San Diego Veterans Magazine June 2023

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PTSD Through the MST Lens

PTSD Through the Veil of Time and Tears



Artificial Intelligence




Resources & Support


Vol. 6 • Number 6 • June 2023 M A G A Z I N E

US Navy (1987 – 1993) US Air Force (1993 – 2013)

PTSD treatment can turn your life around. For more information visit:

2 / June 2023
“I’m happier with myself. Having been in therapy, period, has helped me be in a better place now.”
Rogelio “Roger” Rodriguez, Jr

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Welcome to San Diego Veterans Magazine!

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

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

The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with our veterans, service members, military families, and civilians.

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

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

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

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

Publisher Editor-In-Chief

Mike Miller

Monthly Columns

What’s Next Transition

Eve Nasby • Kristin Hennessy

Human Resources

Paul Falcone

Veterans in Business

Barbara Eldridge

Successful Transitioning Stories

Dr. Julie Ducharme

Risky Business

Hadley Wood

Franchise Frontline

Rhonda Sanderson

Real Talk: Mental Health

Hope Phifer

PTSD: Reclaiming Control

Robert ‘Bob’ Cuyler, PhD

TLC Caregiving

Kie Copenhaver

Art & Healing

Amber Robinson

Legal Eagle

Kelly Bagla, Esq.

Family Law

Tana Landau, Esq.

Midway Magic

David Koontz

Veterans Chamber Commerce

Joe Molina

Contributing Writers

Wounded Warrior Project

Raquel G. Rivas, WWP

Disabled American Veterans

San Diego Veterans Coalition

Veteran Association North County

(In-House) Correspondents

Holly Shaffner

CJ Machado

4 / June 2023 San Diego Veterans Magazine 9528 Miramar Road, #41 San Diego, CA 92126 (858) 275-4281
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
EDITOR’S LETTER / June 2023 5 JUNE INSIDE THE ISSUE 8 Midway Magic - June: Midway Milestones 10 PTSD AWARENESS MONTH 12 PTSD Never Quit Fighting 16 PTSD - Through the Veil of Time and Tears 18 Real Talk - Your True Authentic Self 22 PTSD Through the MST Lens 24 With PTSD therapy I’m finally home 26 TLC - PTSD - Supporting the Fight 28 National University Supports Military 30 What’s Next - Suck It Up, Buttercup! 32 Successful Transition - Nicole D’Ambrogi 34 Human Resources - Artificial Intelligence 38 Franchise Frontline - Pet Services Industry 39 Risky Busines - Business Funk 40 Business for Veterans - Keeping Afloat 42 Legal Eagle - Organizational Documents 44 Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel 48 Grateful Americans Charity 50 VCCSD - A Living Trust 51 Post 5867 Hosted Wellness Fair 52 Real Estate Guide - San Diego Relocation 53 San Diego Veterans Coalition 55 Veterans Association of North County 56 Legally Speaking - Mental Health/Divorce 60 Careers in Law Enforcement 62 SDPD Ride Along - A Story of Two Marines 66 Veterans are Perfect for Cybersecurity
6 / June 2023 As a partner of the We Honor Veterans Program, Hospice of the North Coast is dedicated to providing optimal end-of-life care to the honored men and women who have fought for the freedom and security of our nation. 2525 Pio Pico Dr., Suite 301, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | Veterans Program Call 760.431.4100 COM M I T T E D TO VETERANS


Invest in the future of Miramar National Cemetery

Hundreds of veterans, active duty military, families, businesses, and the public have invested in the future of Miramar National Cemetery.

Thanks to their generous contributions

The Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation sponsors:

• Miramar National Cemetery Memorial Amphitheater

• The Avenue of Flags

• Veterans Tribute Tower & Carillon

• Annual Veterans Memorial Services

• Annual Veterans Day Observances

• Coordinates Veterans Memorial Monuments

Honor our past, present, and future military veterans!

Send your donation, today, to the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation

All contributions are fully tax deductible.

Help the Foundation Support Miramar National Cemetery.

Please go to and click on “Donate Now” for information about how you can donate to the Miramar National / June 2023 7

June: The Month of Midway Magic Milestones

Over the course of her illustrious five-decade fleet career in the U.S. Navy, the USS Midway (CV-41 ) and her crew were a driving force in the evolution of the modern aircraft carrier both in times of peace and in war.

As serendipity would dictate, many of the major Midway milestones took place in the month of June, starting with the epic World War II battle that ultimately gave the carrier her name, to 60 years later when the ship opened as a public museum in 2004.

The Battle of Midway raged over the skies of the Pacific Ocean from June 4-7, 1942. Greatly outnumbered in personnel and war machinery by the Japanese Imperial Navy, U.S. naval forces struck a devastating blow to Japan by sinking four of its fleet carriers. This American victory is considered the turning tide of the war in the Pacific.

When the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41) was commissioned in 1945, she was the largest, most modern warship in the world. She was quickly set on a course to change how carrier aviation not only shape the future of the Navy’s operational doctrine, but she became a go-to testbed for evaluating potential technologies.

On June 26, 1950, Midway was assigned to assess a potentially important aviation capability. The experiment was not only going to be observed by the Chief of Naval Operations, but several other high-ranking Navy admirals. It wasn’t a new aircraft that was heading to Midway, but a tried and true carryover for the earliest days of naval aviation. The ZP2K-80 airship, flown by Lt. John Fahey, was being evaluated for possible inclusionin naval missions.

“The Chief of Naval Operations, commander of the Atlantic Fleet and commander of Fleet Air Wings were considering whether to retain airship squadrons in the U.S. Navy,” said Fahey, who had more than 170 carrier takeoffs and landing in blimps over the course of his naval career. “I was chosen to demonstrate the value of the airship in carrier operations and hunterkiller groups.”

Lt. Cmdr. Randall Billins and Lt. Cmdr. Robert Chew Jr., test pilots with the Naval Air Test Center, made naval aviation history on June 13, 1963. Billins, piloting an F-4A Phantom II and Chew, flying an F-8D Crusader, made the first fully-automatic carrier landings with advanced electronic equipment installed on board Midway. The landings, made hands off with flight controls and throttles operated automatically from the ship, was the culmination of nearly 16 years of research and development.

As America’s direct involvement the Vietnam War increased, the first enemy aircraft shot down were tallied by planes from Midway.

Two F-4 Phantoms from Midway’s Fighter Squadron 21 (VF-21) recorded the first confirmed kills of MiG-17s of the Vietnam War using air-to-air missiles on June 17, 1965. Three days later on June 20, two A-1H Skyraiders flying from Midway with Attack Squadron 25 (VA-25) were jumped by two MiG 17s. After nearly being hit by enemy missiles, the Skyraiders turned their 20 mm cannons, capable of firing 800 round per minute, on two MiGs shooting them out of the sky.

“Charlie and I fired simultaneously as he passed so close that Charlie thought I had hit his vertical stabilizer

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1950 A-1
Blimp landing of Midway

with the tip of my tail hook,” said Lt. Clinton Johnson, who was piloting one of the Skyraiders. “Both of us fired all four guns. He never returned our fire, rolled, inverted, and hit a small hill, exploding and burning in a farm field.”

A few days after Capt. Larry Ernst took over as Midway’s last commanding officer on June 12, 1991, the ship received emergency orders to steam at high speed from Japan to U.S. naval base at Subic Bay in the Philippines to assist with the evacuation of American military personnel and their families following the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. This humanitarian response was known as Operation Fiery Vigil.

Arriving in the Philippines a week later, Midway embarked more than 1,800 evacuees, mostly U.S. Air Force personnel from Clark Air Base, as well as 68 dogs, 23 cats and one lizard.

“Now facing a miniature Noah’s Ark, Midway’s aircraft maintenance officer installed makeshift kennels in his jet engine repairs shop near the fantail, as well as coated the deck with straw,” said Midway’s historian, Karl Zingheim. “Thus Midway converted the jet shop into a pet shop.”

Midway’s final June milestone occurred more than a decade after she was decommissioned and retired from the Navy’s active-duty fleet. On June, 7, 2004, 60 years after the Battle of Midway, the ship opened it hatches to the public as a floating museum. Midway now averages more than a million visitors per year, the most of any naval ship museum in the world.

“This marks a historic milestone in the nation’s fleet of historic naval ships,” said Midway’s founding president and CEO Mac McLaughlin who recently retired. “The extraordinary support shown by San Diegans has made this possible.”

For those interested in becoming a USS Midway Museum volunteer, more information along with the volunteer application can be found at: / June 2023 9
Operation Fiery Vigil


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.


Never Quit Fighting; Never Hesitate to Ask for Help with PTSD

12 / June 2023

As a Black woman soldier, I had to make myself the picture of perfection. There was no room for error in the military. I had to hit the ground running flawlessly every single time.

As a Black woman in a senior leadership role, there was no one else in the room who looked like me. I never felt comfortable sharing the nature of my struggles. At the same time, sometimes I didn’t even realize how much I was struggling. I put all my strength into completing my missions. I had suppressed my childhood trauma and all my military trauma.

I molded myself into a perfect package, and it worked. I was selected to be a drill sergeant and eventually promoted to command sergeant major.

As a leader in the Army, it was my duty, obligation, and responsibility to provide guidance, inspiration, and direction. Leaders in the military don’t have time to act on emotions when things get tough. We don’t have time to complain.

I have no regrets about putting others first.

While serving in the fast-paced 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, the physical aspect kept me moving, and I didn’t think about the mental part.

Reckoning with the Past

When I became a battalion command sergeant major, my drive for perfection was my shield. It served me well until things started to unravel while I was deployed to Afghanistan.

During my last deployment to Afghanistan, I had to be strong for everyone else, including my troops and my leadership. But I saw things and lived through things that brought back trauma I had put away since my early career, and even since my childhood. Things no young woman should have to deal with.

Everything hit me at once during that last deployment. The memories of childhood abuse, the sexual abuse I experienced in the military, and the memories of the death and suffering I saw — all this stuff came crashing down. I could not take it anymore.

But it would be another year before I could reach out for help. During that time, I did what I always did. I steeled myself. I moved on. I accepted an assignment at the Pentagon.

Continued on next page > / June 2023 13

Until one day, almost 30 years into my successful Army service, I found myself contemplating driving off a bridge.

I knew I would die if I drove off that bridge — but I thought about my sons, who were then in their 20s. What would I leave behind for them? A legacy of suicide? No, I couldn’t do that.

Finding Help and Letting the Light In

I knew I would have to fight to get out of the cage of depression. I sought help for the first time in my life. I was treated at Fort Belvoir and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. I retired from the Army successfully and continued working at the Pentagon and later at the Homeland Security Department. Still, for nine years after I left the military, I struggled without even realizing what a deep struggle I was in.

