nurses serving on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic. Kailee is married to Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Norris who commands an MV-22 squadron at MCAS Miramar. They have three children. Friends and family members of Marine wives with a home base in the Southwest region submitted nominations to the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation. The awardee was chosen by an all-female committee chaired by the 2016 awardee, Lauren Huff, and includes the granddaughter of Irene Ferguson, the award’s namesake. About the Award:

Kailee Norris was named the 2020 recipient of the

Irene Ferguson Marine Wife Recognition Award in a plaque unveiling ceremony at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum on August 4, 2020. The annual award recognizes the wife of an active-duty Marine for her outstanding service to the U.S. Marine Corps, community, nation, and family. Kelli Richardson, the friend who nominated Kailee for the recognition, noted that: “[Kailee] has moved 10 times in 18 years and has been through five deployments; three occurred during named conflicts. Her kindness, compassion and willingness to help go hand in hand with her resiliency, strength and dedication to her families, both immediate and military.” In addition to the challenges of keeping the home fires burning and playing the role of a single parent during deployments, Kailee has been active in the Family Readiness Programs of her husband’s current (and former) units. She serves as a substitute teacher, and she also volunteers in her church, for her son’s sports league, and with her college sorority’s alumni association. 8 / AUGUST 2020

World War II pilot and Korean War veteran, Major Glenn Ferguson, USMC-retired, 98, created the award to honor the commitment and sacrifices made by Marine wives in support of their husbands. “I realized that in all the museums I had visited, all the parks I had walked through, and all the buildings I had been in, none included a tribute honoring the life of commitment and sacrifice made by service wives in support of their husbands.” The award is named in memory of Major Ferguson’s beloved wife of 64 years, Irene, who educated and cared for his sons while he was deployed. “And all without medals or monuments to attest to her trials, tribulations, and victories. This award is long overdue. My generation gave these wives too little recognition.” Awardees are recognized in a ceremony with a plaque and other gifts.

For more information about the Irene Ferguson MarineWife Recognition Award, the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum and or the Historical Foundation call (858) 693-1723 or visit the website at:

Armed Forces Memorial Amphitheater

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

Please Contribute Today! Make the Vision a Reality

Armed Forces Memorial Amphitheater Any contribution amount counts!

Please go to and click on “Contribute” to donate to the Armed Forces Memorial Amphitheater. The Support Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity. All donations are tax deductible. Tax ID #65-1277308. You will receive an acknowledgment for your contribution. / AUGUST 2020


Spirit of `45

Gil Nadeau & Stu Hedley

The 75th Anniversary of the End of WWII By Holly Shaffner

The day was August 14, 1945. President Truman announced, “This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor. This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would.” Every WWII veteran knows exactly where they were when they heard the news. For U.S. Navy WWII veteran Gil Nadeau, he was on his Landing Craft Support (LCS) ship in the Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines practicing maneuvers for an invasion on Japan. In the late morning on August 14th a ship’s radioman announced, “The war is over! The war is over!”After being away from home for over two years, Nadeau thought, “Now I can go home.” Nadeau recalls the parties and celebrations that ensued. He remembers the harbor looking like the 4th of July with guns being fired into the air and pyrotechnics illuminating the sky. He remembers the LCS pulling up on the beach and the crew jumping to land and drinking like sailors until it was time to get underway again. He remembers the donkey and the cart that helped get the sailors from the nearby Army base back to the beach. The Japanese surrendered on August 14th and on September 2nd, allied supreme commander General Douglas MacArthur along with Japanese officials signed the official Japanese surrender aboard the U.S. Navy battleship Missouri, officially ending World War II. Many Americans called August 14th V-J Day or Victory over Japan Day. Today, we celebrate the end of WWII in a celebration called “Spirit of `45”. In 2010, Congress voted to make the second Sunday in August the National Day of recognition. In San Diego, the largest annual celebration has been at the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park. 10

For many years, the museum hosted the event and Honor Flight San Diego contacted hundreds of WWII veterans to attend the celebration. The event typically garners about 500-700 people; there’s a ceremony with guest speakers telling their “end of WWII story”, there’s WWII re-enactors who set up tents and vehicles, there’s singers and dancers dressed in their best 1940’s attire. But the most important part of the day is when the veterans reunite with their brothers and sisters. It is a family affair with the veterans, their guardians, and Honor Flight San Diego volunteers. Due to COVID, this is one of the many events that has been cancelled in 2020. Our WWII veterans will miss this event this year. Since it is important to recognize this historic day, Honor Flight San Diego will be part of a special ceremony. It will not be attended by hundreds of people but will be able to be viewed by thousands. For more information about this year’s event, go to: or follow them on Facebook @HonorFlightSanDiego. On this 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, Let’s Keep the Spirit Alive! If you know a member of our Greatest Generation…simply ask them, “Where were you when the war ended?” / AUGUST 2020

Courtesy U.S. National Archives / AUGUST 2020


Veterans Share What It Means to Be Awarded a Purple Heart Purple Heart Day (Aug. 7) commemorates the brave men and women who have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy action during their military service. To honor these veterans, many people across the nation pause to recognize the sacrifices made for our freedom. The purple color of the award represents the courage of those who gave so much. About 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) asked some of the warriors it serves what having a Purple Heart means to them.

For some, it’s a reminder of what happened in battle:

Andrew Harriman, U.S. Army

Brent Whitten, U.S. Army

Mike Matthews, U.S. Army

Having a Purple Heart is a tangible reminder of what happened in Iraq. It’s a reminder that you don’t necessarily come back in the same condition that you left.

The Purple Heart award for me brings thoughts of all those wounded or slain in this nation’s history in battle. I am honored and humbled to share the same medal as others who answered America’s call of duty.

Having a Purple Heart means that I was stronger than what was meant to take me out. It means that by no means did I run from danger or uncertainty, but instead faced my enemy head on!

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Other veterans feel it is more about those who served and their sacrifices than the award itself:

Jeffrey Adams, U.S. National Guard

Josh Wathen, U.S. Army

I’ve always seen it as just being an award for something happening to you. Nothing special about it, just cause and effect. I don’t even know where mine is. Do I respect and appreciate those who have earned a Purple Heart? Wholeheartedly, yes. Do I see any weighted value or anything special in mine? No. I volunteered, I did a job, I got wounded. Sometimes that happens. There are many veterans — and families — who made greater sacrifices and tend to get less recognition. I find it far more valuable to appreciate all who have served, regardless of where or when, because of one simple fact: they volunteered to serve.

I am proud and honored to be a Purple Heart recipient. Knowing that I was injured by the enemy, and that many others gave the ultimate sacrifice, is something I think about daily. I was blessed to serve our great country, and I would do it all over again without hesitation.

For some warriors, the award is a symbol of honor:

Deron Santiny, U.S. National Guard

James Rivera, U.S. Marine Corps

Being awarded the Purple Heart is a great honor. Given the history of the award, it means a lot to me to have been awarded it. It is truly an award that no one goes into combat wanting, but it is an honor to have it. It shows that you have given your blood, sweat, and tears in service to your country and that you were willing to spill your blood for others.

Having a Purple Heart is a daily reminder that I need to keep fighting on in honor of those who no longer can.

Continued on next page > / AUGUST 2020


And for others, it’s about something that will never be forgotten:

Roberto Cruz, U.S. Army

Tom Marcum, U.S. Air Force

During the time when I was about to receive my Purple Heart, I was still in a hospital bed, unable to move, and was going through surgeries and intense rehab. The Army asked me who I would want to pin my medal on me, and I asked for a fellow soldier who had been on the battleground with me. About a week later, Lt. Gen. William G. Webster showed up at my bedside to present me with my Purple Heart medal.

To me a Purple Heart is a badge of honor and faithfulness. My family served our country. We served it honorably and faithfully. The Purple Heart shows that our country has not forgotten that and never will.

It was a very big moment, and I was thankful my parents were able to be there with me. Since that time, I’ve become a trustee in the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Tampa, Florida. We visit schools, hospitals, and do volunteer work in the community. It’s encouraging to know that I can help others, just like others helped me when I was in the hospital.

Ultimately, every Purple Heart recipient has made significant sacrifices — as unique as the meaning behind the award itself. WWP recognizes and is here to support those who have been wounded — both visibly and invisibly. WWP’s programs in mental and physical health and long-term rehabilitative care change lives. About Wounded Warrior Project Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more at

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Ultimately, every Purple Heart recipient has made significant sacrifices — as unique as the meaning behind the award itself. WWP recognizes and is here to support those who have been wounded — both visibly and invisibly.

August 7

National Purple Heart Day 2020 / AUGUST 2020


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

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

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Caring for our veterans

Veterans facing the challenges associated with a life-threatening illness can rely on The Elizabeth Hospice for the medical, emotional and spiritual support they need and deserve. Our skilled, compassionate caregivers are trained to address PTSD, depression, anxiety, survivor’s guilt, and soul injury. Complementary therapies, including physical therapy, music therapy, aromatherapy and pet visits, are used in combination with medical support to help alleviate pain. We celebrate and thank our patients for their service at bedside pinning ceremonies officiated by a veteran or active duty service member. Since 1978, The Elizabeth Hospice has touched the lives of more than 100,000 people in San Diego County and Southwest Riverside County. To learn more about our hospice care, palliative care and grief support services for veterans, call 800.797.2050 or visit

The Elizabeth Hospice is proud to be a We Honor Veterans Level 5 Partner, the highest level of distinction. / AUGUST 2020