After retirement, I really missed being in the Army – the structure, the teamwork, the camaraderie – and at the same time, I struggled to put my life back together. I felt like I was sinking in quicksand. Fortunately, the medical professionals who treated me at Fort Belvoir guided me to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).

My first steps in therapy, through both the VA and WWP, helped me realize that my heart kind of stopped after that deployment to Afghanistan. I understood why I was struggling mentally and feeling down, confused, and withdrawn. I was also managing physical issues and chronic pain. Some days, it was difficult just getting out of the house.

Through WWP, I started participating in a subtle but powerful program called WWP Talk. A WWP specialist called me once a week and slowly got me to open up — I might have been opening the blinds one turn at a time but it was helping me let the light in. The obscure parts of my life were now in the sunshine.

Childhood abuse and the violence I witnessed against my mother were out in the light. Military sexual trauma from early in my career began to surface. Traumatic events from my past began to lose their power.I started to see the road ahead.

I didn’t understand the WWP logo yet, but I knew I needed someone to say, “I got you.” I found people who could put me on their shoulders and carry me while I found my own footing. That’s what Wounded Warrior Project did for me.

Through WWP, I attended a Project Odyssey® with all female warriors. It was there, with the help of my peers and adventure-based therapy, that I continued on the road to improving my mental health and well-being.

Warrior Care Network Opens a Channel

I was offered the opportunity to take part in Warrior Care Network® at the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program – a two-week intensive, individualized care program. At Emory, program specialists provided followup care for the next three years. It helped me find new ways to approach my past instead of avoiding it.

It was also through Warrior Care Network that I was able to tell my full story to my sons. Now, they can be there for me, and I can be there for them. During my time at Emory, my son passed up an opportunity to play basketball internationally to be with me. There was no greater proof of love at that moment, and I deeply appreciated the sacrifice he made for me. I’m not ashamed of what happened to me anymore. I have worked through many things, and I have a lot to be proud of.

I now feel empowered to share my story. After going through my recovery, I eventually accepted a job with Wounded Warrior Project on the Warriors Speak team. In this position, I’m able to tell groups of veterans and supporters about my experiences and how the right support has helped me heal. I want to use my journey to help show other veterans, especially female veterans, that healing is possible after their time in service.

Thanks to the help I received from Wounded Warrior Project, I’m thriving today. I’m taking care of myself –mind and body.

14 / June 2023

My message now is daily self-care, acceptance, love, and wholeness. I see now how my tough childhood gave me the fortitude to never quit. And although I got tired of the struggle, I found the strength to ask for help. Because of my VA physicians, WWP Talk specialist, Project Odyssey peers, and my Warrior Care Network experience at Emory Healthcare, I’m able to share my story with others and say, “There is a better life.”

A Life Beyond PTSD

I have a wonderful life now. I use the tools and resources WWP gave me to continuously improve my physical and mental health. I know mental health is a day-to-day fight, and I’m going to continue to fight for my own mental well-being and that of others. Now I’m in a position where I can help carry others. Now I can say, “I will carry you on my shoulders until you’re able to stand on your own two feet.”

To be able to do that, I have to continue to care for myself physically and mentally so that I can continue to live a positive life where I get to advocate for other veterans.

I don’t think I would change much about my life even though I had some terrible things happen to me. Yes, it was a burden, and I still have my days, but I know

I have people I can count on. I’m going to go out there and tell my story because telling my story helps me, too.

Learn more about Warriors Speak® and how veterans are helping combat the stigma associated with PTSD.


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.



Everyone needs someone to talk to from time to time, especially warriors struggling with invisible wounds. WWP has a free program for registered warriors and family members struggling with mental health challenges and for those who would simply feel better having someone who will listen and help talk through issues. Warriors and family members can connect with a dedicated, caring partner through WWP Talk in a safe, supportive environment to talk things out with someone who understands and sympathizes with what you’re experiencing.

Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves post-9/11 veterans and service members who have incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound during or after service. / June 2023 15
Scan here to learn more or visit

PTSD: Reclaiming Control

PTSD: Through the Veil of Time and Tears

In his poignant memoir, “Goodbye To All That,” British poet Robert Graves, a World War I veteran, painted a haunting tableau of his survival following his physical and psychological wounds from trench warfare. Nightmares of shells bursting on his bed and seeing the faces of dead comrades on strangers in the street were his companions, long after the war. Walking the peaceful Scottish hills, he would scan the landscape for machine guns and where he would place his platoon. He tragically confessed in his later years, “I am in Hell.” At that time, ‘forgetting’ was essentially the only psychological method for coping. His anguished revelations graphically depict the lifealtering impact of PTSD, a condition that, although not formally recognized until 1980, has cast a long shadow throughout history.

The term ‘shell shock’ in World War I was our next chapter in the understanding of trauma, recognizing both the psychological aftermath of modern warfare and the effects of concussion. Yet, this period was marred by a tragic dichotomy. Soldiers grappling with these invisible wounds were often mislabeled as malingerers or cowards, underscoring a persistent lack of understanding and empathy. Priorities in armies were to get soldiers back to the field as soon as possible and to discourage desertion.

(Part 2 of 2)

Our look back into PTSD’s past reveals that what we now call PTSD has plagued humankind as long as written records exist. Take, for instance, Achilles, the tragic and fierce hero of Homer’s Iliad. His volcanic rage at the betrayal of his king, and his crushing grief at the death of his friend, mirror the emotional tumult many modern veterans grapple with, as deftly noted in the important book “Achilles in Vietnam.”

The 18th century marked the earliest pivots toward acknowledging war’s psychological scars with the advent of the first hospitals for ‘mentally exhausted’ soldiers. During the American Civil War, we see the emergence of a medical condition called ‘irritable heart’ - a predecessor to PTSD, characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath, heart palpitations,and chest pain. Rest, diet, and ‘mild electrical stimulation’ were the treatment methods.

As we entered World War II, the strategy shifted to screening out recruits deemed ‘mentally weak or defective’. This misguided approach falsely assumed that by eliminating pre-induction risks, the military would minimize psychological casualties. Yet, the persistently high rates of war stress casualties served as a harsh reality check. My dad, a WWII veteran, and his friends never discussed the war in front of us kids, who were playing soldier in the backyard and watching ‘Combat’ on TV. For those who could, they moved past and forgot.

The aftermath of the Vietnam War era marked a turning point, with increased recognition of a distinct post-traumatic condition and the need to develop identification and effective treatments. This awareness expanded further, acknowledging that civilians exposed to traumatic events were also susceptible. The COVID-19 pandemic, with all its hardships and tragedies, democratized PTSD, with more public awareness and acceptance that we all can be vulnerable.

16 / June 2023

Today, we’ve thankfully moved past the damaging notion of PTSD as a personal failing. The pursuit of understanding over blame is propelling intense research into genetic and other risk factors. Exciting breakthroughs, such as the identification of four potential biomarkers found in a simple blood test to identify the presence and risk of developing PTSD, hold hope that we are entering an era where prevention and rapid access to treatment become the norm.

The landscape of treatment options is evolving as well. The traditional treatments, talk therapy and antidepressants, help many individuals, but often fail to provide others with effective and lasting relief. Psychedelics like psilocybin are the focus of new research, offering potential paths to healing, but do require more time to make such treatments safe and widely available.

research to target dysregulated breathing due to CO2 hypersensitivity with a 28-day at-home treatment normalizing respiration and teaching new selfmanagement skills. Results from both research and clinical use show promising results for both veterans and civilians, with most users experiencing significant symptom reduction.

Built on this long and complicated history, we are hopefully entering a new era in understanding and treating PTSD, with new and effective options joining the established treatments. We envision a future where recovery is expected, not the exception; where those touched by trauma can reclaim their lives and thrive. It’s a future we must tirelessly strive for, in honor of those who’ve borne the silent burden of PTSD.

Concurrently, therapies focused on managing dysfunctional breathing related to underlying CO2 sensitivity are building on the groundbreaking research by individuals like Michael Telch, PhD and Alicia Meuret, PhD. One of Telch’s studies reported that soldiers who reacted with strong distress to a single breath of CO2-enriched air before deployment to Iraq were at higher risk for developing PTSD after their tours were completed. Our company built on this and other

Cuyler is chief clinical officer of Freespira, an FDA-cleared non-medication treatment that helps people with panic and PTSD manage their symptoms by learning how to regulate their breathing. - / June 2023 17

Real Talk: Mental Health

Showing Up … As Your True, Authentic Self

The month of June is nationally recognized as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, designated as a time to recognize the impact of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals. This community has had a major impact on history and this month (and beyond) celebrates how they have strengthened our country, by using their talent and creativity to help create awareness and goodwill.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are about 1 million lesbian, gay and bisexual veterans in the United States. According to the VA, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health problems affect transgender veterans at high rates than non-veterans. Trans veterans may also experience chronic stress from discrimination.

A coping mechanism of dealing with discrimination could be concealing one’s identity due to challenges around acceptance. When someone feels they need to hide who they truly are they could find it challenging to fully love themselves, which could have both emotional and physical consequences.

Emotionally, their self-esteem may be down. What does this show up as? Not feeling heard, valued, or loved for who they are. Their confidence may be impacted by feeling inadequate or not good enough. Their level of self-respect may decrease. They may be over critical of themselves or ignore achievements while focusing on shortcomings. They may also experience loneliness and find it difficult to connect with others.

Physically, the stress of not being able to be their authentic self may lead to feeling things such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, body aches and high blood pressure. It may also lead to developing unhealthy coping skills like poor hygiene or neglecting self-care, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, or overindulging in food.

The following are tips for anyone who may have challenges around self-acceptance:

• Identify your values - Make a list of the ideals that are most important to you. Do your actions align with these values? Aligning your life with your values is part of being your authentic self.

• Mindfulness - Learn to be in the present with total awareness. This means quieting the voices of others to connect with your true self. View this as a journey;

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it may take time to become your authentic self. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to check in with yourself and work through your emotions as they come to you.

• Self-compassion - Be kind to yourself and know that you are not alone. Resist the temptation to judge yourself and others. Keep in mind that everyone’s journey looks different. Some people may be “out” and proud of who they are while others may not quite be there.

• Find a supportive community - Connect with others who share your values or share in your identity or identities. Look for people who are connected with their authentic self. And connect with local or online resources to build the community you need.

• Find a mental health therapist, counselor and/or health care providers who are affirming - Therapy can be a great place to learn about yourself. Some therapists even specialize in helping clients find their authentic self. Primary care physicians who are affirming in the care they provide can also help you become your authentic self.