THE HISTORY OF SERVICE DOGS Have you ever wondered about the first service dogs? Who trained them and what types of tasks did they perform? Were dogs considered “family members” as they are today? Or were they nothing more than tools? We thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at the history of service dogs and how their roles evolved over time. DOGS AS COMPANIONS Nobody knows exactly when dogs and humans first forged their inseparable bonds. The oldest dog ever found was a perfectly preserved puppy found frozen in the permafrost in the Far East. Scientists estimate its age to be about 12000 years old. We know that Ancient Egyptians kept both cats and dogs and valued them enough to take them along into the afterlife. Dog mummies have been found from as early as the sixth century B.C. and in Peru, a burial place dating back to 900 A.D. holds individual plots for both dogs and their owners. The evidence is strong that dogs have played an important role in men’s lives for a very long time. EVIDENCE OF DOGS AS SERVICE ANIMALS When, though, did dogs first begin to help those with disabilities? One of the first known references to service dogs is found in Ancient Rome. Frescoes depict blind men being led by dogs and Ancient Chinese scrolls talk of the same. In America, one of the first well-known seeing eye dogs made history in 1928. Buddy and his blind owner, Morris Frank, publicly demonstrated how his dog could guide the visually impaired by having him navigate a busy New York intersection. Since then, guide dogs have been publicly accepted and sought for those with vision problems. THE MODERN SERVICE DOG It wasn’t until the 1960’s that service dogs for those other than the blind began to be trained and recognized. For the hearing impaired, dogs could signal a crying baby, a telephone, or the sound of sirens. 18 / AUGUST 2020

As time went on, dogs became companions for autistic children and soldiers suffering PTSD. Today, a service dog can be trained for all manner of tasks. • Recognizing the onset of seizures. • Notification of blood sugar issues. • Stability and many others. But, the role of the modern service dog wasn’t really defined until the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. That particular law was written to prohibit discrimination based on disabilities, but it also defined the rights of service dogs. The ADA defines service dogs (or animals) as being TRAINED to perform tasks for a person with disabilities. They are not just companions, though they also fill that role. Service dogs are caregivers, nurses, and assistants. SERVICE DOG LAWS Today, the role of “service dog” has broadened to the point that new laws are required. Whereas it was once understood, that a service dog was trained to execute a specific task, people will now try to take untrained animals into public access areas. These dogs are often for emotional support as opposed to being trained to perform physical tasks. For those who have invested time and money in their trained? service dogs, this can present a source of frustration. HOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT TRAINED SERVICE DOGS For anyone wanting more information on how to acquire a trained service dog or how you can train your own dog to become one, please feel free to contact us. White Mountain College for Pets (603) 536-4219

San Diego Veterans Magazine Presents

DOG DAYS OF SUMMER Tribute to Service - Working Dogs “Everyone thinks they have the best dog. And none of them are wrong.” / AUGUST 2020


“It is not

SPOTLIGHT: Veteran Advocate

only my sincere pleasure to support our veterans on the homefront, I believe it is my duty”

Graham Bloem

A Patriotic Veteran Advocate By Eva M. Stimson

Graham Bloem was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has had an affinity with animals throughout his entire life, although his true passion is for dogs. At age five, he immigrated to Toronto, Canada with his family, but enjoyed frequent trips back to South Africa as time allowed. His experiences in wildlife settings instilled a dream of one day working with animals.

Graham specializes in service dog training, obedience training, and behavior modification. Through his training, and the teaching and coaching of other professional dog trainers, he has helped save the lives of thousands of dogs from euthanasia and an otherwise uncertain future.

From Canada, he immigrated to the United States obtaining US citizenship, and he now resides in San Diego, CA, with his beautiful family (wife Kyrié, four children, and dogs named Lucy and Toffee, a Heinz 57-rescue sweetheart, and a playful and loving Golden Retriever). Graham graduated Animal Behavior College as an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer (ABCDT) and has been training dogs professionally for 19 years. Graham has worked with thousands of dogs, continuing his studies to enhance his understanding of dog behavior.

In 2007, Graham volunteered to be the expert dog trainer of Nubs, a famous dog rescued from the warzone in Iraq by LtCol Brian Dennis of the US Marine Corps. LtCol Brian Dennis bonded with Nubs while serving his country in Iraq. Brian later wrote the New York Times Best Selling Book, “Nubs – The True Story of A Mutt, A Marine and A Miracle,” in which Graham was featured regarding his training with this special pup, who navigated incredible odds and vast distances to rejoin LtCol Brian Dennis’s remote military encampment.

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In October 2012 Graham, his wife Kyrié and friend Krys Holc, established the non-profit organization, TM Shelter to Soldier, which provides specially trained rescue dogs to post 9/11 combat veterans working through PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) and/or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Graham and Kyrié also operate their for-profit dog training company, Specialty Dog Training, at their Oceanside facility, which donates a portion of proceeds and a vast array of services on a continual basis to Shelter to Soldier. To date, the Bloem’s for-profit company has donated over one million dollars in training, dog housing and office space, staffing, services, equipment, direct contributions and serves as a valuable link to private clients that often become donors of Shelter to Soldier. Specialty Dog Training is the largest donor of Shelter to Soldier as of this writing. Perhaps the most compelling example of Graham’s commitment to US military veterans can best be descried by one of Shelter to Soldier’s veteranrecipients, Mr. Vic Martin (US Navy, Ret). Vic states, “I served with great respect in the United States Navy as a Mineman, working with underwater explosives. As challenging as my job was in the Navy, I never foresaw the obstacles my entire family would endure as a result of my service, nor how one man (Graham Bloem) would change my life forever. In 2011, while forward deployed in the Arabian Gulf, I suffered an injury that would result in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury (TBI). I was subsequently diagnosed with service-connected Panic Disorder, Severe Anxiety, Major Depressive Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), none of which I understood.” Vic elaborates, “Fortunately, my wife discovered Shelter to Soldier. This non-profit charity adopts shelter dogs that are homeless and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for qualifying US veterans at no cost. I soon discovered what a welcome relief this organization would become to help me overcome my traumatic service experiences! Particularly of interest and much to my amazement, there was zero cost to me, the veteran, to obtaining a dog, as long as I qualified for their criteria. I applied in June of 2014, and I was invitied to attend an in-person interview based upon my eligibility. Upon my arrival, I was shaking and my verbal stutter was evident. I met with a kind gentleman named Graham Bloem. He was a dog trainer, and that was about all I knew of him. We met in a casual setting that I found comforting. When I first met Graham, I began to understand more about him as an individual…I learned about his own struggles and challenges.

Vic Martin with ‘Mia - Photo by Mason Lane Photography

His vulnerability was unmatched by anything I had experienced during my military career, and it led to my greater understanding that by being vulnerable, we are all capable to open the door of dialogue and growth. He didn’t just train my service dog and I, he also taught me it was okay to fall, as long as you get back on your feet again and make it a lesson to be shared with others.” Although Shelter to Soldier Co Founder, Graham Bloem, has not personally served or experienced active duty in the military, he is an ardent advocate of those who have served. “It takes a very special and patriotic individual to volunteer to serve and protect our country; to leave loved ones at home to face uncertainty, and regardless of risk, be willing to stand and fight for our freedoms. It is not only my sincere pleasure to support our veterans on the homefront, I believe it is my duty”, states Bloem of his work with Shelter to Soldier. Graham is the recipient of the American Red Cross Real Heroes Award, 10News Leadership Award, CBS8 News Change It Up Award, Honeywell Life Safety Award, and the 2016 Waggy Award for animal welfare. Additionally, Shelter to Soldier is a gold participant of GuideStar and accredited by the Patriot’s Initiative. / AUGUST 2020


Assistant Care Members of the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing and 108th Wing, pet Cole, a therapy dog at the Vineland Veterans Memorial Home in Vinewood, N.J., May 22, 2020. Cole is deployed to the home to assist staff in caring for the residents during the COVID-19 crisis. Courtesy of DOD - Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Cristina J. Allen, New Jersey Air National Guard 22 / AUGUST 2020

Dozing Dog Marine Corps Cpl. Carlos Deleonsantiago rests with his military working dog, Fero, at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Feb. 16, 2020, during Marine AirGround Task Force Warfighting Exercise. The exercise focuses on the tactical application of combined-arms maneuver, offensive and defensive operations during combat. Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cedar Barnes

Canine Cuddle Air Force Airman 1st Class Ashland Busman spends time with Benji, a therapy dog, during a visit to a COVID-19 testing center manned by the Illinois National Guard in East St. Louis, Ill., May 19, 2020. Photo By: Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Ken Stephens

Therapy Dog


Army Spc. John Ward, a behavioral health technician assigned to the 405th Field Hospital, introduces a service member to Mila, a therapy dog used as a stress reliever for service members at the Javits New York Medical Station in New York City, April 17, 2020. In support of the Defense Department’s COVID-19 response, U.S. Northern Command, through Army North, is supporting the Federal Emergency Managemen Agency to help communities in need. Photo By: Navy Chief Petty Officer Barry Riley / AUGUST 2020


- Dogs Are Our Greatest Teachers My name is Lance Weir and I have received three service dogs from Canine Companions for Independence®. Sharing my story over the past few years has become a big part of my life. A story of tragedy and triumph and the 26 years that fit in-between. On August 7, 1993 I was 21 years old, a Marine Reservist, and had just months earlier joined my college football program in hopes of making the team as a walk on. The outdoors, adventure, adrenaline and physical exertion is what I needed; it’s what I felt I was made for. On August 8, after leaning into a river headfirst to retrieve a ball cap, I struck a rock which resulted in paralysis not only in my legs but most of my arms. Instantaneously I lost everything that mattered at the time. Depression started immediately and ultimately lead to years of addiction and thoughts of suicide. Thankfully I was able to win those battles and ultimately found the life I had always dreamed of. I feel so blessed and so thankful on most days that I truly feel like the luckiest guy on earth. You may be asking how? Because of a dog. In 2004 I received my first service dog, a black Lab/ Golden cross named Satine. When I arrived on the Canine Companions for Independence campus, I had no idea what to expect. My expectations on anything had grown low and who was to prove to me that this would be any different. What I was hoping for was the chance to regain a small piece of my independence back. Asking for help over the simplest things like picking up a remote, a phone or a piece of paper had demoralized me. Not only did Satine give me back some of that independence, she would ultimately give me a second chance at life. I know I would not be here today if it were not for Satine. The responsibility I felt for her gave me hope on the spot, and before Satine and I had even graduated I knew that I wanted to be a part of what “we” were experiencing and vowed to myself I would come back. In an instant my life had flipped. I began to say yes instead of no. I began to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. In two years, I would finally finish college and move from Arkansas to California to work for Canine Companions. Expectations were met and then some. Because of that experience 16 years ago, not only am I alive, but I have been lucky enough to do the things I had once thought were lost and even do new things. New experiences like working with my second service dog Auggie, a black Lab that pushed me for eight and a half years to keep up with him. 24 / AUGUST 2020

Having Auggie by my side resulted in many awesome personal accomplishments, like riding the coast of California eight years in a row; becoming the first tandem hand-cycle to enter an Ironman; first challenged athlete to finish the 508 – a 508-mile bicycle race in 48 hours; and back-to-back gold medals for the Marine Corps in the Warrior Games. To this day, anyone who met Auggie from his service years of 2011 to 2019 says he is the gold standard for service dogs. Thank you again to Canine Companions for giving me the gift of Auggie. Today I am matched with Elijah, a yellow Lab/Golden cross who is the smartest dog I’ve ever been around and one I can’t wait to continue to learn from. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from incredible people along my journey but none more than the three service dogs I’ve had the privilege to spend the past 16 years with. They have been my greatest teachers. And this is how I feel like the luckiest guy on the earth. What’s incredible about Canine Companions for Independence is that my story is just one of thousands. Every day Canine Companions changes and saves lives and saves families. They have the ability to make profound changes in individuals’ lives and families that get the chance to experience the bond between a human and a dog bred and trained to serve. Thank you for taking the time to read a little bit of my story. You can learn more about how you can help make more stories like mine happen at

Lance & Elijah / AUGUST 2020


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FREE ASSISTANCE DOGS FOR VETERANS Our assistance dogs master more than 40 commands to assist veterans with disabilities with daily tasks. DONATE. APPLY. VOLUNTEER. 800.572.BARK / AUGUST 2020


From Dark Times to “Stark” Times Erich Allman served in the military from 1997 to 2006. Most of Erich’s time was spent as a combat Fleet Marine Force Corpsman with the United States Marine Corps. Reminiscing on his time in the Navy, Erich mentions, “There is nothing I love more than my Marines and of course Stark, my Labrador Retriever”. In 2012, Erich began having very bad night terrors and within his sleep, would physically exert himself reacting to his terrors. “I hit and myself while having some of these night terrors. I don’t sleepwalk but I do scream, thrash, and grab hold of sheets”, Erich states. His awakening for needing help was when these physical interactions effected his former spouse. With the help of his ex-wife, they searched for a service dog to help with his terrors and anxiety. He first applied to Pawsitive Teams and was denied in the beginning but, through communication and determination, he was able to become part of the team and work with Carol King (Co-Founder of Pawsitive Team). “Carol was amazing and helped guide me. She gave me a list of other Assistance Dogs International organizations that might help me. To my surprise, Carol contacted me later and gave Stark and me a test run as she felt he might be a good match for me. I ended up being partnered with Stark. I was also the first TBI/PTS service dog partnership Pawsitive Teams matched. Since then, Pawsitive Teams has placed several others,while still focusing on mobility with disabled civilians and veterans. I am blessed to have Pawsitive Teams in my life.” Stark and Erich worked directly with Carol for months during transition training. “Bonding is one of the most important aspects of having a service dog”, Erich says. “You do not pick the dog, the breed, or anything of that sort. The dog picks you.” Erich had no idea what it would take for a service dog to be trained, even though he had had many dogs throughout 30 / AUGUST 2020

his childhood. Another disabled veteran and service dog trainer, Elaine Snavely, helped bridge the gap. Elaine helped Erich understand the intricacies of becoming a handler for a service dog. “The team from Pawsitive Teams was simply amazing and always made me feel at home and accepted, regardless of my disabilities”. As he moved forward the process, Erich met numerous civilians and many Veterans with mobility issues who were matched with service dogs through Pawsitive Teams (

“I am truly blessed to have Stark and many others who

have helped me in my life. I am always here for my fellow veterans and I will always pay it forward. This is all due to Stark’s being in my life and helping me during my dark times”.

Erich expressed his amazement on how much Stark felt needed in his life. “Stark has made a major impact on my life. He not only helps me with my night terrors, but also my anxiety, depression, and with my mobility as I am now using a cane”. Stark comforts Erich in his times of need. Stark was recently diagnosed with Lymphoma and is 15 weeks into his 19 weeks of chemotherapy. “I do not know what I would do without Stark in my life”, Erich says. “He has been there for my family and helped me through my divorce. He can tell me when someone is behind me or if someone is around the corner. Stark can pick up items off the ground and hand them to me. He makes me feel at ease.” Stark and Erich have always looked out for each other. In addition to Pawsitive Teams, Stark and Erich volunteers for numerous organizations like Team Rubicon, The Warrior Connection, Team Red, White, and Blue, The Mission Continues, Wounded Warrior Project, and Team Semper Fi/Semper Fi Fund. “Stark always brings a sense of joy and teamwork when we volunteer for these organizations doing many community service projects to not only give back to the community but also to be a part of them. I really need that connection and Stark has empowered me to go outside my comfort level and to continue to always give back. I hope his remaining days are long, healthy, and spent with me as my partner”. Erich started a GoFundMe for Stark’s treatment and Pawsitive Teams to help financially with Stark’s medical bills. “I am truly blessed to have Stark and many others who have helped me in my life. I am always here for my fellow veterans and I will always pay it forward. This is all due to Stark’s being in my life and helping me during my dark times”.

WOUNDS WE CANNOT SEE Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does not always allow the affected to seek help. Lend a hand and provide them with methods of help, listen and be a friend. San Diego Veterans Magazine works with nonprofit veteran organizations that help more than one million veterans in lifechanging ways each year.

Resources. Support. Inspiration. At San Diego Veterans Magazine you can visit our website for all current and past articles relating to PTSD, symptoms, resources and real stories of inspiration.

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Helping Vets by Saving Pets By Hannah Mullins When our troops dauntlessly enter battle, they are willing to sacrifice anything for anyone. Ashley D. was one of those courageous soldiers. When I first met Ashley, she was curled up in a ball in the corner of an exam room with her Schnoodle on her lap. She clung to him tightly as they rocked back and forth. Her dog had developed an aggressive cancerous mass that would prove deadly without an operation. We were her last chance to save her dog, which would end up saving her. “He means everything to me,” Ashley explained. “I can’t lose him.” While deployed, the Army veteran suffered brain and spine injuries among other horrific experiences. She relies on Justus to alert her if she’s about to faint and to wake her from night terrors. Ashley was on home soil when she suffered a heartwrenching loss: her wife committed suicide. “Having lost her, he’s basically the only thing I have left,” she explained. “My service dog is critical to my life.” Justus is her one reason to keep going. The Helping Paws Foundation exists to protect meaningful bonds like that. All too often, troops who are willing to pay the ultimate price cannot afford to pay unexpected veterinary bills. Our 501(c)(3) provides low and no-cost veterinary care for troops and veterans in need. Without us, a lot of local vets would face the heartbreaking decision of premature relinquishment, or worse yet, economic euthanasia. Our commitment to keep military families united with their pets is unwavering. Since 2013, Helping Paws has directly helped more than 2,600 military pets in a county that is home to the world’s largest military population. They are often plagued by post-war battles. When the once untouchable troops hit home soil, it is often an abrupt switch from cavalry to calvary. The lingering perils of war pierce their minds as the horror echoes in their hearts. In many cases, COVID-19 has only exacerbated feelings of fear and isolation. Some say 22 vets a day take their own lives. More recent studies say 16.8 or 20. Bottom line… one is too many. Ashley nearly became a statistic as she flirted with the idea of a quiet escape from the unrelenting anguish. 32 / AUGUST 2020

Harmonie & Ashley with (Justus)

“I put that gun in my mouth and let it click,” Ashley explained. “The only reason I didn’t [shoot] was because of Justus.” Pets have a way of unlocking the mental shackles of war. They are a source of comfort for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress, depression and anxiety. They are also a sense of stability for loved ones standing guard on the homefront. Their unconditional love can be a reason for a veteran not to vanish in a pool of statistics. A dog or cat’s companionship may be more important than ever during these tumultuous times. “My service dog has literally saved my life,” Ashley explained with a tremble in her voice. “If you guys didn’t step in, and something would have happened to him, it would have been the end of the road for me.” She has been working diligently to strengthen her mental health at the VA ASPIRE Center, but she relies heavily on the four-legged tool in her arsenal. “I haven’t gained everything to be as strong as I need to be to be out there in the world by myself,” Ashley explained. Knowing how inextricably linked they are, Helping Paws covered the $1,053 surgery, and Justus is back to his vital role of serving his veteran. Her dog was her lifeline, and that embodies why we fight so hard to keep them united. “Your slogan is ‘Helping Vets by Saving Pets’, but you’re saving vets by helping pets,” she said with passion. Our efforts to serve veterans have been strengthened through collaborations with veteran support organizations like the San Diego Veterans Coalition, the Physical and Emotional Health (PEH) action group and Veterans Association of North County. The average cost of cases is around $1,000, so we rely heavily on community support. We’re forever grateful to those who make our work possible by donating and helping us raise funds! Between having to cancel fundraisers and losing key sponsors, COVID-19 has taken a toll on our nonprofit. We could really use your support in any form, so we can continue to give back to those willing to give it all. Please follow us (and even consider doing a fundraiser) on Facebook at You can also learn more at: or by emailing me at

San Diego Veteran Resources & Organizations

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

Visit SD Vets today at

San Diego Veterans Magazine A Veterans Magazine for Veterans by Veterans / AUGUST 2020


HELEN WOODWARD ANIMAL CENTER Provides Heart to Community and our U.S. Military Throughout the PANDEMIC!