Being open with your health care provider can help ensure you receive the best care possible. Through its Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics, including three located in the state of California, Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) proudly serves veterans, service members and their families of all sexual orientations and gender identities. This includes same sex partners and spouses, and families of choice. CVN’s vision is to ensure that

every veteran, service member or military family member can obtain access to high-quality, effective care that enables them to lead fulfilling and productive lives. This includes offering environments where all voices are respected, valued, and heard.

See below for additional resources:

National Resources

• LGTB National Hotline -

• Trevor Project -

• 988 Suicide & Crisis -


• It Gets Better -

• National Alliance on Mental Health

• Q Chat Space A Community for LGBTQ+ Teens

California Resources

• National Alliance on Mental Health California

• Centerlink – The Community of LGBT Centers in California

• Our Safe Place San Diego

• 2-1-1 San Diego LGBTQ Support

• San Diego PRIDE Resource page

• LA Pride - / June 2023 19 Therapy for Veterans, Service Members, and their Families Cohen Clinics provide therapy to post-9/11 veterans, service members, and their families, including National Guard / Reserves. LEARN MORE 8885 Rio San Diego Dr. Suite 301 3609 Ocean Ranch Blvd. Suite 120 CVN Telehealth, face-to-face video therapy available statewide. 20800 Madrona Avenue, Suite C-100, Torrance, CA San Diego Oceanside Los Angeles our CALIFORNIA locations
20 / June 2023
Support. Inspiration. At San Diego Veterans Magazine you can visit our website for all current and past articles relating to PTSD, symptoms, and resources.
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.
Resources & Articles available at:

MENTAL HEALTH CARE for Veteran & Military Families

Cohen Clinics provide therapy to post-9/11 veterans, service members, and military families, including National Guard and Reserves.

All sexual orientations and genders welcome. LEARN MORE / June 2023 21
8885 Rio San Diego Dr. Suite 301 3609 Ocean Ranch Blvd. Suite 120 20800 Madrona Ave. Suite C-100, Torrance, CA San Diego Oceanside Los Angeles our CALIFORNIA locations

PTSD Through the MST Lens

According to a website run by nonprofit, Unbroken Warriors, over 540,000 veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD. What the military is not talking about is how many of those cases were caused by Military Sexual Trauma? The VA reports that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 50 men said “yes” when screened for MST in its most recent report.

Although combat PTSD is no joke, and something I struggle with, the PTSD load from sexual trauma is heavier. Sarah Blum, Vietnam veteran, licensed therapist and author of “Women Under Fire: Abuse in the Military”, says the depth of PTSD from MST is because a sexual assault is experienced as a breach in a person’s sense of self and bodily integrity. Thus, she says the victim’s feelings of safety, self-worth and self-trust deteriorate, making them question their safety, themselves and others constantly.

In service, assaults are doubly damning in that it undermines the much-needed trust between military brothers and sisters in arms. What does it mean if you can’t trust the service member to your left or right during training or a deployment?

“To those who see their military unit or core as family, which that is encouraged, then the violation equates to incest,” said Blum.

Once the trauma of an assault has damaged the brain, the survivor can become haunted by the event as their brain triggers them back to it over and over again. Triggering as well as dissociation during and after the event leaves survivors with an inability to connect to self and others.

“Our thinking brain is shut down during trauma,” said Blum. “Survivors of MST become emotionally numb, unresponsive to the world around them, and thus they cut themselves off from resources.”

Without the ability to connect to themselves and others, MST survivors can flounder. Many are often forced out of service for personality disorders that are actually acute PTSD. Symptoms such as anger, depression or issues with self-perception and relationships can easily be classified as personality disorder symptoms and often are.

Unfortunately, for many survivors, a personality disorder is enough to separate them from service, many with an other than honorable discharge.

22 / June 2023
If you are a survivor of Military Sexual Trauma, please know that you are not alone. You can heal, you just have to take the first step.

Without honorable service on their record, most are ineligible for their earned benefits. This, coupled with the symptoms of their PTSD, are sometimes enough to push survivors into homelessness, addiction or suicide attempts. Sometimes these survivors lose the fight and become one of the 22 a day. But, more often, they find a path to healing.

In past issues, I’ve highlighted the healing journeys of veterans such as Marine veteran, artist and advocate Luz Helena Stacey Thompson, who was given an other than honorable discharge for alerting a local politician to her case. Discharged without benefits, she fought the VA for 16 years to get back what she’d earned.

Now, Thompson, along with many others I’ve met in my advocacy journey, have turned over a new leaf. Thompson is now an artist, surfer and art and surf teacher. She’s happily married with three beautiful kids.

“I still struggle,” said Thompson. “I may always struggle. But I know there’s always going to be a brighter day ahead if I can just get through it.”

Thompson says she credits her healing to her family, art, the ocean and her service dog, Reefer.

What Thompson accomplished took guts and resilience, especially after suffering and being discharged for a sexual assault. Air Force veteran Darci Standefer used that same guts and resilience to find healing after she was assaulted by an Air Force sergeant on a long bus trip.

After service her PTSD symptoms would erupt in angry outbursts at work, her family life suffered, and she would eventually lose her apartment and be at the mercy of family and friends for a place to stay. Standefer would make her first attempt with a steak knife in her kitchen, dragging it clumsily across her wrist. Luckily, she did not cut hard enough.

Her second attempt would be a few years later.

“I just remember thinking, ‘You know, If I killed myself, everything will be ok,” said Standefer. “It seemed like the most logical decision I could make right then.”

Standefer would drive up into the mountains, park and plug her tail pipe, with the intention of asphyxiating via carbon monoxide poisoning. Luckily, her second attempt also failed and would prompt her to finally go to the VA for help.

“I went in and told them I needed help, that I had just tried to kill myself,” said Standefer.

Standefer would do a “week in the psych ward”, as she says, but would come out with a better understanding of how to heal. From there she would begin taking medication and going to counseling. Initially, she says she thought meds and therapy would fix her, but soon learned who was really responsible.

“I started figuring out who had to do the actual work, the actual ‘fixing’, said Standefer.

Now, Standefer is in stable housing, and lives with her cat and dog. She says she still doesn’t date and doesn’t know if she ever will. But her life is still a far cry from where it was when she made an attempt to end her life.

Both Thompson and Standefer have learned that healing and often justice, take time and lots of patience. Both women will forever be changed, each living down a legacy of sexual violence that has plagued the service for far too long.

If you are a survivor of Military Sexual Trauma, please know that you are not alone. You can heal, you just have to take the first step.

If you or someone you know has suffered MST and needs help, call the DoD Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247 for immediate support and guidance or go to Connect and Find Support through DoD Safe Helpline

Visit Safe helpline for more information at:

For California locals call your local Vet Center, most of which host MST group therapy. There is no better place to start than with others just like you. / June 2023 23

It’s been over 50 years since the War, and with the help of PTSD therapy I’m finally home

Bob Parsons is best known for founding and changing the game for the golf industry with his golf club manufacturing company, PXG, but in his heart, he is most proud of being a U.S Marine.

Parsons was awarded four medals, including the Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Combat Action Ribbon for his service during the Vietnam War.

San Diego Veterans Magazine sat down with Bob Parsons, who is dedicated to helping lead the charge when it comes to advocating for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy treatment for his fellow veterans suffering from PTSD.

SDVM: Tell us about what made you join the Marines?

Parsons: I was a terrible student. I failed the 5th grade, and at the end of every school year thereafter, whether or not I passed was a photo finish. I was a senior in high school in March 1968 when two buddies told me they were going to go talk to the Marine Corps recruiter. I went along with them to hear what the Marines had to say, and they (the Marines) had me at hello. The three of us enlisted on the spot. Because I was only 17 at the time, my mom had to sign off on my paperwork. We all went to boot camp that August, and six months later we were carrying rifles in Vietnam.

SDVM: Tell me about your time in Vietnam.

Parsons: I served as a rifleman with Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines in Quang Nam province on Hill 190. On one side of Hill 190 there were rice paddies as far as you could see. On the other side were mountains and jungle. When I met the Marines in my squad for the first time, I learned that they had been ambushed a few days earlier and suffered five casualties, four of which were KIA. Those Marines who were killed or wounded were the senior guys.

The new squad leader and senior man was a Marine named Barry George, who had been in country at that time just six weeks. Upon learning this, and spending about an hour of thinking and soul searching, I accepted the fact that I was probably going to die there. I made myself two promises right then and there: 1) I’d do my job as a Marine to the best of my ability for the rest of the guys there and for my folks back home; and 2) I would do whatever it took to be alive for Mail Call in the morning. Taking things one day at a time, and focusing no further into the future than the next day’s mail call, was how I got through it.

The rifle squads of Delta Company ran ambushes every night. Our job was to keep the North Vietnamese Army from terrorizing the small rice farming villages and taking their rice to feed their troops. I did every job I was asked to do. I walked “tail end Charlie” – the last Marine in line. Walking tail end was probably the safest position to be in the squad, but it was also pretty creepy – always looking over your shoulder for an enemy soldier sneaking up in back of you. I also carried the radio. Back then there were no cell phones. The radio was big and bulky, had an 8-foot antenna, and since it was our only form of communication, carrying the radio was like wearing a sign that said, “Please shoot me first.” Eventually I volunteered for the point team, and while walking second through a village in the pitch dark night, the point man somehow stepped over and missed the tripwire. I had no such luck and hit it. The shrapnel from the resulting explosion wounded both my legs and my left elbow. I was medevac’d to Yokusko Naval Hospital

24 / June 2023

in Japan to recover. After recovering, I received orders to return back to my unit. On the way back, through an unbelievable fluke, I was instead assigned to Marine Corps Intelligence on Okinawa, where, among other jobs, I was a courier of classified documents traveling between there and Vietnam.

SDVM: What was your return home like?

Parsons: Those of us who served in the Vietnam War to this day remain the only troops who fought for our country and were never welcomed home. Many of us were instead met by angry anti-war protestors. The Marine Corps even suggested we not wear our uniforms home so as not to attract the attention of the anti-war crowd. I wore my uniform home and so did all the other Marines around me. The reception we received was disappointing for sure. We really thought we did something special serving in that God-awful war. I still think about it every day. If I smell something like fresh asphalt, tar, or diesel fuel, it brings me right back there.

SDVM: I understand you were diagnosed with PTSD?

Parsons: In those days, no one was talking about PTSD. People would say, “He’s a different man” or “He’s not the same.” Looking back, I most certainly had PTSD after returning to the states. I had a temper. I didn’t want to be around people. I couldn’t watch fireworks. Occasionally I’d go off by myself and just be in tears. PTSD most certainly caused my first two marriages to end in divorce. It is one of the trickiest diseases because it affects the front of your brain and how that area controls the “fight or flight” response. People with PTSD are always close to being in full flight or fight, but because our brains work to normalize their flaws, we don’t know that that’s the case until we are triggered.