In the past several months, news updates on the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic reveal disturbing trends, socially, politically, and economically. The world is in crisis and dealing with more questions than answers. For this reason, it comes as no surprise to those involved in animal welfare that orphan pet adoptions are on the rise. Helen Woodward Animal Center has always sung the praises of our furry friends. The Center’s mission, which promotes “people helping animals,” reminds the community that “animals helping people” is an important and equal component to the success of its many programs. The jump in adoption numbers over the last year may have much to do with a need to bring more joy, heart, and comfort into the homes of families quarantined and individuals suffering from socialdistancing. Nowhere is this need more evident than in the homes of our dedicated military families where pandemic concerns have been added to the ongoing stress of coping with a military spouse, parent, or child away on leave. While shelters across the country have been forced to close due to limited staff and funding, Helen Woodward Animal Center’s adoption department remains open to the community seeking to secure a new furry friend to lighten the challenging days ahead. The health and safety of the Center’s staff, animals, and adopters is top priority and the adoption process has undergone some noticeable changes. Adoptions are now by appointment only with much of the beginning legwork and interviews done via computer and phone. Adoption appointments last one hour, and potential adopters meet with one adoption staff member wearing proper PPE and are allowed to meet with up to three orphan pets. 34 / AUGUST 2020

“It’s been really wonderful,” stated Helen Woodward Animal Center Adoption Services Manager Dora Dahlke. “Over 75% of our appointments result in a happy adoption. This is compared to last year at just over 40%. I definitely believe that the wait time to get an appointment tends to weed out anyone who doesn’t have their whole heart set on adoption. The families willing to wait are the lucky ones who get the unconditional love and dedication a pet can bring into a home.” In addition to orphan pet adoptions, Helen Woodward Animal Center boasts 13 additional programs celebrating the human animal bond. The Center is proud to report that four of these programs assist the heroic men and women of the U.S. Military. These programs include Pet Encounter Therapy serving 60-70 veterans monthly (at the VA Hospital and the Hawthorne Center), utilizing therapeutic animals to help lower blood pressure, even breathing, improve memory and lift the spirits of wounded soldiers. Helen Woodward Animal Center also assists the military through its AniMeals program, thanks to a partnership with the natural pet food company Blue Buffalo, providing pet food to wounded military clients with service dogs through the Recovery Care Coordinator Office (RCC) and the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS), and ASPIRE Center, located in Old Town, ensuring that food cost will not be a factor in keeping these beloved friends by the sides of the soldiers who depend on them. Helen Woodward’s Companion Animal Hospital’s Military Fund also supports our military by offering free services and deep discounts to Active Duty Enlisted Military E-1 to E-7 or Disabled Military and their immediate family members including: One free wellness exam; Free vaccinations; and Free spay and neuter procedures for up to two pets in the household per 12-month period. Additionally, Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Pets Without Walls program is assisting Cammie for Canines to provide spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, wellness checks, and basic medical care, along with food and supplies to the special dogs who will one day become companions to military veterans.

For more information on adoption or any of these programs, please contact Helen Woodward Animal Center Adoptions Department at: 858-756-4117 ext. 313, visit or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.

Dog Days of Summer

Why is this time of year, approximately forty days from early July to early September, referred to as the ‘Dog Days’ of Summer?

Many people believe the phrase “dog days of summer” stems from the fact that dogs tend to be a bit on the lazy side during the hottest days of summer. Of course, who can blame them? With that much fur, dogs that exercise during the hot days of summer can overheat easily. We have all heard the myths about Dog Days, most of which focus around our canine friends, which is why the old folks say this time of year is called Dog Days. Some of the myths are: Hunting dogs will not hunt, dogs go mad and foam at the mouth for no apparent reason, snakes go blind and strike at anything that comes near them, (dogs in particular), no use in going fishing because the fish will not bite, wounds and sores will not heal, if it rains on the first day of Dog Days, it will rain every day for the next 40 days, or the opposite-if it does not rain on the first day of Dog Days then it will not rain for 40 days, and the list of myths goes on.

Sometimes myths are just myths. Handed down from generation to generation, but the real origination of this time of year being dubbed Dog Days, is based on a partial myth also. The term Dog Days was coined in ancient Rome, and was named after the star Sirius, the Dog Star, which is the brightest star besides the sun. It was thought that due to the rising and setting of Sirius at around the same time of the sun each day this time of year, that Sirius added its heat to the sun’s heat, thereby making the days hotter. Hence the term Dogs Days. Our modern day usage of the term has little to do with Sirius or his alleged wrath. We use the term Dog Days to refer to anything that is slow, lazy or languishing. I think the best way to appease the wrath of Sirius is to gather up my canine friends and find a hilltop breeze or go stagnate on the couch in front of the air-conditioning or maybe hit the beach and enjoy the San Diego cool ocean breeze. / AUGUST 2020


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

WHO GETS THE DOGS NOW? Divorce, Legal Separation, and Pet Custody


isn’t easy. Divorce with a dog can be even harder.” What is the fate of a family pet after a divorce or legal

separation? Fido’s future residence can often be a big issue for people going through a split. Pets are often as loved and adored as children; but how does the law treat them? Pets used to be a big grey area in the legal world. If acquired during marriage, they were considered ‘community property.’ In other words, your dog got the same treatment as your house, your car, and any saving accounts you and your ex once shared. No consideration was given to what was in the best interests of the pet, whether your pet preferred one person over the other, or if you or your ex had a better schedule to tend to their needs. That all changed on the first day of 2019, when former California governor Jerry Brown signed legislation intended to take better care of our furry friends - even after their humans stop getting along. California was the third state to have implemented such laws, following 36 / AUGUST 2020

Alaska and Illinois in 2016 and 2017, respectively. For the first time pets were being considered as living, breathing creatures and not just simply property. Since then, courts have been able to make so-called ‘custody’ decisions for a pet. Pet parents can now have sole or joint custody of their animals, and even visitation rights for the ‘non-custodial’ spouse. The new law is embodied in California Family Code §4605. It allows the Court to make custody and visitation orders for a pet specifically taking into consideration the care of the pet. The law defines care as the prevention of acts of harm or cruelty and the provision of food, water, veterinary care, and safe and protected shelter. What does this all mean? It means Fido’s well being is at the center of the Court’s decision. A judge will weigh what is in your pet’s best interest when deciding where Fido stays.

How it Works • Once you’re involved in a divorce proceeding (or legal separation), you may petition the Court to make custody orders for your pet. The court will consider the wellbeing of your pet in making its decision. • The Court can make decisions for its care for the duration of your divorce proceedings and beyond.

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• The Court can consider such factors as who walked the pet, who took it to the vet, who spends the most time with the pet, who fed the pet, and who protected or abused the pet. Things to Watch Out For • Pet custody orders from the Court can be temporary for the duration of the proceedings or a final determination (permanent). If you’re not comfortable putting your pet’s future in the Court’s hands, you and your ex have the ability to voluntarily reach an agreement and request that the Court accept it as an order. • Be prepared to make sacrifices – As in any custody dispute, you’re not likely to get everything you want. Preparing to be flexible beforehand can help keep the most important thing-your pet’s best interest-in mind • If you have a service animal that your ex is hoping to get custody of, they will likely not succeed. Support animals or services animals are typically assigned to a person based on his or her medical needs or disability. The service animal will stay with their designated person, no matter who else they may have a relationship. Divorce isn’t easy. Divorce with a dog can be even harder. If you were the pet parent who took your dog on walks, fed them twice a day, and took care of all their veterinary needs, you may be feeling nervous about losing time with your companion. Likewise, if you witnessed your ex hurt your pet in any way, you may fear for their safety if not in your care. With new California laws in place, you now have the opportunity for a Court decide custody of your pet with their best interests and well-being in mind.

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

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

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

Legal Experts with Humanity / AUGUST 2020


By Amber Robinson San Diego Veterans Magazine had the opportunity to catch up with Executive Producer Lisa Hennessy “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji” and Retired U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans. (A member of Team Unbroken - USA) San Diego Vets: For those who may not be familiar with the World’s Greatest Race: Eco Challenge Fiji, can you tell us more about it? Lisa Hennessy: World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji is the ultimate expedition race and has raised the bar to new heights for non-scripted television. Filmed last fall in Fiji, the series is a battle to the finish for 66 international teams totaling 330 athletes all competing in the world’s most physically demanding expedition race. This is the largest number of teams ever to compete in this race. They will have to overcome their greatest challenges and biggest obstacles on the upcoming television revival. Every team of adventure athletes raced non-stop, 24 hours a day, across 417 miles of rugged backcountry terrain while navigating through torrential downpours, scorching temperatures, and treacherous mountains which stands between all those competing and the finish line. 38 / AUGUST 2020

Each race team is made up of four competitors and has at least one member of the opposite sex. The teams must have one assistant crew member that is of any gender and there is one captain per team. All competitors are at least 18-years-old or the legal age of adulthood in the country in which they reside. The teams will race under a single country flag while making their way through some of the most impenetrable terrain Fiji has to offer. Throughout the series bodies and minds are broken by the grueling conditions of the race called for heart, determination and endurance from the athletes. Teams had to train to become proficient in and pass assessment tests in mountaineering, horseback riding, sea kayaking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, camel riding, canyoneering and more. The race will encompass a variety of forms of nonmotorized forms of transportation including outrigger paddling, mountain biking, rappelling, climbing, whitewater rafting, pack rafting and paddle boarding. The first Eco-Challenge premiered on April 25, 1995 in southern Utah and lasted eleven days. It was held each subsequent year running through 2002 in different locations including Australia, Morocco, Patagonia, Borneo, Canada and New Zealand.

San Diego Vets: How were the competitors chosen? Lisa Hennessy: Teams submitted themselves via a Competitor Registration Form and recorded a 5 to 10-minute video as a way to introduce themselves and explain why they wanted to be a part of the competition. San Diego Vets: What challenges and obstacles do the teams face? Lisa Hennessy: The teams faced a multitude of technically challenging disciplines over some of the most rugged and unforgiving terrain in the world. The Difficult terrain challenged every athlete during a biking leg of the race, recent torrential rains and heavy trail traffic, transforming the red volcanic clay trail into a muddy red muck. This was especially grueling for the athletes who were sometimes forced to carry their bikes on their backs - up steep, slippery mountains in 95-degree humid weather.

“ The teams faced a multitude of technically challenging disciplines over some of the most rugged and unforgiving terrain in the world.

There was unforecasted tropical storms that affected navigation, and successful navigation is crucial, the slightest miscalculation can send teams miles in the wrong direction through dense jungle in harsh weather conditions San Diego Vets: WOW, that sounds dangerous, scary, exciting and AWESOME! As a disabled veteran, I’m curious about Team Unbroken. Can you tell me about The Wounded Warriors of Team Unbroken? Lisa Hennessy: Team Unbroken is a team of veterans and civilians who are racing to remind themselves, and others that you may be wounded, but you remain unbroken. Two combat veterans in Team Unbroken are Keith Mitchell Knoop and Gretchen Evans. Gretchen Evans served 27 years in the United States Army. She is a Bronze Star recipient along with many other medals, awards, and decorations. She was wounded while serving in Afghanistan in 2006. Overcoming severe injuries, she is an advocate for veterans of all eras. Continued on next page > / AUGUST 2020


San Diego Vets was lucky enough to ask Gretchen Evans a few questions about the competition and her message to disabled warriors. San Diego Vets: Gretchen, how did your military training and experience help you prepare for this race? Gretchen: My military training and experiences were incredibly helpful in preparation for the race. In the military, we emphasize the importance of working as a team where each person knows how to perform all necessary tasks to complete the mission. San Diego Vets: Veterans working through combat disabilities, wounds, and internal struggles can be a difficult road. What if any advice would you have for them about moving forward and maintaining an unbroken spirit?

Gretchen: Working through disabilities, wounds and internal struggles is a difficult road for most Veterans. We are accustomed to being vibrant, healthy, strong, motivated individuals and when something happens to shake that sure foundation, it is life altering. When these circumstances arise, I recommend, and have learned through my journey, that it is best to not allow your wounds or disabilities define you as a person. Whomever you were before you got hurt or incurred a trauma that changed your life, you are still that person. You may look different and feel different, but you are that same courageous person. The very same person who stood up and raised your right hand and pledged your allegiance and life to your country. That person who committed her/his life to protect, defend, and care for those with whom you served, while answering the call at any cost whether foreign or domestic to defend the rights of all. I have found that it takes a great deal of grit, determination, and practice to remember that my core worth is still the same. Without this discipline, it is far too easy to lose sight of who we are after a traumatic event that leaves you changed. San Diego Vets: Where did your unbroken spirit come from, and what should we all remember about overcoming obstacles? Gretchen: My unbroken spirit came from life experiences, my family, friends and my military battle buddies who never let me quit and always believed in me even when I could not believe in myself. They stood shoulder to shoulder with me and still do as I continue to live out my life of purpose. It also came from deep inside me. I knew that I could not dwell in any self-loathing or pity, but instead must fight each day, staying positive, looking for the good in everything. I could not become stagnate. Everyday gives you the opportunity to be a spectator or a participant. I choose the later, it is more fun and awarding. There were so many times in the military when the odds were not in our favor and we looked each other in the eye knowing we had but one choice; to continue the mission with all that was within us as there was really no other choice. Some believe that only certain people have courage. I believe everyone has courage they just need an opportunity to demonstrate that courage. It is within you. There will always be obstacles in life for everyone. Face them with confidence, ask for help, work on your personal mantra in which you continually tell yourself that you can and will succeed

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in navigating the obstacle knowing you will have the opportunity to rise again and again. Like President Teddy Rooseveltstated: “Get in the arena.” Celebrate every small accomplishment, don’t worry about setbacks, stay on your path, encourage others to join you, have your team in place, take care of each other, reach, reach, reach, and reach again until you grasp what you are attempting to obtain. Care deeply for yourself and others. Be kind. Remain UNBROKEN!

I have to send out a big high five to Gretchen, Team Unbroken and Amazon Prime Video for bringing widespread representation to those with disabilities, especially veterans. Then I’ve got to send out another high five to Gretchen especially, not only as a fellow woman and disabled veteran, and as a fellow Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) combat veteran, but as one who was in Afghanistan at the same time as she (my first tour was in 2006). Therefore, I already feel we are connected on many levels. But, so many of Gretchen’s words here resonate with me as well, from the standpoint of a disabled veteran. In the service we are trained to be physically strong and dispel weakness. When I became disabled, I all of a sudden could not do what had defined me in the service. In 2015 I collapsed from adrenal insufficiency and was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease and Fibromyalgia. My time in service had burned out my adrenals. I went from combat-tough Army soldier to having to rest going up the flight of the stairs to my apartment. It was hard to not judge myself, and see myself as weak. Over time, though, I learned that I could be strong in a different way. Now, I know that I, too, am unbroken. I’m rooting hard for Team Unbroken and I can’t wait to see Gretchen and her team members show us what determination in the face of adversity truly looks like. Best of luck and thanks for the inspiration!


World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji will premiere on Prime Video on August 14th 2020 / AUGUST 2020


A Different Lens Mental Health Monthly By RanDee McLain, LCSW

Compassion Fatigue

A few months ago, in the beginning of our global pandemic, I was reassigned to work at the local convention center. The convention center became home to over 1000 of San Diego’s local homeless population. Sadly, many of our homeless were also experiencing severe mental illness and at time substance use disorders. Once you spend time with many of the clients you quickly see many have additionally experience trauma. For some, that trauma began at a young age and followed them into adulthood. In the early days I felt energized to do the work. I felt like I was truly doing amazing work and helping people get their lives back on track and address their challenges. Over time…. several months and many long days….I heard hundreds of stories and truly felt empathy for those that were in our care. It didn’t take too long for the signs of compassion fatigue to set in. By early July I knew it was time to take a step back for me.

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I am lucky, I saw the warning signs and practice regular self-care. I was able to do a mini staycation (with appropriate social distancing). This was the little reset I needed. This along with regular breaks, prayer, exercise and self-care have truly helped me and in turn helped me be able to help others. Compassion fatigue is a condition characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a diminished ability to empathize or feel compassion for others. It is often referred to as secondary traumatic stress and be seen as the negative cost of caring. Compassion Fatigue can occur when working with individuals suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. This many time can be seen in those that work as care givers, therapists, or other helping professions. Compassion Fatigue is different than burnout. Burnout if the cumulative process involving emotional exhaustion and withdrawal associated with increased workload or other stressors- NOT trauma related.

Compassion Fatigue is more rapid onset and in contrast burnout emerges over time. Compassion Fatigue has a faster recovery and can be more easily managed if caught early. So what are the symptoms and how do I know if I am developing Compassion Fatigue? • Sleep disturbance. • Emotional intensity increases. • Cognitive ability decreases Impaired judgement. • Behavior changes. • Isolation. • Depression. • Loss of self-worth. • Loss of hope and meaning -existential despair Anger toward perpetrators or causal events.


Tips for Managing Compassion Fatigue

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does not always allow the affected to seek help. Lend a hand and provide them with methods of help, listen and be a friend.

Do: Understand that the pain you feel is normal. Exercise and eat properly. Get enough sleep. Find someone to talk to Take some time off.

San Diego Veterans Magazine works with nonprofit veteran organizations that help more than one million veterans in lifechanging ways each year.

Don’t: Blame others. Ignore the warning signs. Self-medicate. Neglect your own needs and interests. Neglect Self Care.


Prevention • Talk out your stress- process your thoughts and reactions with someone else (coworker, therapist, clergy, friend, family, supervisor) • Build a positive support system that supports you, not fuels your stress • Practice excellent self-care • Nurture yourself by putting activities in your schedule that are sources of pleasure • Allow yourself to take breaks/ time off • Get professional help when needed to get back on track- we all need help at times I used to think I was invincible to Compassion Fatigue. I thought I have great boundaries and I am really good at compartmentalizing….mean I leave work at work. Well, that doesn’t always happen, and Compassion Fatigue can happen to anyone. Practice self-care!! Help yourself before you can help others! Stay safe!

Support. Inspiration. At San Diego Veterans Magazine you can visit our website for all current and past articles relating to PTSD, symptoms, resources and real stories of inspiration.

Resources & Articles available at:



One of the most important—but often forgotten— tasks for caregivers is caring for themselves. A caregiver’s physical, emotional, and mental health is vital to the well-being of those in need of care. To be a good caregiver, you must be good to yourself.

So often as caregivers, we are running so hard, putting ourselves last, and not realizing we are burnt out until we fall ill. Or, we know we’re overwhelmed, but we accept it without question.

Self-care for the Caregiver




HOMELAND / June 2015 / AUGUST 2020

What happens when the caregiver is down for the count - the wheels have a tendency to come off, don’t they? Make a promise to yourself to CheckIn at least weekly. Better yet, do the same with a trusted caregiver or friend as an “accountability partner” so you don’t neglect to consider your own health.

Ask these questions to start: · Am I eating well? Skipping meals, snacking too much? · Do I laugh each day? Red flag if you don’t find something amusing each day, even if you don’t laugh out loud. How many times do we text LOL, but not DO it? · Am I drinking enough water? Do I exist on coffee and soda instead? · Do I spend quiet time, reflective time, prayer, or meditation each day? · Am I sleeping well or enough? · Do I get exercise each day? · Do I interact with others each day? Inperson is preferable, but at least by phone or zoom to hear a voice or online if all else fails. If you’re aware that you’re not checking in, or struggling when you do, we urge you to talk to someone professionally. Seek community resources such as Southern Caregiver Resource Center - Visit: ( or Courage To Call - Visit: (

Life is so precious and perhaps you cannot change your situation, but you can change aspects of taking care of you. Caregivers are the heartbeat of the family, and make the active choice to care for you.


HOMELAND / June 2015 3 / AUGUST 2020


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WOUNDS WE CANNOT SEE Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does not always allow the affected to seek help. Lend a hand and provide them with methods of help, listen and be a friend.


San Diego Veterans Magazine works with nonprofit veteran organizations that help more than one million veterans in lifechanging ways each year.




Support. Inspiration.


At San Diego Veterans Magazine you can visit our website for all current and past articles relating to PTSD, symptoms, resources and real stories of inspiration.

Resources & Articles available at:

The colors of gratitude

50 / AUGUST 2020


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

Download PTSD Coach to:

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

PTSD Coach is not meant to replace professional care.