SDVM: How did you discover Psychedelics & PTSD Treatments?

Parsons: When I read Michael Pollan’s book, “How to Change Your Mind,” I had a breakthrough. I learned all about the history of psychedelics and what they were capable of treating. I immediately told my wife, Renee, about the book, and she linked me with two people who treat veterans with psychedelics.

I had never used psychedelics and wouldn’t have considered doing so before reading the book. I did a four-day guided treatment and after, I was a different guy. There is a reset power that psychedelics have. People who knew me would say, “My God, he’s different. What happened to him?” It’s important to note that just

taking Psychedelics without therapy from trained professionals won’t accomplish much. The way the healing is done is that the therapy does the healing and the psychedelics make it possible.

SDVM: What happened then?

The difference psychedelic therapy made for me that week was epic. I started thinking about how I could help make these therapies accessible for other veterans and civilians suffering. I learned about Rick Doblin’s organization, MAPS, through Tim Ferriss (Author of The 4-Hour Work Week). The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is pioneering this treatment, and it stands a good chance of being FDA-approved for therapeutic use, maybe in 2023. MAPS needed funds to complete the final research required to seek approval, so my wife and I wrote them a check. The results have been incredible. After three therapy sessions with MDMA, 67% of veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD were cured. I’m also supporting several other ongoing trials in the U.S, including The Mount Sinai Center for Psychedelic Healing in New York. They are doing the first clinical trial with the VA. We also provide annual support to The Semper Fi & America’s Fund through The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

SDVM: If you were to talk to someone having difficulty with their PTSD, what would your advice be?

Parsons: I would tell them to call the PTSD hotline staffed by The Semper Fi and America’s Fund to begin their journey to recovery and also share my experience. That phone number is 760-725-3680. Do I consider myself completely cured of PTSD? No. Do I think I’m much better than I was? Yes, absolutely. Like all veterans, I still have memories no one should ever have. And I can’t stress this enough: if a person takes psychedelics from the shelf, it’s not going to make a difference. The therapy does the healing; the psychedelics make it possible.

SDVM: What would you say to readers in the same situation?

Parsons: There’s help. There are treatments that can mitigate PTSD and make life better. The difference treatment can make is profound. It’s been 50 years since the war, and with the help of psychedelic therapy, I finally came home. It’s time for you to come home, too.

For more information visit:


Semper Fi:

The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation: / June 2023 25


PTSD Awareness - Supporting the fight

Mental health, a topic that has traditionally been shrouded in secrecy and shame, is the spotlight of this month, with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder being given its due on June 27th, national PTSD Awareness Day. And while having a specific date or month on the calendar designated for PTSD and Mental Health is great to bring about awareness, conversation, and action, everyday is mental health day when you are a caregiver.

Currently in the United States, 53 million or 21% of the US population are “informal caregivers” for a family member or loved one. Being an informal caregiver means you likely female (61% of that 53 million), unpaid, and probably a family member or close friend to the person requiring caring.

Informal caregivers are often spouses or significant others. And according to multiple data sources (AARP being the most recognized), 30-35% of informal/primary caregivers will suffer some serious illness, injury, or death before the person they are caring for. This is an alarming statistic given the number of informal caregivers out there and even more reason to focus national attention on the mental health and wellbeing of our informal caregivers.

There are many resources available to informal caregivers – that is, if they can find the time to read, access or utilize said resources.

Here are a couple of things you can do right from the chair you may be sitting in while you read this article:

1. take a deep breath….pull that air into the bottom of your lungs and then exhale; repeat this three times.

2. take your magazine outside and let the sun warm your face and body; stay outside for at least 3 minutes and gradually work up to 10-15 minutes, as your caregiving situation allows.

3. listen to a favorite song or musical artist throughout the day – sing a bar or two if the mood strikes you.

If you know someone who is an informal caregiver, here are a couple of ways you can support them:

1. reach out via text or phone call and just say hi, see how they are doing

2. go “old school” and send them a card, postcard, or letter to brighten their day; maybe set up a schedule where the 1st of every month, you send a card

3. have a meal delivered to them – observing any dietary restrictions that may exist

Caregiving is part science, part artform and all heart. If you are a caregiver or the person requiring additional care with activities of daily living (ADLs), give yourself a little grace today. It’s not always an easy road to travel – many of the twists and turns are unexpected and a roadmap is often nowhere to be found. Just know there are people, communities, and resources around you ready and willing to help.

Aging Well Partners was founded on the premise that everyone deserves to age well; and aging well involves planning well. Whether it’s customized daily call service, a trusted and vetted electrician or plumber, or a referral to a geriatric physician who specializes in illness and ailments more commonly seen as we age, we can point you in the right direction.

26 / June 2023 / June 2023 27 / MAY 2022 33 FREE Consultation Call us to get started (619) 7879-1839 FREE Consultation Call us to get started (619) 789-1839

National University Proudly Supports the U.S. Military

National University (NU) has nurtured strong ties to the San Diego community and the military since its founding in 1971 by U.S. Navy Captain David Chigos. He understood that military-affiliated students had a need for a quality, flexible, and accessible approach to education. Since its inception, NU has proudly served active-duty and veteran students from all military branches as they have earned their college degrees at home, on base, and abroad.

Today NU provides relevant education to 40,000+ students nationwide of which one in four are servicemembers or veterans. With credential-rich pathways and a holistic approach to student support, well-being, and success, NU delivers world-class student experiences and has prepared its 220,000+ graduates for the next chapter of their lives.

Supporting the Whole You

National University’s innovative approach to education is about supporting the whole student. This approach includes providing the financial, academic, emotional, career, and family support needed to succeed in today’s fast-paced world. “We understand how to meet students where they are and help them get on the pathway to be successful,” said Dr. Mark D. Milliron, president and CEO of National University. “We are committed to helping them change their lives, improve the future of their families, and impact their communities.”

Financial Support

As a top 10 percent Military Friendly and Yellow Ribbon school, National University is committed to delivering exceptional services and offering financial benefits and resources to assist with educational expenses. NU accepts the post 9/11 “Forever” GI Bill, which reduces education costs for veterans and active-duty students. NU also offers military-specific scholarships for activeduty service members and their dependents and for eligible veterans, their spouses, and dependents. Our Veterans Affairs office can help you navigate the many affordable options available to use your benefits with purpose and make your career goals a reality.

Academic Support

As San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, NU has designed bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs specifically for military-affiliated students. NU’s flexible four-week and eight-week class formats are ideal for the deployment cycle of military personnel and help students reach their goals faster. NU offers transfer-friendly undergraduate and graduate degree programs to maximize as many previously earned credits as possible, including college credits from other accredited institutions, professional or technical certifications, and military training and experience.

Social & Emotional Support

National University is proud to create a culture that fosters success for student veterans and servicemembers. NU provides a comprehensive virtual and onsite Veterans Center staffed by military-affiliated employees to assist with the transition to campus life and an online learning format, as well as aid in the completion of educational and career goals. Further, our dedicated student wellness staff are trained to help military students address a variety of needs and provide a 360-degree supportive environment.

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Career Pathways

National University offers more than 190 online and oncampus programs, including these programs popular among the military community:

• Vets to BSN: Accelerated track to pursue a career in nursing.

• Cybersecurity/Criminal Justice/Homeland Security and Emergency Management

• MBA and Organizational Leadership program

• Education/teaching degrees and credentials

Family & Community Support

A few of the ways that National University provides support to family members and the community include:

• Member of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) to help military spouses advance their careers and educational opportunities.

• Commitment as a First Responder in Veteran Employment to support employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

• Facilitating an Employee Resource Group for military spouse employees to build rapport and share remote employee best practices.

This month, Joel Riley, a Marine Corps Veteran, and NU student, was one of two recipients of the American Council on Education Students of the Year Award. While in the Marine Corps, Riley enrolled at National University and was able to apply 135 Joint Services Credits gained from technical and leadership schools toward his degree. Riley remained in school while embarking on two combat deployments. “It was a true challenge, but my professors were gracious and understanding when factors out of my control presented challenges,” he said.

“Joel Riley exemplifies National University’s mission of providing an accessible, world-class student experience that ensures student success through meaningful learning,” President Milliron said. “We are very proud of the good work that Joel is doing, and he serves as a role model to us all.”

National University is committed to continuing our legacy of nationally recognized support for our military.

Reach out today and find out what makes National University one of the most trusted and respected top military-friendly colleges.

NU is proud to serve those who have served, and we have been proudly serving our military and veteran community for more than 50 years. / June 2023 29


Transition to Civilian Life

Suck It Up, Buttercup!

Woah, isn’t that aggressive? Stay with us. The phrase “Suck It Up, Buttercup” is a response to someone complaining. It bears hints of irony and sarcasm, The phrase stuck because it rhymes, it’s memorable, and has a enough sweet in it to combat the sourness. Essentially it means, “ just get over it.”

Wondering how on earth a column intended to help someone transitioning out of the military could start off this way? Well, you’re going from a strict military mindset into the corporate civilian world where people may be kum-bay-ahhing. Again, stay with us.

Enter “Operation Insta Biotech Exec”

Meet Jim Gruny, a retired Colonel in the United States Marine Corps. He inspired the title of this column. Gruny recalls his transition era. After many years of exceptional service as a Marine with a family, he realized it was time to take his experience and apply it elsewhere. (Well, not really elsewhere - only San Diego. But we’ll get to that shortly. It’s relevant.)

When Gruny decided to take on the next chapter, he put a few priorities in order. First, was location. He had his wife, their two kids, and even a grandchild. They were all in San Diego. When considering the question of where to look for his next career, he knew that if he wanted to KEEP this lovely family, he was keeping his wife’s needs top of mind. San Diego, it was.

So far, he’s following everything we recommend! Location, check! Industry-focused, down, check! Type of role, check!

Gruny started his transition preparation in earnest about 4-5 months out. He felt he had a head start. He knew a few people that he thought would help him get his foot in the door and had a lot of transferable leadership experience. He expected he’d jump right into biotech at the level and role he wanted. Slam dunk? Not as-is. Not yet.

Spoiler alert.

Gruny kept running into the same problem. The leadership role he wanted (Director or above) required 5-10 years of industry experience, which he didn’t have. His expectations were high, and he didn’t want to start at the bottom. After 5 months of this, he got frustrated and gave up the biotech dream.