Search “PTSD Coach� / AUGUST 2020


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

Trademarks are used to distinguish goods and services from those of their competitors. Consistent use helps customers know a product or service comes from a single company. Marks also help customers trust that the quality will be the same as the last time they made a purchase. Infringement occurs when someone else uses your mark or a similar mark and there is a likelihood of confusion among consumers as to the source of the goods or services. Infringement is hard to prove if you are not using your trademark consistently enough for consumers to be familiar with it. BEST PRACTICES TO PROTECT YOUR TRADEMARK You trademark is your valuable intellectual property and you can, and should, protect it. Here are several best practices you should follow:

USE IT OR LOSE IT! Ferrari is notoriously protective of anything and

everything that bears even a remote connection to the Ferrari brand and has, along the years, earned a reputation for being quick to fire cease and desists and even lawsuits against anyone who dares infringe their trademark. Ferrari has held the trademark for the shape of the 250 GTO, aka the most iconic Ferrari of all time and one of the most expensive cars in the world. The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO originally cost $18,000 when they were new. In 2018 a 250 GTO sold privately for $70 million dollars. Ferrari lost its European Union trademark for the 250 GTO for nonuse. It is not enough to just register your trademark. You must use it or lose it. To maintain trademark rights, your trademark must be continuously used in commerce. The mark must appear prominently and consistently on labels or packages of goods and on all marketing materials for services. 52 / AUGUST 2020

Use your trademark continuously and consistently This means you should always use the same capitalization, font, and colors as well as the same punctuation and spacing every time. Be consistent in your use of recognized trademark symbols There are three recognized trademark symbols: ÂŽ, TM, SM. You may only use the ÂŽ symbol after you have received a trademark registration from the USPTO. Before you receive a registration, you can use TM or SM to let the public know you are claiming a common law right to the mark. The TM symbol stands for trademark and should be used for marks that represent goods. The SM symbol stands for service mark and should be used for marks that represent services. Create branding guidelines Your company may have many employees who use your trademark on a regular basis. This can cause inconsistent use of anything from color to attribution. You can help prevent this by creating brand guidelines that detail exactly what is required every time your trademark is uses.

Register your trademark Your trademark could be worth millions someday, just take a look at Mercedes Bens, Rolex or Apple. These trademarks are priceless and recognized around the world. Registering your mark with the UDPTO could be one of the best decisions you can make for your brand.


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Attorney-drafted, client-approved, ready-to-go legal documents you can trust. GO LEGAL YOURSELF!® Legal Documents are backed by BAGLA LAW FIRM, APC, a trusted name in law. / AUGUST 2020


WHAT’S NEXT Transition to Civilian Life By Eve Nasby

THE POWER OF ONE In June of this year the Department of Labor announced that we were at an 8.8% veteran unemployment rate, down from 9.1% in May. This positive trend is promising and it is our goal to drive that number to zero!

PREPARATION IS KEY! What I have learned after all these years as a Human Resources professional is that it only takes one person to “like” you for you to get hired. You never know when you will meet that person, or where, so you need to be prepared. Here are things I did to prepare:

I was introduced to Greg Von der linden and was inspired by his accomplishments and his message to those in transition. I asked him to put his thoughts in writing to share with you. These tips will help you get hired.

· Re-read my evaluations – What did people say about me? I wrote down the adjectives and statements they used to describe me. I looked for consistency in the comments. These were my strengths.

Separating From Military Service

· Take the Strong Interest Inventory – It will help you learn about your interests and how people with similar interests are employed. You learn what jobs you may or may not be a fit for.

You have made the decision to transition. Congratulations! You have just taken your first steps towards your new life. I made that same decision 27 years ago.

1. Thank you for your service. Your knowledge, skill and experience will serve you well in the future. You will never regret your service, the experiences you had, and most of all the relationships you forged.

· Take the 16 PF (Personality Factors) –This is a very powerful tool. I use it when I hire my direct reports. The 16PF tells me “how you are wired” (my words) and details how you do with Problem Solving, Stress, Interpersonal Interactions, Work Setting Preferences, and even suggests Career Activity Interests. I highly recommend you take this as the results for me were frighteningly accurate.

2. You will be ok. There is life after the military and it’s a good life. Civilian work is different from military service, but you will adapt and it will feel normal in short order.

· Review common interview questions. I had to buy a book to get them. Now you can just search “top interview questions” and easily find them.

Before I share my separation story, I want to tell you three things:

3. You will get hired. Searching for a civilian job is overwhelming, but here is the good news: It only takes one person to “like” you! Your job now is to find that one person and convince them that you can solve their problem. In 1993, I made the decision to resign my commission as a Lieutenant in the US Navy. I enjoyed my time in the Navy and performed very well and I was ready to do something different. I resigned my commission and found my first civilian job. 22 years later I achieved the top of my profession when I was hired as the Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer for Opus Bank. I share my story as a Navy veteran and HR professional in hopes that it helps you as you with your journey to civilian life. 54 / AUGUST 2020

Dave Grundies

I made flash cards for about 20 of them and crafted my responses to highlight my strengths, and demilitarized examples from my military service. · Prepared my resume. I recommend “ The Damn Good Resume Guide” by Yana Parker. First impressions matter! You will get about 5 seconds of any recruiter’s time as they review your resume so make them count. Become an expert in YOU! Ask yourself: What are the 3-5 things you want people to know about you? Then, Perfect your story to sell yourself, both verbally and in your resume. Your story needs to be refined, crisp and impactful. Execute your plan! Interviewing for me was nerve wracking when I was in your place. The thought of a stranger asking you hard questions can be overwhelming. It does not have to be that way. I would suggest four thoughts to change your mindset to achieve better results. 1. Have a plan and execute it. During my own transition, I came across a relevant quote from Zig Zig Ziglar that has stuck with me. “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” If you have done the work above, expect to WIN! By the way, you will be surprised by how few interviewers are prepared to interview you. Use that to your advantage. 2. Every question is an opportunity to tell your story. Don’t leave that room until the interviewer knows the 3-5 things you want them to know about you. At the end, ask if they have any concerns about your ability to do the job.

If they do, reach back into your stories and find an example to overcome the objection. If you can’t overcome the objection, can you give an example of how you had to “figure it out” and were still able to get results. 3. It only takes one person to like you for you to get offered a job. That’s the truth. You must convince that one person that you have what they need to solve their problem. Remember, hiring managers interview candidates to solve a problem they have. 4. Practice makes perfect. Every interview is a chance to practice your pitch. Every NO gets you one step closer to YES. I have applied for jobs that I was not interested in to get an interview so I could practice. Think Offensively about the interview (have a plan to execute) versus Defensively (what are they going to ask me??). That subtle mindset shift will translate nervousness into confidence. Enjoy the Ride! Transitioning from military life to civilian life takes effort, but anything worth doing requires effort. I believe that if you create your plan, prepare, and then execute your plan, you too will be successful. Additionally, the plan, prepare, execute model is in itself the first step towards civilian life as it forces you to move away from the structure and direction of military life to your civilian life. Enjoy the journey. Thank you Greg for sharing your experience and helping us drive that veteran unemployment rate to zero, one hire at a time. Happy reading and as always, if you need help with your career transition, connect with Eve on LinkedIn.

Transitioning out of the Military into the Civilian Workforce? Finding a job in the civilian world may seem easy at first. After all, you have learned skills, practiced leadership and demonstrated initiative that will make you successful wherever you go. The reality, though, is that it can be difficult. In fact, it can be down right depressing, demotivating and you may feel totally disillusioned. This column is dedicated to you and to helping you succeed in your transition. For advice, tips and programs you can read Eve’s monthly column at: / AUGUST 2020


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EXPERT books from HR expert PAUL FALCONE

Pick up any of these book by Paul Falcone from your favorite retailer or at / AUGUST 2020



20 Business Ideas for Pet Lovers Yes, you really are seeing more

dogs everywhere. According to United States Pet Population and Ownership Trends Report 2017, dog ownership is up 29% in the last 10 years. Families increasingly have more than one dog or cat. It’s the wild west when it comes to pet-centric businesses. Last year pet owners spent more on their furry friends than they did on alcohol, handing over at least $450 each. This means opportunity for small business!

Here Are A Few Unusual Ideas for Your Own Pet-Centric Business 1. Doggie Boot Camp One-third to one-half of all pets are overweight. If you enjoy being active, start a dog running or workout program. Why isn’t there a dog gym anywhere? For dog owners who want their pets to get a bit more exercise, you can take them for runs regularly. Add a coaching routine for pet parents who need support to slim down Fido. 2. Doggie Day Care Operator Aside from just needing someone to watch their animals while they’re traveling, some pet owners just want somewhere for their pets to go on a more regular basis. You can open a doggie day care to serve that need. 3. Organic Treat Maker More and more, pet owners are concerning themselves with the ingredients of their pet food and treats. By baking and selling organic treats for pets, you can gain the attention of pet owners who are concerned about things like health and the environment. 4. Pet Photographer Make a deal with a mom and pop pet shop to set up a little photo studio, charge and share the profits. 58 / AUGUST 2020

5. Dog Whisperer Pet owners who are dealing with a particularly difficult dog may be interested in the services of a dog whisperer. If you specialize in dog behavior, you may be able to help some of those dogs and dog owners get to the root of those issues. 6. YouTube Training Expert If you don’t want to share your knowledge or expertise about pet training or behavior with clients in person, you could start a YouTube channel to inform pet owners about different methods. Monetize it with advertising. 7. Pet Travel Service Provider When people travel or move with their pets, it can be a stressful experience. If you have a method of transportation or even just some tips to share with pet owners, you can offer a service that helps pet owners transport their pets. 8. Unique Pet Store Owner Not everyone wants to shop in the big box stores. All over the country small pet boutiques that feature unusual outfits, collars, toys, and treats are popping up. The exceptional Muttropolis in La Jolla, California is a great example. 9. Pet Bakery Owner Whether you make your own dog treats or just want to source them from other bakers, opening a bakery that specializes in pet food and treats can be a lucrative business. 10. Custom Pet Portrait Artist For pet lovers with artistic talent, you can offer your services as a custom portrait artist. Customers can send you photos of their pets or tell you about their breed, then you can draw or paint their animal for a fee.