While he did pursue a rewarding career connected with the Marine Corps, he does wish he spent more time researching biotech as a career. In retrospect, he offers this invaluable advice to you.

1. Suck it up, buttercup and find a job.

If you have to start at the bottom, do it. Even if you’re the best leader the Navy or Marines has ever seen, no one hiring in corporate America really cares if you don’t have the transferable and applicable industryspecific skills.

2. Networking Naturally.

People tend to network to find people that will help them. But Gruny recommends to network differently. Instead of looking for people who can help you, focus your networking on how YOU can help people. He calls it “networking naturally”. And it’s worked for him to build mutually benefitting and lasting relationships.

3. Accept PTSD.

If you get injured, you get the injury fixed. Treat PTSD like any other injury or ailment. Don’t run away from it or ignore it. Just fix it. There are a ton of helpful resources throughout this month’s magazine that can help.

4. Start the transition process EARLY.

Most people, including Gruny, started too late. As a result, you don’t know what you’re getting into

30 / June 2023

until once you get into it. Then you realize how long it actually takes to do what you want to do. Give yourself 1-2 years to get it right.

5. Ask yourself a couple of fundamental questions. A lot will impact your decision. Make sure you are clear on these personal questions! What’s most important to you? Where do you want to be or what do you want to do after you retire?

6. Set reasonable expectations. Even if you were an outstanding leader in the military, you won’t have what they’re looking for to start at the top in a sector outside of the military. You’ll need to suck it up and start lower down to get that experience. Setting realistic expectations results in less frustration.

7. Treat transition like a job. You can’t half-ass it and think your new career will come to you. Work at it every day and structure yourself like you would for any other project you worked on while on active duty.

Jim currently serves as the Community Liaison Officer at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, where each year 17,000 young men and women are trained to win battles, become better citizens, and earn the title...Marine.

We hope this no fluff advice is helpful. Questions, looking for resources or answers?

Reach out to Eve at: / June 2023 31
Jim Gruny

Successful Transitioning Stories

Nicole D’Ambrogi

Nicole D’Ambrogi is a motivational speaker, awardwinning attorney, professor, and author who values family, service, and sacrifice. Nicole is a veteran of the U.S. Navy enlisted ranks, caregiver to a combat wounded disabled veteran, and a mother of two small children.

Nicole motivates women to dream big, and to believe in their internal strength to overcome all obstacles. Nicole never received a congressional nomination for some prestigious military academy. She didn’t graduate at the top of her law-school class. Her experiences in life have been marred with defeat, failures, and setbacks. She proudly claims the title of “the underdog.” Nicole also has recently become a She Talker at the Lead and Empower Her She Talks in Houston and She will be joining She Talks in June as a panelist at our Women Gone Wild She Talks that supports women veterans.

What made you want to join the military?

I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and I saw that I could travel the world, go to school and I could support my country because we were at war. I was that kid in high school that was super patriotic and always all about my country. When I went in, I got offered the job of Navy Police and I was thinking what a perfect job because I can learn the law as a police officer first and then become a lawyer and have a variety of perspectives.

What was it like when you transitioned out of the military and what were some struggles you faced?

My transition did not happen how I wanted and in the process of my transitioning out I was a victim of fraud and lost a tremendous amount of money. I was in such a dark place on active duty and when I was trying to transition out. So, there was a struggle with finance and several other areas. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. When I got out my brother, who was still active in the military, helped me out and paid for all my law school applications.

But I noticed there was something drastically different about me when I came back and started law school and I couldn’t figure it out. But I still charged ahead because that was my training, you put those things aside and do what you must do. I finally went to the VA and was able to get a therapist and I remember the first time the therapist told me I had PTSD, and I thought no I don’t have that. Then I started my journey into learning about PTSD and how it impacted me and how to deal with it. The transition out was quite a roller coaster ride of learning how trauma is personal to us and it’s very different for every person.

What are some recommendations for our Veterans coming out of the Military?

If you feel out of place don’t be afraid to seek help. Mental health issues come in so many ways in our lives. Use the resources available and you don’t have to combat this alone. You are not less of a person

32 / June 2023

if you seek help. Next connect to find your community, meet up with other retired veterans. Although your uniform changes the bond that we created the brotherhood and sisterhood never leaves and there is an unspoken union with any veterans and because of that we are united whether on battlefield or corporate world we will always band together even in retirement.

On the professional side, what suggestions do you have for our veterans wondering what they want to do professionally?

If you’re still on active duty get a plan together before you get out. You need to know what as well you are leaving for. If you are already out and still stuck in that “I don’t know what I want to do” there are some great career development groups that can help you and there are assessments you can take to help guide you on what your natural talents are, and this can guide you into some career fields. Most importantly, utilize all the services available to you, usually at no cost and there are so many people willing to support and guide you.

To learn about Nicole and how she assists veterans in filing disability appeals with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

To connect with Nicole

To see Nicole on stage as a panelist grab a ticket to She Talks in Huntington Beach for June 17th, a red carpet event that fundraises money for women veteran programs.

To learn more about how Synergy Learning Institute helps transitioning veterans visit



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 downright depressing, demotivating and you may feel totally disillusioned.

Veterans In Transition is dedicated to you and to helping you succeed in your transition.

For editorial & monthly columns regarding transitioning to business, career advice, tips, workshops, transition to education, entrepreneurship, straight-forward legal tips for Military and Veteran Business Owners and more visit Veterans In Transition at / June 2023 33
out of the
into the Civilian

Transition to Business HUMAN RESOURCES

Artificial Intelligence: How to Talk About It at Work

I don’t know about you, but artificial intelligence, or “AI,” seems to be all over us these days. The news channels can’t report on it enough, it seems to have struck fear in so many people’s hearts, and the headlines are eye-popping:

How Did We Get Here So Quickly?

First, understand that this “AI panic” really only got traction since November 2022 when ChatGPT was introduced onto the world scene. Sure, the “predictive” capabilities of this chatbot are impressive—it is able to create content in a logically coherent manner by scraping data off the Internet. I get it. But before this announcement in November, this wasn’t much of a topic on anyone’s radar screen. All of a sudden, this technology could cause the end of the world as we know it. I’m being facetious, but you get my point: the schizophrenic whiplash from the news media has us panicking yet again in what could be called our new “poly crisis” world.

• By 2030, 45 million Americans could lose their jobs to AI automation, representing about one-quarter of the workforce.

• By 2030, artificial intelligence could displace roughly 15% of the global workforce, or 400 million people worldwide.

• If the trend of improving tech continues along the predicted path, many experts believe that by 2060, AI capabilities will surpass human cognitive power.

Wow, that’s absolutely shocking, isn’t it? It should be—this is real and it’s simply our next step as a global society. But let’s break down the panic so we can calm things down a bit with a more strategic perspective.

Second, understand that we’re now entering what’s known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4). IR1 occurred in the late 18th century when steam, coal, and mechanical equipment took center stage in transforming global economies from agriculture to industry. We were able to mechanize production for the first time. IR2 found its footing a century later in the late 19th century, when electricity, the division of labor, and mass production took hold. IR3 is estimated to have begun in 1969 with automated production from semiconductors, mainframe computers, microprocessors, and the advent of the World Wide Web. Now, IR4—a term coined in 2016—is characterized as a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. We’re at a point where the acceleration of innovation and the velocity of disruption are difficult to comprehend and anticipate. Still, this historical perspective is important to understand so that we can keep all this incredible technological change within a reasonable and understandable context.

A New Vocabulary for the New Times

You don’t have to be a quantum physicist to excel in the future. But it is important that you stay relevant with the new technology and terminology coming our way. Here’s just a partial list of new terms so you can say you heard it here first: generative and adaptive AI, the Metaverse, quantum computing, machine learning, robotic process automation, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, 3-D printing, and virtual (VR) and augmented (AR) reality.

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Do you need to be able to discuss each of these areas in detail with a prospective employer during an interview? Probably not. But should you be able to answer a standard interview question or discuss this with your boss beyond the “I don’t follow that stuff” kind of response? Yes, you should. A typical response might sound like this: “I know it all sounds and feels pretty overwhelming, especially since AI technology can be harnessed for good or used by bad actors on the world stage. I’m sure there will be a combination of both, and we’ll have to see where the government sector steps in to regulate what’s being distributed content-wise for us to read and see. But while the statistics may sound earth shattering, I believe this has been well underway for a long time. We’re all familiar with IVR (interactive voice response) and chatbots handling our customer service requests when we reach out for technical assistance with our computers and printers. We’re seeing fast food restaurants switch to digital ordering menus, and robots may start staffing their kitchens.

“And I understand that repetitive and routine tasks will likely be assumed by machines over time. But people are still going to be needed to oversee what those computers are producing and what those algorithms are recommending. In other words, there’s a lot of room for us humans to remain at helm of industry, and I’m looking forward to playing my part.”

There’s nothing like a little professional optimism and perspective at a time of severe change. Come from wisdom, remain vigilant, but don’t get swept away too quickly by those hyperbolic and doomsday headlines that you’re reading out there. Yes, we’ll transition as a society and an economy. And yes, there will likely be significant disruption at times as old jobs are eliminated and new jobs are created. But if the largescale introduction of robots about a decade ago is any sign, there will be more net jobs—not less—once the wave passes over us.

You can connect with Paul on LinkedIn at

Paul Falcone ( is a management trainer, executive coach, and bestselling author on hiring, performance management, and leadership development. / June 2023 35
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Franchise Frontline

Success Stories & Resources

Veteran Says No to Retirement and Yes to Building a Family Business in Booming Pet

Services Industry

It’s never too late to pursue your dreams. Just ask 55-year-old Michael Kidd, who recently retired after a 30-year career with the federal government (INS then Homeland Security). In December he finished college with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and also fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a smallbusiness owner.

In November he and his wife, Michelle, opened a franchised location of Pet Butler serving serve customers in several areas in and around Raleigh, North Carolina. The national franchised company operates in more than 35 markets and provides dog poop-scooping services and pet-waste removal to homes and multifamily communities for thousands of clients across North America.

Having worked three decades for the federal government, Michael spent the past 16 years as a manager responsible for a team of 10 Homeland Security officers. “I also served four years in the U.S. Navy, which taught me responsibility at an early age,” shared Kidd. “I served on board the USS Frank Cable, a submarine tender, docked in Charleston SC. I was a Petty Officer 3rd class (E4) and my job was titled Engineman 3rd class. I worked in the Boats & Cranes division of the ship and my responsibilities were to maintain the engines on our ship’s small boats. The captain’s boat and transport boats. We also maintained the ship’s emergency diesel generator.