11. Custom Collar Designer You can add designs, colors or even personalized details to pet collars or leashes and sell them at stores, events or on-line. 12. Pet Jewelry Designer High end bejeweled and beaded necklaces for snooty fur babies are all the rage in certain circles. If you’re into beading, let your talent go to the dogs (and kitties too). 13. Pet Clothing Designer People go nuts for funny, weird or holiday-themed outfits for their pets. Use your creative talents to design and sew clothing items for dogs, cats, and other animals. Halloween and Christmas are boom times. 14. Bed/Housing Designer Some pet owners even purchase large beds, pillows, playhouses or other furniture for their animals to use. Woodworkers or builders create fancy dog houses and sell them to pet owners or stores. Don’t forget to include little staircases to get Tippy up on the bed. 15 At-Home Boarding Service Provider Some pet owners might feel more comfortable leaving their pets in a real home when they travel. There have even been some websites and other services that have opened up in the last few years that connect pet owners with people who will care for them in their homes. 16. Animal Blogger If you love sharing photos of your pets or tips with other pet owners, you could consider starting a blog about your pet adventures or expertise, and then monetize it with advertisers.

17. Animal Toy Maker Most pet owners purchase some kind of toys for their animals to play with. If you like sewing or fabricating small toy type items, you could sell them as dog or cat toys. 18. Homemade Pet Food Creator Make your own brand of dog or cat food and sell it to local pet stores, restaurants or even on your own website. People are more health conscious and want the same for kitty. 19. Yard Cleaner Anyone with a dog knows the difficulty of cleaning up after them — particularly when it comes to the yard. That means that a lot of customers are willing to pay for someone to come to their yard and provide pooper scooper services. 20. Helping to Say Goodbye An astonishing 700 funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries in the nation cater primarily to pets, according to a 2012 estimate from Businessweek. Pet parents gave their pet the best care in life, and they want to do the same in death. They want a safe place for visitation without shame. They know it’s not ‘just a dog.” There is actually an association called Pet Loss Professional Alliance Whatever you choose to do, do it with passion and excitement. Owning a business is not only to make money, it’s to give you freedom and independence. If you make it about pets, it’s sure to be fun as well.

Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Operation Vetrepreneur & President of Marketing Impressions, a 30+ -year- old marketing consulting firm. Apply to join Operation Vetrepreneur’s FREE one-onone mentoring at

* Feel free to email Vicki with column ideas at / AUGUST 2020



8 Second Resume

By, Janis Whitaker, VetCTAP Executive Director

Job seekers spend multiple hours creating the “perfect resume”. Ever wonder how important that resume is in catching the eye of a company or hiring manager? In our workshop series, our facilitators and coaches emphasize the following tips. Will your resume make it to the “yes pile” or the “no pile”? Recruiters spend an average of 8 - 10 seconds looking at each resume initially! And, most of that time may be on the top portion of your first page. They will skim the pages looking for key information (particular skills, degrees, certifications, and experience) and if these key words or important information doesn’t catch their attention, they will move to the next resume without a second thought. Oops, your resume goes into the “no pile”. Imagine, eight seconds! If you do capture their interest, they will then spend an additional 1-2 minutes looking for other important aspects about your job history such as significant accomplishments and career progression. If you make it that far, you have passed the 8 second resume test! Hurray, the “yes pile”. Most Human Resources professionals, hiring managers, and recruiters will not read a resume over two pages long, no matter how good it looks at first glance. They just don’t have time to read all that information. Instantly, it goes into the “no pile”. These experts have hundreds of resumes to review and limited time to do so. Resume screeners love bullet points and short phrases describing what you have achieved in your professional positions. Spend a lot of time developing this area and highlight significant accomplishments in your positions, not just the tasks you performed.

60 / AUGUST 2020

Did you know there are “pet peeves” in the hiring industry? Here are a few that are on the top of the list. One or more of these could land your resume in the “no pile”. • A resume that is generic (customize each resume precisely for the job you are seeking), • Spelling or grammar errors (double check and/or have someone else review it), • Military jargon that is not explained (best to leave military jargon out and use equivalent corporate language), • Inconsistent formatting (keep headers, indenting, bullets, and sub-headings consistent), • Font size too small (12 pt. type minimum) • Work dates that don’t make sense (chronological resumes should show dates in order with no gapsmost recent first), • Not enough ‘white space’ on the page (margins and spacing make a resume easier to read). Recruiters spend much of their day looking at resumes whether it is on the computer or on paper. Make your 8-second resume stand out by developing a document that is easy to scan, simple to read, and includes bullets to highlight your significant accomplishments. Good luck and we hope to see you in the “yes pile”. Find out more about our Veteran Career Transition Workshop Series at

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Arts & Healing Arts for Military Veterans By Amber Robinson

Veteran Artist Spotlight: Luz Helena Stacey Thompson

This month I wanted to continue our Veteran Artist Spotlight series with Marine veteran, artist, surfer, poet and vet advocate Luz Helena Stacey Thompson. Thompson lives in Oceanside as a single mother of three (four if you count her chocolate lab service dog, Reef) who has used the power of art and the ocean to help her heal from wounds she sustained while in service. Thompson joined the service in 1998 at the age of 17 as part of Traffic Management Operations. Originally shooting to join the Army, a Marine recruiter challenged her, asking “What? You don’t think you can be a Marine?”. Thompson decided to prove that she could step up to that challenge and signed herself over to the United States Marine Corps. After her basic training and individual schooling for her job, Thompson was stationed in Okinawa, Japan in 1999. She says she remembers the day she got there because she showed up to base in a skirt and pink tank top and felt proud to be a woman Marine when she arrived. “I was very proud to know I was a STRONG woman, I was a MARINE, yet know I was still feminine,” said Thompson. She soon found out what it could mean to be a woman in the Marines. As soon as she arrived to her unit, she started to face sexual harassment, where the ratio was one woman to 60 men. “I was blindsided,” said Thompson. The harassment progressed and Thompson eventually became the victim of Military Sexual Trauma. Although not one to usually go out, she made the decision to take a chance one night and have a little fun. That night she was drugged by her immediate supervisor and assaulted. Thompson tried to report the assault, but experienced a common occurrence after sexual assault is reported in the service, retaliation from her command and peers. “I reported it,” said Thompson. “But the more I pushed for things to be done, the more repercussions came to me professionally and personally. I was basically blacklisted.” 62 / AUGUST 2020

Unfortunately, her perpetrator never had to stand trial. He was released from service and was able to return to the United States with no mark on his personal record of his crime. Thompson then called a Congressman to seek further justice. She received dramatic retaliation for that by being removed from service with an Other Than Honorable Discharge, which barred her from receiving any veterans’ benefits once separated from the Marines. Sixteen years later, after years of litigation with the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, Thompson finally received 100% service-connected disability and can receive care from the VA and other veterans benefits. As part of her healing, Thompson has since poured herself into her art, creating pieces for herself, art buyers and her community. “I spent 16 years in silence about what happened to me in Okinawa,” said Thompson. “Art allowed me to go into the dark places of my mind and heal from the inside out without having to say a word.” Thompson started her art journey in 2011 after her grandmother died. My artwork began in 2011 after the passing of my grandmother, Irene, who was also an artist,” she said. “I could not express the depth of pain it caused losing her and I turned to artwork as a way to ease the pain and feel connected to her.”

Then Thompson created with paint, charcoal and graphite. Now her work has become more industrial. She is now a glass mosaic artist and specializes in large scale mosaics. She is also a muralist and has painted a number of community murals in Southern California. She also does smaller scale work. “I also paint with acrylics and watercolor and I make coastal themed jewelry,” said Thompson. “I have lately fallen in love with woodworking and building custom tables for my mosaic artwork. Thompson credits art with being a major part of her healing, but also credits her love of surfing, her children and her service dog, Reef. “My service dog Reef, or “Reefer”, helps me stay balanced and stable throughout the day,” said Thompson. “He is so in tune with me and my emotional state that oftentimes he knows what I need before I do!” As a single mom, her kids keep her on her toes and each have their own creative or athletic outlets inspired by Mom. Her son, also her oldest, plays guitar; her teenage daughter is a wrestler and surfs as often her mom and her smallest loves to work in the studio with her, learning about glass mosaic and more. Although surfing, she says, is the main thing that keeps her balanced and motivated. She surfs 4 to 5 times a week and has even been linking up with and working with other women veterans who are interested in surfing. Thompson’s life now is much better than the years she suffered in silence after her malicious discharge from service. Now, she says she seeks to be “salt and light” to everyone that she meets, crediting the energy of art and creativity as one of her biggest self-building blocks.

“(My trauma) affected every avenue of my life for over a decade,” said Thompson. “Art (writing and visual) has been a way for me to learn to trust myself again and my instincts. It taught me how to love myself for the courage it takes to confront that which is difficult, extremely intimate and private and use my story of recovery to help others.” Thompson is also co-founder of Veterans Recovery Project, a program that helps survivors of Military Sexual Trauma. To learn more go to To check out Thompson’s art, go to / AUGUST 2020


Veterans Chamber of Commerce By Joseph Molina


There are a lot of health care services that are being provided by the VA here in the U.S. to help veterans and their families. With the VA’s health care, veterans are open to a lot of options that range from medical to non-medical services, but for the sake of this article the main focus will be on the non-medical side of health taking a more nontraditional approach on what is available and the potential benefits. We work hard to ensure that our veterans have access to different types of care, as it is just one way to honor our heroes. We have gladly seen an increase in other non traditional forms of treatment to help veterans increase their quality of life and help them enjoy a higher level of civilian life.

64 / AUGUST 2020

When Getting Help is Needed In this article we will be presenting various nonmedical programs (programs that do not require the traditional medical approach). Some of these products or services have been approved by the VA while others remain “on hold”. Stress Management and Diabetes Diabetes is a very serious disease and should not be taken lightly. People with this disease are advised to handle it with care on a daily basis as it can lead to other complications in the body. Some researchers in the VA came to together to develop a program called MIND-STRIDE. This is a stress management program designed by researchers at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System to assist veterans in reducing stress.