Along with wife Michelle, Kidd admits it’s the family’s love for animals that inspired him to go into the pet industry. It’s going to be a family affair for the Kidd’s, who are all passionate about pets. The couple’s three children – Justin (24), Mikayla (21), and Kelsey (15) – will all be part of the family business. Both Michelle and Mikayla have worked in veterinarian offices and are excited to be part of the new family business. “This is the best of both worlds for me and my family,” said Kidd.

The timing really could not be any better for them to join Pet Butler. According to a recent study by Morgan Stanley, the $100 billion pet industry is poised to nearly

triple to $275 billion by 2030 thanks to favorable demographics and surging increases in new pet owners and spending. What’s more, 65 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds say they plan to acquire or add a pet in the next five years, helping drive what’s expected to be a 14 percent increase in pet ownership by 2030.

And while you might think the economic impact of the pet poop industry is just a drop in the bucket (sorry), that’s not the case. According to the latest figures from market research publisher Packaged Facts, retail sales of pet cleanup products was expected to reach $4 billion in the U.S. And it’s no surprise that pet owners are more than willing to spend – and spend a lot – on their furry friends.

“I am excited about Pet Butler’s expansion into other services such as pet sitting, dog walking, and pet shuttling,” Kidd said. “Pet ownership, especially dogs, is high right now and there are no signs of it slowing down. With everyone having busy lives, there will always be a need for the services we provide.”

And Kidd had some words of advice for anyone else who might be thinking of shaking up their own status quo.

About Pet Butler

Pet Butler Franchise was acquired in 2017 by SpringGreen Enterprises, the parent company of +43 years old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services.

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“Do not ever give up on your dream, I am 55 and finally getting to live out my dream. The only thing that can stop you is you.”
- Michael Kidd

Insurance Info & Risk Management Tips

Feeling Business Funk?

If you do not have key relationships with lending options, this is where you need to start. Have a meeting with your business banker and find out how much you could borrow (and the APR) if you needed extra operating cash.

Bringing in consistent clients is also important and stressful. Make sure to have a good CRM system so you can track your customers, leads and networking partners. Network with companies that align with your vision and values, share resources and refer clients to each other. Offer referral perks, create combined marketing campaigns and hire a professional marketing person to help.

Just like us humans, our businesses have ups and downs and sometimes require a little help getting through the funk, slumps and bumps. Every business owner experiences this at some point. Owning a business can feel similar to raising a child. All the time, money and effort that goes into it and all the stress of hoping it will grow up to be successful – can really take its toll on business owners and cause trauma and burnout. But there are proven tools that can help alleviate some of the pain.

First though, let’s look at the business cycle. Each business is made up of four major life stages that all have their own unique challenges and stressors:

1. Incubation Stage – Research, Capitalization/ Investment, Launch process

2. Start Up Stage – Marketing, On-Boarding Employees, Branding, Networking

3. Scaling Up Stage – Growth, Expansion, New Service Offerings, Opportunities

4. Sell/Transfer Stage – Preparing for the Sale or Transfer of the Business/Retirement

Each business is different, and some stages can last decades. Some only a few months. Take a moment to analyze where your business is in the life cycle

The Start-Up Stage can be the most stressful and the stage that most businesses either succeed or fail. At this stage, one of the key components to success is having enough capitalization to fund the business, while being able to pay yourself (and your employees, if applicable) a living wage to survive.

Marketing & Branding are key at all stages, so make sure your outward presence reflects your company’s inner core values. Your website and online presence should set you apart from the competition. Ask all happy customers to write a good review for you to boost your credibility.

The SWOT method is a tool used by many companies and risk managers to analyze the current state of the business. Below is a chart for reference. Example: Internal Strength may be your passion for your product or service; your expertise; your connections, etc. While Weakness may be new venture status, lack of marketing, lack of long-term capitalization. Opportunities can be something like – expanding your service or product line, buying out another small company to expand, franchising, etc. And examples of Threats are competition, bad customer reviews, etc.

Use this tool to chart out what areas of your business you need to focus on. Are there any Opportunities on the horizon you might be missing? Are their areas of Weakness that you can improve? / June 2023 39
Working ON your business and not just IN your business is a great way to get through some of the burnout and stressful bumps in your business cycle.


What’s Keeping You Afloat?

2. It’s not about the money. Make sure you are doing what you love. Is it a “game” worth playing? It shows up when you give your customers the sense that your business is a special place, created by a special person or people, doing what they do in the best possible way. If it is built on a laser like focus because you have targeted your audience, then you are not chasing the ”minnows”. Your price meets their need and you deliver it.

As an entrepreneur going it alone during some of these tough times can knock you flat. What have you encountered in your business this year? Are you staying ahead? Have you stepped back? What have you learned and are you using the learning to move? How often have you let yourself go down that dark road and beat yourself up when things didn’t turn out according to “plan”? As you entered this Quarter did you adjust your plan? This is the time to step up and step “out”!

My Mind Masters members know I enjoy watching “Shark Tank”, a group of successful entrepreneurs looking to get their teeth (and money) into more entrepreneurial endeavors. I watch because I enjoy watching the ambition, energy, drive, and risk tolerance of those entrepreneurs, which lets them take a chance on looking for a better opportunity.

Here is what I’ve learned:

1. How you present yourself says a lot. Can you tell your prospects in 90 seconds a problem-oriented, attention-getting statement about what you do? You may not be looking for investors, but you are always looking for prospects to “sell” to. This is not about convincing, but about getting a prospect see that you have a solution. Just like the “Sharks” want to invest in an entrepreneur who believes in his/her product, your prospects want to do business with you because you have an edge that will help them. What are you doing to show up in this environment?

3. Know your numbers. Every number tells a story and every line on your financial reports relates to something that happens in your business. Make it your business to make the connection and know what they mean. The “Sharks” look to see if investing in one of the entrepreneurs will make them money.

Every time you begin to measure and keep track of your plan and numbers, that “thing” begins to improve and move in the direction you want. Check your plan, weekly, monthly, quarterly and make adjustments, help catch what is or isn’t working. Your metrics will tell you. Start to apply this idea and you will feel and be more in control of your business in a very dramatic way.

Barbara Eldridge has built a solid reputation as a Results strategies specialist, within industry and business over the past 40 years. Her unique message, since starting Mind Masters 30 years ago for entrepreneurs and small business owners, continually stresses vision, purpose and values as the key elements of business philosophy.

40 / June 2023 / June 2023 41

legal Eagle

Straight-forward legal tips for Military and Veteran Business Owners Corporate Organizational Documents

When it comes to business planning and preparing your business for success, perhaps nothing is more important than getting the general requisite legal documentation in place prior to starting. Even those who may have been in business for years can benefit from doing an internal audit to ensure they are not missing something vitally important. Getting your business documents in order will be extremely crucial to avoid being dragged into a lawsuit personally. Here is a list of must have corporate documents:

Articles of Incorporation

As the charter document the Articles of Incorporation are what make a company an actual legal entity. They generally include specifics on location of the business, legal name, registered agent, and how much stock is authorized for sale. The Articles of Incorporation could also include the following, depending upon the legal requirements of the jurisdiction where it is organized:

• Provisions for dealing with limited liability of directors

• Shareholder consent voting procedures

• Super majority shareholder voting rights


Bylaws are the internal rules that govern how a business is run. They are set out in a formal written document adopted by the company’s board of directors and summarize important procedures related to decision making and voting. This helps ensure that even as officers and directors come and go from the company, there is a consistent process and agreed upon procedures. The following is a list of key provisions often included in bylaws:

• Authorized board actions without a meeting

• Board compensation

• Number of directors

• Indemnification provisions

• Stock certificates and legends

• Fiscal year designation

• Bylaw amendment procedures

• Annual meeting time and place

• Special meeting notice requirements

Asset Transfer Documents

When specific assets are transferred to the company, there needs to be documentation. Lease assignments, license agreements, bills of sale, and sometimes even real estate deeds often require documentation which include provisions requiring the company to assume not only the asset itself but any liabilities associated with the asset.

Shareholders Agreement

As perhaps the most important document, the shareholders agreement lays out the terms of the buy/sell agreements between shareholders.

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While the document is not required in a legal sense, it is the most important document from a continuity and asset protection point of view for both shareholders and the longevity of the company. Without a shareholders agreement, all shareholders are free to sell their shares to third parties outside of the company and the company would not have any control over who owns its shares.

Board of Directors Resolutions

Board of directors resolutions, sometimes called corporate resolutions, are records of the decisions the board of directors makes on behalf of the company. A director’s resolution is a formal written motion used to track details of a company’s specific decisions pertaining to the nature of the company and its operations. Board resolutions are typically needed for the following actions:

• Entering into any contracts

• Creating a company bank account

• Appointment of officers

• Authorizing of stock issuance

• Granting authorization for corporate loans

For an entrepreneur, there are countless considerations when starting a new business, and legal issues are not always top of mind. But an entrepreneur who understands what these issues are and how they arise is much more likely to address these issues before they become major problems. Staying on top of these issues and knowing when to involve a lawyer can play a significant role in the ultimate success of the business.

Becoming a business owner, you control your own destiny, choose the people you work with, reap big rewards, challenge yourself, give back to the community, and you get to follow your passion. Knowing what you’re getting into is smart business because the responsibility of protecting your business falls on you.

For more information on how to legally start and grow your business please visit my website at

Disclaimer: This information is made available by Bagla Law Firm, APC for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, and not to provide specific legal advice. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. / June 2023 43 Legal Pearls! PEARLS OF WISDOM for Avoiding Business Litigation Award-winning attorney, Kelly Bagla shows you how to avoid legal pitfalls FROM DAY ONE! Legal Pearls! - The quick and easy guide for avoiding business litigation. Award-winning Attorney Kelly Bagla distills the legal information every business owner needs to know to avoid costly lawsuits and protect personal assets. Now every entrepreneur can apply the same legal steps and strategies used by top attorneys.

Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel Make a Grand Trip the Grandest

Since 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel has been transporting adventurers to the majestic beauty of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World–the Grand Canyon–and continues to inspire travelers today. The journey from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is a truly unforgettable experience. As you chug along in an authentic vintage train car, you can take in breathtaking views of idyllic landscapes and wildlife along the way. Not only will you have plenty of time to relax and soak in the serene atmosphere, but also appreciate how easily accessible this natural wonder is by train.

The 65-mile round-trip route begins in Williams, also known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” (since it’s less than an hour away from one of America’s most iconic landmarks). Here, travelers have more than enough time to explore local restaurants, galleries, and the magic of a bygone era along historic Route 66

Once you reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you have an array of activities to choose from. Whether you want to take a mule ride down into the canyon, or just take in the views from atop the rim, there’s something for everyone. The Grand Canyon National Park Service provides many educational programs and guided tours throughout the area so that visitors can learn more about its rich geologic history and diverse wildlife.

The Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel offers several different packages depending on what kind of experience you are looking for. From basic round trips

to the canyon by train, to packages that give you the option to stay inside Grand Canyon National Park, to journeys aboard The Polar Express™ during the holidays, there is something sure to pique your interest.

No matter how you decide to spend your time when you arrive at Grand Canyon National Park, one thing is certain: The journey there by train is sure to be an unforgettable experience filled with amazing sights that transport you back in time! Along the way, you’ll be enthralled by vast desert plateaus and colorful mountain mesas that transition seamlessly between Arizona’s high-desert and Ponderosa pine forests.

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And while these natural wonders offer spectacular sights that are sure to take your breath away, they’re often accompanied by sightings of elk and deer roaming freely around the tracks or the majestic California condor soaring high overhead.

As you reach higher altitudes (up to 7,000 feet above sea level), there sits a picturesque view that welcomes passengers into Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim—a sight many riders find both humbling and aweinspiring as they disembark onto terra firma after their two-hour trip! The South Rim is home to numerous Native American tribes who continue to be stewards of this ancient land with various cultural activities throughout the year; it provides visitors with a chance to learn about Native American culture alongside one of nature’s grandest masterpieces.

Traveling on the Grand Canyon Railway can be considered a privilege today—not least because no other mode of transportation offers such unparalleled access through some of North America’s most rugged terrain via comfortable coaches or private parlor cars. It’s not just about getting there faster either: each ride is an experience that enables passengers to reconnect with nature on their own terms. Guests enjoy activities including live music performances and storytelling sessions held onboard by skilled cowboys and entertainers, while the experienced engineers and staff members add another layer of service and authenticity to this much-loved institution.

At its heart, riding on board the historic Grand Canyon Railway helps connect us with our true selves— reminding us that taking it slow can lead us further than if we simply raced from point A to point B! In this fastpaced world filled with endless distractions, a trip aboard Grand Canyon Railway reminds us why we should take time for ourselves every once in a while—and why going out for adventure aboard this famous railway can feed our creative soul.

Military personnel can use the promo code ’STRONG’ to save on this magical experience.

Please visit us online at / June 2023 47



Grateful Americans Charity will hold their First SoCal Veterans Charity Golf Tournament on June 26, 2023, at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar Resort. We are excited to expand our mission into Southern California where the Veteran community is so prevalent. Please check out our website ( for more information.

GAC was founded in 2016 by a group of like-minded grateful Americans who wanted to give back through hosting fundraising events, increasing community awareness and raising much-needed funding for programs to combat PTSD.

GAC’s mission is to provide resources that support programs aimed at ending Veteran homelessness and combating the invisible wounds of war. Our team is comprised of professionals with varied backgrounds from across the nation. Since 2016, GAC has donated more than $2.3 million to serve Veterans in need. Our supporters and volunteers continue to expand as we grow. With your help, we can continue to increase donations in 2023 saving even more lives; while furthering our goal of ending Veteran homelessness and helping those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

We have one primary beneficiary, the PTSD Foundation of America ( and its Camp Hope facility. The mission of the PTSD Foundation is to bring hope and healing to Veterans, and their families, suffering from the effects of combat-related PTSD. Our funds enable them to continue to provide the important services directly to Veterans. The Foundation has 14 chapters nationally, with over 200 Warrior groups and 45 Family groups across the country, serving thousands of Veterans and their families every year.

Camp Hope and The PTSD Foundation’s intensive, residential and non-residential settings provide wholeperson treatment programs equipping Combat Veterans with the coping skills they need to overcome the devastating wounds of war and PTSD. Their intensive peer-to-peer and small group support sessions are led by fellow Combat Veterans.

To date, through donations and sponsorships, Camp Hope has helped over 1860 Veterans and their families. The housing and programs provided by the PTSD Foundation are completely free to the Veteran, enabling them to focus solely on their recovery. Each year, housing, materials and program costs are increasing, and so is the need for more funding.

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We at Grateful Americans Charity are honored to work with such an amazing organization. We believe our Mission not only helps Veterans in need but also the community as a whole. Please join us in supporting those who sacrificed for our freedom.


• Get involved with Grateful Americans Charity, donate, volunteer, or become a sponsor.

• Spread the word, increasing awareness about PTSD.

• See a Veteran in crisis, call the Combat Trauma Help Line 877-717-7873. Another combat Veteran will answer the call.


“I served in the Army for ten years and deployed to Iraq from 2008-2009. My time in service and in combat resulted in severe physical and mental trauma that would eventually lead me to feeling lost and alone in my struggles. Devoid of purpose, I had lost faith that I could overcome the symptoms of my PTSD that had seemingly overtaken my life. It was not until I came to Camp Hope that I began to believe in a future for myself again. In many ways, Camp Hope and the PTSD Foundation of America saved my life. The opportunities that I had at CampHope to heal and rebuild my life would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the Grateful Americans Charity working to help save the lives of veterans like me. I now carry on the mission as a Veteran Navigation Coordinator for the PTSD Foundation working to bring veterans into Camp Hope. I am truly thankful for all the Grateful Americans have done for meand people like me in helping make sure we get the help we so desperately need.” / June 2023 49
For more information on how to get involved: Contact us at (214) 214-281-8860 or by email Karen Bowden Crystal Eguia THERE IS HOPE! THANK YOU FOR SPONSORING & SAVING A LIFE.

Veterans Chamber of Commerce


Anyone who has a family must consider their plans for the future. For military members and Veterans, the thought of how they will take care of their families if something were to happen to them can be even more pressing. A living trust is one of those things that should be planned and put in place as early as possible.


The benefit of a trust is the same as that of a will: you have the option of naming who will receive your assets upon your death. However, there are other benefits of establishing a trust, including how you would like your assets handled during any period in which you may be incapacitated or otherwise unable to speak for yourself. Establishing and funding a trust keeps your precious assets and owned property safe until it’s time to pass them down to someone else. While there are many benefits to establishing a living trust, which we will discuss below, it does require that you transfer ownership of the included assets from yourself to your trust.


1. Flexibility and Control

A living trust is a flexible estate planning tool that can be customized to meet your specific needs. You can choose who will be the trustee of your trust, how your assets will be managed, and when your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries. For example, you may want to name your spouse as the trustee of your trust, but you may also want to name a backup trustee in case your spouse is unable to serve. You can also specify how your assets will be managed, and you can even specify when your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries. A trust can give you more control over how your assets is distributed to family members. This can be especially important for younger or less financially responsible children. For some, receiving a large inheritance brings the temptation to spend it on luxury items or the risk of long-lost family and “friends” asking for handouts. Statistics show that regardless of a child’s age or the size of the inheritance, most inheritances are spent within 18 to 36 months of their receipt.

2. Peace of Mind and Certainty

When drawn up correctly, a living trust sets out a clear plan to deal with all of your assets. This can help prevent you from unintentionally disinheriting someone, can help you provide care for a loved one with special needs into the future, and even protect assets from certain people. All of these things can give you peace of mind now, knowing that your estate will be handled as you wish later. The existence of a trust can also provides certainty and comfort to your loved ones during an already stressful time because you’ve laid everything out for them.

3. Protection from Lawsuits, Bankruptcy, & Creditors

If you have a living trust, your assets will be protected from creditors in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. This can be a major benefit for veterans, who are often at risk of being sued or declared bankrupt. For example, if you have a large amount of debt, creditors may be able to seize your assets if you do not have a living trust. However, if you have a living trust, your assets will be protected from creditors, even if you are sued or declared bankrupt.


Avoiding Probate

Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing a deceased person’s estate. Depending on the estate, as well as the assets and individuals involved, probate can become a lengthy and costly process, which may not only delay distributions to your beneficiaries but also cut down on what they inherit. This can mean a faster distribution to your heirs, shortening the time frame from months or years to just weeks without any additional expenses to the estate. The avoidance of probate may be particularly helpful if you own property in another state, as it would pass directly to your beneficiary and not be subject to probate in that state.


Have more questions?

Contact Kelly Bagla, who will be able to answer all of your questions.

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

The Veterans Show:

Be our guest on the show – click the link:

50 / June 2023

Post 5867 Hosted Wellness Fair in East County

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5867, located in the beautiful community of Lakeside, graciously hosted an East County Wellness Fair to connect veterans who are currently experiencing homelessness, or those atrisk of becoming homeless, with over twenty different organizations who specialize in providing veteran support and resources.

Veterans Administration (VA) representatives provided healthcare information and assistance and legal experts shared how to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Every contributing organization was wholeheartedly dedicated to serving those who have honorably served our country and to protect our cherished freedoms.

There was also live music and several inspirational speakers at the event, including Neil O’Connell, the Executive Director of Mount Soledad’s National Veteran’s Memorial, who gave an empowering speech commending the selfless service of veterans.

“It is up to the civilians here at home to remember the memory of our living as well as deceased veterans,” O’Connell implored. “That is why it is important to have events like these for our veterans, so their stories of sacrifice live on, and so they can live a great life after service.”

Representatives from the Offices of Congressman Darrell Issa and County Supervisor Joel Anderson, whose district encompasses much of East County and is home to nearly sixty-thousand military veterans, were also in attendance.

“Thank you to VFW Post 5867 and all of the organizations who work tirelessly to ensure the wellness of San Diego’s veterans,” said Supervisor Anderson. “It is inspiring to see our East County community coming together to improve and protect the lives of those who so valiantly protected ours in their service to our nation.”

To find a VFW Post in your area, go to

To learn more about services offered by the County’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs (OMVA), visit the Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA) website at / June 2023 51 / June 2023 13
U.S. Air Force veteran and legislative intern for the Office of Supervisor Joel Anderson Courage to Call nonprofit veteran helpline at the East County Wellness Fair in Lakeside. Visit to learn more. (Images Courtesy of the Office of Supervisor Anderson).
June 2023
The San Diego Wounded Warrior Tennis Program receiving a Certificate of Recognition from the Office of Supervisor Anderson. Learn more at

Real Estate Tips for Veterans & Active Military

Relocating to San Diego

Peak season for PCS moves is June to August every year. More than 65% of PCS moves happen during this period. Relocating to San Diego can be a truly amazing experience. But be aware of some of the challenges when moving to the area:

1. The average military family pays over $5,000 in unreimbursed expenses during a PCS move. (Military Family Advisory Network). This does not include loss or damage to belongings and does not consider the income lost until spouses secure new employment.

2. The cost of living in San Diego is still on the rise –From housing to groceries to gas to recreation, your money will not go as far as it did in previous duty stations. In 2022, rents rose more than 17% over the previous year. Prepare to live in smaller homes or to commute long distances for more affordable housing options.