This program consists of home practice and mindfulness. This has proven to be an effective way of helping veterans heal and has been approved by the VA.

The goal is to teach individuals to use smart devices as cognitive prosthetics. This program is offered at no cost to Veterans though the Veterans Chamber.

Veterans and Yoga Yoga is another non-medical treatment that has been approved by the VA. As we all know, yoga is a relaxation exercise that can help both the mind and body gain more control with relaxation techniques. It is viewed as a key player in helping veterans connect and manage potential stressful situations.

PTSD and the Outdoors/Agriculture It is not a VA approved program, but time spent in the outdoors provides the sense of relaxation and openness where one feels less restricted. Programs that offer retreats or working at the farm may be good choices to consider.

Music Therapy Another effective non-medical treatment is music therapy. Music therapy programs could be a powerful tool to help someone suffering with PTSD and/or other stress related issues. It can be very useful in the treatment of PTSD which is also related to traumatic brain injury (TBI). The idea of using therapy started when people saw how the music made a great impact on the lives of veterans after World War II. In the world today, music therapy is a very popular treatment method that is applied across the world. Equine Therapy The approach of developing a connection with a horse and or horseback riding has shown to have a positive impact. In a report from the National Library of Medicine concluded that “Therapy Horseback Riding may be a clinically effective intervention for alleviating PTSD in military veterans”. It doesn’t take much research to find many supporting articles on the positive benefits of horseback riding. Dog Companionship One article posted by Psychology Today states that veterans with service dogs in the home had a more positive impact on the life of the veteran by lessening their anxiety and improving their sleep patterns. It is again a constant reminder that there are many options, programs and or services that could have a positive impact. It is also important to point out that not all programs work the same or have the same results on every person using it. Each of us must try different options to find the one that works best for us and it is equally important to clarify that a program may have a lifespan and may not give us the same response all the time. BEST BEST (Brain, Education, Strategies and technology) provides tools and building blocks to help manage and navigate day-to-day hurdles. BEST is a program that present practical apps, strategies, and training to help brain injury survivors and other groups dealing with executive function and self-regulation challenges.

Retreats and Camps Retreats and camps have been developed over the years to give veterans yet another option. These retreats tend to implement one or a few of the options mentioned. Some may do Yoga and Horseback or Camping and Music. These retreats could offer a great opportunity to find one or more ways to deal with PTSD. In Summary: These non-traditional options are just a few, and I am certain that others will be gaining approval overtime. It is critical to mention that regardless of the approach, a mentor and or support group should be included with the option. Having someone to talk to, bounce ideas off of and be able to freely express challenges we are encountering is critical. I would strongly recommend becoming involved in a peer to peer group.

The Veterans Chamber of Commerce Radio Show • Would you like to recognize a Hero in your Community? Let us know and we will announce it on the show. • Would you like to share your story? Be our guest on the show. Visit our REQUEST FORM ( just fill it out and send it to us. If you have any ideas or project that you would like to see developed by the Veterans Chamber send your idea to: / AUGUST 2020


Cause-based nonprofit The American History Theater educates, inspires and heals By Amber Robinson The American History Theater is small, and has only been around for seven years, but in that time they have worked to become an organization known for taking on the “hard topics”. The San Diego-based, cause-oriented nonprofit was founded in 2014 by two like-minded veterans who wanted to make the world a better place through education and art. Their mission is unique, but summed up simply, they seek to educate, inspire and raise social awareness through theatre and other performance arts. Being veteran-founded, they use the performance arts to advocate for their fellow vets through historical performances that touch on the issues of war and PTSD. They also host workshops which share the healing power of performance art with those who suffer from the anxiety and depression of PTSD and of reintegration after service. Original founder and president, Hal Berry, is a Vietnamera Navy corpsman. Originally from Missouri, Berry joined the Navy at 17 and found himself stationed at San Diego’s own Liberty Station. Berry served his time and returned to his home state, but never forgot how much he loved living on the Golden Coast. In 2013, Berry retired from teaching college history in Missouri and moved to San Diego. It was here that he wanted to continue a special mission that originated from his desire to make a difference in our often troubled world. His desire was to recreate history on stage with the goals of educating audiences about the past, raising awareness for the present and inspiring them for the future.

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“We are our past,” said Berry, “Like it or not. History is often taught as a chronology of facts, dates, events and a few heroes or monsters. That is not what real history is. History is us—each of us has a story to tell. Those stories inform us about the journey of a people—good and bad.” Berry believes those stories are what link us to our deep heritage and inform us for a better future. “Religious or not, we humans have the capacity to think, to reason, and to take actions that will make our world a better place to live,” he said. “How? By understanding the past and the choices prior generations have made.” In 2014, Berry met myself, an Army combat veteran. I took a history class from him at Palomar Community College and our partnership evolved from there. Initially we became friends due to a common love of F. Scott Fitzgerald and World War II history, but soon teamed up to form AHT. In 2015 I hosted my first conference about Military Sexual Trauma. It was then I saw the deep need for education and advocacy about and for survivors of MST. I also learned that not alot of people want to talk about sexual trauma, nor the mental and emotional damage that comes along with sex assault. It inspired me to focus on the topic more. Since 2015 I have hosted workshops featuring MST survivors and advocates nation-wide. I now run a workshop series called “Shout and Stomp”, which introduces expressive arts therapists to veterans to teach how creative movement and theatre can pave alternate pathways to healing from combat or MSTassociated PTS.

Addressing stigmas surrounding mental health, racism and sexism has become a big part of what AHT does. They like to think they are an organization that is not afraid of speaking up for the little guy or talking about the hard topics. It was a part of what drew their Artistic Director, Kandace Crystal, to this passionate little nonprofit. “I loved the mission,” said Crystal. “My dad was a Veteran and he loved being a Marine. I always wanted to join up and had a deep respect for our Military.” Unfortunately, in 2018 Kandace lost her father when SWAT cops killed him in the front yard of his home during a mental health episode. Crystal feels her dad would still be with us were he not a man of color. She says her dad is what inspired AHT’s upcoming online project, “Continuing the Conversation”, a fundraising video series of educational segments on racist incidents throughout history. The project is AHT’s response to the nation’s eruption of protest after a recent stream of unjustified deaths of people of color by police officers. “Continuing the Conversation” will feature experts from nonprofit Breaking Down Barriers. Representatives will speak with Crystal on racist incidents like the Massacre at Wounded Knee, the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921, and the Stonewall Riots, which hailed the beginning of the LGBTQ movement. Breaking Down Barriers has a deep focus on mental well being for marginalized groups. They are a subset of the Jewish Family Service and care about creating safe spaces for people. Crystal chose to feature this organization for the fundraiser because they acknowledge the one thing all minorities struggle with; ending the stigma surrounding mental health.

“So many issues that plague oppressed communities have a historical significance that needs to be acknowledged,” said Crystal. “That trauma has created longstanding repercussions which manifests in a way that we too long have ignored.” The segments will be available on The American History Theater’s website and social sites on August 19. A portion of proceeds collected will go to organizations which support the minorities discussed. Like many theatre companies, AHT is unable to produce shows to live audiences right now due to COVID19. Until they are, the organization will work to explore new options for bringing meaningful and educational content to their supporters in different ways. But, for this heart-run nonprofit, theatre will always be their favorite way to share the important lessons of history and life. “The deep connection you build with your fellow human beings during a theatrical performance is like none other,” said Crystal, “There are so many moving parts in theatre; and that collaboration makes all the difference because it happens in real time. Both the audience and the actors must be present mentally, physically, and emotionally for everything to work.” Until The American History Theater can once again share the same space with its patrons, cast members and supporters; you can find them on Zoom,YouTube or Facebook, working to bring their passion for education, inspiration and healing to you any way they can. / AUGUST 2020


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

August 2020 The Governor ended the month of July by closing everything back up for a while. We hope that we get this Coronavirus under control before our Golf Tournament comes around.


Happy Summer!

I could not have had a better time celebrating our Independence on July 4th!! The fireworks shows were amazing with rockets shooting up and exploding in vivid color from 4 different locations in each direction. Neighbors up and down the street were firing off their own fireworks up over the rooftops. The restaurants were doing a brisk business, the boats were out on the water with flags flying and red, white, and blue was absolutely everywhere. The finale from each of the shows was 10 minutes long, I even recorded 5 minutes of video so I could play it whenever I wanted to see a nonstop colorful series of explosions one after the other without stopping. I think our family is committed to celebrating every July 4th from now on…in Texas. What a great visit! Back in California, it might have been a little different then we experienced down on the Gulf of Mexico. But our food drive went off without a hitch. 68 / AUGUST 2020

Back in California, it might have been a little different then we experienced down on the Gulf of Mexico. But our food drive went off without a hitch. The Governor ended the month of July by closing everything back up for a while. We hope that we get this Coronavirus under control before our Golf Tournament comes around. On Friday, October 23rd we will be having a golf tournament and fund raiser to benefit our Veterans in need through VEFA: Our Veterans Emergency Financial Aid Program. If there was ever a time to put money together to help those veteran families struggling to pay bills, fix cars or get needed groceries, this is the time and we could use everyone’s help on this one. Visit to register a team to play. We could also use donations for our silent auction as well. So if you have a business with a product or service, help us raise money and we will help you build awareness for all the good that you do in our community. Lot’s more Summer to come. Food distribution every second Friday until the end of the year or until our veterans don’t need the help. The next food distribution will be here on August 14th. We had great participation from a variety of volunteer organizations. Register on our website to participate in our touchless drive through food distribution so you can bring home fresh fruits and vegetables, and whatever we are giving away this month. You can register to volunteer as well go to / AUGUST 2020


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Helen Woodward Animal Center

people helping animals animals helping people Through our humane education and therapy programs, international awareness campaigns, and local fundraising events we are creating a humane world for both animals and people.

To learn more about how Helen Woodward Animal Center is helping the military, see us featured in the article on page and visit To donate to these valuable programs, call Renee Resko, 858-756-4117 ext. 347 or email 78 / AUGUST 2020

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