3. You’ll need a car! The transit system in San Diego is not as integrated as in other big cities. 84% of commuters use a car as their main mode of transportation. Expect 30-60 minute commute times each way. And, don’t forget to include the cost of gas in your budget as San Diego offers some of the highest gas prices in the nation.

Here’s the good news: Military members enjoyed a 4.6% pay increase this year…the largest pay raise in decades. And, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) went up 16.2% in San Diego in 2023 with rates ranging from $2,730 to $5,286 per month. Best of all, you’ll enjoy some of the best sights, food, and weather you’ll ever experience anywhere in the country!

For more information on housing, contact Michelle Muniz at

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Real estate Guide

Serving Veterans and their Families!

The San Diego Veterans Coalition was organized in 2009 and using the Collective Impact Model, SDVC is a premier San Diego County-wide monthly convener of over 160 unique member and participating organizations, businesses, and agencies. The Collective Impact Model is based on leveraging relationships with other veteran and family serving organizations so that we may provide veterans and their families with a complete array of services and other opportunities.

The purpose of the San Diego Veterans Coalition (SDVC) is to serve the needs of San Diego regional Veterans, their families and significant others. We intend to improve collaboration and coordination among community service providers so that delivery of services is more comprehensive and Veteran Family-centric.

The vision of the SDVC is to honor the nation’s commitment to veterans, their families and significant others by leading collaboration among all potential partners, making the San Diego region a national model for a comprehensive, integrated system of community services.

The SDVC is a catalyst that inspires collaboration and cooperation among service partners to deliver premier support for Veterans in the San Diego region.

At the SDVC we have found that collaboration is the key to addressing the needs of San Diego Veterans, their families and significant others. We have four Action Groups:

• Physical and Emotional Health Action Group (PEH)

• Family Life Action Group (FLAG)

• Veterans: Empowered, Successful, and Thriving Action Group (VEST)

• Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship Action Group (E3)

Through these Action Groups we are identifying gaps and creating measurable outcomes to resolve them. These groups are made up of our members and together we are working to strengthen our community. / June 2023 53
54 / June 2023 Whether your disability is obvious or invisible, Canine Support Teams can help you reclaim your independence. Canine Support Teams is proud to offer the PAWZ for Wounded Veterans program, which provides specially trained service dogs, at no charge , to the brave men and women who have faithfully served our country. caninesupportteams @k9supportteams Apply for a service dog today at Or Call 951.301.3625

Welcome to the Veterans Association of North County


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


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


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


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

WE LOVE OUR ASSOCIATION MEMBERS AND THEY’RE HERE FOR YOU TOO. VANC is open to all military, veterans and friends of the military. If you would like to become a Veterans Association member, Contact Lori at to learn more. / June 2023 55

Legally Speaking

Military Focused Family Law Facts

Mental Health: How Does it Impact a Divorce?

Mental Health and PTSD are at the forefront of discussion in the month of June, which is known as PTSD Awareness Month. It is a time to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding behavioral health issues, as well as highlighting the ways mental illness and addiction can affect all of us. If you are going through a divorce and your spouse has mental health issues, you may question how this will impact your filing for divorce. Mental health issues may also be a factor when it comes to the underlying issues to be addressed by the Court in a divorce matter, such as child custody, visitation, and spousal support issues.

Filing for Divorce

A spouse does not need to demonstrate that mental health issues contributed to the divorce. Having irreconcilable differences in and of itself is reason for a divorce. However, if your spouse is unable to make decisions and is of unsound mind, a Court can dissolve your marriage based on legal incapacity. If this is the case, your spouse will have a guardian or conservator appointed to represent their interests in Court. A Court can also grant an annulment of the marriage if your spouse is found to have been unable to consent to the marriage (was of unsound mind) when it took place as a result of their mental health issues. However, if the party with the mental health issues that could not consent at the time the marriage took place, after coming to reason, continues to live with the other spouse, a Court cannot annul the marriage and will only grant a dissolution of marriage.

Child Custody and Visitation

The Court’s analysis in making child custody and visitation orders is to look at the best interests of the children, including their health, welfare, and safety. Given this standard, mental health issues can impact custody matters. This does not mean just because a parent has mental health issues, their custody and visitation will be impacted. There is a great stigma and taboo around mental health issues. Plenty of parents can have mental health issues or diagnosed disorders that they have addressed and maintained care/treatment for.

Mental health issues will impact custody and visitation only where it can be demonstrated that the parent’s mental health issues interfere with their ability to care for the children, endangers the children physically or emotionally, or has caused the parent to have an addiction to drugs or alcohol that has resulted in the children’s safety and well-being being at risk. A parent may be required to have supervised visitation or depending on the severity of the issues could lose custody and visitation. If a parent’s ability to care for a child and provide a safe and stable home/environment for the child is unaffected by their mental health issues or diagnosis, then a Court will not weigh the fact that they have mental health issues against the parent. In cases where one parent’s mental health issues are contested, it may be necessary for the Court to order a psychological evaluation to determine the extent to which their mental health issues affect custody and visitation.

Spousal Support

Mental health issues can also factor into a court order for spousal support. The Court will weigh different factors including the earning capacity of a party, ability to maintain the standard of living and a reasonable amount of time for them to become self-supporting among other factors. If a party’s mental health issues are severe enough, it may affect their ability to be employed and maintain the standard of living. As such, the Court will consider this factor when determining the issue of spousal support and how much or how long the supporting party will have to pay support.

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If a party with mental health issues is receiving disability benefits as a result of their mental health disorder, the Court will consider this income in determining how much spousal support they are entitled to. The Court will also consider whether a party has the ability to be employed where they have been unable to hold a job due to their drug or alcohol use.

In the case where one party petitions the Court for dissolution of marriage on the basis of legal incapacity, they will still be obligated to pay support for their spouse who lacks the ability to make decisions and lacks earning capacity or the ability to be employed.

Getting Help

If you are a parent who is struggling with mental health issues and also going through a divorce, it is best if you seek counseling, therapy, and/or help from a trained professional to help you through this difficult period. Do not be afraid to do so. Many people going through a divorce seek therapy, including for their children.

It is important to note that even where mental health issues may not affect custody, visitation, and spousal support, they may still have an impact on your ability to reason and reach agreements with your ex-spouse during your divorce matter. This can often cause frustration and further conflict. In these cases, it may be best to consult with an attorney who may be able to more objectively handle the issues between you and your ex-spouse.

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

This article is intended only for informational purposes and should not be taken as legal advice. / June 2023 57 Legal Experts with Humanity Time for a Fresh Start. Call 858-720-8250 or visit to schedule a free consultation. Flat-fee law packages available. Military Divorce and Retirement, 20/20/20 Spouse, Survivor Benefit Plans, Support Orders, and more. No nonsense. No hidden fees. Discounts for service members. Move forward without breaking the bank. Our military expert family law attorneys are ready to push your case to the finish line.
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Opportunities in Law Enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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As a military service member or veteran making the transition to a new career path, law enforcement can feel like a natural fit.

SDPD Ride Along: A Story of Two Marines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Officer Sean Bunch Officer Mark Wright

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued on next page > / June 2023 63

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

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

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

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

SDPD Ride Along

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For more information visit or email us at SDPD NOW HIRING
Officer Sean Bunch - Amber Robinson (SDVM) - Officer Mark Wright / June 2023 65

Why Veterans are Perfect for Cybersecurity

Veterans are mission-driven, protectors, and ready for action at a moment’s notice. They are respectful, dutiful, and have integrity. An estimated 55% of people transitioning to civilian life want to do something different than they did on active duty. This is according to LinkedIn’s recent Veteran Opportunity Report.

Are you on duty or a veteran seeking a meaningful new career after serving your country? If so, explore a fast-growing field for an urgent demand for many of the skills you have developed in the military — cyber security. This growing field requires many of the strengths often gained through military service and presents an opportunity to continue to serve your country in a new context: combating the widespread and ever-growing threat of cybercrime. Cybersecurity is a high-stakes field with a critical mission—protecting civilians and businesses from cyber-attacks. There are over 700,000 openings in America ( and 3.5 million worldwide. Cybersecurity is one of the highest-paying industries as tech has taken over our lives.

“Veterans bring a special breed of leadership and experience to the workforce, an unflappable presence during times of crisis and uncertainty,” said Dan Verton, Director of Content Marketing at Cybereason.

Ethical hackers actively work to ensure the security of their information systems, ensuring no outsider can gain access. In any information security job environment, your knowledge and a mindset of perseverance can put you ahead of the curve.

Whether it is a data breach, ransomware, or another form of systems attack when fighting cyber threats, every moment counts and could make the difference between success and failure.

Your training prepared you to be always ready to confront and neutralize a threat! Fighting any adversary means being able to think as they do. In combat, this means anticipating the strategy and next steps of the enemy. In cybersecurity jobs, it means doing the same against thousands of hostile organizations.

As a veteran, you know the success of a mission is always more important than one person. In the cybersecurity industry, teamwork is essential. This applies to the prevention of cybercrime and the need for ethical hackers.

Your military mindset, mentorship, and focus on outcomes, not excuses, will help other civilian employees to do better as you lead by example. Veterans are used to adapting to new orders, circumstances of living, and colleagues regularly. Cybersecurity is also a field that requires an adaptable work style. The University of Maryland reports that hackers attack every 39 seconds, and no matter where you end up working, your organization could become the next target. That means the long-term project you planned to work on that day may take a back seat, but then you will pick up right where you left off once the immediate threat is resolved.

If you think cybersecurity might be the right next move for you, your next step is to explore learning options and gain the foundational skills needed for the technical side of the job. Government agencies are intensifying their efforts to recruit military talent to fight the war on cybercrime.

The University of Louisville’s Cybersecurity Workforce Certificate Program offers several learning options to upskill the workforce in cybersecurity. The program partners with other universities across the country. This is not an academic program but a workforce development program. The certificate includes cryptography, database, artificial intelligence, analytics, blockchain and internet of things (IoT). Learn more:

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From Navy Sailor to San Francisco Police Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about the San Francisco Police Department, or to connect with recruiter, go to: / June 2023 69
70 / June 2023 Veterans! Join Our Team CHANGE Be the SFPD Salary $103,116 - $147,628 TEXT “JoinSFPD” to (415) 704-3688 / June 2023 71 San Diego Veterans Magazine A Veterans Magazine by Veterans for Veterans Resources Support Transition HEALTH Community Voted 2020, 2021 & 2022 Best San Diego resource, support magazine for veterans, transitioning military personnel, active military, military families & veteran organizations

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